Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! Making resolutions like it's 1999

Maybe writing these on the blog will actually make these resolutions stick, because they are out on the Internet for all to see? Time will tell.

Personal resolutions

  • Do not watch television for the year (with two exceptions)
    • The exceptions: social gatherings and live sports (but only major events, like the World Cup)
    • This might seem harsh, but it's astonishing how much time I wasted last year blasting through various television series. Like when I decided to watch every episode of Arrested Development in June. What if I spent that time learning a new language? Or doing pushups? I'd be both worldly and ripped.
    • This counts for both shows on the tube and the internet
  • Say "thank you" more often
    • Both literally and in my attitude/actions
  • Ask a girl on a date by asking if she wants to go out on a date
    • It is absurd how much gray area exists when someone asks another someone to go out. What does he or she mean? Is this serious? Never fear, generation Y, I will bridge this gap and report back
  • Throw a dinner party
    • Isn't this something that all 20-somethings do?

Blog resolutions
  • Post more personal stories
    • Looking back, my blog looks like a pretty impersonal travel blog. This is fine, and I think the pictures have turned out great, but it doesn't completely describe my experience here in Singapore
  • Stop being late with the Sunday Snapshot
    • Shouldn't be too hard. I could take 52 pictures tomorrow and just schedule those posts out, but that's cheating
  • Make a video
    • I have a pretty cool idea in mind, but it will take a lot of time and expertise that I don't really have in the video department. But no excuses! It's a new year, and I'm going to do this

Monday, December 30, 2013

(Slightly late) Sunday Snapshot: Dreaming of a Sunny Christmas

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Singapore! Apologies for being late, but I have actually been busy with cultural experiences and whatnot. Hopefully the next few posts will convince you, gentle reader. But for now, enjoy the festive cheer provided by the famous Fullerton Hotel from downtown Singapore. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Destination: Bethlehem (Palestine)

Church of the Nativity
For a post-Christmas treat, I thought I would share my trip to Bethlehem last October. As part of a theology class at Notre Dame, we traveled to Israel to 1) explore Christian-Jewish relations in the post-Vatican II world; 2) probe Israeli-Palestinian relations; and 3) pilgrimage/sightsee.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Snapshot: Buckeyes, Singapore Style

The fusion of Eastern and Western cultures reached its pinnacle earlier today here in Singapore. The dipping of the peanut butter balls into its chocolate counterpart was artfully done by chopsticks, since we didn't have any toothpicks on hand. Deliciousness was shared by all.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sunday Snapshot: Filipino Feast

Last night our apartment played host to a Filipino Christmas celebration, organized by one of my flatmates. As you can see, the guests (all Filipino as well) brought boatloads of food. Karaoke and Secret Santa gift exchanges followed this boisterous banquet shared by 20 of my new kaibigan.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

(Super late) Sunday Snapshot #2: Winter Wonderland

The Bean overlooks the brave souls skating amidst the constant flurries of the Windy City. 

(Super late) Sunday Snapshot: Snowflakes and Skating

Direct from Chicago, Illinois comes this eager little fellow, waiting for the Zamboni to clear up the rink at Millennium Park.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Destination: Washington, DC (US)

Washington, DC. From fast-talking businessmen and long-winded politicians to George Washington co-eds jogging through the streets, the city offers quite a range of experiences. And the visuals aren't too shabby either.

It is, indeed, a Capital City.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mr. Kramer Goes to Washington

My travels have taken me back stateside for the next few days, with the first stop in Washington, DC. I spend most of the time on official business, but I awoke early to stroll about the National Mall and capture some of the classic icons of DC.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Snapshot - A Changi Christmas

Christmas cheer abounds at Changi Airport, which features a number of other amazing features (such as a butterfly garden. At an airport!) Singapore in general is very much in the holiday spirit, and has been since early November.

Any guesses where my travels are taking me today?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brought to you by the US Embassy - Singapore

I have been incredibly blessed this past year, with plenty to be thankful for, starting with this opportunity to experience Singapore. Eating stuffing and sweet potatoes was pretty wonderful as well.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Snapshot - The Charms of Home

This little guy welcomes all visitors to our small but expanding book collection. Boasting a mix of Chinese tomes and English classics (note The Wealth of Nations peeking out), it houses lots of fun reads. My current projects - The Screwtape Letters and One Thousand and One Nights.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Aningaaq" - a "Gravity" spinoff

"Aningaaq" is a seven minute short film that takes on a really unique angle from the epic Gravity movie, which was released earlier this fall. Written by Gravity's co-screenwriter Jonás Cuarón, who is also the son of the movie's director, this is a must-watch for anyone who watched/loved the original movie. Seeing as Gravity is pulling in a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, that would be just about everyone.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jurong Bird Park

