Graduation Girl

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Dress – Coast, Shoes- Dune

The big day has arrived and I am officially a Graduate. Donning the traditional cap and gown, which I am sure are insisted on purely for the misfortune of graduates, both baking in them and having the customarily cringe photo, I walked across the stage and collected my certificate.

The long affair of the speeches and roll call ultimately went too quickly and the fear of falling over on stage in front of the audience and the people watching online consumed me. I successfully crossed the stage without face planting, so all that was left to do was throw my hat in the air and take the now awaited boomerang. After the endless photos and the hugs from family it was time to celebrate and that meant tapas and Gin, of which both I happily indulged.


Having earnt my BSc in Geography I am so excited to begin studying for my Masters this September. I have decided to study MSc Applied Meteorology and Climatology and am looking forward to my next academic adventure at a new university.

At the beginning of the year graduation had felt so far away, a distant celebration for my fellow students, but ultimately the year flashed by in the blink of an eye. And through the stresses of dissertations and final exams my last year as an undergraduate had gone by far too quickly. A word of advice to current undergrads; enjoy every moment that comes your way and take every opportunity, the end may feel like the goal but you will ultimately look back and wished you’d have enjoyed yourself more, as university maybe about earning a degree but the people, trips and crazy night out and the things you will cherish and laugh at most.

until next time

Sincerely Shiv

Top tips for camp counsellors

Welcome to the world of camp, a different universe that will unplug you completely from reality. Camp season is just beginning, with lots of international staff jetting off soon, so I thought I’d provide some top tips from my own experience.  Last summer I was lucky to be offered a job as a camp counsellor at a Girl Scout camp in California, it was certainly a unique experience and is a job I would definitely recommend, but proceeded with caution as there will be weeks that will make you want the summer to last forever and ones that will make you want to run away from camp screaming, or down a mountain in my case. 

 

  1. Bring snacks!!!! As an international staff I arrived at camp with just my suitcase and unfortunately no snacks. Camp will provide you three meals a day, and even though pancakes and Mac and Cheese sound amazing at the start of the summer, you’ll soon never want to see them again, after eating it for the hundredth time. Also, a word of warning for anyone with food allergies or intolerance, Kitchen will only make an effort on sessions when there are campers with the same intolerances, so prepare for the same meal every day or just the shared salad bowl. With this in mind stock up on snacks when you can and invest in an air tight container so mice and bugs can’t get at them. Room in the staff fridge is precious so bear this in mind with your snack choices – even though American sweet isles are a fun new playground and you literally become a kid in a candy store – things will melt, I learnt this the hard way when my gummy bears became a puddle. 

  2. Bugs – dryer sheets will become your new best friend. I also learnt this the hard way when I woke up with twenty bug bites on my head, despite saturating myself with bug spray. Bug Bites will become a competition between staff members, who got the most or the biggest, but after one week it’s a competition for who has the least. After seeing staff rubbing themselves with dryer sheets I soon caught on that they kept the bugs away, and was blissfully bite free for the rest of the summer.

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    Salted Carmel GF Macaroon
  3. When staff invite you home, they mean it – and take the opportunity! This is how I made one of my best camp friends who I went home with every week. This not only gives you a unique experience of living with an American family, but they also now all of the best spots, shout out to LA Lemonade for the biggest and most delicious gluten-free macaroons I’ve ever seen. Local staff are often just excited to show you around their town as you are to see it. This is also an opportunity to be back in the real world for a few nights, and the best days were often spent sleeping, eating non-camp food and watching friend’s re-runs, that is when we weren’t gallivanting around the outlets and universal studios.

     

