The Graduate

Culture and Lifestyle

Life Plan Blueprint

  • Step one: Go to school ☒
  • Step two: Get good grades ☒
  • Step three: Go to a respectable university ☒
  • Step Four: Make a tonne of lifelong friends and get a good degree☒ ☒
  • Step Five: Leave university get a great grad job, become financially independent, and lead a fabulous life full of brunches, bars, first dates, new friends, and complete with hip apartment fit for only the coolest young professional… ☐

As the years of university flew by this idea of the perfect post uni life remained the same. Shaped by images of shabby chic flats in up and coming London boroughs, or by TV shows featuring a groups of twenty something friends living in a Manhattan loft, the general idea of post-uni life was hopeful to say the least. But as the final months of university passed by, images of the perfect grad job, spacious apartments and chilled after work drinks with pals began to fade into the reality of cramped London flats, nights in with your mum and dad, and an unsatisfying work life balance. In the end the excitement of leaving university can end up leaving you feeling lonely and disillusioned.

According to a recent study 49% of graduates felt that their mental health had declined since leaving university. And it’s no surprise, for the first time ever you are left to make your own choices and find your own plan. For years it had been pretty simple, you go to school, get into a good uni, and after that you had some vague visions of what life would be like. But now you’ve graduated and the life you might have pictured is not just vague it’s completely uncertain. Of course this uncertainty is not always bad, it can be exciting too, with the possibility of travel, seeing new places and meeting new people, but what I’ve found is the excitement comes in waves, followed by a tsunami of anxiety and worry about the endless yet paradoxically limited possibilities of post-uni life.

Welcome to Casa Mum and Dad

For many graduates, including myself, leaving university means moving back in with your mum and dad for a little while. At first it can be nice coming back to the reassurance of your childhood home; your room is mostly how you left it, and your favourite home cooked meals are now a regular occurrence again. In fact, the comfort of home after living in a messy student house can be refreshing, and having your mum and dad around can be soothing… until it’s not.

Let’s just say Sherlock Holmes has nothing on my mum when she wants to know who I am texting and what the latest gossip is, and sharing a TV remote with my Dad is frustrating to say the least. And although I’ve only been back at home for two months even a couple of months can be a couple too many.

It’s not that I don’t like some aspects of being at home or that I won’t missed my parents when I’m gone, it’s just that right now I miss my independence and even my privacy. I miss being a total slob without my mum and dad asking me what’s on my agenda for the day. I miss going food shopping and making my own meal plans for the week.

I miss coming home from a night out at 3 am with my housemates in tow and spending the next couple of hours eating a grimy take-away as we debrief on the night’s events.

But perhaps most of all I miss being in a town, a city, because although Durham (my university town) might be tiny in comparison to London, it’s a hell of a lot bigger than the small village where my parents live and where the bus into the nearest city leaves once an hour… until 7pm when escaping the village is impossible without a car.

Long-Distance is Never Easy

One of the biggest challenges about leaving university is having to say goodbye to your friends who may also happen to be your housemates. Although I know we’ll see each other again it’s been hard knowing I won’t see them every day and that we’ll have make it through long distance.

But perhaps the hardest part about long distance friendships post-uni is that there will always be a group within your group of friends who end up living close, with many graduates congregating in London. And while it’s great for when you need a place stay, if you choose to go against the grain and move to Manchester, Leeds, or maybe to a new country, it can be hard knowing that life goes on without you.

Whether its Instagram stories or tales from nights out, watching your friends make new memories without you can leave you feeling left out, especially when you realise that making new friends in the real world is a little harder than it was in fresher’s week.

The Job

For many there is a real pressure to leave university and find that perfect job in the perfect location (usually defined as the London metropolis), but this fantasy is often met with unexpected financial, as well as social challenges.

Films like the Devil Wears Prada might have us believe that it’s possible to land a job as assistant to the Editor of Vogue without any prior experience or even interest in fashion, but the reality of endless application forms, the emphasis on previous internships, and the sheer number of graduates all applying for the same job would have us believe otherwise.

With most of your friends ending up in London, it can feel isolating living abroad.

Experience truly reigns supreme, even trumping your actual degree classification. After all what’s a 2:1 without the sixth month (unpaid) internship on top?

The catch 22 of getting a job without any experience in order to get some experience so that you can get a job can be exhausting.

Eventually you might land a job, but that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect job. I know some friends are struggling to find excitement in their job while those in their dream jobs might be struggling to cope with the workload and pressure that comes with working in certain industries. And even if you land a job you’re excited about, it doesn’t mean it will impress everyone, nor fit the high flying aims you might have previously had.

