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 On a hot sunny day in Dubai, I decided to go to the beach for a good tan & swim. As I was walking by the sea shore listening to my favorite Santorini chillout track along with background whispers of the waves, a conversation between Vision & reality crossed my mind.

Vision asked reality: What should I do to get to you?

Reality answered: Act as if you’re with me & we’ll be one ✨

Danya N

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The first that comes to one’s mind when we mention the word ” Salad” must be surely, just a toss of random veggies, limited to tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and some lemon dressing.However, It is high time to prove otherwise! & It should be of no wonder, that the idea of Salads is how it is, boring & traditional.

The real essence of food is that it should please our taste buds, by how creative we are in giving it the right taste with the right ingredients, especially if we’re talking about healthy food.It requires only a tad bit of effort, and trying easy, available items around us which also enhance the nutrition value, without adding un-healthy calories.

Exotic ingredients added to salads include : Fruits, nuts, protein with a special dressing which gives it a great unique taste!

One of My all time favorite, called the Quatro Stagioni(Meaning four seasons), consists of a special mix of Mandarins, Strawberries, Romaine lettuce, avocado slices/ Caramelized walnuts/ Yummy soft brie cheese with orange balsamic dressing. A great combination of all macro-nutrients, Carbohydrates, healthy fats & protein! Bon appétit

The Quatro Stagioni

The Quatro Stagioni

When in Malaysia!

A beautiful mid month trip with my all time favorite mentor, my dad. Loads of lessons, business, inspiration, discovery & fun.

Just The best of all worlds.

A morning cup of tea is always a good idea. Chilling in the Emirates business lounge

A morning cup of tea is always a good idea. Chilling in the Emirates business lounge

Fresh quality nuts is SO important, and i have gotten used to knowing them very well.

Fresh quality nuts, the best.

Good morning sunshine.View at the Glenmarie golf club, Shah Alam.

Good morning sunshine.View at the Glenmarie golf club, Shah Alam.

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Green be so good for the eyes.

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Hotel view

Green apples for the Hotel lobby! :)

And of course, my favorite everyday must have fruit! 

Close up of Petronas towers, Kuala Lumpr

Close up of Petronas towers, Kuala Lumpr

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Breezy weather, hold your Hijab .

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وَقُل رَّبِّ أَدْخِلْنِي مُدْخَلَ صِدْقٍ وَأَخْرِجْنِي مُخْرَجَ صِدْقٍ وَاجْعَل لِّي مِن لَّدُنكَ سُلْطَانًا نَّصِيرًا( 80) سورة الإسراء

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Local Malay lunch at Madam Kuan’s empire!

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Malaysian wedding night glam!

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Love the wedding setting! Elegance, class, luxury & beauty.

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Cute little monkey spotted at the Batu caves, i salute you for the healthy option!

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Batu caves, 500 stairs.Great workout of the day.

Batu caves, 500 stairs.Great workout of the day.

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9 am quote reminder on point.

Fruits.Fruits.Fruits

Fruits.Fruits.Fruits

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7 seeds salad & fresh watermelon juice at Ben’s restaurant in KLCC. overlooking a beautiful view.

Macadamia & caramel cheesecake sundae. Calories? Whateva

Macadamia & caramel cheesecake sundae. Calories? Whateva

Fruits of malaysia are heavenly, must say.

Fruits of malaysia are heavenly, must say.

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The best part of my daily breakfast is the special taste and presence of Lychees.So sweet!

Yummy gluten free carrot cake!

Yummy gluten free carrot cake!

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My mentor.My bestfriend.My blessing.My dad. Can i get any luckier?

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*** Star Fruit day ***

This is a common street sign in Malaysia, im not sure what it means but looks like pepperoni pizza ahead LOL.

This is a common street sign in Malaysia, im not sure what it means but looks like pepperoni pizza ahead LOL.

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Goodbye Malaysia! you’ve been amazing.

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En route to kuala lumpur airport for departure, i spotted this  sign to end my trip on a great note, not clear here but it says ” With god, all things are possible”. Can’t be more true, and it put a big smile on my face.

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Ramadan is almost here! A month where we feed our Mind,Body and Soul. There’s no wonder we feel like indulging after many hours of fasting, buying all those delicacies at the grocery store, but lets keep in mind this Hadith by our Prophet Mohammad(Peace be upon him) about moderation while eating :

“O, son of Adam, eat with one third of your stomach and drink with one third and leave one third of your stomach to breathe so that you may think.”

