In 5 Fridays feminism

5 Forgotten Women of History

We all know that history is told through the eyes of men (and whitewashed to within an inch of its metaphorical life), and I love discovering about women who were pretty badass and shouting their praises from the rooftops. Here are some of the women whose stories I think need to be told.

1. Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was an extraordinary woman. She was born in 1875 in America, the 15th child of 2 freed slaves. Her education started at the age of 10 in a mission school. She was later denied work as a missionary in Africa due to her race, so then became a teacher in the USA, eventually setting up her own school for young black girls in 1922. Her school went on to have about 300 students.

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Bethune was a constant and never relenting campaigner, who always turned out to vote despite the threats she received from the KKK. Her work was recognized by Franklin D. Roosevelt when she became the highest ranking black member of his administration in 1936. Her campaigns didn’t stop and she became the Vice-President of the NAACP in 1940.

2. Nancy Wake

Nancy Wake was the most decorated British woman of World War 2. She was born in New Zealand but moved to France in the 1930s to work in as a European correspondent for some newspapers after training as a journalist in New York and London. After the German invasion, she became a key member of the French Resistance, so much so that they became the most wanted person by the Gestapo by 1943 with a 5 million Franc reward or her capture! She later moved to London, where she joined the SOE. In 1944 she was flown back out to France by the SOE, where she acted as a link between the marquis in France and the British Intelligence then led a 7,000 strong (previously unskilled) army against a German army of 22,000 and won with only 100 casualties.

3. Claudette Colvin

We’ve all heard of Rosa Parks. The subtle heroine of the Civil Rights Movement who sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott by refusing to give up her seat to a white man. The stories we don’t hear are those of the other women who did the same thing, but get much less credit than Parks does, who had the advantage of an already respectable local reputation. One woman who did not have such a luxury was Claudette Colvin. She was a single (emphasis on the unmarried part here) mother who was much poorer than Parks was and had little real influence or position in the Montgomery community. As a consequence of this, when Colvin refused to give up her seat for a white person, nothing happened except from her arrest.

4. Noor Inayat Khan

Khan was born in Moscow in 1914 to an Indian father (a direct descendant of Tipu Sultan, who was the 18th century Muslim ruler of Mysore) and an American mother. Her family moved to London then to France, where she was educated and first started writing children’s stories. Once the Nazis had invaded France 1940, Khan escaped to the UK, where she joined the WAAF. In 1942 she joined the SOE and worked as a radio operator. After being trained at Beaulieu Abbey, she was flown to work as a secret agent in France in 1943 under the code name ‘Madeleine’ – the first woman to do so. She was eventually arrested by the Gestapo after being betrayed by a local French woman, and taken to Dachau concentration camp in Southern Germany where she was executed. She was awarded the George Cross posthumously.

5. Frida Kahlo

Okay, okay, you’re probably thinking what the hell? Frida Kahlo is pretty well known figure, and rightly so. She was a prominent communist artist in Mexico, although her artwork was only really appreciated after her death. One thing that most people don’t know about her (I certainly didn’t until Shona told me) is that she was disabled. Kahlo was born with spina bifida, a spinal condition which can cause mobility problems as well as problems with the bladder and bowels. When she was 6 years old she contracted polio, an illness which left her right leg thinner than her left, and at aged 18 she was part of a bus accident which left her with serious injuries. During her recovery time, Kahlo took up painting, many of which reflected on her disability.

Thank you to Shona, who helped me find some information for this post which I’ve already mentioned. Shona is currently in desperate need of a new powerchair and has started a GoFundMe to help her get it. If you can, please give anything you can or share it.


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In 5 Fridays study

5 Ways of Dealing With Exam Stress

The past 2 years in my life have been plagued by stress from exams. While still being stressed, I’ve done a few things to help minimise that stress and keep going and I thought I’d share them here. I want to say out right that there’s no way to avoid stress completely if you care about your exams. If someone out there has found a way to being completely stress-free but still caring and doing well then please tell me as that would be the end to all my sorrows! (Slight exaggeration but you get the picture.) I warn you that you will be stressed no matter what and will probably have a few (if not many) breakdowns and moments when you think you can’t do it. But I want to let you know that you can. Those are words I need to hear quite a lot to keep going with my A Levels so I’m putting them here for anyone else in need of encouragement. These tips wouldn’t eradicate your stress, but I hope they are ways that will help reduce it.

1. Do revision in advance

Like way in advance. Get your shit together early, do little bits here and there to help build up your knowledge. Find out when/if your teachers run revision sessions and start attending them regularly and from the get go. For this, revising properly for your mocks definitely, helps. I had mocks at the end of Year 10 and half way through Year 11, revised properly for both sets and came out with a good set of GCSEs. I’m sure I wasn’t panicking so much by the time I took my GCSEs because the knowledge I needed was already stuck in my head from revising for mocks previously – and the same goes for my AS exams, although it does become more difficult as there is more information and less time (not with linear A Levels, but the sheer scale of learning you have to do becomes the difficult part). Spread out revision works better than crammed in general and is definitely less stressful.

