Ah Europe. I miss the days I could book a flgiht/buy a train ticket just a couple of days in advance, hop on a plane (or train) on the Friday of that same week, and in 2-3 hours be in a COMPLETELY different city. As I study and scramble to keep head above the water with all the commitments and insane projects, tests, and deadlines I have in school, I find myself constantly reminiscing about the year that just passed. The time I was on my year abroad in London (read my tips on that here). It has only been only 3 and a half months since i've been back in Singapore, and already the memories from my exchange feel so distant.

Europe in a year. What a wonderful year it was.
From my internship in Paris to living for a whole year in London. I thought being away from home for a year would be too long, and that living in Europe for a year would give me sufficient time to explore the continent or learn more about the region, BUT I WAS WRONG. I could live here my whole life and still be fascinated - just like how after 21 years in Asia, I'm still as excited to go out and explore a different part of the region, and there is still SO MUCH I have yet to see!

Anyway, i thought i'd pay homage to my travels in Europe and come up with a list of 5 cities i'd love to revisit again.
I have been asked countless of times which are my favourite cities in Europe, and I never say just 1 city (the list goes on until I'm sort of telling my life story). So, are the 5 cities below, my favourite European cities (that i've travelled to/toured)? Maybe? But I can't say for sure. There were so many beautiful places I visited in Europe (Italy, Barcelona, Scandinavia - see what I mean about going on and on), and so many OTHER places I want to visit.
These 5 cities could be here because
a) I didn't spend enough time when in the city when I was there and had "unfinished business"  or
b) I want to experience everything all over again, or probably both. All I know is, I enjoyed myself in these 5 cities, and would steal ANY chance to go back!

O N E:  C O R N W A L L

With places like Cornwall, the pictures itself would make anyone want to go there. Seriously though. That gorgeous skies, the beautiful beaches and, cliffs and bluest of water. Everytime I read a cornish blogger's blog, I ask myself "why am I not living in Cornwall?!" Cornwall is so huge it doesnt really classify as one city. I've only been to west Cornwall, and even then I wouldn't mind going back. But i'd love to visit South Cornwall someday, heck maybe i'd jump on a plane, spend a couple of days in London, go to Cornwall and spend 2 weeks there. Someone please buy me an air ticket!
Cornwall is a place I will not hesitate to revisit if I get the chance to be back in the UK.

T W O:  B U D A P E S T

If you saw my post titled Not Enough Time in Budapest, you would have guessed this. Budapest is a city I want to revisit just because there is so much to do, and I didnt get to do all that I wanted to. Also, the Daunbe River is but the most gorgeous thing ever. Walking around the river and looking on to the Buda (or Pest) side of it is something I could do over and over and over again.

T H R E E:  I N T E R L A K E N

One of my biggest regret after my trip to Interlaken was that I did not get to go up the Swiss Alps.
Touristic or not, everyone has done it, and it has always been my dream to visit a mountain, experience what its like to see the snow caps of the alps. Learning about the mountains and rivers during geography lessons have only fuelled my appreciation and love for all things nature. Sadly, I didn't have that much time in Interlaken and it was rather pricy, somehow the situation led to me not being able to visit the Swiss alps.

I'll definitely have to visit Switzerland again someday - and Interlaken would be a stop in that itinerary!
To be honest though, one can never get enough of Switzerland. Its just incredibly beautiful! The landscapes are PHENOMENAL. Mountains, Greenery, rivers, the blue skies, it doesn't get any better than that!

F O U R:  B E R G EN

I don't know why but despite spending the most time in Bergen during my Scandinavian solo trip, but I still want to go back! Visit the neighbouring fjords - another spectacle that one can see over and over again - climb another mountain, I don't have specific reasons why I want to go back, except... I just do? It's a really lovely, chill, city, if it wasn't that cold (and expensive haha!), i'd totally live here!

I must say though, I wouldn't want to go back alone. I'd love it if I had company so that I can try out the different cafés and food options in Bergen!

F I V E:  A M S T E R D A M

Amsterdam...The first city I visited with Jerald, the first city I visited as a tourist, the city that made me fall in love with traveling in Europe! Amsterdam was so much fun, windmills, canals, autumn flowers, burgers, cheese markets, I would relive this experience again and again - I actually do, every time I see an image of Amsterdam's canals.
+ The people in Amsterdam are so nice and friendly, and they are EXTREMELY FLUENT in English - Yay to no language barrier.

