Dont Cry For Me Argentina

📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

One heavy October rainstorm can transform Santiago, giving a brief respite to the city’s infamous smog and thick, claustrophobic air. As the wind howls down the wide boulevards and the rain pours down in torrents, umbrellas and Santiago’s non existent drainage system do little to keep your feet dry or your hair from frizzing. As the sun rises, the glorious Andes become visible, no longer hidden by the daily grey smear, the air is feels clear and the city shines in the spring sun.

Santiaguinos emerge on weekends, lazing in one of the cities numerous parks, children blow bubbles as musicians play away on a variety of instruments, with a varying amount of skill, and street sellers holler at you from afar.

The precious Santiago dogs, who roam the streets in large numbers, demand affection as they place themselves on your knee. With a a beer in hand (although not on election day, as bizarrely it is illegal to sell alcohol on such days), entertainment can take the form of watching aspiring circus folk attempt to walk the type rope between the trees, guitarists composing their latest singles in the shade and groups of hippies drumming away on bongos drums, accompanied by the most enormous digeridoos. Whilst the occasional drunk or hobo can cause a stir, there is an amazingly friendly, happy vibe at this time of year.

Although, as with any city, particularly enhanced by Santiago’s serious environmental problems, one can begin to feel quite claustrophobic in such a place where there is constant noise, covered skies and one cant see the stars at night. Despite Santiaguino’s extremely laid back approach to life, where time is not of the essence and any anything goes, one begins to crave the fresh air and outdoors. As a result I took up the opportunity to relive my D of E days in one of Chile’s stunning national parks nestled in the Cordillera. Two nights camping and three days hiking, cleared the sinuses and got the heart racing, the stunning views leaving me almost as breathless as the rocky ascent.

Chile’s calendar is dotted with bank holidays of varying degrees of creditability. Combined with our willingness to explore more of the country or pop over the border into Argentina, this past weekend took us to the renowned-wine region of Argentinian and the bustling town of Mendoza. One Thursday morning, a little international group of friends headed eastwards for the Argentinian border with little idea of what was in store.
Impossible to hitch out of Santiago, a bus dropped us on the side of the road in the shadow of the Andean mountains. Armed with some cardboard, water and high spirits we set ourselves up on the side of the road at different stations, and the race to get to Mendoza began. Charlie’s blonde locks and long legs meant her and our dear American friend got picked up first. A few minutes later, thinking we had struck gold in finding someone who was heading straight through Mendoza on his 30 hour drive to Uruguay, the french, english and chilean were back in the game…although not for long. As the overheating truck climbed up windy, mountainous road, the car drew to a halt, in what was to be a tortuous 11 hour wait in a 10 km queue to cross over the border into Argentina.Turns out, we had had exactly the same idea as the other 18000 Chileans who had seized the opportunity to cross over the Andes that weekend. Outwitted by our counterparts, Charlie and Sam walked across the border and picked up a car on the other side. Yet, for us the guilt of leaving this lone ranger in such a queue, meant an 11 hour wait in, what felt like, purgatory. At nearly 3000 m altitude, with no means of contacting eachother and darkness falling as the sun set behind, South America’s highest peak Anconcagua, all we could do was wait. On the bright side, we had (quite enough) time to jump out of the car and admire the stunningly colourful peaks mark the border. 

Eventually arriving in the early hours of the morning, beaten by Charlie and Sam, we enjoyed a wonderful two days in Mendoza, a town which has a much more European feel than anywhere in Chile. Well dressed, tanned women sit in cafes on the street and the shop windows display the latest trends. Despite the divine Argentinian steak that is so readily available, we could have been in the south of France. At night, women don their highest heels, men Ralph Lauren perfume and dance the night away until the early hours. Our time mostly involved, exploring the city, siestas in one the city’s many plaza’s, eating a lot of meat, befriending others in the hostel, who provided endless entertainment and of course..cultural trip to the museum.

Various educational necessities called us back, but not without our last glass of vino tinto and steak sandwich in the small town of Uspallata, before making our way back to Santiago, Charlie and Sam bought back by a football team, me and Robin by what-should-be the next champion rally driver!


