The Ramblings of the Excited 2nd Year

 

So, in light of my rather terrible installation troubles, i.e. no internet for the foreseeable future, posts will be even more limited than they are at the moment. Of course, I will do my best to abuse the uni WiFi, and will squeeze as many insightful and interesting thoughts out of my head as I feel I can. A new term of new books and new lecturers will surely provide me with ample material for posts. I started this blog as an outlet for this material, and so it will be nice to return to the original stuff, even though I’m sure you find my culinary updates just terribly exciting.

Now, I can’t sit still. That’s the main problem. Because I’m just so very excited. Sitting in the car tomorrow for the six-hour drive will just about push my patience to the limit I think, because I’m already itching to unpack everything, clean cupboards, and get really, really organised. I’ve even roped my little sister into staying with me for the first night; she’s really good at cleaning things and so I guessed she’d be a useful pair of hands for the evening. I will have to concern myself with trying to cram tonnes of clothes into my wardrobe, and negotiating homes for my ever-expanding shoe collection.

It’s the waiting that I hate the most about moving from place to place. I love the excitement of finding somewhere new to live, and I like having a clean slate; you can make it look as lovely as you’d want to, and I have a fantastic collection of fairy lights that somehow make any given room far more inviting than a simple ceiling light. I have shelves, and I couldn’t have asked for a better house. I even have a garden with a greenhouse; not that I’ve ever gardened, but I like to entertain a fantasy that I could.

I’ve also managed to create a collection of comfortable and yet attractive clothing this summer, thus dispelling the need for baggy track suit bottoms around the house. Instead, I’m going to head down the ‘jegging’ route, and whilst I hate the word, and used to despise the idea, I’ve come to realise that they are in fact quite comfortable, but look marginally more presentable than tracksuits. I also spent a vast amount of money on an original Rolling Stones tour sweater, but I’ve decided it was just completely, and utterly worth it.

Anyway, I have to try to sleep tonight, because tomorrow is going to be long and exhausting. So for now, I’ll leave you to stare at the screen in a nonplussed sort of way, trying to work out what I spent the last four hundred words talking about. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to come back, but I’ll do my best to make it soon!

(:

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Supporting Photographers!

Yesterday, my lovely flatmate, Sam, updated his blog with all of the work he’s put into his first year of BA Hons Press and Editorial Photography. His work is fantastic, and I’ve never seen anyone so committed to a particular course. It’s remarkable how myself and other flatmates moan around exam time about the complexities of our course, and Sam just gets on with making workbooks, and hanging out in the dark room. He put an awful lot of effort into work this year, even securing freelance work for companies such as Student Surf Tour.

So, please have a look at his blog, its brilliant!

http://samuelshrimpton.blogspot.co.uk/

(:

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Cooking May Never Be My Forte

Food is one of the key ingredients to life, however most of us in the Western world spend a fairly large portion of our lives wondering about food. It’s nutritional value, whether we eat too much, or too little, or whether we ought to follow a diet. Food impacts our lives in such a massive way, and it contributes to whether we are larger or smaller, slim, or curved. In the image crazed world in which we live, food underpins the way we all feed about ourselves, whether we’d like it to or not.

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I am admittedly, a dreadful cook. Examples of my culinary expertise have been discussed in previous posts, purely because they provide the basis for so many amusing stories. I’m a legend in my house, because of my ability to burn everything, including peas, of all things. I’d like to note that I’ve been compelled to improve though, because I didn’t want to starve at university. I have got much better, although my use of the hob unsupervised is still prohibited, because, and I quote “We don’t want to be burnt to death…”.

Food is one of my favourite things, and it’s one of the reason’s I’d love to live in a big city one day; there’s always a huge range of choice, and many varieties of cuisine to be tested. I love to be adventurous with food, and I love spicy things, especially. I also thoroughly enjoy fish, in particular, sushi. I’m not a fan of the one with the omelette on though; I’m not quite sure why, really.

Eating in posh restaurants however is a minefield of its own; the more hyped up the restaurant, the more pretentious the food, and inevitably, something called “jus” winds up on the place, usually next to a teaspoon full of mashed potato. Cep jus is by far the worst of the “jus'”, because it looks like spittle. And it’s thoroughly unappetizing, in my opinion at least.