With my Groupon expiring, I finally hiked it out to the west side and visited the well-known Jurong Bird Park. 50 acres of lush scenery and squawking fowl awaited me on this rainy Saturday.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Snapshot: Kitchen Essentials

Living abroad becomes much easier with quality tea and Nutella. Pretty Jade Lady is always a welcoming presence in the morning.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Snapshot - Classy coffee and relaxing reads

A weekend in Singapore is not complete without a pitstop at one of the countless cafés throughout the island. Strangers' Reunion is my personal favorite, especially since it is within walking distance of my apartment. Also re-read Dorain Gray this weekend - marvelous writing by Oscar Wilde.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Night Safari: Singapore's finest night life

Last Friday I rounded up some members from our lab and set off for the Singapore Night Safari. The world's first nocturnal zoo, it housed many exotic creatures that one would not encounter in a normal zoo setting. This was done by only having the park open - you guessed it - at night.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blogging with the US Embassy

Hi friends,

Every Friday of November, I will be writing little blurbs on the US Embassy Singapore page. Feel free to give it a like (only if it's worthy, of course).

You should also like the Embassy page, or follow them on Twitter.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Brunching at Wild Honey

Today I'll don my foodie hat, as I recap a recent trip to a local breakfast hotspot. Roommate Milan, shown above strolling ahead, was clearly excited to sample this well-reviewed restaurant. Personally, I was ready to eat anything, as Notre Dame football had forced me to wake up at 5AM to watch their game versus Air Force last week.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy Deepavali!

Deepavali, which means "row of lights" in Hindi, is the most important festival in the Hindu calendar. The celebrations cover multiple days but today was the official day in Singapore, as gazetted by the government. Vibrant, colorful, and bright (of course), Little India was in rare form tonight, and luckily I snapped a couple pics as I strolled down Serangoon Road.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Delving into Dengue, Part 3: Singapore's Efforts

Credit: The Straits Times (Kua Chee Siong, www.straitstimes.com)
The final part of this mini-dengue series examines how Singapore fights dengue here on the island. Located directly in the heart of the dengue epidemic, the country has an impressive record of combating the illness. Central to these efforts are sustained publicity campaigns, explicit statistical reporting, and aggressive mosquito control policies to keep the spread of the disease in check.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Delving into Dengue, Part 2: Current Dengue Research

Today I will give an overview into some of the other areas of dengue research, with a focus on some of the latest vaccine research. As the maps above shows, dengue is distributed throughout the world, particularly around the tropics. While this is a negative from a public health perspective, it encourages research from many different places where dengue directly affects the local population (like Singapore!).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Delving into Dengue, Part 1: My Research Update

Credit: Univ. of Wisconsin Virusworld

This week, I will be writing a series of posts that focus on my research, dengue research as a whole, and Singapore's efforts to combat dengue from a public health perspective.

While most of my blogging has centered on my exploration of Singapore and SE Asia, the vast majority of my time is spent in lab. Hopefully these posts will give a glimpse into the heart of my Fulbright project.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Destination: Sagada (Philippines)

Sagada's rice terraces
Our final place on our Filipino to-do list was Sagada. Nestled among some more magnificent mountains, it promised to offer some wonderful outdoor activities such as hiking and caving. We got all of this and more in what turned out to be my favorite day of the trip.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Destination: Banaue Rice Terraces (Philippines)

The Banaue Rice Terraces. The so-called "Eighth Wonder of the World." Massive rice terraces constructed by hand over thousands of kilometers of steep elevation. These were the number one destination that our group wanted to see in the Philippines, and they did not disappoint.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Destination: Tagaytay (Philippines)

The first destination  in the Philippines was Tagaytay, a scenic locale about 55 km outside of Manila. With our flight arriving in Manila around 4:30AM, we struggled a bit to rouse ourselves but soon enough, our Filipino adventure was underway.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Patrick Takes on the Philippines: A Preview

Having just returned from the Philippines, and wow, what a journey. I was completely blown away by the sheer beauty of the country, from the rolling mountains to the peaceful waters. The hospitality of the people lived up to their stellar reputation as well. Here's a quick look at how the trip unfolded:

Day 1: Rode a horse up a volcano
Day 2: Hit by a typhoon
Day 3: Explored the Ifugao Rice Terraces, the "8th Wonder of the World" *
Day 4: Went speluenking, later saw hanging coffins
Day 5: 14 hours of bus travel, 5AM return flight

Monday, October 14, 2013

Singapore Civil Defence Force - Alexandra Fire Station

Recently I joined 2012-13 Fulbrighter Chris on an open house of a local fire station, located at Alexandra near the Queenstown MRT stop. Their policy upon receiving an emergency call - 1 minutes to leave the station and 8 minutes to reach the spot. Any call within Singapore. There are a few other fire posts scattered throughout the island but this is still impressive.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fulbrighters in the news!

