Losing My Mother In More Way Than One

tree-838667_640

My mother’s passing came unexpectedly to my family. Not with shock but with a sense of numbness at first because it wasn’t out of the blue. She had been battling sickle cell Anaemia for most of her life, and she was such a strong person that we just hadn’t expected it so soon. At age 43, she had lost her lifelong battle to sickle cell disease on April 30th, 2017. In fact, it would have been her birthday on February 26th. A day which I now use for reflection and family.

It seems surreal now that I remember it in detail. That evening a friend and I went to watch a film at the local cinema. The climax had resulted in the death of a paternal figure of the lead role. Someone who wasn’t perfect but tried their best for their child. It was a direct reflection of our relationship and I had gone home feeling off-kilter. Before, I could step through my door, my phone had begun to ring and somehow, I knew.

In the days leading up to her funeral, I had tried to retain some normalcy by working. It was hard to comprehend with my denial along and numbness. I would have flashbacks trying to recall if there was anything out of the ordinary the last time I spoke to her.  A mere three days before. I remembered the phone feeling odd because, despite longing to speak to her often, she would not answer the phone unless it was important. This time it was simply a mother-daughter call that I had been longing for, for months. When we had said our “I love yous.”, it felt different as if we were heading for closure.

Not being together had severely affected our relationship. We weren’t estranged or explosive but grew really distant over time. At times, she’d reassure me that it was for the best but given how close we were when I was a child, it was clear that our bond was not as strong as before. The distance grew longer Along the way, we began to develop more differences, resentment, and misunderstandings that furthered our distance.

My biggest regret was not having the strength to improve our relationship. We knew without a doubt that we loved each other but sometimes I felt as though we should have tried harder. We often struggled to maintain our damaged bond and as a result, we struggled to understand how and why we had both changed. It felt like we were just acquaintances, not mother and daughter.

When, I’d ask “Why?” I’d receive an answer in the form of a shrug and thus continued to pretend that all was well. I wanted to say so much but couldn’t bring myself to ruining whatever normalcy we held on to. That was probably my most detrimental mistake. I gave up as she had done the same months prior. I felt like I had failed her despite my efforts and it still hurts so much. Sometimes, just the most mundane reminders will disrupt my mood and coming to terms with everything will be a difficult journey.

 

*Author’s Note*

The last few years have been tying for me, mentally. I actually wrote this post 2 years prior but didn’t feel prepared enough to post it. I have sometimes had unexplainable thoughts and blogging has been a way to basically combat that like personal therapy. At the moment I am trying to set the blog on a different path and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Budgeting | 15 Easy Ways That You Can Save On Food Costs

Budgeting | How You Can Really Cut Back On Food Costs & SAVE MORE

shopping-1232944_640

The inspiration behind this post actually came from numerous acquaintances who are always, quite surprised by my ability to budget even in cities as expensive as London. I was also surprised, to say the least, because I had presumed that they were basic tips most would know. For those of you who are financially savvy, you might already be familiar with these but I hope that some may benefit from them. Sincerely hope that this post doesn’t sound condescending *nervous laughter*  and hope that you enjoy reading!

1. Remembering that the ‘Best Before’ and ‘Use By’ date are different. The first means using before the food’s ‘optimal freshness’ while the latter is when you should bin items like fish/meat. Peanut butter and canned food often last for well past both of these dates. Even fish and meat can be extended if frozen right away. Think first throw, later!

2. Use a supermarkets’ own brand as its often cheaper than the normal brands. For instance, Asda’s own flour range cost only 49p but you’ll find that branded e.g. Allison’s cost £1.50. Yes, nearly triple! It’s not only dried staples either but everyday basics as well.

3. Ditching the expensive, packaged food delivery plans, we’ve all been battered over the heads with e.g. Hello Fresh, Blue Apron etc. You can do the same easily! Browse through free, food recipe websites e.g. BBC Good Food and do your own shopping for twice as less. These websites are also reviewed by everyday cookers so you can see which recipes work well, see proportions and exchange tips with others like you.

4. Do food exchange with friends, family or neighbours. I used to do this a lot with colleagues, swapping items that I disliked for something they didn’t. We had a section in the lunch-room with notice and the trading began! It saves money than to completely throw away items. As they say: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

5. Don’t be embarrassed to shop for reduced items. I’ve seen men in premium suits nab extremely discounted food. Cheap isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes a can of corn may simply be discounted because the clip opener might’ve broken off, an easy fix with a can opener. Not only that but you can find cheap multipacks and fresh organic foods too.

6. Shop around at different supermarkets or stores. Sometimes the cheapest supermarkets are not always as cheap as you think. On several occasions, I’ve found Asda and even Pound-land to be more expensive than Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Also, they might all have different deals that you can use to extend your money further.

7. Upcycle your food when they’re close to the end of their life. In Jamaica, we often make fritters using really spotted, soft bananas which are mashed into a batter with flour and sugar. It’s then fried until crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside making a delicious breakfast. In other words, be creative and resourceful, you might love it!