2. Have a regular (as possible) sleeping pattern

My ideal sleeping pattern would be 11-12ish to 8/8:30 and I do tend to stick to that to varying degrees during the holidays. However, it’s not so convenient when I have to go to college/work. So, when it’s college time I have to go to bed earlier in order to get enough sleep. Sleep is vital to the effectiveness of your learning. It’s so noticeable when you haven’t had the sleep you need. Your brain can’t process the information it’s trying to take in so well, and how are you meant to revise something you couldn’t learn in the first place?

3. Try and be as healthy as possible

Eat your fruit and veg and have a balanced diet. I know people bang on about this all the time and ends up just being a bit of a jumble in your head, but it really does help. I’m not one to be all high and mighty about this. I often buy cakes at college, particularly if I’m craving some when pre-menstrual or actually on my period. At those times, they’re the only thing that will make me happier. But in the long run, a healthy diet will do you a lot of good in loads of different areas. You’ll feel better within your body and therefore be able to be more productive and ready to learn.

4. Organise your time

Once you learn to manage your time well, you will be able to get everything you need done, and once you’ve got those done then you will worry less. My advice is always to get a planner and to use it for everything. It works well for me. Make to-do lists and stick to them. Believe me, organising your tasks makes them seem less daunting. Get yourself organised to get your work done, but make sure you don’t sacrifice the things you love – they’ll keep your identity afloat separately from your studies.

5. Take breaks and relax in ways that suit you

We all need time to breathe and to think about something other than exams. You probably know best how you rewind, so do what works best for you. You could read, watch films, a TV series or YouTube videos, the list goes on. Do something that will distract you for a while and lift your spirits. Then, you can go back to revision with a clearer head.

Good luck.


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In books review Summer

Books I've Read This Summer (2017)

I wrote a post last year on what books I had read during the summer and I thought it would be good to do something similar this year as I loved reflecting on my time off studying. I hope you find these interesting.

1. Everywoman by Jess Phillips

I don’t know whether this really counts as a ‘summer read’ as I read it in the last few days of college, but I want to include it anyway. This book is a must read. Especially if you love politics, especially if you are a woman, but also if you are not a woman as it may make you think about the different experiences that come along with a sexist society and for women looking to make a difference within it. Phillips’ writing is so easy to read and this book really helped me get my head a bit more focused after feeling somewhat lost during the last week or so of college. Definitely, one to pick up if you want an easy yet impactful read.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is a book I had to read for my English course, although I had read it before about 4 years ago. When I read it first, I have to admit that I didn’t really get the hype that surrounds this book, but the second time around it I liked it a lot more. But hey, that doesn’t mean much as we all know that after a year of studying it I’ll probably hate it.

3. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Again, I read this play for my English course. I will need to read it again soon because I didn’t quite get all the scenes – or, at least, I don’t think they sunk in properly. It was interesting but I can’t say I loved it.

4. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

This also was an easy read and I would recommend it to anyone who loved Carrie – as Leia or not. I have to admit that I did cry a few times. I loved the section of her diaries that was in the middle. It felt so personal, particularly as she included some of the poetry she wrote then. Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but get an eerie sense that Carrie knew something was going to happen to her as she referenced her death quite a lot.

5. The Metropolis of Glass by Chloe Lee

I was sent this poetry book by the lovely people at Troubadour Publishing a while ago and wrote a full in a post which you can read here. Overall, I wasn’t that impressed. It felt average, but a good place to start for someone just getting into poetry.

6. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

And now onto the holiday books. I read half of this before I went away and finished it whilst on holiday in Cornwall with my family. I love Game of Thrones (the TV series), so knew what would happen in the book, but that didn’t stop me loving it! I’m going to steadily read the rest of the Song and Ice and Fire series alongside my A levels, so it’s going to a slow process but something that I can distract myself with.

7. Five on Brexit Island by Enid Blyton (Bruno Vincent)

I read this book in about 45 minutes whilst on the beach. It was very funny and got quite ridiculous. A lighthearted read good for anyone in Britain at the moment and read Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series as a child.

8. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

After studying The Odyssey as part of my Classical Civilization AS level (and also studying Margaret Atwood’ The Handmaid’s Tale as part of my English course), I thought it would be fun to see what Margaret Atwood would make of Penelope’s side of the story. I did love it. I read it almost immediately after finishing Five on Brexit Island and found it just as easy to read. It’s laid out like a Greek play, with the Chorus and Penelope taking turns in telling the story. I did like the fact that it drew attention to the maids and how Odysseus was a big of a dick and probably a liar. I would recommend this to anyone studying Classics but also anyone who wants a fresh feminist perspective on a well-known story.

9. Doing It! by Hannah Witton

If you’ve read some of my monthly wrap ups, then you’ll probably know that Hannah is one of my favourite YouTubers. I love how candidly and open she talks about all sorts of topics, including sex and periods, which this book is based around. I think this book should be in every school as it’s so informative and easy to read – ideal for someone who’s just about to start puberty, or anyone who just wants to clarify any information (there’s a great table about all the different methods contraception which I know will be very useful to anyone who reads this).

