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Why I Stopped Bullet Journaling & Switched To Digital Planning


Up until last year, one of my most popular posts was titled "A Look Into My Bullet Journal", which you can check out if you're interested! I raved about it being the best purchase of 2018, about it being so helpful for my organisation and productivity, and how excited I was to be using it. Well, if it had all those benefits and was so great, why did I stop?


I had initially started off with too many spreads to count, all of them done intricately and aesthetically so it'd look good for the 'gram. As time wore on, I realised I simply couldn't be bothered with always drawing things out when art isn't a strength of mine (those monthly covers were always a battle). I was always trying my best to imitate all the big bullet journal YouTubers I adored, but wasn't ever satisfied with how my own creations turned out.


Once I realised this, I started making my spreads minimal and simple - simple lines, simple headers, and most importantly; no doodles or drawings. Instead of drawing out designs myself, I started buying stickers to decorate the journal with instead.


However, as time wore on and university became more and more busy, I found that I was using the journal as less of a "journal" and more of a glorified to-do list. I would skip certain days or even weeks and leave spreads completely empty, which wasted both paper and my time. To rectify this, I started to plan my time on a day-by-day basis.


Exam season is where I finally made the switch to digital planning. 


I added all my exams into the calendar on my phone and planned out my day-to-day activities by using Google Keep. I didn't find use for the spreads any more and would forget to update my journal because everything was on Google Keep or my calendar anyway. Once I consciously made the switch over to digital planning, I forgot all about the bullet journal!



I've now evolved in which apps I use to digitally plan my time, so a blog post explaining all of that will be uploaded very soon! :)


So what does digital planning offer that bullet journaling doesn't?


One could argue that carrying around a bullet journal won't exactly weigh you down, but I personally found it a hassle to always remember to carry it. Having everything on my phone is just better because I always have it on me. If I need to confirm if I'm busy on a certain day, I can just check on my phone instead of flipping through a bunch of pages! The fact that all the apps I use sync up makes this process so smooth too. 


This varies greatly, but for me personally, buying specific pens and highlighters that don't bleed through, buying a new journal when the current one runs out, and buying the stickers are all things that will add up over time. My phone and laptop were one-time purchases that will last much longer than a physical journal.


Something I hated about bullet journaling is how I'd need white-out right next to me should I make a mistake. If a date or event changed, it would take a lot of effort to correct. Plans can always change, and this aspect really put a damper on the bullet journaling experience. Now, I can essentially decorate my Notion (what I use now) easily and not be afraid to make a mistake, because Ctrl + Z is right there for me!


Those are the main arguments I have for switching over to digitally planning instead of bullet journaling. Both obviously have their own pros and cons, but when I weigh them up I have to say that digital planning is the winner here!


Do you plan with a bullet journal or plan digitally?


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 Related Post: Keeping Myself Organised At Uni

Lessons Learnt From Living Abroad

If you had asked me just 3 years ago if I'd like to move abroad, I would have probably said no. I was comfortable in my bubble in the UK; all my friends were there and everything was predictable and fairly comfortable. So if you had told me I would actually be living abroad pretty soon, I definitely wouldn't have believed you. But here we are almost 2 years later and I've moved to Zambia then China within the span of 4 months. Talk about a plot twist!

I don't remember the move to the UK as particularly significant. I was just going along with what my parents said would happen, and when it happened I just took it all in my stride. Honestly, the people around me were way more excited than I was! But as a 6 year old, it's hard to look at that kind of move with the same perspective as a 20 year old, which is how old I was when we eventually left the UK.

Growing up in, and living among 3 different cultures (so far) has really shaped me into who I am today, which is a topic I want to dedicate an entire post to in the future. It's a cliché sentiment, but all your experiences really do shape you into the person you're going to ultimately become, and today I want to share what lessons from moving abroad (specifically in China) I learnt!

Before we get into it, I have written a few of posts about my time in China, such as some habits I've picked up, experiencing some cultural shock, and my experience being a black woman in China. Do check those out if you're interested!

Becoming self-dependent was the first thing I noticed about myself, and this was molded by the fact that I was now in university too. I didn't have parents or a sister just downstairs to rely on anymore.  My friends were all busy with university or work all the way on the other side of the world. Any decisions I had to make were to be made by and for myself. Having to navigate a new culture, a new language, and new people from different countries all bringing their own cultures and languages was difficult and lonely in the beginning, and it sometimes still is now!

Jumping into adulthood like that was a definite shock to the system, but it's a shock that is now paying off. Being able to take care of my own finances, travel by myself, and live by myself are things I only would have been able to do had I come all the way out here. 

