Wednesday, 28 September 2016

University: A summary of my second week

This second week of university has just flown by. Class wise, I feel so engaged with everything, that it practically lifts up the words of the page and brings them to life. Which honestly, is a huge relief. I am finding myself happy in this new home, in this new education. And most importantly, I feel like I am making progress. Not just in class, but getting to know the area, the wonderful city of York and getting to know my fellow class mates. Each of them is so incredible and interesting - they are as excited about the world and everything in it as me which is always a positive sign right? When you can see some of your own attributes in another, then you know you have come across a kindred spirit. And it's also reassuring to be keeping in good touch with my friends and family from Leeds and Manchester - we're doing lots of letter writing, which is a particularly lovely way of staying in contact and it makes me realise how lucky I am to know the people I do because they are all, quite simply, the best.

Book wise, we have moved on partially from Ovid to modern interpretations of his work (I have previously mentioned Carol Ann Duffy's Mrs Midas which I adore - makes me even more desperate to read her anthology, the feminine gospels - my current favourite is the bees) Discussing them is super fun because it allows us to find in so much detail the contrast and similarity of these poets work to Ovid's original text. And also to see that not so much has changed in what it means to be a human in the past 2000 years. There are still all those varied things - from heartbreak to, quite honestly, stupidity (see Midas, book 11, Metamorphoses) 

As for behind the scenes at the museum, we did some group study on that today outside of class, I'll tell you more about that soon as I have an analysis post on it which you might find useful, if you have read the book before for fun, like Atkinson's writing as much as I do or if you are studying it also. 

I'm also working my way quite quickly through the list of 100 things to do in York before you graduate list. Today I did several of those things to make the most of a few genuinely free hours (remember - free classes usually aren't free classes) Today I went to the food festival which was awesome, I've literally never seen so much delicious, mouth watering food all in one place. After which we took selfies with the view of the Minster (heads up, the best view is from the window at the back of Marcs and Spencers) Also, really impressed to find lots of nut free Halloween food (nut free + Halloween themed/pumpkin shaped + me = perfect nourishment) in M and S which I will soon be stocking up on. And finally, went to the cool cafe over the river called the Perky Peacock which sells the best organic apple juice with a great view - must go back soon!

It's been a long time coming since I really put thoughts down on university, other than just a few every now and again and perhaps an advice blog. But I'm getting there, slowly but surely. Settling in has taken the past 3 weeks, but miss Manchester as I might York is becoming a second home as I would want it to. And that seems to have crept up on me in the very best way.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Preparing for your first year of sixth form

Apologies for this post being a little late. I've spoken a lot about preparing for university, preparing for GCSE's, but necessarily sixth form recently. I think this is because being fresh out of sixth form an straight into a degree course, I sometimes forget that not everyone has adjusted just yet to the way sixth form works. Sometimes they find that sixth form just isn't for them, or might find it difficult to adjust to at first. My advice for that one is try to stick it out for a year and you might surprise yourself with how much you end up liking it. And if that sounds too long, treat it as baby steps and try to stick it out till Christmas before you make any big decisions. You have time to make those decisions, so don't rush into anything.

Now, back to thinking about things positively. The first year of sixth form can be overwhelming to begin with because there are lots of new things. So it is important to keep and open mind and remember that this is an experience within itself which is very different to school. Some tips are:

1. No free classes are actually free classes

Your schedule will probably incorporate quite a lot of free time between your classes. At first, when the year begins and the work load is not too great, this might all seem like leisure time, but on the contrary as the year goes on you need to be using these hours to your advantage - revising for exams, working towards course work deadline dates, and getting the words in whilst you still can. No free is really free.

Whilst class is hard and there is the potential for procrastination in all of us, you can rise above that as you get yourself into a routine. My advice would be to treat your frees as your own personal schedule - make a weekly list or schedule so that you know when you have time to get particular things done. If you know that you have to get an hour of essay work done every Tuesday then you are more likely to settle in to writing on every given Tuesday. You can also use this to set free time which you can actually have off - a lunch hour, or half an hour with your friends. Maybe the free at the end of Friday means you can get transport home a little earlier.

Frees are also useful as they allow you to make use of the resources in your college/sixth form and local area. When I was studying at Xaverian sixth form, I found it hugely useful to have the time to walk down to the central library to look for new musical scores or a book my teacher had recommended that the school library didn't have. There were also book shops, cafes and so on, where I could find a nice spot to work in. Having a colourful, vibrant, exciting new place always gave me the energy to focus on the tasks at hand and once I had explored a while I found it much easier to turn back to my academic studies and make more efficient progress. If you're like me, then this part of sixth form will quickly become one of your favourite stages of education and it's definitely one I miss despite all the good things about university!

My advice for this would be to explore and make use of resources, whilst also ensuring you have two fixed time tables (your set one and your personal one) to make the most of your academic studies. It's all about balance which leads us on to...

2. Your A levels are important - balance your work load

This is the time when you are working out where it is you want to be headed to, what you want to pursue next (university, work, apprenticeships, internships etc) The connections you make, the grades you get, are important and should be treated thus. It's important to be keen and informed when you are picking which A levels to pursue - make sure you look into every option before you dismiss it, or you might regret not going down the paths you could have chosen. GCSE grades occasionally impact on what you can or cannot study, so also check this out. It's important as well to have a variety or a specific set of A levels which compliment one another well so that you can apply for the jobs you are considering. If medicine is what you want to be going for, then it is better to head in the direction of sciences or mathematics. If on the other hand you want to be a journalist, then geography, humanities, arts and social studies are more your field (they usually require at least one of the English subjects, so either/or language or literature)

One of my teachers said something that has really stuck with me and that in some ways I wish I had also done when I went to sixth form - choose a humanity, a modern foreign language, an art and a science. This way you will be extremely balanced and can choose to specialise further your set of A levels by dropping one subject when you get to your second year of study. Whilst all of these are hugely employable skill sets to possess, it's also important to remember that if it isn't going to make you happy then there is no point in studying it - all that will do is make you miserable.

