Drama and Adventures

Dating Arian: Iranian and Muslim

My friend was teasing me about starting a blog and casually joking about how I should review my boyfriend. Of course this was his idea of a joke but I thought this was a brilliant idea given the current political climate. So I must give him all the credit. A few days after Trump had introduced the travel ban on seven countries including Iran, news of alleged planned military attack on Iran surfaced. My boyfriend in despair said to me “I’m really scared – I have family back home. What if something horrible happens?” Although I comforted him that nothing would happen, I was panicking for him. I would be afraid too if it was my country and my family.

Disclaimer: This is solely based on my experience and thoughts. I am not an expert in the topic and do not claim to be. I do apologise if anything I have said pertaining to politics or religion is not exactly accurate. Of course, everyone’s experiences aren’t the same but these are just my opinions.

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Growing up, I never saw myself as a racist person and in fact I thought of myself to be very aware of racial and gender biases. I think this was especially the case since I was a women of colour and grew up in a multicultural country – I thought surely I can’t be racist? I think from an early age I developed an idea of what the Middle East must be like (full of sand? no stability?). Even at that point it never occurred to me that I may be making generalisations. In my mind, I was a passionate person who understood global issues well. However, I only started actively challenging my own opinions when I got to know a few boys from Iran – two of whom I became really good friends with. It became quite clear through my questions and  causal remarks that I was pretty ignorant. I remember causally making foolish statements in assumption that women in Iran wore the Burqa and even going to the extreme and asking if women were allowed to step out of the house. Of course, at that time I thought they were simple innocent questions not realising my ignorance. Someone at some point during this time had asked me how they treated me (i.e. given I was a women), and then only did I realise the discrimination that they must go through on a daily basis. These boys were genuinely the nicest and most respectful people I had ever met in my life. (One of them is still my *best* friend to this day and other later became my boyfriend and still is).

 

 

As for my relationship, we are unfortunately pretty basic. We literally do everything any other couple does. Of course, we have days where we argue about some pretty petty things. There’s been nothing but mutual respect for each others beliefs and values. Fundamentally thinking about it (other than where we come from), there’s not really that much different about us. We have similar personalities and interests. Although theoretically I knew this, being in a relationship with someone from a really different background has made me realise this. In fact our different backgrounds I think is a plus point! We learn each others languages (my farsi isn’t terrible now) and try to cook different types of food – this honestly makes things so much more exciting and fun. We’ve been together for 2 years now and we have learnt to embrace our own and each others backgrounds – and it’s been working so far.

I am still not perfect and I do still make silly comments from time to time. But what I try to do is to actively realise that I may be making generalisations. Dating Arian has really made me realise how sometimes it may be easy to point fingers and call out other people’s racism but how it is harder to acknowledge and recognise our own biases. It’s not just the U.S, discrimination and racism exists everywhere. Perhaps this is a naive viewpoint, but I do genuinely feel that getting to know someone from a community that you may have certain viewpoints of may be the first step. And who knows – you may just end up falling in love! x

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Experimental Psychology: The course and surviving Oxford

So coming to the end of my degree, it has been a love hate relationship with my degree. In this post, I’ll go through the course outline of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University and tips to surviving each stage of the degree. I hope that if you are on your course now that you’ll find this helpful or at least comforting in some sort of way. I should also mention that this post is in no way meant to scare anyone on their course. I’ve simply written this to hopefully help acknowledge that the course is challenging and that you are not alone if you are not feeling good enough or if thoughts of rusticating have ever crossed your mind x



Year 1 and Prelims 

Year 1 was extremely tough for me just because I had not written any essays through A levels so developing that skill took so much time. I think coming in, I was very hopefully and determined to do really well and get a 1st. This feeling very quickly disappeared after my first tutorial where my essay was pretty bad  as compared to my tutorial mates. I remember feeling very defeated and kind of accepting that I just wasn’t as good as my coursemates. So in case you don’t know this, if you are on the Experimental Psychology (EP) course, you do three options (Psychology, Statistics and Neurophysiology). I did not enjoy one bit of Neurophysiology. I basically used to write my essays by copying out of a book and for the exam I literally memorised facts that I honestly did not even understand.

