Journal #14, a little life update

Hey, you!

I’ve missed posting bits and bobs on this blog lately and really hope to get back into it again, soon! Uni’s taken over my life a little bit at the moment, but the last month or so has been a really good one. Crazy busy, but good.

The last few weeks I have been lucky enough to:

find the world’s smallest cinema screen with a good buddy
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visit too many Christmas markets for it to still be the first week of December


do some translation and interpretation jobs
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enjoy some very light snow img_7762

have some late nights fighting off a cold
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study for multiple exams (currently done with 1 of 4)
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do a lot of stand work with a charity I care about
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make a makeshift Christmas tree out of a tiny plastic palm tree
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have some really good cake
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try and fail to make a gingerbread house with some wonderful peopleimg_7934

and have a lot of tea
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I haven’t managed to get in as much reading time as I was hoping, but still, I’ve got what I needed done. Plus, I’ve found a new flat from January on, and managed to decide on where to do work experience and where to study abroad next year! Back to England, I go, to work hopefully in Sheffield and to study in York.

I really want to make some more Christmassy posts throughout December! Both because I’m really excited for Christmas, and also to think about stuff that aren’t my exams.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
-Andrea

55 of my Favourite Things

~ my tiny house in this new city ~ my finished degree ~ the degree I’m working on at the moment ~ learning languages ~ postcards ~ holding hands ~ anything blue ~ wordless books ~ old notebooks ~ the little curiosity robot on March ~ scented candles ~ tiny ear piercings ~ orange leaves ~ home cooked meals ~ the Hamilton Soundtrack ~ planning trips and journeys ~ successful study groups ~ facetiming the people I miss ~ feeling acquaintances become friends ~ big chunky “disappear into the world of this story for the next four hours” books ~ books in general ~ jazz music ~ big blankets ~ fresh bed sheets ~ milk chocolate ~ the smell of laundry detergent ~ daisies ~ strawberry tea ~ Christmas lights ~ Christmas markets ~ theatre tickets ~ the sound of the orchestra tuning their instruments before a concert ~ cinema dates ~ the smell of ground coffee beans ~ lazy mornings ~ rain ~ bagels for breakfast ~ spaghetti carbonara ~ the plants I got for this house and have managed to keep alive for the better part of three months ~ stationery ~ whipped cream ~ coffee dates ~ when a film plot really surprises me ~ sleeping with the window open ~ crocheting ~ cuddles ~ quiet playlist ~ spontaneous dancing on the kitchen floor ~ fairy lights ~ people smiling ~ musical theatre ~ spoken word poetry ~ learning new things ~

-Andrea

#iweigh a love of tea and a BA I’m proud of

Sometimes it’s so easy to get stuck in this cycle of not feeling good enough in your own body, especially when you’re constantly bombarded with images of what you’re supposed to look like and how you’re supposed to act.

Daily, multimillion dollar industries play at our insecurities, making us spend more money on their products by showing how happy glossy hair and smooth skin will make us. For many, the number on the scale feels like a punch in the stomach when standing alone in the bathroom, wet hair up in a tattered towel, in nothing but underwear, looking for affirmation in dead numbers. But it’s enough now.

#Iweigh is an initiative on Instagram, and the internet in general. It was started by British actor Jameela Jamil and has been embraced by women all over the world! The goal of the movement is for women to feel empowered by and measure themselves in their accomplishments and what they appreciate and are proud of.

A hashtag isn’t going to fix everything. A hashtag won’t immediately change the fact that 7 out of 10 girls feel like they don’t measure up, but if this movement teaches us anything, it is that we are so much more than our appearance and the number on that bathroom scale. We are worth the world just by existing, and we are worth every single proud moment we have ever achieved. We are worth the big crescendo in our favourite piece of music, coffee dates with our friends and good night messages from our loved ones. We are worth the compliments we give to others and the praise we hesitantly receive.

