Internship 2017

Life Updates

This summer I’ve had the privilege of working as an intern for the very first time. I still can’t quite believe just how lucky I got, bagging myself an internship in my first year of university (perks of studying at Reading!).

The company I work for are based in central London, and they work with the top universities in London. My role is working as a Media Coordinator for the company, which is many ways perfect considering social media is my forte. Being in charge of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for the company in addition to visiting these universities, talking to students and scientists, and creating case studies for the students has been a rollercoaster of excitement and adrenaline, and 100% worth it.

The best part of this internship, however, is the people I’ve worked with. The environment is based on putting the staff first, being as flexible as possible for them, and making sure they are happy in the workplace. These are contacts I can honestly say I would love to keep for the future.

The skills I’ve acquired are also incredible. After working in retail for two years, I was desperately craving the taste of a degree-related job. The friends I’ve made working in retail, I’ve made for life and whilst I appreciate the somewhat relaxed attitude towards working in the fashion-retail industry, it became tedious. Folding shirts everyday and analysing stock reports is alright but I wasn’t challenging myself in any way. I was physically drained after spending 8 hours on my feet, but this internship has mentally drained me, which is exactly what I love.

I’ve been pushed to work as hard as I can, to meet deadlines the day they’re set, and these are invaluable life skills I can carry forward with me into the future. This may sound awfully cliché, but now that I’ve had a taste for working in an environment related to my degree, I can’t bring myself to go back to retail. Of course, a job is a job, and when it comes to starting my second year of university in a month’s time, I will have to go back to retail part-time in order to pay for university costs, but my passion has now shifted from specialising in menswear to working in the marketing industry.

I take pride in the fact that I have put my free time this summer to great use. Thank you, to the University of Reading and to the company I’m working for, because I’ve had the best time. I definitely would love to do this again next year, and cannot recommend it enough!

A x

My (Nightmare) Experience with UNITE Students

Life Updates

In March 2016, I received the email I’d waited pretty much 3 years for – the unconditional offer at Reading University, to study English Literature. The only problem that remained was my accommodation. Commuting was out of the question: I was living in the middle of nowhere at the time (South-East England) and did not fancy travelling 2 hours each way, everyday. Unfortunately, by the time I’d received my offer, the accommodation deadline for halls of residence at Reading had come and gone. So my parents and I headed over to the university website, and looked at their recommended list of external, private accommodation options. That’s when we came across Unite Students.

I guess because I was in such a panic to find a place to live during my first year, I didn’t think to look at reviews, as it was recommended by the university. The rent certainly wasn’t cheap either – we assumed for the price we were paying, we wouldn’t need to worry about a thing.

When I first checked in, in September 2016, I was terrified. My mum was terrified. My dad was terrified. The concept of living away from home hadn’t really sunk in until I was standing at that reception desk, filling in the forms. The receptionist ensured both my mum and I that I would be well looked after at Crown House, and so I felt slightly more secure in choosing Unite Students.

Up until January 2017, I had absolutely no issues with Crown House/Unite Student management. The kitchen was kept tidy fortnightly by a cleaner, if there were any maintenance issues, they were resolved literally the next working day. I was happy to be living there. However, unbeknownst to any residents in the building, Crown House was to undergo a major emergency refurbishment, beginning in January, due to “white render” falling down outside the building. There was no warning of this when I moved into the building in September. Now, I’m no builder or contractor, but I’m fairly sure that organising this building work, and bringing in a whole team of builders must have taken months of planning. Which means, Crown House management must have been aware of this PRIOR to the building work beginning in January. I feel cheated of the money my parents had paid for my rent, as we were never told of the major disruption that was about to begin during my residency at Crown House.

The noise was horrendous. I can’t even begin to describe it. They’d start at 8.30am, drilling holes right outside our windows, and they’d finish at 5pm. That’s a whole day of drilling, constantly. Not to mention having men standing right outside my window every morning. A month into the refurbishment, I complained. My friends who came to visit would complain about how bad the noise was, so I knew I was justified in complaining. After a couple of meetings with management, I was given an upgrade to a studio flat on the fifth floor of the building, on the opposite side to where the builders were working. The noise was therefore significantly reduced, and I was finally able to sleep and study again. Considering I had a health condition which meant I needed to be able to rest whenever I was in pain during the day, peace and quiet was absolutely imperative for me. Anyway, I moved into the studio, and I was finally happy.

