Personal

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

Standard
Personal

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

Standard
Personal

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

Standard
Personal, Photography

“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.

Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset

Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset

Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset

Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset

Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset

 

 

 

Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset


Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset

Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset

Processed with VSCO with lv03 presetProcessed with VSCO with lv03 preset

 

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

Standard
Personal, Photography

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

X Andrea

Standard
Personal

May // Afraid

There are many things that scare us in this world and I am no stranger to the feeling of being afraid.

In fact, here’s a list of things that terrify me a little:

  • Heights
  • Commitment (deep)
  • Not being able to have children
  • Crocodiles
  • Being kidnapped
  • When fish jump out of ponds onto land and flip towards you to because it wants to be saved but you’re stunned and you’re just screaming is anyone else feeling this or is this just me?

Just to name a few.

In September I’m moving back to England and starting school at the University of Exeter where I will be spending one year doing foundation and then hopefully the 3 years following that studying the liberal arts.

That’s the dream, at least.

Other dreams of mine would be: opening my own NGO, working for the UN/WHO, building my own house from scratch on a remote island in Indonesia, live in south america for a few years, have a family of 4 or more…

The more I stare out of bus windows listening to inspirational music by frank ocean, my list just grows and grows.

But the thing about dreams is that they can crumble and fall like a brick wall when you smash it with that big ball thing that I don’t know the name of.

People will tell you that what you’re thinking of isn’t realistic, it can never happen, or in my case..

“Will you even make money in that industry?”

“Sure, caring for other people is great but what happens when you have to support your family?”

“We’re all going to die anyway, why bother helping if it’s not going to change?”

“What’s wrong with Singapore?”

“When are you going to get a boyfriend?” or “Have you thought about which race you want to marry yet?” (Like I have a selection)

“How many children do you want?”

“You want to work and raise your own children?”

Now these are all valid questions and something that everyone is going to encounter some time in their lives. Obstacles that life will throw us can make the path that we originally paved out for ourselves transform from a smooth tarmac road into a dusty, rocky, wavy, hilly road with blockages along the way.

And that scares me – that I will never be able to finish checking off my dreams off this imaginary check list of mine.

Of course over time my dreams might change and in 10 years my only dream will be to have a baby, but until then…this 19 year old has big plans.

And maybe, just maybe, with a little luck, some of these dreams will come true.

-Andrea x

Standard
Personal, Travel

The 3 Things I learned in Africa.

It’s currently 4am on a Sunday morning and for reasons I can’t explain on the internet, I am awake.

I’ve been away from Africa for a week now and although what I left was a luxurious (not very gap year) holiday in Zanzibar, it had been a month since I left my placement at Ibaako Primary school in Busesa, Iganga district, Busoga region, Uganda.

A mouthful? Wait till you get to know about the other 13+ tribes.

A little background info:

I left Singapore at the end of January to start a 5 month adventure in East Africa, starting with a school placement as a primary school teacher in Uganda. This would be followed by some travelling in Uganda itself, Kenya and finally, Tanzania, which will be the subsequent posts after this one.

I decided that before we delve into the beautiful photos of the children and scenery of of various parts of my trip to East Africa, I should write a reflection on my experience and share with whoever wants to read this; the 3 things I learned in East Africa.

Lets start with:

1. Gratitude

Coming from a more than comfortable home meant that growing up I had everything I could ever want given to me; shoes, bags, rainbow coloured pens, billabong skater shoes. You name it, and I could probably get it. One of the perks of a. being the youngest in the family and b. the only girl.

Although I had my fair share of family issues and hardships during my childhood (it may not seem like it but for those who know, you know), what some of these kids have to go through made all my problems disappear. And the best part? They always have a smile on their face coming to school.

Who else remembers dreading that first day back after summer or christmas holidays? Walking into class – you were happy to see your friends, yes, but studying? Oh hell no. Why would anyone look forward to that? I was 10, you were 10, my students were 10.

I never expected any of them to jump with joy about the thought of coming into school but when I walk into the classroom, their eyes light up and they scream “Good morning madam, we are primary 4.” and I will say “Good morning and how are you?” and they would reply with “We are very well thank you madam.” This always made my day.

Most of them had just come back from Christmas break, which would mean they were working for their parents, most likely, and if not, playing the whole day or just doing nothing. But now they had to put on their uniforms, which we all know were never made to be comfortable, pack their books and report to a slightly damaged looking school in the middle of nowhere.

