Category Archives: education

10 Tips for Holiday Preparation

It’s finally the heat of summer! Good, old June has rolled up on our calendars once more, making way for tank tops and sun lotions. Well, if you live anywhere outside of London, that is, because all we get here are less clouds and more rain! But anyway, the perk of June is that most of us begin planning holidays and beach retreats. Dreams slowly surface of careless, sunny days next to the water, where a good book and a cold drink are the only worries you’d possibly have. So, inspired by this, today’s article is designed to allow for your ideal trip to happen smoothly. Being a forgetful bunny is something I, myself, suffer from, so the importance of good prep is always priority numero uno.

Here are ten of my tips for a better holiday preparation!

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 16.31.53.png

1. Checklist everything!

In fact, make a checklist of the checklists you need to make! Okay, maybe that’s a bit excessive, but a few simple reminder notes are always welcome. I normally make a clothing list, an equipment list and a necessities list, because those make a nice foundation for eliminating any mishaps and forgotten chargers! But go nuts, twist your lists around the specific holiday requirements you have and start filling those out.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 16.33.33

Bonus tip: Start your checklists early! I begin mine a whole month before departure, just to make sure I have enough heads up if purchases need to be made, or if specialised equipment has to be acquired. Giving yourself space is the best addition to a complete checklist.

2. Weigh your suitcase. 

Most airlines allow for 20 kilograms of luggage, and that sounds like a great, big variety of stuff. Absolute mountains to pack, right? But consider this – a suitcase could weigh up to 7kg, which pretty much takes up a fourth of your overall allowance. Now, most of you could easily skip this step if all you’re packing are bathing suits and kaftan dresses, cause those are like negative weight. But should you plan on carrying diving accessories, wetsuits, shortboards or any potential objects that could end up shifting the scale – I’d recommend knowing your numbers.

Bonus tip: Soft suitcases with aluminium handles are some of the lightest ones on the market and they are largely available in travelling stores. If your present luggage bag ends up being a hefty bite, save it for smaller trips and invest in a skinnier one. They are also better for bulky packing in the winter ski season!

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 17.17.56.png

 3. Check the health boards.

Sometimes there could be a flu that you need to be aware of, or a specific virus making its way around your holiday spot. So to avoid catching it, make sure to read up on any news or information concerning outbreaks in the area. That way, if you need a quick boost to your immune system, there’s plenty of time to supplement with vitamin C. Alternatively, depending on how exotic you’re aiming for, check if any vaccinations need to be made. Equatorial regions tend to have a slight bug and mosquito problem, which is another point to bare in mind. Nothing ruins a good trip more than itchy spots all over your body! Plus, they don’t tan well. Do a bit of research and save yourself a basket of unwanted trouble. Seriously.

Bonus tip: A good place to do research is the Travel Health Organisation website, which has live outbreak alerts and country-specific data. Check it regularly before the trip and all should be swell.

4. Get yourself a countdown.

Countdowns are great should you need a gentle reminder of time. If you’re going on a physically challenging trip, such as a hiking trail or a long sail, a great idea would be to bulk a little and prep your body for the strain. Keeping an eye on your regime is made much easier by paying attention to the weeks or days that you have left to train. Trying to chisel the perfect beach booty? Great! Set regular goals in your countdown and experience first hand just how motivating they can get.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 17.26.24

Bonus tip: The best place to keep said countdown is an in-your-face spot, which means either cell phone or desktop computer. For my mobile (Android), I normally use Countdown Days by SMSROBOT LTD. It has very nifty widgets and looks pretty!

5. Leave a key behind.

This tip is more concerned with the safety of your home while you are away than anything else. Call up your best bud and ask if they could harbour a key to your house or flat, just in case any documents have to be acquired during your holiday or if you are waiting for an expensive package. It also allows them to water your plants, DVR your favourite shows and make sure everything stays nice, clean and safe!

Bonus tip: When I say leave them a key, I do not mean hide it under the mat or over the door frame, okay? That is the absolute opposite of safe and beware of the claws! Hang it on a pretty keychain, maybe the one you got from Italy when you were on that family retreat, and hand it over in person. There, emergencies avoided!