Balance wise, it is also important to keep balance around everywhere you can. Balance your schedule and work load throughout the year so that you have social time and time to de-stress - don't go overboard and burn yourself out before the exams. Slow and steady wins the race, as the good old Tortoise always teaches us. Balance is also important in your A levels. When I first started sixth form, I wanted to do as many subjects as I possibly could because I love so many subjects and didn't want to give anything up. But by the time I had gotten through my first month of being a lower sixth student I realised that simply wasn't realistic. This is because you specialise in a subject at level, or begin to at least. It's not as easy to balance as GCSE, so pick a few and pick wisely. But also remember, if like me you have a love of learning about pretty much everything, that you don't have to give up everything you enjoy. If you like science, botany, languages, travelling, geography, post war history, poetry, learning about the anatomy of newts and evolution, space, why time travel isn't mathematically possible and so on, then you can continue to read widely, and get involved with extra curricular projects and also research them on your own out side of class. Just because you aren't training in Botany doesn't mean you can't be the world expert in facts on Venus fly traps.

3. Make the most of the library 

I mentioned this roundabout relatively earlier on, but I want to reinforce it because books are your new best friend and they are your best weapon. Aim to become Hermione - that's how much reading you are going to be doing for pretty much any degree, and also for A levels. You need to get into the habit of doing the individual task of going to the library to look for secondary reading - this will always score you brownie points and it makes you extra prepared for every essay that counts because you will be used to be preparing in the same way for every essay in between.

If you can use your resources wisely, you will quickly fall into those aforementioned patterns of balance and schedule that make up routine. It's reassuring to find yourself in a happy place where the library feels like a second home and you look forward to spending your time there. The best way to keep it that way is to make sure you do some reading alongside just all the class stuff. My current reading list features the works of Obama, and Girl up (a great feminist text) by Laura Bates.

4. Get involved with clubs + societies 

Clubs and societies aren't just at university. Although sixth form is a transition point between school and university, it's more like uni than you will currently realise. There will be plenty of extra curricular for you to get involved with, whether you're interested in joining the orchestra or would prefer to branch out into something entirely new, like photography or psychology. And if you can't find what you want to be involved in, make sure you talk to subject teachers and see if there is any way you can sit in on a few lessons or begin a club for that field.

5. Make it worth remembering 

This is going to be two of the fastest years in your life, but also two of the most important. You'll undergo a great deal of change as an individual - you'll realise things about yourself that you never really did before. It's sometimes a hard or painful process, because you're growing up. You're almost at the decision point of which path to head down towards the rest of your life. But for now, just focus on making every moment count, because to be young and in education is the most freedom I think you can have - you have the freedom to create, to think and to change the world.

There is no such word as can't any more. Keep your imagination open.


And to bring a little sunshine into your day, here is a cover by the fabulous Dodie Clark of the Beatles Here comes the sun (don't forget - it's nearly Friday now!)

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

How to: Get the most out of a seminar

When it comes to lectures and seminars, there is a crucial difference. Where in lectures you sit for an hour or so listening to the ideas and perspective of a lecturer, when you get to your seminars it's all about working with your class mates, analysing, discussing, sharing. The time is also usually a little longer, so you get a mix of pretty much every aspect of teaching and learning. This is great because it means your mind is churning out ideas quickly, learning to work faster and beginning to structure things in more complex ways. This is great practice for when you come to plan essays later on, or when you need to fully express an idea to your group in order to realise it yourself.

To get the most out of seminars, I find it important to remember:

1. Read + analyse the material before class

Usually, at least with an academic (particularly a literature degree) you will be given work to do before class. This means reading something. But to actively read, you need to formulate at least some kind of opinion. So it's really useful to analyse as you go.

If you have been given the material before class, so for instance I had some Claude Mckay poetry to work on for today, then make sure you start work at least two days before the class on reading and analysing so that if you want to take a break and come back to it then you have the time to. If you keep a folder, then any extra notes can be fitted neatly there and you can come back to them when you need to. When analysing, use a pencil first so that you have space to erase, space to write and space to think. No one ever thought best in permanent ink, so it's better to keep that ink to a minimum as you formulate your ideas - quite simply, it alleviates so much pressure. It definitely makes me automatically feel better and more comitted to the work I am producing.

When analysing, ask yourself questions about everything from the form +structure (e.g. why did he use sonnet structure here? why is it relevant that this is iambic pentameter?) to the use of words (is there sibilence? why is this effective?) And also start to broaden this, asking the biger questions such as what does this mean as a whole, what does this express to me, what do I think and why has this opinion formulated? Something crucial to realise early on - seminars are about building your ideas and knowledge, so use that opportunity to get some feedback on your thoughts.

2. Listen to your groups responses

Just as your opinion is important in a seminar, so too are the opinions, thoughts and analysis of those around you. Listening to what your group has to say will open up your own opinion, forcing you to question what you know and think of something, which will again strengthen your skill when it comes to arguing a piece of evidence in your academic work.

Group responses are intriguing because they are all always going to be different and unique to the individuals who possess them. When you share ideas, sometimes something in your own thought process just clicks and you realise something because of something someone else said. For instance, someone saying something about the semantic use of food throughout a poem might lead you to think, this is a great example of evidence which would work for my new thought on the fact that this poem is set in autumn, which shows it is a time of transition and metamorphoses, hence leading to the assumption that this is a portrayal of the harvest of food and how this occurs in a capitalist system as shown in the poem.

3. Be a part of the debate 

Listen to your groups responses, but also make sure you begin to construct arguments. Challenge one another, in a polite and friendly way, and make sure you encourage each other to constantly shape new ideas and thoughts. The debate is ongoing, particularly in seminars, and your contribution is equally as important as everyone elses. Sometimes it can be scary to realise how much potential your words have to impact upon someone else, so bear this in mind and think before you speak, but also make the most of it. Not only is this your opportunity to speak out and see what the reaction is when you test your ideas, it is also an opportunity to make an impression on people you might one day end up working with.

