Thoughts

Thoughts #61: The State of the Blog

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Hello, lovely followers! I am sorry that I have abandoned you for so long. As you may now, in March I moved to a new city and began a new job. I have my own little flat (which I love!), really enjoy the job (working in university admissions), and I’m living in a gorgeous city.

And whilst I’ve read quite a bit, thanks to my commute and lunch break, I’ve not really been sharing my thoughts so much. Over the past year or so, my love and passion for book blogging has waned. If that wasn’t already obvious. And I know it’s the same story for many of you bloggers out there, in fact a lot of the bloggers I met when I first started blogging nearly six (!) years ago no longer seem to be around.

Now, this is not a ‘this is the end’ post. This is more of a ‘things are going to be a little slower around here’ post. I don’t like the thought of giving up on the blog; it’s a huge part of my identity (I feel like ‘book blogger’ is one of my big defining characteristics, and it’s actually also a pretty nice ice-breaker!) and I am way too proud of it to just give it up. But I put unnecessary pressure on myself to get things done, even when I don’t want to.

So it’s time for a change. If I want to post, I post. If I don’t feel like it for a few weeks, I won’t. Simple. I just wanted to let you know, as so many of you have been following me for nearly my entire journey, and I don’t want you to think I’ve just disappeared.

I’ll start off with catching up on reviews (five or six review copies read since March and not reviewed oops), and then move onto other posts when I feel like it. Maybe I could even start posting more about comparisons between The Lord of the Rings Online and Tolkien’s works, since I’ve starting playing it again – and we’re getting Mordor this summer. 😀

See you around, lovelies!

Are you also a fellow blogger who is struggling to stay motivated? What do you do in these situations?
Blog Admin

Off On A New Adventure!

Today I am moving to a new city, to my very own flat (yippee!), and tomorrow I start a new job. I am so, so excited – I’ve been unemployed since Christmas, and it has been boring. But now I finally have something – it’s not a museum job, but it’s a different career path that I’m definitely interested in, so fingers crossed.

I’ll be internet-less for a little bit, so don’t expect any posts/social media activity until at least the weekend, but also I may not post for a short while whilst I’m getting settled and exploring my new home. See you all soon! 🙂

Thoughts

Thoughts #58: A Work Related Rant

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I’ve wanted to write this work related post/rant for a couple of weeks now, but I wasn’t too sure about it. However, this BBC news article about how ‘receptionists put people off seeing the doctor’ has pushed me over the edge.

Two years ago, when I was working full-time in order to save enough money for my Master’s degree, I worked as a medical receptionist in a busy GP surgery in my home town. Since I moved back to my home town from Oxford at the end of August, I’ve been helping out there, both in reception and with some admin work, as they’ve been rather short-staffed, until today. And all of the following has happened in just those 4 short weeks, so imagine what it’s like when that is your full time job:

  • I have been shouted at more times that I can count
  • I have been sworn at at least once a day
  • I have been screamed at
  • I have had the phone slammed down on me countless times
  • I have been told that it will be my fault if someone dies because they couldn’t see the doctor immediately, on numerous occasions
  • I have been asked ‘what I would do’ if someone died because I couldn’t offer them an appointment there and then
  • I have been treated like a piece of dirt on the bottom of someone’s shoe, every single day, multiple times a day

And through all of this, I have to react with professionalism. I have to stay calm, even when someone is screaming at me. I have to be respectful, even if the person on the end of the phone is being incredibly rude. I have to ignore the guilt-trippers, rude comments and everything else. Even when I want to scream back, swear, or slam the phone down myself, I do nothing but remain professional and try my utmost to help. As does every (or nearly every, I’m sure) medical receptionist out there. I try and do the best I can, offer the best solutions – but I can only offer what is available. Yet every single day, medical receptionists go out of their way to help someone, whether it’s seeing if a patient can be squeezed in to see a GP or nurse that day, process a prescription on the spot, and deal with other last minute matters.

We are lucky in the UK to have a free health care system. But of course this does not come without its drawbacks: it can be hard to get a GP appointment. I understand that. I’ve experienced it myself. But screaming and shouting at the person at the end of the phone or at the front desk is not going to help. They can’t just magic up another appointment for you. We can’t force the doctors to add even MORE hours to their already ridiculous schedules. Just because a GP isn’t seeing patients doesn’t mean they aren’t working.

