Settling In: Introducing My Role in Research

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📥  Psychology

My first week started off with introductions; members of the team, safety procedures, dos and don’ts. We did a lot of reading those first few days, getting our heads around the main ideas in the project. But it was good as it started to give us a better understanding of the project and the tests we were about to learn. By the end of the first week, we were familiarising ourselves with the protocol manuals for the assessment tasks, and the related coding manuals, before diving in and learning the first part of the assessment process…

Assessments are conducted on all children that take part in the study, either clinical participants (those with children showing behaviour problems) or controls (‘healthy and normal’ participants we need to use as a comparison). Clinical participants will come for three sessions: pre-treatment, post treatment and a follow up three months later. Controls only come for the equivalent of the pre treatment session. As an intern it’s my job to conduct assessments, prepare the data that we collect from them, and then begin analysing it. (more…)


Progression and digression

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

The upward trajectory of my A4e career continues with force after meetings in London and recommendations to apply for roles above my own.

I attended a meeting with the communications team in London at the end of last month to discuss my involvement with the company magazine/newsletter (its actual classification is under some contestation after a resize from tabloid to simple A4).

This was a very productive meeting. Mainly because those already involved in the process were jumping at the chance for an extra pair of reasonably experienced hands at no extra cost. Suits me; I am used to going above and beyond my remit to take on projects which are more closely related to my career aspirations than my role itself.

I was set a few tasks whilst at HQ including some media monitoring, and Twitter analysis in relation to the recent news coverage. The Editorial meeting itself was very interesting as I got to see how the magazine itself is constructed and was able to meet their Freelance writer who was an absolute delight! She worked for the ‘News of the Screws’ as she deemed it until its shameful collapse and now has gone freelance despite multiple offers from other newspapers. I always love chatting to people in the industry; it is great to get a sense of what it is actually like.

The member of staff in charge of A4e Voice was also very keen to ensure my involvement was continuous throughout my time at A4e which I was very pleased about. I also sneaked in a cheeky suggestion that maybe they could hire me as a Freelance Writer also when I finish my temporary contract seeing as I have the edge of an insider’s understanding of A4e staff and processes – the topics on which the magazine is focussed. This was reasonably well received, and is something I will continue to work on throughout my time here.

It also got me thinking about increasing my Freelance work from home in addition to my job here. I started to do a little research into sites which marry up writers and contract providers, many of which I am sad to say you seem to have to pay for. I will persevere, if any of you lovely readers have any ideas please comment and share them with me!

I was tasked with four different pieces of work for this month’s edition. Two of which I have already completed, and the other two I have contacted the relevant people for interview ready to crack on when I return from hols.

This month my work digressed further from my original remit. I took part in a training session after having an idea which I thought that could help a number of our customers. I constructed a sheet of ‘buzz words’ interviewers like to hear such as ‘organisation’ and ‘customer service’ and tasked customers to think of specific examples either from previous employment, education or even home situations which highlights that particular quality. I then discussed the importance of providing solid examples and encouraged them to rehearse these examples to create a memory bank of responses they could dip in and out of during an interview.

This training was very well received not only by the customers themselves who said they would be delighted to have me back but by our in House trainer who has been in the business for years! This got my little brain thinking about completing some kind of training/teaching qualifications, as it is always an area which I have been intrigued by.

Another exciting turn of events in relation to my personal development it was suggested to me by my Business Leader and an Advisor that I should consider putting myself up for the role of Advisor should a position become vacant. When I joined, and in my first blog post about A4e I signposted this as a direction in which I would like to head, but I never thought it would be this soon.

The role would have meant I would be taking on a case load over around 80 customers, to manage and develop myself. I would see them one to one and arrange any training initiatives I felt they suited as well as insured they were job searching and fulfilling a suitable number of applications effectively. In addition to this there would be emotional support and encouragement which is something I try to provide in my role at the moment. There would also be the task of sanctioning those that fail to comply, and also a great amount of employer engagement. That is, reaching out to potential employers to ensure they use us as a first point of call to fulfil their recruitment needs.

Sadly the position that may have become vacant never materialised, but it did however instil me with a great sense of hope about my future with the company.


The TLC Project

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📥  Psychology

It’s difficult to dive straight into my experiences on placement; I started in July, and by now I really am in full swing of my duties! So I thought for my first post it would be best to introduce the placement project I'm working on, to give some context for the posts to come. I've got quite a lot of ground to cover, because in some respects I feel like I have progressed much further in the past four months or so than I have in any one year as an undergraduate. Perhaps it’s simply the intensity of the work here on placement, as well as my immersion in a field of psychology that is both challenging and inspiring...