10. There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker

I picked this book up a while ago as the title really intrigued me. It’s a poetry collection based around the themes of feminism and racism, subjects I always want to expand my understanding of. I loved the rhythm that many of Parker’s poems had as they really helped portray the messages she was trying to get across.

11. GB84 by David Peace

Okay, so I’ve not read much of this one. I need to read it for my EPQ so I better get on with it. It surrounds the 1984 Miners’ Strike in the UK but I can’t really tell you more as I’ve really red very little. I need to get my butt into gear and read it.

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Reasons to Love Reading

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In goals Life vegan

The Road to Veganism

Recently, I made the decision to go vegan. Having been raised in an environment where eating meat at least once a day was the norm, this decision was something very different from the lifestyle I had before, but I’m now very much aware that it’s possible.


I am not vegan yet. And I know that’s contradicting what I just said about making the decision blah blah blah, but I said I’d made the decision, not that I was perfectly plant-based yet. As I’ve been used to such a non-vegan lifestyle, part of which I must still hold onto while I live at home, I’m taking it slow. Currently, I’m going veggie – apart from the rare occasion (perhaps once a week, if that) where my family have a meal that can’t be made veggie – and being as vegan as possible when I’m eating separately from my family, although again, this isn’t very strict at the moment. Once I move out and am living a much more independent lifestyle, I plan on making my diet (and other products I use) as vegan as possible (although still within reason depending on what my budget can afford). In certain areas, such as my makeup, I am cruelty-free and am proud of that. I will always recommend the good cruelty-free brands that I use and actually might do a post on my tips for cruelty-free makeup in the future now that I think about it...

So, what are my reasons for going vegan? Well, since starting college I have had the great pleasure of meeting some wonderful people who have showed me how vegan living is both extremely beneficial for a number of ways and that it is most definitely doable (shout out to Charlotte and Lizzi for being so supportive and great at giving advice and showing me the ways, ily). Here is my reasoning for veganism:

1. The environment

51% of climate change is due to animal agriculture (source: The Guardian). This occurs through fuel used to feed, transport, house and harvest the animals and to grow the plants they are fed as well as the natural gases the animals themselves will produce. I am a Green supporter (as you can probably tell if you’ve read some of my previous blog posts or follow my Twitter) so the environment is one of my priorities. It is vital for everyone that we do our best to save it and veganism is one way of reducing our individual contributions to global warming.

2. Animal cruelty

This is a biggy, and the main reason that most people go vegan, although not really for me. Whilst I am against animal cruelty and think that it should be stopped in all forms, the threat of climate change and preserving our environment would mean that there will be no animals to even be cruel to if we keep going as we are. So to me, save the environment and we save the animals. Hit two birds with one stone (is there a vegan equivalent of that saying?).

3. Money

Obviously, there are lots of vegan options, mostly alternatives such as vegan cheese, which are quite pricey, though plain vegetables and veggie options are generally much cheaper than meat unless you go buying something exotic or rare. As I’m about to move out and start uni in the next year, I’m going to need to live as cheaply as possible and while it’s not my main reason for going plant-based, it’s definitely something that will be a massive benefit if I manage my food and finances well.

4. Health

There’s no doubt that vegetables are good for you. Since cutting out meat almost entirely from my diet, I have been feeling better within myself and I hope this continues. I am aware of potential risks if I don’t take care that I’m getting the right nutrients, so vitamins may be needed in the future (in fact I know my vegan friends take some daily) to ensure that I get everything my body needs, but I need to make sure that I don’t just eat loads of vegan junk food and all will be well. Also, I have just been informed (thanks, Charlotte) that diet apps such as My Fitness Pal are a good way of ensuring that you’re eating enough of the good stuff, so that will be something I do in the future.

So, for now, I’m doing my best to cut out meat and other animal products from my consumption as much as possible, although I’ not strictly vegan yet. I’m taking it slow and just doing my best so that I can figure out veganism my own way so that it suits me and my way of living. Will I ever be a completely strict vegan? I don’t know, but everything I cut out matters and makes a difference, so, for now, I’m taking the slow route.

If you want to hear pre-veggie me, my veggie friend Maisie and my vegan friend Charlotte chat about veganism on mine and Maisie’s podcast, The Actor and the Writer, then please go and have a listen!

If you liked this post you might like: Is There Such Thing as a Perfect Feminist?

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In travel

What to Do in Bodmin, Cornwall

Last week, I went to Cornwall with my family. There, we stayed in a lovely cottage on the Camel Valley Vineyard, not far from the historic town of Bodmin.

1. Have lunch on the Bodmin Steam Railway

Having seen the Steam Railway at Boscarne Junction the day before, we bought a large picnic in the morning, along with a bottle of wine, and headed off to the station.