I myself applied for a graduate scheme in Germany with a pretty big sports apparel company. In the end they didn’t give me the job but they offered me a 6 months paid internship, something I am really excited about. It’s an opportunity to learn and gain experience to take forward to a potential grad scheme next year. But despite my pride, a friend seemed to pity me when I was venting how nervous about my first day. Trying to make me feel better, they explained that there was no need to worry, ‘’it’s not a real job, it’s just an internship’’…

This one hit me pretty hard as the days I had spent working on my application video, weeks waiting to hear back from the hiring manager, and the hours I spent preparing for the assessment centre all came flooding back. To me this internship was something I couldn’t be more proud of, to them it was not even a real job, and certainly not worth getting nervous about.

Social Media Strikes Again

Not only do we want to fulfil our own expectations, we want to meet the expectations of others, whether that’s society’s expectations, peer pressure, or the need to make you parents and family proud.

But when we come up short, or even come up trumps, the reality rarely meets those earlier visions of what post-university life would be like.

Of course feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and anxiety are not helped by social media post from those seemingly high achievers with their perfect life, perfect flat and maybe even perfect relationship. But the chances are even those insta achievers might be struggling with post-uni life (why else would they seek reassurance on social media).

So maybe it’s time we all opened up to each other a little more, instead of making things a competition about who made the best post-uni career leap, let’ just take a step back, congratulate each other on getting through the roller-coaster of university and be sure to give each other a helping hand when it comes to post-uni struggles and fears.

Concentrate on making your own way in the world and stop comparing yourself to others.

Listen Up: 5 Phrases We All Need to Hear

Culture and Lifestyle

By Kristina Eventov

When you’re in your 20s there’s a lot of pressure to be living life a certain way and being on track to achieve particular goals. As we’re all aware, there’s a spotlight put on the younger generation that creates an immense sense of pressure to be constantly thriving and paving the way for success. While it’s all well and good to have these long-term goals, it’s important to consider the smaller things in life that help to foster a positive environment and mindset. I’ve compiled a list of a few mentalities, though somewhat cheesy, which will help you live your #bestlife.

1.     You Do You

Not to be dramatic, but there is nothing worse than constantly living as though you have to meet someone else’s expectations or act a certain way. It is so much more fun, and just generally nicer, to be yourself and embrace your passions and quirks and do what makes you happy. If you see someone successful it can be incredibly easy to think you have to mould yourself into a clone of them in order to have any chance of achieving the same goals. Now, while fake it till you make it may be true in some cases, you can’t live your life pretending to be someone else. Do what truly makes you happy and live the way you want to. (Unless that involves being a being a violent criminal, exploiting others and stealing…you get my point) In the end, what will make you stand out is the “something different” that only you can bring. Obviously, this can be hard at times. It’s so easy to want to remain another face in the crowd and not do anything different for fear of standing out but someone has to set those trends, so why not you?

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

2. Who Actually Cares? 

Maybe you’re feeling self-conscious about a certain outfit, or you’re not sure whether you should post that photo on Instagram. I don’t want to invalidate your choices and make you feel insignificant, but it’s honestly not that deep. If you feel comfortable and happy in something, then that will give off a much stronger impression than anything your outfit itself could. When it comes to posting content, people will scroll past and forget about it far too quickly for it to have any lasting (negative) impression. Besides, it’s your page and you should post whatever you want your account to represent – the unfollow button is right there for anyone who wishes to use it. Almost all of these little things you do will play a much more all-encompassing and significant part in your own life than in anyone else’s. Just remember that everyone is dealing with their own stuff and won’t be overanalysing your actions as much as you might think (if at all).

3. Snip Snip

I am such a massive advocate of “snip snipping”. There is so much stress in our everyday lives that you should have no business hanging around people who don’t enrich your daily life. If someone is being constantly negative or making you feel bad about yourself when you are with them, I have some great advice – don’t listen to them! Of course, you shouldn’t just start ignoring people and being rude, but make a conscious effort to surround yourself with people who you enjoy spending time with. Until you really consider it, you may not even notice the negative impact someone may be having on you. As easy as it can be to make excuses or justify their behaviour, you are the most important person in your life, and you can’t be waiting around all day hoping that someone will change. You need people who constantly inspire and motivate you to be the absolute best version of yourself that you can be.

SIDENOTE: It can be hard if your friend is struggling with a mental health issue that makes them prone to negative thinking, but make sure you tackle the issue with sensitivity and remember that you are not there to be their therapist, nor do you have to share their mindset. Though you should always aim to be a supportive friend, it’s not healthy for anyone involved if this starts taking a toll on your own mental health too.

Photo by Alex Tim on Pexels.com

4. Just Do It

It’s cliché, but it’s true. It’s much better to have lived a life full of “oh well, there we go” than “what if”. If you want to do something, then you should absolutely do it. It can be so easy to second guess yourself and question whether you should do something you want to. By regularly stepping out of your comfort zone you are constantly expanding it and allowing yourself to grow. Of course, it never seems so simple, but with spontaneity comes limited time for overthinking. Not to be crass, but the best thing you can say to yourself is just “fuck it”.

