Saturday 30 May 2020

My List of Betterment

One of the things that I have committed myself to doing during lockdown, is reading as much as possible. As I have no current required reading for my English degree and am now living a strange limbo between second and third year, I am extremely aware of the fact that for the rest of my degree, I will never again have the same chance to read as much or as widely in a number of periods and styles as I have now. Of course, university is educating me very rigorously in a variety of periods and styles, but for every 'university book' I read, there will be 2, 3, 4+ other books that I should also read, but that university has not required me to do so.

I have just finished reading Andy Miller's The Year of Reading Dangerously, in which Miller discusses the 50 brilliant (and the 2 not so brilliant) books that he dedicated himself to reading over a year. Miller, an editor working in London, decided to read these books having reflected on the fact that reading had lost its place in his life; there were plenty of books he wanted to read, as well as many that he only pretended to others he had read. From this birthed Miller's List of Betterment, compiling a selection of some of the books he felt he ought to read, in order to better himself. Whilst The Year of Reading Dangerously is certainly not the most riveting book I have ever read, for I am much more of a lover of plot-driven fiction (but this is all part of my challenge - reading new genres and styles!!), I am enjoying it. Although I have never pretended to have read a book I have never even opened, I feel I can relate to a lot of what Miller feels about his own reading habits, for reasons discussed above. Before I knew this book existed, I had unintentionally created my own List of Betterment by dedicating my spare time to reading as much as possible before beginning my third year of university. And so as my own experience has now intersected with Miller's, I felt that this was the perfect time to put forward my own List of Betterment, which begins with the beginning of lockdown, and has not ended yet.

There are so many ways in which I could have annotated and subdivided my List of Betterment; e.g., most thought-provoking, most easily readable, most boring, but to avoid unnecessary complications, I felt that the following four categories were the most important: 
  • (gp) = Guilty pleasure, rather than aimed at bettering. There are some other titles in this list that are not particulary 'literary', but if I enjoyed them, then I think they have contributed to my betterment.
  • (dt) = Degree text. I cannot take full credit for my List of Betterment; though books 1-3, 5, and 6 have bettered my reading, they were not my own personal choices. These are texts from my English degree that were either missed due to the sudden closure of term due to covid-19, or from weeks earlier in the year, during which lecturers were striking.
  • ** = Top 7 favourites from my List of Betterment. I decided that 5 favourites was not enough, but 10 was too many.
  • :( = A book I thought would be 'bettering', but sadly was not. Steer clear of it altogether. 

*Rosie's List Of Betterment (plus 5 university texts, 3 guilty pleasures, and 1 book that I thought would better me, but it did not).
1. The Child in Time, Ian McEwan (dt)
2. The Adoption Papers, Jackie Kay (dt) (a collection of poetry rather than a novel)
3. Zone One, Colson Whitehead (dt)
4. Keep You Close, Lucie Whitehouse
5. She, H. Rider Haggard (dt)
6. Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (dt)
7. Queenie, Candice-Carty Williams **
8. The Secret History, Donna Tartt **
9. Lady Chatterley's Lover, D. H. Lawrence
12. The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker
11. Burial Rites, Hannah Kent
12. The Skeleton Cupboard, Tanya Byron **
13. North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
14. Where The Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens **
15. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
16. Normal People, Sally Rooney (gp)
17. The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood **
18. Delirium, Lauren Oliver (gp)
19. Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni-Eddo Lodge **
20. The Blank Wall, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
21. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant **
22. The Greek Myths: Stories of the Greek Gods and Heroes Vividly Retold, Robin Waterfield and Kathryn Waterfield :(
23. Autumn, Ali Smith
24. The Year of Reading Dangerously, Andy Miller
25. CURRENTLY READING: Pandemonium, Lauren Oliver (gp)

Other titles I intend to read to better myself include Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, The Colour Purple by Alice Walker, and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. If you wish to keep up with my future reading, or would like to know what else I have read since January, you can keep up with me on Good Reads!

Despite the fact that I was a typical bookworm child growing up, I can't remember the last time I read this many books over a given period of time. I set myself a challenge back in January to read 100 books this year, but I certainly didn't think that by now I would be on track and exceeding the target. The Year of Reading Dangerously was my 46th book of the year, and now I am on my 47th - only 53 more to go!

