Tuesday, June 3, 2014

it's okay to be happy

It's okay to be happy - this is one of my daily reminders. People who know me would think of it weird, as I'm generally a happy person that's all smiles and laughs. But sometimes, I have that irrational fear that if I'm too happy now, then something bad is going to happen soon. To balance it out, to jerk me back into reality, whatever you call it, I feel like I'm constantly waiting for the other shoe to fall. So I'll find an excuse to find a flaw in things, to not let people get too close, and I'll tell myself that it doesn't matter if I'm extremely happy, at least I won't be waiting for the bad to swallow me up.

It's a safe way of living - it's also a coward's way out. I can't say that I'm about to go out and conquer the world soon, but hey, being happy is a start, yeah?

So you don't have to wait for the other shoe to fall. You can be happy, over your grades, over your accomplishments, over having that extra cupcake. You only have one life and it's a darn waste if you're constantly looking over your shoulder.

With love, Daphne x

Thursday, May 8, 2014

a nice start...

...to being 23 as I saw Sir Ian McKellen today on my way home. Yes, THE Ian McKellen. GANDALF. I don't know why he was walking on the street like the rest of us commoners when he probably has a choice of dragons, unicorns, griffins and other majestic beasts in his living room, awaiting to serve him. But it was so cool and he had an untamed beard that was just so friggin' fantastic!

I still can't believe I saw Gandalf. Someone pinch me. 23 is off to a good start.

With love, Daphne x

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


22 in 22:

1. Celebrating my birthday with my best friend that I hadn't seen in over a decade...
2. ...while in Minnesota - the state I grew up in and had not been back for the same amount of time 
3. Working as an editorial intern at a women's online magazine and realizing that while having a knack for writing, working in that company wasn't something I wanted. 
4. Having the chance to work as a translator for a Guinness World Record Adjudicator and witness two record attempts - one failure and one success. 
5. Falling for an amazing guy and then coming to terms with the fact that I'm queen of bad timing. 
6. Coming to London and discovering the field that I really want to study. 
7. Having amazing flatmates.
9. Celebrating Christmas with a homemade meal with the flat.  
10. Having the opportunity to go to a boat party and realizing that they're only cool in theory. 
11. Getting to watch David Tennant in Richard II twice (once from the second row!)
12.  Getting a photo and a quick chat involving sex shops with David
13. Watching Tom Hiddleston and Hadley Fraser in Coriolanus
14. Getting to meet Hadley and have a long chat with him after the play. 
15. Trekking across London and visiting Speedy's Cafe, St. Bart's and other places where they filmed Sherlock.
16. Finding the best dimsum place in London. 
17. Going to Hadley's concert...
18. And Hadley remembering my name when I went to talk to him afterwards. 
19.  Travelling to Edinburgh, Paris, Belgium and around England. 
20. Long nights of self-therapy sessions with my girl up in Edinburgh. 
21. taking 'subgenre of a dream' seriously and starting 'remember, turn left' 
22. all of you guys! 

I never really dread my birthday. In fact, most years I'm too busy to remember it's actually the anniversary of the day I was born on the actual day. That is until someone shouts the two words at me and shove a present in my face. No complaints there. 

But this year, I was really dreading today - mostly because 22 was an amazing year and a tough act to follow. 23 has a lot to live up to - no pressure! 

With love, Daphne x

Sunday, April 27, 2014

the playlist #1

I listen to a lot of music. Granted, a chunk of what I've been listening to these days is musical related. But I decided to still compose a small playlist of songs that have been on repeat the past couple of weeks. 

The Broken Ones (Dia Frampton) "Maybe we can rip off the bandage, maybe you will see it for what it is, maybe we can burn this building holding you in." 
A contestant from the first round of The Voice, Dia has an amazing voice. Plus the idea that you'll be loved no matter how broken you are is always comforting, no?

Snapshot (Xenia) "When I'm looking back, I smile, wondering where you are. Sometimes a memory's all you've got and now and then I find myself living in a snapshot."
Another contestant from the first year of The Voice, Xenia was my favourite of the bunch. She beautifully captures that one evening you want to go back to, spent laughing and talking to a person that you'll never see again.

Ich lass für Dich das Licht an (Revolverheld): Despite my German limited to bidding someone a good day and a couple of profanities, I've still been a long time fan of Revolverheld. The video for this song was a live recording for a wedding proposal, and according to a friend that understands German, the proposal speech is beautiful.

I Mine Øjne (Rasmus Seebach): Granted, I have no idea what he's singing. Anyone speak Danish? But it's nonetheless a great song and his voice is amazing.

Losing & It Ain't Me Babe (Hadley Fraser) "I'm the one you want, babe, I will only let you down. You say you're looking for someone who will promise never apart, someone to close his eyes for you, someone to close his heart. Someone who will die for you and more. But it ain't me babe, it ain't me you're looking for." 
How could this be a playlist without a Hadley song? If I'm not mistaken, both of these songs were written by him and they're just beautiful. I could feel my heart clenching when I heard this live, from the pain and the love and it's just perfection.

From the song recommendations, I'm starting to think that not only am I a really emotional person, I'm a romantic? Surprising, really. Which songs have been on your playlist recently? 
With love, Daphne x

Monday, April 21, 2014

my two cents: surviving uni

I never thought would come a day that I'd write a post of this sort. I never thought I was qualified to give advice on surviving uni, but five years and three schools later, I figured it wouldn't hurt to pitch in my two cents.

