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I’ve Graduated!!

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Yesterday was magical!

Grad

Photography credit: Sarah Warsaw

It is a firm belief of mine that you have to earn your cap and gown – through hard work, long hours, and questionable cooking as is customary of the university experience.  After all, it is the mark of the end of your academic education and your achievement!  So now, I can finally say that I DID IT!

“…Remain humble, be passionate, and attribute importance to what you do, not what you are.”

– Honorary Graduate, Judge Cuno Jakob Tarfusser of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

 

 

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Special Agent Academy

A month ago, in the middle of the last couple of weeks of my degree and faced with looming deadlines and the stress of writing ten thousand words on emojis (if you can believe it), the pressure of an added presence made things worse; what next?

 

It’s textbook, of course; experienced by many at the end of every era.  I’ve heard it said that after losing the structure of at least three years at university people can sink to a low point, and in those last few weeks I truly understood why.  It seemed that everywhere you turned other people had further education, graduate schemes and jobs lined up to walk in to in the coming months.  Honestly, it is disheartening.

 

However, like so many times beforehand, things tend to work themselves out.  I received to opportunity to apply for an intensive, hands-on eight-week creative and digital marketing course called Agent Academy, through the company Agent Marketing in Liverpool.

The company itself, Agent Marketing, regularly makes news for its fantastic innovative policies, such as; six-hour days; weekly yoga; and enforced ‘real breaks’ away from desks and phones.  On Thursday night, the Director, Paul Corcoran, won The Guardian’s Sustainable Business ‘Leader of the Year’! Read more here. 

Featured in The Guardian


Luckily, I was one of ten talented individuals selected to start at the Academy!

Thrown in at the deep end, we received our marketing challenge in partnership with the university, and started initial brainstorming.

 

Dream Team at Agent Academy

Two weeks down the line, each day is bringing new information, concepts to consider, and inspirational talks with interesting and successful entrepreneurial people.  Alex Worsley spoke about uncovering our passions from our eleven-year-old selves, and mastering our psychology; which, as something I strive to achieve, was right up my street.  Architects Martin Shutt and Anthony Fogg from Unit3 Design Studio gave insight into starting up their own business and marketing the range of services they provide.  Carl Wong from Living Lens told us how he cherry-picked aspects of technological services in order to provide a solution to issues faced by market research video analysts, by turning spoken recorded language in to text searchable by keywords!

 

If this goes well, perhaps I could carve a career applying my psychological knowledge to behaviour influencing marketing campaigns… ahh hopes and dreams.


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Mental Health: Nothing New Under The Sun

This week I am thrilled that mental health is becoming such an openly talked about subject!

Between the 9th-17th May, it’s BBC Radio 2 Mental Health Week. Presenters, such as Jeremy Vine, are raising awareness and discussion through their fantastic programming, exploring non-discriminatory issues such as anorexia, bipolar, depression and self harm. 

Click the photo to learn more

Yesterday Rabbi Julia Neuberger conducted Pause For Thought, which certainly lives up to it’s name, highlighting how mental ill health is nothing new; modern literature and classics such as Jane Eyre, to Shakespeare and the bible, behaviour has alluded to people struggling with mental ill health (For example, think of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and MacBeth and his wife’s post-homicidal psychosis). Rabbi Julia added, that “there is nothing new under the sun”.

Alongside this, Prince Harry’s incredible brainchild, the Invictus Games is also promoting mental health discourse. The first games took place in London, 2014 and it’s success tempted America in to hosting this year, with the event for wounded warriors kicking off this week in Orlando, Florida. 


This year, there’s definitely a focus on psychological as well as physical injuries, with post-traumatic stress disorder veterans gaining fantastic coverage too. PTSD has only recently gained recognition as its own disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), as before now it was classified simply under anxiety disorders. 

This is a huge step forward in the promotion of Mental Health discourse, awareness and removal of the stigma surrounding psychological health. 
If you haven’t checked out the Invictus Games, you’re missing out!  Adapted games giving wounded warriors strength, hope and recognition…the best!!


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National Day Without Stigma 2015

Today is National Day Without Stigma (NDWS)
This post is inspired by my best friend, Rebecca, who for the past few years has been struggling with depression and anxiety. Read about her squashing stigmas and speaking up here!

Rebecca’s blog

A stigma is defined as:

A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. 

Stigma around mental health issues has always been in society, from the days when even those with Alzheimer’s were locked into asylums for insanity. 
Active Minds have started the NDWS in order to eliminate the shame surrounding mental health, and to promote understanding, awareness and support. 