There were a couple of things I couldn’t fit in the picture, and so I’m adding them here:

#iweigh
-An affinity for experimenting with laundry detergent and washing up liquid
-The way I deal with emergencies
-My library job and everything I’ve learned through it
-All of my earlier jobs, volunteering opportunities and work experiences
-Three years abroad
-That I try to make the days good for the people around me
-That I can make you a really good cup of tea

And so much more!

I chose to use this picture even though I always feel a bit awkward posting selfies. However, this one was taken on my first day back at my new uni after taking a week off to attend the graduation ceremony at my old uni, I was drinking my favourite tea (Dorset Tea’s Strawberry and Cream), jamming out to the Hamilton soundtrack in my head, and the leaves were turning yellow all around me. It was a wonderful moment, one of those where you’re 100% convinced that everything will work out in the end. It’s an image it feels right to use in this situation.

I hope you measure your worth in all the things that make you you, today x

Until next time,
-Andrea

Blue Psalms of All Hallows Eve

Today we celebrate All Hallows Eve, and for the first time I’m feeling the weight of it as more than just a holiday for other people to remember their loved ones.  This year I’m one of the one’s remembering, and that still hasn’t entirely registered, even after months have passed. Our days are so busy, our minutes too short, our steps too hurried, it’s so easy to wrangle that dark spot in your stomach into the back of your mind, to think grief is for another day. Except it rarely is, and it shouldn’t have to be.
Most days grief is for right now, most days grief has no interest in being pushed away, and on those days we should give grief a name.

I translated an All Hallow’s Eve Mass, for a service that was held today in the cathedral in the town I’m living in now. I don’t think of myself as Christian, but I’ve been working in some churches in my time, and I’ve been translating and live interpreting services in the cathedral for a little while now as work experience for my translation BA. This was a challenging one, though, just because the liturgy’s so heartfelt, the psalms so well-chosen and thus, the words just hit that little bit closer to home. It didn’t feel like work, more like hurting and healing.

The service was a beautiful one. Dignified, graceful and appreciative. It focused on relations between people, and what happens when we suddenly have to start talking about our loved ones in the past tense.
I must admit I’m still not entirely used to that part, yet.

For some, death may come expected, it may even be wanted, while for others it strikes abruptly and harshly, changing everything, taking people we cannot bear losing.
“Those who are loved will never be forgotten,” said the priest, a young woman who touched every heart in the congregation, who laid an arm of kind words around the shoulders of everyone in the church. You could see people needed to hear what she was telling them; that their emotions were valid, that grief takes many forms and that no one form is more correct than another.
Death is weird, it always has been and always will be, and we all react so differently when we encounter it.

This post is a bit jumbled, but I just wanted to share with you a paragraph from her sermon that I translated:

Those who are loved, will never be forgotten.
Many of us carry heavy burdens, we carry bereavement, loss and grief.
Today we think of those we love that are no longer with us.

We think of our community, of compassion and wonderful memories.
we are grateful for the days and the years we got to share,
for kind words, for warmth and for joy.

Many of us carry grief over everything that never came to be, 
for relations that were challenging,
for wounds that struggle to heal,
grief over what was taken too quickly,
over everything we never got to say.

We humans are so great at not saying what we think, at forgetting to remind people that they are appreciated; we often take it for granted that people know we love them.
But we also have a million tiny ways of showing that we care, and today I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the ways the one I’m missing showed that she cared. I’ve lit candles and quietly sung songs that remind me of her. I’ve twirled her bracelet around my wrist, and I’ve consciously tried to name all the feelings that have bubbled up in my stomach, wound its way around my heart, up through my throat and that’s lingered behind my eyes. It’s been strange and a little bit scary, but it’s also brought a sense of calm.
I think I needed it.

I wasn’t prepared for today to be as heavy as it was, and I didn’t think I was going to write about it. I’m not sure what this even is, a little stream of consciousness, my mind trying to figure out what it’s feeling.
It’s been a good day, though – an important day.

I hope you all have had a good day today, too, and that you’ve had your loved ones around you.
Because those who are loved, can never be forgotten.

