menstrual cups

Green is the new red: Think menstrual cups

By Studentdigz Cares No Comments

menstrual cups

Mindful Menstruation

Here are the facts according to Global Citizen, yes they are the same peeps who helped to bring Beyoncé and Jay-Z to headline at the Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100 in South Africa in 2018. According to their website: “Global Citizen is a movement of engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030.”

What’s the big deal about plastic?

One more plastic sanitary pad doesn’t matter, right? After all, it is convenient, cosy and comfortable. You can simply unwrap it from its plastic package, unpack it from its plastic wrapper, toss aside its plastic sticky stuff, use it and grab another pad lined with plastic and go on to rock your day.

What you may not be aware of is that every little bit of plastic matters. According to Global Citizen, “since the 1950s, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide… that’s equivalent to the weight of more than 800 000 Eiffel Towers. – And of that, only a mere 9% of that plastic has been recycled. One way of cutting out on plastic is to reduce the use of sanitary pads and opt for menstrual cups.

Advantages of menstrual cups

There are many perks of using menstrual cups. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Long-term savings and budgeting
  • Less landfill waste
  • Vaginal pH and beneficial bacteria stay put
  • Gives you more time between your changes
  • No worries about embarrassing odours (unlike with tampons and pads, the fluid is not exposed to air)
  • User-friendly

As women, in as much as we have rights and responsibilities, we need to spare a thought for the environment. Think like a thought leader in that you should not be short-sighted. You need to opt for technology that promotes safety to your body and the earth. If such innovation can also add perks to your money matters and save you some bucks, as well as lead to less plastic with its reusable features, then all the better.

Better listener

Learning to be a better listener

By Studentdigz Cares No Comments

Better listenerYou can read all the books and ace every exam, however, without good communication skills, your knowledge won’t get you very far. Being a good listener is one of those life skills that’s often overlooked or considered unimportant. But think about it – how does it feel having a conversation with someone who is a bad listener? Not great! Being able to communicate well and have meaningful social interactions is vital, whether it’s at work, or with your friends and family.

What is a bad listener?

We engage in conversation because we want our thoughts heard and recognised. Sometimes, we don’t listen simply to listen; we listen to respond with our own opinion. So instead of listening to the other person’s words, we start formulating our responses in our heads. This means that a lot of the time we aren’t paying much attention to what someone else is saying, which is kind of selfish and rude.

We do this because we want to be good at conversation and because sharing our knowledge and ideas makes us feel good. The irony is that not listening properly actually makes us poor communicators!

If you find that you do this, it doesn’t make you a bad person. But it does make you a bad listener.

It’s off-putting to talk to someone who is a bad listener because you get the feeling that they aren’t all that interested in what you have to say. It can be very confusing and distracting to have a meaningful conversation with a bad listener!

Good communication is a social skill that begins with learning to be a better listener – and this simple technique can help you become one!

Take a deep breath, and be a better listener

That’s it. It’s that simple. When you are talking with someone, instead of jumping in with a response when they have finished speaking, pause and take a breath. Then speak.

Why does pausing make you a better listener?

Pausing before talking forces you to be more thoughtful in conversation. Instead of launching into your views on a subject, you have a couple of seconds to gather your thoughts and truly respond to what has been said rather than just reacting.

When you pause, you make the other person feel less hurried and rushed and give them the impression that you understand and appreciate their input. This is an important leadership skill that makes for good workplace communication. It’s also vital for healthy friendships and family relationships.

Pausing to breathe before you speak also means you’ll interrupt conversations less – leading to more engaging interactions with less frustration and lost trains of thought.

So next time you’re in a conversation and find your brain running wild trying to think of a response before the other person has even finished speaking… remember to pause. Take a breath before speaking. Soon you’ll be enjoying more meaningful conversations, and your friends will notice that you’ve become a better listener!

never too late to study

It’s never too late to apply for further studies

By Career, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

Right about now, most universities and colleges in South Africa have stopped accepting applications to study in 2020. Most. But not all! Late university applications are accepted by some South African institutions until January or February, and some accept applications throughout the year – depending on the course and if there is still space in the programme.

