beaches and views: cornwall in 48 hours.

In November last year, Jessie and I had promised to see each other in the new year of 2017, aiming for the end of March. In January I found myself on Flybe’s website booking a flight to Newquay airport in Cornwall after working out that it was cheaper to catch a train to Manchester Airport rather than drive myself [for five hours omg] or catch many trains for 7-8 hours with awkward journey times. I couldn’t believe I was going to go to Cornwall!

Soon enough, Sunday 2nd of April arrived and I was heading to Nottingham Train Station to catch the 11:44 train to Manchester Airport. Jessie moved down to Cornwall a year ago to pursue her dream of living in a place she has spent her life going on holiday to with her family and got a job at one of the local and top brand hotels in north Cornwall near Newquay. I admire her for making the move to somewhere new and taking on the challenges of adulthood face on. I boarded the little plane that would leap across the British isles to my destination and found myself considering the topic of adulthood and what it entails. I seem to keep coming across articles or things that talk about us ‘twentysomethings‘ and our lives here and now. Nevertheless, I let those thoughts dance away and attempt to emanate relaxed vibes instead.

At 17:30 I arrived at the tiniest little airport I’ve ever seen. It was one building the size of a town hall and the baggage reclaim was the size of a lounge in a standard semi-detached house. As I had no luggage, I was in arrivals in about 39 seconds. Wow. 😀

Ten minutes later Jessie and I found each other and we were soon zooming down the winding country lanes talking about her car as it’s very similar to mine! Seat Mii / Skoda citigo cars are obviously the cool trend at the moment… 😀

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Mawgan Porth Beach, Cornwall

We stopped at Mawgan Porth beach, removed our shoes to feel the sand between our toes, and walked out towards the crashing waves and the sea beyond, sharing our most recent updates and tales. The water was rather icy and a bit of a surprise to our little toes but that couldn’t ruin the 360 view that surrounded us. The sun was low in the sky, warm light cascading down over the green coast that disappeared into the distance on both sides of where we were standing. It was one of those moments where no cameras are used, where you really take it in and experience it 100%.

Once back at the car, Jessie drove us to where she lives in St Eval and gave me a little tour of her three bedroom home that she shares with her 19 year old brother. I think if I lived with Harry, we would drive each other mad… Nonetheless, their house was lovely, cosy and the pet hamster was a cute extra housemate that loved to loudly chew the bars on its cage. In the evening we went to a

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Polzeath Bay, Cornwall

pub by the famous beach in Polzeath called the Oyster Catcher for a drink and some light food. Given that I was by the sea, we decided to share two starters: moûles frites and prawn skewers. Yum.

I made it my challenge to eat as much seafood as possible during my forty-eight hours in this Cornish land. By hour four: we were back home, relaxed on the sofa, and planned for the next day…

At 10:45am, hour seventeen, we arrived at the Headland Hotel by Fistral Beach on the south side of Newquay for a relaxing few hours in the spa. We donned big plush dressing gowns and complimentary flip flops and made sure to make full use of the facilities. 😀 The swimming pool area had different shower areas, one had different settings such as “tropical storm” which douses you in cold water to eventually add hot water to give you a “refreshing” experience. My response to that was just pure shock at the water temperature. I hope I never get stuck in a real tropical storm… There was a relaxation room which was the best part of the spa facilities with big loungers, fluffy blankets with complimentary sweeties and tea. We had lunch at 13:30, hour twenty, and I kept to my challenge, having battered seafood, which meant I ticked squid, white fish and more prawns off my seafood checklist. Double yum.

At 15:30, hour twenty-two,  we sadly gave back the robes and got back in the car to head to Padstow, the home of Rick Stein, which was a lovely little port dotted with shops and a panoramic view of a channel running inland from the sea. After ducking and diving into the little local surf shops, seeing three pasty shops sitting side-by-side [talk about competition, eh?], we decided to get scallops from Rick Stein’s take-away fish and chips place, go to Tesco for ingredients to make a salad and head home for a feast. My list of seafood eaten was going well, and I am so proud. I also feel like my body was thanking me for it as fish oils and omega 3 are good for us!

