Victoria Marr & Flik Swan

Friends since the age of 11, the girls met when they started full-time dance training at one of the world’s top ballet schools. As their friendship continued to grow, their careers also went from strength to strength. Victoria joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet Company directly after finishing her training at the renowned Royal Ballet Upper School in London and Flik successfully landed the role of Val in the Broadway hit ‘A Chorus Line’ at just 17 years old. Victoria went on to become one of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s most recognised and respected First Soloists, dancing in productions all over the world, while Flik embarked on a successful West End career, dancing for many of the most acclaimed choreographers and theatre directors.

After long successful pro dance careers, they founded their online company, Sleek Technique: an online ballet-based fitness method that helps women all over the globe sculpt a long, lean, dancer-like physique, regardless of their location. There is a library of over 100 super effective body-shaping workout videos, targeted weekly programmes to suit any level as well as live online group classes with the founder’s Victoria and Flik.

They were the first company in the UK to launch two way, interactive, live classes online and pioneered this platform for dance and fitness. In total, Flik and Victoria have spent a combined 40 years in prime shape at the top of the professional dance world. Added to this, their extensive qualifications in dance teaching and fitness training, it is evident that they have the ideal set of expertise to bring you a workout method that will reward you with a stunning physique.

Victoria and Flik’s story to success is not only inspiring due to the sheer talent and passion they have for dance, which has sculpted their career path, but also because their business is founded on friendship and sisterhood. Thanks to their entrepreneurial skills, Sleek Technique has grown into a global business, paving the way for many more online sport communities.

Simone De Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir was best known as a novelist during her era, but now she is seen as nothing less than a feminist icon. One of her most popular novels, The Second Sex, is no longer just thought of as a text that tackles gender disparity, but is now perceived to be a feminist’s bible. In this novel, she explains the idea of objectification, arguing that in society, the very concept of a woman is a male concept, as he is the subject and she the object. Her pioneering approach to feminism signifies how she was ahead of her time, and it is this progressive attitude that has put her as a significant figurehead for the movement. Aside from writing, Simone de Beauvoir was also interested in existentialist philosophy. As a popular intellectual at the time, she used her platform to her advantage, combining philosophical and literary productivity with real-world political action that led to lasting legislative change. Following in the steps of Simone de Beauvoir, many other writers have since spoken out about their views on gender. In fact, her impact on the movement was so significant that she is now remembered as one of the prominent thinkers of second wave feminism.

Time To Say Goodbye To Working In Hong Kong?

Evianne Suen

Aspiring to take on a career in journalism, I was never incredibly drawn to pursuing it in Hong Kong, where many of my banker/lawyer-hopeful peers have set their sights on since before university. The ongoing protests, however, have given me new reasons for not going back.

My plans for the future have been inextricably complicated by Hong Kong’s souring employment situation. 

The protests, formerly against an Extradition Bill, have brought with sociopolitical disarray a hostile atmosphere targeting locally-educated graduate jobseekers. Employers – especially banks and firms with strong ties to China – are less inclined to hire the current cohorts of young adults, in suspicion of their involvement with the protests. As Hong Kong students return from studying abroad to an irremediably socially divisive city, they may be faced with a grim – albeit personally advantageous – reality: we will find work easier than our more “threatening” or “politically active” local peers.

However, the economy has suffered collateral damage in the latter half of 2019: Bloomberg reported a recession descending upon the city. With expats and branch businesses moving ever closer towards relocating to Singapore – one of Hong Kong’s main competitors – and other more politically stable countries in Asia, the city’s economic future is pushed further and further into jeopardy. 

While contemplating heading back home for work, it’s impossible not to bear in mind the economic uncertainty that my hometown will inevitably face.

While I have the privilege of deciding to stay abroad for as long as I can and right to work without the need for a visa, I am very aware that it is not an opportunity many other students possess. Some have appealed for British National (Overseas) passport holders to be given some of the rights British passport holders have, through a demonstration outside the British consulate during the summer, for example. While this call was supported by politicians such as former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a formal government response is still pending. Meanwhile, some of my peers in the universities of Birmingham and Cambridge have resorted to fighting for the ever-competitive Masters offers in an effort to stay.

The protests have only strengthened my inclination towards staying in the UK – but that is not to say I will ever forget the scenes that have wrought my home, or that I will ever stop reporting on it. As an aspiring journalist, and with Hong Kong’s freedom of press hanging in the balance, the growing prospect of censorship (which has already begun to manifest through “random” phone searches at the border and the monitoring of private but “potentially threatening” messages) and suppression is a very real fear. Who’s to say that pro-democracy journalists won’t “suddenly disappear”, when China formally seizes the city in 2047? Frontline journalists in the city are routinely assaulted while trying to do their job, and these attacks have only exacerbated over time. Who can be certain of how ruthless authorities can get anymore?

Besides these possible consequences (that may be borne not only by myself, but my family and others close to me too), Hong Kong’s dominant English language newspaper, the South China Morning Post (SCMP), has also been criticised for pandering towards Chinese leadership after being bought by Jack Ma, head of Alibaba. 