Maybe you’ve struggled to decide what to study and what career to follow. Maybe time caught up with you and before you knew it, it was November! Whatever the reason, it’s not the total end of the world. There is still hope to study in 2020.

The University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) accepts late applications, with a fee of R400. This is of course dependant on all entrance requirements being met, and there being spaces available in your course of choice.

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) only accepts 15 000 students per year, but they do accept late applications. It’s worth a shot applying here, as the course you want to study may not be full yet.

Other institutions that accept late applications to study in South Africa

These higher learning institutions accept applications throughout the year. Many of them do not have limits on applicant numbers, so you have a good chance of being accepted to study in 2020… even if you’ve left things a little late.

Central Technical College
City Varsity
Codespace Academy
ICES
Inscape
Intec
Lyceum Correspondence College
Open Learning Group
Oxbridge Academy
Pearson Institute of Higher Learning

Consider a TVET College

TVET differs from university or traditional college in that the focus is not on academic coursework, but rather on practical skill and apprenticeship. It’s a great alternative to university if you want a career that is more practical (like plumbing or welding) but still want to earn a proper qualification.

It’s not too late to study in 2020!

Applying to study in 2020 is not impossible. Bear in mind, that you will usually pay a late fee, and you’ll also need to have all of your required documents ready so that you can speed up your application process. Most institutions will have cut-off dates for certain courses – simply because of limited space in the course. Often, if there are still spots available, you can still apply.

So… never say never. You still have a chance to study in 2020!

advice I'd give my newbie self

If I could tell my newbie self just four things knowing what I know now

By Articles, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

advice I'd give my newbie selfAh. University days. First-year students may feel like the year is flashing past at overwhelming light speed, but take it from someone who’s been there, done that and got the whole university experience stored wistfully in their memories: these really are the best days of your life! That said, if I could go back and give my newbie self some advice – I would!

College life is so different from anything you’ve probably experienced before. Everything is new, exciting and fast-paced. On the one hand, it can be hard to keep up, and on the other, it feels like university life is something that could last forever. But it won’t.

Here are a few things I wish someone had told me while I was a new university student.

The bigger picture is what you’ll remember

Ever heard the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff”? It means you shouldn’t be hyper-focused on insignificant details when the bigger picture is more important. After 3 or 4 years (or more if you do post-grad) at university, you won’t remember that time your friend wouldn’t let you borrow your textbook or the one class you missed because you were sick. But you will remember whether you had a good relationship with your friends, and how much you enjoyed learning new things.

Squabbles with friends or a not-quite-perfect assignment are not important parts of your university experience. And you can choose not to obsess; you can choose to forgive and forget, you can choose to let stuff go if it’s not a matter of life-and-death importance.

Be open to new friends

You may think you know exactly who you are and what you want out of life, but the truth is that you still have years of growing up and personal development ahead of you! Don’t be close-minded and judgemental when it comes to meeting new people and changing your ideas about what kind of people you like to hang out with.

University is so diverse, bringing together people from all walks of life. Give new people a chance and be open to doing new things. It could be the start of a beautiful lifelong friendship – but only if you’re willing to throw your pre-judgement and opinions out of the window.

Say yes to new experiences

University is your chance to live your life to the full, and campus life offers many experiences that you won’t have the opportunity to enjoy later in life. Whether it’s making the most of your professors and mentors to grow your knowledge, taking part in extramural activities, learning a new sport, or visiting local arts and music festivals, you should say yes to new experiences that are out of your comfort zone.

Newbie self advice – Learn to be a good friend

Here’s a bit of unlikely advice for students: university is not just about getting a degree and having a bit of fun along the way. Your years in college are important because that’s when you grow from a teen into a young adult, and form friendships that carry you through into adult life. If you leave university with a qualification but no lasting friendships, believe me, you will regret it. Build meaningful relationships with your friends, so that you can support each other through tough times at college and all the years beyond!

So take some time to stop, breathe and enjoy your university experience. It’s a time to make memories for a lifetime, and you don’t want to have any regrets when you look back one day.

PMS food cravings

What’s with PMS and Food Cravings?     

By Physical Health, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

You know how it is. You’re sitting in a lecture hall minding your own business and listening intently until suddenly you get a craving for chocolate so intense it takes every bit of your will power not to dash out and head to the cafeteria, right there and then. It’s food cravings – and the most likely culprit? PMS!