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Are We Really in Control of Our Successes?

We are told throughout life that we are in control of our futures; we are in control of our productivity; we can have anything we want (within reason) as long as we work for it. And whilst we are in control on some levels, there are so many ways in which we are not at all. In answer to my post title, the answer is yes and no. Yes, because I have been using lockdown to be as productive as possible in order to hopefully create future opportunities for myself. But also no, because ultimately I cannot control a global pandemic and all of it's repercussions. These unprecedented times (sorry to use the phrase everyone is sick of) show that to an extent, we are not as in control of our successes as we like to believe.

This was the year that I felt like I was really starting to get my life together; I had an internship secured for the summer break, and was ready to start revising for my second year university exams. The social media marketing internship that I had lined up at The Play House Birmingham is now cancelled for the summer, and it looks like I will only be able to undertake this at the earliest in October (university timetable permitting), if at all. I try to remind myself that all university students are in the same boat and that I have the rest of my life ahead of me, but when you are a year away from graduating, it's not much of a comfort. I don't have my whole life ahead of me to secure another internship or placement, I don't have my whole life ahead of me to get involved with new clubs and societies, and I don't have my whole life ahead of me to make myself extra-employable, when I need, or preferably would like, to be extra-employable in approximately 12 months' time. Because in a few years, I will be at a different stage in my life; this stage of my life is what will define the next, and is not something I can defer now that I am half-way through it.

But this is not a pessimistic post, more a thinking-out-loud one. The economic climate and the (un)availability of jobs after I graduate is obviously way beyond my control, but luckily I am in the position right now to try and improve my chances. On the whole, I have adapted to lockdown quite well, and this is not something I ever thought I would say, but I currently feel that I'm at the height of my productivity. I think that having university deadlines towards the beginning of lockdown has helped me stay on the ball. I have found many things to keep me busy and maintain a focus, including daily exercise, virtual internship applications, reading, voluntary work, and online courses. That is not to say that I am not productive at university, but whilst university can be the best time of your life, it can also be incredibly draining and unproductive. There are so many more things in a university environment that can affect your productivity and that are out of your control, whether it be a flatmate that decides on hosting a loud party two nights before your essay is due, or the WiFi going down across the whole of the student suburb for the best part of the day. University for me is as much about the life experience as it is about getting my degree, so I normally spread myself quite thinly over lots of activities and commitments during each term. But now that my university assignments are completed, I have a huge break, so I am doing my best to take control of it. 

We can definitely make choices to influence our productivity and our successes; I know that choosing to exercise in the morning can really boost my mood and my productivity throughout the day. But ultimately, we do not have absolute control over our successes and the extent to which hard work will come to fruition. There are just some things you cannot control or prepare for, and I think that is a healthy thing to accept.

Saturday 23 May 2020

Best of Brum: Bars & Booze

The sunny weather we are experiencing in the UK right now is making me want nothing more than to be back in Birmingham sipping on a delicious cocktail. I have seen a lot of people building back garden bars and developing their own 'quarantinis', but making my own cocktails is something I have yet to try. This could be quite a long post, so I'm going to cut to it. Here's the run down of my favourite bars in Birmingham.


- Pricing: average of £7-£9 for a cocktail
- Location: very central; close to many other bars, restaurants, and hotels. Near to the bullring shopping centre, new street, and new street train station. An attractive and bustling area of central Birmingham.

My number one bar is one I only discovered at the end of January this year, and, having left Birmingham two months later due to coronavirus, I have not yet been back. I look forward to when I can again!

As you can see from the name and the photos above, The Botanist themes a lot of their drinks around plants, from the ingredients within the cocktails, to the garnishes and decorations that complete them. The quirky glasses are similar to those you would find at a bar like The Alchemist in terms of the sciencey-laboratory image. This trend is really popular right now, and though it does often come with a price tag, it's a nice touch and will make your visit feel that little bit extra. The Botanist is definitely cheaper than similar competitors if you are looking for a bar of this sort of style.