Live From Santiago

📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

Teary eyed from the tear gas, we just managed to find refuge in our apartment, winding our way back through the streets as another initially joyful, colourful march descended into violence.
We innocently rushed out of our apartment, camera in hand, to take part in the indigenous march through the streets of Santiago, as we heard the drums below. More than 10 000 people poured out to show their support for the Mapuche resistance cause. Along with the fight for dignity, increased autonomy and territorial rights of their ancestral land, the march also signified the support of four Mapuche prisoners in the southern town of Concepcion, who this Monday marked 50 days of hunger strike. Currently in critical conditions in hospital, the spokesman of the march recounted how the prisoners prefer to die in dignity before kneeling down and surrendering to the state.  
Protestors of all ages took to the streets in colourful, traditional outfits, carrying flags, posters and banners with slogans such as ‘tierra y libertad’ and ‘200 anos de resistencia no hay nada que festejar’. Although this march had a festive feel, the spokesman clarified that ‘this is in fact a day of protest, not of celebration, as there is little to celebrate..’ The march was led by 8 adorable children, all representing the individual communities of the 4 prisoners. Initially the march had a very cultural, peaceful feel but as a tickling sensation in our noses got stronger, we turned and saw smoke suffocating our apartment block.  A wave of less colourful, hooded, threatening youngsters were making their way down our road. Feeling protected by the masses of colourful families, we didnt take action until a tear gas can landed at Charlies feet. Legging it as fast as we could away from gas and water canons, our initial intrigue was wearing off and fear thoroughly took over.  After seeking the advice of a masked city policeman, who strangely thought this the time to introduce himself with a handshake, we were escorted back to safety.
The whole scenario was reminiscent of a war zone, with journalists choking and spitting as they removed their gas marks. Unfortunately unable to catch any of the violence on camera, partly due to fear and lack of battery, we were quite shocked how an anarchistic few could ruin such a worthy cause.


Politics, Priests and Protests

📥  International Management & Modern Languages, Politics Languages & International Studies

As the snowy white 14m statue of la Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion towers over the city it is impossible to avoid the influence that the church has on the daily life in Santiago. Whether it be merely because we sporadically attend a Catholic orientated uni, (just kidding parentals we actually work bloody hard..) whilst sitting in a lecture hall it is impossible to ignore the judging crucifix staring down from above the white board…the forever watchful eye makes you hang on the teachers every word. High church attendance in Chile speaks eloquently for the continuing importance of religion here. Mid day mass at the church on campus is often so jam-packed the students spill out onto the streets to listen to the priest’s wise words. Although the church remains a highly influential institution, the country is becoming increasingly liberal despite the fact that abortion remains illegal and the divorce law was not introduced until 2004.

Although it is an exciting time for the Chilena, who having previously taken a backseat during the Pinochet dictatorship, is beginning to take up positions in government, political parties and corporations. However, having grown up in an equality-driven, liberal society, to our eyes Chile remains very much a macho society. The infamous Latin American machismo is much more subtle here compared to other continental countries, yet traditional roles still apply. Men earn significantly more than their female counterparts, who are often expected to stay at home. There seems to be little respect for women, perhaps simply because we are gringas, but the hollering and attention in the street is relentless. And as temperatures begin to move into the high 20s such issues will only worsen with the more skin we bear..

However the willingness of the government to address the issue of discrimination is significant. The vicious attack and consequential death of a 24 year old chilean gay man by supposed neo-nazis in March this year hastened Pinera’s passing of the anti-discrimination law. A historic moment for Chilean politics as discrimination against women, homosexuals and the indigenous is now illegal. Despite this, Chile remains a highly Catholic-minded, conservative country and homosexuality is frowned upon by many. Perhaps it is for this reason that we find ourselves living with 3 rather difficult, dramatic, weed-smoking, gay ‘lawyers’ (their work ethic being highly questionable). Our presence feels like a disguise to their sexuality and an opportunity to milk us for our english. But hey is all character building.. The annual peaceful (surprisingly!) march last week saw thousands gather to express their support for equal right for Chile’s LGBT community. A colourful event, which saw transvestites, transexuals, lesbians, gays..every sexual orientation under the sun come together to march for equal representation and sexual diversity.