5. Judging Someone Doesn’t Make You Cool

With the increasing prominence of social media, everyone is much more hyperaware of themselves and what people think of them. Don’t add fuel to the fire by (outwardly) judging someone and criticising them for their choices. If you want to be able to live your life the way you want, give others the same courtesy. Though knocking somebody else down may seem like a sure-fire way to feel better about yourself, you will feel so much happier when you bring someone up. When you compliment someone else and build them up, you foster that positivity within yourself. Unless a person’s actions are inherently wrong or having a negative effect on someone, it is not up to you to condemn or comment.  

At their core, these ideas are pretty basic but sometimes it helps to be reminded of little ways in which you can reinforce a positive approach to the little things in life that all contribute to the greater picture. Essentially, despite the era of likes and follower counts that we live in, make sure you are living life for yourself and not for the validation or approval of others. You’ll never be able to please everyone and trying to is a futile exercise that will only leave you feeling miserable. These things are always easier said than done, but every little helps.

An Exploration of Mental Health in the Modern Age

Culture and Lifestyle, Opinion

By Kristina Eventov

First and foremost, I would like to preface this post with one disclaimer: mental health, like physical health is something we all have, but the degree to which it is “optimally-functioning” is something different altogether. So how then do we approach discussing mental health conditions, which are intrinsically personal and private conditions, in the open in order to achieve a balanced, comprehensive and compassionate understanding and awareness?

Let’s Open Up

When it comes to the presence of mental health issues in the media, I am very torn between two ends. On the one hand, greater discussion about mental health and mental health issues is undoubtedly a great thing for everyone. With more discussion come increased diagnoses and, hopefully, increased support and recoveries. If people understand what is going on in their brains, and they feel more comfortable opening up about it, how can anyone complain? There has been a greater focus on the very real presence that these issues have in our society, with many celebrities even contributing to the dialogue. This increased openness can help “sufferers” to feel less alone in what can often be very isolating and lonely times.

Needless to say, there has been a spike in the number of people suffering as a result of their poor mental health, and this isn’t a passing trend we should be adhering to; it represents a fundamental issue in society which we should be investigating

What’s in a Word?

However, what if having certain “buzz” words constantly circulating in society is causing an opposite, negative effect?
Though, of course, many people suffer from disorders such as anxiety and depression, these words have made their way into our everyday vernacular in the same way that we use “morning” and “night”. Far too often the statement “urgh I feel depressed” is thrown around as though it means nothing, when in fact to feel depressed is a very serious issue. With the traction these words are gaining, more and more people are becoming desensitised to the full weight of these words. The word “nervous” is being replaced by “anxious”; a very normal mood swing can lead someone to label themselves “bipolar”. As we become more comfortable using these previously ostracised terms, we may be getting too casual with them. IS there such a thing as too much awareness?

Photo by Quaz Amir on Pexels.com

Striking the Right Balance

I’m partial to a good meme here and there (who isn’t?), and I am definitely one for using humour as a defence mechanism. The thing is, how do you know when a joke carries a deeper meaning? When does a coping mechanism become a cry for help? It becomes much harder to distinguish between what is real and what is just “joking”. The onslaught of #relatable content is somewhat bittersweet in its ability to provide comfort and respite, yet aid the normalisation, and perhaps trivialisation, of serious issues.

Many TV shows, such as Skins and 13 Reasons Why, have been accused of glorifying, and even promoting, mental illnesses. So where do we draw the line? We want greater awareness, but not too much. If depictions of those struggling are “too real”, then they are considered a danger to and harmful for viewers. Conversely, if an issue is glossed over in order to limit the need for viewer discretion, are we then not undermining the experiences of those suffering from mental health conditions? It seems to be near impossible to strike the right balance and decide on which stance to take, though I suppose this is not surprising for such a complex and inherently personal issue.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The Social Media Menace

Perhaps the significance of our own online presence is also to blame. While we are constantly reminded that “social media is not an accurate portrayal of someone’s life” (after all most of us will admit to sharing only our highlight reel) we still often forget that a social media persona is rarely a reliable representation. Consequently, we want celebrities to be frank and honest, to show us that their seemingly perfect lives are neither attainable nor realistic. However, when these more personal and candid insights are divulged, these celebrities’ struggles are oftentimes invalidated as those with affluence have “no reason” to be suffering. We encourage celebrities to be open and exposed, only to allow us to tear them apart more easily. We crave integrity and realism yet fault human imperfection. Is it then any surprise that so many celebrities too fall victim to mental health struggles? (Regardless of previous predispositions.)

It is as if a certain criterion has been set by society for who can and cannot qualify for having a mental illness. This isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, though; we have been force-fed a belief that money and success come with a heightened state of happiness, rather than at its expense (which can often be the case). With an increased societal pressure to work the hardest and longest, along with employers’ higher expectations of what being a good employee entails, is (job) success really the antidote to sadness? 

