International Women’s Day blog

Written by Nisa Han a 2nd year Psychology NTU student

I am writing this blog in honour of my best friend, Kristiana, who is no longer with us. The heartbreak along with grief is still there and will always be a part of my journey. I can’t believe the impact she has had on me as a very young woman and there is no better day than International Women’s Day to celebrate her life and achievements. There is no doubt that she would have inspired so many other women if she was still with us. This blog is about my childhood experience of moving to a whole different country.

Firstly, I would like to thank my mother and sister for introducing me to womanhood and helping me every step of the way by supporting my decisions and helping me be the best version of myself, as well as inspiring me in many other ways imaginable. I also want to thank Kristiana’s mother, Arzu, from the bottom of my heart for being such an incredible woman for bringing up such a kind hearted soul. Thank you for blessing me with your daughter and bringing sunlight into the darkest days of my life.

I consider myself fortunate to be part of 2 different cultures as it has been a real eye-opener. I was born and raised in Turkey up until I was 10 years old then we moved to England in April 2010. That’s when my mental health took a hit. The culture difference had started giving me anxiety and not being able to express myself in the English language was challenging. I received great support from the female staff at my school regarding both my mental and physical well-being. I had started menstruating at the age of 10 and all in all it was a scary experience. I think my body was under too much stress and pressure that it affected my hormone levels way too early. I had started to gain weight and my self-esteem was just non-existent. I experienced bullying for 2-3 years because I was the only brown girl in the class who didn’t speak much English. People wouldn’t want to be friends or sit next to me because I was also fat compared to girls my age and “too hairy”. I used to sense people looking at me in no way other than utter “disgust”.

Unfortunately, I started Year 5 instead of Year 6 because there wasn’t room for another student. I used to join Year 6 classes for maths because my mathematical skills were above the average for that year 5 class. Anyways, we had a female student join our class after the Christmas break and luckily, she was Bulgarian and spoke broken Turkish. If only I could express the excitement I felt the moment she said hello to me in Turkish. It was just so unexpected, and my anxiety disappeared along with the loneliness I was feeling. She then became my best friend for the rest of 2011. We had spent the entire summer together and she even taught me how to ride a bike and how to swim. In return, I taught her better Turkish. Everything was going so well until I transferred into Year 7 and she remained in year 6, a whole different experience. We had lost contact and I saw her a few times in town with her group of friends, but I didn’t want to bother her. It was just too awkward. I still don’t know why. Maybe it was my anxiety again? Who knows?

Fast forward to March 2013, I had asked a mutual friend of ours on Facebook about Kristiana. Whether she knows which school she moved to etc. I was asked whether I’ve seen the news from December. We didn’t have English channels on our tv so there was just no way of me seeing it. I asked her what has happened and there she told me that Kristiana was involved in a car accident and did not survive it. I started laughing because I thought it was a joke but little did I know that was just my response to receiving traumatic news. I started screaming and crying then I headed downstairs to break the news to my mum and sister. I had a major anxiety attack and collapsed. I don’t remember anything else but there were days where I wanted to go after her. Since then, I have not been able to form friendships as strong as I had with Kristiana. My anxiety and loneliness came back the moment I found out she was gone.

I learnt how to deal with the loss and chose Psychology as a career pathway in 2019. I want to help many young girls especially those struggling with body image and mental health issues to accept themselves the way they are and help develop healthier habits should they want to change for the better. I want to celebrate womanhood in every way possible and make a real difference in females lives by spreading awareness and protecting women’s rights. I hope that my knowledge and experience will benefit females from different backgrounds. If it wasn’t for Kristiana, I wouldn’t have been where I am today. Females supporting females will always be the best movement in history.

I would like to wish all the women out there a Happy International Women’s Day. Please keep focusing on bettering the world by helping one another out. Whether it’s your daughters, friends, nieces or strangers, don’t ever stop educating them on womanhood. I wish you all, from the bottom of my heart, the best of everything in whatever it is that you do.

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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