Five Things

I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride now that we’re already in the first week of February. It’s been quite a challenging transition – easing into the new year with a new job, an internship, and trying to ace a summer class all at once. This week felt productive with both work and studying for an exam, but on a positive note, I’m also counting down days to my next getaway (hint: Great Barrier Reef).

The weather has been uncharacteristically cold for a summer (19today!) and it’s been raining non-stop since yesterday. I’m trying to make the most of the cuddly weather before it picks up to 30 something again next week, and in the meantime, I wish you all a great weekend! x.

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With Lyndon Huf, CEO of Maction Australia, discussing the future of engineered wearable device sensors 
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The cosiest cocktail lounge tucked away in West End
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New favorite snacks: yellow peaches!tumblr_oioy7z8ywr1usj46ko1_1280.jpg
Raindrops on the bus window
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Stayed in and kimono party while it was raining out

View story at Medium.com

 

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Happy Australia Day!

To mark the occasion, I thought I’d share one of my favorite Australian desserts with you to enjoy, a chocolate pavlova. I have been baking pavlova for years every holiday season at home, even before moving to Australia. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson (as seen here) with a little tweak to make a smaller serving portion (my recipe makes 3 small meringues).

I used Haigh’s dark chocolate here – another much-loved Australian brand that creates premium quality chocolates. It’s an Adelaide icon that I discovered when I was visiting in 2016, and I really wish they’ll open a store in Brisbane soon.

The truth is – they require some serious patience, something that I have very little of when it comes to baking. The prepping process itself isn’t difficult, but the key to the magic is all in the wait time for the meringue to bake and cool down in the oven (an hour an a half, to be exact). It’s worth the crisp and chewy chocolate meringue base, which I wouldn’t have had any other way.

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For the meringue you need:

3 large egg whites
150 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sieved)
50 grams dark chocolate (finely chopped)

For the topping you need:

300 milliliters double cream
Mixed berries (I used raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)
3 tablespoons dark chocolate (coarsely grated)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle with the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
  3. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle (you can do it as small or as big as you want), smoothing the sides and top.
  4. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C/gas mark 2/300ºF and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
  5. When you’re ready to serve, invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls rather than rubble, as you don’t want the raspberries’ luscious color and form to be obscured, and sprinkle haphazardly over the top, letting some fall, as it will, on the plate’s rim.

 

I hope you try this recipe and have a lovely long weekend from the Down Under! X

A Guide to Overcoming Your Networking Anxiety

Ah, networking. Is there anyone who doesn’t dread it?

There’s no hiding from the fact that being in the same room with complete strangers and attempting to impress them at the same time can sound like the most intimidating situation to be in.

And being an introvert really doesn’t help. I hear you.

But despite the universal awkwardness, and after realizing just how powerful it has been for my professional life, I tried to find ways to make it less painful, and little more exciting.

I’m lucky enough to have recently started my internship at iLab (start-ups hub funded by the Queensland Government), and to be presented with countless opportunities to meet very inspiring individuals and entrepreneurs from around the world through our start-ups accelerator program.

Bear in mind it was still very intimidating for me – a college student with bare minimum experience – to be surrounded by some of the best minds in engineering and CEOs of some of the world’s most successful start-ups.

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I was very fortunate to have met Terry Dehghani in person, a sports expert slash travel blogger, who flew all the way from Tel Aviv to represent HYPE and launch Australia’s first Sports Accelerator program here with iLab.

I managed to build up enough courage to approach him and spent a solid hour talking about career goals and stealing some networking tips & tricks from up his sleeve.

To sum it all up, here are 4 simple steps to overcome your networking jitters, and make it a little less dreading:

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“Start telling people what you want to do, not what you think you should do.”

Careers and career paths are no longer linear for a lot of reasons, and this ability to shift directions if/when we feel unhappy about where we are, certainly gives more freedom and control over our work.

But the reality is that many of us (myself included) are often drowned in thoughts like “Is this what I really want to do with my life?” and too often, we write off the idea of doing something we really like before we even tried because we fear the feeling of rejection or having to start over.

Terry told me how when he first moved to Israel people would ask him “What do you want to do?” and that his first respond would always be “Oh, I came from a legal background but I’ve always loved sports.”

He learned how it didn’t really answer the question and started approaching the industry that better fits his personality and career goals. He now works for HYPE, does what he loves, and has never been happier.

Ask yourself that same question, and take time to reflect on your goals and really learn your skill set (soft skills matter too). Once your objective is clear, you’ll be surprised by how you can approach people more confidently, with less pressure and more excitement.

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“Project yourself in a way that shows confidence, but not cockiness.”

