Monday, 28 December 2015

Under pressure and looking forwards...

2016 is going to be one hell of a year.
 
I've been saying it for ages, that eventually I was going to have to get my act together and fully become an adult, but officially that time has come. To be honest, I am freaking out a little bit. It feels like yesterday I started my degree and moved to Winchester, but now in 6 months time I will have completed my degree, and will no longer be living there. Just where has the time gone? So I need to make a plan of action, and get myself organised because this time next year, my life is going to be very different. There's so much I want to do, and do well with justice, that I'm putting the pressure on myself big time.
 
 
  • I want to finish my dissertation and university, and come out the other side knowing I did the absolute best that I could.
  • I want to travel and have adventures in places I've never been to before.
  • I want to find an incredible job and career that will make me incredibly happy and fulfilled with life.
  • I want to finally be able to drive so I can stop relying on other people to taxi me around.
  • I want to be financially stable by this time next year.
  • I want to make my family, and myself incredibly proud of everything I've achieved in the last few years, and prove that it's all been worth it.
 
So now it's crunch time. I've got to sort myself out, and enjoy every step of it. I've never been more sure or determined about anything.
 
Much love ♥ 

 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Ciao Italia...

Last week, I travelled to another country by myself for the first time.
 
I got on a plane to travel to a country where I definitely did not speak the language, and boy, was it an adventure. I went to Parma, Italy, to stay with my friend Steph for a few days, and then fly back with her.
 
I left Winchester at 10am to get two coaches to Stanstead Airport, where I was 4 hours early for my flight. This gave me the chance to sit and write some of my dissertation, as well as make friends with some lovely people whilst consuming many lattes in Starbucks. The flight itself was definitely something. We were due to land in Parma, but after taking off an hour late, we were met with very thick fog. Therefore, the pilot decided to divert the plane! To begin with, we were told Pisa, the Ryanair website said we were in Milan, but we actually wound up in Bologna about an hour away. This meant we had to get a coach in the early hours in order to find our way back to Parma!

(The Cathedral and the Christmas tree in Parma)
 
After a well needed sleep, Steph took me out for lunch in Parma, where we had tortelli, which were really tasty. We took a long walk around Parma, where Steph pointed out all the main sights for me. There was the Cathedral, the Piazza Pilotta, and the Parco Ducale. Italy is such a beautiful place, everywhere is so old and rustic, but in a beautiful and traditional way. The park was a juxtaposition from the busy heart of the city, a quiet place to relax and for contemplation. It felt similar, if very different from Winchester; grand, but less gothic.

(The statue on the island in the pond in Parco Ducale)

(The architecture in Parma is so beautiful)
 
I was introduced to a few of Steph's Erasmus friends, who took me on a night out in Parma. Many One Euro shots were consumed, and I ended up pretty drunk and hungover the next day, but it was such a good night! Admittedly, I wasted the next day of my Italian adventure because I was pretty hungover. But it was actually quite nice just to chill with Steph in her super awesome flat, and meet the Erasmus guys later for crepes.
 
(Steph, a few of her lovely Erasmus friends, and I)
 
On my last day, we took a train to Milan for a few hours, to sightsee and grab lunch. Milan is just over an hour away from Parma via the train. We took the metro to the Doumo di Milano in the centre and walked around the Christmas market, before meeting a girl Steph knew for lunch nearby. The Doumo, or Cathedral, in Milan is absolutely stunning. The architecture is outstanding, a complete work of art, and being in the presence of it truly takes your breath away. I'm really glad I got the chance to visit there, and should I ever return, I will definitely opt for a tour inside.

(Doumo di Milano, such a beautiful place!)
 
After my adventure, I'm beginning to think that travelling is about the journey more than the destination. Just getting there and meeting so many new people made the experience much more memorable for me. If anything, my time in Italy has made it very apparent to me that my life is not meant to be lived in one place, and that I'm definitely a traveller at heart. I hope I get the opportunity to return to Italy so I can continue to explore the magnificent country.
 
(Me outside the Doumo, by the Christmas tree)
 
Much love ♥ 
 
 

Monday, 16 November 2015

Defending my degree...

I'm a proud American Studies student at the University of Winchester UK, and I absolutely love my degree.
 
However, If I had a pound for every time someone raised their eyebrows or gave me a funny look when I told them what my degree is, I'd be rich enough to pay off my student debts.
 
