In brief...

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at http://natureramble.wordpress.com.

UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Solitude.

During my last geology field trip (to Dorset and Cornwall, which I blogged about here), I had quite a bit of time for quiet contemplation amidst beautiful scenery and crashing waves (and falling rocks). Mainly because I would wake up at 6/7ish in the morning to go walk around before breakfast at 8am. Now I'm not a morning person (indeed on a usual day with nothing on I would normally wake up about 10 because any later and I would feel guilty), but somehow just the coastal air or whatever, I had the motivation to wake up while the air is still and the bustle of the day hasn't started.

Sun rising, casting a glow on the branches. Kimberley Park, Falmouth.

I realise that I increasingly look for solitude. Or perhaps I always had, just that I would seldom indulge myself – after all, there were things to do, lectures/practicals/meetings to go for etc. But with the reduction in responsibilities (apart from the main one of studying and being a student), I now actually do have the possibility of spending time with myself and just myself.

When I woke up to see the sunrise only to realise the sea was in the West. Bude, Cornwall.


I think sometimes, people seeing the way I interact with others, or how I can lead if necessary (I think), think that I am an extrovert. But I do actually get tired of interaction and need quiet time to myself, or with just a small group of friends, to recharge. There also seems to be that perception, or perhaps stigma, that being alone means you have no friends. People don't like to be alone, or to be seen alone. Which is why everyone loves their smart phones, and I do recall anecdotes of people pretending to be on the phone when sitting alone in the canteen, just so people won't think they have no friends to sit with.

I guess, when I first arrived in Cambridge anyway, that was why I avoided going to hall for meals. Cos I have no cliques (ie no one to sit with in hall) and while I could join other people whom I know, it was usually at awkward moments (everyone else had finished/leaving) or something along those lines. Eventually, I just couldn't be bothered, so I simply find the emptiest table, eat quickly and leave. In some ways, I want to avoid conversation (better known as small talk). Not that I am adverse to chatting, but I have found that there seems to be this barrier that I am unable to cross with most people in college (after you get past the workload, revision, lectures/supervisions/practicals and weather), resulting in awkward silences and me thinking how best to escape from the engagement. I used to wonder if it was just me; I am now resigned to it and cannot be bothered.

And so I settled for the sunset (: (which is at a more sensible time anyway). Bude, Cornwall.


Whatever it is, I somehow now seem to relish being on my own (though of course, I still appreciate good company and miss my friends) and do enjoy solitude.

And that perhaps, is just the tip of some changes I observe of myself over the year and a half of being here.

Contemplating life in solitude during the trip, I do still wonder, what if I had stayed in Singapore for uni instead of coming all the way here. Or, especially in the advent of tripos exams, what if I had gone down the outdoor education path (which was seriously my back up plan).

Durdle Door, Dorset.


Though I am sometimes told by others that they admire me for my guts in taking the path less trodden (with the gap year), or for following my passion (instead of going with the flow I guess?), I still think I have not diverged much anyway. Still following a "set path". After all, I am in one of the top universities in the world. And I intend to further my studies after graduation, at some point.

I read, and I dream of doing something drastically different. Quit uni, buy a ticket to somewhere, anywhere, and do what I love – hike, or climb, or just travel around. But I know I don't have the guts (or the heart, really) to do that, or to do anything else other than what I am expected to do. Expected to do by society, by family, by friends, by me.

“You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.” - Gusteau (Ratatouille) [which first I saw here]. Carrick Luz, Cornwall. 

And in every area of my life, I feel like I'm not living up to my potential, to what I could be doing. Living in the country of what is arguably the birthplace of climbing (or rather, mountaineering), but I am barely getting any climbing done. Studying in the city with the highest concentration of conservation organisations in the world, but I am not doing much related to that either. I guess I could use Cambridge being extremely flat and difficult to get to anywhere with decent climbing, and of insane term-time work load as excuses, but I'm not sure I buy them. Or perhaps I just have too high expectations of myself.

Because I mentioned crashing waves earlier on. Leggan Beach, Cornwall.

Anyway, it's not overly worrying me or impeding my life – I have my self-discipline to look for and tripos to study for and those are bigger concerns at the moment.

Because ice cream (and sleep) always makes things better. And this is really The Best Ice cream (I had about 4/5 cones in that week). Lulworth Cove, Dorset.


This song came up in the minibus I was on during the field trip, one of our lecturer's playlist. And we definitely have the best earth sciences department ever, because how many of your lecturers would join students in the karaoke bar and belt out a tune (not this, but I don't remember which), and then stay on there past 1am.

Iris - The Goo Goo Dolls


And I'd give up forever to touch you
'Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't wanna go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
When sooner or later it's over
I just don't wanna miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you bleed just to know you're alive

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Another number.

I was intending to head to sleep, but it suddenly struck me that I will be turning older soon. I didn't have anything more to say than I already did last year; the people whom I've had the fortune to meet in my life, people whom I've had conversations with, whether long-running ones or just a brief exchange at a moment in time, these people have touched me in some way, and whether or not they know it, I occasionally think about them, am thankful for these people, and pray they're doing alright.

