Sunday, December 31, 2017


Hello again! So, while waiting for New Year's Eve, which is just 3 hours away, I want to make use of my time now to write some more here. Bawi bawi rin pag may time! =)

The day after Christmas, me and my friend went to Hamburg. It was my first time and it's nice to be able to see a new city in Germany. It's vibe is a lot different from Cologne. The buildings are bigger and taller and the roads, wider. But then again, each city has its own charm.

What I love here in Europe are the architectural designs of old buildings and how well-preserved they are. Just look at the building pictured below, the Hamburg Rathaus (City Hall). It looks so good from afar but the details are especially captivating when you're nearer.

We joined a two-hour walking tour discussing the history of Hamburg. Even though it was a bit rainy and the wind was blowing strong (since Hamburg is a port city, its location is near the open waters), it was all worth it listening and learning some historical events that happened in Hamburg.

The inside of St. Michael's church is stunning! The white and gold colors brightens the surroundings. It's not very big and I think the size is perfect for an intimate wedding. There's even a big organ opposite the altar.

After the tour, me and my friend met up with a fellow Filipino scholar. The three of us came from the same university. The two of them were batchmates and I'm a year older than them. We had lunch in a cafe and talked about our experiences. And it's really nice to hear something new or a different way of dealing with things because it widens your perspective in life.

First Christmas in Germany

I hope you had a wonderful time spending the holidays with your loved ones. As for me, I know this is late, but let me share how my first Christmas here in Germany went.

On the 24th, I traveled to Oldenburg, a quaint city in the northern part of Germany, where I'd be spending the next coming days visiting a friend and nearby places. The travel time from Cologne to Oldenburg is approximately 4 and a half hours by train (including a 37-minute waiting and change of train in Bremen). I arrived at 4:30 pm but it's already starting to get dark. Since the time in Philippines is several hours ahead of Germany, we spent time chatting with our own families online before having dinner. For our Christmas dinner, she prepared spaghetti and lumpiang shanghai. It's just a simple celebration. We also had an exchange gift and I got some comfy/warm socks and a candle, which is perfect because it gets really cold in my apartment.

Christmas day was spent just eating and staying in the apartment. But late in the afternoon, we decided to get out and breathe some fresh air. We just walked from her apartment to the city center. On the way, we passed by a cemetery and decided to have a look at it. How ironic that it's Christmas and we're in a cemetery but my heart melted when I saw people visiting the graves of their loved ones. I also noticed that there were candles and fresh flowers in many of the graves, which just shows that the love for our departed family members and friends never ends, even after they are long gone.

We, then, passed by several houses and apartments. What I like about Oldenburg is that the buildings are separate from one another. The houses have big lawns and gardens. It's refreshing to see a sight like that because Cologne can be a bit crowded and rarely do you see apartments with gardens. Upon arriving in the city center, we're lucky to find an open cafe. Yes, it is open on Christmas day! It's cozy and warm and it's just nice to sit there with a cup of macchiato. After keeping warm, we had our energy back and walked around the shops and, snapped some photos.

At the end of the day, I realized that nothing beats spending Christmas with family but I'm also thankful that even though I'm in a foreign country, I was still able to spend it with someone.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Moments in 2017: A Reflection

Again, I have to say this, "Time flies!" I guess when one gets older, time suddenly passes by fast compared to when one was still a child. And look where we are now! Hello December! It's only a month before the year ends and I just want to take this moment to reflect on what my 2017 was/is all about.

This year has brought me to the happiest and saddest moments of my life.

