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A lifestyle blog by a London gal who loves plants, metal, bleaching my hair and Osaka

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Having unnatural hair in Japan part 2// bleached blonde hair at work

girl with silver hair outside Takeshita street Wego

After I'd studied abroad in Osaka, I wrote a post on having unnatural hair in Japan- how people reacted to my bleached hair while I was a student. It was something I'd been desperate to know before I started study abroad, and I'm so glad I posted it because I've had a couple of people say that it helped them decide to yolo it and keep their unnatural hair. I'm definitely glad I had fun with my hair while I was a student. This time I want to share how people reacted to my bleached hair at work.

First, a disclaimer:

 I'm white, and while blonde isn't my natural hair colour, I'm quite pale. So although it's quite obvious to British people that I bleach my hair, I think it fit Japanese people's image of what a 'foreigner' looks like, and they were maybe more predisposed to be nicer... (but that's a whole other blog post...) So I can't speak for everyone's different experiences and this is only about how people in Shizuoka city reacted to me. 

Something to bear in mind is that not that many people bleach their hair in Japan,

 it's something quite associated with yankii fashion and 'rebels' in general... I did get called a yanki a couple of times (fair enough).
 Although lots of people do dye their hair in Japan, it's usually to brown or ash blonde. Younger people, uni students and people who are into fashion do go for bleached, bright colours, but it's rare to see 'grown ups' with dyed hair as most jobs just won't allow it. 
And also you need to bleach a few times to get dark asian hair to go blonde, which I think is also a factor- lots of my Japanese friends who'd experimented with bright colours said they stopped bleaching their hair due to how damaged it'd got. 
Even at Summer sonic (a big rock festival), hardly anyone had bleached hair (which I was shocked about) I thought it was really interesting that people couldn't tell my music taste from my hair and clothes, whereas I think British people can immediately tell I'm a rock fan...

So why was I allowed to bleach my hair? 

My company was pretty chill- I had bleached hair in my interview and asked if I could keep it and they said yes! I think it is always worth asking, as long as you make it clear that you're open to dying it a more natural colour if the company wants. But I was allowed to keep my hair blonde, yessss! 
A lot of people I met presumed it was my natural colour, with a couple of people even asking if I dye my eyebrows...  And most people said it was really pretty! <3 I got asked if I was Russian or Eastern European a lot, which was cool! 
Although, when I asked if I could dye it ginger, I was told no as people would think it was more unnatural, as ginger is rarer. But back at home I was allowed ginger hair at school because it's a 'natural' colour. 

But although my company was really chill, I don't think that's the norm- when I interviewed at bigger hotels, I was told I'd have to dye it a more natural blonde and it definitely wouldn't be ok as an English Teacher.

So if you want to get a more formal job like an ALT or at a big company, I think you'd have to follow the same rules as Japanese people and have your hair a natural colour.

I'd love to hear you guys' experiences with dyed hair in Japan, (or wherever you are! Bleached hair gang unite!) and I'd like to write a little more about working and living in Japan as *not an ALT* because I think that I had a bit of a different experience.
Thanks for reading!
-Amy xoxo


Tuesday 18 February 2020

Why you should study abroad// things you should consider before you go

Side street in Shinsekai, Osaka at night

As long time readers will know, I did a year abroad at Osaka University in 2015-16. I wrote about studying abroad at the time, but I never did a proper 'why you should study abroad' post- I really think it's an amazing experience, as you get the chance to live in a different country and make friends and try new things! In this post, I'll explain why I think study abroad is great and a few of the things you should consider before you go.

Why you should study abroad// 

  • It might cost less than you think- In the UK, fees are capped and it's less than a year at home! Obviously the costs of living might be higher, but there is the opportunity to get scholarships, and you might be eligible for a higher maintenance loan.
  • You learn so much! Academically, it's really interesting to take classes in a different country, but you also learn more about different cultures
  • The opportunity to make new friends and for cultural exchange- often the people in your class will be from all over the world, so you won't just learn about the country you visit, but about loads of different places
  • Travel opportunities- you'll have time to travel in the holidays, and also your uni might run group trips
  • It's great for language study- the best way to learn is immersion, and you'll find your language improves so much while you're there which is why most language degrees in the UK will include a year abroad
  • You'll become way more independent- being away from friends and family for a whole year was a huge challenge and culture shock is real, but surviving on your own will really improve your confidence and independence
  • Employability- study abroad makes you stand out a bit in a sea of new grads, and a lot of employers will value the global mindset you get from living abroad
  • The opportunity to live in another country for a whole year could be difficult to come by again. It's also convenient because a lot of the time your host University will have a dorm so you don't need to worry about finding a place to live/ paying loads of different bills in a foreign country.
  • you get to put off graduating for a whole year ;)