Usually this gesture is followed with the insincere concern of "What are you intending to do with that degree?", to which my reply is always, "Whatever I want." You see, I honestly don't know what my future holds for me, but I know that with my degree it's about the skill set I inherit and all the many doors this could open. I feel in no way limited to what I could do, my opportunities are vast and varied.  
 
 
American Studies is a multi-disciplinary subject, meaning I get to do a little bit of everything. I get to look at literature, films, culture, history, politics, you name it, I've probably studied a bit of it. One morning I could be in a lecture about American Conspiracy Theories, and then the next I could be learning about African American culture. I've looked at Americanisation through corporations such as McDonald's and Disney. I've learnt about the Black Atlantic and the Transatlantic slave trade. I've even looked at the portrayal of the American Gothic as well as adaptations between books and films. And that's only a small sample of some of the modules I've had in my three year adventure. It's so varied, I could never get bored.
 
 
I strongly argue that I will be leaving university with the same skill set as any other student, whether they're studying English, History, or whatever it may be. I can interpret data, source relevant material, think critically about work, and so much more. My degree hasn't restricted my learning in anyway, and I feel I'll be leaving university very much equal to my peers. Choosing my subject does not make me dumb, it's not 'easier' or 'simpler' than any other degree, there's still the same amount of work required. And it certainly does not make me any less able to achieve as well as any other student.
 
In essence, what I'm trying to say is that although my degree should not be valued above anyone else's, it should definitely not be valued as any less.
 
I could never regret choosing my degree. It's been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I've learnt so many fascinating things, met some incredible and inspirational people, and got to experience the trip of a lifetime travelling around Nevada, Arizona and Utah with some fabulous people.
 
 
So yes, I did take this subject because I "clearly love America", but I chose it for so much more. Therefore, please stop looking down on me thinking I'm an idiot, or even pity me for my choice, because taking this degree has proved to me that I am capable of doing well in higher education, and that my future will be bright because I'm determined to work hard doing something that I love.
 
 
Much love ♥ 

Monday, 9 November 2015

How to (not) write an essay....

It's that time of the semester again. The library is full of students having panic attacks. Much junk food is being consumed. You can never get hold of the book you need. And it's all because for many, essays are due. Ask any student, no matter how prepared you think you are, it's still one of the most stressful moments of the academic year.

 
 
So here are a few of the struggles I go through every single time I have to force myself to sit down and concentrate on writing an essay. It's never easy, and as a third year I should know so much better by now...
 
 
Leaving your essay to the last minute
 
 
Procrastinating to the max

 


Realising you have to psych yourself up to sit down and study
 
 
Skipping the plan stage completely
 
 
Having absolutely no idea what your essay is on
 
 
 
Throwing in fancy phrases just to sound intelligent
 
 
Having a little breakdown
 
 
Deciding to get drunk to cope
 
 
Not being anywhere near your word count
 
 
Finally finishing your essay and being all like..
 
 
 The struggle is so real.
 
Much love
 
 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Englishman in New York...

So earlier this month I got back from a truly incredible week away in one of my favourite places in the entire world; New York City. To say I was completely spoilt is an understatement, my parents joined forces to pay for the trip for my 21st birthday present, and I was treated beyond belief. So much good food, many little adventures, and plenty of my favourite activity - shopping.
 
So to subtly brag about how much fun I had, and so I can reminisce about how much I love New York (please take me back, I'm a New Yorker at heart!), here are all my favourite pictures from the trip as well as some little anecdotes and short summary's of what I got upto.

Day 1 - Arriving, Top of the Rock.
 
On the first day, after being awake for too many hours to count, I dragged my acrophobic mother up the Rockefeller to the 'Top of the Rock'. The view was incredible, and it was so warm that even though we were so high up, I was only in a tshirt!
 

Day 2 - AMNH, Central Park, Times Square, Planet Hollywood
 
After a good nights sleep, I hailed us a cab (One of my proudest moments!), and we went up to the American Museum of Natural History. It was huge! So many animals, so many exhibits, so much walking. We were there for hours, but it was a day well wasted. We then went on a long walk around Central Park, where I managed to get us completely lost. Luckily, thanks to a Park Ranger we managed to figure out where we were (we were stood next to the castle I was looking for...I'm such an idiot!), and I even managed to get us to the Alice In Wonderland statue, which is one of my favourite spots in the whole world. Later on in the evening, we ventured to Planet Hollywood for dinner, and enjoyed an evening in Times Square (and mostly in the MAC store!)

