Humanities & Social Sciences placements

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Topic: 2014-15

Seeking Spanish: Spain, Chile and Beyond

📥  2014-15, Politics, Languages & International Studies

Coming now towards the end of my year out of the UK, I cannot recommend taking a year abroad enough. Perhaps this is because I didn’t take a gap year before university, so having a year out of my usual education was exciting and out of the ordinary in itself, but also because leaving what you know (or think you know) is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for anything.

Spain only felt like it was down the road from England, so I initially eased myself into my year abroad by choosing to study at a university in Madrid for the first half before leaving to Chile. Studying was as tough as I had expected, but in between lectures and studying I had the freedom to spend a thoroughly enjoyable 5 months living in one of the most deliciously relaxed cities I’d ever had the pleasure of spending a prolonged amount of time in. Unfortunately, I was soon tearing my hair out in frustration when problems with my passport and the maddeningly nonsensical bureaucracy that followed cut my time short in Spain, and before long I was on a plane descending through deathly grey clouds, and I knew I was back home in London. Oh what joy.

Passport sorted, I was itching to leave to beautiful Chile. Once there, yes, I did experience some slight culture shock, but nothing that even half managed to override all the excitement that I was feeling. Working as a journalist in Santiago I didn’t have the time to feel overwhelmed; if problems arose I simply had to deal with them, but I was incredibly lucky to have been so warmly welcomed by the people I first met as soon as I arrived without whom my life there at the beginning would have been considerably more difficult.

Santiago compared to Madrid...there is not much of a concise comparison to be made. They are incomparable, apples and oranges. I tried fruits I had never heard of, heard words I wasn’t used to hearing, and travelled around the longest country in the world, seeing sand dunes, mountains, volcanoes, beaches and the Pacific ocean. Every Monday morning I looked forward to going to work, wondering who I would have the opportunity to interview, what event in the city I would be able to attend or where indeed I would end up that day. As journalism consists of finding stories, it was my job to know what was going on which turned out to be a great privilege. From art galleries to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, wherever I was sent I was like an awestruck child, drinking in everything I could before it would inevitably disappear.

LGBTQI march in Santiago

LGBTQI march in Santiago

 

Pushing for the amendment of gender laws in Chile

Pushing for the amendment of gender laws in Chile

 

Love wins

Love wins

It wasn’t long before I felt completely at home in Santiago, I felt like I was as familiar with it as I was with London, and with only 4 weeks left of my time here all of a sudden, I know it will be a rather painful goodbye. Undoubtedly there are many aspects of the city that I dislike, but to dwell on them seems unreasonable when I will leave with far more good memories than bad.

Once more I found myself having to travel for the sake of renewing my visa, so I was off to Buenos Aires for three days filled with sun, ice cream, art and wine. This bohemian paradise was just over the fence, but first I was to have the delightful experience of an unexpectedly intense grilling at the airport where, in a moment of anger, I decided that I actually hate travelling and will never set foot on a plane again, in fact staying in Buenos Aires forever would be preferable to ever having to deal with visas and airport lighting and sourfaced officials for another single second. But I did get back on a plane, and I suspect I will happily board many more.

Argentinian flag at dusk

Argentinian flag at dusk

 

Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo

Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo

 

Plaza de Mayo, renowned meeting place for protests

Plaza de Mayo, renowned meeting place for protests

Eva Peron's grave in La Recoleta cemetery

Eva Peron's grave in La Recoleta cemetery

Leaving the warm clutches of Buenos Aires after only a few days was surprisingly difficult, knowing that Santiago’s winter would be waiting for me. I am starting to deeply miss summer, or even just the slightest hint of spring. Travelling next week to Brazil will be a much needed break from what seems like a year long cold spell, and so I find myself eagerly wishing next week to arrive whilst simultaneously wanting time to slow down as much as possible.

I will leave my time abroad with a long list of beautiful memories and not a single regret or wish of having done something differently. Nothing could have prepared me better for my final year at university and the murkiness that lies beyond graduation day than this past year, because I’ve realised that the ‘real world’ isn’t anywhere near as daunting as I thought it was; you just sometimes need to put in an enormous effort for enormously satisfying rewards.

