Teaching

Teaching Geography has always been something I wanted to do since I was young. I could become like the teacher in The Magic School Bus, bringing students to any part of the world and learning topics like development, tourism, the environment. It will be so fun!

I was actually awarded the MOE teaching award when I was an undergraduate and rejected it. To be honest, it was a different experience teaching in a secondary school compared to my 6-month stint teaching numeracy at a special school. But both to me, were enriching experiences. I do want to become someone who shapes the next generation’s lives – especially in secondary school because i feel that it’s the age where you really build your character. Also, I am generally enthusiastic about CCAs and things outside teaching like school events etc.

So why am I still hesitating becoming a teacher?

Well apart from the fact that I always ask myself how can teachers teach when they have only worked as teachers and do not have “real world experience” – not trying to belittle anyone here, but I do value work experience outside teaching for a more all-rounded education and perspective.

1. The horror stories sound really horrible

Dealing with parents and teenage angst sounds really scary. Admin work sounds like a chore to most too, although coming from gov as my first job meant I’m probably used to it.

2. No confidence in my patience

I used to have more patience, especially when I was teaching in the special school. That was truly an eye-opening experience where academics is not priority; creativity was most important as we needed to find new ways to teach; and simple joys. I am also not very sure if I can conform to being most “junior” and listening to others if they are very strict on the rules because I am not myself.

3. Going to trainee school aka NIE

When NIE was one-year long, I already thought it’s very long. Now with the compulsory stint and NIE, it would mean a pay freeze for the next two years. From one perspective, getting paid at this range is great since technically I would be a student. But to be honest, I am really quite old and have commitments compared to fresh grads!

This really sounds like a way to convince myself why I shouldn’t take up teaching but I will find a way to combine my interests of communication and geography. Hopefully one day, I will get the opportunity to shape young minds, and interest them with the wonders of GEOGRAPHY.

Not so fun fact: my husband actually scored the worst in the cohort for geography and dropped it in secondary four.

VTL – Singapore to South Korea (Seoul)

Autumn in Seoul – though winter seems more appropriate now cos it’s so cold!

Ever since I posted my first instastory that I have arrived in Seoul on 17 November, I have been bombarded with many messages on VTL (Vaccinated Travel Lanes) and PCR tests – even though some of my friends are not visiting Seoul but other countries? LOL i’m not ICA!

Here’s a short list of what we had to do before we visited Seoul

  1. Book tickets on the Singapore Airlines website – make sure it’s a VTL flight
  2. Take a PCR test within 72 hours of taking the flight – we did a quick check, the cheapest in Singapore is about $128, and we took it at Minmed. After that, they sent us a document and when I called to check, it has been automatically notarised.
  3. Apply for K-ETA https://www.k-eta.go.kr/portal/apply/index.do For us, we applied this a few days before our flight because the info wasn’t updated. Process was pretty fast online.
  4. Buy travel insurance, and COVID-19 insurance cover. There’s also a minimum coverage of 30 million won https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/sg-en/brd/m_2435/view.do?seq=761362 – I bought FWD and added on COVID-19 cover (not a sponsored post lol)
  5. Print out all these things – Vaccination cert (notarised copy), K ETA, Travel insurance, PCR test results
  6. You can also apply for the PCR test first that will be taken at the Incheon airport https://safe2gopass.com/
  7. Download the Quarantine app – will need to do daily health declaration, seems to be only activated after immigration

On the plane

There was no social distancing and I was seated in the middle in a super packed plane. Feels weird in a COVID-19 world but at least everyone already took PCR!

At the Incheon Airport

I need to rant a bit about this because we waited for 3.5 hours for the whole immigration thing to be completed. First they checked my vaccination and PCR (i think), then next counter my kETA and passed me a form? and lastly, then out of the immigration checkpoint before I could collect my baggage.

At the exit, we were greeted by the Tourism Agency there with some freebies, thank you!

Then we were ushered and waited for a group before they brought us to the clinic/hospital area for PCR which was across the roads (very near). Had to take a queue number and read a brochure before we could move to the main ‘hospital’ clinic for registration again. If you have registered on https://safe2gopass.com/ it’s easier because your records are inside. We chose ‘west’ but to be honest, both stations were quite near each other so no difference in my opinion.

This was taken when we were queueing to take the test to depart

At the clinic for PCR test

https://safe2gopass.com/price

When you register on safe2go, you can see the prices here.