-Andrea

Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be – UoW Graduation 2018

Goals are a funny thing. Sometimes you set goals because you know you should, sometimes you set goals because it would be fun to try, and sometimes you set goals you’re not all that sure about.

Graduating didn’t really feel like a goal as I went into my first year of a BA in creative writing at the University of Winchester. It was too far away, not really relevant yet, the focus was on getting through day to day. When first-year came around, there were too many forms to fill out, too many notebooks to organise, too many hot chocolates to drink and assignments to write, to even think about the finish line; the handshake at the end of three years. September 12th 2015 saw too many nooks and crannies in the library, too many secret passageways in the main building, too many streets I had yet to wander down, to even have space for the hats and the gowns we would all don to celebrate these achievements of ours.
Then days became weeks, and semesters came and went.
I started to know Winchester as my city. Walking around its streets felt right, and just like that, with the challenges and the experiences uni life brought with it, graduating started to feel like a goal; one I knew I’d work hard to reach.

On Friday the 19th of October 2018, Winchester Cathedral was filled with the sound of high heels clacking against old stone floors, suit sleeves crinkled by nervous palms and grad gowns that kept falling down jittery shoulders. On Friday 19th of October, I graduated. The cathedral was bursting with excited graduands and uni staff in fancy clothing, with music, speeches and flowers, everything to celebrate three years of hard work. It was wonderful. I reached my goal, I finished my BA.

I have been trying to sit down and properly put into words what I’ve been feeling since then, but I’m struggling with finding the right ones (hence, one of the reasons why this blog has been very quiet for a while).
So for now, I figured I’d show you some pictures – just of us throwing our hats in the air and all in all looking rather fancy in our (too large) gowns. The words need a little more time, the enormity of the fact that my time at uni in Winchester has now officially come to an end hasn’t really hit me yet.
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What a day and what a ceremony.
Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be. We are all just getting started.

Hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Postcrossing, or Why I Enjoy Postcards So Much

One of the things I was most excited about when I moved into this new little house of mine, was buying my first postbox. As I’ve always lived with my parents, and then moved from student accommodation to student accommodation, the postboxes have just always come with the house.
This time, however, I had to buy my own. Silly thing to be excited about, I know, but it just made me feel a little bit more adult, getting a green postbox, putting the house number on the front and my name on the inside of the lid.

So, when the postbox was installed, I was ready to start receiving some mail. However, I wanted a little bit more than just page upon page of ads, flyers and commercial catalogues, and that’s when I joined Postcrossing.

Postcrossing Main Logo

Postcrossing is a global network, a project that allows anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world.
On their webpage, Postcrossing writes; “The idea is simple: for each postcard you send, you will receive one back from a random postcrosser from somewhere in the world. Where your postcard will come from is a surprise!”

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(Screenshot from their “How to” page.)

Okay, so those are the basics, but let’s get on to the actual point of this post; why is this project so great?
First of all, don’t we all love to get mail? The wait and the anticipation that “Snailmail” (as it’s apparently called nowadays) brings with it, makes both the writing of your own cards and receiving cards from others a lot of fun. Also, it’s not like a pen pal arrangement, where you send letters back and forth, it’s just one card from you to another person, and then another and another, all to different people. I kind of like that, a snapshot in time and in culture.

As a former Creative Writing student, it’s so much fun to see what people choose to write on their cards; some write small poems, some tell you what they’ve been up to that day. A postcard I got last week just named the writer’s four dogs’, their breed and their age. Some have the date, weather and temperature neatly penned in the corner and some illustrate the mood of the writer, in the moment of writing.
And as a current student of International Communication, it’s also really interesting to get these glimpses into peoples’ lives, in countries that are so far from my own.
I’ve only been part of this for about a month, but I’ve both sent and received postcards from Taiwan, I’ve got one going to China now, have received multiple from the US and a couple from Russia, plus a lot of other European countries.

