Monday, August 14, 2017

Avène: First Time User

Since I am currently having acne breakouts, I decided to drop by the Apotheke (German word for pharmacy) this afternoon to see what skincare products I should take. The lady at the counter asked my skin type and I told her combination skin (oily on the T-zone, dry on the sides) and acne-prone. She then recommended the Avène Cleanance EXPERT line. I've never used Avène before so I thought, well why not give it a try. Here they are!
Avène Cleanace Cleansing Gel for face and body - €13.90
Avène Cleanance EXPERT Soin-Emulsion - €14.90
Avène TriAcnéal EXPERT Soin-Emulsion - €15.90

Basically, the line targets breakouts without irritating the skin. According Avène's website:
  • The Avène Cleanace Cleansing Gel for face and body is a soap-free gel cleanser for face and body which harnesses a combination unique ingredients that eliminate impurities and excess oil without stripping the skin.
  • The Avène Cleanance EXPERT Soin-Emulsion is an award winning comprehensive treatment that targets the appearance of blemishes at every stage. The moisturizing formula helps regulate oil production, smoothes skin texture and reduces inflammation and the appearance of blemishes.
  • The TriAcnéal EXPERT is an evening moisturiser that comprehensively targets blemishes, marks and the first signs of ageing, so that those looking for clearer skin and anti-ageing care no longer have to compromise.
So tonight, I already used the Cleansing Gel and the TriAcnéal Emulsion. The Cleanance Emulsion, on the other hand, will be included in my morning routine.

I don't want to set my expectations high but let's see if these products can tame my raging skin.

Will update after one month (15th of September).

Ciao!


P.S. I also got 2 mini freebies! =)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

New Kid On The Block


Three weeks and two days have passed already since I first set foot here in Germany last July 13, 2017. As I've said in my previous post, it was a dream of mine to pursue a PhD degree in biomedical science and, finally, it's now becoming a reality. Getting here was never easy. It was hard work, determination, perseverance, support of the people around me, faith, and most importantly, God's mercy that got me through all this. Whenever I remember all that I've been through, sometimes I can't help but get teary eyed.

Right now, I am still adjusting in my new environment.

First let's talk about the weather. It's summer but sometimes I do feel like it's autumn or spring. The weather here can get a bit crazy within the day. It's drastic, from 29°C where the sun is shining bright with cool breeze to 12°C where the rain is pouring with nearly freezing winds. There are days where it's nice to walk around but there are days where you just want to stay in the comfort of your bed. One thing that I've been doing is constantly checking the weather update just to be prepared. I also got an umbrella. In preparation for the colder months ahead, I am also planning to buy some jackets and coats.
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Second, let's talk about the people. Stereotypes about Germans include being unfriendly, cold, direct, and are not into small talks. In my thee weeks here, I encountered some that look unfriendly and cold at first but actually they are good people. The thing with stereotypes is you compare a culturally different group of people with another group. So for me, coming from the Philippines, the norm is giving a warm welcome, showing that bright smile and greeting, to someone new. But here, on the day I arrived, I wasn't greeted by a smile and warm welcome from the reception personnel at the institute. It's just like, let's get down to business. "Why are you here? Who are you looking for?" etc. He's very direct. I wasn't offended or something because I've prepared myself about the German stereotypes. I think getting on to business is their norm here. Surely they'll look unfriendly if I compare them to the norm back home but that's what stereotyping is all about, it just compares. You can't judge someone whether he/she is a good person just by stereotyping.

When it comes to my supervisor and colleagues at work, I'd have to say they are warm and friendly and easy to work with. One of my hopes here is to have  a good and professional relationship with the people I'm working with. The night before my first day at work, I was very anxious. Good thing, that first day went smoothly. Also, it's nice that my supervisor is not intimidating and has a passion for what he's doing.

I have to add the random strangers I met outside of work. I'm very fortunate for all the act of kindness I experienced from them. I remember the day I arrived here. Jet lagged and all but I have to buy some adaptors. Using the map given by the HR, I was at the Lindenburg station looking at my map. A lady approached me and asked if I needed help. I must have looked like a lost child but I truly appreciate her gesture. Then one Saturday, I was again in Lindenburg station but the shop where I buy tickets is closed. While inside the tram, I asked a girl (whom I thought is Korean but is Chinese) how to get a ticket and she helped and taught me on getting the ticket from the machine in the tram. Also, she's a Master's student at a nearby institute who's also studying biomed so we had some conversation about our background and studies. Another Saturday, I went to the laundromat. I was looking at the directions but they are all in German. I was dead smack figuring how I'll wash my clothes. An old man asked me if I needed help. He explained one by one all the things that I have to do. He's so good in teaching every single detail I have to know, from getting the detergent in the machine to operating the washing machine to using the dryer. He's even giving me his detergent but I was shy, so I just bought one from the machine. I did some errands in the grocery and then came back to the laundromat and then, we had a good talk. He said he is the one doing the laundry of his clothes and his wife's because his wife is sick, multiple sclerosis. When he learned that I'm doing my PhD, he said that he had a neighbor who used to work at my institute. It's really a wonderful experience talking to him and realizing that he is such a good man. There's this time, while apartment hunting, I was so hungry I went to the nearest bakeshop. I only bought a slice of pie but the lady got three more breads and gave them to me as a gift. I will always be thankful to them for all the help and genuine act of kindness! I hope to also give back by helping other people.
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Third, let's talk about how I'm handling some of the not-so-good stuff. Since I am a foreigner, I can't help but compare how I look with the people here. Clearly, I am different - from head to toe. The color of my hair, the color of my eyes, the color of my skin, the shape of my face, the built of my body...I am way, way different from them. They all look like models and dolls in my perspective. Yes, I have to say dolls because most of my dolls when I was a child were blonde, fair-skinned, with blue or green eyes. They are not discriminatory, but deep inside, I can't help but feel like I'm the only thorn among the roses. I'm starting to become self conscious and insecure in my own skin. Sometimes, I feel that I'm too old to be thinking that way. I'm an adult and an adult should know what is right. And that is to accept how different I am, to be content and happy with how I look, and to celebrate the diversity of people. For now, everything is still a learning process. It is my hope though that one day, I'll be able to embrace and celebrate my uniqueness and how diverse the humankind is all over the world.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dreams to Reality

