Nurafiqah Yusof Author

My First Ever “Breaking Away” in Australia

Written by Editor’s Picks, Student Life

It’s hard to define “home” when you don’t stay in one place for an entire year.

In my case, during the first half of the year, I lived in a homestay. During the winter break, I went back to my home country, Malaysia, to visit my family before coming back to Australia. Just recently, I moved out of homestay into a shared house with friends.


Living in different places brought out different aspects of my personality. While I was at the home stay, it seemed imperative for me always to show my best behaviour because it was like I was representing my own country. I would consistently wake up early, get myself ready for classes and get my laundry done on time. If I didn’t, I felt it would reflect poorly on my parents and how they have raised me. At the same time, it was the right kind of pressure, the kind that makes you a better person. I felt much more productive, and I certainly got a lot of things done, and I was also able to enjoy what Sydney had to offer in the spare time that I had.

Ice skating with the ladies

Ice skating with the ladies

But now that I’m living in a shared house, it feels like the pressure is gone. I don’t have to put myself on a pedestal and demand myself to be the best example of a Malaysian girl because I’m in a house full of Malaysian girls. There’s no reason to try to stand out because I belong. Of course, at times I do feel left out and awkward, but it happens to everyone. These kinds of awkward moments only last for a split second…then life resumes its course. I’m slowly learning to work through them because if I think about it, in the long run, this is where I can learn more about who I am and establish a closer connection to people from my culture.

Im Ready yo

It may not seem like much but living in a shared house tests my independence and maturity. I am even more in charge of my survival than before, especially when it comes to food. I now have to decide what to eat every day! That’s super stressful! If it were up to me, I’d just eat instant noodles, but I hear that’s not exactly healthy. Really, I have the utmost respect for mothers and fathers that always know what to cook for their families (y’all got it figured out). Also being in university, I am wholly in charge of my studies. There’s a lot of gap time in between classes and what I do in those hours could either really help me or hurt me. Of course, the first few weeks of uni I messed around and slept in my free time. But I’ve grown to realise the importance of setting a routine early on in the semester when it comes to studying. That is certainly something I will work on next semester.

The ladies from Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney


Being able to live in a shared house with different people has also allowed me to meet more people and more friends! It was something I was not able to do back in the homestay as I was living with one family. I recently met my housemates’ friends when we went on a trip to the Blue Mountains together. We hadn’t met before, but during that journey I found that I really connected with them and felt at ease. We have since become friends, and it’s helped me feel that I won’t go through life alone.

The Malaysian sensations from the recent Blue Mountains trip


My parents have told me stories from their university years about finding a close-knit group of friends, and I have always wanted to experience something similar. I wanted to find people I could seriously consider my brothers and sisters in this new city. By deciding to move to this shared house, I feel as though I have done just that.

It feels like home away from home.

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Food does not lie: Malaysia Festival 2016

Written by Editor’s Picks, Entertainment, Student Life


Malaysians and various locals attended the annual Malaysia Festival at Tumbalong Park on September 4th this year. The Malaysia Festival is an annual cultural not-for-profit festival organized by Malaysian Student Committee of Sydney with the support of Ministry of Agriculture, Tourism Malaysia, and Education Malaysia. The organizing committee is made up of Malaysian students in universities all across Sydney and they affiliate with the Malaysian student associations in those universities. The Festival is a great way to connect with locals and educate them about the peninsula of Malaysia.


Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page

It was a sunny day, merging into the beginning of spring. The park was filled with people, particularly in the food stalls. The Festival was larger this year but just as popular. The various stalls formed a U around the main stage with scores of people lining up, especially at the juice stands.


The sugar cane thirst quencher

Some of the notable food stalls were Papparich and Mamak, both of which had never-ending visits by hungry Sydney-siders and Malaysians alike.

(Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page)

(Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page)

Some of the delicious food sold at the stalls at Malaysia Festival (Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page)

Besides food, there were some cultural stalls as well. The Ministry of Agriculture dedicated a booth for people to experience durian, the thorny and strong smelling fruit that’s become representative of Malaysia.

A cultural booth stood between food stalls. Inside, Malaysian student volunteers manned the booth with cultural games, cultural artefacts, traditional clothes, and traditional processions like a traditional Indian wedding.


Harimau and Monyet, the Festival’s mascots wandered around the venue, taking photos with kids and adults alike. The atmosphere was jovial and carefree, with laughter and conversations buzzing all around.