 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

  

📥  2014-15, Psychology

I made it back into America! Jubilations! Not that I was worried for a second…

A few days ago I took my third and final trip to Montreal, so that I could then come back into the States on a tourist visa and extend my stay by 90 days. A bit of a faffy situation, but it did mean I got to spend time with the Scottish friend I made on the October visit, then stayed with in January, and was able to check out Montreal’s famous Jazz Festival – days on days of free live music in the downtown area of the city. I also went for my first run in the outside world since June 2015, something ridiculous about discovering new places while on holiday and being healthy spurred me on. I have not been able to move properly since.

With my success crossing the border, I now feel safe enough discussing my upcoming summer plans. Soon my sistah from another mistah, Liv, will be meeting me here in Boston and we will be heading off on a bit of a cross-country excursion. I have not been this excited about something cross-country related since I prepared myself to tell the P.E. teacher at school that I would be quitting the running team.

This map took me two hours to construct and highlights not only my abundance of skill in Paint (not Photoshop, I’m not made of money), but also the places Liv and I will be venturing to on our month-long trip. For an added bonus, I have also included the other places I have visited since being on placement, indicated by my over-pixilated but euphoric face (New Hampshire, Vermont, Montreal, Vancouver, North Carolina and soon, New Orleans). Each “Point” on the map has been subjected to serious research, i.e. Liv and I watched some TV shows set in these cities.

USA Odyssey map

 

At Point (A), Boston, I will show Liv the revolutionary sights of American Independence and my favourite place to get a hot dog. We may also do a day trip to Salem, because historic witches are sexy and Salem was the best character in ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’. Television-based research: Salem.

Point (B) is New York City; we have both already done the enjoyable but expensive tourist attractions so I imagine we will mostly end up walking around markets and eating when we are not too hungover from the city that never sleeps. Television-based research: Sex and the City/Girls/Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Point (C) is Philadelphia – a new city for both Liv and myself. So far our itinerary involves mostly food and drinks places, but to my credit I have not yet done any proper research. Television-based research: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Point (D) is Washington DC. I hope to run into Obama or Kevin Spacey there, either will do. Television-based research: House of Cards.

Point (E) is Pittsburgh – come to think of it, the interary at the moment is much like that for Philly. We are primarily stopping here to avoid a 33 hour bus ride to Chicago. Television-based research: Dance Moms.*

Which leads us onto Point (F) – Chicago. Not only will our faces be buried in deep dish pizza, but we will also be taking in our first music festival of the trip – Lollapalooza. As well as being extremely excited for the festival, I am also very thankful for the reasonably relaxed working environment that allowed me to snap up tickets at my desk before they ran out. Television-based research: Chicago Fire.

All of these points thus far will be reached by bus – the people’s carriage. After basking in Chicago’s glory, we will be swapping shakey wifi and even shakier on-board loos for a plane to Point (G) – San Francisco – where we will be scoping out an American club that plays Britpop and a fun tour of Alcatraz. Prisons are so in right now. Television-based research: Sense 8.

We will also be heading to our second music festival of the trip in San Fran – Outside Lands – where I fully expect to die of happiness in front of Elton John.

I have done some dramatic things to prepare for this trip, including cutting off all my hair. I was getting increasingly more stressed, trying to plan out when the best times would be for me to whack out the hair-dryer and straighteners while balancing travelling frivolities and levels of socially-acceptable personal upkeep. I will inevitably need to wash my hair a few times due to swimming/sweating/general grime, but the whole process usually takes about an hour and a half per go and becomes more and more necessary the fizzier east coast humidity makes it. Plus, doing so also requires about seven difference pieces of equipment and products, which is not what you want when you are trying to fit your life in a backpack. Cutting it all off has made looking after my hair joyfully easier, and while the main reason for doing so was to get rid of the relaxed hair and start growing it again with its natural texture, the timing could not have been better.