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By hour twenty-eight, the fresh sea air and good food had me in a sleeping slumber that I haven’t had in a long while… On Tuesday, we woke to a rather gloomy looking sky, but unperturbed headed out towards Port Isaac to the north. It is the site where the TV series Doc. Martin is filmed so I definitely had a picture in front of the Doctors house!

We had a lovely wander up through the narrow steep streets and admired the colourful houses that sit in the side of the sloping cliffs and those that are also standalone. We had lunch in a pub with a table looking out over the dock, and I finished my seafood list with a mackerel pâte and sourdough toast. Triple yum! 

We ended the trip as we started, walking onto Mawgan Porth beach, where the sun had once again broke through the clouds and lit up the blues in the sea and golds in the sand. 

Hour forty-seven: the little building that is Newquay Airport came into view. 

Although Jessie and I only ever manage to see each other a few times a year – if that – it is great to just settle straight into easy conversation and giggles. True friendship just makes the world go round.

And with that, my 48 hours in Cornwall have been the first mini-break with an adult touch involving spas, good food and wine. I hope I’ve given a good impression of the stray section of land that makes up the British Isle.

Thank you to Jess for a fantastic two days. Here’s to more adventures everyone! 

Xo. 

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A summer adventure: “i seoul you”

I’m back to blogging. Well, I hope to post more regularly than I have as I am now free of responsibility (at university) for the next three months! It also helps that I’m going on an adventure too.

It’s Saturday 11th June. (Well, imagine it is anyway…)

The title has been chosen because it’s Seoul’s newest attempt at making the city a cool place to be. They have the saying in huge letters by the Han River near Yeouido that many instagrammers have already taken many selfies with. (It has been widely criticised by young Koreans for being the worst slogan ever… hehehe)



Today, on the 11th June, I woke at 5am to catch a plane from London Heathrow that would take me to my first stop: Amsterdam. I’ve never heard Dutch being spoken in front of me before and it was fascinating to listen to. A university friend of mine has been studying it and I have to say that I’m impressed she says. It sounds like a “fluffy” language that is a mix of sounds and the word “-argan” and I love it. (Sorry for stereotyping the language but that’s all I’ve picked up so far!)

The first flight was about forty-five minutes long and I spent the whole journey talking to a chap called Lindsay Reau as he was travelling on business and was a chatty American. I think I must have an approachable aura when I get on planes because I do end up talking to serious businessmen… Sometimes couples too. He was from California and we bonded over experiences in China and travelling. It was great as it meant I didn’t notice us take off or land. Once we were off the plane we bid adieu and I went to find the gate for my next flight.

I had a two-hour stopover in Amsterdam to them board my next flight to Guangzhou (广州) in Southern China. I was dreading getting on a packed A330 plane but I surprised myself. Maybe it’s because I have a mum who’s hypnotherapy tapes help me sleep (or at least rest) or the fact I had bought drowsy cough medicine in an attempt to lower all risks of catching a bug on my long exhausting journey. (I’m thinking it was the sedative.)

Anyway. As I hadn’t had much sleep due to celebrating at our Graduation Ball on Thursday night, the last thing I wanted was to get ill… Nevertheless, I managed to dwindle the long eleven hours down to just under seven. Even though a Chinese lady enjoyed waking me up for food and water which, for once, I ate ravenously (it was a really well-made chicken with rice and broccoli) then went back to dreamland. The entertainment was also pretty good. I managed to watch a Korean movie, a Chinese movie and of course, Zootopia. Although the second half dragged, I finally landed in the world of China.

Guangzhou was boiling and humid. I was so glad that I had decided to pay to go into the normal airport lounge to shower before I boarded my final flight to Seoul. It was the best thing I’ve had in ages. Considering what has been going on in the past two weeks, that’s how relieved I felt to be clean and fresh after almost 24 hours of travelling. It also meant I didn’t arrive looking like a wreck in Seoul to meet Danny. The final flight passed somewhat quickly. I tried to sleep as much as possible… Even though I think I ended up drooling on the guy to my left as I was knocked out asleep… It was enough to sort me out for the rest of the day.

I arrived before Danny and decided to take my time walking to the passport control desks. I sat down on the side of the corridor to wait for him to appear… After twenty minutes I thought I’d better join the queue….

