As a black girl, living in Brighton, England

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Picture gotten from-Proud Brighton

A lot of black people I’ve been privileged to converse with are skeptical about having to move to or study in Brighton. The popular buzz of Brighton being known as a major gay city also tends to affirm their dislike for this beautiful town.

I moved to Brighton September 2014 with the sole purpose of studying and not paying much attention to the city as I wasn’t an outing type of person before arriving. I was enticed by the beach and the pebbles by the sea front during an open day visit in my foundation year which was supported by EF, Oxford (the foundation institution I had attended). The differences I had picked up with the culture, style and people compared to Oxford’s made me choose the University of Brighton instead of Oxford Brookes which had offered me an admission prior.

Firstly, I haven’t come across as many gay people as I had predicted on coming down here. Even during the gay pride festival that is usually hosted here on a yearly basis, I rarely see gay couples or find a group of gay people sitting, walking or chilling. It’s probably just me who isn’t looking hard enough. To clarify, having gay people in this city actually in my own opinion makes it more accepting and tolerable compared to other small and vibrant towns in England.

Secondly, as a black girl and as one who appreciates her cultural background and race, it wasn’t a problem building a community of friends that share the same interests as me. As there are two universities in Brighton, University of Brighton and University of Sussex, this city is filled with both home and abroad students and therefore finding where you may belong isn’t a problem. There are clubs and communities open for all kinds of people and interests within and outside the schools’ premises. This is to say that every year, the population of blacks admitted into both universities are always significantly higher than the previous year so, don’t panic if you’re worried about this factor.

Thirdly, I’m quite a foodie and quite traditional as well as I enjoy cooking my own meals. Most times going out spontaneously with my friends to small restaurants and food places at the city’s center allows me appreciate different cultures and what they eat without having to visit their countries. Brighton is diverse with a plethora of local and international restaurants representing countries from across the globe, I however have exploited this privilege as a black girl who has come from Africa. I have tasted and tried cooking most of these dishes myself, as well as recommending them to friends.

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Picture gotten from-Brighton lanes

Racism. Socio-culturally, Brighton is very diverse and as a black girl I haven’t had a reason to question my skin colour and where I’ve come from since living here. It’s so diverse and free-spirited that I have only met two guys who actually admitted to being originally born and bred in Brighton, my co-worker at a night shift and the maintenance guy for my rented place. Compared to Budapest, Hungary, I never get conscious of my surroundings and certain places I tread because of the colour of my skin or the fear of what people may be thinking. Brighton is one of the least racist towns you can ever think of in England.

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Picture gotten from-Yablink

If you love greens and parks, books and rides, if you love events and dances, good night outs and games, Brighton is the place for you. This city is not anti-black or anti-any other race, It accepts, tolerates and builds with you as long as you are open.

The disadvantage however, for me is the fact that it is quite expensive to live in. Apart from that I can see myself settling and building a good life here as a black girl if I wanted to. It’s become my mini home.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

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Struggling out of a 2:2 this final year: my Biomedical Science tale

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I barely bore you with events of my university life on here but I know once in a while I drop one or two major ones. Going back to 2015, my first year, I had blogged about my resits (What if? #17), how awful it felt to had seen my name amongst those resitting Genetics and Statistics. How sad and unlucky my summer was. What I didn’t include was calling my parents and letting them know about the situation. The disappointment in their tone as they spoke to me whilst trying to be good parents and not make me feel worse about the whole situation, the after effect of the whole conversation moved me. I guess my attitude towards everything relating to university and my course became more questionable as days, months and years went by.

Second year was heavy. As my course is a three-year course here in the UK, more pressure was mounted on me and more effort was equally demanded with the load that came with the 12 modules I had done last year. The hustle to secure a placement made it even worse but that wasn’t an excuse not to scale through. At the end of the year, I was awoken yet again by another resit which until today I have managed to  hide from my parents as I felt they would be bitter and really angry towards me if I had told them. Genetics again! At some point in time I joked about it to my friends, telling them how I’m “KINGING” in genetics resit zone. What felt terrible isn’t the fact that I had a resit, what made me break down most nights was the fact that 2:2 ends up being my portion even when I always seem to start off very well at the beginning of each semester. At some point, I just stopped asking why and accepted that university wasn’t for me. Thoughts of dropping out kicked in every now and then but the friends in my circle kept me grounded. They said my prayers with me, cried with me and most of all, they contributed to my healing and strength which led me into pursuing my final year.