Because we will be so over buses by this point and deserve to travel in some degree of style (domestic flights can be gloriously cheap), Liv and I will then fly from San Fran to Portland, Point H, where we will go on a safari of hipsters in their native habitat. Television-based research: Portlandia.

The final leg of the trip will see us hopping on a double-decker train (???) and crossing the border over to Vancouver – Point I. This will be where I’ll either spend any money I have left on maple syrup, or where I will end up busking on the street to earn enough dolla for food. Television-based research: Orphan Black.*

Every means of transport has been worked out meticulously to ensure the cheapest ways to travel (hence all the buses and only one train). Our motto while planning the trip became “every little helps”, born from deciding between getting a bus at 8.30am instead of 12pm to save $2.50 and flying with no checked baggage because who needs stuff really? I believe the total for all the planes, trains and automobiles came up to about $600 (not including the flight home), which is outrageous really. Accommodation will be interesting – we are relying largely on the kindness of friends and family to give us places to stay, as well as that of strangers on ‘Couchsurfing’ and a couple of hostels.

Our flight back from Vancouver to London (well, Vancouver to Iceland, then London) is on the 21st August, which means not only will the trip last exactly one month, but I will have passed my year long mark of vacacement by two days. That doesn’t really mean much, but it is oddly satisfying.

Just in case anyone is wondering, I will be 21 by the time the odyssey begins. It is actually my birthday in TWO DAYS and I am so ready to have my first taste of alcohol in the United States; ten and a half months of sobriety has been awfully challenging. It is excellent timing, as I will also be going to New Orleans this weekend and there is absolutely no point in going to a place called “Bourbon Street” when you are under 21.

Looking back, I am so glad I chose to do my placement year in Boston, even taking into account the mentally destructive winter and challenging living costs. It is pretty obvious that I have used it as an opportunity to travel around and have fun, but the placement itself turned out to be exactly what I needed and I even find myself.... a bit excited (?!) by my dissertation topic and the research I have done for it here. Fourth year remains a robust barrier between myself and the real world, which is something I imagine I will savour come September. As for now, I welcome a summer of little responsibility and much vitamin D with open arms.

 


*I did not actually watch “Dance Moms”, as I am not that basic. “Salem” remains on my to-watch list and there does not seem to be anything set in Vancouver that is worth watching, so Toronto stepped in as a substitute.

 

What's keeping me human

📥  2014-15, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

You know you’re really enjoying your year abroad and starting to feel at home somewhere when you forget to write your blog that all your nice loving family and friends at home are reading…FOR NEARLY 3 MONTHS. All jokes aside, apologies to all those who have been craving a new update (I’m looking at you parents). So much to tell in such a small word count, I’ll get started…
Firstly, I had the parents visit a few weeks ago. This was for obvious reasons nice but what made it that bit more fun was that they had already each respectively visited Rome many moons ago and therefore weren’t that fussed about doing all the tourist sites, so we actually got to see Rome a bit more like the Romans do – exploring the cities small streets by quartiere instead of pushing our way through crowds outside the Colosseo. They win a special prize as they decided their favourite neighbourhood was the same as mine – Trastevere – probably because we ate good food there. Whilst they were visiting we also made sure to check out the MAXXI (National Museum of 21st Century Art) as I’d heard some good things, however I personally found it pretty disappointing as we paid 10 EUR per person, to then realise that only 2 of the rooms were open that day. To its credit the design of the building is really innovative and well used with interactive images over the walls to entertain simple people like me – but it was the structure of the building that also caused me and dad to sweat continuously as we forced ourselves to look straight ahead instead of looking down through the transparent stairs leading up the four-floor building. Yeah, thanks for that.