 A lot of researches are showing the benefits of fasting. A recent study in the June 5 issue of the Cell Stem Cell shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage,but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

So here are some of the best tips i compiled for you to enjoy a healthy Ramadan!

1. Break your fast the Healthy way

The Prophetic etiquette of breaking fast: three dates( Which is considered as one serving of fruit) and a cup of water. Why is this scientifically important for our body? Dates are very Nutrient dense with versatile Vitamins and minerals as well as fiber!

Also, naturally oh-so-sweet, this helps in bringing blood glucose levels back to normal after many hours of fasting as well as avoid overeating later.

2. Elements of a Healthy Iftar plate

Remember to include the following on your Iftar plate :

  • Soup : Soup helps in keeping us full and hydrated ! But it’s also important to consider what’s in the soup, Vegetable soup, lentil soup, tomato soup are all very nutrient dense ( And of course, the signature lentil soup (Known as Adas, عدس)  which is a a great source of protein ( No excuse to get bored of it, remember the protein in it :-p ). We always try to add up protein in our soups by adding either sliced chicken breast, meat cubes to the vegetable soup or Freekeh. Avoid creamy soups which are high in fat since it could cause indigestion.
  •  Protein, Salad & carbohydrates  : starting off with protein (Such as lean meat, fish, & chicken breast)  and salad to lower the impact of having carbohydrates instantly on the blood glucose level, and then continuing gradually.Include healthy choices of carbohydrates such as brown Rice, Whole wheat pasta, and Quinoa.
  • Samboosak : Is probably considered as a must have side dish on every ramadan Sufra, it being fried, it is important to consider a healthier choice! Baking it would be awesome, this is what we do at home! We use a cooking oil spray, another option is adding a bit of oil on the pan and wiping  it with a tissue to spread it, it still tastes as good but healthier! Give it a try 🙂

3. Hydration : There are so many tempting drinks such as Amar El din, Iri’i Al soos, and a selection of juices but water takes the top! Juices are considered to be very high in sugar and this upsets the stomach and causes a delay in the digestion process. Start by breaking your fast with a cup of water, it is better to take sips gradually instead of drinking it all at once, and make sure you get your 8-10 cups of water throughout your post-iftar day to compensate for the lack of hydration!

4. Desserts : Who doesn’t love Ramadan desserts?  It’s natural to crave sweet food during fasting days. But if we have an option of making it healthy why not? Katayif is a signature dessert in Ramadan and if you really think of it, we have a healthy base here! Consider the Small portion, flour,water, low fat cheese and mixed nuts, we just need the last simple substitute, which is not deep frying it and soaking it in sugar. What we do is, we also bake it ( adding cooking spray to the pan) and again, voilà ! it still tastes as good! with a drizzle of honey at the top or ( Agave nectar, a plant based sweetener) you’ll love it just as much, and you get the benefit of a healthier choice!

Try to limit sugary desserts as much as possible, Kunafeh, Baklava and Cakes are very high in sugar and are considered empty calories which will leave you hungry throughout the day! Go for fresh fruits such as Berries instead or even an innovative smoothie with a great mix of Fruits, nut butter and a drizzle of honey !

5. Suhoor : Is a very important meal since it boosts you with the energy and hydration for the next fasting day and keep your metabolic rate high, just make sure it’s a healthy combination of  Protein, Fats and carbohydrates! an example could be an omlette with mixed vegetables/ Turkey slices with cheese and a side fruit/ Oats meal with 1 cup of low fat milk and 1 Tbsp of Nut butter and a fruit ( More ideas are available in my blog post archive : “Healthy, Filling & Delicious Ideas for Suhoor“)

6. Dining out & Buffets : We get so many invitations during Ramadan, as well as dining out in buffets which is very common, and of course, buffets have to have the best of what takes our heart, from appetizers to main dishes and oh, desserts! But can we choose wisely? Yes! I always start with a good amount of salad to keep me full, and a small corning on my plate for the appetizers (Like hummus, moutabbal) and i mostly avoid fried items (Extra calories). Main dish will be a good combination of Protein(Important!), Grilled vegetables, and some carbohydrates on the side for energy. What about desserts? It’s ok to try them, but again Portion size! just don’t go overboard.When i treat myself, i make sure i compensate by doing cardio !

7. Best hours to exercise : The best hour to exercise is 2-3 hours after iftar,  when you have given enough time for digestion and energy to workout. An hour before exercise can be tiring and makes you dizzy, and since you’ve been fasting all day and have no energy stores, your body will break down muscles.