Harimau posing with Malaysian students on the eve of the Festival (Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page)

All the while, there were various performances up on stage. There were performances by famous Malaysian artists, instrumental performances, cultural performances, and contests. Young children from the MAAN Malay school performed dikir barat, which is a traditional musical form popular in the state of Kelantan. Malaysian students from Sydney universities also performed the bamboo dance, which is traditional in Sabah.


The MAAN Malay school performing a medley of famous dikir barat songs for the attentive crowd


Malaysian students performing the bamboo dance, a traditional dance from Sabah

The notable and much-awaited performer was by Amy Search, a famous Malaysian rockstar. But before the legend, an equally amazing artist took the stage: Cassidy Anderson (a.k.a. CassidyBoleh). She’s an Australian singer who makes Malay covers of various songs. She first rose to fame through her Malay rendition of Let It Go by Idina Menzel. Cassidy was super popular with the crowd, with young and older men gifting her flowers (and one even gave her satay, now that’s #goals).


The only way to profess your love is through food

Visitors didn’t some coming until the very end of the Festival. Every year, the reception has been positive and just as festive as the last year. MFest will be back next year, so don’t forget to check out their Facebook page or website to receive updates! Hope to see you next year to enjoy the delicacies that Malaysia offers.

If you would like to see the goings-on at MFest this year, check out this video montage by Cassidy. (You’ll also get to see her receive the satay mini-bouquet at 5:56.)

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Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Written by Entertainment

The 2016 Paralympic Games is the 15th Summer Paralympic Games. It’s a major sporting event for athletes with disabilities and this year, the Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from the 7th of September to 18th of September. The opening ceremony will take place at the Maracanã Stadium.

The International Paralympic Committee has announced that it would include a team of refugee athletes under the Independent Paralympic Athletes and they will compete under the Paralympic flag. Similarly, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games also sported a team of 10 refugee athletes.

The refugee Olympic team 2016

  1. A small gathering of British World War II veterans initially started the Paralympics.
  2. Trischa Zorn of the United States is the most decorated Paralympian in history. She has competed in the blind swimming events and won a total of 55 medals, 41 of which are gold.
  3. Neroli Fairhall, a paraplegic archer from New Zealand, was the first paraplegic to compete and the first Paralympian to participate in the Olympic games back in the 1984 Summer Olympics in L.A.
  4. The 2016 Paralympics is the first Summer Paralympics to be held during the host city’s wintertime
  5. This is also the first time a Latin American and South American city hosts the event.
  6. The 2016 games will also see the introduction of two new sports: canoeing and the paratriathlon.
  7. The official emblem of the 2016 Summer Paralympics incorporates a heart and the infinity, symbolizing a beating heart and the idea of an infinite amount of energy to overcome obstacles.

The 2016 Paralympic Games emblem. From left to right: Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro; Carlos Arthur Nuzman, Rio 2016 president; and Sergio Cabral, Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro launching the logo.

Though there have been various disparities in terms of funding and sponsorship between the Paralympic Games and the Olympic Games, these shortcomings have little effect on the Games or athletes themselves. These athletes will continue to strive for the best and make their countries proud.

Celebrating diversity and equality.

Australia will send 177 of their best athletes to compete at the Games and we hope you’ll be tuning in to support.

The 2016 Australian Paralympic team

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ISLA 2015/2016 Program Completion Ceremony

Written by Editor’s Picks, Student Life

On Tuesday, August 2nd, the International Student Leadership and Ambassador (ISLA) group held a completion ceremony in the grand Reception Room located in Town Hall. This reception was held to mark the successful completion of ISLA’s 2015/2016 program. The immaculate room was filled with people such as the international student ambassadors in the program, their friends and family, the students’ institution representatives, the police, Consulate Corp, international education sector key stakeholders, and NGOs. Guests were served delicious finger food as they socialized. Though the weather was damp, guests and student ambassadors didn’t let that dampen their mood and spirits.


Selected student ambassadors were given the chance to speak about their journey in this program. Mi Lainmar Oo, one of the student ambassadors, acknowledged in her speech that when she first arrived in Sydney, she struggled. She was nervous, homesick, and struggled to keep track of her life in university, just like any other international student. “If you get scared of doing something, are you going to end your life without doing anything?” is a question Mi Lainmar asked herself after a few months of studying here. She had realized that life within her comfort zones was not beneficial in any way and sought out a way to explore and push herself. That’s when she joined ISLA. She has found out who she is through the various self-development programs that ISLA offers. She’s greatly improved her confidence and found various ways to help the community.