4. Use the teachers points as a guide line

There will be a structure to seminars - tasks, suggestions and answers to questions will all be presented in much the same way as they are in any other class. It's just that for the majority of most of your seminars your groups will be left to their own devices to formulate an argument to present to the class or to put together some information, ideas on a topic etc.

When the teacher gives you work to do, set it out so it feels like a guide line. Like I mentioned with the analysis, permanency scares us as students in realtion to our work. Making things feel open to discuss, friendly and welcoming encourages much more discussion than the pressure to answer a million questions in half an hour. You aren't afterall writing a definite answer, you are simply carrying on a conversation about a particular topic. So make sure to treat this way and the work will flow much more naturally and will invite more suggestions than it might previously have.

5. Be part of a study group

A study group is always a good idea because it means getting to work with new friends on continuing the work and the discussion beyond the class room, which (in my opinion at least) is where all the best ideas are born because it is such an open environment. It just feels like talking and yet it is work. Suddenly your interest in a topic is an internal thing that you begin to fully care about because it is your thought and hence it is precious. Value this beyond all else - and value your colleagues. Being amongst people like you with thoughts like you and thoughts to share, means being amongst your life blood. That is the best feeling - don't ever forget it. It's something you'll treasure for the rest of your life.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!
Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!
If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

How to: Get the most out of a lecture

University is a big step up from A level and GCSE because there is a lot more individual study than you previously will have been used to. Perhaps this is, to some extent, an exaggeration of sorts, but at the same time it feels like a lot when you first get to your degree course but by the end, you realise that that time is just the same as a class - it has a beginning and ending every day. You just need to learn to get those hours scheduled. But more on that at another point.

My point is, that in many different aspects you are going to be learning to work, think and create as a student individually. This means in classes too. Particularly - lectures. In your lectures, you will have a professor/teacher who will talk you through some ideas, analysis, resources on a certain topic. In my incident as a literature student, this is usually on the book we are studying that week or one specific part of it. Unlike at A level, there is not as much detail on the whole text, but there might be a lot of detail on four or five specific sections. In your lectures, you will be expected to take your own notes without the teacher telling you what to write, and this will be the foundation on which you can continue to build up your own ideas and thoughts outside of the lecture theatre.

Some people find that they really struggle to get everything down in a lecture and have to look back over the slides afterwards because they needed to find a particular quote they didn't finish copying up or a sentence they didn't fully understand at the time. So here are some tips to help you get the most out of your lectures:

1. Note what is important to you

It is easy to look up at a screen full of a jumble of words and to immediately go into panic mode, notating everything even if it might not be the most useful thing in the world (e.g. writing down three examples, when one would have been sufficient) It is a difficult habit to get into, but the way to look at this is as if you were looking at some directions. You only want the directions which are concise, clear and easy to follow. If someone gave you directions to the other side of town and made you meander through many unnecessary back streets, you would no doubt be annoyed, confused and stressed, with the result being you might never reach your destination. So it's important to keep your notes as concise as possible, so that next time you look over them (whether that be today, tomorrow or three months time from now) you will be able to follow and understand them as clearly as you can whilst writing them in the lecture itself.

Whilst it is important to note down as much as you can in the lecture (as much important information as you can, of course) it is also key to look back over those notes once you have a free minute because it's always handy to copy them up more neatly or clearly. Especially if like me, you learn through writing things out lots of times. Plus, the end result is even clearer notes and a spare copy should you lose the originals. You will even have the time to colour code, analyse further and add in new comments once you have the time to go over things yourself opposed to the hour of class when things are slightly more rushed.

2. Focus on what is being said that is not on the screen

Remember that there is a reason we attend lectures. The reason is because the people leading them have a lot to say on a topic. If everything was contained in their articles and powerpoints, then we would just download those off line and have a lie in instead of showing up to class (which is the wrong thing to do!) When we listen to others speak, we take in more directly what they are saying. We process that information and internalise it because it is being told to us aloud - it is a conversation. And conversations are much easier to break up and remember than a big chunk of written information on a screen or text book is. Often, the powerpoint slides will contain the bare basics of what the lecturer wants to say - they are a guide line which encourages a group discussion, and which may lead them to offer you advice on how to go about doing something more successfully, or they may be able to break down the jargon which you don't understand. The best part of the lecture is what is said, not what is already planned.

Remember - some awesome things came about completely by accident, like penicillin which helps hundreds of people when they're sick, or the telephone which allows us to communicate great distances in a second. So yes, don't just hone in on the pixels, digest what is being said and take note of some of that too.

3. Ask questions whilst you remember them

If you have a question then make sure you ask it sometime during the lecture or at the end of class at the latest. Whilst you can always book a tutorial if the question needs more analysis or explanation, it's important to remember where you have weak spots and to build upon them, strengthen them up, immediately. If you don't, then they will go to the back of your mind until exam day and then you will be much more stressed than you need to be.

One reason people don't ask questions is because they feel it makes them weak, or might make them look foolish because perhaps they think that every body else already understands. But this isn't true - no question is a stupid question. The only stupid questions are the ones that no body asks. When you ask a question, you are having the courage and sensibility to say, I don't understand this hence I will ask someone who does to explain it more clearly, hence getting the better of my insecurity and creating a better connection to a particular topic or skill. When you ask a question a few minutes after it strikes you, this is even better because you have processed clearly what it is you want to ask, why and how you want to go about getting an answer. If you let the question fester, chances are even the question becomes confused and a confused question can only gain an even more confused answer. So take action whilst the iron is hot, so to speak!

4. Contribute to the discussion

Learning is a beautiful thing because everything in the world is inter-textual. Every element connects to another element connects to another element, which makes for endless sources of inspiration, debate, ideas, books, movies, so on. Even the word university proves this - it practically spells out the word Universe within itself!

Contributing to the decision means opening up your mind to the ideas of others and, whilst still being respectful of those opinions, sharing your own. Stating why they differ, or why you disagree, commenting on what you like about what someone says, offering creative, helpful criticism and so on. The discussion in class, the discussion in online academic forums, in essays, the discussion and debate is everywhere about everything in this fantastic world. So stay aware of this, keep that passion for learning and keep thriving.


