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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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Friday, November 11, 2016

I really debated about posting about the election on the blog, as this blog is a largely non-political space focusing on travel and my life in general. I'm a little worried it could cost me a job opportunity in the future or something. This election is far too impactful to stay silent about, though. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows my opinion on this election... and that I'm not pleased with the results.

I hoped to see the first female president get elected. I hoped, but I also knew that Trump had a very real chance of winning. I was in Great Britain shortly after Brexit happened, and I remember Londoners feeling very confused about why their fellow countrymen voted to leave. Now I sit in a solidly blue state feeling very much like a Londoner did this summer. But, Brexit and Trump appeal to a very similar demographic: people who felt ignored and irrelevant in their nation, and wanted major change. The popular vote may have gone to Clinton, Trump and the ideas he campaigned on won.

Frankly, the thing I am the most disappointed about post-election is the level of disrespect between Democrats and Republicans-- and neither party is innocent. Fears about racism, hate crimes, environmental degradation, restrictions on women's reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, foreign policy changes... all of those feeling are valid and should be expressed. I worry for my friends, many who will be/have been directly affected by the emerging racist and xenophobic atmosphere.

 I've never been so scared to be Asian before in this country.

All of that being said, I don't think hate is any sort of solution. Slinging insults at Trump supporters, stirring up fear, making up stories to appear more sympathetic... none of that is acceptable behaviour. There is a line between expressing anger/disappointment/sadness/fear and creating a toxic, hateful environment. Discussion is one thing. Vicious attacks on people who don't share your worldview is another. Clearly, my hopes that America would accept the results of this presidential election with grace were naive.

At the end of the day, the Republicans won the presidency, House and Senate. It is still far too early to tell what sort of a president Mr. Trump will actually turn out to be. Will this be a pleasant four years to be a Democrat? Absolutely not. Yet, I am proud to see many people rolling up their sleeves and getting ready to fight to preserve rights likely to come under fire.

 The United States will survive these next four years.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Okay, so you've probably read the post about my favourite cities in Europe already if you've made it here. If you haven't, you should definitely check it out. Unfortunately though, not everywhere can be a winner... even beautiful European cities. Here's the list!

1) Prague, Czech Republic

I don't have a very good reason for disliking Prague, but it is a bit of a story. Prague is a cool city and it's surprisingly laid back while still being cultural. However, I got some sort of stomach bug from a classmate in London and spent 6 hours throwing up and another 12 hours being totally miserable. While I liked Prague Castle, the beautiful bridge and the architecture of the city, my memories of Prague are currently tainted by my total stomach-bug misery.

2) London, England, United Kingdom

Speaking of London, I don't really like it. I loved visiting London, but I absolutely despised living there. Part of the problem is probably that I was in South Kensington, which is one of the whitest, poshest and generally stuck-up areas of London. It's also the French sector of the city, which means that the local pubs weren't that "English" of an experience. London's museums are great, the food is getting better, and it's still a city worth visiting. Yes, you can laugh that I titled that post "Loving London". The first few days living there were definitely awesome. It was just the last three weeks that I wished I was back in Geneva!

3) Berlin, Germany

I have to be honest with this one... I have a really hard time understanding how this is anyone's favourite city in Europe, much less Germany. Germany is full of beautiful, historical cities! Then theres Berlin. I understand that Berlin was basically bombed flat and had to be rebuilt. I respect that it  holds immense historical and political value. I also admire the museums there-- the German History Museum and Museum Island museums are wonderful. That being said, I think the city is very cold, industrial, and lacks any charm. Maybe it's because I'm not really a party person, but I have no idea why so many people say it's a "must' while visiting Europe. It might be a "must" while doing a proper tour of Germany, but I wouldn't go out of your way for this city.

What do you think? I honestly think my reasons for disliking the first two cities are pretty weak (a stomach bug ruining my Prague experience is hardly reason to dislike the city, it's just that being ill overshadows everything else that happened there!), but I really don't get the appeal of Berlin. Whatever! I am really looking forward to going back to Europe and exploring new cities... and hopefully finding new favourites.
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