The queue took a really long time and somehow we ended up missing each other. As there was no wifi in this part of the airport I had no idea where he was… And, as I am silly, got increasingly worried that some disaster had happened. Once I was finally through to baggage I found my bag off the reclaim belt by the side of the hall and managed to connect to the wifi. Eventually, I found Danny on the other side of arrivals and voilá!

We have been reunited ☺️

It was really nerve-racking in the moments that I walked up to the arrivals double doors. After a long seventeen weeks and eight days, many skype conversations, battling time difference and our ridiculously busy lives, and still in the process of getting to know one another… it was worth it. Y’know when you get those moments that all your brain seems to process is “what on earth is going on? how did this all become to be? am I really halfway around the world right now? and to see a boy!?” 

Obviously, it is positive bewilderment at my life and the series of events that are happening around me. My racing heart told me that. 

Once he came into view I was able to breathe out a breath I didn’t realise I was holding in.

And from there it was all a bit of a blur… We had an easy journey to the centre of the city on the “Airport Railroad” metro train that took us to Seoul Station, where we then changed to Line 1 to head to a station called Sinseol-dong. Upon arrival, we realised we hadn’t saved a screenshot of the hostel’s location and asked a gentleman in a 7-Eleven next to the station if he knew where to go. (A 7-Eleven is like a Tesco extra here, it’s really popular and full of just snacks and drinks and other basics. There other stores for the same purpose as called GS-25, CU and Storyway.) The guy behind the counter hardly spoke any English but pointed around to the left then said “Kitchen!” so we thanked him and left on our quest to find this little hostel.

We followed the direction he pointed and knew we had walked too far so turned back to then realise there was a restaurant on the corner that would have a kitchen! So we followed the alley in between the buildings and turned a corner to catch sight of a white and pink sign bearing the name ‘Unni House’ on it. Woohoo! We had made it. 

The hostel was like a little Korean house which had a main lounge/kitchen with rooms going off it that were a mix of dorms and bedrooms with double mattresses on the floor. There were three young Chinese sat at the table in the lounge area who we spoke to briefly in Chinese rather than English before I wanted to collapse on the bed from my rather long 6,000-mile journey. As it was about 6pm and we knew we needed to eat dinner, we headed out into the city for our first adventure. 


Dongdaemun was the destination of choice. It was only two metro stops away from ours, Sin-seol dong, and I knew it would be bustling and lively in the evening. On one side of the plaza there is the old ‘East Gate’ and across the car-filled road, there is a newer construction called the Dongdaemun Culture and Design Plaza which is an attempt at good architecture… but it instead a massive silver building curved in the shape of a massive bubble that comes out of the ground. (Picture below to help with awful description:)

The one really lovely section of it is a small area filled white roses lit up to create a sea of pretty lights. It’s one of those places that you just get to stand and watch the world and life just unfold around you. I have a lot of those kinds of places and moments in South Korea which I think makes me love it just a little more than I thought I did. For a very busy city that is alive pretty much 24/7, there are moments of peace that manage to capture you when you need it most.

And that’s only the first part of my journey so far. If you wanna have a little go at Korean, this is what Danny and I have nailed saying:

안녕하세요 :  ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo = Good morning/Hello

아니요 : anee-yo = No

네 : neigh (i’ve written how to pronounce it in the most english way possible) = Yes

Conclusion number one: Seoul is rising in my “places I want to live in” list… 😀

Xo.

three wheels and seven weeks to go.

This morning, at precisely 7:53, I woke up to a message from Dave…

 

bit of excitement for a wednesday…

Well Nottingham, I’ve seen it all! This makes Nottingham seem really dodgy but I promise you all it isn’t. I’ve never really felt unsafe or at peril during my time here and I just couldn’t believe my luck. Of course my brain immediately thought: “what does this all mean?!”… “Is this the bad thing that happens just because I’m happy? Is there a chance that I’m never meant to have a week of just normal life?” Even though ‘normal’ is pretty difficult to define, I can definitely say that my life is not boring!

Dave’s small hope that I had spent the evening before casually taking my wheel off my car amused me greatly. I don’t know who or why this person has taken my wheel – maybe there’s a shortage in the Lenton area?