Oh, and receptionists normally have to ask about the problem. It is for the GP’s benefit – not theirs. The GP wants to know what they’ll be dealing with, the nurse needs to know what procedure they’ll be doing next so they can prepare for it. This article has made me so, so angry, and incredibly glad that I no longer do this thankless job on a permanent basis, because I just can’t deal with the Great (ha!) British public anymore.

How to deal with those pesky patients.
How to deal with those pesky patients.

Misc.

Goodbye Oxford!

Oxford

Today I am moving away from Oxford. I’ve been here for just over a year, and a few months ago I decided that it wasn’t the place for me – at least, not at the moment. It’s an expensive city to live in, I’ve found it hard to make friends, and even harder to meet up with the friends I did make after we all went our separate ways from the Ashmolean. So, for now, I’m moving back to my parents’ so that I can work out where my life is going! I’m looking forward to it – I can spend more time with my family, my niece, see my other relatives a bit more as I’ll be closer. I miss living in a small town where everyone knows each other, and I miss the countryside. I’ll have my cats too! I’m planning on doing some volunteering and learning to drive – I’ve got some temporary work lined up where I worked before, but after that, who knows?

I’m excited for this new part of my life, even if it is a bit of a step back in some ways. This does of course mean I’ll never get to do my Literary Oxford, which I planned and failed at – oops! However, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time for blogging. 🙂

Thoughts

Thoughts #52: Living With Social Anxiety

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I don’t often write personal posts, but occasionally I feel the need to share something, even if it’s just to get my thoughts down for my own sake. Today I wanted to talk about living with social anxiety, which is something I’ve battled with since the age of 16-17.

Previously, I discussed how I used an online game to get through depression. My social anxiety stems from the same time; I was diagnosed with both together. And like with the depression, although circumstances have changed greatly (and for the better), this is something that is still stuck with me. Here’s the definition of social anxiety from Wikipedia:

Social anxiety is a specific form of anxiety. It is an emotion characterised by a discomfort or a fear when a person is in a social interaction that involves a concern of being judged or evaluated by others. It is typically characterised by an intense fear of what others are thinking about them (specifically fear of embarrassment or humiliation, criticism, or rejection), which results in the individual feeling insecure and not good enough for other people, and/or the assumption that peers will automatically reject them.

One of the reasons I am happy to talk about this on the blog is that I feel that as introverts, this may be something that affects many of us bookworms and book bloggers. Not to say that we are all introverts, but I know that is the story for many of us. For me, social anxiety presents itself in the following ways:

  • I pretty much always assume that members of the public are judging me for one reason or the other, so I’m never entirely comfortable in public – even with things as simple as eating something unhealthy in public or trying on clothes in a shop
  • I have an utter fear of being the centre of attention or public speaking
  • Humiliation/embarrassment are actually almost physically painful
  • I do like going out – but it has to be with people I know and enjoy spending time with, and often even if I’m really enjoying myself I’m working out when I can slip away and go home
  • I don’t really crave social contact, I spend a lot of time by myself and don’t feel lonely unless other things in life aren’t working out, e.g. when I hated my previous job – but communicate regularly with people online, however this has mostly been the case since moving to Oxford as my friends are all over the country/world now
  • When I do spend a lot of time with friends, I feel emotionally exhausted and need time to myself afterwards to ‘recover’
  • When I make new friends, for a long time I assume that they’re just ‘putting up with me’ and aren’t really interested – this stems from all the crap that happened when I was 16-17 and that caused this whole mess

nervous gif

Things felt a little different in Leiden. I discovered that I actually did like going to clubs and bars in the evening, and staying out until silly o’clock in the morning. But I think that was down to two things – firstly, a fantastic group of friends and secondly, the university environment. You’re thrown into situations where you meet all these new people and bond so easily, everyone is in the same boat. It’s a completely different story when it comes to working.

It can be a tricky thing to explain to people, and to be honest I don’t really like explaining it unless I know they’ll understand, because some people have reacted really negatively in the past. I’ve made a lot of excuses for a lot of social events since I’ve been in Oxford, because basically I’ve been too anxious to go. Whilst I don’t often feel lonely, and am actually pretty happy spending time by myself, social anxiety can still be difficult to deal with. I worry far too much about the most ridiculous things, and spend far too much time feeling uncomfortable about something rather than just enjoying myself.

