I’m not entirely sure how to start this post. I’ve been staring at this blinking cursor for several minutes now looking for the perfect words to launch into what I want to say. I’m not even completely sure that I know what I’m trying to say either. But I’m going to go with it and see how it works out. 

When I went to university, I was inundated with advice from just about every direction. From parents to friends, to strangers I had just met. Everyone had opinions to share on virtually any college related situation I was bound to come across. It was like Pinterest, but in real life. 

I was overwhelmed, and scared, and excited, and probably felt a plethora of other emotions I can’t even remember now. But one thing that stood out was the advice claiming that all I had to do was be myself and people would like me because I was such a great person. 

The flaw, I came to find, in this advice was that it was hinged on the notion that being liked by people was some sort of epicenter of the college experience. It was as if I wouldn’t possibly survive college if people didn’t like me. This information caused me a lot of internal turmoil. I questioned it incessantly, my biggest question being:

What if being myself caused people not to like me?

Unbeknownst to me, the “be yourself” line was also a mechanism people used to make sure I stayed in my place. Not  in any sort of mean or derogatory way—at least, I hope not—but so that they could keep track of me. It was to stunt my growth. 

I came across this very realization, and was reminded of it whenever I came home for the summer and was told of how I had “changed” and how I wasn’t who I used to be. These words were hurtful, and filled me with guilt. I, thinking I was progressing, becoming a more independent and responsible version of myself, started to doubt myself and my perceived progress. 

How many tears had I shed over people not liking me in middle school? Was I to repeat this pattern in university? Of course not. How many times did I stand in front of the mirror before school in high school wondering if the outfit I had on would be approved by my peers? Should I have been thinking the same things all these years later? Absolutely not.

I am a compulsive people pleaser by nature. I like making the people around me happy. I like making the people around my smile. I like making the people around me laugh. I like making the people around me proud. But when I went to college, there was a major shift in my thinking, and it may sound selfish, but I wanted to do these things for me more than for other people. 

I wanted to make myself happy.

I wanted to make myself smile.

I wanted to make myself laugh.

I wanted to make myself proud. 

And over the past two years that I’ve been in university, I’ve been doing these things. And in doing so, I became less of the person others expected and wanted me to be and more of the person I want to be. I want to be a person 10 year old me would be proud of. 

I am not sorry that I have made mistakes, because I grew from them. I am not sorry that I cried, because I learned to rely on myself and wipe my own tears. I am not sorry that I fell, because I learned to stand up by and for myself. I am not sorry I changed, because I’m genuinely working hard to be a better me every single day. 

It occurred to me that I may not be the only person feeling this way and if you are feeling similarly, I want you to know that I am standing right next to you. We’re in this together. It might not even be a change due to college. Maybe you just had a baby. Maybe you moved to a different city. Maybe you just turned a certain age and see life differently and therefore choose to live it differently. 

It’s okay to change even if others aren’t okay with your change. You’ve got to grow a little to glow a little, you know? 

And you’ve got to do it unapologetically. 

My fingers were racing across the keyboard as I wrote this and I don’t want to review/revise this post because I don’t want to take any of it out. I want you all to know that I mean everything that’s written above 100%. I hope you know that you never have to be sorry for changing for the better. 

Do you, boo.


Why I’m Unapologetic About Having “Changed” in College (& Why You Should Be Too)

Vaseline Intensive Care
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with Vaseline. As a child, they lathered me with the jelly version until I just glistened. I was a beacon of perfect skin. No jokes. 

But around when I hit puberty and started menstruating, I couldn’t use it anymore because my skin was just producing oil in excess and instead of glistening, I looked greasy. Ew. 

It wasn’t a good look. 

I didn’t have pimples but my face was just so slick and shiny all the time—and not in a good way. So, I shied away from Vaseline almost entirely. 

I couldn’t stay away, though. You’ll be hard pressed to find a Vaseline product that I haven’t tried. From the Jelly, to the Intensive Care line, to the Lip Therapy, and in a pinch, Vaseline Men, I’ve tried it all.  

The Intensive Care Essential Healing lotion is by far my favorite. It doesn’t apply thick, but you know that all your bases are being covered. It has a subtle smell, and quite frankly, if my epidermis could talk, it would thank me every day.

'Chic Happens' Notebook
I got this notebook from Target not too long ago. The blue was so subtle, and the gold leaf ‘Chic Happens’ called to me, so it quickly found a home in my shopping basket. 

I’m a sucker for notebooks, and honestly, when I bought it, I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do with it, but I just knew that I had to have it. 