I have to admit I’ve never checked my car to see if I have a spare tyre so it was a great relief to see I do! Clare and I battled to get the car jack out of its compartment but once Dave came back from the gym we managed it. My friend Jo came over to help in any way she could – a saviour – and partly wanted to put off going to the dreaded Hallward Library (hehe). We managed to put the spare although I thought we had no knuts and bolts then ended up finding some…. but only having four out of five. Oh well! Once screwed on we went on a short adventure to Mr. Tyre five minutes away (and hoped that the wheel could survive missing one bolt (logic dictates yes?).

 
And that is where my car is currently sat.

I’m sat in the Chinese school building, listening to Shakira’s new (cheesy) ‘Try Everything’ song for the new film ‘Zootropolis’ (I seriously recommend it to all those who haven’t been) and shakira is singing to my soul right now:

 “I won’t give up, no I won’t give in, till I reach the end, and then I’ll start again.”

& the sun shining… I’ve just felt the need to write. I just wanted to write this on my blog for when I look back in a few years and reminisce…

I’m feeling pretty grateful for all the friends I’ve made here at Notts. I had a moment the other day where I didn’t think I’d be who I am nor have the friendships I do with the majority of the people in my life. It’s been incredible to watch all of us change, my housemates, my course-mates and everyone else along the way. I felt like a black sheep in a white herd for some parts of first year. I guess it is easy to think that. I am starting to get a little emotional at the idea that it’s all going to change, that this “notts life” chapter is close to the end but, as most people would say, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Over the various struggles over homework, coursework, future plans, what we’re gonna eat for dinner, our love life woes and all the daily adventures… we’ve come out okay!

I started this whole thing (meaning university) like my car started the day this morning, feeling like something was missing with only a brick as support. However with friends coming to the rescue and helping across these four years no matter where I am or why; there’s no need for the brick anymore.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love you guys. (you know who you are.)

So that’s all today. Just a moment in time of meaningful words and my typical deep meaning self babbling…! I hope you all are having fabulous days and are enjoying the sunshine because, as I’ve said, “don’t let the man get you down” 😉

Lots of love,

Xo.

 

 

 

 

 

“don’t let the ‘man’ get you down”

I hope you all recognise the quote I have put as the title for this blog. If you don’t, get online and watch ‘School of Rock’ immediately. You won’t regret it!


 

Dear friends (and anyone who reads this),

This post isn’t long nor about anything special or exciting. We’re back to that time of year again where it’s suddenly April and we don’t know where the time is going. It’s suddenly easy to reminisce as Facebook kindly reminds us of all the fun things we were doing a year or more ago everyday (thanks facebook…) or we’re looking forward to the moment of freedom we are ready to sell our souls for. So I’m just writing this post and we’ll see where this ends up… the title says it all really: Don’t let the man get you down guys. 

Continue reading “don’t let the ‘man’ get you down”

正月十五:fifteenth and final day of my ‘hóngbāo’ adventure

For my final one, I thought I’d make a video. I tried to keep it short but it is just over six minutes! (I apologise for any babbling or for talking too much.)

For those who are looking at this blog page for the first time, this ‘hóngbāo’ adventure is a series of posts starting from the beginning of the Chinese New Year up to the Lantern Festival. It covers the traditions and is part of a little quest I’ve set for myself to give a ‘hóngbāo’- red envelope – to someone each day and in return, they share a piece of advice that they love or has inspired them that always comes back to them. This is the final day, the 元宵节 (yuánxiāojié), is the Lantern Festival to mark the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The customs on this day is to watch Lion and Dragon dances, for the whole family to eat tangyuan (the glutinous rice balls), guess the riddles on the lanterns. If you google the festival, you will see a variety of lanterns that in the past few years have grown in size to resemble traditional Chinese images, such as fruits, flowers, birds, animals, people, and buildings. The lanterns can be as small as the standard ones we see in drawings to huge sculptures of animals etc. It is a very joyous day and is marked by the full moon that shows that the festival has been through its cycle and it is now time to start the new year. Continue reading 正月十五:fifteenth and final day of my ‘hóngbāo’ adventure

初六: day six of my ‘hóngbāo’ adventure

YAY! It’s Saturday!

I have had a very Chinese day today as a friend and I went to Beeston which is an area of Nottingham on the other side of the University Campus. The town council had organised a two-hour long Chinese New Year Lantern Festival which involved various Chinese dance performances including the Lion and Dragon dances. The children of a local primary school had spent a day making Chinese Lanterns out of gold card and red paper mache and just before fireworks paraded around the square, and they looked adorable!

