Sunday, 31 August 2014

Some words to take care with

Before my exams my English teacher gave the class a list of words that are commonly mistaken when used. I was recently having a clean out and stumbled across the list and thought "Hey, this is actually quite useful" ,*1 and so I thought it was worth sharing.

  • Affect/effect, they're/there/their/ your/you're :
These are probably the most mistaken words, which in can proudly say that I'm able to distinguish between. 
Affect/effect for example is commonly confused. 'Affect' being a verb  can be replaced with another verb and still have the sentence make (partial) sense . And so, if you are unsure as to which one to use, replace it with a verb and see if the sentence makes sense. I personally use 'play' in times of doubt. Eg; the movie affected her / the movie played her. If a movie could play with something then the  sentence would make some sense. 'Effect' on the other hand is the aftermath or result of something. So when trialling your sentence, if you can replace 'effect' with 'aftermath/result of' them effect is your word.
'They're' and 'you're' = 'they are' & 'you are'. Break your sentence down and see if this is what you wanted. 

Something is over there, and is their belonging.'There' is for a place. Their is for an object that belongs to a subject. 
'Your' too is used for an object belonging to someone. 

  • Number/amount (much and many)

'Number' (and many) is used when you can count the number of the item you have. Eg the number of oranges.../ I had many oranges. Whilst amount ( and many) is used when the number isn't identifiable eg I had a large amount of orange rice, how much orange juice do you want?

Insure/ ensure
Insure is purely insurance based. So unless you're sorting out your car, ensure( make sure) that you use the correct term. 

  • Farther/further
'Farther' refers to a physical distance and would be used to describe something 'far-ther' than another thing. 'Further' is a less physical distance, so would be used in instances of time as distance here is more figurative than physical.

  • It's/ its 
This I some that I still haven't overcome completely, but according to this sheet it's is used in referral to it is and its in cases of ownership. It's sunny today makes sense. It is phone does not. Its is therefore used for ownership.

Some others include 'compliment/complement'. I compliment your outfit and dark lipsticks complement certain lips and skin tones.Girls have so many criteria for finding a guy but I have one criterion.*2
She walked around in a discreet(careful/cautious) manner, whilst taking very discrete ( individual/separate/distinct) steps.*3 There were very adverse weather conditions so in averse to going out we stayed indoors. She tried to elicit(bring out ) a response from the crowds about illicit (illegal/unlawful) drugs. Whose bag is that in the way? Who's ( who is) getting ready for school? A religious  person follows principles (fundamental) from religion. The principal (primary/first importance) value in a religion is belief in God.*4

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Results Day

It feels like just recently when I was sitting in the exam halls doing my GCSE exams, and I have been waiting (not so nervously *1) since mid-June for the results.

I did well; Pathetic fallacy played its role as today was a sunny day and I got 5A*s, 6As which I am very happy with. Can't stop saying alhamdulilah (All praise be to Allah*1) for these grades because they've made me so happy. What's more is that all my friends did well, as did the rest of the school so the mood of today has been great.
 If you read my first post, you would have read that English was never my strong subject,  and so one aim of the blog was to improve my literacy skills; but to my surprise it turns out that one of the A*s was in English literature! That grade of all grades was the most shocking, that single grade is what made everything sink in and actually reduced me to tears or relief and joy.
It seems that I underestimated myself in some sense as I wouldn't expect myself to have gotten certain grades and within some others do as well as I did, but alhamdulilah*2 I did.

I wouldn't say that I couldn't have done better; as much as I have achieved with these there were few grades that have me thinking, and others that were so close to the A* that its subtle torture to think about the subject and the exam and what I could have done.... *3.Despite the minuscule mental torment everything happens for a reason; reasons that I may not know, and may never know, but a reason all the same. Part of me believes that these grades reflect the fact that I am a capable student, but one with potential that I am definitely looking to tap into more next year. These grades are a sure motivation to do as well as I can next year in A levels that I am scared for but buzzing to dive into.

I told myself that I had to celebrate regardless, and bought myself a shake from sblended. It tasted great and satisfied my cravings but later on I was feeling...gassy. Does milk make you gassy? I've heard that it can. Who knows? I enjoyed the 'shake anyway.

Should have seen how pretty it was before this stage. Oh well

We then went to Jimmys, which is sweet because we hardly eat out and my dad was so intent on celebrating my success.
Love the colours with the gradient. And the taste, of course

The best thing about the grades (with self-achievement aside) is the fact that my parents were so proud. I broke the news to them on the phone and I could feel their joy radiating across the telephone line. My mum was screaming and I knew my dad had his extra-wide smile on his face when he heard the news. This is one thing that I don't mind my parents sharing with the whole world, his wife and his cousins if they feel like it.*4

I most definitely feel fulfilled.


