Solo Travel: Who Takes Your Photos?

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If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question…

I do enjoy strolling and discovering new places by myself. And even though I don’t have a sent-from-above dedicated photographer wrapped around my finger or anything, I still manage to get a couple of¬†candid images of the place and myself in the frame as well.

After sharing my pictures on social media (just Instagram really ūüôā ), a couple of people have been¬†impressed and ask:

¬†“So who takes your photos?”

My answers…

1. Friends.

Whether I’ve just met you, or known you for years, if we’re out together and I spy a photo op, chances are you’ll be playing photographer that day.

2. Strangers.

You’ll be surprised by how nice people actually are if only you talked to them. No one will ever turn you down if¬†you ask them to take a picture of you. Some will even strike up a conversation with you. And then there¬†are¬†those who’ll ask¬†you¬†out…

3. By myself.

Thanks to the inventors of the self-timer! ūüôā Out of all the 3 ways in which¬†I take my pictures, this has got to be the one with the most satisfying results since I get to dictate the angles, composition and pretty much everything else that goes into it. And since I’m patient enough, I’ll end up taking multiple photos until I’m satisfied with¬†the results. If I want to be in the picture, I just find a nice surface nearby, place my camera on it, set the self-timer, run into the frame and CLICK! I shattered¬†my screen once doing this. Apparently the breeze was stronger than I’d anticipated that day and it swept my phone down a concrete stairway. I remember thinking, “Thank God the lens is fine!” Ha! ūüôā

Always be kind.

Dee.

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My Kenyan Bucket List.

–Ľ—É—ā–Ĺ—Ą

I never really travelled much growing up, even within my own country. So I ended up assuming that there’s nothing much to see. Boy, was I wrong.

Kenya is one of the top safari destinations in the world, home to lots of wildlife and filled with amazing landscapes.

Studying abroad, I’ve been in awe of how much people from other countries love and would like to visit my country. This got me feeling like I’m sitting on a gold mine and completely clueless about it. How sad, huh?

Yeah, not any more though. Starting this summer, I’m going to visit as many cool places as I can within Kenya. And what if I don’t clear my list before I return to school? Well, that’s alright. Because¬†it will always be home to me. And no matter how many new places I’ll live in, I’ll always go back¬†home. ūüôā

Here are the top places I would love to visit in Kenya:

1. Mt. Kenya

2. Lake Turkana

3. Maasai Mara

4. Fourteen Falls

5. Samburu

6. Giraffe Centre

7. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

8. Nairobi National Park

9. Lamu

10. Amboseli National Park

11. Malindi

Always be kind.

Dee.

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20 Lessons Learnt in my 20s.


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I’m not even in my mid-20s yet but I feel like I’ve learnt so much already between the time I started university and now.

So, here we go. 20 things I’ve learnt in my 20s:

1. Your¬†happiness should always be your¬†first priority. When you’re¬†happy, you are¬†able to thrive¬†in whatever circumstance that’s thrown¬†your way.

2. Material things are never worth collecting: clothes, jewellery, electronics etc. They’re a waste of money and you’ll probably end up throwing them away after a few months. Instead, collect memories, take trips, go on that adventure you’ve always planned.

3. Actions speak louder than words. When people do things it’s not because they were forced to, it’s because they wanted to. Don’t try to read between the lines because those lines don’t even exist.

4. Personal health (both physical and mental) is very important. You are stuck in your body for the rest of your life so how about you clean up that “home” of yours and fill it with happy thoughts, healthy meals, good vibes…and remember to exercise every day.

5. Always follow your heart. No matter how absurd your idea is, just do it. Quit making excuses because chances are you’ll end up regretting pushing your ideas aside more than taking that leap of faith

6. Learn to enjoy your own company. Allow yourself time to meditate, discover yourself and learn what makes you different from everyone else.

7. Always be grateful for who you are and what you have. You may take it for granted but someone else has been praying for the same thing for years.

8. Never apologise for being yourself or having an opinion. Unless you’re just being an insensitive bully.

9. Embrace your flaws and learn to love yourself.

10. Don’t live in the past. That’s long gone and you can’t do a thing about it. Instead, use what you have to build the kind of future you won’t regret.

11. Have a purpose in life. Figure out what your passion is and work towards being the best at it.¬†Nothing will ever work out if you don’t know what you want to begin with.