Where do we go from here? With everyone’s differing experiences with mental health issues – from severity to complexity to proximity -, how can we ever hope to have the correct kind of dialogue? Then again, maybe any publicity really is good publicity; as long as we are talking about it, we are doing something right.

5 Extreme Sports You Should Try at Least Once in Your Life

Culture and Lifestyle

By Sophia Obrecht

Living on the edge, and daring to test your physical limits — some have made a career pushing themselves to explore the extremes of sport. From Hannah Teter (Olympic snowboarding champion, halfpipe), to Stephanie Gilmore (six time world champion in surfing), or Danny MacAskill (expert trails cyclist), these adrenaline junkies are anything but tame! In our everyday lives, we spend on average nine hours in front of a screen each day, maybe it’s time to wake ourselves up, and got that blood pumping…and I’m not talking about going for little jog around the block. Here are five extreme sports you should try at least once before you die.

Skiing/Snowboarding (off piste)

Classic extreme sports, alpine skiing and snowboarding are all about speed, technique, and style. For a lot of people out there, especially those living up a mountain these sports might not seem so extreme, but to those not accustomed to the world of winter-sport, the idea of bombing down a mountain on two wooden planks might seem at a least a little daunting. From the Apres-ski aspect of the sport, to the high that comes from gliding across a mountain, the wind rushing past your face, skiing and snowboarding are sports that everyone should have a little taste of.

Fair warning: be prepared for the bruises! While I have been skiing since the age of 4, I gave snowboarding a shot for the first time just a couple of years ago, and there was a lot of crashing out, bruised legs and bums, and hard work just to master the basics (let’s just say, I am not a natural born snowboarder.)

For a more extreme take on the sport, give off piste skiing, free style snowboarding (and skiing), or ski jumping, a try. One thing is for sure, once you’ve mastered any one of these forms of winter sport you will be the coolest kid on the slopes. If you think winter-sports might be for you click here for more info.

Rock climbing

If you have a fear of heights, maybe avoid this one…but if you love being up high with a view as far as the eye can see, this sport may just be for you. This one requires a lot of concentration, endurance, and core body strength!

The great thing about rock climbing is that indoor walls provide a in a low risk environment where you can really give the sport a try, get to grips with the basics, until you’re ready, and qualified to take on a real rock face. There are of course many different forms of climbing, some carrying more risk than others. Take free solo climbing, which basically involves no ropes, protective gear or harnesses…its highly dangerous and really only reserved for the hyper-adrenaline junkies (and the highly experienced rock climbers out there). Other forms of rock climbing (less likely to result in sudden death) include mountaineering, top rope climbing, or sports climbing! This BBC article covers everything you need to know about getting started.

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Surfing

Be at one with the waves…or something along those lines. Surfing has to be one of the coolest sports around. With your board you are literally treading water, floating above the sea, just you and the ocean. It’s one of the sports I have always wanted to try, and someday I’ll get there.

Of course this one is not as easy as the professionals make it look. Balance is key and pure muscle strength is 100% necessary if you want to look like a seasoned expert on a board. With the help of wave machines surfing can be accessible in locations all over the world (not just the surfing paradises of Hawaii, Australia or Portugal). Take the Eisbach Welle in the middle of Munich city center, a man-made wave on the river that runs through the park. Everyday surfers gather to take it in turns on the wave, practice their moves, and get down with their surfing skills. For more information on how to get started with surfing have a peak at this guide by Degree 33 Surfboards.

Slacklining

Ok, so this one gets more extreme the better you get. Slacklining involves balancing on a slack-line, which can be hung, well anywhere you choose. Between two trees, just above the ground in a quiet park (for all those beginners out there), or between a wide canyon, 100ft above the ground — take your pick!

This extreme sport is all about persistence, practice and pushing your body’s senses. From bringing new tricks to the table, to going beyond what people though could be possible. One thing is for sure, you have to be pretty fearless to take this challenge on, and for all those starting out, patience is a virtue, and it’s a lot harder than you might at first think! Check out this article on tips for slacking-greatness from Redbull, the masters of extreme sports.

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Mountain Biking

It’s time to hit the trails, get back to nature and work with your bike. Mountain biking takes a lot of skill and quick thinking. A popular sport across world, it requires a lot of nerve. Moving, swerving and jumping over rough terrain, why not take on the challenge?

Its up to you how far you go with it, from recreational mountain biking, to competitive racing, this sport is worth a shot, and a great way to get outdoors and active! Find out more here

“There’s a Mouse in My Freezer” and Other Tales From a First-Year University Student

Culture and Lifestyle

By Tegan Francis

Having recently spent some time reminiscing with old pals from my first year university flat, I realized how weird the experience we had all shared was. It seems like no matter which university you decide to go to in UK, your experiences will bond you for life. Having tested this material on a few friends, I thought it might entertain a few other people out there.  I’m hoping this doesn’t put anyone off higher education, so please accept my health warning: “Read with care”.

