Monday, 8 August 2016

Hit me with your recommendations!

This September, to celebrate Jonny and my 21st birthday's and my graduation, the two of us are travelling around Europe and the Mediterranean with Celebrity Cruises (it's my first time on a cruise so the jury is currently out but expect a review afterwards). The route includes Athens, Nice/Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Rome, Florence/Pisa, Mykonos, Crete and Ephesus and I cannot wait to immerse myself in so many different cultures!

With a month to go I have been busy building an itinerary for us but I thought this would be as good a platform as any to reach out for recommendations. Feel free to drop me a link to your own blog in the comments below and I'll be sure to check them all out because there is nothing I love more than discovering hidden gems!

Monday, 18 July 2016

My Experience as an Intern

If you follow me on Twitter you'll already know that last month I moved to London for two weeks to work as an intern at Time Inc.'s Essentials magazine and it was nothing short of brilliant.

It was my first "real" internship and before I started a fair few people commented that perhaps the experience would show me that it really wasn't what I wanted to do with my life at all... but just how wrong they were. In fact, I didn't want to leave and felt for two weeks just like one of the team.

That probably had something to do with being thrown right in at the deep end when my supervisor was taken ill for a couple of days but I took that as an opportunity to use my initiative to write some features myself, assist the Digital Editor with the scheduling of tweets and also transform a press release into a digital feature for the Digital Editor.

Since I was completing what felt like 'real' work (and I use those words loosely because is it even work if you're having a ball of a time doing it?) the days flew by and I made far fewer cups of tea than I expected as an intern.

Working at the magazine wasn't quite like Ugly Betty but there were a fair few perks that I was incredibly lucky to experience myself! I won't go into details because I don't want to distract from the hard work that the team put into Essentials but because they do, I have to say they deserve every free sample and gift they receive.

After my two weeks at Essentials, when I was sat at home feeling a tad gutted not to be returning to the office on Monday, I was thrilled to see two of the digital features I had written go live on the Essentials and GTK website, an incredibly rewarding feeling! If you want to give them a read you can find them here and here.

If I've learnt anything whilst at Essentials though it is that magazine journalism, copy writing and social media really is something I want to pursue as a career and something I dare say I have a real talent for. Now that I have graduated I have plenty of time to apply for jobs and hopefully it won't be long before I am back in London or Manchester doing the very thing I love.

Oh and if I wasn't already having a blast at Essentials, on my last day in the office I got a call from boyfriend to let me know I had got a 2:1 in my university degree! To celebrate the Essentials team took me for lunch on the Southbank and it was the best end to the two weeks I could have asked for.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

A Small Breakthrough

At the beginning of the academic year I was chosen to become a part of the Career Mentoring Programme at Lancaster University and as a result I've had a breakthrough...

That's right, I've got myself a two week internship at Essentials Magazine and I can't wait!

I was reluctant to share the news earlier in case for some god forsaken reason it wasn't confirmed but as I post this, I am sat on the train to London to start work on the Features desk on Monday morning.

If you know me in real life you'll know just how desperate I am to prove myself, not to myself, but to others. I'm certain I have the drive and the skills it takes to become a Fashion Editor but the problem that I, like many other students have, is the difficulty of gaining that first bit of experience in order to land bigger and better work placements, internships and eventually a job.

Over the past three years at Lancaster University I have developed a ton of skills as Fashion Editor and Carolynne Magazine Editor for SCAN Student Newspaper but the difficulty is that oh so common vicious cycle of need a job to gain experience but also needing experience to land the job.

This wasn't supposed to be a rant and it isn't, what I am trying to say is that I am over the moon that I have the chance to show what an asset I can be to Essentials and the chance to do something I love full-time (even if it is only for two weeks).

Fingers crossed this leads on to bigger and better things for my future because as of next month I will have graduated and will be trying my best to do that thing people do called 'adulting'.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

That might not mean anything to you, but to me, at a time in the year when I'm struggling with deadlines, dissertations, reading and the prospect of a graduating without an idea of where I'm going, NEDAW strikes a real chord.