Yes, yes, I know, 5 years and 3 schools sound excessive, but let me break it down for you. Uni back home has a standard of 4 years, like the American system. Not ready to go into the big bad world just yet, I'm currently taking an extended year doing a study abroad programme in London. Also, back in between my freshman and sophomore year, I did a summer term at UC Berkeley. So I guess I'm kinda qualified?

1. Study what you love. 
There are so many buts with this statement, I know. But the main principle is study what you love. Throw aside the realistic questions for a second and ask yourself what classes/majors make you happy, and take those courses. Of course, reality can't be ignored. If you happen to be completely obsessed with say, philosophy, but you're worried that it won't be able to get you a job in the future, then take some side courses, like law or econ.

Trust me, I know how important it is to have at least one course that you love. It was no secret that I hated my standard four years of uni back home - I studied law and let's just say the teaching style of the professors were dull and cramming. If you're not aware, the schools in Taiwan are more about cramming you with knowledge and prepping you for exams like prepping a turkey before thanksgiving dinner - as much stuffing as you can fit into it. Anyway, that said, I think the only reason I managed to drag through the 4 years is because each term, I had at least one class that I enjoyed. Whether it was that Writing Class, or the Anglo-American law that had routine MOOT court practices, there was always that one class I could count on making my week better.

Right now, I'm focusing on the Criminology module and a difference from before is that I look forward to studying. Of course, I'll still procrastinate reading those long academic articles (it's a habit I've yet to shake - also procrastinating that), but I don't stress and grumble over the readings because it's like a source of knowledge that I want to know everything about.

So even if you can't do a module on what you love, then for your sanity's sake, take at least one class you're passionate about each term! 

2. Show up to class. 
I should probably be the last one to tell you this as I was notoriously known among my circle of friends as the one that would skip half my classes to grab a cup of coffee. But that was back when I hated my school and the majority of people in it. And I suffered from it. Come exam season, I'd be reading the textbooks, utterly confused by the gibberish in it. In the end, I would just memorize without understanding and basically copy/print it onto my exam paper. Showing up to class and actually listening to the teacher helps a lot as these are academics that spent years researching what they're lecturing. Most of them know how to explain these complex theories and issues in a way that's understandable. Sure, there are going to be the ones that just going to highlight your question mark, which brings me to the next tip.

3. Get to know your TAs 
TAs are usually more accessible than professors, and less intimidating in my opinion. The TAs are usually grad students or even PhD candidates, which means they're also students themselves and will have better understanding of how to explain these complex issues in a way that students will understand.

4. Take notes. 
Whether you're reading for class, in a lecture, or revising, takes notes. Trust me, you won't be able to remember if you don't make any marks. Highlighter in hand, a pen/pencil is still always needed so you can make notes. Notes shouldn't be whole paragraphs from the readings, nor should they be a whole lecture word by word. You can't write that fast and you won't be able to process the lecture in all its glory. I'll do a post on how I take notes in the near future, but in short, mark down the bits the teacher stresses and goes into full explanation. Concentrate the words, but don't concentrate it to a point that causes question marks as to why you wrote down 'Hertz, right good left bad' when revising. 

5. Pre-class reading and regular revision
I know, every teacher stresses this but at least when it came to me, I could count the times that I actually followed this advice during my standard 4 years. But coming to London and going to an uni that has a demanding course load, I started pulling up the core articles for that week's lecture, or at least the pre-uploaded powerpoint and had a big picture of what the lecture was going to be about. I find that way, it's easier to follow the teacher's logic. Regular revision is something that I started doing in the past year as well, and the weeks that I really spend time and effort into the revision are the weeks that I remember more clearly come exam session now.

6. Look at the big picture, not just the chunks. 
There's a reason people tell you to look at the big picture, because it works. I remember after first week of classes, I was gushing with a friend at how much I loved the teaching style here. Rather than going into details and just explaining theory after theory, they gave you the big picture, the outline and the structure. Details were for the students to go home and read up on. Even if the teachers were explaining theory after theory, they'd still try and give you the outline of how the theories developed, how they transformed and connected. The big picture. The same goes to revision, instead of tackling the text from first word to last: read the titles and subtitles first, then read the conclusion. This allows you to know what the article's argument is and provide a bullet point structure that allows you to better follow the logic. It's just like essay writing - know your conclusion and your arguments before you start writing and then structure the essay according to it.

7. Teach. 
Yes, even if you're not planning to go into the academic world for future career, teaching is still beneficial. Only those that truly know what they're studying are able to explain the concept to other people without sounding mental and all over the place. I taught for a couple of years as a part-time job and over the summers, it was always obvious to myself when a topic I wasn't that familiar with rolled around - you're twisting around in your own logic and caught off guard by the questions asked. But when you're familiar inside and out with what you're trying to study, then all that comes with ease. So next time you're revising and/or writing an essay, grab a friend, sit them down and teach them what you're trying to learn. If they understand the theory and you're not blindsided by their questions, then by George! I think she's got it! (oh yeah, I've had sessions where my flatmate is trying to teach me about political economy and him learning about the theories of why stalkers stalk) 

I hope that it was helpful. These were some this and that lessons I picked up along the way. Five years, three unis and already planning on being a student for at least another year, I have a couple of cents in my pocket to share; so don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

With love, Daphne x
(special thanks to Jaye for commenting that I've 'been to so many unis and never want to leave it' and Iqra for commenting on an instagram photo - they inspired this post)