I'll start with the saddest first. Saddest, because my grandmother passed away. I still remember that faithful day of  the 18th of April. It was about 5:30 am and I was preparing for the day when my phone rang. At first, I thought it was my alarm but then it was a call from my mom. She told me what happened and right at that moment, tears started flooding my eyes. We know my Lola is in a bad condition, we know that she's dying but you still cannot be prepared when that moment, death, actually happens. Up to this day, I still have thoughts of What if I traveled a day before instead of planning to go home on Friday, then maybe I will be by my Lola's side during her last breath? There is still guilt in me that I haven't done the right thing. When my brother told me the details of Lola's last moments, it's as if it's happening in front of me. He's a nurse so he knows what's happening and what's coming next. And now that I think of it, if I was there, I wouldn't be able to handle the situation in a calm way. I'm a very emotional person (though I rarely let others see what I truly feel) so I can just imagine the panic and drastic feelings I'll be having if I was there. But then again, I still wish I was there. I was hoping that my Lola would still get through it, that she'll be healed and get back to normal because I don't want her to die with a frail body. I don't want her to die suffering. I want her to die happy and in peace. But God has better plans than mine. In the end, what's important is that she's now with the Lord. I just hope she's looking at me now from the heavens. On a lighter note, I also hope that she's whispering to God my heart's desires.
Taken last February at the wedding of one of her grandchildren.
I really love the way she looks here. She seems very happy.

Happiest, because my dream of pursuing a PhD has finally become a reality. And I just couldn't ask for a better place than where God has put me now. I will always, always be grateful for this opportunity. Getting here was never easy but it's all worth it. I applied to a lot, and I mean really a lot, of graduate programs back in 2016. Then, I saw a scholarship announcement in January this year. I sent my application and, fortunately, I was one of the candidates who get into the interview stage, then another interview, and finally I get the acceptance letter. It was fast getting my visa but acquiring the exit clearance was a different kind of level. It was a nightmare, with all the bureaucratic and very slow processing of papers. I've never been so stressed and angry in my life than that. Two days before my flight, that's the only time I got my exit clearance. Anyway, as they say, all's well that ends well.

So, that probably sums up my 2017. We still have a month so let's see if there are still some surprises.

P.S. Oh, speaking of surprises, the other day I got a [bad] surprise. I got into my first bike accident here in Germany. I was in a hurry that morning and was supposed to transfer from the road to the sidewalk/bike lane but I haven't noticed the level was a bit high and the road was wet, my tire didn't get through and then, everything was a mess. I fell face down on the cement. Got some wounds and bruises in my face, a bleeding mouth, a loosened front tooth, and a big wound in my right knee. And a day before that, I got bitten by a mouse while in training. Life is certainly full of surprises! Huhu!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

500 Days of (Summer) Autumn

It's been a long time... I've always wanted to update my blog but it seems that I also always find ways/reasons to not write (e.g. tired already after a long day of work I'd rather sleep or just spend more time browsing in Instagram and Facebook). But now, I do hope to get back in track, even if it's just at least one post per month.

So let's get this going!

I spent the weekend in the quaint and lovely city of Oldenburg, situated in the northern part of Germany. This is probably one of my most memorable moments here in Germany so far because 
     1)it's my first solo travel out of Cologne (a.k.a. home base);
     2) I visited a dear friend (who's a former colleague and a fellow Master's student back in South 

I have to say I'm in love with Oldenburg. It's funny because when I told that to my friend, this was her reply, "That's what you also said about Cologne!" Haha! Yeah, she's right. Or maybe, it's safe to say that I'm in love with Germany.

Okay, but why do I love thee?

Let me count the ways.

First up, because Oldenburg is so clean and peaceful. Even while we were at the city center, it has still a small town vibe for me, which I really like. And the park where we went, where all these photos were is just so beautiful!

I will always prefer nature than the city. Will always stare in wonder in trees and lakes and beaches than skyscrapers. This huge tree for example, just look at that golden foliage! It's magical and tranquil at the same time. Nature really has a way to captivate one's heart.

For the second and third reasons, I'll just reserve them in my next post because it's already 12:41 AM in this side of the world.

Oh, also, autumn is here and I couldn't be any happier!

Good night! Guten abend!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

On Motherhood and Backup Plans

I just have to write it now, lest I forget. So today, I experienced the sweetest moment here in Germany so far. As I was putting my bags in the taxi, a little boy, maybe 3 or 4 years old with a bandage on one of his eyes, came near me and said Hallo. His mother was behind him. And I also said Hallo (which was kind of high-pitched, which I hoped doesn't sound weird). He was so cute and sweet he even went nearer but I was already seated in the taxi. As I was about to close the door, he pushed it and closed it for me. Seriously, I wanted hug and kiss him. And then, in a nearby bench, the mother and son took a seat and as I was there, inside the taxi, watching them, I realized I wanted to also have a moment like that. I wanted to, one day, walk with my future son or daughter, and just sit on a bench when he or she is already tired, and just enjoy every second of being with him or her.

