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UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: year in review.

I briefly looked through that thing that Facebook compiled for me, and it seemed to just pick out a few photos from my holidays, and ignored everything else that happened, and that definitely doesn't do 2014 any justice. I haven't really reflected on the year thus far, but the past two days, driving up to Chiang Saen (on the Thai border next to Laos) from Bangkok provided lots of time for thinking (when I wasn't sleeping and trying to avoid car-sickness).

To start with, I thought I should perhaps look at what I resolved to do in 2014. "So in 2014, I do want to do more climbing and diving, be more focused and disciplined, pick up a few new skills and live like you were dying." - from my last year's year-end review blogpost. Well. I definitely didn't climb more (in fact, I probably climbed less, especially during Michaelmas 2014 :/), definitely didn't dive more (didn't dive at all T.T), was maybe a little more focused and disciplined (but it's hard to tell isn't it, it's rather qualitative), picked up a few new skills (a little bit of using the ice ax and crampons, fiddling a bit with QGIS but I can't really think what else) and probably didn't live like I was dying... So perhaps I should just try and stick to my resolutions a little more this upcoming year... Read this TED article on The Science of Setting Goals so hopefully...

Best books I've read*
The first two books of Ken Follett's Century Trilogy
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (blogged about it here)
(other good books that I'm only halfway through: Guns, Germs and Steel, An Unnatural History of the Sea, A Short History of Nearly Everything and Your Inner Fish. Lol.)

Best films I've watched (mostly on flights so pretty outdated)*
Invictus
The Grand Budapest Hotel
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Railway Man
GrĂ¼ninger Fall

*from what little I can remember anyway. I learnt so much about WWI/WWII from the books/films (mainly cos I knew close to nothing previously).

Best moments


France with family (or just any time spent with family, really)

Digging my own shelter with an ice ax in the Scottish highlands

Watching a sloth climb down a tree (to pee?) at sunset at Bilsa, Ecuador

The people who trekked Salkantay with me to Machu Picchu, Peru
Wandering alone in the cloud forest of Wayqecha, Peru

Reading and enjoying the summer in Grantchester, UK

Blueberry-picking in Iceland!

Pennine Way, UK

Christmas carolling with Fisher House, UK

 And a few others which I have no photos of, such as setting off fireworks in UK, cycling on Isabela, Galapagos and Christmas at home (:

2014 has been pretty awesome, not particularly significant perhaps, in my life overall, but pretty good nonetheless. Thankful that no major mishaps or calamity befell me or my family.


Anndddddddd Happy-watching-air-pollution New Year everyone! May 2015 be a good year for humanity, with stronger climate action and more social justice and that everyone will be kind, sensible and see the joy in life. I hope that I do get to dive more in the coming year, that I learn more programming skills (and go on adventures with R woohoo!), finally get round to picking up some trad climbing skills, be disciplined in my fitness and studies, read and pray more.

(Time to attempt some report-writing yay!)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mountain Sound.

It's scary how fast time flies. Now that we're on the other side of Christmas, the end of the year seems way too soon. Definitely have not had the time to reflect and review the year (even if Facebook has done so for me).

After almost two weeks back home, have caught up with a good number of friends and generally had a nice, quiet Christmas with my family. I did some online 'What's your inner age?' quiz and got a respectable 89-years-old, and so I guess while most people stay young at heart while growing older, I look younger than my actual age but am super old at heart (Y) So, a nice, quiet Christmas (:

It's kind of interesting to see how friendships evolve over time, and by now, 3 years after graduation from school, I think most of the friendships that we keep, we'll probably keep for life. I'm definitely very thankful for all the people still in my life. To people who still text me once in a while, who cheer me up when I'm down/stressed, meet up with me when I'm back, with whom I can talk for hours without getting bored. As the years go on, it is definitely harder to make good friends. You meet plenty of new people, but developing that bond is another thing. Read this article (thought the front bits were interesting but skimmed through the rest of it) and I do agree, the friends you make early on in life are usually more out of prolonged contact than real common interest. It takes more effort to develop friendships now, with more commitments making demands on our time, every new relationship might mean less effort put into other already existing ones. Still, networking is important for career development, right? Think I lack the guts and thick-skinned-ness to really sell myself anyway.