“Direction is much more important than pace. Many are going nowhere fast.” – Anonymous

12. Allow yourself to grow at your own pace. Make your own decisions, create your own path and make your own mistakes. And always stay focused.

“Without a goal you can’t score.” – Anonymous

13. It’s really none of your business how someone else choses to live their life. And never take anything personally. What someone else thinks should be the least of your worries.

14. Have an open mind. Say yes to new experiences and opportunities because that’s the only way you’re going to learn and grow.

15. It’s okay to separate yourself from those who don’t inspire you in any sort of way. Time is precious and it’s better to spend a few hours with one person who challenges you to be better than to spend a lifetime with people who dim your light.

16. Always take a moment before reacting to situations. Think about what you are about to say or do and whether or not it’s worth it.

17. Be humble, kind and treat people with respect. Just as much as you’d like to see them treat you.

18. Never ever try to blend in. And it’s not okay to be called “normal”. Normal is boring.

19. Everything happens for a reason and a season. So when it’s all said and done don’t sulk about it. Be grateful for the lessons you’ve learnt and move forward as a stronger person than you were. Plus there’s always greater things ahead. ūüôā

20. And lastly, learn to appreciate those who matter the most to you in life. Spend time with them and make sure they know that they are loved.

Always be kind.

Dee.

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10 Countries I Would Really Love To Visit.

—Ā—ā–Ķ–ļ—ą—É—č

If it wasn’t for my student budget, these countries would have already¬†been ticked off my bucket list by now. That and the visa processes…those are such a turn off. I personally feel like all countries should lift their immigration requirements, especially for those who just want to travel…maybe one month max for everyone?¬†

I really envy¬†specific passport holders (like the USA), who don’t have to break a sweat to get across most borders. Why can’t I have that?

All that aside, I’ve always dreamt of visiting a number of countries and more so those whose culture really stands out and is totally different from what I’m used to.

The ones below are my favourites, and I may or may not even have 10-day detailed itineraries (for each of them) of all¬†I’d love to do if I ever visited.¬†So here go the countries on top of that¬†list:

1. Turkey

2. Morocco

3. Jamaica

4. Greece

5. United Arab Emirates

6. South Africa

7. Egypt

8. Thailand

9. France

10. Mexico

Always be kind.

Dee.

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Giving Back.

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This is a topic that’s really close to my heart. Growing up, my parents taught me how to be community-minded¬†and¬†how to care for those around me, especially those who are not capable of doing so themselves.

I remember spending a number of weekends with them at our local children’s home, where we’d keep the kids company, have conversations with them, play together, share stories, get them random presents etc. I also remember the bittersweet feeling I got at the end of those days. Happy that I got to spend my day with lovely innocent kids that were genuinely happy to see us. And sad because deep down I felt like I was saying goodbye to friends that I wanted to be around 24/7.

Over the years, the need to give back has built up inside me and although I haven’t done much to that cause, I intend to make it a daily thing.

Community development is far more fulfilling than personal achievements &¬†wealth, and I believe we can all help out¬†in one way or another. Obviously you won’t change the world in a day, but your effort to leave a place/person better than you found it/them is another step closer to achieving that.

Below, in random order, are ways in which you can give back to society and help improve the global community at large:

1. Children’s homes.

Volunteer at one. Donate food, clothes & books. Mentor a child. There’s so much you can do to cultivate the future generation.

2. Animal shelters & orphanages.

Give stray animals a home. Visit animal orphanages (they require entry fees that go into supporting and naturing the animals). I particularly love the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They work towards fostering orphaned elephants in Kenya.

3. Local microfinancial groups.

Another favourite is Life Line Fashion, an East African brand employing local artisans, who, in turn, are able to feed and educate their children. Fighting poverty & boosting Third World economy? Check! Support local brands by buying their goods as well as letting others know about them.

4. Hunger and starvation.

While this may not be a permanent solution, food donation to disaster stricken areas is a start.

5. Education for all.

Buy books for school libraries. Provide reading & writing materials for schools with insufficient facilities. Or better yet, teach a subject or two in those schools! ūüôā

6. Health care.

Donate blood. Volunteer in hospitals and organizations. Learn & teach first aid. Participate in charity and awareness events.

Do you have any more ways to give back to society? Let us know in the comments below.

Always be kind.

Dee.

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What I’ve Learnt While Studying Abroad.

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Choosing to study abroad will always be one of the best decisions I ever made. I, occasionally, wonder how different my life would have turned out was I to attend university in my home country. I don’t think I would be the same person I am today.

