Tips for Starting University

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It's that time of year again when students are heading back to school, work starts up again, and thousands of new students prepare to begin university. It's an amazing and exciting time, heading off to a different area or city, with the prospect of independence and loads of fun. But in the hectiness and excitement of those first few weeks, it easy to forget to make the most out of the experience. So here are my top things to remember to make sure you don't miss out!

Talk to everyone - When you first turn up at your accommodation/flat or whatever, it's so easy to just stick with the first people you speak to, or to your flatmates, who are instantly familiar to you. But it's important to chat to as many people as you can in your halls, because you never know who you might get on with. And you can meet some pretty interesting people during those first few weeks! So remember to get out there and just be friendly.
Join a society (or societies) - The old university cliche. Everyone tells you to get out there and join as many societies as possible. But seriously, they say it for a good reason! Most societies offer completely free trial lessons/classes/meetings in the first few weeks of term, to give you a chance to try out different things to see what you like before committing. They are such a good way to meet new people and try things that, to be honest, you don't ever really get the opportunity to sample again, in this much variety (and for free) after university. Really, I wish I had joined more societies, as the few I did go to were such a laugh and really fun. And they don't need to CV-boosting and all that. They just need to be fun and something you enjoy. Hey, my uni even had a Harry Potter society! Not sure which employer would see that as a bonus...
Work hard (but not too hard) - Okay, so this one applies to basically the whole of first year, as opposed to just the first few weeks/months. At most uni's, first year doesn't contribute to your overall degree. So it is DEFINITELY fine to be a bit more chilled out about your studies, and not majorly stress yourself. University learning is a bit of a game-changer from sixth form/college learning so give yourself time to adjust. However, I really do think it's a good idea to work hard and really try your best with essays and exams in first year. Mostly, because it gives you a great foundation to move off from after first year into second and third, and also, because it helps with feedback. Tutors can only give you accurate feedback if you're working at your best at the time, and getting honest, helpful and constructive feedback can be so useful (it was for me) for those trickier second and third year exams and essays. Working at your best and not spending too much time hungover (or out) can give you a confidence boost for the year that actually do count.
Go out - And on a completely different note! Make sure you make time to go out and have fun, and explore your new city/town/country. Honestly, some of my best memories of uni are from first year, either from crazy nights out, cute nights in with my flatmates, or just spending time getting to know my new home and any attractions it has. It can be easy to just stay in the bubble of your university and work and reading, but rarely will there be a time in your life again where you have so much free time, and not a huge amount of responsibility, so go and make the most of it

Lastly, don't overthink it. Weird one considering I've just spent the whole of this post suggesting ways to make the most out of your uni experience. But the most helpful advice I could give you is just to go, and do it your way. Do exactly what you want, even if you do it by yourself. If someone doesn't want to go with you to a society meeting, go alone. Have fun, make sure your getting your work done, and go out and meet as many people and experience as many things as you like. It's your university experience, and you only do it one, so do it the way you know you'll be happy with :)

Voyeurism in journalism and social media

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After seeing a BBC feature online, asking the question, 'Is it now okay to photograph oneself at the scene of tragedy?', I felt compelled to write this. For me, the answer is a definite, no. But in this age of digital communication and social media, it's easy to see why this question needs to be asked.

My response to this question actually lies within my feelings towards journalism in general, and how, as an entire industry that revolves around human stories, feelings and emotions, I sometimes feel that it can probe sometimes just a step too far.

Some things need to be private. And personally, I think that anyone should be allowed to deal with a tragic, upsetting, or frightening incident completely in private, if they wish to do so. Of course, some people like to share these personal moments, and find reaching out and speaking about personal issues somewhat of a relief.

And so for me, the notion of 'taking a selfie' at the scene of an accident, a national disaster, or anything else similar, encapsulates the voyeurism inherent within social media, and the damaging effects. Social media is such a prevalent force in our lives nowadays, that I'm sure many people wouldn't think twice about taking selfies near a distressing scene that's been in the news. But I think that sometimes, maybe, it would be a good idea to put privacy back in the mix, and let these things unfold without the voyeuristic glare of social media, or the constant online comment.

