Posted in Books

Oxford

I’m feeling brave. That, or I’ve had too much coffee. But I’m writing part two straight after part 1 – let’s see how this goes.

An update for those who have read part one:

I am still on the coach home, sipping away at my iced coffee and enjoying the orange-y warmth of a sunset on my face. My friend has just started talking about physics. It’s 8:24. I know I love my subject, but it’s just a little late for me to comprehend Physics on a Friday night!

Back to my adventure.

My timetable is chock-a-block! It’s Monday morning and we’re mulling over our schedule over breakfast. We’ve got lectures, meals, group poster preparation and an assortment of options, currently all blank, but soon to be filled.

We came to the consensus that our week was jammed, but everyone looked forward to the challenges we await. After we finished our toast, we all split and headed to our rooms to finish getting ready for the day ahead.

I’m going to take a second to talk about my accommodation – a big concern for prospective students.

There is a lot of variation across campus in rooms: The age of the building, the layout, en suite or shared bathroom, where your window overlooked, etc. I was within the lucky few to be given a room with an en suite. I overlooked a quiet side street, my staircase was situated on a quiet quad and the room was of good quality.

I’ll be honest. My delight in my en suite was short lived when I stepped into my cold shower. Not only that, but the pipes are quiet loud. It’s too be expected with how old the building is, but it means water comes in pulsating intensities and the whole staircase knows when someone’s running the tap or flushing the loo.

That aside, it was a very liveable space. No, a thrive-able environment where you could live, work, sleep and study in comfort. I instantly feel comfortable in my room. Add some fairy lights and some cushions and, heck, I could call it home!

There is always going to be concern over where you’re living for the next three years of your life. It’s only reasonable. My outlook on it is make sure the flats/college are safe & comfortable – finer details such as whether it has a good view from the window or whether it’s en suite are trivial details that will always be down to the luck of the draw and the price you pay.

And then there is the option of living at home. But that’s a whole different post…!

Part three coming soon!

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Posted in Books

Oxford

As I write this, I’m on a coach filled with 70 students, forty minutes after our service-station stop at Warwick, on our way home from Oxford.

The coach is quieter than the journey out from Manchester to Oxford. Heading there, it was a raucous of laughter, chatter and excitement. Nobody quite knew each other, or what we were getting into.

Currently, things are a lot quieter and subdued. There is still chatter, but everyone’s a little exhausted and we’ve all lived together for a week – we’re comfortable in each other’s company and conversations aren’t a desperate attempt to make friends. I’ve loved Oxford. I’m not writing this post to brag, because this was a week’s summer school, not admission onto a degree programme. I want to share with you my experience for those – like myself – whom Oxford’s doors feel closed and life in its cit a fairy tale.

My friend has just pointed to a charming sunset, and as I listen to Elbow’s ‘My Sad Captain’ (beautiful song – I recommend their music!) I am reminded of watching the sun set over Pembroke College.

I can only describe my past week as a fairy tale. I will attempt to do Oxford justice in these posts.

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Christ Church, taken during my eventful walk to Pembroke.

After an eventful walk in – picture trying to drag your wheelie suitcase across cobbled stones, with laptop and extra bags, wrestling with floods of tourists and international summer schools all fighting for some pavement, all the while trying not to get run over by a bicycle. Surprisingly (without injury!), we arrive at Pembroke College.

Eventfulness doesn’t stop there! We then lug our luggage up and down flights of stairs as we all scramble to find our rooms. Turns out that someone is living in my room. More lugging. More stairs. More cursing. I’m starting to worry that the summer school will remain this chaotic for the week.

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The Hall at Pembroke College

 

Thankfully, things are sorted out within the hour, so I can settle down at dinner. All meals take place in the Hall – a stunning show of grandeur with portraits, wooden panelling and a ceiling that you could imagine accommodating headless ghosts and flying candelabras. It’s no wonder some of Harry Potter was filmed around Oxford!

 

The food was warm and filling – far better than school dinners. After a lovely classical recital (featuring a flute and piano) I look forward to my bed, but most of all, my week in Oxford.

part two coming soon!

Posted in Books

My Heart and Other Black Holes

Wow.

I haven’t picked up a book to read for a while now due to college and work. I bought this book soon after reading Me Before You (if you haven’t read or heard of this book, maybe because you have been living under a rock, why not have a read of my review to see what it’s all about!) and after watching The Danish Girl. I suppose it was only expected that I keep up this streak of heart-wrenching, ball-your-eyes-out literature.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga is the heartbreaking tale of two teens – Aysel and Roman – who find themselves in a complicated situation. And trust me, our sort of complicated comes no where near their sort of complicated; Aysel and Roman only meet after promising to end their lives together in a month.