I finally got round to putting up photos of family and friends in my room – it was pretty devoid of such personal artefacts for a while, cos I was too busy (read: lazy) to do anything. But since I was already running low on sleep, I thought I might as well do it. Then I sat down and read some notes friends previously wrote me – some when I was leaving Singapore to come here to study, some at random points in the year, some on certain occasions. And I'm filled with a kind of glow that only comes with warmth and friends. But also a deep ache, knowing that I have not seen/will not be seeing (some of) these people for a while, and that I have neglected to keep in contact with some.

As the years go by, we discover more about ourselves, and what we want out of life. Some people achieve it, others are constantly in search, but whatever it is, people usually slowly whittle down to the important things in life. People come and go in our lives, but there will always be the ones you want to keep, and I pray that I will.

Everyone lives life differently – different circumstances, different ideals, different dreams, different possibilities. But everyone only lives once on this Earth, and while pessimism and cynicism can occasionally get people down, I think what's most important that you believe you lived the best life you could.


Image taken from: http://www.movieposterskey.com/posters/this-is-your-life-1.html




To end off, another Five for Fighting song, because John Ondrasik's an awesome song-writer singer.



Chances
Chances are when said and done
Who'll be the lucky ones who make it all the way?
Though you say I could be your answer
Nothing lasts forever no matter how it feels today

Chances are we'll find a new equation
Chances roll away from me
Chances are all they hope to be

Don't get me wrong I'd never say never
'Cause though love can change the weather
No act of God can pull me away from you

I'm just a realistic man, a bottle filled with shells and sand
Afraid to love beyond what I can lose when it comes to you
And though I see us through, yeah

Chances are we'll find two destinations
Chances roll away from me
Still chances are more than expectations
The possibilities over me

It's a fight with two to one, lay your money on the sun
Until you crash what have you done? Is there a better bet than love?
What you are is what you breathe, you gotta cry before you sing

Chances, chances
Chances lost are hope's torn up pages
Maybe this time

Chances are we'll be the combination
Chances come and carry me
Chances are waiting to be taken, and I can see

Chances are the fascinations
Chances won't escape from me
Chances are only what we make them and all I need


P.S. This is again, another pre-written, scheduled post. Cos I am once again, on a field trip on my birthday, this time somewhere along the Southwest coast of England, looking at rocks. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

A break.

Lent vacation started since mid-March; I've had two weeks of a real break, been trying to do some work for the past week, and there'll be another two weeks of Geology field trip before the nightmare term begins. The first two weeks were lovely. A break from work, mostly, a break from people and crowded places, a break from feeling alone.

Started off going all the way up North to the Scottish highlands for a winter skills course. Wasn't anything major, just use of crampons and ice axe, arresting falls and digging a shelter. It was supposed to be a two-day course, but bad weather (really strong winds) ensured that our second day was a nice flat-ground 16km walk instead. Really pretty place, too bad I didn't really have time to stop by the cities/coast (but memories of 1st year geology field trip, with sleet in our faces while slipping on pillow lavas along the Ayrshire coast, are still fairly fresh in mind). I have been assured by Sister Ann from our chaplaincy that Edinburgh is the prettiest city in the UK, and I would love to have the chance to visit the Scottish mountains again sometime.

Somewhere on the way up in the Cairngorm Mountains.

A shelter I dug for myself using the ice axe.

RED SQUIRREL (Sciurus vulgaris)!! Right outside the youth hostel.

After the communications isolation (3G is pretty poor up in the North), I went for a retreat with my church to Worth Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in South London. I have never been for a church retreat before, and even church camps back in Singapore were few (my year only had one or two I think, in the 9 or so years of catechism instead of the usual annual camp). The peace and spiritual rejuvenation was probably much needed, and I really enjoyed it, even the early morning prayers.

Worth Abbey.

Then it was back to communications isolation, this time not even having reception in the far reaches of Northumberland. The Northernmost bit of England, right next to the Scottish border. Really nice scenery, good hikes, and good company – all that is needed to make one happy. Or maybe just me.

Typical English countryside
On a misty/drizzly day on the way up Windy Gyle.
At Russell's Cairn - Pour toi mon frère (for you my brother) 
Rainbow! :)
Embleton Bay
Northumberland coastal walk from Low Newton back to Craster
After the lovely few weeks of relative isolation, the jump back into crowded London was quite a shock, but it was definitely nice to see friends again and have good Jap food. And of course, the whole point of being in London was for Singapore Day :)

Singapore Day 2014 at Victoria Park, London

Loads of Singaporeans. For once, I was in the majority. 

Gutted to see this sign. Ran out right before me :(

(: I'm not alone in the way I think. Thanks for spending time with me in London!
It was a really nice tree to climb. 
Back to Cambridge, which also meant back to work. Somehow this year, I'm a lot more kan cheong (anxious) about the exams, and I'm really quite worried I can't finish covering all my topics in time. Even so, I'm falling behind my revision schedule, and I wish information would stick in my head better. Anyways, I can't really complain.

Gonna be spending my birthday on a field trip again, geology trip to Dorset this time. Gonna be my last geology field trip, and I am quite sad about it :( The geologists are a fun bunch and the department is hands down the best in the whole university. I am still convinced though that conservation is my calling and not rocks, though I would like to dabble in geology if I could...

Not quite looking forward to Easter term nor exams. Not sure who would be, though being in Cambridge, I'm sure there will be people who are.