Once you registered at the clinic itself again (even if you have done that online because you will need to verify your details), you will take a queue number for payment. After payment, you are brought to a quick 30 second doctor station, and then to another room to take the PCR test. They are behind a glass wall so don’t be alarmed like I was (they put in their hands through gloves and for me i had to bend a little so that they can reach my nose? lol)

After this PCR test, we took the car (booked one who waited for us for a few hours omg) to our hotel https://all.accor.com/hotel/B696/index.en.shtml Mercure Ambassador Seoul Hongdae (I highly recommend this for the price and location) and had to wait for 3.5 hours for our results.

By the way, we found out (by emailing the embassy) that the day of arrival is day 0. So we stayed for 7 days and did not need to do the additional PCR test.

Getting Around

We had to fill up a declaration form instead of scanning the QR code on the Quarantine app because it doesn’t work for us. We used data roaming so didn’t have a korea number as well. Just need to fill up the physical form with time, place we are staying (hongdae) and telephone number. Probably also consent as well.

It’s quite fun identifying some SG numbers on the list. LOL.

Going back

We found out we could do a ART test so we went to the airport early. The clinic opened at 7am so there was a short queue – same process as above, you can also book an appointement on safe2go. We paid 90,000 won for ART though and it was quite painful (same as PCR?). Results were out in one hour and we got it by email.

Before coming back to Singapore, remember to also fill this in https://eservices.ica.gov.sg/sgarrivalcard/ – the SG arrival card.

IMPORTANT THING TO NOTE: The ART/PCR results need to be printed – handphone screenshots are not allowed and people were made to go to the back to the queue to check in. Counter K has free printing, or you can take your results from the clinic before you check in your flight. There’s also some printing service at the newspaper stand but is currently out of order (as of 24 Nov 2021). Remember to bring your vaccination cert too!

Back in Singapore

I think the officers are not very familiar with VTL yet so we were almost made to go to another immigration checkpoint area. You can book your PCR test here first: https://safetravel.changiairport.com/#/ (interestingly when i booked it was $160, the price dropped and I was given a partial refund. Now it’s at $125)

You need to prepare your passport and QR code (to the booked test) before going in to register and take the PCR test.

For this PCR test, swab throat and two nostrils. The throat part was uncomfortable because – GAG REFLEX!

Anyway, got the tests results in about 4-5 hours time by email. Thought someone would call us at home but no one did.

For more updated information, please check: https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/vtl/requirements-and-process

Have fun and safe travels!

Taking a breather at Lower Seletar Reservoir Park

For the past few days I have been wanting to visit Lower Seletar Reservoir Park. Where’s that you ask? Simply put, it’s the scenic route from Yio Chu Kang to Khatib not to be confused with Upper Seletar Reservoir that is nearer to Mandai.

It’s not that near to Khatib MRT so if you’re going by public transport check out the list of buses here and where to alight. https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/lower-seletar-reservoir-park#

Look at that view.
There’s rental for kayaks and dragon boats but not sure if it’s still operational during this period. Saw some kayaks though!
Saw a few doggy friends there
The older bridge behind

It was a busy Sunday morning at 8.30am and the pathways are relatively crowded. Lots of uncles hanging around in groups (wonder if it’s because coffee shop seating areas are closed at the moment).

There’s a lot of space to take a breather on the greens though to take in the beauty of the reservoir so it’s a great place to recharge. As usual from what you can see from the MRTs there are always these illegal fishing activities but they don’t really bother you.

Hope to get the chance to come here more often, and maybe catch the sunset one day!

What I did as a student to boost my CV

My brother is in university now and he came to me few months back asking about some career advice and internships that he should apply for. I gave him some tips, and yes, he secured that job for summer. So therefore, this piece. I wanted to title this article – ‘What I did as a student to get the job I want‘. Then, I thought it sounded strange, and my mind shifted to drama serials where young employees sleep their way to the top. No no, this piece is not about that.

As someone who graduated from one of the three local universities in Singapore (barely got in lol), I have met some really motivated students. There were some who started with their entrepreneurship journey right during school, some who knew what they wanted to do with an undying passion, and those that went for 6 rounds of interview to score that high paying internship job. My route though, was a little more chill and this was what I did.

Here’s some advice for students in boosting your CV. A disclaimer though, this worked for me as a communications graduate / professional, if you are looking at things like an engineering or finance route, I guess only the general rules apply.

