A Very Belated Update…

So its already the end of October and I still haven’t gotten around to making that October goal post yet…

The punny goal name I was thinking of was “Braving and Overcoming Obstacles in October” or Booo!👻 for short ( in honor of Halloween of course) but:

a) that is super cheesy.., like wow…


b) it turns out that I spent so much of my time overcoming said obstacles (ie mountains of midterms, EOSA things, tutoring intensity, first ecology field course etc) that I never really got around to making that goal post in the first place

So this monthly goal update post is more of a “Task Completed, (though with mixed success)! Moving on”

Now normally around this time I would be planning for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) – aka where you attempt to write 50,000 words in November (1,667 words a day) in a quantity over quality, zeroth draft just get it on paper kind of novel writing.

But honestly? I’ve got bigger fish to fry, mainly with exchange preparations and final exam preparations.

I know November is a bit early to start, especially for me, but I really need to tackle these tough classes now before they overwhelm me in December.

Specifically Biochem…

So instead this will be a bit like Fall Post a Day blog challenge, with a post a day about what I am doing/learned/studying etc, though upping the anty to 500 words a day for a total of over 15,000 by the end of the month.

👩‍⚖️🎓Rules to make this more official:📝📚

  1.  500 words a day for each day of November
    1. There is no regulation about where I write to meet the word count, provided it is not required for class work – i.e. if I write 500 words for my official website/cv page, that counts, but notes or lab reports for classes don’t
  2. Posts don’t need to be well edited, just typed out and published
  3. Topics can be chosen ahead of time and partially typed out as long as at least 100 words were written on the day the post is published.
  4. Quotes and the like don’t count in the word count – aka I can’t just post a poem as my 500 words since that I kinda plagiarism and cheating

So yeah, the theme (subject? target?)  for November is “Study Notes! Part revision, Part writing, All in preparation for December”

… Yeah not really good with coming up with names for these things, but hey practicality over style is more important on this front.

so that is all for now! See you in November



🍁 Autumn is here in earnest! 🍁

I was trying to come up with a witty “theme” for this month.


You will see below  (In the next post since this is turning into a 2 parter)… XP it is a bit… Punny?

Anyways. so how did last month’s “Month of Future Career Growth”  go?

  • Create my personal website as a hub to everything I do 
    •  [Started, but not finished] So I’ve got the general outline set up, just working on typing in all of the content – especially under the portfolio section. I haven’t released it to the public yet, but it is almost done, will expect it to be out by November at the latest (don’t hold me to that though!). Sneak Preview!Capture
  • Continue tutoring English (both through the university’s CAES Peer tutor program, and my own IB merchant of Venice ) 
    • {COMPLETED} and continuing! 😀
  • Update CV – my CV is hopelessly out of date
    • {COMPLETED, See last goal page} As seen last time, I’ve finished this already before the month even really started
    • Create and maintain a LinkedIn profile/ digital resume
      • ~ Haven’t Started!~ I was thinking of holding this off until I’ve got my personal website set up, since that way there is something more professional to link to other than my personal blog here.
  • Figure out exchange plans – like actually write out a pro con list, intended transfer courses, get CGPA up (around 3.6), create an estimated cost plan etc
    • [Started, but not finished] This is going to be an ongoing goal thing, as
  • Sign up for internships, scholarships, classes, mentorships,etc
    • ~Haven’t Started!~ No really excuse for this really… need to look into this sometime soon before they are all gone

Not adding an arbitrary score since that was a bit lame XP

So…What about the extras?

  • [Extra] Improve my typing speed to 70wpm. It is ~65wpm right now.
    • I haven’t been doing this, rather I have changed it slightly to speed reading (Schulte table, apps etc) since it seems like a more useful goal
  • [Extra] Perhaps update this blog more than once a month ish, if I have the time. Maybe an update on how Carousell is going, or some how to college type post for the freshmen?
    • Nope didn’t happen, then again I’m heading into mid terms, sooo….. yeah

Anyways, splitting this up so I can stop procrastinating on revision and revisit this next week when things cool off a bit and become less crazy. So yeah!

Happy (late) Mid-autumn festival and look forward to finishing these midterms!


