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 (

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.

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. 


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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