A Little Bit of Context

I need to set the scene before I dive straight in with this story. I moved in at the end of September 2016, bright eyed and bushy tailed, excited at the prospect of meeting new people like I’d met the year before.  Long story short, I started at one University and ended up at another, but that’s a story for another day. Needless to say, I’ve not had the smoothest of journeys when it comes to post A-Level studies. However, having had good experiences with shared living spaces before, at home and abroad, I figured, “how bad could it be?”. The answer was : “very bad !”.

There’s a Snake in My Bed!

In Cardiff, I shared a flat with two guys and three girls, six people in total. Two of whom have become very close friends on mine, probably on account of our group resilience in the first nine months at University. The boys were, without a doubt, some of the messiest people I have ever come into contact with in my short life. With rooms that resembled those of people from that hording show on Channel 4, male housemate no.1, let’s call him, Henry, announced in our second term that, he would be bringing his pet snake back with him after the holidays. “Don’t worry, its not venomous” he added.  I couldn’t have been happier at hearing this news. If you spotted the sarcasm in that last sentence, you get a bonus point.

The snake, we’ll call her Katie, seemed like an innocent addition to our already ridiculous lives, until it escaped one night. After a few hours of searching under beds and through boxes, the reptile was retrieved and we could finally sleep soundly in bed at night, or until her next break for freedom.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There’s a Mouse in My Freezer

A direct result of welcoming the cold-blooded roommate into our house-share meant that she, like the rest of us, needed something to eat.  And Katie’s preferred meal was mice. Dead, frozen, mice to be precise. Having just unloaded my weekly shopping from the local Tesco into the fridge, I leaned down to pop my lasagna in our communal freezer only to find a bag of dead mice ‘chilling’ out next to the frozen peas. Despite my horror and a good deal of internal screaming, I decided to reason with myself. “What harm can dead mice actually do?” The answer was “a lot”. 

There’s E. coli in the Kitchen

Yes, there was black mold on the plates. Yes, the boys had used 4 pints of my milk to make blueberry smoothies one hot summer’s day, only to take one sip and leave the contents to sit for another day, so we could all collectively observe it separating into several distinct congealed layers. Yes, there were dead rodents in my freezer by my fish fingers, but I told myself I would do something about it when it became a health hazard. Unfortunately this is the part where female housemate no.1, let’s call her Sophie, got sick. I was away for most of the period of her ordeal.  However, on my return she explained that after suffering for a few days of pain and sickness she was admitted to hospital. Having had a few tests when she was taken in, it was revealed that she had developed a kidney infection from an aggressive strain of E. coli that she had ‘somehow’ come into contact with.

We later discovered that the frozen mice actually needed defrosting before they were fed to the infamous Katie the snake. Henry had made a fateful error and decided that putting them in a mug of hot water and giving them a short burst in the microwave was THE MOST HYGENIC way to prepare Katie’s dinner! Sophie had then, most likely, used the mug or utensils, which hadn’t been properly cleaned from the defrosting debacle and things had accelerated downhill from there.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I could bore you with many more stories about my first year flat and I have no doubt that many of you reading this would also be able to share a few similar to these so I’ll wrap it up here.

I’ll never forget my first year at university for so many reasons, but it’s stories like these, that make sure it’ll be a year forever engraved in my memory.  Although it felt like a yearlong war on mold and dirty dishes, looking back on that time makes me smile. I guess it’s by dealing with these kinds of day to day dramas, you learn to appreciate life … especially when your kitchen doesn’t smell like cheesy sour milk or dead rodents!

P.S.

The author, Tegan Francis, now lives with seven other humans. Her freezer has been mouse-free for two years now and she hopes it will continue this way for the foreseeable future.

How to Keep On Keeping On

Culture and Lifestyle, Opinion

By Kristina Eventov

It seems like, at this point, everyone and their dog has a self-help book with their life-changing ways on how to make your terrible life just as amazingly perfect as theirs! Reading a 300-page book on how to live “mindfully” is all well and good until you feel like you’ve failed because you haven’t been “cured” by the time you reach the last page. As much as I would love to divulge some revolutionary insight on how to turn your life around, I can’t. All I can offer is some small advice on how to make tough days seem that little bit lighter and easier to handle.


1. Go Through the Motions

No matter how bad you are feeling, it is the little things that feel like the biggest victories. When it seems like everything around you is falling apart, take control of what you can. A bad mental health day may leave you feeling like you don’t want get out of bed at all, but, you’ll have to get up and pee eventually. So, take that moment to also brush your teeth, or make yourself a cup of tea on the way, maybe even shower if you’re feeling particularly adventurous! Each small step like this allows you to feel at least a small sense of success, and puts you back on the right track.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com


2. Don’t Be Afraid to Feel

If you feel like your emotions are getting overwhelming, don’t bottle them up As the wise ogre, Shrek, once said “better out than in”! No matter how long you try and keep your thoughts and feelings in, you will have to let them out eventually. Even just having a cry and physically experiencing your emotions can be incredibly cathartic. By allowing yourself to do this you can be more present in what you are feeling, and begin to process your thoughts.