Also, a short youtube video from a student called Lucy Moon - there are a few ideas about university and staying calm mixed in here.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!
Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!
If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Update + September favourites

Hasn't September just breezed by? We are definitely steadfast into autumn now, which is great because it means most of my favourite things: Halloween, pumpkins, orange, mustard yellow, falling leaves, toffee apples and that nice crispy cold feeling that means jumpers + scarves are now an option. Well, not just yet, but it's almost time! That anticipation is enough to get me through the longest lecture of them all.

Update wise, I've kept you pretty much up to date with everything lecture wise (the second week of lectures begins formally as of tomorrow so I am going to have a look over notes before bed) though outside of class I have been up to some pretty fun things, including Halle rehearsals for upcoming projects. And last Friday I went to see the ENB premiere of their production of Giselle. They told it from quite a modern perspective, with a bit of a creepy aspect (won't give anything away, you simply have to see it!) which made for a neutral platform on which the dancers could bring to life the story known to many of us through their wonderful new choreography. It was definitely an eye opening experience to see it performed that way and, now that I have, I can't stop thinking about how interpretation is such a powerful thing and can differ so vastly between many directors, artists and so on. It's really an incredible thing, is creativity, and it takes these things to remind us of just how lucky we are to live in a world that supports pretty much every idea we have.

Favourites wise, September has been a month of discovery and great findings, but it's also been a month of going back to some of my standard old time favourites. Some of which are:

1. Fossgate books

There are lots of little book shops I have come across in York so far, and one of my new favourites is right near where I live too up on Monk gate (little apple books) but when wandering in my first week of living here as a local, I came across Fossgate books. Would have missed it if I had kept walking, but for some reason I ended up stopping and quickly realised it was a jolly good thing that I had. 

One wall was covered entirely with old Penguin and Pelican editions of books. The one you can see above is my current read. Reading for profit is a series of lectures which were originally given to soldiers during their time fighting in the second world war. They focus on the entirety of the written world and publishing industry. As someone currently studying with this kind of intensity, it is quite intriguing to come across ideas which have been around for a while longer than myself and my fellow students, even staff members. Many aspects have not changed, but the important part is how much has stayed the same. Despite technology, so many people still love to read and turn to books for comfort, means of expression, new ideas and entertainment. Fossgate books is amongst my favourite new spots for finding surprising, interesting reads.

2. Grief is the thing with feathers

This is a book that I have been waiting for for so long, and now it's finally here! If you haven't heard of it before, it's basically a contemporary response by Max Porter to the poem by Emily Dickinson. As a piece, it's so far split into three perspectives and how they deal with (or view) grief in a modern day society. As someone who has been through grieving and as someone who is a literature student, I find this is something which can be really opened up and explored throughout literature.

It's not a particularly long book, but it is (at least I feel) a rather significant one for the aforementioned reasons. The way three different perspectives are offered, with so much detail, from the mind of just one author is a rather staggering feat which I admire greatly. If you hadn't known that the narratives were not unique individual mind sets, there is probably no way you would really know (unless you looked at the text under extreme analysis) that this is the same writer who has produced the text you are reading.

There are books which stay with us or that we can deeply empathise with because we see shreds of what we ourselves think and feel. This is one of those texts. It is so human in it's ability to provide a dark sense of comedy to alleviate all of those negative thoughts that surround death and what it is. Reading it felt like discussing what it is to be human with another person who has been through difficult things and comprehends that need for communication and connection over such things.

3. The kings singers

I was really sad to hear that Hurley (singing the soprano part here) has retired from the Kings singers as the ensemble you can hear here was one of my favourites. They are still an excellent bunch of singers though much revised now that it is many years on since this video was recorded. But yes, I think this performance (an arrangement of Billy Joel's Lullabye) says everything about why this is so amazing, don't you? I also really like as I went down to the river. Listen people, you won't regret it!

4. New baking recipes

On my weekends back in Manchester for rehearsals, I have been experimenting with different recipes. Sometimes from scratch, sometimes galaxy cookies - it's fun either way to see what new things I can try and make, especially if the end product will be something I haven't tried before due to my nut allergy. Above you can see the smartest cupcake of that particular batch, alongside some new hot chocolate I have discovered. Anything chocolate is usually a no go for nut allergies (of course, there are many nut free options) but I found a nut free Freddo hot chocolate mix which tastes great! And the little frog was so cute on the front in a yellow rain coat, which absolutely sold me on trying that - definitely a wise investment. Next I'm thinking birthday cake flavoured oreos, thoughts?

5. York St John university 

And one of my favourite things this month has to be that it has been my first month as a resident in York and a student at York St. John university! Can you believe that this is actually a thin? I'm actually an English literature student now! The past few weeks have been hectic, but things are starting to fall into a patter now and my note taking is getting back to grips which is useful planning wise. Lots of things to look forward to and also lots of things which are possible hazards (stress alert!) so hoping to work hard and avoid any extra stress. I'm sure you'll hear all about it very soon.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Update - Return to Halle Youth Choir, Even song + New projects

Getting back into the habit of my two hours practice every day after the summer can be a little challenging. Of course, when touring practice becomes a scheduled part of your day. Even though you are usually practising as an ensemble collectively, this still means working hard on your own part and influencing positive change and production of your own individual sound to add to the collective resonance being produced. And of course individual hours to look over scores and fix any sections you're struggling with. But gradually, I am getting there.

Now that I am not studying music full time, something I have found important to continue my progress towards my diplomas is to focus on my weaker spots, which as with most singers is sight reading for me. Usually, the more new pieces I have to learn in a shorter period of time, the more likely it is progress will be made and the sight reading will become much easier. Because of returning to Manchester most weekends for rehearsals, the central library has already proven to be a wealth of new scores - some of which, most of which, I have never even heard of let alone heard. English song has never been a personal focus of mine before despite possessing a great love for listening to it so one of my aims is to learn more of this repertoire. Especially Quilter - a really jazzy, neo classic composer who has so many songs! This week, I've been working my way slowly through a giant pile of his songs which I got out of the library. One of my favourites is called the Fuschia tree - been working on it in several keys, but B minor is so far my favourite (because the jazziness of B minor is easy to love)

Another thing which is keeping me going musically (outside my current primary focus of achieving a high standard in my English literature degree) is attending concerts or musical events around the city of York. York is a city infamous for choral singing - there is so much going on, from amateur choirs to professional. And there is my already beloved centre for early music, which is especially wonderful to have around. 