This article actually came out a few weeks ago, but it's a really nice spread on the three Fulbrighters and our projects here in Singapore. The newspaper is called The New Paper, and has the second biggest readership on the island behind the Straits Times.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Buddha's Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Last weekend's meandering about Chinatown took me to the Buddha's Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. This facility houses both an active temple and sanctuary for Buddhist relics and other historical pieces. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Destination: Malacca (Malaysia)

Malacca Straits Mosque
My first traveling within the greater SE Asia region took me to Malacca, Malaysia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and promised to have plenty of history and culture to explore. The weekend took plenty of unexpected turns, but I now have one more country stamp in my passport.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Songs of the Day, v. 2.0

Sunset at downtown Singapore. Very nice place to run, despite the heat/humidity
Hi all,

I've been jamming out to some great running songs recently, as my motivation sans music tends to be minimal.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seven Singular Things About Singapore

Yes, I ought to stop the alliteration before it gets out of hand. Regardless, here is a list of some of my observations of Singapore life that are fairly distinctive, at least to an expat.

Clementi Mall
1) Shopping malls.

Many people say that shopping is the national pastime of Singapore, but it tends to be true more often than not. Almost every single MRT station (the train that everyone takes) is connected with a mall, often multiple malls.

The malls themselves are a bit different than their American counterparts, as they are vertically stacked. There aren't as many outdoor venues where you can walk around freely.

Some of the glitziest malls include Vivo City (Singapore's largest), Ngee Ann City, and Suntec City. I will most likely do a full post on some of the fancier malls around town.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Monkeying Around at Sisters' Island

This past Saturday, I joined Amy and others on a macaque mission. Her Fulbright project studies the population patterns of these monkeys through DNA analysis and GPS tracking, and on this day we were going for DNA via some saliva samples.

Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 F1 Singapore Grand Prix

This past Sunday, I was lucky enough to attend the Singapore Grand Prix, a Formula 1 race. I was able to get a ticket through a good friend of my Dad's (hence the team Ferrari shirt). It just happened to be in the pit grandstand next to the finish line, so my view was incredible.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Singapore Skyline at Night

This is my view out of my apartment window tonight. Combine this with the sounds of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix roaring throughout the city, and I'm starstruck (moonstruck?). 

Camp Kesem in Notre Dame "Fighting" Commercial

For the past three years, I have been involved with Camp Kesem, a student-run organization that organizes an annual camp for the kids of cancer patients. It was a huge part of my college days.

This weekend, during the Notre Dame - Michigan State football game, the "What would you fight for" commercial will feature both Camp Kesem and Notre Dame's research involving cancer. This is just a tiny glimpse of camp, but hopefully it begins to give an indication about the impact the week can have on both the kids and counselors.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mid-Autumn Festival

 Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 

Also called the Mooncake Festival, it is a traditional Chinese and Vietnamese holiday. It falls on the 15th of the eighth month in the Chinese Calendar, which always has a full moon (the lunar calendar makes this sort of planning a lot easier). The day also heavily features the delicious mooncake.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Haw Par Villa

A few weeks, I went with the other two Fulbrighters to Haw Par Villa. It is one of the stops on the MRT that I pass every day on the way to do research at NUS, but I did not know what was actually there. It is home to a Confucius theme park, with hundreds of statues and scenes from traditional Chinese folklore. With the wise old sage on the right beckoning us forward, we entered into this Chinese world of wonders.

Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 National Lion Dance Championships

Hey all,

I was strolling over to the gym at Orchard on Monday night when I heard a loud clamor of drums and cymbals. Really shrill cymbals. Investigating, I discovered that the official Ngee Ann City Lion Dancing Championships were being held all week. Having only heard of dragon dancing, I resolved to return and get a full experience. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

ND-Michigan Game Watch at London Bar

On Sunday morning, both the ND and Michigan Singapore Alumni Clubs joined forces to host a game watch at the London Bar, down near Clarke Quay. Right on the Singapore River, the place was very full by the 8AM kickoff. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pulau Ubin (10K with KiKiKuKiKi)

On Saturday, I ventured out to Pulau Ubin for a 10K. Invited by 2012 Fulbrighter Chris (who actually was injured and ended up not coming), I showed up knowing nobody. Definitely did not leave that way.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cathedral of the Good Shepherd

For the past three Sundays, I have been attending the 10AM Mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shephard, over by Bras Basah. I was actually baptized here back in 1990, but no one has recognized me yet.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Piano Guys come to Singapore

On Tuesday, I met up with some new friends at the Star Theatre for a concert. But not just any concert. The Piano Guys, made famous by their many YouTube covers and mashups, began their latest tour here in Singapore, and I was lucky enough to snag a ticket.