It’s the 25th of February today, 22 weeks into final year and there is still no salvaging to my results so far. It hasn’t been stable and at the same time it hasn’t been the most brilliant. One half of my project and most of my course works released so far have been fluctuating with 2:1’s and 2:2’s. My first semester results came out and this time Genetics crossed the cut off point with only 7 marks and I’m most grateful to God for that miracle! the other paper sat comfortably on a 2:1 which to me is gracious. Hard-work and resilience have been with me since the school year started and to be honest with you,  it is a struggle trying to move up from a 2:2. I am 3 weeks into second semester  with 3 more course works, 4 more exams and my main project to finish. I am still with hope and so should you who is reading this thinking you’re sitting in the worst position or situation in life.

If everyone was equal, there wouldn’t be no school, no competition whatsoever and definitely no evolution but other people’s success shouldn’t stall us from ours or blind us from attaining  unmeasurable success instead it should push us.

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I did tweet this last week but it doesn’t mean I can’t do better. In fact it is not an excuse! It is the reason why I’m pushing to move on from a 2:2, proving to myself that even if it’s not for me, it is definitely not impossible!

I hope you find a grip too and go on from there dear reader. Do leave your thoughts and comments in the box below. Thank you.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

Budapest, Hungary- Four days tour.

Full video coming soon…

…and after fiver years I gathered courage and made time which turned out to be the best since the year started to go visit my secondary school mates and simultaneously tour as well. I hope you enjoy this short clip. Full video coming soon 🙂
Leave your questions in the comment box below and I’ll be glad to respond to each and every one of them. For more on this trip, subscribe to my blog as well, as I’ll be leaving my experiences on here soon on this amazing trip!. Thank you.

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Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

On ageing

In my thoughts, in my head, in my journal. Here.

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Win your battle before you come home to mine.

Don’t remind me the trails of footsteps I face everyday.

It’s not enough to live young, wild and free because I know of places that don’t bring me such experiences.

Hold onto the existence, let what you have to say complement mine. Let what you have to give add up.

Don’t scare me with silence. Don’t tell me I’m too young to learn what grey hair can teach. It’s my cup of tea.

I am not here to prove how much neither do I seek accomplishments that will one day be forgotten.

I’ve been told countless times to win, win and win but I never got led to. My bruises, pain, tears, countless failures equals me.

Give me what you call wisdom, give me peace of mind. I’ll find my fun,my energy, my space and most importantly, me in all of it. Let me be.

Ageing is just a state of mind.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.

Reaching

I may write for you.

I may write for parts of you that were whole when you held on to the slips.

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Picture gotten from-Academichustler1975

I could ask when last you saw green, the colour, the scent, the pure green. When? I may choose to go on and rant about the look in your eyes when you see old notes, songs you shared that you refuse to listen to now. How about the people that remind you of who you used to be? How often do you break your noise with your own silence? This is me thinking about you.

When I chose to get lost in the sight of reality, I mean when I chose to disappear yet again, I unlearned a lot gradually. I could tell you that everyday that passed induced pain, from withdrawals to set backs and back to me again yet, I still chose to stay out of sight. Did I make better friends? No, I found a better friend in me. Was I convinced about validation not from self? Yes and I’m learning to be more content and humble.

When it’s not always about you, you’d notice even the little girl that was kidnapped in another continent. When you are more present, the people you love become an investment. You feel genuine laughter choking your lungs and taking your breathe all away. Each passerby will teach you without speaking to you. Your cravings change so will people that you think revolve around you. Those who found you to be more convenient when it was for them, you won’t see anymore. The tune you dance to all of a sudden changes and everyday will begin to remind you of days you haven’t spent. Time becomes money.

There’s a fever we’ve all caught and depending on the way we choose to treat it, we’d either die from it or live with it for better. The fever that has slowly eaten up our sense of belonging, a fever that has made us a bit too sensitive pushing many of us literates to ignorance and self-destruct. We want to live a better life but we don’t know how, even when we find out ways to do so, we gamble with time. We want to be the best version of ourselves yet, we find it difficult to move on. We creep into other people’s lives to feel better about ours. This fever has forcefully made us to place conditions on every little thing we give, even the purest, love. How else are we supposed to reach when we ignore our surroundings and choose to live on deciphered codes with hideous intentions and emotions?