Yesterday, I attended even song with my friend Rebecca. It was also my first time inside the Minster - it reminds me a lot of Christchurch in Dublin in terms of how it is built. They could be twins architecturally speaking! However, there are certain details which are different. The Minster itself has one of the largest and oldest collections of stained glass, which is evident from just looking at the windows. I have never seen stained glass made so intricately. The colourful shards which make up the pictures are tiny - more like an impressionistic painting on glass than it's simpler modern companions. Any way, I digress, where was I? Even song! Even song was so... rich, is the only word I have right now. Rich in terms of music because the choir was so well balanced. They made the traditional nunc dimitis and O quam gloriosum into something entirely new and different. It was greatly enjoyed, alongside being a new experience as I am used to being the one on the other side of the score usually! 

Returning to Halle Youth Choir for my third and final year is a strange thing to adjust to - mainly because it is my last year with them and it is odd because time has gone so quickly, and another part of me never wants to leave because these people, that music, everything about it, has become such a foundation in my life - for learning and also as support throughout all endeavours. It is rare to feel that sense of belonging and adoration for music at the same time. But I am trying my best not to be nostalgic but instead to focus on the positives - lots of new music to learn for upcoming projects! 

Some of the music I am most excited to be looking at is the King singers arrangements we are working on. As you may remember, last year my consort group won the King singers judged competition at Halle with our chamber version of The bear necessities, so it's really cool to be looking at some more of what they do except re-arranged for a bigger choir. Also, exciting news, not only am I getting used to the new conductor and how he puts together a piece of music during our rehearsals, but I am also getting used to being a soprano 1! For the past few years I have sung out soprano 2, mainly to help the balance, but now I am a sop 1 - so weird, but in a good way.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Where is Ovid?

In my seminar today, we were discussing one of our first texts on the reading list which is Metamorphoses. It's, to summarise, a work written by the poet Ovid and as of 2008 it is 2,000 years old and counting. I'm not quite sure how to describe it, as it doesn't fully feel like an epic poem in the way that the writing of Homer does. However, it does cover much of what Virgil wrote on Greek mythology. There are over 200 different stories in the book, but we are currently focusing on Daphne, Arachne, Actaeon, Orpheus and Eurydice, and the foolish character of Midas.

Something which has really sparked my interest in this text is that it surprised me in that good way reading with an open mind can permit. It is full of compassion, comedy, quick wit and questioning. As a narrator, Ovid is fresh, relevant and funny in our contemporary society just as figures such as Shakespeare are. And it is such an important foundation of all things literary - literally of all things I have looked back on as a majority, including some of the great figures who are held as height of canon, are so clearly influenced in their writing by the stories contained in Metamorphoses. For instance, Midas is turned into a donkey which in the modern society is seen as a sign of stupidity (the donkey, not being turned into one) This stereotype of Donkey's possessing low intellect (which I don't necessarily agree with, but continuing with the literary stereotype) is one which continues in our society in many different forms. For instance, the donkey in Shrek and also Bottom in Shakespeare's a Midsummer night's dream.

When we look back on old works, it is important to ask the questions like we have just discussed - of what makes a text useful, and why we still go back to it time and time again. I think, so far, in this incident it is because it is such startlingly extreme text. It is the ancient God's vs the ancient people, and it is a question of power: of the divide between power, and how myths we think we know well can mean something entirely new once we hear more on them through the perspective of another. Essentially, every time we go back to it it is fresh and we have something new to pick out and hold in our hands, turn over and suddenly the Rubik's cube we thought was complete has got one side with completely random new colours we don't even have shade names for.

Alongside exploring the original, I am really looking forward to moving on to look at contemporary texts which have been directly inspired by Metamorphoses. There is so much poetry, in particular. One I have really enjoyed looking at is Mrs. Midas by the incredible Carol Ann Duffy. She gives voice to the wife of Midas who is otherwise silent throughout his story. In the context of a modern society and from the lips of a woman who is struggling with her husbands wish to have a touch which turns all to gold is intriguing because it seems so bizarre. It is written in Duffy's style, in her prose, and yet there is so much of the ancient, original text within it. Repeated words such as 'gold' to emphasise the situation, alongside 'greed' 'fool' and 'vain' - all of which are printed directly in my copy/translation of the text. It is one of my favourite things about literature - looking for the details. If I spot something no one else seems to, or if it feels entirely new for me, then I know that I am learning and that the learning has been as successful as it can be because the analysis is flowing naturally. When authors too aim to continue learning this way, it is more than evident in what they write. As our staff here constantly tell us, art does not live in a vacuum. Hence all art is constantly alive and thriving, and artists of any kind collect their influences, memories, experiences and use them. When writing based on another text, hearing an authors voice combined with anothers is the most bizarre and also the most wonderful thing to stumble across.

A final note on the Duffy: One of the lines which really stood out of her poem for me was -

You knew you were getting close. Golden trout
on the grass

It's another thing that I am noticing, university wise - so soon I am drawn to look differently and more closely at texts which would otherwise not interest me. First it was the Ovid, and now it is the story of Midas himself. Midas' story in the book never particularly drew me in. I've always been more of an Orpheus or Arachne person myself, because their stories possess characters it is easier to empathise for. But the more I read, the more I find it easier to empathise with the character of Midas who previously I didn't think much of at all.