In my younger years, I haven't really thought much about being a mother. But now that I'm a thirty-year old adult grown up, motherhood is something that I'm starting to dream about. To be honest, I never thought this day would come. My dreams used to revolve around two things: having a successful career and meeting the love of my life. Marriage and family only comes after that. Now, as I'm climbing the career ladder, I have to say I don't really know if I'll ever meet the right man but one thing's for sure, I don't want to put motherhood on hold forever. So I'll just continue and focus on my work and save, and I am giving myself an ultimatum, which is - By thirty five years old, if I am still not married, I will either adopt or have my eggs frozen and ask for someone to donate sperm cells and have in vitro fertilization. All of these options are expensive so starting from now, I really have to save little by little. Of course, I am not closing my doors when it comes to having the whole process of motherhood in the usual, natural way. I want to experience that also but...

...backup plans are needed, just in case.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Quick Life Update

The past two days (up until now) have been the best days here in Germany, weather-wise. Yesterday, it was 31°C! It felt like home minus the freakin' humidity and I love it! So yeah, there's a legit summer day here after all. It's perfectly warm but I'm not sweaty. And that just makes me feel happy. I love the Philippines but one of the things I don't miss is the situation of being sweaty right after you get out of your home or apartment in the morning. Imagine the sun shining bright and the humidity in action and your skin is just burning and wet at the same time. Anyway, I'm just gonna make this post short and sweet because I still need to pack my things for tomorrow I'll be transferring them to my new apartment.

I don't know if it's just the weather but I noticed that for the past few days, I've been feeling good about myself. Remember my post about being insecure/not comfortable in my own skin here? Just this evening when I went to the street a few blocks away to do some errands (buy some groceries because hashtag adulting), I was walking comfortably and confidently. I was just at peace and happy inside. One of the biggest realizations I have since I arrived here is that I don't care anymore if I look different among the people here. I'll just live my new life the way it's supposed to be---filled with happiness, confidence, and being appreciative of even the littlest of things. =)

Also, one month and two weeks have already gone by since I first set foot in this new country that is Germany, specifically, in this beautiful city that is Köln (spelled as Cologne in English). I have so many things I want to talk about but I just couldn't find the time to write a blog post. So sorry for being a lousy blogger but hopefully I'll get back on my feet again and take on the world of blogosphere with so much enthusiasm (just like before). Haha!

So yeah, it's 11pm already, guess I need to start packing now.

Have a great evening! Oh, let's change it, HAVE A GREAT LIFE everyone!!!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Avène: First Time User

Since I am currently having acne breakouts, I decided to drop by the Apotheke (German word for pharmacy) this afternoon to see what skincare products I should take. The lady at the counter asked my skin type and I told her combination skin (oily on the T-zone, dry on the sides) and acne-prone. She then recommended the Avène Cleanance EXPERT line. I've never used Avène before so I thought, well why not give it a try. Here they are!
Avène Cleanace Cleansing Gel for face and body - €13.90
Avène Cleanance EXPERT Soin-Emulsion - €14.90
Avène TriAcnéal EXPERT Soin-Emulsion - €15.90

Basically, the line targets breakouts without irritating the skin. According Avène's website:
  • The Avène Cleanace Cleansing Gel for face and body is a soap-free gel cleanser for face and body which harnesses a combination unique ingredients that eliminate impurities and excess oil without stripping the skin.
  • The Avène Cleanance EXPERT Soin-Emulsion is an award winning comprehensive treatment that targets the appearance of blemishes at every stage. The moisturizing formula helps regulate oil production, smoothes skin texture and reduces inflammation and the appearance of blemishes.
  • The TriAcnéal EXPERT is an evening moisturiser that comprehensively targets blemishes, marks and the first signs of ageing, so that those looking for clearer skin and anti-ageing care no longer have to compromise.
So tonight, I already used the Cleansing Gel and the TriAcnéal Emulsion. The Cleanance Emulsion, on the other hand, will be included in my morning routine.

