Chilean Adventure: Time to Travel

The day arrived, actually let me rephrase myself, the days have arrived. Leaving my lovely apartment in London, home, I set off on my adventure to South America. I begin with a smile, a suitcase and my backpack, this smile may disappear in about five hours.

Meeting up with a few others that are heading off to Heathrow we sit and nervously wait for the tube to chug along as we conjure up images of Chile within our minds. I wring my hands, and check, double check, and triple check that I have my passport and my pesos. I’m unsure whether I’ve remembered to pack my toothbrush but who cares I’ve just checked in, wandered through security and am ready to depart for stop one;

Oh how I love airports, I’m always there early and I sit in my seat and watch. I watch everyone, I conjure lasts and futures for them. I decide where people are traveling and why, and I lose myself to my imagination until the moment I sit aboard a Boeing. Once this moment arrives the shakes begin. I’m a nervous flyer, one of the downfalls of my brain. I’m usually thankful for the ability to conjure great images for me to write, now though, now I wish I couldn’t even think. As the flight rumbles and moves I try to not let the tears fall. I am not a flyer, it is unatural to be so high above the ground and I all I can see is this piece of metal hurtling towards the ground, or perhaps the ocean.

After we touched down in Amsterdam, the short but horrifically turbulent flight made me question hopping on the next 18 hour flight down to Buenos Aries and across to Santiago. After a few hours in the airport though and a pep talk from a few members of the group I manned up and waltzed onto the plane, sitting down and immediately watching The Longest Ride (a nice Nicholas Sparks film would get my mind off of the  flight). Once the film finished the travel tablets kicked in and I was out for the rest of the flight, well the majority of it until my bum got too numb and I needed another movie kick (Ratatouille this time).

As we drew close to our final destination the Andes appeared and they took my breath away. From the sky the view was beyond beautiful, perfect and peaceful.

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This was one of the best welcomes to Chile. Having landed and headed through the airport into the new unknown I was met with crisp autumnal air. Immediately I smiled. Having made it through the 30 hours travel, the three plane journeys, and immigration. I was met with air and sky as clear and clean as my home in Scotland. This was a delightful change to the smog of London.

Traveling another couple of hours we made it to our host family. Luckily I’m sharing a room and host with Yana, a Bulgarian girl fro, University who’s direct and spunky personality immediately made me feel at ease and calmed the nerves of our arrival. Speaking no more Spanish than Hola I feared the welcome and realised soon they may grow tired of my single word, however, the family are lovely and Yana helps as she too is learning from scratch (even if she is picking it up super quickly).

To end our first day on Chilean soil we wandered five minutes to the beach where we stumbled onto the Pacific. Our arduous journey was rewarded with yet another view meant not for words, hence why I can only describe the views in pictures.

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Students Union President Interview

The new President has arrived….No not that one! Harry Hodges has recently been named as the new Student’s Union President after months of campaigning and subsequent elections. Sat now, opposite me, he is cool and collected; comfortably positioned in his chair and a far different Harry to the one that had to deal with elections only a month ago.

Starting from the beginning I decided that we needed to get to know Harry before he talks us through his Presidential ambitions. Harry hails from Devon, in the South of England, and came to Greenwich University to study Psychology, always having been a member of the Student’s Union he decided, in his final year, to actually become a volunteer officer and this is where the interview begins.

When asking Harry why he chose to join the Student’s Union as an officer a couple of years ago, he explained his love for working to help the students. His role then was Equality, Diversity and Disability Officer (President is a breath of fresh air compared to that lengthy title). Harry believed this role “opened his eyes to the students union and really showed him what little was being done”. Even now he sits up straight and speaks with heightened emotion.

“We constantly challenged the sabbatical officers when myself and Ed Oakes were Equality officers; we pushed them to do more. At the end of the year we felt we’d be some of the best people to lead the Union.”

Harry has had a large involvement with activities and societies before his role as Vice President of Student Activities, and soon to be President. As a student he was a member of Greenwich’s Hockey and Cricket Teams as well as being a member of the Psychology Society. Having such a firm standing within the student body Harry had a clear idea of what he wanted to do and achieve within the Students Union.

When asked about his role as Vice President of Student Activities and what he’s achieved this past year a smile crossed Harry’s face as he leaned forward and excitedly told me the numbers.