Things you should consider//

  • Study up beforehand- learn about the country beforehand, this will make you feel more prepared and ready to enjoy it more!
  • Do you have the money- are there any scholarships you could apply for? Make sure you can budget!
  • Maybe save some money up before you go so you can travel.
  • Start packing early-ish- make a list, and keep in mind that some things will be hard to find once you're abroad (this is another thing to research, but for example large clothing and shoes can be difficult to get hold of in Japan) ( P.s. This is what I packed for my year abroad to Japan )

  • Will your electronics work in your new country? (I'm not just talking about phones, Japan has around half the voltage of Britain, so things like hair dryers and straighteners don't work here. Maybe order a sim card or pocket wifi online so you can pick it up at the airport
  • Visa- leave plenty of time to apply
  • shop around for a plane ticket- getting a flexible return or a normal return and paying to change your return flight date will be cheaper than getting two single tickets
  • (If you're in the UK, you might be able to get a travel grant to cover travel to the country with Student Loan Company)
  • Consider getting a part time job while you're there- if you have the time, it could be really good for language and really getting to know a different side of the culture.
  • Make a bucket list of things you want to do! A year goes past scarily quickly, so think of some 'must-do' memories you'd like to tick off. My updated (huge) Japan bucket list
  • Culture shock is real! Be prepared that although it will be amazing, study abroad isn't fun the whole time and it can be lonely. Culture shock will definitely hit at some point no matter how much of a great time you have. 
  • don't forget to actually study- turn up to classes and complete your assignments- it is called study abroad after all...

That's it for now! Have any of you guys gone on study abroad? Or are you considering it? As well degree programmes, there are a tonne of summer internships, volunteering and study programmes, so they're options to consider too! Or you could consider teaching abroad. For those considering study abroad, best of luck!!!

-Amy xoxo


Monday 17 February 2020

Gigs I want to go to in 2020

Don Broco at Alexandra Palace in 2017

January has been and gone, and I haven't been up to much, buuut I'm trying to get excited for the rest of the year~ And nothing gets me more excited than live music! Here are the gigs I'm dying to catch this year:

Babymetal// I'm going to see them in London on Sunday, and I'm beyond excited to see them in the UK with my sister! It's gonna be a blast, and it's gonna be the smallest venue I've seen them in, sooo excited. Somewhere along the line I've got sliightly obsessed with Babymetal, whoops

Crossfaith// seeing Crossfaith is guaranteed to be a good night. Bonus that I'm going to see them with one of my uni pals and overall faves, Eloise. I will never miss a chance to see Crossfaith because I know they're such fun.

Bucket list///

Dorian Electra// I narrowly missed seeing Dorian Electra in November but it looked like a really fun night, so I'm gonna try see them in April in London with Elo. Looks like an absolute party.

Sløtface// a band I've been meaning to catch for ages, I need to get tickets soon. They are super catchy and fun to listen to but I've never seen them live.

Knotfest// My friend is going and it sounds so fun.... this year's Knotfest Japan's line up is too good, but the UK lineup hasn't been released yet so we'll see. 

Slam Dunk// Donny B are headlining so it would be rude not to go. I'd very much like to go to Slam Dunk North bc Leeds. But also the tickets have got way more expensive than they used to be, sob. If Don Broco do a tour you know I'll be going to that, but they haven't announced anything yet.

I also really want to go to Leeds or Download... but that depends on £££ to be honest.

And obviously if Bring me announce any dates in the UK I'll be there ♡

Have you got any shows you're looking forward to?
Thanks for reading! -Amy xoxo

Bleach Outlet sale haul: what I bought myself for Christmas// How I passed the JLPT N1// Pink hair with Bleach London Rosé shampoo review and before and after//

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Bleach Outlet Sale Haul// what I bought myself for christmas

Bleach London products including shampoo, eyeshadow, lip kit and palette

So just after Christmas, Bleach had a huuuge outlet sale and there were crazy good deals, so I grabbed myself some gooodies <3 Was super happy that they sent it with royal mail and in eco friendly packaging. It did take forever to come, about 10 days, and unfortunately there was something out of stock again, but overall I'm v happy with what I got so I thought I'd do an old-fashioned haul post :)

Live Forever Shampoo// At £1.50 (!) in the sale, I couldn't resist this. It's just a nice smelling shampoo. I only ordered one, but I receieved two! I like the shampoo a lot, so thanks Bleach <3 (or thanks whoever packed two in by accident)

Bold As Brass// This was the only thing I paid full price for, and tbh I wasn't wowed. I wrote a Bold As Brass review post if you wanna read, but tldr it was verrry subtle and washed out in two washes, so I wouldn't get it again tbh. 

Matt Le Blanc lip kit// I ordered Rosé, and it was sold out so they refunded me the sale price of £3 and put this one in 'as a goodwill gesture' which was lovely! Sadly it doesn't suit me at all, but it was nice of them to put it in. It's so light though- almost to a scene concealer lips level... 

Bleach London products including shampoo, eyeshadow, lip kit and palette

Red glitter eyeshadow// not something I'll wear on the regular, but it was in the sale and fun so I thought I might as well!