The idea of networking still generates a physical reaction in me, similar to queueing for a roller coaster ride: sweaty palms, nervous chatter, and a slightly queasy stomach.

It can be intimidating walking up to someone you don’t know, but a promising body language can go a long way. Remember when your mom would tell you to stand up straight? She was on to something.

You want to constantly appear open, approachable, and friendly at all time. A handshake is also one of ways to get someone’s attention with the instill sense of easiness and warmth – if done right. And seriously, smile.

IMG_1231Also, can we all agree that alcohol does help? Cheers

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You will be surrounded by experts or attendees in your field, so take advantage of picking their brains. Take what they say seriously, and you’ll be surprised how much you can gain in return.

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The Precinct, an innovation hub delivered from the Advance Queensland initiative

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As constant public sharing of professionalism become the norm in this highly tech-savvy era, we can all agree that the digital age of networking is a blessing to the introvert in all of us.

Once the event comes to an end, that’s where the real works begin. “Goodbye” in networking essentially means “Welcome” to the world of Emails, LinkedIn, and Facebook connections.

Armed with a stack of name cards, check back in with them whenever possible and follow up any future work collaborations.

Do you have any other great tip worth mentioning? Let me know. Good luck, and I hope you rock your next networking event!

Check out Terry’s career and travelling stories here.

 

Five Things

A kind reminder to celebrate the little things in life

The first week of the new year always leaves me feeling conflicted. In some ways, I’m ready for the fresh start, excited to get back to uni and work, and am relaxed after so much time off. But on the other hand, I get sad the holidays are over, and that I’m running out of excuse to approach each meal as though it’s one big celebration. But I’ve been trying to look for the little things that get me feeling excited for this slightly awkward time of year: boyfriend’s birthday and having him back in Brisbane in February, binge watching some of my favorite TVs (Suits, Black Mirror, and completing Stranger Things), and an upcoming birthday trip that’s just a month away.

Here’s to making it through our first month of the year and to really great things to come in 2018! X

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetA cosy little corner in SWOP, West End (more pictures of it hereProcessed with VSCO with hb2 presetHome of my the energy pods (my favorite nap spots in uni)IMG_1032New Years Eve’s night out attempt that ended up in SouthbankProcessed with VSCO with m5 presetIn one of my favorite bars in town (one I mentioned here)IMG_1089I refuse to be anything less than a boss since I was a baby, apparently

Beach Hopping in Byron Bay

You know those awkward days between Christmas and New Years when you’re just kinda lost and don’t know what to do? I knew better than to fool myself into thinking that I was going to be productive – we all know it was going to be spent binge watching some trashy TVs and eating junk. So a couple of friends and I decided to might as well get out of town, and here’s documenting our visit to the small cosy coastal town of Byron Bay, New South Wales.

DAY 1

If there are two things I love doing when traveling, is going on a roadtrip, and going to the waters. Both of which I got to do during this 3-day roadtrip I will take you through. We rented a car from Brisbane and slowly made our way to Byron Bay and made it to our first stop at the Famous Yatala Pies just in time for breakfast. I treated myself to their classic steak&mushroom pie and apple turnover, and just thinking about those pies got me low-key drooling right now, so let’s get a move on.

Our second stop along the way (about 100km south of Brisbane) was Springbrook National Park, located just before the border of New South Wales. After seeing tons of pictures of the park’s Natural Bridge from Google, you would expect the view to be no less than perfect. And after about a half an hour hike through a beautiful subtropical rainforest (it was even better after the rain), it’s safe to say that no pictures could do the place justice. Definitely one of the waterfalls to see when you visit Queensland, hands down.

After about an hour drive across the border, we checked into our accommodation, Two Birds & The Aviary. While far from the usual Airbnb gig I’d normally go for (a tent with a sleeping bag, a shared bathroom, and communal kitchen), I’m proud to say that I survived my first legit camping experience! I’m also really happy about the fact that the camping ground had direct access to Tallows Beach and is an easy roll in to town.

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DAY 2

We started the day with an attempt to catch sunrise at Cape Byron (only to be greeted by rain), which is the most easterly point of mainland Australia and home to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse. Nestled in under the Lighthouse is the Wategos Beach, surrounded by stunning cliffs and crashing waves.

After breakfast, we were headed to Whites Beach, one of Byron’s hidden gems. Take note though, it was quite a struggle for us to get there. We had to travel down a dirt road that winds through the rainforest, our car broke down (God bless the people who stopped by to help jump start our car in the middle of nowhere), almost an hour spent on waiting due to limited parking spots, and trekked along a narrow path down to the beach.