Have a life whilst living for others.

Would love you to share your beautiful thoughts with me dear readers. Thank you.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.

 

Securing an undergraduate placement in the UK: my horror story.

I had long doubted my patience until the day I decided to get a gap year from university, working anywhere associated with what I’m currently studying. It’s been over 5 months since my final year started and over 8 since I got rejected by the organization I placed my last hope on. Part of the rejections I got made me embrace this final lap and part has been chaotic and has eventually pushed me to share this. I believe that there are quite a few or many students who would want to know this stage I didn’t quite conquer.

Firstly, I’m an international student and not to say that interviewers or most organizations or bodies that accept placement students discriminate against international students but let’s be real here. Any country whatsoever would consider taking theirs first before any other unless you are exceptionally suitable/ there isn’t any domestic student available to take that role, then you might just be lucky. Anyway, I had that in mind long before I even started cooking up a CV. Second year resumed September 2015 and my university already started putting up advertisements for the roles linked with Biomedical science, which is what I’m currently studying. It is a broad course involving various health and life sectors, therefore adverts were placed on student central (a learning and assessment medium for most universities in England) nearly everyday.

Some of the successful interviews I had gotten were partly due to the help my university (the University of Brighton) had  rendered. They helped get my CV to look more presentable and appropriate, they constantly sent direct emails to me whenever a new position came up, they always replied to most emails I sent and was always willing to give me advice whenever I needed help. That’s really what they can offer anyway, they can’t hand you a place!, don’t know about other universities but I’m speaking of mine.

Fast forward to when the application war began, bear in mind that 1st semester had  already started and I had 6 modules to cover, each with their coursework and examination so you can imagine keeping up with the stress. Most colleagues of mine weren’t interested, so it was a lot harder to share my pain or have them relate with me on something they were not interested in. I applied to quite a few number of pharmaceutical companies including GSK, Pfizer, Nestle and many more. Some would have you submit your application online, which usually takes a long time and after which you also need to do an online test or even several tests before you get an interview which is not even guaranteed. Pheew! GSK, I remember vividly, doing everything until it got to the online test, after a week or so, I got a nicely written rejection. I did apply also to organizations that supported health science and governmental bodies too, all to no avail. Some won’t even bother to leave you with a rejection, you’ll just be waiting for your saviour to come.  To be honest with you, until today, I can’t tell where my perseverance came from. I kept going with all the piles of rejection. It was really saddening.

After my first semester ended, I was able to convince two of my close friends to get a placement year, sharing with them the benefits and long term joy it would leave them. Thankfully, I had them with me for the rest of the application journey. We were told around April 2016 by our placement team that the NHS affiliated hospital (Royal County Sussex) here in Brighton would be putting up various positions, so we should create a totally different CV that complies to the roles that would be advertised, including in it our choices (ie the roles you wish to work in. For eg. haematology, histology etc). We were more than excited because it is commutable and their acceptance rate from our university is high from statistical indications and also not a lot of us were running for the positions.

This was my final hope so I wrote my CV more than three times, had it checked by different well read people and the placement team too and waited patiently for the D day. My friends did too. It was a few weeks before the exam, the advert came up on student central, I applied and waited. We three had gotten an email saying we got ourselves an interview. I was overly joyed and happier that it was the same day for the three of us. One week before my second semester examination, we had gone for the interview and we all came out smiling and hoping. I began to imagine myself even working there and all, you know how your hormones mess you up, yes! it did to me.

It took nearly a month before we got our feedbacks, my friends had called me with excitement that they had been accepted and they would be resuming soon, screaming that I should check my email, that they should have given me a place too. As I opened my email and read the first line, I just closed the whole link and started weeping. I literally weeped out loud. I felt stupid for having persevered the whole time and placing all that effort I should have focused on my studies on placement places I ended up not getting. I questioned what really interviewers wanted, lies? Till today I can’t really say.

