Happy 100th post: Who are you?

Wow it’s my 100th post… Pretty impressive! Well, I guess it would be more so if I was a bit more regular with my upkeep of this blog but hey! So I’ve decided to write a nice personal identity kind of post to er… celebrate.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of people in the world, and I define them as the 9 to 5’ers and the adventurers.

Which does sound incredibly cliché I know. But in four years of university I got to meet some amazing people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. I met people from England, Ireland, Romania, France, Lithuania and America. We all had completely different passions (though our love of the local pubs and bars was shared with the majority of the student population) and yet I felt as if I was the only one who enjoyed the academic side of life.

While I was in the library until 6am researching for my latest 5,000 word essay; my more creative friends were out discovering the latest news to publish on their blogs, making music with their bands or planning out new documentaries to film. I was amazed watching them using computer programs like Photoshop and drawing brilliant portraits with a pencil and paper– skills that, as hard as I tried, just seemed impossible to me.

And they would look at me in horror whenever I mentioned my latest essay topic on social policy.

The best part though was that we never judged each other for our passions. Instead I think it gave us new things to talk about, and new areas to explore. I had been friends with the same crowd for the majority of my high school-hating years, and the only feelings that we had discussed revolved around our dislike of school. We did very little besides hang out in the park, or along the promenade, waiting for our GCSEs to be over. To be ‘free’ as if high school was some form of torturous prison… But I guess it’s the same for every teenager.

None of us had any sort of ambition that I can remember.

Obviously going into sixth form at another school introduced me to a new set of people– the nerds. These were the 9-5’ers of the future; these people had gone through school with their hands shooting up before the rest of the class and gaining straight As without so much as a gasp of surprise. It was expected. They were future lawyers, and doctors, and PhD students.

I just wanted an office job.

So the mix I met at university was scary and yet a relief. Though I was more academic, and probably the only person who actually enjoyed writing essays (shock horror!), I never considered those of my friends doing arts degrees as “stupid” or “doomed”. In fact, they never failed to amaze me with their creativity.

It got even more different when the discussion of travel came up. After university, my aim was to get a job. Yes, pretty standard I guess but in the crowd that I hung around with a typical 9-5 job was nowhere on the cards. Not because of our failing economy or the amount of effort it would take, and they certainly all had the brains to get a job, but they wanted to expand their horizons. They wanted to see the world not a computer screen.

One portion had been to Cyprus, another had spent a semester in China, there had been trips to Amestardem and Poland along the way. Me? I spent three months in New Jersey and a week in Ibiza. My passport has little more use than on the rare occasion that I get ID’ed at the bar.

I was discussing this with my most travelled friend of the lot last night (check out her new travel blog Frenchie Without Borders). Though I love hearing about her adventures (given that she was one who went to China, Cyprus, and is now running off to Canada) I couldn’t do it. I don’t think I’m brave enough. But more than that, I just don’t have the same passion that she does for experiencing new things.

I’m the kind of girl who’s in the office an hour before everyone else, and awake at 8am on the weekends. I don’t even have the slightest urge to open up a travel magazine and browse holiday websites.

But I think the best thing, by far, is that even though we are all so starkly different– us 9 to 5’ers vs. the adventurers– it’s not impossible to get along and learn from each other. And even now university is over, I don’t think that’s going to change.

So I Crashed and Burned

For anyone who’s read my blog before, you might have guessed that I’m struggling with my postgraduate degree. The workload has meant that I’m resorting to alnighters in the library to write about topics I don’t fully understand and in all honesty, it is stressful.

But I don’t mean to complain, most people going through university will feel like this. The obvious answer is to get organised, to stop procrasinating and to get on with it– that’s what the wonderful British taxpayers are paying for.

Well today I finally crashed.

I don’t mean literally but I took the hardest mental hit I think I’ve had since I came to university. Now, I have anxiety so I’m used to waking up and just feeling lousey. Most of the time there’ll be absolutely no reason for it so I’ll force myself to get out of bed and go for a walk to clear my head, or I go to the library and throw myself into my assignments.

I refuse to let myself mope around.

Except this morning I woke up and just burst into tears.

Crying isn’t part of my normal routine, I do the sulky bitch face brilliantly but I don’t cry unless I’m drunk. The weird thing was that I just couldn’t stop. The best way to describe it is that I actually felt like my world was ending, I guess kind of how I’ve felt with serious break ups, but nothing had happened to cause it.

Well, I had had a pretty bad night out last night and I was hung over but that’s not exactly news.

