Warsaurus

Lifestyle, Travel, Beauty, Reviews.


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A Taste of Corporate Life

As with many recent graduates (I hope), I have spent the last few months trying to work out; what’s next. Do I want to go straight into the workplace, or should I feed my desire for knowledge further and go back to education?

I am currently working part time in a retail job, which is great because it gives me some pennies to spend and some time to research what I want to pursue.

But it’s not utilizing my skills or the specifics of my education.

A couple of weeks ago, my university’s careers centre asked if I would answer some graduate career questions about how my degree is relevant in my current role. The short answer is; it’s not. However, this forced me to reconsider how best to understand what I do want to achieve in terms of career prospects.

 

What better way than first-hand experience!

 

Last week I spent two days shadowing my sister, Sarah, in the London offices of corporate giant, IBM; an great experience, which came at exactly the right time! The perfect opportunity to learn a little of what it would be like to have a career that fully utilised the skills I learnt at university; both specific to my degree and transferable.

Cognitive Queen badge

Cognitive Queen

Helping Sarah with her ‘to-do’ list meant that I was completing tasks towards the output of the Marketing, Brand and Communications team she is a part of. Simultaneously fulfilling my own New Year’s resolution promise to do something measurably productive each day.

I wrote paid social copy for IBM’s projects and collaborations, including the work of their ‘cognitive’ technology, Watson (redefining everything I know about cognitive from a psychological perspective). Watson technology is working towards improving patient experience in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and is being developed for other applications, from cancer detection to the next generation of fitness trackers. Move over, FitBit!

As the cherry on top, I have since learnt that the work I did has been approved for publication, so I can add it to my CV towards experience gained for future employment!

Throughout the two days I also spent time learning about other aspects of the business and different roles from Sarah’s contacts; listening in on meetings, calls and having one-to-one talks with people from across marketing.

This made the whole experience invaluable as I gained multiple perspectives and understood a little more about the different types of marketing, across both traditional and digital channels.

To those who took the time to speak to me, thank you.

 

Unbelievably, a week has now passed since my time in London! Given my attitude towards returning to the land of retail afterwards, it is safe to say that I did choose the right degree, despite my recent reservations.

 

Now it is down to me to retain my productivity, achieve a place on that Masters course, and smash this week’s job interview. So that next time the university calls about that degree I’ve spent thirty grand on, I can say for certain that it was right choice and relevant in my career.


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Why We Should All Embrace Hygge

The Danish concept of hygge has swept across the nation. In case you haven’t been caught up in it’s warmth, hygge is the sense of safety and belonging experienced through the people and things we love.

 

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Candles play a big part in the full hygge experience.

 

Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, prefers this atmospheric feeling to be at home and contain hot drinks and candles, but really it can be found anywhere. It is the scale on which Danish social gatherings are measured, by the hygge-ness. It is anticipated, appreciated and fondly remembered, and fosters an awareness of gratitude, something I think we could all use a little more of.

 

The Danish are known to be the happiest people on the planet and even kindly go so far as to scientifically research how to make the rest of the world happier; Wiking is also the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute (best job ever, right!). So surely there must be something to this hygge malarkey.

 

“[Hygge is] the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.”

 

Near the end of October as I was heading for a train out of London I was handed the week’s edition of Time Out (18-24th October 2016). The article inside entitled Hygge is a Waste of London clearly riled me enough to inspire me to write, as obvious by the fact you’re now reading this.

 

Granted the magazine is obviously aimed at Londoners, which makes me think that perhaps I was mistaken for one rather than the tourist vibe I usually emit. Taking this into account it’s understandable that the article argues that anything resembling comfort in a Hygge way in London is a waste in the city renowned for not being comfortable. For pushing boundaries and comfort zones and, as more people move there, space limitations. The author states that ‘nothing spectacular ever happened to someone when they were feeling cosy’.

 
However, who is to say that that is true? There are claims that Sir Issac Newton was drinking a cup of tea when he saw/was hit by the falling apple and discovered gravity. Hygge experiences are often described as including hot drinks and discovering gravity is nothing short of spectacular.