8. Bulk buying food on sale or multi-buy offers is fantastic! The Chinese and Romanian supermarkets are famous for this. I can often find 3 large packs of pasta for just £1 or 2, 1 litres drinks for £1. Chinese supermarkets also have affordable fresh as well as preserved food e.g. mushrooms that you can keep in the cupboards and avoid spoilage.

food-2343893_640

9. So, you want to expand your taste-buds? Great! However, don’t buy large amounts of “exotic” ingredients e.g. Jackfruit to try for the first time. Only buy a small amount with a recipe on hand so if you dislike it, you won’t be ditching a lot of money.

10. Shop at farmer markets or local vendors as its often cheaper, fresher produce and it supports local businesses. There are plenty, of these especially in East London where there’s a lot of diversity meaning it’s very easy to find ethnic products like Ackee or yams! You can also bring your own reusable bags to reduce your plastic footprint.

fruit-932745_640
11. Using supermarket coupons may seem tacky to those picky but is so very helpful. Even the expensive supermarkets e.g. Sainsbury’s and Ocado promote them which used to save up to £15 off my £60 shopping! Some may even reward you with them quite often or spread out the voucher across you shopping if you use them regularly.

12. Limit eating out to special occasions and cook mostly at home! It will often save your wallets and cost 3x less than takeaways. Cook with your family or partner as it brings togetherness to a household. Since I’ve been on my own cooking has been a soothing balm whenever I became anxious. It is also healthier and you can control what goes in it.

13. Freezing your food for e.g. bread, herbs, milk etc. as soon as possible will preserve them and reduce spoilage. I tend to leave out half for daily use then freeze the other half for later usage. I frequently do this to rotate my meals, so I can avoid taste fatigue.

14. Loyalty cards and points are actually useful gimmicks. Supermarkets e.g. Sainsbury’s will often reward you through use of their nectar card by giving you coupons which you can use it towards your next shopping. Interestingly enough each time you use it, it bases the coupon on what you bought. Like a favourites card!

15. The last, most obvious is creating grocery lists and a budget! Previously, I used to insist on eyeballing what I ‘thought’ not what ‘knew’ I actually needed. This meant an excess of food that would spoil regardless of a fridge or wouldn’t preserve well in the freezer.

*Authors Note*

I really hope that these tips benefited someone out there and if you have any questions, further tips or clarification, just leave a message and I’ll get back to you. Take care!

15 Cheap & Easy Ways To Travel On A Budget

14 Cheap & Easy Ways To Travel On A Budget

IMG_20181214_105006

As a solo traveller for the past 5 years, I’ve gained some pretty useful tips that I wanted to share with you all.  Some of them will probably have you scratching your head like “HUH?!” and some you might have already known. So with that said, let us dive into those tips, enjoy!

  • Travel during the weekdays or low seasons –  According to some budget airlines; winter to spring are the cheapest seasons to fly excluding Christmas. You can look for some flights to be as much £200 for a 3-hour flight during summer and as low as £20 in the winter. Families are all too familiar with July price hikes but beware that parents of a student can be fined due to missing classes, so think wisely.

 

  • Use Your EU Passport For Free/ Cheap Entrance – I first discovered this while visiting the Louvre in France. There was actually a sign inside that stated free for EU citizens. Some attractions like the musical museum also charge less for under 25’s!

 

  • Booking last minute flights –  So you’re probably thinking that I’ve gone off the rails but I can assure you that this is true. Sometimes airlines may try to fill up a seat because of last-minute cancellations, to recoup their costs. For example, a few weeks ago, I had searched for Norwegian flights which were about £70 now they’re £28 on the same date and times. Also try with doing the opposite. Travelling to holiday destinations by coach e.g. from the UK to Paris or Amsterdam can be quite cheap if booked in advance. If possible, book a sleeper coach, it’s more comfortable.

 

  • Take Free Walking Tours –  Many hostels/hotels provide them or work with volunteers who you can tip. It’s a great way to socialize and understand more about the area you are visiting especially from a local. Many-times they will actually advise you on the best locations for your trip as well as safeguard you against any less than ideal places, faux paux or dangerous situations.

 

  • Booking Apps/Sites & Royalty –  Shop around on different websites even different comparison ones. Just like grocery shopping, you will find different deals. I prefer skyscanner for flights but sometimes I’ve found that going directly through an airline company may give you better deals. It’s the same for hotels. I personally love Hotels.com because they reward you after every 10 nights with a FREE stay based on the average that you’ve paid. You can also level up your membership to receive discounts and free even room upgrades. It works on hostels too!

 

  • Use  Non-Contract Sim Cards & Goody-bags – I personally use GiffGaff which has easy mini-plans that are cancellable anytime and put monthly restrictions on top-ups which mean that you won’t run up a massive phone bill. It allowed me to use my normal monthly data, minutes and texts when the UK was still in the European Union, um…, but I know Vodafone and Vox have something quite similar plans.