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You write a little profile so that people can get an idea for something to write on the cards to you, and I’ve asked people to write “Hello” and “goodbye” in their native language, plus their favourite word. A lot of people have done so, and it’s become quite the nice little collection of greetings and lovely words that I most likely never would have learned otherwise. Also, where the language barriers get to us and we struggle with communicating, some people just draw nice little doodles or images.  It’s wonderful to open the postbox and instantly get these small glimpses of people’s lives and thoughts.

The internet and digital communication have of course made the world a lot smaller than it used to be, and talking to someone on the other side of the globe has technically never been easier or quicker. Still, though, it’s nice to connect with people through handwriting, pictures and small drawings.

As digital messages are very abstract and might feel a bit temporary, these postcards go right up on the wall above my bed when I receive them; a handfast reminder that people are people wherever you go, and we’ve all got so much more in common than we might initially believe.

Check it out if you want to! If you’d like to send more postcards and are curious to receive cards, stamps and messages from around the world, this is definitely worth having a look at.
(Also, not sure if I need to say this or not, considering my little corner of the internet over here is very small, but I’ve got no connections or anything with Postcrossing, I just really enjoy their site and the project!)

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Swimming at the deep end of an adverbial phrase and the challenges of learning something new

When was the last time you learned something new? Jumped in at the deep end, went in completely blind, arms open, eyes wide, to learn something you had no earlier knowledge or skills in?

I’m doing a new ba now, and I’m struggling. Not to the point of wanting to stop or give up, just to the point where I have to work harder than I have in years. It feels like I’m back in school, learning definitions by heart and practicing phrases and rules again.

This got me thinking about how I haven’t actually learned something completely new in a very long time. My last BA was definitely challenging, and I certainly got to develop new sides of myself and my “craft”. However, those sides were to some extent already there; they just needed honing, practice, to be cared for, seen and worked on. Now I’m studying grammar and politics and intercultural communication. Every day I’m learning new phrases, new words, new concepts and ideas that I’ve never heard of before. That is exciting! It’s difficult and frustrating but also so so interesting.

As kids we learned something new everyday. Even better, when we were kids, we were great at learning. We hadn’t yet gotten into the arms race that are having better marks than everyone else, we had no concept of always needing to be the best, there was so much less fear of failure. A scraped knee from learning to ride a bike, only hurt until mum put a plaster on it and kissed it better. A glossary test gone wrong only meant going back over the words and nailing it next time. But as we grow older a lot of us lose the ability to look at learning as a process, we want to be the best at everything the first time we ever try. There is this notion of being a natural, we want to be great without needing practice, because practice is difficult and more so, practice makes you look bad, like you don’t know. This is of course not right at all. Practice doesn’t make you look stupid, it makes you look determined. And no one can know anything, unless they’re taught. If we were only ever supposed to do what we learnt as kids, so we never had to practice and “look stupid” as adults, we’d have a very small array of skills and experiences to pick from in our lives, and that, in turn, wouldn’t make us very well-rounded and happy people, would it.

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Yesterday I spent five hours at my dining table, pencil in hand and notebook in front of me, trying to make sense of in-depth sentence structure again. Subjects, adverbial phrases, demonstrative determiners, I know I’ve got it somewhere in my brain. I know a teacher from maybe eight or so years ago managed to lock it somewhere safe in my head, but it takes so much coaxing to get it out, to get those words back down on paper. Some of what I read was also completely new to me, linguistics on university level isn’t something I’ve got a lot of experience with. It took time, a lot of reciting out loud to myself, and a lot of tea.

But the feeling when I got it right! When I could highlight my answers, recite the rule and reason, and tell myself that I properly understood it; that was such a good feeling.

It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in years before this BA, but that I’ve been experiencing a lot these past couple of weeks. The feeling of being able to swim when you jump in the deep end, of keeping your balance when you go in blind, of seeing all the wonderful things the world throws at your open arms if you only widen them a little bit.
(Yes, I know I’m only talking about grammar right now, but the feeling still applies, haha)

I hope you learn something cool today!

-Andrea