Wish you a very blessed & Healthy Ramadan! Physically,mentally and spiritually 🙂  !


photo (8)Having travelled to spain this summer(Awesome trip and a beautiful country!) I thought of writing a blog post on Staying fit during the vacation, which isn’t as hard as it seems! especially when there’s a lot of new and tempting food to try (Eg : my favorite Napoletana de chocolate in Madrid, Yumm !). However, here are top keys to stay fit during the vacation and enjoy it as well! :

1.Eat smart : Eating smart doesn’t mean being healthy 100% of the time, it means knowing “How and what to eat”. Enjoy cheat meals and signature dishes in moderation and mind portion sizes. I used to have a big breakfast in the morning hotel buffet(Important) to fuel my long day, and this included eggs, dairy, 1 whole grain serving, 2 fruits and a cup of tea (Avoided pastries and refined sugars)

2. Keep healthy and handy snacks: Each one of us bought their own healthy snacks, nuts and delicious fruits! Mini bite chocolate is also OK (80 calories /serving) as long as you mind the portion!

3. Remember to stay hydrated : During a long day of touring, walking & hiking, it is easy to get dehydrated, however once you have a handy bottle of water, staying hydrated is also as easy!

4. Stay active : The great things is that when calorie out is > than calorie in, or equal, there’s no weight gain! and in fact, vacation trips can increase your fitness level if you utilize it smartly. During our Spain trip, it felt like we’re working out everyday! from catching trains and buses, to walking for 10 hours almost everyday, finding certain museums and monuments by walking instead of buses, to climbing stairs and up hills, it literally was longer than the usual workout out of the day, so take the chance and expend the energy!

5. Vaccation done?  Back on track! if you feel like you’ve gained weight, it’s never too late to get back on track.Start eating clean and get back to your training schedule by doing cardio! your body will respond to this quite nicely!

Remember, being Committed and dedicated to staying fit is more of a lifestyle which makes it more fun! rather than a burden 🙂 Enjoy it!

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The beautiful analogy in this story brought me into writing it as a post, where it was illustrated in Paulo Coelho’s book ” Like the Flowing River” Thoughts and reflections with a series of inspiring stories written as eloquently as ever. This is only one of the many great stories, though i truly recommend reading the whole book!

So,Here’s where the inspiration starts :

 

A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point he asked:

‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’
His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:
I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special.
‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’

‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.’

‘First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.’

‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpner. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.

‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.’

‘Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.’

‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. in just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action’

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I’m currently writing this post since this week  was the end of my four years at university,woop woop!! Now that it’s a new chapter, Lets say,my dominant feeling is being super excited to dive into this wide world, it feels good !

As i look back, i realize how much I’ve learnt throughout those four years and it also makes me happier to see how much I’ve changed.They say ” Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself ” and i’ll be honest, University  played a major part in this (Of course, apart from the very end of high school and other experiences) .

In the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking of all the great things i learnt and everyday, i give my sister some advice since she’s starting her University year soon. So, upon that, i thought of sharing them perhaps it would  inspire anyone going to university , in terms of how to live a successful college life, follow your passion,how to make the best out of it,how to distinguish yourself and how to have a peace of mind & live in harmony with yourself. So,Here it goes!  :

1.Choose what you love

The decision of what to study is important, but if you feel like your heart knows what it wants, then go for it.Fortunately, my high school grade allowed me to be accepted for both, Dentistry and Medicine.But i questioned myself,was this really what i wanted? No, so not me.My interest in Nutrition and fitness started ever since i was in high school, healthy living was a lifestyle, and i therefore, wanted to Live/know more about it in university. Also, don’t let a major define itself by what others day, for eg : This is not nice, this is too difficult or not fun, etc. If you love it enough,you’ll rule it!

2.Be Positive

Let me say this again, P O S I T I V I T Y does wonders, Positivity is an attitude.It makes you see the opportunity in every difficulty, and not the difficult in every opportunity.I remember, having an assignment where i had to submit the word document of a poster online to be checked for plagiarism,the % plagiarism was very low, and when we say “Plagiarism” lets be honest, that’s every students dilemma.I stayed up all night working on the poster,saying to my self ” I can do it”.Poster was sent, and next day i receive an email from the professor, ” There is 0% Plagiarism, You can go ahead and print the poster”. It was such a happy moment!

3.Determination

Determination will take you to where you want to be, and if not, it will take another route which you don’t know of, but with the same desired outcome.Always go after what you want and never ever give up.Most importantly,don’t let other people’s voices dim your motivation and determination, put it on silent, and move ahead.Also,One key to staying determined is to visualize the desired goal.It will happen!