 

  • Staying In A Hostel – For some this might seem incredibly scary because of the stigma attached to it because of the infamous torture series, ‘Hostel’, however, I came to change my mind after coming across ‘Les Pialues’ during my stay in France. It was stylish, convenient and most importantly, cheap! There was not a filthy room insight, the toilets were incredibly clean and most of all, the staff were lovely. Many have good security and you can even share with friends which works out cheaper. Most-times the only thing that you ever need to worry about is the snoring!

 

  • Minimizing Your Luggage – Nowadays, I never bring anything larger than my Jansport backpack. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve only used half of a weekend bag. The truth is we never need as much as we think we do especially when we plan around the weather. Instead, you can bring back those novelty coffee beans that you couldn’t before! Not only is it easier to pack but you also won’t be burdened by heavy baggage and it’s free if you stick the airlines limit.

 

  • Don’t spend money on extras –  You are probably familiar with towels, adapters and locks usually being lent to you for 3x their worth. I prefer to bring my a micro-towel, lock and adapters which can be purchased for next to nothing at bargain stores e.g. Pound-land/Walmart etc.

 

  • Eat Locally Or Cook Your Own – Usually, eating at your hostel/hotel can cost you more because they know that people prefer convenience especially after a long day. When you eat locally, you get to experience delicious, cultural food and learn more about the natives! It is wise to be wary of food vendors but simply pay attention to their kitchen station and obviously avoid the ones that have unsanitary practises. In addition, You can stay in an apartment or hostel that has its own kitchen facilities so that you can cook your own food and avoid severe allergy issues.

 

  • Take public transport or cycle –  Too often fake taxis will charge you exuberant amounts and can be dangerous if you’re travelling around at night. Always check with the local transport authorities to differentiate genuine taxis which will charge a set base price and then per km. A taxi is also based on the fact that you’re a single person taking up an entire car so you can carpool to reduce the price. Otherwise, travel by bus for long distances or use a bicycle which allows you to see more sights and get in your daily exercise.

 

  • Get a city travel card –   I highly recommend these if you’re staying in a location for a significant amount of time and want to experience all the sights. A bonus is that many of these cards allow discounts or even free entrance into attractions and saving you extra money and time. Always check with your hotel/hostel/etc. because many having partnerships with these companies allowing further discounts.

 

  • Contradictory, Don’t Buy A Pass –  Confusing I know, but some third-party companies actually charge you more so do your research. If possible, just buy from the actual attraction’s ticket office instead. Most importantly, if you’re only interested in seeing two of sights and the cost of the card outweighs the amount you would pay for the two attraction plus transport then don’t bother.

 

  • Don’t Souvenir Shop At Airports –  This is a huge waste of your money unless you need to bring back alcohol inside your carry-on. Most times its simply best to just shop around locally at the markets. Avoid many of the tourist stops as they will often triple charge you versus the one trinket store across the street. Who knows, maybe your friend or family may appreciate the authenticity of their souvenir.

 

*Author’s Note*

I think that this list has finished me off for tonight but hopefully, you might’ve gained some tips for your own travel and good luck!

Being Introverted|Why I Began Travelling & How It Helped Me Become Better, Mentally

Why I Began Travelling & How It Helped Me Become Better Mentally

IMG_20190325_114417

The inspiration behind why I began travelling wasn’t just from wanderlust but actually from a place of loneliness. I often struggled to socialize due to being introverted and I wanted to escape that feeling. To remove my comfort zone and perhaps discover myself. Travelling helped me to become much braver in pursuing not just hobbies but also influenced my decision to study abroad in Bulgaria.

I’m unsure of what exactly triggered the idea of travelling but I remember looking at my booking confirmation and thinking “What have I done?!”. I had my panic moment then calmed down and realized that the worst that could happen if I was responsible, was probably just standing out. Maybe that’s why I subconsciously booked my first solo trip to Barcelona. It was ‘Safe’ to try to fit in. It is such a stunning, multicultural city that I absolutely fell in love with the atmosphere, food and architecture. From then on, true wanderlust had settled in and I decided that I would travel to anywhere my measly salary would take me.

Since then, I’ve travelled across Europe from Denmark to Croatia and even made it to California. Interestingly enough, people who knew me before my travels began telling me how confident I had become and now I felt it. Travelling made me feel more exposed than I felt possible especially when you’re on your own. It gave me independence and sometimes when I feel like there’s too much going on inside my mind, I escape. I know that I haven’t even scratched a quarter of the world but I sincerely hope that this encourages you to experience more even and live life to the fullest even if its not a 5* star holiday.

*Authors Note*

This was just another short snippet of how I arrived at the point that I am now. A bit of self-improvement and confidence goes a long way and even though I’m not at a 100% person where I want to be, it’s working!

 

Minimalism | 10 Quick & Easy Ways You Can De-Clutter Your Space!

10 Quick & Easy Ways That Helped Me Minimize Unwanted Items

house-cleaning-4477416_1920

So going five years back, I was not quite the textbook definition of a hoarder. If you had asked, I would have probably said it was all organized chaos and in some respect it was. I couldn’t deny, however, that I had an issue of letting go of items which no longer held as much meaning and it piled up. I wasn’t sure exactly why but I simply knew it stemmed psychologically from family. My dad and grandmother had the issues and I could only hypothesize why. It came to a head, however, when I had ongoing housing issues. It meant that I needed to move quickly and found myself extremely bogged down. I had no close family that I felt like I could ask for help and my friends literally lived 100-miles away so this is where my minimalism journey began.

