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Sunday, 5 March 2017

Visiting Leuven & Brussels | POLITICO EU Studies Fair


For those of you who have been following my blog for a while now will know I studied in Leuven, Belgium for my third year of University. I moved back to Edinburgh in September 2016 and whilst deciding where to study my masters degree, I came across the POLITICO EU Studies fair set to commence in Brussels in February 2017. Of course, I couldn't miss out on an opportunity to visit Belgium again, so last month, I combined a trip to catch up with friends in Leuven and attend the EU Studies fair in Brussels.

Martelarenplein, Leuven

On Thursday the 9th of February, I flew to Brussels and as soon as I arrived in Leuven, I checked into my airbnb on Mechelsestraat. The street is one of my favourites in Leuven and I was really excited to stay there as it's located right in the city centre. I met my friend, Pablo, and we had dinner at his place with some other friends, then headed out to the Capital bar and a variety of the clubs/pubs in Oude Markt that evening.

Grote Markt, Leuven

Throughout documenting my year abroad in Leuven, I received a lot of emails from students who had more questions about the city. Sandra, a law student from Vienna, emailed me about the accommodation I was staying in and we kept in touch. As I decided to visit Leuven, she very kindly took me out for lunch. We went to Notre Dame Quasimodo on Naamsestraat, then we took a detour through Mechelsestraat and the Klein Begijnhof before ending up at the Vaartkom area of Leuven (where Waterview - my old residence, and Sandra's new residence is based). Sandra was really lovely and we agreed to stay in touch in the future.

Vaartkom, Leuven

As I parted ways with Sandra, I met Loïc, a close Belgian friend at my old local cafe, Opek, for a drink. Afterwards, I met some friends on the Oude Markt for a drink and we went back to Pablo's place to cook the haggis I brought over from Scotland.. 

As I was a bit restricted on what I could take with me in my hand luggage to Belgium, I could only take tinned haggis, which we opted to fry. Although the texture was completely off... I think it went down as a success, which was a surprise, as it's always a bit awkward explaining the contents of haggis (google if you are unfamiliar!). We went to another friend's place for pre-drinks later that evening then attended the International Party in Fuifzaal Albatros.  Throughout my year in Leuven, I never really liked Albatros as a club venue and only ended up staying for a couple of hours. As expected, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) society had changed its board members from when I lived in Leuven, and although the city seemed exactly as I left it, the organised international party vibe didn't quite feel the same for me...

photo credit: POLITICO (http://www.politico.eu/event/eu-studies-fair-2017/)

On Saturday morning, I got on a train from Leuven to Brussels North to attend the POLITICO EU studies fair. During the day, they hosted an exhibition with stalls from various European Universities in the Crowne Plaza le Palace. They also had bookable appointments with a careers/CV adviser and although I didn't use this service, it seemed very informative and it was fully booked when I attended.

I spoke to representatives from the University of Kent, Vesalius University Brussels, Sciences Po Paris, IBEI Barcelona and Universiteit Leiden. I received a lot of useful advice about the application process and about the course programmes. I also found out more about courses in British institutions I didn't realise existed. I have managed to rule out quite a few Universities since visiting the fair, but I'm still not 100% sure of my subject direction (purely a personal matter, I found the EU studies fair exceptionally helpful otherwise!).

To find out which exhibitors were present and for more information about the POLITICO EU Studies fair, click HERE.

Grand Place, Brussels

After the studies fair, Pablo and I walked to the Grand Place for a look around and I was reunited with my favourite Belgian dish, vol au vent, in Le Roy D'Espagne.

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Brussels 

Afterwards, we took a walk through the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, to the Mont Des Arts and headed back to Leuven later that afternoon. Brussels is definitely my happy place in the world and I'll always be taken aback by its beauty no matter how many times I visit. 

Mont des Arts, Brussels

Back in Leuven, we went to a friend's place for pre-drinks and headed onto the Oude Markt for my final night in Leuven. The night consisted of a lot of drinking (despite feeling very fragile after a 3 day binge!) and partying until 7am, where we expected to finish the night in the Seven Oaks, but stumbled into a slightly bizarre techno rave in Rumba instead.

