The Recap

Study abroad. Exchange. Semester away. I’m-going-to-go-find-myself-in-Europe. Whatever you want to call it, they’re all synonymous with each other and having just completed my experience, I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert in this area. You may not agree, so let’s find out if I can change your mind.

In year 10 of high school, we were presented with the opportunity to go on exchange for six months to a country of our choice. I was too scared to do anything about it then so when I arrived at university a few years later, I was hell bent on including a study abroad experience in my degree. Ask my friends, from halfway through semester one of first year, it’s all I wanted to do while I was at university. Nothing was going to stop me.

I’d like to think I was still as petrified as my 14-year-old self about the prospect of leaving my family and my beloved Australia, however, I knew if I didn’t do this I’d regret it for the rest of my life. How many times in your life can you charge an overseas experience of late nights, cultural immersion and antics you know you would never get up to back home onto your HECS? (I think the answer is two, if you actually wanted to know). So, no matter how many tears I shed at the airport, and trust me there was plenty, no matter how many money woes I had in the lead up and the general holy-shit-I’m-moving-overseas-for-literally-months mindset that was building in my mind, I was doing this.

I gave up a job I loved for my exchange, missed attending an overwhelming amount of celebrations back home that would happen while I was away and, I think the hardest for me, was it was a catalysing factor in my last relationship ending. Obviously, there are many other factors that can make pursuing an exchange questionable in your mind but please put them aside. Do not listen to them. Unless you are physically incapacitated and cannot move or have a crystal ball and know this will happen, submit your application and commit to your host university when accepted.  This is one of the best decisions you will make in your life and, after being asked many questions about the whole ordeal, I’m here to answer why. (if you want to get to the less university-oriented content and the more blog/dairy content, skip through the first three questions).

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my experience, I’ll add some context. I studied abroad for a semester at Cardiff University in the capital city of Wales, Cardiff and I studied at the School of Journalism, Media, English and Culture (JOMEC) studying full-time for three months.

How did you apply? Does it impact on your study plan/degree timeline?
This depends on your university at home in Australia however I will explain what my personal process was. I applied through the Global Learning office at The University of Adelaide in Semester Two of first year for a place abroad in Semester Two of second year. It’s very simple and all information can be found online at the Global Learning website. Basically, you read up on all the universities that offer courses that suit your degree and your degree major, pick your top three choices and place them into your application. You submit your application, wait a few months, wonder if you actually did submit it properly because it’s been so long yet still haven’t heard anything and then, one day, you cheekily look at your phone while at work and see the response and you go ‘shit, I’m going abroad for a semester.’ Well, maybe not exactly like that, but you get the idea.

In terms of impacting your degree, again, speak to your faculty but it should be easy enough to fit an exchange into your university experience. Personally, I had to study Journalism modules only while abroad otherwise I would forfeit my Journalism major back home and only graduate with a general Media degree and not have specialised in Journalism. However, a fellow Australian from Sydney studied only electives while abroad that were completely unrelated to their degree at large. An exchange can potentially extend your degree by a semester depending on what you are required to study once back home. It really does depend on what is expected by your faculty and individual school but it can definitely be included in your degree plan and I 100% recommend looking into it before writing it off as something that’ll be too hard to work around.

How much money should you take? Is it as expensive as it is made out to be?
Ah money, thou art a heartless bitch. I’ll be completely candid, I didn’t take enough money while abroad and the terrible conversion between the Australian Dollar and the Great British Pound really hit my savings for six. All I can offer in terms of money is take more than you think you’ll need. Stay home on a Saturday night instead of going to Rocket and keep that $100 you would have spent on alcohol and entry fees because you will need it once you’re away and desperate for cash. Save all of your tax return if you get over $1,000 back, work extra hours, take the shift at Harbour Town even though it’s a train and two busses from home. Get all the cash you can and keep it so you don’t have to beg your parents for money a month out from returning home.

I’ll admit I don’t do things like the typical exchange student- I’m not trying to sound like a wanker but I am trying to be completely candid. I’ll fly or catch a train before I set foot on a bus ride that is over 3 hours long. I refuse to stay in hostels because I’m particular and like my own space. I spent money on expensive things while in Florence and Paris but everyone does their exchange differently and I don’t regret a minute of mine. Except maybe not visiting Belgium while next door in Holland.

Did you work while abroad?
No, I didn’t. I didn’t want to work while abroad because I just wanted to be a student for a few months without any real commitment to anything. Working abroad also means you may need a different Visa instead of a student-only Visa so look into that if you plan on working abroad. I don’t know much about Visas as I am a UK/EU citizen so I didn’t need to apply for any of that documentation before I left. I do recommend that if a parent of yours is from the EU/UK/wherever you want to go, and you don’t have any lofty ambitions to become Prime Minister, that you try claim that citizenship before going abroad. It’s incredibly handy and gives you access to a lot more rights than just a Visa does. It’s not cheap to become a dual citizen and does take a few months but depending on the country, it is relatively simple and very handy to have in your back pocket in my experience.