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The job I’m doing is going well as I’ve been learning a lot, and not just linguistically – although that too (I hope!). In fact, a couple weeks back I had the opportunity through my organisation to attend a week of training in Brussels which was hosted by one of our partner organisations, JAVVA. To explain briefly the training was focused around advocacy, visibility and awareness raising in relation to human rights for migrant people, and what IVS (International Volunteer Service) organisations can do. There were two key moments for me during the training. The first was an activity where, using a large scale map of the world drawn onto the wall, participants from each country explained to the group the situation in their country in terms of rights for migrant people. What left a permanent mark in my mind however was our final day, on which we took part in a festival called ‘Steenrock’ outside a closed detention centre just miles away from Brussels International Airport, to show solidarity with the people trapped inside. (For anyone interested you can see a video of the day here: https://steenrock.wordpress.com/editions-precedentes-2/.)IMG_3019

The treatment of these human beings is absolutely and completely inhumane; the festival took place in front of the windows of many of the people imprisoned in the centre, detained behind bars – we were unable to hear anything they yelled from the windows, but thankfully they were able to at least see the amount of people who had come to show their support.

Untitled

After a week back at work, it was clearly time for another training – this time run by my organisation, with a focus on Human Rights and Peace Education (all part of a long-term campaign my organisation is part of called ‘Raising Peace’) in the beautiful little town of Poggio Mirteto. It was a week full of really quite wonderful, outstanding people and a combination of workshops, both of which left me equally encouraged as challenged.

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Probably the most challenging part was near the end of the training when we had to use all the skills we had learnt and all the knowledge we had obtained during the week to create 4 different workshops, varying from team building activities to activities specifically focusing on a topic linked with the Raising Peace campaign, to do with new Italian participants who were coming for a campleader training.

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That’s all for now, I still actually have more updates but they will be coming to a blog near you this weekend…

FOR ANYONE STILL READING:
For more information on detention centres in Belgium http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/detention-centres/what-are-closed-centres/
Learn about the situation with detention centres in your country: http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries.html
For more information on the Raising Peace Campaign: https://raisingpeace2014.wordpress.com/about/

 

It's the final countdown...

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📥  2014-15, Social & Policy Sciences

This past year has been a world wind ride:

-       I have met Sir Trevor McDonald for the CR Awards

CR awards final

-       I have helped run the Young Talent Programme with some of the children from ‘Educating the East End’

-       I have been to Stonewall talks and heard LGBT speakers such as Will Young, Dr Christian Jessen and most recently been on the Sturgeon down the Thames for the Stonewall Summer Party

IMG-20150622-WA0020    IMG-20150622-WA0009

-       I have been to the firm’s Summer party that was held at the Tower of London

DSC_0512 Summer party 4

-       I have attended an event held at the firm where I heard Sue Gardener talk about trans issues

-       Attended an HR Day where we discussed the firm’s values and business plan

-       Joined the HR Community – helped organise the HR Christmas party and other socials

Christmas party 19

-       Attended the Legal Week Innovation awards where we were nominated for the Young Talent Programme

-       Walked the London Legal Walk

group photo of walk

-       Helped organise Keeping In Touch days where maternity leavers are invited into the office

-       I have been to CR events such as the Working Families Conference where I got picked to speak about my views on flexible working! And other diversity forums

-       I have been part of the Moreland Reading Scheme

-       I have joined the firm’s Art Network and been on a variety of the firm’s tours where I saw Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst prints. One event I went to included viewing the Government’s Art Collection.

Tracey Emin

-       Joined the Straight Allies network and helped on the stall – I even got to design and put forward my idea of having mugs as well as flags

-       I have got to know my colleagues better on Fridays due to the occasional drinks trolleys

-       I got to work across the HR teams by helping at some Graduate Recruitment fairs and campaigns

-       I have been taught how to use a new computer system

-       I joined the Simmons & Simmons choir and sang at the firm’s carol service

-       I have done first drafts and pulled data for numerous benchmark. I was pleased to hear that Simmons & Simmons won The Times Top 50 Employees for Women again which is why I joined the firm

-       I got to take part in BCP call handling training – I know now what do in a crisis and how to answer fretful calls

 

I have done so many other things during my year but to list them all would make for a very long read.

I have really enjoyed my year and learnt so much. Gaining an insight into the legal world has been so useful and everyone I have come across has been more than willing to offer advice and answer any questions.