In May 2017, I received an email that the builders had finished up on that side of the building and so I should move back to my old flat. Now, I understood that the studio flat was a temporary measure, but I received this email the Friday BEFORE my first exam, which was almost laughable. I told them there was no way I was moving right before my first exam, so they gave me a one day extension to leave the studio (also laughable).  To save any hassle and stress during the week when my exams began, I decided to just move in the weekend before my exam, on the Saturday. To my absolute pleasure (please note the heavy sarcasm) I had a new tenant next door to me! Considering I had an exam on the Monday, it was important that I was well-rested. Funnily enough, the Monday exam was one of the hardest of the year. Saturday night saw my charming next door neighbour hosting a party in her room. I figured, since it was a Saturday night, I’d let her make an abundance of horrific noise (including her and her friends singing, screaming and then, eventually, screeching) until just after midnight. Then I really did need to sleep, if I was going to get any last minute revision done on Sunday. 1am approached, and she was still making my ears bleed with noise, so I complained. The security team knocked on her door and told her to keep the noise down. She said “ok” then turned up the volume for a whole other hour before her friends left the flat. I was pissed.

Sunday saw me sleep-deprived, nervous for the following day’s exam and stressed. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now how badly stress triggers my pain. Anyway, I assumed as it was a Sunday, I’d have no problems with my noisy neighbour and could get up at 6am on Monday morning, ready for my exam, with no issues of sleep deprivation. Oh, how I was wrong. On Sunday night, I was greeted with more screeching, more screaming and howls of laughter that could be heard from OUTSIDE the flat. This time, she wasn’t throwing a party and so I had no real right to complain, or so I thought. In hindsight, I should have complained. By the time I fell asleep, it was well after 3.30am. I needed to be up at 6am. I was a mess. That Monday, the day of my first and hardest exam, I was running on 3 hours sleep and pure adrenaline (and caffeine), all because my new neighbour was an absolute nightmare.

2 weeks passed, and I was getting furthermore frustrated with my new flatmate. I spent all day at the library, simply because she’d wake me up in the morning by having her laptop on full volume and howling at the top of her voice. I kid you not, she would HOWL.

The third week of exam season had approached, and the lack of sleep as a result of my neighbouring flatmate had resulted in my stress levels rocketing through the roof, my sleep deprivation also significantly stressing me out. Then the inevitable happened: I got sick. In fact, I somehow managed to contract a 24 hour flu. I was unable to even get out of bed, let alone revise for the 3 exams I had coming up. My new flatmate had caused me so much distress as a result of disruption, I had to go home with my parents. I spent the next month at home revising, coming back to Reading only to sit my exams, then go back home.

During this time, I informed Crown House management of my situation. I attended multiple meetings, in which I was promised some kind of reasonable outcome. I was told by one of the managers that she would try her absolute hardest to get me some compensation for the one month I spent at home, resulting from my neighbour. All of this was absolutely pointless.

Crown House management brushed my one month of utter distress under the carpet, and told me that “because the new tenant didn’t realise the distress she was causing, the matter is now resolved.” I didn’t receive any compensation. The tenant didn’t even receive a warning.

As soon as Summer Ball was over, I moved out of Crown House. I couldn’t bare to live in that building a minute longer. I told them I’d be looking for a tenant to take up the rest of my tenancy because I could never live there again. Unfortunately, and I should have really seen this coming, they’ve thrown obstacles in my way ever since. I found a tenant willing to take up the rest of my tenancy, only for them to create a “rent issue” with my room, and so they showed him a studio flat INSTEAD. They essentially took my client away from me, so they could get more money.

Overall, I would urge everyone and anyone to NOT live under UNITE students. Their main concern is for themselves and how much money they can squeeze out of a student, not the student at all. They’re unbelievably rude, and do not care for the distress of a student living in their residency. I’ve lost out on 4 month’s rent because they’ve been so difficult, and showed no regard for my suffering when it could easily have been resolved.

