Why Apathy is the Enemy, and That We Should Start Caring

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If you pick up a newspaper or, what is more likely nowadays, scan news sites on your computer or smartphone, generally you are left with a feeling that there is a higher percentage of bad news than good news. Europe is currently at ends with each other over the refugee crisis, America is facing new tragedies over its gun laws, and as per usual British tabloids are exaggerating stories about why families on benefits are nothing but scroungers of the nation.

So perhaps it is unsurprising why so many people are not reading the news. They say things like “I find it too depressing”, or they have given up caring about their country and its current affairs because “the country is fucked up”, or “if you ask me, this country has had it”.

Except personally I find this attitude irritating beyond belief. It encourages a notion of ignorance, and so when people to pay attention to the news they are easily taken in by a sensationalist headline and jump on either the supportive or hostile bandwagon with little more than a few general facts to support their opinion. Or even worse, they do not care at all what is happening in their country or the world quite simply because it is not affecting them. A voice of the British left wing, Owen Jones, has called for the refugees to be thought of as the humans they are, not as statistics. And I have read about journalists in Brazil brutally murdered for criticizing the government, yet, correct me if I’m wrong, but I have not heard about a national outcry for justice, and for freedom of speech to be protected. I am a huge advocate of human rights, and a proud member of Amnesty International, and I am constantly reading about how human rights are exploited on numerous levels. But around me I see very little concern, and even less being done, simply because it isn’t happening on our own back doors.

It seems the length people are willing to go to show their support or concern for a specific cause is a  quick post on social media: sometimes a link, sometimes a profile picture update. Now, I am in full support of using simple social media techniques to raise awareness and encourage social concern. The ‘No Make Up Selfie’ seemed to start out as a vanity project, but thankfully people started questioning its use, and instead of a simple selfie people donated in the masses to breast cancer research, and even spread photos of how to check for signs of breast cancer. But more often than not, it is hardly used for productive means. People scroll past posts that provide information and calls to raise awareness, and posting a picture appears to be satisfactory enough for many to display their support for a cause, despite its little real effect. On the other hand, the incredibly well-known Humans of New York blog does demonstrate how a simple photo and caption can create overwhelming waves of empathy, and has led to many charitable causes emerging for featured individuals.

The key word: empathy. In my opinion it is not felt or encourage enough among the human race, and yet it is what has made us who we are: it helps us connect and is what makes our loved ones become loved, makes us cherish and understand art, and prevents us from becoming sociopaths. Yet if something is not happening to us, we fail to understand why it is horrific it is happening to someone else. The majority of us are lucky to not all have to experience hate crimes, natural disasters, or government corruption that goes beyond expenses scandals. But just because we don’t experience all those things first hand, does not mean they should be experienced by anyone, or that we should stand to one side and not do anything about it.

But apathy is also formed from a sense of disillusionment. People have no faith in the world, or a country that has “had it”. People have tried to make change happen, but rarely witness the results. They believe wars will always occur, inequality will always exist, and politicians will always only help themselves. But does this mean we should give up, and let apathy win? Only give concern to ourselves and immediate social circle? Ignore the news and only read lighthearted Buzzfeed articles, as fun as they can be? I have taken part in demonstrations, signed petitions, donated money, emailed politicians and more for various causes. Is it always met with success? Of course not, but I will keep trying to help causes I support because it is better than just shaking my head and tutting. I would recommend, if you have not, finding a charity you support- whether its for the environment, a medical condition, or to support humanitarian aid etc. Buy a membership, and keep up to date with their campaigns, their fundraising and their news. It’s a small step but the more people who did this, the more active and socially conscious we all become. The only way to see change is to keep trying, rather than just sitting on our hands or burying our heads in the sand.

I felt like finishing this rant off with a favourite song of mine. To me Frank Turner sums up in this song perfectly how disillusionment is easy to sink into, but that its better to continue with undefeated optimism.

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My Style Essentials

Because y’all wanna be me…(ahem)

Whilst style, fashion and trends tend to pass me by (sometimes I catch onto them just when they’re about to fade out of the mainstream media), there are some things I maintain to wear my personality on my sleeve.