There were tables going up and down the carriage on either side, with windows looking out (though do close the one in the middle as the gubbins from the engine can get it). We spread out the food and ate and played cards whilst watching the world go by. The train doesn’t go far, only a few miles each way, but it was ample time for a hearty lunch.

2. Have a drink at Camel Valley Vineyard

Camel Valley is an award winning vineyard, being served at the Ritz and by the Queen. My family has been fans of this vineyard for about 15 years and for a good reason. It’s an easy distance off the Camel Trail, so is easy to pop in to for a drink. They run tours of the grounds, more so in the summer. The Grand Tour (which includes wine tasting and runs on one evening a week – 2 in the summer) costs 15, whilst the normal Guided Tour costs 8.50. We got our tour free as we stayed there, although I’m not sure I’d want to pay that much for it, although it was definitely very interesting.

3. Bodmin Prison

When we looked through some of the potential places to visit, Bodmin Jail was one of the only ones that really caught my attention. I’m one of those sick History nerds, who loves finding out about historic crime and looking around old prisons. We went along after our lunch on the train and it was quite interesting. The Jail was the site of one of the last executions in Britain and many more before that. The stories of many of these executions are told in the museum, along with a video describing the sentencing of William Hampton (the last person to be executed here) which has some hilarious acting and interviews, despite their original intention.

4. Cycle the Camel Trail

With our accommodation right on the Camel Trail, it would be difficult not to have gone on it at some point. The Trail is an old railway line, so is very flat and easy to cycle along, and it goes around the towns of Bodmin, Wadebridge, and Padstow so can be used as a means of getting to each town without driving (admittedly, it will take a while longer so it depends on how much exercise you’re planning on doing).

What’s your favourite thing to do in Cornwall?

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In Monthly Wrap Ups

August 2017 | Monthly Wrap Up

August has been Game of Thrones month. There’s no other way to describe. There are dragons and direwolves everywhere!

Favourite part?

When I initially thought about it, this month has seemed quite uneventful, although in reality, I have actually done quite a lot. I’ve spent a lot of time at home getting my mountain of college work done and I’m proud to say I finished both my History and English coursework. Proud or what?

Aside from that, I’ve spent a lot of time with family. We visited Beaulieu in the New Forest and Stone Henge and nearer the end of the month, we spent some time in Cornwall, relaxing and drinking wine. Pretty good, if you ask me.

One evening, me and two friends saw Mamma Mia! in an outdoor cinema outside our local shopping centre. It was raining, very heavily, but the waterproof I brought with me made sure I wasn't completely soaked through. It was silent, as we had headphones, so we must have looked like complete weirdos singing along to nothing, but it was so much fun. I will never forget dancing and singing along to Waterloo in the rain with good friends and strangers alike.

Best read?

This month I reviewed The Metropolis of Glass by Chloe Lee on this here blog as it was sent to me by the lovely people at Troubador Publishing. You can read it here, although I have to say it did feel quite average. I have also read Doing It! by Hannah Witton, one of my longtime favourite YouTubers. It’s a great information guide which I think should definitely be compulsory in schools across the country. I have also been reading A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin and love it. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, though I’ll have to do it slowly alongside my A2 year.

Favourite tunes?

The Anastasia soundtrack has been on repeat all month. I love it. I basically know it all off by heart. Dmitri is my love.

Favourite watch?

This month I watched the three series of Broadchurch and oh my god it’s so good. I would recommend it to anyone. So so good!

As I said before, August has been Game of Thrones month. My mum has been watching the series for the past year or so now and I’ve dipped in here and there with brief catch ups, though this month I watched The Story So Far programme and series 7 along with catching up through clips, rewinds and character stories on YouTube so that I’ve basically know everything. I’ve watched so many videos analyzing the symbolism of the different houses and lots of theories for so many different plotlines. I think it’s fair to say I’m obsessed.

I suppose I should have put Mamma Mia! in this section. Never mind...

What did I learn?

Redrafting coursework is hard! You can’t force yourself to do work when you’re not in the right mindset (although sometimes you have to). Doing a little bit of exercise here and there isn’t too difficult at all.

What’s happening next month?

I go back to college part way through the month and the weekend after I go to Newcastle and York for open days at the unis there, which I’m really looking forward to. Apart from that, there’s nothing except A levels to keep my mind busy.

What’s been on my mind?

The state of America (as in the crappy state, not a State). I cried for hours about the events of Charlottesville which made an even deeper impact as I was doing my History coursework at the time, which is all about African American civil rights. I want to help so much but I feel helpless. I feel proud of everyone who’s fought back and hope that fascists won’t win. They didn’t before, so why should they now? Those who have marched against fascism have already had some success, but we can’t stop fighting.

Favourite blogger/vlogger?

I’ve been loving watching Jean Menzies aka BookishThoughts. No matter the subject of her videos, I always find them so interesting. I would particularly recommend her videos if you want a great BookTuber or some good advice for university and studying/productivity in general.

Favourite post?