My friends and I went on a Thursday night having submitted our post-Christmas essays, and it was really busy. There aren't many places you can go on a Thursday night in central Birmingham and not find a lively, busy atmosphere. Even in January!

The only thing I would change about this bar is perhaps the addition of a Happy Hour; you'll see as my list continues that Happy Hour is a fairly common feature among other bars. Having said that, the drinks were at the cheaper end of the scale, so I didn't mind too much.


- Pricing: Dropshot offer a range of drinks packages, which you can view on their website, linked above. Drinks can also be bought individually, though I cannot be sure on pricing as I visited the bar with my university netball club and we were kindly provided with discounts and deals for the night. Information about booking is also provided on the website.
- Location: Digbeth, a less attractive area of Birmingham, but one that is developing and has a lot to offer. Digbeth hosts a thriving night life, and is home to the Custard Factory, the O2 Institute, Digbeth Dining Club, and a range of bars and clubs - some of which are situated in transformed warehouses and railway arches.

Unfortunately I have no pictures to show, but this was a really cool bar, and unlike anything I have seen before. This bar is less about the drinks (I believe they did sell cocktails, though none of these really caught my eye, so I opted for vodka and mixer), and more about the entertainment. Dropshot holds about four full size table tennis tables, table football, table curling, and a large TV displaying live sport. The idea is that you get involved with all of the entertainment and games they have to offer, whilst drinking. They also serve pizzas and chips, which I think is a great idea for satisfying the alcohol munchies. 

This bar was so much fun, and I felt it to be really unique having never seen a concept like this before. I'd really recommend Dropshot if you're looking for something a bit different to change up your usual night out.


- Pricing: average of £9-£11 for a cocktail, BUT Happy Hour means you can get two of the same cocktails for the price of one.
- Location: Brindleyplace is a beautiful area of Birmingham that holds many different bars and restaurants at a range of prices and styles. Brindleyplace sits next to the Mailbox on the canal side, and backs on to Centenary Square, which is a very attractive and regenerated part of the city centre home to the Main Library, The Rep Theatre, hotels, and businesses. I have also been to the Slug & Lettuce in Harborne, though I would recommend Brindleyplace for its appearance and its comparatively central location.

A lot of people label Slug & Lettuce as a 'nice' Wetherspoons, but I think this does the chain a disservice. I really like this bar, and I think it's a brilliant one if you are looking for a wide variety of alcoholic drinks, including yummy, flavoursome cocktails. The inclusion of Happy Hour(s) also gets extra points from me.

Slug & Lettuce is a fairly big chain with bars in many different towns and cities, so it may not necessarily be the first bar you want to visit if you are coming to Birmingham. But I would argue that it's a worthwhile choice! In particular, the location is a reason to come to Slug & Lettuce; Brindleyplace is one of my favourite parts of Birmingham (pictured in the last two photos above), and is absolutely gorgeous in the summer time.

Slug & Lettuce is always busy due to its popularity, so if you're going from Thursday-Saturday, you probably won't manage to get a table unless you're there before 8/9pm at the latest. However, that may not be so important to you if you are going for the fact that it turns into a mini club with a dance floor as the night draws on.


- Pricing: average of £9-£10 for a cocktail, BUT like Slug & Lettuce, Happy Hour is normally much more than an hour, and means you can get two (any two, I think) cocktails for the price of one with the cheapest being free. The last time I went to this Dirty Martini, Happy Hour was also the entirety of Sunday. 
- Location: Virtually round the corner from The Botanist. 

I have been to Dirty Martini on a few times now, and it's definitely a firm favourite. The drinks menu is huge, and offers a variety of colourful cocktails with all sorts of interesting ingredients, not just the classic martini. There is guaranteed a drink for every taste-bud, as there is a helpful grid in the drinks menu informing you of the drinks that are fruity or spirited, and sweet or sour, as well as where they lie on the spectrum. I particularly like the dragonfruit and pomegranate martini, which is described as 'tropical and tart'.

Dirty Martini is famous for it's neon wings, which have become a popular backdrop for a photo in order to mark your visit. Other than the wings, the interiors of this bar are also gorgeous. With dim lighting and intricate wall designs, stepping into Dirty Martini feels like stepping into a 1920s Gatsby party.

