Belleboss Interview : Senuri Ranatunga

THE TWENTY THIRD INSTALLATION OF THE BELLEBOSS SERIES

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I hoped that with this series, I would find a way to appreciate the incredible South Asian women of our generation, who are breaking boundaries and paving new paths for themselves. Moreover, I would like you to take a little bit of your time to realize how incredible the women around you are.

Especially if you are a woman! I know that at least one woman’s story in my #BelleBoss series will inspire you to follow your dreams, your vision and most importantly your heart. Even if that means breaking a few rules and many societal prejudices along the way.

1) Could you please give us a little introduction to yourself?

I’m Senuri Ranatunga, a 21-year-old university student studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. I’m currently living in the UK  As for my childhood, it has definitely had a huge impact on what my passions are. My childhood experiences are the reasons I picked this specific degree and travel as a hobby.

senuri-ranatunga-srilankan-travel-bloggerMy family travels quite a lot. So from a very young age going to places and experiencing new cultures became something I enjoyed and later on became passionate about.

I’m one of those people who loves walking around a new city, speaking to the locals and trying out their cuisine. I like to experience the cultures and traditions of each place I visit and that passion for travelling and experiencing new cultures and sharing it with my friends is what made me share my experiences on Instagram and start my personal blog. Coincidentally my first trip overseas was to the UK when I was just 10 months and for now, it’s my second home.

As for the impact my childhood had on the degree I chose to study- coming from a political family a strong sense of community was instilled within me from a very young age.

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Although getting into politics is not my intention my goal is to work for the United Nations in order to facilitate equal opportunities for those in Sri Lanka to those in more developed counties. 

My grandfather is the kind of public servant I aspire to be.

One of my fondest memories of him is watching him work on weekends where he listened to the problems of those in his community one after the other and found solutions for each one of them.

I must have been around 10 or so but it really stuck with me that my grandfather took time out of his weekend to speak to each of his people individually and help them out. This taught me that no matter what position you’re in at the end of the day you’re there to help the people and that should be your one and only priority.

3) You have visited quite a few places around Sri Lanka. Where do you love the most and why?

That’s a bit of a tough question because Sri Lanka is so diverse and each place is beautiful in its individual way.

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I do love the beaches here but if I had to pick one place that I really fell in love with, it would have to be Ella. 

I went to Ella for the first time with my three best friends in the summer of 2016.
We stayed at the most relaxing resort which was an eco-friendly lodge. We woke up every day at 5 in the morning (willingly) and had tea on our balconies to the sound of birds, trees and the stream. The tranquillity of the environment was so relaxing.

senuri-ranatunga-srilankan-travel-blogger It was such a beautiful experience because there was so much wildlife we got to experience on this trip at the most unexpected of times.

My friend woke up in the morning to go to the loo at around 4 am and there was a peacock perched on our doorstep. We went on hikes (got a few scratches here and there which bring back fond memories), I got over our fear of heights and went zip lining, swam in rivers, went to some beautiful waterfalls and had dinner in the middle of a paddy field with a bonfire.

The whole trip pushed us out of our comfort zones and we did things that we would not have thought we would do.

 4) How did you start food reviewing and what was your first experience?

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It’s actually a bit of a funny story. My friend and I went out to dinner in Nottingham to this restaurant that was giving away a free meal if we posted our food at the place with their hashtag. At the end of the meal, we were so full that I had to take the button off my jeans.

The jeans were petite and we were laughing about how I was not so petite anymore. That’s how the hashtag I use for all my food posts #bonap_notso_petite came about. Ever since then I started using that hashtag on food posts around the UK and began sharing more and more about food and that’s sort of how the food reviews started.
When I came back to Sri Lanka in summer restaurants and cafes reached out for reviews and now it’s turned into something I really enjoy doing.

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5) Apart from the UK and Sri Lanka where do you enjoying visiting the most and why?