September is upon us…. (2017 Summer Recap pt. 1)

Well, given the epic 18-credit-hour Y2A semester has suddenly reared its ugly head, I’d like to take the time to go over the summer as a whole (which was sorta productive… ish? I mean I wish it were more, but over all not bad) while I have the chance today and this weekend.

Firstly – Need to get this out of the way, but recap on the goals

Last month was named the  “Catch up and Learning month” because I was planning on using it to get a head start on my Y2A work

How did I do?


Duolingo has been going well, I have broken, then continued, then broken my streak several times, but overall I feel as though even if I haven’t learned a whole lot more, at least my vocabulary set has not drastically fallen behind. Grammar needs a lot of work though, and different cases still confuse the F- out of me, but I’m working on it! Signed up for Intermediate German, Non degree course for Y2A, so overall a good summer prep.  (Score: 7.1/10)

Planning for future studies? I feel as though the month was more exploratory in nature. I went on my first ecology survey (which was pretty awesome, more on that later). Scheduling for Y2A and course selection could have gone better (again, elaboration below/ in separate post, cus boy do I want to go on a mini rant about it :P), but again, I planned and got most of the classes (but not all) that I needed. More work on for exchange, but gotten started on plan for possible German summer lang exchange. (Score: 7.6/10)

Asia WWII history + history website updates: Could have gone better. Watched some history documentaries but were either about WWII from a western perspective (The German documentary series Die Deutschen  [Eng: The Germans] is excellent, shout out to the wonderful people who have put it on youtube and added English subtitles so I can practice German listening and learn hist at the same time – names will go in the edit of the post) or about Chinese history in the 20th century (mostly cultural revolution stuff). I have reread my History EE on the Battle of HK and Churchill’s foreign policies, so there is that. History website on standby for the foreseeable future due to me needing to sort out what type of posts I want, rather than writing then getting rid of it, rinse and repeat. (Score: 5.8/10)

As for the Big Bad BIOCHEM…. Hahahaha oh boy… yeah… I really dropped the ball on this aspect. To describe how little I’ve done, I am currently listening to Khan Academy videos (on basic biochem) explaining biochem to me to try and make this not a complete wash. For real though, what the heck past me? Next to nothing over 4 weeks?! Wed am next week is my first Biochem class of the sem, so I need to kick it into high gear… NOW!(Score: 2.2/10)

Extra stuff such as coding and cubing I didn’t touch due to not even coming close to passing my bigger goals… sigh…

Man I am good at procrastinating during summer vacation…

So yeah…

Moving swiftly onward from that train wreck!

This time, I’m calling it the “Month of Future Career Growth”:

Things I will be working toward things that will improve my “personal brand” and create a “plan of action” to reach the “necessary targets for success” (aka make it look like I know what I am doing, for future employment and research opportunities)

  • Create my personal website as a hub to everything I do – I’ll slowly move to separate this blog’s content from a more professional “portfolio-like” site that I’m making now, since I’m pretty sure my future employers want to get info on me, not skim through random thoughts I happen to blog about during that time frame.
  • Continue tutoring English (both through the university’s CAES Peer tutor program, and my own IB merchant of Venice ) <- got things in the work now for this
  • Update CV – my CV is hopelessly out of date Sped up and finished Aug 31 to apply for Equal Opportunity Student ambassador. Got an Interview Sept 6!  Boo-yah! See past me? That is how The Papaya rolls when she is serious about getting stuff done! ehem… where was I? 😛
    • Create and maintain a LinkedIn profile/ digital resume
  • Figure out exchange plans – like actually write out a pro con list, intended transfer courses, get CGPA up (around 3.6), create an estimated cost plan etc
  • Sign up for internships, scholarships, classes, mentorships, lectures etc
  • [Extra] Improve my typing speed to 70wpm. It is ~65wpm right now.
  • [Extra] Perhaps update this blog more than once a month ish, if I have the time. Maybe an update on how Carousell is going, or some how to college type post for the freshmen?

This post is getting a bit unwieldy with the giant wall o’ text, so I will be back with more stuff (such as the above promised Ecology survey experience, or that course registering story)

Here is a semi relevant xkcd as a reward for reading this far down!

