Sunday, 28 February 2016

Living In Leuven | Post-Exam Celebrations & Orientation Week


After spending almost 3 weeks indoors studying for my exams, I was desperate to travel beyond Leuven and celebrate the end of exams with my friends. Unfortunately, around this time, some of my friends were leaving to head home permanently so it was the last opportunity we had to hang out together.


On the day after my last exam, Una and I headed to Antwerp for a day shopping along the Meir. We treated ourselves to an Ellis Burger for lunch, shopped and had a coffee stop in the Stadsfeestzaal. Thankfully, Una prolonged her Erasmus stay for the whole year - I honestly don't know how I would cope without her here in Belgium. We live in the same residence and also both study law - she is most definitely my closest friend here!


On the Friday, I met another fellow law student and neighbour, Ben, for a fun day out in Brussels before he moved back to Germany. We walked to the European Parliament, hoping to sit in a session, but unfortunately we arrived on the wrong day so we spent an hour in the Parliamentarium instead.

Afterwards, we took a detour through Jubel park towards the Royal Palace and Jardin Du Mont Des Arts before arriving at the Grote Markt.


We spent a good part of the whole day walking around Brussels, decided it wasn't enough and visited the Atomium before heading back to Leuven. The Atomium isn't really in the center of Brussels, so we had to take two metros in order to get there. The attraction itself is amazing and I really want to go back to go inside one of the steel balls one day - I heard they hold some student parties here too!


As the attraction was closing, we thought we'd make the most of our trip to the Atomium by having a photo shoot outside. I took some photos of Ben doing a handstand in front of the 'BeWelcome' sign and he took some of me lying in front of it (the first photo in this post). We were acting like kids and I honestly don't think I laughed as much as I did in the space of those 20 minutes!



I spent the following week in Leuven for the 'Orientation Week' (aka. freshers week for new international students). Most of the day events were for arriving students who wanted more information on how studying in Leuven works and about the possible change in culture from back home. I attended all of those events during the first semester, so it wasn't necessary for me to go again.

On the Monday, I went to IKEA during the day to pick up a bedside table for my room and other little bits and pieces I needed for cooking purposes. I went to the ESN pub crawl in the evening. I was actually really nervous to attend this event, because most of my friends had left Leuven already and normally there is a group of us who go on pub crawls together, but I was left to my own devices this evening! I met two really nice Belgian girls from the French part and I also bumped into some of my law friends from the first semester. It was their last night in Leuven and the evening was full of mixed emotions to say the least!


Tuesday was pretty chilled, so I used the free cinema ticket my residence gave me as a Welcome present last year to see the Revenant.

On Wednesday, I attended the speech from the Rector in the afternoon, which was followed by an international dinner in Alma (the student restaurant at KU Leuven). I met up with my German law friend from the first semester, alongside my two new Belgian friends and I met a Italian girl that night too. We had Belgian vol au vent with fries - it's definitely one of my favourite dishes here.

I went to a Dutch crash course on Thursday, which was a lot of fun. Throughout the first semester, I had been picking up small phrases in Dutch that helped me speak to a cashier in the supermarket, but apart from that I haven't had to speak Dutch otherwise. I learnt how to say where I'm from, what I studied, numbers and how to order in a restaurant during those 90 minutes! I learnt German in high school for 4 years, so I found it quite easy to learn the basics of Dutch as it's more or less a combination of German and English, with a variety of different spellings.


I met a few friends from my residence and some new friends I had met during the week on Friday night to go to the ESN and Loko International Party in Albatros. The venue was absolutely packed and we actually left at 1am because we weren't enjoying being squashed the whole night. The International party in the first semester was held in the KU Leuven student restaurant and it was one of the best parties I've been to in Belgium, but apparently there are less international students here during the second semester so the party venues are smaller (and more cramped!).

Saturday was the last day of the Orientation Week and I was really looking forward to the ESN city game being held in the evening. As I was looking for accommodation during the orientation week of the first semester, I had to be selective of what events I went to and unfortunately couldn't attend in September. We met in front of the University library and got into groups of 10. We were given a list of 20 'city tasks' to complete in 2 hours. Some of the tasks were almost impossible, including 'take a photo of the group in a tree' and 'record everyone singing the pokemon theme tune' - apparently the theme tune is different in every country, so we struggled to find common ground! Other activities such as 'construct a human pyramid in front of the town hall', 'make the word 'LEUVEN' using the group' and 'take a photo in front of 6 Fakbars' were do-able and a lot of fun! I was made team leader, so I was absolutely exhausted after 2 hours of running around Leuven and organising how to complete the tasks logically, I really enjoyed myself nonetheless!