However, I’m not a food snob, at all. I’m perfectly happy with sausage and chips. I just like eating fancy things sometimes too, possibly because my parents are excellent at cooking. By far the best thing about coming home is eating my Mum’s cooking again. She says I could cook the same things, however the problem is I couldn’t; I couldn’t make it taste as she does, and I think it’s something to do with having your dinner cooked for you, by your Mum.

(:

(1) http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/rma/lowres/rman8657l.jpg

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University Life Collides With Reality

Monday morning has arrived again, with the same reluctant manner as usual; a busy week, dominated by revision, essay hand ins, and lectures. However it is the last morning of term, which does provide a modicum of relief. The next Monday will be spent shopping, and the Monday after that will be spent at work; a return to the working world, to my job, back at home. Home and work feels remarkably different to university life; a person goes through a whole adjustment phase, every time they move back to the place they came from. It’s a constant movement, and a person is constantly in flux, preparing to move.

This form of nomadic lifestyle is at best, confusing; by the time one has adapted to living on campus properly, it is time to start looking for a house for the second year; this is done working on presumptions such as your friends will remain the same as they were last year, and you will pass the year, in order to progress onto the next one. Location is central to where a person wants to live. Near campus, or in town; in a village, or in a nearby city. Transport costs have to be taken into account; are lectures within walking distance of the house, or will you have to take the bus in? This is all fundamental to choosing a nice house, and when you’ve found a house that is acceptable, whether you can put the deposit down before anybody else gets to it first. (1)

Anyway, I’m preparing for my next trip home; I’m incredibly excited, because I simply cannot wait to see my Mum and Dad again; three months pass by, where I have to do my own washing and cook my own food; the magnitude of this is unrecognisable, until you have to actually do it, yourself. I have a flatmate who had never used a washing machine before, and to the day, we haven’t seen him cook. Life skills are learnt in a crash course of university life, ironically in the same week as Freshers. During Freshers, we have one priority: meet people, make friends, form bonds. The second priority is how many parties can be crammed into one week, or in our case, into two. It’s possibly one of the most turbulent periods of anyone’s life; all routine is poured down the drain in favour of partying.

Once you get over this particular period however, you can start to recognise opportunities; employability courses, endless societies, cheap gym membership. University offers far more than a bar full of cheap liquor, and offers access to people from all walks of life, people whose research is quite literally at the forefront of their fields. That is an extremely unique opportunity to have. Those who remain as drunkards on campus for a year tend to fall behind, at some point, whilst the rest of us sit in our rooms, at our desks, and ponder what on earth will happen, when we have to leave the safety, of the bubble. I mean, we might have to get a job, and everything.

(:

(1) http://thebackpew.com/backpew/images/lordsaveme.jpg (Credit to Jeff Larson)

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On Being Employable

Recently, I have been engaged in a number of ventures that have been in aid of making myself more employable. These ventures began on Thursday, with an employability course, in the form of seminars. The course was two days long and covered a number of ideas, including networking, and business strategy. The difficulties that current undergraduates currently face were not understated; in 2014, when I graduate, there will be five hundred thousand graduates. This number does not include part-time students and postgraduate students that will be academically far more qualified for the job.

The emphasis of the course then, was making yourself into somebody, and not relying particularly on companies that are already overstretched. It has never been more necessary to make your own luck, especially in terms of creating your own market, your own service, and acting on your own initiative. This prospect is terrifying, and is overwhelming to the average undergraduate; few of us have any real idea of what we’d like to be, and where we’d like to go in our career. However, I am one of the very lucky few who does know; I want to be in publishing, as both a writer and an editor, and I’d like to have skills at my disposal that are transferable, and useful to an employer.

This sudden realization of the practicalities of employability did, temporarily, knock me for six. However then I stood up (metaphorically) and decided that the only way forwards was really to create my own business. It is something that I’ve been considering doing for a long time, however I’d never put any serious thought into this before. But on Friday evening, I sat down and made a business plan, thought about marketing, communications, and fees. And then I launched myself as a sole trader, in freelance writing and editing, and offered my services.