  1. Determine what you want to do, or at least have a general field that you want to pursue

I chose my first major through an article that I wrote to Cleo Magazine. It was a ‘Free Speech’ section where I submitted my thoughts to a lifestyle topic. I thought to myself at that time that if that article was published, I would choose Communications as my first major. My second major would then be Geography or maybe I would become an environmental journalist (very rare combination in 2009 though pretty common now).

Though this might sound very trivial, many people do not end up working in the field of what they studied. With a bachelor’s degree in the field that I want to work in, I now have at least the first ‘pass’ into the industry, or the ‘minimum requirements’.

2. Secure internships

I know, holidays are important, especially when you get 3-4 months off during the summer break! Well, I would say, take a break, but don’t waste your holidays slacking at home. How did I get my internships? Firstly, always check your university career office. I understand that some actually have bad reps in terms of their effectiveness but it is always somewhere to start. The next step will be to google these internships – you never know what you will find because there are things out there that you do not know exist!

For me, as I was saying, Geography and communications have always been my interests so I checked out Asian Geographic Magazine. There were no job vacancies at that time so I emailed them directly. Guess what, I secured one! Dream internship alert! That was my first experience in communications – editorial, covering events, social media management, I even published my first few articles there!

My other internships came from the Career Office (through email) and another one through their listings. Though I was not selected for a job but they called me back for another – Mediacorp Market Research! It was cool working there and having lunch stargazing. Oh, I loved their fashion sales too where they had yard sales to sell clothes that celebrities wore for shows. I was lucky I was really skinny then (haha).

3. Build your network and portfolio

Through my internships I met all kinds of people from different nationalities. This exposed me to different cultures and also my first freelance writing jobs that I could add to my growing portfolio of work. Never ever treat anyone badly and always be sincere to others because you never know when you will cross paths with them again. It wouldn’t hurt too if these ex-colleagues / friends you make write testimonials for your first real job.

4. Go for exchange if you can

Although not easy in this COVID-19 climate, go for an international exchange if you can. It is an experience where you grow up (I am partially ashamed and also amused that I first learnt how to iron my clothes at the age of 22 and I can remember my friend who taught me that!), build stories of your own that you can share with future friends or colleagues, and understand how other countries work. For a communications person – it means easier understanding for intercultural communications, for an editorial person it means broadening your horizons to stories and ideas. For me, I did an exchange programme in Hong Kong and Copenhagen. It was in Copenhagen that I understood that life is not only about working, shopping but so much more (okay I also attended a talk by a nobel prize IPCC person and also their parliament so very impressed)! In Hong Kong, I built the best long-lasting friendships and probably had the most fun partying experience in Lan Kwai Fong.

5. Capture this in your CV

All this stuff that you did, and all for nothing if you can’t capture it in a proper CV. I guess it depends on your industry – whether formal, creative, there are many tutorials and examples that you can look for online. Best of all, though I didn’t do that, make full use of your career services in school (you’re paying for it anyway through your school fees) to run through your CV and even interviews with you.

Hope this helps and all the best for your job search!

What playing competitive sports taught me

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Watching competitive sports always spurs something in me. Once upon a time I actually thought that it was a waste of time playing any sport recreationally. Why put in so much effort in something to do it for “fun”? And at that point I truly believed that I could excel in something that I liked.

It has been almost a decade since I played competitive netball and oh, those glorious days. We were such an awesome team in secondary school, going through all the tough training camps and drills together, we really shared literally blood sweat and tears. I think I was physically suited to play netball, being tall and I could run relatively quick at that time. Wow, those days when the whole school cheered for us during the finals and how we achieved 4th in the nationals for an unknown school, it was surreal. Best of all, I also made it to the age group national team. Those young, glorious days!

Fast forward to the present, exercise now has become an avenue to destress. I still think about some of the mind games and strategies I used to write down in this small little book that I had, and also the ‘mental strength’ course that I attended that taught me how to keep calm during critical moments.

Playing competitive sports taught me many things. Firstly, teamwork. Make full use of your strengths, your team mates’ strengths and complement each other when there are cracks or weaknesses. Though in a work context it is definitely difficult to trust your team mate completely, it will take some time, but it will definitely be a dream team!

Secondly, never give up and when you fail, appreciate the process. This to me applies most in a dating or love context when I was younger. There are times that you want to make sure you put in your best shot, but sometimes things don’t work out but you know you tried. When I grew up, I thought this applied to people who became ill, or even if health becomes an obstacle for me one day, I will abide to this.