We finished off the week by having a quiet drink in a bar called 'In Den Engel'. It's a really cosy bar on the Grote Markt in Leuven and we even managed to find a Scrabble board and have a couple of rounds before heading home.

That's another orientation week over and done with - it's actually the last one I'll have in Leuven! Although it wasn't nearly as hectic as the first semester and it actually lacked a lot of law events compared to last time, I met a lot of new friends and we're currently in the process of arranging a few day trips during the semester. I miss my friends from the previous semester terribly, so hopefully I can visit them at some point too. It's slowly starting to sink in that my Erasmus year won't last forever and it's heartbreaking :(

Until next time!
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Thursday, 25 February 2016

5 Beauty Hacks to Fix Makeup Mishaps

- sponsored guest post -

Beauty is about enhancing what you have. Let yourself shine through.” - Janelle Monae

As the quote suggests, most women love to wear makeup and will at least have a basic makeup kit in their closet. We aren't all perfect and are prone to make beauty blunders from time to time. Such blunders spoil our look and often need to be rectified as soon as possible.

So, if you are in need of a quick fix to resolve makeup blunders, here is some advice:

Too Much Foundation
Ever applied more foundation than necessary? Is it giving you an unnatural makeup look? This can easily be rectified by using a moisturiser. Apply a small amount of moisturiser, using your fingertips, in small circles over your foundation layer. Use a sponge to get rid of the extra product. Avoid using a moisturiser that is too thick as you will end up spoiling the whole foundation layer.

Over-Powdering
Nowadays, matte makeup is a trend amongst women. No one likes to have a shiny T-zone. Pressed or translucent powder is commonly used to get rid of any shiny and oily areas of the face. Although, powders help set our makeup in place, it doesn’t always look nice to have an overly-mattified look. In case you forget to ward off the excess powder from you face, give it a quick spritz using a facial mist. It will get rid of the chalky look and leave you with a glowing complexion.

Bold Brows
Perfectly, sculpted brows is what we all aim for when defining our brows. What if your effort made your brows look too bold, and not so natural? This may have happened to you at least once, right? Don’t worry, there is a solution. If you've filled in your brows too harshly, work a spoolie brush through the hairs to get rid of any extra product and help distribute the product more evenly. You can find a spoolie, as well as other brushes, at a discounted price at Feel Unique.

Bleeding Lipstick
You may be frustrated to find that the lipstick that you just applied has spread outside the lip line. It is bound to happen sometimes, thus, a quick fix is required. For this, you will need a damp sponge (or a cotton bud) and concealer. Remove the lipstick that has shifted away from the lip line using the sponge or cotton bud and then apply some foundation or concealer over the area. You can avoid this situation altogether by applying an anti-feathering lip liner before applying your lipstick.

Smeared Mascara
If your eyes have ever watered in the wind, or emotions are getting the better of you, you may find your mascara has smudged. It's very easy to rectify. All you will need is a damp sponge or cotton bud to clean up the area. In case you are on the go, you can simply use a tissue to clean up the mess and then apply concealer to the area. A number of concealers and correctors are available in cosmetic stores.

So, next time you find yourself suffering from a makeup mishap, try out these simple and easy trouble-handling tricks. You are sure to look amazing and stunning in no time!
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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Living In Leuven | Exams & Post Updates


First of all, I have to apologise for the slow start to the 'living in leuven' posts this year. I left Edinburgh on the 10th of January and spent the rest of January studying and taking exams, so I didn't have a lot to document. As exams are over, the second semester had started so things on the blog are kicking off again! I thought I'd go over my exams and mention a slight change to my blogging schedule in this post also.


As mentioned, I spent the majority of January studying in the central library or at home. Thankfully, my residence turned the common room into a study room during exams, so I was able to use that when I couldn't be bothered walking 20 minutes to the central library - or if I fancied a day studying in my pyjamas! Whilst studying for my exams in Edinburgh, I never leave my house but switch from living room to kitchen to my room etc. That's probably the reason why I couldn't stand studying in my room in Leuven and much preferred to visit the library or the residence study room.


I had my first exam for Constitutional Law of the EU on the 16th of January. I was a complete nervous wreck the night before and spent most of the evening watching the snow fall down outside my window. Lo and behold, the whole of Leuven was covered in snow when I woke up! It took me an extra 20 minutes to walk to the exam venue than usual that morning. I also found out Nike Roshe Runs are NOT suitable for walking in the snow. I sat through the whole exam with freezing cold and wet feet!