I don't want to set my expectations high but let's see if these products can tame my raging skin.

Will update after one month (15th of September).


P.S. I also got 2 mini freebies! =)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

New Kid On The Block

Three weeks and two days have passed already since I first set foot here in Germany last July 13, 2017. As I've said in my previous post, it was a dream of mine to pursue a PhD degree in biomedical science and, finally, it's now becoming a reality. Getting here was never easy. It was hard work, determination, perseverance, support of the people around me, faith, and most importantly, God's mercy that got me through all this. Whenever I remember all that I've been through, sometimes I can't help but get teary eyed.

Right now, I am still adjusting in my new environment.

First let's talk about the weather. It's summer but sometimes I do feel like it's autumn or spring. The weather here can get a bit crazy within the day. It's drastic, from 29°C where the sun is shining bright with cool breeze to 12°C where the rain is pouring with nearly freezing winds. There are days where it's nice to walk around but there are days where you just want to stay in the comfort of your bed. One thing that I've been doing is constantly checking the weather update just to be prepared. I also got an umbrella. In preparation for the colder months ahead, I am also planning to buy some jackets and coats.

Second, let's talk about the people. Stereotypes about Germans include being unfriendly, cold, direct, and are not into small talks. In my thee weeks here, I encountered some that look unfriendly and cold at first but actually they are good people. The thing with stereotypes is you compare a culturally different group of people with another group. So for me, coming from the Philippines, the norm is giving a warm welcome, showing that bright smile and greeting, to someone new. But here, on the day I arrived, I wasn't greeted by a smile and warm welcome from the reception personnel at the institute. It's just like, let's get down to business. "Why are you here? Who are you looking for?" etc. He's very direct. I wasn't offended or something because I've prepared myself about the German stereotypes. I think getting on to business is their norm here. Surely they'll look unfriendly if I compare them to the norm back home but that's what stereotyping is all about, it just compares. You can't judge someone whether he/she is a good person just by stereotyping.

When it comes to my supervisor and colleagues at work, I'd have to say they are warm and friendly and easy to work with. One of my hopes here is to have  a good and professional relationship with the people I'm working with. The night before my first day at work, I was very anxious. Good thing, that first day went smoothly. Also, it's nice that my supervisor is not intimidating and has a passion for what he's doing.

I have to add the random strangers I met outside of work. I'm very fortunate for all the act of kindness I experienced from them. I remember the day I arrived here. Jet lagged and all but I have to buy some adaptors. Using the map given by the HR, I was at the Lindenburg station looking at my map. A lady approached me and asked if I needed help. I must have looked like a lost child but I truly appreciate her gesture. Then one Saturday, I was again in Lindenburg station but the shop where I buy tickets is closed. While inside the tram, I asked a girl (whom I thought is Korean but is Chinese) how to get a ticket and she helped and taught me on getting the ticket from the machine in the tram. Also, she's a Master's student at a nearby institute who's also studying biomed so we had some conversation about our background and studies. Another Saturday, I went to the laundromat. I was looking at the directions but they are all in German. I was dead smack figuring how I'll wash my clothes. An old man asked me if I needed help. He explained one by one all the things that I have to do. He's so good in teaching every single detail I have to know, from getting the detergent in the machine to operating the washing machine to using the dryer. He's even giving me his detergent but I was shy, so I just bought one from the machine. I did some errands in the grocery and then came back to the laundromat and then, we had a good talk. He said he is the one doing the laundry of his clothes and his wife's because his wife is sick, multiple sclerosis. When he learned that I'm doing my PhD, he said that he had a neighbor who used to work at my institute. It's really a wonderful experience talking to him and realizing that he is such a good man. There's this time, while apartment hunting, I was so hungry I went to the nearest bakeshop. I only bought a slice of pie but the lady got three more breads and gave them to me as a gift. I will always be thankful to them for all the help and genuine act of kindness! I hope to also give back by helping other people.