# 773: University Website

Source & the Explain xkcd

More to come!


A Conclusion and Quick Update

I thought I’d put something up on my blog to explain what has been going on as of late, since the blog challenge ended rather… abruptly shall we say.

So think of this as a “bookend” to my month (almost) of writing!

Firstly, I’ve decided that I’m going to keep the challenge up, rather than get rid of it. While it may have not been the greatest sample of my writing – what with it being completely unedited, off the cuff with no theme etc – I feel as though it gives an insight to how I write first drafts, and acts as a sort of “time capsule” to my final year as a “teen”. Perhaps future me will find it fascinating, it would be such a shame to get rid of it now because it isn’t very polished, just to regret in years later with no chance of recovery.

Which leads to a second issue.

Since I have now designated this blog as my “official site” instead of my old CAS blog I’ll need to work harder on making my posts seem more professional. Not the blog challenge, since that came with its own warning, more of in the sense that it needs to be more “navigable”.

As in if I were to put this site on my CV or future business card etc, people need to be able to have a quick “snapshot” of who I am, what my interests are, my skills, personality etc. Rather than what they get now, which is pretty much me rambling about everything from assassins to geometric puzzles to dried squid.

Perhaps a “goals” bit, maybe something on my ultimate book recomendations, a better about page etc.

I’ll give myself until this years end to fix everything, since it is a pretty dramatic shift from how this blog was originally conceived (ie just random nonsense that no one would bother to read)

Other things the challenge has taught me (in a more rapid quick fire style):

  • I vastly underestimate the amount of work I can do in a day (or even in an hour) while overestimating what I can do in several (such as a week). I found this pretty fascinating since you would assume it would be one or the other, but here we are. I guess it has something to do with how long term projects are seen as “I can do later” things which leads to procrastination and a sense of having more time to waste, while short term things lead to intensive bursts of productivity. Something I’ll keep an eye out for in the future, since it seems like something that would prove to be useful in my academic life.
  • I am more creative than I first assumed, though it ebbs and flows depending on various situations. A lot of it is just getting it type out first, then editing out the issues later.
  • Sometimes the crazy ideas work out, so that is promising for my future I guess?
  • I work well with defined goals and targets to hit since it makes my day’s work more tangible.

On to the update-y part of this post!

I’m naming this August my “Catch up and Learning month”, where I will be catching up and easing into my academic work, just to get a head start on my upcoming Sophomore year of university (not sure if I mentioned earlier, but since I will be doing the equivalent of 18 USA Uni credit for both sems next year… with all the peer tutoring, non credit language classes of last year, combined with new hall activities… yeah.

Wish me luck!

Specific targets and things to do (in case lazy future me takes over and uses the excuse that there is “nothing else to do” other than idk browse youtube for hours or whatever):

  • (Re)learn Biochemistry – I used the term (re)learn since some subjects I have leraned before, just not well, and other bits I haven’t given I only did SL in IB. Either way I am behing and my first semester of biochem could have gone better. I also have it for my first sem of Sophomore year, so whether I do well and pull up my Uni CGPA in Year 2 hinges quite a bit on this aspect
    • Method: Khan academy, IB textbook HL parts
    • Frequency: Once every 3 days at the very least, 1 hour each “session”
  • German Revision –  Put simply, I have forgotten pretty much everything I learned last year over the summer. It’s less of a priority than some of the other things on my list, since it is a non-credit baring course, but it is a long term goal of mine to pick up the language.
    • Method: Duolingo, previous notes, movies/documentaries/songs
    • Frequency: Duolingo every day (its only like 10 minutes a day come one! :P) other things 2x every two weeks, 30 minutes ish
  • Asia WWII History Recap – I have a specific course on it and another general course on society in wartime in Y2A (my abbreviations since Semester 1 of my Sophomore year is getting tedious to type out). Plus I can use my revision to work on my history revision blog (which I do realise I keep talking about but never updating… come on man
    • Method: IB history notes mainly, some historiography if I get the chance
    • Frequency: Same as Biochem
  • Planing for future studies – Included in this section is pretty much all the research for exchange, Y2A & B, future internships, updating CV etc. Just all of the paperwork things that need to get done, but I keep procrastinating on 😛
    • Method: -.-”’ N/A? just do it!
    • Frequency: Same as Biochem and Hist.
  • Coding  – This is less urgent, more of a long term future skill to develop like with German, rather than a I need to do before school starts in September kind of thing. I’ll likely be learning R rather than just focusing on HTML, since I will be doing R in Y2B for an Environmental Statistics course
    • Method: Codeacademy
    • Frequency: 2x every two weeks, 30 minutes
  • OLL & PLL Cubing – This is just a fun one 😛 Only if there is nothing else on the list or in study breaks
    • Method: online algorithms, twisty times
    • Frequency: No minimum, maxing out at 30 minutes a day.