The thing about being back home is that it's harder to find time for yourself. Especially when I'm only back for a short amount of time, and every bit is precious. Not that I can't go off on my own - in fact most of the time I'm physically at home but just doing my own work anyway. It just doesn't seem very nice to not be physically home. Think one of the main highlights of my year thus far is being entirely on my own in the cloud forest in Peru. The tropical lowland forests are great, but not perhaps, for solitary reflection. Yeah, I know the cloud forest isn't exactly temperate woods either, but it achieved the same effect.

Image taken from: http://blog.maptia.com/posts/untranslatable-words-from-other-cultures

Sometimes, I do wanna just run off and live in a little cabin in the woods/cottage by the sea with all my books and just read. But wells, I am too responsible to ever do that (a trait inherited fortunately/unfortunately from my parents, as I recently realised), and Expectations. That's partly what keeps me coming back home.



Mountain Sound - Of Monsters and Men

I heard them calling in the distance
So I packed my things and ran
Far away from all the trouble
I had caused with my two hands

Alone we travelled on with nothing but a shadow
We fled, far away

[Chorus:]
Hold your horses now
(Sleep until the sun goes down)
Through the woods we ran
(Deep into the mountain sound)
Hold your horses now
(Sleep until the sun goes down)
Through the woods we ran

Some had scars and some had scratches
It made me wonder about their past
And as I looked around I began to notice
That we were nothing like the rest

[Chorus]

Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh
We sleep until the sun goes down
Whoa-oh, whoa-oh
We sleep until the sun goes down

Whoa-oh-oh-oh
We sleep until the sun goes down

[Chorus 2x]

La la la, whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh
La la la, we sleep until the sun goes down
La la la, whoa-oh, whoa-oh
La la la, we sleep until the sun goes

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

R-uining holidays.

R is reducing me to tears. Makes me feel woefully inadequate in intellectual ability, when I cannot understand where I went wrong, or the solutions people give on online forums when I try to troubleshoot. I don't get why is it that I can type exactly the same code but get a different output. And I cry not because I feel stupid, but because I can't get what I need and I've got other things I need to do as well but feel like I don't have time to do (time flies by way too fast) and arghhhh it's just not a happy holiday at all. I kid about crying - I tell myself it doesn't help any.

Nonetheless, it's Christmas Eve and my older bro is back - family reunited! It's been nice meeting up with friends, and visiting various places to see how it's changed (Sungei Buloh, Climb Asia and Onsight...). Also the many many new malls with many many new shops and eating places. It's really scary, and it seems that many of my friends and family question if it is really necessary. So whose idea is it to build more malls every time some other building gets razed, or from previously green patches? Though all the malls still seem to be fairly crowded. Also, fairly annoyed by the commercialisation of Christmas, which seems worse in Singapore than in UK. Christmas is NOT about giving (or getting) presents, or getting new things, or singing about mummy kissing Santa Claus...

Would post something more reflective and thoughtful but I'm too exhausted by R. Shall do something else instead and get my spirits up again to be joyful about Christ coming to our midst.

The coolest Christmas tree I've seen, alight with candles and sparklers. When I was in Austria last year. Should have a nativity scene instead of the tree, but I don't have a photo of one soz.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

numbers.

Being back home has been more or less great. There's always food without having to prepare/go out to look for it, I just dump my laundry in the family communal basket, and I can go around in sleeveless and shorts without being cold at all. Getting to chat with family, and slowly meeting up with friends (most of whom I only get to see after the new year just cos of holiday schedules) and eating and everything.

But project is constantly weighing on my mind and being generally depressing. Still need to sort out my data, get it to work on QGIS/R, extract the information I need and run my models. Times like this I wish I were smarter/a programming whiz and could troubleshoot and figure out all my problems. I know, Google is my friend, and it usually is, but sometimes it's not, and then I'm stuck. And miserable.

Stayed up trying to figure out some horrible math and verify some of my data, and it's horrible cos I've forgotten all my math. But the joys of having friends in different discipline, I can now sleep happy knowing the answer. 30*0.8 yay. Thought it might be it but that seemed too simple but I guess not.

