Humanities & Social Sciences placements

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

Topic: Uncategorized

Capilla del Monte and grub in my tum

📥  Uncategorized

Todays post will be focussed on my visit to Capilla del Monte which is a 3 hour bus journey away from Cordoba Capital. And secondly I love my food. A lot. So undoubtedly this is an important point to investigate while I'm here.

Capilla del Monte

My journey started early on a Sunday morning. It was a bank holiday this weekend so took advantage for a weekend trip. We arrived at midday and dropped off our bags in our quaint hostel before setting off on our walk to Las Gemelas (direct translation; the twins).

We trekked up the hill to a rest point and leisurely ate our lunch. Then we decided to hire some horses to go around the mountain. Mine was called Nochero (direct translation of Noche is night) as it was as dark as a nights sky. And thus we started clip cloppiting along. The views were particularly stunning as the light reflected of the lake. The mountains were sun bathed as we went through the narrow trail. At one point Nochero went off the path which is scary thanks to the unpredictable terrain of the mountain. As we went down steeply we had to put our legs out in front for stability and when going up we had to lean forwards. Overall it was a fun and exciting experience that brought out my inner Chinas (female version of a Gaucho).

On day two we journeyed to El Zapato (direct translation; the shoe) which is a rock famous for being the shape of a shoe. The surrounding rocks were a great viewpoint for the surrounding mountains.

We then walked to Parador El Paraiso (direct translation; paradise) which had a lucious river with some geese and sheep. Our trip ended here as we then collected our bags to get the bus home.

Why I need to return to Capilla del Monte: This area is famous for its special energy and the said aliens that accompany it!

Grub

Where to start¿¡ Lets start with the classics...and a basic introduction to Argentine cuisine.

Asado 10/10

The closest we have to it is a barbeque. But the Argentine Asado consists of pretty much just meat. In Argentina they use every bit of the animal. The equivalent of a Sunday Roast this is a very social activity and will take hours. In a future post I will go into detail of the different part that a asado consists of but for now just imagine mouthfuls of deliciously cooked meat. As a meat lover this was a kind of heaven but this is probably not for you if youre vegetarian...

Empanadas 8/10

These are little pastries filled with different ingredients. My replacement for a sandwich and a big part of my diet, I will eat different types of empanada almost every day. It´s difficult to choose a favourite but I like ones containting choclo (sweetcorn).

Criollos 11/10

These savoury little bread things (sorry my description is awful) are the joy of my life. I have to admit at first I wasn't a fan but now I wait for the 6.30pm merienda eagerly in order to devour my dear criollitos.

Mate 4/10

Admitedly this is not grub but such an integral part of Argentine food and drink, I couldn't miss it out. In every moment and opportunity the argentinians will pour the leaves and hot water and sip from the specially shaped metal straw. Not being a tea drinker did not help me accustom to this bitter drink. However this is such an essential part of life here that I think I will have to get used to it!

Fernet 6.5/10

Again another drink! Fernet is a herbal alcoholic drink which is mixed with coke. I did not find this Argetine alcoholic juice bad at all! It was bitter but quite alright!

 

Weekversary in Argentina!

📥  Uncategorized

Two days ago marked the weekversary of my move to Argentina! I have been met with new people, foods, behaviours, climates and much more! All these new experiences I will talk in greater detail in future posts however here I will focus on my whistle stop tour of Buenos Aires and dealing with homesickness.

Before moving to Cordoba to start my internship I visited Buenos Aires briefly. Here are a few things I got up to:

1.Plaza de Mayo

What is it?

Plaza de Mayo is a square named after the May Revolution of 1810, which started the process towards the country´s independence from Spain in 1816.

Why is it important?

This square has a lot of political importance throughout Argentinian history which I would recommend reading about however a particularly interesting little nugget of history that this square highlights, is the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Since 1977 mothers have congregated here every Thursdaz with signs and pictures of Desaparecidos [direct translation: the disappeared]. These pictures are of the "disappeared" children by the Argentine military in the Dirty War. Their wore white scarfs which symbolize the white dove of peace which can "unite all women". This symbol is painted on the square.

I recommend Plaza de Mayo as it is full of political and social messages.

2.Casa Rosada

What is it?

La Casa Rosada [direct transalation: the pink house) is the office of the President of Argentina. It is named so due to its pink exterior and is one of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires.

Fun Fact

I read in my guide book that it is painted with a mixture of ox blood with lime!

My sweatied plane gear matched with La Casa Rosada!

3.Cafe Tortoni

What is it?

This beautifully decorated cafe was inaugurated in 1858. Famous for its art scene in the basement (La Peña) which was inaugurated in 1926. Among the visitors there were Jorge Luis Borges, Federico Garcia Lorca and Roberto Arlt.

I enjoyed some Churros con Chocolate (apparently a popular choice) while admiring "Poets corner" and the surroundings. However I must warn it is expensive and commercialised.

4.El Caminito

What is it?