Is it one big party?
Depends on the person, right? Yes, for me it was a big party a lot of the time and that was completely fine by me. I like having a drink or seven, a groove with some friends and let my hair down. I may have done this a bit too much according to some but I knew when I arrived back home it wouldn’t be like this all the time so why not enjoy it while it’s there? Every exchange is different and I cannot stress this enough but if you like to go out on weekends and like socialising with people the trust me, you’re going to have a great time and it will be one big party.

Are you lonely? Do you make friends?
Coming from Australia where you go to uni for classes and then back home to (probably) your parents’ house, making friends can be a rarity. However, where I stayed in Wales, you live with your fellow students. You’re basically forced to make friends because you see these people every single day. The first week or two I found this hard as I’d almost forgotten how to make friends but I pushed myself to socialise and get to know these people. It was hard, scary, intimidating even for an extrovert like myself but it was worth it. These people become like your bets mates, your ride or die’s, the people who see you at your best and worst. Don’t stress about making friends even if at first it seems that it won’t happen. It will. Trust me, it will.

Do you miss home?
Sometimes all I wanted was a Zambrero or my Mums cooking or my dog. God, you have no idea how much I missed my dog. I missed her more than anything. Yes, there are times where all you want to do is jump over to Australia for a few days and come back. Everyone else goes home on weekends every now and then, why can’t I?! Oh, that’s right, because Birmingham is slightly closer to Cardiff than Adelaide is. I made a conscious effort to not miss Adelaide because I knew how fast this experience would fly by and before I knew it I’d be back in the City of Churches far, far away from Europe and its gateway to many destinations. You need to remind yourself that even though you may miss home, once you’re back it’s likely you’re going to be stuck there for a few more years unless you take a quick trip away. Savour your time abroad, don’t wish it away even in the loneliest moments.

Is travelling alone scary/intimidating?
TRAVELLING SOLO IS AMAZING! I can’t say this enough, I had the most wonderfully liberating, independent, euphoric time exploring parts of the world all on my own. While my Grandmother was scared I was going to end up murdered or kidnapped, this never entered my mind. I was so very excited to see cities all by myself, on my own time schedule and with no one else to think about. I am an only child so being in my own company never bothered me and I am an independent person anyway.

I will say that it is not always rainbows and happy days while travelling solo. When I arrived in Italy, my taxi driver left me on the side of the road with vague instructions of how to reach my hotel. I was in one of the dodgiest neighbourhoods in Rome, near Roma Termini station, which was not as described by my travel agent. I was literally bawling my eyes out walking up the street with a 30kg suitcase and 7kg hand luggage in 35-degree heat while wearing RM Williams boots and a heavy coat. I was scared and felt very alone. A passer-by came to help me and took me to my hotel where the staff were rude and unwelcoming and I cried myself to sleep. Other than this scarring experience, I had the best times of my life walking the streets of Florence, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Utrecht all my myself. There will be hiccups but that’s like anything new.

Was it worth it?
Yes. Every single bit of my exchange was worth it. From running through Heathrow to make the coach to Cardiff, climbing the Arc de Triomphe on a scorching Autumn day, eating McDonalds chips for dinner because I was so poor in Holland, all of the big and small moments made the exchange what it was. I wouldn’t change a minute of it. I’m sorry for all the clichés in this section but they are very apt. I’d like to think I have changed a little since being away from my everyday life for quite a few months. Maybe people can tell, maybe they can’t, but I do feel more at ease and a way that I cannot put my finger on. Relaxed, maybe. I don’t know how long this will last but I’m liking it.

Please stop the hesitation and take the leap. Apply for an exchange at university and go see the world and experience something different to home. Throw yourself completely into it even if it is the scariest prospect you’ve ever faced. Maybe you’ll look out over a foreign city and suddenly have your perspective changed on everything. Maybe you’ll decide you’re not going to come home and defer for a semester to sustain the life you’re living. Or maybe you’ll meet a boy who makes you feel something you haven’t felt for a long time which makes you ridiculously happy and then you realise you live in different parts of the world most of the time. Oops.

What is it like when you come home?
Honestly, for me, the comedown was huge. It was the most surreal feeling when I stepped off the plane at Adelaide. I’m home? Home? It’s all OVER?! I hated getting back into the routine of old, coming back to living far from a CBD and generally lacking the total independence that an exchange brings with it. This is something I wasn’t prepared for but it really does hit you ridiculously hard. But, like everything, you get used to being home and just deal with the flow of things again. Just don’t let that carefree nature you gained abroad die off when you come home and, trust me, this is harder to execute than you would expect.