 
Elements of Hygge also feature in self-care advice; noticing the beauty in nature, quiet meditation, coffee with friends, doing anything with people you love, your favourite book (any book) in a cosy nook, a bubble bath…

 

The Eagle pub in Cambridge has a hygge atmosphere

Hygge in The Eagle pub, Cambridge

 

The original article was so London-centric in made my teeth ache; only encouraging an unrealistic mindset. Some people need to understand that an entire country carries on moving outside the boundaries of the underground zones, and far past where your Oyster stops working. Here, in the North, I’m writing this whilst sat alone in a coffee shop. I have a hot chocolate, a large scarf and I’m writing; I’m feeling pretty damn Hygge. I’m not being dull and complacent, nor am I not doing anything, as the article insinuated. I am Hygge whilst grabbing life by the proverbial balls. Who says it’s impossible, Londoners! So kindly widen your capital-centric mindset past the Big Smoke, consider that the rest of the country do not laze in blanketed ‘dull complacency’, and that enjoying every and all aspects of life is possible outside of the busy London lifestyle.

 

What is important is that hygge is an atmosphere, an experience and a shared feeling. Perhaps it is on your sofa, with Netflix and hot cocoa by candlelight.  Perhaps it is covered in mud with your friends in the middle of watching your favourite band at a festival. Or singing in your car, by the fire in the local, or the sting of the breath-stealing cold breeze on your Christmas day walk. Brunch with the girls, trying out that new restaurant, anything which makes you forget time still moves.

 

Time Out have also published another response to the article, Hygge is Part of London, (originally published here) a Danish Londoner defending the lifestyle amidst the onslaught of media attention and the perpetual busyness of London.  She writes that “Your hygge is your own.

 

As the stresses of modern life slowly suck at our soul’s will we could all use a little more self-care for our own well-being. So perhaps hygge is purely an extension of this, in which case I welcome it with open arms.

Because anything that can help ensure our mental and physical well-being is worth spending a little time under a blanket for.

 

Whatever hygge is, it is our own vivid experience.

 

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Learning to embrace the hygge that comes my way.


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October Favourites

In a blur of cool air and pumpkin spice everything (seriously, I bought a PS Bailey’s for Christmas weeks ago!) October is gone and seasonal festivities are creeping up on us.

Today I’m sharing my favourites of the beginnings of autumn, and looking forward to the month ahead.

Skincare

Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution

The Body Shop Tea Tree Solution

Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution

Everyone struggles with problem prone skin in their lives and unfortunately for me, and many others, it doesn’t stop as soon as you hit adulthood. The Body Shop have regenerated their tea tree range with the #ZitHappens campaign and this serum-like lightweight solution caught my attention. It works as a preventative product and has really improved the condition of my skin, making it clearer and reducing redness! Find it online here.

Travels

Manchester

The majority of my university friends live in and around the Greater Manchester area, which means they’re accessible but not as often as I would ideally like!

So I booked the sofa in my friend’s flat and spent two days surrounded by good food, cocktails and the infectious positivity of amazing friends. It was the perfect opportunity to remove myself from the constrains of my own mind and spend time with people I love.

Zoe and I

Standard puppy selfie

London

Earlier in the month I visited Sarah in London. As well as getting to spend time with my sister and enjoy a high-speed train ride through the countryside (I like trains), I got to explore little pockets of London by myself. I ended up at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. I happily lost myself in there for some hours and landed myself a delicious curry for lunch. If you get chance to visit, their stained glass collection is stunning.

The courtyard played host to an Engineering Season exhibition called Elytra, described as a responsive shelter inspired by the naturally lightweight shells of the flying beetle. Sensors mapped the areas visitors congregated in, ultimately affecting how and where the canopy structure would be robotically woven. I sat on the edge for about twenty minutes in the hope my own presence would stretch the structure further!

The pavillion of the V&A with the canopy structure

The V&A pavillion is stunning

Currently listening…

Hurts – Emeli Sande

Perfect Illusion – Lady Gaga

Shout Out to my Ex – Little Mix

Angels on my Side – Rick Astley

Ain’t My Fault – Zara Larsson

#WhereIsTheLove – The Black Eyed Peas, feat. The World

Currently Reading…

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

 


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12 Reasons to Stay Alive

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1. No experience is ever wasted.

2. Listen to Brian Cox speak of the possible infinity of space. Know that you are a small and unique biological phenomenon in the complexity of uncountable galaxies.

7×10^49 atoms won’t arrange themselves this way ever again. It’s a one-off privilege. – @GoodWithoutGods 

 

3. The books that have not captured you yet, the unputdownable books, those that break and repair your heart all at once.