Thirdly, have a goal and go for it. I honestly have not really done this to a 100% but I aspire to do this. The court is yours, the game is yours to play and how you want to play it. My high school and junior college coaches had totally different styles. The former being very “waterfall” (work has influenced me to use this term hahaha omg) and step by step where we execute the different tactics according to what she wanted us to do. The latter being very “agile” because at that time she was new to netball and had a basketball background. I felt that the combination of both made it really cool. I had a solid background and it was time to just play my own game. I never told anyone but on the bus to Kallang netball centre I would listen to “unbelievable” by Craig David, and then on court on my good days I would play it just for fun. Not that it’s just ‘for fun’, but I would see how I could just manipulate my opponent. Oh and my team mates were strong enough to depend on to execute whatever we wanted.

I guess this is the same for life. On one hand you got to put in the hard work, put in the basics, work on it, and then just, rule it. Haha of course, it is easier said than done and I haven’t really felt like that since I stepped on a netball court many many years ago. But I guess stemming from my competitive sports background, I truly believe in myself in most things that I do. (Very important when working because of terrible people that you’ll meet!)

Now let me leave you with a song that my netball teacher played on screen to hype us up:

May you SHINE in your own way!

What I thought life would be

I always thought I would have a window with a view like this while I lived overseas

Looking at the On This Day pictures brought back many memories. 13 years ago I was hanging out with the gang at Dempsey. 11 years ago I was spending summer in Hong Kong. 10 years ago I was lamenting on how I had no more friends in school since everyone had graduated the past semester. 8 years back there was a photograph of my first long term real job and 3 years back a video of work and how my work allowed me to start work later because England was playing someone during the World Cup. Fast forward to today, I am still rooting for England to win Euro 2020.

These memories inspired a thought – Am I far from what I thought life would be?

Many moons ago I wrote a blog post and I talked about how I would imagine my ideal life would be like. Marketing job, drinks and dinner with friends at night, had my own apartment with a partner. Kids after 30. To be honest I didn’t put much thought in it, or took steps to achieve it.

Now if this is a checkpoint where I grade myself through an imaginary scorecard, I must say that firstly, I got where I wanted to in terms of my job. I got to try several industries and it seems like I have some autonomy to do what I want in terms of creativity. I also had/have opportunities to meet some important people and have unique experiences.

Life wise, I think I did pretty good by having kids young. Though they contribute to my general angst that probably is not ideal, but I am trying my best to be more zen. I do not like sharing my house with other people, but that is something that I have to tolerate for the foreseeable future, regrettably.

I guess my only real regret is not exploring out of the country, moving to a new place and being on my own for a longer period of time. Since being attached since college, there hasn’t been any me time so that is something I can work on. But you’ll never know, maybe I’ll take a job overseas sometime. Maybe I can find myself and my identity – this has been on my mind actually but it’s really complex with the many roles I have to play during work, outside work, in the home, with friends etc. Even finding friends with similar experiences is getting more difficult and I guess that’s why people drift apart but this is another story.

For now, I’ll like to give thanks to what I have! Hopefully my scoresheet will be pretty awesome when I check back in ten years!

Three things I thought after watching Friends: The Reunion

All those feels after watching that group of five

To be honest, I was one of those cheapos who downloaded HBO Max and subscribed through a trial just to watch Friends, The Reunion. I was particularly relieved that it wasn’t a hoax when the news of the reunion started circling social media. All those feels before, during, and after watching the show. Here are three main takeaways for me after watching.

Awww Ross and Rachel

The most obvious and in some way shocking revelation was the chemistry between Ross and Rachel, played by David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston, and the fact that they could have become an off-screen couple. Awww those behind-the-scenes footage especially the lingering hug at the end of the shoot during the season finale. “It was like two ships passing, because one of us was always in a relationship, and we never crossed that boundary. We respected that,” Schwimmer said. But I guess it’s hard to compete when your love rival is Brad Pitt, so… To be honest, Ross and Rachel weren’t my favourite couple on the show but I really liked them individually. This revelation on the reunion definitely added a new dimension to ‘Roschel’ and yes, I googled if both of them are currently single in real life! *fingers crossed*

Big Cringe during Smelly Cat

It was weird watching this part of the show. Why is Lady Gaga involved? Why is Phoebe being overshadowed by Lady Gaga? Why does Phoebe look so uncomfortable? It will be nice if they brought back the triplets, and they could have played or sang smelly cat with their surrogate mother/aunt! There was another really weird part… the fashion show with random guests but at least it ended with Joey!

