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UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Advent and Bridgemas.

Christmas starts a month early in Cambridge - Bridgemas. Because term ends next week, and we have to celebrate Christmas with our friends before we leave, right? In my first year, I found it so odd. This year, I'm just playing Christmas carols and hymns on my playlist. Fr Mark's Catholicism for the Curious session also focused on Advent this week, which was absolutely fascinating.

I can't wait for next week. Can't wait to be done with deadlines, can't wait to be home, can't wait for Christmas. Thanksgiving is so not a thing here though.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Saving the world.

Really should be trying to finish my essay cos it's 1am and I haven't been getting much sleep the past few days (too much caffeine). But a short one before I forget what I wanted to say.

Read this article on international development and aid, shared on Facebook by my friend: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120178/problem-international-development-and-plan-fix-it

It's a bit long, but it's really well-written and worth the read. You'd think that we'd have realised by now that the world is not homogenous and that what works for one locality might not and probably would not work for others. But I guess we all want to find a quick solution and so scaling up and blanketing everyone with the supposed solution to 'save the world' sells.

Apart from trying to save the 'world' by blanketing all with the same 'solution', because people worldwide are not all the same, I think one also shouldn't try to sell saving the earth. Because it needs no saving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Too much caffeine.

I'm starting to understand my caffeine limits a lot better, trying to figure out how much coffee is too much for me. It's 4.40am, I had a cup of coffee at lunch, and an espresso after dinner (cos Cambridge formal, that's just the way things go after dinner) and I just can't sleep. Wasn't really minding much earlier, cos I was trying to finish an essay for tomorrow morning. But I've been trying to sleep for about an hour now, to no avail. Mind is just thinking about all the work I need to do and when I need to do them by and what I should pack to bring home and all that stuff.

From friday to saturday, the Catholic chaplaincy had a 24 hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and hoped to have people present through the night. I signed up for a slot at 330am, cos I figured I could prob just stay up and do my work till then. Which I did, a cup of coffee at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I didn't yawn even at 4am. Slept at 5am, and woke up at 9am still. Made up for the lost sleep a bit the next day.

I also found out recently that there is such a thing as caffeine pills. So like, instead of drinking coffee, you just take those pills. Sounds a bit scary to me, I don't like pills, and anyway I like the smell and taste of coffee, so I doubt I'll ever try those caffeine pills.

One of my friends has an awesome blog on coffee, should check it out: https://beforethebean.wordpress.com/

Also, feeling a lot more optimistic about meeting deadlines and possibly even being able to enjoy the last week in Cambridge! Depending on how project goes...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rediscovering the piano.

Blogging way more than I really should be. I feel like I managed to get some things done this weekend at least, even though they're all more for graduate applications than present stuff so :/ But that and the research paper review are my main priorities now, with project next and catching up with lectures last. Dec hols is not going to be too much fun. I really have no idea how I got past the first two years without studying/revising at all until close to exam term – I am terrified now of how much work I need to do already.

Anyway, despite my moaning and griping about having to learn the piano for the best part of more than 10 years (6/7 till I was 17/18 I think), I am really glad I at least know how to read scores and can play some music. Thanks to my parents for pushing and me for having not enough guts to tell them I wanted to stop sometime around grade 5. I lasted all the way through 3 grade 8 failures. Though my current standard is definitely way lower than what it should be given how much time/money/effort that was invested in my earlier years. I even went to play some piano instead of climbing in the afternoon today. (Also it was raining and I was too lazy to travel to the sports centre)

2.5 weeks more to the official end of term, 3 weeks more till I leave Cambridge (and have to get all my submissions in arghh), 4 weeks more till I'm back home in Singapore. Absolutely can't wait to get home (but the deadlines are terrifying).

Absolutely heart-warming/waterworks-inducing advertisement. Or maybe I'm just getting too emotional.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

3 years ago...

Time flies. It's really hard to understand how I got to this stage, when I'm in my final year of university. In some ways, I've changed so much, and in others, I'm still the exactly the same.

Three years ago, I was applying for university. I was applying for the Jardine scholarship. Now, I'm applying for graduate studies. I'm applying for various scholarships, including the Gates Cambridge scholarship. It's really insanely competitive, way way more so than Jardine. They also require a personal statement, fairly similar to Jardine, only they actually have a word limit. (They also require you to be really smart, which I doubt I am). Finding myself at a loss of how to compose a coherent life story explaining why I deserve the scholarship, I decided to re-read my personal statement for Jardine (since that got me somewhere, right?). It was a really straight forward chronology of my life, I think. So much detail, it even mentions things I've completely forgotten about. I mean, since there was no word limit, I might as well go all out and tell them my life story right? :P And I know I've changed, over the past two years here, in so many ways, but if that personal statement I wrote three years ago was a snapshot of my true core being then, then I am still exactly the same.