In early 2018, I had started to de-clutter but began to lose some steam. Then I came across numerous tiny house projects on YouTube and nearly 20 hours later I was back on track. Whenever I had a long weekend off from work; I would throw myself into an entire day cleaning and organizing. To my surprise, I truly enjoyed it. Soon, an entire day turned into an entire night and might have become slightly addicting. From this, I was then able to put together these 10 tips to help anyone who had similar issues. I hope that you can take any snippet from these and turn it into motivation for your own cause.

1. Doing weekly wardrobe clearances. I made some time to try on all my items to decide if they still fit or if I’ve simply outgrown that style. I would do this in small amounts over the course of a few weeks and then decide what to keep. Afterwards, I simply donated those items to charity shops as my friends and I don’t share the same body type or size.

2. Removing duplicates or rarely used kitchen utensils quickly cleared space in the kitchen. A great solution was donating them to my work lunchroom as sometimes there was such a shortage of items like forks and strainers. My colleagues made good use of them and I felt less guilty now that my colleagues could enjoy eating properly.

3. The biggest step was separating all my paperwork into of insurance papers (for tech items), school (my diplomas), receipts and all other personal documents were carefully stored. I shredded and recycled any unimportant files which held personal details.

4. With my skincare and makeup, I decided to lay most of it out on my desk. With this method, it emphasized the number of items I had and encouraged me to use them up instead of going out and buying more because I couldn’t see them. To make this more pleasant I gave myself weekly pampering sessions especially with lotions as I have incredibly dry skin. It also made me pay close attention to what my body did need.

5. Next to go were the shampoo and soaps. I separated my favourites and the ones that were overly drying for my skin and hair were then repurposed as dish-washing liquids. Off course, I made sure to rinse my dishes properly of leftover residue.

6. The most obvious and easiest way to minimize unused, unwanted items were to give them to family and friends. I personally recommend them as birthday and Christmas presents as even if you regret your purchase, you wouldn’t really lose out. I’m not saying that I gave them my socks but my friends and I share similar styles so minimizing my bag collection was pretty easy!

7. Recycling tech items inside retail stores was totally straightforward. Many tech retailers such as curry’s and Argos promote this and will take broken/old items like cameras, wires and batteries for free!

8. Selling on eBay, Craiglist, Gumtree and Sphock are key to minimizing and earning back at the same time. Sure it’s usually not at the original value but a little dosh is better than nothing. Also, if you prefer not having to leave your house then your buyers can collect from you saving postage.

9. Focusing on one item in your collection ensures that they are used up goes quickly so you can start in the next lot and free up space. Using multiples at once spreads out time and can make you lose motivation all over again. I recommend using challenges like ‘Project Pan’.

10. Don’t give items second chances if you really dislike them. I used to place all my cosmetics in good condition, into a box labelled with Free Makeup then leave it on the wall outside my flat. Before I knew it, the box would be gone before the sun could rise! So, rip the band-aid off before you decide that you want to keep them.

*Author’s Note*

Wow, that was a doozy! Really hope that this gave someone some motivation or inspiration to get started. It isn’t easy at all but acknowledging it is a starting point. As I type this, my dad is also on his own journey taking care of his own share of clutter!

2019 – 2020 In A Nutshell

First, I would like to apologise and say that this is not a false start like my previous post. Honestly so much has happened in the last year that its overwhelming in some sense. Last time, I had been discussing my university plans and frustrations especially with the application process as well as doubts of my career path.

design-4425623_1920

Last year has been very turbulent and it was difficult keeping myself on track. Work had become an environment that I was no longer invested in. At one point, I had handed in my notice because of the strain on me mentally. Things at work had escalated slightly coming to a head with certain co-workers or feeling belittled for efforts despite how hard the vcas’ worked. Disregarded for doing our best despite being short-staffed and unstable as a team only for it to be used against us.

Our vet practice had been experiencing various changes and it was hard holding it together. Sometimes I became so upset that I would take two minutes outside to cry. Trying to keep my self-esteem up was tiring and I knew that I was not the only one. My guiding light was my fellow vet assistant team and a few nurses who were supportive. Still, with everything that has gone on, I can’t honestly say that I regret my choices, however, I can say that am now a vet med student!

For once, It felt as though my life was back on track. I’ve since, met some wonderful people and had the opportunity of embracing new experiences. I also randomly published a mini-cookbook which I’m incredibly proud of. At the moment, I have a lot going on inside my head and have had a few hiccups that I’m trying to sort out but I still have ideas up my sleeve! With all that said, I’m wishing you all the best for the new year!

 

 

 

I’m Sorry, Where Do I Start?

