life


It's your last semester, they say. The last semester is always the most chilled out and enjoyable, they say. You should enjoy yourself, they say.
Y E  T...
Well life works in mysterious ways. Life goes, "Who are they? Nope, we aren't gonna do what THEY said."

Yeap, the final semester of school has been all sorts of crazy for me.
From keeping up wih the changes in my personal life, to intensive meetings after meetings in school.
Year book edits; over and over, again and again, the perils of the year book team.
From presentations, to assignments and report writing (I have 3 presentations this week and 2 report submissions - crazy) an additional half a year to finish up one's masters definitely does not come easy.
You would think professors could take a chill pill with all the assignments, but nope!

Anyway, the most hectic 1.5 months has come and would soon be gone, and there comes graduation. The day we all look forward to but fear so much.

To be honest, I'm just excited to have some down time, to collate images from my Hong Kong trip and to finally get back to sharing more content on this space.
My Hong Kong trip seemed like kind of a distant memory although it was just slightly over a month ago - those few days were my calm before the storm.

Nanyang technological university north hill hall architecture
Nanyang technological university north hill hall room and dorms
NTU Campus Nanyang technological university north hill hall rooms

You may be wondering, what's with those random pictures above?
Well, I had some time to myself a couple of weeks ago, before photographing for a friend, and I decided to take some random shots of my university's hostels/halls.
Since i don't quite know what to do with them, and I felt the need to keep these pictures as a way to solidify my memory of university living, why not just share them here?

After all this is pretty much a glamourised dumping ground of images that depict my life experiences.

If you're still reading, and up for a sneak peek of my Hong Kong trip, I have a video up on youtube. Click here!
My next blog post - hopefully coming soon - will share more pictures and tips of my experience in Hong Kong :)

Sometimes Life Takes A Toll

8 November 2016

pictures for lean in notes by sheryl sandberg

As of late, i have been finding myself reading more and more autobiographies, more specifically, books written by powerful women. From #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso to Wildflower by Drew Barrymore. Latest edition to this list? Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg - a book every women (aspiring to have a kick-ass career or not) should read.
There is something intriguing about autobiographies and learning about life through someone else's unique experiences. Maybe its a sign of growing up and having less desire to live in a fantasy/non-fiction world, or maybe i'm just interested by people's life experiences as it's the closest way of experiencing something I otherwise would never have.

In Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg talks about women in the work place, citing her own experiences and that of her colleagues (think Marissa Mayer), how to deal with increasing personal success in the work place, the prejudice that comes with it and how we can all collectively go about aspiring for equality in the working world.

Carina chung lean in ootd with green shrubs

I never thought the male and female inequality was extremely apparent. I knew it existed, but, I have never been explicitly denied something because I was female. I'm fortunate enough to have never been put into such an obviously unequal situation. However, listening to Lean In, I realise prejudice still exist, just in more subtle but equally detrimental forms.

Being someone who has "girly" interest and I'm hardly ever taken seriously as an Engineering student (friends who study engineering and share my interest for fashion can attest to this). My classmates who are less interested in "girly things" were always taken more seriously, seen as smarter/better academically, and do not get the same judgement I do. I never thought much about it, I just thought it was probably something wrong with me as a person. Over the last few years in university, I've received countless of snide comments and had to deal with the way people have labelled me because of my more feminine hobbies and interests.
Lean In definitely shed light on certain things I otherwise would not have noticed.

singapore lifestyle travel and fashion blog

After I got the audiobook on audible, I realised there was a graduate's edition - probably more suitable if you're graduating, or have just started working. Regardless, I throughly enjoyed listening to Lean In. I just wish i had the physical book so I could highlight and annotate, instead of typing on my phone.

Anyway, Lean In, got me thinking so much more about how i've been viewing my career options, so here are 5 lessons I beleive we all can learn from facebook's successful COO!