I started using it as a prayer journal though, because I realized that I’m much more accountable in my prayer life when I write my prayers down. It’s sturdy, it gets the job done, and it’s super cute. 10 out of 10 from me!

The Body Shop Soap
Obviously, The Body Shop knows what they’re doing. This shea soap is still in the wrapper, but everything that came in this shea gift set is just amazing. The smell is so lovely and it’s all highly moisturizing. So I can’t wait to open this baby up and use it. 

Black Radiance Bronzer
When I tell people that I’ve obsesses with a little highlight—well, a lot of highlight—they think I’m kidding. But trust me, I’m all about it. This Black Radiance bronzer has been on my face on almost every time I wear makeup. 

On my cheeks, on my nose, on my cupids bow, on my brow bone, on my…you get the point. This one is just the right shade so that I can also use it on my eyes as a shimmery shadow.  I love it! 


A Few Of My Favorite Things

I've been home for a little over a month now and I’ve finally settled into my old sleeping routine—cue the angel harmony. Since it’s finally summer, I know that a bunch of you will be jet setting to vacation spots around the world. 

If your vacation destination is a few hours ahead or behind of your current time zone, I’m willing to bet that you’re going to experience a little jet lag. Since I’m the self-professed jet lag fairy *waves wand dramatically* and I have a few tips that might just come in handy for you!

1| Don't Sleep Before the Flight
I know this one just doesn’t sound right, but hear me out. Have you ever been on a 14 hour flight? I have, and trust me it sucked. I had listened to the advice people gave me about being well rested before my flight. 

All that did for me was make sure that I was wide awake for majority of the flight.

There’s only so much in-flight entertainment one can handle before going a little paranoid that the 14 hours is seemingly dragging on forever. So what do I recommend? Stay up. 

Not to the point of exhaustion of course, but enough that you can take a healthy nap during the flight and won’t be stuck wondering why the 3 episodes of 2 Broke Girls on your screen aren’t even from the same season.

2| Sleep On The  Plane
If you followed tip number one and make it onto your flight without falling asleep at the gate, three cheers for you, you can finally sleep! Sleeping during a flight makes the trip seem shorter somehow (probably has to do with the lack of wakefulness). 

It also allows you to begin preliminary adjustments to your sleep schedule (more on this in a few).

Before you doze off, make sure your seatbelt is fastened and your luggage is stowed. If you want to be woken up when meals come around, I suggest you alert the person sitting next to you. 

You don’t know how many times I’ve woken up and the food and drink carts have already made their rounds.

3| Stay Hydrated
It’s so, so, so important to drink water during flights. Nothing will wake you up faster than a parched mouth. Ask a flight attendant for some water—not soda, not juice, but water—before you get into some serious z’s. 

Hydration really isn’t a game, and you’ll feel so much better for it.

You can usually get away with not drinking enough water while you’re on land but in the air, especially at the altitudes planes cruise at, you’ll really just dry up like a prune. 

Dehydration while flying is not comfortable, it’s not cute, and honestly, it’s not necessary.

4| Don't Arrive at Night 
Whenever I book tickets, I make it a point not to arrive at night. Think about it, I stayed up so that I could sleep as much as possible on the plane. What good would arriving at night, when sleep tends to happen, do? 

I like to arrive in the mornings or early afternoons. So if your departure/arrival dates are flexible, try to get on the flight that allows you to arrive at your destination during the day so that you can…

5| Do Stuff
You’re on vacation! Do stuff!! Get your activities rolling as soon as you get off the flight. See the sights, get some food, drink some non-water (I know you’ve been waiting on it!), settle into your accommodations. 

Doing stuff is not only fun, but it allows your brain to be stimulated again after such a long break. You get to work up a sweat, get introduced to your surroundings, and most importantly tire yourself out a little bit.

6| Set Your Body On a Schedule
Setting your body on a schedule is key because it allows you to wake up in the morning and go to bed at night as if you were at home. That’s why doing enough stuff to tire yourself out on the first day is so important. 

Make sure to set yourself a bed time (eww, I know, you’re on vacation) so that your body can become accustomed to sleeping and waking up at certain times. Setting a wake-up time for yourself also allows you to make the most out of the days of your vacation. 

You may want to sleep in some days, and that’s fine, but think of all the cool stuff you could be doing if you were… awake.

Do you have some snazzy anti-jet lag tips?

