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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 I'm finally back in Geneva!

 It feels really weird to be back in Geneva because in some ways it feels like I never left. That being said, it's colder now and the broccoli trees no longer have their signature fluff. There are differences though. I had to get a Swiss SIM card which turned into a royal adventure when it refused to work. It's been interesting getting to know people here. It's a massive group! In the summer there were only 30-ish students and 13 in my program. This time there are nearly 60 in three different programs.

The flight here was pretty good. I had a layover and Heathrow and discovered that this exists. While I did not buy anything, I could not resist taking a picture.

I also snapped a quick picture flying over France. It looks so beautiful and snowy! Apparently the snow came late this year and there wasn't any at Christmas. The Swiss economy got hurt pretty badly as a result. However, nearly a metre of snow fell the week before we got here so I guess all will be well for the Swiss. I'm more of a snowboarder than a skier, but I definitely need to take lessons before attempting anything on the Alps. It's a lot steeper and more dangerous here than it is in America.

So, just a quick update for now. I'll try to post somewhat regularly while I'm here and certainly after trips!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I had the most amazing holiday in Texas and Florida! 

My boyfriend's family lives in San Antonio, so I went down the day after Christmas to visit. I visited the Alamo (which is really quite small) and the River Walk, which is quite pretty! It reminded me of Clarke Quay in Singapore with all the shops and bars along the river. I was surprised that there was no railing along most of it-- luckily, it's quite shallow so people are easy to rescue when they fall in. 

It was really fun chilling out with my boyfriend's family and getting to know them all better. They really are the nicest people. We went bowling and I successfully avoided falling down, throwing the ball behind me, or spraining my wrist. 

After San Antonio, Erik and I flew down to Orlando to visit some of his friends from college. One of them works at Disney World, so we were able to visit. This is the beautiful tree outside Animal Kingdom... it's incredibly tall. Disney World is a cool place because everything is incredibly controlled and perfect. Everyone working there is called a "cast member" and they are very friendly at all times. I honestly think the "Disney Magic" comes from excellent service and people's willingness to suspend their disbelief and enjoy themselves. 

I re-learned that I'm terrified of roller coasters on the Expedition Everest ride during our second day at Disney. I had no idea that my scream-of-terror was so high... I probably could have broken glass. I broke down into tears at some point and sobbed through most of the ride, which was pretty embarrassing. The day got a lot better though when we went on safari and saw animals. I didn't get any particularly good photos of them though. 

 Here's a crappy photo of a giraffe. When I was a kid I had a stuffed giraffe creatively named "Giraffee", so I'm quite fond of these weird-looking animals.

We rang in 2017 by watching fireworks at Disney World, which was absolutely amazing. Disney shoots two sets of fireworks into the air at the same time so everyone in the open parks can see them, then shoot off the count-down numbers before lighting up the sky at midnight. I swear you could hear people shouting at midnight from Magic Kingdom... which was full to capacity so we couldn't go during our visit. 

My New Year's resolution is to live in the moment more. I feel like I'm always worrying about the future, but the only thing I can really control is right now.  So, in this upcoming year that is bound to be full of changes starting with flying off to Geneva in two weeks... I'm going to try and enjoy everything!

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

It has come to my attention that Zouk in Singapore had its last night at its Jiak Kim Street location. The internationally famous club is moving to Clarke Quay, a hotspot for Singapore nightlife. For months, various high school friends still in Singapore have been sharing posts about saving the Jiak Kim Street location. Once it became apparent that there was no saving the location, Zouk switched to recalling the good times it had there. It has been amazing to read people's stories about what Zouk means to them.

When I was in high school in Singapore, I didn't start clubbing or really drinking until after I came of age. Anyways, I cut my teeth  into the clubbing world at Zouk. I remember dressing up in a black bodycon dress with overly high black heels. The bouncer scrutinised my ID at the door before wishing me a happy birthday and allowing me inside. I remember drinking vodka cranberries and dancing with my friend while waiting for Disclosure to perform. Some woman spilled her drink all over one of my friends and she smelled like apples for the rest of the night. I still had a curfew (I think it was 2am?) and when I got home I remember feeling a bit guilty because my mother had stayed awake waiting for me to come home safely.

Before Senior Prom, another coming-of-age celebration!

In my memories, Zouk Singapore will always represent my coming of age. I only went there once, but I wish I had been able to go back before they closed their Jiak Kim Street location. Zouk was a cool location and I am so glad that I went there to celebrate my 18th! I hope it is very successful in Clarke Quay.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I don't do reviews very often,  but I figured one of Sweet Bakery was a good way to start a mini-series about living and eating here in Boston. Sweet Bakery has five locations in Boston, but I went to the one on Beacon Hill. I like that they focus on not wasting food and donate what doesn't get sold at the end of every day. I'm also a fan of their insanely long hours-- 11-9pm -- which means I could theoretically run out in the evening for a cupcake fix. Actually, that has the potential to be dangerous!

Yesterday I finally went down and bought two cupcakes to share with Erik-- raspberry chocolate and gingerbread. I forgot to take pictures of the inside, but it was cutely decorated for the holidays and generally had a girly pink theme. The ceilings are really low (ah, Beacon Hill), but makes for a cozy rather than cramped feel.  I can definitely see grabbing cupcakes and coffee with a friend there.

The raspberry chocolate cupcake was reasonably pretty overall and had very tasty frosting.  The frosting had a light raspberry flavour  and was not overly sweet. It was also generously piled on top of the cupcake... to the point of seeming a bit out of proportion to the cake itself. The cake ought to have been more flavourful... more chocolate would have balanced out the frosting, or more raspberry to drive the raspberry-chocolate cupcake home. To be honest-- it was bland. 2.5/5

The gingerbread cupcake is a seasonal offering (yay, holiday season) and was substantially better all-around than the raspberry chocolate cupcake. The little cooke on top was both cute and tasty. The cake itself was moist, tasted strongly of molasses and was well spiced overall. It paired well with the vanilla frosting on top, which was more modest in amount. Since I can't figure out how they managed to make a cupcake that moist without being overpowering, it's a definite 5/5.

Final Thoughts: The gingerbread cupcake was good enough to get me to go back to Sweet Bakery again, but I was  disappointed with the raspberry-chocolate cupcake.  I can see ordering a set of these for a party, but would definitely try the flavour before buying a series of them since there was such a range in tastiness of the cupcakes.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

While I have definitely talked about aerial dance before on this blog, I have not mentioned the other activity that has defined my university experience very much. I started learning how to skate during my second semester of freshman year, and have skated at least twice a week every semester thereafter. When I started skating, I couldn't skate backwards to save my life. Now I am able to land single rotation jumps, I can spin (sometimes), and my "party trick" is doing an extension whilst traveling backwards.

University is probably one of the best times to start a new activity. Loads of people are trying new things, so it's not embarrassing to be a beginner. At Boston University, ice skating is offered as a physical education class (but also open to the public). Another good reason to start a new activity is upon moving to a new city. Most hobbies are also good ways to meet new people and explore the local community. I'm looking forward to doing aerial and hopefully skating wherever I end up moving to after I'm done with university. Actually, there are lots of great ice rinks in Geneva as well... so I'm definitely bringing my skates to Switzerland when I go back next semester.

A video posted by Natalie (@natalie.mei) on

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