Side Notes

*1 I was so relaxed for GCSE results that I thought that maybe I didn't do too well somehow. I have this tendency to stress a lot at one go then/or not at all which is what I did, I remember the stress I went through during the school year with coursework, finishing the syllabus and revision.During the holidays I was waiting for my grades like they weren't the foundation for the rest of my life.I felt nothing I am so thankful that  I did well because then I would feel like I should have been nervous.

*2 'Alhamdulilah' has literally been the theme of today.That may not make much sense but the phrase has been running through my head because I have Allah to thank for my success most certainly. For those non-Muslims who may not be so familiar, this phrase is used in the same sense as "to God be the glory". Even with the grades that I may or may not have done better in I have to say alhamdulilah because its something that I have achieved and something to be proud of.

*3 It may sound ungrateful so I apologise, but being so close hurts. The joy overrides any pain by far but I am one of those picky/fussy people who just have to see if they could have done better, where they could have done better, what could have gone wrong etc. Personally, I think it drives me to be an ambitious person. Despite what may be shortcomings I am content, and that is what matters today.

*4 Nigerian parents have a tendency to broadcast your business to other people; most probably other Nigerian relatives or friends who have children to compare with, or a lot to say for whatever it is your're talking about. Somehow, your business becomes everyone else's business and you regret opening your mouth in the first place. However, my results are those they can spread, because I feel they're great and worth all the chit-chat and commotion that this news may bring.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Book Review: Does My Head Look Big In This? -- Randa Abdel-Fattah

One thing I told myself I would do this summer is read more. I started this book earlier this summer and left it unfinished (really bad of me, I know).Nonetheless, I finally finished it and decided to review the book as I enjoyed it.
This is probably the only book that I've read twice - not because its my all-time favourite, but because I was given the book about five or six years ago,I read it, but hurriedly, and also didn't appreciate the book because I think I was too young to understand and grasp what she was saying.

I particularly enjoyed the book because I could relate to it in so many instances. I think my dad bought me the book to encourage me to wear the hijab, or to keep me convinced when I had already started. I'm not too sure, but I either way, the main character, Amal, 16 year-old Palestinian living in Australia decides to take up wearing the hijab "full-time" rather than when having a bad hair day too. The book explores her school life mainly with this new change in her identity, and all the challenges it brings with the people around her. 

Certain parts of the book stood out to me like this one.

I remember feeling terrified about wearing the hijab to school for the first time in year 7. As much as i knew practically no-one there I was scarfed of ill-judgement, discrimination and bullying because of the hijab that I was choosing to adopt. Despite my fear I was driven to do it because i felt it was the right thing to do, just like Amal did.

 ABove are typical questions that I have been asked in my time of wearing the hijab "full-time". Some to me were ridiculous, like "do you wear it in the shower" and "Do you wear it to bed?" but I couldn't blame people for their ignorance, and most people are just genuinely intrigued - so you answer the questions politely, understanding that they just want to know.

I do not have a mother like Leila in this book who believes she won't get anywhere professionally because of hijab, but once in a while these questions do pop up in my head. The disapproving stares and confused looks I get from the public sometimes are discouraging but don't stop me pursuing a career and everything else I want to achieve.

There were also in the book where Amal describes what it is like to be a Musilm in the Western world. You, sitting in your seat at home when watching the news somehow feels guilty when you hear something on the news about a Muslim, often something terrorist/war related, when you had nothing to do with it. I, like Amal, wince at the derogation of Islam especially found in the media. 

It really does seem that "the Muslim" is a phenomenon. People just don't seem to understand we are a people, media scapegoats painted badly by the media with the same brush because of a few people out there. There is also the issues of women that always pop-up, or our money practices, or something of ours that is subject to media scrutiny. It truly is overwhelming.

(this image is particularly unclear, apologies)
Here is Amal lashing out in anger as she often does in the novel, to a girl who asked her to explain the terrorist acts of some in Bali for a school assembly of some sort. It is frustrating, to think that people actually succumb to the generalisation the media had portrayed of Muslims. Sometimes i feel like responding to people asking me questions like Amal did, bringing up Hitler, the KKK, the Zionists and the IRA, they're all based on religion in some sense. The stereotype stings, especially because no-one else puts these groups to a whole religion like stereotypes are put to Islam.

How? Its sad to think that the average person who may not have had the luck of knowing/being confident enough to ask a Muslim, or find out about Islam would be feed with so much misconception. Maybe its because I am Muslim myself, but it seems obscene to think tat a religion with a name stemming from the root word 'Salam' meaning peace would be so violent. Seriously, to me its like common sense or logic but to some I guess not.