I’ve written a lot and planned a lot this month, so I’m super proud of myself for that. Out of the posts published this month, however, I think I’d have to say that Why We Need to Stop Making Women-Only Reboots was my favourite. It’s something I feel so strongly about and it had a great reception. I started writing (and planning) a lot more study posts this month and I actually love it. This is the start of a new topic on Another Ranting Reader.

Biggest inspiration?

Deadlines for the beginning of September and panic at the thought of not getting into uni next year. That’s always the driver, right?

Any other favourites?

Cooking. It’s quite a random one but I’ve been cooking loads for my family lately and I love it. I’ve made several lasagnas, curries and have mastered a lunch of fried mushrooms on toast with soy sauce and peppers!

If you liked this post you might like: July 2017 | Monthly Wrap Up

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In study

How To: Wider Reading for A Level

Wider reading is a key part of A Levels and any education level beyond that. Your teachers will hound you about doing extra reading, reading around your subject, and that sounds really daunting at first. We’ve got enough work to do already without doing work that isn’t required, right? At first, I just put wrote wider reading off completely because of that reason, and, to be fair, I know people who have gotten through AS year with great grades and haven’t done any wider reading, but personally a little bit here and there has definitely helped me understand my subjects better. There are ways to do wider reading that doesn't add to your stress and it’s not necessarily just thick academic text books.

1. Documentaries are everything

Who doesn’t love a good documentary? Exactly. You could have it in the background while you get on with something else, even if it’s just something like tidying your room. I watched so many documentaries relating to Russian history before I started my History A Level and it definitely helped me understand the content once I was actually started being taught it. If you watch a documentary in class, then rewatch it again at home to reaffirm the information in your brain, or if you didn’t finish it in class, finish it at home.

2. Make use of podcasts

There are loads of academic (and not-so academic) podcasts out there that you can use to dig deeper into your subject. From the wealth of lectures available on iTunes U to book club podcasts, you can gain so much from podcasts and there are podcasts available for every subject you could possibly study. Seriously. Some podcasts I use for wider reading are What am politics? History Hit, The Guilty Feminist and the Banging Book Club (feminist literature pals, it counts). You just need to have a browse.

3. Use reading for leisure as a tool for learning

Reading books is something I’ll always be a huge advocate for, no matter what it is. If you’re reading for leisure you may as well make sure that what you’re reading in some way connected to your studies. For example, I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-Wollstonecraft in relation to my English coursework, which was based on The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, which is of the gothic genre. It was short and helped me get some background.

4. Only do as much as you feel possible.

A Levels are stressful as they are without wider reading. Your only priority is your mental wellbeing. Yes, your studies are important but they always come second to your mental health. Never compromise on that. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop doing so much. It’s not always necessary. Only do a little if that’s what’s best for you.

5. Find your own way of doing things

Figure out what’s best for you. If podcasts or documentaries don’t work for you, then find another way of expanding your knowledge that suits you. There are loads of different ways of learning, you just have to figure out what works best for you.

If you liked this post you might like: My Advice to New A Level Students

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In Life

Opportunity, Judgement and Self-Growth

Since moving from the edge of Wales to slightly over an hour’s train journey to London, I have noticed a significant difference in the way creativity is judged and perceived from the perspective of young people (I mean, I can’t really have any other perspective at this point in my life), and the opportunities available in different parts of the countries, notably more concentrated in the areas surrounding London.

Now living in a more urban area, on the outskirts of a city, with a noticeably larger population, I had to move on to a sixth form college rather than remain at my secondary school to complete my A Levels. College has allowed myself, as well as many of my peers, to dig deeper into topics that interest us and to discover for ourselves what our passions are and to pursue them. Through college, I’ve never felt more myself. I’ve campaigned for the things I believe in (not just on social media for those of you skeptics who think that I live on Twitter, I do leave the echo chamber sometimes) and I’ve branched out creatively so that I feel like I’ve got more options than ever.

But why is this? Why now?

Some may say that it’s the time in my life where self-discovery is most prominent. I’m 17, going on 18 (yes, I did just sing Rolf’s part in the Sound of Music song of my childhood), so this period is the clichéd ‘coming of age’ period in my life that I’ve seen predicted to me in countless teen movies through my rose-tinted television screen. This is the age of self-discovery, right? Partly true. I do think we develop more at a young age as we come across lots of new things and experiences for the first time, but I think it is also ignorant and unfair to say that as soon as you reach ‘adulthood’ you are now your concrete self. When we reach 18, that’s the person we will be forever, when in fact we are never really the same person from one moment to the next. Lots of people do more developing later on and feel more comfortable in themselves later on, and that’s okay. There’s a lot of pressure on people to ‘find themselves’ and carve out who they want to be when they are barely out in the real world. No one ever finishes developing. Ever. We keep developing until our dying breath and it takes time to accept that.

I think that, if I hadn’t had such a change in my life after my move, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am now – with all the likes, passions, dislikes and knowledge I have accumulated along the way – due to the opportunities that were made available to me. By merely being in the South of England, with more people and more teachers to teach more subjects that have now carved my future due to the fact that I was vaguely interested and wanted to learn a little more about the world from subjects that seemed exotic to me. My friends, who have been denied the opportunity to study what I have studied, have told me they wished that had been made available to them and I think it should have been.