Why? Because just three years ago, four months before I was due to start university, I was threatened with that dream being taken away as a result of Anorexia. Fast forward to 2016 and here I am, stronger than ever and little more than two months away from finishing my final exam of third year.

Having wanted to raise a little money for BEAT or MIND in the past, I have always been put off by the simple fact that many people didn't know I had struggled with Anorexia at all. Hence, this week seemed as good a time as any to raise a little awareness and admit that Anorexia was a part of my life for a long time throughout school, something I'm not ashamed to admit anymore.

Contrary to belief, my struggle with Anorexia was never about food or feeling fat. It was about control, a way for me to gain control when everything else in my life felt totally out of it. You don't need the details of my teenage years to comprehend the difficulty of juggling GCSE'S and A-Levels with counselling, therapy and CAMHS, all in addition to the other struggles of being a teenager (which admittedly might not have been such a struggle if I had not been ill, underweight and trying to wipe my own memory with vodka).

My last two years at school were honestly the hardest two years of my life and fighting Anorexia often felt like fighting a war where the enemy's strategy was to convince you the war wasn't happening. It was the hardest thing I hope ever have to do but I am alive and that is more than a lot of sufferers can say. For eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, a terrifying 20% don't survive and yet waiting time for treatment can reach up to eighteen months in some areas of the country.

That is a figure that really needs to change but so too do misconceptions of Anorexia and other eating disorders that get promoted in the media all too often. For that reason, unlike so many other sufferers feel EDAW requires, I refuse to publish a comparison picture of myself from then, at my lowest weight, to now because it only reinforces the idea that sufferers have to be incredibly underweight in the first place to be 'sick enough' or 'worthy' of help (another problem with NHS treatment). Mental illness isn't poetic or beautiful, it is anything but and the sooner the media realise that the better.

Losing weight was a symptom of Anorexia, it wasn't the cause and it wasn't the only thing I lost in the process. Physical appearances are superficial and it is impossible to comprehend how devastating eating disorders are from appearances alone. EDAW is something that society needs to not only fix misconceptions and provide help for sufferers but also to show that recovery is possible.

So I suppose I am sorry to all the people I hurt whilst I was hurting but also thank you to my parents, Jonny, my flatmates and the friends from home that understand more than anyone, whom have never questioned why sometimes I can eat a three course meal without punishing myself, but other days struggle just to say yes to the offer of a biscuit. I'm afraid there is no logic to my answer, it is more a matter of whether I have the strength that day to shout down the niggling voice in my head. Either way though, they've always done me right and I will always be thankful.

I know how difficult it can be to admit you have a problem but recovery is possible and though I'll admit I'm not 100% recovered, I'm nearer than I ever thought I would be. Keep fighting friends and remember, no one ever regretted recovery.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Christmas in Iceland

Taking a break this Tuesday evening from the mountain of reading that Third Year is demanding I keep on top of, I thought I would enlighten you all on my recent trip to Iceland. If you follow me on Twitter (over at @GeorgiaTakingNY) you might already have sneaked a peek at a few pictures but what I wanted to express to you all, was just how beautiful the country was and what a perfect place it is for a short but sweet stay.

It seems like a lifetime ago now but back just before Christmas, myself and my boyfriend flew from Manchester Airport to Reykjavik in the early hours of a Thursday morning. The beauty of flying from Manchester is that not only is it closer than London for me, but that since we had checked in online we were through security and having a pre-flight breakfast in Giraffe in less than 30 minutes.

The flight itself was only two and a half hours and we were in Iceland by 10am, and after another hour on a coach from the airport to Reykjavik, we were perfectly in time to spend the rest of the day exploring the city.

We stayed in a hotel in Downtown Reykjavik and, after seeing plenty of other hotels during the coach drop-off, I can honestly say the location of ours was perfect and in walking distance of all the shops, restaurants and bars.

Needless to say after checking in to the hotel we swiftly ventured out on a walk looking for lunch and whilst we accidentally stumbled into Apotek, in hindsight, I think this was one of the best meals and cheapest that we ate the whole trip. We both went for the two-course lunch menu and I tried minke whale for starter and plaice for my main, whilst Jonny had some sort of fish and then lamb, both beautifully presented on what I can only guess was a rose quartz rock!