What is PMS?

PMS, otherwise known as premenstrual syndrome, refers to the time right before you start menstruating every month – usually 1 – 2 weeks before your period begins. It’s estimated that as many as 90% of all menstruating women get at least some symptoms of PMS each month.

PMS symptoms include uncomfortable bloating, mood swings, fatigue, irritability and, of course, the dreaded, gotta-have-it-NOW food cravings. Most researchers agree that the cause of PMS is likely to be hormonal fluctuations and how these fluctuations affect the chemical messengers in the brain known as neurotransmitters.

Why Does PMS Cause Food Cravings?

Did you know that the most common PMS-related food cravings are for sweets and carbs? The truth is that we don’t really know what causes them, although a few interesting theories are floating about.

Some experts, for instance, believe that because PMS may cause a dip in one’s mood, women are turning to food to make up for this – ultimately using it as a pharmacological therapy to boost their serotonin levels. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, which is responsible for creating a general sense of well-being.

Another theory is that women simply rely on food for comfort during a time when they are likely to be feeling slightly down in the dumps, bloated and unattractive.

From a hormonal perspective, studies have also shown that women tend to eat more when oestrogen levels are low, and progesterone levels are high – as is the case when PMS takes place during a woman’s cycle.

Who Cares?

At the end of the day, does it really matter why you want (or NEED) that chocolate? You bleed from your uterus like a gutted fish every single month and yet carry on with your life as though nothing is even happening like a WARRIOR! So, go get it, girl! You bloody deserve it.

disappointed by second choice

Preparing your student for second choice – facing rejection    

By Articles, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

disappointed by second choiceThe college experience is something that all teens anticipate with excitement. Parents often share in that excitement and help their children apply to universities, work out finances, and decide what and where they would like to study.

But what if things go wrong? What if your son or daughter is not accepted to university – or at least, not the one they had their heart set on? What if their ‘dream college’ is simply too expensive? What if, for a myriad of possible reasons, they are going to have to study at their second choice college?

Yes, going to university is a privilege… but before you give your kid the gratitude lecture, here are a few pointers on how to talk to them and make them feel a little better and more hopeful.

Remember, they’re still very young

Being 18 may seem very grown up, and your child may show loads of maturity, but remember that 18 is still a really young age. Your college-bound teen is just that – a teen. Teenagers experience swings in mood and emotion. If they have trouble facing rejection with maturity, it’s important to give them a little space and make a few allowances.

Being young means they have time

Your heartbroken child won’t realise it, but you know it. They have years ahead of them during which they can change study plans, make new ones, and decide the course of their life. Nothing needs to be set in stone right now. Although they may feel like they need to have their entire future mapped out – today, the reality is far from the truth. Their future is theirs to shape, and they have years in which to do it.

They can change their plans

There’s nothing wrong with taking a gap year. A student who is really disappointed about not going to the university of their choice may find taking a year off really helpful to gain some perspective. A gap year can give them a chance to save some money. The time out will allow them to evaluate their choices so that they can make a better decision about their career and study plans.

Depending on the course they want to study and the institution they attend, there is also the possibility of transferring to another campus after first year. So if they don’t get into their dream university first time round, they can re-apply for second year. Many students in the science and medical faculties have to go this route due to limited space.

Be comforting, but give them the truth

While it’s important to be supportive and caring as a parent, it’s equally important to provide firm boundaries and help with realistic options. Facing rejection is hard, but your teen won’t learn anything if you make promises that you can’t keep.

Let them speak with family or friends who have had similar experiences so they can see that even when things aren’t perfect, they have a way of working out for the best. At the same time, don’t swamp them with clinched statements like “It will all work out” unless you have relevant experience to share, or you’ve done some research.

Be honest about your financial capability, preferably before they apply to study. In this way, they know exactly how much help they can expect from you. Help them discover alternative study paths towards the career they want to pursue.