But trust me, it’s worth sweat and sunburn. From white sands, crystal clear water and secluded rock pools, I’m so happy we didn’t give up when we had a million reasons to. We continued with lunch by the beach, a little stroll around town and ended the day in Main Beach, surrounded by live music, sunset, and my loved ones.

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DAY 3

Not being much of an early riser, I’d make exception for a sunrise by the beach, because all the lack of sleep always pays off when Mother Nature puts on her finest show. The track from my camp to Tallow Beach itself is literally a path to paradise taken right out of Nicholas Sparks’ novel. While no sunrise will ever be the same, this one will forever remain one of my favorites.

We ended our trip with a short visit to The Farm, and if you know me, I’ve always had a soft spot for places like this one. From the sunflower plots, cattle-dotted fields, to their restaurant, produce store, bakery, and a florist, I couldn’t stop roaming around this rustic-themed oasis like a kid in a candy store. After grabbing some quick drinks and fish&chips, we drove back to Brisbane and shamelessly stopped at Yatala to bring some frozen pies home, again (it’s that good!).

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2017, Summed Up

Looking back at the year as a whole, 2017 feels a bit like a blur. This was one of my most challenging years, and life as a final year chemical engineering student certainly was not exactly easy peasy lemon squeezy. There were certainly some tough times – but also some really high highs. I think it’s safe to say that this year was…a lot. 

All in all, this year I’m grateful for all the new places & friends I encountered along the way, starting the year off with family back home in Indonesia before flying back to Australia, a cosy trip to Sunshine Coast and Noosa in April with friends, birthday trip to Gold Coast, camped out in breezy Milford countryside in June, winter in New Zealand, and ended the year with a roadtrip across state to Byron Bay, New South Wales.

Exploring new places has always been my biggest form of inspiration and puts me on a creative high like nothing else. And to be able to share a tiny bit of joy through my love for photography, writing, and traveling is something I look forward to do more of in 2018 and this has me even more excited about the upcoming year. Like the past year, I pulled some of my favorite moments from 2017.

I hope you have some calm and restful time with family & friends and my very best wishes for you in 2018, X. 

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My 21st birthday bash with all of my loved ones
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An impromptu dip into the fairy pool in Noosa National Park that was worth all the hours of hike and sunburn
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Moving out of our old apartment and into our cosy new one in Carr StreetProcessed with VSCO with m3 preset
A weekend getaway camping out at a farm stay in Cannon Creek surrounded by farm animals and spent the whole night BBQ-ing and stargazing a sky full of starsProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset
First day of snow during our stay in Late Tekapo, New Zealand20170629 Hot Air Balloon, Canterbury Hororata (129)
Hot air ballooning across the ever changing landscape of Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps 
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Jumped off a plane and skydived from 12000ft to the shores of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New ZealandProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset
Chemical Engineering Student Society Ball 2017 in Hilton BrisbaneProcessed with VSCO with nc preset
Very fortunate to be a part of this group of great engineers and even greater friends & finishing Design Project with an unexpectedly rewarding mark

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetRecent roadtrip across state with friends to Byron Bay, North of New South Wales
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Catching sunrise at Cape Byron, the most easterly point of the Australian Mainland

Happy Holidays from The Down Under

This Christmas was the first one that I had to spend away from home, family, and all the familiar faces. While there is nothing like the warm feeling of being back home for the holiday, I’m happy I didn’t completely miss all of our usual traditions which involved putting up the tree, catching up with friends & family, and lots of sugar cookies (more to be found here). This year, I was mentally prepared for a very (quite literally) Blue Christmas, but it turned out that every disappointment is a blessing in disguise indeed. I get to reunite with my best friend who’s home from Adelaide and spend Christmas at hers (my home away from home).

Living in Australia, it can be difficult to find that comfy-cosy feeling of the holidays. Hot chocolate? Too hot. Sledding? More like surfing. But throwing a funky pre-holiday potluck party, a Christmas family lunch (stuffed turkey included), and swapping Secret Santa pressies with friends seemed like a nice holiday hug for everyone and that’s exactly what we did.

While I was practically adopted for the holiday, I couldn’t be more blessed for all the friends and family that make Brisbane home. And while spending the holiday at home is still all so potently irreplaceable, it’s a lovely realisation that Christmas is not only where you find it; it’s what you make of it. Had myself a Merry little Christmas and I hope you did too! X.

DSC_0767Throwback to a potluck party at our place before everybody runs off for their holiday

Processed with VSCO with b5 presetRare decent picture with the babyDSC_0846DSC_0860IMG_0076Christmas lunch with the CoopersDSC_0865

DSC_0883Chocolate pavlova with cream, raspberries, and strawberry compoteDSC_0853IMG_0153The cutest organic essentials from my secret santaProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetHome away from home