Just like the earthquakes, protests, marches and hunger strikes seem to be the Chileans heritage, as they find anything to complain about.. from education to breastfeeding…It feels as though life here is very far from anything familiar. Whilst stretched out on the grass at uni, a rumbling begins under the floor, and with no prior experience of such a sensation, in the space of a few seconds a million explanations flash through your mind, ranging from a rumbling tummy to passing metros or an abnormally strong vibrating phone. Little disturbed, Chileans pause whilst the ground viciously shakes and then continue to eat their lunch. Once the initial fear subsides this sensation becomes quite exhilarating, and some have said they enjoy it..

Warning signs of tsunamis do little to deter Chileans, as thousands gather on the beaches for the annual tambourine festival at Valparaiso this weekend. Fire poi, drums and bongos fill the beaches for the 3 day street party. Although initially inspired by joyful intentions, just like anything here, events take a violent turn as bottles rain down on passing police cars the tanks roll up and water gun the riotous punkies.. but fear not we escaped unharmed..


From helping the unemployed to helping the environment

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

And so like all good things, my time at A4e came to an end.

Most jobs, you leave because you've had enough, fancy a change, or through no choice of your own. I am lucky enough never to have had the latter, however leaving this position was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

It wasn't just your average 9-5, you took many of the problems of the client home with you. It was emotionally draining, but also the most rewarding work I have ever carried out. Since I have left I can say with my hand on my heart I have missed all my colleagues and customers every day.

My new position is fantastic. Although it doesn't contain the same kind of challenges and fulfilment it boasts challenges of its own, and is taking me on a whole new journey.

As a freelance writer, and journalist, most of my new role comes easily to me. The style, and context of my writing however is a completely new experience, and one that will teach me new arts of writing press releases, and pitching ideas to journalists; something I have done surprisingly little of in the past.

It is also exciting to be part of an innovative and young company whose remit is the largest growing sector in business; sustainability. Sustainability is the new centre focus of the majority of businesses. As new laws come into force, requiring big businesses to report their emissions there are a whole host of questions to be asked, and problems to be solved. This is the business of Ecodesk.

Even though environmental concerns have not been a central focus of my interest or studies, it has become apparent that they are a pivotal part of everything, somewhat like politics. It is going to take me some time to get my head around the maths and the jargon, but it is fascinating.

Business is the business of Ecodesk as much as the environment, which is also completely new to me. The business of business has never been an interest of mine, and to be honest, I can't ever see it being one. Already however I am starting to appreciate its importance which is a big step for me.

I get to write, and create social media marketing strategies on a day to day basis which is what makes me tick. But to satisfy the need I now have after working with A4e to help others, in particular young offenders, I will be seeking out some volunteering opportunities in addition to my work with Ecodesk.


Nearly 21...

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📥  Health, Uncategorized

Hi guys!

I can't believe it is the end of February this time is flying by, I am just about to embark on a very busy few weeks by the end of which I should hopefully have a pair of custom orthotics for each subject alongside having collected some pressure data.. fingers crossed.

I have started my data collection journey, so far I have (with the help of a podiatry student) taken a foam impression box of each of the participant’s feet. There are varying methods of taking the impression depending on the type of orthotic required. In my project participants were positioned seated with their hips and knees flexed at 90 degrees, they then are asked to rest one foot onto the foam box, the foot was then positioned into subtaler neutral and then pushed down into the foam to make the impression. This sounds very simple but does require quite a lot of effort to push the foot into the foam.

Tom showing me how to take a foam impression

Tom showing me how to take a foam impression

An example of a foam impression

An example of a foam impression

These impressions were then scanned using a 3D scanner from which I created a mesh of each foot, however due to various complications with software when trying to design the custom orthotic to fit the impression this resulted in a change of plan yesterday. The software was also in Spanish.. so if I ever am stuck in Spain I hope the words open, save, template and mesh will help me out! It was decided that filling the impressions with plaster and then scanning the plaster casts would provide a much better image with a lot less noise, due to the fact it will be like completing a 3D scan directly from a foot, I will then create a new mask for each participant from these scans. Yesterday I went in to the plaster room early before any lessons started and filled all of the foam boxes (I think I got just about as much plaster on me that actually went into the impressions). After the plaster had set I then had to sand and file the casts down which I then scanned as I did originally with the foam boxes. I am now in the process of designing the custom orthotics using the same Spanish software but it is working! My stress levels were pretty high yesterday and I had to keep calm as I had to ensure that the custom orthotics would be manufactured in time before easter as most of my subjects are undergraduate students, this should be all okay as everything is going to plan now so for the first time in a few days I am back to grinning like a cheshire cat!

