What’s for breakfast?

Hi everyone!

As students (or maybe just people in general?)  we all need more of one thing.

That’s right I’m talking about SLEEP. So it’s sometimes easy to choose those 20 minutes of sleep over a good breakfast but in the long run that is NOT a good idea.

It’s easy to grab a cup of coffee on the way out the door or even when you get to campus/work but come 10.30am and your caffeine high starts to drop you are going to regret the decision to forgo that good breakfast.

Starting the day of well can set your mood and productivity for the rest of the day. It’s not easy to change habits you’ve had for years, especially if you don’t know where to start. So here are some ideas 🙂

I like to start of everyday with hot water, lemon, mint and a dash of honey and then usually go on to one of my quick and easy breakfasts:

Oats with peanut butter – as my father says “peanut butter fixes everything!”

Breakfast smoothie – Banana, coconut milk, natural yoghurt, 2tsp of coffee and 1 scoop of ice cream/frozen yoghurt.

Rice cakes with Avocado with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Omelette (peppers,mushrooms, onions, cheese)

Usually accompanied by either tea/coffee (depends on the mood I’m in :P)

So let’s try to start the day with a better breakfast. It may take some time to get used to but it’ll be worth it when you do.

From one reformed breakfast skipper to (hopefully) another!

Keep Reading,

H ☺️

Spring Spring Spring.

Anyone else love it when the sun shines? It can completely change the mood of people, a town, a university and even a country.

So it’s no surprise I’ve been having more good days than bad this past few weeks and it is a great feeling!The same fears are still there but I feel so much more motivated to get out of bed and tackle the stacks of paper (electronic and physical).

If you’re like me and love the sunshine, use it as a motivating tool. For every hour of work/revision you do (and actual work not just an hour of sitting in front of your laptop refreshing social media) give yourself ten minutes of sunshine love. Or try and sit near a window to get those beams ☺️. It really does make a difference!

So lets make the most of the rays!

Keep Reading,

H ☺️.

Is it a Break?

Hey Everyone!

So March is nearly coming to an end and it has gone by so incredibly fast but has been packed with SO MUCH.

At the beginning of the month I had this very real feeling that there was no way I was going to be able to do/finish everything I had set for the next few weeks. This then turned into major panic – you know that feeling when you realise there’s so much to do, so you make lists and lists and then the lists have lists and you’re dotting from one thing to another not knowing when or how you’re ever going to get it done – yeah (not good).

I realised that I had to nip this in the bud. Feeling this way was not helping the situation at all. So I decided to take a step back and attempt to organise all these thoughts and tasks (okay, so it took more than two attempts – at least). I spoke to my family, friends, colleagues and supervisor (who is just the best most encouraging and helpful supervisor I could have asked for!) about the feeling that and they all reassured me that it was normal. They also gave me some very helpful and practical tips to tackling it (some were new and some I had already been trying to do):

  1. Talk to people about your research (within the limits set) – this will help you to understand what you’re doing and why a lot better. It will also raise questions about the practicality and time frame of what you’re doing – this will help to focus yourself. It’s also increased my passion for my research.
  2. Establish a good relationship with your supervisor. This is vital and can completely alter your experience.
  3. Set time limits – not just ‘an hour to write’ but what should you have done in that hour. Be specific.
  4. Exercise everyday – even if it’s just a walk, do something.
  5. Have a good breakfast – this I find hard to do everyday because I think ‘Well, I could have 20 minutes more of sleep’ but on the days that I do it – I can really feel the difference in my energy levels and productivity.
  6. Figure out when you are most productive – everyone is different but figure out if it’s morning, evening or afternoon for you and set that time side for the pieces that require your most effort.
  7. PUT THAT PHONE AWAY – limit the amount of time you spend on Whatsapp, texting or on social media. If you don’t want to turn if off use the Do not disturb/equivalent option or put it on flight mode.
  8. Plan the day the night before – this can mean making sure you have the right books/journals/protocols in your bag, having a schedule/aims for the day, figuring out what to wear or even whats for breakfast. I like to do this toward the end of the night (usually with a warm drink and something on in the background), not only do I prepare myself for the next day but it gives me time to unwind before I sleep.

Though it is still the busiest I have ever been, I feel so much better about going forward. I know it is not going to be easy and those pangs of sheer panic will still be there BUT I know I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

To anyone going through something similar, I hope this helps and remember you are not alone!

Keep Reading,

H 🙂

Short and Sweet

Today marks International Women’s Day 2016- though I think that strength, perseverance, and achievements have the the right to be celebrated whenever you want, it is no surprise with the busy lives that we live that sometimes it slips our minds.Which is where I think days like this can be beneficial, it reminds us of all the wonderful projects that women are pursuing, the heartbreaking circumstances and trials that women are facing, the causes that women are fighting for and the amazing women that have influenced your life (in any shape at all).

So today (even with our busy lives) celebrate the influential women in your life.

