Photo Diary: Birthday in Barcelona

 

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First off, I hope everybody had a really lovely start to the new year, if you’ve already seen my Instagram and Snapchat spams then you’ll all know that I blooming had the best start to the year!! My family only went and took me to Spain for my birthday! Like what?!?! Absolute crazinesssssss! It was the best birthday of my life, besides the fact of how old I was turning – but let’s not dwell on that…
I can’t thank my sisters and brother-in-law enough for taking me – also for being my personal photographers and videographers – had to keep up-to-date with OOTD’s guys! This post is kind of a lengthy one but only because it’s jam-packed with pictures and very little writing so for now I’ll shut up and let you enjoy my little(ish) gallery of all the places I visited and things I did in beautiful Barcelona.

Saturday 7th January (My Birthday!)

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We stayed at the beautiful Vincci Mae Barcelona Hotel  which is situated towards the centre of the city and walking distance from a lot of attractions. The staff were so lovely, always greeted with an “HOLA” from the desk every time we were leaving or arriving and the rooms weren’t too shabby either!

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Sunday 8th January

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Barcelona Zoo

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Camp Nou (New Camp) Stadium

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So, I’ve never been much of a football fan apart from when something big his happening in the footy world like the World Cup or something, but oh my, I fell so in love with the Barcelona football team – and the stadium too! Now, I’ve always been a fan of Lionel Messi, he’s one of the few footballers I know (and that’s only because he’s the greatest footballer in the world, debatable I know but he’s the best in my eyes). Anyway, we were able to see all the many, many, many, MANY trophies and cups that the Barcelona team have won over the years, many photos of the footballers too 😉 Then there was the chance to walk out onto the sidelines of the pitch, visit the press pit and even take a gander into players’ locker room!

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ALSO, it’s not every day you get to have an Outfit of the Day photoshoot in an empty football stadium – apparently I had amused one of the tour guides by taking pictures whilst sitting on the stairs rather than using the pitch as my backdrop… he clearly did not understand the ways of an OOTD shoot.

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Monday 9th January

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Sagrada Familia

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All I can say about this building is that it is so so sooooo beautiful, I cannot even express in words or do it any justice in pictures of how beautiful. My sister (Adeeba) and I had already visited it the night before – only being able to see it from outside – but even then when we could just see it in the light of the street lamps, it  quite literally took our breaths away. You just don’t expect something so grand and gorgeous to be in the centre of all the hustle and bustle of the city. Just from looking at the pictures I remember how bad my neck hurt from having to crane it all the way up to take in all the beauty… so worth it though. Gaudi, you bloody genius.

Gothic Quarter

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Park Guell

To carry on with the Gaudi guide, we visited Park Guell. Just see for yourself how amazing it is…

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I still remember making my own little fantastic and strange building out of clay from studying Gaudi in Year 7 Art and from then on, I’ve always wanted to travel to Barcelona to see his work in real life. Also, when I was younger I was a huge fan of the Cheetah Girls – please, please tell me that people remember the Cheetah girls –  and to this day I still remember the scene they filmed in this very park in their second movie – anyone else remember? It was basically my 10/11 year old self’s dream come true, so of course I geeked out – but I was totally here for the art and culture too, not just because Raven Symone had been dancing on these stairs, okay?

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Tuesday 10th January

And this was the sad, sad day where we had to say our goodbyes to Barcelona and head home 😦

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But oh my word, it was such an amazing trip, the perfect birthday and the best start to the year. I cannot thank my family enough for spoiling me and all I keep thinking about now is…

“Where are you guys taking me next year?” 😉 😉 😉

 I .. x

*All photos taken with an Olympus PEN

VLOG | Volunteering at Calais | With Help Refugees

So, I’ve received a lot of messages via Snapchat and Instagram from a lot of lovely people that they think I should start my own YouTube channel. And I’ve always sort of ignored it because I’ve always felt like I’ve never had the confidence, and I am a crazed fan of Youtube lookbooks, hauls, and tutorials from all my favourite bloggers. So, I’ve always thought I’d never be able to rise up to that level. I always told myself that if I was to make videos I’d want to inspire people, so as soon as I found out that I was going to volunteer at a Calais refugee camp I thought, “this is my chance, I’m just gonna vlog the whole thing!” Even if the footage wasn’t going up anywhere I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t have anything to remember the trip by. So, this is my little tester video to see if it inspires me to make more!

