‘Would you like fries with that BA?’

‘Searching for graduate jobs is so much fun!’ -Said no-one ever.

Many of you, like me, might be getting ready to tumble off the graduation stage (metaphorically, I hope) into a full-time job. My optimism may have gotten me as far as page four of the job search engine, but the well is beginning to run dry and I’m realising that finding a job is not as easy as I once thought.

While I’m relying on my stubbornness and unwillingness to be beaten into unemployment, what doesn’t escape my notice are the numerous articles on social media debating the worth of arts degrees. If yours also starts with a (BA) then you might know where this is going.

Most university students will be well aware of the unwritten but universally accepted hierarchy of degrees. Having studied Film and Television, on a scale of Mechanical Engineering to Drama and Performance (don’t worry, I think you’re fabulous), I’m pretty low down in the pecking order.

Unfortunately, though, this hierarchy sometimes doesn’t stay unspoken. I’ve met a number of people who, upon telling them what I study, have responded by asking me which fast-food restaurant I’d like to work in for the rest of my life, or, “Is that even a real course?” Oh, and the classic, “So you just watch movies all day then?”

Without wanting to rant on for too long, I’ll say that it’s taken slightly too long to realise that those kind of comments have sort of gotten to me. I suppose being told multiple times that you’ve spent the last three years and 27 grand on something that’s going to get you nowhere might have you start believing it yourself.

But wait.

As a Christian gal, I’m not actually meant to worry about stuff like this (sceptics bear with), or anything for that matter. We’re reminded at least once a week (usually Sundays) that God has a plan for our lives and that our futures were mapped out long before sliced bread. It’s true that telling someone not to worry is about as useful as the ‘g’ in lasagna. Nonetheless, Matthew 6 reminds us that if God can take care of the birds then he’s got you covered.

While we’re on the subject, identity is a pretty big part of the whole being a Christian thing. You are God’s kiddo, and that identity is not dependent on what you look like, how popular you are or what you studied at university. While I might be floundering around in blind confusion, I’m on this course for a reason.

Even if you don’t believe in a higher power, I think we all agree that enjoying life is more important than stressing about jobs.

So, if you feel like your uni course or any other aspect of yourself is like being the leftover Bounty in the Celebrations box, then stand up, grab a megaphone and politely (but firmly) remind the world that you are in fact a strong, independent Mars bar who don’t need no negative opinions.

After all, it probably took a considerable amount of time to build Rome- or however the phrase goes.

 

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Baboons, Pot-Holes and Load Shedding

Nothing says ‘welcome to South Africa’ quite like a baboon home invasion or pot-holes big enough to hide an elephant in.

As usual, I miss the complete disregard for health and safety- seeing 4 children playing Barbie in the back of a moving pickup truck is a sight that never fails to make me smile.

It’s not as if I condone the indifference towards one’s safety, it’s just that having gone to a school that practically made you wear goggles to use blu tac, I can appreciate a little danger.

The kind of danger I don’t appreciate, however, is being tormented by a giant monkey IN MY OWN HOME.

Yes, you may joke about them and tell your friend or significant other that you’ve found their twin brother or some other hilarious, very original joke of the sort, but seriously, those things are scary.

I didn’t deserve this- no, little old me was just minding her own business in her bedroom when shouting came from the kitchen. It wasn’t the ‘watching rugby and shouting at the TV’ kind of shouting, it was the ‘there’s a baboon in my kitchen’ kind of shouting.

Yes, the neighbour had decided to come and introduce himself and try his luck at swiping some of our food while he was at it. Judging by the aftermath, he’d manage to pilfer an egg or two, along with a banana (which he ate in front of us, rude…) and a whole pack of koeksisters. If you don’t know what that is, google it, you’re missing out.

But anyway, being the curious cat I am, I decided to go out and see what was going on. No more than three steps out from my bedroom I came face to face with this thing. He was big, he was hairy, and he was hungry.