BYO palette, large// This is normally £10, but was in the sale for £2.50!! I have the small version of this palette, and I use it for all my go to makeup- it travels with me when I go away and it's just super handy. I'd got loads of magnetic eyeshadow in Jelly magazine just before I left Japan and they only came with a teen travel palette, so I got this to put them in. I think the design is simple and stylish and I was going to get this full price so I'm glad I snagged it in the sale. I'll also be using this with non-magnetic eyeshadows which I just stick in with blu tack bc I am a pleb.

That's it for this haul- and hopefully that's that for a while, although I'll probs do a haul post on all the skincare I bought when I came back home to the UK, because I basically had to buy my whole skincare routine again. Thanks for reading! -Amy xoxo


Tuesday 4 February 2020

How I passed the JLPT N1

lanterns in Shinsekai, Osaka

All right lads, it's time for me to chuck my study tips for the N1 into the internet- I passed it last year in July and my N2 post last time seemed to have been mildly helpful. My circumstances were different this time- instead of being an exchange student, I was working 6 days a week and was knackered, but I'd already paid for the test so I thought I might as well go for it.. I started properly studying in May, but I ended up cramming a lot in June. So this post will be my study tips- which books I used and how I found the test as a whole.

But first, my thoughts:

I was in Shizuoka, and I had to go to Mishima to take the N1. I'd never been to Mishima before, and it's a really cute little city! (I took loads of photos- blog post to come at some point...)

I was suuuper scared- everyone else seemed to be there in groups and seemed really confident- I was soo glad my friend came with me for moral support <3 (Thanks Tasha!!!)

It actually wasn't as hard as I thought- I had hyped it up to be really really hard in my head, but as it had been three years since I'd taken the N2- and I'd been studying Japanese for 5 years pretty solidly by this point- it was ok. Stressful, but ok. If you're prepared, it's totally doable

Doing it in Japan is cheaper than the UK, at 5500 yen it's about half the price. I decided to go for it, reasoning that even if I failed I'd still technically have saved money. Also when you're in Japan you get waay more immersion, especially if you're using Japanese at your job or uni.

It took a long time! The whole thing took like 4 hours... which was long. Wish I'd brought some little snack for the break.

The N1 does open doors- a lot of jobs only require N2, but some jobs really want N1. It doesn't hurt to have it, and it makes you look smart ;)

General Study tips//

Do as many practise tests as you can.
Make sure you get your timings- I like to blast through the multiple choice vocab questions first and go through the paper in the order it's in so I can spend more time on the reading questions, but experiment when you're doing practise questions- some
Make your study plan early! Doing a bit every day in the two month lead up is probably a good shout, but the earlier you start the less panicked you'll be.

JLPT tips//

get there early! The test centres can sometimes have loads of different rooms and you want to be calm and have plenty of time to get in, go to the loo etc. etc.

Plan your route there! You might have to travel a long way or be going somewhere unfamiliar.

Bring a watch! They don't have clocks in the rooms. I got a banging Casio for 999 yen in donki, so I was set.

You're not allowed to have water out while you're taking the test, so make sure you're hydrated and have some for the break. Maybe bring a snack too

Read the rules beforehand! There are some, like the aforementioned lack of a clock, which aren't intuitive for foreign students, so yeah, forewarned is forearmed.

There is no official Kanji list or vocab list, but there are official past papers.

Get some study books! I bought the 総まとめ series, which was fine but there was lots of furigana (too much) and I didn't think it was 'hard enough' so I didn't feel prepared. They do have a complete program though, you do a bit every day a couple of months beforehand (or cram it like I did... I can't completely recommend....) and you should be prepared to pass.
The 新完全マスター series also had too much furigana in the grammar book, but using both made me feel more prepared. Plus, the investment made me more motivated to study!
I also liked the
日本語能力試験N2ターゲット単語 book that I'd used when I was studying for N2, but I couldn't find it in Shizuoka and couldn't be bothered to order it on amazon.. I was fine without it buuut I'd probably have felt more secure with it. But also, these books add up! I probably spent about 8000 in yen total on books- that's a huge amount of money for someone who was scraping by on minimum wage at the time. Try and get them secondhand, and write your answers on a separate piece of paper not in the book so you can sell them back.

Practise listening by watching Japanese youtube, TV, anime... no subtitles obvs.

Plan something fun after! My friend came with me and we explored Mishima and went for sushi <3

Remember there's always next time - the JLPT runs twice a year in Japan, so try and forget about it until results, which will be in a couple of months time.

To anyone who's taking the JLPT, best of luck! ♡
You got this!!! And anyone thinking of doing the JLPT- I say go for it- it's really good to have a goal to work towards and focus your study, especially if you're studying by yourself like I was.

Thanks for reading! Is there anything I missed? Let me know~
-Amy xoxo

All about the JLPT N2- my experience and study tips//Having unnatural hair in Japan: How people react// My updated (huge) Japan bucket list

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