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(Is it lame to use a fancy camera for mirror selfies? Ah well, looks cool)

Tartan- I have loved wearing tartan since my young teenage-hood embracing punk. I also like how it can be worn with punk attitude or as something quissentially British. It can be styled as smart or laid-back, and its also pretty cool how each tartan design represents a Scottish tribe (save for the Windsor design).

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Lipstick – The photo is missing my red one, which will be lying about in the bottom of a handbag of mine somewhere… Anyways when I was younger I used to be all about lip glosses, but nowadays I only ever apply lipstick. I probably switched to feel more grown up, but they are always much longer lasting and less annoyingly sticky than lip glosses.

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Quirky Jewellery – It’s fun picking up unique pieces from markets and travels, or treasuring those given as gifts because you can be smug when people admire them. Plus I’m a magpie who squeals over shiny, pretty things. It’s good to own jewellery that has a story to tell.

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Converse – Another thing I’ve sported for years, and each time I have to replace my well worn shoes I always like to try a new colour/design. Currently on a very grubby white pair (I have tried cleaning them…), I think they’re the comfiest shoes ever (except for long walks) and look good with any casual day outfit. 118

Shorts and Tights combo – Finally, another thing I adopted years ago, although I wonder what is the acceptable age to wear them up to (now I’m an adult I may have to *shudder* dress sensibly). I love how they can be ideal for daywear, or nights out, and are a subtly way of showing your legs but without turning them into walking icicles.

Poems to Get You Through Life

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As an English Literature graduate, I am naturally a massive nerd for poetry. When you don’t have time to sit down and lose yourself in a chunky novel, sometimes the beautiful construction of poetry is great to use for a little time out. It also can be a great source of inspiration to get you through the challenges of life. Below I have chosen some poems that aren’t too lengthy, but are uplifting for anyone who read poetry often, or remembers poetry from school days with a groan!

Love after Love – Derek Walcott

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life. 

I first read this poem in high school, when my knowledge of love and relationships centred solely on fancying various band members. Anyways, this poem reminding you that you will again love the awesome person you are after others stop, is never a bad poem to read.

Still I Rise – Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

This poem is great because it is one of empowerment. Angelou is one hell of an inspiration and this poem evokes her fighting spirit- that everyone could do with a little of.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This I think is a lovely poem about taking the time to stop for a moment and appreciate the beauty around you, before getting on and carrying on with life. It’s classic, beautiful use of imagery cannot help but bring out the magical feeling the world sometimes possesses.

Road Trip Films to Watch

So, I’ve done post about wanderlust novels and a post about wanderlust songs, so now I fancy writing a post about wanderlust films. Or road trip films to be more specific. I’m keen to get a few road trips under my belt: perhaps the full Route 66, maybe around countries such as France or Italy, or even to explore the South American continent. But for now I still enjoy seeing it on screen.

Thelma and Louise

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I watched this recently on a long haul flight for the first time ever, and found it pretty ace. I had to stifle my giggles to not wake the sleeping passengers. The titular characters are quite fun: sarcastic at times, naive at other times. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a feminist film, but their liberation from unadventurous lives is quite uplifting to watch. And a film that captures small town American lives and its open road has a tendency to capture my heart.

Little Miss Sunshine

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Road trips don’t just need to be about friends, an uplifting film about a chaotic family just trying to get by and not kill each other is also a good take on road trip films. I remember the first time I watched this film, and found the title had completely misled me. It explores unhappy relationships, depression, unrealised dreams and even death. Yet also has some comedy gems and ultimately is a bittersweet story.

On the Road

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I’m obsessed with the novel, so unsurprisingly the film makes this list. I think it does well to capture the carefree, almost destructive adventures of the Beat generation. And even though I’m not a fan of Kristen Stewart’s acting, even she seems to fit the part quite well. Seeing the story told visually it’s not hard to see why On the Road caused so many to want a freer life.