However, I want to study biology, specifically ecology and conservation biology...
Hence, I aspire to be a conservationist, to do research, education and advocacy...
I want to ensure that the Earth and its precious biological resources will last as long as possible, and that future generations will be able to enjoy Nature and know about their natural heritage...
With my background and experience in community service learning, leadership and outdoor activities, I believe I will be able to make a tangible difference in conservation issues and help preserve our natural heritage and precious resources.
I still want to study ecology and conservation biology, I still aspire to be a conservationist, I still want to ensure our natural capital isn't completely decimated by us, I still believe I can make a tangible difference.

Of course, this 'happy outlook' in life contrasts with the depressed/depressing previous few posts. But I guess you just have to look at the overall trend and not the daily ups and downs. Also, it helps that I just went climbing at The Castle, and though it was a meagre two hours, climbing allows me to completely forgot about my (undone) work and worries (: Though by the end of it, instead of saying I want to just quit school and be a baby sitter and play with little kids all the time (which was the state I was reduced to by the end of lectures today), I was saying I should have sidelined A levels and gone all out for climbing. All in jest, of course, as my personal statements should attest...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When the insecurities start creeping in.

The thing about studying in Cambridge is not just about the intense term, the speed of lectures, the workload and all that. Inevitably, you start wondering if you are in the right place after all, if you quite measure up, intellectually speaking, with the rest. Having been in Raffles schools since 13, I'm not unfamiliar with feeling slightly stupid most of the time, when you don't get equations just as quick as the rest, when you don't understand the concept in philo/gp/whatever that seems to come intuitively to everyone else, when you can't pick apart arguments and critically evaluate anything and everything that just comes by. There's no difference here really. And then on top of that, you're always surrounded by people who are doing a hundred and one thousand things - organising conferences, playing sports in blues teams, performing a couple of concerts a week/term, cook amazingly well etc etc etc. The list goes on.

I would never claim to be smart, or intelligent. All I have that got me this far is probably passion? And sometimes even laziness gets the better of me and I don't get out of my room the entire day. I know I'm not fat either, but reading this article, I can't help but agree with what's said - that no matter that I don't usually talk about body size that often, and I know I really shouldn't give a damn, I do think about how I shouldn't be eating that much or that I should be exercising way more. Only in my case my laziness/lack of self-discipline usually means I will never be bothered getting myself into a state of food disorder (counting calories? running everyday? too much work. Even waking up is enough of a struggle). It is such a prevalent issue in society though, one of those things that just kinda lurk under the surface.

These are all insecurities that have always been around, and usually pretty well-managed and suppressed. But once in a while, especially when you're trying to think about your future and apply for masters programmes, you start questioning yourself and your capabilities and wondering if you actually are smart/capable enough to take it on. Or if perhaps you should just settle for starting work (not that it's less challenging or difficult, but the issues faced are different).


Thankfully there are friends whom you can count on to help you cope with life. #firstworldproblems I know. Or not even, maybe just people who are blessed and don't know it. :/ Are we even allowed to complain? I know, there are worse problems out there. Food security, climate change, extinction crisis, the poor and the most vulnerable, everything. I've been attending enough talks on those, to feel almost permanently depressed about the state of things on our planet. Maybe that's why all the personal inadequacies start surfacing too.



Demons - Imagine Dragons
When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood’s run stale

I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

At the curtain’s call
It's the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you made

Don't wanna let you down
But I am hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don't wanna hide the truth

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

They say it's what you make
I say it's up to fate
It's woven in my soul
I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save that light
I can't escape this now
Unless you show me how

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Friday, November 07, 2014

Ups and downs.

Moods just swing up and down as and when. I am mostly in control of my moods and myself, until I decide it would be a good idea to check out my friends' blogs, and after a while, I just get homesick and sad and fairly unproductive.

I miss the intertidal trips I used to go on every time it was low tide season at dawn/dusk. I miss talking about various issues with friends. I miss having climbing buddies. I miss my friends.

Haven't had a major homesickness breakdown so far this term, 3rd year is definitely going a lot better than the first two years. Also don't have that much admin work to do - for once, instead of checking my emails constantly and replying various people etc, I am looking through my lecture notes/working on my project.

4 weeks more to go. I am so looking forward to Christmas and home (:


Bay of Naples - Eric Margan & The Red Lions
We are the Bay of Naples,
And the horses in Vesuvian stables,
Or the curves in a long cobblestone road.

We are the tales and the fables
Told by Romans at their gathering tables,
Or the ghost of a love lost long ago.

So bury this city in ashes,
We'll speak and breathe with dirt.
Our bodies and the air between them,
Preserved, dead in earth.

We got away with murder,
We took our dreams and we sealed them with mortar.
They're awake in a time that they don't know.

They took a day for granted
And now they found a place to be stranded.
Just waitin' for their mothers,
Waitin' for a quiet ride home.

So bury this city in ashes,
We'll speak and breathe with dirt.
Our bodies and the air between them,
Preserved, dead in earth.

You don't know what you're lookin' for,
And you don't care what you find.
Is there something here to make you believe
That you will someday have peace of mind?