6. Spring clean.

Talking about house and garden, why not have a little clean-up in the week before you leave? That saves a tonne of trouble when you get back, because the last thing you’d want after a long flight and heaps of heavy luggage dragging… Is to come home and worry about the laundry and dishes. Do future you a favour and keep things presentable. The next time you shout home, sweet home, it’s gonna be for a happy reason, not a daunting one.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 17.31.17

Bonus tip: If you’re willing to take the extra step, get all washing machine and home clothes on stand-by. That minimises the efforts even further!

7. Get your tech in check.

If you’re like me and one camera is never enough, or maybe there’s an entire bag dedicated to electrics and accessories, then make sure to double up. Stock up on extra batteries, film roll, brush up on your lenses and screens, make sure everything has caps and appropriate cables. Any power banks that you like to carry around should be fully charged and ready, tripods should have their plates and screws, water housings should be sparkling clean. Those are the basics, don’t be afraid to spread your wings and be the tech geek, I know you can be. Just make sure no necessity is left behind.

Bonus tip: I use a USB cable with multiple extensions such as this (put here for demonstration purposes, I actually own a different one) with my power bank. It saves you trying to untangle all of your larger, separate cables on the go and they are usually very light and compact!

8. Budget planning.

You’re already splashing out on a great vacation and an exotic location. There’s no need to splurge beyond the point of no return, because that would only cause you stress along the way. So, in order to prepare for the trip, do a little finance maintenance. Calculate the maximum you’re able to spend on the entire duration of your holiday, and then split it around your days accordingly. Some days might need more, others could need less, it’s up to you to decide. But, for anyone wanting to be mindful of their savings – this tip is a must.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 17.34.40Bonus tip: Portion your money in envelopes labeled with the days they correspond to. Don’t unseal a new envelope unless its day has come. Doing this creates an amplified sense of boundary, which is helpful when keeping on a lower budget. Obviously, shall emergency cash be needed, rip those things up, but in other scenarios – stack them tidy in your luggage.

9. Familiarise yourself with customs.

Knowing the local community can make your holiday much more rewarding and joyful. A habit perfectly acceptable in England could be offensive in Thailand or Greece, even if it happens to be a minor one such as pointing a finger. Do you slurp your food or do you eat quietly? Should you be barefoot or are shoes a sign of respect? Different cultures might have different answers to those questions, so sit down one morning, sip a cup of coffee and spare a few minutes for some healthy research.

Bonus tip: Basic interactions are also a good area to explore. What I mean are things like how much to tip your waiter and how to compliment your butler. When you make other people happy, simply with professing knowledge of their culture, you will make yourself happy, too.

10. Weather check!

I left this tip for last, because it seems very obvious to me. I’m going to Cuba in September, so it should be hot, right? Or I’m heading for some ski adventures in December, the Alps always have snow. Here’s where you could very easily slip into disaster. For example, summer means hurricane season for a lot of tropicScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 17.41.00al and equatorial areas, so it would be a grand idea to have a look at those rain prognoses! Heading for a snowboarding feat could be hard if it has ceased to snow or there are raging storms. Connect this tiny research exercise with my previous tip and you’ll be good and ready for a great holiday.

Bonus tip: Sometimes, weather forecasts could be very vague if you’re having to check them months in advance. What I do in these cases is pay a tiny visit to TripAdvisor and read up on other people’s experiences in that time of the year. Maybe they could prep me even better for what’s to come.


Well, here we are at the end of my tips. Hopefully these inspired you even a little bit to go book a gorgeous holiday right this instant! Everyone deserves a time to enjoy themselves and relax away from the world. You should do the same!

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 01.00.27

Advertisements

A Carnivorous Traitor: My Choice In Veganism

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 02.09.01

Rewind the tape back seven whole days, when the plate on my table consisted of chicken strips, spicy wings and mayonnaise dips. You’d find me munching on a Five Guys burger or a Domino’s pizza, blissfully ordering KFC cheesecakes for dessert with a hefty side of milkshake. A diet, which had been hammered into my brain since early puberty, when I’d reach for anything cheap and easy, as opposed to forming consideration in nutrition.