This led to a feeling I’ve never had before; a feeling of being in control almost. I did become acutely aware on Saturday of the magnitude of the task. The freelance world is competitive and it is cut throat. Experience is vital; experience in the real world is particularly important. In the modern world, having a degree is only a tiny part of a candidate, because at the moment, there is little for an eighteen year old to do, but get a degree. And this goes back to the challenges of the job market, creating something of a rather vicious cycle. (1)

So, as of today, I have registered as a sole trader, I have a new business email account, and a new bank account. I have a website domain name, and what remains is to locate  clients, and market myself in places such as LinkedIn, on my blog, and within my university. I have emailed every newspaper in the London area, and I am hopeful for either work experience, or a chance to grow as a freelance writer, and practice what I know I can do. At the same time, I’m writing non-commissioned articles, and sending them out to newspapers, again in the hope that this will lead to something. Something, anything; it doesn’t really matter, as long as it provides experience and perhaps something to add to my CV.

The biggest set-up challenge I’m facing at the moment however, is website design. I am extremely competent in using basic software packages, however I don’t have nearly enough website building experience to create a professional looking one. I’ve enlisted my Dad, to help me. This is another epiphany; you need help, to succeed, and therefore you have to ask for it. The worst anyone can do is say no.

And there we are. It’s Sunday evening, I have a business. All that’s left is developing a client base and a website; but it feels amazing to know that this weekend, I might have begun something that will form the basis of my entire career. I feel like I am finally getting somewhere; it’s about being brave enough, I suppose, to dive in, and have a go. The worst thing that can happen is it fails; but then again, it might succeed.

(:

(1) http://pjvanoverschot.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/self-employment-advantages.gif (all credit to Andy Singer)

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On Investment

Lately, I’ve been repeating “it’s all about the dream” to myself in an effort to maintain a degree of motivation. I repeat it especially frequently at seven in the morning, and during lengthy cross trainer or hill walker sessions. I’ve even turned into a cliché, and written it onto my mirror. It’s true however; everything I’m doing at the moment, including designing a prototype magazine, training hard, working on my degree, has a foundation in the future. This is something of an oxymoron, however, it’s perfectly true; my world is finding it’s foundation in the future. It’s an investment in the world.

Investment seems to be something of a touchy subject in the wake of our current economic climate; people who had invested in property have temporarily lost a vast amount of potential capital, and people who had simply locked their savings into bank accounts have suffered some degree of loss, or at least an affected interest rate. The older generation are suffering on the pensions schemes, and the young people are suffering under the loan companies and the rising cost of education. And therefore one can only ask whether we can ever truly invest in the future. We can’t predict the long-term effects of economic downturn, or how long it might last, and how severe it might be. There are entire organisations dedicated to trying to establish patterns of economy, however financially, and in many other ways, the future is decidedly uncertain.

However, to not invest in property, education, etc, is far more dangerous than doing so; one can hope to skate by on good grace and charm, and unfortunately, I have friends who have quite literally skated through school and accidentally fallen into the laps of insurance companies, accountancy apprenticeships, etc. There are people in the world who are apparently automatically blessed; they just acquire opportunity with little to no effort. I think half of this is a situational advantage; some people end up lucky and simply fall into being in the right place, at exactly the right time.

Changing and investing. (1)

The rest of us however, are investing. Employability events. Optional lectures. Extra reading. Extra curricular projects. Getting up in the morning. It’s all part of the grand effort to become something in a climate that seems determined to force young people into unemployment. One of my pet peeves in the employment sector is when you are told “you haven’t enough experience”. The question of course being, “how on earth might I acquire this experience, if you are not willing to invest in me?”. I don’t think it’s really entirely about us, investing in ourselves. I think it’s also about employers, older people, and lecturers, investing the time in us to teach us, and to lend us the experience. Those who are willing are continually asking for opportunities ought to be rewarded, in a world of equals. There won’t ever be enough spaces to accommodate everyone, and that’s okay; we just need a fighting chance to gain some of the experience that we seem to lack.

So, today I’m hoping people will invest more in us; we’re willing to work hard and to learn, because we want to be you one day. We want to be the people to invest in the young people. It’s a cycle though; we need a leg up, so we can be just like you, when we grow up.

(:

(1) http://uffenorde.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/breakRules1920x1080.jpg

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