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  4. Breaks are precious – use them wisely, and by that I mean either sleeping it away, showering or shoving some much-needed sugar or caffeine in your system. Camp and the kids are amazing and you should value your time with them, but also remember self-care. This was massively advocated at my camp and I’m so thankful, the staff lodge was a safe haven of sleep and the shower, and on longer breaks the coffee shop in the nearest town which was a gift from above.
  5. Get to know your campers – if you make the effort with your campers, A) they will get more out of it, B) they are more likely to make an effort with you and C) they are individuals, and even though they are part of a single unit they all have their own personalities and you should recognize this.
  6. Camp is hard and its okay not to love it every second of the day. Camp is an amazing experience and I have memories and friends that I’ll carry with me for a lifetime, but camp is also a 24 hour job that can be just as emotionally draining as much as it is fulfilling. I learnt this the hard way after a week of no sleep, several homesick campers (because homesickness is contagious), some problem campers, and limited food, I was basically running on empty and ended up having a panic attack. But this is not a rant about the harder side of camp in fact it is the complete opposite as every staff member goes through this at some point in the season and it can usually be sorted by a good nap and warm shower. You will cry at some point and so will your fellow staff and that’s completely fine, camp is hard and long work, your co-workers will be there and you’ll be there for them, in fact my fellow counsellors swarmed me with support when I had my mini meltdown as did the camp director who allowed me to take a few minutes for myself.
  7. Have an arsenal of icebreakers, camp songs and games ready for any given time. You will be given a schedule at the beginning of every session, outlining the activities and programming for the week. However just because the schedule says an activity will be happening at a certain time it doesn’t mean it will, this means you have to your kids. Whether you get your kids belting out classic camp songs, running around playing ‘where’s my water bottle?’, or putting on your best skit for their entertainment, camp is for them and you’ve got to keep them happy and excited and that not going to happen if you leave them to entertain themselves.img_3184.jpg
  8. Camp is a messy job – being based in the mountains staff at my camp had some impressive dirt tans, mainly as a result of the dust clouds from campers dragging their feet. And after a long shower of scrubbing yourself clean you will only be dirty again within 10 seconds, so don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be a glamping experience, I slept on a mattress, in a tent, up a mountain for three months, hardly a 5 star resort. That being said there are some investments you should make, mainly baby wipes and as many socks as you can carry – seriously it’s not worth trying to clean camp socks just throw them out and buy new ones.IMG_3609
  9. Expect the unexpected – seriously anything can happen. Within my time at camp we had five rattlesnakes, a bear, and a wildfire, literally anything can happen.
  10. Don’t take yourself seriously – camp is meant to be fun and you won’t get the best out of it if you don’t throw yourself into everything. One minute you’ll be running around as the golden snitch with a ball strapped to you and ten campers chasing you, then you’ll be showing off you best dance moves at camp fire and then you’ll find yourself soaked from a staff water fight. Honestly sometimes you’ll feel like one of the campers and it won’t even feel like a job.

I hope these tips help you out, or at the very least my anecdotes humoured you, stay tuned for further stories of my camp tips, challenges and champion’s.

Until next time

Sincerely Shiv

 

Leaving on a Jet Plane…. Maybe?

IMG_0725.JPGIn my second year of University I was successful in my application to study abroad, and would be spending my Spring term in Michigan.  However, my journey to get there was far from smooth, in fact it was the most difficult part of my whole time spent in America. My journey began on the 2nd of January 2017 however, I didn’t actually arrive on campus until the 4th, this gives you some indication to the wonderful delays I experienced on my way, so sit back and relax because this is going to be a long one.

January the 2nd 

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I got to Birmingham airport nice and early to give myself plenty of time to relax for my flight and spend some time with my family. However, upon checking in I come across my first delay, I’m informed my flight has been delayed for an hour and a half, which in the scheme of things didn’t appear to be too much of an issue, I would still make my connecting flight and would get to spend some more time with my family before the dreaded farewell.

Making my way towards departures it finally sank in that I was leaving and the nerves started to set in, was I making the right decision? I said my goodbyes to my family, barely holding back my own tears as they cried, realising I wouldn’t be seeing them in person for some time. I joined the queue for security, turning round only to find my family still stood where I had left them waving and cheering me on,  I will admit a few stray tears did betray me.

After making it through security I sat down and waited out the delay,  after checking the announcement  board, the gate would be up in 5 minutes…. 10 minutes later, still no gate……1 hour later… you get the idea. So finally three hours later the departure gate was announced and I finally made it on to the plane. But don’t think it over yet, oh no that would be too easy “ladies and gentlemen we have a slight mechanical issue at the moment. Maintenance are just taking a look at it and we should be up and on our way soon.” This was fine I would still make my connecting flight, the reality no I wouldn’t, as the short delay turned into another hour and half until we were eventually airborne.

At this point I had accepted that I wasn’t going to make my connecting flight but I could at least get comfortable for the next 9 hours… or so I had thought. An hour and a half into the flight and I was greeted by another delightful announcement, “ladies and gentlemen I’m afraid we have a slight mechanical issue, rather than risk it we’ve decided to turn back around and try and get it fixed.” One emergency landing later and I was still sat on the plane in London Heathrow, with no idea what was happening. Another hour later and I was finally off the plane, at this point I wasn’t going to make orientation. I had collected my luggage and was handed a card with a number to call to rearrange my flights. There were no available flights that night so I was provided with a hotel room and they’d rearranged a flight the next day, however my connecting flight had not be re-organised so one stressful phone call later I’d be flying to Chicago in the morning and then on to Michigan. So one day down and I had made it to London, a journey which usually takes just over an hour. A phone call to my parents and I receive the expected response of “it’s a sign, don’t go” but I was persevering I was going to make it… eventually.