So I did what any rational twenty-something girl would do, I ran back home.

Now my problem here is that I’m from the Isle of Man and I go to university in England. There’s 100 miles, a train and a sea for me to get home. So it’s not something I would often do; in fact I’ve been home twice in the past two years.

So you can imagine mum’s shock when I text her telling her I was getting the boat that night. Immediately she phoned me up:

What’s happened? What’ve you done?

(Yes, thanks mum!)

But as soon as she heard me crying she quickly accepted I was coming home and put the phone down… And then got my little sister to phone me up to find out what was the problem.

What’s happened, mum said you refused to tell her anything? You can’t be homesick, no-one would be that desperate to come home.

Like I said, it was a big deal for me to randomly go home.

But I did. And I’m slightly annoyed with myself because I’m always the one saying that running away from your problems doesn’t help; and in all honesty even at midnight I still feel horrible.

But I’ve decided that if anything is going to fix this it’s some time with my dog, some island scenery and some home cooked roast dinners.

Though if I do find a magic cure I’ll be sure to pass it along.

x

International Best Friend Day

Whenever I see celebrated holidays like International Best Friend Day, I can’t help but be doubtful. I mean, I join in but I generally don’t see them as little more than a ploy from social networking websites* to boost usage for a day– I mean, how many people really celebrate National Cheese Day on the 4th June?

Anyone brought the wine? source: http://wwwcheesestorecedarhurst.com

Anyone brought the wine? source: http://wwwcheesestorecedarhurst.com

Though admittedly we are a nation which is all up for jumping on the St Patrick’s Day bandwagon as a excuse to stay in the pub all day so I guess it’s not entirely unusual.

Anyway today I clicked onto Instagram and came across an interesting hashtag: #nationalbestfriendsday

I love any excuse to browse through my old Facebook photos and create a picstitch (and also any excuse to procrasinate) so I immediately got to work on looking through the images.

Friendship’s important, I’ve come to realise. I’m not close to much of my family anymore so I enjoy the company of my friends at university, but with everyone graduating and moving I’m starting to appreciate the friendships which last through that. But then I was struck with one problem– who do I consider my best friend?

The answer has always seemed simple to me: my oldest friend who I’ve known since I was three and first moved to the Isle of Man. But I guess that’s not the case anymore, we’re not as close in the typical sense of the word. I mean, you have people who hang around with the same people every single day– you don’t invite one without the other, and if you never see them apart. Well, I guess I’m describing certain girl friendships but still…

I’ve had many of those kinds of friendships in the past, but I’m the kind of person who feels suffocated with that kind of constant attention. So I’ve come to be bit more of a ‘hanger – on’ with a variety of other friendship groups. That way I can mix things up and I have the ability to bond with people without feeling tied down I guess… Yes, I guess the commitment phobe in me is beginning to emerge.

So there was no way that my picstitch would be focused on a single person. Instead, I looked at the people I valued the most for many reasons and eventually came up with this.

(Inter)national Best Friends Day

(Inter)national Best Friends Day

Now, you might notice something in the caption of that picture: International Best Friends Day. Later on I decided to research a little about this holiday– like I said, I generally assumed they were social media antics and not of any significance in the real world.

Well, apparently I was wrong (that’s a rare occasion!).

International Best Friends Day has been recongised by the UN as the 30th July. So no, not today but I realised how significant it was on a personal level and I also noticed something else: coming to university has granted me the opportunity to mix with people I’d probably never meet otherwise.

No, I don’t mean those from rich families who I wouldn’t generally mix with.

The top photo in that picstitch has a variety of cultures in it including Romanian, Lithuainian as well as French. Not only do they all speak far better english than I do, but they have taught me so much about different countries and allowed me to gain an appreciation for travel and people.

Even since coming to university, where England counted as a holiday; I finally got a passport and visiting Ibiza (yes, it counts!) and spent a summer in America. Though it might seem like nothing to many people, in the past two years that’s more than I’ve travelled in my life!

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see some more– and one day I’ll fufill my dream of seeing Rome and Greece.

x

(* except National Hug a Tall Person Day, I know people who take that very seriously!)

A Month On: the life of a swamped master’s student

Library selfies: the ultimate procrasination

Library selfies: the ultimate procrasination

So I’ve not been writing much recently… And by much, I mean at all.

I’m quickly realising that being a postgraduate student was a far bigger leap than I expected. This time last year I was finishing up with my third year and I thought that was a huge leap in comparison to my first and second years.