This was much longer than I had planned it to go on for. If it helps one person decide, it’s done its job. Close this tab and apply for an exchange. Stop putting it off.

 

Advertisements

What I have learnt about Adelaide while abroad

I have been living in the UK for a little while now and am absolutely loving the experience, being ridiculously close to European countries which are easy to travel to and the general sense of independence that I haven’t experienced before. However, this week, I have become the weak Australian within my flatmates who has fallen ill at the first sign of cold weather… and my body shows no signs of recovering any time soon, or at least it feels that way. Naturally, wallowing in self-pity and craving Mums home cooking, I’ve become a little whiner than usual and forgotten how wonderful it is that I’m living out a dream of mine and experiencing new things every day.

In what may seem oxymoronic, since living in a different city to Adelaide (Cardiff, for those unaware) I feel that I have learned so much about my home that I do not realise day-to-day while living there. Things that, likely, South Australian’s do not even realise we do so well back home. It’s likely you don’t bat an eyelid at these things and take them as normal, or at least that is what I did. Well, not everything is as well-oiled as it is back home, and I’m here to point it out to you plain and simple.

  1. The proximity of everything to everything in unique and fantastic
    Adelaide really is the city where everything is physically accessible and easily able to be reached. While I live five-minutes from the beach down south anyway, those who don’t have that luxury and live in metropolitan Adelaide are never more than 30 minutes’ tops from the ocean which is a blessing I think Australians take for granted. I am not a beach person whatsoever and, those who know me, are aware that I am a girl who prefers the hills or the city to the seaside but now after finally being away from the coast for a while, it’s easy to see how engrained it is in myself and, I imagine, in many Australians. Wine regions border the north, south and eastern areas of the city and suburbs which is distinctly unique to what is here in the UK and Europe and offers such a distinctly South Australian approach to dining. There is so much in our state that, really, isn’t that far from one another and it’s a rarity, even for Australian states in general.
  2. Crossing the street is easier
    One of the frustrations and curiosities I have about Cardiff is the way that people are able to cross the street. It seems so mundane a problem, yet it is done in such a way that I find it irritatingly executed. You push the light, walk to an island in the middle of the road after the light has signalled for you to walk and then you have to wait at the island and push another light to continue crossing the road, often leaving you stranded on the island as this side of the traffic is still flowing after you stopped the other side when you initially crossed from where you just came from. These are not even large roads like in Holland or France. It’s a simple two/three lane street. WHY CAN’T YOU JUST PRESS THE BUTTON AND CROSS THE ENTIRE ROAD AT ONCE, NOT JUST ONE SET OF LANES GOING ONE WAY?! I cannot understand this and jaywalking has now become my best mate. Just cross the whole road at once. It’s so pointless to be structured in this fashion, thus why crossing the road in Adelaide is much easier. The simple things.
  3. Adelaide has the ideal climate
    Please do not even try and fight me on this claim. I hate the heat. Well, at least I thought I did and then I moved to the UK. I no longer hate the heat. Let me give you some perspective: I woke up one morning to catch a train to London and it was 2 degrees. Since that day, the weather has not gone higher than 13 degrees. It’s rained every day. it’s been cloudy every day. I haven’t seen the sun for longer than a few fleeting seconds in two whole weeks. Adelaide winter means five days of cloudiness, some sunshine on day six and then a mild day for day seven, and then the cycle repeats for 3-4 months a year, with the temperatures generally remaining between 8-18 degrees. Sunshine reigns for up to six months a year and the rest is peppered with the in-between seasons of should-it-be-cloudy-or-sunny-today. It’s magnificently crafted and I definitely take it for granted, like you probably do too.
  4. Public transport really isn’t that bad
    Hear me out before you burn me at the stake for this rather ambitious claim. Our largest train line in the state is electrified and a second is being electrified. Yes, it seems a bit messy now but, the tramline through the city is always handily at your disposal if you really cannot be bothered walking from south terrace to the central markets and yes, busses run late and sometimes don’t even show up but that’s universal. Trains in Wales are all diesel, two-carriage trains that you cannot walk through to the other side of the train, that are slow, loud, regularly do not turn up to collect passengers at a station (this has never happened to me with a train in Adelaide) and if they are running late sometimes even skip stops to make up time despite the fact people are waiting at the platform for their train. On the day of a major rugby game between Wales and Scotland, trains were all delayed or not allotted enough carriages for the demand. Adelaide Metro nail the public transport after every single football game throughout the year. Compared to many British/European rail networks, the vehicles are reasonably clean. With the exception of the London Underground which is in a whole other league of their own, the Adelaide Metro public transport really isn’t that bad.
  5. Being a grid city makes life a hell of a lot easier
    I LOVE the fact that the Adelaide CBD was constructed on a grid-style format when settled. If you don’t know what I mean, look at a bird’s eye view map of Adelaide now and it will make sense. It makes life so much easier to know that every street will lead to another street and if you just keep walking you’ll eventually end up at the one that you want without getting lost. One straight line up the veins of the city and you can get from one end to the other in 30 minutes tops. It is a luxury and one that would make solo travelling that much easier if every city was like this. But it’s not, and that’s what makes out little CBD so charming.
  6. We nail brunch… and how much it should be priced.
    I paid £8 for eggs when I first arrived here. Do you know how much AUD that is? $16. SIXTEEN DOLLARYDOOS FOR EGGS?! No drink, just eggs. Eggs on toast with tomato and cheese. Tell ‘em they’re dreamin’. Breakfast, lunch, brunch, all of them are ridiculously overpriced in the UK/Europe especially when compared to Adelaide. Also, the food is generously proportioned in Adelaide and rarely do you have to line up to have a seat in a café… unless you’re at CREAM at Brighton on a Sunday morning. I respect the warriors who show up without a booking at that place.