6 Jet Lag Hacks Perfect for Summer Travels

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

Whether you’re a transfer student like me, or you’re going to college for the first time, you’ve probably heard someone mention “letters of recommendation” or something along those lines. Letters of recommendation are that element of your application that let prospective universities learn about you through someone else’s eyes. 

After all, you can only say “hey, I’m great, let me into your university” so many times before your credibility starts to come into question. This is especially so if, like me, you like to fluff and really create a forest of words. 

Having someone who will shed light on your personality and accomplishments from an external standpoint is an asset. If a letter of recommendation is optional, I urge you to submit one. 

You have nothing to lose, but rather stand to gain so much more. These next five steps should get you the recommendation letter of your dreams.

Assemble a List of Potential Professors/Teachers

Technically speaking, your recommendation can be written by anyone—if who it has to be written by isn’t specified. Unless your application specifically states that a recommendation must come from your teacher or professor, you can literally ask James the mail man, Corinne the nanny, or even Gerald the gardener. 

The key to picking someone to write your recommendation is to hone in on someone who knows you well. This person should also have a strong command of the English language. 

After all, a poorly written recommendation won’t wow an admissions committee by any stretch of the imagination.

The reason I recommend getting a Teacher/ Professor to write your recommendation is because they have a unique view into your life. They get to see how you perform on both the academic and social level. 

When I was transferring, I picked a professor who had taught me three classes (that I had excelled in) and was also the advisor of the student organization that I was president of (the International Students Association). 

I had attended most of his office hours over the past two years and he eventually became my personal mentor. His recommendation was my cornerstone recommendation. The one I relied on the most.

Another person I got a recommendation from was the head of the biology department at my university. I got along well with her and being that she was the head of the department for my major, I knew that she would have a lot of leverage. 

Make sure you have at least three people in mind that you know will give you good recommendations. The third person I chose was the parent of one of my close friends. He is a neuroscientist (the field I want to go into) and being that I was often at his house with my friend, he got to know me and was able to write a wonderful recommendation for me too.

Set Up a Meeting

Once you’ve assembled your small list, call or email your potential recommenders to set up a meeting. Asking for a recommendation is always best done in person. This is just good manners and will probably secure you a “yes” more than anything else.

A “please write a recommendation for me” email can easily get lost in the email of your recommender. What won’t get lost is the sight of you sitting across from them asking (ever so sweetly and earnestly) for a letter of recommendation.

Office hours are ideal for recommenders who work on campus, but be sure to let them give you a meeting time according to their availability. 

It’s never nice to impose, no matter how much of a time crunch you’re on. That’s why it’s important not to ask for recommendations at the very last minute. If they’re rushed, chances are, they might not be too thorough. 

Give Them Context

Once you arrive at your meeting, be sure to exchange a few pleasantries before getting right to the point. You don’t want to waste their valuable time, and you want to make sure they know how serious you are about the matter. 

There are a few things you should bring with you. With you, you should have:

1. Your resume – jobs you’ve held, awards/recognition you’ve received (make sure it’s up to date!)

2. A list of your extracurricular activities – on campus and off (this part, if applicable, can be included in your resume)

3. A bulleted list of things they could mention in the letter – jog their memories, give them ideas of how to best sell your strengths as well as your weaknesses.

Bring the three things above as hard copies, but also send them as attachments in an email in case they are misplaced or left at the office. Your recommender might want to be able to access them at a different location. 

If the university you're applying to requires a recommendation form to be filled out by your recommender, be sure to print it out and bring it to the meeting as well. 

Don’t forget to ask them if they have any questions as of the present, and if they decline, let them know that they can contact you at any time in the near future to fill in gaps. 

Give Them Time

Now comes the wait. Make sure that you give your recommender enough time to go through the materials that you provided and to write out a thoughtful recommendation letter. 

I would say give them about 3 weeks to a month with your recommendation letter. I know this means that you’ll have to wait for quite a while, but think of this as an exercise in patience. 

Use this time to make sure all the other aspects of your application are in order. Try to avoid checking in constantly on their progress. 

To know that you’ll get your letter when you need it, give them a deadline and check in about 3-5 days before the deadline you gave. If the recommendation is supposed to be submitted on an online website like Common App, you can check yourself whether your recommender submitted their letter. 

Otherwise, you can ask them on the day you had agreed upon. 

A Thank You Gift

Once your recommendation has been submitted, consider giving your recommender a gift. Careful thought went into making you look like an ideal individual to admit.  

Depending on how your wallet is set up, you can choose to get something a little expensive or more cost effective. Think along the lines of some chocolates, a nice pen, or even a globe like this one I got one of my recommenders. Shy away from gifts that are too flashy lest they be confused as bribes. 