I have never been to Dirty Martini on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night - only Sunday or early in the week. It's been fairly quiet whenever I have been, except for when a function was taking place in the upstairs mezzanine. 


- Pricing: average of £9-£12 for a cocktail
- Location: Beautiful Brindleyplace. There is also one overlooking St Philip's cathedral, near The Botanist and Dirty Martini, though I haven't been.

You can't go to the Alchemist without ordering 'the colour changing one'. Unfortunately I have no photos, but it is a cocktail that bubbles and smokes, and, yes you guessed it, changes colour. It also has a delicious apple flavour, so it's as much about the taste as the aesthetic! 

With a place like The Alchemist, you are certainly paying those couple of extra pounds for the experience of colour changing drinks, smoking drinks, and drinks that arrive in fancy bottles, test tubes, and beakers. For that reason, it's not a place I would go to regularly or for just any old night out, but it is a really lovely place to go for a special occasion, or if you have not yet experienced the novelty. The food served is also delicious!

I have only been to The Alchemist at dinner time on a Wednesday evening. It was quiet, though I imagine it's busier at night, and particularly so at the weekends.

So that concludes the best for bars and booze in Brum! There are so many other bars in Birmingham that I haven't been to, but that I would love to soon in a post-coronavirus world. These include Cosy ClubAlunaBe At OnePitcher & Piano, and The Lost and Found. What are your favourite bars in Birmingham, or anywhere in the UK for that matter?

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Sydney Romantics Branding, Design, and Marketing Course: Brand & Authenticity

Sydney Romantics Sydney Romantics Design & Branding Virtual ...

I am currently completing the Sydney Romantics online design, branding, and marketing course, which I have accessed through InsideSherpa. You can access this course 
here, or if you would like to browse other courses offered by InsideSherpa, click here. The course is comprised of four modules, with the first two exploring brand and design, and the third and fourth modules focusing on developing social media marketing and community engagement skills.

This blog post is the final piece of module #1, ‘Brand and Authenticity’, which focuses on three main areas; brand positioning, brand analysis, and brand communication. Task brief: ‘Choose a brand that you identify with, and create a YouTube video or blog article reviewing your nominated brand. Discuss the work that they do, and why they inspire you’.

For this task, I have selected ASOS, which is an online British company selling clothes, accessories, and shoes – as well as homewares and cosmetic products. One of the reasons why I love ASOS, and why I have selected it for this task, is because there is something for everybody; ASOS has a huge range of clothing styles and designs, qualities, materials, and a brilliant range of price options, from affordable collections to more luxury brands. ASOS kind of functions like an online department store in that they sell over 850 brands, several of which include their own: Collusion, ASOS Edition, ASOS Made In Kenya, ASOS White, ASOS 4505, and ASOS Design - ASOS Design is my favourite of them all.

I chose ASOS for a number of reasons, and in this post I will consider both my personal reasons, in terms of the way I like to shop, as well as reasons surrounding global impact, sustainability, and ASOS's support of smaller brands. Starting personally, the main reason why I chose ASOS is simply that it is my favourite place to shop, and pretty much the only place I shop! I even end up buying things from ASOS when I am not intending to :) I also have to shop primarily in the tall section, particularly when it comes to the jeans/trouser/skirts department. At 6"2, I have much more limited clothing options, so I rarely ever buy clothes from a physical shop, hence why ASOS is my go-to. I know that more and more brands are focusing on developing tall ranges, but many brands still have yet to actually get it right. Too many times, I have ordered tall range trousers from other brands, only to find that they are still coming up as a pair of ankle swingers, or if they are long enough, then they disappoint in other areas, such as the rise not being high enough to button up the trousers properly without pinching. But 99% of the time, ASOS gets it right, so I know that without this brand, I would really struggle to buy affordable clothes that fit me properly!