Heart-warming scenes

Many other roles contributed to the success of friends like the rather annoying parents of the Gellar family and the ‘oh-my-gawd’ Janice! It was nice to see them on screen although it was for a short moment. I was quite a fan of Gunther and once wrote a short commentary to a magazine on him. He looked so different, and awwww, that unrequited love for Rachel!

For those who want a bit more of Friends, check this out –

James Corden visits the cast at the Friends Reunion!

Life

Even when I was young I was really paranoid. When I was ten, my parents brought my whole family on a cruise. Before going on that trip, I wrote a letter to my loved ones, in case I don’t make it back. It was to my family, my best friends at that time, and thankfully I made it back.

When it was in year 1999, I made my parents stockpile and prepare for Y2K where computers and transport would supposedly go haywire. Thankfully again, it did not.

With life throwing so many curveballs, who knows what will happen. Sometimes you get news of someone getting some illness, someone even an acquaintance involved in an accident makes you go omg. And of course, year 2020 was not encouraging.

I guess what we can do is to live life to the fullest everyday. I’m not saying quit your job and just do what you want but put effort into things that you do. Get the sense of accomplishment. Cherish the moments with your family. Watch your kids grow up. For me, planning birthdays and events are the most fun when it comes to family events.

Oh I really hope I can watch my kids grow up in a healthy, loving family.

Love you always if you’re reading this someday. ❤️

Till we meet again

One of the greatest pains come from loss, the loss of love; the loss of life; and one in particular, the loss of a loved one. The unimaginable pain of losing a child and the process of him or her slipping away. The courage of the parents; the inconsolable heartache; the helplessness of those around who care but can do nothing to alleviate this pain.

Sadly, this is not the first time I know of someone whose kid has passed away. This is particularly close to heart because he was one of my godsons, and the kid of my best friend.

Even before his birth, they knew of his condition but chose to give him a fighting chance. For this, I am in awe of his parents’ courage and love. In my opinion, they should never be guilty that they have chosen to keep him and have really done their best to give him a comfortable and loving home the past 1+ year. Know that we love you and will remember you always with your grouchy face and cool hairstyle. :’)

It’s not my place to write about their story.

So I will keep this short. I hope you’re watching over your family in this time of grief and give them the courage to get through their loss. ❤️

Hello 2021

2021 is the start of new beginnings. For me, it’s the start of a new job, which probably means the start of many new things. Getting to know new people, new work routes, new lunch places. Something that I brought over from New Year’s Eve though is my newfound old interest of reading.

In recent years, I realised that people have a different impression of how I was during my schooling years. Most recently someone expressed surprise that I was actually reading something / bought a book. It was pretty harmless but that set me thinking – what kind of image was I portraying to people?

During university I was called “bimbo” a few times by a few guys. To be honest the positive side of me thought that as a compliment, and perhaps it was the group that I hung out with. Personally I felt that it was also kind of sexist because I was labelled that because I chose not to go to school in a school shirt and shorts. And it was highly correlated to the faculty that I was in – Arts and Social Sciences.

Even up till this day I get “mansplained” oh so often. From people that I think have a lower understanding of the subject, just because they think that I do not understand that? Oh and how the topic changes when in a group they start talking to me. Sigh, I think that in 2021 I should seriously level up my intelligence as well as show others what I actually think about. Although I say I like to imagine clouds in the sky and be zen about it, doesn’t mean my brain is mush!

Back to the reading stuff, I have started to read about 1) Budgeting. Actually it is an ongoing process that I need to refresh on but this time moving on from personal finances to more investment related topics. I have also been asking friends on what they have been doing as a guide. You know, reading some stuff doesn’t mean it works for you, so I guess personal experiences do matter for this.

2) The power of habits. As an inquisitive individual, haha a more polite way of saying I am kaypoh, I am always thinking about how people achieve certain things in life. Habits and behavioural science seem to be the answer to this. And to be honest this should come easy to me having lived at least 20 years military style due to my dad’s parenting style. I think this applies to many areas apart from work, life – having a healthy lifestyle, work life balance. There’s more that I hope I can share in the future.

3) The power of positivity and mindfulness. Weirdly going through the ups and downs of my last job made me understand that there’s more to the daily grind of the rat race. How positivity and mindfulness is so important in creating a balance – and to this, an extent religion for me. In 2021, these are some areas that I like to work on.

Okay apart from all this serious stuff, I seem to gain a little bit more confidence in the kitchen so I will be a little preoccupied with exercising, cooking/baking, and forcing the kiddos to study.

Hello 2021!