I hope these tips get you the recommendation you desire!  


How To Get The Best Recommendation Letters

Outre Dominican Curly Synthetic Wig

Hola! Today I'm quickly reviewing my current hairstyle: the Outre Dominican Curly Synthetic Wig. I've been watching so many videos on Youtube about curly wigs because I've wanted to buy one for the longest. 

I didn't think I was ready to buy a curly human hair wig, so I decided to test out a synthetic wig first to see if I liked it. After wearing this wig for the past few weeks, I think that the next curly hair I rock will definitely be a human hair wig.

I absolutely love this wig. It's full, it's bouncy, and it's eye-catching. I will say though that this hair tangles quite easily but I've figured out a way to keep that at bay: I finger comb it with a mousse.

Would y'all be interested in seeing how I keep the wig from frizzing too much?

It didn't smell too bad, but the mousse I put in it did alter it's smell for the better. It's a half wig, but it definitely fit my entire head which says a lot because I have a rather large head. 

I bought this unit on a trip to the beauty supply store but you can find it here on the Sam's Beauty site.  

I think I'll give the hair a rating of 7 out of 10. It's good for a synthetic wig, but the tangling started about two days into me wearing the wig. I've had other hair that gave me a week or two of wear before tangling. 

Let me know if you want to know anything else about this hair.


Review: Outre Dominican Curly Synthetic Wig

Hello, hello, hello!  I love reading beauty posts as much as the next girl, but I've never really been up to posting about it as much as I'd like too. 

All the fantastic blog photography I see gets a little intimidating for me and my little old iPhone 6 Plus. However, since I'm home for the summer, I decided that I'd throw my inhibitions aside and just have fun with it. 

Speaking of summer, I wrote this post on some beauty habits that you might want to perfect this summer. 

Anyway, today I'm giving you my take on the Matte + Poreless and Dewy + Smooth foundations from the Maybelline Fit Me range.

Maybelline's Fit Me Foundation is my favorite foundation. I've tried foundations that are too thick, too thin, crack easily, break out my skin, ...you get the point. 

But the Fit Me Foundations are my all time favorites right now, and by right now, I mean almost a year. Once I came across them, I couldn't chance trying something else. Being that  my skin is on the oilier side and my pores can usually be seen from Saturn, the Matte + Poreless is my usual go to. 

It fills in my pores and it gives me that flawless matte finish that I crave. With a good setting powder, I'm usually set for the rest of the day.

The Dewy + Smooth is my preference for when I'm in colder weather and my skin gets dry. It doesn't come off as "dewy" so much as smooth. And I really like that because I don't think I'm actually capable of pulling off the dewy look.

There's a very fine line between looking dewy and looking like you smeared a tub of Vaseline jelly all over your face. Real talk. 

I will say, however, that the Dewy + Smooth looks a tad darker than the Matte + Poreless both in the bottle, and once applied to the skin before blending. It matches my skin perfectly once it's blended though. 

Also, it does tend to blend a little easier than the Matte + Poreless. I sometimes get the feeling that I'm on a time crunch with the Matte + Poreless. I blend like a mad woman when I use it. There's no time for awkward dry patches here! 

Overall, I would say that if it comes in your shade, you should hop on it, girl! 

You might like:
My Foundation Routine


Maybelline Fit Me Foundation: Matte+Poreless vs. Dewy+Smooth

So I've wrapped up my sophomore year of college (woot woot!) and let me tell you, it was rough. Between dropping a class, running the International Students Association and figuring out that I actually have like 2.5 real friends (lol), I've been keeping myself pretty busy. 

But I'm finally back home in Kenya for the summer and I couldn't be happier. There's really just something about being surrounded by the people you love that just...sets you free. You feel me?

Getting home, however, was a bit of a hassle. I'm the type to book my tickets waaaay in advance—ya girl doesn’t play about those ticket prices. Whenever I go to uni in the US, I book a return ticket because my intention is to come right back home because that bio major stress can only be tolerated a little at a time. 

When I had come home for Christmas break, I booked my spring semester ticket in early December. Everything looked fine and dandy and I was set. Little did I know that my tickets had a crucial flaw: timing. 

I left Raleigh at around 6:20 am and arrived in New York about an hour and fifteen minutes later at 7:50-ish. I was hustling my way through JFK—as one does—on my way to drop off the luggage I was checking at the Qatar Airways desk. 