Another noted speaker was Zaki Haidari. Even though Sydney was chilly, his speech warmed the hearts of everyone in the room. He spoke of how his father was the first in his family to be educated, a doctor. Because Afghanistan is a developing country, the medicine had to be imported from overseas and so, everything had to be written in English. His father would travel regularly to Kabul to collect medicine but one day, one journey back from Kabul in 2011, changed Zaki’s life. His father was stopped by the Taliban. His van searched. The Taliban found documents in English and accused his father of helping international organisations like NATO. Zaki has never heard from his father since. After that fateful day, he was targeted by the Taliban and spent 5 months traveling, seeking asylum.


The final part of his journey was the most frightening, Zaki was traveling from Jakarta to Christmas Island but instead of the trip taking 24 hours, he spent 5 days at sea. Zaki came to Australia to seek asylum and to seek peace. With only $100, limited English, no access to education or work rights, Zaki was isolated and stumped. But with the support from the Australian community, he was given a 3 year scholarship from Martin College. His education dream was becoming true, something that was impossible back in Afghanistan. When he first started at Martin College, he had only a few international students so he was really keen on meeting other international folks. In 2015, he was given the opportunity to join ISLA.


That was the first group that made him feel part of the community, through the events and workshops provided. He can clearly see the changes when comparing when he first started out and where he is now — he was shy and cannot speak in public. But through ISLA, he has been given many opportunities to step out of his comfort zone and talk about his experiences in front of crowds. And through his involvement with ISLA, he’s been awarded the NSW International Student Of The Year Award.

IMG_4020At the end of the speeches, the audience was treated to an original song written by one of the ambassadors. “You Are My World” was a heartfelt song written by Tian Qin. She reflects on the adventures she had over the past 18 months with her fellow ISLA student ambassadors. Everyone was attentive while Tian Qin and her friend, Joanita Wubowo, along with two guitarists performed the original. “I am strong when you’re with me…I’m home when I’m with ISLA…Forever I wish I could stay,” sang Tian Qin and her friend. The song made me realize how tight of a bond they’ve created with each other at ISLA and I found myself itching to join and establishing connections with other international students.


Through ISLA and the City of Sydney, student ambassadors have been able to meet new friends, get to know more about the city, and build leadership skills of youth leaders in the communities. Examples of events coordinated by ISLA and the City of Sydney include Journey to the Center of Sydney tours for newly-arrived international students, international student networking events, employment panel to provide advice and support to other international students, and a Youth Leadership Conference for both local and international students to develop their leadership skills.


To conclude, Susana Ng, the Senior Community Program Officer, gave a short and sweet speech congratulating the ambassadors. “Standing here today, I can’t help but feel like a proud parent, attending my kids’ graduation ceremony,” remarked Susana as the audience chuckled. She recollects the purpose of ISLA and how each and every one of the ambassadors have achieved their goals to aid and build strong international youth leaders. She then congratulated all those that made the ISLA program possible, the Mayor, Councillor Kok, the City of Sydney and their interns, international education partners, government and non government organisations.

“In the next few weeks, we will start our new round of ISLA recruitment,” Susana informs.

“So please encourage your students to apply and promote the ISLA program to your network.” Concluding her speech, Susana quotes an ancient Chinese proverb on friendship and urges the student ambassadors to stay connected to each other, Sydney, and Australia no matter how close or far away they may be

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but it would never break.”

The night ends with some more socializing before everyone is ushered out by security. Waiters continued serving food to the guests as they finished up their round of networking. We say our thanks to Susana for inviting the VOIS team to this prestigious event that certainly opened my eyes to such an amazing opportunity as an international student. To quote Zaki’s friend Fabian, “If you live in Sydney, you don’t need to travel the world because you have the world in Sydney.”

13350259_1033595023394196_508655237142271836_oWhat’s it like for you to study in Sydney as an international student? Use the hashtag #myfuturesydney to read about other students’ stories or to publish your own!

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Things You Don’t Know About EID in Malaysia

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

Islam is a religion practised by over a billion people and Muslims are followers of the faith. The ninth month of the Muslim calendar is the holy time of Ramadan, when Muslims all around the world fast for a month. By avoiding food and water from dawn until dusk, Muslims look to fulfill one of the pillars of Islam. (The five pillars of Islam are five basic acts in Islam that are considered mandatory and are the foundations of Muslim life.) After resisting temptation and fighting inner demons, they are then rewarded with Eid (or Raya), a month filled with food, forgiveness and celebration. As it is a big occasion in countries all over the world, Eid is observed in tandem with the country’s specific culture.

