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Laptop on table on roof garden with blue skies

How travel is helping me finish my PhD

No question, travel is awesome. Even though I’ve been a poor grad student with lots of deadlines, I’ve managed to travel during PhD things and wouldn’t want it any other way!

These are the last few months of my PhD before I have to hand in, and travel is helping me get there. How? Let me explain.

Any excuse to travel

While I’ve been lucky to have a major move between Singapore and London built into my PhD program, I’ve also taken opportunities to go to regional conferences while based in both places. When I didn’t have a PhD related reason to travel, I would try to go home to New York. Having a young nephew and niece, this was important for me so I wouldn’t feel like I was missing everything. Continue Reading

3 days in Warsaw: My first shot at a self imposed writing retreat

I haven’t traveled as much this year as I was hoping to, unless you count the short trip home to New York to meet my niece. One of my biggest regrets after finishing this PhD would be not traveling more around Europe while I had the chance. To remedy this, I’ve been planning short, 2 night trips. Last month, I went to Warsaw, Poland, with my laptop and some writing targets!

About Warsaw

The Nazis destroyed about 80% of Warsaw in World War II. There are only a few areas that were left relatively untouched (~30% destroyed), some of which I saw on a walking tour of Praga:

[Photo Journal] Adventures in Yorkshire, England

Yorkshire! Yeah! I went in May to visit a friend who was about to move to London, and we did a bunch of cool things. These are some things to do in Yorkshire if you are going for a short trip.

Among the highlights were seeing the train station where the students got out for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, kinda seeing some puffins (flying around along the cliffs), and generally having a blast with a good friend.

View of field from train window

I took the train up, where my friend picked me up. I got to see the yellow fields on the way there! Then we took a nice walk through some fields and forest.
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Growth through travel

The past few years have really flown by. I feel like I’ve changed as a person, and as a writer too. Why travel blog? So I can follow what I’ve seen and how I’ve changed over the years!
my 100thblog post v2 credit to wyman H

How I’ve changed as a person

What I love about travel is that you challenge yourself. You can challenge your beliefs of what the world is like, what other people are like, and who you are. I’ve grown the most through traveling, and much of this has been because I’ve gotten to know myself better. Instead of floating through life living on a routine, travel has broken it up by giving me new experiences, exposing me to new cultures, and making new friends. It’s also forced me to think about what is important to me.

I’ve learned that I love being around different languages, and that I can be braver than I thought I could be.
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Feet in yellow shoes tiled floor Taking a look at myself

Women wear what they want to in Singapore, or How awesome it is that there is no catcalling in Singapore

Sure, you have heard that Singapore is a safe and clean city. Or that it’s the most expensive city in the world to live in. (This is mostly skewed by the price of cars, which are not essential, but that is another story.) But what you may not know is that women wear what they want to in Singapore. It’s remarkable, and simultaneously a sign of old stereotypes/gender roles and a sign of hope in the face of gender issues in Singapore. There are a few things that I really like and admire about Singapore, and this is one of them.

The recent video of a woman walking in New York City has gone viral because it shows just how much harassment a woman can receive just by walking around in NYC. I’m glad that they are drawing attention to this issue, because this is at the root of what I don’t like about NYC. Catcalling is nonexistent in Singapore, which one reason why I think women can have the freedom to dress as they wish.
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New food habits and food shopping in the city

When it comes to food, I’ve been shifting towards a whole-food, plant-based diet over the past 3 or 4 years. The first few changes were to stop forcing myself to eat mean (or animal protein) when I didn’t feel like it, and to start eating more different types of greens than the ones I grew up with. Now that I’m in New York City for a few months, I’m also really excited to try local products like Granola Lab. There are so many cool things coming out of New York, Brooklyn especially!

What I have trouble with is how to balance all of the possible adjectives: seasonal, local, sustainably harvested, whole, unprocessed, unrefined, fresh aka not frozen or canned, non-GMO (genetically modified organism, usually corn and other plant products), no preservatives, organic, raw, natural
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[Photo Journal] A walk in the snow through parks in New York

On Sunday, I went on a walk with 2 good friends and their dog in Fort Tyron Park and Inwood Hill Park in New York. The weather was great, and it was so quiet!
Yesterday was my first day “back” in the routine of living and working in New York City. New York is my hometown, which decided to welcome me back from the tropics with snow and freezing temperatures. Awesome! Haha, but really, I’m glad to be back!

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Art display at the Esplanade in Singapore

Dear Charmaine…your email was not spelled correctly

Hi Charmaine,

The email address you entered was not going through, so I hope you see this! This is in response to the questions you sent through the contact me page. I still wanted to answer your questions, so I’m putting it all in this post! Continue Reading

Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. The Terrace, a restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand

2013 in signs and sayings, plus life lessons for 2014

On my travels to various parts of Asia, I often stop and take photos of interesting signs or pieces of English that I find interesting. Here’s a list of life lessons that we can glean from signs I’ve come across in 2013.

We all need money…

"Press for money" sticker on a crosswalk button in Singapore.

“Press for money” sticker on a crosswalk button in Singapore.

…but it isn’t worth going to jail.

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Leaving Sakaerat today…and some thoughts on meeting Americans abroad

Chewy in Sakaerat

I’m leaving Sakaerat today! I’m a bit sad to go, definitely because the people here have been great and the nature and wildlife have been amazing. I wish I could come back, and I’m glad that I came. The colleague I came to visit has some really impressive research going on here, and I’m glad that I got to go out and search for her study species (Chiromantis hansenae) with her field team.
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