Monthly Archives: March 2015

Do I have An Ugly Voice?!?!?! The truth about what you hear

"Is THAT my voice?!"
“Is THAT my voice?!”

As I’m expanding Learn With Amy onto YouTube, I have discovered one big problem that has slowed my progress: I hate the sound of my voice on recordings. And not just video! I hate my voice on the phone, when singing, but just particularly badly when recording video. But why is that?

Well, what affects me is the same thing that most people experience when they hear themselves recorded. I hate my voice because it isn’t the same voice that I hear in my head when I speak! it just isn’t! It is so far removed from the voice I have had for as long as I can remember.
But can it really be the case that my voice sounds smooth, rich and buttery until I’m placed in front of a microphone? Do my vocal chords decide to have a dance party in there? Nope!
I have done some research and it turns out that the voice that we hear isn’t actually the voice anyone else hears! We hear a very different and unique “version” of our own voices that no-one else in the world hears.
When we speak, a lot of what we are hearing isn’t the sound that comes out of our mouths and bounces around the room until it reaches our ears, but more the vibrations that come from speaking resonating in the bones of our skull. That’s why we often hear our own voice as fuller than our own.
BUT! It isn’t necessarily a case of your real voice sounding BAD, but more a case of you not being used to hearing it! Anytime that we speak without a microphone, we hear one voice that we have grown to accept as ours, and when something challenges that we are going to label it as “weird”.

Want to hear your own voice for real? Then get two large pieces of cardboard (about A4 size) and place them against your jaw, in front of your ears, then speak out loud. The voice you hear is your “true voice”, the voice everyone else knows and loves!

So, like me, you are probably going to jump to the conclusion that your voice is ugly, horribly annoying and too bad to ever be heard on a microphone again! But, fear not, because it is not as bad as you imagine. Go easy on yourself because it isn’t all that bad. How many people do you know with really “ugly” voices? Not many, I’m guessing.

So accept that, while your voice doesn’t sound just like you imagine, it isn’t as bad as you think it is either.

So, what do you think of your voice? Is there anything you want to improve upon? I’ll be doing some research and asking some people for their advice on what to do to strengthen your voice and get you the pipes you really want to hear!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article! Make sure you join us over on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Bye-bye Grease! Taking back my hair

10432552_1013181298695894_8304708746044163524_nEver since I hit that tender age where you suddenly feel super self conscious, I have had this strong aversion to having greasy hair. Even now, a more confident adult, I still feel this (literally) sickening upset whenever I have greasy hair. I feel dirty, ugly and ashamed of myself. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but it is a feeling that I have not managed to shed after 10 years of trying.

In recent years, I have found the problem worsening as my hair was becoming greasier even faster. I got pulled into a vicious cycle of my hair getting greasy and having to wash it as smaller and smaller intervals.
I read online and spoke to people about it and the only answer I could find seemed to be to wash my hair less regularly. WHAT?! NOT AN OPTION! I couldn’t just let my hair get greasy and embrace it. So, I did a little research and learnt why my hair was getting greasier faster and faster.
While stripping your scalp of grease can cause your hair to get greasy faster, it is also the fact that the chemicals in shampoos (even “natural” ones) can irritate your scalp, making your body think that it is being attacked and releases more grease to sooth your scalp.
Now, I can go about 3-7 days without my hair getting greasy, unless I’ve worked out a lot or have had particularly sweaty shifts at work. “How?!” You may ask.
The answer probably sits in the back of your pantry, waiting for you!
It’s Baking soda!
I began washing my hair with baking soda a month ago and I’m so much happier with my hair now. In addition to that, I started rinsing my hair with apple cider vinegar and that only made things better!
Photo 09-12-2014 16 12 06This simple, and REALLY CHEAP, switch has made a world of difference. My hair is soft, smooth, easy to style, and – best of all – not greasy! This change has only brought good things – the only thing I miss about shampoo is the nice choice of smells and also the bubbly lather that you don’t get (unless, you make a doosy and mix the baking soda and vinegar at the same time) with this method.

So, how do I wash my hair? It’s really simple!

In a plastic cup, put 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda in with about 1 teaspoon of water. Then, in another plastic cup, put about 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup. Then (this is a very useful trick) get a little bit of the vinegar on a finger or spoon and use it to stir the baking soda mix. Doing this will cause a chemical reaction and make the baking soda fizz up a little bit, just like the volcano projects kids do in school, this will make it a tad easier to work the baking soda through your hair, as it’s much easier to work with a foam than a liquid that’s more likely to wash out of your hands as you try to get it on your head.
So, thoroughly wet your hair and then work the foamy baking soda mix through all of your hair. Really make sure you get it well onto your scalp – just don’t rub it in so hard that you snap your hair!
Let is soak into your hair for a couple minutes and then thoroughly rinse out.
When you have rinsed out all of the baking soda, wet your hair again and then pour the vinegar through all of your hair. Then let it sit for a minute or two and then rinse it all out.
Your hair may smell a TINY bit like vinegar, but you can easily spray a little perfume on to cover it up – but, I happen to love the smell of vinegar, so I don’t mind!