On a wider level, I really love that ASOS stocks a lot of smaller and more unique brands, rather than focusing on just other big brands. One of my favourites is Regal Rose, which is an online jewellery store that produces very different but very beautiful, often edgier pieces of jewellery. After discovering the brand a year ago, I have purchased Regal Rose on ASOS, and since purchasing through ASOS, I have gone on to buy more jewellery directly through the Regal Rose website. I definitely don't think I would have found this business if it wasn’t for the fact that it was stocked by ASOS, which I think says a lot about the importance of large companies supporting and stocking smaller brands.

There is no denying that ASOS is a fast fashion brand, but I think it's important to acknowledge the work that they are doing to improve their sustainability and their environmental impact. Recent work includes ASOS’s new responsible edit, which allows you to shop more sustainably by featuring clothes that are ‘environmentally conscious’. You can now also filter clothes by 'responsibility', which I think is a brilliant addition to the site's filtering system. This gives customers the opportunity to shop for clothes containing sustainable fabrics, or for clothes that are made entirely of recycled materials.

In 2018, ASOS also announced a ban on the selling of mohair, silk, cashmere, and feathers in all of their products by the end of January 2019, in order to rid animal cruelty from their brands. Following this, ASOS also launched a sustainable fashion training programme, which provided their designers with training that considered the whole life cycle of the product, in a bid to reduce the drive of creating more products constantly. The fashion industry, ASOS included, still has a long way to go, but I thought that these developments were a really important step towards improving ASOS's ethical and global concerns. Read more about ASOS’s moves towards creating cruelty free, environmentally conscious fashion, as featured in Vogue: ASOS-ban-sale-of-mohair-silk-cashmere-feathers & ASOS-sustainable-fashion-training-programme.

This sums up the central reasons why I love the ASOS brand, and why I have chosen it for this task. This blog post completes the end of the first module, 'Brand and Authenticity', for the design, branding, and marketing course hosted by Sydney Romantics. 


Saturday 16 May 2020

Ditch the Detox: Why it's OK to Stay Connected on Social Media During Lockdown

I have seen many people discussing the idea of lockdown as an opportunity to disconnect from their phone, and reduce the time they spend on social media. Equally, there are lots of articles circulating the web that also heavily promote this digital 'detox'. Instead, I want to write about the importance of staying connected - or to word it better, why you should not feel guilty if you choose to stay connected and active on social media during lockdown. I want to make a quick disclaimer; of course, lockdown is impacting different people in different ways. Social media and hyper connectivity may be detrimental to some people's mental health, and this post is not attempting to invalidate or dismiss that. But as somebody who loves using social media and interacting online, I want to discuss from a more general perspective, why you should not feel guilty if you take pleasure in continuing to keep connected during this time.

I feel that now, despite the fact that it is fairly common knowledge that most people rely heavily on their phone throughout the day (whether this be for work, to answer emails, message friends, google a new word or concept, scroll through social media), there is still a lot of taboo surrounding high phone usage, and in admitting that we are checking social media and staring at our screens 'more than we should'. When was the amount that we should be using our screens ever determined, anyway? If you google 'social media detox lockdown', there will be hundreds of articles telling you why you should be stepping away from screens 'now more than ever', followed by the same regurgitated suggestions that you may want to try going for a walk or reading a book. It's a bit absurd that the underlying suggestion is that it is not possible to do these things whilst retaining a healthy and balanced relationship with social media. I feel that the term 'detox' immediately negatively associates social media with the idea that it is toxic, draining, and unhealthy. Of course, social media can incite negativity, but I think that there is also a tendency to forget the joy, the humour, the love, and the interactivity that social media provides. In ramping up the obsession with the need to digital detox during lockdown, perhaps this is conditioning and shaping the point of view that lockdown can only be a depressing time, and one that will be inevitably worsened by social media. It's a bit of a paradox that it is always the internet telling us that we need to detox from the internet. Perhaps we are more obsessed with the constant feeling of guilt for using our phones regularly (and therefore with feeling that we need to detox), than we are with using the phones themselves. This may be a bit of a reach, but I do think it is important to rewrite the narrative that social media is a happiness drain. There is no reason why a healthy and positive attitude towards social media should not be encouraged, rather than perpetuating the idea that it is not possible to stay connected and stay happy at the same time.