No, my dad was stood in the lounge (sorry dad).

I don’t think I even stopped, I probably just appeared as a blur before I turned on the spot and ran straight back. Yes, death and I had a near miss, but I lived to run away from a baboon another day.

But the adventure doesn’t stop there, oh no. Another much loved and frequently experienced part of South African culture is load shedding.

In case you don’t know what load shedding is, it’s a power outage that occurs when consumption peaks above the level of production. Basically, it’s a power cut that can last for days.

You know what’s fun? Peeing by candle light.

But still, the adventure doesn’t stop there. My grandparents’ quaint but in-the-middle-of-nowhere town is often subject to ‘water cuts’ for lack of a better term.

So you know what’s more fun than peeing by candle light? Manually flushing a toilet with a jug of bottled water by candle light.

I suppose the pot holes are pretty self-explanatory. Nowhere else in the world have I been where instead of fixing the pot holes, they just put signs up to warn you about the potholes. And these aren’t one’s that you find here on narrow country roads that cause you slight discomfort to drive over- these are ones that could probably pass as a pond in the rainy season and would most likely cause a slipped disc if you drive over it too fast.

But hey, it’s all part of the fun.

 

Berlin, sunbathing and bad decisions: Part two

What a pickle.

I’d already stopped a nice lady on a bike who kindly used her GPS to give me no real useful information, but I appreciated her effort and thanked her anyway.

Walking back the other way, I spotted a group of guys cycling in the direction I was headed. Now, I’m not usually one to play the ‘damsel in distress’, but this situation called for a bit of acting. They stopped and walked me into the shade where we had a chat and I told them how much of a goof I’d been.

Eventually they pointed me in the direction of a ferry. I wouldn’t say I was doubtful, in fact I was truly grateful for the help they gave me, but wouldn’t I have spotted a ferry as I was walking? Anyway, I left the cyclists who wished me luck and said they hoped to see me again some time.

I followed their instructions, and as I approached the path they had told me to follow, it all became very familiar. Just a few metres in I look to my right and see the two old German ladies, still chatting away. Great. So if I had just come this way earlier I could have saved a whole lot of time and effort.

Nevertheless, I was one step closer to going home (needless to say I’d long since given up on the beach). Just ahead of me was a family of three who also looked lost. To my utter joy they stopped to ask a man where the ferry was. I also approached him and asked, and he responded by telling me to follow this family.

We all got to the water’s edge where a sign said the next ferry would be arriving in about ten minutes. Hallelujah! Since no one else was around, we got chatting; the dad of the family turned out to be a lovely German man who was on a day out with his Cuban wife and daughter, neither of whom spoke any English.

Eventually the ferry came and my feet enjoyed sweet relief as I sat down for the first time in hours. My day was definitely turning around- the German man told me he was also headed for the S-bahn (my way home, basically) and asked if I would like to tag along. I tell you, I almost cried.

We got off the ferry at the other side and he told me that they were going to take the scenic route and walk to the station which was going to take about an hour. My feet were in shreds but at this point it was more important to stick with the people who actually knew where they were going.

So, to continue the theme, we walked. And it was a nice route to walk. We talked about the trees and the strange lacquer on some of the roofs. He also had a lot of questions about the prevalence of renewable energy in the UK.

About twenty minutes into the walk, they decided it was time for a break and a snack, so we stopped at an ice cream shop. I had two scoops of Engel blau, which, I’m not sure what it is, but I’d definitely tagged it as my favourite on my trip.

But anyway, we were sat outside talking and I had given his daughter a website where she could learn English when I spot who? The group of cyclists from earlier.

Small world, huh? Small world.

We finished our ice cream and decided to take the bus the rest of the way to the station. Once on the train, we continued our conversation on modern German architecture and also began attempting to configure his new camera.