It is worth noting here that although usually I don't eat a lot of meat, this trip was a definite exception as we soon learnt that almost all the restaurants encouraged you to try 3, 4, or even 6 course menus of their delicacies, something which included reindeer, whale and even puffin..

After this 'Icelandic Feast' of a lunch we wandered the beautiful and quirky shops of the city and made our way up the high-street and hill towards the Hallgrímskirkja church; a stunning and incredibly unique piece of architecture that provides amazing views of the city and harbour.

That night we were supposed to venture out on a Northern Light tours but unfortunately, due to the cloud, the tour was cancelled; something that happened each night of our trip and made me realise just how rare it is to witness the phenomena. With the deluge of photography of the Northern Lights I think we all take for granted just how special they are and forget how incredibly rare it is too find the right conditions to see them. For that reason, I'm convinced that when I do finally see them in my life, they will be all the more amazing.

The next day we woke up at an early 7am for the Golden Circle tour; a tour that included a visit to the Geysers, the Gullfoss Waterfalls and the Thingvellir National Park, where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.

The best part of the tour was definitely the Geysers which shoot huge columns of water up in the air every five minutes and, although it was freezing cold, it was definitely worth standing and waiting for it to happen!

That night our Northern Lights tour was cancelled again so instead we ventured out to a famous restaurant in Reykjavik called Sushi Samba where we experienced another five course surprise feast. I won't go into details but it was certainly memorable and I would 100% recommend a visit there.

On our final day in Reykjavik we visited the Blue Lagoon, something I would honestly consider one of the best (and most surreal) experiences of my life. There are time slots to visit throughout the day but we chose to go at 9am with the intention of seeing the sunrise from the Lagoon. Oh did I forget to mention that the sun only rises in Iceland during the winter at a crazy 11:30am and sets again at 2:30pm!

Whilst at the Blue Lagoon you can purchase different spa packages and we opted for the one that included a free drink, algae mask and bag of facial goodies. These actually turned out to be amazing and I'm slightly disappointed in myself for not buying more.

Though the Lagoon is beautiful it can get pretty busy with tourists. However by arriving early we were able to enjoy it almost undisturbed, something I would definitely recommend trying to do in order to make the most of the scenery and enjoy the algae masks that are placed around the sides of the Lagoon.

After our beautiful morning in the Lagoon we returned to Reykjavik that afternoon for some more shopping, coffee drinking and museum browsing and whilst we were both sad to be saying goodbye to Iceland it was an amazing few days and somewhere I would wholeheartedly recommend visiting.

If you're thinking about it yourself, these are my three top tops:

- Whilst our flights and accommodation were cheap, food was not. So if, like us, you are relying on eating out, budget for it carefully.
- Invest in thermals, a good coat, hat and gloves. It really is bitterly cold there and whilst it is bearable for a little while, the Golden Circle tour is an all day outing that will be difficult to enjoy if you're shivering.
- Though three to four days seems like a short visit, it is definitely enough time to see everything if you're willing to pack it in so go ahead and plan a long weekend, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Adventures in London at a Guardian Masterclass

It's been a long time since my last post and I apologise but third year has hit me like a truck, repeatedly, every day, for the past month. If you're currently in first or second year, sorry to scare you but I'm wishing you all the luck in the world!

Anyway, besides copious amounts of reading and work, what have I been up to this past month? In terms of career prospects quite a lot actually. 

Last month, in a total spur of the moment, impulsive act I booked myself on to a Guardian Masterclass on a Monday night in October, in London. Now if you don't already know, I study at Lancaster University, a good five to six hours away from the centre of London so that was slightly silly on my part but I decided I couldn't miss the chance to spend an evening at a Masterclass titled 'How to make a career in fashion journalism' with none other than Jo Elvin! Not only was Jo Elvin there to impart her words of wisdom but so too were Lorraine Candy (Editor of ELLE) and Jodie Harrison (Editor of Mr. Porter); pretty much my perfect night!