Another really challenging aspect about first year is that the exams for Psychology are at the end of Hilary (2nd term). For most other subjects, exams are at the end of Trinity (3rd term). So it was so much harder to motivate myself to revise and work in the weeks running up to my exam as most of my friends were less busy than I was. Exams are in the 8th week of Hilary usually and lectures run up to 7th week which can also be challenging as you would need to juggle both learning and revising. Not surprisingly, I did pretty badly for my exams. Although I just about managed to average a 2.1, I almost failed my Neurophysiology paper.

But honestly, it DOESN’T MATTER. As you read on, it’ll become clearer that prelims really did not hold me back in any way. The only thing really that you’ve to do is to pass them. I’m not trying to suggest that you should completely ignore them. But it is not worth the excessive stress and damage to your mental health. Coming to a new environment on itself is really stressful, and if the work is getting to you – take a break! There’s no need to feel guilty at all.

 

Year 2 and Part Ones (40% of degree mark)

Then came the dreaded part ones. I remember being asked which were more stressful (Prelims or Part ones). The answer is slightly complicated. You become more familiar with the expectations of your writing and essays so it is more comfortable in that sense. But the content is definitely way way way more. You start Part Ones in Trinity of First Year. You have a total of 8 options + 1 statistics paper. The paper for each option consists of writing 3 essays (out of 5 options) and a short answers paper. When I started learning material for Part Ones, I was led into a false sense of security. Less essays were expected of me (3 every two weeks) as compared to Prelims (3 a week). As such, the only work I did was for my essays – I did not really bother learning much of the other parts of the course. I only realised this to be a mistake during the Summer when I was trying to revise for my collections. I found the content really overwhelming and had no idea how I was going to able to sit any of the papers. I had contemplated rusticating at this point (and again a few more times in the months following this). There were also a lot of bits such as developmental psychology which I didn’t really enjoy so doing well became bigger challenge. Surprisingly, I ended up doing pretty well for my Part ones (I’ll leave tips for this below) but it was not an easy journey getting there.

Year 3 and Part Twos (60% of degree mark)

Final year and freedom. In the final year, you get to choose options you’re actually interested in. No more learning bits you’re not interested in! You have to do a total of 4 papers (one of which is the research project). Each paper has a weighting of 15%. I chose to do an option run by Prof David Clark, Prof Anke Ehlers and Prof Daniel Freeman (Developing treatments for anxiety disorders and Psychosis) and one run by Prof Chris Summerfield (Your brain as a statistician). I decided to do a Library Dissertation with Dr Lucy Bowes (which I’m working on now). But by far the best part of my degree was my research project supervised by Dr Lucy Bowes. I looked at the relationship between mood change and social rejection, and how this may be moderated by psychosis. I really loved doing my research project – designing my experiment and the execution was so much fun. I think this was probably due to the control I had over my project and the hands on element of it as compared to my options. The ability to tailor your options according to your interests really made the last year the best! 



Advice to my Year One self 

  1. You’re doing really well! You’re in a tough situation away from home. This on itself is really really stressful. 
  2. Don’t push too hard. While exams are important, your physical and mental health are so much more important. Do not neglect yourself.
  3. Don’t feel defeated. Push on through the bad essays. I gave up so soon after my first few tries. I really wished I had just remained motivated to learn and do well.
  4. Prelims are important but they don’t count towards your degree – so don’t worry too much.

Advice to myself in Year Two 

  1. Stay organised. Don’t just do the essays – make notes for each module while you’re learning. I did all my notes in Hilary (a month before my exam). This was so overwhelming given the heavy content.
  2. Find a strategy that suits you. I was literally struggling to remember anything for my short notes and I would sit there staring aimlessly at my notes. Cue cards really helped me remember the pesky details.
  3. For short notes, base your notes on the lecture slides. This will ensure that you’re not missing out any details that you may be tested on.
  4. Put effort into your essays during term. They come in so handy nearer to exams and serve as good revision. 
  5. Don’t be afraid to speak to your College Parent. I remember being a panicked 2nd year contacting my college mum (Sarah) so often. They’ve all been through it – they understand and potentially give the best advice especially if you are going through a specific problem (content related or revision related)!