I got to the check-in desk and there was literally no one there. Weird. I strolled over to one of the big screens that show all the upcoming flights and couldn’t locate my flight. 

My flight was supposed to leave at 10:00 on the dot, yet it wasn’t there. Weirder. 

Being the paranoid person that I am, I immediately started thinking that I booked my connecting flight a week too late and that I was going to be stuck roaming around JFK like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Before I started hyperventilating, I whipped out my flight itinerary and checked the time for my next flight. Bam. I instantly felt like a total idiot.

Right there, bolded and in print, although a little smaller than I would have liked, were the letters ‘PM’. 

When I tell you that I was devastated, please believe that I was utterly shattered. I had an eighteen hour wait ahead of me and the check-in desk wouldn’t open until about four to five hours before my flight. 


My next dilemma was that I was too broke to go explore the city for the day and even if I hadn't been, there was no way I was about to be lugging around my big suitcase, my backpack, and my tote. It just wasn’t about to happen. I was going to have to stay put. 

So for the next eighteen hours I had to keep myself busy. Here’s what I ended up doing: 

1. Get Some Food
I was stuck and I hadn’t eaten since dinner the previous day at 4:00pm so naturally my first decision was to buy some food. Being stuck and hungry just didn’t sound like a good idea to me. I’m not a fan of hunger.

 I’m pretty sure you aren’t either. For breakfast, I ended up getting a water and a lovely parfait. I also ate some delicious Lindt chocolates that I had in my backpack. 

Okay, they were meant to be a gift, but the situation called for some sweet comfort. 

2. Buy Internet
Unfortunately, JFK only allows you to connect to their wifi for forty-five minutes of complimentary use. Being that I had a casual eighteen hours to kill, this was just not going to cut it. 

Boingo is their wifi provider and had several options: I could either pay $7 and some change for the next 24 hours or $4 and some change for a monthly subscription. Girl, I clicked on that $4 monthly subscription so fast! That extra $3 could sit right where it needed to: my bank account.

I then proceeded to cancel the subscription when I got home. 

3. Netflix
Because I had bought wifi, I now could do what I do best: binge watch shows as I eat. I found a wall to sit by near some lovely old Korean ladies and some backpackers who had missed their flight and got to watching. 

I watched a few episodes of Girlboss, an episode or two of Greys Anatomy, some Trevor Noah stand-up comedy, and the entire season of Dear White People for good measure. 

I also watched White Chicks with a nice girl who was waiting on a flight to Korea via Beijing, China a little later in the day when the old ladies and the backpackers had left.

4. Talk to Strangers 
I like to make friends wherever I go and this one is definitely one of my favorite things to do during a layover, so I got to chatting with the people around me. The two elderly Korean ladies had just come from visiting their grandkids and were heading back to Korea via Istanbul, Turkey. 

They gave me candy. I took it. I know you’re not supposed to take candy from strangers but I think that only applies to kids, and I’m about to be 20 so it’s really quite alright.

The two backpackers on the other side of me had come up from Florida and were on their way to Europe. The only problem was that they had missed their flight to Athens, Greece the prior evening and didn’t want to spend money on a hotel in the city so they spent the night in Terminal 8. 

5. Take a Nap  
I hadn’t slept the night before my flight so I was pretty exhausted. Taking multiple short naps was a great way for me to recharge until it was time for me to go check in my luggage. I couldn't sleep for long because I was paranoid that I'd wake up and all my stuff would be gone. 

Aside from what I did above, here are a few more things you can do if you are stuck in an airport. 

6. Take a Shower, Brush Your Teeth
If you’ve been traveling for a while already, I’m willing to bet that you don’t smell too fresh…and neither does your breath. 

Take some time to hit the bathrooms and freshen up a little bit. I really hope you packed a toothbrush in your carry on. 

In fact, take a look at this post for some ideas of things you definitely don’t want to leave out of your carry-on. 

7. Shop
The best part about shopping in airports is that most of the time, everything is duty free. This means no sales tax, ladies!

I can’t even begin to tell you how that extra 7% has pained me each time I make a purchase. This is a great alternative. If funds are low, it’s always nice to just wander and window shop instead. 

8. Get Some Work Done
You probably have your laptop with you. Why not whip it out and get some work done? You can draft a few blog posts (which is probably what I should have been doing instead of binge watching Netflix and talking to strangers). 

You can get caught up on your emails, and you can even skype some family and friends. That last part isn’t necessarily work but it definitely counts as something to do on a long layover. 