Attempt two

After little sleep it was time to try again, I arrived at the airport and  no delays, there was hope. In fact I made it to Chicago and off the plane with no delays. Then I went to check in for the next flight and you guessed it… the dreaded delayed sign was displayed across the board. It seemed to be a bit of a reoccurring theme, so with a two hour delay I brought some snacks and waited it out again, when all of a sudden the gate was changed… to the other side of the airport. So one mad dash and a collapsed lung later and I was on the plane. I landed in Detroit with no further delays, but I’d spoken too soon, as my luggage appeared to have gone missing and wasn’t found for another hour. At that point it was too late to head to campus and try to navigate my way to housing, so I booked into a hotel and finally get some sleep.

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After waking up to a sprinkling of snow, I shoved my things into the back of a taxi and finally arrived on campus. After navigating my way round the huge university site, I made it to my residence halls and finally unpacked. Now it was time to meet my roommates, brave the -13 degree temperatures and experience “College” the American way.

I hope you enjoyed my traveling misfortune, stay tuned for studying abroad tips and a look back at my adventures.

Until next time

Sincerely Shiv

 

 

 

Sunshine, shopping and Stratford

Bank holiday weekend has arrived in England and with it some sunshine has appeared (I use the words some sunshine optimistically.) This meant hopping on the bus and heading down to Stratford-upon-Avon for the day and enjoying the long weekend, and a bit too much shopping, while I could.

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First things first

10 seconds off the bus and that means going to all the old favourites, and in my family that means sweets and Christmas in summer. The year round Christmas shop in Stratford is a must every time we visit and will definitely get you in the spirit, even if Christmas is over 200 sleeps away.

img_2392-1.jpgAfter that we find our way to the Old fashioned sweet shop, which is a bit of a vice in our household, and although Mr Sims has the best peanut brittle and cinder toffee, the Stratford sweet shop is still worth a visit, if only to pick up their ridiculously sour sweets or a souvenirs stick of rock.

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Lunch

After a little potter around the town and the usual high street stores, where perhaps a few too many items were purchased on my part, it’s time for lunch. After working up an appetite we headed to Benson’s restaurant and tea room, where I’ve actually never been before, but was pleased to find an extensive gluten-free menu. I ended up having a tuna melt with homemade slaw and would definitely recommend it to any fellow gluten-free readers. They also offer a gluten free cream tea which I might have to try soon.

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Promenade the park

Time to walk of lunch and that means heading down to the canal. Stratford is full of shops and tea rooms to potter in and out of but the park and canal are a lovely walk especially when the sun is out, just watch out for the geese and swans, there’s a few hundred of them.

The park is also a wonderful place to have a picnic,  or you could hop on the ferris wheel that is currently running, which would offer you a great view of the town. The park also offers much entertainment, the area around the park is often occupied by street performers or busker’s and is a nice way to pass sometime in the nice weather, however the sun didn’t appear until late afternoon so the prospect wasn’t so appealing in the cold. So I ultimately ended back in the shops and the bookstore (the weather a perfect excuse.)

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Stratford is a wonderful day out and is one of my go to day trips when the weather is nice, just to sit by the canal or head to the races. But if you have more time on you hands I recommend taking in a show at the RSC or heading to the butterfly farm, if you can deal with them landing on you that is, unlike my friends who tend to squeal the minute something flutters near them.

What I picked up

The bank Holiday was the perfect opportunity to do a bit of shopping, especially since there were a few sales. I picked up a few items on my trip to Stratford and my local shopping centre. The first shop I purchased from was New look, which is having some really good deals at the moment, I picked up two items both pictured below.

I’ve already used the backpack, which I love as it can be used as both a backpack or crossbody bag, and is like a Tardis, much bigger on the inside, where you can fit all the shopping necessities. I thought the top would be perfect for summer (well the one I’m hopping we get) and would pair nicely with a pair of white shorts or jeans.image10

The next shop I popped into was Lush, who were having a really good deal on in support of FFlag, a charity who supports family and friends of those in the LGBT community as they come out or any other issues they face. So for me it was an excuse to buy more from Lush while supporting a fantastic organisation.

I actually had the opportunity to make my own bath bomb in store, and got to make the Sex Bomb, which is currently setting, so I have to wait two days until I can use it. So to tide me over I picked up the ‘you’ve been mangoed’ bath oil which smells like sherbet lemons and is going to be used later. Also when I purchased the sex bomb bath bomb I got a free pot of the charity face and body lotion, which has a wonderful floral sent and will be used on a daily basis. image1.jpg

My next purchase was from Accessorize, who were, fortunately for me, having a deal on their sunglasses, which were all £10. As it had been raining in the morning I didn’t bring sunglasses with me, like a genius, so my luck the sun came out. I brought a pair of leopard print frames with reflective lenses, and actually love them so it was a win win really.