I am now also closer to London. London, with all its events, museums and experiences waiting to happen. I have to admit that I do still think of London in a kind of romantic light. In my mind, it’s a place of excitement, opportunity, and unknown prospects – think One Short Day from Wicked. I’m aware that’s a naïve way of thinking but I don’t care. It keeps me excited for the future.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunities I have had and I feel so ashamed and sad that the same opportunities aren’t given to others who would benefit from them similarly. We need broaden out events so that they take place across the whole of the UK, not just London. At many events I’ve been to, there’s been a camera live streaming. This is where we need to embrace the digital age truly and get the word out about events we may be able to watch and learn from as if we were there ourselves.

A lot needs to be done within the education system, mostly in rural areas. To me, sixth form colleges, apprenticeships or any other way of moving on after finishing GCSEs is the best way to go about things. When I was in Year 11, I felt like I had outgrown school. It was refreshing to be in an institute that was there specifically for people my age. No 11-year-olds down the corridor making noise or playing tag in the playground. Having moved away from school, I think that myself and my classmates have matured a lot more. As a creative person wanting to pursue a creative career (as are most of my friendship group) and I think that we all feel less judged for our dreams now. This is because there are so many people in college that there is no way you can know everyone and there isn’t the same sort of hierarchy as there is in secondary school. Due to those increased numbers, you can find people who are more akin to yourself – in this case, a massive group of creatives coming together and helping each other push forwards (quick interval: love you guys, you’re the best. Okay, now continue). With less social pressure to not doubt our passions, we have been able to explore them more and advance our skills.

That’s everyone’s aim, right?

So, because I have benefited so much from the experience of college (the actual A levels and studying are not included here, that’s stress city, but it’s the experience I’m more focused on here), I think that they should be introduced in more places across the country and to a higher standard (as well as other post-16 options, although as I haven’t taken those routes I’m not as educated on them so if you have then feel free to tell me your experiences with it).

If you liked this post you might like: Criticising Something You Love

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In study

My Advice to New A Level Students

I am about to go into my second year of A Levels, having struggled my way through the first year. I hope I can help any of you who are starting sixth form this September. Good luck to you all!

Use your frees wisely

At the beginning of the year, even at the end of the year now that I think about it, many people in my year spent their free periods socialising then having to do their work at the last minute. I then watched as they stressed out later on and panicked. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet or anything but I’m quite happy with the way I’ve used my frees this year. I tried to do all the work I had whilst I was in college so I could have the evening to relax. This stopped later on as revision started, but I think it really helped me keep calm at the beginning. Obviously, there’ll be days when you want to go outside and socialise and you should – just make sure you get your work done as well as taking breaks and being mindful of your mental health.

Get a planner

My planner is my lifeline. I honestly don’t know how I would last more than a day without it. I get it out at the beginning of every lesson and I have my life in there. I use it for planning blog posts, homework, coursework, monthly goals, making notes of events in my personal/social life, my D of E (when I did it) as well as paid work and the day to day to-do lists I use to keep myself productive. Time management is a key skill you will learn when you start your A Levels and a planner is something that helped me (and my friends) a lot with keeping on top of everything. It doesn’t have to be expensive or even a physical object, some people prefer to use apps like Reminders or Calendar to help them manage their workload, you just have to figure what suits you.

Speak to your teachers

They’re there to help. Ask the question you think is stupid, it might help in your exam. Give them practice answers you’ve written and make sure you have something to work on. Ask them for help on any areas that you’re stuck on, They’re there to help. They’re literally getting paid to help you. Obviously, don’t go to them constantly. You are meant to be more independent at A Level but your teachers will still help you when you need it.

Do some sort of wider reading

A Level requires a lot more than GCSE did. Read around your subject in any way possible to give your background information which will improve your understanding, your coursework (if you have it in your subject) and your exam answers. For example, in A Level Government & Politics, a lot of examples are required and wider reading provides the examples that are needed. In English, reading lots of texts in relation to the texts you actually study helps you understand those curriculum texts better and develop your interpretations of them.

Wider reading doesn’t have to be daunting or stressful. It could be in the form of documentaries (for politics, documentaries such as Meet the Commons and Meet the Lords), TV shows (e.g. Question Time or the News), the newspapers, apps (for languages etc.), books (both fiction and non-fiction), films, podcasts, YouTube videos. The list is endless. Don’t take on too much at the beginning, you can build it up and change the amount you’re doing to suit your workload. Keep a note of what you’re reading, you could mention it in your personal statement.

Secure work experience early

Believe me, you’ll need some sort of work experience before you finish sixth form. Get as much as you can (obviously within reason, don’t spend your whole time doing work experience and manage your A Level work, that’s your priority) in the relevant field. You can use it, and what you’ve learned from it in your personal statement if you want to go to university. If you don’t want to go to university, it will still be useful as experience when applying for jobs or apprenticeships. Any experience in the right area will do you a lot of good in the long run. Get it organized early on then you won’t have the extra stress of finding a position late along with everyone else who didn’t think about it earlier.