It's been a week already since I arrived and a simple way of celebrating is by strolling and exploring the areas surrounding the institute. After work, I bought a chocolate-filled croissant and ate it while walking. While enjoying the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze, the beautiful architecture of apartments, and the people just passing by, I still can't believe that all this is happening.

What was once a dream is now a reality.

I will always be thankful to God because, indeed, everything is perfect in His time. I may have waited several years, but everything is more than I had hoped for. To my family, Mama, Papa, and Nikko, for supporting me every step of the way and for loving me, even in my most unlovable moments. To my Lola, for being a big part of my life; you are an inspiration, and I hope I make you proud up there in heaven. To my mentors, previous teachers and supervisors at work, for imparting knowledge and honing my skills. To my friends, for listening to my rants and anxieties and for cheering me up (You all know how paranoid and negative I can be sometimes). To my current supervisor, for believing in me and accepting me even though I come from a different field (from plants, I will now be working on mice, though I have yet to learn how to handle them). To my scholarship provider, the Marie Curie Fellowship, and my host institute, the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, for equipping young minds into becoming the scientists they ought to be. Thank you very much!

To all the dreamers out there, young and old, if there's one thing I've learned in this whole process, it is to never give up on one's dreams. But I tell you, it's easier said than done. The truth is, you need to work hard for it, try over and over and over again even if you fail. Trust me, I know how it feels. Also, there's definitely a moment where you would cry hard on it. It will be emotionally exhausting but never let that stop you. And most importantly, you need to talk to God, pray if your dream is really His will for you, and if it's not, pray that He may lead you to the path He has destined for you.

Sharing Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hallo Deutschland

Yes, I have to type it again.

Hallo Deutschland! Finally, what was once a dream is now a reality!  

Sharing some snippets on my travel to Germany.
Golden hour

Sea of clouds

A view of Munich

Munich getting closer every minute

Touchdown Cologne

First glimpse of Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom in German)

A pretty house near the institute

Monday, July 3, 2017

Catch Up With Good Old Friends

Where did the time go?! We're already halfway through the year!

This entry is supposed to be posted on the last day of June (because I don't have any posts for that month) but LIFE happens. So, I'm just dropping by, trying to keep everything sweet and simple.

It's important to make time with people who have been part of your "old" life. Twelve years ago, I met four wonderful girls in a dormitory in college. We were roommates for three years. And I tell you, three years isn't a short time. Spending days and nights for three years in one room has allowed us to get to know each other - the good, the bad, and some of our quirks...


They are actually one of those people who really know me and my not-so-easy personality. Hehe!


And now, even if we already live in different places, have different careers, different set of friends, it's nice that we still get to see each other. They are actually a breath of fresh air in this busy and stressful life that is adulthood. It's just nice to catch up, reminisce the good old days, and simply talk about anything under the sun.


Oh, and we also did some shopping...because GIRLS!


SM Aura




BGC High Street

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Life These Days

A few weeks ago, in a newly opened bookstore in town, I decided to browse and buy something interesting to read. It took me about half an hour to get through most of the stuff. Then, as I flipped the pages of the book 365 Days of Wonder, I found this:

Such an interesting thought by Edward Morgan Forster. And I guess, in one way or another, this applies to most of us. I, for one, have just experienced what it's like to let go of my initial plans and go with what life has in store for me. But just to clarify, this doesn't mean that we just wait for what's going to happen without having some sort of plan or setting some goals. It's still important to have them because they will be our guide, our map to living the life we want.

I have always wanted to do a PhD abroad. After finishing my Masters in South Korea in 2013, I went back to the Philippines to prepare and search for PhD programs and, at the same time, to work. In 2015, I started reviewing for TOEFL and GRE, and took both in October of the same year. My plan was to study PhD in the United States which requires TOEFL and GRE. My TOEFL was good, however, my GRE was a disaster so I reviewed again and planned to retake in the coming months. In 2016, I started emailing professors and applying to various graduate school programs (mostly in Europe and Australia since I haven't taken my GRE yet). Then, US elections came and the results made me rethink about my plans. The US economy looks fragile and funding for research was not that high. Now, this is the part where E.M. Forster's quote comes in. I decided to let go of my plans of doing PhD in the US. I abandoned it but I did not abandon my dream of pursuing a PhD. I knew that I just have to look for other options. I still continued to search for programs and vacancies. Then, in January of this year, I found a scholarship announcement for PhD Studentships at the site of Nature Jobs. I submitted my application to the coordinator and it was forwarded to the Principal Investigator (PI). The PI then contacted me. And the rest is history... Haha just kidding! To make the long story short, after getting through interviews, I was finally accepted! *insert HAPPINESS*

So, in everything that we do, I think it's important to be guided by our dreams or goals but also (as what E.M. Forster said) be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lola Luisa "Loleng"

Been missing my lovely, wonderful, and courageous grandmother every single day.

Mahal na mahal po kita Lola. (I love you very much grandma.)

I hope you're having a grand new life up in heaven!










































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