I really enjoyed making the casts.. it was very messy though!

I really enjoyed making the casts.. it was very messy though

Some feet ready to be scanned

Some feet ready to be scanned

It kind of looks like something from a horror movie

In other news next week United are playing Real Madrid which I am very excited about (I am slowly turning into a football fan), I have a feeling there will be some big names in the box for that match! I noticed last night on my way home that Rooney was making an appearance in a book store in central Manchester,  people were going to extreme lengths to get into the store and try and get a photograph it was absolute chaos. I just strolled on past not even phased which made me realise that my position at United has also given me some amazing opportunities to meet people from varying backgrounds and in all different professions, whether that be part of the team working for United (footballers included) or clients who visit the box.

Doing an unpaid placement was a big worry of mine before I started in Manchester, I was worried that having to also work a part time job would mean I would be at work every day of the week which could almost ruin my placement year. However this has been the complete opposite mainly due to the flexibility of my placement, the fact that every day is different and the casual basis of my position at Old Trafford. My job role as a research fellow does not really entail the 9-5 set up, the added flexibility means that even if sometimes I am in the lab first thing in the morning at 7am or until 8pm on other days I can start at 11am when I have not got as much to do. If you are currently worrying about taking on an unpaid position, then no need to panic jthere are ways to work around it.. make sure you speak to your supervisor as early as possible and hopefully like mine they will be very understanding!

A week today I also turn 21 and I am super excited! I have booked the day of  and a few people are coming up to York for the weekend who I haven't seen since the end of 2nd year so it is going to be wild! I am sure I will update you in my next blog about how it goes and I will hopefully be near the end of my data collection.. wish me luck! 🙂



Another experience draws to a close

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

The last month has been truly eye opening, even more so than the rest of my time here at A4e. As this placement draws to a close, I feel two things.

Firstly sad. Sad because I will be leaving a job I truly love and where I make a visible difference to people's lives, and sad because I have made some great friends, and will miss the customers I have dealt with on a daily basis for the last six months.

Secondly, excited. Excited to be moving back to Bath, a beautiful city I consider home, to move in with a fantastic friend into a gorgeous flat and back to the creature comforts and all my closest pals. Excited to be starting a job more closely related to my field in PR, for a fabulous company in the centre of Bath.

This mixture of feelings has led me to look back on what I have learnt, and moreover the harrowing, eye opening things I have experienced, or should I say; realised others experience on a day to day basis just to survive.

I voted Conservative in the last election for three main reasons. The first is that I HATE the EU. The second is that I liked the family values projected and the will to protect the institution of marriage (quite ironic for those that know me). And the third, is that I believed that there is a real benefit dependency problem in this country, and I hoped that the Tories had a vigorous plan to tackle one of the major issues currently blighting Britain.

I was wrong on all counts, they couldn't have got it more wrong, as like me, they are looking at the problem from completely the wrong angle... Top down. After working with customers who would be categorised as the 'underclass' (please note the air quotes) it is evident that this is a problem which needs solving at the root, not the tip. We as citizens needs to look deep down into the dirt and face the origins of benefit dependency head on.

As with all social ills, there is no one cause, nor one answer. But where we get it so wrong is starting with the attitude "well they put themselves there". This is me reporting from the front line, stating this is categorically untrue in 9 out of 10 cases. It is a fallacy imagined up by our media through mediums such as Jeremy Kyle and Shameless, it is the exception... not the rule.