So here we go, a¬†few of the things I’ve learnt while studying abroad:

1.¬†I’ve learnt to appreciate home,¬†family & friends more than ever.

I’ve been told,¬†almost too¬†times, that I¬†really¬†brighten up when I receive a call from my family. The excitement on my face usually amuses those around me…it’s like I’m a little girl whose mummy has come home from work, or something close to that. ūüôā Over the years, I’ve learnt not to take anyone or¬†anything for granted, especially my parents and siblings. I feel extremely blessed to have them.

2. I’m much stronger than I thought I was.

So before coming abroad, I was that “baby of the family”, who was used to getting everything¬†done for her. It almost made me feel like I was incapable of handling serious situations by myself. Then I flew to another continent to study. Knew no-one here. Didn’t know the language either. But somehow, I knew I was gonna be fine. I’ve really learnt how to depend on myself to get things done, from looking for apartments, to juggling the demanding schoolwork and everything in between. Everyone is human and in one way or another, they will disappoint you. You have to rely on yourself at the end of the day.

3. I should be my own first priority.

And everyone else should be their own first priority. I’ve learnt that I need to take care of myself first in order to help or inspire others. I need to value myself first before appreciating someone else. And lastly, I need to¬†love myself first before loving anyone¬†else.

4. Nothing is ever that serious.

I find “over thinking”¬†to be such a waste of time. I say if you wanna do it, go ahead and do it. If you don’t, then don’t. Move on. Don’t waste time thinking instead of living.¬†I used to think and hold onto so much, and¬†looking back, it was really never worth it.¬†So now I just take chances, live in the moment and choose happiness over everything else.

5. I’ve learnt to accept and appreciate diversity.

I’m not the kind to persuade anyone to think as I do.¬†Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.¬†And to me, it’s neither¬†right nor wrong.¬†It’s just¬†different. And I respect that. Period.

What did you learn while living abroad or away from home?

Always be kind.

Dee.

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Reasons Why I Love Studying Abroad.

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Not to sound clich√©, but studying abroad has been the best experience of my life. Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but the excitement of living in another country sounded too good to pass up.

Over the years, after adapting to the new culture, learning a new language and living through the extreme Russian seasons, I have gradually come to appreciate diversity. There’s a lot I love about being an international student, but let’s stick to the top 5 for today. ūüôā

1. Travelling.

Curiosity and excitement come naturally once you settle in a new place and this builds up an urge to explore the new country and the regions around it. Every day becomes an adventure. Wanderlust, anyone?

2. Personal growth.

There is nothing quite like being on your own in a foreign country. You develop skills a classroom setting will never provide. Apart from discovering yourself, you also become aware of your strengths and abilities, learn to be independent and how to solve new problems.

3. Friends around the world.

While abroad, you get to meet not only natives to the country, but also other international students, who are as far from home as yourself.

4. New interests.

Studying abroad allows you to experience new activities that you would not normally encounter at home. You may just discover a new hobby or talent. During the winter holidays, I learnt how to ski and boy did I love it!

5. Global perspective.

As you experience and learn more about different cultures, you develop an informed and much less biased perspective toward other countries and people.

Always be kind.

Dee.

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My Russian Bucket List.

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Like most countries, tourism in Russia is mainly concentrated in its two biggest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, there is much more about Russia that is either underrated or left unexplored. A couple of the places on my bucket list that are definitely worth visiting include:

1. Moscow

2. St. Petersburg

3. Mt. Elbrus

4. Sochi

5. Valley of Geysers

6. Lake Baikal

7. Kizhi Island

8. Derbent

9. Gorky Gorod

10. Dombay

11. Crimea

The one thing I love about Russia is that each town has its own different experience to offer, from activities, to architecture and even nature. This list keeps growing and I hope to visit most of these places before graduating.

Always be kind.

Dee.

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Hello World!!

IMG_20140716_215754Hey there! ūüôā

Being a university student abroad, I, on a daily basis, encounter lots of cultural diversity (from language barriers, to unfamiliar food, to new customs and beliefs) most of which intrigue me immensely. With that comes a kind of curiosity that makes me want to experience life in different kinds of ways and learn more about how people live in various parts of the world.

I’ll be documenting the places I visit over here, even if that place is my back yard! ūüėČ Student budget and all…you understand.

Always be kind.

Dee.

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