1 | "SIT AT THE TABLE"

This is one MAJOR lesson from the book.
"Sit at the table" was a recurring statement throughout the book. Sitting at the table means stepping up to the plate and owning your worth.
Sandberg quotes studies that have shown women tend to doubt themselves (more so than men) when given an opportunity, and rarely agree to take up additional responsibilities immediately. It is also less common for women to praise themselves highlight their achievements, ask for a deserving raise, or volunteer themselves for a job they have the skills for.

Generally, women often put themselves down, down play their achievements (some even just NOT highlight it), and question their own abilities, more so than men.

So instead, of thinking about our flaws, and worrying if we're good enough, Sandberg suggests we should ask ourselves what would we do if you weren't afraid.

Basically, "Sit at the table" took me back to a famous quote from a movie my little self loved called A Cinderella Story.
"Do not let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."

ootd singapore blogger fashion travel and lifestyle

2 | NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU, AND THAT IS OK.

In her book, Sheryl Sandberg mentioned the difference when it comes to how people judge a successful male and a successful female with the exact same accomplishments. Google: Heidi Howard Case for more details.

"As a man gets more successful, he is better liked by men and women, and as a women gets more successful, she is less liked by men and women." This statement coupled with the Heidi Howard case study pretty much summarised how people typically view an ambitious woman.
This negative association is why, as females, we feel that in order to remain liked, we have to be "not a threat" and to not be seen as a corporate-ladder-climbing-bitch (to put it crudely). Our self doubt (in the case of point 1) becomes self-defence. Self doubt becomes a shield. We put ourselves down so we remained liked, so that we can be "the nice girl".

When I was younger, I use to be pretty straight forward and clear about what I wanted. Basically male counterparts who i've worked with labelled me as "A little bitchy" but "Got work done". Bitchy. Scary. Demanding. Curt. Angsty. "Guys would be afraid to date you", words i've heard all too often because i'm ambitious, straight-forward, or i'm strict when it comes to getting things done. I'm dead sure if I was a male, i'd be seen as determined, confident, efficient, etc. But alas, Im not.

After entering university, I toned down. Tried my hardest to stop being as straight forward and demanding, played (or tried at least) the typical nice girl card to fit in one too many times despite sometimes feeling sick to the stomach for having to do so. What for? Because it made me more well liked (Seriously though, it did much to my dismay). More accepted, more like a stereotypical female.

OOTD Lean in singapore asian fashion and lifestyle travel blogger

What I learned from this book is that in order to lean in, it is important we keep that self doubt in check, stop dumbing ourselves down as women just so men would like us.
We should never shortchange ourselves especially when opportunities arise in terms of our career. Take a step out and look at our accomplishments objectively, look at ourselves without the tinted eyes of gender.

Yes, it is important that we are liked. But we can't be liked by everyone. We shouldn't have to be less of who we are just so that our bosses or colleagues would like us.

Another side point, is that it is important NOT to expect women bosses to like you JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE a women. Sandberg mentions, often, as women, we expect greater niceness from other women, and have double standards when it comes to senior women and men. That should not be the case. We can't expect to reduce inequality and at the same time expected to be treated better just because of our gender.

This message of acceptance and equality in the work place clearly resounds throughout the book, and is by far my favourite topic in the book!

singapore asian fashion lifestyle and travel blog causal outfit of the day

3 | EMPOWER OTHER WOMEN.

It is 2016. The era for a "Queen Bee" is long gone. There is no such thing as only 1 woman doing well. We can all do well together.
Don't hate on other women because of their choices.
The classic case of working mum vs. non-working mum. In the book, Sheryl Sandberg talks about how women from one side bash the other way too often, because it is how they justify their choices. A working mum and a stay-home mum remind each other of what each one of them is giving up because of the choices they made.

I grew up with 2 working parents. My cousins had parents who were both working full-time as well. My grandparents were too working full time when they were parents. I never for once doubted the fact that i'd be a working mum. That was just the convention for me.

I vaguely, being 14 or 15, and having a discussion with my friends about working full-time whilst raising kids, and that was the first time I experienced the hate/judgement.
One of my friends commented on how mothers should be with their kids full-time when they are younger to increase the mother child bond or to ensure they wouldn't grow up "bad". Whatever bad meant. In Lean In, Sandberg said based on facts and statistics, working full-time does NOT diminish the mother daughter bond.
In fact, as a daughter of a working mum, i'd say my bond with my mum is pretty solid.