Waterview Residence, Leuven

On my final day in Leuven, I decided to go to my old residence to visit some of my ex-flatmates. When I arrived, my Brazilian flatmate, Plinio, introduced me to some residents who I had been in contact with through my blog. The residence is exactly as I left it and I'm glad my old unit is more sociable and interactive this year, I spotted a few games tables and a sofa which wasn't there when I moved out!

After a lovely catch up at Waterview, I headed to meet Pablo again for a final farewell and burger at Ellis on Muntstraat before heading back to Edinburgh via Zaventem airport.

Grote Markt, Leuven

I arrived back in Edinburgh late Sunday evening absolutely exhausted from a hectic, but enjoyable, weekend in Belgium. I miss living in Belgium and often think about the good times I had, especially in Leuven. I will definitely continue visiting and hopefully I will be able to pursue further studies/employment there one day as the country will always have a special place in my heart.
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Thursday, 2 March 2017

I Dyed My Hair! | L'Oreal Paris Colorista #BurgundyHair




After seeing a tonne of youtubers rave about the new L'Oreal Paris Colorista dyes, I thought I would give it a go. The whole range is on offer at Boots right now and I managed to grab a bottle of the wash out dye for just £6!

L'Oreal have released a range of temporary spray dyes (perfect for festivals), wash out dyes, permanent paints (vibrant colours) and effects (ombre, balayage). As I'm still a little bit terrified of dying my hair permanently, I was really happy to see the range of temporary dies L'Oreal had in store.

Their temporary dye range includes a set of pastel colours, which are recommended for those with blonde or bleached hair, so I opted for the shades for darker hair and I had the choice of red, orange, burgundy, purple, indigo, mint, turquoise... the list is ENDLESS (and exactly why I fell in love with this range). Another plus of using the shades designed for darker hair, they are estimated to last between 5 and 10 washes, compared to the pastels only lasting between 2 and 3 washes. 

If you'd like to find out more about the range, visit the L'Oreal website, where they have a helpful diagnostic to help you find your desired product. I also found the Boots website helpful when I was researching the product. 


Naturally, my hair is light brown and a little bit boring to say the least, so I was really excited to inject some colour into my hair.

I've never dyed my hair and because of this, I was a little bit sceptical about how the Colorista product would work on my hair.. I bought the burgundy shade, kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best.


The kit comes with a tube of hair dye, an instruction manual and two pairs of gloves, which I thought was a good idea if you have a friend offering you a helping hand with your hair. 

The instruction manual made it very clear a patch test was required 48 hours before dyeing. If you've tried one method of dye on your body and it was ok, please don't assume every product will work for you. I've seen adverse reactions to henna tattoos and eyelash tints on friends and it's not worth skipping a simple patch test!



The other side of the instruction manual gave guidance on how to apply the dye, including methods such as full head, ombre and highlights. I wasn't sure how vibrant the colour would turn out, so I opted for a simple ombre just to play it safe.


I made sure I wore an old tshirt and wrapped an old towel around my shoulders before I applied the dye. I tied up the top layer of my hair and started spreading the dye along my lengths, making sure not to go above chin level. I then took down the remainder of my hair and repeated the same process.

I would say I used 75% of the bottle to cover the lengths of my hair, but I ended up using all of the product anyway to make sure the under layers of my hair were covered. Bearing in mind my hair is very long, I doubt the bottle would be enough to cover my entire head. If you would like to dye your whole head and your hair is of similar length to mine, I'd definitely recommend investing in a second bottle just to be sure.

I started to scrub my hair between both of my hands to make sure every strand was covered and waited 30 minutes for the colour to develop. After 30 minutes, I threw my head over the bath and used the shower head to rinse the product out. Although the instructions say to wash the product out until the water is clear... the water is never really going to be clear with a wash out product until it's not in your hair any more. I rinsed my hair until I was certain the product was completely out and began to dry it. 


I'M REALLY IMPRESSED WITH THE RESULT! 

As mentioned previously, I had never dyed my hair before and I read a lot of mixed reviews on this product, so I didn't have high hopes at all. The colour is exactly how I expected it to turn out on the box and I'm pleasantly surprised. My hair feels really soft due to the conditioning properties in the dye and I'm really happy I can now experiment with my hair colour without damaging it. 