9. Take Some Insta Worthy Pics
You’re in an airport, girlfriend. Let your inner jet setter loose and take a few #TravelDiary selfies and pictures like this

Throw in some shots of planes taking off and landing, or even a few snaps of the airport tarmac with the planes all lined up... kind of like this. The possibilities are endless. 

You can even take some pictures as you shop/window shop. And of course, once your in the plane, I know you'll want to take pictures like this. Yeah, those are my favorite kinds.

10. Journal 
This time in the airport can be a great time of introspection. You can even write about your journey so far. 

I love keeping a non-digital travel diary because in a few months/years, you’ll want to relive the moments of your journey in detail. 

What better time to jot them all down than right when they’re fresh in your mind? 


Things to do During a Long Layover | 18 Hours in JFK

Today I thought I'd share my foundation routine with you all. 

If you're subscribed to my Youtube channel, you've probably already seen my foundation routine. However, I wanted to bring this video onto my blog to better unify my youtube channel with my blog. 

Plus I feel like there are somethings that are easier to show than write about but there are others that require writing. So without further ado, here's my super easy foundation routine: 

*The following product links are affiliate links*

Products used:

You might like: My review of the Maybelline Fit Me Foundations


My Foundation Routine

Wow, it's been a minute, but guess what? This bio major life is NO JOKE. I literally have a breakdown just about every other day. But that's fine because I have faith that it will only make me stronger. And everyday that goes by is another day closer to my goals. So, I CUT MY HAIR! The big chop happened! And it absolutely happened by accident! Well, sort of. I have a story time post coming up with all the details on that, plus you'll get to see what color I dye my hair. Ahhh! Can you guess what it is?

Kristen Aguilar Photography

Let me tell you guys about my Calculus class. It's horrible. Your girl is not a math person at all. The last time I may have actually enjoyed math was before the multiplication table got into to the sixes. Yes, as soon as we went from 6 x 6 = 36 to 6 x 7 = whatever the answer is, it was over for me. "I'm tagging in the next person! I'm done here!" There's also this super sassy guy in my class (who I like to call Mr. Mental Math) who is consistently just doing the most. He's the guy who will correct the professor, just because he can, and even when he's wrong he'll insist. Yep, he's that guy. I like him though, he keeps class interesting.

Kristen Aguilar Photography

My Chemistry lecture is also a mess. I thought I was just slow but my professor is honestly just fast. Excuse me for assuming that I was sitting in class to learn. What I found out was that the in-class portion of Chemistry was only meant to supplement the learning that I was doing on my own. Oh. Okay then. Chemistry Lab is another story though. I love it. I think it's because I'm a hands on person (a kinesthetic learner, if you want to get fancy) and just like actively absorbing information through actions and experiments. I'm totally in the loop in that class and I appreciate that, you know. It's refreshingly different from what goes on in lecture.

Kristen Aguilar Photography

I'm taking a Professional Writing class that I'm really enjoying because although I fare better in the realms of fictional/creative writing and research paper/essay writing, I find that I'm learning lots of valuable lessons about effective communication. If you know me, you know that I'm super expressive when I talk and I just can't talk without moving one, two, or all of the following: my hands, my brows, my shoulders, my head, my entire body. This class really challenges me to be professional in my communication while still being true to myself and writing in a way that a large audience regardless of educational or cultural background will understand. 

Kristen Aguilar Photography

Outside of academia, I've been working on  a few special personal and blog related projects that I hope to be sharing with you all really soon. As a recent highlight, my friend Kristen and I went to target and bought a bunch of chocolate the day after Valentine's Day. If you don't do this already, you need to get on it  because the chocolate is half off! We went back to campus and ate it as we watched Grey's Anatomy, my latest show obsession. Yes, I'm know I'm late to the party, but I'm here now so woohoo!

Kristen Aguilar Photography

Anywayyyyy, I'll see you all in the next post, there are some chemical equations that need balancing before midnight. *sigh*


A Life Update

Hello! Today I thought I'd share a little Nosy Nancy post with you all. I'm sharing what's on my phone! I love watching "what's on my phone"videos on Youtube and reading the written versions on blogs so I wanted to share what was on mine.

It's nothing too riveting as I'm not a fan of having a phone that's too cluttered. You'll notice that almost everything is classified in some sort of folder.

The first screen is just my wallpaper, and as you can see, I love plants. On the second screen all the apps you see are the default apps, minus the Google Maps app (I downloaded that one). On the third screen, I have all my apps organized into folders: Communication, Photos and Videos, Social Media, Lifestyle, Productivity, and Extras.