I work, along with two other Bath interns, at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Our team is part of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and specialises in the understanding of conduct problems in young children.  Known as the Personalisation Team, they are working to develop a new intervention for antisocial children between the ages of three and eight. What makes this project special is that they are personalising the treatment to take into account the individual aspects of a child that may lead to conduct disruption. Known as the TLC project,  (which stands for Talking and Listening with your Child), the focus is on developing an intervention for those children who may not have responded well to treatment in the past, or are experiencing particularly problematic behaviour.  As an intern, my role primarily involves the assessment of children, and the coding of observational data. (more…)

One month in... MPs and bomb scares

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

Month one has been a whirlwind adventure. This may sound like a slightly sarcastic exaggeration especially if you are familiar with the Kylie brand of humour. But fortunately, it is not.

This month has included a successful MP visit, a bomb scare (not related to the visit as my cheeky headline may lead you to believe), lots of training, a welcome event, making many high profile contacts, and even changing policy and being crowned an Editor of sorts in two capacities. And breathe.

The MP visit started out as private, as in not to be reported. This actually meant however that the MP himself decided how the event could be publicised, and as he generously included us in his weekly column for the local paper, speaking of us in very high regard too and so I’m sure a mention here won’t hurt…

It was a very successful visit. Steve Brine is an MP I hadn’t met before, so I was geekily excited much to the amusement of my colleagues. “I AM A POLITICS STUDENT” I exclaimed, but even considering that, excitement over a member of parliament popping by for an hour could be considered a little strange. I however, do not think so and will continue to express geekiness in such a manner.

My tasks for the visit basically included a meet and great, to ensure the office was at its best which it most certainly was after hours of fun with the laminator… my new best friend. The prep before the event was actually slightly more strenuous. I was tasked with my first journalistic job during my time here which was formatting a newsletter in which I ended up featuring myself in ‘a day in the life of *insert role here*’. I resisted the temptation to insert: ‘a feminist, gaga loving nutjob’, or any of the other roles I feel I play in my day to day life. Not sure Mr Brine would have seen the funny side of that one. I also gathered good news stories to display, created a newspaper corner, jazzed up the customer area and jobs board, and prepared a little pack for Mr Brine to take away with him.

The newsletter was a huge success, so much so that this afternoon my manager informed me that I will soon be Editor of a quarterly Newsletter for the Hampshire area, and that I am able to continue the monthly one for our Office. Result; managed to sneak a bit of journalism into the job role. More than a bit as it turns out. A4e also produce a company-wide newsletter, which is actually somewhere between a newsletter and a magazine. My previous boss, and my new boss, both highlighted this as something I should put myself forth for, and the newsletter was a perfect spring board to get myself noticed in the communications team.

After sending one speculative email to them, I had one returned with the offer of Guest Editor in the New Year. Yes please! I of course was thrilled. With this came an offer to attend this month’s editorial meeting in the Soho Office, where I can get a feel for the production process, meet the team and pitch some ideas. I will also use this opportunity to discuss the company’s social media marketing strategy to try and get permission to pilot some fresh social media centred initiatives within our office and then maybe across the region if successful! It is something which I aim to be involved with for the rest of my time here at A4e and hopefully should I return after completing my final year at uni!

The MP visit also meant that I got introduced to some people high up in the company, including a member of the policy and strategy department which deals with all things politics (strangely enough). Said colleague then also invited me to spend some time in London with their department to see how things run, and so I have arranged to meet with them also. I feel a little like I am moonlighting, like I am doing something naughty. But it is most definitely the good kind of naughty, the kind of cheek that is encouraged.

It has been made very clear by staff at all levels of the company that they are eager for me to grow and develop by gaining a deeper understanding of my areas of interest within A4e as a whole. My role is so diverse, that every experience adds some value to the day to day work I do, which is why I love this place. Why this place may not love me so much however, is the afore mentioned policy changes afoot which my actions may have spurred…

I hate money, and I hate maths. Two major flaws of an administrator in charge of the petty cash not only of one office but of 4 outreach locations. Dealing with that which you hate, is a challenge, and therefore I had little choice but to treat the weekly petty cash routine as a challenge in order to smash it. In taking this approach however, I stumbled across a little loophole in the previously ok system, and unfortunately, the colleague next up in the chain of command, and he above him, were unavailable for consultation. I then thought I would be all clever about it, calling my contact for all things money at head office to try and resolve the problem before it became an actual problem. Turns out I uncovered a bigger problem. At first I was a little scared, as I could become infamous companywide for being ‘the new girl who caused us to change the way we do petty cash’ – administrators are not fond of change. Then I was kind of proud, I had found something that needed fixing not only in our office, but in many offices and then together with my Business Leader created a solution. Not bad for a newbie.