Advice to my Third year self  and things I hope to do in the next term 

  1. Choose options that really interest you – this is so incredibly important! You don’t do much in your third year so choosing options you enjoy will keep you so much more engaged and interested.
  2. Do not delay data collection – start as soon as you can. Same goes with the dissertation. Really hope I would’ve started my dissertation earlier!
  3. Time – you have a bit more time in 3rd year and so take the time to relax and venture into things that you actually enjoy doing – watch tortoise race, borrow a dog? In fact – do what you love throughout your degree! 

The past 2 years has been quite tough but I promise third year is so much more fun and fulfilling! You just need to push on. I think what has helped me most over my course is to acknowledge I am struggling and seek help in terms of talking to tutors and college parents. Everyone is so much more helpful than you think and are always willing to make time to help you or simply listen x

 

A guide: studying in the UK at a young and younger age

So in January 2013, aged 16, I left Singapore to come to London to do my A Levels. It was an incredibly tough decision leaving Singapore and the Raffles Programme. I do wish I had the insight that I have now and I thought this read may be of interest or help to anyone considering studying in the UK at a younger age.


Disclaimer: these opinions are my own and definitely based on my experience. Everyone’s experience is of course different but this is just based on mine x

Reasons for deciding to move and study in the  UK 

Hmm it’s really hard to exactly pinpoint why I decided to move. I decided to apply to a few UK Sixth Forms (UK version of JCs) not really thinking I would decide to go. I had a conversation with my parents after applying and decided that studying the UK may be a good opportunity. The best way that I can describe it is that I think I was personally feeling really tired of routine. I remember getting quite an impressive GPA but feeling really empty and not really enjoying learning. I felt like the only part of Secondary School life that I was enjoying was just my CCA (Indian Orchestra). I was feeling extremely lost and needed my space and time on my own. I rationalised that moving out would be the next step forward for me. As such, I also decided not to enter a boarding school in the UK. Rather, I enrolled in a school in London and lived in an apartment by myself.



The Good Bits

1. The space and time – needless to say, I had much more time and space to think about my needs and to do things that I enjoyed more. I was much less busier (as there was no requirement to do a CCA).

2. Teaching – the teaching in my school was in small groups and this was something I enjoyed way more. My teachers were extremely encouraging (reason why I even ended up applying to Oxford University). Because of the small groups, it was so much easier to ask anything I wasn’t sure of or to pace lessons at the speed I was comfortable with.

3. The independence – of course, I was definitely much more free to do what I wanted but that also brings me to the bad bits of moving…

The Bad Bits 

1. The independence – I literally had to do everything for and by myself. It really made me develop such immense appreciation for my parents. I really did not realise how much they did for me until I moved. If I was out late or had a rough day, I didn’t have my dad to drive me back home. The only thing I had was a phonecall back to them.

2. The cost – I would say that the cost of Sixth Form itself (still high) isn’t too bad but living in London was really expensive.

3. The people and Singapore  – there were so many people I left behind in Sinagpore. Most of my friends went on to Raffles Junior College and it was really hard at times as I felt like I was missing out on the JC experience.  It was really hard keeping up with everyone given the distance and time difference. It was also very difficult having to halt my dance and violin classes especially when I was at a peak point where more opportunities were coming my way. Most importantly, it was really hard not having my parents there with me. There were many nights that I felt so alone without them and very lost.

Tips if you’re considering pursuing A Levels in the UK

1. Do your research! Look up all colleges that may offer an A level education.

2. Keep in mind the reasons you want to come to the UK. The exams are still hard. You definitely get much more support and time but you still do have to put in a lot of effort in order to do well.

3. Be prepared not to be pampered. My life was so much smoother in Singapore as compared to how I live in the UK. This was partly due to me having to manage all my expenses by myself.

4. Have an open mind set

5. Decide what sort of acccomodation style would suit you more (boarding vs apartment).

6. Have your parents fully on board

Tips if you’re considering reading at University in the UK 

1. Search for scholarships way in advance

2. Again, have an open mind. Don’t expect things to be too luxurious

3. Don’t worry too much about ‘what after’. Go to university because you really want to read a certain subject. You can think about career options later on. I’ve spent useless nights worrying about this.

4. Talk to any seniors reading the course you’re interested in or at the Univeristy you’re interested in (this is more helpful than you think!)