Because I became self-dependent pretty quickly, the next thing I realised was how resilient moving abroad can make you. Being thrown into a new country with a completely new culture has made me way more confident in my ability to navigate through almost any situation! After some time, things or people that used to make me frustrated and easily annoyed turned me into a person who could face these challenges and just keep it pushing. 

A big part of being more resilient is facing and accepting reality. A lot of people will leave university or leave the country they wanted to move to because it didn't live up to expectations, or that the journey wasn't as smooth as they wanted it to be. It's being able to look at your new life and accept that things are different that makes all the difference. 

Finally, another lesson I learnt is that living abroad can make you used to just about anything. What do I mean by this? British people love to complain, and if we're going complain about something, the weather is near the top of the list. I went form complaining about summers of 27° or sometimes even 30° to living in summers of 37° and humidity thrown on top of it. 

Another example is just being outside itself! People staring, pointing, and whispering is part of the norm here and it's something that I've just grown used to. If I'm lost or need help with anything, I can walk up to a stranger and speak a language I've only been learning for just over a year, whereas in the UK if I was lost, I'd be dependent on Google Maps the whole time. 

So those are a few things I've learnt and come to realise since living in China since 2018. Time flies so quick, and in September, it'll be 2 years since I've been here (which is still crazy to me!)

I hope this post was interesting, and if you've ever lived abroad please tell me your experiences below!

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Simple & Easy Kimbap | Recipe

How long has it been since I made a recipe post on the blog? The last recipe I published was my stir fried tofu and broccoli, which was in January of last year!

During my time off social media, I decided to follow a sudden craving, and create my version of kimbap! I'm not claiming this to be traditional or authentic to the Korean staple, but I can vouch that this was absolutely delicious. Using a combination of fresh and cooked veg was a good shout, and it's such a versatile dish to suit to your own needs, which is one of the best things about Asian cooking!

If you like meat, you can add meat. If you're vegan, just take out the eggs, or add your favourite veggies. I loved this recipe because it was so fresh and didn't take up any time at all!

2 1/2 cups rice
4 sheets of seaweed (gim/nori)
2 eggs
1 medium carrot
1/2 cucumber
Optional; sesame seeds and sesame oil

1. So the first thing to do is cook your rice. Please rinse the rice thoroughly about 3 or 4 times to remove the starch and ensure the final product is sticky enough to hold all the ingredients together. This is the first place my kimbap isn't traditional at all; I only had medium grain white rice on hand, and was not feeling the trek across campus to buy short grain, but luckily it turned out just fine! When you rinse the rice thoroughly, add enough water to cover it and cook it until all the water has dried up. When the water has dried up, switch off the heat and leave it to steam in the pot until all the other ingredients are prepped.

2. As the rice is cooking, fry the eggs. Whisk them in a bowl with some salt to taste and fry them in a thin layer a bit at a time. When the bottom is cooked, roll one side to the other using a spatula or chopsticks and add a bit more mixture and cook in the same fashion; rolling the cooked egg from one side to the opposite side and allowing the mixture to flow to the underside so it adheres. Repeat until all the mixture has been used up and the end result is egg. We're going for a tamagoyaki style that we'll cut into strips that are the same length as the nori sheet.

3. For the cucumber, you can either peel it or keep the skin on (I kept mine on!), but just make sure to cut them into thin strips that fit the same length as the nori sheet. Also be sure to scoop out the seeds so the kimbap isn't wet or moist!

4. Prepare the carrot by peeling and slicing into thin matchsticks. When they're cut, fry them in a bit of oil, and add some salt to taste. Don't fry them so they're soft and limp - they should be soft but still have a crunch to them. This should take 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Place the cooked rice into a bowl and season with some salt to taste. This will also help cool it down slightly before we begin rolling. Also optional is adding sesame seeds and sesame oil at this step. When this is done, you're ready to start rolling!

6. If you have a bamboo mat, it can make rolling the kimbap 10x easier, but if you don't have one on hand don't sweat it! Place a sheet of nori (shiny side down) on the bamboo mat and spread some rice in a thin layer on the bottom 2/3 of the sheet.

7. Add your ingredients in an even layer; 2 leaves of lettuce, a strip of egg, some carrot, and a strip of cucumber. Roll the seaweed by using the bamboo mat (if you don't have one, it's fine!), but make sure to roll the seaweed tightly and firmly. Once it has been rolled up, set it aside and repeat steps 6 and 7 for the other ingredients. 