This is an area of Buenos Aires that has a lot of character. It was started by immigrants who didn´t have a penny who used whatever materials they could get hold of to construct this neighbourhood. All the houses are very colourful as they did not have enough money to paint it all one colour. It is still very much a working class area as well as tourist destination which creates an interesting dynamic as many working class people resent the tourists and even try to spit on them as they walk past!

El Caminito is a symbol of the tango culture which developed in this port side neighbourhood and working class immigrants.

 

Homesickness

I am a person who gets quite homesick so it was no surprise that moving away for 4 months was going to be a challenge. This first week has been tough however here are a few things that have helped:

Social Butterfly yourself- I have the great fortune that not only have I met lots of warm and welcoming people but I already knew someone out there. This week I have been able to share my homesickness with people who are going through it at the same time as me as well as people who have already gone through it. The caring attitude I have recieved from many has relieved the homesickness greatly.
Busy Bee around- keeping your mind and body busy= less time to think about home. Being in a different country, everything is different, including shopping. I spent half a day exploring shops and supermarkets. I've found keeping the clogs in my brain chugging along has helped remove my thoughts straying to home.
Tick it off- setting yourself goals can generate a lot of motivation. When I am feeling homesick I find it difficult to achieve. Something that I have found that has really helped with my homesickness was having a to do list. Even more so having a calendar so that I can tick off the days and visualise journeys and events to look forward to and helps visualise my time here.
Home Sweet Home- personalising your new home helps give a feeling of permanence as well as bringing home memories as a comfort. Teddy bears are a great, Monica approved idea too.
The Internet generation- we are very lucky to be able to keep in touch with our loved ones so easily. And a few words with them over a video call can help calm a homesick self.
A new world- Writing a journal is a therapeutic way of dealing with homesickness as well as helping to document all the new experiences on this journey.
Well... I hope you have enjoyed my first post from this duck out of water and follow to get notifications of future posts or keep an eye on my facebook. Until next time, Ciao!

 

End of a Lifetime

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📥  2016-17, Psychology, Uncategorized

Two weeks ago I finished my placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist with the Lifetime Service in Bath. After a tearful farewell to my colleagues with some amazing flowers for me as a thank you for all the work I have done, I have now started my summer job as a Personal Care Assistant for a PhD student with physical disabilities and have taken up some voluntary work as a Research Assistant at the University of Bath.

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As cliche as it sounds, I learnt so much whilst on placement and it was an amazing experience, even if it wasn't quite what I expected. I really enjoyed my placement and would recommend placement year and summer placements to everyone.

As this is my last placement blog I thought I would leave you with my top 7 tips for placement and beyond:

Time-to-Plan-H

1. Buy a Diary or Planner

When I first started my placement I recorded all of my meetings and events on my iPhone calendar, a perfect way to keep track of things as a student but not so much in the work place. Although electronic calendars are really useful, especially when you always have your laptop open and loaded, accessing them on placement when this isn't the case can not only be be slow but it can also come across as rude or unprofessional.

So buy an academic diary or planner for your placement year, you can get some really cheap ones on Amazon or some funky ones from Paperchase if you are going for a more upmarket look. Academic ones last for the university year, so you won't have to worry about buying a new one in January. I've found having a diary to be so handy that I have ordered one for next year too!

4-Questions-To-Ask-Yourself-Before-Starting-A-Business

2. Keep Asking

During your first few weeks at a new placement or job you may feel really confused and unsure. Don't worry! This is perfectly normal and employers expect you to ask a lot of questions during the first few weeks (and even after that). Once you know what you are doing you will have less questions and learn the best times to ask them, so no-one will get annoyed. You can only learn and get better at your new role if you ask!

Try to schedule times to talk to help answer your questions instead of just popping into their office every time you have a question as your supervisor and colleagues are likely to be quite busy. Even though they are happy to help it can be a bit difficult if they are answering a new question every few minutes after your first few weeks. I met with my supervisor once a week and then for the odd five minutes throughout the week to answer any questions about tasks I had been given and only spoke to her or other colleagues when I really couldn't do any other tasks without knowing the answer.

Help and support signpost

3. Supervision

One of the greatest resources whilst on placement is your placement supervisor. In your first and second years at university you may have turned to Personal Tutors, Peer Mentors or Lecturers for support. On placement you will still have access to these people and your department's Placement Officer but they will not be able to help you anywhere near as much as your supervisor at your placement. Try to meet with you supervisor at least once a fortnight to discuss any concerns you may have or even just to talk about tasks you have been set or need to be set. Before you go to your supervision make a list of all the things you would like to ask and of the tasks you have completed that week, this way you will be able to lead the supervision and will appear professional and organised. For me, supervision was where I picked up all of my tasks, discussed my development and asked about attending training or other opportunities.

Don't be afraid to say to your supervisor if you do not have enough work or are struggling with the workload or if you want something else from the placement! I was really nervous about saying to my supervisor that I found the workload to be too small and when I wanted to see if I could attend some home visits, when I needn't have worried. My supervisor was really nice and tried to meet everything that I asked for. Your supervisor wants to make sure you get as much out of your placement as possible, so unless you let them know that you would like something to change they will never know!

