Hi there! I’m Samantha,

and this space encompasses my personal milestones made beautiful in His time. Combining my flair for easy-to-read writing and my love for photography, here you'll find me sharing the thing I'm most passionate about - travel, food, fashion and my conversations with God.

*P.S when God was blessing others with the gift of height, He left me out realizing that great things come in tiny packages, so instead I am gifted with endless energy and a big wide smile to get through difficult times.

Forever & always, a child of God. Through this cozy little virtual haven, I hope each post inspires at least someone out there with my life stories.

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Tokyo Dreams

So I spent a good 5 months in the land of the rising sun...

march-aug 2015

Tokyo is a place that many dream of travelling to, I am blessed to be able to live here for a couple of months and it has proven to be more than just a dream.

Just 5 months ago, I set foot on this seemingly foreign land of cherry blossoms. It was the annual hanami season where people go chasing sakuras, everything seems so magical and it's amazing how I can now call it my second home, a place that I have grown to live and to love. It was here, that I found another side of me (that I always had but probably never had a chance to surface). It was here, that I found joy in solitude. It was here, that I realised how I am able to be so independent by myself. It was here, that I travelled on many solo trips. It was here, that I met the nicest and most genuine people ever. It was here, that I have become more trusting of others (even strangers) restoring faith in humanity. It was here, I am become so comfortable with despite it all. All I can say is Japan, is a city, where twenty years down the road, I would be looking back and commending myself for being so adventurous, discovering the path less travelled or perhaps even little things like roaming the streets alone. 

Some things, you do it young, you don't want to live with regrets not doing eventually...

Nothing is ever a dream. I quote Disney, "If you can dream it, you can do it".

So with the experience of living abroad, here's a list of little things I want to tell my future self...
or for those going for an adventure to explore

1. Don't say you "Can't" even before trying
Many a times, people end up not doing something not because they don't have time or they don't want to. But rather, it's because they tell themselves "uh but that's not my cup of tea, that's not me, I can't do it... it's too tough/not beyond my means". YEAH, if that's what you think, YOU ARE NEVER EVER GONNA DO IT. Well, you see, the things is... how do you know you can't do it without even trying? I used to be a victim of this, but you know, that's why the word CHALLENGE exist. Challenge yourself, do something you wouldn't think of yourself doing. Okay enough said. I hiked up a mountain (well I wouldn't have thought of it because I'm not an adventurous person by nature) and if that's not challenging enough, I did it alone! Looking back, I'm glad I did it, now I have a motivating story to share. Believe in yourself, tell yourself you can do it. Even if you don't like it, at least you can say "I've done it", or rather "I've tried".

2. I can live by myself
Nope, I don't wanna sound like a loner. haha, many what I meant is, so long I have a bed, showing facilities, wifi, plug and food, I am able to survive well. Okay fine, after typing that, it sounded quite duh. But what I really meant is I proved my hypothesis of being rather independent to be true. Maybe cause I'm a well-trained only child, coming home to an empty house is something that I'm used to. I never had doubts or fears of staying by myself in a foreign land. So yes, after these few months, I confirmed this. Actually since young I've thought to myself that I'm happy to live by myself (okay fine, and hopefully with my future husband & cute little kids) in a studio loft apartment. These few months have made my dream come true, well, kinda...

3. Don't always depend on others when it comes to travelling
If you want to get something done, do it yourself. It depends on how much you really want it. For me, being the determined little girl I am, when I say I want to go to a place, I really get it done. I book my flight, my accommodation, do up a rough itinerary and travel. Easy. I don't want to be the type of person that just do the paper talk, "yeah I wanna visit this place that place..." but never does anything to make it happen. So you see, the problem about depending on others, especially when it comes to travelling in big groups and you only have a short-term stay in a country is that you have to go through the process of group-thinking, accommodate to everyone else's timetables and travelling needs. Sometimes, it's never going to happen, or by the time it happens, flight and hotel prices would have gone way up. So I've always done this - search for a flight, tell others you are booking it and invite others to join you. Then book it. Whether they come or not doesn't matter because I'm okay with doing solo trips.

4. Exchange of Cultures
On exchange and while travelling, you meet all sorts of people. Come out of your comfort zone, don't always stick with people you are familiar with. Some seniors gave me the advice of "Don't always stick with Singaporeans, go hang out with other exchange students". I took that with a pinch of salt, but I guess it's quite true. First of all, there are not many Singaporeans who chose Japan as their exchange destination, so I have a limited pool of Singaporean friends abroad with me. But that's not the point. I've met other international students in school through projects and working together with them always taught me that we have to be sensitive to each individual's culture, and working styles whether you like it or not. You cannot force others to be similar to you That, I guess, is the art of tolerance, not something that can be taught to you like ABCs or 123s, but through interactions and understanding (and the grace of God) of people overtime, you will learn to find beauty in different cultures coming together and eventually always see the good side of others when you meet someone new. Of course, others are learning to accept you too, so give everyone some time.

5. Taking Independence to a new high
For paying bills, rents, taking care of my expenses, food, administrative stuffs, making travelling plans, being comfortable with being yourself, having meals alone, etc. In times like that when you are alone, you face everyday with your own will, strength and independence, because you HAVE to. You cannot be blur, you just cannot afford to. You need to face everything smartly, think before you act or say. Don't make others clean up your mess after you. Like what my secondary school teacher once said "Don't make your carelessness my problem". Now, I truly understand. On this matter, probably nothing much changed, but indeed I proved myself right - that I am able to deal with all these things myself as a grown up young adult. Of course, my strength comes from God. All credits go to him!