In Malaysia, where I come from, the event is a huge deal. Preparations can even begin from the second week of Ramadan. It depends on how much money you’re willing to spend, but some families go all out and make their Eid clothes or kuih (koo-weh). Some even give their living room a makeover: new curtains, new cushions, new furniture, new paint, the whole she-bang. Others choose not to be too grand in their Eid preparations. 

What do we do during Eid in Malaysia?

The night before Eid, Muslims in Malaysia watch their TV sets and await the Eid announcement after Maghrib prayers (second last prayer of the day). Once it is announced, a takbeer is heard in the nearby mosques and various TV channels. It is a proclamation to prevent Muslims from becoming too prideful and to remind themselves that the month of Eid is a blessing and a reward from Allah (the Muslim god).

The takbeer is usually performed by men at various mosques

On the first day of Raya, Muslims go to the early Eid prayer at the nearest mosque. Then, they return home to the delicious home-cooked meals that have been prepared that morning or the night before. Raya is celebrated with immediate family members first, then with other relatives and/or friends.

After breakfast, we have a “forgiving session” where family members take turns apologising to each other for any mistakes made or harsh words spoken. Usually, the youngest will ask for forgiveness from the eldest and move down the age line. The reason we do this is because Eid is the time of forgiveness and renewal. A common phrase used during this period of the year is kosong-kosong which translates to “zero-zero”. It means that all past mistakes are forgotten, and we begin our relationship with each other fresh and new for the rest of the year.

As shown here, the oldest sibling is asking for forgiveness from their parents

Families usually go to each other’s houses to visit, reconnect and eat. So people who you haven’t seen in a long while or have never even met before may pop up at your home. But, in the spirit of forgiveness and Eid, you greet them with a smile and open arms. At the end of the visit, the adults may give out duit raya, money in individual packets, young children, students, the elderly and orphans.

Duit raya in colourful packets

The amount will vary depending on each family and each person. The packets are either bought or received for free from various institutions like departmental stores or fashion boutiques. The more relatives you visit, the more delicious food you get to eat and the likelier it will be to get money as well!

What do we wear during Eid?

In Malaysia, we wear our traditional clothes during Raya. Women wear baju kurung or baju kebaya that can be ready-made or tailored.

Baju kebaya

Men wear baju melayu with sampin and songkok.

Though recently, women may be seen wearing long dresses known as Judah or abaya that can have a variety of designs and colours. However, it isn’t usually considered traditional Malay clothing, but Arab.

Since it is encouraged to dress nicely and wear new clothes on the first day of Raya, many people are eager to prepare in the days leading up to it. Some families may even decide to coordinate their Raya clothing. There’s a sudden surge of shoppers at various malls selling traditional materials, new designs pop up (ranging from affordable to expensive), discounts are offered and shoe sales increase. Needless to say, it can get pretty hectic!

However, after the fifth day of Raya, the excitement starts to die down a little bit. You can wear non-traditional clothes or stop serving Raya food to guests if you wish.

What do we eat?

The first day of Raya, we eat traditional Malay food such as ketupat (ke-too-pat), rendang (ruhn-dang), sambal kacang (sam-bal ka-chang) and ayam masak merah just to name a few. Each state will have variations, but it is the same all around Malaysia.

Ketupat or nasi impit are soft rice cakes that have been boiled for a few hours, with a hand-woven coconut leaf case. Because of the skill required to make the casing, ketupat takes longer to make. Therefore, many tend to buy versions ready-made from the market or use nasi impit instead. The skill is still practised in more rural areas of Malaysia though.


Ketupat or nasi impit is best eaten with rendang is a dark-coloured spicy meat dish that originated in Indonesia. The smell is one-of-a-kind and aromatic.

Sambal kacang is a spicy peanut sauce that’s usually eaten with satay during normal days. Ayam masak merah is another spicy dish, but it is red and uses chicken instead of meat or peanuts. (We do like our spicy food, eh?)

Seen here are rendang, ketupat, ayam masak merah, sambal kacang, and seronding.

To cool and sweeten our palate, we treat ourselves to various kuih (dessert/pastries) that have been homemade or store-bought in the days leading up to Raya. Desserts may include tart nenas, suji, Almond London, other cookies, cakes and kerepek. In this modern day and age, you have just got to know where to get the best kuih to impress your relatives and friends.

What do we listen to?