Supervision is also the time to start asking questions about your dissertation, such as 'Can I complete my dissertation here? If so, what kind of data could I have access to? Do you have any ideas?' It is best to find out as soon as you can if you can collect data for your dissertation whilst at your placement. Placement is an ideal place and time to collect information as most students are less busy, as work does not follow them home and so evenings can be spent working on this. Some placements also offer you a day or two a week to work solely on your dissertation, use this time to plan and conduct literature searches for it. If collecting or using data at your placement is not possible, you should contact the person in charge of the dissertation unit or your dissertation supervisor (if you have been allocated one) as soon as you can to discuss an alternative approach. Don't leave it until your final year to let your supervisor know that you really have no idea what to do!

to do

4. Become a Professional List Maker!

A handy tip that you will read about on nearly every placement advice blog is to make a list. This easy little thing takes so much weight off your shoulders and really is a life-saver! I spent a lot of my time at the beginning of my placement waiting for tasks, when I would suddenly be given 10 different tasks to complete at once. This was overwhelming at first but I soon adapted to the lull and rise of workload and managed to plan my time so that the work was spread out.

Take a notebook you've dedicated to your placement with you where ever you go and write the tasks you need to complete on one page each week. This way you won't forget anything you are told and will always have something to write on. You never know when something might come up!

When you are given tasks ask when the person would like it completed by, this way you can then prioritise your tasks so that you can attend to more urgent ones first. Try to plan out when you would like to complete a certain task by if you are feeling super organised! This way you can adapt even the smallest of workloads so that you have something to do every day and make the largest of workloads seem manageable. When you are scheduling this, try to allow some time to look back at the task later in the week, you will be surprised how many times you may be asked to change things on a document. This isn't bad, this is really normal and every professional will experience it.

read

5. Read the Placement Handbook!

Once you have started your placement, as a Psychology Student at least, you are asked to confirm your initial placement details. Once you have done this you are sent what will be the equivalent of a placement holy book: The Placement Handbook. This is specialised to your cohort's placement year and will provide you with all that you need to know about the year's assignments and also provide some useful tips for placement, our Placements Officer often had so many questions directed to her that were answered in the handbook so please do read it.

But remember, this handbook will be sent to whatever address the university has you down as, so make sure that it is being to sent to your address whilst on placement.

For students where their department does not offer a specialised placement handbook, the university does provide a really useful general placement handbook that provides some tips for placement and also offers an induction checklist which is a great basis for your first supervision meeting. Departments offering a placement year should have them at their Undergraduate Office.

save

6. Save Everything

This probably goes without saying but save everything that you work on in a personal folder and another relevant folder if necessary (NOT TO THE COMPUTER) and DO NOT DELETE IT! After I had finally finished a task and several months had gone by I sometimes felt that it was safe to delete something, however I soon learnt that an old audit questionnaire can make a surprise reappearance months after it has been completed. So do not delete anything without backing it up somewhere else. Having all of your things saved in one place makes it really easy for your colleagues (and you) to find a task you have been working on, it also can help you to see what you have accomplished during your time on placement, making writing those placement reports that much easier.

On your last day at placement you may be asked to clear out your electronic folder, so transfer tasks you have been working on to relevant folders or email them to relevant staff. Send anything about your dissertation to yourself and have a good hunt for any literature searches you have completed whilst on placement, you never know how useful they will be.

mobile-experience

7. Experience, Experience, Experience

Placement year provides an amazing opportunity to really discover yourself and develop your professional and personal skills. But, relying on your placement to provide you with enough experience to apply for any job or placement opportunity is not a good strategy. If there is one thing that my experience on placement has taught me, it is that no experience seems to be enough. A pessimistic truth of the era where the number of graduates is increasing with not enough higher-level jobs to meet demand. Gain as much experience as you can whilst at university through volunteering and paid work, no matter how small the opportunity may seem to help you find a good job after university.

If you cannot see any jobs or volunteering opportunities being advertised contact the organisations you would like to work with, you never know what they might say! As a third year student I was not initially able to take part in the Research Apprenticeship Scheme run by the University of Bath's Psychology Department but after taking the initiative and contacting as many researchers at the university in my area of interest I soon found three projects to help on, each providing amazing opportunities in different areas of Clinical Psychology.

 

 

Good luck with your placement!

 

 

 

Year Abroad VI – culture shock and different ways of life

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

Siena, Italy                                                                  April, 2017

Salve! I’m back with a new post, this time about culture shock, which is a term many of you who have lived abroad or are soon going to have definitely encountered. Here’s a little break-down of what culture shock is, how to recognize it and deal with it, and how I have personally experienced it.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (1), culture shock is “a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation”. Basically, when you move abroad it takes some time to feel comfortable in the new country, and this period of adaptation is when you generally feel the culture shock. Everybody experiences it different as it depends on where you are from, where you are going, previous experience of living abroad, preparation before moving… Some people don’t really go through culture shock, or suffer it later on (it can hit at any point, even well into your time abroad), some are very vulnerable to it – everybody is different.

cultural_shock

 

General consensus is that culture shock has three to five different phases:

·         Honeymoon Phase: you’ve just arrived in the new place and everything is different and exciting, new food, new people, new places – you’re loving life!