4. The films and TV shows that are yet to keep you awake all night.

5. To fall in love.

And you understand now why they lost their minds and fought the wars
And why I’ve spent my whole life trying to put it into words – Taylor Swift, You Are in Love

6. The cities waiting exploration.  The oceans of the world you haven’t dipped your toes in to.

7. For joy.

8. As my ancestor’s arrows into the future, and to create arrows of my own.

9. Music. That sense of united humanity that live music gives you.

10. New Year’s Day walks. The crunch of crisp leaves under booted feet on a bright winter morning.

11. Stepping out into intense heat and knowing you’re on holiday.

12. Rock bottom is the place to build solid foundations.

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Book Review: His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials trilogy, stacked books, photo

His Dark Materials stacked books

 

Ever since a young age I’ve loved to read and can often be found with my nose in a book and, more recently, a coffee in hand.  My favourite stories have always been fantastical, and the intertwining universes of the His Dark Materials trilogy are as fantastical as they come. (Side note: plural of universe? Universes?)

 

I’ve done my very best to keep this review spoiler free. Although the first book has celebrated it’s twentieth birthday and was adapted in to a star-studded film which ultimately flopped (remember The Golden Compass?), it is my opinion everyone should read it at least once and I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone yet to experience it for the first time, because that feeling is the best.

 

Golden Compass Movie poster

Summary

The first of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights, is set within a parallel universe whereby people’s souls live externally from their bodies as animals.  Each soul, known as their dæmon, takes a different species depending on the individual’s traits.  The story centres on a young girl called Lyra Belacqua …

When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuring quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies – and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences, which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights.

Characters

Like many of the greats, each character within the series is detailed, motivated and serves a purpose to the narration and growth of the story in a beautiful way.

 

Lyra is an adventurous yet innocent rebel, making her the perfect protagonist and heroine for the story arc; humanity’s fight for the acquisition of knowledge and experiences from childhood to adulthood.

 

By The Subtle Knife, the second lead character is introduced; Will Parry is strong-willed, decisive, and mature beyond his twelve years as a young carer. Unlike Lyra, he is from our world.

 

Alongside armoured bears, witch-queens and a Texan aeronaut, he and Lyra embark on a quest, which impacts a myriad of universes.

 

DaVinci's Lady with an Ermine

Pullman used DaVinci’s Lady with an Ermine as a source of inspiration for the character’s daemons.

 

 

Plot

The plot is complex. You’ll need your basic Bible knowledge of Adam and Eve’s Fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden. While the Church attempts to retain the blissful ignorance of childhood in the people opposition forces strive to ensure humanity’s right to knowledge and free will beyond the control of a higher authority. It can take quite a bit of brainpower to keep up with which characters are where at any one time. But once you get your head around it, the intertwining character arcs manage to keep you on the edge of your seat.

 

Through tackling themes such as religion, sex positivity, free will, the abolition of Destiny, friendship, courage and the coming of age, His Dark Materials weaves a fantastical story, which by the end has the potential to be plausible; at least with a stretch of the imagination. This potential plausibility is one of my favourite things. In my opinion, it is what captures people’s hearts and minds and enable the stories to live in us forever.

 

Lyra and Will's Tree artwork

I love it when people create beautiful artwork based on characters. 

 

It’s fascinating that authors can lace concepts and characters in to enchanting stories, which can break your heart and build it all at once. This series is a prime example of storytelling at it’s finest.

 

If you enjoyed Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Harry Potter by J.K Rowling, or The Divide Trilogy by Elizabeth Kay then you’ll love His Dark Materials.

 

4 Star Rating!

I give the His Dark Material trilogy 4 stars!

 


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Foodie Favourites

Is anyone else completely clueless as to where July has gone?
As a food fanatic, today I’m sharing my two foodie favourites of the month; super simple but completely delicious!

Tomato and Mozzarella

Obvious ingredients are a must, of course. But sprinkle on some fresh basil and lashings of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Add a ripped up slice of bread to soak up the deliciousness and you’ve got an amazing lunch!

Tomato and mozzarella salad with basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Chicken Satay

I successfully made this from scratch for the parents, which proves its simplicity. And they loved it, which proves it’s delicious!

I got the recipe from Rosie The Londoner. As well as being simply written and containing ingredients easily found in the local shops, there’s some fantastically puns thrown in too!  #Ilovepuns

Amazing chicken satay, which I served with couscous and roasted red peppers – yummy!

 

Unfortunately for me, I only discovered chicken satay while having fun in Warsaw at the end of June, so I think I’ve got some catching up to do!!

 

What are you current favourites? I’m always on the look out for new deliciousness to sink my teeth into…

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).