For those who are furloughed, or students, etc., lockdown means that we have all the time in the world to dedicate to reading, baking, exercising, and completing online courses, so why step away from social media and using our phones now? Particularly if it brings you so much pleasure, and enables you to appreciate the littler things in life by uploading a photo of your freshly baked cake to your Instagram story. 

The age old argument is that social media is damaging, because 'we only see the best bits' of a person's life. Whilst the latter is true to an extent, it is arguable that now, nobody has any 'best bits' to share, because nobody is living a filtered life in the middle of a pandemic and a national lockdown. And yet, people are still engaging with these platforms. I love that social media allows me to still see my friends and keep in touch with my family. I can stay in the loop with what people are up to and how they're feeling, without even directly contacting someone. And if I am missing my favourite faces, I can see them at the tap of a button. I really think that in this time I would be struggling more without social media - not because I am a phone addict that desperately needs a detox, but because I would be without the pleasure that social media brings to me. 

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Webinars: Embracing the Rise of Online Working & Learning

I am sure I am not alone in saying that the coronavirus lockdown in the UK has had me googling and learning some new words and phrases - 'what is furlough?' definitely will be somewhere in my search history. Today, 'Zoom' and 'zooming' are phrases that we use as much as we would have once said 'Pub' and 'yeah, town was packed last night'. It's interesting to think about how much our vocabulary and speech has changed in the event of this pandemic, as much as our physical behaviours (increased caution, distancing, sanitising), and our ability and attitudes towards working from home have.

A few weeks ago, I was emailed by the university careers department regarding some optional webinars (an online seminar, and therefore more intimate and more interactive than a big lecture or class) provided by the careers team, focusing on developing networking skills, using LinkedIn effectively, and working towards career goals during lockdown. Of course, webinars have always existed before lockdown, but it certainly wasn't a word or a concept that was on my radar; if I have to miss a lecture or a talk at university, I have the option to listen to a recorded, non-interactive version, but now through zoom meetings and webinars, live interactivity is happening online rather than face to face. I knew I wanted to give these webinars a go, but having never participated in a webinar before, I was a bit nervous - simply because I had no idea what to expect for the session and what may have also been expected of me. I also had no idea who else would be attending the session, and the idea that they would have a view into my bedroom was naturally a bit alienating. (In the end, participants' webcams were turned off, leaving just the host and their shared screen, but I had not expected this). I always say that I love to try new things and embrace challenge, but that does not mean that trying new things is not sometimes a bit intimidating. Arguably, turning on your webcam and attending a zoom webinar may not seem to be a 'real' challenge, but I think if it's new to you, then the sense of the unknown can make it a challenge. 

After the webinar had ended, I was so pleased with myself for having attended it that I had a mini endorphin rush, and immediately made a note to attend the next week's webinar, and following that, started planning ALL the changes I was going to make to my LinkedIn, ALL the online courses I wanted to do in the coming weeks, and ALL the changes I wanted to make to my blog in the process of restarting it. I ended up really enjoying the webinar, and I found it super useful and insightful in terms of how I could really maximise my time in lockdown, and the things I could start doing in order to begin building an online network from home, and so came away from the session feeling really motivated. Yes, it may be just a webinar, but I knew I wanted to share this with others who may be feeling a bit demotivated by the length of lockdown time stretching before them, and slightly put off by the thought of trying something they have never done before. I think this has certainly improved my attitude towards trying new things; if you don't try, you'll never know, and the not knowing what you might have missed out on can become very frustrating. I am an avid lover of social media, and I love connecting and interacting with people online, so I'm not sure why I had built doing this into such a big thing - I can only put it down to a bit of lockdown-overthinking, which I am sure we have all done during this period! Essentially this is my long-winded way of saying that sometimes the scary and new things turn out to be the most rewarding. So I cannot stress this enough, whether this is you deciding to also attend a webinar, or something totally different, just do it!!!