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Result!

So, there you have it, a cheap and very effective way of washing and maintaining your clean and grease-free hair!
If you have tried this method or you want to share your comments, suggestions or questions, please share them with us in the comments, or join us on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Remember that this is purely based off my own personal experience. If you find that this doesn’t work for you, don’t continue this method. We’re all different and our bodies respond differently to things. Always use your common sense and take care!

What is ‘Oppa’?

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Since Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ went viral worldwide in 2012, more people around the world have been aware of Korea and its pop culture. With that comes the typical questions that come with exploring a country with a completely different language and culture.

One part of Korea that a lot of people are still baffled by is the word “Oppa”. I see a lot of people asking “What is an Oppa?” and there is a lot of confusion about the word due to the cultural differences between us and Korea.
An Oppa isn’t a husband, actor, crush, classmate or a boyfriend, but at the same time it kind of is.
“Oppa” (오빠) means “brother” but is used by women to address older men of a close or similar status as them, so you would say it to an older brother, and older male cousin, an older male classmate or co-worker whom you are close-ish to, and older male friend, a boyfriend (some older women call their younger boyfriends ‘oppa’ to seem cutsy) a husband or even just an older man. You can simply call someone ‘oppa’ or attach it to the end of their name (For example, “Hyunseung-oppa”/”현승오빠”). One of the issues with understanding this word is that there isn’t really a direct equivalent in English, so it is a new concept. If you will, you can kind of imagine that words as like a much less formal “sir” that you can use throughout a whole conversation/interaction.
Photo 08-03-2015 02 19 10It has a lot to do with respect and friendship and knowing when it is and isn’t acceptable to use can be quite tough for non-Koreans to understand sometimes. When in doubt, you can simply ask whether it is okay to call them “oppa”. If you are learning about Korean and Korean culture, pay attention to learning good manners, but Koreans will often be understanding if you make a few errors, so long as they know that your heart is in the right place.
‘Oppa’ is one of 4 very commonly used words of this kind.
You are already aware of ‘oppa’ as the word for brother which applies when a younger female talks to an older male. Along this same strain, you have the word ‘Hyung’ (형) which is the equivalent for a younger male in addressing an older male.
And, if you switch the genders, a younger man talking to an older woman would use the word ‘Noona’ (누나) while a younger woman talking to an older woman would say ‘eonni’ (언니).
Make sure that you use these words with care. Some people don’t like being called by them and you should make effort to respect people’s preferences, especially when you do not have a deep and practiced understanding of the language to guide you.
Do you have any more questions about English, Japanese or Korean? Share your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them for you! Leave comments in the section below, or come join us on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Random Acts of Kindness

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We’ve all seen videos on Youtube and Facebook about people going out and doing random acts of kindness for others. They fill us up with that warm fuzzy feeling as unsuspecting people are shown gestures of kindness and good will. It’s really easy to watch these videos, but a lot of people don’t feel like they have what it takes to actually DO this.
Well, my sister and close friends have taken it upon ourselves to spread the love and bring joy to people’s day on a regular basis!

Inspired by videos of these kinds of events from big-hearted people like Ryan Higa and his crew, who regularly upload videos of themselves doing kind gestures as a way to inspire others to do the same. They give toys and flowers to people at Christmas and they went around their city giving food to the homeless for Thanksgiving. Popular Viner Thomas Sanders went around shopping mall for “Givemas” giving out gift cards to stores in that mall to happy customers and staff. These people are great examples of how selflessness can be both rewarding and really fun! These are the kinds of people who inspired us to start out own style of Random Acts of Kindness.

11041481_790157151068960_1238396688_nOne day a couple of summers ago, my sister and I traveled to a nearby town for a day at the beach together. It was nice – We drew pictures in the sand, paddled in the water and had a laugh before realising that we were surrounded, both on land and in the water, by literally hundreds of jelly fish and decided to flee the beach.
Wandering around and seeing a mixture of moods from passers-by. Some were loving the summer fun and enjoying the company of their families, while others were stressing out, sulking and generally being moody. We decided, as we were already having a great time, to do something nice to brighten other’s days a bit more. We put our heads together and decided that food and drinks were off the cards due to the insane numbers of seagulls that swoop at anything remotely edible and giving money just seemed weird, so we’d settle for something adults and children alike could just enjoy – Balloons!
After hurrying to the nearest card shop, we set off to deliver our handful of balloons to some lucky people.
Honestly, this first experience opened up so much for us. It was a great feeling to come into someone’s life, give them a gift and just let them go with a big smile on their faces. We met some absolutely lovely people and had some truly moving and enlightening conversations. And, just with balloons, we actually made a positive difference to the lives of others!