The story which is part of is one which basically possesses the moral 'you reap what you sow' or 'we all get our just rewards'. After he has managed to get Bacchus to take back his golden touch, he challenges the outcome of a music duel just because he can. For this, his head is transfigured into that of a Donkey to remind him of his stupidity and to stop his vanity/pride from helping him reason his way into difficult situations again. Because he is quite a greedy character and also because he pities himself a great amount, it is difficult to comprehend that we should feel any pity for him or anything of the sort. And yet, in different interpretations, features of him I hadn't noticed are drawn out and it becomes easier and easier to take a step back and think out loud. Questions such as, have I misjudged this character? What features of him have I missed? How does this change my opinion of him? Is the perspective much different to before? And if so, how?

At the moment, I don't possess the answers to those questions. But I am certainly going to keep reading, keep researching and, above all in all of that, keep trying to find out.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Monday, 19 September 2016

First lectures of term

Now that freshers week is officially over, it's time to get down to the basics of all things literary at York St. John. It was a little intimidating to get out of bed this morning and to know that the busy day ahead of me would formally introduce me to all things seminar and lecture wise but it was also really exciting to be able to place in my bag each of the dog eared books from this past summer and to know that this would be the beginning of sharing their stories and their characters with new class mates, all possessing their own different ideas.

The first two classes of today were based on Reading texts 1, which is one of my three modules for this semester. In reading texts, we get not only a lecture but an additional seminar. In the first term, we are also lucky enough to have what are known as personal development sessions. They are quite similar to the other classes in ways, so perhaps the best way of defining them is some where between a seminar and a lecture. Over the next few weeks, we also get divided further into study groups which we can use outside of class to keep our ideas going and to keep up with everything that is going on. The main aim of that class, which I think is really lovely, is that we feel more at home and more secure generally in our university studies. It feels already like this is a family of people who have one another as a moral foundation to lean back on should things get a tad too difficult to handle.

We covered a lot in those classes, which we applied in the last class of the day which was our seminar for reading texts. The main focus was on reading and what it means to be an active reader. Engaging with the text is something which has always been important at every level, but stepping up to the challenge of university also means adapting and changing to fit what is expected of literature students at this stage. There is a standard we all hold for ourselves, and now is the time to use our creativity and our research skills to reach it. Of course, it is impossible to reach that standard if the reading is not done or if it is not done to the full effect. The whole point of reading, as I have fully realised today, is to be an Active Reader. This means many things, but for me it means:

- Reading the texts as far in advance as possible so that there is plenty of time to get through it.
- Going that extra mile with secondary reading so that I can develop my thoughts further.
- Reading with a pencil in hand, just in case anything is particularly striking.
- Identifying different features of the content in front of me by looking for them (harder than it sounds, but eventually it apparently becomes habit)
- Keeping a book journal so that Ican see my own progress and ideas taking shape
- Having a time table for my reading so that it gets a place every day
- Having a study group to discuss ideas with before class
- Keeping an open mind

Open mindedness is everything in the field of literature, and of the arts in general. It means you can read eclectically and still enjoy something. As one of our lecturers put it today, when we read with an open mind we allow ourselves the opportunity to be surprised - we invite those questions which come with a good book almost immediately. And to quote something else I read somewhere sometime (there will be better bibliographies than this in the future, I promise) the best books do not give up their secrets straightaway.

One exercise I really enjoyed from that particular series of lectures today was the analysis of a passage of 1984 by George Orwell. You may or may not have heard of it (it's the origin of the TV programme Big Brother) and is basically about a tyranny and how this affects the world as a whole. The extract we analysed was from the very beginning of the book and yet somehow people were able to immediately grasp a lot of what 1984 was about - the coldness, the fear/intimidation etc. It is remarkable how much you can extract from and engage with in a piece of writing if what you are reading has been well written. It links back to that aspect of questions arriving before you can stop them - questions before you even know if there will be answers and, more so, before you have even turned on to the second page. That is what a good book is and how amazing authors go about constructing their work. When it is well written, there is always something to find.

My second to last lecture of the day was led by a poet, and was focused on the work of Ovid (Metamorphoses) This book was really scary to me at first because it contains over 200 stories, is based on ancient mythology and is over 2000 years old (as of 2008) Yet once I began reading, it was so easy to just sink into the comedy and the chattering style of Ovid. This translation will clearly differ vastly from the original but it doesn't stop it being what it is - and what it is is an ancient text that we can still relate to/empathise with in some ways today. It's a remarkable thing to come across. One of my favourite stories in the book, which we unfortunately didn't really cover today, was the story of Orpheus - a man who is greatly talented as a musician who goes to rescue his wife Eurydice from the underworld. He succeeds in convincing the God's to bring her back to life, on the condition that he does not look at her until they have both made the journey back to earth from the underworld. But he looks back of course, as human flaws go, and Eurydice must return to the underworld. It is a bittersweet story, but it is one of enduring love, of being human and being flawed, but most importantly about music!

Making new friends and getting involved with other projects alongside my classes, means that already I am starting to feel a balance. I even know where to get my post from now! Campus feels less like New-York city and more like an easily manoeuvrable campus which is always a positive sign. But I also just remembered that I didn't tell you that we got to have a lecture featuring the wonderful poetry of Jack Mapanje last week for one of our welcomes. Definitely look into his poems! They are so incredibly moving, and I can't wait to read more of his work. There will be more on that in the near future, but for now I don't think I have the words to describe just how fantastic it was to begin the year with him reading some of his work to us. So, on a final note, here is a photo from that class:

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The guide to everything extracurricular

There is one magic word that everyone loves and everyone pines to have as a part of their CV at every stage of their career - Extracurricular. Dictionary wise, it is the art of doing extra. Student wise, it is the key to gaining balance, to gaining experience, and all those out side things that you might not be able to gain through your specialist degree course or classes on their own. It is what your university encourages you to get involved in not only to add things in that neat little square of a box on your resume, but also to encourage you to make friends with like-minded people, to keep the discussion going about what you are interested in and hence learn more from people in the same boat or who might once have been, and most importantly to give you that balance I mentioned before because it can be really hard to find.

