Personal, Travel

Gap Year Travel Log 2017: Uganda

Hello!!!

So I know it’s basically been a year but I’m finally done with the video from my time in Uganda 2017. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of footage and therefore can’t show you everything I video taped but most of what happened is in the video.

However, here is a timeline of my time in Uganda, accompanied with unedited photos. (Because your girl is a struggling University student, but I promise I will put in more effort next time.)

I got there a day before everyone else, which meant that for a day, I got to explore Entebbe a little. I stayed in this inn near the beach and walked down during sunset to have a meal alone while I journaled.

Once everyone else arrived, we had our orientation at Nile River Explorers Camp, which is where we learnt more about the culture, mannerisms, language and logistical things of Uganda. We also had the opportunity to go white water rafting and you will see the photos below that we struggled to stay on our raft.

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We had the privilege of seeing the sunset over the nile for a week.

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The place we would usually go to on our weekends was Jinja, which was about an hour and a half journey from where we stayed, which is a small village called Busesa, in the Iganga region. Our mode of transport was usually by matatu (a type of van, primary school transport vehicle) or motorbike. The latter was a lot more fun. And life threatening.

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Lilli is clearly enjoying her ride.

One thing I really loved about Jinja were the colours and the architecture, where nothing seemed to be regular and everyone had a space of their own.

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These kids asked me to take a photo of them, when I caught them playing hide and seek on a shops’ roof

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Then we dive into our time at school: a lot of dancing, PE, smiles and some work in between.

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Ollie teaching reading class.

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Proud moment after a football game outside our house.

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Clearly very happy about studying.

This is followed by our brief exploration of northern and western Uganda where we trekked to see waterfalls and gorillas. Might have almost been attacked by two silverbacks too. (I like to live life on the edge, clearly.)

 

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We walked up and down and around these plains. May not look much but damn they hurt.

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C-C-C-hameleon

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Still unsure as to why we decided to do this

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We made it to the last waterfall!

 

 

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Hello, Lake Bunyonyi.

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The video attached is not meant to be artsy or vlog-like in anyway, it’s just a visual representation of my time there. Also, you will see that I am not very good at editing but I just wanted to show you a little slice of what life was like during my time there.

I hope you enjoy it.

xx, Andrea

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December: Home

It’s exactly a week and a bit until I fly back to England and as time quickens, well what can I say, inspiration struck.

One of my posts, identity, explains why I feel that I have never truly belonged to a certain group of people and reading it now, after 2 years, I understand where I’m coming from. Take a teenage, angst-filled, soul searching girl and throw her into a society completely different from the one she grew up in and you get – confusion.

Anyway, I still haven’t truly found “home” but I’ve narrowed it down to four places that I feel at home in, and here they are:

  1. Singapore
  2. Indonesia
  3. England
  4. Uganda

I’ve written these paragraphs in 2nd person to give my future self an opportunity to reflect on my feelings regarding this topic. 

Singapore

This is where you spent most of your time. It’s where you’ve made the most memories, met the most people, grew up seeing the country change and progress. You’ve found places that take you back in time – the schools, the beach, the tuition centres you frequented (haha), the swings 10 minutes away from your house, your house(s) in themselves. Where you’ve fallen in love the most.  It’s the country you feel the most familiar in.

Indonesia

This is where you feel the most identified. Being Indonesian-Dutch, seeing the majority of people around you mirroring the image of yourself makes you feel as though you are part of a community you never really found in Singapore. You can’t converse in your native tongue, but even then, you form a sense of understanding through the way you interact with strangers and because of it, the community transforms into a version of a family you never actually had the chance to meet.

England 

This is where you grew up the most and where you spent the last years of teenage hood. This time was when the world seemed to challenge you the most and when everything became all too much, you learnt how to cope with it. The simple changes you made to your behaviour or your reaction to situations compared to your “child” self defined what adult hood may be for you. You still have a long way to go, but you’ll get there.

Uganda

This is where you found the person that you want to be. It formed an idealised version of the “Andrea” that you want to achieve. You learned how to let people down in the best way possible, how unsafe can be thrilling but at a price, how to love with a time limit and how to leave the ones you have grown to care for without breaking too many hearts. It is the place that you felt the most peace in and had little to no distractions from doing what you love and finding out the things you genuinely liked. It is where you met the most inspiring people and where you want to revisit, to find out more things you didn’t know about yourself.

 

Till whenever, Andrea x

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November; The Next Chapter

There are distinct days in my life when it feels like a chapter is ending. You would think that the beginning of University would be the obvious choice for this new beginning but it didn’t feel that way. Maybe it was because of boarding school that living in dorms didn’t feel so foreign or maybe being on my own again felt more comfortable than I remember from before. Either way, I wasn’t struggling in the first few weeks of school because well, there wasn’t much to be worried about.

However, when everything is going right in your life, it tends to do a 180 and stab you in the back. Slowly my health, my mind, my relationships were deteriorating one by one and I felt lost in my new environment. It didn’t help that I was aware that I was the cause of all my problems, either. Feeling this way is difficult when you’re making new friends because it’s awkward to go crazy on them within the first few weeks of knowing them. Naturally, I did what anyone would do — act normal. And this is where the problem starts.