3. Indulge in Your Guilty Pleasures

Now, I don’t mean eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s every single day (though this may seem like a good idea initially), I mean something more meaningful to you personally. If you are feeling particularly down, it can feel as though you don’t enjoy any of the same things anymore. Prove yourself wrong and do something that will inevitably make you smile. Rather than just wallowing in self-pity, use that time to also watch an old movie that never fails to make you laugh. Talk about two birds with one stone, eh? For me, this might mean singing along (at a great volume) to one of my favourite soundtracks, or watching one of my favourite Friends episodes for the 24317614th time. It is these little familiarities that can help you feel more settled and at ease.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

4. Express Yourself, Vocally (third party person not required)

Some people feel comfortable talking to a friend or relative about whatever it is they are going through. If this is you, amazing! Find someone you can confide in, and let them know what it is you are feeling. Don’t worry about feeling like a burden — a friend cares about you and wants you to feel okay. After all, they might even be able to offer some useful insight from personal experience. Alternatively, have a conversation with yourself. By trying to articulate your thoughts and feelings, you can better understand yourself and what exactly it is that you are trying to process. Even the simple act of saying it out loud (or at least trying to) can help you acknowledge the validity of your emotions, and hopefully rationalise them.

5. Go Ahead and Declutter

For many (including me), tidying is the absolute last thing on my to do list, let alone when I’m feeling sluggish (be that mentally or physically). Nevertheless, once I have somehow managed to convince myself to clean my room, I feel infinitely better. Sometimes it can feel like your messy surroundings are mirroring your cluttered thoughts, which can become an incredibly overwhelming feeling. By clearing the physical space around you, you can then allow yourself to think more clearly. I don’t know how, or why, but I promise you that a tidy room will help you feel that much more put together and on top of everything. And just think of how proud your parents would be…

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

At the end of the day, your mental health should be your top priority. If everyday feels like a struggle or you’ve been feeling down for a while now maybe its time to seek professional help (unfortunately this post does not count 😦 ). Consider contacting your doctor, a counsellor at your school or university, or reach out to a mental health charity like Mind. Let’s make actual, not just indulgent, self-care the #mood for 2019.


What does Feminism Mean to Me?

Culture and Lifestyle, Opinion

By Tegan Francis

I’m constantly surprised by the reactions I get when I say the ‘F word’- Feminism. This topic comes up about as much as Brexit does when you’re in conversation with people from around the world, or perhaps it’s because I’d rather talk about feminism over Brexit, I’m not sure.  Having spent the past six months with people from many different corners of the earth, I feel compelled to write this piece because there is still so much confusion when it comes to the concept of Feminism. So, here it is, here’s a round up of why I believe feminism to be worthy of it’s very own blog post and why I feel so strongly that each and every person on this planet should be a Feminist. If you’re still skeptical, hear me out…

Why Is It Called Feminism?

fem·​i·​nism | \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm  \

Noun

Definition of feminism 

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

This is simply a word, which has been used to convey the idea that both men and women, nay, all human beings should be treated as equals on this earth. And before you start screeching about the fact that the use of the prefix ‘fem-‘ indicates that women are higher and more privileged when it comes to the pursuit of equality… IT’S JUST A WORD. And, if you’re a male and you have a problem with this, you have mankind, human, and history. So please, just this one time, can you let go of the fact that feminism starts with a female implied prefix, just this once? Thank you.

Photo by Will Milne on Pexels.com

Self Love

A key element of feminism which resonates with me is the concept of self love. Looking in the mirror and being kind to yourself is so important in a world of Photoshop and Victoria Secret models. It questions what our society believes to be ‘the perfect body’ and asks us to concentrate on what’s inside rather than your physical appearance. We are socialized to fit into a specific type, which changes from generation to generation. We’re told that our worth is in our appearance, that if we’re beautiful then that’s all that really matters. However, I say, life is too short to worry about what you look like all day. I think women would be able to concentrate a lot more on other useful things in life if we weren’t constantly worried about our appearance and how much people may or may not like us. Who knows, maybe we would have cured some fatal disease by now, or discovered how to teleport.

Alas, instead, we are preoccupied with whether our stomach looks fat today or if we should really eat that pretzel for lunch. Of course, that isn’t to say that society hasn’t imposed these pressures on men too. This is exactly why we ALL need feminism. The pressure men feel to be tall, strong and emotionally stoic, etc. is destructive and sadly demonstrated in the incredibly high male suicide rates across the world. Instead, I suggest we give less fu**s about what other people think of us, and spend more time celebrating what makes us unique. Let’s recognize when our society has made us feel like we need to behave and look a certain way, and challenge it. Embrace your quirks, because you are you and that’s the most beautiful thing you can be.