There are three main things you should bear in mind when thinking about what exactly you want to be getting involved in in your extra hours -

1. Try new things

A fresh start is a fresh start: use it to the best of your advantage by plunging right into the deep end and taking on new things that you might always have wanted to try but never have, or even things which suddenly sound good (there are usually taster sessions so you can give things a spin) Don't be afraid of looking silly or of not being the best, because you aren't going to be graded on making mistakes. If anything, mistakes in this scenario are your best friends because they will allow you to learn how to get things right in the future. Sometimes your mistakes teach you far more than when you get things right first time. As the saying goes, mostly you need to learn things for yourself in order to really internalise an experience and the feelings which come with it.

Also, try new things just because you can. University is a pick n' mix of a gazillion different things. Finding out what makes you you and what makes you feel at home is an adventure, so definitely treat it as one!

2. Make it a good mix

Just because you are studying a singular or two specialist subjects for your degree, doesn't mean that you can't get involved in things outside class which are completely different. Whilst there will be plenty of extracurricular to support your interest and research/studies in mathematics, you should feel free to branch out and continue your musical hobby or your love of film, or feminism, or swimming. There will always be something new for you to try or test out. As mentioned previously - see a fresh start as a fresh start for you to try out new things and to paint a canvas exactly as you want it to be. In this incident, the canvas just happens to be your time at university. Make it something to be proud of but also something to be fond of when you look back.

Having a good mix will help more with that balance element because you will be able to maintain the pace of GCSE or A level courses where there is specialism to a certain degree, but you don't feel it too much because you have other subjects which you like less or more to heighten your levels of concentration, focus and motivation. Pick around three things, depending on how much you want to be involved in, and use them to express your different interests and ideas. By keeping the variety in place, you will be able to not only keep in place the balance element of your studies, but you'll also be keeping your mind open in a way that will bring a fresh, new perspective on your behalf to your experiences study wise. It might mean when you sit in a class analysing one poem, you see something that no one else sees. You never know what you might find when you reach out and take the opportunity. I heard someone describe it really well a while back - opportunity comes knocking, but it comes knocking somewhere in a corridor full of doors and you have to find out which door it is coming from.

3. Don't take on too much

It might sound obvious, but there have been so many occasions where so much exciting stuff and so many amazing opportunities come all at once that it is hard to say no and I end up swamping my brain in a million and one different things too many. Whilst you should definitely pursue whatever it is that you want to and whatever it is you are interested in, make sure you take in to consideration there are only so many hours in the working day, which you need to also share with your main studies, eating, and sleeping. Your health and your degree are your prime focus, everything else should simply be the cherry on top which brings you the extra happiness and awesomeness to your every day life and schedule. So yes, make sure you do test your limits, but know when to admit that you need to take a break from swim club and revise. As long as you keep your priorities in order you will soon be making fast efficient progress and feeling much better for it too!

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Freshers fair, first lecture + a surprise visit

Waking up early is something I didn't realise I was out of shape in until today - and that was like 8am wake up, so heaven knows I am going to deal with getting up at 7am tomorrow, wish me luck!

So yes, up early and off to the freshers fair with my friend Rebecca, which was pretty great. Freshers fair is basically the first impression clubs and societies make on you so they are all scrambling to get to you first, which leads to a hall full of people excited about their clubs and societies trying to get you involved, which is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. There were lots of freebies too - including a free film club which sounds really cool. Something to do with the picture house in York so I will definitely have to check that out. There was also orchestra, a magazine offering internships, and some hiking + scouting clubs which sound quite fun to be a part of so I will definitely be looking into those, along with the York St John Sharks (swim team) And no freshers fair would be complete without all those free Domino pizzas - it's the worst day of the year to have a nut allergy, but it was still a pretty good day any way.

After the freshers fair, I headed to my first lecture of the year which was in Temple hall and absolutely packed. I knew literature would be a popular course, especially as so many people are combining it with another subject like creative writing or media, but there are 200 students taking literature which is like... a lot (great use of superlative there Charlotte!)

The lecture was mostly a welcome talk, but it still featured some pretty inspiring quotes which I think I am going to have scrawled in the front of my note books for a long time. Things such as 'writing is a powerful act' and 'the humanities have never been more important' Looking around it was difficult to soak in all the information about my new class mates and their ideas, alongside meeting all of our new lecturers, learning about what they teach, the modules we will be taking, how we can use the city to benefit our studies, how to make the city ours, how to use the online learning system and such. But the first week is always full of things so I am glad they have put this extra effort in which means we can begin our classes earlier on during freshers week and become accustomed to class so that next week we can just jump straight in with all the learning. For me the best part of the academic is the beginning because there is no way to describe the pure relief I feel when I put that pen to paper with true incentive and just take full on notes. Is that strange? Maybe that's why I'm studying Literature anyway, that obsession with writing down everything and anything.

Towards the end of the lecture, we were given some reading to do on a poet called Jack Mapanje, who will be attending part of our lecture tomorrow (so excited!) We were asked to analyse two of his poems, one of which is about travelling and the paths we take, the other of which focuses on memories, the pain of remembering and similar themes all whilst maintaining the appearance of a fish bowl and then a beach. It was some really powerful wording which made me want to live inside each of those lines. The cyclical narrative is so soothing, and at the same time so rebellious. It's just the kind of thing we need to be working on - refreshing, contemporary, teenage and not teenage. It is everything far away from condescending, it is everything close to home and important.

As for the rest of the day, it might be summarise partially by the photos above - Green tea (sampled fresh from the teapot) a trip to the Shambles and other tourist places, drinking a slush because 1. They're amazing and 2. It's a million degrees and I was melting, and finally watching the sunset from the central bridge here. It was a really lovely end of summer day - as much as I want it to be autumn, I don't think it fully is yet!