Basically I am implementing a sort of “homeschool self learning” schedule to both get ahead in my studies and improve my work ethic in preparation for Y2AB.

So here we go! Another summer challenge! I might make a new category if I start posting a lot about this,  but for now I will be putting it under either updates of goals depending on how this goes.

Note that there will not be a Post a day style blogging for this, more of a post every weekend if that kind of thing.

Until later! Y2 Prep or Bust! 😛


Day 11 – Why am I a Cuber? Aka life lessons some plastic and screws taught me

Hopefully this gets posted successfully.

I’ll edit and add in the fancy stuff like photos, tags and links later since I am trying to conserve the amount of data I use on my phone due to the wifi being down and can’t really do that stuff on the app. (See day 10 and the post about the app)
To the topic at hand, why am I a cuber and how did I get started?

So when I was in 3rd grade (Primary 4 for the British system people, mid 2000’s for future historians) there was a bit of a “Cubing revival” at our school. Everyone had one on the corner of their desk, even though only one guy in our class knew how to solve one.

And to fit in and be “cool” I got one as well (hint: didn’t work).

It was my first cube, Rubik’s branded one (how was I supposed to know better?) with karate guys on the white face of the cube (I did martial arts at the time).

I proceeded to scramble it… then tried to solve it without a guide or help. After all, how hard could it be? That kid in class does it all the time, starting with the cross, then working his way up. I totally got this! (I also may have had a tiny crush on the guy and wanted to one up him at his own game, so never asked… yup)

Eventually, (and predictably) I gave up.

And so, the scrambled cube stayed on my desk, then moved to the book shelf, slowly collecting dust, until one day in a quest to “clean” my room as quickly as possible, I threw everything that wasn’t necessary into a garbage bag and chucked it in the garage (since my mom would check closets :P)

It stayed there in that bag for years, watching me take out other items I needed, but never being chosen itself…

Until THAT summer, when I was about to pack up everything and fly thousands of miles away to a new country, a new home and… most daunting of all… a new school (DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!)

Being the “new kid” was a terrifying prospect for me. After all, in kindergarten and 6th grade (Year 7) Middle school, I was never alone in being the “awkward kid who had no idea what they were doing”. But now? That was about to change. I was going to be “that kid” now. *Gasp in horror*

So to prepare myself and make a good first impression, I googled “How to look intelligent”. I know, a bit self-righteous, but hey, I was 12.

On that list, next to being well read/speed reading (check) and knowing another language (sorta, kinda check?) was solving a Rubik’s cube. Since I had one, a free summer and the internet (more specifically google and youtube).

And while it didn’t exactly make me look smarter to my classmates, it was a conversation starter that helped me connect with others, and become friends with some amazing people.

After that one thing lead to another… and several cubes later, here I am today!
So what did life lessons learn (need to answer that click-baity title after all)?

Well for one, don’t be afraid to ask for help when learning or trying something new. You are going to suck at stuff when you first start, that is kinda the nature of starting something new. Trying to reinvent the wheel is not just a foolish endeavor, it is an exhausting and time consuming one as well.

Also, don’t just give up because something seems impossible or difficult, persevere through it! Feliks Zemdegs started in 2008. I picked up my first cube in end of 2006, early 2007… could’ve had a head-start on the guy, just sayin’ XP
But perhaps more philosophically

I think we as people all too often focus on the “How to’s” of the world: How to choose a major in university? How to be rich? How to choose become an Olympic athlete? Or in this case, How to solve a Rubik’s cube? We try to strip down goal or achievements to their bare essence, to tasks with clear “steps to success” with clearly defined numerical metrics of success: your GPA, your net worth, your medal count, your solving time etc.
But in doing so, we blatantly ignore the real human stories behind each personal endeavor to try, learn and improve.