As a placement student, you would expect to enjoy training. It’s like going to lectures, especially in politics where you feel you already know all the answers (down with capitalism). And that I did, I enjoyed visiting the London office, and Sheffield HQ. I did not enjoy the copious amounts of rail travel in one week, or the fact that I had already been in the job a month and had learnt the stuff on offer through self-teaching or from colleagues. I did learn some stuff however, making it worth it. I also came away thinking; ‘right I figured out how to do that myself the best way I could but now I know that was the right way”’ – which is always a nice feeling.

I also had the chance to have some reasonably heated debates in training. As the welfare to work programme varies so greatly depending on geographical location and demographic, that so do approaches. It was fascinating to discuss techniques with those who work in inner city London, and who have to fill out several incident reports a day. I am dying to spend a day in one of their offices; I am attracted to ‘trouble’ like a moth to a flame. In little old Winchester (which is notorious for being one of the quietist offices), the most trouble we get involves running out of hand towels or a sticky filing cabinet draw… no joke. This does mean however that my ‘Monica’ is nurtured as I have ample time to plan and organise myself and 9 times out of 10 get to stick to it!

As I always have been, I am fascinated with prison leavers. And there is a lot of scope in this company to work with them to help the rehabilitative process. I always wanted to be a probation officer, or prison officer, to try and make a difference. A4e have lots of partners who specialise in the process of returning offenders to the community and it is something I would love to look into more deeply.

The Welcome Event was great as it got me an audience with an Executive, who helped nudge me in the right direction for the editorialship. What was most interesting however, was learning about how A4e have grown from a tiny company in the mining community of Sheffield to a international multi-faceted social enterprise company! I did not realise the huge scope of the emerging markets section of the business, and how the company is growing in India. This immediately made my ears prick up, as it always been on my bucket list to teach in India, so working with this kind of company in India is a pretty similar thing. The range of opportunities here are so vast, I feel like a very lucky girl!


1st Blog – My New Zealand Adventure begins!

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📥  Education

Hi I’m Sophie, and I am on a 1 year placement in Auckland New Zealand, where I am working for a Regional Sports Trust (RST) called Harbour Sport. What can I say; so far I have loved my time here and it’s only been 2 and half months. New Zealand is amazing, so pretty and it really is true that everyone is so laid back!

Why did I choose New Zealand? New Zealand is a country that I always wanted to go to, so why not try to gain work experience there. If you don’t try to go somewhere that is out of your comfort zone, then you won’t gain that extra experience you need to be in the ‘real world’. Well that is how I see it, I just can’t explain how exciting it is to just hop on a plane and see more of the world! Don’t get me wrong, it was so hard to say bye to my loved ones, but it is only a year at the end of the day and it is an excuse for them to go on holiday to see you!

I was lucky that a few other Bath University students are also on placement in New Zealand. I was able to link up with them and we are now living together. We live with other students, who come from all over the world so I have made friends with people around my age. This is really good as most people that we live with want to go exploring in New Zealand, so I have been on many day trips and we are planning more trips around New Zealand. This is adding to my experience due to there being many different cultures in New Zealand, including the Maori tribes.

So far on my placement at Harbour Sport, I have been able to work on a wide range of different projects to see what areas I am most interested in. This is really good, as I know some areas in sports development that I really enjoy and some that I have not experienced before. Some of the areas I have worked on so far are;

• Event Management – Triathlon, Mud Run, Sport Excellence Awards.
• Community Health Groups – Green Prescription, Active Families.
• Patient Support via Calls – Green Prescription support team.
• Teaching Fundamental Skills Programmes for children – Teaching cute kids basic skills.
• Document Development – Volunteer Toolkit, Triathlon proposal, Active Teens Heath Guide, Mud Run proposal, Girls Cycling Project.
• Article Writing for webcasts and newspapers – Volunteer on the Month (this goes out every month to a wide range of people).
• Presenting Awards and Projects – Volunteer of the Month, Triathlon, Activasian, Green Prescription, FunSkills, Girls Cycling Project.
• Data Collection – Volunteer Database, Whole of Community Database, School Activity Surveys, Activeasian.
• Survey Writing – Activeasian, FunSkills.
• Photo-shoots – This was for the Volunteer Toolkit (where I am staring on the front cover!)
• Project Research – All the projects I have worked on or have an interest in.