8. Once all the ingredients have been used up, it's time to cut the kimbap. Optionally, you can spread some sesame oil on the kimbap, but I didn't have any on hand so I skipped this step. Wet the sharpest knife you have either in sesame oil or water, and cut the kimbap in even, bitesize pieces, and you're done!

You can serve the kimbap as it is. Traditionally, it is eaten on picnics, but I had mine with some ramen and enjoyed it all the same. Dipping in mayo or soy sauce is another tasty option I'd totally recommend!

Other alternatives I want to try out are: bulgogi kimbap, and tuna kimbap! It's so versatile and you can add any ingredients you have on hand. 

It's best eaten on the day you prepared it, but it can also be stored at room temperature and eaten the next day!

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5 Must-Watch Medical TV Shows

Surprisingly, when you ask a medical student what their favourite medical TV show is, many will say they don't even watch any! A lot of my friends don't have that one medical show that they're attached to, but I happen to enjoy this genre thoroughly! When asked why, a lot of medial students say they're just not realistic or interesting. I totally agree about the unrealistic-ness of it all, but I do find them entertaining to watch, so I'll keep doing so!

Some aspects of medical shows I enjoy are how they tackle issues like insurance, end of life decisions, and the bureaucracy.

I have here a few of my favourite medial TV shows that I want to share with you all, and if you've watched any I haven't listed, do leave them down below!

This is definitely the OG of all medical shows, and the most loved and popular! It's been running since 2005 and we're 16 seasons in and still waiting for more! I love this show because it's thoroughly entertaining - there is intense drama straight from season 1 - and the hundreds of characters all get to have moments where their back stories are explored. I found that there were moments where the drama outweighed the actual medicine and especially from season 14 onward, it seemed heavily focused on the romance aspect.

There were some very cool cases and surgeries I found interesting, like the woman who grew numerous mini spleens following a surgery, the face transplant on the woman with amnesia, the man and woman connected by a pole going through the both of them following an accident, and the woman with toxic blood that made most people lose consciousness.

I honestly feel like this show is 70% drama and 30% showing actual surgeries. I don't recall any specific surgeries or cases that pop out to me, but I can tell you all about my favourite couple and all the crazy things that happen to the characters. I'd recommend this show if you're into the drama of it all but not necessarily if you're looking for medical inspiration.

Once you get past the cringe of the name, it's a great K-drama! The thing about Korean dramas is that they are all focused and principally centered on romance, and the main genre it claims to be is sprinkled around in scenes here and there. Medical dramas are (mostly) set in a hospital and surprisingly has quite a lot of medical content, but it's definitely a romantic drama at the end of the day.

Dr Romantic season 1 is centered around two doctors who work in a big hospital in the city, and after an almost fatal accident and a touch of medical bureaucracy, both end up working in a small countryside hospital. It highlights medical bureaucracy so well, and puts into perspective that medicine and the medical field is still a business that some benefit from, while others suffer at their hand. It follows their journeys as they grow as doctors, while also highlighting other medical professionals like nurses and doctors who aren't surgeons (which I don't think is really done in Western shows!). I have yet to finish season 2, but it follows a similar plot!

This was a hugely popular show when it came out, and I hopped onto the trend and finished the first season in 2 days. When season 2 came out, I just didn't have that same fire anymore, but did manage to get through it eventually. It puts a different twist on all medical shows in that the main character is autistic and training to be a surgeon. There are a lot of cool cases in this one; the very first episode has a tracheotomy (which I still find fascinating whenever I see this in a show), a tumor growing in a fetus that has to be surgically removed, and a man with a 200 pound tumour growing around his body.

I think it balances drama with medicine pretty well, but honestly the characters are a bit forgetful!

This is another Korean drama that actually has quite a lot of medicine in it! It follows a boy and his doctor dad who were tricked into going to North Korea and they ended up being denied to go back to South Korea. He trains as a doctor in North Korea, falls in love, and tries to escape with his girlfriend but they end up separated. When he reaches the South, he starts work as a doctor and tries to find out what happened to his girlfriend. There are a lot of cool surgeries and cases in this one, which I enjoyed.

The drama-to-medicine ratio is surprisingly very good so I'd definitely recommend this to any K-drama fan or medical TV show fan!

What are your favourite medical dramas?

Tell me below!

What Deleting Social Media Taught Me

The trend of deleting social medial is all the rage online. People claiming all sorts of benefits and advantages to either deleting all their distracting apps or just not using their phone at all, and encouraging others to do the same thing too. When deciding to delete social media, I didn't fall into the hype because of what I read online, but rather because my final exams were coming up and I wanted to focus. Just as simple as that!

