Monday, 14 October 2019

Meet Miah Ke-leigh - Our New Travel Writer!

I think travel is something we all aim towards - experiencing new cultures, tasting new foods, discovering things about ourselves that we wouldn't otherwise - it's a great way to achieve self-growth. That's why I'm so happy to let you all know that Starry Eyed has a new writer. Miah has such a fantastic writing style so I know you'll all love her and the stories she has to tell! I thought it would be a good idea to do an interview so you can get to know Miah a bit better.

Where are you from?
I was born in a small town called Robertson, in South Africa. The town is known for its wine and roses, which is a fact I always enjoy sharing with people. This is where I spent most of my childhood, living with my grandparents. I grew up there and when I was about 6, I relocated to the city of Cape Town. I finished primary and started high school, before moving to the Netherlands at 15. I am 22 now and I've been living in the Netherlands ever since. I am currently doing a Pre-Master in New Media Design. 
 Living in the Netherlands has taught me a lot about who I am as a person, especially because I live here without family. I see them twice a year and I consider myself blessed. Most international students only see their families once a year, if at all. It's challenged me to grow and to step out of my comfort zone. It's also great because it's taught me to be more creative, and that's really where my passion lies. Living abroad has also allowed for me to focus my energy on what I want to achieve for myself and my future, which was something I never really gave much thought about before.  I was privileged enough to be able to attend the schools I did. In a sense, it was reassuring knowing that my education opened so many doors for me. It was also scary knowing I only had myself here and if I wanted an opportunity I had to really fight for it.
 As a South African woman, and a woman of colour to be exact, this world tends to make you work twice as hard to get half as far as your white (male) counterparts. My nationality was a disadvantage many times when I moved abroad. I would get refused accommodation because they assumed that since I was from South Africa, I couldn't pay. My stubborn ass had to refrain from telling them my high school tuition was €18k a year. Some schools wouldn't accept me or questioned my intelligence because I'm from 'Africa' - a continent, by the way. Its frustrating and discouraging to be discriminated against because of something you can't change. I am grateful this happened, though. I used to be very self conscious before I moved here. All of these challenges taught me resilience. If I hadn't moved abroad and left that beautiful small town known for wine and roses at such a young age, I don't think I would have grown as much as I have now.

What have you been up to recently?
Aside from trying to complete all of my university assignments on time, I've been more active on my blog. My blog is about sustainable living and travelling, so I've been brainstorming ways on how to produce more content for that. I've also been working with more brands and companies, so creating content is really what I've been up to lately. It's very important for me to brainstorm ideas on how to create engaging and interactive material, shoot fun videos or create funky snippets of text. It's not only a part time job, but really a hobby that helps me relax. Creating helps me stay in touch with who I am; it keeps me grounded. I've been super involved in university as I've just joined the board of a new association (like a sorority / fraternity - minus the heavy drinking and hookup culture university life tends to promote), so we've been planning a bunch of events, parties and activities for students to enjoy.

What are your passions?
I love travelling. It's an expensive hobby, but doesn't always have to be if you know where to go and how to book to save money on costs and accommodation. I also really enjoy writing. This ranges from poetry to blog posts to short stories. Anything that's a creative outlet is so much fun for me. I love just losing myself in a moment and being present with what I am doing, whether that's editing a fun video or planning a blog post. I'm really still a child, despite being 22. I am in love with glitter, the arts and crafts section of stores and I've recently started appreciating colour more, especially when I style outfits. Something I used to hate was cooking, but ever since I became vegetarian, I've actually loved it. My boyfriend and I love going to the farmer's market and buying fresh produce. We often look up Pinterest recipes and try them. None come out the way Pinterest intended them to, though.

When did you discover your love for travel?
I started travelling when I was 9, due to my dad's job. I think I was too young to really understand it back then. On my sixteenth birthday, I found myself in Costa Rica. I had signed up for a two week conservation excursion to help the protection of Leatherback sea turtles. I think after that trip I knew I wanted to see more of the world. Its funny because when you don't leave a place, you think that that is all this world has to offer. At least I did. When I first started travelling, I was amazed at the different cultures. I want to know more about the world I live in. How to sustain it. About the cultures. The food. I have so many questions and only the universe can answer them.

Favourite place you’ve ever been and where you’d like to go next?
Limón, Costa Rica. It really impacted me. It taught me so much about kindness, sustainability, how material possessions don't really mean anything. That life should be about connection, good and pure relationships, and knowledge. I miss walking through the rainforest on night hikes, my feet sinking into wet sand and even waking up to geckos or spiders in my cabin. I think I'd like to travel to Scotland or the United States next as I've never been and it would be something completely new to experience.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don't know. I think that's okay to say now. Society tends to tell us that we should have a plan, that we should know what comes next. I think it's okay to not know sometimes. Ideally, I'd like to have completed my masters, done another internship and find a full-time job. My dream is to work in an environment that encourages teamwork but also encourages each individual to flourish on their own. I'd like to have my own apartment in Europe, too. Lots of plants. Perhaps a dog. Definitely a coffee machine.

What's your favourite book, film and song?
I love the crime genre, but my favourite book is Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I have many favourite films. If I had to narrow them down, it would be Little Miss Sunshine, Matilda and the Harry Potter series (I'm a Slytherin). I'm also a sucker for early 2000s movies, so I love films like Bring It On, Ice Princess and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. As for favourite song, I have too many. My favourite genre is rap, but I listen to Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift a lot.

Where is your happy place?
There is no particular location, it's more of an atmosphere. Do you remember when you were little and you went to a sleepover? The fun part was watching movies with everyone and playing games, and when it was time for bed you'd trade secrets or share stories with your friends. I like an atmosphere like that. Where you feel safe, calm, and like the people around you are individuals who you can draw from. For motivation, positive energy and inspiration. If I had to choose an actual place, perhaps the beach. I enjoy being close to the ocean. There's nothing more beautiful than the ocean that stretches out so far into the unknown.

Check out Miah's personal blog:
and Instagram: @miah.keleigh


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