Active Minds

There’s 3 ways to help promote today:
1. Watch your language.  We’re all guilty of it, honestly I know I am. But be mindful of saying things like “she’s crazy” or “I’m so depressed.” Chances are it’s not true, and it just dangerous a sit attached this negativity to those with real mental health concerns. People are not defined by their mental health issues.  
2. Chalk your support.  Get onto that social media, or slip it into IRL conversation: #ReasonsISpeak and get people talking.  
 

find and follow me on twitter

 

3. Reach out! If you or someone you know is struggling, getting the right help is so important. Speak up and reach out! 
 

Hello. My name is Rachel, and I’m a Stigma Fighter

 

Stigma is shame. Shame causes silence. Silence hurts us all.


The NHS provide helpline numbers and more information. Just follow this link. 


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New Term Essentials: What To Take and What To Leave Behind

My new university room!

   September brings the smell of anticipation, Pringles and cheap alcohol as thousands of almost adults leave for their triumphant return to university. 

Thousands too are starting at university for the first time, full of enthusiasm and nerves. It’s a bit of a cliché that University is the best time of your life and that Fresher’s Week is amazing. 

My personal experience of Fresher’s was horrendous, but university life has certainly improved and is so much better than just one week at the very beginning. It’s taken two years, but I’ve learnt to eat healthier, balance work and play, and have a small group of amazing friends. Give university life time. 

As a somewhat seasoned packer of university essentials going in to my third and final year, here are my top five items of what to take and what to leave behind, from my own meandering experience. 
You won’t need;

  • Full 10 piece dinner set: you need two of each thing, maximum. One clean, one dirty. 
  • Iron: despite best intentions, you won’t iron your clothes. Hang them up and hope for the best.
  • Your entire wardrobe: pack sensibly and seasonly. Remember, by the time summer comes around, chances are you’ll be back at home for the holidays!
  • Corkscrew: screw top wine bottles are a gift to embrace.
  • Negativity: A bad attitude doesn’t get you anywhere, and other people can sense them a mile off. Give everyone a chance, you never know who you’ll meet, and remember: university is completely different to the drama of high school! 

You will need;

  • Laundry essentials: you’ll have to learn to use a washing machine, either in your halls or the local laundrette. Remember detergent! I always managed to forget it. 
  • First Aid Basics: gather a little box of plaster, antiseptic cream, tablets and stepsils to see you through the grazed knees of drunken antics and the notorious Fresher’s Flu (living in such close proximity with new people means you’re bound to get ill)
  • Photos, blankets and cushions: take the time to make your room your home. It’ll help you settle in, especially when inevitable homesickness hits and make a comfortable space for you and your new friends.
  • Door Stop: this is one of the most important items in your possession during Fresher’s. Propping your door open means you can target new flatmates as they walk past and make them into new friends. Offer cookies for bonus results.
  • Positivity: Being a positive person makes university a brilliant experience. You’re paying for the education, try to embrace and enjoy all aspects. 

   

Love fresh coloured bedding.


 

Wardrobe and pull down desk

  

Bookcase corner

 Check out these other great articles:

My Experience of and Tips for Fresher’s Week by PollyCatContemplates

Essential University Checklist  
What Not To Take To University
13 Common Myths about University
Fresher’s Flu: Causes and Cures
23 Things Grads Wished They’d Known In Their First Year


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Strive to be a Warrior Princess

Do you consider yourself a feminist? 

If you wish for men and women to achieve true equality one day, then the answer is yes. Unfortunately, and despite campaigns such as HeForShe, which calls for men specifically to advocate gender equality, the double standards in the sexes still exist today in 2015. 

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson. Watson helped launch the HeForShe.

Admittedly, I do not often seriously consider these issues. But upon reading something, it really struck me. 

It’s kinda messed up that we associate the term ‘princess’ with being spoilt, petty, shallow and weak, while we associate ‘prince’ with being dashing, courageous, powerful and strong. 

Think about that. It’s true! In most long lasting children’s story, fantasy TV show, game and film, and even in general vernacular, ‘princesses’ are spoilt, petty and weak. It’s the job of the ‘prince’ to uphold ideas of strength, duty and courage. 

Once Upon A Time; the only fantasy TV show I know of, which shows proper Warrior Princesses in charge of their own fates and fortunes! Also happens to be a great watch

In the week of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becoming our longest reigning monarch, I’m questioning these ideas, and society in general. (Okay, so I might be having a small existential crisis). 

Our Queen spent the first twenty five years of her life as a Princess, and continues to embody strength, beauty, courage and duty throughout. 

Beauty, grace, wisdom, strength, duty. Queen Elizabeth II

So why shouldn’t every families princes and princesses be afforded the same chance to be whatever they choose?!
So kick society’s vernacular (word of the week) and ‘social expectations’ to the kerb. Embody your own values and strive to be the kick-ass warrior princess of your own life! Fight that dragon, achieve that goal and eat cake too!

Values I strive to; 

  • Individuality
  • Knowledge
  • Strength 
  • Friendship

What do you strive to embody?