    dollarydo.jpg
    Raw footage of me when I got the bill for my brunch.
  7. (A bit specific this one, but) The Wi-Fi at Adelaide Uni is exceptional.
    Just, please, trust me. It’s terrible here at my current university and does my head in. I still have signal for the UniAdl Wi-Fi when I’m halfway down Frome Road towards Melbourne Street. Now that is what I call a good signal, my friends.
  8. Nightclubs and bar’s being in the same district is almost too handy.
    I did 10,000 steps about a month ago one night while walking across Cardiff to various different clubs. We were only out until 1AM so we could only really discount about 4,000 of those steps on dancing. Clubs being spread out is that little extra effort that you really cannot be bothered putting in on a night out and is something that my wee little Adelaide legs were not used to compared to the friends I have here from Sydney and Perth. The furthest I ever plan on walking is from Supercalifornia to Rocket Bar… maybe The Cumby if you’re lucky. Not from one suburb of Cardiff to another. Same goes for Peel and Leigh street, so handily crafted to have so many favourites just a few steps from one another. Bless our drunken mess.
  9. Squares and lawns in the city are a blessing in disguise
    This point doesn’t apply to experiences in Cardiff as there are plenty of grassy areas to lounge on which are proper lush when it’s not pouring with rain all day J However I noticed in Europe on a few warmer days that all I really wanted to do was to go outside and read a book on some grass, yet there was none to be found. I think the lawns strewn all over the city is a valuable asset to the laidback lifestyle many South Australians live and the scarcity of this elsewhere is something stark you will notice once abroad.
  10. Adelaide will always be your home and no matter how many times you say at home that you cannot wait to leave, you’ll be the proudest an ambassador while overseas.
    You’ll become more South Aussie than Cosi while abroad. You’ll tell everyone that Port Noarlunga was Australia’s best beach 2009/2010 and rib friends from interstate about who really has the best beaches (answer: it’s Adelaide. Scarborough Schmaaaarborough). You’ll talk up Haigh’s and don’t realise that you actually LOVE Fruchocs. You’ll tell everyone that Sia is from Adelaide, that Australia’s first female Prime Minister is from Adelaide and that Kylie Minogue’s favourite restaurant is on the south coast. It’s your home and even though you want to distance yourself from it, it’s part of the fabric of your being.

You don’t realise but you’ll be right.

So, I had a bit of a rough start to the year. But, I’m not going to get into the details about that because it didn’t just involve me alone and I’m not comfortable- ethically and personally- with going into the specifics of it.

But, I am going to write about how lousy I felt until about a month ago and how I managed to turn that around because I know that everyone has times in their life where it’s easier to lay in bed for two days than do anything productive. I know that a great deal of my readers tend to enjoy when I write more personal, advice-driven content on here than what I produce in my contributing works so this mildly self-indulgent post should do relatively well with the three people who read my pieces.

Anyway, like I said, I had a rough start to 2018. 2017 came off the back of a very happy, successful 2016 and lived up to the high bar it had set. I can honestly say it was one of the happiest, euphoric and contented years of my life thus far. I thrived academically, in progressing my career and in maintaining and developing my relationships with current and new people in my life. I don’t remember a time that I felt happier than from my birthday in March until the end of December, and if you were around me I’d like to think it radiated majestically. All up, I was deliriously happy with how everything was falling into place.