So sometime in mid-June, I deleted the 3 most distracting apps from my phone; Instagram, Twitter, and 小红书 (a Chinese app similar to Pinterest/Instagram) and gave myself 3 weeks to go without, and this is what I learnt!

Usually, I get to the end of my day and wonder where all my time went. How is it already 8pm? When did it get so dark outside? When you think about it, you may only spend your time scrolling through your apps in 10 minute increments, but those 10 minutes add up fast during the day. They eat up your time and before you know it, you've reached the end of the day with nothing to show for it. I found that whenever I was bored, I'd switch through those 3 apps just for something to do and those 10 minutes would become hours very soon, and it would be a scramble to get something done that should have been done ages ago.

I found that by deleting social media, I was less rushed and could take my time in doing what I wanted to. The first couple of days were honestly painfully long, but on day 3, I woke up and got into the swing of my new routine.

When I study, I set a timer on my phone and put it somewhere I can't reach. To do this, I use the app Forest because if you exit out of the app, the tree you select to grow will die. Sadly, an update to the app now means you can exit out of the app, use your phone as normal with the timer still running in the back and your tree won't die! So, I found that when a lecture was on the boring or difficult side, I was able to "give myself a small break" and scroll through Twitter or update my Instagram story, which meant I was ultimately getting nothing done.

Not having these apps anymore meant that even if something was hard or not that interesting, I literally had to force myself into continuing. Again, the first few days were hard but after giving it some time, I was able to adjust. If I found my mind drifting off, I'd have a stretch and motivate myself to keep going with a snack (or several!)

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love to update my stories with basically everything I'm doing, cooking, eating, where I'm going etc. Part of it is because I live in China and want to share my experiences online, but another part is because I just love taking photos and find satisfaction in people commenting on the photos and whatnot.

This gets exhausting - every blogger and their mum has spoken about how stressful and tiring it can be to keep up with both your everyday life and your online life on top of that, and I get those feelings very often. Getting rid of Instagram was a relief because I didn't need to share what I ate or did that day. I didn't think "How many people have viewed my story today?" or "What time is it, I need to post something", or anything along those lines. I could just do anything and leave it at that!

Having re-downloaded my Instagram has made me realise that I genuinely enjoy capturing everything, but it still shouldn't be at my expense.

One of the things about social media that draws me in and keeps me hooked is how I like feeling like I'm on top of the news and trends and whatnot. Twitter can find out the breaking story or latest meme before anything else, and finding out about something as soon as it drops is a weird enjoyment of mine. But when I got rid of Twitter and got out of that bubble, I was left with the realisation that it really doesn't matter!

In fact, going back on Twitter has put it in even greater perspective, as I see that getting most of my information from social media (and ultimately from other people, strangers, and their opinions) is really a disservice to myself. Sometimes it's fine to just not know anything, and after the events of May/June, it's important to log off for a while.

As well as all of this, I found myself way more productive and happier overall! Removing the pressure of just your presence simply being online was amazing, and I would definitely delete my social media again or even make a habit out of doing it regularly! Being left alone with just my thoughts and no one else's opinions let me know myself more and I enjoyed that too.

Have you ever deleted social media? What did you learn?

Finishing The First Year of Med School! | Med Diaries 002

Well, what a fail Med Diaries turned out to be, eh? I had initially planned to have these written and uploaded once a month but here we are 3 months after the first post went up, and this is only the second one I'm writing! It was a busy time during May, June, and the beginning of July - finishing the semester and studying for finals, then being told we have to have an extra month of lessons after finals. As I'm writing this now, we have one more week left before summer ~truly~ starts, but all that to say; I'm now officially done with my first year of medical school!

I never thought those words would come true, because some time after June, time started dragging and every day just molded into one another, the routine became monotonous and the studying seemed never-ending. But I'm done now and it feels like a dream!

During the final semester, I was taking regional anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, Chinese language (Mandarin), and sports, and all of them were online, yes even sports! Our next semester is looking to be partly online and partly regularly, but we'll see how it goes what with the whole Covid situation.

So for the next semester, we've got Pathology, Microbiology, Immunology, Pathophysiology, and Chinese History and Culture. I think it's gonna be another tough semester just like the others before it, but hopefully I'll be able to just push through and get to the other side!

Highs of the previous semester were realising that I could definitely motivate myself to do the whole online school thing, and also having free time to both cook and study during exam season (which is practically unheard of for a medical student!). Some lows, however, were the monotony of the semester and also not being able to have lab! The labs for all subjects have pushed to the next semester, which means it's gonna be even busier than what it would have been.

So, this was just a quick little update to say where I've been and what I've been up to!