The BBC article referenced the Eweran shrine in Bangkok, the site of a deadly bomb attack, alongside people taking selfies with the site in the background.

For me, this is social media at it's worst.

Some moments are meant to be taken in in privacy. Our constant obsession with documenting the moment, proving we were there, that we saw that thing, we went to this place, can so easily overtake being there, in the moment, and taking in the enormity of the event, especially if it is the scene of a tragedy.

In 2012, I was in New York, and visited the World Trade Center memorial ground, and it was incredibly emotional and moving. The sheer force of what happened on that day, and the hundred of thousands of people affected, really hit home. And it's something that didn't need to be documented, or captured with my phone, just felt. It only felt right that the surroundings and the enormity of the memorial were treated with the respect and reverence it deserved, without being up on my social media within seconds of me getting there, just to show that I was there, or to put myself amongst the news.

Something is being lost in our constant desire to let everyone else on social media know what we're doing. The immediacy of being in the moment, and actually taking in our surroundings and their meaning. And if the scene of a horrendous attack, the scene where many people lost their lives and others were changed irrevocably, can not be private and sacred, then what can?

58.8% of graduates are in non-graduate roles. So now what?

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Last month brought with it the rather depressing news that 58.8% of graduates are in roles that did not traditionally, or previously, require a candidate who was educated to degree level. We're talking bar work, waitressing, sales assistant jobs. You get the idea.

It seems that now, a degree is becoming, or has become, a pre-requisite for entering the work force, in any industry. Of course, traditional careers such as medicine, finance and journalism still require entry-level candidates with degrees, but the news that over half of the graduate work force are in jobs that have never previously asked for degrees from their prospective employee's, represents a rather dismal outlook for this year's haul of graduates, and beyond.

To me, the problem seems obvious. We are sending, or rather the government are sending, thousands upon thousands of students to university, allowing them to gather mass amounts of debt, all with the promise of the career they desire and the notion that, if you go to uni, you'll get it.

But the sheer surplus of students and graduates who cling to that dream is the issue at hand. More people than ever are heading off to university, and the problem is is that there simply aren't enough jobs being created in order to provide for the number of graduates universities are producing. We're being sold the 'work hard at uni for the dream career' transaction, but not the reality of the situation once we're no longer students, but alumni.

What can be done is obviously a matter of huge contention. It's easy to surmise that the creation of more jobs roles, particularly in competitive industries, is the solution. But that simply isn't feasible in a lot of fields. Next option. Less students heading off to uni? But with the growing number of basic jobs requesting graduates to fill their roles. it isn't realistic to try and discourage people from university.

It really is the definition of a catch-22 situation. Too many talented and hard-working graduates, to the limited number of desirable, and attainable jobs in popular careers and industries.

While I don't think I'm in a position to propose a viable solution to the problem, I do think that jobs roles that don't necessarily, and did not traditionally, require a degree and the skillset that comes with that, should not specify graduates on their job postings. But then, where would graduates attempting to gain their dream careers be, if those jobs too were closed off for them?

Apprenticeships now seem to be gaining in popularity, with their promise of a real, paying job at the end of years of supported study. As an alternative to the uncertain and unclear future of a graduate, it's easier to see why these schemes are appealing to so many now.

So perhaps the solution is for non-graduate roles to stay that way, and for less people to go to uni? It would be a sad situation if people were discouraged from university, which, outside of all the controversy of career prospects surrounding it, is an undeniably amazing and valuable experience in and of itself.

Whatever the solution, it seems clear that graduates must be more hard-working and entreprenurial than ever, in order to secure anything like their dream job, in the murky waters of today's job market.

QUICK EATS: Covent Garden

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Last week, I was lucky enough to have a work experience placement at a top weekly magazine in London. It was a fantastic week, and I want to do a post on it later, but for this post, I wanted to do a round up of all the amazing places I had to choose from for lunch. The offices are based in Covent Garden, so it was basically a foodie's dream when it came to lunch time. I often ventured away from the office to see if there were any little places to scout out. Although, to be honest, I didn't really venture into any cool little independent places, I did go to some really nice little cafes and restaurants. So if you ever find yourself in Central London and in need of a quick, but tasty lunch, here are my top picks!