“We wanted to at least have a thousand new members join societies this year, and we’ve had two thousand and fifty! Sports are constantly growing as well!” A number to be proud of, surpassing targets set at the beginning of the year, not only this but the number of societies available to students has also doubled.

After talking to him about background work we discussed what he wants to do as President, his role commencing June 1st.

Quoting his manifesto from the election process he spoke passionately about “Greenwich apathy”. Harry firmly believes that there is a lack of feeling when it comes to students and the SU and even the University.

“I want to ensure that I bridge the gap between the University and Students. A lot of the staff for the University, especially those in high positions, have no time for the students and really don’t understand them.” Shaking his head Harry rolls his eyes at the idea of this unseeing higher board of educators.

The role of President can become heavily administrative; you sit on a lot of boards and talk to a lot of staff. I want to achieve communication between all three parties; the Students Union, University Staff, and Students. I have the ability to and I want to make sure I use it.”

The elections process is a long and arduous task that takes months of preparation and a lot of decisions have had to be made. Harry was part of “Team Red”, a group of students who all had the same objectives and motives that allowed them to group together and run as a kind of political party. (All members of Team Red were elected in the campaign).

Having run in multiple elections now Harry spoke of how this was an “interesting year” as there were no “large groups or slates running against us, it was mainly independents”. When asked how this made him feel and if he found this to be an easier election campaign than previous years he quickly responded with “No, it was still difficult and hard work. This was the first year of really positive campaigning and there were a strong group of candidates who all had the best intentions.” Asked if running as a group made a difference he replied, “When people run as a group though they bring with them a large group of people with various backings, however, independents don’t have this they tend to only have a few or themselves. This doesn’t mean the campaign was easy though, anyone could’ve won.” If he had lost Harry fondly maintains the knowledge that “the other candidates would’ve done a really good job too.”

When asked what the first thing he thought of when winning he replied “Thank God!”.

Speaking of his future Harry simply laughs, a lot! “I don’t know, I think I would like to enter the volunteering sector, specialise in crisis. But all I know is I need to take a break from the higher education sector.”

When the interview was over Harry smiled and asked if he could relax, laughing I told him he’d been relaxed throughout. Clearly he’s going to be good SU president.

Where is Home?

Sitting on my bed now, looking out at the trees blowing in the wind and a blue sky that allows the sun to filter in through my ancient windows, I can’t help but wonder; is this home?

The answer is usually ‘home is where the heart is’, however, where is my heart?

I have no answer to my sudden question. Sometimes I feel like a little nomadic camel moving from place to place. Having lived in Dorset as a young girl some may say this is my home, however, I know that it is not. I don’t feel euphoric when I visit Dorset. There is no rush of excitement or one perfect exhale that allows all of the muscles in my body to relax. So no; this is not home.

My next stop was Scotland. Having spent many years in this Northern country I could almost say that this is home. I refer to it as that, with its rolling hills, curving rivers and emerald green landscape. Scotland was where I did all of my growing up; I made friends here, created a life and had a staple place in the community. I finished school here and learnt valuable life lessons, however, now that’s neither I or nor my parents reside here is this home? After my parents returned to Dorset after are many years in the ‘barren wilderness’ can I refer to Scotland as my home with no house on its beautiful land?

Then I moved to London; the large sprawling urban jungle that is alive throughout the day and night. University was calling and London answered. Here I’ve met life long friends, had dream internships and found my feet. Here my ambition has only grown. My dreams getting bigger at every passing moment and I feel that life is there for the taking. London is thrilling; one large adrenaline rush of people and work. I somewhat get that relaxing exhale I have always dreamed of; but not quite, not completely. I may call London home to those who ask. Alas in my heart I know that it’s not quite the truth.

I wonder, as I walk around this amazing city; have I found home yet? Is it possible that I don’t have the place to call home, as I haven’t yet located it? I know where I want to call home; an even bigger city with much taller buildings. You know? That city on an island beginning with man? But even if this dream home doesn’t exist there, I suppose I will find it eventually. A girl just has to be patient and wait. Much like you have to wait for love, I’ve decided to wait for my home.

So what I’m saying is that it’s possible to never fit in or feel safe where your family calls home, or where your friends call home. These can simply places that you’re visiting on your journey to the place that you want to call home. I know that while I’m close I’m not quite there yet. Home is calling me, but I won’t be able to settle in for a few years.

