How do you measure your value?

How do you measure your value?

2018, the year of loving yourself fiercely, practicing self-care and being compassionate with yourself! Easier said than done though. I have to admit that talking a big game is my forte, however, following through, not so easy (these are my confessions… lol). With the New Year January is filled with all these plans on personal development and just generally chasing “happy”, the best way we have read how. Then comes February and we start losing steam, fall back into old patterns and life becomes this treacherous journey, filled with mountains that we carry on our shoulders once again. Have you ever wondered why this happens? Do we not value ourselves enough to be consistent with the things that we want for ourselves? Is standing in our own way something we should be content with, however small or big the impact is?

 

We have work targets; we generally meet for our employers. School targets, for those still in school like myself. We have things we do to ensure our partners are okay, the relationship is thriving. Friendships we are willing to go above and beyond for and all other external things we work hard for. However, when it comes to ourselves, why are we okay with leaving ourselves hanging? I know for sure I work hard to make those around me comfortable, whether in big ways or smaller ways such as reflecting on how I handle particular situations. But when it comes to myself I do not have the same vigor.

 

Your value and how you measure your value should come from within before seeking it outside. I say this because sometimes, external people only see as far as they are conditioned to see. People believe what they choose to believe based on their own internal struggles. Compassion for others is not necessarily the first response you will get; judgement trumps most if not all ideas that come from external forces. Basing your value on how other people view you should not be a priority, learn from it, but do not let it define you. How you feel about yourself should be your focus. What do you think of yourself? What things/ traits about yourself make you uncomfortable? How can you change those things and get to a point of contentment?

 

 Focusing on other people only takes away from your own personal growth. Do not be content with placing your value on other people. What should come first is whether you actually like yourself and actively changing the parts you do not like, for yourself!

 

Love,

MasalaCurls

 

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Embrace it!! Just do it!

Embrace it!! Just do it!

If there is one thing I have grown to love over the years, it’s starting over! In the span of ten years I have lived in 3 countries and four different cities. I have lived with people, some great some not so great, and I have lived alone. I have made friends, some that lasted and some who have fallen through the cracks. Lastly, I have changed my look several times ever since I was 18 years old. Every single one of my haircuts have followed huge or significant events in my life and I have lived by the quote “ A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life!”

 

As much as I have enjoyed, cried and triumphed through all those events in my life. I have finally reached a point of wanting to settle. The weird thing is my hair has kind of dictated this change in my thinking. For so many years, I changed my hair to overcome hard times, start afresh and just in a bid to reinvent myself. It never hit me until now, that I displayed a lot of my feeling based on how I chose to wear my hair. When it was sleek and straight, I was going through a phase where I was chasing perfection. If you know me well then you know that I am not that good at letting loose and just relaxing. Yes! I am one of those people who wears jeans in the house even when I am not going anywhere. I honestly didn’t even own sweatpants until I got to university.

 

However, ever since I went natural and realized that there is only so much I could do to control what my hair wants to do, is when I learned to let go and just be. There is nothing that has tested my patience and time like my natural hair. To say my hair and I have a love-hate relationship would be an understatement. We have always had a love-hate relationship, but it has quickly shifted from despising being called the girl with long hair, to struggling with so many other complexities and finally learning to embrace who I actually am .

 

Going natural and particularly doing the big chop forced me to deal with so many issues I was not aware I had. I thought I was fairly confident until I had about 2 inches of hair. In fact, I only got somewhat comfortable with my natural hair recently as it is finally at shoulder length. I hated the fact that my hair was pretty much who I was to the outside world and when I didn’t have the length, I longed for it! I still do sometimes. Honestly, I didn’t know who I was without my hair! The last two years have been the hardest for me especially when it came to looking at my reflection in the mirror. For so many years it had been drilled into me that the most beautiful part of me was my hair. I barely tried because my hair was always a conversation starter. When I didn’t have it I became so socially awkward that sometimes I still retreat into myself in social situations.

 

It’s like I cut off my confidence alongside my hair. Over the last two years I have been forced to face my demons because the person I was with my “perfect” hair among other things was no longer there anymore. I am still learning and discovering who I am though. I have had to pull myself out of so many situations where I have chosen to shy away because I haven’t felt good enough about myself. The internal power struggles are still real even now. However, with each passing day I am learning to build myself back up and to shine beyond strands of hair that do not define me!

 

I am learning to just keep fighting for myself and the person I want to be.  Every struggle, insecurity, and challenge I have overcome is a symbol of my resilience, growth and part of my journey! I am finally learning how to walk in my own truth, however hard the journey may be! I hope this inspires you to do the same. 

 Love,

MasalaCurls

FIND YOUR VOICE!