After a relatively pain-free experience on the train and tube, I eventually found my way to the Guardian offices where the Masterclass was taking place. As Carolynne Editor of the Lancaster University Newspaper I was in my element at the offices, getting a real sneak peek into the workings of a national newspaper.

After an introduction and meet and greet over a glass of wine in the office restaurant, much nicer than anything school ever had to offer, we were escorted to the conference room to meet our hosts for the evening.

The first to speak was Jo Elvin. Again, if you didn't already know, Glamour is my absolute favourite magazine and so this was kind of an exciting moment for me! If I took any advice away from Jo, it was to be endlessly curious, to be influenced by anything and everything around you and approach things with an open mind.

This being said, Jo made a pertinent point that perhaps I need to keep in mind; that it is equally as important to approach the idea of you 'dream job' with an open mind too, just in case what you currently consider to be your 'dream job' is in fact nothing of the sort. For this reason it is important to be open to new experiences and gain a wide range of them in the off chance that you find something that is much more suited to you.

As Editor of the magazine, Jo was also full of insight into how exactly we could gain experience at Glamour magazine, which route to take and how to get their attention. Those pearls of wisdom I might just keep to myself though...

What also inspired me about Jo's presentation was her honesty. After several hundred rejections last summer for work experience I was starting to lose faith but Jo reminded us all not to be afraid to fail. Simply 'say yes and you'll figure it out later' was her mantra and something I found quite refreshing; no one is born knowing how to do everything, sometimes you've just got to learn as you go and figure it out along the way.

After Jo Elvin came Jodie Harrison with a slick and impressive slideshow all about Mr Porter. As a female, Mr Porter had kind of slipped my radar a little but in that hour with Jodie I learnt so much about the brand and the clientele that I was genuinely surprised how interested in men's fashion I became.

The most exciting factor about Mr Porter for me was the digital aspect of it all. Unlike magazines, personal data can be gathered about the shopping habits of customers, which features were clicked the most and how long customers watched a video for. Using this knowledge the team behind Mr Porter can tailor content to not only boost sales but increase customer engagement; an insight magazine editors just don't have.

Though men's fashion is growing faster than women's, a notable problem with it is that it has a much slower moving, cyclical trend pattern. Which, if you're interested in going into men's fashion, means it is important to pitch ideas that put a fresh spin or new perspective on old ideas.

Lorraine Candy followed Jodie Harrison and told us all about Elle magazine defining it on simple sentence; "Vogue is about the dress, Elle is about the woman in the dress".

In regards to work experience, which everyone in the room was dying to hear about it, Elle is a little different to the others and Lorraine explained how each year the magazine takes on five interns for an entire year of paid employment, yay! Of course this only translates to it being a highly sought after and competitive job that any girl, including me, would love a chance at. Yet Lorraine recalled interns whom she remembered only for their bad attitudes and arrogance, shocking when you think how many of us would kill for the opportunity and embrace every single task with a smile on our faces! As you can imagine, Lorraine's advice was pretty simple here; 'make the tea', because you are never above that simple kindness.  

Lorraine also talked to us about the digital world, social media and blogging. Nowadays with so many of us bloggers about it is hard to stand out but what Lorraine suggested was the best tool to utilise, perhaps surprisingly, was humour. Humour translates amazingly over digital platforms and can help create a really clear personality and USP. Having said that, she also warned against pitching ideas over social media like Twitter. Unfortunately, it gets lost in a chaotic world of tweets and 140 characters simply isn't enough to do your ideas justice so refrain from tweeting and return to the era of emails to pitch an idea to the team.

After such an incredibly informative and insightful evening with three amazing, inspiring women it was time to return home. Unfortunately for me that meant sitting in London Victoria coach station for three hours until the 1am Mega Bus back to Lancaster but hey ho, it was worth it and I hope you've learnt a little from my experience too!  

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

University Guest Post

Although I've been mighty busy this last few weeks, I recently wrote a guest post over at Nine Grand Student about all those tiresome misconceptions that surround university.

If you're interested in giving it a little read click here and leave a comment, I love hearing what you think!