At the beginning of 2018, things became a little shitty and confusing and culminated in a big ball of ‘yeah-nah-this-is-super-shit-someone-hand-me-the-Rupi-Kaur-and-the-700-Maccas-hash-browns-I-ordered.’ Loosely translated, I was sad and didn’t give a damn about logical thinking and paying attention to the constructive thoughts that would make me feel better. I just wanted to be sad and sorry for myself. And that’s ok.

I’d never felt a lot of what I was feeling before but I knew I needed to be by myself, yet manage to look together on the outside. It’s the way I am- put together by face and, possibly, internally screaming (primarily at work when dealing with an exceptionally frustrating customer) or, in the case of the last few months, internally feeling a little empty and insecure. I don’t resent, regret or feel bitter towards anything that lead me to this position and I need this to be clear. While at the time of whatever pain or despondency you are feeling, I believe you should never regret the actions that may have lead you to that position because for a period in your life it was often something that made you either incredibly happy or gave a meaning to the person you are.

If you’re going through a rough time, whether it’s a break up, the death of a loved one, struggling with your studies or just simply struggling to feel like yourself in a world of constant competition, maybe this can help. Please note, I am by no means a self-help coach, expert or holistic wellness guru and I am certainly not aiming this article at people who have extreme cases of sadness and insecurity in their lives. I’m just a girl who went through something and likes to offer unsolicited advice to strangers on the internet in the hope that it might offer some help to someone. Here’s what I did to feel like myself again.

  1. I listened to sad music
    Yes sweetie, I am a massive cliché. There’s nothing more destructive than listening to sad music when you’re feeling down. There’s also nothing more therapeutic, in my opinion, than completely melting into a playlist of songs you can either relate to or that make you dissect every lyric in the song. Some personal favourites for you to add to your Spotify cue:

    Rosalyn- Bon Iver
    2. True Love Waits- Radiohead
    3. The Wonder of You- Ronnie Hilton (not technically a sad song but does give some good melancholy vibes)
    4. One More Love Song- Mac DeMarco
    5. Smile Like You Mean It- The Killers
    6. Do Me A Favour- Arctic Monkeys (a particularly upbeat sad song)
    7. Piledriver Waltz- Alex Turner (Submarine soundtrack version ONLY)
    8. Mon Dieu- Edith Piaf (a foreign sad song to keep you cultured)
    9. Pray You Catch Me- Beyoncé (again, I’ve never been cheated on but, far out, you can HEAR the pain from Jay doing the dirty. The air is filthy, my friends.)
    10. Writer in The Dark- Lorde (illuminated my soul because I’m a writer and felt like Lorde was SPEAKING TO ME)

  2. …and read sad poetry
    I had never in my life been into poetry besides the times in English class when I had no choice but to analyse it for an essay. I had never engaged with the idea of reading poetry for fun or spending money on buying books of poetry that can be ‘finished’ in an hour. I’d like to think I am a Born-again Poetry Enthusiast. Poetry can speak to you in a way you had no idea you needed. Poems can come out of the pages can seep into your soul until a simple sentence consumes you for an entire day. It is magical. These three did me much good.

    Pillow Thoughts- Courtney Peppernell
    2. The Chaos of Longing- K Y Robinson
    3. The Sun and Her Flowers- Rupi Kaur (don’t you dare roll your eyes- there is a reason why this book is so popular)

  3. …and then I cried, a lot (well, I cried while doing items One and Two, also)…
    I cried from 12 in the afternoon until 2 in the morning straight through. I cried in my university lectures. I cried in the staffroom at work and my manager didn’t know how to broach it. I cried at the local park and I cried in the nightclub. I didn’t stop crying until the end of June at a pub on the phone to one of my best friends. Obviously, it wasn’t a constant blubbering mess, but it was the sudden creeping thoughts that evoked the tears that would ruin me. Crying is good, crying is encouraged. No matter what is happening or happened to make you feel a little down and out, I can assure you, crying is always a good thing and if you need a cry just do it. Unless you have freshly had your make up done because then you should be feeling A) unstoppable, and B) who wants to ruin that??

    (You can probably work out from the sad songs, poetry and crying what happened to make me feel this way because I’m so f*cking cliché but I’m not about to put it articulately in writing).