(soul, the blurry word is soul)

The verse that Amal speaks of is :

"And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein" [50:16]

which is a reminder that Allah is close by. Very close. Personally, this ayah ( verse) of the Quran steers me clear of sin and wrong-doing, yet also assures me that my Lord is near, that He knows me. It's one of my favourites too.

Similarly, I feel the same way about Ramadan. You're hungry and tires and thirsty throughout but when it goes you really miss it. Ramadan is my favourite month of the year by far, and although we've just left it, I already miss it.

Putting on a hijab and walking into the streets is more than putting a hijab on and walking into the streets. You represent a global community of people that are already under a lot of pressure already. There is a sense of identity, responsibility and ambassadorship that I never felt before i put on the hijab. It has really connected me, I think, to what is known as the brotherhood/sisterhood in Islam. I find myself staying in check for the sake of myself of course but also because I'm partially responsible for the depiction of my Ummah.  As much as I dislike the fact that people associate the wrongdoings of some Muslims to the whole faith, it the way to learn about Islam- via the Muslims you see. There is a hadith that I can't find that supports this, which makes total sense. I represent my people, regardless of whether I've done good or bad. The same goes for being a teenager, and being black, and being a female I represent these labels too.

I know that the five ( or six) years that I have been wearing hijab have not shown, me all the trials and tribulations I will face being a Muslim female, so again, Amal is completely right in saying that wearing the hijab is just the beginning of it.

I recommend this book to all, Muslim and non-Muslim, as it will educate, inspire,and maybe make you chuckle a little.I hope you enjoy this book like me.

Friday, 15 August 2014

NCS; The Challenge - Week 1 and Week 2

So it turns out that my post for last week ( week one of NCS) didn't actually post for some bizarre reason, and so I have to apologise for being post-less for so long. Nonetheless, I'm here,back for now and posting.

Outside my comfort zone.

If I have to describe the last two weeks in one sentence that would definitely be the sentence. I did things that made me uncomfortable, drained my physically, and even mentally.

Take week 1. The physical challenge. I admit that I am not at my best in terms of fitness levels at the moment, so doing what I did in the last few weeks hasn't been easy. Funnily enough also, all the activities had something to do with being outside my comfort zone in different ways.

 Underground caving was wet and muddy, which in the massive suit we had to wear was especially uncomfortable. Additionally, it was dark. I wouldn't say I am scared of the dark, but I know that at the point where we were asked to turn off our headlights and close our eyes, I felt  very uneasy. It was way too dark for my liking, it made me feel like I was somewhat blind, and that was not a nice feeling.
We then hiked up Sugarloaf mountain, taking the longest route around the mountain. It was this day that let me know that I am lacking in fitness, because the hike practically killed me *1. Reaching the top was rewarding, the view was to die for *1.That same day we set up our teepee for an overnight campsite stay. Eight teen girls in a teepee; definitely another noteworthy experience. The morning after had my body aching like it never had before, but instead of having a rest for the day, we set of for canoeing. Most people love canoeing, but I dislike being of the ground ( i.e, on water, in the sky, anything that means that the gravity that I am so used to is missing*2 ), and so I dislike canoeing. After my panic episode at the beginning of the session, I got on, and the ride was okay...I guess. I was certainly peaceful which helped calm me.

There was then week 2. Residential Challenge. I've slept away from home many times before so sleeping away was not an issue. Even the prospect of cooking was not a problem. It was the limited food that was a serious problem. I never really realised how good I have it at home to have full cupboards and a full fridge until I got there and saw next to nothing. We were asked to pick our food the week before, but half of it never arrived and so I was quite hungry quite often in the week. It was quite upsetting really, but definitely challenging, which is what I signed up for. Luckily, I do cook, and so my flat members and I were able to fend for ourselves throughout this week.We also had the opportunity to visit a charity called CASPA, who work with autistic children. I learnt a lot about autism that I didn't know before, cleared up misconceptions and have been enlightened on the topic. The children were really sweet too - such a pleasure to meet.

Throughout the 2 weeks, the lack of internet almost drove me insane. I will not be putting Wales in any future 'want' posts as there is no 3G. Whilst typing this I still don't understand it. Everywhere we went in Wales during week one had no 3G, no wifi, and too many sheep. Greenwich University had enough 3G (we thank the Lord) but, there was no open wifi which shocked me seeing as it was an educational institute. Using my social media in this week too was not so easy, and surprisingly bought to my attention just how much I use wifi, 3G and the internet in general.

Most importantly, I have met great people. Team Edwards have been such a joy to be with and get to know, as well as everyone else in my wave. I can't even start to list the banter, jokes, and memories made with the people I've met.

The last two weeks have definitely inspired me.

(hopefully I can get some more photos soon)