I doubt I've got time to revise the two modules from Michaelmas :(

Monday, December 15, 2014

Home

Every time I land in Changi Airport, I plaster a silly grin on my face that I just can't wipe off. The joy of being home :D

It's been a great week since term ended. The usual end-of-term madness with last minute meeting ups with people, packing up of room and getting stuff into storage. Then a really nice week with friends in Tignes at Varsity Trip 2014, the Oxbridge ski trip. Followed by a fairly uneventful flight home from Paris, apart from the delay due to fog at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport. And being asked to change seats with this mother with a baby and toddler (and getting lots of Ferrero Rocher chocolate in return!). And their two choices for mains being beef and fish, resulting in me having to ask for a vegetarian option. Oh, and I still get questioned when I ask for wine on flight. I guess the day people stop doubting my age is when I finally look my age. Though I've thought for a while now that I already do, but clearly not?

It's such a strange feeling being home after so long (1 year and 3 months). I pick out certain things without even thinking about it, like accents. The air stewardess who made the announcements on the flight had a terrible terrible accent. Like a Singaporean trying but failing to speak proper English. I cringed every time I heard it. The radio DJs/newscasters with their neutral Singaporean English accents. And then everywhere, the Singlish we're all so familiar with. Our dress sense. I've gotten so used to seeing people being fairly dressed up all the time. I've forgotten how bringing your own shopping bags isn't quite a thing here yet, or that recycling bins aren't conveniently located everywhere.

I've also forgotten how much rubbish I have back home. Tonnes of soft toys, old notes, books and lots of random bits and bobs. Though apparently no footwear, apart from one pair of flip flops, 2 pairs of booties and 2 old pairs of climbing shoes. So don't mind me if I go around in the one pair of boots I wore home.

Anyway, it's so nice to be able to chat casually with my family, instead of over a Skype call. And have awesome home-cooked meals of tofu, veg and soup. And feel swelteringly hot instead of being cold.

It's really good to be home. To catch up with family and friends, see what's changed and what hasn't, eat all the things I haven't been able to. Sadly, time is short and I still need to study and work on my project, but well time management isn't new I guess.


Also, Christmas!!! :D :D

Monday, December 01, 2014

3 days to Christmas (vacation)!

Last three days of term - four more lectures (for coursework, though I go on average for some 4-5 additional lectures without further thought) and three more supervisions to go. I can't wait for the end of term. Christmas carols and parties (: And then ski trip with a nice bunch of people. Then home! Super excited.

In my 3rd year now,  and I don't feel bad at all about missing college events (unlike the 1st two years when I felt like perhaps I should even though I knew I prob wouldn't enjoy myself, cos I felt like I was living up to certain stereotypes and stuff). College christmas party was tonight, had initially signed up for it cos I thought, hey it's my last year I should just go for it. But then thought more and was like, it is my last year, why should I subject to myself to a potentially (and very probably) uncomfortable and miserable night? I have just come to accept that this is not what I'd miss the most about Cambridge, and I'm not even minding not going, cos I prob wouldn't enjoy myself anyway.

Played a college netball match earlier, my first one this term cos I've just had clashes at all the other match timings (church usually). Walking to/fro matches is probably the most interaction I have with the average college member here, cos I generally avoid college social events and for the few that I do go for I tend to just stick with people I know/have very polite introductory conversations. All the other netball players know each other pretty well and are good friends, so the conversations they have are an insight into their world (I just eavesdrop cos I have nothing useful to contribute to their conversations anyway).

And it just reinforces my impression of college social events and reaffirms why I don't hang out that much with them. Cos like, apparently when people get very drunk, it's okay to call others rude words, and that they only having to apologise to 4 people the next day is something vaguely funny. Maybe I'm just being a boring killjoy or whatever, but this kind of company I'm very happy to not keep. Does it really need to regress to this level for it to be considered a "good night"? And I don't mean sleep well kinda 'goodnight'.

In any case, that match was pretty bad (like 30-4), kinda like how it was for the past two years, though the previous matches this term didn't actually turn out too bad.

And to lighten the mood, it's advent! Which though has a penitential undertone to it, is also a really joyous time cos Christmas songs (: Libera's Christmas songs are just playing on loop. They're so cute :)



Gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete
Christus est natus
Ex Maria Virgine
Gaudete

Tempus adest gratiae
Hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae
Devote reddamus

Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante

Ezechiellis porta
Clausa pertransitur
Unde Lux est orta
Salus invenitur

Ergo nostra contio
Psallat iam in lustro
Benedicat Domino
Salus Regi nostro




Also, so awesome to have news of #Ubinday back home flooding my Facebook newsfeed. Really wish I was home already!