The book talks about how the fight between women should not be happening. If one feels the desire to raise her kids, and to nurture them, she should not be judged for her actions. Similarly, if one chooses to work full-time, she too shouldn't be judged or condemned because of her choices. There is no one right way to raise kids, and the more women go against one another, the more we perpetuate prejudice, & this is just one scenario.

Instead of tearing each other down, we should offer other women a helping hand. Highlight their achievements and their value. Encourage different choices, and give younger girls more options in their career choices, their roles in the family, etc. The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves.

"There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women" - Madeleine Albright

fashion and lifestyle blog, travel blog, ootd, outfit share

4 | FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER

Sheryl Sandberg wrote:
'Whether you get married, and who?' is the single most important decision an aspiring career women has to make.
Having a partner that will support your career decisions and step in to take care and do his/her part for the family is extremely important.
She cites the balance she and her husband has struck when it comes to taking care of their kids.

Basically, as more women sit at the table in the workforce, men have to sit at the kitchen table. Women should encourage men to take more responsibilities at home, and see parenting and an equal contribution between both parties. Finding a partner, male or female, that embraces and supports you going for your career, and willing to take up half the responsibilities at home, or basically "cover for you" when you aren't around is extremely important.

I'm not getting a life partner anytime soon, but I'm sure i've got to keep this in mind for when the time comes, for who I choose to date, or for the conversations that I have to have when with whoever I end up wanting to marry.

asian blogger  casual summer outfit 2016 fashion lifestyle travel blog ootd

5 | DON'T STAY QUIET

You cant just put your head down and ignore the situation. Sandberg said, in the past, she would not be so forthcoming when speaking about feminism and prejudice in the work place (or while she was studying at Harvard), despite having encountered so many situations herself.

She said she thought just by ignoring it, and doing her work well she'd prove those critics and stereotypes wrong.
I have always thought like that.
Instead of highlighting why everyone should support feminism, most of the time, I force myself to halt my statements or just not comment in situations because I didn't want to appear "unlikable" "scary" "angry" or "bitchy" even though I'm feeling NONE of those negative emotions. As a person, I just get excited and passionate about certain subjects (equality and debunking stereotypical insinuations for example) easily, and it sucks that I can't freely express myself in these situations.

By staying quiet or by not calling out on the prejudice, we're actually feeding into the stereotypes and allowing them to propagate.
"You can't please everyone, you can't be liked by everyone. If you do, you're not making a change." - Sheryl Sandberg

I hope when I'm put in or witnessing situations of female stereotype - or any stereotypes - I have the gut to speak up, and point out these errors, even if it means coming across "fierce".

Feminism, equality for the sexes, whatever it is you want to call it, I believe we should all be given opportunities in all arenas equally, regardless of how we look on the outside. It's sad that our world is so visual, and so many of us fall prey to stereotypes, but here's changing the world one step at the time, and i'm starting with the woman in the mirror.


5 Ways to Lean In - Lessons from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

12 June 2016

Found a post in my drafts, realised it's pretty relevant even now, and decided to publish it.


As I'm writing this, I just experienced the best take off ever, and after all the amazing sights I've seen in Scandinavia, I'm sitting in seat 17F of a BA flight typing this as tears slowly well up in my eyes.

I'm so incredibly thankful for am everything I experienced on this trip (in fact ever since I got to intern in France). The whole experience was definitely beyond my wildest imagination. I think witnessing so much beauty of the world really does put things into perspective.

If you told  me this 2-3 years ago, that getting into really good international schools and not having the money to go to them, and being rejected by medical school were blessings in disguise, and being up in the programme i'm in would result in the experience of a lifetime, I would have thought you were insane.
But right now, I get it. 
I may not enjoy what I'm learning in school, I may not be on my desired career path, but I can believe that everything will eventually work out.