What I find incredibly powerful about this story is how realistic it is. This whole plot could take place a street away from my home, where I work or within my college. It’s an eye opener, not in the sense that the plot is based around real people, but about a real situation becoming all too common in our generation.

I’m going to leave it at that. Trust me, I could write pages and pages on this beautiful piece of literature, but I don’t want to spoil any of it. Put it on your reading list (please!) and let me know what you think!

Posted in Books

Me Before You

Now I haven’t blogged for while, so why shouldn’t my first post in a long time be about a sensational romance?

Written by Jojo Moyes, many have only learnt about the book after its film adaptation – released last week – came to the big screen. I’ll admit, I only decided to read ‘Me Before You’ after weeks of endless excitement from my best friend (a fellow avid book-reader and romanticist). So I purchased the novel, read it over the half term and wept for a couple of days after.

The story revolves around busy-bee and overall optimist Louisa Clarke, who finds her small world come crumbling down around her when she looses her job at a local cafe. In an attempt to pull her life back, she accepts a job working as a daytime carer for a paraplegic. She doesn’t realise she’ll be working for Will Traynor, city-boy and free-spirited soul. She isn’t ready for him to make Louisa’s life a misery to compensate for his living-hell. She doesn’t know how Will will soon turn her small world upside down!

Its hard not to smile as the pair’s relationship blossoms, especially whilst Lou attempts to cheer up Will’s dampened and miserable life (emphasis on attempts!). As a reader, you’re strapped in to Lou’s emotional roller coaster; the joys of small success, like Louisa making Will smile, suddenly twists into the raw exhaustion and fear as the true complications of being paraplegic emerge. But the novel isn’t depressing. Far from it, in fact. The novel brings light and hope to an otherwise saddening situation: being trapped from living life.

If there is one thing everyone should learn from ‘Me Before You’, it is simply that – don’t avoid living life.

Especially in today’s world, its easy to become caught up in the minute and highly unimportant things, make them out to be life-changing, and waste time worrying about them. Its books like Moyes’ that remind us how fragile life is and how easy it is to slip into mainstream life, forgetting the world surrounding us.

So read the book/watch the film or both, reevaluate your life, then live life fully to the tune of the film’s soundtrack (which is also beautiful and highly recommended!). I know I am.

5 Stars – The Clever Owl

Posted in Books

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

PART 1 OF 3

Why is it always raining in Britain? Our weather may be unpredictable but you can bet that there is rain on the horizon. But why is Britain constantly plagued by showers, precipitation and downpours?

Britain – like all other countries – is dominated by air masses. Often, the prevailing wind comes from the west, meaning the air must have travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and collects some of the ocean’s moisture as it does so.

The prevailing wind is the most common/dominant wind direction.

These air masses are referred to as ‘maritime’as they have travelled across waters and are moisture-laden. When this air reaches the west coast of England, it is faced with hills and mountain ranges: Dartmoor, Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia, The Pennines, The Lake District. The air is forced to rise over the hills. As it rises, the air cools and the moisture within condenses, creating water vapour  that eventually forms clouds. Over time, these clouds will release this vapour as precipitation – sleet, snow, hail or rain – before the air is light enough to travel over the hill.

This is the main reason why it is often wetter across the West rather than the East; The Atlantic’s moisture released into the air falls over the hills located along the west coast of The British Isles. This type of rainfall is known as Relief rainfall, and forms the first of three different types of rain we experience in the UK!

Posted in Books

L’environnement

For French-learners everywhere, learning vocabulary about the environment and global issues might not seem top-priority. However, for GCSE French students, it is necessary to learn about ‘les rechauffement de terre’ (Global Warming) and ways to ‘protégér la planète’ (to protect the planet). Here’s some key words to know…

le trou dans la couche d’ozonethe hole in the ozone layer

l’effet de seregreenhouse effect

la pluie acideacid rain

la déforestation/ la déboisementdeforestation

la pollution de… l’air air pollution

… l’eauwater pollution

… la mersea pollution

les combustibles fossilesfossil fuels

charboncoal                              pétrolepetrol                     sans plombunleaded

gaz carboniquecarbon dioxide

 

Posted in Books

A quote from Malala …

From the book, ‘I am Malala – The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban’

“My father told me about a woman who had donated generously to the Taliban while her husband was working abroad. When he came back and found out that she had given away her gold he as furious. One night there was a small explosion in their village and the wife cried. ‘Don’t cry’, said her husband. ‘That is the sound of your earrings and nose studs. Now listen to the sound of your lockets and bangles.’ ”

A very chilling account about the true rise of the Taliban, starting with the turn of the opinions of the locals.