4. Look at the course outline rather than the prestige of the University. In the UK, I have realised that courses (like psychology) vary so much across. As such, I would definitely suggest looking at the course outline and keeping this in mind when you choose a University.

(I’ll talk more about my university experience in another post).
I have been in the UK for over four years now and everyday has not been a smooth sailing boat. I think it’s so especially important to have your loved ones on the same page as you and for them to be as supportive of your decision to study aboard. My parents were amazing enough to provide me with the opportunity to study in the UK and I definitely feel very privileged. Throughout the 4 years, even during the hardest times, they have been there for me every single time (despite the time difference) and it has really made such a big difference. Despite the setbacks, I have really enjoyed my experience in London and Oxford and I’m really glad I took the tough step to move x

Foundation collection and true matches 

I know this rhetoric seems to be a common one, but growing up I felt like my skin wasn’t beautiful. Most of the pharmacies in Singapore seemed to only carry 50 shades of white. I remember feeling so embarrassed throughout my primary school life and part of my secondary school life about our dark I looked compared to my paler Chinese friends. The simple nicknames like ‘black’ although not meant to harm really stuck with me. There were countless skin lightening products I experimented with and outdoor activities I avoided.


As such naturally it was initially difficult finding a foundation shade as I would always go for one too light or too red for my skin complexion. My collection now so longer contains those ashy as hell tones anymore but ones that simply match me to create a perfect canvas.

Before I share my foundation collection, I have some pointers in terms of finding a perfect match.

1. Try not to buy your foundation online.. Just don’t do it! You’ll end up with foundations that you just won’t use.

2. If you do buy your foundation online, try and see if you can get samples of the shade and a shade lighter so you can try them first before opening the foundation bottle – so you can still return the bottle if the need be!

3. GET SAMPLES. Do not be shy. Most makeup artists at the counters are really really nice and they won’t mind if you don’t buy the foundation on the spot.. Things brings me to my last point.

4. If you try a foundation at a counter, give it time to settle and walk around the store. Some foundations may oxidise or settle in lines – so this is really important. Remember to also have a look in the natural daylight. The lighting at some counters can sometimes  be quite deceiving and you may not like the finish of the foundation in natural light or it may not even be a perfect match!

 

For background, my skin is very dry with yellow undertones. This may be especially important to take into account when I’m recommending application techniques as I tend to lean towards ones that give me a dewy look rather than a full coverage one. Additionally, I tend to either mix in oil into my foundation or drop it on my sponge for this sort of look.
One of the first skin bases I purchased myself was the Body Shop Tinted BB cream in 3. It is very light coverage and not bad for Summer Days. I must say that the smell is really strong (of tea tree) and initially it really bothered me. The other issue is that it only runs in neutral/red tones so I usually have to use a mixer (which I talk about later). Also shameful shade range as I believe no 3 is the darkest. I don’t really see the use for BB creams anymore as if I wanted light coverage I would simply dilute my foundation with oil but I guess this may not work well for oiler skin types. I don’t even have any pictures of me wearing it because I just never really did.  Retails for £8.50 but half price on their website right now.

 

Revlon Airbrush Effect Foundation in Caramel. I really do not like this foundation. I wouldn’t buy Revlon anymore anyway because they test on animals. This foundation looks quite good on initially. However, when you look up close, it has the strangest speckles of glitter. It doesn’t help give you any glow whatsoever. Just BIG OBVIOUS CHUNKS. Again I don’t really have any pictures of me wearing it (to save me the embarrassment)!I bought mine from Boots in 2015 probably on the 3 for 2 offer. Retails for £12.99.

The first foundation that I ever tried that matched my face was NARS Sheer Glow in Tahoe. My mum purchased this for me in 2013/4 from Liberty London. I hated this foundation initially as I found it really cakey but I love it now! I find that it’s best applying with a beauty blender or sponge. Retails for £32. Also available in Sephora Singapore for $72.


Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation in 9.5. I got this foundation during the Summer in 2016. I do love the packaging on this!  The formula itself not bad but I wouldn’t call it full coverage as the foundation claims. I really like applying this with a drop of oil and it gives quite a flawless dewy look. The only trouble is that this foundation makes me look really really orange. Perhaps I should have tried the shade lighter but I think that may have been too light. The shade range is quite limited (for deeper tones) skipping in between shades and deeper shades. I bought mine from Selfridges London for £29.50.