Being in this course gave me the opportunity to fulfil my greatest dream (since I was 15!) of living in Paris and London and traveling around Europe. Somehow, it resulted in my family being able to see England too (which I just realised was a highlight my brother's life), and I manage to travel to Europe with my mum (as wished in 2013).

This was definitely one of the most reflective, encouraging, eye opening and emotionally overwhelming trips. I found myself wanting to cry tears of joy more than half the time. 

I guess my point of this post is to say, everything happens for a reason, and it's ok if things aren't always perfect. I know, sometimes it really does feel as though life is playing a joke on you, or just kicking you in the butt over and over again. I get it. 
When I did well for A levels, but got so many rejections for what I wanted to do, when I think back and blame myself for choosing engineering when I could have easily gone into another more creative university course that I would enjoy, when I was so close to giving up, and thought about quitting for the last 3 years because I didn't like engineering, and (though my grades are decent) when I was miserable almost every waking academic moment, & I constantly thought my life was a joke. 
I GET IT.




Now, when I look back on my university journey thus far, no doubt I will shudder at the thought of engineering - I'm shuddering now - I can see that it wasn't a joke. It happened for a reason. Reasons that elude me, but somehow what could have been the sole regret in my life, the single worst decision made, has turned out to be quite a blessing. 

I hope this serves as a reminder to myself and hopefully an encouragement to others feeling like I did for the last 2-3 years.
Sometimes life doesn't go the way we hope it would, but we just have to hang in there, give it our best shot (maybe with a few lot of tears, threats to quit, emotional turmoil!), and believe that things will eventually start to make sense. 

I'm not saying I know why I ended up in engineering, in fact, I know for sure, I do not want a career in engineering - it's wrong for me, and I have no passion for it, I'm no longer ashamed to admit that. Admitting that engineering is not for me isn't giving up or failing, it's owning the truth
In spite of it all, I have to believe that all these, happened for a reason. 
There can be no regret in my decision years ago. A lot of what ifs, but no regrets. I don't need to forgive myself, because I can see now that I did not single handedly ruin my own life.

In the mean time I have to continue to work hard and keep my grades up, even though it's not easy, and I don't like it, I got to do it. Because I owe it myself to make the best of the situation. And hopefully one day, just like today, the sky will be sky little clearer, the day a little brighter and everything will make a little more sense. 



If you're stuck in a place you hate, a job you don't like, something you can't quit and get out of, just hang in there, and see it through. I promise one day everything will be better, and the blessings will no longer be disguised. 

Things Willl Eventually Makes Sense | Behind the Scenes

1 February 2016

image of the landscape of lake bled in the summer

C A L M.
Something i've been lacking in my life as of late. The insane school weeks, the crazy deadlines, test after test after test, and not having enough time to study for everything.
Pretty much everyone faces the same problems when in college I guess.

Gone were the days I was on my year abroad. Those carefree days where the skies were bluer and the days were brighter (well not literally considering in Singapore you get way more sun). I miss those days with a passion. I miss walking along cliffs, visiting lakes, rowing boats, cruising through fjords, admiring nature, watching sunsets, having 4 seasons, experiencing winter, (Ok I will get to do that in December, but still!) Mostly, I miss not having to worry too much about my academics and obsessing over maintaining my Grade Point Average.

So, in the spirit of introducing a little bit more peace and serenity in my life, I'm sharing some more pictures of my time in Lake Bled, one of the more peaceful places (in my memory).

Lake bled image in the summer
Wooden hut on lake bled, and scenery in the summer, slovenia, bled

I loved how my friend and I could just stroll leisurely around the lake, and that would probably take up couple of hours. I think I have some secret-never-said-before-desire to live by a lake. How calming it would be, how Sunday afternoons would consists of family picnics by the lake, watching ducks and swans paddle around the lake.

Families out by the lakes in the summer bled, slovenia
Ducks paddling in lake bled, slovenia
Heart shaped structure on lake bled slovenia

Perhaps we could even go paddle boating, or boat rowing, or swimming, the activities are endless. If I'm not up for anything, I bet I could just sit on a bench and people-watch the whole afternoon away. Or accompanied by a good book.