Rotterdam is another Dutch city I'd love to visit someday, if I ever do, I'd not hesitate to stop by Amsterdam again!

One other country I loved that i'd want to visit again include CROATIA. Croatia is my ULTIMATE FAVOURITE European country. But I couldn't identify ONE city to revisit, plus, if I ever do go back, I would definitely want to see other parts of Croatia that i've never been to! The nature, clear blue waters, food and PRICE POINT is AMAZING in Croatia.
P.S. If you've never been to Croatia - just forget about the cities listen above and just go. Save up and go to Croatia! You wouldn't be disappointed!

Sadly, a return flight ticket to Europe would cost $1000 and my limited university student budget isn't going to cut it, so for now, it's more of exploring the neighbouring cities, seeing more of Asia learning the different cultures, visiting exotic places in South East Asia, and exploring the place I call home. Hopefully soon enough, I can make such a list for Asia!

Ah, selecting pictures for this post got me all nostalgic about my year abroad.
Explore, dream, discover indeed!

5 European Cities I'd LOVE to RE-VISIT!

29 October 2015 Europe

I LOVE clothes, fashion, shopping, and dressing up (unfortunately, my bank account cannot handle another shopping trip - online or in real life). Also, I don't share my outfits or take OOTDs as often as I would like, because,
1) I don't dare to ask someone else to help me with an ootd, apart from jerald, who has no choice but to oblige, and not judge.
2) I'm no model, I feel awkward, and the pictures look awkward.

But hey, I figured, as long as my face is not the main focus, and its not too close up, it doesn't really matter. 
So here's me taking a leap of faith and sharing. 

One saturday afternoon, I decided to wear my floral patterned pants I got when I was in Paris during the summer. And here's me showing off my new birthday gift. I've just recently got into wearing watches. I never use to like having something around my wrist in the past, but now that i've been converted, there is no going back.

I'm almost always seen wearing a watch, and finding nice new watches has become a thing.

Can I also say, I really like the collar on this shirt. Formal with a little touch of fun. Such a good buy for $15. 

So this is the awkward constipated look I get when i'm trying to take a photo!

Black and white pieces are fantastic for traveling! I have gotten so much use out of this white top and my comfy textured black cardigan separately, but never thought of wearing them together for the fear of appearing too "boring". But well, boring isn't too bad after all.

Outfit Diary: Falling B&W

24 November 2014 Shoreditch, London N1, UK

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” - A Hat Full of Sky.
It's been a good 2 weeks in Singapore. I didn't think i'll change much after being away for 3 months, but I feel sort of different. Different yet the same. I think if anyone has left home for a long time, and then came back again couple of months or even a year later, they'll understand what I mean.

Before you're back, people say things like how your family would be missing you since you've been away for a long time, but truth be told, I don't think so. My family might miss me, but they continue their lives as per normal, and that is a great thing. In fact I see them a lot lesser than I use to before I left - blame it on jet lag hahaha. And that is okay. Every shopping trip/dinner with them is a fun time where I get to rattle on about my life in Paris/random things in general. They think I talk too much now that I'm back!

I've always wondered what it would be life to leave singapore for a couple of months, one year, and then come back later. I guess if i ever want to take off and see the world, I can (if i have the $). Because coming back to SG, though there is familiarity with the food and places, and the comfort of home, it doesn't feel too different from living alone in Paris (because my family members are so busy as usual!) This gives me the desire to go on and travel more in the future. Because I know I can, and my family will be still the same when i'm back :)

Nevertheless, I don't particularly enjoy the Singapore weather though this sweltering heat means its summer all day, everyday, all year round, and I can still flounce around in my summer dresses. 
Then again, I'm so excited to experience autumn and winter in Europe, layering and dressing up for classes! Sorry, bimbo moment. 

The main reason I come back to Singapore is FOOD. Because coming back for people puts a lot of pressure on them, and it can sometimes be disappointing. You realise you're very dispensable. But it also teaches you to be okay. Be okay with the fact that friends, life and all that stuff you use to put so much emphasis on, is actually not that important, and things are fleeting/nothing but momentary. 
This helps me to  enjoy every single moment in life, every short car conversation, every soccer match with my brother (even though I have no clue about soccer, and I sit there and talk and ask all sorts of random questions), every dinner with my friends, every single time my friends ask me how I'm doing or remember that somewhere out there in another side of the world I still exist :)

One of my friends said this on Instagram,  "Really glad seeing everyone moving ahead in life!" accompanied with a photo of a group of us at dinner. Its such a heartwarming thing to hear. Everyone moving ahead, everyone growing up, everyone experiencing new things.
Thank you to the family and friends who have been so encouraging all these years, and even though we don't regularly catch up, thank you for always being the same humble people that you all are. Thank you for remembering me, and for taking the time off to gather and send me off, to make me feel part of a second family! Thank you for being happy for my successes, and adventures in life. I love you all with all my heart and wish you all the happiness in the world <3

I know its not thanksgiving, but I've been feeling really grateful lately.