To give an example, one customer who to look at could basically be the poster boy for the 'underclass' couldn't be less to blame for his current situation. He is homeless, his mother is a bipolar schizophrenic who picks and chooses when she lives up to her responsibilities, his father is nowhere to be seen and the police are on his back 24/7 for simply existing. Don't get me wrong, he has been in his fare share of trouble, but most of this has been to survive on the streets (beating up an over familiar tramp for example, or stealing food after going without for several days).

He couldn't finish school as he was living in a tent from the age of 13, an age where benefits don't exist. But despite all the adversity, he is a diamond in the rough. He has such great spirit, motivation and want for a better life. He is polite and helpful and selfless even though he has nothing he still would rather see a woman beaten by her husband take his bed for the night at the night shelter.

Herein the problem lies. The facilities available to a 19 year old in this position are close to none. The government gives him JSA and that is it. Around £80 every two weeks, that is less than the £10 a day quoted by the recent BBC3 documentary exploring this issue. As he is a member of the work programme (WP), he has a strict schedule of activity to complete to receive this money. Not just writing down a couple of jobs a week to show to his JCP advisor. But attending training courses, job clubs, weekly meetings with his WP advisor, and more. Should he falter, a sanction looms, which means he will live off fresh air for the next 4 weeks or possibly more.

This decision is not made by those who work with him every day, and can know if it is a deliberate deviation or a genuine inability, but by a string of admin people entrenched in DWP procedure. The worse thing is, that this system can fail. And someone like this young lad can be sanctioned for NO REASON AT ALL. Even if he has completed all mandatory activity there is a loophole which has seen him mistakenly sanctioned at least twice in his time on the programme. Meaning that a small administrative slip could see a homeless person without money for weeks on end, luckily for this boy, I was there to fight to get the problem rectified.

He has been on the waiting list for a place since he turned 18, and is likely to stay there for some time as his case isn't classed as urgent by those I'm the corridors of power. Therefore local charities are his only hope, and even such charities are bound by miles of red tape, difficult for even employees to navigate.

Housing shelters are not by nature free, nor freely available. This was news to me. Ergo, one has to be referred by a 'suitable organisation such as ourselves or the job centre' to just be put on the waiting list. Not much use to a boy with no money, no food and no shelter in the middle of winter. The local one costs £2 per night, may not sound a lot but for someone living off about £8 a day it is a massive amount to ask.

This is just one small example of the problem that plagues the UK. It is disgusting To realise the actuality of many thousands of human beings supposedly living in a welfare state. To work on the front line has been one if the most humbling experiences of my life. It really makes you realise how little you actually have to moan about and somewhat knocks the satirical saying 'first world problems' out of the park when their are so many existence in the 'first world' with such massive barriers to simply surviving.


A Job of Many Hats - Interning for a Startup

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies


Deciding to pursue a position within a start-up can be a nerve-wracking choice. Before you accept an offer, examine the positives and negatives of startup employment. With these issues in mind, you can make a sound decision - oh, and be ready to spend a lot of your time explaining to relatives/friends/strangers just who exactly your company is, and what you do. Repeatedly.

No Job Description

Fond of having a structured role with set tasks and responsibilities? Then working for a start up probably isn't for you.

If, like me, you are walking into an entirely new role, then chances are you will have the opportunity to carve your own position and influence the direction of your internship - you really do receive a great deal of autonomy. Great for those who flourish in a more haphazard environment, but not so good for those who look to organisation and structure to guide their working day.

Learn By Doing

Unlike larger companies, where  you may have to endure hours of official training, in the start-up world it's 'sink or swim'. I absolutely love that from the moment you walk in through the doors, you're treated like an integral member of the team and are expected to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty.

In a start-up, everyone must pull their weight for the company to succeed, and as an intern you will be no exception to this rule.

low-pay-packetLow or No Salary

Young companies are generally unable to offer the same kind of financial package that a large company can, and you’ll tend to work harder and get paid less while at a startup compared to your comparable role within a larger company. Of course, this isn't always the case - many start ups offer a competitive internship wage, and many larger companies neglect to pay their interns at all.

Many Hats

It seems the ominous phrase "other duties as required" becomes the norm, and you may find yourself performing duties that are not even close to your expected responsibilities  - for example, I have just taken over the role of Office Manager after coming onboard as a Community & Marketing intern. It’s all hands on deck, and thus startups offer fantastic opportunities to wear multiple hats and really get to know what it’s like to run an organization.