One change later and we were on the train that would take me home. They were getting off at the first stop – our time together had come to an end. I’m not sure to what extent I had crashed their family time, but I was certainly grateful for their help. I said my thank you’s and goodbyes and they were gone.

I’ll cut out the next forty-odd minutes of traveling and conclude the story by saying that one slightly traumatised girl fell through her front door and proceeded to sit in a cold shower for about fifteen minutes whilst thanking the heavens that she was alive.

So there you go, people. It wasn’t exactly the highlight of my trip, but it was certainly an adventure. Mostly the second part though, when I was more than 60% sure that I was going to live. Take my advice from part one- basically, don’t be an idiot.

Berlin, sunbathing and bad decisions: Part one

received_1028436227226197As promised, you are about to hear the tale of how I escaped the clutches of death whilst on my travels in Berlin. Maybe I’m being dramatic but it didn’t feel like it at the time…

Cast your minds back a few weeks ago to a hot, muggy Friday, which was apparently more of a wet, miserable Friday for all you lot stuck in England (ha). Anyway, a few friends and I had decided to return to a beach on a lake that we had visited a couple of days before. It was forecast to be a deathly 34°c, so what better way to spend the day than splashing around in a nice, cool lake?

The others were finishing off some work but I was ready to go, so I headed off with a friend. For some reason we decided that getting a bus would be a better idea than taking the more reliable U-bahn. A very sweaty hour later, we arrive at what we think is the lake.

Well, it is, but naturally, we’ve come in from a completely different direction and our beautiful, sandy beach is nowhere in sight. “It can’t be that hard to find, can it?”, you say. Friend, this was one big-ass lake.

But anyway, we headed into what turned into a forest surrounding the lake and started walking. And walking. And-you get the idea. It was nice to start with, the golden sunlight streaming down through the leafy green trees. But then we started to realise that these trees were like when tall people sit on front of you at the cinema: you can’t see the full picture.

“It must just be around this next corner, right?” I kept asking. Wrong. Each time we thought were getting close, well, we weren’t. Eventually we came to a jetty where people were swimming around and dipping their feet. My companion decided that we’d done enough walking and that the jetty would be her substitute beach. So she put her towel down and began sunbathing.

Now, every bad situation can be traced back to one poor decision, and here was mine: never, ever let your stubbornness tell you that you’ll be fine on your own, and never EVER go off on your own in a foreign country, especially when heatstroke is a very real possibility.

I’ll  summarise the next two and a half hours by just saying that I kept walking and walking and-again, you get the idea. The small seed of slight concern had blossomed into a bouquet of panic and stress. At this point I realised I had to start asking strangers for help.

I’d like to stop for just a second and dedicate a shout out to the lovely lady on the bike who yelled at me that she wouldn’t help me because i was foreign. Really, thank you. 

Fortunately, everyone after that was wonderfully helpful, but I’ll get to them in a minute. Thankfully I also had a guardian angel on the phone looking for my location and trying to guide me. After managing to calm me down somewhat, he pointed me towards a hotel where I could get someone to call me a taxi. So I started walking.

But when I got there, what did I find? Red tape, overgrown weeds and dusty windows. I climbed over the fence to have a closer look, just in case anyone was home. Nope, nada, zilch. Clearly no one had been there in years; I bet that place actually looked pretty creepy at night.

So anyway, I leave the abandoned hotel and find myself by the edge of the water where two old, German ladies are talking. I ask them if they know where the beach is, and judging by the look they gave each other and the ensuing hand signals, neither of them spoke a word of English. I decided to leave the women, who were getting increasingly irritated at my lack of understanding, and attempted to follow their directions.

I somehow managed to end up on their suggested path and after a few minutes, started seeing signs for the beach. Though nothing looked familiar, I started thanking those angry German ladies when I caught a glimpse of sand through the trees. Could this be it?!

That would’ve been nice, wouldn’t it? But no, it absolutely was not the right beach. After sitting on a tree stump and gaining composure I began to walk back the way I came, my helper still on the phone.