I just want to say thank you to Simmons & Simmons for giving me this opportunity and one day I hope to return.

CityPoint

 

Tiffany’s tips

-       Write down at the end of every week key tasks and events you have done

-       Add as many people you meet on LinkedIn and write where you have met them

-       Always have your blackberry and a pen to hand

-       Don’t be afraid to ask questions

-       Smile, take every opportunity that comes your way, join in and enjoy it!

 

Happily Unemployed

📥  2014-15, Psychology

It has now been over 10 months since I hopped over the pond and re-located to Boston, but most importantly it has been almost a month since I finished my work placement at the Child Language Lab.

I now find myself in the very enjoyable position of unadulterated summery freedom. I have finished working/my third year of University; if I were in England right now I would most likely be finding some sort of summer job to earn some cash – babysitting, retail, bar work, that sort of thing. However, my “nonimmigrant” status means that it is against the law for me to get a job here, so alas I must spend my mornings having daily lie-ins, dedicate my afternoons to being “productive” on my laptop (I watched the new series of Orange is the New Black in two days) and use my evenings to better myself in the gym/pub. Speaking of the gym, I now have a visible ab and am one step closer to becoming Beyoncé.

Unemployment suits me well, I think. Considering how much I love the last-minute lifestyle, I have surprised myself by making a start on my dissertation, which is due in APRIL and I have managed to read an entire book.

Despite having to pretend to be an adult for ten months, working at the lab was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and saying goodbye to everyone I had worked with was a long and bittersweet process. I would be lying if I said I missed the 9 – 5 routine, but the days whenbroody-inducing toddlers came into the lab for studies did help soften the blow. It turns out I am very interested in child language development and can kind of do science – who knew?!

IMG_20150529_145139

    (Cheerio Boston University)

My sister came to visit at the start of June and we got to spend some much needed quality time together. We spent most days in Boston wandering around, looking at sights (and by “looking at sights” I mean eating – visiting IHOP for the first time together was truly a bonding experience), as well as visiting New York. She spent a week with our cousin in Brooklyn and I went to the Governor’s Ball solo. No one else fancied going to the music festival with me, but who needs friends, right? Lana Del Rey may have been painfully quiet (her voice soaked up by hundreds of 15 year olds’ top buns) and some idiot in the audience continually demanded Noel Gallagher played Wonderwall during the High Flying Birds’ set (he didn’t, probably because it’s not even the best Oasis song), but it was a pretty damn good way to spend a Sunday and New York music festivals draw in some excellent artists.

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The next couple of months are going to be spent in the same sort of fashion; generally enjoying life and summer with no real responsibilities and telling myself I can afford to travel. Tomorrow I will be heading back to New York for a few days with a friend and next week I take another seven hour bus journey to Montreal (I just cannot get enough of those Greyhounds). This time I am going for business though, not just pleasure. Somehow I have managed to get myself in an awkward position, planning a cross-country trip with a friend that will last a month but will also go over the date I “technically” have to leave the country by, as stated by the terms on my J1 student visa. I had two options: pay $290 to change my visa status so that I can extend my stay by 6 months, or cross the border over to Canada and re-enter the USA as a tourist with a $14 ESTA. Since my bus to Montreal was $100, I went with that option and sadly now I have to take another mini-holiday, terribly unfortunate. I have been assured by my foreign scholar advisor that this is all totally legal and will 100% work, but I will still have all my fingers and toes crossed when trying to cross back over the border.

In fact, just for superstition purposes I will hold off on talking about my post-Montreal plans, because if I do get refused entry back into America I will have to cancel all my travel arrangements and will feel like a right numpty.

Since this blog post does not seem to have any sort of real theme, I am just going to go ahead and give a few more updates on what has been going on in my life.