It’s interesting to meet other people with social anxiety. Last month, a good friend came to stay for the weekend, and she suffers from it too. Because she also needs ‘recovery time’ after socialising, she stayed Friday to Saturday night, which gave us both Sunday to recover. We had a great time together, but also managed to have time to ourselves – and it worked perfectly for the two of us. However it’s much trickier with people who don’t completely understand!

Have you ever suffered from anxiety? Do you have any tips for dealing with it?

Misc.

A Post Of A More Personal Variety…

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I don’t normally post stuff like this, normally my blog is reserved for books, sometimes video games – my interests, but not me. But I need somewhere to post this and I don’t know where else.

I am really, really not happy with things as they are now. And I don’t know what to do.

Everywhere I look, people I know are getting engaged, married, having kids, buying a house, getting a promotion, working their ideal job. And I can’t help but compare myself to others, even though I know it’s completely stupid. Despite the fact that I have two degrees under my belt, plus plenty of experience within museums and archaeology, I feel like I haven’t accomplished much with my life.

I really don’t like my job. It’s boring, I can’t stand customer service for a second longer, and it’s not at all what I thought I’d be doing after completing my Master’s degree. I hate the public and how so many people treat customer service employees as though they are nothing but something on the bottom of their shoe. The way that so many people act all high and mighty around me and my colleagues, how they get angry with us over the stupidest things – and in a place that they paid absolutely NOTHING to enter, I might add. I know I only graduated last summer and it will take me a while to get on my feet, but I need something that keeps me stimulated and provides a challenge, rather than walking around the same galleries again and again, day after day after day. Sure, the museum is great. Sure, it has amazing stuff. But that painting isn’t quite so amazing once you’ve walked past it thousands of times.

I’ve been applying for other jobs. I don’t want to leave Oxford just yet, and since museum jobs are hard to come by, I’ve been looking at higher education administration. I’ve had two interviews from countless applications, one at Christ Church College in December, which went really well but went to someone else. I was, however, chosen as the reserve candidate in case the person they chose turned it down. They didn’t, and over the Christmas holidays I applied to countless more jobs. I was offered one interview, at Hertford College, this month. I went along, felt really great and confident, and was asked back for a second interview. It went so well, and I felt so good – but again, I didn’t get it. It went to someone with more experience in that particular field.

Getting so close to escaping, but not quite making it, has really gotten me down. My current job has caused a LOT of problems. I get more migraines, because I can’t just grab a glass of water when I need one. I now have a problem with my feet, which hurt all the time, regardless of whether I’m stood up or not. It’s also aggravating another medical condition of mine and all of this combined together is so overwhelming, and makes every day at work a real challenge. I wake up each morning dreading the day, knowing that it’s going to be boring, frustrating and I could possibly get ill, so add anxiety to the mix.

I’ve never, ever been one of those people who really wants to get engaged, married, have kids and all that. All I want is the museum career I’ve always dreamed of, and I’ll be happy. But I cannot believe how little difference having a MA in Museum Studies has made. For the job we do, myself and all of my colleagues are ridiculously overqualified. All we do is walk around a museum all day, giving people directions, and almost all of us have one degree, if not two. Despite the fact that the post requires no qualifications, the museum seems to only hire people with them, because it shows we have an interest. But it also means that we’re wasting our degrees.

What frustrates me even more is how difficult it is to find an entry level museum job. I spent a while today looking through museum jobs, and almost everything was either volunteer work (how would I afford to live?) or required about five years experience of PAID museum work (how do I get the experience if I can’t get a single job without it?). The only jobs I could find that were suitable for me had some ridiculous limitations – you had to be 18-24 years old (so now I’m too old) and unemployed. Which makes me wonder why I even spent all this time and money on two degrees in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have a job. I’m just incredibly frustrated by this field that I’ve chosen to fall in love with and set my heart on. It’s so, so difficult to progress, and it really gets me down. I feel like I’m completely stuck in a rut and won’t ever be able to get out of this monotonous job, where I can’t even save the money so I can afford to relocate for another job. It is so important to me, what I end up doing for a living. I don’t want a job that makes me feel like I’m wasting my time. I want something that I can be passionate about, that I love doing, that I know is making a difference somewhere.