Keep Reading,

H 🙂

Oh, Hi There.

Well, March has certainly creeped up on me. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem that bad- it’s still the beginning of 2016, Easter break hasn’t started yet, it’s not exam season and it’s still cold out. But what it actually means is: I’ve been at university for over a month, I have two deadlines by the end of this month and two for the next, the teaching course I thought was far off is in a month plus I’m a third into my allocated literature review time – and I have definitely not read or come to grips with a third of the relevant literature.

I felt like in the first month, it was ok to feel a little lost because I’d just started and was still finding my feet. The only problem is I STILL FEEL LIKE THAT (maybe even a little more so).

My very well thought out and detailed timeline doesn’t even bring me peace right now 😞.

It can only get better right? RIGHT?!

So that was my little panic –  lets hope some good came out of it and you feel a little better or you had a good chuckle

I guess I’ll be off to make some strong coffee and read or write…Something… Anything.

Keep Reading,

H ☺️

I’m here! Now what?!

Hello!

Well, after about 7 months of applications, form filling, interviews, crumbling into a little ball in the corner and a whole bunch of tears I’ve FINALLY started my PhD project (microbiology/parasitology) – and it is AMAZING.

Taking time out of the field has really made me realise that I am definitely in the right place. I know that even when everything seems overwhelming (which will occur often and soon) I’ll push through it because at the end of the day I love what I do – and yes that does sound cliche but in this case its the truth.

With that being said- it doesn’t mean the first few weeks were a walk in the park. No no no no no. Most definitely not.

Examples? Sure:

  1. I moved into a DUMP – actually, dumps are probably cleaner and have way less funky smells. It’s been sorted and my current living situation is SO MUCH better so I feel like I can look back and laugh – there was definitely no laughing at the time though, I’m pretty sure I spent the ONE night I stayed there choking back the tears (and reaching 2 am where they all just came pouring out). Thank the Lord I had a friend keeping me company and whose house I could crash at, it would not have went well otherwise.
  2. THERE IS SO MUCH TO READ and I only understand about 20% without having to refer to other journals, textbooks or a dictionary (I’ve been told this is normal when you start but it doesn’t make you feel any less like you’re in over your head).
  3. Security now know me because of the amount of times my card hasn’t worked or I needed access to a new place (I’ve been here 3 weeks).

But seriously, now that I’m starting to settle in and establish a routine that works for me I look forward to what the next few months (well, years) bring for me. I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of disasters but no doubt a ton of great times too.

Keep Reading!

H.

My First Conference!

Hi Everybody,

So not so long ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to a local BioMed conference (the first of many – I hope!) and boy – oh – boy was was it wonderful. Well, I can say that now- at the time I was terrified ( the good sort of terrified where you just do not want to say anything silly ). It was filled with some of the most inspiring people I have met to date. I don’t just mean the work that they were doing but the people that they were. Listening to their dedication and passion for their chosen paths made me think about mine – Where did I want to be in 3 years? What do I want to do now? What is the aim of my research? Why did I choose Microbiology/Parasitology? How did I aim to achieve my goals?

Throughout the day I mix and mingled with a range of different people – Medical Doctors, Members of Government, Environmental Scientists, Investors and the list goes on. The one thing I learnt from speaking to all of them – KNOW YOURSELF. Not necessarily to justify your choices but to help them understand your work. Now, being my first conference I was very nervous when I had to talk about my work/aims (and I’m not usually a nervous person) however, as the day went on I became more confident in myself and could essentially “pitch” myself a lot better. Talking about yourself is usually pretty easy once you get going but you have to remember you aren’t JUST talking about you and your life – you are there because of your work and your work/research still needs to maintain a level of confidentiality. Thankfully, my supervisors were able to give me some pointers about what I should be speaking about.

Overall the day was great, I met a bunch of wonderful people and learnt a lot about the type of scientist I want to be and though I may not have all the answers to my questions (and theirs) I am definitely closer.

I would strongly recommend to anyone to attend conferences. They may seem daunting at the beginning but as the day goes on you’ll see the benefit through the cloud of fear.

Keep Reading,

H 🙂

AAAHHHHH… Where has the time gone?

I realise it has been months since my last post. Time flies and life waits for no one. This post is about how to deal (or my version of dealing) with the ‘waiting period’. This is the time when nothing (and boy do I mean NOTHING) has been decided, when there is no indication of which path you should wonder down because all in front of you seem to be a viable option.

There are a ton of reasons you could be in this situation either you’ve just graduated and aren’t sure of the career you want, you know where you want to end up but just not how to get there, you’re still waiting for results or like me – you’ve applied to projects but there is no definitive answer. These are only a handful of reasons but all result in you not knowing. If you feel that you are in this period in your life, you are not alone. I’m pretty sure it’s a way of preparing you for the uncertainty that comes with adulthood in the Big Wide World.

So, though I am still technically in this phase of my life I thought I’d shed some light on how I am dealing with it and what it has taught me.