I tried my best to get as much footage as possible, but obviously I was there to work and help and getting my camera out and talking to it in front of a bunch of strangers allowed me to gain a few funny looks, haha! Also, due to security reasons, we weren’t allowed to take pictures or film in front of the warehouse. We also had the chance to spend 2 days talking to a lot of the refugees in the camps, but again, footage of that was very limited. So, I’m afraid a lot of the video consists of my face talking to the camera, sorryyyyy! Talking to a camera lens was strange enough too, it’s something I feel will take a little getting used to – I have a whole new level of respect for those Youtube bloggers that vlog all the time and make it look like a piece of cake, because this stuff is really hard! – But hopefully this will inspire some people to get out there and make a difference in the world.

Even though I was only volunteering in Calais for a week, it was enough for me to become majorly inspired and feel a part of a massive movement! Help Refugees is an organisation run purely by volunteers, some long-term and some short-term (like me) and each and every person I met there had so much passion and determination for this cause. There were a number of people who had left their jobs and careers to volunteer full time and I know what you’re thinking, “How can they afford to do that?” But a lot of the long term volunteers lived in caravans on the warehouse site! My mum had this idea that I’d be slumming it in a sleeping bag in the middle of the jungle somewhere so she was fairly surprised too when she saw where I was staying! And I feel like this is something that a lot of people think, which may put them off going to places like this, but I went within a group of 10 lovely, lovely people and we had a fair bit of luxury as we stayed in an Air BnB – and by luxury I mean that we had showers and cookers – and we didn’t have to splash the cash with that either.

It sounds really soppy but with every person I had met there, it felt as if I’d known them a lifetime, and I won’t be able to justice to the atmosphere and feeling you get within an environment like that, so I’m going to stop writing and just let you watch the video. When you’re there it’s like you were inside a little bubble and sort of switch off from the rest of the world and the video does a little more justice to the experience, but basically you have to just go there and see it for yourselves! I’ll shut up now and just let you watch the video..Oh, and let me know what you guys thought of it, please! Just click on the image below to view it 🙂

First time vlogger, out x

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Lost in a Fairytale: Celebrations and Dissertation

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Talk about you March Madness! Let me give you an update…

My eldest sister is about to tie the knot at the end of this of month and I am way too excited about this because guess who gets to be a Bridesmaid!?! Yeah, I doooooo! And it’s got the point where everything is starting to come together and all the exciting stuff has come around like appointments with florists, choosing bouquets for the Bride and Bridesmaids, button holes for the Gents and all that jazz. Picking the perfect dresses, getting fitted into those dresses etc. But I think the most adorable production that has come from all of this, is the invites. The wedding has a Fairytale theme to it, therefore, my sister wanted the invites to have a specific look to them. So it was left to her loving family to help make them exactly the way she wanted. For those who have added me on Snapchat would have seen the hard work that went into creating these babies. The boxes were flat packed and yours truly had to make them up. The ribbon tie around the scrolls was cut and glued together and the boxes were finished off with pretty pink organza – and I didn’t know what organza was until I was tieing the bows – See, I learned something new from all this! And without being biased or anything… they looked AMAZING!

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Soooo pretty, right?

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Alongside all of this wedding prep I have to keep reminding myself that I am still a student and I still have assignments and yep, still writing that dissertation!! That is due next month. Right now I do feel like Sleeping Beauty who has just woke from a 100-year slumber, except it’s more like a 2-month slumber because I did not see January or February go by at all! And there was no curse (as far as I know) or spindle wheels…or a Prince. So yeah, maybe Sleeping Beauty was a bad example but you get the gist. But the weird thing is that my dissertation also has a Fairytale theme to it! It was a complete coincidence but it’s as though everything around me has got me feeling like I’m in a Disney movie.

I remember at the end of the second year of uni we had to pitch our dissertation ideas to our tutors before the third year began. That was when quite a few people said to me “Don’t choose a topic that you enjoy, you’ll end up hating it when you’re finished.” And I understood where they were coming from because it is possible to  research things to the extent of having enough and wanting to be done with it. So I followed this advice and I initially had the idea to write a short story of some kind of dystopian or parallel universe, which I know has been done over and over and over before but I wanted to challenge myself into trying to make it unique from anything else that has been written before. And guess what? I tried it and failed at it, so it was time for the backup idea!

Enter: The Fairytale.