The photos above and below were taken this morning after I washed my hair. The colour is still very vibrant which I'm pleased about. I have it in mind to be extra careful when washing it over the next few weeks as the colour is transferring onto towels and pyjamas when my hair is wet, so I'm trying to dry my hair as soon as possible post-shower to prevent any further staining.


I'll definitely be picking up this product again in the summer months. The blue shade is catching my eye and I'm interested to see what a full dye would look like on me. The range is certainly perfect for scaredy-cats like me who are a little bit too nervous to commit to a permanent colour!

I'll be sure to update this post in a couple of weeks to see if the product lived up to its claim of lasting between 5-10 washes.

UPDATE (16.3.17): two weeks later and the dye has faded almost completely, but I can still see traces of the dye in my hair. I'd say the vibrant colour lasted 5 washes over the course of 10 days. As my hair has never been dyed before, I reckon the colour would last a lot longer if you have bleached hair, so the product has a bit more to hold on to. I'm still really impressed with the results nonetheless!

Have you ever experimented with colour? Which colour/style would you like to try in the future?
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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Novia Cat Eye Glasses | GlassesShop.com Review & Voucher Code

* GlassesShop.com were kind enough to send me glasses for review purposes however, all opinions in this post are my own


I've worn glasses full time for just over 3 years and I've always stuck to the same shape and colour of frames... standard black and slightly curved. When glassesshop.com reached out to me, offering eyeglasses in return for a review, I used the opportunity to branch out with my style choice and I'm really impressed with the frames that I received.



Glassesshop.com is an online glasses store hosting thousands of pairs of glasses frames and prescription sunglasses. At first, I was quite sceptical about ordering glasses online as I wouldn't normally consider ordering glasses on the internet without trying them on first. Thankfully, glassesshop.com gives the option for you to 'try on' the glasses by uploading a digital photo of yourself to the website and the frames chosen will be placed on your photo. Seems a little bit gimmicky, but it did help in the initial stages of crossing a few potential frames off my list.

In addition, all glasses frames on the website contain measurement details. I used my current frame measurements and compared them with the frames I was considering to make sure I wasn't unexpectedly surprised when they arrived in the post. 


I opted for a pair of Novia Cat Eye Glasses in Tortoise. I always play it safe with glasses and never drift far from a traditional black pair, but I'm really glad I branched out and tried a slightly different design and colour to what I'm used to.

The glasses arrived in a clear plastic case with a glasses cloth. The frames are really sturdy and I'm really impressed with the high quality taking into account these frames retail for just $19.95 (around £16). 

In addition, if you use the discount code GSHOT50 at the checkout, glassesshop.com will discount 50% off your chosen glasses/sunglasses (sale items excluded).


The only causes for concern I would raise is the shipping time. My glasses were shipped from China, so they took a bit over 2 weeks to arrive. Also, if you are interested in ordering from glassesshop.com, make sure you check out the returns policy before ordering as there are a lot of conditions such as the 50% restocking fee and the exclusion of sunglasses and designer frames in their return policy.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the glasses I received from glassesshop.com and I'm already looking at ordering the same pair in black. Although I was a little bit apprehensive about ordering frames online, I will definitely be more confident in doing so again in the future. 

Thanks glassessshop.com!
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Monday, 6 February 2017

A Day In Dean Village: Edinburgh University Buddies


An opportunity received on a year abroad is the option to have a 'buddy' during your stay in a foreign country. A buddy is there for an international student during the initial period of their stay in order to make sure the settling in process is as stress-free as possible and to act as a helping hand along the way. I decided against having a buddy during my Erasmus year in Belgium, but I had a lot of friends there who had buddies and some turned out to be their life-long friends. After missing the international side of my studies returning home, I decided to participate in the Edinburgh University buddies programme, where two 'Edinburgh Buddies' are assigned to a group of 6 'International Buddies'.

Last semester, my buddies were from a various backgrounds, from European countries such as Belgium and Austria, to International students from New Zealand and the US. This semester, I don't have any European students, but my buddy group consists of mostly Americans and students from Hong Kong and New Zealand. I love how international the Edinburgh University community is and I'm really glad I decided to partake in the programme and re-live the experiences I had in Belgium at home. 

Edinburgh Castle

I met my buddy group in person at the 'Buddies Meet and Greet' a couple of weeks ago in Teviot, our main student Union building. There, we had a wine reception and went to Nandos (of course) afterwards for some food. 