Photo by Dennis Magati on Pexels.com

Group love and Group Hugs

Feminism is also about inclusion. It’s about self-love, loving others, and accepting people around the world for who they are and what they stand for. Respecting their decisions and appreciating each and every human on this earth. I find it difficult to understand why people show hostility towards someone on account of their sexuality, race or gender. If their actions are not affecting your life in any way, you shouldn’t have a problem with them. On a more female level, feminism is also about lifting the women around you up, being their best cheerleaders and listening to their problems when they need you most.

It makes more sense to stick together in this harsh world before we start trying to attack one another on account of looks or personality. We already have modern society stacked against us, we don’t need extra ammunition from fellow females giving the patriarchy a helping hand! Of course this practice is sometimes difficult to enforce. Instead of getting mad and talking about a person behind their back, let’s take a moment to reflect and think about how destructive negative vibes are. If you’re not going to say something nice about a person, maybe don’t say anything at all. Wise words from Walt Disney there!

Why Is It Important?

Feminism matters. I was once told (by a man) that Feminism “doesn’t matter, it’ll never change anyway.” and this, my dear readers, is exactly why we need Feminism. There remains to be a considerable disparity between women and men in several aspects of our modern day society. One area, which shows this unequivocally is the gender pay gap. Across the world, women are consistently paid less than their male counterparts, which makes absolutely no sense.

The image above gives you a visual representation on how much further we have to go before women and men are considered equal in the workplace. This is just an example of one aspect of modern day life where the patriarchy is in play. I could go into many other examples of problem areas we still need to tackle such as child rearing, socialization and even the way we are expected to talk, but that’s for another time, and another day.

Now It’s Your Turn

A conversation I had recently inspired me to write this post as I felt so strongly that many people have a warped idea of what feminism really means and I wanted to set the record straight. Feminism doesn’t mean we are hysterical activist, burning bras at protests and refusing to shave. Instead, I need people to understand that it simply a concept of inclusion. We want everyone to have a place at the table. We want everyone to feel included, appreciated, and paid the same wage at this table. And, this, fellow citizens of planet earth, is why Feminism means so much to me. Thank you.

Vienna — Culture, Christmas, and Comfort Food

Culture and Lifestyle, Travel

By Sophia Obrecht

Vienna, the undisputed capital of culture. Overflowing with history, art, and music, the city is full of galleries and museums to discover. At Christmas the Austrian Hauptstadt also has a festive edge with a Christmas market on every street corner. For me one of the best parts of visiting the city is getting to fill up on all my favourite Austrian foods, from desserts, to hearty main dishes, there is no end to tasty comfort food on the menu. So sit back, relax, and read on to find out how to make the most of your time in Vienna.

Admire the Architecture

If you’re looking to explore the city’s architectural gems then look no further than Vienna’s Ringstrasse, built between the 1860’s and 1890’s. The boulevard, located in the first district, is the best place to admire a host of building without having to move from one end of the city to the other. The buildings on the Ringstrasse were built during the period of Historicism: a style which encompasses different architectural styles from previous ages used to evoke bygone eras. As a result of this form of architecture the Ringstrasse is a space which looks as though it was built up over hundreds of years, instead of the space of 30. From the state opera, the Vienna stock exchange, the university building, or the Museums of fine art and natural history, you can’t help but be impressed.

Get up to Speed on Austrian Art

No trip to Vienna would be complete without seeing some of the country’s most famous artworks. My personal favourite is Klimt’s painting ‘The Kiss’, housed in the Belvedere, if only for the purity and beauty of the painting. While you’re there be sure to check out some of Gustav Klimt’s other famous works, including Judith or Adam and Eve. For a more striking and arguably disturbing approach to art Egon Schiele’s works are a stunning exploration of sexuality, self-image, and raw emotions. Other famous artists include Oskar Kokoschka and Friedensreich Hundertwasser (check out the famous Hundertwasser House in Vienna’s third district for a lesson in art, mosaic, and architecture)

Find the Perfect Breakfast Spot (on a Budget)

There are of course no end to cafes and breakfast spots to enjoy in Vienna. But from one friend to another check out the rooftop restaurant located in the furniture store Leiner on Mariahilfer Strasse for the cheapest breakfast in town. The food is basic, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, and for less than 3 Euro for breakfast and a coffee, it’s certainly the best spot for any students on a budget. The best part of the dining experience, is however, the view. A local secret, this rooftop restaurant offers a fantastic vantage point of the inner city with domes and spires as far as the eye can see.