·         Post-Honeymoon Phase: you start to notice the little (and not-so-little) differences between your culture and the new one, and you’re not too keen on them. Maybe you dislike how people act in a certain situation or you are missing your mum’s food, so you start feeling upset and unhappy.

·         Negotiation Phase: probably the most important as it is the turning point, you decide to give into the negativity and unhappiness or to adapt and make the most of the experience. Hopefully the latter.

·         ‘Everything will be fine’ Phase: you finally feel more comfortable in the new culture, enjoying the differences. It doesn’t mean you have to adopt all of the different traits, but you can recognize them and act accordingly. You no longer feel unhappy or upset and you might even decide to immerse yourself completely in the new way of life and actually end up loving it.

·         Reverse Culture Shock Phase: you can actually go through the whole process of culture shock again once you return home, particularly after a long period of time. Just pointing that out, because it’s a possibility even though it might sound crazy!

Culture Shock final. jpg

 

How to deal with culture shock

The best way of dealing with culture shock is to educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about the new country in preparation for it – before you go and after arriving. This can range from knowing how the political system works or how to go to the GP, to smaller things like knowing if you can drink tap water.

Other things you can do are to be open-minded and eager to learn; I’ve found that most locals are happy to explain how and why things are done a certain way in their country, so don’t be afraid to ask questions (speaking the local language helps a tonne – and this is relevant even if you have all your courses in English or aren’t necessarily a language student!). Also, try to be as involved in the community as possible, don’t lock yourself in your room because this will encourage homesickness and limit your opportunities of meeting new people and making friends who will help you settle in. Finally, it’s ok to bring things that remind you of home and will comfort you when you are feeling down, as well as keeping in contact with your family and friends back home – the point is getting over culture shock, not completely separating from your previous life-style!

My experience

Here’s a little background knowledge about me. I’m Spanish, I grew up and spent all of my childhood and teenage years in the Canary Islands (save for one year back when I was 7, when I lived in Portsmouth with my family). So the most distinguishable experience of culture shock that I can fully remember was moving to Bath in 2014 to start my degree in Modern Languages. Yes, I’d lived in the UK before (even though I couldn’t remember a lot of it), so I already had a fairly precise idea of what living in the UK is like: the weather, the way people act, the different food, the different language,… but I still had to deal with culture shock. As much a fan of English life-style as I may be. It was indeed a drastic change: first time I was living on my own, in a new country, with a new language, where I didn’t really know anybody. Culture shock hit me a little after Freshers’, when I was still settling into the routine and figuring out the new place. I remember one of the most clear examples of culture shock for me was the way young British people approach drinking – I was definitely not prepared for drinking games or binge drinking. The drinking culture I had experienced in Spain was different and it took me a while to understand (still trying, actually), this cultural difference. I had a positive attitude and was adamant on making the most of the opportunity of studying abroad, even though dealing with culture shock and homesickness was pretty hard at times, but following the advice mentioned earlier helped me cope. Eventually I ended up feeling at ease in England and now I love both my homeland in Tenerife and studying in Bath, each for their own unique reasons.

This year, as part of my Year Abroad, I’ve had to live in France and Italy. Sounds like a chore but it really hasn’t been. I’ve had (and am having) a blast. Fortunately for me, the information sessions in Bath in preparation for the YA are quite extensive and I already had experienced moving abroad once before. It was just a matter of doing the same thing with the two new countries. So far it has been alright. I was in Fécamp, France, for four months and fortunately for me I was so busy I had little to no time to dwell on culture shock or homesickness. I think the fact that my colleagues were British and I lived in a small town was also helpful as I felt really welcomed and supported. When it comes to Italy, I’ve noticed Spanish and Italian cultures are pretty similar, so I feel quite at home in Siena. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t noticed cultural differences, by any means. Here is a short list of anecdotes.

·         Greetings - it might sound silly but I’ve experienced quite a lot of awkward situations in all of the countries I’ve lived in because the way you greet someone when you see them varies not only from culture to culture but also from person to person. In Tenerife, men shake their hands or hug if they are close, while women will either shake hands with men or give one kiss on the cheek, leaning into the left. In other parts of Spain you give two kisses, one on each cheek, again starting from the left. In Britain there is less physical contact and the hand shake or wave is usually the norm, whereas the bisou is big in France; you give two, one on each cheek starting from the right. In some regions you only give one or you might even give three! The fact that you lean first to the right confused me so much when I first arrived in France, and still towards the end of my placement I would forget to start on the other side which would result in a weird moment avoiding the mouth and changing to the right side – I’d laugh it off but it was quite embarrassing! Same in Italy, usually when you first meet people you shake hands, and later on you give two kisses on the cheek starting on the right. I still find myself caught off guard sometimes – fortunately I’m quite short so I don’t usually have to make the first move.

·         Smoking – smoking is quite popular amongst young people all over Europe, but I was surprised by the fact that every single young (and not so young) person I met in France smoked. Might have been a coincidence as I know of other people with different experiences, but it surprised me nonetheless. I knew cigarettes were popular, but I didn’t expect people to leave the dinner table and go outside in order to fumer une clope!