  4. …and then, I channelled all my energy into what I’m passionate about.
    Aerobic Gymnastics was my first and one true love, even if I do neglect it from time to time. I decided to return to competing alongside coaching for season 2018 so that I had something to focus on and devote myself to. I don’t care how terrible my routine will be or how low I will score, it was about finding an outlet that allowed me to focus on something. Whether that was through coaching my athletes or training myself, I had something to put my energy into when I wasn’t studying or working and that’s exactly what you need. Your passion might be exercising, writing, practicing a new skill or completely devoting yourself to studying. Find it and let it consume you- it is one of the most constructive ways to feel better.
  5. …and then I joined the gym
    Similarly, I needed to get fitter in order to really get back into Aerobics. Going to the gym makes you feel GREAT! You do not need to be an Olympic athlete to join a gym and make yourself feel (and look) like a better version of who you currently are. Take your own pace, craft your own motivation and make yourself comfortable with the person you are. You do not need to be Michelle Bridges to join a gym. You can be an average Joe who eats Zambrero for lunch every day and binge drinks on the weekend (I’m doing Dry July, it’s ok everyone).
  6. …and listened to happy music
    What is it that they say? ‘From sad music must come happy music?’ Something like that, I’m sure. These are the tracks you listen to when cleaning the house, on the train home and when you feel like everything is FINALLY going YOUR way again. They’re the reclaimed tracks and their fan-bloody-tastic. Mine included:

    Running Up That Hill- Kate Bush (purely so I can scream out the lyric ‘THERE IS THUNDER IN OUR HEARTSSSSSSSS’ every time it plays)
    2. September- Earth, Wind and Fire
    3. I’m Your Man- Wham!
    4. Mr Brightside- The Killers (a no-brainer, really. This song holds so many happy memories for me personally, especially of my senior year, and I am sure it does for many more people)
    5. Give Me a Try- The Wombats
    6. It’s Nice to Be Alive- Ball Park Music
    7. Dog Days Are Over- Florence + The Machine
    8. Don’t Look Back into The Sun- The Libertines
    9. She’s a Riot- The Jungle Giants
    10. Anything by ABBA

  7. …and, finally, accepted what I cannot change. And, LOVED MYSELF AND MYSELF ALONE.
    This is really, bloody, god-damn hard. I hated accepting everything and made that blatantly obvious to everyone in my life. You are in the depths of your unhappiness and dejection with your situation that acceptance is so far removed from your life. I don’t know how long it takes for you to accept a curveball life throws at you as this is completely dependent on what has happened to you and you as a person. For me, it was longer than I’d imagined and longer than I had told people. My weapon is self-deprecation to mask that I’m ok when I’m really not that accepting of everything. But, you will wake up one day and be completely content and accepting of your situation, I PROMISE you. Then, I decided to fully focus on myself and the passions in my life that make me feel whole and happy: aerobics, writing and my upcoming euro trip/semester study abroad. It is the final and hardest part of feeling like YOU again. But it will come and you will meet.

    You don’t realise while you’re going through something that the aftershocks will end. You will be alright again. You won’t be the same as before. And that, more than anything, is your greatest power.

    It’s the best part of it all.

 

ross1

How I Fixed My Skin

So, it has been a very long time since I wrote a blog post and that is partly because it isn’t really something I enjoy anymore and partly because I was unsure if anyone enjoyed what I was publishing. However, recently, I have been asked the same question over and over again by different people in my life, from close friends, to work colleagues to people I hardly know at university.

I keep being asked “how do you take care of your skin? It’s been looking so good recently!” or something to the like of. I’m often left flattered and, in true Australian form, deflect the compliment in a seamlessly self-deprecating manner (if you know me, you know I am much better at giving compliments than receiving them).

There’s a bit of a long story with my skin. My whole life, I have had dry, sensitive skin and suffered from dermatitis (eczema) since I was a toddler. In the last five or so years, my skin has changed and become more of a combination but still leaning more towards the dry side. The exception to all of this was my forehead, and this is not uncommon.

I noticed six months after I left high school that my skin looked worse than it did when I was a pubescent teenager. I had small lumpy spots left right and centre across my forehead, popping up on my chin and the sides of my nose. Initially, I though these were pimples and treated them accordingly with pimple cream and home remedies. I began to accept that this would just be part of my life- I would never have the clear, flawless skin everyone had.

For the first time since I was 12 years old, I felt incredibly self-conscious of my face, specifically because it was bubbly and peppered with spots. I was confused because my skin was dry skin. Why was it suddenly oily? Where did these ‘pimples’ come from? I saw out the rest of 2017 with horrible skin. I’d cover it with make-up despite knowing this was not a productive method, but it made me feel more comfortable and confident. Looking back, it made it look worse.

In late January of 2018, I had well and truly had ENOUGH! I wanted these permanent pimples gone. They had been there since June 2017 and they needed to go. Everyone had beautiful, radiant skin without makeup and I was the odd one out. Even the boys in my life had nicer skin! I decided to investigate what was going on with my skin.

My Mum said it was my diet, my doctor said it was ‘just acne’- I had never suffered from acne and, while not wanting to go against someone with 10 years medical training, I knew that wasn’t an accurate conclusion of what was happening. So, naturally, I did what every millennial does: I Googled. I evaluated the many conditions and complaints out there on Vogue, various healthcare websites and cosmetic reviews. I concluded that these pimples were, in fact, clogged pores.