As it is the sixth day of the New Year, it’s time to send away the Ghost of Poverty. Why?

“According to the legend, the ghost of poverty is a son of Zhuan Xu (an emperor among the Three Emperor and Five Sovereigns in ancient China). He was short and weak, and liked wearing ragged clothes and eating poor porridge. Even when people presented him with new clothes, he would not wear it until he ripped it apart or burn it. So, he got the name of “the man of poverty”, and with time passing by, he gradually became the ghost of poverty.

So, how to send away the ghost of poverty? Usually, people will throw away their ragged clothes, rubbish and other dirty things. In addition, they will also light some candles to lighten the road for the ghost of poverty.”

Source: chinatravel.com

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It’s a good excuse for us to light candles, right? It is also a chance for us to declutter the things that just sit unused and unworn. The image above says “The Sixth day of the New Year is to send away the God of Poverty.” And the speech bubble says: “I wish to be prosperous, the God of poverty can go away!”

Now, regarding my adventure, I chose a friend that I knew would have some good advice and wisdom up her sleeve: Dorottya or we call her Dóri for short!

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Dóri with her hōngbáo under a street light – she doesn’t look this scary really! 😉
a cheeky selfie!

What did she come up with?

Go into a new culture or situation without any preconceptions, prejudices, with a blank slate.

This is the best way I could write it because there isn’t a completely clear phrase or idiom that encompasses what Dóri wanted to say…. But I’m going to have a go at explaining it. Dori has travelled a lot for her studies, she is Hungarian and has lived in America as part of a University exchange, spent a summer in South Korea and now is in the UK for her Masters degree. This life lesson (as she called it) is linked to her various experiences adapting to a new culture and its habits. Yet I think she’s touched on something really prevalent in society that everyone experiences, not just those who have the opportunities to travel. She shared with me that our first impressions and experiences, if difficult and below expectations, isn’t what it’s going to continue to be as long as you don’t let the cultural differences get to you. When we are faced with something new it’s not easy for us (somewhat) sensitive human beings to change and adapt when we are so used to a certain lifestyle. I found this inspiring because it highlights how much we don’t appreciate ourselves and allow us to feel rubbish and not believe in ourselves to get through it.

I have taken this advice and will attempt to apply it to daily life. In every new situation or experience, it is good to think that we go into it with a positive attitude and without preconceptions of what we expect it to be. In many of my new experiences, both afar and in the UK, I am definitely guilty of feeling disappointed or uncomfortable until I let myself relax into it and let go of any worries of judgement or anything. We make ourselves so vulnerable when we should be so strong. Dóri doesn’t imply that everyone is widely prejudiced but it is common knowledge that we do judge without meaning to. There are negative connotations that we need to get rid of to free ourselves from our own constraints and stresses. We also talked about a version of the very popular english phrase “treat others as you wish to be treated” and how, as long as you walk into a situation being your happy self, it is more likely that the people around you are most likely to reciprocate your mood and actions. And without realising it, we’ve managed to increance the chances of having more fun and coming away from the experience fulfilled.

Therefore, in a whole bunch of words that I’ve just typed in my exhausted state, today is a day that shows and teaches us to be ready to change and adapt to the various challenges and new experiences that come. As soon as there is expectation, we are creating boundaries, and there’s no need for them! We are great people as we are and even though there can be language and cultural barriers or just being different people, let’s head into everything feeling bold and full of life. Everything Dóri and I spoke about has left me thinking about it all non-stop so I could keep babbling but as it’s quarter to eleven in the evening… I’m going to call it a night.

I hope this inspires some of you. It may resonate with those who’ve moved abroad for any period of time more than those who reside in the own countries… But none the less, as the Koreans would say, “fighting!” (which translates (in my opinion to be “let’s do this!” )

Lots of love,

Xo.