Sorry for the rant, I just have to get it out somehow…

Misc.

Onwards… to the City of Dreaming Spires

Gorgeous image by Pablo Fernandez

Gorgeous photo by Pablo Fernandez

Yesterday, I moved to Oxford.

Somehow, just somehow, I managed to get a job in one of my favourite places in the world. This is a really exciting new chapter in my life, and I am SO excited. I’ve moved in a few days early to get settled and get a few things done beforehand.

This opens up SO MANY new opportunities for the blog. Oxford is an idyllic and truly beautiful place, as well as being a source of much literary inspiration. Plus it puts me closer to lots of my fellow bloggers!

However, I will be internetless for a little while, whilst BT sort out our connection. Apparently they got the address wrong and didn’t let us know… so I have some posts planned for the next few weeks, but I won’t be able to reply to comments for a little while, and if the posts stop coming for a bit then that’s why!

I’ll be back soon, hopefully with exciting updates!

Notes from the Netherlands

Notes from the Netherlands #11: A Final Note…

Note from the Netherlands

Notes from the Netherlands is my feature where I discuss my time studying at Leiden University. I want to blog about this amazing experience as much as I can!

Today is the day I leave the Netherlands, and it’s kind of hard to believe. I spent so long waiting to come here, and it’s gone by in a flash. It’s going to be an emotional day, most likely with some (a lot) of tears. I actually had a little cry going home at Christmas, so I’m not sure what it’s going to be like now I’m leaving for good… In a way, I’m looking forward to returning to the UK, there are plenty of things I miss about it, but I know I will also miss my third adopted home country. But what am I going to miss most?

  • Cycling everywhere. I absolutely love this; I love cycling and it’s so quick and means I don’t need to spend money on public transport. Whilst I could still do this at home, it’s not the same. The area where I live is VERY hilly and the UK just doesn’t have the same system for bikes as the Netherlands. There’s very few bike paths, nowhere to lock a bike… it’s just not the same. I’m going to miss my fiets!
  • Mijn fiets!

    Mijn fiets!

  • The beautiful buildings. I really love Dutch architecture, and all the tall houses and buildings with huge windows.
  • The canals. Water everywhere! Although I think I really love this because it reminds me of home – my town is full of streams and millponds, so I’m used to being surrounded by water. The canals bring a real charm to Leiden and other Dutch cities, and it means we get all kinds of exciting wildlife just hanging around – like herons sitting on top of lamp posts!
  • Just relaxing.

    Just relaxing.

  • The food. I already discussed my favourite Dutch foods, so I won’t go into much detail here. But maybe it’s kind of a good thing that I won’t be near any stroopwafels
  • Independence. I will have to move back home with my parents for a little while until I find a job, and that’s going to be another big change. It was the same when I finished university last time. Of course I love being home and spending time with them, but it’s also nice to have my own space too. It will be especially odd after being not only away from home, but having lived in another country by myself.
  • Travelling. I didn’t quite travel as much as I wanted to, but it’s so easy to do it from Leiden! I managed to go to Belgium and Germany, and within the Netherlands I went to Amsterdam (many times), The Hague, Delft, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and other places. Plus the beach is only a 40 minute bike ride away!
  • Leiden, I am REALLY going to miss you.

    Leiden, I am REALLY going to miss you.

  • The atmosphere. Dutch people are much more relaxed than the English. I loved strolling through the town, just seeing people sitting in the sun, often on boats, having a coffee or a nice cold beer. The working week is generally shorter and everyone just seems a lot more easy-going. I love it.
  • And last, but definitely not least… my friends. If you read my posts about coming here before August then you’ll know I was sort of terrified of not making any friends. But I did, and I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been. My friends, not the university, made the experience here an amazing one. I’m going to be so sad to leave everyone, even if we will (hopefully) not be that far apart in the end. Plus it means I now have contacts all over the world!

I may end up doing some sort of ‘wrap up’ posts of things I forgot, but this may also be the last post in this series. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Dutch adventures, even if I didn’t post quite as often as I’d hoped!