I have no idea what to expect from the exam. I think this is one of the major downfalls of my host University - rarely any subjects uploaded a mock exam script on the online portal which left me turning up to my exams not even knowing if I was going to write an essay or answer short questions that morning.

For my constitutional law exam, we were given a series of sort essay questions relating to a particular fictitious case. Most of the questions related to the EU court procedure and how the Commission's legislative proposals can be amended. I had to write an essay on EU citizenship and reverse discrimination for the second part of the exam.

The exam was open book, so I was allowed to take my EU treaty book and summaries I had made of all the relevant cases into the exam with me. As a whole, I didn't think the exam was too bad.


My second exam was my Terrorism, Organised and Corporate Crime criminology course on the 19th of January. This was my only closed book exam and although I didn't find the actual content challenging, it was a struggle trying to memorise key dates and names of specific Italian Mafia groups - I swear it took me over a week to remember how to spell 'Ndrangheta'!. During the year, my lecturer gave us the option of skipping one of the three topics in the exam if we did a 15 minute talk in class. Unfortunately, as my Advanced Legal Methods deadline was due around this period, I opted to do the whole three part exam.

I didn't start the exam too confidently as I had to ask my lecturer what questions I was to answer in the exam. The paper consisted of approximately 5 questions on each topic (Terrorism/Corporate Crime/Organised Crime) and as we were only given 3 pages to write our answers on, it wasn't very clear whether we were to pick one of the questions and write a three page essay on it, or answer all 5 questions across 3 pages. The latter was true and although the questions were relatively straight forward, I found it quite difficult excluding certain information in order to fit each answer into 8/9 lines!

I answered every question with confidence besides a Terrorism question on the scientific definition of radicalisation, as I had completely forgotten what the definition was! My highest grade at University is actually in a politics course I took in first year, so I had high hopes for a decent grade in this exam.


One week later, I had my International and European Human Rights law exam. In Leuven, it's possible to choose which exam you would like to take out of two dates, to avoid certain course exams clashing. My friends who sat the first exam said it was relatively straight forward so I was trying not to stress out too much as I didn't enjoy the lectures during the semester and found it exceptionally hard to concentrate in class because of this.

The exam was partially open book - we were allowed to take in a book with various documents in it including the European Convention of Human Rights. Apart from that, we had to memorise the cases. Because of our law system in Scotland, I'm at an advantage when it comes to studying case law as a lot of my European friends here refer to a codex in their home countries and rarely have to deal with case law. In our delictual liability exam in second year, for example, I'm positive we had to memorise up to 100 cases for that exam! Surprisingly, I found learning the human rights cases difficult because of the foreign names. I think I only managed to memorise a few of the main case names and ditched the names and focused on studying only the details for the other ones.

The first part of the exam was about the procedure of the European Court of Human Rights. In all honestly, I didn't have a clue how to answer the first part. The questions were about the problems of the court and what member states have done in order to push the court towards completing it's legitimate aims. I managed to waffle through it, but I had no hope I'd pick up many marks for what I had written.

The second part involved solving a fictitious case. I thought this part was relatively straightforward, and in general, I think I perform better on these types of questions because I find it easier to break down the question and identify the various problems rather than answer an open ended essay question, for example.

As a whole, I left the exam feeling quite disheartened. I knew the first part of the question was worth 50% of my overall grade and I wasn't hopeful to pick up a lot of marks in that part.


My final exam was European Criminal Law the next again day. The lecturer briefly went over the exam format and I thought it was quite bizarre, but it was actually one of the most enjoyable exams (if exams can even be considered enjoyable!).

The exam was split into three parts: the first a series of statements where we had to decide whether it was true/false and then provide a reason to support our answer. The second was an essay question, but my professor stressed we shouldn't answer it like a proper essay, but give our answer in bullet points and weren't required to answer in proper sentences. The third part involved a table of 40 terms/case names/short descriptions where we were supposed to match the case name to it's description or a term to it's definition. I found this part of the exam the most difficult.

It was an open book exam, so I was allowed to bring in the 600(!) page reader along with any of my own documents, so I brought in my treaty textbook from home alongside a summary of all the cases we were given to study. If you have any open book exams, it's so, so helpful to bring in a summary of all the cases if you are allowed. This saved me so much time in the exam as a LOT of the cases we were given to study were sometimes 30 pages long and it's impossible to look through them again when you're tight for time during an exam.

Overall, I think I preformed well in the first two parts of the exam, but the third part was a little bit strange to me and I'm not overly confident I did terribly well there.