But this experience has also got me thinking more broadly, about online learning and how we have so quickly incorporated the use of platforms such as Zoom and Skype into everyday work. This has of course been discussed by many others, but lockdown really is highlighting that not everything has to be conducted in person. Of course, as humans we are hugely sociable, co-dependent, and probably would become miserable if everything was online in a world where lockdown becomes a permanent, black-mirror-episode reality. But we should be able to find balance when we return to normality - i.e. by increasing the number of meetings conducted online or via email, particularly if people are commuting purely for a single meeting, which is poor for the environment and incredibly inefficient.
   At university, if my seminar tutor is ill or unable to conduct the session, it more often than not is cancelled, and not rescheduled. Whilst this does not happen often, that is not to say that it does not have a large impact on studies; as is typical for English degrees, a book is studied per week per module, with a new text introduced the next week. If a seminar is cancelled, then a large amount of valuable knowledge and discussion is either abandoned, or it is up to the student to attempt to replicate their own seminar based on an online handout that is only provided 50% of the time. But, of course depending on the reason for absence, why can't it be rescheduled and conducted online? More often than not, a lack of rescheduling is due to timetabling and rooming issues on the university's end, but if a seminar is transformed into a webinar, this massively reduces these issues, significantly increasing flexibility. Lockdown has shown that these things have always been possible, but just never implemented. (I still love you, UoB). Hopefully we can all take this with us as and when we return to normal life, adapting our behaviours and our styles of working and learning, embracing the online world and the flexibility it can provide.

Saturday 9 May 2020

Long Time No Type

Hello hello hello! 

I'm wasn't really sure how to start this post, as I've been away from my blog for three and a half years, but I think I shall just see where my thoughts take me. I never intended to stop blogging, but I feel like everyone goes through that phase at the age of 15 of wanting to become a full time fashion and beauty blogger, and whilst that becomes a career for some people, it was a hobby that ran its course for me. So now I have decided it's time for a refresh and reboot! As you can see, I've given my blog a bit of a re-brand, and moved away from the alias of 'rosalynwrites' to just my full name; I wanted to create a more personal and upfront image, as well as have some consistency with my social media @s. I have also spent a bit of ££ and invested in a new domain name, and bought myself the Culture Shock template from Pipdig, which I absolutely love! 

Since my last blog post - a Zoeva eyeshadow palette, very 2016, of course - I have completed my A Levels, and have almost finished the first two years of my English degree at the University of Birmingham; my second year has sadly been cut short by coronavirus, with exams cancelled and all my learning moved online. I can definitely say that in this time away from blogging, my love for writing has not fallen away, but that it has grown and hopefully improved! It's no surprise that as an English student, I am always writing, and additionally, my best friend and I have started producing content for the food and drink section of the university newspaper, Redbrick, as of this year. We have a shared love for cooking and experimenting together in the kitchen of our house that we rent with four other girls, and so wanted to document this collaboratively! Self-promo alert, but I have actually created a small shortcut on the right tab of my blog that will take you to our most recent Redbrick article, should you wish to have a look. My enthusiasm for this was definitely one of the things that got me thinking about restarting and rebooting my blog.

I am trying to use this lockdown as a period of positivity and time out, to reflect and really focus on the things and activities that I both enjoy, and that will serve a long term purpose for me. I am hoping this blog will be both! Whilst I am sure a lot of my coming content will focus on lock-down related themes such as online learning, social media, and simple pleasures such as reading and cooking, I also want to use this space to document and write about topics surrounding university life, travel, what I am passionate about - and I'm sure many other things that I have not thought of yet now that I have become so used to living within a quarantine bubble. That is not to say that I will never discuss makeup and beauty ever again, but for now I am exploring a new direction, and it is one that I am very excited to get blogging about. 

I am also super keen to begin building/re-building my blogging network, so please feel free to leave any comments on this post, even if it's just a hello!, or follow me on Bloglovin' - I'm actually having a few issues with my Bloglovin' account right now so it looks a bit scatty but I am still aiming to be very active on there! The link to my Bloglovin' profile can be found along with the rest of my social media icons on the right hand tab.

If you got to the end of this post, then thank you for taking the time to read - I realise updates can be a bit boring but I felt this was needed to fill the gap before I begin blogging 'properly' again. Watch this space!!

Lots of love, Rosie x

p.s. if you would like to know how I've been spending lockdown so far, hopefully these pictures can provide a nice summary...

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