At the crossroads, I take a left onto a main road. This must lead to something significant, right? Well, I wasn’t wrong. A sight for sore eyes: a signpost. I approach it and read: MITTE 6km. Six kilometres?! No way, man, no way.

Okay, so this is bad. I’ve been walking for three hours, I’ve run out of water and my feet are beginning to hurt. I have no idea where I am and the promise of a cool swim in the lake has long since faded.

 

 

To be continued…

Auf Wiedersehen, pet.

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Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Friends, family, Facebook followers, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: 500-ish words on how I managed to stay alive sort of on my own but not really in a foreign country for a month.

Well, not only did I stay alive (though there was a close shave I’ll talk about later), I came back slightly less pale and able to ask people what job they do in German. Useful.

Though the German lessons could have covered rather more relevant topics, we did learn how to say the most important phrase: Sprechen Sie Englisch?

But here’s the important bit: Berlin is cooler than a polar bear’s toenails (I thank Google for that one). Never have I seen so much amazing street art, weird haircuts and beautiful green parks in one city.

And while the Berlin’s artsy panache is certainly something to admire, there also a deep history engrained in the city that is impossible to ignore. Behind many of the often imaginatively designed monuments and memorials we visited was a palpable feeling of respect and remembrance.

While most of the city is new and was rebuilt after its almost total destruction during the Second World War, what happened has certainly not been forgotten.

That’s a bit of the cultural side explained, but the next point I wanted to make was just this: German efficiency is not a myth. I never thought I’d say this usually very dull sentence but their public transportation was actually a joy to use. There, I said it.

And did I ever wait longer than five minutes for my Currywurst to be prepared? No. Are double-decker trains a thing? Yes. It’s just incredible. Like, these people even have recycling police.

Talking about the weather might usually be reserved for awkward bus conversations but I tell you, the first week we nearly evaporated. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer, but 34°c heat with high humidity makes you want to drown yourself in an ice bath. Our apartment being on the ninth floor probably also didn’t help.

But anyway, I think you can probably conclude that I had an awesome time. I climbed the Victory Column, jumped off a paddle boat and swam in a lake, rented a bike and cycled around an abandoned airport, I ate Philippino sweet potato ice cream (which was bright purple and delicious) and did enough walking to last me about a year… which is probably why I’ve only really been walking to the fridge and back since I got home.

More on my brush with death later, but if you are lucky enough to find yourself in Berlin, just remember- don’t walk in the bike lanes or you’ll get run over and probably die.

Stuffing myself with carbs after Marbs

marbs beach

Sun, sea, horrendous sunburn and drunken nights spent bending over a toilet. A couple of those apply to my weekend in Marbella, but I’ll let you guess which (those who know me can stop laughing now).

This might be a week late, but I suppose it’s taken me this long to readjust myself to Portsmouth’s cloudiness and general lack of flip flop weather.

I don’t need to take 500 words to tell you that I had a great time, apart from the part where I forgot to cream my pits and now have a dirty-looking tan/sunburn that makes me look like I have some sort of skin condition. I clearly need lessons in applying sun cream (or maybe more holidays) because I’m currently in possession of a semi-embarrassing, rather patchy tan.

My favourite part (heavy sarcasm) of the holiday was definitely the flights there and back. Never did I think that I have to share a row with men who walk around with their hands down the front of their pants holding their junk as if they have to check it’s still there. I guess we know what they wanted to do on their holiday.

A few slightly older women were already sloshed before take-off, so a couple more glasses mid-flight and they were mistaking the cabin for a nightclub.

The way back wasn’t so much fun- I’m not one to usually get scared when flying but the turbulence had the lights flickering and me squeezing the armrests. No, I didn’t want to die whilst sitting between a woman covered in red wine and a potential drug dealer with his hands in his boxers.