Last year I was getting out of my depth but I could keep my head above water. This year? Well, I feel like I’m drowning and the lifeboat is just a bit too far away.

I mean, I know I’m capable of getting the work done. It just involves a lot more independent learning than I’m used to– which is ironic since I loved researching different areas last year. But put it this way, a friend came in to the library the other week and spotted the book that is compulsory reading for my degree. His first comment?

I never knew you were studying economics.

I’m not.

I chose Business Studies for my A Levels because that was ‘easier’ than Economics (well, that was the rumour though I’ve come to university to find out the opposite is true). I had never heard of ‘social democracy’, ‘Hayek’ or ‘marketisation’ before studying my masters degree. Only then to find out that I’m essentially studying exactly the same as my friends doing a BSc/BA Economics degree– except I’m doing it at post graduate level and with Social Policy lecturers not economics experts.

So, here I am at half 9 on a Tuesday morning. I’ve been in the library since 9pm last night (though I did have a break between 12am – 3am for some food). I’ve not slept yet and am surviving off several cans of coke and Pro Plus.

I will get my head around Anthony Crosland and his take on social democracy. Then I will finish this 4,000 word essay.

Or I’ll pass out in the library.

That shows dedication right?

x

PS. I willbe posting more regularly now– I mean, my Twitter and Facebook friends must be fed up of my obsessive updates now so I need a new form of procrasination.

I’m going to aim for once a week (most likely every Monday) though I’ll probably do it a bit more often in the beginning (I have plenty to say).

Resolution Take One: Doing something new

Right so I’m cheating a little with this one, but I’ve decided to write about my resolutions and my attempts to stick to them. Obviously, my resolutions– and goals which are listed in the tab “2014” above– are fairly vague. I hope to make these more specific as I focus on something; so here it goes:

For the “try something new” and “make something new” resolutions I am going to learn french.

Now, like I said, I’m being a bit of a cheat with this one. As with anyone from the Isle of Man, and just about every other child who had an education at some point; I was taught languages at school. My primary school forced us to endure french lessons from year three, so I was about eight years old, with the teacher we affectionally called the “wicked witch”. We would dive under our tables when we spotted her car pulling up the long drive way every morning… Now, being 22 I couldn’t tell you if the lessons themselves were bad or she was a bad teacher, or maybe we were just a terrible class to handle.

All I know is that from then on I hated learning languages.

This carried on into high school where we now not only had to endure compulsory lessons in french, but also german. As you can imagine, this wasn’t exactly thrilling. In fact, I remember my own mum (who worked at the school and was quite friendly with the french teacher) screaming my name down the corridor when she found out that I had been skiving the class. Humiliating as that was, it just further embedded my feeling of hate for the subject.

German, on the other hand, seemed a bit easier. The words were less romantic and flowing; and sounded much more english.

Ironically, looking back, I think I would have actually done better in French. I remember the handful of times that I attended the class and had to speak I did rather well. Though that might have been due to the fact I was in the lowest set and it wasn’t particularly hard to seem smart in that class. Maybe some of the wicked witch’s lessons had stuck with me because I have no fond memories of public speaking in my German classes.

However, year nine saw my lessons in any type of modern language being brought to an abrupt stop when those in the lower sets were forced to drop one of the classes (yes!) and when we were making our GCSE choices, those who were only taking one class were allowed to drop languages all together (brilliant!). As you can imagine, I had a very blissful few years of high school following this while my smarter friends struggled with their speaking, listening and writing exams.

Just to clarify, every other subject I was in one of the top two sets so I would admit that it was my lack of interest or motivation which made me such a terrible student in that area.

So here I am, over six years later and realising the importance of learning a language. Not only to make me “stand out” but the job that I want at the minute involves travelling around Europe, so I at least need to know one of the languages. Though my family is generally brought up with the theory that if you shout at them enough and add in some crazy hand gestures they might get the jist of what you’re saying– you can tell we’re not fond of travelling.

But as I was thinking about this, I randomly came across Michelle Wray‘s blog on learning new languages. Talk about inspiration hitting at just the right moment! She mentions several tips for learning languages, which you should read for yourself if you’re interested or bored. But one of the main hints she mentions is something that I’ve heard about before, DuoLingo.

Duolingo I’ve heard of before while watching some TEDx videos (I’ll go into those another time). But I found out something quite interesting– Duolingo is a free online method of learning any new language (seriously, there’s so much money being made in teaching people new languages it’s amazing that this is free and half decent), but it’s also doing something other than teaching you a new language. The website doesn’t offer you random translations, but you know how Google Translate can translate words and phrases? Well, Duolingo uses those people learning new languages with their product, and uses that effort to translate real documents.