Now, I absolutely love the fantasy world. In the childhood days, Walt Disney held a special place in the hearts of the Ahmed household, getting us to believe the bird from Dumbo delivered all the babies in the world (still thought it until I was at an age I am too embarrassed to state) Ah, so naive! So it was easy to see where my dissertation would be heading, yep, down the path of Dragons and Pixies – there are actually no Dragons or Pixies in my dissertation at all – but there is a mix of poetry and prose in, so still a challenge, but a good one! My research involved a lot of readings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, it’s been my favourite from a small age and recently I found a really cute edition of it in Waterstones here! With other reads such as Peter Pan, The Snow Queen, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales all counted as research I regret not writing about something I love sooner. I wasted so much time trying to look into a genre that I couldn’t really wrap my head around and I am really glad I changed my idea before it was too late.

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It’s got pink flamingo’s on it! What’s not to like about that?!

So, for anyone who is about to go into their third year, it’s sometimes best to follow your own instincts. It’s good to get advice from others, but I wouldn’t follow it blindy! But maybe that’s just me, in my opinion, when you research something you’re passionate about then that passion and enthusiasm will show in your writing too. That makes sense right? But just remember everybody works in their own way. It’s worked for me because I am actually loving writing this dissertation. There have been quite a few hiccups along the way that have been smoothed out buI feel like my only problem right now is TIME! It’s coming around far too quickly.

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My desk most days!

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My sister’s wedding is before the dissertation deadline- win! – but being the sister of the Bride is apparently a big deal or something. Oh did I mention I was a Bridesmaid? Yeah? Oh, okay. Anyhoo, that means sharing my time doing all the things that Bridesmaids are supposed to do alongside the dissertation (as well as other assignments), being a good student and trying to attend all lectures and seminars whilst holding onto sanity and maintaining a social life. And I swear if one more person asks me what I am going to do after I finish Uni you’re just gonna get glared at and ignored by me because honestly I have no idea. I only have 2 months left of being a student and I’m trying my best in taking advantage of all the student perks. (Although my NUS card doesn’t expire until December 2017 – not complaining about that!) The next step for me is entering the big, scary, real world and I feel like my sister is kind of in the same situation as she’ll be entering a whole new world too – okay, the Aladdin pun was seriously not intended there.

It’s as though we have just read the words Once Upon A Time of this tale and it is beginning to skip all the pages in between. For my sister, according to the way of a lot of fairy tales, once you marry the Prince you have reached those closing words of Happily Ever After and she can now see those words there at the bottom of the page.

I’m kind of at my own Happily Ever After but instead of a Prince I’m hoping mine right now will be in the form of a degree! And very soon I’ll be starting all over again at the beginning with another Once Upon A Time as I step into the adult world of work.

So, now I’m gonna fix myself a cuppa’ and watch the new episode of Pretty Little Liars! But you can keep up to date with all things weddingy on my Instagram and add me on Snapchat too with username iramahmed95 where I’ve recently been updating and commentating a behind-the-scenes look at wedding preparations and other things that I see as potentially interesting.

Bridesmaid-to-be out!
xxx

 

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

It has now got to the point where there is a lot going off at university with assignments and research and that dreaded dissertation! So, I felt that to keep me sane I needed a small break! For normal people that may mean a little trip somewhere, a small getaway. But no, I decided that my break away from all that uni reading had to be filled with oh, more reading. Yep, it’s come to that now. But I was bloody glad I did because this little gem was just the most amazing thing I had read in a really long time.

As some of you may already know that Me Before You has been adapted into a movie that’s going to be released later this year in June (starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke) and it was from watching the trailer that willed me to buy the book. I’m still into the whole ‘reading the book before the movie’ kind of thing so I can then criticise the movie for missing out my favourite parts or changing little bits in the plot and ruining the overall magic of the book. But judging from the trailer I watched I have high hopes for it! Then again, Sam Claflin (who I adore. A lot!) is in it so I already know I’m going to love it.

So, without any spoilers here’s a bit about the story itself…

Jojo Moyes sets the scene in a cute, quiet, little town which is where we meet our protagonist, Louisa (Lou) Clark is currently living. For any girl in their twenties and trying to cope with life, you will find yourself instantly relating to Lou and everything she says and does. Believe me. Not only her but I love the way Moyes characterises the whole of the Clark family; a very close-knit family living a typical British lifestyle with their love, support, and many cups of teas just warmed my heart and makes the book feel so real. Then there’s Will Traynor. A quadriplegic patient bound to a chair for the rest of his life due to a motorcycle accident and is in need of twenty-four hour care. He’s sarcastic, grumpy and I quote from Moyes ‘a bit of an arse’ but through Lou’s perspective, somehow you fall completely in love with him. Although they both grew up in the same small village, Will and Lou have never encountered each other until now. They come from two very different worlds who need each other and begin to show each other all the thing they have been missing out on in life. I don’t know how Moyes does it but she perfectly captures the reality of the situations that Lou and Will find themselves in. There were times when I felt awkward and uncomfortable in some scenes but it was because you become so connected with these characters it is hard not to feel what they feel.