– – And all of this is only in 2 and a half months!

I am enjoying all of these so far; however Events would have to be my favourite area of work. As you can change everything and make an event your own with the interests from the community at that point in time.

Overall, my experiences from when I started thinking about where and what placement I wanted, to now being in New Zealand at Harbour Sport, have showed me that placement is important and very worthwhile. You need to make sure you choose somewhere that you think will benefit you most from in the future. Ensure you choose somewhere you will learn about the industry, but most of all, somewhere you will enjoy working!

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog! Make sure you check in with my next blog!

Cheers 🙂


Getting to know you- Münchners are like chocolates

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

And so, my life as a Münchnerin began.

Münchners are like chocolates.

And so, my life as a Münchnerin began.

It did take a while to adjust, I have to say. The train system still had- shock horror- announcements from the drivers, rather than automated ones like in Berlin. Though the prevailing mood in these announcements seems to be ‘bored out of my skull’ (if you are on the verge of slipping into a coma, please do not drive a train!) Often when I hear `Zurück bleiben’, it has been savagely whittled down to two mere pops of syllables- ‘Zük blei’. The stations were different too. My home station, Münchner Freiheit, is a stark contrast to all of the others- fluorescent green tiling, glowing blue pillars and a mirrored ceiling, in which you can see yourself reflected upside-down. No chance of missing that stop.

I had to register as a citizen again, but unlike in Berlin, it didn’t take all day. I did have to get up ridiculously early to queue outside the door, but that was to be expected- Germans’ internal clocks just seem to be set a couple of hours earlier. I was hoping this might rub off on me, and that I would be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, gaily leaping out of bed to embrace the new day with a shout of ‘Guten Morgen München!’

Well... it hasn’t happened yet.

Another thing I learned the hard way is that Münchners do not restrain their curiosity. If you are wearing a brightly-coloured coat or your features are not wholly Caucasian (in my case, usually both), you are likely to incur accusatory stares. Men may whistle or mutter darkly to themselves (thought the muttering might be due to the preponderance of the hands-free earpiece. Either way, it’s a tad disconcerting.)

In my view, Münchners are a bit like chocolates- cold and hard on the outside, but in actual human interactions, the shell cracks and they are actually sweet and soft-hearted. They will give you directions before you ask for them, or start up a good-natured conversation in the lift (us Brits would stare at the floor or fiddle with our mobiles, anything to avoid having to chat!).

One wonderfully quirky Münchner, Ingo Maurer, has a local studio filled with beautiful madness- whole flocks of lightbulbs with wings and lampshades made of glass bottles of cherryade. He designed my neon station too.

So, my daily journey to work goes thus.

I wander round the flat in a haze of exhaustion and throw myself into the lift (not for claustrophobic- there are even scratches on the walls, as if someone’s tried to claw their way out...) The next thing worthy of note is the beautiful St. Ursula church with its pale green dome. If I’m ahead of schedule (or really behind, which I never am, of course) I hear the bell ringing in the quarter-hour. The street connects to an arterial Munich road, Leopoldstraße, home to rows of shops, restaurants and cinemas. Narrowly avoiding death-by-cyclists, I cross into another tangle of side-streets framing the enormous English Gardens. On the corner is a little art shop, whose works I always admire (this means I can let the postwoman on her yellow bike go past without flattening myself against a wall.) In the third window I pass are two little bronze people sat upon a bronze bench, folded like paper- one man and one woman. Between them is a golden apple. The sign declares this to be a ‘Liebesbarometer’- affection portrayed by the distance between the couple. I always peek in to see how they’re doing. Sometimes they’re overlapped, the apple forgotten. But as I write this, they’ve been at opposite ends of the bench, not facing each other, all week. One wonders if things are rocky between the shop owner and significant other...
It never fails to amuse me when I look up from my desk and see a stream of helmeted tourists whizzing past the window on segways with a mild `Bzzzzzzz’.

Sometimes my colleagues and I pop to one of a plethora of bakeries.
“Haben Sie noch einen Wunsch?” said the woman who served me once, handing over the Nusshörnchen.
Did I have another wish? It sounded scarily final. “Yes, I would like world peace with my croissant.”