Well its been over six months since my last post and I’m sorry, I absolutely have no idea where that time has gone. Of course, life has been hectic and stressful as usual but the sad thing is that I had around eleven posts already almost typed up to be posted but life took a toll. Anyway I will be getting back into the thick of things with some new topics I’ve been working and off course introduce you to my newtube channel that I’ve been working on. Please do enjoy.

I Didn’t Get Into My University Of Choice, What Now?

I squinted then looked at the email out of the corner of my eye and held my breath. Whoosh! The sound of air leaving my lungs as I read the short paragraph that decided my future. I felt the bottom of my stomach fall out and an ugly mood settled over my emotions. I had had doubts. Not because of grades or my personal statement but because I felt though there is never any smooth sailing where the university is concerned.

anatomy-antique-architecture-921357

My mind and heart were set on becoming a veterinarian. I knew that my path would be difficult when I made the decision to study in another country than my own but perhaps I underestimated the task. Money was a significant factor that forced my hand elsewhere as I did not want a £60,000 debt dangling over my head; regardless whether I only return those loan payments after I gained employment. Imagine repaying that with an added mortgage of £150,000 draining your bank account. I wanted another way out!

So three years ago I made my decision. I researched university options outside of the UK that recognized my grades and were in turn recognized globally and narrowed them down to three. The Trakia University of Bulgaria, Cluj Napoca in Romania, Riga in Latvia and Kosice in Slovakia. I discovered that Kosice did not provide any sort of student loans and was still quite expensive while Riga was apparently not very open people of foreigners. Cluj Napoca is slightly more expensive than Bulgaria but was promising. The downside was that I only had the budget for one application and Bulgaria was the standout choice. Globally accredited and well rounded so I began my preparations.

In May 2015, I worked on gathering the paperwork and sorting them out with the recommended route. I had spent months on everything only for them to return to me damaged meaning that I had to start over with very little time left to apply and the university only does one intake for that particular course. In the meantime, I was accepted at a new animal-related job which was very promising and provided me with a lot of experience that I could extend to my applications. I stayed for a further year which I actually did not regret and very grateful for. I then decided to apply to last year’s intake but unfortunately, I had lost my mother due to illness. It left me reeling so I postponed it.

Finally, in the right state of mind I began my attempt again. With half of my paperwork partly finalized, I got started on finishing it off. I had those translated and then certified of which I discussed the difficult process in my University Applications, Embassies and Aspirations post. Next, I focused on getting the college and the medical statement. Why weren’t they done together you ask? Well, the medical statement is required to be less than a month whole during application. The catch? Legalization can take up to two weeks, translation a week and certification is always iffy at the embassy does not even guarantee that it’ll be done that day! That’s almost three weeks not including the delivery time and postage to the university!

That’s not even detailing how troublesome it was to get all the paperwork together. Originally, I had only been recently registered at a new general clinic due to moving cities which repeatedly made mistakes on my application. After those were sorted and I told them what I needed, then came the major frustration. After waiting for nearly two months for an appointment I was then told on the day that my previous doctor had yet to transfer my history, therefore, the doctor could not continue with the examination.

I was furious. Now, I currently work in a much busier hospital and the reception would always make sure that this was never a problem. Nearly two months wasted and I had enough! That same weekend I travelled for over a hundred miles to my old practice for the piece of paper that held on to my future by its teeth! On Monday I handed it to the practice and firmly stated what I needed. What they told me next made my blood boil. I didn’t need an appointment for the medical statement, however, it would take another month to complete the letter despite paying for it. At that moment, I knew that my sanity was being tested.

 

However, it didn’t end there. The college statement also came with its own issues. At first, it was so damn straightforward that I should have known seen it coming. The college had posted it to me in record time except that when I opened it, it did not have my correct grades. I contacted them again and I heard rearranged it only to receive nothing for nearly two weeks. When I contacted them again, it had apparently been sent but possibly lost in the post and email copy would not be excepted by the legalization office. I tried once more and breathed a sigh of relief four days later when it arrived.

I made haste and sent both documents for legalization. What did I see when I got home from work the next day?! Both documents waiting for me, not legalized because the post office had sent them to the return address. Argh, for f***’s sake, really!!! Next day during the lunch break I re-posted them, things seemed fine. I checked the post religiously afterwards because by then paranoia had begun to set in. I had them tracked and insured knowing my luck but finally, they were received by the legalization office just fine.

Except that the five day max processing time turned into nearly two weeks. Now by that point, I was kind of hyperventilating and tried to track them but apparently, the office couldn’t find so again, panic! Finally, a day later I could have cried when I saw my mail. The next day I posted everything guaranteed delivery and insured. I constantly checked the postal website which refused to update for over a week. All I knew was that it was still in the UK despite supposed to only take five days. I’m not gonna lie, when I saw that the university received it two weeks later, I could cry and finally breathe again.

Fast forward nearly a month later and I still hadn’t heard anything from the university. Given the fact the I’ve never attended, I decided to email before the weekend and give them a ring on Monday which was the deadline for applications. Around lunch, I contacted the faculty office who promptly hung up on me saying good afternoon. Not impressed, I rung them again and clarified the situation and was told that I was being impatient. They stated that they would contact me as they hadn’t even looked at my application as yet despite one month has passed.