I believe in committing to the values of journalism – more important than ever in the current political climate worldwide – which would mean rejecting any possibility of being reduced to a mouthpiece for national propaganda. The protests, which have come to define the city, and how they have been handled by the government has only made it even clearer to me that it is not a place where freedom of expression is valued. 

What used to be my city has now become a hub for anything possible: the good, and (mostly) the bad. Anyone who returns must prepare for anything to happen, yet I can’t help but begin to believe that the risk won’t be worth it.

Motivation Over The Vacation

by Abhishikta Talukder

Do you prioritise making Christmas cookies over writing an essay? Taking a nice warm bath instead of practising your grammar? Or the real enemy: Netflix over absolutely anything university related. If you do any of these things, read on fellow procrastinators, for I am here to give you a few tips and tricks to keep your motivation high and productivity even higher over the Christmas holidays. 

  1. Get out of bed 

There is no better feeling than a warm puffy duvet wrapped around you. However, push past the cold and get in the shower, or rush to the kettle for a hot cup of tea. You need to get up and out of bed at a reasonable time each morning if you intend to really work over the holidays. 

Think of it like this, the more work you do in the morning, the more time you can spend doing things you enjoy in the evenings. 

  1. Plan, plan and plan again 

Whether you are naturally organised or the most chaotic person in the world you need to be setting goals for yourself each day. Not only will it give structure to your studying, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment each day, which will in turn keep you motivated. 

  1. Get out of the house 

Yes, it’s cold outside but just put on some extra layers and face it head on. There is nothing worse than studying in your room, with the presence of your warm, cosy bed lingering nearby. So, get out. Go to your local library, find a café you like. I promise, you will do more work in the two hours you spend focusing in the library, than the 6 hours you spend (claiming to study) in your room. 

  1. Take breaks

We’re all human. It is not good for you to study non-stop for 4 hours (I struggle to stay focused for 1 hour). It’s healthy to take breaks but make them useful.  Don’t scroll through Facebook, instead put on a song and have a little dance or watch a motivational video. Tailor it to what will give you energy to keep going. 

  1. Get active

No, this does not mean I am telling you to become a marathon runner. Choose an activity that suits you and will get your heart racing. More endorphins = More motivation. 

It is so ironic that I am the one giving you tips when it has taken me two weeks to start writing this. I know the struggle. The holidays are difficult with all of the impending deadlines and massive workloads over our heads. This just makes it more important to be patient and understanding with ourselves. Be motivated! But also know that it is okay to take a break with your friends and family. Find that balance. 

Here’s to a motivated Christmas and a productive New Year!

Have You Ever Stuck To A New Year’s Resolution?

Katrina Gomez

New year’s resolutions can be so exciting. I mean, you’re ready to embark on the journey of a whole new beginning. You don’t know what’s ahead. All you know is that you have these goals listed down, ready to knock them out one by one. January 1st is the day you’ll start working on them. “I will start going to the gym.” “I will have a no sugar, no carbs diet every other week.” “I will meet up with my old friends every month.” And then January 1st comes along and we’re feeling the rush. We’re ready to start. Fast forward 3 days…where have those resolutions gone? Probably out the door, like the rest of them. 

This was always the case for me at least. Every single year. That was until 3 years ago, when I came across this Oprah interview. She said, “For years I would do these kind of resolutions like, ‘God, let me know love.’ And then what you get hit with is everything that isn’t love to see if love will show up. So, I just said, ‘I ain’t asking God for nothing else. Don’t ask for courage ‘cause you’ll get a whole lot of things that will cause you to have to have courage!”

That really hit me. I realised I always felt worse in the new year than I needed to just because I never fulfilled the goals I had set for myself. After much thought, I noticed that it was because I had created these expectations for the year ahead that couldn’t happen overnight just because I wanted them to. These things needed time to develop and grow into a habit. Yet somehow, I was expecting that as soon as the clock struck 00:00 on January 1st, something magical would happen and all these things would be achievable the first time I gave the all a try. That somehow I would become this superhuman who could do all of these things on January 1st even though I couldn’t do them any time before 23:59 on December 31st

I believe we don’t give ourselves enough credit for even trying with resolutions in the first place. The fact that we have this mindset going into the new year to be better versions of ourselves is commendable in itself. It is a form of self-love. Rather than patting ourselves on the back for trying, we give ourselves a hard time for not doing everything exactly as we wished on the first day itself. I believe that rather than waiting for the new year to create a resolution which will take time to achieve, why not start now, when you can? What’s stopping you? 

That chocolate bar will still be there when you get back from the gym (whether you’ll want to eat it after the gym is a whole other story). And your old friends will be so grateful that you thought of them. 

I got tired of letting myself down for being human. So, I took Oprah’s advice. Every year when the clock strikes 00:00 on January 1st, I smile really big and feel so grateful for having made it this far in my life. I feel so incredibly excited for the year ahead – never knowing what’s to come. I stopped making yearly resolutions. Instead, I started writing down my life goals and focusing on the things that matter. I’ve never felt better about any other resolution I’ve made. For those of you who are great at keeping up with your resolutions: kudos to you! You have to tell us how you do it. But for now, for the rest of us, how about we cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves some much needed praise for trying to do well? Every effort, no matter how small, counts. 

I hope you have a great new year ahead that is filled with so much self-love and gratitude. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!