I’ve looked at reviews for UNITE students online, and I was horrified at the sheer number of complaints ACROSS THE COUNTRY, by students who were scammed by the company. Please ensure you thoroughly research your accommodation and its reviews before moving in.

Thankfully, I’ll be living on campus next year, and so will never have to deal with them again.

A x

LIFE UPDATE: FEB 2016

Original Writing

We’re nearly three months into 2016 and already I feel that this year is going to be a bloody good one.

Firstly, I’m chuffed to confirm that I’ve made it through the second month of 2016 pain free, to a certain extent. There are times when the pain strikes, leaving me relatively incapacitated for an hour or so but I can deal with that. All in all, my health is doing very well and hopefully it stays that way for next few months.

Secondly, I’m furthermore excited that I’ve been offered an unconditional offer to study at Reading University! Three years ago, Reading was my dream uni to study at but sadly I was just too sick to even contemplate it as a possibility. Amidst recovering from two operations and subsequently developing an eating disorder whilst accepting I suffered from social and general anxiety, I was definitely not in the right place to consider moving onto campus at a university miles and miles away from my parents. It was decided at the time that a university in London was a better choice and thus, we’ve ended up here. Not only is the course absolutely perfect for me (THERE’S A MODULE SPECIFICALLY DEDICATED TO POETRY!) but it allows me to explore different career avenues such as teaching and publishing. The university also do a placement scheme and an international transfer scheme which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to be given a chance to go there.

I’ve also been given an absolutely wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity this April: I’m travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah. It’s a necessity for every Muslim to go at least once in their lives and since this is the first time that I’ve been in good health, I’m taking full advantage of it.

On a sadder note, I’m leaving my much loved job just before I go away for Umrah. It makes me incredibly sad to think I won’t be coming back to such a fantastic team but my goodness, it’s been an experience I’ll never forget. Not only have I learnt so much from everyone but I’ve also toughened up a considerable amount since starting! And Aaron, I’ll miss seeing your wonderful face every day. Thanks for being the best manager I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for. It’s onto great, new adventures for me but I’m incredibly grateful for this one, too.

So far, so good 🙂 I hope you’re all having a cracking 2016, too.

A x

The University Challenge

Original Writing

I’ve been lucky enough to get a second chance at university, and a fair number of people have questioned why I even want to go back considering I’ve done a year and a half already and I have a full time job.

The answer is because I choose and want to. During my year and a half at Roehampton, I encountered an atrociously high number of students who were either only there for the “university experience” (in other words, getting drunk and living on campus away from their parents for the first time) or because they felt they had to. Not knowing what you want to do with your degree is okay, the same way doing a degree you’re not sure you want to specialise in is okay. What I find shocking is people coming to university and studying a subject they had no interest in, only to not turn up to lectures, refuse to do the work and to complain about not liking the subject. University is an investment for our future and for a few, it was wasted during the first year.

Growing up, the pressure to go to university was incomprehensible; after all, I did go to an all-girls private school. Back in high school, literature was the only subject I excelled at, so naturally I wanted to specialise in it. Unfortunately for me, my teachers only paid attention to the students who excelled in every single subject and were poster kids for the school. My English teacher was possibly the only person in my school to ever recognise my potential in the subject – her relentless encouragement and pushing me to be better is how I came to be the person I am today. She made me realise I had a talent all along, and it was worth pursuing. I guess we all need someone like that in life. Thanks, Mrs Nic.

A few years ago, when I was still in college applying for universities, my parents told me that I was under no pressure to go uni. From a cultural perspective, this was both a shock and a relief to me as during that time I was anxious about forthcoming exams and my health relapses. Furthermore, around this period I’d developed my eating disorder, so it was all a little traumatising, but knowing that there were alternative routes to achieving my goal took the weight off my shoulders. It made me realise that although a degree is a huge advantage when it comes down to looking for jobs, we don’t really need them in life. I look at my literature degree as a key to unlocking more doors, a stepping stone to reaching my goal as a publicist or as a teacher, I haven’t quite decided yet! But there are apprenticeships and internships out there which are just as valuable as degree, and offer more than a degree ever will in terms of experience.

The decision of whether or not to go to university is a challenge in itself. But it is one hell of an experience, and I cannot wait to do it all again this September.

