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

 

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!

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!

University Book Haul: Semester 1

Does anyone else get excited as I do when that brown, flat packed, Amazon box slides through the letterbox? Landing with a deep, thunderous THUD on the floor of the hallway, echoing throughout the house and announcing its presence, letting everybody know – the books have arrived!

I am one month away until I am back at University for my third – and sadly my last – year for my undergraduate degree! Like all universities, they love it when their students are super duper prepared for upcoming modules and lectures which is why I have already received my reading list for the year (I actually got it a while ago but I only had a proper look at it recently, oops!)

So getting to the point, I want to show you my book haul for September from the reading list uni provided me with thinking that some of the titles may entice you so that you can read them with me!

So for the first semester I had the hardest decision of just choosing TWO modules from a massive range! As I am doing a joint honours course in creative writing and english literature I had to choose one for each, so in the end I decided upon 20th century writing and scriptwriting!

The 20th Century Writing module:

Just hover the images for the titles, author’ s names and dates!

The good thing about uni reading lists is that they tend to be novels that are unique and nobody has really heard of or read. They’re books that are not at the top of every book chart in Waterstones that every body in the world is reading, but instead they’re underrated, hidden gems that may become one of my favourites.

I love it when that happens!

Scripwriting module:

A shorter list but I feel that’s because these books are much more theoretical, if your into writing scripts and my creative writing tutors are recommending them, then why not give them a go (I must say the books they have previously advised us to read have improved my writing massively over the last year!)

Tip: For those who are thinking of or have already chosen English Literature to study, the advice I would perhaps give to you is pick topics/modules that you wouldn’t normally choose but make sure they still appeal to you in some way. That way you become much more open minded to other genres and it broadens your literature knowledge and understanding. Obviously pick ones that you know you would enjoy too! This balance of genres I found made it much more easier when it came to writing assignments, as a lot of the time books from all different genres can cross reference with each other.

P.S. If your into writing and would like some more tips and advice, I have titles of books that were a massive help throughout my second year of uni. Just comment on this post, email, tweet me, whatever you fancy if you would like to know any more information!

🙂 x – Iram

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