Paddle boarding on lake bled with bled island in the background
get an aerial view of bled from this high point

Living by a lake, that would be such a dream.

Lake bled, unlike other lakes, has a tiny island in the middle of it. Which you could actually climb up to the top to have a nice aerial view of bled city I presume. While I was in bled, my friend and I didn't have enough time to hop off our boat on to the little island. Or rather, as first time boat rowers, we didn't know how to dock the boat and get off, so intsead of running the risk of capsizing - since we were with all our cameras, phones and other valuables on the boat, we just went around the little island instead.


Scenic view of lake bled

There is something very calming about watching people row boats, or staring out into the lake and the scenery around. The Mountains and hills behind, the beautiful sky, the blue waters, it is no wonder poets and artists all choose to live by some kind of water body or close to nature.

boat rowers on lake bled, slovenia
Swan and lily pads on lake bled slovenia

One thing I greatly enjoyed during my stay in bled was having meals by the lake. The restaurants around the lake have one of the best views, no doubt, so alfresco dining was a must. On top of that, they also had live musical duos playing by the lake, good music, good view, good food, there was nothing more I could have asked for.

Live performances and music while dining in a restaurant beside lake bled, slovenia
little robin perched on a rope

Occasionally we saw little robins flying about perching on the ropes near the tables, and flying from one table to another stealing fallen bread crumbs or bread pieces that were given to them by the restaurant diners. How snow-white-in-the-enchanted-forest-esque. The greenery and the blue skies coupled with the chirping birds seems like a scene right out of a fairytale.

View of lake bled from a higher ground.

If I could teleport right now, i'd probably teleport myself a couple months back, just to enjoy the peace and calmness of lake bled. Perhaps after a nice calm day, i'll have more zest and fight to take on the exam month of November!

I still have more of my trips I'd love to share, and more posts I want to write, but as you probably could guess, I'm in the midst of preparation for finals, and hence the sporadic posts.
I hope you do stick around though, because once finals is over, I'm off to Japan and there would be SO MUCH MORE exciting stories i'd want to share on this blog!

The Calmness of Bled, Slovenia

9 November 2015 Lake Bled, 4260 Bled, Slovenia

Outfit Diary, thoughts on returning home to singapore after a full year abroad

"Welcome to Singapore and To all Singaporeans Welcome Home!"
When those words resounded over the PA system after a 13 hour flight from London, I felt so many emotions all at once. Excited to be back, Curious to see how Singapore has changed over the 1 year (It has changed a lot in just a year!) Nervous for the changes that will take place in the coming year, Sadness because I'm no longer in Europe (definitely missing the european summer weather!) but mostly, Happy to be home and to be able to see my friends and family again.

Being away for over a year has been such one amazing, enriching, and enjoyable ride. But I guess what they say about Home being the best place on earth is actually true.
To be honest, Im not that much of an emotional person, and I'm not extremely attached to Singapore. Sure, I love it, and there are many, many things I enjoy about Singapore. But I also love travelling, exploring new places, living out of a suitcase, and seeing the world! That is definitely something I'll miss now that I'm done with my year abroad.
One never really does get over the wanderlust!


Outfit Feat. Necklace from happiness boutique
Image of singapore streets in the residential area

As of now, I still have sit in front of 2 fans or be in an air-conditioned room because the weather in Singapore is way too hot and humid. I remember being in Greece and Slovenia and complaining about the weather, oh Singapore is worst! However did I use to survive in this 30 degrees equatorial climate. Oh goodness. In the past few days, I'm just dressed in tops with cut-out and lots of ventilation, shorts, skirts or summer dresses. I cannot bring myself to put on more items of clothing, or pants for that matter.
Accessorising, too, goes down to a minimum, 1 necklace and that's all I can manage (considering how sticky my body feels after being out for a whole day). Which means having a long statement necklace like the one from Happiness Boutique - an online boutique stall based in Berlin that has free shipping around the world, and a cool customer reward program (go check it out if you don't believe!) - is all I need to feel a little more put together when the weather is too warm for me to function.