As Dr. Alejandro Junger would gently put it – I had stopped eating food and was instead surviving off of food-like products.

Now, going back into my family history, we find an abundance of farms and countryside traditions. I grew up in a small town, where everybody had animals and most suppers consisted of according derivatives. We had cold, harsh winters where grandmothers would stack beef cutlets and can chicken soups to attempt and preserve our warmth. This lifestyle had been passed through generations for hundreds of years. Our animals were treated with respect until the day they were too old or too ill and would have to be put down. Only then did we find a reason to consume them. Mostly, cows, pigs and chickens were a part of the community’s agricultural system, limited as it was, and they helped us grow tomatoes and potatoes. Whenever a herbivorous friend passed, we couldn’t afford to waste their food source. Grasping only what the Earth gives you can be an exiguous find, especially high along the mountain ranges. Long story short – we made do and that meant meat.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 02.00.19.png

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 02.09.56

Today I find myself in London, among twenty-three million other citizens. An overcrowded city, which is struggling for air and space. Supermarkets and independent sellers have to compete with their prices in order to feed as many people as possible. This means that sometimes their farms turn into factories and morality becomes a weakness, rather than a strength. Large hangers equate to increased simultaneous production per single farmer, which thereby reducing labour costs. Push safety laws to their very brink and you can feed the “produce” hormone-infused supplements, rather than natural ingredients like grain, seed and plants. This forces animals to grow faster and bigger, making them suitable for market early, which once again speeds up the manufacturing process. We no longer put them down, we slaughter them by the hundreds of thousands.

The result is a dark room with a sea of chickens, whose breasts are so big and swollen, they collapse to the ground, unable to carry their own weight. Cows fed and milked in metal cubicles, where all bodily functions can be made in one standing position. Pigsties left ridden with feces, kept perpetually dirty despite their confinement. These are some of animal farming’s severest cases and I would like to acknowledge that not all holdings are like this. To me, the very idea of such existence, even on a small scale, is more than disappointing – it is increasingly frightening. But I shan’t make this article about cruelty, I don’t wish to make it a propaganda-like piece or word it to be perceived as such. This is merely my own journey and reasoning to change.

If you are interested on learning more about this side of the topic, however, I could recommend a few good watches, which are conveniently available on Netflix. Some of them include “Hungry For Change” (2012), “Food, Inc.”  (2008) and “Food Matters” (2008). Probable exhibition of unethical animal treatment is present, so do beware if you are on the squeamish side.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 02.01.25.png

My lengthy opposition to becoming vegan was that plants are also organisms. Just like us, they breathe and rest, they feed and grow. So what justifies killing a vegetable more than it does a cow? One argument, which has been presented time and time again is that flora has no brain. It has no thought process. Despite this, we need vegetation to survive on this planet, because we rely on the oxygen it produces for us. Do those two balance each other out? Maybe.

Another is that humans were designed to be primarily herbivorous. Let’s take a look at our distant cousins – the chimpanzees, who have a similar digestive system to ours. They are omnivores, meaning to feed off of anything their habitat provides. Upon closer inspection, we see that equates to the vast variety of plants and fruits available to them, alongside small insects. Occasionally, chimps have also been known to hunt mammals, the key word here being, you guessed it – occasionally. We are wired in a very similar way! Another mammals’ meat could be eaten often, but not as a primary source of protein and nutrition. It is a part of our evolutionary make-up to hunt and feast, but that does not mean there are no other options for humans to be healthy as a species and even gather benefits from a plant-oriented existence.

For me, frankly, there is no winning side. Animals get treated badly, plants have been notoriously abused with chemicals for a multitude of years, humans incorporate both of them into the production machine. However, I cannot expect to survive with longevity and vibrancy on a diet purely consisting of meat. So, the scales have weighed in the opposite direction, which now makes me a vegan.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 02.12.33.png

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 02.10.57

It all boils down to one accident, which happened not so long ago in a kingdom called England. I was standing in my kitchen, contemplating some late lunch recipes, when I decided to make roast chicken. It would feed me for at least two days, which meant I could concentrate on other things in the meantime. So far, so good, I have made roast chicken with sea salt a million times before. It is perhaps the easiest way to make a delicious and simple meal.