Truth is, some people apply the first time and just get it and others are never lucky. I feel like the criteria for getting a place not just a placement place but for most jobs are not always considered and looked into. Most interviewees who end up not getting a place especially suitable candidates don’t always see fairness in recruitments. I believe a new system of accepting employees should be put in place and also placement applications shouldn’t feel like hell for students. More universities should have affiliates where they can  directly place students that choose to do one. I understand international students (me and the rest of them) here in the UK should know better when we signed up to come here to study that there are limited jobs and opportunities considering the population and how small in comparison the country is , but efforts should be made at least to have us secure affiliate places here or abroad with the fees we pay. Home students too.

This is my horror story.

Are there any questions you want to ask regarding this? Or thoughts you wish to share, let me know in the comment box below or email me using the contact form. Thank you.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

What ‘they’ won’t tell you about failure.

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Picture gotten from-Bounceback

First of all, everyone preaches these days about success without addressing the odds of what’s likely to happen if it isn’t attained. Most times, people that fail to talk about failure have been winning their whole life and other times the rest are those that hide their failures or just don’t talk about them.

Before you think of turning down a decision, request or an action, the major force that propels you to drop it is the voice in your head saying “NO! I can’t do this because I’m afraid of not doing it right” or “NO! it’s not going to happen because I’ll end up failing anyway”. It’s never necessarily the fact that we can’t do it, but the thought that propels this fact.

Some of us have always been a substance of failure, or was born to be told that we’ll never make it. A few others just choose to settle with failing because it’s become a comfort zone over time. However, success has been constantly fed into our ears in every corner we seek for a push that no one really points out the effects of failing. Not to say that failing is a good thing when really we should be aiming for sky high, but to enlighten your mind on how failing appreciates success more and keeps it longer than those who haven’t had their first fall.

Here are what people don’t stress on when they talk about failure;

  • Nobody is immune to it- Even the greatest falls, those who are used to success fail. So, quit thinking that failure is for losers or to re-frame that, quit seeing yourself as one.
  • Failure gives value- Think of the last time you failed an exam or you were reprimanded by your boss about a meeting. You’ll tend to be more present, more attentive and willing to learn more than when you were about the life of getting it right all the time. Sometimes, failing makes you love what you really hate because of the focus you lay on it.
  • Failure is unmeasurable success not attained yet- Most legendary stories of people who went from nothing to elite were never told without the words “tried and tried again”, “Never gave up” “Hoped” “Failed”. Of course everyone’s success story is different but with most, you can read patterns that got them to where they got to. These are the principles that prepare you for the big deal. Therefore, I urge you to embrace failure if you find yourself in the position, accept it but never admit that you are.

Are there more things about failure that you think people really don’t emphasize on? Have you got any success story to share from having failed once or more than in your life? I’d love to know in the comment section dear reader. Thank you.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

Oh sweet mama!

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For those who harbour a special kind of love in their hearts, I believe you all can relate to the chills your mum/mummy/mama gives you. For those who have lost theirs to this cruel world, I believe you all too can feel yours even more than I do. Every mum is a blessing, a celebration and a joy to the hearts of those who cherish a good thing.

I can’t say I’m closer to my mum than I am to my dad but part of who I am today was hugely impacted by mama. She would resound these native proverbs (incomprehensible ones) when I was little each time she wasn’t happy with me and they never really made sense until now. I sing them to my friends in English like I’m actually advising them when in reality I miss being scolded by mama. She makes the most jokes in the house and will always be the first to discipline any of my siblings including me whenever we decide to be naughty. I hated the days of “church every sunday and wednesday” coupled with “fellowship every friday” but all that I miss now knowing how much I’ve drifted away and how far from home I am.

It’s not easy to raise five children, and sometimes I look back now and admire mama in the purest way ever. The least she does is complain about how best we should be doing, instead she would find alternatives even if it means risking her all to get it for us all. Everyone in the house will call her “mgbo” (meaning-bullet) because she’s overly protective of her own especially towards papa. I’d tease her sometimes about her tummy asking her when we’d be expecting more siblings. Her response never changes anyway “Zuzuru gi shi eba puo!” (meaning- stupidly get out of here!).

I was never used to saying “I love you” to her but staying away from home for more than a year has got me into the habit of doing so, knowing how much I miss her and her Sunday white rice with “ofe akwu” (palm kernel soup). One of the tastiest you’ll ever have from a typical Igbo (ethnic group in Nigeria) home. Mama will giggle and say “Okay” each time I tell her I love her. Guess that’s the Nigerian way of saying “me too”. I very much miss my mum and I can’t bear another year apart from her nor my dad and siblings.