The Motorcycle Diaries

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A Spanish-language film that tells the story of Che Guevara when he was a medical student who embarked on a motorbike trip with a friend to explore South America. The film avoids Guevara’s later years which are both admired and controversial Instead his travels show what inspired him to later fight for equality. Instead of a radical, impassioned, brutal leader, he is a youthful, sometimes awkward optimist who envisions helping the downtrodden.

The Blues Brothers

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I adore this musical film. It has musical legends, comedy, quirky outfits and a mysterious woman bend on killing the leading characters. The songs are great because they are of the most popular blues and souls songs of the era. The story is simple but well told- get their band back together to raise the money to save the Catholic orphanage they grew up in. But also features annoying some neo-nazis, because why not.

Student Tips 101

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So, A-Level results are out and I’m seeing social media updates about how excited people are to start uni and I feel so, so very old. Also nostalgic for that youthful, innocent flutter of excitement for what uni will be. I was going to Laaandan! I was going to freshers week! I was going to meet all sorts of interesting people and learn all sorts of new things!

Uni is great, and its entirely what you can make of it. But as a loving gift from a veteran (or, recent graduate)- here are some tips to survive the first year (or week).

Learn to Cook

Cannot stress this enough. I know some halls offer catered accommodation, but really try and cook as much as you can. You learn how to budget better, you will eat so much better than living off take outs and meals out, and being able to eat healthy, hearty meals will see you through the stressful exams and deadlines much better than bowls of cereal and pizza. So buy student cookbooks and google recipes. You don’t have to cook fancy meals, but having some go-to faves will be a life saver (and can impress anyone).

Challenge Yourself

Your time spent at uni will involve more freedom than you have ever had, or possibly will have again. So don’t hold back from trying new things. Take up new hobbies, new classes, go to a house party where you only know one or two people, or use your long holidays to travel. Don’t let yourself stagnate, because some opportunities will slip you by.

Make Your Studies a Priority

Your main goal whilst at university ideally should be to come out the other end with a degree. The student life is fun, but it will be a heavy debt to pay back if that’s all you focus on. Your studies will challenge you to the point of breaking point, but that’s what they should do.

Do More than Nights Out

Do embrace clubs and their student nights before you start to feel too old for them (which will happen alarmingly soon). But do you really want your memories of some of the best years of your life to be a hazy blur? Take in the culture, the local life, and bond with people over more than just vodka.

Seize Every Opportunity in Your 1st Year

Sign up to all the societies that interest you (it’s a tradition) and try out as many as you can until you find the ones you really like. And stick with them. Your studies will only get more and more demanding, so you should really use your first year to explore opportunities outside your studies so you can still brag about them on your CV later.

Avoid Toxicity

If there is one word to sum up my first year of uni, it is ‘dramatic’. And I just mainly witnessed the drama. You will meet so many different people all cooped up together in small flats, so there’s bound to be drama. But find reliable people you can trust, embrace these friendships, and don’t get too caught up in fall outs. Because eventually you will realise these things don’t matter, as long as you have good people as support.

Save Money

Managing finances whilst at uni can be varying levels of difficulty for all students. Some have it luckier than others, some don’t. But do try and budget wisely. I used a spreadsheet to estimate and work out how much I spent on different expenses monthly, and succeeded in living within my means. But don’t think of your overdraft as extra money, think of it as a safety net best not to linger too long in. The real world can be scary once a hell of a lot more taxes start biting into your finances, so try and always save for a rainy day.

Look After Yourself

So important. I mean it health wise: both physically and mentally. Uni can be daunting and stressful, but make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy food (as well as food that makes you happy). Always talk to people and ask for advice when you need it. And I sound like your grandma.

Make Good Connections, not Infinite Connections

I know people who started uni hoping to make about 100 friends in their first week. Whilst uni is an amazing pace to meet many people, don’t focus on knowing everyone by name. Find good people who you can trust, because they will be the ones you turn to in times of need.