Be kind and show them as much love and support as you can. Remember, their disappointment is real, and it feels overwhelming to them. Show them that even though life may feel uncertain, they can rely on you for steadfast support, honesty and practical solutions to help them through.

world no tobacco day

Kicking the habit – The 31st of May is World No Tobacco Day

By Physical Health, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

world no tobacco dayIt’s World No Tobacco Day on the 31st of May and the perfect opportunity to consider snuffing out those smokes for good! Despite the knowledge that smoking is responsible for causing and worsening a number of nasty diseases, including cancer and emphysema, there are 6 321 000 adult and 55 000 children (aged between 10 and 14) smokers in South Africa.

Why You’d Want to Quit

A recent study included in the New England Journal of Medicine has demonstrated that smoking cigarettes is almost certain to knock at least 10 years off of your lifespan. Smoking is also known to cause about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths.

Smokers are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease and to suffer from a stroke when compared to non-smokers. In short, smoking has a huge negative effect on your health and well-being in general.

The great news is that you’ll reap almost immediate rewards the minute you decide to quit. After just 20 minutes of not smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure begin to drop. After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your bloodstream normalise, and after just two weeks of kicking the habit, your circulation and overall lung function will start to improve dramatically. Your risk of suffering a heart attack also slowly starts to decline.

How to Quit Smoking

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to quitting smoking. Even if a friend of yours swears by nicotine gum, and a family member claims that she owes her success to acupuncture, you may find that you fare better by simply going ‘cold turkey’ or signing up for hypnosis sessions. Everyone is different! It’s all about trial and error and, most importantly, constantly reminding yourself of the reasons why you want to quit.

It’s also definitely worthwhile to join CANSA’s free online eKickButt programme which supplies a series of handy tools – tried and tested – to help you quit for good. If you’re looking for support and guidance, it’s a great idea to call the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) QUIT Line: 011 720 3145  or email: quit@iafrica.com.

Have you managed to kick the habit? Please be sure to share your story and tips with other students hoping to quit on our Facebook page!

Clem Onojeghuo

First year of university

By Mental Health, Studentdigz Cares, Study Methods, Uncategorized No Comments

Clem OnojeghuoYour first year at university is an exciting time – but also full of many challenges. For many students, it’s the first time living away from home. Plus it’s a very different way of studying that requires you to take far more responsibility than you’ve ever experienced before.

Feeling overwhelmed? Here are some tips to help you succeed at university:

1. Use the support offered by your university

You may feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end, but all universities offer support for their students – from medical and health services, including counselling, to bridging courses to assist with academic essay writing.

Pay attention during orientation week – you’ll get all the details at this time. Make friends so that you can have a good support group of fellow students. If you feel you’re not coping at university, don’t be scared to reach out to your lecturers, tutors, or admin staff. They’re there to help.

2. Learn some time management skills

At high school, you’re somewhat spoofed when it comes to assignments, projects and exams. At university, suddenly you have a whole lot to achieve in a much shorter space of time… and how you manage that time, is left entirely up to you. It’s all too easy to get swamped by work and forget about an important assignment until the night before!

Get yourself a big wall calendar or desk calendar and mark off deadlines for different projects and exam dates. This gives you lots of clarity and helps you plan your work. Make use of an online planning tool such as Trello to help manage projects, to do lists and deadlines. Learning time management at university will change your life – and help you long into the future.

3. Readings and references

College first-year students are often shocked at the amount of reading they’re required to do. It really is a lot!

Reading the prescribed texts for your courses is important because it gives you the knowledge that you need to back up your opinion. When your lecturer is marking your essay or exam, they don’t want to know how you feel. They want to know what you think based on substantial evidence to back up your opinion. So, reading is an essential part of university life, and you need to make time for it in your schedule – see time management above!

Readings also need to be appropriately referenced. This means that you need to credit any author whose work has influenced your ideas and opinion. If you don’t include references, this is considered plagiarism – academic theft – and you will be penalised severely. Referencing teaches you good academic practice, and to respect the work and intellectual property of academic authors.

There is a proper format for referencing published books and articles, as well as online articles. If you’re confused, ask your lecturer or tutor to show you the correct way to reference.

4. Make time for fun

Yes, you’re at college to study for a degree… but a big part of what you learn at university doesn’t come from academics. It comes from finding yourself, making new friends and maturing into a well-rounded young adult. Make sure you give yourself a break from the books once in a while to connect with your friends, let your hair down and have some fun

Asif Akbar - What motivate you

The big question and how to answer it – What motivates you?