·         Aperitivo/aperitif- this is a cultural difference I’ve grown to enjoy. In France it is custom to have a glass of some sort of strong alcohol – calvados, Campari or whatever takes your liking – with friends before you sit down for dinner. It is quite a social thing to do and something I was not aware of until I moved to France. In Italy it is also very popular- it is quite usual to go to a bar that does aperitivo, usually starting at 6 or 7pm, with some friends to have a drink (aperospritz and Negroni seem to be the most popular options), usually with access to a food buffet where they serve dishes like pasta, couscous, focaccia,… Aperitivo is a great invention!

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Aperitivo is great!

·         Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning Italian men from the point of view of a foreign girl living in Italy. Of course, not all Italian men are the same and I don’t want to generalize, but it did take me aback how straight-forward and adamant some Italians can be, particularly when going out, so be aware of that.

There are obviously many more cultural differences between these four countries than the ones mentioned above and I’m yet to discover even more but I hope you have found this post helpful. As a language student I love discovering new cultures, but it is fair to say this is not always positive so raising awareness about culture shock is a very important point for those planning to live abroad and if you’re currently going through it, just know you are not alone!

A presto!

Zoe

 

(1)    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture%20shock

Images: https://www.hastac.org/sites/default/files/upload/images/post/cultural_shock.jpg

https://eap.ucsb.edu/sites/default/files/Culture%20Shock%20final.%20jpg.jpg

My own.

 

London Life and Student Living

📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

Before another post updating about life at NBCU, I thought I’d write a piece on what it’s like to be a POLIS placement student in London. I had always figured that I would live in London at some point in my life; I grew up in Reading (30 mins away from Paddington by train) and my sister has lived in the city for a number of years. All of my media work experience has also been in the city, albeit only for sporadic weeks at a time.

My first work experience when I was 16 - has anything really changed?

My first work experience when I was 16 - has anything really changed?

For me, a huge pro of London life came before I had even moved. I found searching for a flat incredibly easy in comparison to Bath, setting aside a day to look at suitable apartments and finding our perfect place by lunchtime. Now, I have to caveat this by saying that my flatmate (a friend from school, who I’d already agreed to live with a year before even getting my placement) was quite keen on living in Clapham; the issue of where to live in such a huge city was fairly immediately resolved. However, I definitely recommend looking in the Clapham area to any prospective Londoners as there’s a thriving young-professional community and it’s relatively affordable. I live literally opposite the Clapham North tube station, which definitely helps with any morning laziness. There was hardly a shortage of two-bedroom houses and flats in the area, which is immensely useful for anyone to find a place at short notice.

Featuring scenic views of the tube station.

Featuring scenic views of the tube station.

On the subject of the tube, there’s a bit of a mixed blessing when it comes to transport in London. On the one hand, it’s (usually) quick and frequent, meaning that darting from one end of London to the other isn’t too much hassle. However, it can be unbelievably unpleasant. I take the Northern line every single day (fun fact – the Northern line goes to the most Southern tube station in London) and, subsequently, I spend far too much of my time pressed up against a stranger in the tube equivalent of sardines. There’s also the case of heat; on the two or so days of summer that London actually has, I’ve been so hot on the tube that my makeup has melted by the time I’ve gotten to work. This is an aspect of London life that I’ve simply had to put up with, but I know it isn’t for everyone.

How my housemate feels about getting the tube all the time.

How my housemate feels about getting the tube all the time.

Of course, it’s also expensive. Everything is eye-wateringly expensive. Coming back to Bath makes everything feel cheap – the complete opposite of when I first moved to University.The extent of which this hits you will ultimately depend on how much you are paid. Without going into details, I have friends who are in other ends of the country who are paid less but are still able to save money overall. Admittedly, I have made a decision to enjoy London life as much as possible which, unfortunately for me, does come at a cost. Still, generally speaking, unless you’re on a banking placement, it’s a lot harder to save money if you’re living here.

And viva London! Nights with glitter and free signs being one of the things I spend my hard-earned money on.

And viva London! Nights with glitter and free signs being one of the things I spend my hard-earned money on.

However, there’s so much going on in the city that it makes shelling out money on events easy but worth it. Some personal highlights of the year have included attending an interactive Great Gatsby performance, going to a Secret Cinema event in black tie, playing ping pong in a UV bar and much, much more. Furthermore, as there are so many other POLIS students on placement in London, I am able to attend these events with a similar friendship group to what I had at university. Whilst this isn’t to say that I haven’t met people here, it certainly makes moving to a new city easier when you’ve got a lot of familiar faces on call.  If you’re even slightly interested in the arts, London will always have something new and quirky to offer you.

 

Fresh out of the 1920s.

Fresh out of the 1920s.

Whilst this is just a small overview on a big city, I hope it’s been informative!

 

Argentine Activism

📥  Uncategorized

No matter how far away from your homeland you may be there is a sense of cultural memory and belonging, one that has the power to transcend borders. Scores of expats call Buenos Aires home, but the yanquis in particular are present in droves. In times of uncertainty we always have a choice although it may not seem clear. We can give in and be paralysed by the prospect of the unknown, or we can unite. Nearly 200 people united outside the U.S. embassy on the 21st January as part of the Women’s March on Washington, which was a march taking place across the world.