Raya-related songs can be heard everywhere you go during this month. Here are some classic selections:

Eid is a grand celebration for Muslims all over the world to mark the completion of Ramadan, regardless of culture and customs. Even so, Eid has its special identity within a culture. For example, in Malaysia, Eid is unique in such a way that it is identified by the food that is served, clothes that are worn, and most importantly, duit raya.

How does your culture uniquely celebrate Eid?

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4 Things New Students Dread

Written by Student Life, Tips & Tricks

It is the start of a new semester. If you are like me, you are just starting your career in university. Moreover, also if you are anything like me, you most probably dread quite a few things about uni life. Moreover, on top of that, we realised international students! A new start in a new university in a new country. What could go wrong?


Credits: Wawasan Open University Malaysia

It is not much of a dreadful feeling but more of your insides doing a full gymnastic routine as the clock counts down the minutes until your orientation. Orientation is just sitting in a big hall while someone on the podium talks. So, in theory, it is nothing to worry. However, the thought of having to see so many people as well as being in an unfamiliar situation can be pretty overwhelming. Even though it is nerve-wracking, keep in mind that the orientation session is for you to understand how you can make the most out of your time in the university by using the resources available to you.

Making friends

If only making friends was as easy as when we were kids

If only making friends was as easy as when we were kids. In high school, it is easier to make friends – you are in a set classroom in your year, and you know those people. University, it is different. You would be pretty dang lucky to go to the same university as your best friend and even luckier if you are doing the same course! However, of course, not everybody can have that kind of luck. Mere mortals like you and I are thrown into the crowd of freshies feeling somewhat vulnerable. You are not entirely sure of other people’s intentions or how they are going to react to your unique personality. Some just ooze confidence and charisma, and that is the bomb dot com. Someone may strike a conversation with you, and it goes right. Moreover, sometimes it is only after the conversation ends do you realise how you could’ve added that extra spice. Then you are just waiting for the chance to use that witty comeback you had saved up. Certainly, trying to make friends can be a challenging task but with persistence (along with an open mind) can help you generate a spark with your peers.

(Also, I find that if you go to orientation without your parents, it is much easier for you to make friends.)

Group assignments

I was looking through my subject outline, and I noticed for a few of my courses, there would be a group assignment. Oh no. My head was already spinning at the thought of having to talk strangers, but I was also anticipating I would have to do a lot of the work too. It is pretty unreasonable to think so negatively of my peers since I have not even met them yet. However, I have had some bad experiences working in groups in the past. To avoid doing all the work yourself, be sure to communicate clearly and thoroughly with each other. Work out what is expected of the assignment and from each of you. Delegate the work equally among everybody and help check each others’ work.

Looking for your classroom/lecture halls

Directions and I do not mix too well. Having to search for my classes, in particular on a large campus, is a nightmare. I also hate being late. When you walk into class after trekking 50 kilometres just to find it, people will stare at you like you have murdered someone. Lateness also shows that you are unprepared for work, and that does not give the greatest first impression. In order to avoid such situations, it is best to explore the campus beforehand to locate key locations – lecture halls, tutorial rooms, cafes, bookshop, and other important places.

University life is pretty much like in Monsters University

However, the university is bound to be a great experience. Here you will meet people with colourful personalities from all over the world, network with your peers, and perhaps make lifelong friends. So take a deep breath, chin up, and do your best.

There are many more things that can shake up newbies so share your experiences in the comments down below! How did you overcome your nerves during your first few weeks at uni?


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Tone Down Distractions and Turn Up Your Music

Written by Student Life, Tips & Tricks

It is that time of the year again. Exams are looming. Late nights. Junk food binge. There are times when you do not even feel inspired to study for your exams, and everything is just static in your head when you think about your tests. Listening to music, however, may help you buckle down and focus on exam prep. Studies have shown that listening to music before studying or doing a task can be beneficial, as it improves attention, memory, and also your ability to perform mental math.giphy (20)

Here are a few ways to tone down your distractions and turn up your concentration.

1. A playlist of songs you are familiar with and could never get tired of listening.

giphy (4)

Personally, I find that listening to music does help me concentrate. It is usually songs that always listen to, or I have memorised over a period. Therefore, the songs have become natural to me, and it becomes nothing more than just rhythm and beat. By focusing on the rhythm and beat, I can mesh together what I am studying/reading with the beat of the song. When I get into the groove of studying, the songs just become soft tunes in the background.