A few months ago I fostered a cat from a shelter – he was officially adopted a couple of weeks ago, but for two months I shared my bed with the largest and most uncoordinated cat ever to have graced this planet. “Supercat”, as someone comically named him, was “slightly” overweight, snored as loudly as my dad and liked to wake me up each morning by my sitting on my face and slowly suffocating me. If getting a pet is something you want to do, but you know you will only be living somewhere for a short period of time, fostering is definitely the way to go. They only stay with you for a short while, until the shelter can find them a “forever home” and all the medical expenses are taken care of. The only payment required by you is in the form of tears when you have to say goodbye.

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Speaking of saying goodbye, I am now living with two new people, as Alex and Beth have both moved out (Beth has gone back to England and Alex is currently on a three-month stint in Central America) and are subletting their rooms till the end of August. Emma is moving out of the flat in a few days too – it all feels very strange as it is hard to get away from the fact that this year is coming to an end very quickly.

If all goes to plan (touch wood), I will have just under two more months left before I fly back to England. Here’s to hoping border control decides I’m worth letting back in…

 

Experiencing South America's Intensely Gratifying Copa América

📥  2014-15, Politics, Languages & International Studies

Originally posted on June 24, 2015 at https://elosogolosouprooted.wordpress.com/

Living in Santiago has just gotten that bit more entertaining as Chile hosts the 44th Copa América, uniting different Latin American communities together in the name of football.

Football’s ability to unite even the most sports-averse is one of the few displays of, not only its power as an institution (FIFA), but its importance. There are billions to be had if you’re only willing and able to take advantage of it. Bribes were allegedly paid to FIFA officials to buy marketing rights to sporting events, including the Copa América organised by the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL) which is being held this year in Chile.

The Asociación Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (ANFP) had admitted to receiving two US$1.5 million payments from CONMEBOL, denying accusations from the United States Department of Justice that the Chilean head of ANFP, Sergio Jadue, had received US$3 million in bribes from Datisa for the television rights to the four tournaments. The chilean Ministry of Justice has requested ANFP to hand in their financial statements to ensure that they are not involved in the wider scandal.

It remains to be seen whether the 2015 Copa América tournament was bought off the back of bribery and corruption, but with Chile hosting the Copa América that is now in full swing, the spotlight is now glaring on the ANFP from the United States as Chile and Latin America find themselves at the centre of the apparent unravelling of FIFA.

On a lighter note, as it stands, Chile is yet to lose a match. They are the glittering heroes on their home turf and it seems that they are invincible, their energy becoming infectious. It doesn’t even matter if you haven’t watched a match; whistles, chants, shouts, even bloody vuvuzelas will let you know exactly what’s going on, what the score is, even who scored. You could be in the shower and still know the intimate details of how Chile thrashed Bolivia with barely a blink of an eye. And it is wonderful.

Having never been in a host country during an important international tournament, least of all a football tournament, this period is incredibly exciting for everyone living in Santiago and Chile. Football is not just football, it is not just a game, and this is made so obviously apparent when in the middle of the heaving soul of the Copa América, watching the likes of Brazil and Argentina all vying for the prize.

Although, yes, in general the tournament has been a riot, at times the football has been lacking, but the fans have been there to keep up Latin America’s reputation at being able to throw an impressively insane party nonetheless. By the time I finally decided that buying tickets to a match was definitely worth not eating for a day or two, all of Chile’s had sold out so I got myself down to Viña del Mar for Mexico vs. Bolivia, a match which was not only dull, but also considered the most unimpressive of the entire tournament so far. Nonetheless, Mexican fans kept the spirit alive as our breath condensed in front of us during 90 minutes of not very much at all. So, for that at least, ¡Viva México!

Mexico 0 - 0 Bolivia

Mexico 0 - 0 Bolivia

Mexico fans

Mexico fans

Mexico 0 - 0 Bolivia (still...)

Mexico 0 - 0 Bolivia (still...)

 

Mexico fans

Mexico fans

 

Chile Demands What It Deserves

📥  2014-15, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

Originally posted on June 15, 2015 at https://elosogolosouprooted.wordpress.com/

A group of young Chileans greeted me with “Bienvenida al neoliberalismo” as they searched for a bottle opener in Santiago’s Parque Forestal.

