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October 30, 2015

3 months in a backpack

In less than a month I'll be leaving for my medical elective/summer holiday trip. I'll be doing four weeks in Arusha, Tanzania for my first placement, then doing a camping trip through Southern Africa, a tour in Egypt, a few weeks in Spain and Portugal, a few days in Copenhagen, four weeks in London for my second placement, and then a couple of days in Tromso, Norway, to try and catch the Northern Lights - coming up to about three and a half months overall.

I've been thinking about the packing situation for a few months now, because I actually love packing. Planning for hypothetical situations is what 80% of my brain is doing all the time anyway. Since I'm going to be in everything from dry hot to wet hot to cold rain to freezing snow, and my activities are going to range from safaris, city exploring, and hospital placements, I've had my work cut. And finally, because I apparently like a challenge so much, I'm going to use a 45L backpack. Lucky for me, my Spain/Portugal buddy (and legend) Wai Lam has agreed to bring a couple of things over to Europe, but I'll still need to fit those things into my pack after we meet in Barcelona.

Image sources here at Polyvore. Note I don't own most of these exact items, they're just similar stand-ins for what I have.

The three situations I have 100% planned for are really hot weather, really cold and snowy weather, and smart casual in cold weather for the placement in London (in Arusha I get to wear scrubs). So I've made sure I'm covered for those, and for all the climates and settings in between I'll mix and match with what I have. I've never done one of those capsule wardrobe challenges so I guess this is going to be my turn.

Wool coat and waterproof jacket are self-explanatory. Actually, the coat is my one indulgence - I know my hooded down parka would probably serve me better and is lighter, but I feel like such a dork in it and it's falling apart. I decided on a heavy cardigan for a jumper, even though I've been partial to thinner pullovers this past winter, since the cardigan is warmer and more versatile (i.e. I can wear it buttoned up... or open).

Skinny jeans, also self-explanatory. For hot weather, I'm bringing my two pairs of rayon drapey pants - these are really comfortable in the heat, and keep my legs covered to avoid mosquitoes (malaria!) or being culturally/socially inappropriate. I could also wear these with leggings underneath in colder weather, if I need to put my single pair of jeans in the wash. Trousers I wouldn't usually bring on a trip, but I might need nice pants for hospital placement.

Pretty much my favourite tops that aren't white (so I don't have coordinate my bra). At the risk of looking like a 90s boy band member, I would be able to wear the chambray shirt as a light layer over my t-shirts.

I always agonise over shoes. I finally whittled it down to the Chelsea boots for more formal situations/city walking, and the Docs for when there's rougher terrain/mud/rain/snow involved. I considered sneakers, but figured that the Docs would cover all the situations I'd wear sneakers in, and would be better in bad weather (also I'm probably not going to go running). I also considered the need for sandals, but I only see myself wearing those for short periods at a time, and I'll manage those situations with flip-flops.

I'm going to leave my beloved Daniel Wellington watch at home and take one which I'm less precious about. No hat (I'm hoping that my massive scarf will be able to work as a makeshift hood) and I'm not sure if the leather gloves will be adequate for Copenhagen and Tromso - if desperate I guess I'll just have to buy better ones.

Even though this is more of a let-me-justify-my-choices post than an advice post, based on my last few trips I came up with a packing guideline to stick to:

  • Accept that I won't be wearing 100% "ideal" outfits 100% of the time.
  • Prioritise practicality over style (but not so much that I feel self conscious about how badly I'm dressed).
  • After coming up with a packing list with the above in mind, cut out things that would only work with one outfit, or that would only be good for very optimistic situations (e.g. I love my loafers, but they'd only work on city streets where I'm not doing a lot of walking and it won't be raining).
  • Once I've done that, I cross off one... more... item. I actually scrolled back up while drafting this post and took out a top, and now I'm wondering if I can leave off one of the button downs.
I guess technically I won't know how well this has worked out until I get back home next year. I would welcome any advice/opinions! In the meanwhile, before I leave, I'm going to try and wear my other clothes as much as possible because I feel bad for leaving them behind (please tell me this is a valid feeling).

ETA: see the review post here.

October 25, 2015


Yesterday I spent a day in Canberra, as my aunts and uncle from the US are visiting us and they wanted to see the capital. The last time I visited was two years ago, for an exhibition at the National Gallery. It's a three hour drive, but it's not one I often make - Canberra is quite small (it was built specifically to serve as the capital) and I mainly associate it with school excursions.

Lake George, on the way.

The water used to come right up to the road, apparently, but it's pretty dry right now.

Parliament House.

Which actually makes for interesting photos in pieces, but inside is just field trip nightmares.

View from the War Memorial.

From the top of Telstra Tower on Black Mountain.

The main city center, you can see how small it is.

Turns into fields and greenery pretty quickly.

I guess I've haven't yet given Canberra a chance. Since there are a couple of universities there I assume there is a young and hip side to things which I have yet to discover!

October 23, 2015

Click these & things I don't have time for

... but I'm doing anyway.