I’m also desperately missing analysing Shakespeare and Milton in excessive depth. So September, you couldn’t get here quick enough.

A x

A Week of Good News!

Original Writing

Last week was possibly one of the best weeks to date, and one of the happiest.

As I bid a sad farewell to Roehampton in November last year, I had roughly a month to reapply for university before the deadline this month. This included getting all my references and a phenomenal personal statement ready in 4 weeks; quite possibly the most stressful period of my life. Considering people had already submitted their applications in October, I was already at a disadvantage but I sent mine off just before Christmas in the hope of hearing back from my chosen universities by the beginning of 2016.

Despite a couple of rejections from London-based universities (perhaps I was aiming a little too high, perhaps their standards are too high for me) I received an unconditional offer to study English literature at one of my top choice universities. No interview, no applicant day, just a guaranteed place! It feels pretty amazing and the course itself is just that, too. All in all, I am hugely relieved. I’ve heard wonderful things about the place from so many people, and I’m so glad to be getting out of London! Despite knowing I’ll always be a Londoner at heart, the prospect of studying in a whole new environment sounds very appealing and refreshing.

I also received some very promising news regarding my future at my current place of work. Over the Christmas period and presently, as I’m sure most of you have read or picked up on by my continuous ramblings of it, I’ve been working for a pretty well-established clothing company in London. Initially, I was working as a seasonal sales assistant and my contract as a seasonal sales assistant is soon to be coming to an end. However, after meeting with my managers, they’ve offered me a permanent position and I couldn’t be happier. Sure, the customers can get awfully rude at times and sure, my manager can be a total pain in the butt 98% of the time but ultimately it’s been the best fashion retail experience of my life and that’s saying something. I can’t wait to eventually (and hopefully!) work my way up the ladder, broaden my horizons and take on all the challenges thrown at me. The team at work, from my floor manager to the cashiers, are simply incredible so I’m ecstatic to be given the opportunity to work with them at least up until September. (Side note to my boss: thanks for hitting up my website as often as you do, and for putting up with me. I love working for and with you, Azza.)

So amidst a week of good news and reconnecting with treasured old friends, I’m one happy girl. I’m also reaching the 13k milestone of views on my blog which is another huge achievement for me. But, I couldn’t have done it without the endless support from you, my loyal viewers and cherished friends.

A x

 

University (Module) Update: November 2015

Original Writing

Is mankind slowly transitioning into an element of technology? Or is technology taking the place of humankind?

These were the thoughts that plagued me after reading Daniel Suarez’s Daemon (2006). It begins as less of a tech novel and more of a crime-thriller though as it progressed, the reader is exposed to the increasingly concerning power technology can hold, beyond death. In many ways, technology is presented in this novel as a form of eternal life for mankind; we are introduced to the idea that a system can make one immortal, with it’s creator working beyond the grave.

The ‘daemon’ is a system created by a dying Sobol; the interesting conflict presented in this text is the dichotomy between the power of the system in relation to the intelligence of it’s creator. The system did not reflect the genius mind of Sobol as it relied primarily on his knowledge in order to succeed. For example, the ‘daemon’ could not evolve, making it less reliable. As readers, we can interpret Sobol’s creation as an attempt at reincarnation although the motives for this are somewhat unclear; was this a radical attempt to transform society and enforce a digital one?

Nevertheless, the idea of Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life is not entirely new to us, as mentioned in my previous post; Suarez hasn’t managed to shock his readers by creating a new concept of the devolution of mankind and the evolution of machines and technology systems. Ultimately, the age of technology is undermining human intelligence and work forces but not to the extent underlined in the book, with human life at risk. Therefore, the novel isn’t futuristic in the sense that it is foreboding the rise of technology as the superior species. It does, however, warn the reader of the dangerous effects of exploiting this rise in technological power; the genius of Sobol is shadowed in the daemon through it’s ability to evade being caught and sent to jail. The novel serves as a chilling reminder of the power, and danger, of technology which originates from the creator and the creator’s intentions.

University Update: October 2015 (Weeks 1-3)

Original Writing

As I mentioned in my last update, one of the modules I’m studying this term is called ‘Reading the Digital’ and today I’m going to give you an insight into the life of a ‘digital’ student!