From start to finish the novel is completely full of ups and downs. Moyes has this sheer writing talent of being able to write with such wit where you’ll be laughing at one point but then you’ll turn the next page and be in floods of tears. (There may or may not have been a bit I was reading that caused me to cry, a lot, whilst sat on a train, in a carriage full of people, sniffling whilst pretending to check my phone but secretly looking to see that my mascara wasn’t halfway down my face.) Again, I don’t know how Moyes does it! The way she transitions her writing style from heartwarming to suddenly heartbreaking is a very talented thing to do indeed!

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Buy your copy here

This book will inspire you and maybe make you appreciate life a little more. That sounded really cheesy but it’s the good kind of cheese, I promise you. The book is roughly 500 pages long and I read it in two days, I’m quite a slow reader so that is like a world record for me. I just couldn’t put it down. Then, after I had finished it I was in a slight daze, it was that stage where I was like ‘what the hell do I do with my life now?’ That was when I saw that magical word that every bookworm will appreciate – sequel – yes, the sequel to Me Before You is quite rightfully titled After You and one that I will be reading kind of immediately.

All I can say is reeeeaaad it. That’s all.

Emotionally unstable bookworm out xx

Published, Baby!

Happy New Year, Guys!

So, I’ve been working on this post for some time but with Christmas, work, assignments and the New Year getting in the way it got really delayed. Also, it took a while for me to wrap my head around what actually happened and it was something very very VERY exciting! If I haven’t already spammed your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds, (sorry about that) you may have guessed from the title, that yes, I’M PUBLISHED! One of my short stories – The Cores – that I began writing in my first year of University has been printed in the pages of The Young Writers’ Anthology 2015 by Electric Reads – exciting! This is Electric Reads’ first ever anthology and that just made me feel even more honoured to be a part of it! It’s publishing companies like these that I absolutely adore because they search for those unknown British writers lurking in the shadows just waiting for opportunities to strike and they give them that chance to put a foot in the door of the world of writing – as it has done for me! And right now I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! What a lovely way to end 2015 eh?

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The paperback version of The Young Writers’ Anthology and also in Kindle format!

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I highly recommend you all to pick up a copy of the anthology, not because my story is in there (who am I kidding, of course it’s because my story is in there!) But there is also a huge variety of raw, young, British talent out there that is featured in this one publication. As I was reading some of the other short stories within it I was immediately asking myself how I was considered to be chosen to be in the same category as this gifted bunch! Of course my mum will argue that mine is the best, so to keep the peace let’s all agree with her. Agreed? Good.  😉

On a more serious note though, if any of you are aspiring writers and want a platform such as this to get your name out there somewhere, here’s what I did.

*Cue my publishing journey*

I was lucky enough to stumble across the Electric Reads ‘Call for Submissions’ article on my creative writing university blog (Beyond the Walls) If you’re in school/college/university then taking a look at their creative arts programs for competitions and submissions is a good place to start. I saw this article in early September and when I saw the closing date was the 31st October I quickly jumped at the chance to apply for it!

I had taken a look-see at the submission guidelines – I can’t emphasise how important this is, for any aspiring writers, you could write an epic, amazing piece for a magazine/journal/anthology/article or whatever and it won’t be what they are looking for! So they’ll simply dismiss it and it will break your heart. Luckily, Electric Reads were looking for prose (my speciality!) and something unique, creative and original (not as easy to achieve!) Oh, and I had to be 25 and under and British so, from reading this I seemed to be ticking all the boxes that the submission guidelines consisted of – debatable about the originality part – and I instantly thought that my short story The Cores would be perfect for it. After drafting and re-drafting what I had wrote a year and a half ago I finally thought it was acceptable to submit (well, I wasn’t perfectly happy with it but then again I never am when it comes to my own writing!) So I submitted it a few days prior to the deadline.

A few days later. . .

To my surprise I received an email to say my piece had been SHORTLISTED! So that’s when I thought, wow! Okay, that’s it that’s as far as I’m going to get, to be shortlisted is such an honour and it’s something I can still put on my CV, always thinking ahead me! But as a shortlisted writer I was told by the publishing company that I still had to provide some details about myself like a short bio and a photograph! Believe me, the hardest part about this whole experience was trying to find a photograph of myself that didn’t make me look like a mug. We got there in the end, well, kind of.