By Mental Health, Physical Health, Studentdigz Cares, Uncategorized No Comments

Asif Akbar - What motivate youIt is possible to breathe without being truly alive. Likewise, you can have all the talent in the world and skillset but walk away from that job because it does not speak to your core. It is not enough to have knowledge when it is disconnected from who you truly are. You need to know what motivates you.

Future employers know the importance of this question and often sneak it in to find out about your natural inclinations, passions, and intrinsic motivations. It is a seemingly innocent, but loaded question.

Next time you’re at a job interview to try out at student jobs or propelling your career forward; here are our tips for answering the question of questions – that being, what motivates you?

A strategic approach to the answer

Knowing that this is not just a question that is out to get a superficial answer; you can be better prepared. To do this question justice, you need to have a two-step approach for your response. That being to initially describe why you entered into your line of work or studies (and your love for it) and secondly, make it clear how your craft is beneficial to your potential employer.

Love for your craft

Love and passion are great motivators for employers. An employee who is in the craft because of love will often give more than one who is only doing what they do to pay the accounts. If, for example, you are a journalist, you can say that you love giving the voiceless a voice. If you are a public relations officer, you can say that you entered the market to share compelling stories that can enrich the lives of your end-users.

Explain why your future employer needs you

Remember also to state how this can be beneficial to your potential employer. For example, you can say how your commitment towards sharing compelling stories and making known the voices of the voiceless has led you to generate an in-depth understanding of new media (including digital and social media), traditional media or whatever the medium, so that you can tailor make your articles to keep them relevant for the medium.

Remember to answer with confidence and to be yourself so that you can showcase the best in you, your personality and inherent problem-solving skills.

You know how they say the world is waiting for originals? It is true. There are enough copies and counterfeits. You need to open up to what is and allow yourself to shine. Dream awake. Most importantly, just show up to your interview and do it afraid. There’s no stopping you from there.

autumn-goodman-242825-unsplash

Skincare problems – How to shop for what you really need

By Studentdigz Cares No Comments

autumn-goodman-242825-unsplashAre you after smooth, glowing, Instagram ready summer skin? It’s so easy to be lured by pretty packaging and advertising with all kinds of promises… but how do you know whether a product will work for your skin or not? You can read the label!

Here’s a rundown of some common skincare problems and the different cosmetic ingredients that you should look for to provide the best solution.

Dry skin

Look for products that contain hyaluronic acid or glycerin. These ingredients attract water to, and plump up, the top layers of your skin. To lock in moisture choose products with squalane, cocoa and shea butter, and propylene glycol.

Acne prone skin

Exfoliation is vital if you’re prone to breakouts, to reduce the build-up of dead skin cells that can make acne worse. The best exfoliating skincare ingredients are beta hydroxy acids, and the most commonly used is salicylic acid.

You should also look out for antibacterial ingredients. Although products that have an antibacterial function can irritate the skin a little, they are useful for clearing up breakouts. You’ll need to use them with a good moisturiser to minimise irritation. Benzoyl peroxide is an effective and common antibacterial ingredient.

For clearer skin, products containing retinoids help to make your skin renew itself more quickly. Popular ingredients include retinyl palmitate and retinaldehyde.

Dull, uneven skin tone

Antioxidants are great for brightening your skin tone, repairing damage and promoting healing. Vitamin C is the best antioxidant. It might be called ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate on the product label.

Dark marks and scars

Fading marks on your face need exfoliation – just like with acne. However, a different type of exfoliating ingredient is required. Use products that contain alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid, citric acid and lactic acid.

If you have severe pigmentation issues, look for products that contain hydroquinone. This ingredient helps to stop the skin from producing too much melanin (the hormone that causes dark skin).

Don’t forget sunscreen!

Whatever your skincare routine, sunscreen is a must. Wearing sunscreen protects your skin from sun damage, keeps it healthy, and can prevent skin cancer. Choose a moisturiser that contains oxybenzone, avobenzone oroctinoxate – these are chemical sunscreens that absorb UV radiation, instead of just creating a barrier that can be washed or sweated off.