I took the whole chicken out of my fridge and went to wash it off in the sink. But as I opened its packaging and ran the cold, tap water, a sudden wave of emotion came over me. I felt sad. No, I felt horribly sad for this poor animal, who I had never known or been friends with. I hadn’t grown up with it or pet its feathers. It was a chicken, which had never seen me either, who now lay dead in my hands, because I wanted a quick bite for lunch. I felt strangely ashamed and selfish, but I carried on with my day as if nothing had happened at all.

I lived with meat for another few months, until last week came around, when I woke up in the morning and decided that today was one of change. I would begin a new lifestyle, supporting animal rights and dignity the best way I knew how to – through caring for them and not consuming them.

Please, do not take this as a call for action. No one in my family or friend circle is vegan or vegetarian and that is okay. I am not here to attempt and convert anyone into a new non-dairy, non-egg, non-animal religion. I respect your choice, whatever that may be. Supporting animal rights can be done in many different ways, being vegan is simply one of them. And when I look back through the years and wonder how it all started, I’ll come back to this article and remind myself why I began and where I was headed.

Thank you for sticking with me this Tuesday!

See you next week.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 01.00.27

 

Ugly Bodies: A Business

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 12.49.52

There is a rather frightening statistic that only 4% of girls and women around the world consider themselves beautiful. If we quickly crunch the numbers in that equation, our results would lead to a total of 3.5 billion women self-conscious of their looks, out of a 3.6 billion total female population.

Furthermore, 7 out of 10 girls believe they do not measure up to a standard, or alternatively to a friend or family member in the appearance and performance department. That’s a seventy percent not only self-aware, but arguably self-critical to what could be a harmful degree.

Men have a similar issue, with 80.7% regularly engaging in “body talk” and expressing dissatisfaction with their own muscularity. In a recent study, researchers also discovered that 51% of school boys aged in the 11 to 14 bracket report low confidence in their body image. Doesn’t that make for a sad thought?

I really don’t mean to bombard you with numbers and exercise those rusty arithmetic muscles! The point of this article is to hopefully incite thought and conversation about the reality of bodies and the boundaries for beauty! I won’t force you to whip out the old Texas Instruments, but I might attempt to shed some light on the ongoing issue with self-worth and the way business controls all.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 12.57.55

You’ve heard the media being blamed over and over again. Although their involvement in the glorification of certain body types and features is undeniable, there’s a bigger culprit hiding in plain sight. Beauty companies make profit out of making you feel bad, that’s just a highly effective way to make capital. Granting the public painful self-awareness is such corporations’ biggest, quickest way to Christmas bonuses and monthly remunerations. It’s you versus money, and to a stranger that choice isn’t too difficult. Their system’s been working for decades and you know what they say – if the machine ain’t broke… Why fix it?

The logic is very simple – you walk down the street, you clock a billboard with a model. She’s sporting a gorgeous cherry red lipstick and that makes her face look absolutely phenomenal. Do your lips look like that? No. Do you want them to? Of course! That chick looks amazing and is obviously successful enough to be considered the optimum lip image. So, the closest you could possibly resemble her is by buying the product she’s wearing and hope for the best. I’ll take this time to coin the phrase “pretty by association”, because that result is more than likely to be your outcome. The beauty company who has paid for the media to spread that image gains profit, while you leave with the idea of  flawed features.

london-ad-beach-body.jpg

I feel the need to clarify this, because when I was a teenager roaming the internet, I had no idea how the hierarchy was structured. I thought it didn’t matter, I wasn’t interested in finding out. The damage was being done whether I knew that key piece of information or not. But my twenty-one-year-old self is here to tell you it’s vital to be aware. There’s nothing inherently wrong with anyone’s physique, there’s just an astonishingly lucrative business of giving consumers lasting insecurities. There is no hard-set societal opinion behind the sea of Photoshopped, doctored images that circulate our streets and devices. Those messages do not come from our population’s widespread appeal, but they are given to us as such. They are sold to us. For money.