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After I sent all that the next step was just to wait. Yes, it was painful because whilst waiting I was thinking to myself ‘OMG, what if I was too ego-centrical in my bio? What if I really did look like a mug in my photo and they don’t want anything to do with me now?’ I’m an over thinker, okay? So after what felt like a year (I think realistically it was like 4 days) I received an email to say that I had been chosen within the top 25 to be PUBLISHED!!! That’s when it all started to feel completely surreal and everything moved really quickly. I was assigned an editor to work with and he read over my piece and returned it to me with feedback and suggestions of what he thinks I should change/add. This was a process I didn’t mind doing because I love constructive criticism, this guy is just trying to make my story better, how could I argue with that?! So within the course of about 2-3 weeks my story had evolved massively. After a final proof-read it was ready for print!

THEN, IT WAS THE DAY WE HAD ALL BEEN WAITING FOR! The release date came about on the 11th December and the anthology was first available in an e-book and then the paperback version followed it a few hours later on Amazon. Of course, mum was already on the job ordering her own copy and arrived at our door a couple of days later. The whole thing just felt so surreal (it still does!) I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. When we opened the book to my page (the biggest shock was seeing my face take up a whole page on all its own) but they were MY words printed in that book, MY story, and I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to that feeling.

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ALSO, I also had the privilege to be published alongside a fellow York St John Creative Writing student and friend, Bryony Eilish Porteous. She has had her short story The Drude printed in this anthology too and I have to say it is such a unique, stunning read! This girl is crazy talented in story-telling which is why you need to pick yourself up a copy!

And I think that’s about it! Hope you guys enjoyed the post and have an AMAZING New Year! All the best for 2016!

I xo

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of an English Literature Student: October

Gather round peoples…it’s the second instalment of the confessional chronicles!

So this post has been in the making for a while, but it’s here! Better late than never right? So, to keep you guys updated with the shenanigans of my 3rd year, I’ve decided to show you through monthly posts because let’s face it, it’s only uni and my life isn’t interesting enough to read about on a very frequent basis. I don’t want to be that person who dedicates a whole post about what I had for breakfast that day (that’s what my Instagram is for) 😉 As it is now November (that rushed its way over to us with no intentions of slowing down – I swear, all I did was blink and October was over!) I am going to show you a brief October diary of the ‘settling in’ stage I experienced at uni at the start of the year. Also, a mini autumnal photo-shoot I shot of places around my university, as we say good-bye to the leaves for the last time this year – oh, oh, wait, did you hear that? Yeah, that was the sound of my heart breaking a little inside. I’m so not looking forward to winter.

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The First Day

You walk onto campus and you sense this nervous, lost and scared feeling. It isn’t coming from you but from the emotions of the Fresher’s that have left this sensation lingering in the atmosphere. You of course sympathise for the young Fresher, understanding the fact that you were in those shoes not too long ago. You don’t feel sorry because of the fact that they’re new and lonely, no of course not, but for the dreaded ice-breaker sessions that will be coming their way. God, them bloody ice-breaker sessions! Where EVERY tutor in EVERY class will assign EVERYONE to do. The whole, turn to the person next to you and tell them 3 fun facts about yourself but one of them has to be a lie, the other person has to guess which one is the lie. Anybody had that one before? You haven’t met this person before, so for all you know every single fact they tell you could be a lie! The worst part is trying to guess the fact that is a lie, because you don’t want to offend anybody if they say something that is completely ridiculous and you obviously assume it to be a lie, but then it turns out to be a true fact! So you’re sat there basically looking like a mug. Why do they put us trough that, eh?

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So this year you count yourself lucky as you don’t have to go through any more  ice-breakers because by now you should be ‘familiar’ with everyone, and you are familiar with everyone…everyone being those who are just your friends. It’s not like you choose to be anti-social with everyone else, you try to make conversation with somebody you haven’t spoken a word to in the past two years (and you don’t really know their name) but then they look at you as though you have trespassed some invisible territorial piece of land of theirs. Rude. But you tried.

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Classes are in session

Currently reading:
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (20th Century Writing module)
The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri (Scriptwriting module)

You walk into your first class thinking things are going to be so chilled, calm and cool, it’s the first week and you will be eased back slowly into being able to hold a pen and write on paper (because you haven’t done that all summer.) But boy, you were so delusional.Wrong, wrong and completely wrong! As soon as you sit your ass down in that lecture theatre everything comes at you at a billion miles an hour. Assignment briefs, deadline dates and …  the dreaded DISSERTATION.

Welcome to third year folks.