So far, the module has exceeded my expectations; it’s challenged every notion of literature I knew of as well as throwing me into the world of fourth dimensions and ontological realities. My favourite piece so far has been the poem ‘Agrippa‘ by William Gibson. Known for his cyberpunk novel ‘Neuromancer’, Gibson transforms the way we read a text through the unconventional format of a virus on a computer screen; the poem scrolls on it’s own, leaving the reader without any control over what they’re reading. It also self-obliterates once it’s finished scrolling.

‘Agrippa’ enticed me because it challenged the way I read it; a poem about memories became a memory through it’s computerised form. It’s origins are also absurdly compelling; placed in a art book on a floppy disk, the power one has over reading a poem was ultimately revoked. Although it did hurt my eyes reading from a screen, I enjoyed the effect it had on me – in many ways, it enhanced the effects of the poem. I also read through Pepperell’s analysis of the increase power which technology holds, who confirmed the limited power humanity holds compared to the ever increasing power of mechanisms such as machines. It led us to question the ethical dilemmas being raised: How far are we willing to go in terms of letting technology take ownership of humane abilities? Where does one cross the line, whether it be genetic modification or the concept of virtual realities?

Interesting thoughts!

Bibliography

Gibson, William, Dennis Ashbaugh, and Kevin Begos. Agrippa: A Book of the Dead. New York: K. Begos. 1992

Pepperell, Robert. The Post-human Condition. Oxford, England: Intellect Books. 1995

University Update: September 2015!

Original Writing

My second year has well and truly begun! Gone are the days of being a fresher wondering around the terrifyingly large alien world of a university campus, alone and scared with a tortoise shell of books on my back. 🙂

I am happy to say I’m absolutely loving being back at uni. I’m not even ashamed to admit how much I’ve missed studying and shoving my nose into a play or two. Analysis, as nearly everyone knows, is my forte and I’m so happy to be doing something I love on a daily basis – once again, I am overjoyed and super glad to be studying literature.

For those of you who are new to my world or have forgotten, I’m studying English literature at Roehampton University in London. Thankfully, my modules are incredibly more enjoyable this semester. (well, they were chosen by me ;)) The modules I’m studying are:

Early Modern Literature – Everything from Lyly to Shakespeare

Reading the Digital – Exploring the internet and how it interlinks with literature and society

Origins and Development of Children’s Literature – Pretty self explanatory!

The Digital module is even more exciting for me as one assignment piece is to complete a blog piece! Not only will I have a shining opportunity to share my previous work and prized website to my lecturers but I’ll be able to give you all a glimpse into my university life! (Repetitive exclamatives underlining my intense enthusiasm here.)

It’s great to be back in an environment which encourages your skills and for me is essentially a hobby. The summer break was a long 6 months; the first two were a blur of stress and determination to complete my final assignments by the deadline, whilst being drugged up on codeine to take the pain of my pancreatitis away. I can’t decide whether it was a blessing or a curse, being on medication during the most crucial period of my year. The four months following this were consumed by my job, working all day, everyday, right up until the day before I jetted off to Paris. A week later, I jetted off to Dubai, and returned unfortunately on my first day back! It was the best summer I’ve had so far, to say in the least, and I’m so glad I was productive. It feels odd and slightly empty not to be working anymore, but I’m hoping a part time job will come my way soon enough.

My days at uni are short and packed: three days a week, finishing at 5pm or 1pm. On the latter finishes, I tend to find a little cafe and study for the following week. (can you see my determination yet?)

This year is crucial for me: it’ll determine the amount of hard work I need to put in next year and my health is rather fragile as of late, meaning it really is make or break! Fingers crossed, I’m looking at the prospect of what this year will bring me with positivity and excitement. Roehampton continues to surpass my expectations by offering me terrific lecturers and even better content. I’m one week in and loving every second already.

Ciao for now,

A x

HOW I’M TACKLING MY FINAL ESSAYS!

Original Writing

So it’s creeping up to May, meaning nearly all of us under 21 are preparing for exams or desperately writing essays. I thought today I’d share my tactics on how to ace this stressful period of student life. Although, this might only really apply to fellow English literature students, I hope it provide some sort of helpful advice for everyone.