For me, the strangest part of sitting exams here is that they take place in our lecture theatres. Of course, we had to leave at least one or two tables between each person and no one was allowed to sit in the row in front or behind so the professor/assistants could walk along the rows and make sure the materials we brought in were permitted during the exam.

My results were announced on the 11th of February, only 2 weeks after I had sat my last exam! I'm both pleased and disappointed with my results. I often forget I'm studying masters courses here in Leuven compared to the undergraduate courses back home, so I'm considering a pass to be a great achievement and I'm trying not to beat myself up too much about the results. The exams in Leuven are graded out of 20, with 10 being a pass. In Edinburgh, the pass mark is 40%, so I think it's finally hit me that I really do need to study more often and my year abroad is most definitely not a holiday!


I'm due to meet with a few professors this week to discuss my results and how I can improve. As the whole system is new to me, I'm interested to find out how they mark the exams and whether it's my writing technique or just a lack of knowledge that's causing me to not attain the grades I would've hoped to receive. There is an appeal process in Leuven, but it seems quite complex. I've been told I'm not allowed to appeal an exam without the permission of my home University. Thankfully, I'm not desperate for an appeal, but some of my friend's results here count towards their overall degree and are not happy with their results. I guess I am pretty thankful I only have to pass my courses here and nothing more!

Finally, onto the blogging schedule this year... I have an extra two subjects this year compared to last semester so I'm devoting a lot of my spare time studying, which means I don't have as much time as I would like to write weekly posts. As a result, I'm thinking of scrapping the weekly posts this semester, but I'll write general post updates instead (like this one about exams, for example). I'm hoping to have my residence tour and orientation days post up soon and of course if there are any day trips/weekend's away, I'll be sure to blog about them too.

Hope you're having a great weekend!
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Friday, 12 February 2016

Valentines Day | Gold Eye & Red Lip Makeup Look


Following on from my previous makeup post, I thought I'd share with you a makeup look for a more formal date this Valentine's Day. I decided to break the beauty rules a bit and have managed to put together a slightly smokey eye look combined with a red lip look today. If you're not a fan of heavy makeup, of course this look can be worn without the red lip and a nude alternative instead.



Concealer and Base:
Real Techniques Multi Task Brush


After applying some moisturiser, I start covering my dark circles and any blemishes with a concealer. I love using the Maybelline FitMe concealer for under my eyes as the formula is more watery and is easier to blend around the under eye area (which tends to be one of the driest parts of your face). I prefer to use the Maybelline Superstay concealer to cover any blemishes as the formula is thicker and tends to cover them for most of the day.


My holy-grail foundation at the moment is the Bare Minerals matte foundation. I've been using it ever since I stopped my acne treatment in 2013 as I heard it was a high coverage foundation and wouldn't cause my skin to break out. It covers absolutely everything and one pot lasts about 5 months for me as I only have to use a small amount of product to cover my entire face. I use my Real Techniques Multi-task brush to buff the product into my skin.


Contour and Powder:
Real Techniques Multi Task Brush


I must admit, I'm really not a pro at contouring. As I generally get a bit self-conscious of my cheeks due to acne scarring, I like to draw attention as far away form that area as possible, but I like how contouring brings a bit more colour and dimension to my face. I lightly stroke a U-Spicy makeup brush from the middle of my ear and underneath the apples of my cheeks. I'll also contour the side of my nose to make it appear slightly slimmer. If I've applied the product too harshly, I'll blend out the edges using my Real Techniques Multi Task brush.

I finish off my makeup base by applying Rimmel London Stay Matte powder to set my foundation in place.


Eyebrows:
Barry M Eyeliner Brush


I lightly run the powder product from the Maybelline eyebrow kit through my eyebrows using a Barry M Eyeliner brush. I don't use a particular technique to do this, I only make sure any sparse areas are filled out. I set my eyebrows in place using the Maybelline Brow Drama Mascara.

My full eyebrow routine can be found HERE.


Eyeshadow:


I applied a gold shade from the Nudes palette all over my lid using a Real Techniques Domed Shadow brush. I also brought the colour underneath my eye using the excess shadow on the brush.


Eyeshadow:


Using the same Real Techniques brush, I applied a darker brown shade to the outer corner of my eye and blended this in to create a slightly smoky effect. If you're pairing a smoky eye look with a nude lip, I would darken up the shade on the outer corner. Although a red lip and gold eyes generally go well together as I'm wearing a dark lip, I tried to keep the eye makeup as light as possible.


Eye liner:


I used a Soap & Glory liquid liner to line my upper lash line. I also winged out the end slightly. I don't use a special technique to do this, apart from making sure I aim the flick towards the end of my eyebrow. The wing tends to look slightly different every time I do it!