FIND YOUR VOICE!

Usually I start a blog after going quiet for so long with an apology but this time I won’t! I am definitely not apologising for taking some time away to just figure things out. moving to Australia, while I thought it was going to be easy, was one of the toughest things I have done to date. While I have been away from home before, for 7 years while in university in South Africa, being this far away actually feels really different. Home is no longer 3 hours and 50 minutes away and the time difference is no longer one hour, so things are definitely different this time around. Honestly, a lot of things are very different, from how supervisors handle you to how you handle yourself as well. It’s been crazy just even trying to figure out, who I am as a person (hello imposter syndrome). I’m generally not one to just let things flow, my OCD and type A personality do not do well with uncontrollable change, so if I’m honest I have really been struggling to adjust. Everything feels so distant, even though it’s around me. I don’t know how else to explain it but it’s really been quite the adjustment for me. Who knew “starting over” would be this hard?!

 

One of the toughest things about doing a PhD in Australia, especially coming from an African education system, is this thing I keep hearing all the time… i.e. FIND YOUR VOICE!! in your writing, in your life… and all that jazz. So, my cohort is pretty much made up of international students, majority of whom are from less developed countries, where in academia there is a hierarchy. Basically, you have to pay your dues before you can even consider using your voice. Now don’t get me wrong we are still expected to write a stellar thesis, but your “superiors” technically are not interested in radical ideas or anything out of what they consider the norm! and then you get to Australia and everyone wants to know what you think, what you have to say and basically you are in control and your supervisors are there just to monitor your progress and pull you back in if you venture too far out of your area (this happens a lot BTW).

 

My point is basically, as an African scholar, a female and a young one at that, is that you move from “being seen and not heard” to being encouraged to sit at the big table and speak your mind! Man!! what an adjustment it has been and it still is. Basically, you move from listening to people and following their lead to being the one that people listen to. The transition is hard especially if you’re coming from a place where it has been conditioned in you that you are less than. My mind is still adjusting but I can slowly feel myself coming into myself. Lol. It feels great but it’s a lot to handle all at once! There’s still a lot to learn and I will be sharing those lessons here just in case someone needs some insight.

D Continue reading “FIND YOUR VOICE!”

to- do- list, PhD applications…

to- do- list, PhD applications…

Following up on my what they don’t tell you about pursuing a PhD post someone requested I write one on the PhD application process, which is definitely a tedious one. Firstly, I am sorry it took so long but I have finally gotten around to it. Feel free to ask about anything I need to clarify on or assist with. In all honesty, when I started doing my applications I wasn’t ready for all I had to do before hand, so my transition from a master’s degree to a PhD was not as quick or as smooth as I had wanted it to be.  Generally, applications to South African Universities are pretty straight forward, so I was not ready for all the tests and documentation that I had to produce once I made the decision that I would not be doing my PhD in South Africa.  I also didn’t know that many people who had gone through the PhD application process outside of South Africa so I was clueless and made a lot of mistakes along the way. As a result, I thought it would be useful to make a list of things to do early, when you are considering a PhD application, even while you are still doing your Masters degree, which is something I wish I had done.

I hope this list is helpful.

1. Research Proposal Prep

So, the PhD application process requires that you already have an idea or know and prepare a proposal for the topic you are interested in tackling. Unless you are joining an ongoing project, your first step should be drafting a proposal. It definitely doesn’t have to be perfect but it should somewhat indicate what your research interests and intentions are.

2. Finding a Supervisor

Once you have your potential research ideas written in a proposal, you should begin doing your research on the schools you intend to go to and finding potential supervisors in your research areas. Email your proposal and get conversations going. Now, some will not respond at all and others will give you constructive criticism to improve on your ideas without necessarily showing interest in what your research intentions are. That is okay, just take what they give you and move on to the next. The right supervisor for you is somewhere out there.

Most universities require that the potential supervisor agrees to supervise you before you can send in an application. So, make sure that you keep all communication with a potential supervisor in your records, as some universities require that you attach the correspondence between the two of you as proof that you do indeed have someone willing to supervise you.

3. Find a University application agent if applicable e.g. AEC for Australian applications

In all honesty agents won’t really do much for you in terms of the application but they are very helpful in booking tests, visa processes, giving advice and following up on your applications for you.  At a fee, of course

4. Book your tests early

While you are still in talks with potential supervisors and working on your research proposal, (some schools require different formats or provide templates) get all the proficiency tests you require done. Most of these tests are valid for a year and need booking months in advance, so bear that in mind when you pick a date. Some countries like the States require the GRE’S, which are not easy BTW, so include some studying time as well. Others require an English test, which are pretty ok if you are already an English speaker. So, bear in mind that study time should also be included in your application timeline, even the “easy” tests are easy to flunk.