Don’t Forget Those Back Home

Family who hope to know you’re still alive, and friends who are possibly also off on their own daunting adventures. These are the people who looked after you during your first alcohol fused vomit fest, who explored the uni options with you, who know many terrible things about you but still love you. New people are fun and fascinating, and possibly will become greater friends than previous ones, but it never hurts to touch base once in a while.

Favourite Memories from the U.S.A

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Every two years my family and I would jet off on holiday to the country that to many is all about dreams. I feel incredibly lucky that my parents would save for these magnificent getaways, and not just leave my sister and I behind. As I have no concrete plans to visit the U.S for a while (turns out it’s pretty expensive), although I am determined to return one day, I decided to compile  list of some of my favourite memories from these trips.

Las Vegas

We stayed in their crazy hotels a few times, so I have many fond memories of a place probably more sordid than my innocent childhood remembers: floating around the lazy river pools, the New York New York rollercoaster, the shows from each hotel, and the lions in the MGM Grand. It’s a magical place, although I watched CSI a lot as a child and I’m relieved to not have seen quite so many murders that TV show features.

Route 66

We did 2/3 of the famous route the last time I visited America, so it is another place with many fond memories: the friendly diner staff, my sister nearly losing her shoe in a river, the people we met at the Cadillac Ranch who looking back were probably alcoholics…

Green Day

Along the Route 66 trip we stopped at St Louis to see this amazing band play, and they’re one of my favourite bands for a reason. Although a lot of people criticise them for changing their style etc, I love them for trying new things with every album. And they’re a damn good live band, which is always important.

Lollapalooza

An amazing music festival in the heart of Chicago in the summer (plus no camping, so we stayed in a hotel – how terrible). I saw Ida Maria, Kaiser Chiefs, The Killers, Lou Reed and more. Thoroughly recommend!

Swimming with Dolphins

Padre organised this as a surprise when we were visiting the Florida Key Islands, and of course it was amazing. The dolphins seemed to be quite well looked after, and were well trained to give adorable kisses. You could also buy paintings by the dolphins, at a hefty price.

New York

It was hot and crazy but its not hard to be charmed by the concrete jungle. We even saw a human bodies exhibition and my sister touched a brain…(and has now graduated in neuroscience). All the typical tourist attractions are deff worth seeing.

Universal Studios Hollywood

This was ace, combining theme park attractions with the creation of films (I saw the infamous shower clip from Psycho and became absolutely terrified of motel showers). The Jurassic Park ride was also terrifying but fun.

Grand Canyon

Madre purposely made us pose for photos as though were were standing on the edge, just to give Grandma a fright. The Grand Canyon is an incredible sight, and the lodges we stayed in were fun to witness raccoons stealing food from bins and wondering if we’d bump into a hungry bear.

San Francisco’s Rainforest Cafe

A truly magical place for a child to visit, and walk out with a giant snake toy. San Francisco is a nice city, but as a child you can be easily distracted by a cafe with a tropical forest interior.

Eating donuts in L.A

I remember eating so many when we visited L.A I felt sick and could’t eat donuts for a long time afterwards. However they were as delicious as donuts can be.

A Walk Along a Canal

When I snapped a previous polaroid of the 5 Rise Locks in Bingley, West Yorkshire, it was after walking 6 miles to Saltaire and back with my mum and grandparents. I had taken photos with my DSLR all along the way, so quickly dug out my polaroid so I wouldn’t have carried it around all day for nothing.

But behold my favourite digital shots from the day:

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The Five Rise Locks Cafe where many weary walkers/canal boat users refill their energy levels.

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Along the canal we passed the three rise locks, with a canal boat using the impressive mechanisms at the time. I hope they don’t mind me photographing the action.

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Weary and thirsty, we reached Saltaire to enjoy a drink in the pub. Saltaire is a fascinating place: its founder was a Victorian industrialist named Sir Titus Salt, who built the village to provide sanitary living conditions for his workers, as many lived in slums before.

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Finally, some snaps of the local families (plus a cat in a boat):

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I like the first one as the cygnet looks to be smiling for the camera! 

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