As for the few days in between, we stayed in a villa that looked like something you’d see on teen cribs, 3 minutes away from a sandy beach and a short taxi ride into Porta Benus. For the first time in my life I found myself sipping cocktails under a palm tree and actually felt quite sophisticated.

Porta Benus wasn’t at all what I expected either. Far from the heaving, rowdy streets and gropey men that I had braced myself for, we somehow managed to get ourselves a private booth in a club that would have normally cost the same as a deposit on a small car.

Though we did at one point find ourselves on a street that was making us increasingly question our safety, a quick detour helped us find our way back to the shiny yachts and men in white chinos.

Despite the posse of stags who latched onto us towards the end, we had a great night and stumbled through the front door clutching our shoes as the sun was coming up. Come to think of it, those guys were French so I probably could’ve told them something about shoving their baguettes were the sun don’t shine.

The ‘famous blondes’ fancy dress evening was great, they didn’t HATE my Thor costume so I’ll take that as a success. As a side note, to anyone thinking of starting their own business, there’s a distinct gap in the market for inflatable Thor hammers.

So, my feet might still be recovering and I haven’t dared to check my bank balance yet, but I’d say it was worth it.

NOT a motivational blog post

Hello, my very stressed friends.

It appears I’ve escaped the pendulating whirlpool of despair and eventual nocturnalism that is the world of students doing proper degrees.

Yes, I’ve been told numerous times that I need to cut out the self-deprecating humour but let’s be honest, I haven’t got much else to do right now.

If you’re in the library at the moment and need to take a break, go get a drink, take five and let me make you feel a little bit worse.

Don’t worry, that’s not exactly true, unless you’d rather be on holiday next week, in which case it probably is. I won’t go on about it because I can’t, it’s a hen party in a destination that has to be kept secret until we leave on Thursday and I’ll probably be lynched if I let anything slip.

But right now, I’m rediscovering the fact that I apparently eat more at uni than I do at home. To my deepest disappointment I arrived home to find that the marshmallows and licorice in the sweet jar had been replaced by figs and dried apple rings. They’re also buying reduced-sugar jam and soya milk…

…I love my parents but really, I think it’s time for an intervention.

Another joy coming home to the countryside is the birds. Although I’m not particularly enjoying the daily 4am morning chorus,  I guess I should be thankful that they haven’t yet used my face for target practise.

And what’s up with the whole getting up before 10am thing? I don’t understand it and I don’t like it.

One thing I’m not complaining about is normal meal times which I’m about to take full advantage of.

Keep typing, my friends.

Current State: Retail Worker on Black Friday

Yep. Definitely reached panic mode.

For quite a while now I’ve been pretty chilled, grateful for the fact that I didn’t seem to be as stressed as my house-mates who have been buried in their books since about January (last year).

But as always, it was too good to be true. Shout out to past-Becca who wrote down that a 3000 word report for her marketing unit was due in on the 29th of May instead of the 29th of April. There was a reason I wasn’t stressed, and that reason is that I was blissfully unaware of the behemoth of work I was accidentally ignoring.

So I’m taking five to share with you a metaphor that I think describes me quite well. My brain is a bit like Weston Super Mare in summer right now: there’s a lot going on but it’s all very, very muddy.

Other than that, there’s not much to tell. I bought some olives yesterday which was quite exciting.

The lazy person that I am, after being asked to tidy up the living room, I proceeded to sell half the furniture. Less cleaning to do, and now I can buy some shoes. Win.

As usual after waking up after a nap, I’m not really sure what year it is and there are funny patterns on my face which I think are from sleeping on my hair brush.

But if you don’t hear from me again (which you might all be hoping for), it’s probably because I’ve moved to Yemen or Alaska or some place where the School of Media and Performing arts at Portsmouth University won’t ever find me.

List no. 472: Responsibilities? What?

Gone are the days of play dough and Tamagotchis. Although I still manage to colour outside the lines, it’s not 2002 anymore, and  I’ve been forced to leave my cushioned cocoon of Furbies and Space hoppers behind.