Uganda has this programme called the U.P.E, which was established in 1996 that states that :

“Under this programme, the government commits itself to providing primary education for a maximum of 4 children per family. In order to comply with Uganda’s constitutional requirements on affirmative action in favour of marginalised groups, 2 of the 4 must be girls, if a family has children of both sexes. In addition, if a family has a child with disability, he or she must be granted the highest priority in enrolment under this programme.

The government pays the school fees for the children. It also provides grants to be spent on instructional materials, co-curricular activities like sport, and the management and maintenance of utilities like water and electricity.” (http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/eenet_newsletter/news4/page7.php)

This is called progression. And yes, the government does pay school fees for the children. But there is no water in this school. And there is no electricity. Some schools do have them, yes, but not the one I went to.

I’m telling my story and my experience and if anyone else has a different story, please tell yours so please – take this all in with a pinch of salt because I’m just explaining what I saw and felt first hand and it may be different for other people.

One problem with this constitution is that most of Ugandan families have more than 4 children so they have to choose which children go to school and more often than not, it’s the boys that get priority.

This already creates an unequal divide amongst the number of boys and girls in the school that I taught at. Although in some classes, it is more equal, the total number will always have around 2x more boys than girls.

I hope you can envision what kind of environment and competition the children, and especially the girls, in this school are facing.

If not, maybe this can give you a better picture:

Most of my students didn’t have any shoes, but they still ran for their life when they played football or track – Rocks? Hot ground? Sand? Who cares? Sport = happiness and they will give their all for what they like.

Some didn’t have enough space in their books – so they would write on their covers.

Their pencils? Always down to the nib. Have you ever used your pencils until they ceased to exist? Because I don’t remember doing that.

Their pens? If they ran out of ink, they would just use their saliva to “create” more ink from the leftovers that were stained on the sides of the tubes and voila, new pen.

The care that they have for their things, because of the simple fact that belonging to them made it their responsibility, put 10 year old me to shame. It made me think – how much of my junk do I really need? Now i’m not about to throw everything in my room away because having things is part of the society that I grew up in and I honestly do not think this trip was not supposed to “change” me but instead, teach me that what I do have I should be thankful for.

2. Time.

Something about the Ugandans, or East Africans in general – they like to take their time.

Now this can be interpreted in a negative way, where people could complain all the time that nothing happens as fast as it should and yes, sometimes it can be frustrating, especially when you have somewhere to be or you’re stuck in a hospital for 4 hours (another story for another time).

But in my opinion, I find it somewhat beautiful. Before you call me a dreaming hippie, hear me out.

Time is precious. I think we can all agree on that. We can all also agree that as we get older, time seems to pass by like the cars on an F1 circuit. Bloody. Fucking. Fast.

What the East africans like to do is prioritise time spent with the people that they care about above time itself. I’m not saying that they’ve figured out a way to slow down the clock so that there are more hours in a day to do things… But what they do do is take their time with the people that they spend time with, because the interaction that occurs between themselves and the other people is more important than the hours going by.

Of course in this day and age we need to always be hustling because the fight to succeed is getting more difficult day by day, but taking time for the ones that you care about should always be more important than school, work or even time itself.

Time will never be given back so I guess what I’m saying is that I’m starting to learn how to give my time away.

3. Love.

There are various types of love. We have familial love, love for our friends, infatuation, lust, head over the heels in the clouds kind of love, forbidden love and the list goes on and on and on.

The kind of love that I felt in Africa was more of a community love. In the village that I was living in, everyone seemed to know everyone but adding on to that – instead of just a casual wave, people were actually genuinely interested for your well being. I’m not talking about a short 5 minute conversation where small talk is passed back and forth and then you both walk away.

I’m talking looking after your children because I understand that you have to work and what yours is mine. That kind of love. People in the community seemed to look out for one another without wanting anything back in return. The teachers treated me like I was one of their daughters and the children treated me like I could have been one of their older siblings.

Comparatively, in Singapore, unless you actually know the person well enough, people walk by each other everyday with their headphones plugged in – ignoring everyone else and their destination is the only thing on their mind. Which is understandable because in such a busy city, you have to keep hustling and you think there’s no time to stop and talk to anyone.

But I think we could all benefit from a few conversations with strangers once in a while, right?

Standard