Clogged pores are caused by moisturisers that are too rich for the skin, frequent makeup application in the same spot and incorrect cleansing techniques. These bumps won’t go away with pimple cream because they are not pimples and the application of cream to them aids their longevity. It wasn’t going to be an overnight process to ridding my skin of these pesky little bumps, but, I needed to start somewhere. Here’s what I did to fix my skin:

  1. I sourced a charcoal mask.
    Charcoal masks are ideal for treating clogged pores, oily textures and pimples. I recently wrote an article on this professionally for CLIQUE that can be read here which goes more in depth about why a charcoal mask is a necessity for your beauty cabinet.

    I use the Origins Clear Improvement Mask. Personally, this was the holy grail for fixing my skin. If I had not discovered a charcoal mask, I truly believe my skin would still be a shamble. I noticed after the first application, that my skin was already feeling healthier- this sounds fake but do yourself a favour and give it a go. I apply the Origins mask twice a week on my forehead, t-zone and chin. It can also be used to dry pimples or prevent them as soon as they can be felt on the skin.If you’re suffering clogged pores like I was, purchase this product or a variation of it. Thank me later.

  2. I adjusted where I applied masks and moisturiser
    My cheeks and temples were not infested with clogged pores, so, I still applied my usual hydrating mask to these areas. My Aesop Parsley Seed Cleansing Mask always leaves my skin feeling supple and hydrated after use. Obviously, it isn’t appropriate for me to use these in the oiler areas of my skin anymore so it is used more sectionally in dry areas of my face.

    Now, this might go against the advice of a cosmetician or skincare specialist, but, this worked for me. I stopped applying moisturiser to my forehead for two months with the exception of sunblock when leaving the house. I REALLY needed to dry my forehead out as much as possible to help alleviate my skin of its impurities while continuing to keep the rest of my face hydrated due to my eczema. I use an Aesop Mandarin Facial Hydrating Cream all over my face and neck which is intensely hydrating and a perfect pairing to the mask.

  3. I kept using a pimple cream for real pimples
    While most of my bumps were clogged pores, I still had pimples pop up and still do. My go-to is the Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Pimple Cream. I have used this pimple cream since I was a young teenager and it is an overnight treatment that ensures a pimple is gone within three days’ maximum. It’s cheap compared to my other products so it doesn’t break the bank and, with only a tiny amount required, the product is quite economical.
  4. I hydrate my eyes NO EXCUSES!
    Your eyes are the window into your soul and they should always remain hydrated. Again, this CLIQUE article goes more in depth about why you should hydrate your eyes. I have used the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye treatment since I was 16 and recommend it to everyone. You can feel the instant hydration in the skin and the noticeable difference within a week of your first application.

    Recently, I have started to use the Mecca Cosmetica Bright Eyed Eye Masks twice a week too. These are helpful in aiding puffiness and dryness under the eyes. An eye cream is not required after the application of the gels as the moisture from them is more than enough and you do not want to risk over-hydrating this sensitive area and potentially causing swelling- the opposite of what is desired!

  5. I remove my make-up thoroughly
    One of the hardest things about getting my skin into shape again was stopping myself from covering my bumps every day. Yes, it was very scary and I did feel exposed but I had no choice. I only wear makeup now to work (because I have to), on nights out and if I am feeling that little bit extra at uni. When I wear makeup, I ensure that in the evening it is removed thoroughly.

    I swear by the Sephora Triple Action Gel Makeup remover. I have used this since 2015 and bought three bottles when I went to Paris last year as it seems to always be out of stock online in Australia. This removes most make up and when coupled with my Aesop Purifying Cream Cleanser or Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste, leaves my skin squeaky clean. Yes, there are times where I cheat and use Simple Cleansing Wipes and Aesop Facial Toner as my removal method but I follow this with a full mask, eye gel and moisturise treatment the next day.

This has been lengthier than I expected it to be so, if you made it this far, congratulations! Hopefully it answers any questions I’ve had about my skin and how it has improved over the last five months. It is not an overnight process and everyone has different skin. But, if you stick to a routine and put in the time and choose quality, appropriate products, it can work for everyone.

Image via Coveteur 

Where to shop your Valentine’s Day flowers in Adelaide

Valentine’s Day. Often, it’s that one excuse between Christmas and a birthday for you and your significant other to surprise yourselves with a little bit of extra love for a day. The bottle of your favourite fragrance, the book they’ve wanted for but never got their hands on and, if not most importantly, the bunch of flowers that you’ve hinted at for so long and finally get.