Indulge in the Coffee Culture and Taste Every Dish on the Menu

Famous for its coffee culture, in which locals order their famous Melange (a Viennese cappuccino of sorts), and sit for hours in their favourite cafes, you too can experience the true Viennese lifestyle. Of course there are the classic coffee houses of Café Central, or Café Landtmann, where the intellectuals of the 19th century would gather and discuss theories of philosophy, art, and politics. Just be aware that these places tend to be slightly expensive and full to be brim with tourists, nevertheless the classic cafes are still worth a visit. So cameras at the ready and make sure to get that perfect shot of a classic apple strudel and coffee for your Insta feed.

While you’re in the city make sure you try some classic Austrian dishes, from Schnitzel, to Kaiserschmarrn, or my personal favourite Marillenknödel, the traditional food is just too good to resist!  

Explore the Christmas Scene

If you happen to find yourself in Vienna during the festive season take a stroll through the famous Christmas markets, from the Rathaus, to Karlsplatz and even Schönbrunn Palace, there is a host of markets to see. My personal favourite and a low key event, is the market at Spittelberg, with stalls lining the narrow streets there is something especially cosy about this Christmas market.

On the other hand, if you’re hoping to explore Vienna during the summer months, head to the famous film and food festival at the Rathaus. There is literally every type of food stall you can imagine and a huge cinema screen right in the city centre screening opera and ballet performances! How much more cultured can you get?

page_refresh Playlist: Christmas Cheer

Culture and Lifestyle

As the great Elf (in the form of Will Ferrell) once said ‘’the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear’’, so what better way to get you all in the Christmas mood than to share an Xmas playlist. With a host of classic tunes, and a sprinkling of new hits, it’s time to crack open the mulled wine and hit play on our page_refresh Christmas Cheer playlist!

  1. Mariah Carey — All I Want For Christmas Is You (1994) 
  2. Darlene Love — Christmas (Baby Please Come Home (1963) 
  3. Kylie Minogue — Santa Baby (2000)
  4. Paul McCartney — Wonderful Christmas Time (1979)
  5. Wham! — Last Christmas (1984)
  6. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan — Baby, It’s Cold Outside (1949) 
  7. Justin Bieber — Mistletoe (2011) 
  8. Bing Crosby — White Christmas (1942) 
  9. Sam Smith — Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (2014) 
  10. Micheal Buble — It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas (2011) 
  11. Ariana Grande — Santa Tell Me (2013)
  12. Louis Armstrong — Christmas in New Orleans (1955)
  13. The Ronettes — Sleigh Ride (1963) 
  14. Elton John — Step Into Christmas (1974) 
  15. Chris Rea — Driving Home for Christmas (1988) 
  16. Nat King Cole — The Christmas Song (1961) 
  17. Frank Sinatra — The Christmas Waltz (1954) 
  18. Jackson 5 — Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1970)
  19. Elf — Main Title (2003) 
  20. The Pogues — Fairytale of New York (1987) 
  21. Bobby Helms —Jingle Bell Rock (1957)

Easy Cuisine: Butternut Squash and Bacon Risotto

Culture and Lifestyle

by Liz Ryder 

Tis the Season…for comfort food!

This risotto recipe is easy to make and perfect for a wintery evening with friends, as well as a perfect way to make use of one of my fav winter vegetables, the humble Butternut Squash. 

Although this recipe contains bacon, this recipe can easily be made vegetarian by substituting this for more veg (peas and mushrooms both work well!) 

This dish serves 4 people, but can be easily adapted for more! 

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Ingredients

1 onion, chopped 

1 small pack of bacon lardons 

½ butternut squash, diced 

Glass of white wine (optional) 

250g Risotto rice  

1L of veg stock (for a cheaper alternative I just mix boiling water and two vegetable stock cubes) 

½ pack of grated parmesan cheese 

Fresh or dried parsley (optional) 

Equipment

Chopping board, knife, large saucepan, medium saucepan, wooden spoon and a ladle  

Method

1) Add the oil to the pan and fry the bacon lardons on a medium heat for about five minutes. For a healthier alternative I try to use olive cooking spray as the bacon doesn’t really need it! 

2) Add the chopped onion for a few minutes and then add the diced butternut squash. Cook the ingredients until the butternut squash is a little soft. This can often take about 10 mins or so! 

3) Add the rice and stir to make sure that all the rice is coated. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the wine and stir.  

4) Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add the hot water and veg stock together. You want to keep this warm throughout the cooking process so keep the saucepan on a gentle heat.  

5) Once the rice has absorbed the wine, slowly add the vegetable stock one ladle at a time. Keep stirring the risotto until all the liquid has been absorbed before adding more stock. This process can take a while and not all the stock may be needed. I tend to cook the rice for about ½ an hour and then see. 

6) Taste the rice, it should still be a little al dente. Add the grated parmesan and parsley and stir until the cheese has all melted.  

7) Serve and enjoy!