Even with winter just around the corner, the sun was still providing everybody with an excuse to go outside to drink wine and eat empanadas in the last few lukewarm days that autumn was willing to offer, the homeless given some respite from the previous freezing night.

Following many strikes and protests from students, teachers and health workers to name a few, Chile’s reputation as the most developed country in Latin America belies the realities of many Chilean people.

Grandparents supporting grandchildren

Grandparents supporting grandchildren

 

With Chile’s health system tendering out services to the private sector and higher education operating largely as a business, strikes have been and still are going on in both of these sectors, bringing many students’ educations to a halt.

Everyone Out

Everyone Out

 

The murder of two students, Exequiel Borvarán and Diego Guzmán, from the Juventud Comunista (Youth Communist Party) during a protest in Valparaíso on May 14 further inflamed the debate around neoliberalism, a system in which these two young men were shot as the private property they were drawing on was considered more valuable than their lives.

Communist Vigil

Communist Vigil

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Following this unrest, President Bachelet, now experiencing her lowest ever approval ratings at 33%, announced on May 21 during her State of the Nation address that a significant change to the Chilean constitution is in order as she stated that “Chile now has the opportunity, for the first time in its history, to create a constitution that is genuinely republican and sovereign […] one that reflects that we are a mature and democratic country.”

 

Recent allegations of corruption scandals involving members of Bachelet’s government and also including her own son have greatly affected the credibility of her government placing pressure on Bachelet, as a left wing leader of a post-dictatorship country, to ensure Chile progresses away from its history, having only become a democratic country in 1990.

 

Nevertheless, as a foreigner it is clear to me why Chile, despite its problems, is so very loved by its citizens as well as travellers who come from all over the world to visit Chile’s endlessly beautiful natural landscapes.

Concón

Concón

Chile’s bohemian chic gem is undoubtedly the coastal city of Valparaíso, often referred to as Santiago’s naughty older sister, an insanely creative artistic place where the Pacific Ocean stretches out from the city’s tumbling hills.

 

Granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2003, its fame and popularity stem from its distinctive hills, coloured houses, street art and its unparalleled lively vibe that will make you want to stay there forever.

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

Valparaíso

 

Young Talent Programme

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📥  2014-15, Social & Policy Sciences

 

As part of my role as the Employee Relations & CR Administrator I help organise and run the Young Talent Programme.

The Young Talent Programme works with Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow which was featured as the school that was shown in ‘Educating the East End’! (I spotted quite a few Young Talent Programme students and even my Manager had a debut)

Working with the TWIST Partnership, the programme is designed to raise students’ aspirations through a series of ongoing, longerterm initiatives that provide access to the legal profession and wider work opportunities.

Each year a group of twelve Year 10 students is selected to be part of the programme and the firm is committed to supporting each cohort of students for a seven year period. During this time they return to the firm every year to participate in a range of activities including work experience; skills sessions; project work; presentations; paid internships; and group mentoring.

So far a total of 50 young people have been selected for the Young Talent Programme and have successfully completed one week of work experience at the firm, and 24 students have also completed a week’s paid summer internship. Two Year 13 students will receive the Simmons & Simmons bursary in September 2015 to assist them through university. With 50 students to date the programme takes a lot of organising which can be stressful yet also hugely rewarding.

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I have helped to:

- create packs for work experience, sessions, and internship inductions

- create timetables (including booking about 15 different rooms and desk spaces for the students during one work experience week!), being the point of contact

- created a Young Talent Programme LinkedIn group

- created a quarterly newsletter

- been the main point of contact for the students, school and our partnership with TWIST

- organised the work experience weeks and internships including setting tasks for the students to do and ensuring the week runs smoothly

And so much more!

My highlight when working with the students has been at the CR Awards when we hosted a networking session for all of the cohorts. This was run by our Marketing & Development team and discussed how to join and leave conversations, hand out business cards and ask for them and it was great to see the students going up to Partners of the firm and ask to add them on LinkedIn.