Basically, to shed a little light on the situation, I went to pick up my train tickets for tomorrow at the station and ended up finding my friends instead who came to visit from Leeds - such a lovely day, it was exactly the cherry on top of all the student based school stuff to see them. It was really intriguing to see how well I have already got to know York and how I could show them places like Museum gardens, the Shambles, the Minster and so on. The history and context was definitely my strong point though, so I am going to have to find out some more facts for different places next time they visit so that the tour doesn't get boring! Arina and Marita, my friends from Leeds, are both international students so it was interesting to hear how they viewed this city and what they have been up to over the summer. Think they liked museum gardens best:

On a final note I am super excited to watch a repeat of the finals results of America's got talent tomorrow. Grace Vanderwaal's music is amazing! The whole aspect of cello, ukulele and piano in pop music is just perfect, so hearing something that she has written herself with this set up has been great.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How to explore your city

Getting to know your new city is a terrifyingly wonderful suggestion. When you arrive on to your new university campus, or move to a new home for school, there is so much to get through in terms of learning the ins and outs of your local area. Suddenly you find yourself outside of your comfort zone and at the same time, curious about what is special about each of these new places mentioned by the people around you.

Try not to be too afraid of getting lost - if there is an incident where you are not sure where you are, you can always check a map or ask a passer by on the street. There will be plenty of opportunities to get information, especially in cities which are known for tourists as they have lots of information centres. The best part of getting to know your new city is the surprise. The constant expectation and wonder of not knowing what there will be to marvel at around the next corner, or planning to go to the more popular location and ending up experiencing a myriad of different things in between. After a year of travelling and two years living in two different cities other than my home city of Manchester, there are a few things that I've learnt that may be of use.

So, tips and tricks when exploring:

1. Fully charged phone, access to a map + guide book

There are plenty of map apps you can use on your phone as well as paper maps, so make sure to have which ever makes things easier for you. If you want to be extra prepared then try to carry both. Use your map to begin with, but once you start to get used to the things around you try to use it less because then you will be focusing less on what is on the page in front of you and more on your surroundings. You will be able to appreciate them to a heightened degree. If you are using a map on your phone or not, make sure it is fully charged should you need to call a cab or reach someone should an emergency occur. Especially with iphones, I have always found the battery to not last long, it can be useful to carry around a portable charger just in case.

Guide books are also a useful go to. You don't have to splash large amounts of cash, you can always just use the advice on trip advisor, get something on sale, or even borrow a book from the library to help you increase your general knowledge of the city and what you can find there. Once you know what you are working with, it is easier to get to grips with knowing a place - where to start etc.

2. Budget yourself - Be wary of free and priced alike

It is easy to be drawn into tourist traps because they might be the popular 'to do' thing. But one of the most important things I have gained from my travel experiences is that the best things to enjoy in life are the little things. Like drinking a coffee in a restaurant in Paris, the East gallery in Berlin and more recently, sitting in the sunshine enjoying good company in Museum gardens here in York. You don't have to pay to go up the Eiffel tower if you don't want, you can head for the Shakespeare and co book company or to Notredame. You don't have to pay for a guided tour of the parliament building in Berlin when you can instead go to the East gallery or sip on Apfelschorle near to Potsdamer Platz. My point is that you should be wary of things whether they say they are free or priced because you never really know the reality until you get there.

If you do want to be going for places which have entrance fees and such, make sure that you are budgeting yourself carefully. Particularly if you have bills or are a student with a loan you need to spend wisely, make sure you set out a specific amount for souvenirs, places, and also for food or parking. It's also handy to keep some spare change should any where only accept cash and not card, or should you need to use a pay phone.

3. Always explore during the day time + avoid being alone

Night time is dangerous in any city for many reasons. Firstly because there are bigger crowds on streets so it is easier to get lost, because there are lots of party goers who may be drunk and rowdy, and in general it isn't the time to get to know a place unless you are going out for a dinner reservation or movie because pretty much everything will be closed. If you are with friends and family, it's not too bad, but it is usually best to stick to the day.

Avoid travelling alone - this goes for most situations. You are less likely to be vulnerable or worried if you have another person to help reassure you and likewise for them, which is why it is good to travel in twos or more so that you have backup. It can be annoying sometimes when you just want to leap into the heart of a place and it's culture, but bear in mind that everything takes time and locals will have been living there much longer than you - most likely since they were children. So it is useful to have someone have your back so to speak, whilst you gain your sea legs and learn to tread watery ground. Start with the easier tourist based things and then branch out. Once you start to get a broader idea of where everything is, and as long as you stick to the busier areas where you're less likely to be isolated in an emergency, you can start to branch out doing more and more things on your own as well as with friends.

4. Have a guide line/ day long sight seeing list

Use your research, as well as your map and the information others will be able to share, to get an outline of the place and the things you would like to see. Prioritise so that all the most important things are at the top of your list and work your way down.

If you have a guide line it can be easier to not only budget in advance but also to begin working out timings in advance. Trip advisor and other such companies can give you a vague idea of how long you will be in a place, so if you only have a day you can make sure that you are fitting in enough exploration for you to be satisfied that you have got to do a fair amount and gain enough interesting new information to keep you thinking. Also, plan for whatever it is you aim to be - do you want to live like a tourist for the day in your own city? Perhaps you want to feel like a local in a new city? Build around this with the content you think comes under that category.

5. Record your journey 

Lastly, even if it is just a few photographs or writing down your thoughts after a long incredible day, make sure you keep record of your journey. I usually photograph and keep a diary, plus I get to write about everything on here, so you are bound to find some means of keeping record that will suit you and your personality. We are incredibly lucky to experience everything we do and when we are older and want to look back over our memories, it can be so special to have a box of things to read back through and remember fully how we felt, what we thought the first time we experience something and compare that to how we feel now or what has happened since then. The world is full of stories because that is what we do best as humans, and your story is the most important because it is yours. The more your practice recording your journey and the better you get, the more you may feel attached, involved or motivated to continue pursuing your knowledge of cities and of other places. It may become an entirely new hobby all of it's own that is just yours. With time, you may find yourself travelling all over the world and all because of that first time you first fell in love with travelling.

On a final note, nothing to do with exploring a city more to do with creativity and with emotional baggage which we carry with us and how we deal with grief, here is a beautiful letter from a girl to her father on his birthday told through the lighting of birthday candles and book quotations.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you.