2. Repeat a song over and over.


Compared to the previous method, this ensures a steady rhythm and tune for you to memorise and study. I’ve been listening to “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence on repeat to prepare for my exams, and I find that the rock beat keeps me awake and focused. Personally, slow songs make me feel relaxed as supposed to upbeat songs. I felt much more lively and driven to get stuff down when I listen to “Bring Me To Life” or any other rock song because it is fast-paced and exciting.

3. Listen to acoustic or instrumental songs.


When you are trying to memorise things in a particular order or are processing a lot of written word, songs with vocals might not help. Your brain might be thrown off and confused by various words in the song. Music that is too upbeat or loud can be distracting so find something that helps you relax but also with enough beat or rhythm to ensure you do not zone out while studying. Choose classical music or more acoustic music with minimal words to distract you. Try turning into scores from some of your favourite movies while you study.

4. Join a music streaming service and try out one of their automatic playlists or create your own!


Spotify is great if you are out of new music or if you have not any acoustic or classical music to listen. Sign up with your Facebook or Google+ account and you’ll have access to a multitude of songs from various artists. There’s a range of playlists you could choose from to suit your whims but don’t spend too much time browsing that you end up wasting your time! Apple Music also has the same features as Spotify too if you are more comfortable with that service.

Try these Spotify playlists:

The bottom line is, the final decision about studying while listening to music is up to you. You decide how you study and concentrate best – with a little T. Swift in the background or a little Ed Sheeran or some All Time Low. Alternatively, better yet, no music at all. Music’s effects on study habits will vary from person to person and also depends on the genre, how loud it is, etc. However, to be most productive when you study, you need to find out how music will affect your studying ability then curate a playlist based on that to best suit your needs.

Good luck!


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1 Queen, 12 Presidents, 29 Prime Ministers

Written by Entertainment, Uncategorized

April 21 was Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

She is the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She celebrated 60 years on the throne in June 2012 with the Diamond Jubilee. Since then, there have been 12 U.S. Presidents and 29 Australian Prime Ministers. WOW! To commemorate the Queen’s 90th, here are some fun facts about the beloved sovereign.

1. She speaks fluent French and often uses it for audiences and state visits. She doesn’t require a translator because of this. [VIDEO]

2. Her Majesty is Britain’s 40th monarch since William the Conqueror.

3. In 2002, at 76 years of age, Elizabeth II became the oldest monarch to celebrate a Golden Jubilee.

The youngest was James I (James VI of Scotland), who was 51 years old.

4. The Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, introduced small, informal luncheon parties at the Palace to meet unique people from all professions, trades, and vocations.

It was first held on May 11, 1956 and the tradition continues to this day.

5. The Queen, technically, still owns the sturgeons, whales, and dolphins in the waters around the U.K.

A statute from 1324, during the reign of King Edward II is still valid to this day. Sturgeons, porpoises, whales, and dolphins are recognized as “fishes royal.” When they are captured within 3 miles of U.K. shores, they can be claimed on behalf of the Crown.

She also retains the right to ownership of all unmarked, mute swans in open water (Credit: Alamy)

6. Who says older people cannot join Facebook? The Queen herself joined Facebook in November 2010, albeit with a page called The Royal Family, which features royal news, photos, videos, and speeches.

You cannot poke the royal family, though.

7. She also joined Twitter in July 2009, with teams at Buckingham Palace tweeting daily updates. None of the royals actually tweet.

8. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s first televised address, a YouTube channel was launched for the royal family, called the Royal Channel.

The Palace had hoped it would make her annual speech much more accessible to the younger crowd and those in other countries. [VIDEO]

9. Her real birthday is in April but each Commonwealth country traditionally celebrates her birthday on a designated day in May or June.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, it falls on the first, second or third Saturday in June. Britain had officially marked its sovereign’s birthday since 1748 when the event was merged with the annual “Trooping the Colour” ceremony and parade. Elizabeth spends her real birthday enjoying private festivities with her family.

Baby Elizabeth (Credit: Speaight/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

10. During her time on the throne, she is no stranger to strange gifts, including a variety of wild animals.

The more unusual ones have been placed in the care of the London Zoo. Some of it include jaguars and sloths from Brazil and two black beavers from Canada.

11. There have been 6 Roman Catholic Popes during Her Majesty’s reign (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI).

12. It is pretty rewarding to be a palace staff: the Queen gives her entire staff gifts at Christmastime.

Continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI, the Queen and her husband also give our Christmas puddings to their employees.

13. She joined the women’s branch of the British army and learned to drive in 1945.

She and Winston Churchill’s daughter were members of the group, known as the Auxiliary Territory Service. The queen remains the only female member of the royal family to have entered the armed forces and is the only living head of state who served in World War II.