See you all next fall! 

2nd Goodbye

3 October 2014 Singapore

As with new environments, it takes sometime getting use to things in the working world - what more in a foreign company with a foreign working language!
Honestly, I wouldn't ever dare say that i've been cruising through my internship. I was merely surviving (and occasionally having fun!). Somedays, I dread having to wake up and practically haul my butt to work, other days, i'm pretty chirpy through out the day - all depends on the social situations and amount of work to complete each day. I am in no way qualified to give tips but anyhow, I managed to survive without bursting in to tears, without calling home and complaining, plus I actually kind of enjoyed the process.
I guess this post sort of summarises what I have learnt through my experience, andddd... I hope its useful to at least one person out there!

1 | Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously
People on the other side of the world sometimes have very little knowledge about Asia (similarly, people in Asia, myself included, do sometimes have a very limited knowledge about europeans). Much less a tiny country like Singapore. To them, in Asia, there is China, Japan and Korea, and they can't tell the difference in our appearance. Despite that, they wouldn't hesitate to judge you base on your appearance. Or make jokes about Asians in front of you.

Walking along the streets I do face with people going "CHINA? KOREA? JAPAN? VIETNAM?" and they say it as if I'm illiterate and would not understand the phrase "Which country are you from?" Initially I was a little annoyed, I wasn't affected by the fact that they didn't know where I came from,  but more of annoyed they thought I couldn't speak english.
But after a while I realised, its not about me. Don't ever make it about you.
Eventually, I stopped being bothered about people asking me if i'm from China/ All sorts of weird questions about China (as if Singapore was ever part of china). The best thing to do in such situation is to brush it off. When people joke about china or asia, I typically just laugh it off. Its funny because sometimes the stereotypes are true, and there is no denying it!

Sometimes people choose not to speak english even though they can (because of various reasons, some legit, some not), or they cannot speak english/the language you speak, just let it slide. And as much as you don't like it, conversations will go on as though you are not there.
For me I found myself lost in all of the french conversations. Before I left for France, somebody told me this 'Be expected to be treated like a chair - you're there, people know it, but you're just THERE',  it was kind of true, but only when there is a really big group of people. So I played a game of guessing, where I just count the number of words I can pick out in the whole conversation. I do text sometimes (but that's not polite, and you come across as unfriendly, so, try not to do that haha!)
In fact when the other interns notice that i'm trying to understand, they do try to include me in the conversation by randomly asking me the same question in english, or explaining the conversation in english for me. 

Point is - I realised that there are always nice people around, its better to take things lightly, and be thankful for every single time somebody is nice!

2 | Don't Get Involved in/Create Drama
Working in an office with interns, there will definitely be drama, cliques, people liking someone more than another person. ALWAYS take the neutral stand. Especially if you don't understand what they are saying!
(I think this is more of a reminder to myself when I graduate and start working. Dear Future Carina: Don't EVER be involved in politics. Avoid it like the plague. As far as you can.)
If people approach you with their problems, be nice, and JUST LISTEN. Never add oil to fire, don't commit social suicide.
Sometimes you get approached only when people need something for you, always be genuine about helping them. Don't be upset and think they're making use of you  etc. don't create drama for yourself.   I believe, if i'm not genuine, people will know. There is no faking it. Being fake nice is gross - another self reminder.
I actually enjoyed helping the other interns in the company, mostly to read through english stuff, made me feel a little more useful (see point under work)!

Oh, and, if people expect you to be a certain way that you're not, just smile and let it go. I realised, its never a good thing to get upset over that. 

3 | Be Nice and Make Friends
This is pretty obvious. If you want people to be nice to you, you should be nice first. Truth be told, it's hard to make friends when you speak a different language. Somedays you just want to shut up and not try, but, sulk for 5 minutes, listen to your favourite song, and then put on a happy face and go talk to people (or at least look approachable - I think I struggle with this generally!) 
Most of the time I feel weird cutting in/openly speaking to everyone whilst they are having a french conversation, but, when there is a smaller group, or if I'm speaking to one or 2 people at a time, I tend to open up a lot more! 