For our first outing, my other Edinburgh buddy and I decided to take our group to 'Dean Village', starting from Teviot and passing most of Edinburgh's main tourist attractions on the way there.

Dean Village

Dean Village is situated a short 5 minute walk from the West End of Princes Street in Edinburgh. After living in Edinburgh for my whole life, Dean Village isn't a part I've managed to venture into, so I thought it was the perfect day trip for the International buddies and I. We departed from Teviot and walked by Elephant House (the cafe where JK Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter series) and the Bank of Scotland Headquarters.

Dean Village

Next to the Bank of Scotland Headquarters is the Museum on the Mound, where a display of £1 million can be found. The museum is admission free, so we just wandered around quickly to take a few photos of the £1 million and we left shortly after. As we reached the bottom of the Mound, we walked through Princes Street gardens and stopped to take photos of Edinburgh Castle.

Water of Leith

Dean Village was a short walk from the end of Princes Street gardens and we took the path just before Dean bridge towards the village itself. I've seen my friend's photos of the village on Instagram and the colours of the buildings are as stunning in real life as they are in photos. The village is really small, but it seems surreal such a place exists just a short walk away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh's city centre. The area is very peaceful, despite being full of tourists, and with the Water of Leith running through it, is a very pleasant day trip for a lazy Sunday. 

Modern Two

After walking around the village and part of the Water of Leith, we went to the Scottish National Galleries of Modern Art. There are two modern art galleries in the area around Dean Village. The admission free exhibition in the Modern Two (pictured above) was quite minimal and I didn't enjoy it as much as the Modern One. The upstairs of the building consists of a ticketed exhibition.

Eduardo Paolozzi's Studio

The highlight of Modern Two, for me, was the recreation of Eduardo Paolozzi's London art studio on the ground floor.

Modern One

The Modern Two gallery was a short walk from the first gallery. I had a weird sense of déjà vu as I entered the grounds remembering we went to the galleries frequently for art lessons during my final years of primary school.

Modern One

The grounds consist of various sculptures such as the one pictured above. At the entrance, there is a submerged sculpture of a head and shoulders.

Landform, Modern One

Directly opposite the Modern One is the Landform, a creation by architectural historian Charles Jencks, composed of a swirling grass structure around three ponds. 

The exhibition in Modern One is more extensive than that of Modern Two. Although some pieces were quite unusual, it was definitely an interesting change to historical art pieces I'm used to seeing during city visits.

Modern One

Some of the initial exhibition rooms we went into contained random 'works of art' such as the rock in the middle of the room (pictured above). In the adjacent room was a room filled with cotton wool. Quite bizarre to say the least.

Modern One

I enjoyed the pieces in the first and second floors of the gallery. Beside the staircase was the work of Douglas Gordon, with a List of Names of people he remembered meeting throughout his life. After initially starting with 1440 names in 1990, the collection grew to 4710 in 2014. Although the idea is really simple, this is work I was more intrigued by.

Stockbridge

After our trip to the galleries, we walked along the Water of Leith, which lead us to the Stockbridge market. The market is full of food stalls and independent traders selling articles of clothing such as customised shoes to jewellery. I tried some peanut butter marshmallow (which was heavenly) and the guys bought some haggis and dumplings at one of the food trucks. 

Castle Street

With some more fuel after visiting the market, we walked back to Princes street where I departed ways with my buddies to head home to the West of Edinburgh whilst they walked back home towards the University campus. I really enjoyed my day with the buddies and I'm looking forward to the next trip we plan together..

If you live in Edinburgh, where are your favourite locations to visit? 
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Monday, 30 January 2017

Everyday Red Eye Makeup | Morphe Budget Palette


Over the Christmas holidays, I experimented a little bit with my eye makeup and came up with an everyday red eye makeup look featuring a Morphe eyeshadow palette. I was looking for a maroon/red eyeshadow palette for a while, and was lusting after Kylie Jenner's eyeshadow palette, but came across Morphe's eyeshadow palettes instead, which are simply INCREDIBLE!


This makeup look involves few products, but includes a few new additions to my makeup collection, which I'm excited to share with you in this post. I do not claim to be a makeup artist in any way.. as you can tell by my lack of makeup posts in general.. the last makeup-style posts I wrote were last February where I created a minimal makeup and gold eye and red lip look. It is rare I change up my makeup look, but I thought as red eyeshadow is becoming more common nowadays, I'd document the look I've been wearing lately.