Anyhow, I apologized which they accepted and you know maybe I was being impatient but given that an entrance exam was required to be taken before acceptance at the university, it meant that I needed to make arrangements. Last-minute flights would be around £200 which is eye-watering considering what I had already spent. On top off that, the examination date was literally a week later so I was understandably concerned.

Finally, I was contacted later that Monday evening delivery the most frustrating news I’ve had. My application was not accepted because they required my original documents attached and that they wanted a letter of eligibility from my high school which was not obvious from their admissions page. The requirement for the original certificate was never stated only that copies were accepted. What was the point of going through the notarized, legalization, translation and certification if would not even be accepted? Never-mind asking that I send the original certificates through the post which is an extremely terrible idea in the situation that they are lost. On top of that many universities in Europe state on their websites against that, as in many cases, they will not return your certificates. They are also very slow in responding as despite emailing for some more advice on September the 3rd, there is still no response but I will follow that up.

Overall, this has been an emotional roller-coaster for my sanity. Understandably when you provide your services to thousands of citizens a year, the workload will be high. I have experienced that. It is the surprise of how unprofessional people were that brought me a lot of stress and just how often things kept going wrong. I have never been surer of the career path I’m aiming towards but I now constantly the second guess if it will happen. Of course, I will definitely apply again next year and I am fully aware of the competitiveness of the veterinary field so I will continue to push through hoops until I reach my aim. I’ve already come too far.

 

*Author’s Note*

I hope you enjoyed my this read. I know I’ve been MIA been as you can imagine I’ve been kinda bummed out so I needed some time off. I have some more posted lined up so stay tuned!

Real Talk | A Brief Case-Study On The Depreciation Of Afro Features

*Disclaimer*

My attempt at this topic, while research, might not be the most accurate but I tried my hardest to make it as meaningful and coherent as history would allow me to. In no way is this post supposed to be condescending but rather express my point of view of certain issues surrounding those of black ancestry.

Growing up in a mostly black homogeneous country as you can imagine meant, that I dealt with less prejudice in regard to my afro features. However, it didn’t completely exclude the occurrences especially since Jamaica was once under British and Spanish rule before our independence and therefore has remnants of European beauty standards ingrained in the society.

As a result, while I lived there I still experienced prejudice occasionally where students referred to my hair as trashy as a dog’s and skin texture rough like tree bark. It wasn’t just from students who shared white ancestry but Asian and fellow black students as well. Those students were not born with that ideology, they were taught it. At that age, I hadn’t recognized it for what it was. It made me insecure as well as withdrawn even when I knew that no one should be treated that way.

It especially boggles my mind that this is still ongoing thirteen years later and still seen as acceptable by many after what history has taught us. So in this post, I wanted to discuss the historical and modern-day impacts of the prejudice of certain afro features.

The History Of Black Feature Depreciation

The depreciation of black features goes as far back as the slave trade. Slaves were physically and psychologically abused to remain subservient and any attempts to retain cultural identity was swiftly dealt with to prevent rebellions. In my opinion, the reason for this was because it was much simpler for slavers to justify their actions when it was imposed upon people who did not share their features or culture. Coupled with the fact that African cultures were viewed as primitive and that the people did not have the same means of protection such as guns made it simply easier to ignore.

You only really have to look to the unfortunate case of Saartjie Baartman, a young Khoikhoi lady who was displayed at freak shows due to her enlarged buttocks and labia. Spectators gawked, pinched and jeered at her like a pet even the “respectable”. This was despite the fact that Saartjie was regarded as quite intelligent and a fluent speaker of Khoekhoe, dutch and passable English with some french.

Sarrijte Baartman

In fact, despite her intelligence, her features were still compared to that of an orangutan’s and after death, her body was arranged to be dissected by anthropologists. Her body parts including genitalia were then displayed as a way to introduce and normalize scientific racism as the missing evolution between apes and humans. This paved the way for the black body to be associated with words such as bizarre and monstrous and even to this day it still sadly carries weight.

Post Slavery & Societal Integration

Even after slavery had been abolished, there were still strong stigmas attached to those of African descent. There were still many people who felt that descendants of slaves should know that their place was below that of other races because they were seen closer to primates than to humans both mentally and physically. I believe that this was where the depreciation of natural features which occurred within the black race stemmed from. Even in the modern era, many people are still shocked that a species as diverse as humans can produce people with Afrocentric features. Can you just imagine the spectacle our features would have brought us back in the pre and post-slavery era?

Post Slavery era, over 11 million people struggled to find their place in an unstable, environment in which they were still looked down upon. Black features were still seen as freakish and Afro-textured hair was labelled as sheep’s wool which wasn’t “good hair”. In some cases, the hair was seen as bushy and nappy, words used by slave owners who implied that black hair needed to be tamed just as an animal’s black people were seen as. In order to conform to society, many women and men turned to bleach their skin to be lighter and painful chemical relaxers to produce the straighter locks of European standards. Many women of colour wore hair bonnets when out to disguise their hair and the introduction of heat straightening and weaves were just another way to hide the shame.