In my Communication folder I have:

Whatsappp | to keep in touch with my family when  I'm overseas. It's free and the call quality is usually pretty good even in bad internet connection areas.

Facetime | because some conversations are best had face to face and if I'm too far from the person I'm trying to talk face to face with, this app is my go to. Unfortunately, it's not available for androids but that's fine because Whatsapp is and it has a video call feature now too.

Viber | because the call quality is sometimes better than that of Whatsapp, plus they have cute stickers! But I don't use this one nearly as often as I use Whatsapp.

Skype | because group Facetimes are surprisingly not a thing (sad face). I have it on my laptop too.

In my Photo and Video folder I have:

Photogrid | is the app I use to make quotes on my instagram. It's also handy for making collages.

Aviary | is a photo editor that has a plethora of uses and I'll dive into more of them when I write a post on how I edit my instagram photos.

Snapseed | is another photo editing app. I use this one mainly to make my whites whiter in my instagram photos through the use of its "selective" tool.

UnUm | is an app I love to use to plan out my instagram feed. It also lets you schedule your posts for a later time when you may not be available to do it manually.

VSCO | is the app everyone and their mother uses to edit their instagram pictures. You can spot their filters anywhere.

In my Social Media folder I have:

Snapchat | because the flower crown filter is my life.

Pinterest | because I love all the great ideas and blog posts I come across that lead me to cool blogs and websites.

Tumblr | I run an inspirational fitblr (fitness tumblr) that you can follow right here.

Instagram | is probably hands down my favorite app and you can follow me right here.

WeHeartIt | is full of inspirational pictures and aesthetic.What can I say? I love pretty things. It has pretty things. It's a no-brainer.

Bloglovin | to keep up with my favorite blogs while I'm on the go.

In my Lifestyle folder I have:

Amazon | because spending money you should be saving doesn't just have to be confined to my laptop.

Uber | because I don't have a car and I'm too lazy to walk.

Wells Fargo | because keeping track of my finances conveniently is a priority.

Al Jazeera (English) | is my favorite news outlet. They're unbiased and they tell it like it is.

Bounce | is my favorite game and sometimes I have exactly 3 minutes to spare so I'll bounce around.

Life | to track my menstrual cycle.

Soundcloud | because Apple Music doesn't really let me discover new up and coming musicians like these two guys I'm obsessed with right now.

Youtube | to watch all my favorite beauty gurus, TED Talks, and vloggers.

In my Productivity folder I have:

Google Docs | because sometimes I pull out a essay and add a few sentences to it while I'm walking to class.

Dropbox | because I'm not a huge iCloud fan when it comes to photo storage.

Google Drive | to be able to access all my school work and other such documents.

In my Extras folder I have apps I don't really use:

Compass | I don't really need to know what direction I'm heading.

Tips | I think I've figured out my iPhone.

Voice Memos | I only use this to record lectures I know I'll zone out in.

Contacts | I can access this from the phone app already.

Find Friends | I occasionally use this to track down my friends and see if they're actually where they said they'd be.

Find iPhone | I have my phone on me at all times so I doubt I'll ever use this.

What's your favorite app?


What's On My Phone

College is usually a great experience! You're thrown into independence with little more than a laptop, a suitcase full of clean underwear, and a pillow. 

Okay, slight exaggeration—rather, I hope that's not the start your college years get off to. What I’m trying to get at is that it’s all new, and if you chose to live on campus rather than commute, you’re pretty much on your own.

culture shock

This can be an especially isolating experience if you’re an incoming international student like I was. Coming to the United States from a high school in East Africa was a huge change, and the culture shock hit me hard.

I had chosen to go to a small university in the hopes of my transition being smoother because I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by vast amounts of students. That was a main deciding factor for me as I had gone to a rather small high school (260ish people) and graduated from a class of 50—well, 49 because one person didn’t quite make it. Being in a small environment where I could really get to know people was my thing.

I’m what some people would call an extrovert. I don’t really have trouble talking to strangers, and I love getting to know new people. So naturally, when I arrived, that’s what I did. 

And something unusual happened. 

There was a cultural barrier that hindered me from truly connecting with the people I was meeting.

A lot of the people I was interacting with had either lived in the city their whole lives, or came from a city nearby. Many of them knew each other, and subsequently had shared experiences. 

I found it difficult to connect with them because all my life, I had hopped from country to country living on and visiting almost all seven continents. I realized that the reason I was able to connect with people whose culture was vastly different from mine was because they reciprocated the desire to connect with me and my culture. 