(Apologies for the lack of personal photos)


Okay, so so far, so generic. Itsu is a big brand and you're likely to have heard of it before. But what I've found, is that it actually isn't in any other places outside of London. So if you're in the city, it is definitely a great choice to grab something on the go! It serves Japanese food, from your general sushi and sushi rolls, to salads, ranging from more filling options with quinoa or rice, to normal, leaf based options. I went for the chicken teriyaki, which was delicious. It tasted incredibly fresh and the teriyaki sauce really made it taste amazing. The restaurant itself feels really cool and clean, and it has a downstairs seating area which is really nice if you have a few minutes to spare. Definite recommendation for a healthier, fresher lunch.


From the healthy to the very not healthy! But so good. I actually had never seen a Hotel Chocolat cafe before, rather than a shop, so was definitely intrigued about how it would all taste. So yes, it isn't strictly lunch, but who doesn't want some chocolate during their midday break?! I went for their Classic Hot Chocolate and it was a-mazing. Really rich, but not too much so, and with a crazy generous topping of chocolate cream, it was definitely an indulgent treat. The Hotel Chocolat cafe also does a dark chocolate hot chocolate, and a milky chocolate option. It also does regular coffee's, both iced and not iced, and an amazing looking selection of brownies and cakes. My drink was a little on the pricey side at £3.50 but, considering the quality of the chocolate used, I would definitely say it would be worth it as an occasional tasty pick-me-up!


Probably my favourite lunch place of the week. Located right on Shaftesbury Avenue, so in the heart of TheatreLand, it's a perfect, healthy place to go for a quick lunch before a matinee show. This little cafe specialises in really good quality healthy food, and has a huuuuuge range of salads, juices, smoothies and wraps. I liked it so much I actually came here twice in the five days I was in London! The first meal I got was a pesto pasta salad, which was so much nicer than it sounds. Made up of spinach, avocado, crushed almonds and an insane pesto/creme-fraiche sauce, and of course pasta, I can't explain how tasty it was. The salads are also huge, so you get more than enough to fill you up. The next time I visited I got one of their hot panini/wrap things. It was a chicken, mozerella, pesto (yes pesto again) and tomato wrap and it was sooo good. It didn't taste like your generic sort of panini's that you can get at loads of chain stores, but tasted really fresh. Also it was made with wholewheat bread, so definitely ;) Major recommendation!


And last but certainly not least! I'd heard so much about Chipotle from American people on the Internet, that when I turned the corner and spotted it I knew I had to pop in. Plus, I am a massive fan of Mexican food! So it was pretty much my ideal lunch place. Firstly, the staff in there were so lovely! They talked me through the process of burrito-making and even game me a free bag of tortilla chips and guacamole after I said I wasn't sure about whether to get it or not. And I am now a massive convert! It was hands down the best guacamole I've ever tasted. The burrito was gigantic, and they pack a load of stuff in there. I got the chicken burrito with salsa, sour cream, brown rice and black beans, and it was deeeeelicious. Completely filling but so tasty and loads of different flavours. Usually burrito places I've been to often taste slightly processed, but all of the ingredients at Chipotle tasted really fresh, and I recently found at that they do make everything at the store fresh every day. So a definite recommendation if you're feeling extra hungry at lunch time.

So there it is! My short but sweet list of yummy places to grab a quick bite in Covent Garden/Leicester Square if you're ever rushing around in the area. Have you been to any of these places? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!


REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead

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(photo credit: Flickr: ORSVP NYC)

AMC's The Walking Dead spin-off show Fear The Walking Dead began yesterday over in America, and I'll be honest, I was pretty damn excited to watch it today. Having been a huge fan of The Walking Dead for about three years now, I was interested to see how the creators would put together this spin-off. It's also been a constant curiosity of mine regarding how the apocalypse we witness in Walking Dead came to be, and what the hell happened as people started to find out about it, which is what this spin-off is aiming to be all about. So, Fear The Walking Dead...

