good things come to those who wait: growing up

It has been a running theme lately of people questioning the ‘quarter-life crisis’ and reviewing their lives by the achievements of others and themselves. Or, suddenly life had decided to take a U-turn and it turns out that maybe what you had planned isn’t actually what you want. Life is funny like that – well, if we don’t laugh, we cry so let’s assume it’s hilarious – and it’s rollercoaster tendencies always like to add a loop-de-loop or a corkscrew without warning. I’ve always wondered whether choosing to do a masters degree was a good idea. In the elongated winter nights, in a new city in which I was finding it hard to become accustomed, I thought of the other choices my friends had taken, questioned why continue in this world of studying when I could have a salary and go on holiday…

Yet, the fact that I love Asian culture, society, business has meant that I stuck it out to now; and amazingly the end is suddenly galloping toward me without hesitation. My dissertation is in scraps as I’ve changed my question three times (if I had had it my way, probably over twenty times) but I know that by the deadline in two weeks time there will be something resembling a dissertation proposal on my supervisors desk. Soon enough, come September, I will have written a 15,000 word document on South Korean women and business! Of which requires constant use of google translate for statistics and data than I ever (stupidly) anticipated…

and that’s my twenty longs years of education complete. 🤣

Of my friends: one will return to university to study to be a certified architect, one will have decided whether the career choice she made is what she wants or whether becoming a marine biologist is a better fit, one who every time I see him has a new plan built on the last (teaching, a PhD, a masters) but it’s all focused on what he is driven to do, one who, even though he didn’t know what he wanted to do, changed his job because he disliked what he did and now loves life… I could go on. 

What I’m trying to say is that although at times we feel we’re walking the wrong direction on our journey of life or we find ourselves second-guessing choices – (life path big or whether you want to eat toast or cereal in the morning), that’s part of growing up into the big wide world. If the fairytales and stories of our childhood taught us anything, for example Mulan or Jasmine from Aladdin, it’s that in the face of adversity we do what we choose to do because deep down, it’s right. If we don’t feel that in our daily lives, it’s up to us to make that change. This takes time, sometimes an act of bravery either from ourselves or someone else: such as Mulan choosing to protect her father, or Aladdin to show Jasmine life outside the box. (Okay, I know they are stories and genies and dragons were involved but it’s all the same). 

Our non-Disney princess-and-prince-selves  bravery is shown by making choices every day without seeing ourselves in the shadows of others. This confusion, worry, and fear that we’re not good enough, nay, that we’ve not achieved what our peers have can be perceived as a “quarter life crisis”. Yet, you’re not in one. You’ve got education, you’ve got family, you’ve got friends and by golly; you’ve got you

It’s not easy, I know. The lemons life gives us can be a bit too sour! But hey, mix them with sugar of all the good things and bad together, and hey presto!  Life is sweet. 

With that, I’m off to pray for a dissertation epiphany… sometimes life is like walking down a set of stairs, other times it’s a hike up when you wished you’d taken the lift. 🤗

Lots of love,

Xo.  

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“be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”

“be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”

Morning everyone! It’s a dull cloudy morning here, however, today is not the day to let the weather dictate the mood. We’re almost halfway through the first month of the new year and I’ve pondered on what to write about for a while…

Y’know those facebook quizzes that are ridiculous but you do anyway because some of your friends did and it makes you feel good when it says that 2017 is the year you’ll become a millionaire and get your life together? 

Continue reading ““be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire””

it’s the most wonderful time of the year; a festive finale of 2016.

it’s the most wonderful time of the year; the festive finale of 2016.

Christmas never ceases to fill me with joy, laughter and inspiration. The season of giving is infectious and spreads so much love and care around a world that is in desperate need of it. I’m a massive birthday fan – always have been – but this year Christmas has seen to pip birthdays to the post for my best celebration of 2016. 

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” – Charles Dickens

I have had a Christmas playlist playing since December 1st: mostly in the car on my journeys between Sheffield and Nottingham as singing the classics at full volume somehow makes time fly! 😀 

Since Lisa’s long awaited arrival and too soon departure, the end of the semester came around quickly that found me driving down towards Birmingham to join Danny for his birthday celebrations on Tuesday 20th. We went to see the Magical Lantern Festival hosted in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It is created by a Chinese company therefore the are a few Chinese influenced sculptures. Here are the pictures that I took 🙂 

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After spending three days with Danny and his wonderful family, I made my way north to my grandparents house. My grandpa hasn’t been too well in the last part of the year following a series of unfortunate events. After going into hospital last week, I can’t express the surprise and excitement I felt when I wandered into the living room, completely unaware, to find him sat in his usual armchair. To him, and to anyone else whose health hasn’t been at its peak, here’s to a fresh year of better health and happiness. ❤

Christmas eve has appeared in a blur. Right now I am on a plane to France; to Nantes to be exact. (If Flybe hasn’t had any delays or problems!)

They say the first Christmas apart is the hardest. So, I’m leaving the country for a few days. 

Dramatic much? I thought so. 