Take your learning into your own hands

You are given a lot less support by your teachers at A Level – it’s a fact no matter what school or college you attend. You become a lot more independent and whilst your teachers should provide you help when you need it, you shouldn’t be relying on them. Look up the mark schemes and extra details for yourself. Look ahead at what you’re going to be studying. Revise the content without being prompted by your teacher in homework. Once you take proper control of your studies and learning, you will benefit most from your own individualized approach.

I wish you the best of luck if you are starting A Levels – they’re going to be very hard, stressful and you’ll probably have a few breakdowns at the least, but you can pull through it still. Support your friends, help your classmates and talk to your family.  Remember: your mental health is priority – it’s okay to take the odd day off here and there to help you cope with the stress you’re under.

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In feminism films

Why We Need to Stop Making Women-Only Reboots

Women in film has been a huge discussion lately, particularly in the last few years. Films such as Ghostbusters and Ocean’s Eleven (not yet released) having reboots with all-female casts, with a pressures for a future female James Bond being applied from lots different areas (including actors who want to take on the iconic role), has put the issue into the spotlight and have been named as huge steps forward for feminism. Really?

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I personally am not a big fan of the idea of women-only reboots, particularly that of films that are already iconic and adored by millions of loyal fans – women most definitely included within that fan base! The characters that these women are taking on are already well established, setting them up for failure in the audiences’ mind as they have pre-built expectations of what the character should be, leaving the actor little room to interpret a character they may want to experiment with. There will inevitably be some disappointment. And fingers will point at the fact that that character is now a woman, not the way she is written or the plot of the actual film or the direction. If there’s a woman involved, that’s seen as the only problem.

I enjoy the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters. I find it fun to watch, have seen it a few times and no doubt that I’ll see it many more times in the future. It’s a family favourite now. My dad, a huge fan of the original, even said to me that he likes it as much as the original. You can imagine how much I was impressed by that statement. But I enjoy the original as well. And I don’t necessarily feel like the reboot really brought anything to the story overall. For a discussion on this film, in particular, I would definitely recommend watching Hazel Hayes’ video on it.

I’m fed up with all-female casted reboots of films that don’t need it. For some reason that is viewed by a lot of the media as a breakthrough in the name of feminism, when it really isn’t. We need to first ask ourselves how diverse these apparently progressive films are, and the way they present women of all backgrounds as well as the reception they receive. Suddenly switching male characters to female ones doesn’t do much in reality – in fact, it seems lazy. Why implant femininity on characters that have been pre-made in a more masculine way when you could just make a brand new, well developed and interesting female character? An original that has no pre-conceived perceptions attached to her.

I just want people to stop recycling male characters and start creating believable, representative and interesting fictional women that audiences can get invested in. That’s all I want. Plleeasssee...

If you liked this post you might like: 'Women's Fiction'

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In books brand review

The Metropolis of Glass by Chloe Lee | Review

A while ago, I was sent The Metropolis of Glass by Chloe Lee from the lovely people at Troubador Publishing. I have to admit that I only actually read it last week as my reading for A Levels kind of got in the way. The life of a student blogger, right?

The Metropolis of Glass is a poetry book written by Chloe Lee, a young poet I’d never heard of before. It was an easy read, there’s no doubt about that. I read it in about 3 days, although in actual time it was more like less than two hours. If you’re just getting into poetry, this may be a good place to start; it’s someone unknown (relatively, obviously now you know her name) with easy messages and relatively short (I mean, in comparison to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, for example). I personally found Lee’s poetry a bit frustrating due to those reasons, however.

I found this poetry collection to be, I hate to say it, average at best. Nothing shocked me, no lines struck me at my core, made me think about something I’d never thought to think about before or brought me back to a certain point in my life. I found it annoying that the meanings were so blatant and didn’t initially spark much further thought. The meanings of the poems I found quite annoying as well, I mean there’s nothing necessarily better about a non-digitalised world, just saying. Many of the poems had a similar tone. This becomes increasingly obvious with each listed triad of either nouns, adjectives, verbs or adverbs (only one type of word at a time) in practically every poem. This just gets boring after a while. I can cope with that kind of listing in one poem but when it becomes the poet’s trademark I just start rolling my eyes each time I see one list.

Okay, rant over.

It was a fairly easy read so I would recommend it if you’re looking for some easy to understand poetry. If you’re looking for something more advanced and well crafted, then maybe look somewhere else. I will continue to look out for Lee’s work, probably more in the hope that I can read something that is an improvement on this (sorry Chloe Lee if you’re reading this).

If you liked this post you might like: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote | Review

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In 5 Fridays travel

5 Tips for When Your Flight is Cancelled

A few weeks ago, after a lovely holiday in Berlin, my flight back was cancelled and rescheduled to the next day. I think it’s fair to say I learned from that experience. If you’re reading this you may be in the same situation, so here are some tips that should be useful - they helped me at least.