Elizabeth dons a uniform and stands beside an ATS first aid truck in WWII (Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)

14. She was a Girl Guide (1937), a Scouting movement for girls and a Sea Ranger (1943), a section of the Girl Guides focused on sailing.

15. The Queen is a keen photographer and enjoys taking pictures of her family.

The Duke of York is also a photography buff and has taken some photographs of Elizabeth, including an official photograph for Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.

The Queen “photobombing” Australian hockey player Jayde Taylor’s selfie (center) at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 (Credit: Rex Features/Madame Tussauds)

16. In 2003, she sat for her first and only hologram portrait, which is made up of more than 10,000 images of the Queen layered over one another, giving it a 3-D effect.

17. She has 30 godchildren.

18. The Queen has met at Buckingham Palace, the most prominent astronauts of the day.

First man in space, Russian commander Yuri Gagarin (top left); first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova (bottom left); and the first men on the moon Neil Armstrong (far left), Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (right), and Michael Collins (left) (Credit: Alamy/AP)

19. She visited a mosque in the U.K. for the first time in July 2002, in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

20. Elizabeth has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign, starting with Susan, who was a present for her 18th birthday in 1944.

A good proportion of these has been direct descendants from Susan. Elizabeth currently has five corgis: Emma, Linnet, Monty, Holly, and Willow..

You can never have too many corgis in your life (Credit: Rex Features)

21. In June 2002, to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, the Queen hosted the first public concerts in the garden of Buckingham Palace.

She attended both the classical and pop concerts. The Party at the Palace show was one of the most-watched pop concerts in history, attracting about 200 million viewers from all over the world.

22. She was the first member of the royal family to be awarded a gold disc by the recording industry.

The live CD recording of the concert as mentioned earlier went on to sell 100,000 copies.

23. She hosted Buckingham Palace’s first women-only event, “Women of Achievement,” in March 2004.

24. Only three other world heads of state have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee during Elizabeth’s reign: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006; the former Sultan of Johor (now part of Malaysia) celebrated his in 1955; and Emperor Hirohito of Japan celebrated his in 1986

25. The last and only other British monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897, at the age of 77.

At 86, Queen Elizabeth will be the oldest monarch to celebrate this occasion.

Queen Victoria arriving at her Diamond Jubilee at St. Paul’s Cathedral. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

26. She is the first head of state to open two Olympic Games in two different countries.

27.Queen Elizabeth II is supposedly the only British monarch properly trained on how to change a spark plug.

She received driving and mechanic training as a member of the Auxiliary Territory Service. [VIDEO]

28.She does not have a passport, despite being history’s most widely traveled head of state, having visited roughly 116 countries during her reign.

Since all British passports are issued in the queen’s name, she does not need one. She also doesn’t require a driver’s license, though she has been known to take joyrides around her various estates in her Range Rover.

29. She paid for her wedding dress in ration coupons.

Held during the postwar recovery years, their wedding was relatively understated. Elizabeth had to save up ration cards to purchase the material for her wedding dress, an ivory satin gown designed by Norman Hartnell and encrusted with 10,000 white pearls.

(Credit: PA/Alamy)

30. The Queen was shot at by a teenager during her birthday celebration on June 13, 1981.

Marcus Sarjeant, a 17-year-old who idolized the assassins of John F. Kennedy and John Lennon, had fired six blank shots in the queen’s direction. Elizabeth merely calmed her startled horse and resumed her procession.

The Queen rides her horse on the official celebration of her birthday shortly before a would-be assassin fired at her. (Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

31. Elizabeth II has a way to go before she becomes the world’s longest serving monarch.

King Sobhuza II of Swaziland ruled for an incredible 82 years from 10/12/1899 to 21/08/1982.

(Credit: Courtesy National Record Office)

32. Madame Tussauds have showcased 23 different waxworks of Her Majesty to date.

(Credit: Rex Features/Madame Tussauds)

33. The Imperial State Crown that Queen Elizabeth II wears at the State Opening of Parliament is set with 2,868 diamonds.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend (Credit: Getty Images)

34. There have been 12 U.S. Presidents during her reign, starting with Harry S. Truman and all the way to Barack Obama.

(Credit: Getty Images)

35. The Queen has sat for 130 official portraits. Her first was in 1933 when she was only 7 years old.

(Credit: Rex Features)

36. In Maori, the Queen is known as Kotaku, which means “the white heron.”

(Credit: Rex Features)

37. The Queen attended her first football match in 1953.

She is seen here handing a medal to Blackpool’s victorious Stanley Matthews (Credit: Getty Images)


BONUS: Here’s a lovely, family tribute video celebrating Queen Elizabeth at 90.