The first scene of episode one really impressed me. We are introduced to a man, sleeping rough in a church. The dirty and squat-like surroundings give the impression that the apocalypse has begun, that we are in the midst of zombies already. The man walks through the church, calling for a woman named Gloria. But it's not good news when he finds her. Shocked, he recoils as he witnesses her, already ripping apart someone's neck. Petrified, the man runs for his life. The creators are clever at this point, portraying a run-down image of the surroundings that could easily be taken for a country in the grips of the apocalypse. The man is hit by a car in the deserted streets. And then, mere moments away from where he witnesses the zombie Gloria, lots of civilians come to his aid. Normal, unsuspecting civilians, driving, going about their day, in suits, on phones. To them, any sense of a zombie apocalypse still lies contained within films and comic books.

This juxtaposition was so effective. As The Walking Dead takes places solely within the apocalypse, never before or after, it's great to see the very beginnings of the disaster in this spin-off, before anyone even has a clue what's going on.

The first episode was slow, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. For me, it was actually a good thing that the complete chaos of the beginnings of the apocalypse wasn't shown all in the first episode, as it makes for a far more tense, gripping and long-lasting show. All the way through to around the last 40 minutes, there were subtle signs, such as helicopters whirring and sirens in the distance, which, to a viewer who knows what's coming are obvious, but are things that the characters are totally oblivious to.

The show started with a slow introduction to the characters and their lives. While I can't say yet that I really care about the characters, it was interesting to witness their lives before the impending destruction. The creators of The Walking Dead are particularly skilled at really developing their characters and their personalities, so I'm sure these people will soon be fleshed out enough for them to really resonate with an audience.

Overall, it was a slow-paced, but tense and intriguing introduction this new zombie show. I will definitely be tuning into the next episode to see what happens next! If you are a fan of The Walking Dead, I'd really recommend the show from what I've seen so far. Although I suspect it may be quite a slow-burning series, if the tension and scenes set up in the first episode are anything to go by, it will be a very entertaining watch.

Do you watch The Walking Dead, and will you be catching up with spin-off Fear The Walking Dead? Let me know!

Why MTV's new show infuriated me regarding youth unemployment

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Okay, so this is definitely going to be a rant-type post, but if you can't write these sorts of things on your own blog, where can you?
So feel free to read on if you dare!


MTV's new 8pm weekly show began three weeks ago Tuesday, and poses the young people on it the ultimatum; get a job or get out. The young people on the show are told by their parents that they must get their act together and start contributing to the family home/income, or be sent packing.

The episode introduced Robyn, a 21 year old girl living with her parents and generally being pretty lazy. 

Viewers were told that she had had, and lost, thirty jobs in just the past TWO years. 30. In two years. That's a lot. 

So far, so acceptable. It seemed a pretty solid premise for an MTV show.

However, this is where it got annoying. And plain old unrealistic. 

Robyn had, in recent years, discovered she was pretty enthusiastic about all things beauty and make-up. So logically, the show sent her to a top hair and beauty salon in London. This is fair enough. MTV is a big channel with a big budget and presumably, pretty huge public sway, allowing Robyn to get in at this salon.

However. What infuriated me was what followed. Robyn was given, okay, some quite menial tasks to complete first, such as wiping down the shelves, organising a window display, and handing out flyers. But general work experience 101 has taught anyone aspiring for a career in a difficult industry, that you happily accept any task, acknowledging it as a necessary learning curve and a chance to really show what you can do, and how hard-working you are. But not Robyn. Robyn merrily moaned and swore her way through the entire thing, and to be honest, performed pretty poorly. Getting tired of handing out flyers, she threw away 1000 of them after handing out only 6 to the general public, effectively destroying company property. She openly criticised the salon boss when he asked her to change the window display, showing a lack of willing to accept criticism to improve her skills for the better.

And this is what frustrated me.