However, the tides turned around as early as the 1960s. Wearing hair in its natural Afro state became a symbol of rebellion and empowerment especially with the societal segregation during that period. It was a form of reinstating black identity, to fight against expectations, to be proud of black features once again.

Black Hair, Women And The Workplace

However, somewhere along the way, many black people became complacent due to many hardships with regard to finding employment. The famous case of Renee Rogers springs to mind who was dismissed from her job at American airlines due to wearing her hair in braids and lost the case because to style her hair in the way was a choice. This was completely bogus because to wear black hair in its natural state was an equally fireable offence due to it being deemed as unprofessional and messy. Thomas Jefferson even once quoted on the impossibility of incorporating black people into the workplace as “physical and moral differences”. It soon became more of a matter of surviving rather than defeat.

Too many black people have spoken on the difficulty of conforming to society and the prejudices that still remained despite all their efforts. Even now over 60 years later, our natural hair is still an issue for certain careers. Certain military sectors banned Afros dreadlocks and braids greater than 1/4 in diameter and deemed it unkempt. Sure they adjusted it allowing other twist hairstyles but the simple fact remained that it targeted those of the black diaspora. Even as late as 2016 a female employee of Zara, a clothing retailer, was reprimanded for her braids which she filed a complaint against. In fact, the federal court in American ruled in favour of business who turn away job applicants based on hairstyles like dreadlocks, stating that the applicants have a choice disregarding those of Rastafarian faith but that a hairstyle can insight such discrimination.

Black Hair, No Education?!

These situations not only take place at work but also in schools, a place which is supposed to encourage the new generation to be open-minded and fight prejudices. Some schools actually view dreadlocks and twists as violating their dress-codes which punishable by either isolation, expulsion or shaving the hair. Around early 2017, Deanna and Mya Cook of Mystic Regional High school were removed from their classes for wearing their hair in braids as it violated their dress code. In their defence, they brought forth evidence of white students with hair extensions and dyes which were also in violation of the dress code but the defence was not accepted as it wasn’t “obvious”.

 

courtesyofthecookfamily mya and deanna
Mya & Deanna Cook With Their Parents

 

This had upset the family who then filed a complaint against the school with the NAACP and ACLU which resulted in the school discontinuing the dress code enforcement until the following year. In fact, another situation in the same school saw one of their schoolmates removed from classes and asked to straighten her hair because its natural state was not acceptable. The fact that these cases happened as recently of 2018 is extremely shocking and concerning that children would be denied the right to education because of discrimination of their natural hair and Afro hairstyles.

Double Standards Of Ethnic Hair On White Features

Black and biracial celebrities also aren’t excluded from these issues. A notable example saw Zendaya Coleman, an actress being degraded by a Guliana Rancic, for wearing her hair in dreadlocks while complimenting Kylie Jenner, a white female for wearing cornrows, an afro-hairstyle. Her comments about Zendaya referred to her as possibly smelling of patchouli oil or weed while Kylie was seen as edgy and refreshing. Even referring back to Renee Rogers case, the jury ruled against her choice of hairstyle as they saw her as just following the newest trend set by white actress Bo Derek who wore an afro-hairstyle in the film “10”. It is like a never-ending cycle to be criticized harshly for having natural black features yet it is acceptable or unique on the features of other races.

Outside of these places, certain establishments such as nightclubs prohibits, braids, dreadlocks and cornrows. Even some countries where there are large populations of black people, these hairstyles still looked down upon. An example is of rapper Cardi B, who’s of Dominican ancestry stating that her children would not have good hair as her mother’s side of the family has messed up “nappy hair”. That statement is widely regarded by many Haitians and Dominicans as not surprising because of the European colonizing which shaped their beauty standards.

It is not only other races that seemingly view afro-features as distasteful but even within our own race, there are many prejudices which were inbred during slavery. Late 2017, an NBA star, Gilbert Arenas made some questionable remarks stating that black females with Afro features are “only cute when the lights are off”. He stated this in a tangent against the actress, Lupita Nyong’o who is very successful within her own right and is lighter in complexion than he is, showcasing his hypocrisy. It is so concerning how much presence the ideology “Black is inferior” holds over our race. Obviously, there are many who fight that mentality but it is very difficult to rid our mindsets of such poisonous ideologies when generations of our ancestors were literally beaten with it.

While the Prejudice that exists today is not on the same level, there are too many cases where our features are still highlighted in a negative light. The autonomy of social media also provides a gateway to spew ignorant statements especially on platforms such as YouTube and Twitter. Don’t get it wrong, these have promoted many great lessons but there are many who use these to further hate speeches and discrimination hiding behind “Free Speech”. Of course, everyone has the right to an opinion but it is the intent that’s the driving force.