Let’s give it a quick (and loose) comparison with pornography. Erotic films are not a realistic depiction of sex and the public knows this. You walk into the bedroom with a lover and neither of you expects a three-hour bang session of perfectly timed ejaculations and endless supply of sheets. Although the majority of men and women don’t seem to realise this, everyday advertisements work in the exact same way.

Nobody expects us to fit a mould, but that inflamed sense of self-criticism in the back of our mind. The modern consumer is a lot more savvy with the internal mechanism of media, enabling them to have a more realistic approach on self image. However, teens and young adults have a harder time considering the bigger picture of influences, especially so with the flood of unrealistic depiction that surrounds them. I, for example, had more than a serious case of tunnel vision, which ultimately translated into – look like this person, or stay home. Having pores and stretch marks had become a deal breaker to my happiness and social success. It’s inescapable, because it’s meant to be! This means we’re sacrificing mental health for the survival of a Capitalist structure, which is not to say there is a grand flaw in Capitalism’s design. But it does make us question the decline of morality and ethical treatment. Does that ring like misplaced priorities? It should!

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 14.09.22.png

However, just because someone creates a mould for their own monetary benefit, that does not mean we need to abide by it. Companies cannot physically force you to buy their products, because that would be illegal. Psychological extortion, on the other hand, is a fine line. Showcasing flawless models of people, which have been digitally altered to perfection, sells units.

A diversity of realistic bodily features does not gain exposure for that particular reason. When was the last time you saw a L’Oreal commercial with an ageing woman, who has beard fuzz or liver spots? Point to any internationally recognised clothing brand such as Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce and Gabbana or Gucci – the kind of brands who can afford to surround your environment. Do they proudly show diversity and if so, how much? Do they actively promote a variety of genetic make-up?

Even sports companies like Adidas and Nike fall in that category. Even though they celebrate an athletic physique, which is a step forward in the catalogue of body types, their athletes normally receive some sort of pampering to aid their appearance. This could be either through the use of tanning, make-up or post-production alterations. Notice how many of their “characters” carry natural features such as body hair, cellulite or veins.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 14.18.52.png

This Reebok advertisement is a good example to look at. I picked it, because it manages to illustrate a good amount of points at once. Let’s start with the fact that every woman has a full face of make-up on. Take a moment to appreciate their perfect hair and lack of sweat. The purpose of the portrayed exercise session is to demonstrate that females can look gorgeous while they’re attempting to burn off extra calories. So why would we, as viewers, want to appear ugly, when we can obviously be appealing?  You buy the leggings, because they make this athlete’s legs toned and firm. You’d want that! The top really accentuates her waist and makes it slimmer. Of course you’d need that! You wouldn’t want to be flabby and unsightly, God forbid you seem like there are flaws you’re working very hard to amend.

But here’s the bottom line. We’re human. We are not necessarily going to look like a fine selection of models, neither are we expected to. Just because Reebok needs to forward their business for profit, it does not mean you have to change yourself to accommodate them.

The point that I’m trying to convey is – rarely can we trust our eyes, and when an entire planet is looking at the same pictures and stereotypes, that becomes an issue. When does reality become too deluded? When will we prioritise people instead of money?

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 01.14.09

The spark of doubt in the back of your mind – the question whether you’re worthy, whether you fit in a category or match a standard – that equates to money. Your self-awareness has a price and there are thousands of companies waiting to set it. While public images may revolve around somebody else’s beauty ideal, in the reality of things nobody expects ultimate perfection. The same way you appreciate other people’s quirks and flaws, someone is appreciating yours. In our age of media and entrepreneurship, it’s easier than ever to wound others for profit. If the world is proving to be a harsh and judgemental place, the least we can do is be kind to ourselves and spread that to the next person.

None of us are perfect, but all of us are beautiful.

 

 

Like this post? Disagree with what I’m saying? Please don’t be afraid to put your thoughts as a comment below.