Whatever it is, I think interacting with people as much as possible should be the way to go - I wish i had opened up more earlier and faster! But well, it was definitely fun talking to people who have such different lifestyles and upbringing, be it 1 or 100 new friends, its nice to get to know a part of somebody else's story.  

1 | Google(and google translate/any translating device) is Your Best Friend
I think everyone realised this since stepping in to University. But really, I had to google something / look to google for help regarding the work I had to do, almost every single day.

The job scope that I had was nothing related to my major in Uni. Some people may prefer to do something more related to what they are studying, but I enjoyed learning more about business, excel etc, things I otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn whilst studying engineering.

Google has been a great at help.

2 | Keep Yourself Occupied
Unfortunately, working in a big company your bosses don't really have time to bother too much about you, (well talking to my other friends on internship, this seems to be a such norm) or they might be away for a day, a week (a month - french have a 5week paid leave, why do Singaporeans only get 14 days, sigh!) and you find yourself being unoccupied after completing the relevant assignments/allocated workload.

There were a couple of times I found myself browsing thought catalog, chatting up random friends on FB, tumblr-ing for the 100x in the day, and still feeling immensely bored, and just... being very useless.
For most companies, any form of audio/video/filesharing website will be blocked - thankfully for me, facebook and blogger were available - so i spent my free time switching between Doing My French Homework, Editting Photos, and Planning for my Holidays/Weekend trips! Planning for trips are the best, because I do get tips on where to go/what to see/what they liked about the place/where else I should visit etc. from the other interns who have been to these other European cities!

What I found interesting - and this is probably a better tip - was that the other interns proactively approach other managers and ask if they could help in any sort of work. I admire them for that. Typically not done in Singapore I guess?  Well I have never heard of it until then - my ignorance maybe. But its nice being more proactive and not just doing nothing when your supervisor is on holiday right?

Other ways to keep yourself occupied can include reading Ebooks or listening to Audible - But please FINISH your work first.

1 | Learn the Language
I cannot stress how important this is. People are nicer when they see that you try. Besides, learning a new language = being able to meet new people from class! Living in a huge city alone, its hard to find friends. Going for language classes is the best way to find other people like you, plus its always fun to learn something new! I met really nice people whilst learning french. Nice and interesting people with such wonderful stories to share! 

The down side though, is people have different schedules, so sometimes they leave class after a couple of weeks and come back later/go to a different class, but I'm so super thankful to have met  such nice people whilst studying french, and hopefully we do meet again sometime in the future!

2 | Explore. Even If You're Alone.
I was such an enjoyable time exploring the city alone. That experience will be one of my most cherished. I gained a ton of independence, and NAVIGATION SKILLS - thank you citymaps2go. I would say the only I wish I did was travel to a different city alone. I did not have the guts to do that. But well, Paris is never boring, so weekends alone, was how I discovered more about myself, learned to live alone, and gained a lot of confidence.

Not many people know, but my relationship with myself was a wreck for quite sometime, and I depended a lot on others to feel worthy, but living alone sort of changed that. I am happy with myself and what I have. Thankful, and hopefully more appreciative. My mum noticed I became a lot more confident as well. It wasn't that I was not confident before, but now I am more comfortable with myself, I have accepted myself for who I am. I feel like I've learned how to take care of myself, love myself, and be proud of myself.

3 | Have Little Reminders of Home
I'm not very dependent on my family, and I have never felt homesick even on school trips/camps/overseas with friends etc. but I being able to do things that reminded me of  my lifestyle back at home helped a lot.
Back in Singapore I watch a lot of american dramas, sitcoms, etc. Being able to do that while having dinner, really made it feel as though I was back at home. At least for that hour.
Then again, I didn't have the stress of having to study and keep my grades up, so more on this topic when I officially start school in London. I hope I cope just fine!
Time to pack pictures and bring some dorm room decorations along :)

If you actually took the time to read everything in this post, THANK YOU! Do share with me any tips/stories that would help with my year abroad. I hope this was not too much of a bore, and if it was too wordy, at least the photos made up for it! Thats all from me about Paris, hopefully I get to go back again as a full fledge tourist sometime in the future.

Pictures from a lazy sunday out in the Louvre/Concorde Area of Paris

Interning in a Foreign Language (+Tips?)

28 September 2014 Concorde, 75008 Paris, France

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