Yet, it is true. I was given the amazing opportunity to visit Léa in France, alongside Lisa, and spend Christmas with them. They are both friends that I met during my semester abroad in China and it is going to be amazing to see each other again. I have no idea what to expect but am excited to spend a lot of time with the girls and Léa’s various family members. 🙂

Amongst all the festivities and chaos, the Evans family have managed to find a time that fits to have a “Christmas skype session”! 

With Calgary 8 hours behind Nantes, and Auckland being 12 hours ahead of Nantes, some mathematical sums were involved. The result being, on the Western world’s Christmas eve, we will call each other for Harry’s Christmas Day.

I don’t know what it’s going to feel like. It’s an odd situation to not be with the people – family – that embody the image and experience of Christmas. I’m just going to hope my dad doesn’t accidentally end up with a 21 pound turkey due to last minute shopping again. I think a turkey cookbook would be the appropriate Christmas present if so… 🙂  

To all my friends and their families this Christmas: I hope you have a wonderful celebration no matter how seriously you celebrate it or how much you eat of the grandiose feasts made.

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!” – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

To my own little family that seem to be getting way too good at globe trotting…

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all my love, be strong and remember to open a cracker for me. You know how much we love wearing those hats. ❤

Xo.  

正月十五:fifteenth and final day of my ‘hóngbāo’ adventure

For my final one, I thought I’d make a video. I tried to keep it short but it is just over six minutes! (I apologise for any babbling or for talking too much.)

For those who are looking at this blog page for the first time, this ‘hóngbāo’ adventure is a series of posts starting from the beginning of the Chinese New Year up to the Lantern Festival. It covers the traditions and is part of a little quest I’ve set for myself to give a ‘hóngbāo’- red envelope – to someone each day and in return, they share a piece of advice that they love or has inspired them that always comes back to them. This is the final day, the 元宵节 (yuánxiāojié), is the Lantern Festival to mark the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The customs on this day is to watch Lion and Dragon dances, for the whole family to eat tangyuan (the glutinous rice balls), guess the riddles on the lanterns. If you google the festival, you will see a variety of lanterns that in the past few years have grown in size to resemble traditional Chinese images, such as fruits, flowers, birds, animals, people, and buildings. The lanterns can be as small as the standard ones we see in drawings to huge sculptures of animals etc. It is a very joyous day and is marked by the full moon that shows that the festival has been through its cycle and it is now time to start the new year. Continue reading “正月十五:fifteenth and final day of my ‘hóngbāo’ adventure”

初六: day six of my ‘hóngbāo’ adventure

初六: day six of my ‘hóngbāo’ adventure

YAY! It’s Saturday!

I have had a very Chinese day today as a friend and I went to Beeston which is an area of Nottingham on the other side of the University Campus. The town council had organised a two-hour long Chinese New Year Lantern Festival which involved various Chinese dance performances including the Lion and Dragon dances. The children of a local primary school had spent a day making Chinese Lanterns out of gold card and red paper mache and just before fireworks paraded around the square, and they looked adorable!

As it is the sixth day of the New Year, it’s time to send away the Ghost of Poverty. Why?

“According to the legend, the ghost of poverty is a son of Zhuan Xu (an emperor among the Three Emperor and Five Sovereigns in ancient China). He was short and weak, and liked wearing ragged clothes and eating poor porridge. Even when people presented him with new clothes, he would not wear it until he ripped it apart or burn it. So, he got the name of “the man of poverty”, and with time passing by, he gradually became the ghost of poverty.

So, how to send away the ghost of poverty? Usually, people will throw away their ragged clothes, rubbish and other dirty things. In addition, they will also light some candles to lighten the road for the ghost of poverty.”

Source: chinatravel.com

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It’s a good excuse for us to light candles, right? It is also a chance for us to declutter the things that just sit unused and unworn. The image above says “The Sixth day of the New Year is to send away the God of Poverty.” And the speech bubble says: “I wish to be prosperous, the God of poverty can go away!”

Now, regarding my adventure, I chose a friend that I knew would have some good advice and wisdom up her sleeve: Dorottya or we call her Dóri for short!

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Dóri with her hōngbáo under a street light – she doesn’t look this scary really! 😉
a cheeky selfie!

What did she come up with?

Go into a new culture or situation without any preconceptions, prejudices, with a blank slate.

This is the best way I could write it because there isn’t a completely clear phrase or idiom that encompasses what Dóri wanted to say…. But I’m going to have a go at explaining it. Dori has travelled a lot for her studies, she is Hungarian and has lived in America as part of a University exchange, spent a summer in South Korea and now is in the UK for her Masters degree. This life lesson (as she called it) is linked to her various experiences adapting to a new culture and its habits. Yet I think she’s touched on something really prevalent in society that everyone experiences, not just those who have the opportunities to travel. She shared with me that our first impressions and experiences, if difficult and below expectations, isn’t what it’s going to continue to be as long as you don’t let the cultural differences get to you. When we are faced with something new it’s not easy for us (somewhat) sensitive human beings to change and adapt when we are so used to a certain lifestyle. I found this inspiring because it highlights how much we don’t appreciate ourselves and allow us to feel rubbish and not believe in ourselves to get through it.