4.Be Different and Innovative

Stand up for something, and don’t follow the crowd.A quote i really like says ” Those who follow the crowd will usually get lost in it.Always, always think of ways to do things differently, and most importantly have the courage to do so.I always keep in mind one of the best tips whenever i work on anything, it’s from a book called ” Whatever you think, think the opposite” , where it says : ” The best piece of advice ever given was by the art director of Harper’s Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch, to the young Richard Avedon, destined to become one of the world’s great photographers. The advice was simple: ‘ASTONISH ME.’ Bear these words in mind, and whatever you do will be creative”. If what you do doesn’t astonish the person receiving it, then it’s not different.

We had a research topic to choose for a clinical setting ( To be honest, i do not like clinical/Hospital settings), however i had an interest in a certain field in nutrition so i told my professor that i wanted another topic, she said ” Well, i’m looking forward to reading something unusual” , as we recieved the assignment after correction, she noted down “Innovative”, we also got an excellent grade, and i’m telling you, it’s so much fun working on what interests you.I also went as crazy as spraying some perfume on my Portfolio to make it memorable, the tutor told me ” I love opening your portfolio”. Oh how i love crazy ideas! ❤

5.Visualize what you want

Visualizing what you want has an invincible power, it works to the point where it’s like miracles happening one by one. I might be an over dreamer, imagining so many things and having everything i want but i enjoy it. I remember doing a role play while driving to uni during my second year at University, pretending as though i was a Speaker in front of an audience at a conference, talking about top health news etc. It’s funny because i was very serious  ( & I think drivers would think i’m crazy talking to myself  lol) Anyways,during my 3rd year, we had a community project where we get to choose a setting to give a health education program. After a meeting with the director of the setting discussing the purpose of the project i managed to get an approval to have our program conducted at their site.Later,Whilst i was walking to my car, i get a call from the secretary telling me ” The director is inviting you to be a speaker at un upcoming business congress because he liked the way you presented, are you up for it? “, and of course i said yes without thinking.

So  remember, visualize = more likely to happen!

6. Be Active, not passive

Don’t be that person who’s either a nerd, memorizes everything for the sake of getting good grades nor the person who does nothing but ask what did we do in class today.Be distinctive, the one who’s curious, works hard, studies & active.Know more than what you receive, or as they say “Don’t be spoon-fed”. The more you know, the smarter you become!

7.Go out there!

Conferences, events, activities, talks etc. be out there, you learn so much and connect with many!  whether it’s university related or not.Also, i much recommend doing things and going to events not through the university, be initiative!  and this is also part of my previous tip “Be Active, not passive!

8.Know what you fear,do it.

I was part of a conference that was going to be held in the college of Islamic studies.While discussing the topic with my professor, he told me : ” I highly recommend you present in Arabic”, since the audience would be mostly arabic speaking .Whilst Arabic is my native language, i never got to actually ” Present, at a conference, in Arabic” since i studied at an English school.Then i thought to myself, “This is going to be a new experience,let’s just do it”

Presentation was done,it went great & felt so relieved.

It feels so much better to overcome your fear rather than keep it inside, if you never try you’ll never know!

9.Sometimes, stress is good.

If you have exams, or a project/assignment due and feel stressed, that’s good. Stress is a drive and it’s good when you learn how to direct it efficiently, in the right way.Stress encourages you to work harder to achieve the goal that you want, perhaps getting a top grade or even wanting a certain outcome when working on a project. If you don’t feel stressed it means you don’t care. Stress + a positive attitude = Results. (Check the Stress/Challenge vs Performance/Happiness/Health graph) , quite interesting!

10.Nothing is Impossible 

Nothing is impossible once you set your mind to it. We had a course called bio statics ( Which until now, i do not like) . My first mid term grade was not as good as compared to my usual target  grades. When finals came, i said i’m going to study this weird material until  i understand it. I remember not coming out of my room for a whole 15 hours of continuous studying, finals came and i ended up with the grade i wanted ( Though i didn’t expect i’d do as good! ) but well,nothing is impossible!

11.So much to do? DON’T Complain.

Do you have so much to do, assignments, projects, research etc.? Do not complain,because it’s the most useless thing you could ever do. Keep it to yourself, & Instead, start working on it. Complaining won’t get your work done.