With that first experience a great success, we were hungry to do it again.

Valentine’s Day: Taking it a step bigger

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Valentine’s Day is known as a day of celebrating your love and putting on displays of affection for the world to see, but this day can be a huge downer for a lot of people with no partner and a glum attitude. In honesty, I meet more people who are miserable than happy on Valentine’s Day and that is because of the hype and weight put on having a partner. It reinforces the idea that having a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife should be your top priority and not having one is somehow a failure on your part. That can seriously bring you down and Valentine’s Day can be extra bad.
My best friend, little sister and I decided that we were going to take a stand against this yearly downer and go out and spread the love for everyone!
1939724_583856765032334_271925713_nOn Valentine’s Day 2014, we went out armed with ‘Free Hug’ banners and 20 balloons.
Due extremely high winds due to the huge storm that was pelting Britain at the time (hands up if you remember #UKstorm) we moved our post indoors and instead we targeted the students and faculty of our local university!
Shy students didn’t respond too openly to the offer of free hugs, but the balloons when down (or up) a treat! We managed to brighten many days, meet some very nice people and even confused a business lecturer when half his class turned up with balloons tied to their desks!
It was a fantastic day and the three of us had a great time seeing so many smiling faces! It brought us three closer together, introduced us to some nice people and brightened the days of many people!

Despite the success of that day, due to people getting jobs, my best friend moving back to Japan, lots of changes and such, the next time we had the availability to do another Random Act of Kindness was the following Valentine’s Day 2015.
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Due to my best friend still being in Japan, we still needed another to join us. Funnily enough, a few months after Valentine’s Day 2014, my sister made friends with a girl whom we later discovered, when we happened to talk about Valentine’s Day, we had given a balloon to on that day and then had met by chance later! This friend came along to help us out this year and the tradition continued for a second year! Armed with about 25 balloons and a handful of silk roses, the three of us wondered the town.
Due to it being a Saturday, the high street was packed full of families, couples and children of all ages. Honestly, the minute we stepped out with all the balloons ready to go we were mobbed by kids who wanted their own. Seriously, pre-teens are scary!!
The first child we were moved to give a balloon to was a small toddler whose parents asked us where they could buy their daughter a balloon like ours. I wish I could have captured the expression of true delight when we responded by handing over the big heart-shaped balloon that their little one had been so keen on and told them it was their’s for free.
We met a lot of lovely people along the road and we were really well received by everyone we encountered.

The overwhelming feeling I was left with was that it is so easy to make a significant difference to a person’s day (and thus a person’s life) simply by doing a nice gesture as simple as giving them a balloon.

How YOU can try it!

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So, now that you know that it’s actually very easy to do random acts of kindness, there’s nothing holding you back from trying it for yourself. This kind of thing is fantastic for helping the people around you, bringing friends together and practicing the very healthy activity of giving.
In honesty, it is a LOT easier to do it with a group of friends with whom you can feel comfortable around and whom you can chat to and enthuse with. Going around doing these activities does cause a physical reaction of nervousness and it takes a lot of energy, so having friends with you will help to keep your energy up.
There are so many ways that you can try this out for yourself, but sometimes you need some ideas to get you going:
Giving fun things: Balloons, toys for children, gift cards, second-hand video games, etc
Motivational: Positive/inspiring sticky notes, a letter to a stranger, a supportive and inspirational letter to give to a parent to give to their child, Random compliments, etc
Helpful: Giving food or drink to the homeless, a group trip volunteering, a fun charity event, visiting elderly neighbours, etc.

Remember to be creative in your ideas. My crew plan to expand on the original balloon idea for next time, so keep thinking and try to think of some original, helpful and fun ideas. Remember, fun and positivity are the mail point! People will remember their experience of being chosen for a random act of kindness, so make sure it’s a lovely memory for them to share with others.

Remember:

Some cultures are not so open to the contact of total strangers. Especially in more reserved cultures, some of the more friendly ideas might be seen as inappropriate or even illegal, so always be careful of what you decide to do.
In some places, it may be more or less okay to do ‘free hugs’ than in other places, etc.
Be very careful to make sure that you aren’t making yourself at the risk of any legal issues. When I handed over a balloon, I always noted that they should be used with care. Sometimes the giving of stuff, especially to children, can put you at some risk, so make sure you carefully consider that.

Do you have any ideas or questions about Random Acts of Kindness that you want to share? Share them in the comments below or over on Facebook or Twitter! Have a great day! Xx

 

This is purely an informational piece and anyone who uses suggestions from this piece or other pieces on this website should do so with care, consideration, their own common sense and always behave well within the law. Safety first!!