Despite the name being ‘Women’s March on Washington’ and the majority being women or Americans or both, there was still an inspiring mix of people; men, women, transgenders, people of all ethnicities, and all backgrounds united against a hateful figure who incites divisions. It was a very powerful event to be present at as people spoke so earnestly to complete strangers about their personal experiences with sexism and harassment, and with such a strong belief in change. It really made me believe that together, united, at that march and across the world there was a latent hope, and there would be a time that change could be enacted if such a drive for it exists.

 

 

This march invoked the activist warrior in me so it seems and in March I attended another march, though on a much bigger scale. In a previous post I’d written about gender relations in Mexico and the phenomenon of femicidio and how patriarchy or the machista society is very prominent in day to day life. This is perhaps a problem that I found was amplified in Buenos Aires, which given the European cultural traits which have otherwise permeated the city, ostensibly seems surprising. Cat-calls are far too common place, from dawn till dusk, or even a ‘linda’ and maintained eye contact. It bothered me so much I started to reply, or question them, and eventually I began to cat call men back. Those who I probed on their actions told me that it was a ‘cultural thing’ and that Argentine women ‘liked it’. But the women I spoke to certainly didn’t, and I even asked women passing by who agreed with me; still this wasn’t convincing. For the most part they stubbornly clung to their belief that it was their right to tell a woman how beautiful they thought they were.

The President of Argentina Mauricio Macri once commented that all women secretly love a good cat-call; if that is the leader of the country is it any wonder that men really don't see a problem with it? (N.B. see any parallels with Trump...?)

Taking this all into account it is then no surprise that International Women’s Day on March 8th drew thousands and quite literally stopped traffic. Every branch of feminist organisation in existence was out on the streets, with all their friends and family in tow. Police adorned every corner, and colour and banners filled the streets. 'que no me digas guapa'; 'don't call me pretty', 'mujer bonita es la que lucha'; 'a pretty woman is the one who fights', and of course the classic which I had heard in Mexico 'ni una menos, viva nos queremos'; 'not one (woman) less, we want us alive'. It was amazing, encouraging, and yet so disheartening. The fact that this was a visible demonstration of the angst and upset that women feel every day and yet some men, aware that these events and problems exist, still don't see the link or problem with everyday sexism such as cat-calling is problematic. But there remains hope.

 

Accident in the Ice

📥  Uncategorized

So soon after the rest of the Christmas break I found myself back at home for a week, nursing a very sore head, a lovely black eye and balancing a pair of broken glasses on my head. The one thing so many people fear will happen to them whilst they are on placement happened. However, the bad news did not stop there.

On Wednesday the 25th of January I ended up in A&E after cycling to my placement and going down in a crash. I turned onto one icy road going down a steep hill, braked and my back wheel went out from under me. I landed head first on the cold road, with my glasses cutting deeply into my head. What I first thought were tears from the pain turned out to be a torrent of blood. I ended up needing 17 stitches, with five of those being deep ones where my glasses had cut so deeply. They even pulled out a bit of metal from the wound that had snapped off of my glasses.

Accident in the Ice

(Resting at home a week later)

Thankfully, a mum stopped her car to help me, she called an ambulance whilst I sat there clutching my head feeling very dazed. Her son walked around picking up bits of my glasses and bike that had fallen off. Conveniently, she worked at the RUH and said she would drop my bike there so I could pick it up later. My thoughts then turned to my placement: 'Oh No! I am going to let them down, they were counting on me organising their sibling group today, everyone else is too busy to do it'. I started worrying about that and asked the lady to call the Lifetime Service and let them know about it.

But I needn't have worried.

One of my colleagues came to see me in A&E and sat with me until my flatmates arrived to look after me. She reassured me that everything would be fine and another colleague would sort out the sibling group, telling me that because they had started organising it so late I should not worry about getting it done. My colleague even told me that I should take the rest of the week off. My placement was so understanding, they encouraged me to take as much time as I needed. They even called to check up on me later on, on the day and during my recovery time to make sure the wound was healing ok.

Unfortunately, on the evening of the day of my accident another bad event happened. My Great Grandma passed away at the age of 97, after suffering a stroke caused by her Dementia. The following week, my dad was hospitalised with three kidney stones and my mum went in for a planned operation. Those two weeks were really the hardest in my life. So many bad events happened.

I called my placement supervisor the following morning, to let her know about what had happened to my Grandma and ask if I could have the following week off to attend her funeral (and nurse my mum and dad back to health as I found out on the Monday, whilst looking after my own injuries!). My supervisor told me to take as long as I needed, there was no rush and no pressure for me to return any sooner than I was ready. One of my colleagues even got me a little get well gift and left it in my tray for when I got back. They were all so supportive and it helped me realise that if you do suffer an event like this during your time on placement you shouldn't worry or feel like you have to return to work in a couple of days. Yes, being on placement is like having a full time job, but the pressure of having to come back right away or put the job first is certainly not a similarity.