I purchased a Morphe palette dupe on Ebay for £15. Normally, Morphe palettes range around the £20 mark on Cult Beauty, however, I couldn't find a palette that suited me exactly. I wanted a palette that contained matte red shades and also shimmery shades for more intense evening looks, something like a cross between the Morphe 350M and 350S palettes. The quality of the dupe shadows are really great, not up to the standard of the Urban Decay shadows, but definitely a slightly higher standard than high street brands. The only disadvantage I found of ordering palettes online is that they are susceptible to damage. My palette was damaged in the post and two eyeshadows fell out, but I received a full refund for the inconvenience caused. 


To apply my eyeshadow, I primarily use the Real Techniques domed shadow brush, tapping off the excess colour with a tissue in-between switching colours. To define my eyes a bit more, I'll us an angled Lorac brush to lightly add a black shade underneath my bottom water line.


After applying Urban Decay's primer potion to ensure the eyeshadow stayed in place all day, I brushed a light coat of the beige shade in the middle of the palette over both of my eyelids.


I found this shade to be the perfect base shade and definitely an eyeshadow I would consider wearing on its own if I wanted to wear minimal makeup to work, for example.


Next, I took the red shade in the middle right of the palette and applied it to my eyelids only, making sure not to drag the colour further out. 


Although it looks red in the palette, it transfers to a more orange shade of red. If you wanted a more intense look, applying two or three layers of the colour would be enough to make sure the colour is really vibrant on your eyelids. As I wanted to tone down the colour for a more everyday look, I only applied one dusting of the shade.


To finish off with the Morphe palette, I took the brown-red shimmery shade in the middle right of the palette and applied this to the outer corner of my eyes, smudging it in to bring all of the colours together.


I also brought this colour down to the outer half of my bottom lid to tie the look together.


I caved in and bought Kat Von D's Tattoo liner on holiday in Spain last year and I've been obsessed with it ever since. Previously, I used the Supercat liner by Soap & Glory and got increasingly frustrated by it's off-black shade, but thankfully the tattoo liner is the blackest liquid liner I've ever tried and leaves a slightly glossy finish (if you're looking for a totally matte liquid liner, I'd thoroughly recommend the Schwing liner by The Balm). The pen is super easy to use and although it is quite expensive compared to drugstore liners, the pen is still going strong and I've been using it almost every day since I purchased it back in July.


To make winger liner a little less daunting, I start by lining my upper lash line, then I'll find the point where I want my liner to end and start to connect this dot to the line at the end of my eyelid. For a guide, I try to make the wing point to the end of my eyebrow.



I don't like to use kohl eyeliner on my water line, I find it is too harsh for an everyday look. Instead, I apply some black eyeshadow underneath my waterline to help define my eyes a bit more. I've used this poor Maybelline The Nudes palette to death over the past year. It's the perfect neutral eyeshadow palette for travelling and everyday use. It has a really pigmented black shade, which I think should be fundamental in every eyeshadow palette nowadays.


I used the Lorac angled shadow brush to pat on the black shade underneath my water line. I find this is a lot less harsh than using a black kohl pencil on my waterline, but still helps to add more definition to my eyes.


To finish off the makeup look, I curled my lashes and applied mascara. I'm an advocate for Maybelline mascaras and after being a repeated buyer of their lash sensational mascara, I found I love The Falsies Push Up Drama mascara equally as much. I find the consistency of the Push Up Drama mascara is thicker, so only one coat is required for a dramatic lash look compared to the lash sensational.


My lashes are naturally super straight, so after curling them with a hairdryer-heated eyelash curler, I hold the curl in place by using a waterproof mascara. I apply my usual Max Factor Masterpiece Max mascara to my bottom lashes as it makes the makeup removing process a lot easier at the end of the day only having to remove waterproof mascara from just my top eyelashes. 




Here is the finished look. I tend to pair red eyes with a neutral lip shade to minimise any potential colour clashes. I've been loving wearing this makeup look during the winter, definitely something different compared to my usual smoky browns and neutrals.

What makeup looks are you interested to try? Would you ever wear any bright and daring colours on your eyes?
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