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The reading list you so very well prepared yourself (debatable) magically has two new books added to them! And your like ‘OMG’ and you flashback to a couple of weeks back where you tried to read just one of those books (the smallest one as well) and ended up watching the movie instead. You had followed the book while watching the movie, so that sort of counts as reading it, right? You’re panicking and think you’re going to have to up your game a little bit now and (with a miracle) squeeze in those two mysteriously added books into your reading agenda somehow. Buying them first might be a good idea.

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In classes, there is a discussion on the book you were supposed to have read, but you’ve only managed to read the first couple of chapters. Your tutor asks you to discuss it with the people around you. Now, there’s two ways this can go down. Scenario 1 – The person you are paired with has read the book in the summer and then re-read it in preparation for this class just last night and knows the plot inside out, understands every character’s feelings and thought of every philosophical theory about the book. Scenario 2 – You’re paired with someone who has read the blurb of the book and you can’t get no conversation out of them whatsoever. Here you have a fine example of two ends of the student spectrum. Then there’s you. Stuck in the middle. You smile, nod and throw in an ‘Oh yeah of course, I agree’ now and then in scenario 1, trying to bring the conversation back to the bits you actually did read to make yourself sound more intelligent. In scenario 2, I suppose you just talk about what they did over the weekend.

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As you can see from what you have read, I should totally be a representative of the university right? I just can’t get my head around as to why I haven’t been approached by any of the faculty members yet! Okay, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face. Oh! And I hope you all have an absolute blast tonight for Bonfire Night (sorry, these puns are even starting to irritate me) that is if you are doing anything interesting tonight. I for one am debating between going to the local firework display show and seeing the show through the lens of my camera, or sitting on the sofa in front of the TV with a Chinese take-away, and as I am typing this, it’s kind of a no-brainer.

Until next month guys for the next part of the Confessional Chronicles…

Bad Punned Student out ..x

Confessions of an English Literature Student: September

Please note: All actions conducted throughout this post are not commonly practiced by all English Literature students – it’s just me, well I like to think other students do but I highly doubt it, so again, this is just me.

Let’s start at the beginning. It’s a few weeks before the start of 3rd year…

It’s the end of August. September is dawning. You remember you have a reading list, you haven’t read anything from that reading list, you don’t have any of the books on that reading list in your possession! – $@!% – You search for the books on Amazon but you find that they are cheaper on Ebay, score! Oh, second hand? You think, ‘ah, a few coffee rings, some creased spines and dog-eared pages, it’ll be okay.’ Add them all to your bag. Proceed to checkout. You want to pay extra for next-day delivery because you’re an idiot and you left it too late and need them as soon as possible. Turns out next-day delivery is more expensive than the books themselves – what?! – So you go back to Amazon. You see that Amazon works out cheaper (next-day delivery included)! – Better! – Proceed to checkout, pay, order confirmed – success!

The next day you are expecting the books to arrive. It’s not a clothes or shoes delivery, so you haven’t been hanging around the front door all morning or peering out of the windows waiting for a delivery van to park up – puh-lease like I do that anyway, who am I kidding? Of course I do that – but these are just books (spoken like a passionate English Literature student, eh?)

The books finally arrive. You unbox them to make sure they’re all there. Really you are secretly checking the thickness of each one, as you calculate how long it would actually take you to finish each one. Ah, you can get each one read in two days easy! In reality: Two weeks tops – give or take a few days – for each one. You place your mini library in a pile on your desk, you aim to start reading straight away. The pile isn’t touched for two weeks. The new term starts in two days. You panic. Time has gone too fast, you’ve been too busy…binge watching Pretty Little Liars on Netflix all Summer. You pick up the slimmest book of the lot. By luck it is also the first book on the reading list. You begin to read it. The introduction is long, like really long. You skip that and find the first chapter. Eleven pages in you put the book down. It hasn’t enticed you yet so you think ‘time for a cuppa’. You make the tea. You sit in front of the TV.

Forty-four minutes later. The episode you have just viewed has ended on a cliffhanger. You’ve finished your tea…a while ago. You need to know what happens in the next episode. You reach for the TV remote, but then hesitate. You reach for the book instead, good girl. You tell yourself to read up until the next chapter. When you reach the next chapter the plot finally begins to get interesting, so you continue reading. Ah, false alarm, the book has hit a lull. The book gets placed down (again). You say to yourself ‘you love books, you really do!’

You tell yourself, you’ll read more tomorrow.

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The confessional chronicles is a little something I thought would be fun to share with you guys. It’s basically an update of what I get up to at Uni (or haven’t got up to) but kind of like a behind-the-scenes version of all the kafuffle and chaos that comes along the way – I know every student at some point can relate with. Stay tuned for my first day of third year…

Sincerely,
the bookworm finding it difficult to finish a book (oh the irony!)
x

P.S. I do love books, I really do!

Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Okay all you bookworms, I got a little something for you. I only do book reviews when I really think the book deserved to be buzzed about (or if it was so awful that I don’t think any human should read it, ever.) But The Miniaturist definitely deserves to be buzzed about!

My first take on it was just how refreshing it was to read! Within the sea of newly published print that are piled up in Waterstones, WH Smith and are top selling on Amazon – Burton’s book stood out to me. Okay, you know the whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? – (C’mon I know we all do it) and I’ll admit I did that with this one, it was Waterstones’ whole ‘limited edition book cover’ and the ‘exclusive only at Waterstones’ promotions that got me – and I was bloody glad it did! It’s a rare gem that is beautiful inside and out, Burton’s writing style is reminiscent of the classical greats, yet the modern twists of language and its fluidity when telling the story is what makes it unique.

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It is a pretty looking cover, right?

So, now about the actual story….

Burton takes us back all the way to the year 1686, Amsterdam and with the year and setting this story immediately oozes a uniqueness and quality that other recent publications lack. Although the story is written in English the thing that makes it different is the Amsterdam-ian phrases that Burton slips into the story when talking about a certain type of food or dress, it brings the culture of the setting alive!

The reader is viewing this world through the eyes of our protagonist, the very young Petronella as we witness the way she adjust to her newly married life and the complications she also has been married to. We are whisked back to the very old, highly religious and traditional ways of society where there are clear divisions of those that are prestigious and the paupers. The characters Burton has created live in a world we are not familiar with, we gain a taste of the harshness of the real world yet it offers a hint of a fairy-tale –  from evil sister in-laws to slaves and secrets, it’s constantly full of surprises! It made me go ‘WHAT!?’ a couple of times with a few gasps and once maybe I think I was like ‘NOOOO’ whilst my jaw had dropped for a few pages. So yeah, the perfect page-turner and in my opinion, a modern classic.

And I suppose that’s all I can really say without giving it all away!

If you’ve already read it and loved it as much as I did – or maybe you hated it, its not everybody cup of tea – but I’d still love to hear your opinions!  😉 And recommendations for reads are always in need, so please give me some! Need something to escape from my uni reading list!

Bookworm out!

 

Intern Iram

Hey there you lovely lot! I have something a little extra special to share with you guys today! So it may have looked like I got up to nothing over the Summer, but I was actually working undercover for a top secret organisation where I was under oath and sworn to secrecy to not tell a soul about it!

Okay, I’ve been watching too many agent/spy movies – sorry, not sorry – but I did keep myself busy over the summer by bagging myself an internship experience with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)! And I thought it might be useful to tell you guys my experience and the benefits I received from it! Especially for those who are still at uni (like myself) and are looking for some advice on getting some experience for the big, wide, world of work!

So, as a Creative Writing and English Lit undergrad it wasn’t an internship that appealed to me at first. Why? Because the LEP provide support for small businesses across York, North Yorkshire and East Riding and basically I didn’t have the first clue about businesses – shocker – or how they functioned! But here’s my experience, it’s quite brief but hopefully you get the general gist of what I did. Here we go…

My experience:
It wasn’t the first job I had in mind to apply to or at the top of my ‘most interested’ list but I took a risk with it, after all it was the experience I wanted to gain from it which would make it easier to apply for future jobs as it is seen as a professional position.

So, from the interview stage (which I somehow succeeded at) my first day came around pretty quickly. First feels were mostly nerves and a little bit of excitement! Previously I had only worked in retail so this was my first professional job, my first office job and in my head I was telling myself it was my first grown-up job! So there I was, intern Iram reporting for duty!

All I can say was that I was completely surprised! The job was totally not what I expected (in a good way!) My role as ‘Communications Intern’ – sounds fancy right? – meant that I was assisting the Communications Officer with projects i.e. updating social media, designing emails, writing for the website, attending events  etc etc… I won’t bore you with all the details but I blooming loved it! Mostly because of the people I was lucky enough to be surrounded with. I was surprised at how broad the organisation was and within the lovely little office in York, a range of different departments were present. From a fellow intern like myself to chief officers and managers, everybody just got along with everybody – and I was welcomed in with open arms into their little work family!

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Bagged myself a cheeky little bio on the LEP website too!

 I’ll give you a little peek of my workspace I had for the summer! (looks empty but there were other people around!)