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After Accessorize I headed in to Paperchase, a must for me on any shopping trip, to fulfill my stationary addiction. I picked up three items, including a Birthday card and silly present for a friend, and a pack of pastel highlighters to make my university notes slightly more interesting. Paperchase were also handing out scratchcards to celebrate their Birthday, so I ended up getting 20% off my purchase.

My next stop was Crystal Chain, I’ve never been in this shop before but they had some really cute reasonably priced jewelry items and I picked up two Items including a square-cut ’emerald’ coloured ring surrounded by smaller crystal and a pair of matching earrings. I love both items and would definitely recommend you check it out, especially for presents or for yourself. As a student the jewelry is really affordable but still looks special, so is great for gifts, especially with all the 21st Birthdays I have coming up.

The final shop I went to was Aspire style, one of my personal favourites. There aren’t many of these stores around but they do have a website which I recommend, especially if you like vintage (50s – 60s) clothes. The store is full of vintage clothes, occasion wear, jewellery and loads of little knickknacks. I brough two items, which I thought would be perfect for summer. These items are both really versatile and can be worn together or with several staple items I already have in my wardrobe. The both have really nice fits and are light, which is perfect in the warmer weather.

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Overall I’d say the shopping trips and trip were a success, I picked up several summer staples and enjoyed the limited sunshine. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend, until next time.

sincerely Shiv

My May Must Haves – my top 5 buys now that summer has arrived in the UK.

Spring has finally sprung (well summer) in England, and while we actually have some sunshine I’m planning to enjoy it as much as I can, while revising for my final undergraduate exams of course.

With summer break looming my summer wardrobe and wish list is expanding at an alarming rate. And while I feel like I’ll need a year-long holiday in the sun after this month, here are a few summer must haves a little closer to home.

Setting spray

image6 (5)With the warmer weather finally being here, we all know our faces struggle to stay on all day. And if you’re anything like me, the wonder of summer also brings around the joy of allergy season. This generally means my makeup runs down my face just like the tears streaming out of my pollen filled eyes.  Now seating spray has worked wonders for me, preventing my makeup from going patchy and melting off my face. My current go to is ‘Sport Fix’ by Revolution – which you can currently pick up for a reasonable £ at Superdrug. It has a lovely matte finish and no fragrance – 4/5.

Rhubarb and ginger gin

Now summer time in England goes hand in hand with a pub garden, and there is nothing nicer than an ice-cold drink while sat in the sun. One of my new favourites, that I’ve just discovered, is Edinburgh rhubarb and ginger liqueur gin, which tastes like rhubarb and custard sweets. And on the rare occasions I actually have a drink, this is my new go to, when partnered with some lemonade it is the perfect summertime drink. £18.50 for cl at Tesco.

Primark’s Amber pallet

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I managed to get my hands on the Amber pallet a few weeks ago, and it is a total steal at only £4 in Primark. It’s safe to say I haven’t put it down since, with lovely bronze and amber shades it is perfect for summer time. And fans of urban decays ‘Naked Heat’ pallet will notice the similarity between the two pallets and at £35 cheaper you really can’t grumble. The colours are also really pigmented and blend fairly well, and are perfect for either a beautifully  bronzed or peachy pink summer eyeshadow. 

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With the festival season looming it’s time for glitter to explode everywhere again – just like it has all over my bedroom. My go to has been Barry M and Gypsy Shrine – who are what glitter fantasies are made of. I have been loving the cosmic dreams glitter which can be used on your face, body of hair so is perfect for festival season – when you literally shower yourself in the stuff. You can never go wrong with Barry M’s glitter dust pots either, which are perfect for both every day and festivals.

 Straw Bagsimage1 (10)

These have been a major trend all through summer and spring and the trend looks set to continue. These woven bags come in all shapes and sizes and patterns. I have a small cross body one with little sequins stitched into it, I would leave a link but I picked it up in the souks in Marrakech after some hard bartering. So unless you’re planning a trip to Morocco I’ve found so gorgeous ones available online, including an absolutely gorgeous bag form Topshop, which I might just have to get myself. 

 

The Journey Begins

Join me on my journey

Welcome and thanks for joining me.

I’m currently in my final year of university and  have many experiences to share, from my time spent studying abroad, working as a camp counsellor and living with the two nutters I call my friends.

Join me as I put my running commentary down for you: including my traveling adventures and the people and lessons I’ve learnt along the way, the realities of student life, brunch with the best, and my unique ability to put my foot in my mouth, a few more times than you or I can count.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware. — Martin BuberIMG_2453