12.Surround your self with positive vibes

We’re greatly influenced by the people we’re surrounded with, so make sure you surround yourself with positive vibes! Be around those bring out the best in you and believe in you.Do you know where the negative circle is? yes, stay miles,miles away from that. Remember, ” Don’t let anyone dim your light cause it’s shining in their eyes”

13.Got an Idea? Just do it

An idea that comes to your mind without being put into action is just a thought. Ideas are usually brought with an instinct that it SHOULD be done, but sometimes Fear comes in the way. Kick fear aside, and just do it! Chances are great things will happen. If not, did you lose anything? Better to try than keep it in your mind. Adventures are fun, no time for traditional stuff.

14.Participate in clubs & groups

Being part of a club  allows you to learn so much, from Leadership, to socializing, organizing, creating reports and etc.One of the experiences i enjoyed was being part of the UNICEF peer health educator group where we were invited to attend a regional forum on HIV Prevention in Dubai.We met a lot of other teams from different countries and got to work with people from different age groups to come up with suggested solutions for the United Nations to combat HIV, it was so much fun!

15.Teamwork

Team work is Awesome and so much fun. I’m glad to have worked with a variety of teams in Projects and assignments, it’s great cause you get to learn how to Lead and deal with different people, the hard working, the lazy, & etc. If you had to work with a not-so-hardworking team, leading the team is all in your hands, create a culture of motivation, creativity and fun, with a purpose of being innovative rather than just get the job done. Luckily, my graduation research team was awesome, since we’ve already worked together in previous projects to the point where all of us would be just as enthusiastic! Work hard and have some fun in there, great results!

16. Look for fun ways to study

While i don’t enjoy studying, i look for fun ways to do so. Studying is sometimes boring for me because i have to sit in one place,and i just don’t like that. I LOVE to move which explains it. So what i do is, i take a 15 minute break and dance in between ( Zumba, salsa, hip hop or even a mini workout! ) And by the way, my grades are quite good lol (just to be sure, not  to seem like i’m playing around lol)  In fact, it regenerates your brain! Walking while reading the handouts is good, pretend that you’re explaining the material to a class or an audience.

I also remember studying by the pool with my brother for our midterms, even taking my handouts to the gym!

17.Prepare well for your exams

Being a top student could be every University student’s goal. But what do they do differently than others? they prepare well. Make sure you understand all the material required, ” Understand” and not memorize, because this will allow you to implement your understanding when answering a question that has been re-formulated indirectly. One of the tactics that really worked with me was putting your mind in that of the professors and expecting what they could get accordingly, focusing on and identifying the most important points will help you so much. And remember,never leave out anything.

18.Read

Journals, Newspapers, Books, Social media, Just know “What’s in” .Feeding your brain is very important, and it’s always good to know more than what you should. The more you read, the more you learn, and the more likely you’ll have the skill of being able to link things together.Make sure you borrow books from the University library, and it could or could not be related to your major. My dad once gave me a note with a Shakespeare quote on it that i still have up on my bulletin board, and it says : There are 3 things you should do to be successful, first one is : Know More than others (Reading is one way to do so) 2.Work more than others. 3.Expect less than others. Living by this does wonders.

19.Make time for Health & Fitness

A healthy mind is in a health body. This is not a motto i’m saying cause i’m a Nutritionist, but really, eating healthy and staying active makes you feel so much better, and you’re more likely to focus. First of all, you’re serving your body with what it needs from the right sources.Giving your body the wrong fuel creates an imbalance, so make sure you have healthy snacks around while studying, even pre-pack your meals for university and have your 2-3 L of water a day. Exercising is a natural mood booster, makes you happier, as well as keeps you fit. Nothing feels better than being healthy!

20.Have good connections with your Professors

Being nice to your professors is very rewarding. Greet them in the morning, in the corridor or elsewhere.Visit their office and ask how they’re doing without wanting anything from them.Sweet gestures like cookies can make their day!

21.Smile

Always wear it. Smiling can make someone’s day, and creates a lot of positive energy. You also look so much better smiling than not having it on your face! Smiling also feels good!

22.Believe in Yourself

This is probably the most important thing to conclude.Believe that you have what it takes, with the right attitude and determination,nothing can stop you.Also,do not let anyone make you doubt yourself, because no one has the right to.

 

To sum up, university is a great experience ! Go out there, be active, explore, create, and contribute. It is also the time where you create and discover yourself, you go through so many things but after all, it’s part of the school of life so enjoy the process ! Learning is an endless process, but you have to know how to learn the smart way.

 

University is what YOU make of it, so go out there and make the best out of it!

Much Love x