More animals (or yoga)

From downward-facing dog to cobra: a few weeks ago I started following yoga classes. I have only attended a few classes so far, but I am definitely enjoying it already.

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While having some experience with yoga before – both in high school and in university I participated in some yoga classes – the yoga classes here seem so much more intense, going from one crazy animal pose to another. The other day I literally had to try to put my knees on my elbows (with emphasis on try...  a very amusing sight I assure you)

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Not far off from my experiences

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Mooncakes and Lanterns

Yesterday I was invited to come celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with the international hires of my school. While not a public holiday in Singapore, this Chinese(/Korean/Vietnamese/Japanese/Taiwanese) festival is celebrated here as well.

Originally a harvest festival, celebrating “the successful reaping of rice and wheat with food offerings made in honor of the moon” (Wikipedia), it is now mainly celebrated by friends gathering watching the moon and eating mooncakes. People also burn incense and put up lanterns, and there are performances of traditional dance and solving of Chinese riddes, among many other things.

Lanterns during Mid-Autumn Festival

Lanterns during Mid-Autumn Festival

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Happy Teachers’ Day to me

Today all public schools are closed in Singapore, all in appreciation of their teachers: they are celebrating Teachers’ Day. It is custom to give your teacher a thank-you card or present around this day. Stores are full with ‘Happy Teachers’ Day’ cards, chocolates and cookies right now.

While there is a lot of pressure on teachers and education in Singapore, I do think there is also appreciation for them (provided things go well) as they are consequently a large part of the child’s life. It is a completely different culture and mindset than from where I was raised. Students start taking enrichment classes (like at the centre I work at) outside of school from as early as 4 years onwards. Already in primary school there is the pressure to perform well. Many of these students will have to study at night and get up early again, maybe only getting 6 hours of sleep.

Throughout the week students have been giving their teachers at my work presents to thank them for teaching them. (Since I haven’t started teaching my own classes yet, I unfortunately was still left out in this ritual). However, since off days are the perfect time for students to do some extra studying, we don’t have a day off like the public schools. So for now, what better way to celebrate teaching in Singapore than by actually working today!

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When I say ‘cockroach’, you say ‘jump’ – and more animals

Having been in Singapore for almost four weeks now, I am slowly adjusting to my new surroundings: the people, the (work) mentality, the customs…. and the animals.

In the last couple of weeks I have had some sporadic encounters with the most charming of wildlife, many small geckos, caterpillars and (sometimes huge) cockroaches. All three can be found around my flat every day. While I actually find the geckos and caterpillars somewhat interesting, the cockroaches just not so much.

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The Big Singapore Move

Yes, I did it. I moved to the other side of the world. Six days ago I arrived in Singapore and since then I have found my own place, met different people, been exploring the city and been trying to adjust to the weather (read: going from airconditioning to sweating like crazy to airconditiong and repeat).

Lots of people have been asking me how things are going, so in this blog post I’ll put down a few of the things I have experienced/seen/heard so far.

My flight went smoothly. Singapore Airlines is definitely a fancy airline (free stuff!). Unfortunately wasn’t able to sleep much, so jetlag all over the place the next day, like almost falling asleep waiting for an appointment at my work and the same while waiting for my appointment at the hospital (see two paragraphs down).

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Birthday Celebrations Abroad

Last Wednesday it was my birthday. 22 years old. Even though I feel that sounds quite old (in one of my friend’s words, ‘that’s going towards 30!’), I cannot complain. Most people in my college and programme here are already several years older, having some work experience and/or doing a DPhil or second master.

This also counts for most of my new, amazing friends here. I am so glad that in only a couple of weeks I have made some friends that I am sure I will be in touch with for a very long time. Thus, coming back to the topic of my birthday, I luckily had people to celebrate it with (in person).

So what happened on Wednesday? Let me show you.

00.01 – Lea and Nicky were in front of my door with cake, cookies and alcohol to wish me a happy birthday on the immediate start of the day!

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Homemade chocolate chip cookies, Cava, a lovely card and a strawberry cake

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The Start of my Oxf… Squirrel!

So it has been almost two weeks ago now since I moved to the UK. Freshers’ Week is next week and only after that my programme will start, so I have really had the time to settle in and get to know the city. Even though I definitely had some mixed feelings when I left the Netherlands,

See the fear, excitement, stress, happiness, and many more emotions in this one expression?

See the fear, excitement, stress, happiness, and many more emotions in this one expression?

so far I have had a great time. Even though my room is rather small and you can hear my neighbour quite clearly, I love it. I have lots of storage space, which means I have enough room for all the books I brought (I do know that every Oxford ‘what to bring list’ says, don’t bring books, well… yes, so I did anyways).

No doubt only happiness here right?

Moving into my room: no doubt only excitement here right?

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