After work I often wander to Marienplatz, the definite centre of Munich, dripping with high-class fashion and gorgeously gothic buildings, like the famous Rathaus with its glockenspiel. There is a gloriously talented musical group I keep bumping into called Scherzo. Their line-up varies, but most of the time there’s a double bassist, a pianist, a clarinettist (“Please ladies and gentlemen don’t make any video recordings our CDs are here to buy we are taking a short break thank you”) and a violinist, plus a different singer each time. They even bring their own grand piano to wherever they perform. That’s dedication to your art if ever I saw it.
I just had time to get into a comfy little routine before the madness of Oktoberfest hit Munich with more force than the WW2 bomb detonated just down the road from my office, which blew all the windows out and started some fires...

Anyway ... Bis zum nächsten Mal!


Uncomfortable Circumstances

📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

Having (touch-wood) secured an apartment in the lively, central area of Bellas artes, our initial fears of having to live our Chilean experience amongst the local trolly-pushing, rubbish-scrumping, drunkards on the street, have been relieved.

The hostel staff will be glad to see the back of our backpacks, seeming overly keen to help us in our search... After well and truly making ourselves at home here for a good two weeks it feels as though the time has come to move on. Some call it a rut..we call it routine..whilst we leg it down 8 flights of stairs at 9.55 for fear that we may miss our daily dose of Chocopics, overripe kiwis for vitamin c, and processed queque cake. It is fair to say we have been here too long, given that we now know the daily sequence of deafening 90‘s pop songs and are on friendly terms with the cleaners, who not only know our names but chuckle about our extended stay.

Nevertheless, still care free and enthusiastic, our second week in this un-intimidating city has led to many diverse and interesting discoveries...

One of the most noticeable and uncomfortably unavoidable of these discoveries, despite our western liberal up bringing, is the obscene number of conoodeling couples that litter the city. Perhaps this new-found sexual liberalism stems from Chile’s repressive dictatorship, but the young, the old, the pierced, the ugly are unimpeded in expressing their love for eachother in public places. Most modestly, couples cling to eachother in long caressing hugs at tube stations, in the street, at bus stops and even on the grass between dual carriageways (we attempted to get a photo but then decided we looked like perverts...) It is as though they are so in love it has consumed them and the thought of leaving their beloved one for the shortest of times will irreparably break them. Perhaps we are too cynical, or it is our inherent British prudishness, but we cannot seem to resist the temptation to exchange sarcastic comments; the odd ‘eurgh’, ‘grim’ and probably often too loudly ‘oh my god that’s so gross’. Given the persistence of our bewilderment we enquired about this to the staff of our new home. Apparently, despite appearances, infidelity is in fact rife in this country, which only baffles us further given Chile’s supposed strong Catholic beliefs and values.

One Sunday, as opposed to educating ourselves in the wonders of Catholicism and feeling rather ignorant to the clear artistic currant that runs through this country, we visited Jose Pedro Godoy’s exhibition in the  Museo de Artes Visuales entitled El Proceso de Amor as an attempt to expand those trusty cultural horizons of ours. This Santiago-born, fellow Universidad Catolica graduate, is in fact renowned in the artistic world. In his exhibition he presents a variety of post-impressionist paintings, showing the process of love in physical, erotic and idealistic terms. Using animalistic forms in rural and natural scenes Godoy describes different stages of love; enchantment, hopefulness, disillusionment and the physical act of love making. Godoy’s most striking piece; in which the artist crams into a triptych, an array of species making love is rather reminiscent of the ‘parajitas’ (couples) of Santiago...

An equally uncomfortable phenomenon that seems to persist is the old, Chilean man’s eagerness to discuss with us their political history. Whether quietly reading a book in Plaza de Armas, riding a bus or sitting in the hostel garden with a glass of local red wine,the ramblings of a local (some sober, some not) provide a number of pennies for thought. Discussing Pinochet’s dictatorship, joking about British-Argentine relations or pondering on the failures of Salvador Allende seem to be the Chilean equivalent of an Englishmen’s grumblings at the weather.

Having been blessed with a ‘free’ week before the beginning of term, we are taking a 23 hour bus ride north wards to the Atacama desert which will hopefully supply more blog-worthy anecdotes and discoveries.


Turning 21 in Valparaiso

📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

Amongst the maze of steep streets and strenuous escaleras, at every corner there is another heart stopping view or mural. From the point of view of two wandering, readily impressionable onlookers, these easily put our infamous, local Banksy to shame. There are a huge variety of themes evident in the art here. Echoes of the historic and socio-political context and sexual expression against a backdrop of simple and decorative, modern art. Although brick and iron walls tend to be the canvas of choice, artists make use of streetlights, street signs and balustrades. This art provoked in us an uncontrollable urge to photograph everything, conforming shamelessly to the stereotype. Yet also, it seems this has provided an inspirational introduction into our discovery of Chilean art.