In all, my time in Leiden has been absolutely fantastic. I do not regret making the decision to come here at all. I’ve met some fantastic people, had a wonderful time and completely gone out of my comfort zone in ways I would have never expected just one or two years ago. THANK YOU to everyone who has been a part of my life here, I am going to miss you all so much.

leslie gif

Notes from the Netherlands

Notes from the Netherlands #10: A Reflection

Note from the Netherlands

Notes from the Netherlands is my feature where I discuss my time studying at Leiden University. I want to blog about this amazing experience as much as I can!

In just under a week, I will be leaving the Netherlands and heading back to the UK. I just wanted to take the opportunity to look back at everything I have managed to accomplish this year.

  • For me, one of the biggest things was the fact that I moved to another country by myself. At 18, I didn’t even consider any university more than 2 hours away from home for my Bachelors degree, so the fact that I felt confident enough to move abroad alone was a pretty massive step.
  • I went to my first club. Yeah, somehow I avoided them entirely during my Bachelors degree…
  • I went on my first pub crawl.
  • I went to my first paint party.
  • In fact, I pretty much attempted to make up for the lack of stuff I did during my Bachelors degree.
  • I wrote a 30,000 word thesis that I am pretty happy with.
  • I travelled to both Germany and Belgium, and stayed in my first youth hostel!
  • I learnt some Dutch – I can’t really hold a conversation but I understand a lot more than I can express.
  • I realised that I love cycling everywhere and that it’s something we need to do more of in the UK.
  • I confirmed that this is DEFINITELY the career path that I want.
  • I met up with some of the most important people in my life.
  • I learned that any event, no matter how boring it sounds, is always interesting when there’s free food and drink.
  • Apparently I actually DO enjoy the gym. Most of the time.
  • I met some fantastic people who I hope will be friends for life.
  • And this is one of the most important things to me – I managed to almost entirely financially support myself. I’ve never been good at saving money, but somehow I managed it really well during the two years I worked to come here. And sometimes I forget that all the money I’m spending here, all my rent, my tuition fees, everything – has been mostly paid for by my own hard work. That, more than anything, makes me feel like a grown up!

Leiden

Ik ga je missen, Leiden!

Misc.

Things I Have Learnt From My Thesis…

So I’m 22,500 words into my thesis. I have one chapter and the conclusion left and I’ve just been utterly stuck. The draft is due in for 1st May, but my sister is visiting from 26th-29th April, and this Saturday is going to be busy too. So, with a deadline looming over my head and (academic) writer’s block, what better than to write a post about it?! This is also the reason for a lack of posts lately – and I’ve got about seven books read and waiting to be reviewed.

Fran knows how I feel. (image source)
Fran knows how I feel. (image source)

  1. Procrastination knows no boundaries… I should be working on it as I write this. Cleaning my flat suddenly became a LOT more interesting. As did organising my clothes.
  2. The view from my room is fascinating. People watching is my new hobby.
  3. Coffee is my friend. Until the effect wears off.
  4. Literally 90% of my thesis stress comes from Microsoft Word. I’ve been writing chapters using Scrivener, but I’m using Word to compile everything and it’s the worst thing in the world. It’s like it sees you want to place something in an exact spot and goes ‘NOPE! NOT HAPPENING! YOU WANT TO ADD FIGURES?! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? FOOL!’.
  5. Music is ESSENTIAL. But it has to be the right music, namely film/video game soundtracks and classical music. Something without lyrics, but also epic – to accompany my quest to finish this thesis…
  6. Finding the right font is a time consuming, yet important, process. Those sub-titles need to look perfect.
  7. As is formatting chapters before the whole thing is finished just because it feels productive.
  8. And thinking up a snappy title.
  9. Below the word count?
    Below the word count? Sorted! (image source)

  10. The thesis becomes 80% of your conversation topics, in one way or another.
  11. It’s also the first thing you think of in the morning, and the thing you fall asleep worrying about. Or don’t sleep well because of.
  12. The gym is a wonderful distraction. I never thought I’d say that sentence.
  13. Non-uni related book guilt becomes worse.
  14. I LOVE LISTS.
  15. Sometimes it’s best just to write SOMETHING, even if that something is crap, and look over it later.
  16. I’m totally cool with wearing the same outfit 5 days in a row. Who’s going to see me?
The final deadline is 15th June. Wish me luck!