5. Start the application process early

PhD applications are pretty lengthy and require you to talk about your research goals and intentions among other things, so make sure you have enough time to do them and all your documents (recommendation letters, transcripts, I.D documents, C.V) scanned and ready so that it is a quick process. Also confirm with the different universities what kind of formats they prefer and if they have any templates that you are required to use for some of your documents such as your C.V etc.

6. Get your visa documents ready beforehand

Once your tests and applications are done and you have decided on the school you want to go to make sure that you get all your visa documents ready because everything goes pretty fast from there. Just be prepared!

 

Don’t be alarmed if the whole process takes longer than expected, some universities take a very long time to respond, I am still getting responses from other universities as we speak, even though I enrolled for my PhD in March. some application cycles just take a little bit longer than others. This is where agents will come in and assist or you could just follow up by yourself.

P.s. Patience is definitely a must have in this process.

Good luck with your applications

Love,

MasalaCurls

Ballin’ on a budget: conditioners that don’t break the bank.

Whether you are fully natural, transitioning and/or have relaxed hair conditioners play an integral part in your hair routine. Washing your hair can go from a hassle to an easy and enjoyable task based on the choices you make when picking out your conditioner. I am an avid believer that you can give your hair the best care without having to break the bank.

Ever since I moved to Australia I have been in search of a conditioner that works well, is cheap and easily accessible. Having natural hair in Australia hasn’t necessarily been easy, as all the products I used to access easily both in Kenya and South Africa are not readily available here. However, that does not mean that I have not been able to make it work!! The one thing I have to admit to loving in Australia is the fact that sales are endless. My wallet is quite happy about that and so is my hair.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been trying out different products just to see what works best and what doesn’t. As a result, I have decided to make the process easier for my Australian sistsas by doing a review of 3 price friendly conditioners that I have fallen in-love with. These products all work well with different hair types, natural, relaxed and transitioning hair. They are also available in Kenyan and South Africa as well.

RRP: refers to Recommended Retail Price

OGX Coconut Water Conditioner

Discounted price: AUD 9.99 RRP: AUD 17.99

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I have nothing but good things to say about this product!!! It has great slip and works exceptionally well to soften natural hair. I used this after I had shampooed my hair and it helped greatly with the detangling process. Shampoo’s generally strips hair of its natural oils, but with this product my hair instantly felt moisturized and soft. This conditioner is definitely the most nourishing conditioner that I have ever used, especially now that the cold weather makes my hair super dry.

I would recommend this for all hair types regardless of whether you are natural or not.

TRESemmé Cleanse &Replenish

Discounted price: AUD 6.99 RRP: AUD 11.47

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I have always been a fan of TRESemmé, from the naturals range that they had all the way the botanique range. However, the cleanse & replenish conditioner is by far my favorite. My hair was soo happy with this product that I went back and bought several bottles while the sale was still going on. I followed it up with a shampoo session and my hair was easy to detangle and remoisturised… just like product promised. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the quantity of the product is the most I have seen of any brand especially for such a price.

I would recommend this for all hair types, relaxed, transitioning and natural hair. It is definitely the most economical of the bunch of conditioners I have tried over the years.

Garnier Fructis Nutri Repair 3 Conditioner for Dry, Damaged Hair

Discounted Price: AUD 3.99 RRP: AUD: 5.95

So this was my least favorite conditioner when I followed up a shampoo session. However I was pleasantly surprised when I used it as a co – wash it was nourishing and made the detangling process easier. The formula is also quite thick, which gave great slip when detangling. The price point is great for frequent use and it works well on its own. I also have a feeling that it serves well for chemically processed and transitioning hair.

I would recommend this for chemically treated and transitioning hair, the thicker formula works best for hair that has been chemically treated and altered. However, it is also a great co- wash for natural hair.

 

Love,

MasalaCurls

I let a Korean lady cut my hair!!

I let a Korean lady cut my hair!!

Since I moved to Adelaide 4 months ago, I haven’t let anyone but myself style my hair. Today though, all that changed! My hair has been struggling for a while now, mostly because of having to adjust to the different climate, more so now that it’s winter. I had also been ignoring the fact that my hair was not level. The left side of my hair was longer and slightly fuller than the other. I had told myself that I would just let it grow out and then deal with it when it’s longer but my type A personality could not stand the unevenness. So today I put on my bravery belt and let a Korean lady wash, straighten and cut my hair!! If you are a natural in Australia, and I speak for Adelaide in particular, then you know the struggle of getting someone who knows what to do with African hair, especially in it’s natural state!