I have taken this advice and will attempt to apply it to daily life. In every new situation or experience, it is good to think that we go into it with a positive attitude and without preconceptions of what we expect it to be. In many of my new experiences, both afar and in the UK, I am definitely guilty of feeling disappointed or uncomfortable until I let myself relax into it and let go of any worries of judgement or anything. We make ourselves so vulnerable when we should be so strong. Dóri doesn’t imply that everyone is widely prejudiced but it is common knowledge that we do judge without meaning to. There are negative connotations that we need to get rid of to free ourselves from our own constraints and stresses. We also talked about a version of the very popular english phrase “treat others as you wish to be treated” and how, as long as you walk into a situation being your happy self, it is more likely that the people around you are most likely to reciprocate your mood and actions. And without realising it, we’ve managed to increance the chances of having more fun and coming away from the experience fulfilled.

Therefore, in a whole bunch of words that I’ve just typed in my exhausted state, today is a day that shows and teaches us to be ready to change and adapt to the various challenges and new experiences that come. As soon as there is expectation, we are creating boundaries, and there’s no need for them! We are great people as we are and even though there can be language and cultural barriers or just being different people, let’s head into everything feeling bold and full of life. Everything Dóri and I spoke about has left me thinking about it all non-stop so I could keep babbling but as it’s quarter to eleven in the evening… I’m going to call it a night.

I hope this inspires some of you. It may resonate with those who’ve moved abroad for any period of time more than those who reside in the own countries… But none the less, as the Koreans would say, “fighting!” (which translates (in my opinion to be “let’s do this!” )

Lots of love,

Xo.

If you want to read about the whole journey so far from the very beginning of the Chinese New Year… http://wp.me/p566Mh-C2

初五: day five of my ‘hóngbāo’ adventure

If you want to start from the very beginning of the Chinese New Year… http://wp.me/p566Mh-C2


 

Today, the 12th February, is a cloudy and cold day in Nottingham so leaving the vicinity of my cost and warm bed to start the day at 7:30am felt like a challenge already. Nonetheless off to campus I went and realised that I didn’t have a chosen person for my ‘hóngbāo’ (red envelope) today. Nooooo! I had wanted Mark, a classmate of mine, to do it but seeing as it was his birthday yesterday and he hadn’t shown up for mandarin, I knew I had to re-think…..

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It’s the fifth day of the New Year and traditionally it is known as ‘破五节’ (pòwŭjié) which means that the taboos during the Chinese New Year period can be broken. The rules such as ‘don’t sweep the house’ are lifted and people return to normal daily routines. It is also considered the birthday of the God of Wealth or Fortune. Therefore, on the chance that the God may visit the family home, a massive feast is cooked. It is very common to eat dumpings ‘饺子’ (jiăozi) rather than rice as they resemble the Chinese ingots. Ingots are the ancient currency used until the 20th Century in China, they resemble little Chinese-style hats. (and are in the image above). Some say that women are not allowed to leave the house as it is bad luck on this particular day, but other sources claim that they can leave but for too long in case they miss the God’s visit.

Now onto my little quest for people’s advice and life lessons…

This time I chose my Spanish Translation Lecturer who has the joy of seeing me for three hours a week: Jean Andrews.

Jean Andrews
Jean Andrews

Never give up (on your dreams)

Compared to yesterday’s advice, this is short and sweet, and I love it. Jean is a professor at Nottingham University and is an inspiration to me in a sense that her vocabulary is AMAZING. Her study and knowledge of translation is vast and the way she commands the attention of students in a lecture is fantastic. To me, it is obvious that she was not one to give up. This shows that regardless of the little challenges and hurdles we have to navigate over on our journey of life, being stubborn and sticking to the reason we made our choices in first place is not going to turn out wrong of us. It may not turn out as expected however, in a strange inexplicable way, will become what we want.

I don’t want to say too much about this advice because I feel I would repeat myself and ruin the simplicity of the phrase ‘never give up (on your dreams)’. So, live and breath it everyone!

I hope you all have great weekends and let your feet up for a bit… and enjoy Valentines (and Anti-Valentines if that still exists) if you are celebrating. ❤

Lots of love,

Xo.

 

Au Pair #1: it’s the beginning of the year abroad

Today I have travelled to Madrid to kick off staying with a Spanish family for the summer.

Flying to Madrid - 29th June 2014

June 30th, 2014:

Today, I have travelled to Madrid to kick off staying with a Spanish family for the summer. Having arrived a few hours ago, I’m now sat in a Nissan Qashqai with one boy sleeping on my shoulder and one of those kids seats squidging me on the other side. I’m not mentioning this because I mind, but rather that I’m completely nervous and so excited. The family welcomed me with open arms at the airport.

So far the only job I have been given is to speak to the children in English all the time. But Spanish to the parents and others. This seems like a fair bargain. There are three sons, one is nine and the other two are eight (twins). They seem to be a really happy and fun family. And we’re headed straight down past Cartagena right to a place called ‘la manga’ which is a small long stretch of land adjoined to Spain at one end. The temperature that is displayed on the car dashboard is 32°c – woohoo! So, in short, my year abroad has started with a trip to the beach.

Definitely not complaining.

Xo.