Third, let's talk about how I'm handling some of the not-so-good stuff. Since I am a foreigner, I can't help but compare how I look with the people here. Clearly, I am different - from head to toe. The color of my hair, the color of my eyes, the color of my skin, the shape of my face, the built of my body...I am way, way different from them. They all look like models and dolls in my perspective. Yes, I have to say dolls because most of my dolls when I was a child were blonde, fair-skinned, with blue or green eyes. They are not discriminatory, but deep inside, I can't help but feel like I'm the only thorn among the roses. I'm starting to become self conscious and insecure in my own skin. Sometimes, I feel that I'm too old to be thinking that way. I'm an adult and an adult should know what is right. And that is to accept how different I am, to be content and happy with how I look, and to celebrate the diversity of people. For now, everything is still a learning process. It is my hope though that one day, I'll be able to embrace and celebrate my uniqueness and how diverse the humankind is all over the world.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dreams to Reality

It's been a week already since I arrived and a simple way of celebrating is by strolling and exploring the areas surrounding the institute. After work, I bought a chocolate-filled croissant and ate it while walking. While enjoying the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze, the beautiful architecture of apartments, and the people just passing by, I still can't believe that all this is happening.

What was once a dream is now a reality.

I will always be thankful to God because, indeed, everything is perfect in His time. I may have waited several years, but everything is more than I had hoped for. To my family, Mama, Papa, and Nikko, for supporting me every step of the way and for loving me, even in my most unlovable moments. To my Lola, for being a big part of my life; you are an inspiration, and I hope I make you proud up there in heaven. To my mentors, previous teachers and supervisors at work, for imparting knowledge and honing my skills. To my friends, for listening to my rants and anxieties and for cheering me up (You all know how paranoid and negative I can be sometimes). To my current supervisor, for believing in me and accepting me even though I come from a different field (from plants, I will now be working on mice, though I have yet to learn how to handle them). To my scholarship provider, the Marie Curie Fellowship, and my host institute, the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, for equipping young minds into becoming the scientists they ought to be. Thank you very much!

To all the dreamers out there, young and old, if there's one thing I've learned in this whole process, it is to never give up on one's dreams. But I tell you, it's easier said than done. The truth is, you need to work hard for it, try over and over and over again even if you fail. Trust me, I know how it feels. Also, there's definitely a moment where you would cry hard on it. It will be emotionally exhausting but never let that stop you. And most importantly, you need to talk to God, pray if your dream is really His will for you, and if it's not, pray that He may lead you to the path He has destined for you.

Sharing Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hallo Deutschland

Yes, I have to type it again.

Hallo Deutschland! Finally, what was once a dream is now a reality!  

Sharing some snippets on my travel to Germany.
Golden hour

Sea of clouds

A view of Munich

Munich getting closer every minute

Touchdown Cologne

First glimpse of Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom in German)

A pretty house near the institute

Monday, July 3, 2017

Catch Up With Good Old Friends

Where did the time go?! We're already halfway through the year!

This entry is supposed to be posted on the last day of June (because I don't have any posts for that month) but LIFE happens. So, I'm just dropping by, trying to keep everything sweet and simple.

It's important to make time with people who have been part of your "old" life. Twelve years ago, I met four wonderful girls in a dormitory in college. We were roommates for three years. And I tell you, three years isn't a short time. Spending days and nights for three years in one room has allowed us to get to know each other - the good, the bad, and some of our quirks...

They are actually one of those people who really know me and my not-so-easy personality. Hehe!

And now, even if we already live in different places, have different careers, different set of friends, it's nice that we still get to see each other. They are actually a breath of fresh air in this busy and stressful life that is adulthood. It's just nice to catch up, reminisce the good old days, and simply talk about anything under the sun.

Oh, and we also did some shopping...because GIRLS!

SM Aura

BGC High Street

New haircut, Aztec Healing Clay, and Empties

Hi everyone! Just a little update. I've never gotten a haircut since I left the Philippines last July. It's been 7 months alrea...