I have learnt so much about myself. People are always changing and evolving, it may not be drastic but little by little pieces of them will fade away and new ones will shine. Embracing change is good but don’t change for other people. If you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and evaluate your situation. Think about what you want out of it and how much of yourself are you willing to give to achieve that. Though the hard decisions are the ones you want someone else to make for you, they are the ones that you have to make for yourself. Seek advice from people you love and trust, but YOU are going to have to live with the consequences.

Do something with your time. Yes, having time off is fun and great but don’t waste it. Even if it has nothing to do with your future career plans, do something that excites you. And try to do it as much as possible. It’s easy to fall into a rut, and weeks on end of this will really mess with your state of mind. You can become complacent about the ‘life’ you have (which is really only the waiting period and not the way it’s going to be forever). You may even start doubting whether or not you want to pursue the career  you’ve worked so hard for because you’ve become so comfortable in this temporary situation.

Talk to people about how you are feeling. I don’t mean turning into an emotional volcano that’s ready to erupt anytime another human is in your vicinity, no, I mean talk about your plans, your ideas, your goals and how you’d like to achieve them. Usually, people will be ready to listen, help and offer some advice which can be wise to take onboard because it be something that you didn’t think about.  You’d be surprised at the amount of people that are rooting for you.

Be confident in your decisions. There was a reason you chose that, remember what it was and remind yourself of it every once in a while.

Keep up to date with your field. Read journals, news reports, textbooks, anything that keeps your mind alert.

Lastly, be patient. If you’re anything like me this is easier said than done, but there is truth in it. Be proactive, but don’t rush the process.

I hope this was helpful in some way 🙂

Keep reading,

H.

Some Application Tips…

Now that results have been issued and graduation is over it’s crunch time in applying for jobs and further studies. I have looking at positions since before I actually took my final exams and the one thing I noticed is that every place wants something different. It’s not like you can make one application, send it off and wait for replies. No. Each one has to tweaked and altered to find the position, company or institution. BUT…there are few things I’ve found that make it a little easier so I thought I’d share them with you in this post.

  • Have a basic CV at the ready. Every CV has a different layout, which if you think about from an employers point of view is probably a good thing – imagine looking at hundreds of the same document, it’d get pretty tedious right? Now, I’m not saying yours should be in a curly font and bright green, just don’t start freaking out when you look at others and they’re not exactly the same as yours. Remember to include things like the languages you speak, your nationality and skills (personal and professional).
  • If you are applying for research positions, have a document detailing any research and experience that you have in the field. At this point you don’t know what the position is asking for so include everything you think may be relevant.
  • KNOW YOUR CAREER GOALS. Most positions I have seen ask for future career plans or goals. Even if you don’t stick to these as you progress in your career or you change your mind, employers need to know that at the point of application you have a plan, you know where you want to be and why this position will help you.
  • Ask people to read your applications before you send them off. Having a fresh set of eyes looking at your work, is always good. They may pick up on things you never did.
  • Try to break up doing your application. Doing it all in one go seems like a great idea but often what happens is you come back to it a few days later and realise that something doesn’t quite make sense or you could have written it a lot better.
  • Have a professional picture ready. Some employers may ask a picture to be sent along with the application (I’ve only seen this a few times).
  • Make sure your correspondence e-mail address is professional and one you made in high school when everyone was trying to be really cool.

Hope that this helps!

If anyone has any other tips, feel free to comment or e-mail me and I can add them to this.

Love,

🌸

Graduation!

Friday 17th July 2015 marked the day we (as a family and cohort) had all been waiting for. GRADUATION!!! And let me be the first to say, it was one of the busiest days of my life. This year, Eid (an Islamic day of celebration) was on the same day as graduation so, as you can imagine this added to celebration of the day.

It was an absolutely perfectly imperfect day. Filled with joy and excitement from everyone you met. Whether it was from family, friends or random passers by that noticed you trying to navigate yourself in that giant robe and the tassel hanging down your face.

Since I’ve had a couple of days to recover from the festivities – I decided to write down a few tips that may help the day go that little smoother:

  • Stay hydrated! There’s usually quite a lot of walking involved and those robes can be fairly thick and heavy.
  • Make a plan of action, complete with meeting points and make sure everyone attending knows it. It’s easy to get lost in the crowds and distracted when you see your friends.
  • If you are wearing heels, carry a pair of flats. Like I said before, there’s usually LOTS of walking.
  • Take lots of pictures. Get everyone to take lots of pictures and videos. These are great to look at and watch after since you haven’t seen from the outside.
  • Carry little snacks. The day is so busy that you get caught up in it and forget to eat.
  • Thank everyone that helped you along the way. Sharing the joy makes the day that little sweeter.
  • But most of all. ENJOY YOURSELF. It is a great day and you should be so proud of yourself for getting to this point.

Even though I’m still a scientist living in limbo career-wise, it didn’t take away from the occasion.

Love,

🌸