This isn’t meant to be a lesson but rather put some perspectives into place before I explore even further. When many oppositions speak out, they don’t understand that the perceived shallowness of black issues runs much deeper. It is much more substantial than other races wearing our cultural clothes or using afro-hairstyles as a fashion. People often say black people should just get over it but many people fail to realize that it’s easier said than done. There are so many instances of genuine misappropriation take place every day with no respect for culture or history. I do believe that we can do better but I feel that many people are not willing to open their minds or hearts and that is what we need the most.

 

*Author’s Note*

Wow, well this was a mammoth of a post! It definitely took a lot of research and time but it was worth it. I want to expand upon topics like these to hopefully bring more understanding to issues that matter. Next time I will be going much further into business so stick around if you’re interested. Until then, thanks a lot for tuning in!

 

Important Resources Used In This Post

The History of Saaratjie Baartman

The Sister Circle: Black Women And Work

Mya & Deanna Cook: Black Hair In Schools

Cultural Insensitivity In Schools

Hair Insensitivity Is Worldwide

Real Talk| What Is Afro Hair, Patterns and Textures

Disclaimer

Please note that this is in no way a tutorial or a 100% guide to all hair textures but rather a simplified definition of the afro-hair texture for those who’ve always been interested in knowing the difference from other hair textures. Let’s start a conversation!

What Is Afro-Textured Hair?

While growing up in the UK I attended a mostly all-white school in the countryside, where many have asked me some variation of this question which I simply had no answer to at the time. It’s still so weird how something so natural to you such as your hair texture can garner so many questions and to be fair I did have to rack my brain for a simple definition that most could probably understand.

Afro-textured hair is the natural hair texture for those of African descent. It’s not simply just a hairstyle but rather another type of hair you would consider alongside curly, wavy or straight. Of course, this might be an oversimplified definition to some but afro-hair is quite difficult to describe in itself as defers from one black person to the next.

barefoot-clothes-community-936112
Photo Courtesy Of Nappy (Pexels.com)

Genetic evolution and ancestry also play a significant role in hair texture as you might notice that the hair of those with Angolan ancestry will greatly defer to those of Ethiopian ancestry and even within one ancestry can you find multiple hair textures. In more recent years some have created hair categories relating to different hair textures and patterns to help with the understanding of our hair needs. It usually ranges from 1A to 4C with 1 to 2 relating to straighten hair while 3 to 4 relates to those with coiled hair texture and even between these, there are other textures. See the simple chart below:

 

N Hair Chart 1
Photo Courtesy Of All Women’s Talk

 

Those with afro-hair tend to have coiled hair which usually needs a delicate hand as its easier to break and harder to distribute moisture due to its interlocked coiled state. As a result, many with Afro hair are unable to use most products catering to other hair textures because of their needs. In my own experience, even the ones catering to dry, brittle hair still made my own a mess and even drier, so I’ve steered clear. Even combs and brushes have to been chosen carefully because of the interlocked state of coiled hair. In fact, you most definitely will find that many with coiled textures choose to forgo teasing brushes and fine-tooth combs because of the havoc it can reap on our hair.

 

cameringo_20180116_1433347538580216462495508.jpg
My 4C Mini Afro

To be honest, I still don’t know how to give my hair 100% what it needs. My roots love oils and I despise the way my hair feels with heavy products. Typical moisturizers are too greasy and don’t get absorbed into my hair, so I prefer light hair dressings to keep it on the right side of moist but even, so I’ll still have stubborn patches of hair which nothing seems to work on. Charts like the one above are helpful but still have limitations due to most people having multiple patterns and texture variations on the same head of hair. Even if you’re so sure you have the same hair type as a friend the same products are not going to 100% work for you as your genetics may still other complicated variations. Some charts also attempt to match the hair pattern with the types of products they can use and while it isn’t a means for all, it is still great to have those options.

 

 

Ethnic Hair Needs
Photo Courtesy Of Obsessed Hair Oil.Com

 

There are many people with afro-hair there who would disagree with charts like these as they feel it creates more division and that you only need to know the texture of your hair which I partially agree with. However, I feel that the more we learn about different hair textures and patterns, the more we can create better ways to care for our hair. You simply cannot deny the major difference in caring for coiled/curly versus loosened hair. Yes, knowing how to treat course, fine and combination hair texture are important but there is a significant difference between taking care of straight course hair and course coiled hair. One simply cannot run a paddle brush through curly, coiled hair as they can with straight or wavy hair regardless of whether they don’t have any knots.

It is certainly not to say that similar problems don’t exist for those with hair textures different from afro-textured hair. Its more than the majority of hair products, hair education and salons cater to those of looser hair patterns with a smoother texture likely because of the majority population. Creating and using hair charts like the one above simply helps those with a multitude of afro hair textures to find the means for caring more for their hair. I still honestly wish that there were more companies that catered to black hair considering there is still a huge demand for it but maybe It’ll be another five years or so.

 

*Authors Note*

All in all, I hope that you enjoyed this read which actually wasn’t planned but I wanted to lay this foundation first before my next post which will be a lot deeper and heavier. Please stay tuned and thanks for reading!

 

 

Recommended Hair Reads!

A Breakdown On Curly Afro-Hair

Hair, Nutrition & Health