Rush Hour

commute So this week I’m traveling into Central London every morning and then out again at night. Living in Greenwich the journey should take me roughly 30 minutes. At rush hour though? Well that’s a different story. The train came into the station this morning packed to the brim with a variety of people, mainly suits, but also children and families (though I question their sanity for choosing to visit the capital at a time when we’re packed into trains and shoved and pushed for the smallest spot possible on a tube). Personal space doesn’t exist at these two times of the day. No, no personal space. last night I was being suffocated by two different arms. I may be small at 5ft 4 but just because you’re above 6ft does not give you the right to smother me! However, you say nothing because it is rush hour and you have your small spot on the tube, this you don’t give up for anything.

3.4 billion people used the underground system to commute last year. That’s like cramming half the world into the underground. And on average 277 hours a year are wasted in London on commute time. Putting it into perspective you realize how crazy it all sounds.

This morning I got off of the 8:45 train to London Bridge and as I moved in the wave people (this is the only way to describe it), it was like a tsunami I of suits and briefcases heading towards their offices or the underground. I preceded to stand and wait in a crowd of around 30 at one set of door on my Jubilee line train (that’s 30 around 1 set of doors, 1!).

Rush hour is not only something infuriating but also something kind of beautiful. Everyone striding with a single purpose. The walk is a silent one only interrupted by the noise of the trains. No one speaks, this is a taboo of the underground. If you went anywhere else with such a crowd of people, compacted into small hallways and crevices, all stood waiting for their journey, it would be loud.

So as I take part in this great migration of the commute I take a breath at the height of my frustration and I take in the purity of the situation, and the one time that as a species we all seem to come together and adopt the same social rules.

Intern: Day One

To start I had a tour of the building, shown the various desks and areas of the magazine from fashion to beauty, or news to features. My little walk also introduced me to the various ‘closets’ where designers keep all of their clothes for our various shoots! First there was the clothing closet, then the handbag closet and lastly the beauty closet (so much make-up and perfume!). Though I have to tell you all, the films lie there are no freebies in the closets. The fashion interns spend their days sending all of these samples back to the designers (literally all of their days) and the beauty closet usually remains locked…so no-one can have a sneak peak at the latest Dior or Chanel collections. 

To my day though:

Monday = Admin day. Starting with giving out post I preceded to envelope over 100 copies of the magazine to a variety of advertisers and clients. While these jobs may seem meaningless I felt part of a team, sat at my desk and listening to the gossip and interviews happening around me in the office. The atmosphere of the office was enveloping me, much like I was filling envelopes. 

As the day progressed I wrote an introduction for the online portion of Grazia, introducing next weeks copy, then I began to transcribe an interview with a famous actress (but I can’t tell you who). While to many of you out there this may seem like an awfully boring day…for me? It wasn’t. I was getting an insight into the world that I hope to enter after University. I saw how each section worked and heard so many amazing stories. This is only day one, may the next three weeks only continue to get better. 

Urban Outfitters

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Today I embarked on the horrible task of Christmas shopping. It’s November you say? I know however, I still fought through the crowds on Oxford Street, having been shoved and pushed I finally escape the throngs of Selfridges to appear in front of Urban Outfitter. This is where I took the above shot.

In a nation that is tackling a severe drug problem the advertisement of ‘Heroin’ in one of the nations leading retailers took my breath away. Not in a good way. Many young people are currently struggling with drug related issues, either through health or their battle to keep themselves alive whilst topping up their bodies with a poison.

There has been a long-term increase of 75% in patients having been administered to hospital with the primary diagnosis of drug related mental illness. Heroin is largest cause of death due to drugs. 1,632 people died due to overdosing on drugs in 2012, with this number rising last year and expected to again rise this year.

Urban Outfitters is considered ‘chic’ ‘stylish’ and has a big following within a young generation who are very fashion conscious and focused on their image. Are they selling the image of drugs? They’re publishing drugs as cool, placing heroin with the words hero and heroine, the company may believe this to be a play on words, a fun slogan for their ‘cool kid’ clientele. With such a movement trying to quell drugs though should this retailer be allowed to advertise a Class A drug within their window? Especially during a time when everyone begins to let loose during the holidays, when drug deaths increase?

The Storm

 Thunder dances through the city

The world echoing dark; filled with pity.

A tramp sits alone claiming his step

While rain weeps with every threat.

A vagrant dog roams the streets alone

The lightening crackles, firmly home.

Birds fly south as the storm sets in

Clouds are turning filling with sin.

People are caught now left waiting

the storm unyielding, never breaking.