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1. Know what you’re entitled to

My mum sent me this link almost as soon as I told her I was stranded for 24 hours. Citizens’ Advice sets out everything you’re legally entitled to varying by how long your delay is. It’s so useful, especially when you're badgering the airport staff to ensure you get everything you should. That includes food, drink, a hotel for the night and taxis to get there and back.

2. Do something you know calms you down

This is such a personal thing. One of my friends had a breakdown, yelled some Bible verses and was okay after a few minutes. Another one read us her favourite poem, which seemed oddly fitting to the situation. I’m not quite sure what I did. I probably made some jokes that weren’t funny, let’s be honest. The first thing I did was FaceTime my family, to let them know what was going on. Do whatever suits you but make sure you keep an eye on what others may be feeling, particularly people you may know to have mental health problems. Do something that will make it easier for them.

3. Keep all your receipts

You shouldn’t have to be buying the things you are. Make sure you keep any receipts so that you can claim the money back afterwards. Obviously, this doesn’t count for luxury items like alcohol or electronics, despite how much we may want it to. Keep track of everything, no matter how big or small.

4. Eat something

Particularly if you have a long delay. Make sure you eat like you normally would and don’t let the sudden change affect your physical health. In fact, eating will help you stay calm, meaning you can handle the situation in a much better way.

5. Make the most of your hotel!

You’re there for free, make use of everything you can. You’ll probably need to check out by their normal time, but that shouldn’t stop you. Have as big a breakfast as possible and stock up. When I was stuck in Berlin I took everything I could, right down to the box of tissues I the bathroom (which I have next to me on my desk) and a box of shoe cleaner which I’ll probably never use.

If you liked this post you might like: 5 (1/2) Days in Berlin

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In politics

Why You Should Support the Greens

If anyone ever asks me what the hell the Greens are even meant to be about, I always have the same response: they’re Labour, but better. Sorry to any Labour devotees out there, but I prefer my socialism with a hint of breathable oxygen, thank you very much.

The Greens are perhaps the smallest of the well-known parties, if you don’t count UKIP, but are rarely given much attention by the media – definitely when in comparison to UKIP, who seem to be featured almost constantly (but no bitterness) despite their lack of MP, which I think is not what they deserve.

The Greens are often stereotyped as a bunch of tree-hugging hippies, and I’m not going to lie, that is the kind of aesthetic that I love and my outfits reflect at times, and that means that the party isn’t really taken seriously a lot of the time. I just want to say, most Green party supports don’t fit that description and there’s a whole lot more to the Green party than the stereotypes that surround it.

The party (not in the 1984 sense, I and the Greens are not about all that government totalitarian control) are advocates for free movement and acceptance, and how an open and progressive society can have a close relationship with the environment that its people live in. They push for ways to make the UK a democracy that’s, well, more democratic. To me, giving power to the people (yes I just sang that as I wrote it) is one of the most important things there is. What’s the use of having a government if it doesn’t do as their electorate wishes?

But what is the point in a government, in the end, if it has no state to govern? That’s why we need a green approach to politics, so we have a thriving environment and living through a sustainable means, which would allow us to have a happier, healthier society – one that accepts and embraces each other’s differences and builds each other up.

But I’m just a tree-hugging hippy, so maybe that’s all tosh.

If you liked this post you might like: My Thoughts on the General Election

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In feminism

Is There Such Thing as a Perfect Feminist?

I feel like there’s a lot of pressure among activists to be the perfect activist – the perfect feminist, the perfect vegan, the perfect campaigner etc., who never puts a step wrong, only furthering their causes constantly. In reality, as much as everyone would love to be perfect at what they do, this isn’t always realistic and can be damaging to expect that of people.

I have seen many people being ripped apart on social media (Twitter, I’m looking at you) for tiny mistakes that could easily have been a slip of the tongue, a spontaneous thought, or something that may not even have come across their mind. And to me, that doesn’t seem so healthy. What’s the point in yelling (figuratively) at someone when they’ve done something wrong – the offending person will just get defensive, and then they won’t learn and no one will be better off, only perhaps worse as that person may now be put off from listening to the reasoning of anyone who calls them out. This is why we need to have a more relaxed, less shouty approach to calling people out. Through a calm debate and discussion, we can get people to understand why their comments or action were so insensitive to others, which they can then let other people know and apologise properly, rather than being forced into an apology they don’t understand. Surely that’s more beneficial to an overall cause.

My god, I would love to meet the perfect feminist. How incredible would that be? But as flawed humans, everyone will naturally be a flawed feminist. That, I think, is why the Guilty Feminist podcast is so popular. It recognises that, while we strive forwards in the name of feminism, we can’t always do everything in the way we would like to. And that’s okay – as long as we accept it when we get called out, learn from it and move on so that one day we could 

It’s okay not to be perfect, as long as you’re doing the best you can.

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Feminist Bloggers You Should Be Reading

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