Here’s how it works: Somebody who needs a webpage translated uploads it to Duolingo. That document then gets presented to Duolingo students who can translate it in order to practice the language they are learning. When the document is fully translated, Duolingo returns it to the original content owner who, depending on the type of document they uploaded, pays for the translation.

About Duolingo

Because there’s no guarantee that computer power is 100 per cent accurate and to use professionals would cost a fortune. So basically by using this product, you’re not only going to become a pro speaker (writer and listener) of a new language (like me, hopefully…) but you’re basically helping translate the latest www.forbes.comStephen King novel so people in other countries can read it also.

 
http://www.forbes.com

Though that’s coming from someone who’s only managed to complete the first Basic level on the website.

So let’s see how this goes…

 

22 going on 16

moody My boss is officially worried about me. He is, he even told me so today at work. But he’s not worried about my late nights in the library which mean that I’m dragging myself into work; he’s not even worried about the (rare) hangovers which I endure through work (though they’ve been essentially non-existance since I started back).

No, he’s worried about my lack of ambition.

Ambition!

The conversation started when I mentioned that my landlord had been showing the house to potential new renters– students will typically start looking at houses in October for the following September so I saw nothing unusually in what I was saying. My supervisor on the other hand, panicked that I would be leaving immeniantly. My boss simply wanted to know what my plans were– graduation is only nine months away after all!

What plans, I laugh.

I shouldn’t laugh, it is a serious matter after all. The job market for my generation looks more terrifying than facing the Niagra Falls with my phobia of water. There’s simply nothing for anyone and even with my prestige Masters degree (the prestige being in the fact that I’ll have one degree more than the majority of the British population rather than the degree itself) I feel like I’m drowning.

But I’ll stop with the water metaphors, I’m making myself anxious.

The concept of needing a plan at my age is daunting. To me, it feels like 22 is simply too young to even be considering a career– I mean, aren’t us 20-somethings supposed to be racking up our list of one night stands and taking our teenage sheninagens to the next extreme? Every blog tells us that this is the time that we should go travelling, to jump out of an airoplane; that these are the years where we can be reckless.

This is the last decade we can justify hungover shifts at work and still living with our parents.

So why do I feel like I’m the only person who’s not in a long term relationship and a secure job before I’ve hit 25? Many of my friends and peers back home were engaged and pregnant soon after they hit 16, many are onto their second (whether that’s child or engagement ring doesn’t matter). I know people who have travelled the world on their own and with friends, while others have managed to keep a job for more than a year. It’s all quite daunting to me because everyone seems to have some idea of what they’re doing while I just want to hide away in my studies and never leave university.

The feeling is quite ironic actually. When it came to me and my sister, I was always the “smarter” older sibling and the responsible one. I had the plans while my sister preferred playing in the mud. But it wasn’t until I was talking about this to one of my coursemates that they suggested their own theory for this:

We all mature at different ages.

An odd concept of course, I don’t see myself as de-maturing. I still seem to be the agony aunt and take on the role of older sister at every opportunity, even when the other person is a few years older than me. More than anything I enjoy being right and having all the answers– even if I don’t listen to my own advice at the best of times.

But I guess that’s the problem, or not: I’m at the same maturity level that I was when I was 16. Even then I was responsible but I much prefered helping other people achieve than gain any limelight for myself; though if you knew me you might argue otherwise. I freak out if I’m made the centre of attention– and I think that follows with my idea of a career. I wanted to be a lawyer from a young age but my main argument for not pursuing it was because I wasn’t smart enough.

I was smart enough, or at least I had the potential to be. Looking back, I was just being lazy and by setting a standard like becoming a successful lawyer was a risk. I could fail and people could see me fail. I don’t want to apply for jobs which I’m more than able to do because I don’t feel that I should be given such a job. There are a huge amount of people who I know that are more motivated than me who have no problems, there are also many who are smarter than me who have the qualifications to do as they please. There are people I know who should be acing a masters degree but aren’t able to afford to do it.

And here I am complaining despite the opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to get.

chances

In all honesty, I think my boss is right– my lack of ambition at 22 is probably a bad sign. But not because that means that I’ve potentially ruined any chance of gaining a relatively decent career and building a life for myself– I have plenty of time for that. But I think I need to do something out of my comfort zone, and to take advantage of the fact that I am still able to learn so much about myself.

After all, your twenties are supposed to be the most memorable years of your life. And I need to make up for my teens.