Passionate People

There is a certain energy and determination present in the start-up environment unlike anywhere else I've worked. Startups are almost invariably made up of passionate, excited people who are working there because they truly want to be working there, and it's something special to be a part of that.

Flexible Schedule

Regular office hours? What're they? "Nine to five" is a fiction at most startups. This is really a 'glass half full/empty' situation, because although you may find yourself still sat in the office at 10pm, you are equally as likely to enjoy the prospect of a lie-in on days when you just need that bit extra. Holiday also works on a far less formal, more flexible basis.

Working for a start up also means you'll probably have the opportunity to attend a plethora of events - there's not many people to go around, so even as an intern you will be counted as a crucial part of the team.

Out Of Business Riskclosed-out-of-business

Time for a reality check; an overwhelming number of start-ups will not survive past the first year. Obviously this is a substantial risk, but one which can pay off far beyond what you might expect, but can also leave you updating your CV and trawling the internet for vacancies within a breathtakingly short time.

Wealth Of Experience but Less Specialisation

Though you may not be pulling in the big bucks yet, working at a start up is valuable in another way; your hands-on, multi-functional experience will be a real asset for your long-term professional growth.

However, one thing I've certainly found is that you may experience some frustration when it comes to honing specific skills - when you're doing a billion and one different things, it's difficult to become the marketing/sales/engineering/consulting/etc guru you expected.

Friends, not Colleagues

The nature of a startup means you will continually be meeting new people and building relationships - and you'll grow to see many of your colleagues as friends.

Feeling Valued - More willing to spend time with an intern, travel etc

It can be frustrating being a little fish in a big pond, and start up culture, generally, removes many of the hierarchical barriers experienced in larger companies. For example, when the CEO of 10gen came over from California, he ensured that he and I had an in-depth one-to-one; probably a very unlikely situation in larger companies.

I also have the chance to travel a lot more than I might otherwise - during my internship so far I have been lucky enough to take business trips to places such as Aarhus and even Miami. Being  part of a smaller team means playing a bigger role.

Little Perks - dress code, food, fun!

The dedication seen at startups comes hand in hand with the need to curate an enjoyable environment, and an attempt to cultivate a healthy company culture (read more about that here). It's the little things that make life worthwhile, and in 10gen those include jeans, popcorn, beer, and office juggling competitions.

Personal Pride

The exhilaration of being part of a successful startup produces pride and a sense of accomplishment that is extraordinary. You will never regret the long hours, hard work and smaller paycheque.


New Year Update...

📥  Health, Uncategorized

Hi Guys!
Happy New Year to you all and I hope you all had a good one. I can’t believe how fast this month has gone. It is crazy to think I have been here for 6 months now! I was pretty busy in the run up to Christmas at both Salford and United, so having two weeks off whilst the uni was closed was a most welcome. It was good to get back to Yorkshire too, gods own county and all that…

It was nice to go back to the countryside over christmas!

It was nice to go back to the countryside over christmas!

For the first few weeks of January I was helping a PhD student in the lab, I can’t really say too much about the project, as it is a fairly new concept which is being kept ‘under wraps’, but it did involve motion analysis. I was using free standing cameras rather than the cameras fixed in the lab so it was a challenge in itself, setting the cameras up so that they could see the movement is fairly complex and it did cause a lot of stress, especially as, for one subject everything would run perfectly and then 30 minutes later in exactly the same set up everything would run far from perfect. However, after a lot of early mornings and large coffees, we did eventually overcome the challenge which allowed for some ‘good’ data to be collected and the last few days actually ran really smoothly.

Apart from the lab work, I have been putting a lot of planning into my study, this has ranged from making a gaant chart to work out the time scale of the project to emailing (what feels like hundreds) of potential subjects persuading them to basically come and walk in the lab for me. I never realised how much time and effort goes into planning and organising - before you can start thinking about data collection, even small things like the fact I had to find and buy 10 pairs of suitable trainers (I went for sport directs finest). My challenge for the start of Feb is too learn how to use ‘Matlab’, so that I am able to analyse my data, It took me long enough to install the programme on my laptop never mind attempt to use it, the girl who I got the software from left me a note with it which quite simply read ‘Welcome to hell’…

Buying ten pairs of the same trainers felt a little strange!