I managed to get myself a discount with this particular hair stylist and chose to go with her rather than the one a friend had recommended (I still intend on trying this one out soon though). So we spoke over the phone before I went in for my appointment and I tried my best to explain what my hair texture is like. Now, English is hard for non-native speakers, so as much as I tried hard to explain, I was not sure that this lady understood what I was saying. Highly skeptical and seriously trying to convince myself not to go through with it I chose to walk by faith and not by sight.

So I got there at about 1pm and the lady welcomed me in. My first thought was that she looked really young and possibly didn’t have that much experience with my hair type. We had a consultation first and I explained what I wanted done and she seemed comfortable with handling my tresses. So we went straight to the sink where she washed and conditioned my hair. Now for me, detangling is where my hair appointment either starts or ends! I was pleasantly surprised though because first she did not try to detangle my dry hair, which a lot of hair stylists do. Second, she detangled from my tips to my roots. She had definitely PASSED level one.

Then we went on to the straightening. HAHA! This part was a little funny at first because she didn’t expect it to get bigger as it was drying. She looked quite frustrated at first because it was taking forever and my hair was just getting bigger and bigger. She had to alternate between several brushes, but she eventually got the hang of it. All in all the straightening process went okay, although time consuming. It literally took her about an hour to straighten my hair.

The last step was the haircut and honestly, the way she handled those scissors my heart was at ease!! She knew what she was doing! I was pleasantly surprised!! We did have a conversation after and she let me know that she used to relax a lot of African hair and this was her first time dealing with natural hair. I am so glad I had an open mind and I cannot wait to see what it looks like when I bring back the curls.

I am one happy camper!!

Love,

MasalaCurls

What they don’t tell you about pursuing a PhD.

What they don’t tell you about pursuing a PhD.

Granted that I have only been in this PhD world for just over a month, I am sure that my views will change and that what I will share later on in this blog will probably be less from a surface angle. Just a disclaimer though, this blog will only address my experiences and not that of every PhD student. My words, my truth Brah!

Tech – savvy? What is that?

Coming in from doing a Masters in South Africa, I was definitely not ready for all the technological advancements that are available and utilized in Australia. Now I consider myself somewhat tech savvy and my previous supervisor was also very technologically in-tune. We carried out almost all our interactions and feedback online, and via computer software’s so I considered myself pretty okay in the tech department. Especially considering the fact that some of my previous lecturers didn’t even send out emails, or hand over assignments online because they had not embraced technology at all, Hello Prof. Schoeman! However, when considering how many apps, software and online pages I have to keep track of as we speak I am starting to think that this is how my parents feel every time they have to deal with more features on their upgraded cellphones. I spend half my time refusing to read manuals and eventually giving in because I have come to accept the fact that I am not as tech savvy as I thought I was.

Now I know as soon as I get the hang of all this life will get easier. For now, life just feels like a big mess made up of synchronized calendars, overflows of emails, online inductions, app downloads, online tutorials, referencing clients, learning how to use windows again and trying to feel like I know what I am doing.

Stereotypes!! Please refrain from spreading those

When I first arrived in Adelaide, I was a couple of weeks late, getting my visa had proven to be quite the process. So, I basically missed all the orientation opportunities and introduction classes. I met most of my fellow colleagues in a research class that is for international students who are new to the university. What I did notice that first day is that a lot of the African students were formally dressed and male, actually so far I seem to be the only African female from this particular bunch. There is a particular idea based on dressing accordingly to the Prestige of pursuing a PhD in the African continent that does not ring true here. I have to admit that I love it because I don’t believe that things such as individual expression, reflected through the way that we dress, should measure intellectual capabilities.

However, that does not mean that these ideas immediately escape the African mind once you go through that thorough search at the airport once you touch down on Australian ground. I for one was not spared from the African stereotypes that believe I should be thinking about building a family rather than a career in academia. So patience is a MUST in this area.

You will be clueless 98% of the time

Granted that it is still early in my PhD career, I have been assured that with time I will start feeling less lost. Now the good thing about the university that I am in is that we have milestones, which ensures that we are working towards something. However, this does not guarantee that you will not feel lost. The fact that you have to work with new supervisors means that you are dealing with new personalities, new supervising approaches, new research management ideas, basically everything is new. Which could result in feeling lost ALL THE TIME. The other 2% counts for all the times I was winging it and will continue to, even when I know what I am doing.

Regardless of all this I have met some incredible people and thoroughly enjoyed my stay so far in this gorgeous city of Adelaide in South Australia.

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River Torrens
Torrens bridge
River Torrens
Henley Beach
Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills
Henley Beach
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Adelaide CBD
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Rundle Mall
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Rundle Lantern

Love,

MasalaCurls