I lined my upper water line with a black eye liner and the lower water line with a white eye liner


Eyelashes:


I used my Shu Uemura eyelash curler, quickly blasted with a hairdryer, to curl my lashes. I then finished off the eye look by applying a coat of the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara to my upper lashes and Benefit's They're Real Mascara to my lower lashes. I really love the wand on the They're Real Mascara - I find it's the best mascara to really grab every single individual lash (after some research, reviews.com found it to be their best overall mascara HERE)


Here is the finished eye makeup look!


Lipstick:


I'm not super technical when it comes to applying lipstick. I'm ashamed to admit, I don't actually own a lip liner pencil, but use the tip of the lipstick bullet to carefully line my lips instead!


After 'lining' my lips, I then went ahead and filled in my lips straight from the bullet.


Here is the finished look! Let me know which look you prefer and what you're up to for Valentine's Day in the comments!
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Valentines Day | Minimal Makeup Look


As Valentine's Day is fast approaching, I thought I'd share with you a makeup look you can wear for two date occasions - a casual date and a more formal evening look. I'll be going through how I would do my makeup for a casual date in this makeup post. If you don't usually wear makeup and are looking for something simple and easy to do or want your makeup to look natural and fresh - this look will be perfect!


Concealer and Base:
Real Techniques Multi Task Brush


After applying some moisturiser, I start covering my dark circles and any blemishes with a concealer. I love using the Maybelline FitMe concealer for under my eyes as the formula is more watery and is easier to blend around the under eye area (which tends to be one of the driest parts of your face). I prefer to use the Maybelline Superstay concealer to cover any blemishes as the formula is thicker and tends to cover them for most of the day.


My holy-grail foundation at the moment is the Bare Minerals matte foundation. I've been using it ever since I stopped my acne treatment in 2013 as I heard it was a high coverage foundation and wouldn't cause my skin to break out. It covers absolutely everything and one pot lasts about 5 months for me as I only have to use a small amount of product to cover my entire face. I use my Real Techniques Multi-task brush to buff the product into my skin.


Contour and Powder:

Real Techniques Multi Task Brush



I must admit, I'm really not a pro at contouring. As I generally get a bit self-conscious of my cheeks due to acne scarring, I like to draw attention as far away form that area as possible, but I like how contouring brings a bit more colour and dimension to my face. I lightly stroke a U-Spicy makeup brush from the middle of my ear and underneath the apples of my cheeks. I'll also contour the side of my nose to make it appear slightly slimmer. If I've applied the product too harshly, I'll blend out the edges using my Real Techniques Multi Task brush.

I finish off my makeup base by applying Rimmel London Stay Matte powder to set my foundation in place.


Eyebrows:
Barry M Eyeliner Brush


I lightly run the powder product from the Maybelline eyebrow kit through my eyebrows using a Barry M Eyeliner brush. I don't use a particular technique to do this, I only make sure any sparse areas are filled out. I set my eyebrows in place using the Maybelline Brow Drama Mascara.

My full eyebrow routine can be found HERE.


Eyeshadow:


I'm obsessed with the Maybelline Nudes palette at the moment. The colours aren't as pigmented as shadows you would find in the Urban Decay Naked palette, for example, but I love the selection of shades. Because of this, I've actually been reaching for this palette over my Urban Decay palette, which really says something as the Urban Decay palette was all I used for years! 

I applied a dark brown shade all over my eyelid using a Real Techniques Domed Shadow brush. As I'm going for a minimal makeup look, I'm skipping applying a darker shade to the corner of my eye.



Eyeshadow:


I used the black shade in The Nudes palette to line my eyelid. I feel that a black kohl eye liner can sometimes be too harsh and I regularly opt for an eyeshadow instead, especially if I'm in a hurry to go somewhere.


Eyelashes:


Before applying mascara, I used a white eye liner to my lower water line to make my eyes look more awake. I used my Shu Uemura eyelash curler, quickly blasted with a hairdryer, to curl my lashes. I then finished off the eye look by applying a coat of the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara to my upper lashes and Benefit's They're Real Mascara to my lower lashes.



I tied the whole makeup look together with a nude Maybelline Color Sensational lipstick in the shade 710 Sultry Sand.


Although I kept my makeup minimal for this look, I like to do something different with my hair and seem as though I made an effort, especially on a first date. I find curling my hair when it's tied up leaves it looking more natural when pulled down. I used my Babyliss curling wand to achieve this and set the curls in place using Aussie's Miracle Hair spray.


Here is the finished look! Let me know which look you prefer and what you're up to for Valentine's Day in the comments!
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