We pretend that we live in a world where doing XYZ leads to success, as if we are characters in an MMORPG, with skill trees to complete and levels to gain. But that is just plain false!

To evoke Charlote Bronte’s Jane Eyre: We are not antomations – machines without feeling!

Thus, everyone has their own unique story to tell, their own way of viewing the world 

In the end, WHY do I solve the cube?

Why do I spend time out of my day to mess up the pattern on a plastic cube, just to fix it a few seconds later?

For me, it is impossible to pin point down, because the reasons are so varied and nuanced, that it is just easier to lay the entire story before you. 

  • A bit of pride plus a fear of the unknown? 
  • A constant reminder of self improvement?
  • Or it is just fun?
  • All of the above? 
  • Or I am pondering this question too much, who knows?

So remember: “How to” is the simple question to ask, but will give you a dry, cookie cutter answer. Instead, ask go out and ask yourself “Why?” to get a more personal perspective and the opportunity to learn something new!

Fellow cubers out there, what’s your cubing story? Non cubers, what are some lessons that unassuming things have taught you? Feel free to post below!

Stay curious and see you tomorrow with another post!


A New Year – A New Set of Goals!

It is 2017 and Chinese New Year is coming up so it will be a new year in two calendars!

So  I felt that it would be nice to post a few goals and things that I hope will happen during this year, some goals or any other random bits and bobs that I want to get down on paper (? website? whatever) before uni life swings into full gear with tutorials, classes, mid terms oh my! 😛

For some context, I’m typing this sitting on a sofa in the learning commons of my university, listening to a documentary ( Lucy Worsely’s ” A Very British Romance – Episode 3″) Nerdy I know but hey documentaries are cool and zone me in to writing, don’t judge!)  Today is the start of CNY holiday so no afternoon classes right now, which is why I’m free to type this.

That is a lot of rambling for something that people won’t really read so I’m not sure why I am doing it. Oh well, good writing and typing practice I guess?

So goals (they will probably be posted in a new page on my website since ain’t nobody got time to skim through this).

If you are skimming future me or other people, skip here:


  • Gain CGPA of 3.2 at a minimum (stretch goal of 3.5) – Yes that means getting an B+ average for the first or A average for the second this semester, but that is what happens when you (by that I mean past me) slack off on revision in the first Semester 😛
  • Work on German – Making this a goal since for the longest time I have started languages, then given up on them less than a year and a half later. Hopefully this time German will be the language that sticks with me (In this catagory, I mean thing like class, duolingo, listening etc)
  • Read a book a week on average by the end of the year – Both nonfiction and fiction, in class work as well as outside of class all count since I am not crazy or an English major lol
  • Write more outside of class work – I do realize this is very vague without a qualifier, but it is hard come up with a criteria other than word count which won’t work since I hand write a lot and it seems like a very arbitrary thing but this includes things like the History website, pen pal letters, blogs etc.


  • Run that 10k! – Self explanatory really, but just exercise and run more in general. Be healthier because it will be easier now then procrastinating on this til later
  • Eat out less and cook more – This is both to save money (since I am spending way too much on uni campus food) as well as learning cooking skills since that is something that I really should learn during university
  • Sleep right –   aka limit all nighters since I have a ton of mandatory early morning science classes and lectures.


  • History website – Yup. ‘Nuff said.
  • Exchange planning – This is sort of related to the academic goals, but since it is less current year academic related and more of future plans, its going here
  • Volunteer more – I barely did any volunteering in the first semester. Change that.
  • Renew First Aid Certification – its 2017, meaning it expires next year. Get it renewed early since next summer, I’ll be busy with second year exchange prep craziness.

Other Fun Stuff

  • Learn OLL Rubik’s cube – Yes this is a bit less important than the other ones but I have been procrastinating on this one for several years
  • Coding/Wordpress practice – This could go into the career/buisness section as well but since that bit has a lot already, putting it here

Well,  that’s all for now!