Image of a statement necklace from happiness boutique
What I Wore
Top:
Shorts: Forever 21
Necklace: c/o Happiness Boutique
Sandals: Forever 21
Thankfully, I am adjusting to the pace of life and commitment level back home pretty comfortably. Summer school has begun (sigh), plus, there are lots of pre-semester requirements / administrative issues I have to deal with in the coming weeks before University officially resumes in August.
I expected the transition back home to be hard, and I can safely say, it is definitely not easy. Things don't just go back to the way they were one year ago. So, my knowing that, has definitely helped in terms of getting in to the swing of things.

Oh yes, how could I possibly leave out food. Being home means having LOTS OF FOOD. Home cooked food prepared by my grandparents? DIVINE. That is something i've dearly missed during my year abroad. Traditional local hawker food is also something i've missed. Savouring a familiar dish after not having it for over a year, and attempting to recreate it (but failing and having to eat the dish anyway!) makes it all the more delicious.

Brunch at sunday folks with tea, waffles, earl grey ice-cream and gula melaka icecream

What I love most about coming home, is meeting up with old friends, hanging out, and finding out how everyone is progressing in their life. It gives me so much joy and inspiration to know that my friends are doing well, and everyone is all progressing into different exciting chapters of their life. Some are planning their semesters abroad, while others are about to graduate. It's wonderful to see how everyone is growing up but not apart from each other. Which is something that is so hard to come by.

Anyway, my new potentially hectic university schedule means that I may not be able to travel as much as I did when I was in Europe, however, I definitely plan to take trips around South East Asia - Vietnam being the first!
I can't believe i've never really explored South East Asia.  Going away and coming home (or reading one too many travel blogs haha!), has showed me how incredible and different each country in South East Asia is. I want to not only explore Singapore, but the whole of South East Asia! Stay tuned for more of my travel stories (oh yeah I still have my whole summer break travels to share!) and hopefully i'll be able to make time amidst my university schedule to do the thing I love the most: Travel, meet new people, learn and grow with various valuable experiences.

Fashion Outfit feat. Forever 21 and happiness boutique

After all, I firmly believe in the quote: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn 't do than by the ones you did do." So time to catch the trade winds in my sail, explore, dream and discover!


Outfit Diary: Life Updates - Home After A Year Abroad

27 July 2015 Singapore


From my previous post, you can tell that I really enjoyed my tour of the Universtiy of Oxford.
The tour guide shared with us many stories, little anecdotes (which could be purely fiction) of famous people who studied in Oxford University, professors who taught there, the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, the inspiration for The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and many others.

However, there were 2 anecdotes that she shared that really struck a chord with me. I've been really lost about what I want to do with my life ( I know, I know,  you'll reply saying "aren't we all?") but the 2 stories she shared really did lift my mood and made me reflect a little more about life.





Follow Your Dreams
Your past doesn’t determine your future, your present doesn’t dictate your future.
Graduated from Oxford with a Masters in Engineering but he was never an engineer. Not for a day. He loved theatre when he was in college and pursued a career in acting after university. He went on to become and actor, a very succesful renown one – Mr. Bean. He was more famous than he would EVER be as an engineer.


Life Is In Your Hands
So the story goes, once upon a time… (queue dramatic introductory music)
A student caught a bird and held it behind his back. He went to his professor and said, “Sir, you’re a professor in one of the best universities in the world, you should be extremely intelligent, can you tell me if the bird behind me is alive of dead?”
The professor knew that if he said “alive” the student would kill the bird in that moment, and, if he were to say “dead” the student would free the bird and it would immediately fly off.
So the professor replied. “It’s life, is in your hands. You have the choice to let it live or die.”


Then the guide ended the tour with  “I hope this story reminds you that your own life is in your own hands, you can be whoever you want to be.”

I hope these 2 stories put a smile on your face today, and give you a little motivation, to keep believing in yourself, and have a little faith in life :)


Read more about my Day Trip in Oxford Here.

2 Favourite Stories From My Oxford Tour Guide

18 November 2014 Oxford, Oxford, UK

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