 

BECCA Ultimate Coverage Complexion Creme in Bamboo. I really like this foundation – it’s really really full coverage so I would never wear it w/o oil or a moisturiser. It’s quite an adaptable foundation and can be applied to give you the finish that you want. I do still feel like it’s a tad bit too light for me but seems to blend ok to my skin tone.  I bought this from Sephora Singapore for $68 but you can also purchase it from Space NK for £32.

 

Illamasqua Skin Base Mixer in  Amber. I got this for £7.80 on sale but usually it retails for £26. To be honest, I’m not really sure if it’s worth the full price tag. I feel like probably mixing in a very yellow based foundation should work about the same. It’s gotten very tricky to obtain Illamasqua in Singapore – they no longer have any counters 😥 it’s such a shame because I do love a lot of their products!!

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I feel so much more peace now in my skin then I did before and it’s a great feeling. To any girl out there struggling with this – it takes so much time and perspective but I promise it’ll really be ok one day x

Silent Disco at the Shard

So I’ve never been up the Shard before. The only thing that I’ve been up remotely close to is the Sky Garden so I’ll try to compare my experiences from both and weigh them out.

We paid £37.50 for the silent disco. We were led through security checks before leaving my coats and any other belongings. The whole scene when we got on the 72rd floor was simply unbelievable.



Drinks at the bar were also cheaper than I was expecting. Cocktails were priced at £8.50 which I think is pretty reasonable.

If you are thinking of going up to the Shard, there may be a few things to bear in mind

Views from SkyGarden
1. If it’s simply for the view, the view from the sky garden is pretty similar and stunning. It’s also free so it may be worth going there instead

2. The experience is quite unique and I think going with a few close friends enhances the experience much much more.

3. It’s really causal so don’t feel the need to dress up if you don’t want to. 4 hours is a long time – I would personally advise against heels!

It was such a good experience and if you’re between revision for finals – it’s such a good treat for yourself x

(Dress and makeup descriptions below). M


Dress: New Look,  Primer: BECCA backlight priming filter, Foundation/Base: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation + Rimmel Match Perfection Concealer, Concealer: NYX HD Concealer in Tan, Eyebrows: NYX Microbrow Pencil, Eyeshadow: KIKO Metallic Shine Eyeshadow in 04 (Blue) + Sleek Contour Duo (Brown shade), Mascara: Illamasqua Mascara Gain, Highlighter: SEVENTEEN Tan Liquid Gold, Contour: Sleek Contour Duo in Dark, Ligloss: NARS lip gloss in Chihuahua 

A wander round St Paul’s 

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My first two years in the UK were in London and I always passed St Paul’s on the way to sixth form (JC). But I’ve never taken the time to have a proper walk around and I’m really glad I did today. I went to the One Change Shopping Centre which is absolutely stunning with a roof terrace on the 6th floor. The scenes from there are a bit breathtaking.

 

There are also plenty of edgy restaurants and small eateries that are worth going into. I had a Banh Minh from Chao!Now which was absolutely delicious and reasonable priced. For tea, I visited Happenstance. I didn’t think dessert tasted that great. But – the ambience and interior of the restaurant was really impressive. And I feel like the prices are quite reasonable as compared to what you would expect. Coffees and teas are pretty standard in terms of pricing although I found the desserts a tad bit expensive.



Next time, think I’ll continue to explore the tiny streets on St Pauls and discover more eateries! The side streets suprisingly have the coolest buildings as well (esp at Carter Lane – pic below)! x
 

Room Tour: Magdalen College

 

imageIn my last year of my degree, I was incredibly lucky to get a gorgeous set in New Buildings, Magdalen College. It’s a stunner with its tall ceilings and windows, and the views from it are amazing.

 

I can’t say it’s the most practical of rooms. Besides having to sacrifice an ensuite, it gets quite dark mid day so extra artificial lighting really would help. 

The storage space is really decent and there’s even a secret door in the bedroom where I keep things to make the room look a bit tidy.

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All in all, I think it’s an incredible set and although not the most practical, worth it as I doubt I would ever live in a building and set like this again.