Please look forward to the next one! :)

Your Role In The Black Lives Matter Movement

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions. Each month, 2020 brings us something more shocking than the last and May was absolutely no different. The killing of George Floyd was a huge wake-up call for so many people out there, but the fact that another person had to lose their life at the hands of police brutality in order for us to once again reaffirm the fact that, yes, black lives do matter is a problem in itself.

I took time away from posting when the news first broke out; it became stressful to be online so I would get a few updates throughout the day here and there. A few days passed and I became more and more engrossed in finding out ways I could help out with petitions and spreading the word. Countless of petitions signed later, I’m still here trying to figure out a way to move forward.

It is evident that in 2020, it is not enough for non-black people to be “not racist”, but to be actively anti-racist. We all have a role to play in how we can bring down societal and systemic racism that *spoiler alert* isn’t just rampant in the US, but is very much alive and thriving in the UK and all over the world.

I ~do not~ speak for all black people when I say that I had my own learning and unlearning to do over the last couple of weeks. From thinking back to secondary school and sixth form at how I let so much slide in the classroom to how I navigate my day-to-day life right now living in China. I’ve also been thinking about how I as a medical student can ensure I don’t end up playing into the hands of racism in the medical field. Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die during or after childbirth than their white counterparts, and that is absolutely terrifying. Not only that, but black and Asian people are more likely to die from Covid-19. As someone who will be working in the field one day, I (just like all my fellow medical students) have a duty to make sure this statistic isn’t still standing 10 years from now. My curriculum in China isn’t heavily centered on bias in the medical field, so it’s up to me to educate myself on this every day.

I want to share important and useful resources that we can all use in order to start being actively anti-racist. A lot of them are what I have/am using at the moment, and if you know of anything I have not mentioned, you are more than welcome to sharing in the comments, because after all, we all have a role to play in this. 






  • Get Out

  • When They See Us

  • 13th



  • Continue educating yourself even after this stops becoming the trending topic.

  • Talk to friends and family members no matter how uncomfortable.

  • Get rid of the idea of “not seeing colour” - this article on The Everygirl explains how problematic and counter-productive this is perfectly.

  • Speak up and stand up when you see racism or injustice.

  • Petition and donate as much as you can.

  • Diversify your feeds and follow more black creators.

  • Understand your privilege and how you can use it to help black people and uplift their voices.

Loving Lately 002

It's time for Part 2 of my Loving Lately series, where I share all the things that have been bringing me joy recently! I started it in order to focus more on the positives while on lockdown, and I'm ready with the next installment. I count how long I've been on lockdown from the 27th of January because that's the week we started getting messages from teachers about being more careful and whatnot, so at the time of writing this, it's been 107 days/15 weeks and 2 days! What!?

To do assignments, I've been listening to a whole range of things. K-drama OSTs (I would recommend One Spring Night, Hotel Del Luna, and Descendants of The Sun!), Dua Lipa's new album Future Nostalgia, and Taeyeon's album Purpose have been what I've been rotating when working on biochemistry assignments. When doing actual studying, I've been loving the YouTube lofi radio that is live 24/7 because it isn't distracting so I'm able to learn new info well, and it's good background noise. A song definitely worth mentioning is the Savage remix by Megan Thee Stallion and Beyonce. No words can describe just how hyped I get when listening to it!

I also want to give a shout-out to Elevation Worship for dropping one of my favourite worship albums ever! Graves to Gardens is full of inspiring and beautiful songs that are super motivating! If you're looking for new worship music, anything by Elevation Worship is worth a listen.

Since being on lockdown, I've been on YouTube way more than I normally would have been. A channel I've been l o v i n g is Ashley Choi's. Ashley is a K-pop star whose group actually just disbanded after 7 years (I'll miss you Ladies' Code!), and since her group disbanded, she started an 'adulting' series on her channel to document her moving into her first apartment, buying furniture, cooking for herself - all things that other people have some experience with but it's stuff she's just started doing for the first time. I've been subscribed since she first started her channel and watching her move onto this new phase in life has been so interesting!

It's no surprise that I've been reading a whole lot recently. A blog post I loved is Michelle's Simple Self-Care Rituals for Introverts. She gives great tips on how introverts (like me!) can look after themselves during this time and it's definitely worth a read, whether you're introverted or not.

A blogger who gets me so excited for a new post is Becca! She's got everything on her blog - my favorites have been her posts on baking even though I literally don't have an oven! (I think I like living vicariously through the photos haha!) Her Instagram has always been one of my favourites too, so if you're not following her I definitely recommend that you do!