  • Getting to the bookstore as soon as I could to buy the new Cormoran Strike novel, which I have been sneaking chapters from while I study (rewarding myself with half an hour of reading for every 5 minutes of studying). I will report back on the book when I've finished!
  • Doing rounds of the New In sections of the sites of my favourite stores, compiling a summer dress wishlist.
  • Beaching and planning more beaching.
  • Finally working up the nerve to meet up with someone from one of those dating apps and being stood up. That's okay, I'll just go back to crushing on people who are inappropriate and unattainable (plus Vanessa is letting me join her #grandmassquad). I probably ended up having more fun than I would've had he shown, though - I drank alone for half an hour and then went window shopping.
I've got a big exam in just under a month, which I've been studying for since February. It's science-based and content heavy, and I'm still not ready for it. In better news, I've been really enjoying my ED rotation for the past few weeks. One of my favourite things to do after a long (and hopefully productive) day is to have some quality time with my Bloglovin' feed, so here are a couple of links from the past few weeks.

Click these

October 18, 2015

Beach and Eat

I went to the beach for the first time this season yesterday afternoon. Cronulla is probably the most convenient of the bigger beaches for me to get to, but I hadn't been there in years - it always feels counterproductive to catch the train heading away from the city (even if I'm not even planning on going to the city). It wasn't as warm as we were expecting, and the sun kept dipping behind clouds, ruining the get a tan plan.

I love it when the clouds do this over the sea.

Headed off in search of food when our hunger pangs kicked in.

We had an early dinner at Eat Burger, which is kind of like a beachy Chur Burger. My yardstick burger is the beef burger, but being at the beach always makes me feel like fish. It wasn't life changing, but I do like the sound of the other burgers, so I'd go back.

On the way home, we hopped off the train at Miranda for a sneaky Messina. Salted caramel cheesecake and oreo crumb!

October 12, 2015

Night Noodle Markets '15

We paid a visit to the Night Noodle Markets in a relatively timely manner this year. It's an Asian themed food market that's held in Hyde Park every October. I was expecting a nice summery Sunday evening but unfortunately it was pouring rain... but at least it was a lot less crowded than when we visited last year.

I kind of reluctantly got in line at One Tea Lounge for their "Baogers" (just typing that makes me cringe). Bao are the next big thing, by the looks of it. We got three of the savoury sliders: you can mix and match the ramen, rice and matcha buns with beef, pork and chicken fillings, and three of the ice cream sliders: two green tea and one black sesame. I thought they were going to just be gimmicky, but they were amazing. Especially the buns on the dessert sliders, I think I could eat them straight.

Sweet potato balls from the stall next door, which sounded promising but weren't that great.

Corn ice-cream sundae from Devon Cafe, which was not to my taste either.

Ramen fried chicken from Everybody Loves Ramen. I'm not exactly sure where the ramen was, but according to Wai Lam it was there. Pretty ordinary as well.

Everything was kind of overpriced as usual, so best bet is to take a bunch of people and split everything for a taste. You can check out the menu for this year here, if you want a plan of action. I'd go back for the dessert sliders from One Tea Lounge (but a look at their site tells me they also do them at their main restaurant). Also a shout-out to my friends for being fabulous hand models and letting me take photos of everything before digging in.

October 8, 2015

Uniform of the week

This week I was really feeling the skinny jeans, loafers, and button-down-hanging-out-sleeves-rolled-up look. But now that I'm looking at these photos, I feel like the shirts are too long to be wearing out (it looked alright in the mirror).

Glassons striped shirt / UNIQLO white shirt, chambray shirt, jeans / Bass loafers / Fossil bag / Daniel Wellington watch (c/o).

I have so many button down tops but a lot of them are a little bit off in the fit - I bought most of them in second year, aka the year of the button down, but I wasn't really a careful shopper back then. The best fit I've found is the UNIQLO chambray, which is actually a men's slim fit - probably cause there's more shoulder room. Tailors are expensive here and I hate the idea of paying more than half the price of the original shirt in alterations but I might consider it for my favourites (and donate - not try to sell - the rest).

October 4, 2015

Breaking even

In my last midsem break I did an aggressive wardrobe clean-out. I grappled with my sentimentality and won, for the most part. I managed to bring myself to donate a lot, but I had a pile of nicer items that I thought would be worth trying to sell. So, like many before us, my friends and I did a stall at Glebe Markets yesterday.

Our stall, me, and my awesome bum bag. It was sweltering yesterday, we lucked out with a shaded spot.

Random shot on the way from the car park.

We had visions of our things just flying off the racks and making $200 each, however, it turned out that nobody wanted the clothes we didn't want (surprise). We ended up marking everything down to $5-$10 and just broke even, but proceeded to spend most of our profits on dinner. When it came to money earned per hour, it was probably the hardest job I've had. To make ourselves feel better, we came up with some reasons why it wasn't a total waste of a day:

  • We got closure for the clothes we didn't want (we ended up putting most of our unsold stuff straight into a donation bin).
  • It's given us insight into how hard it could be to sell things for a living, especially for smaller businesses.
  • We now know that we should never try this again.
I feel a lot better about my wardrobe now, even though I did hold onto a small proportion of unworn things (against my better judgement). Now I don't have to face the ghosts of my previous bad decisions taunting me every time I slide open the door. It's definitely made me ruthless with getting rid of things too, I can still think of a couple of items that aren't safe yet...