For more information about the Queen, visit the official Royal Family website here.




The Telegraph UK

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World Press Photo 2016

Written by Entertainment

World Press Photo 2016 is a global exhibition showcasing the best visual journalism of the past year. Compelling photos are displayed in the State Library of New South Wales until the 19th of June. I urge you to visit the impressive library and the exhibition. But a fair warning, some photos are graphic so viewer discretion is advised.

The atmosphere at the exhibition was silent and reflective. The photos felt emotional and raw, bringing to life the phrase “a picture is worth a 1000 words”. The photos brought to life some of the remotest parts of the world, such as the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Tibetan Buddhists would travel to this place for the week-long Bliss Dharma Assembly. Photos of the earthquake that hit Nepal were also featured. These were some of the most emotional photos I had ever seen, apart from photos of the refugee crisis.


The Larung Gar Buddhist Academy at Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture celebrating the week-long Bliss Dharma Assembly


Some of the devastating shots after the massive earthquake that hit Nepal


Some of the devastating shots after the massive earthquake that hit Nepal

Beautiful shots of nature, as well as some of the bloody truths of the world, are on display. They remind us to acknowledge that even though some of these issues don’t affect us directly, it will surely affect us in the long-run both personally and as a species. News of devastating events such as the earthquake in Nepal, the refugee crisis, or police brutality becomes much more real because you can’t simply change the channel and pretend things like that aren’t happening.


Shots of the current state of some of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas as a result of police shootings


Some of the less gory photos of the refugee crisis, including the famous one where Syrian refugees designate a chair for each member of the family that they’ve lost


Racism is not a thing of the past and it is still a heated topic in America

But, not all photos that were displayed were of devastation. There were shots of sports such as basketball, ski-jump, and synchronized swimming.

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Photos of cultural traditions such as the feast of Las Mayas were included as well.


Life at the Antarctic was also captured, truly reminding us that there is life just about anywhere.


It is important to remember that though these shots are beautiful, they are more than art. They are real people, real photographers, who sometimes risk their lives to showcase the truth. These are real issues and each shot tells a story. This exhibition connects us with each other because empathy is universal.

“World Press Photo’s prestigious Photo of the Year was awarded to this evocative image of a Syrian man handing his baby through barbed wire as he crossed the border from Serbia into Hungary It was captured in August 2015 by Warren Richardson, the first Australian to win World Press Photo’s top honours!” (taken from The State Library of NSW Facebook page)

So please, visit the exhibition and see for yourself these compelling images because the photos featured in this article do not do them any justice. The library opens at 9am Monday – Friday and 10am Saturday – Sunday.

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Calligraphy is Not Dead!

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

Calligraphy comes from the Greek word kalligraphía, whose root words are kallos (meaning “beauty”) and graphein (meaning “write”). Back in the olden times, it was a tool for communication, but it was also an art practiced in many languages in various cultures. Some examples of languages that practice calligraphy as the art of beautiful writing are Arabic, Persian, Indian, Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese

Sometimes calligraphy is used as a substitute for “regular” art. In Islam, it is forbidden to paint portraits, hence, why Arabic calligraphy boosted in importance and sophistication. Islamic calligraphy has been used from architecture to coin design, with beautiful writings of passages from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.

In Chinese history, calligraphy is seen as one of the highest forms of Chinese art. What you wrote is as important as the way you write it. The history of Chinese calligraphy is as long as that of China. It’s more than just a showcase of the abstract beauty of lines, but a way of self-expression and preservation of culture.

An artist by the name of Haji Noor Deen Mi Guang Jiang has fused Islamic calligraphy with that of Chinese. He works to write Arabic using traditional Chinese calligraphic brushes and techniques. Born in 1963 in the Shandong Province of China, he is a renowned master of this art form. He’s the first Chinese Muslim to be awarded the Egyptian Certificate of Arabic Calligraphy. Haji Noor’s work has created a new world of calligraphy, much like J. K. Rowling has created a new world for witches and wizards. His art falls under the subcategory called “Sini”, which is a Chinese Islamic form for Arabic script

His work has been displayed in galleries and museums around the world, often known as the first Chinese/Arabic artist. Visit him on his website for more details.

As an added bonus, here are some modern calligraphy art to soothe your senses.

Be right back, I am going to find myself a brush, pen, and some ink.

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