I've also been heavily more and more into the studygram community on Instagram! My current 'theme' is a checkerboard where I alternate between a travel/lifestyle shot and a study shot, and I think it looks pretty good! Talking to new people who study a whole range of things has been so much fun and also amazing for my productivity and motivation. Here are some accounts I started following to get me started: a.medstudents.journey, bana_vu, janicestudies, and hara.studies. (If anyone wants a blog post on being a "studygrammer", leave me a comment below!)

TEA //
It's no big surprise that I love tea - I could literally drink the stuff forever - but one of my favourites recently has been chrysanthemum tea. I bought a tiny bottle online with what must be over 500 individual chrysanthemum flowers and I've been drinking a few cups every week but have yet to reach even half of the bottle! Chrysanthemum tea has so many benefits, such as boosting the immune system, increasing metabolism, helps with inflammation, and the reason I started using it which is that it cools down your internal body temperature.

The weather has been getting extremely hot recently, and you may be wondering how it cools you down if you're drinking it hot! In traditional Chinese medicine, certain foods when they're digested will heat you up from the inside (for example ginger or dates), while others cool you down (like green tea or mung beans). It's important to have a balance between these, so I like to just drink some chrysanthemum tea during the week so I'm not boiling in this heat too much! To brew a cup, I just boil some water and pop two or three flowers in there, let it sit for 5 minutes, and I drink away! The taste is light and it smells very fragrant, and I sometimes add a few leaves of green tea for a bit of a different flavour. Such a must have!

I hope you liked this post! The things I've been enjoying lately seriously make staying indoors just a little bit more bearable.

If you missed the previous edition, you can check it out here!

What have you been enjoying lately?

The 4 Steps To Becoming A Morning Person

Being a medical student means having to be up earlier than you were probably used to before, and on top of that, a job in the medical field anyway means you'll be awake and working when the rest of the world is still sound asleep.

I've always been right down the middle of being an early bird and a night owl - I'll wake up early if I need to and I'll also be able to be up till the wee hours of the morning granted I had enough sleep the night before. But coming to uni made me more of a night owl than an early bird, and this past semester I had to start training myself to wake up early again (and stay awake on top of that!).

I have 4 practical tips for you to help you also become a morning person if you find it hard to get up in the morning. They're all things I do myself and started getting back into doing once the new semester started back in February, and now we're on lockdown, I thought some other students would find it useful - or just anyone really! I have a similar post about healthy and productive morning habits to start your day and I think this post and that one go hand in hand, so check it out after this one!

Side note: I wrote this just before the whole world went into a frenzy, so some things have had to be tweaked and some bits completely omitted.

And yes, it really is that simple. Post over!

Seriously,  sleeping early is the best way to make sure you're asleep for a good amount of time, and ready to take the day on come morning. 7 to 8 hours is recommended, so no matter what time I sleep at night, if there's no class in the morning (we're doing online classes for now, so our would-be regular schedule is a bit jumbled) I set my alarm to make sure I get at least 7 hours. I'm definitely taking advantage of the online classes in this way because it means I can sleep early and wake up early without feeling like a zombie all day.

There's also something to be said about the quality of sleep too. Nancy wrote a great blog post about ways to sleep better, and it's one I recommend everyone to read because she gives amazing tips like working out and aromatherapy. Final point on sleep: there's no such thing as "making up for lost sleep". You can't sleep more the next day to make up for the 4 hours you slept last night, which is why it's important to consistently keep a good sleep schedule and not fall into a sleep deficit.

This is a great hack I've been using since secondary school and I contribute 50% of my "morning person-ness" to it! I always set my alarm half an hour before the time I actually need to be up. When the alarm rings, I switch it off and spend some time laying there waking up. I use this time to think about what I need to do that morning, try to recall any dreams, and check the weather - the bright light from my phone helps in waking me up! By the time all that's done, it's time to get up and get my morning routine underway. I'm not one of those amazing people who can turn off my alarm and hop out of bed ready to take on the day, so if I have to use a hack like this early in the morning, then I definitely will!

We all know that quote "Know your why", and if you're going to be waking up early in the morning, having that motivation for waking up is gonna be what's actually going to get you out of your bed and it can literally be anything. Over the years, my motivation has been: going to get something really tasty for breakfast (yes, it counts), wanting to go on a run, wanting to see the sunrise, getting a head start on blog post writing, and now it's getting a head start on studying or if I just bought a new tea I'm excited to drink, that alone is motivation enough to get my bum out of bed! So, make sure you have a reason for getting up early and you're good to go!