Typically, red roses are the staple for showing love and affection for one’s partner with sales of the flower reaching up to 198 million in some countries on Valentine’s Day alone. There simply is an enigmatic symbolism of the red rose that finds a spot in every person’s heart, even if roses are not their most preferred flower. However, the variety available nowadays is almost overwhelming and allows for all flowers to carry with them an element of charm that screams how much your other half means to you.

Thinking along the lines of pink peonies, chrysanthemums, lilies and Australian natives to name a few, South Australian florists are sure to be working extra hard on February 14th to bring you the perfect bunch of blooms to place an ear-to-ear smile of happiness on your partner’s face, which we all know something that nothing else can substitute.

  1. East End Flower Market
  1. Austin Bloom
  1. The Flower Nook

View this post on Instagram

💐💐💐

A post shared by The Flower Nook (@the_flower_nook) on

  1. Louise Woodhouse Flowers

View this post on Instagram

Lots of these happening today #summertime

A post shared by Louise Woodhouse Flowers (@louisewoodhouseflowers) on

  1. Fleur and Brew
  1. Adelaide Flower House

View this post on Instagram

Yum, today’s magic x

A post shared by ADELAIDE FLOWER HOUSE (@adelaideflowerhouse) on

  1. The Flower Depot

Photo Diary: Santos Tour Down Under 2018

Twenty years. Twenty glorious years of whizzing wheels, sweltering temperatures and thousands of spectators brining a vibrancy and energy to south Australia that only occurs for one week in January each year. If you were to surmise the Santos Tour Down Under in a few words, those would be the ones I’d run with. It’s an event like no other, and certainly a race like no other, that has firmly marked its position as an integral opening to the World Tour calendar each season.

In its twentieth anniversary edition, you couldn’t have asked for a more exciting, impetuous and entrancing race than the one provided. A change in the ochre jersey leader for 4/6 stages, a world champion win and an outsider taking the overall made for a fairy tale running of Australia’s greatest cycling race. Take a bow, Mike Turtur, you have certainly created some magic in this state again n 2018.

We were lucky enough to get out to all but one of the stages of the race and captured some of the fantastic displays along the way. From 45-degree heat to headwinds on Willunga Hill, the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under will be one to remember for the ages.

tdu1filefile2file3file4tdu9tdu8tdu7tdu6tdu5tdu4tdu3tdu2file5

South Adelaide beaches to visit this summer

When you think of South Australian beaches, you’d be forgiven for automatically casting your mind to Glenelg or Port Noarlunga due to their notoriety and popularity with most when the summer comes. Yet, the downside to these popular tourist-like beaches can be the crowding and OTT amount of exposure it can receive, leaving them susceptible to littering.

Luckily, if you were to venture further south of the Adelaide city centre, you’d find a plethora of beaches that require hardly any introduction in order to acquire visitation. They are the beaches often forgotten about or ones that are only utilised on a roadtrip once in a blue moon. Well, luckily the weather is heating up at the moment and now is the time to venture down south to explore what the Fleuireu Peninsular has to offer.

Spy our favourite southern beaches here for you to add into your Maps for a road trip this weekend.

SOUTHPORT BEACH 

View this post on Instagram

fresh af mornings 💧

A post shared by anasthasia (@ana.ko) on

SECOND VALLEY 

SELLICKS BEACH 

SILVER SANDS ALDINGA 

CHRISTIES BEACH 

View this post on Instagram

The local 👌🏼

A post shared by ISABELA KODHYAT 💫 (@isabelakodhyat) on

DALY HEAD 

CARRICKALINGA BEACH 

MYPONGA BEACH 

PORT WILLUNGA 

View this post on Instagram

Nothing better than an old pier (or sticks in the ground). It's always fun to find a pier that hasn't been shot all that much. I wish the tide was slightly lower that day but hey, it gives me another excuse to go back 😉 ▪️▪️▪️ If you are new to my page, once again WELCOME and make sure you click the follow button to keep upto date with all my work. ▪️▪️▪️ One on One photography workshops still available for summer. Message me now to lock in your place. Locations include Melbourne, Geelong and the Bellarine. ▪️▪️▪️ #australiagram #ig_australia #focusaustralia #Australia_shotz #canonaustralia #seeaustralia #beautiful_australia #canon_photos #nisifiltersau #neverstopexploring #instalove #master_gallery #igworldclub #awesome_earthpix #awesomeglobe #instagoodmyphoto #beautifuldestinations #earth_shotz #goodvibes #longexposure_shots #longexpoelite #wildlifeplanet #igphotoworld #cruising_australia #earthfocus #awesupply #discoverglobe #southaustralia #visitsouthaustralia

A post shared by Adam Dyson (@adam_dyson) on