  1. TIMETABLE!

My mum used to advise me to create a timetable for the months of May to June when I was at high school and college. Studying multiple subjects and having to revise a whole year’s worth of information is hideously challenging, and now that I’m studying one single subject at degree level, I have no idea how I managed to succeed in revising so many subjects in such a short space of time. The best way to combat this: plan out every day’s work until the end of your exam period. It’ll give you a rough idea of what you ought to achieve by the end of the day, and it’ll teach you a great amount of self-discipline. I get incredibly easily distracted, so having a timetable helps me keep on track with what needs to be done. It also forces me to recognise that if I don’t do what I’ve set out to do that day, I’ll have a lot more to do the following day. The idea is to do as much work as your brain will allow, then give it a break.

  1. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

I’ve done a couple of all-nighters before, and my best friend has done so too; it’s not a wise idea. For one, it’s not healthy to stay up all night studying as your brain is getting worn out and thus, will not be as efficient as in the morning after a good 7 hours (minimum!) sleep. Getting enough rest not only keeps your brain healthy and happy, but you’ll find you’re more determined to work the next day. Next, give yourself little breaks during the day. Now, I don’t mean a 40 minute Netflix session after an hour’s work. 20 minutes or so, to give your brain a break and stretch your legs. You’ll find your brain is refreshed and you can easily pick up where you left off. Finally, have a cut-off point. If I work longer than 6 hours (with breaks), my brain slowly turns to mush and I find revising or working hopeless. My cut off point is usually 5pm, an hour before eating, which gives me plenty of time to unwind and relax.

  1. EAT!

Eating healthy is always a bonus, working or not. It’ll keep your mind raring to go, and healty at the same time. Brain food, I like to call it. A perfect reason to take a 20 minute break. Although, eating for 20 minutes straight isn’t what I’m suggesting.

  1. ORGANISING; PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH

If you are studying a subject where coursework carries a high percentage of your final grade, it might be wise to organise your day paragraph by paragraph. Quite like setting yourself mini deadlines, but deadlines that you can actually achieve.

  1. PLANNING

A lifesaving technique, I’ve found. Planning out an essay with succinct detail, right down to immaculate bullet points has helped me more than I ever imagined. It’s also helped me manage two make-or-break essays spread out over the space of 5 days. I usually plan my essays maximum a week before the due date, and my plans are usually mini, condensed essays. This makes it 100x easier to approach writing an essay; the most daunting aspect of the whole part.

Hopefully this tiny portion of advice might help during exam/coursework season. Good luck, fellow students!

I Am Me.

Original Writing

Likes boost our self confidence and naked pictures prove our love and desire for one another. We accept a love we think we deserve – perks of being a wallflower, no? Girls follow the intense beauty rituals of a wealthy, sickly sweet inspirational figure in an attempt to look good, no matter the cost. Boys will follow vigorous exercise rituals in an attempt to achieve that perfect body. But who defines ‘perfect’? There is no such thing as perfection and there is no stopping us once we reach our goal, because we are driven by obsession. 

The art of communication is lost because we’re too busy looking at our phones instead of each other. Facial expressions are replaced by emojis. Love letters replaced by sexts. As our generation develops and progresses on, we lose the values and virtures of the previous ones, the ones we ought to hold most dear. 

I miss being a child, you know why? I didn’t know what pressure was. I didn’t have to look good for him or her. I didn’t have to adopt a certain character to fit in, nor did I have to conform to anyone or anything. The only stresses I experienced were deciding what game to play with my dolls that evening. Although I am incredibly proud of the person I’ve become, the writer I’ve become and, hopefully, the future poet I will become, I miss being in touch with my naivety and youthful happiness/negligence. Mental health issues were a myth to me. Love only existed in fairytales, and heartbreak was non-existent.

Growing up is tough, and I can admit that still, at the age of 18. But luckily I can also say that, at the age of 18, I have already made it. I have accomplished what I never thought possible. 

I am exactly who I want to be. And I am not a product of my time or society’s offspring.

I am me. Anisah Hamid. 18. Somewhere between an artist and a writer. And a poet.