My seats weren't actually this good, my camera just makes it look a lot better. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

How to mail letters to Singapore

Hey all,  

Today, I'll be tackling a topic that is trickier than it seems - international mailing. Sure, it still involves an envelope and stamp, but Singapore has some interesting quirks that you should keep in mind if every trying to mail me.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I made it to Singapore!

Hello! I have finally arrived and settled down in Singapore (as you can tell by my very touristy photo above).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Destination: Rancho Santa Fe (Honduras)

Back in December 2011, I joined a group of other Notre Dame students on a medical mission trip to Honduras.  Joining a group of medical professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.) from Minnesota, we flew down to Tegucigalpa for, well, we weren't exactly sure.  We knew we would be assisting with a high volume of surgeries in the so-called "hospital" on the ranch, but we didn't really know what this would involve either. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Destination: Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee (Israel)

Today, I begin to finally document some of my international travels.  People aren't calling me Worldwide Wes yet but I've been to some fascinating places.  

Fall 2012 took me to Israel as part of a theology class at Notre Dame.  Entitled "The Church After Vatican II," we were traveling to the Middle East to examine how the relations of the Catholic Church had changed in relation to the Jewish faith.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fulbright: A Brief Intro

Hello reader,

I will just take a quick moment to explain just exactly what a Fulbright is and what it will involve over the next year. Most of the people I've talked with have heard the name, but not necessarily the details behind the program.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Columbus Zoo (and fireworks too!)

Hello all,  

A quick trip to Columbus to visit brother #2 resulted in a day at the zoo - the Columbus Zoo.  Jack Hanna's old stomping grounds were fantastic, and we spent the entire day roaming around the place.  It was a tad rainy, but this ensured that the crowds wouldn't be much of a problem.  And it cleared in time for the official Dublin, OH fireworks show, right over Dublin Coffman High School.  I liked these better than the Red, White, and Boom fireworks from the day before, most likely because we had a good view.  The soundtrack of the Boom show was still pretty good. Anywho, after the show was done the gang and I grabbed Jeni's ice cream, a local tradition.  I went for the salty caramel and honey pistachio ice cream - phenomenal stuff.  The next day, I ventured to Graeter's for some more frozen treats.  Overall, I think I'm more of a Graeter's fan; their black cherry chip and buckeye blitz (which is apparently sold by some generic name in grocery stores) were incredible. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Notre Dame Science Video

Hey all,

Here's a nice video that the Notre Dame College of Science just published. Lots of exciting things happening under Dean Crawford.

PS: I get a cameo in the first minute, blink and you'll miss it

That's it for today, I'm going to try to update this more regularly now that summer is in full swing.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Songs of the Day, v. 1.0

Hey hey,

I've got a few seconds to spare, so I thought I'd toss together a quick summer playlist that I've been grooving to recently.
  • C2C - Happy
  • Big Sean - Hometown
  • Tim Myers - Get Togethers
  • Miike Snow - Paddling Out
  • Gorillaz - 19-2000
  • The Good Husbands - Simple and Real
  • Vanessa Carlton - Carousel (side note - Vanessa is my girl)
  • Outkast - So Fresh, So Clean
  • Nelly - Hey Porsche; Rid Wit Me
  • Jackson 5 - I Want You Back
  • Houaida Goulli - I Love the Mountains
  • Ellie Goudling - Bittersweet (actually, Ellie is probably my number 1 right now)

Always looking for more tunes.

And here is my picture of the day, taken last Monday.

Setting sun in Carmel, IN

Till next time,


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Destination: Chicago (US)


This past Tuesday I took a quick little day trip to Chicago.  Joining me from Wisconsin was the lovely Maggie Davis, and we had a pretty busy day - Art Institute, lunch at the Walnut Room, Shedd Aquarium, Lou Malnati's pizza for dinner, and of course the Navy Pier Ferris wheel. 

We got loads of pictures, but here are some of the highlights (in chronological order of the day).

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Destination: Notre Dame (US)

Yesterday I broke out my new camera (a nice little graduation treat).  It's a Nikon D5100, which came out a couple of years ago but had good enough reviews that I took the dive.

Now these are mostly your typical tourist pictures of South Bend but bear with me.  Hopefully my trip to Chicago this week will result in a little more variety.