From the dinghy little sports shop I used to work at, this became a whole new working world for me. Most importantly during my experience, I learnt a hell of a lot of things! My people skills grew massively alongside my confidence! I was putting my own ideas forward and learned the ins and outs of new digital software which at first was completely alien to me but (not meaning to brag) I could end up using it with my eyes closed towards the end! Now that’s what I call learning new skills!

So, basically if you watch too many American TV shows and movies (like me) then get it out of your head whatever it is you think interns are expected to do. I wasn’t standing around making photocopies all day and I didn’t become the office coffee slave! Here’s a little spoiler alert in the real world of internships – you actually learn things!

I kept a dated day-to-day record of what tasks I was supposed to work on, this was so I could reflect back on at then end of what I had done and when, so basically just a checklist to keep things in order. Oooh, I think that counts as more skills gained, organisation and meeting deadlines on point! Score!

My personal little space feat. a cuppa and maoams 🙂

Not only was the inside all lovely and cool, the office building was placed on site of one of the campuses of the University of York, and was full of wildlife – particularly geese (and from this came a lot of geese poop – not as great!)

Pretty isn’t it?

So, as my time with the LEP came to an end I was able to leave with a small portfolio of the projects I participated in. I know this will benefit massively in the future because it’s something I can show future potential employers in interviews (hopefully making me look more impressive 😉 )

However, before I left on my last day I got spoilt rotten by the staff with the most lovely gifts ever! Along with a lovely bunch of pink roses and a couple of lovely cards with the sweetest messages from everyone! I was definitely feeling the love!

My advice: For those wanting an internship/placement

  • For all those who are studying an undergraduate course at uni I strongly recommend applying for placements and internships at some point, whether they’re paid or unpaid, no matter how short or long they last, it will look AMAZING on your CV and from it you will have gained some professional references which will help when applying for those big time jobs in the future.
  • Working as a communications intern wasn’t a job role I thought I would be interested in, but I surprised myself and ended up thoroughly enjoying my time with the LEP. So apply for things a little outside your comfort zone, things that don’t normally appeal to you. You’ll find that you have this whole range of hidden talents and skills, I know I did! And if you don’t like it you have to remember placements are only temporary, you’re not there forever!
  • I applied for this internship through my university on the York St John website. A lot of universities/colleges will offer this for their students and generally have someone in charge of handling internships/placements. So have a nosy round your uni website or get in touch with a tutor or someone from the careers advisory. Talk to a careers advisor about what line of work interests you so this way you might be able to get a placement that’s suited to that career field.
  • If you are successful in getting a placement then keep in contact with your colleagues, you will be asked for valid references from future jobs you want to apply to and if you’re lucky enough as I was to work with a lovely group of people then you will have no problem in getting a glowing reference!

As an English student I underestimated just how broad the career fields reached for such a subject. The world of marketing and communications is an ocean and I’ve just dipped my toe in it – it is just one of the many options I can take as a future career.

So what am I doing now? *Warning! Sarcasm up ahead* I have the lovely jubbly third (and final) year of uni to attend! Yay! Where I get the honour of writing a super, duper, awesome dissertation! Awesome, cool, I can’t wait! Okay, was that too much? Yeah, I thought so too. For all of you who are not about to experience their third year (lucky buggers) I’ll be regularly updating my experiences on here of what’s to come, and I’ll try my very best to give the best possible advice I can – so you can either learn from me or my mistakes! A win-win situation really!

I hope this post was helpful! And if you have any questions, or would want me to explain things further drop me a few lines at iramahmed@outlook.com or comment on the post and I will definitely get back to you!

Ciao for now!

Autumn in August

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Sleeveless Long Top – New Look

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“August rain: The best of the Summer gone, and the new fall not yet born, The odd uneven time.” -Sylvia Plath

Pretty much sums up the whole of a British summer if you ask me because let’s face it, Britain + Sun = world gone mad! So, for some reason Autumn becomes that time of year where everyone wants to camouflage themselves with the leaves and the trees, basically becoming one with nature. And I have to say, I’m not complaining! Autumn is something England can do well and I can almost hear the crisp and the crunch of those vibrant coloured leaves under my boots. Every shop on the high street is flourishing with autumnal  colours, 70s vibes, suede, suede, oh, and SUEDE! These are just a few of my favourite wardrobe pieces for Autumn…for now! I’m still shopping about, because a girl can’t be too prepared, right? Just a little something for this in-between season stage. Full looks of these pieces will be posted on my Instagram – outfit of the days is something I like to play with 😉

And a new creative writing little something (Autumn inspired, obviously) will be coming soon so stay tuned!

🙂 – Iram x