And this isn't just my experience. A friend's best friend passed away after a long battle with cancer near the start of her placement, she is still struggling with this, having grown up with her friend. When she found out what happened she asked if her placement could be postponed to give her some time to recover, her supervisor said that was absolutely fine and moved her start date to a month later. After my friend had started the placement, she was continuing to struggle with her loss, and broke down in tears to her supervisor one day telling her everything. Her supervisor arranged for psychological support around bereavement to be given to my friend and also changed her working hours so that she could have shorter weeks, giving her much needed time. My friend has told me her placement were 'Amazing' and that she has no idea what she would do without her supervisor who has been so supportive with her on-going difficulty.

So, if you do have an accident, illness or an unfortunate event during your placement, please do not worry about asking for the time off or support you need. As you are working for free at most Psychology placements they really want to make sure your own wellbeing is put first and not the placement. After all, you will not perform well if you force yourself to work when you are ill or too stressed. You do not need to suffer alone whilst on placement. You can still access support through the university Counselling Service and most work places have access to psychological support for their employees (even unpaid ones like us). See more about the University Counselling Service here: http://www.bath.ac.uk/groups/counselling-mental-health/

RUH

Now that I am well on the road to recovery, with two new scars to adapt to. I joke that as the Lifetime Service is based at the RUH, I made it into work on time that day - but just in the wrong department!

 

Bubbly Baires

📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Uncategorized

After a short and welcome return home for Christmas (much of which was spent facing shock therapy to the cold), I found myself back at Newcastle Airport on January 1st. Destination: Buenos Aires. I’m here to do a three month placement at an English language online paper. Following university I’m not sure what the future will hold, but journalism or something similar is something that I would be very interested in pursuing.

I was determined to find as friendly a house as I had in my first semester, and I particularly wanted to live with more Spanish speakers as opposed to French. Although I had enjoyed my stint in Mexico I do think perhaps I learnt more French than Spanish. However, apparently there are French people all over Latin America, and after nearly a week of looking I settled on another exchange style house in a good location with friendly people; 7 French, an Ecuadorean, Venezualan and Uruguayan. C'est bon. They were all really welcoming and on my first night there we had an asado (a barbecue) a typical Argentine tradition.

A typical Argentine asado

I was both nervous and excited to start working as I’d never had a job apart from tutoring or bartending before, so the process was very new to me. Luckily it was a very close knit team who instantly made me feel at ease, and fast became my closest friends there. The paper runs on volunteer interns ,which meant that every day you were allocated articles to write. Although we were writing in English it proved useful translation practice as we were reading multiple Spanish articles, as well as keeping ourselves informed of current Argentine events. In particular having Argentines in the office meant that they were able to give context to otherwise very complicated situations.

Pretty Palermo: my walk home from work

Palermo, the area I live in has an abundance of things to do, see and eat. I myself have taken a particular interest in the last of these. Buenos Aires is a very image conscious city, and everyone here seems to be bursting with health and well-dressed. I’m not sure if it’s the sweltering heat affecting my brain or the naivety of actually following up  New Years resolutions, but I have joined a gym; a written and signed contract to improve my health as it were. After a slightly awkward exchange outside a zumba class ,I befriended   an Argentine man called Gustavo, the only man in a class of 20 women, and Jacqueline, an Argentine dental student who have taken it upon themselves to become my personal trainers. We form an odd little trio but as I struggle to keep up with the instructor they nod and smile encouragingly at me across the room; we have drinks planned for this weekend! A friendly aspect of Argentine culture is that everyone always greets you and says goodbye with a kiss on the cheek; this extends to all social situations including the beginning and end of an intense gym class. I do quite like this as at least there's an established form of greeting unlike the awkwardness of England where you end up ignoring people you actually know. I feel like if I did this at home though it would probably come across as either pretentious or forward. I’ll enjoy it now whilst it’s socially acceptable.

Chao for now x

 

 

 

Life as a Sciences Po student: New Year's Eve Reflections

📥  Uncategorized

This year I have the exciting opportunity to study at Sciences Po Paris for two semesters. So far it's been a great time filled with making new friends, studying interesting topics, and getting acquainted with the beautiful city of Paris. As we come to the end of 2016 it seems an appropriate time to reflect on what I've learnt and some pieces of advice that I'd give to others embarking on similar trips in the future! 
Quick disclaimer: in giving these examples I don’t mean to say that all French people identify with them, merely that they’re some things I have noticed in my time here so far.

1. The 1789 French Revolution is everywhere.
Being a country with a fascinating history, France is somewhat justified in being proud of its ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. When studying politics in Paris it is basically a given that you will have reference to it in the majority of your classes.

2. Let’s talk Brexit.
“What do you think about Brexit? How did you vote?”

If you’re British and in Paris at the moment it is likely you will be asked these two questions, and understandably too. When asked you are more likely to get an approving response from your European neighbour if you voted ‘Remain’ (as I did). If you voted for ‘Brexit’ I wish you all the best in the rest of that conversation (unless the European Union citizen you are talking to is Eurosceptic in which case congratulations!).