After huffing and puffing our way back down through the artist’s corridors, an almost perfect birthday drew to a close with a sunset, seafood dinner at the harbour.


First Impressions of Santiago

📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

Armed with a Lonely Planet and student visas, we eventually touched down in Santiago to sunrise over the Andean Mountains. Having passed through the back rooms of Atlanta airport and been laughed out of its premium lounge, we boarded our flight to Santiago bleary-eyed and full of apprehension.

Upon arrival, a combination of our questionable mental arithmetic and an overall lack of common sense resulted in us giving-in to an excitable Chilean taxi driver who well and truly took us for a ride...

So we have decided to write a blog...although, we refuse to be classified as ‘bloggers’...

To expect anything like the writing’s of Chile’s Pablo Neruda would be an extremely misconstrued perception of our ability. Treat this rather as a light-hearted (although slightly pretentious) account of our perspectives and discoveries over the next 5 months.

In order for this to avoid resembling a boring account of our day to day, we hope in this initial entry, to convey some our trivial first impressions.  The very first of which, conforming beautifully to the stereotype, is shamefully stolen from the one and only LP!

“If Latin American cities are a family of hot heads and outrageous flirts then Santiago is the cool, well balanced sibling, who knows whats what and just gets on with it.”

Without making presumptions, this seems to hold true and we both eventually hope to fit this mould ourselves. The Chileans we have encountered so far have been laid back, working on what is commonly known as ‘chilean time’ (meaning that everything occurs at least half an hour later than planned), in the majority helpful and willing to listen whilst we stumble through our broken spanish.

We can also vouch that the western stereotype of Chileans being of a smaller breed is valid. Despite genuine attempts to fit in, heights of 6ft and 5ft9 make this an impossible task (not being helped by Charlie’s garish red peddle-pushers). Whether it be our white skin or Charlie’s blonde locks and skinny legs, we seem to unintentionally draw attention to ourselves in the street. The harmless cat calls and wolf whistles, whilst initially received as a compliment, are now welcomed with overly sarcastic waves and raised eyebrows. The presence of the carabineros should be a reassurance but seems rather as something slightly comical...

Our induction and tour of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, what seems to be the Oxbridge of Santiago (thank god we didn’t have to be assessed to get in!) exceeded all of our expectations. Whether it was the free food or stunning setting we both felt welcomed and inspired, convinced that these few months will be a wonderful opportunity to explore our passions in an intellectual and artistic environment...although fear not, we will be sure to take advantage of the 0% tax on wine.

Also worthy of a mention, (male readers pay attention) is the interesting Chilean phenomenon of ‘cafe con piernas’. Santiago is not known for its top notch coffee, and being such avid coffee drinkers we were very much disappointed to discover this. However, here the cafe culture takes a unique form; your skinny latte or expresso will be served by female-only baristas in short skirts and heels. This once rather more modest attraction has taken a predictable modern turn, with business men in shirts and ties taking their morning coffee breaks behind blacked out windows, served by women in string bikinis. They may even be lucky enough to stumble across the daily ‘happy minute’, whilst for one glorious whole minute the women strip behind a locked door. This does seem a rather harmless part of life but also possibly an example of just how far gender equality has to come in Chile.

Whilst finding a home remains our main priority, we have much planned over the next few weeks or so, and hopefully lots of antics to follow so watch this space...


Women; Their Own Worst Enemies?

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

For years there has been talk of 'men keeping women down', but is it the bitter truth that women remain their own worst enemies?

With women holding so few key roles and leadership positions in boardrooms around the world, you might think we'd spend time building each other up rather than tearing each other down. But it seems that despite constant calls for more stringent gender equality measures in the workplace, it can often be women themselves sabotaging progress.

In 2010 Kelly Valen released a hard-hitting book entitled 'The Twisted Sisterhood', which revealed that almost 90% of the 3,000-plus women who took part in her survey frequently felt "currents of meanness and negativity emanating from other females" and that almost 85% of those who took part in the 50-question survey admitted having suffered "serious, life-altering knocks at the hands of other women".

Valen went on to say that there was "a distinct undercurrent of meanness and negativity plaguing our gender, and that these secret, social battles are waged, in many cases, by the very same women singing the praises of girl power, feminism, and female friendship in their lives".

It's a 'Man's World' - so why aren't we women helping one another?