 6. You have to stand up for yourself
Being alone in a foreign land, means you have to stand up for yourself. I remember my first day of school when I didn't get the module that I needed to do so that I can map it back to my home university. I was desperate because I had to do the particular module, therefore, I went up to my admin officer to tell her. But Japanese universities being Japanese, are very strict on rules and they will never bend them. She told me that she cannot change the module for me, even the lecturers were not on my side. I felt that there was no one would understood my desperate situation. But, they key is I never gave up! I bravely told them all that rules are rules and adding an extra student wouldn't make a difference in the class, well I mean, the lecturer still does his teachings as per normal right... eventually, after all that mess, the lecturer decided to take me in, and I am grateful to him.

Having said that, believe that there will be angels to help you, but when the world is against you, remember, you only have God. Pray, don't worry, always tell yourself that God will make a way.

7. Backpack travelling doesn't mean living like a "pauper"
For a few solo trips I made, I live out of a backpack. I'm not like a typical girl when it comes to bringing a lot of "crap" in my bag... my philosophy when travelling is to travel light. Be realistic, I'm petite I cannot carry too much things or too heavy things. So yup, I managed to survive out normal-sized bag packs, thank god. Anything that you missed out on bringing, you can always buy. whatever. Yup, backpack travelling is fun and many times, people who are on backpacking trips tend to live out of a tight budget. Budget is important, but it doesn't mean not spending on accommodation and food. Don't end up in super dirty budget hostels with weird strangers. That's just risking and like what my dad would say "penny wise, pound fully'. I'm not saying to splurge but spend smart and wisely. Also, don't save too much on travelling and on food. Like what my mum would say "spend so much money to come all the way here and you want to save on food?!?" haha thinking back on her words, true that, if you want to go on a trip, go on a good one. If you don't have the means to, then wait and save up first till you have the money to experience the full thing. "Want to do it something, do it to the best, if not don't do it" - that's my philosophy in life.

8. Alone Time is Essential
That is so true.
You need some time away from everything else, every one and every thing. I managed to get this when I'm abroad, being in my own "zone". I'm happy and I relish in taking walks to explore the neighbourhood, bringing my laptop to a nice quaint cafe to watch videos or do work over lunch or tea break. Wow, I really cannot emphasise how essential it is to have your alone times. Spend it with God, do something for yourself, brainwash yourself tell yourself everything will be fine.

9. Exchange is not only about travelling
Despite my constant desire to travel, I actually did make a conscious decision to not plan anymore big trips for awhile, yup, I actually do enjoy living like a local instead of a tourist. For the last one or two months in Tokyo, I take joy in staying home... maybe also because of the rain. But it was good while it lasted. Whether it's preparing breakfast food art, cooking meals or simply doing work on my laptop, moments like this can be rather therapeutic actually. It's not everyday that I find time to do this, it is rare, so I take joy in even the simplest of things like cleaning up my room or pouring myself a juice. Oh and besides, I took the initiative to google things I could do to help the community, and of course, it's back to my love of children. Yup, so I found a English camp that I could be useful for, and signed up as a volunteer. It was one of the break and most fruitful weekends I had, spending it with the little children and other like-minded volunteers, of whom are also very international.

10. Language is not a Barrier
k, in Japan, it probably is.
But, the point is, never let language barriers get you down! I can confidently tell you that I survived well in Japan even without knowing Japanese. Yes, I admit knowing the language will make life in Japan easier, but I guess just being here, things like asking for directions and all, it should be fine. People in Tokyo can speak some form of English, don't belittle them, haha and in terms of directions, they are so nice that they actually do walk me all the way to my destination. I am eternally grateful. Also, through interactions with other Japanese people around me, I've managed to pick up some conversational Japanese, but honestly, Japanese language (Nihongo) is without doubt, one of the most complicated languages. To learn in just a mere four to five months stay, it's really quite impossible, unless you have a flair for languages? There are like what, three forms of the language itself - kanji (those with Chinese characters), hiragana and katakana. Goshhh, I don't even know where to start learning from when I had the intention to learn. I would say, to be able to fluently and effectively communicate with someone, 3 to 5 years of intensive Japanese classes are necessary. And once you learnt it, it will be a very useful life-long skill.

11. Singapore is really Home
Being here, I read an article about "things you learn when you have been in Singapore for too long"  -dwayne's fb msg. I love Japan, I am able to stay here for a long period of time. Perhaps, Japan is rather like Singapore? I don't know, but anyways, being Singaporean, Singapore is still home to me. Never take for granted that you are Singaporean.

12. Remember this adventure you set out for
Everything happens for a reason. Everyone you met is not by chance. Learn from all your encounters, even the little ones - they may jollywell turn out to be the most amazing ones or at least, they would def prove to be useful in the many years to come.

13. If all else fails, there's always God!
I am thankful for the church community I have here in Tokyo. Though it was a short few months stay on my exchange, but they were more than welcoming and lovely towards me which made me feel at home every Sunday. I felt so belonged and it just felt like I was worshipping God in Singapore. Remember this, on nights you feel very lonely, God is always there for you. Take out your bible, read his word. Go to sleep. Tomorrow will definitely be a better day.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain


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