Still, I think I’d be right in saying that almost every child on earth wishes they were a ‘grown up’. I can remember from about the age of 5 having this intense frustration at the fact that I was going to have to wait 12 years until I could get behind the wheel of a car.

Though there are some things about being an adult which aren’t so bad, like being old enough to get into a pub and drink your sorrows away, there are also things that no amount of Netflix can cure (or maybe it can, I don’t know). I’ve put together a list to remind you of all those things. Enjoy.

-Bills. Need I say more.

– Having to call your landlord when your shower starts spurting out icicles. Like, you have to talk on the phone. To an actual person. I’m a nervous phone user, so by the end of a phone call I’ve basically walked the entire length of the Great Wall of China.

-Being expected to know what you’re doing. Manage your finances. Set alarms. Know where your socks are. It’s all just too much.

-The shame and judgement you feel when the Asda delivery man passes you your mashed potato and ready-grated cheese.

-Not actually buying mashed potato or ready-grated cheese but having to live with people who do.

-Deadlines. Which is exactly why I’m sitting here writing this blog.

-Being held responsible for your own actions. Like maybe I genuinely did forget to go to uni today, not because I watched the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy and had rivers of mascara trickling down my face.

-People in cars beep at you when you fall over (I’ve had plenty of experience). I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen to kids, right?

Also, in case you weren’t aware, I started my day on Tuesday by using hair spray instead of deodorant, so you’re probably doing better than I am.

The Asda delivery man has actually just arrived, so I better go get my 3 cartons of mango juice, 1kg bag of porridge oats and my XXL bag of curly fries…

 

 

 

Viva la pasta

12966784_974709112598909_1294087065_nWell, what a week. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the Italians can eat. I’ve eaten so much pasta I feel like I’m on the verge of evolving into an over-stuffed ravioli.

Before I get sued for libel, I should probably say that the previously-mentioned ‘Sleazyjet’ wasn’t as sleazy as anticipated and actually got us back ten minutes ahead of schedule. I’m not really sure how that works, but I won’t ask questions.

I’ll start off by saying that my name is now Katniss Everdeen because I got a bullseye on my first go at archery, so I’m basically a deadly weapon now.

The villa we stayed in was great- old buildings with a long history tucked in the rolling green valleys of Tuscany, away from people and noisy traffic and right into the nests of those vexatious little swallows which insisted on performing their morning chorus at 2.30 am. I hate birds.

On the plus side, the weather was great, and if you look reaaallly closely, I’ve gone from ivory white to horseradish white. Sun-kissed is an understatement.

My beautiful bronze colour is thanks to the day we spent in Florence fighting through the hordes of other camera-toting tourists following someone holding a stick with swishy bits on the end.

It’s a diverse place, I’ll give it that, and the architects definitely get points for effort. The phrase I coined to describe Florence whilst lying in bed one night was ‘vivaciously chaotic’. I don’t know if that makes sense but I was quite proud of it.

Back at the villa we also stumbled across a tennis court and decided that playing for an hour in 27 degree heat was a fabulous idea. Obviously, we discovered pretty quickly that heat exhaustion was a distinct possibility and forgot to factor in the hellishly steep climb back up the hill.

After finding relief with a cold shower, we decided to go back the next day early in the morning to avoid the heat. It was good fun and as it turns out, I’m not as uncoordinated as I thought, but my muscles still burn and I had to hobble around the airport like an old woman which wasn’t embarrassing at all.

If you think knowing other languages like Spanish or French might help you out when trying to figure out Italian, think again. Maybe I’m missing something, but at least I now know the Italian for ‘timetable’, which is ‘orario’. Should come in handy.

I never thought I’d say this but I’m sick of eating. I actually feel like I want to go on a diet (what’s wrong with me?!). I’ve also discovered that having all your food on one plate is grievously underrated- why do I need pasta that is anti to my normal pasta?