I'm a big advocate of reducing decision fatigue and it's best to get on top of it early in the morning. But what is decision fatigue? Let's say you're up and now have to think about what to wear and then scour through your belongings for what to pack in your bag for the day. Are you gonna eat breakfast? Now you need to think about what to eat, then think about either buying lunch today or taking something from home with you. All of these things will tire out your "decision muscle" and later on in the day, you'll be making poor choices because you're all "decision-ed" out from everything you had to do earlier in the day. And I am by no means perfect - in my life, it manifests as me deciding to spend a whole lot longer on social media when I should be doing something else with my time instead, or not thinking properly about what to eat so I go with the unhealthy option instead.

To combat decision fatigue, make sure everything is prepped the night before - your clothes are laid out, breakfast is meal-pepped, desk is clean,  - whatever can be prepared the night before should be so you can just focus on getting ready to go in the morning. Now that we're all on lockdown, I have to make sure I leave my desk clean the night before, and that I have my to-list ready and waiting for me to get stuck in - check out this post on how I use time blocking to make sure I know what I'm doing as soon as I wake up!

So that's what I've been doing since September when med school started and my broken sleep schedule from summer needed a gentle nudge in the right direction. Once we go back to a normal class schedule, I'll be trying to wake up at 4am because a few classmates say waking up that early changed their whole lives, and I'd like to get more studying done when it's still quiet and peaceful.

What was your favourite tip?

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So What's It Like Being Black In China?

What better way to start off a new month than with what could be a slightly controversial post! This post has been in my drafts for weeks now, and I've been nervous about writing it out to the fullest extent that I could, mainly because the internet is heavily censored here. Every time I would draft a little bit, I'd get nervous about uploading and think "nah, not now", but I think it's time! Whatever I write will still give you guys an idea of what it's like to be a black woman in China today.

When I read Tanya Weeke's post about this exact same topic I decided that yes, I should make my own post and upload it anyway. This isn't going to be a discussion about what's happening to Africans in Guangdong; there are plenty of news sources online and videos on YouTube recounting what's going on, including my own Instagram post on the subject. Instead, this is going to be me telling you guys about my day-to-day life as a black woman living in China - all the ups, downs, and everything in between!

Now, I should say that this is my experience in China. If you're black and you've been here before, your experience might be different depending on a lot of factors. If you're black and you plan on coming here one day, your experience here could be totally different from mine. 

So let's start off light, and that's with all the staring. I mainly lived in predominantly white areas in the UK, so I know what it's like to be stared at in a whole number of ways. But the staring in China is on an entirely different level because here, it's not just one or two people on the road or in the shops - it's everyone! People driving their cars craning their necks out the window (sometimes while still driving!) to stare as I walk past, entire metro carriages stopping whatever they're doing to stare as I enter, everyone in the shop going quiet and staring if I walk in - and the list could just go on and on. Side note - if you have your hair in braids or an afro, be ready to swat hands away because people here are shameless and will absolutely shove their hands in your hair if you're not looking!

I honestly don't mind if it's kids doing the pointing or staring, simply because they're kids and a lot of them don't know any better, but if it's anyone above teen age I have a problem with it, and usually stare right back until they feel embarrassed. The crazy thing though is that a lot of older people here don't feel embarrassed at all and will just keep on shamelessly staring anyway! In the UK once eye contact has been made people usually look away, but that's something that doesn't happen here haha!

Going hand in hand with the staring is the pointing, whispering, and my personal enemy - photos. People here really think we don't notice them "slyly" whipping out their phones and taking a photo, but we 100% always do! In fact, I think I've developed a 6th sense for it now that it's happened so frequently!

The thing I mostly hate about photos is that 99% of the time, people don't ask and they just decide to take one themselves. However, there are some occasions where people will come up to me and kindly ask for a photo. Sometimes parents ask me to take a photo with their child as it's usually their first time seeing a black person either ever in their life or not through a screen, so I sometimes agree and we take a few selfies together. It's honestly crazy how that small action honestly ends up making someone's day!

On top of being pointed at, stared at, whispered about, and having my photo taken, there's also the never ending questions strangers come up and ask out of the blue. They range from a simple "Where are you from" or "What are you doing in China" (not said maliciously by the way! People are just curious as to whether you're studying or working!) to something as deep as "So does your country have the same resources as China?" I've even had a Didi driver ask me how many wives a man can have in my country, which was honestly just the strangest thing I've ever been asked. If they see you can hold down a conversation in Chinese, they get very excited and questions become more and more so be warned!

I will admit, I do love it when kids come up and say hi because they want to practise their English or because they just haven't seen a black person before!