If you want to read about the whole journey so far from the very beginning of the Chinese New Year… http://wp.me/p566Mh-C2

初四: day four of my ‘hóngbāo adventure’ the mandarin side of things

I’m afraid that Day Four isn’t anything mind-blowingly exciting in the Chinese calendar. It is a day when the corporate “spring dinners” kick off and business returns to normal. All the firecrackers have been exploded and dumplings eaten and sadly everyone (who has been celebrating) has to return to reality. I’m painting the picture rather bleakly right now but it is actually the opposite. It’s the start of the New Year so everyone is returning with re-energised and full of New Year spirit. Plus, it is a day when the gods return which means that a lot of families decorate shrines with good food and prosperous wishes as offerings for the gods. The ‘Kitchen God’ is the most important on this day. According to folklore he is sent away on the 23rd day of the previous year, and greeted back on the 4th day of the new year. There is a saying used: 送神早,接神迟 (sòngshénzǎo, jiéshéndào) which means “send off early, welcome back late”.

My next interviewee always has boundless energy regardless of the time of year and she is one of my ‘china inspirations’. My choice of the day is Lu Yang, my Chinese teacher for this year.

Lu Yang: my Mandarin teacher
Lu Yang: my Mandarin teacher

When I presented the hōngbáo to her, Lu Yang laughed and told me that it is something that she should give to me. The tradition is that the adults give the children and single young adults envelopes to wish them prosperity and luck in all they do. I replied saying that this was my “new tradition” in wanting to share the same good wishes without having the confines of the Chinese tradition. In every envelope there are two Chinese sweets: white rabbits. They are like milky chewy sweets that are very popular in China. Lu Yang was impressed that I had put two because that is seen as a very lucky number is China and is why many of the decorations have two fish on them. The pair represent the the balance, good health, luck etc.

Once I explained my intention of this ‘adventure’, I asked her for her advice. I’m excited to say that she gave me a Chinese idiom. She told me that it was a conclusion of her life and other peoples.

努力是天才

The pinyin pronunciation is:nŭlì shì tiāncài

努力 – to work hard

是 – is

天才 – genius

Lu Yang explained that ‘nŭlì’ has a few meanings. The first and most well-known is that it means ‘hard-working’. The second is that you work out how to work better and improve your situation around you. The third is that you look outwards to alternative methods and try completely new things related to what you’re doing so you can see all sides of something. This was quite enlightening because, especially when we’re studying or working, we can hit walls and stumble across problems that we have to work with. It’s also quite common that when we are faced with a challenge, the method that worked before is now out-dated and doesn’t fit the demand for what is needed to be done. Lu Yang also mentioned that with this saying shows us that being intelligent isn’t what counts. It is beneficial to have a talent because it helps the first half of the journey easier however if someone doesn’t continue to develop their skills, push further to learn new approaches and techniques and that’s the key to success.

And, in fact, it is worth remembering that even when we have spent so many hours trying to work hard and feeling that we haven’t made any progress… the fact that you’ve worked will bring results when you least expect it. If you have an aim, whether it’s do the ‘Couch to 5k challenge’, ‘stop eating sugar’, ‘study harder for the next exams’, as long as you adopt the positive attitude that 努力 (nŭlì) implies… Any arduous or seemingly impossible challenge is achievable. Therefore, whether you’ve ever been a runner or not no longer matters. If you’re a greedy chocoholic, it’s attainable to cut down the amount you eat. From a language student’s point of view, repetitively learning words and reading articles everyday will one day no longer be a struggle. It’ll become natural.

Thus, the meaning of 天才 (tiāncài), in this context, isn’t to have talent or have an affinity for a particular sport or subject. It means that you are a genius for putting in the time and effort to become what you want to be and do what you want to do.

I hope I’m conveying how much I love this saying even though I feel like I am blabbing and philosophising much more than needed.

We managed to spend an hour and a half talking, predominantly (and ashamedly) in English, but I did speak in Chinese for a bit! She asked me what my favourite advice would be in return and I responded. Then we discussed people, life and other quite profound meanings to how one lives their life. Lu Yang is the perfect example of someone who does what she loves and putting up with teaching us lazy students. (I am joking with the lazy) and sees the value in everyone. She is a forward person who cuts to the chase which sometimes can be quite confronting to British students but in saying that, what she does say is true and she does it to motivate and encourage us to be 努力(hard-working). So that we strive and achieve way more than we would sat on our backsides working when we felt like it.

I left the meeting with a smile on my face. It’s biased because Chinese was involved and any chance I speak it, I am overcome with happiness. However it was a conversation of value, and I feel the advice she has shared I something I hope to add to my repertoire too.

What do you think?

Lots of love,

Xo.