Everyone has their ups and downs but the way they deal with them differs from person to person. I tend to lean towards the ignore-everything-until-it-all-comes-crashing-down approach. And, well, surprise! That’s exactly what happened. A positive note: coming out of it has made me calmer and more focused on my priorities for this next chapter. I’m still unsure as to why I’m sharing this but I feel like as this is my personal outlet, it’s nice to have a public reminder of not just the good but also the bad, because it’s natural and we should all be okay with the fact that life isn’t perfect and will never be. I have a lot to prove this year – to my parents, my friends and most importantly, myself. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first and I need to actually start doing that. Let’s hope the next few months aren’t as dramatic as this one.

– Andrea x

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Closing the Gap (Year)

So the time has come where I leave what’s familiar to me behind, yet again. I’ve done this countless times in the past 3 years and it sort of feels like second nature to me now but that doesn’t mean it gets easier –

The prospect of having yet another different chapter added into my life is always exciting because I love going places, meeting new people and having more stories to tell.

And this time, this chapter is going to be titled: University.

The next 4 years I will be spending most of my time on the south coast of England, which comes with its pros and cons. It doesn’t feel very new because of the 2 years I spent here before but being away for a year in tropical climates makes the cold a little uninviting.

I can only hope that the experiences and people I will meet will make up for it. (It usually does.)

The past year has been hard, rewarding and full of joy, all at the same time. Hard because learning how to work and working multiple jobs is not only physically stressful, but also emotionally and it was evident in my mood and wasn’t the healthiest lifestyle but hey, we make do.

The hard work paid off though, when I used the money that I earned to go away and live a simpler but more fulfilling life in Africa, teaching for a few months.

My days were nothing short of exciting because children have such creative minds and I was learning a lot more from them as the days flew past. I was also learning how to truly be myself and to be happy and comfortable of who I am.

The children and the people I met were so full of happiness, life, and had like-minded goals that made it easy to be myself around them because the energy that they brought was positive and never-ending.

Now, I hope this translates somewhat into the newest chapter in my life and hopefully I have grown up enough this past year to really get stuck in and work for what I want.

Because I really do want to succeed and I don’t think I can’t handle failing again.

Wish me luck!

Andrea x

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June // Happy

It’s taken us awhile to get here, huh.

It was gemini season and my birthday month so maybe that might have had something to do with it but I was really feeling all kinds of love from everyone around me in June.

Happy used to be an emotion that I would confuse with elation and because of that, be stuck in a cycle of “why am I not happy?” when indeed, for the most part, I was.

If they were put side by side, happy would be rated 6/10 and elation would be 9/10 and confusing the two meant that I would only consider moments where I felt joy to the point where only if tears rolled down my eyes – that would be a moment of happiness. Do you see what my issue was?

In June, happiness transformed into a constant high – where content filled every hour of every day. Those around me made me feel the safest I’ve felt in awhile. The rawness of my existence in June made me feel as vulnerable as a newborn baby but I embraced it fully because I felt like I finally made a start in finding my place amongst all others in this big, bad universe.

The positive energy that I gave out also felt reciprocated and I do believe that being grateful and showing that I was played a major role in achieving this happy high.

So to everyone that I’ve met, spent time with, laughed with and cried with in June, thank you, for making it one of the happiest times of my life (so far).

-Andrea

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“Love is love is love is-”

You guessed it, love.

One of the most important messages that I try to remind myself is this “Your heart doesn’t care who you love but how you love.”

Pink dot, from my understanding, is an event in Singapore where people within the LGBTQ community and their straight allies can showcase their conviction for a Singapore that is diverse, inclusive and supports the freedom to love.

Being bisexual myself, I can honestly say it’s been a ride. Quite an easy one, in comparison to a lot of my friends, but I’ve still yet to come out to my parents. (Although I honestly think it wouldn’t make a difference – well I hope so, at least.)

I’m technically coming out to the internet right now and although most of my friends and some of my family know that I like girls and boys, I’m feeling rather special; as if this online coming out of the closet moment makes my sexuality official.

Even though we all know it doesn’t work that way.

But…this isn’t about me. This is about all the individuals who have had the courage to accept themselves for who they are and are sharing it with the world. The ones that embrace their sexuality and flaunt it with the confidence that they finally possess. The ones that don’t have to hide from anyone anymore.

So enjoy the happiness and love that I captured on this beautiful day – and remember: love is love is love is love.

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PS: Thank you friends for letting me feature you on this space – you are all very beautiful individuals and the camera loves you.

x Andrea

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Hint of Pink

Coming back home to a roll of film with only 5 shots left and not being able to remember what memories you’d captured before creates an air of anticipation as you await the results once the film gets sent to the developers.

I’d taken a risk and used an Ilford HP5 Plus Black and White Negative and was hoping to use it in my Olympus OM-1 but bad timing struck and my SLR has been damaged and sitting idle in my room, waiting for someone to be able to fix it.

So instead, I used my point and shoot, hoping for the best. There are many light leaks that seeped through because of a crack in my P&S (yes I am a klutz) but I’d like to think of them as beautiful mistakes.

As always, there’s room for improvement and until I can get my Olympus up and running again the pictures will never be the best quality but it’s not the tool, it’s how you use it. Right, boys and girls?

Enjoy.

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X Andrea

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