And that's another point - whether you're black from America, the UK, Canada, the Caribbean, or anywhere else in the world that isn't Africa - if you look physically black, you're African point blank and the period. When people ask, I've just stopped saying I came from the UK and just say I'm Zambian instead, because they just don't believe me! 

All of these things happen relative to how many foreigners are in the area. Since I don't live in one of the big cities like Shanghai or Beijing, a lot of people in my city aren't used to seeing foreigners at all. And if I go to an area that isn't around a university campus or the main town, then all I'll be hearing is "外国人, 外国人" (wàiguó rén = foreigner) as I go past.

A lot of people wonder if Chinese people are racist and how racism is handled over here, and I've only had one nasty experience in my one and a half years of living in China. I went to the bank to receive some money - a bank I always went to and they had always been nice to me before but on this particular day, the teller took one look at my passport (as a foreign student, you need to take your passport and school ID everywhere, otherwise you can't get anything done!) asked if I was African, and said I'm not welcome to the bank anymore and no amount of arguing could get her to change her mind. It was a huge pain in my behind because I had to travel all over the city looking for a new bank to sign up with, but the fact that in China you can discriminate against someone just because of where they come from - and legally it's okay - is a massive problem that needs to be addressed - just look at what's happening in Guangdong!

A lot of people are rude, just like anywhere else in the world - people refusing to sit next to you on the bus, or crossing the road when you go past etc - but I have also met a lot of lovely people here who wouldn't do anything like that! You do have a lot of thoughts that go through your head when someone isn't particularly nice, a lot of it being "are they rude because they're in a bad mood today, or are they just racist", but if you let those thoughts take over every time something happens, you'll have a pretty miserable stay in China!

Before I came here, I thought making Chinese friends would be easy, especially as I was living on campus, but I've found it much harder! To this day, I only have one person and a lovely family I can call my friends and they're all pretty great! In my experience though, a lot of the Chinese people on campus befriend the white students or other Asians. It might just be my introvert nature of not wanting to approach people first though!

Any strange experiences? Of course! A strange experience I had came last summer when I was with my other foreign friends. We went hiking up a mountain near our uni and once we got to the summit, we took in the view and started taking pictures. I noticed a guy come and sit on the bench right next to us and start staring at us intently. I ignored him at first, because everyone stares so it's not a big deal. But when we started exploring the shops at the top (shops on a mountain, only in China!) I noticed him again - it's that 6th sense! - following us in and out or waiting outside for us to come out. When I told my friends what was going on, we decided that we should leave because none of us had been followed before and even though he was young and didn't look like he could do anything, you can never be too careful.

As we were heading down, he was following really close behind us, my friend turned around to ask him if he was lost or something, and this guy said he was looking for a bus stop! On a mountain! We sped up, but every time we spend up he decided to too. We took a pause at some benches and he started up a conversation with us, but blatantly lying about where he was from and whatnot. He followed us all the way to the entrance and thankfully we managed to slink away in a crowd but turning around I could see he was looking for where we went! So weird, especially because if we were any other race I doubt that would have even happened!

It wouldn't really be a proper analysis without me telling you guys about my experience with other foreigners here in China. Coming from the UK, I'm used to being around a lot of other minorities, but the difference there is that we all have one thing in common, which is that we all grew up in the UK. In China though, all foreign people come from different backgrounds and all have different upbrinings; we don't have anything in common other than we're all now living in China.

That being said, I've had people straight up to my face tell me they didn't think black people were clean or that they're surprised black people don't behave in the way we're expected to. It's been a shock for people to learn that not all black people are the same, and that their thoughts are destructive and rude. I've also seen that if I make friends with someone from a different ethnicity, other people from that group are now more accepting to smile at me if we pass each other in the halls or say hi to me if we're in a queue. I'm guessing because they've seen now that whatever stereotypes they had were so far left, and if someone from their country thinks I'm okay, then it's fine for them to be open now too!

So that's been my experience of living in China! September 2020 will mark 2 years of living here, and I cannot believe it's been that long this quick! It's not been so bad living here. A lot of people are just curious and want to find out about you, so if you're an extrovert and love talking to people and can even converse in Chinese, I have no doubt you'll be able to make a lot of friends and have a pretty good time. 

Other than that one bank experience (and the strange guy on the mountain), my time here has been really good! I'm used to the staring and can even zone it out now if I want to, but with the photos I just don't think I'll ever get used to that! I'm really excited to see how the rest of my life here will play out!

What's been your experience living abroad? Do tell me below!

Related post: Experiencing Cultural Shock In China