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I think one of the things I will miss most about this year of placement is the students on the programme and hopefully there will be another series of ‘Educating the East End’ so I can see more familiar faces!

 

El Momento es Ahora

📥  2014-15, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

Originally posted on January 31, 2015 at https://elosogolosouprooted.wordpress.com/

“Año del cambio, podemos soñar, podemos vencer.” - Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos

 

Se acabó

Se acabó

Today, 100,000 people gathered in la Puerta del Sol in central Madrid in order to support the Podemos party calling out the way in which governments, (mainly the Spanish government) are really not serving their purpose very well. All over social media, today has been hailed as ‘historic’ and 2015 has been predicted to be the year where finally social change will be effected by a radical reform in the political system. The point of the demonstration was not to ask the current government for anything, or to protest, it was simply to assert the fact that people are fed up and change will come. Most people who attended probably do not care much about the current government anymore anyway; they are looking towards the future and the next general election in which it seems that the Partido Popular will not be elected to serve another term. According to a recent opinion poll, Podemos is in the lead to win the general election at the end of this year, an achievement in itself for a relatively new party.

Following the recent victory of the left wing party Syriza in Greece this week, and the massive show of support for the Podemos party today, the tide of European politics appears to be ebbing increasingly to the left, with sympathy for the European Union institutions disappearing altogether. Populist movements in Greece and Spain have flatly criticized the EU’s approach to the economic downturn in 2008, as they imposed austerity measures across Europe, measures that are now being rigidly negotiated in Greece.

Podemos

Podemos

2015 has started off with a leftist victory in Greece and the potential for there being one on the way for Spain, marking a distinct change in the way politics is now being conducted. Incessantly preaching the necessity of austerity and the need to “live within our means” whilst doing little to improve living standards, governments have now managed to annoy the public so much that many people have had enough of the reactionary rhetoric. If anything, it has been an edifying experience to have been able to witness people in Spain, the UK and around Europe making a stand and finally saying: f*** this. 2015 is set to be an interesting year.

M

The Yes aftermath

The Yes aftermath

 

Organic Roots Festival

📥  2014-15, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

Originally posted on December 16, 2014 at https://elosogolosouprooted.wordpress.com/

organic-roots

One weekend, shortly after arriving in Spain, I ventured my way to Organic Roots festival. Organic Roots is a Roots reggae and dub festival organised entirely by volunteers and attended by (as I soon found out) serious reggae heads. It took place in Tres Cantos, just outside of Madrid and conveniently close to where I’m living, and was the smallest festival I’ve ever been to!

I joined my friends on the Saturday since I had to be at work during the week, so luckily managed to escape setting up the tent. The tiny arena consisted of two or three small stages, an arts and performance area where they held yoga sessions, a couple of food stands and of course, a by no means tiny soundsystem.  The constant sound of the loud and vibrating base coming from the speakers could be heard long before actually seeing the festival.

Now I like reggae, my parents always listened to it as I was growing up and then I met my boyfriend who is truly passionate about it, so I’ve had my fair amount of exposure to it. But I have to admit that at this festival I did feel a little out of place. Not so much so that I didn’t feel comfortable, but upon arrival one quickly grasped that this was a music festival for dub and reggae fanatics - over three quarters of the crowd having dreads and waist length hair. On the other hand, the atmosphere was very friendly and super chilled (and not mention, filled with an herbal aroma).

The line-up included performances from Channel One Soundsystem, Aba Shanti-I, Don Fe and many others from around Europe whose names I am too ignorant to recognise. I paid 30 euros for one day and night of camping but my friends who were there for the whole weekend, got a deal and only paid 45. Overall, I enjoyed my time at this intimate festival.  The music was good, as was the food (especially the pizzas!) and it was nice not to feel swamped by thousands of people.

If you’re coming to Madrid next year and like reggae, make sure you stop by at this festival, even if it’s just for a day like I did, because it’s probably an entirely different experience and one that will give you a glimpse into one of the many cultural pockets of Spain.

Un beso,

K