People I came acrosss didn't tend to care about where I came from because they didn't know about it.

"I found it difficult to connect"

I found that whenever I introduced myself as being from the Democratic Republic of Congo, very few of my peers knew where that was aside from it possibly being in Africa. Once I confirmed that it was indeed in Africa, a lot of ignorant questions would ensue.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like answering questions about my culture—I love it!—I just don’t appreciate ignorance. There is a big difference between asking if infrastructure is really as underdeveloped as it is portrayed in the media versus asking me if I ride lions and zebras to school. 

Can you see how the latter would be a little offensive?

I dutifully answered any and all questions that came my way. But when I in turn asked questions about America and its cultural norms, there were quite a few people who made me feel as though I should already know these things and made jokes (at my expense) out of my lack of knowledge.

For any new person, it’s hard to keep your chin up in such an environment and I found myself hit with an intense bout of homesickness. I didn’t want to be there anymore. 

I just wanted to go home. I called my father and demanded that he book me a flight home immediately if he really loved me. He told me these exact words: “Come home for what? There’s nothing for you here.”

"I just wanted to go home."

Although his opening phrase was harsh, he proceeded to explain to me that I had done all the possible growing  that I could do from home and that it was time that I be tested by the world. 

Only by weathering the storms outside of my comfort zone would I experience real growth. He didn’t raise a quitter, he said. And you know what? He was right. 

He hadn’t raised a quitter, and I wasn’t about to become one just because things weren’t going my way.

So I doubled my efforts in interacting with people around me all while remembering one lesson that my father taught me long ago. 

It’s a lesson that I would want all international students—actually, any college student—to know:

 "You must never change who you are and forget where you’re from in order to gain the acceptance of others. Be you and you’ll attract the people that need to be in your life."


Being an International Student: My Culture Shock Story

new years resolutions 2017

Wow. 2017. There’s something that just really makes me giddy about a brand new year. Knowing that I can put the past behind me and set myself up for a fantastic new year is just so exciting to me. I thought I’d put my resolutions here on the blog so they have a permanent place somewhere I’ll come back to often.

1 | Blog Consistently

The first resolution pertains to this blog. I love blogging, I really do, but I was so discouraged towards the end of last year when my previous blog (iamshenga.com) was taken down because my webhost wasn’t cooperating with me. 

I wasn’t able to recover the name either so here I am starting over with a new blog. I was however able to salvage  a few of my old posts which you can find here on this blog. This post is my very first post on helloshenga.com, and I have a bunch more planned! I’m so excited!! I want to have a new post up for you guys at least twice a week but I’m shooting for three.

2 | Make My Health A Priority

Would this really be a post about New Year resolutions if I didn’t mention health related goals?  Last year (last semester in particular), I found myself dealing with a lot of stress, and subsequently ate a lot to deal with it. 

Not healthy. 

So over the past two weeks I’ve been mentally and physically preparing myself to completely turn that around. Through healthy eating and exercise, along with listening to my body and what it needs, I’m going to be making active steps towards being the best version of myself that I can be.

3 | Meet New People

I’m an extrovert by nature but last semester I really found myself feeling insecure. Insecure about my weight, my looks, and my worth. I didn’t know how to handle it because that just wasn’t me. 

I know I’m beautiful, I know I’m intelligent, and I know that my capacity to love and bring a smile to the faces of those around me speak volumes. I had started shying away from social situations. 

I’ve always been the person to say hi first but I found myself waiting on the other person/people to make that first move. But this year I’m taking back that confidence. I want to meet new people how I’ve always done it: out of the blue and to the surprise of the other person. 

So little old bus stop grandpas, janitors, and flower shop ladies, I’m coming for ya!

4 | Speak Positivity Into The Lives of Those Around Me

This is the one I’m most excited about. I want to actively speak positivity into the lives of those around me. I want to make the people a stumble upon feel loved, special, and important. 

I know that everyone struggles with their own insecurities but I want to at least be a small contributing factor to the smile that graces someone’s face. I want to be the catalyst that sets someone’s day back on the right path. All this because everyone needs a little cheering up once in a while.

Last but not least, I just want to say a big thank you for stopping by and reading the very first post on helloshenga.com. When my blog, iamshenga.com, suffered complications that terminated its existence on the internet (RIP), I didn’t know if I would ever come back to the world of blogging. But here I am! When the blogging bug bites, it bites hard. So here’s to a year full of growth on this new blog!


Twenty Seventeen: A Few Resolutions

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