3. Presidential Elections.
Another hot political topic is the upcoming 2017 presidential elections. A lot of Parisians are already predicting a second ballot dual between the far-right and centre-right candidates. As these elections are coming at a difficult time in the country’s current affairs, it looks set to be (and already is!) an interesting pre-election debate.

4. Laïcité
One of my professors has noted that French news is talking much more intensively about the country’s constitutional state-church separation than in the last few years. There are big divides between liberal secularism and combative secularism. As a Christian engaged in politics, this is something I find both interesting and often difficult.

It seems like there’s a re-awakening of discussion about religion generally too. Big associated topics in the mainstream being the ‘Burkini’, immigration, and national security.

5. Bonjour!
It is seen as common courtesy to say ‘Bonjour’ to staff when entering shops/cafés. If you don’t do that you can be interpreted as indifferent or rude. Make a mental note to do so if you’re prone to forgetting.

6. Bises xx
Don’t be caught off guard! If you come from a culture of hugs and hand-shakes, it may take some time to loosen up to kisses on the cheek as regular greeting. But it will probably gradually become normal.

(Also Parisian-style is normally two kisses, one on each cheek, with the left cheek first – just to avoid any awkward possibilities!)
7. Tutoyer ou Vouvoyer ? THE dilemma
One of the quirks of the French language are the two ways of saying ‘you’ – ‘tu’ being the more informal and ‘vous’ being the less so. The dilemma is when to stop using ‘vous’ (vouvoyer) and switch to ‘tu’ (tutoyer).

Amongst students, ‘tu’ is the general way forward – ‘vous’ might be seen as a bit distant. But with professors or anyone in authority, use ‘vous’ unless they say otherwise.

If in doubt, vousvoyer.

8. Serious style
It may be a stereotype but from what I’ve seen so far, it seems largely true. Parisian people have STYLE. Not really outlandish style but a simplistic ‘chic’ style. I am definitely a fan.

9. Skyscrapers?
Paris has noticeably less skyscrapers in its city-centre than London. Yet, it manages to fit an impressive number of apartments in and with them a lot of people. And in doing so, it doesn’t compromise on its aesthetic aspect. Very cool.

10. Coffee
Generally much more expensive and also much smaller than the UK equivalent. However, it does taste very good. Definitely a treat to be indulged with every now and then.

So there’s my list! A mixture of light-hearted and more serious things. I’m sure it will continue to grow over my time here. Both excited and curious to find out more.

 

It's Christmas Time

📥  Uncategorized

The past few weeks have gone by in a blur and now it is time to break up for Christmas! I, like my flatmates, seem to be somewhat more excited for Christmas this year than any time in the past. Whether the reason behind this is that we've had our Christmas decorations up since the first, I've been to Bath's Christmas Market twice or that my family have come up for 'teaser' visits that lasts only a day (my mum even brought our new puppy up!) I do not know. But I am as excited as I remember being when I was just a little girl.

Which is one of the best things about having my placement in Bath, you get to take part in all the amazing opportunities that Bath has to offer over the Christmas period. Such as the Christmas Market, the beautiful lights and the Hipster Christmas Bus on the High Street where you can go for a unique alcohol drinking experience.

You can also use your Placement Year in Bath as the time to fully explore and appreciate the city and do all those things that you've wanted to do for the past two years and just do not have the time for. I've accomplished the Skyline Walk, finally seen the famous Sham Castle (basically a pretty wall made to look like a castle that a fancy land owner built to improve the view from his home), and have been able to do the tourist scenes in Bath, like the botanical gardens and the Royal Crescent. There is so much to see and do in and around Bath that you cannot say it is a disadvantage to stay here. Many of the placements the university and nearby companies have to offer are just as good as those abroad or in other parts of the country, so do not overlook them in your search for a placement.

Despite having all this free time to explore Bath in more depth, this past week has been so exhausting, how someone can work five days a week on placement and then go on to do a job on top of that I do not know! I am going to bed at 21:30 most nights to wake up at 7am and am still tired. Placement is such a step up from degree, yes you get the nights off and things, but do not underestimate the strain of having what is effectively a full time job. So, future students, if you can try and save up as much money as possible for placement just so you can enjoy those treasured days off. If this really isn't possible, try to see if you can only work on holidays, I will be working over Christmas but not too many hours. You really will be exhausted (Patricia Sechi, our placement officer, was right about that!).

Regardless of where you go, loneliness will probably be an issue especially if you are not going to be living with your old friends or seeing them most days. Even though I stayed in Bath and have been seeing my friends who are not on placement I still feel a little homesick and lonely. This has been helped by my family coming up to visit me individually over the past three weeks, along with some of the pets from home. This was great fun and really boosted my mood which had fallen a little following a break up from my long term boyfriend and other issues. So really do try to make the most of the free time you have here and meet with as many people and relatives as you can. Life without Uni work or clubs at the weekends gives you a lot of time to think about things so finding a new hobby or something near where you work is a great way to fill that hole.

And I will leave you on that, I hope you all have a happy new year and a good Christmas!