How much does/did your mama/mum mean/meant to you dear reader? Would love to know if there are momma’s boys and girls around my blog :). Thank you for reading.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.

 

Empty but still as beautiful

This is the way you found me.

The profoundness of my honesty that you broke with all the pain you left unstitched. How pure my tears were until they began to drop with grains of my mascara. The forming of the old soul in me.

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Even as broken as I was with your reciprocation of love with lies, the bitterness of rubbing it in each passing day and refusing to let my soul breathe, I still have me. Even when I gave me up for you, compromised my ‘me’ time for you, the patience of self haunted me back in a good way.

I’m still as beautiful anyway, only that presently I know where my beauty chooses to stay. Paying less attention to the world that settles with being sympathetic about the way I choose to turn up in my own space. Killing them subconsciously with my genuine pursuit of happiness and self-love. Hope you good still?

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.

Every ideal blogger’s worry- 5 main worries with possible solutions.

Whether you’re an established blogger or a start-out or even an intermediate in putting out contents, there are certain things you fear that could happen along the line. Here are a few of most likely worries that bloggers experience with possible solutions to fighting them.

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  • Audience Response–  Questions like “would I get backlashes from this post?”, “will my audience fall in numbers?” “can I get reported, put down or petitioned against if I air this opinion of mine?” might resonate in an active blogger’s mind before publishing a post for the world to see. It may not necessarily be these questions but most questions that come in mind tend to be audience-targeted as they are the major building block of blogs.

 Solution– Just post it! You’ll never know if your presumed controversial post might turn out to be your breakthrough or the post that receives recognition from an organization you least expect. Therefore, the only solution to this worry is publishing that thought, story, event or whatever that content of yours may be.

  • Information coverage– I think this comes before what my audience have to say in my own case. Most bloggers fear lack of knowledge and insufficient amount of information being put in their post for many reasons. This could be seen with most book and movie review bloggers, reporters or any sort of blog that has to deal with publishing enormous details for their audience compliance  or service use.

          Solution–  In this case, I’d advice leaving links to more information on the subject area posted, pictures and most importantly asking your readers to share their own thoughts in the comment section, that way you interact and tend to cover what you think wasn’t from answering questions and building a community.

  • References and copyrights– Only a careless blogger will make use of a copyright content without acknowledging the source. Even with acknowledgements made, most bloggers fear illegal use of materials from websites and other sources.

          Solution–  It is helpful and most appropriate to inquire on the use of a content not owned by you and to also leave reference details which may include web links about the material/s used.

  • Theme (future changes)– Most bloggers who for instance started off blogging on photography and travel might want to switch it up a bit with/to journalism along the line. These bloggers tend to fear audience-drift/loss. This happens most times with bloggers that start off blogging for the fun of it all or with no particular genre in mind and then go on later to specialize on blogging in a particular field or what they tend to enjoy blogging the most.

         Solution– Panic not. You may either choose to open a separate blog and inform your current audience on the change beforehand which leaves you managing two blogs instead of one or you may also choose to do it all in one blog by opening a new menu, titling it with your chosen field and informing your audience about the changes made. No matter how many readers you lose using any of these strategies you’re likely to gain more for what you’re passionate about. Why not do it?

  • Revenue– This may not be start-out bloggers cup of tea but definitely for the majority who make a living from the contents they put out. These bloggers worry about their profits and losses. They try to give out content where they earn the most and this they monitor using their statistics. Of course, this should be their main worry but fighting this enables them grow and stay focused without drifting from their passion whilst earning from it.

          Solution– Do not ignore the polls!. Every now and then, go through your stats thoroughly. Look at the contents that gets viewed and requested the most. Find innovative ways to carry your readers along without drifting from your original plan. Also, see to it that you read and respond to your emails. Take up advertising opportunities from organizations and individuals sending you their products and services. You may also want to keep up to date with information and advice on how to successfully grow your revenue over time. This can be done by joining local forums, going for seminars and speaking to people who are ahead of you in your blogging area.

These are a few points I have observed that sets back most bloggers. If there are any more major concerns you feel that you battle with as a blogger, please let us know in the comment section so we can render possible solutions or discuss it in detail. Thank you.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.