Follow my blog for more articles about lifestyle and media.

Have a good one!

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 01.00.27

 

Christmas Film Reviews Announcement

The fairy lights are up! Ginger cookies have officially become currency and eggnog is sipped by tired parents around the world in what could only be described as industrial quantities. The symptoms of Christmas have come tumbling through the boring lands of winter.

I have to admit, there is special bias reserved for my annual December months! The following thirty-one days of pure goodness happen to be my favourite time of year and not solely based on food reasons. Moreover, I’m sure that unconditional affection is shared throughout the kingdom, or at least I choose to firmly believe so in my mistletoe-covered heart. So, I have prepared a little blogging gift for the Santa fans in our frosty universe.

SAM_9831.JPG

As a part of the celebrations, we can all admit to watching more than a few inevitable and overly cheesy films. There is nothing wrong with skipping a night at the club to enjoy some magical you-time in front of Netflix. God knows the weather outside is wretched, unless you live in the equatorial regions, which I sadly do not. London is my habitat and the winds would make a polar bear run for cover. I’m sure that can somehow be proven by smart people of science who agree with my point.

Anyway, shooting straight to the topic in question! In the twelve days leading up to that big morning of worldly joy and presents, I plan to post twelve unmissable Christmas film reviews. I’ll make sure to put them up nice and early so that you can plan the eve for toffee apple tea and mince pies. Rely on me, world, for I shall make the final countdown as screamingly festive as humanly possible, because that is the only way to celebrate X-to-the-mas.

Starting Sunday the 13th of December, you can expect the very first commentary on the classic Murray tale of “Scrooged”! Hope you’ll love and cherish it!

Ta-ta, lovely elves of Christmas spirits!

I’ll enjoy myself a bottle of mulled wine. Yes, I said “myself”, and no, I care not for judgemental remarks. As a grown elf, I can make grown elf decisions.

Stay awesome!

Megs x

I Didn’t Get The Job

Yesterday morning I found I was buttoning my shirt with sweaty fingers. I checked if the collar was sharp enough to cut a man, and if any of my foundation had accidentally rubbed off on the edge. It hadn’t, which meant I was ready to walk the long way to the office room.

Why, Meggie, why in the name of God were you doing all those things? You’re a film student, you have no place wearing costumes. Put a beanie on to compliment the khakis you got from Gap, the ones that make you look like you’re heading to an African safari vacation (is what I presume you’re thinking).

Two words, my friends: job interview (well, three, if you count the mock part). Led by the head of my university department, today’s feedback on my performance was to establish whether I would be “employable”, or in other words would anybody give this little kid a chance to sink or swim. And oh boy, would they…

Through my necessary dose of mocha and the inspirational playlist rocking my headphones, I attempted to calm myself down. It couldn’t be that bad, it was only pretend, nothing more. There was no outcome, no consequences that would influence my life post-interview. So why was my brain buzzing?

After the series of expected questions, I felt myself sinking. This is shit, I thought, why must we go through this horrible process of self-shaming, stumbling over words and names of qualifications, why must we lie to these people how certain we are of our future and how our greatest flaws are our most valuable qualities? They know it’s not true, and we know it’s made-up bullshit. So why play this game of lie-better-than-the-last-guy-please? Because that is what most interviews seem to rely on – your ability to fool people better than the rest of the actors applying for the job.

Turns out he wouldn’t hire me. My life experiences were insufficient, I was shallow, and God knows I was probably the worst, most egocentric writer he could have ever come across. On top of that crap cake, he assumed I was Canadian, which was a big no-no, as apparently to get a job in London one must be positively, undoubtedly English. The racist remarks were a good touch, however, as it made any other negative criticism this piglet of a man had to say – obsolete.

All in all, that was one twenty-year-old’s self-esteem demolished. That is the only thing my university taught me. Would any self-respectful, successful employer hire a bubbly dreamer, who is ready to rip themselves apart with hard work just to be the best writer they could possibly be? No?

Well, I guess I’ll be typing from my tiny hut in the forest soon enough.