Buying ten pairs of the same trainers felt a little strange!

The project is well underway now with my hopes to start ‘casting feet’ for the custom orthotics in two weeks time. I am going to be working alongside an undergrad podiatry student called Tom who will help me out with the casting - this will not only benefit me with his podiatry knowledge and experience, but also gives him a chance to get more involved in the research side of things too. I went to meet him for the first time this morning and while I was waiting at Costa I did feel like I was going on a blind date! I am really excited to get the data collection underway and get back in the lab.

I thought in this blog I would write about some of the other challenges I have had to face since I started in July. You may remember from my previous blogs that I have spent a lot of time helping with a project, where the main researcher was based off site. We decided, at the end of September, that before Christmas we would have collected data from 25 subjects, whom I would recruit and organise for testing (which was challenging enough - with 4 separate sessions all completed in different labs).

I had to carry out the kinematic and pressure testing alongside another research fellow and then I did some foot scans. The idea of been in charge of collecting this data, at this early stage in my placement was fairly challenging in itself, but I also had to organize when the subjects would come to each testing session (working around other lab bookings) and dealing with the researcher, who was based off-site and who has only had 9 days in England since September. This meant that at times I had to make some crucial decisions on the project and when a few things started to go wrong I had to take responsibility and keep calm! After we had collected the data, I had to send four data sets from each subject to Ireland for analysis, without losing any data and keeping the information confidential etc. From this whole process I have learned that good communication and organisational skills are vital, whether this is done over skype/telephone/email or between me and my supervisor in person.
Another important thing I have learnt so far is that research does not always go to plan straight away. Everything may make perfect sense on paper, but in the lab it is a ‘whole new ball game’. If you are looking at going into a research related placement, this may be a good thing to take on board, perseverance is vital and a positive outlook will get you further (and less stressed) than a negative one!



Christmas in a hot country.....different!

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📥  Education

Sky diving Black Sand Beach

After spending my whole life having a cold Christmas with family, I knew this year was going to be very different . . . on a beach in the sun. New Zealand’s Christmas holidays are very long as it is their summer time, so that means a long holiday and no placement. However by being on this holiday I gained some experiences I will never forget!

My boyfriend came over from England, and we spent a month travelling around Northland, the Coromandel, Auckland, and popping to a few places in central North Island. Our trip was packed with new experiences, scary moments and fulfilling dreams. New Zealand is such a beautiful country and around every corner there is another amazing view or something to see. After taking 1900 photos in 6 days . . . I knew it is going to be a good holiday!

Some highlights of the trips were:
- Swimming with wild bottle nosed dolphins, my dream!
- Sky diving from 16,500 feet over the Bay of Islands: amazing experience, I surprised myself with the amount of confidence I had to jump out of the plane!
- Hobbiton Village, the Lord of the Rings Hobbit Shire: found out a lot of film secrets, one being that there are 20,000 fake leaves on Bilbo Baggins tree.
- Hot Water Beach, in the Coromandel: 1 inch down in the sand and it is boiling water were you can build spa pools.
- Cape Reinga, the very top point of New Zealand.
- Changing from a white to a black sand beach in a few kilometres! Where the black sand beaches were so hot you had to run to the water to avoid burning your feet!

Even thought I have not been working for the past month, I have gained experiences that I could not do in England. These experiences have again made me realise how lucky I am to be on placement in New Zealand. I get the experience of the ‘real world’ through my dream placement at Harbour Sport, explore and travel the country, learn more about the culture, heritage, food, and scenery that New Zealand has on offer! So if you ever get the chance to go somewhere extreme for your placement (like New Zealand), do it! You will never regret it!


The 10gen Interview Process According to a 7 and 9 Year Old

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Interview Process

Something a little different today - I thought readers might appreciate a look into what my boss' two children feel the appropriate process for a 10gen interview is. I certainly wish this had been the case for my interview (though not sure I'd have passed the 'artistic past' question!).