New York. I love New York. It’s just one of those places that make you feel so alive. I don’t think any place excites me as much as New York does. It’s so busy and colourful, there’s something new happening every day. They have such unique and beautiful restaurants. And Times Square. Walking through Times Square at night is so magical (such a cliché I know) but that’s genuinely how I feel. Even at 1 or 2 am it’s flooded with people and there’s so much going on (well-earned title as the city that never sleeps). I just love how alive New York is and how alive it makes me feel)

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6) Do you have any tips to other Sri Lankan Instagrammers about how to create content for the gram?

Be authentic. I feel being yourself and being true to your interests and passions is important. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Have a theme that you’re passionate about and stick to it. For me, it’s food and travel, so it makes it easy for me to create content in those areas because I just share my day to day life. If it’s not something I have to go out of my way for. I don’t really have any other tips as such but of course, basic things like quality of the pictures are important.

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What has been the best part of uni life so far and how has uni changed you as a person?

The best part of the university for me is definitely the friends I’ve made. Making friends with people from all over the world really makes you realize that no matter where you come from, at the end of the day we’re all so alike.

As for how it has changed me, looking back, it’s how self-reliant I have become. As a Sri Lankan kid, everything is done for you, your parents help you out if you have the slightest issues. You’re picked up from school, the food is on the table when you get home, your family and friends are there as a support system whenever you need them.

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So coming to the UK was initially a rude wake-up call.

I was so far out of my comfort zone. Setting up a bank account, cooking my own food, doing the groceries, looking after myself when I got ill, travelling on my own in a foreign country- those were all experiences that were pretty unpleasant to me at first but now I’m glad to have had those experiences because it helped me become independent. As a young adult, I think it’s important that you learn to be self-reliant.

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7) You are quite an active member of your Uni’s Sri Lankan society, could you tell us about one project you have been really proud of?

The Sri Lankan society in our university is very active. Everyone is thankful for the opportunity we’ve been given to complete our higher education abroad but we feel the need to give back to the community and be true to our roots. Everyone was devastated when the floods began in Sri Lanka and the death tools just kept rising and the stories we heard kept getting worse. The UoNSLSoc started a GoFund me page to raise £1000 that would be sent to a local charity that was doing hands-on work with the flood victims

senuri-ranathunga-srilankan-travel-blogger.The Sri Lankan society comes up with a new initiative every term which can help the community back home. I’m proud of how everyone still makes it a point to prioritise the issues back home and make the effort to help in any way they can.

7) How would you describe your style – fashion style? And any advice for picking clothes for travelling?

I would have to say it’s a mix of vintage and chic.

I like to put my own spin on the latest trends while adding a few vintage twists here and there.

When I say vintage I don’t mean bold prints and bright colours, I lean more towards lace, embroidery and items that complement your figure.

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I do love drawing inspiration from the 50s and 60s where they had an interesting mix of bodycon and midi skirts with volume. In terms of colours, I do prefer whites and neutral tones as opposed to bright colours and print. I also believe in quality over quantity when it comes to both the garments and the accessories, I prefer to have a few good pieces of jewellery that work with my style instead of layering multiple accessories one on top of the other and cluttering the look.

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As for packing for travelling it’s always important to pick clothes that you feel comfortable and feel good in. It helps to check the weather and read about the culture of the country before visiting so you can plan your travel wardrobe accordingly. As for advice- always pack a swimsuit, no matter where you go. I used to not pack swimsuits when I went to relatively cold countries, I’ve learnt from my mistakes because nothing is as disappointing as having to say no to hot springs because you didn’t pack your swimsuit.

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9) What are your dreams and hopes for the future after uni which you can share with us? 

I hope to do a Masters after completing my bachelor’s degree. My goal is to become a career diplomat. I do also want to continue sharing my food and travel experiences, I’m currently thinking about starting a website for my blog.

Depending on if I can balance creating content I’m satisfied while not neglecting my university work, I hope to have it up by the end of this year.

That it this for the interview! The next interview will be posted on a Sunday so follow the blog to get an update on the rest of the Belleboss Interview!

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