If this were any ordinary employer, after such a poor show and clear lack of professionalism shown over two days, you'd be out. But not Robyn. She was invited back, and after one, one successful day, given a full time job at the salon.

I get it. It's a TV show. I fully understand that the aim of the show was probably to show the inspirational and perhaps even aspirational story of a lazy, unmotivated twenty-something learn from her mistakes, grow, and become a person that her parents were proud of. I get what they were trying to show, and I understand that it was more than a bit set up for the show itself.

But I cannot describe how frustrating this depiction feels, as a 21 year old graduate trying to establish herself in her chosen career. The notion that you can rock up at a highly prestigious company, no matter what sector you're in, and perform abysmally, yet still get a job after one less-than-abysmal day, is kind of offensive. I know tons of people who work insanely hard, and still haven't been offered a full-time, paid opportunity. And I accept that. I accept that this is the nature of the times we are living in, and the nature of the economy as a whole. It's tough now. But we've always been told, that if you work hard, are polite, helpful and enthusiastic, you will eventually make it to where you want to be. And this is why 'Fired by Mum and Dad' was so frustrating. Robyn was shown to put in minimal effort, display a less-than-professional attitude, work one solid, good day, and be given a job that I'm sure many would give their left arm for. I think that this portrayal of such a process is damaging, especially to young people who have perhaps not entered the work force yet and think this is how it works, and it's as easy as just showing up. However, it's also damaging in the way that it dismisses, and undermines the hard work being done by young people the country over. Damaging in the way that it exacerbates the notion that becoming famous, or getting yourself on any random TV show is the way to be successful. And I think that hard-working, motivated young people deserve a little bit more credit than that.

At the end of the day, it is a TV show, and it is always going to be slightly unrealistic, in the way it's been edited, the fact that the scenario has been set up for the purpose of a show, and that the people on it have been specifically chosen for the show. But it would be great if they really tried to show the realistic path young people go through towards unemployment, instead of making a show that somewhat misrepresents that. 

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

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Since its release, it's been hailed as the new Gone Girl. And unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you'll definitely have heard of Paula Hawkins' thriller/mystery novel, or you're one of the thousands who have read it already!

The book is split between the diary-like narratives of three characters, Rachel, Megan and Anna, Rachel becoming the protagonist of the novel. The plot, very basically, details the hum-drum life of an undeniably troubled commuter in the form of Rachel, who becomes enamoured with a couple, whom she names 'Jess and Jason', that she observes on a daily basis in their home, from her seat on the train to London. Sounds kinda creepy right? Well it only gets more so, when Rachel finds that 'Jess' has gone missing. Unable to distance herself from the couple who are of course complete strangers, Rachel intertwines herself within their relationship and the mystery of Jess' disappearance in order to both help, and satiate her own need for a little bit of purpose in her otherwise turbulent life.

Written in an easy-to-read prose but with a twisting, turning narrative structure, I definitely think that The Girl on the Train successfully walks the fine line between enjoyable leisure reading, and novels that require a little more deeper thinking. After three years of University studying books I was told to and had to read, this was my first book of choice post-academic life. And to be honest, I think it was a perfect choice. It was fun and pretty easy to read, but also kept me consistently wanting to turn the page (or slide to the left on the Kindle) to figure out what on earth was going on. Getting the story from three different perspectives made sure that details which may ordinarily have been left out or simply narrated to the reader through the protagonist were relayed in an exciting and 'omg it all makes sense now!' kind of way, which I much prefer and think makes the process all the more fun.

If you're looking for a book where you don't have to work too hard, or one where you almost resent having to carry on normal life when you could be reading, this would definitely be the book for. Get reading quickly, because the film rights were acquired by Dreamworks back in 2014, meaning a GOTT film could be heading our way very soon. And we all know that the book is always way better than the film, right? 
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About Me

I'm Amy, I'm 21, and I've set up this blog as my own little outlet to discuss everything and anything that interests me. It'll mostly consist of food, travel, books and opinion pieces. Hope you enjoy and stay a while!