We are the Bay of Naples,
And the horses in Vesuvian stables,
Or the curves in a long cobblestone road.

We are the tales and the fables
Told by Romans at their gathering tables,
Or the ghost of a love lost long ago.

So bury this city in ashes.
We'll speak and breathe with dirt.
Our bodies and the air between them
Preserved, dead in earth.



Thursday, November 06, 2014

Facebook peeves.

Random quick post cos I really should be working.

I know I'm definitely one of those who seem to always be on Facebook and spamming the rest of the world. Trying to cut down on Facebook Time, but it is still an excellent way of disseminating information, keeping in touch with friends and getting news. I've got some friends that I don't want to 'unfollow' (not un-friend, I almost never un-friend anyway, mainly because I do want to spam as many people as possible with the articles I post :P) cos they do occasionally post interesting things/I want to know what's going on in their lives but sometimes, some of the things they post just annoys me. Like #toomanyhashtags #howmuchtimedoyouspendthinkingofwhattohashtag and just whining/whinging about their lives or just things that the whole world doesn't need to know.

That said, does it mean that everything I post on Facebook is something that the whole world needs to know? Probably not. So I should just shut up and get on with my work. Sorry for being annoying and contradictory, but wells, posting it here where you came to read it is better than spamming the world on Facebook with my unimportant thoughts, I think.

Reading so much about reefs yet not being able to see a single one is just the saddest thing ever. #missSg P.S. this was taken off the pontoon at Lazarus Seringat-Kias in 2012.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

mid-week blues.

Been pretty unproductive the past week or so. Feel like I'm kinda falling back into bad habits of the past few years, and procrastinating on work when I really shouldn't. Only what's worse is this year I literally have no excuses. I am barely committed to any other organisation/club/society etc, that I have no excuse for why I am not doing my work.

Still trying to work out graduate studies plans, and that really gets me stressed and makes me unproductive. But I realised I really should stop whining/complaining and just get on with my work, to snap out of this unproductive state. The Lord has plans for me and gives me strength, and I just need to trust in Him. I should not be spreading negativity and my "misery", and I realised that during the St Vincent de Paul Society (through which I do soup runs) meeting yesterday, when we were reading/reflecting on a chapter from Thomas Kempis' The Imitations of Christ (Chapter 6, Book 3).

THE PROVING OF A TRUE LOVER

THE VOICE OF CHRIST: MY CHILD, you are not yet a brave and wise lover.

THE DISCIPLE: Why, Lord?

THE VOICE OF CHRIST: Because, on account of a slight difficulty you give up what you have undertaken and are too eager to seek consolation.

The brave lover stands firm in temptations and pays no heed to the crafty persuasions of the enemy. As I please him in prosperity, so in adversity I am not displeasing to him. The wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives. He regards the affection of the Giver rather than the value of the gift, and sets his Beloved above all gifts. The noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me Who am above every gift.

All is not lost, then, if you sometimes feel less devout than you wish toward Me or My saints. That good and sweet feeling which you sometimes have is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of your heavenly home. You must not lean upon it too much, because it comes and goes. But to fight against evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great merit. Do not, therefore, let strange fantasies disturb you, no matter what they concern. Hold strongly to your resolution and keep a right intention toward God.

It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For these are evils which you suffer rather than commit; and so long as they displease you and you struggle against them, it is a matter of merit and not a loss.

You must know that the old enemy tries by all means in his power to hinder your desire for good and to turn you from every devotional practice, especially from the veneration of the saints, from devout meditation on My passion, and from your firm purpose of advancing in virtue. He suggests many evil thoughts that he may cause you weariness and horror, and thus draw you away from prayer and holy reading. A humble confession displeases him and, if he could, he would make you omit Holy Communion.

Do not believe him or heed him, even though he often sets traps to deceive you. When he suggests evil, unclean things, accuse him. Say to him: "Away, unclean spirit! Shame, miserable creature! You are but filth to bring such things to my ears. Begone, most wretched seducer! You shall have no part in me, for Jesus will be my strength, and you shall be confounded. I would rather die and suffer all torments than consent to you. Be still! Be silent! Though you bring many troubles upon me I will have none of you. The Lord is my light, my salvation. Whom shall I fear? Though armies unite against me, my heart will not fear, for the Lord is my Helper, my Redeemer."

Fight like a good soldier and if you sometimes fall through weakness, rise again with greater strength than before, trusting in My most abundant grace. But beware of vain complacency and pride. For many are led into error through these faults and sometimes fall into almost perpetual blindness. Let the fall of these, who proudly presume on self, be a warning to you and a constant incentive to humility.

- extract taken from http://www.leaderu.com/cyber/books/imitation/imitation.html#toc


I was hoping to get a day in the Peak District today, but there weren't enough places. Pretty gutted, cos it's such a beautiful day and I was really looking forward to climbing outdoors. But wells, we don't always get what we want. Went for a short run to the botanical gardens (finally), and hope I manage to get some work done.