 

Day 3 - My birthday, SATC, Wicked, Ellen's
 
The third day was my 21st Birthday! I dragged mum on a Sex & The City tour, which was absolutely hilarious and incredible. One of the *highlights* was having my skirt tucked into my tights whilst on the tour for a good 20 minutes before some woman put me out of my misery and pulled my skirt out. So embarrassing! Mum bought me birthday cupcakes in Magnolia Bakery and I wished to come back. I took mum to Ellen's Stardust Diner, somewhere I'd been before on my last visit to the Big Apple, which is a diner where all the staff sing and dance whilst you eat. It definitely set us in the mood for Broadway! Later in the evening we went to go and see Wicked on Broadway, which completely blew my mind! It was such an incredible show! I would definitely go and see it again...and again, and again, and again!
 
 
 

Day 4 - Empire State, Madame Tussuad's, Times Square Again
 
On a slightly greyer fourth day in the City, I dragged mum up another skyscraper, this time the Empire State Building! We could see for miles, and even though it was incredibly windy, we got some great pictures. As the heavens began to open, we ran for shelter in Madame Tussuad's for the afternoon, and had a great time 'celeb spotting', and taking pictures which our future husbands... Then it was back to Times Square again to finish the shopping we started earlier in the week!
 

Day 5 - Fifth Avenue, Tiffany's, Grand Central, Fly Home
 
On our last day, we went for a walk up Fifth Avenue, stopping to take pictures at iconic spots such as the Rockefeller where the ice skating rink and Christmas tree is usually put. We walked up to Tiffany's where mum quite rightly treated herself! Stopped by Grand Central for a spot of lunch, before we sadly had to leave the city to catch our plane back.

 


I miss New York so much, I really felt like I belonged there, hailing cabs and running along the sidewalk in heels. If anyone would like to pay for me to go back it would be greatly appreciated!
 
Much love 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Go with the Flo...

I've been running around all over the place in the last few weeks, and I think it's probably time for a little catch up! So just what have I been upto recently?
 
I went to go and see Florence + The Machine (again), and it was one of the best nights of my life.
 
I was one of those people and went early to queue up for the front row, which was a whole saga in itself, and met up with the ever so lovely Katie and her mum. After a mad dash through Ally Pally, we managed to get exactly where we wanted, just off centre at on the barrier, and it was just absolutely incredible. Florence came out, walked along the front and greeted everyone, holding my hand (!!), then went up onto the stage to give us the best show I've ever seen. She really believes in and feels the passion of the music, and it completely connects with the audience. Every soul in the room felt they were experiencing a personal moment with Florence, which was outstanding considering how packed out the venue was. I got to help hold her up in the crowd as she sang Rabbit Heart, and got completely showered with glitter as she poured an entire bag of it over our heads. Best. Night. Ever.
 
(Katie and I on the Front Row)
(Florence pouring glitter on us)
(The view from where we were..)
 
 
I went to go and see Eliza And The Bear in London.
 
You're probably thinking, who? But you should check them out. They're a little bit indie (think Mumford and Sons), crossed with a little bit of rock (think Twin Atlantic), and you'll get their sound. The venue was a beautiful place called KoKo in Camden, which wasn't very big, and felt very personal. The support acts were also really great, Viola Beach and especially The LaFontaines, who blew the roof off the place. After the gig we got to meet the lead singer of The Lafontaines, as well as some of Eliza And The Bear, whom we got some brilliant pictures with...

(Em, Jess and I with some of Eliza And The Bear)
 
       
(Em and I with the lead singer of The LaFontaines)

 
I went and saw Micheal McIntyre in the O2 arena.
 
Em and I had had these tickets booked for nearly a year and a half, but we finally got around to going to see Michael McIntyre in London. He was absolutely hilarious, some of the jokes he told were so funny I was on the brink of tears. They filmed the night for the DVD, so I can't wait to relive it all over again. I was definitely in need of a good night out with lots of laughs, and he didn't disappoint!

(The view from our seats, so high up!)
 
 
New York City.
 
Lucky little me got completely spoilt with a trip to NYC for my 21st with my mum, which was one of the best weeks of my life. So much good food, shops, shows, trips, I don't know how I'm functioning now I'm back. I wish I could be a New Yorker for life. I'll fill you in with all the stories and pictures from this next time (I'll try not to brag too much).

 
Much love
 
 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Back to life, back to reality...

Baby, I'm back in Winchester!


 
Aaah it's finally happening, I'm about to start my third and *fingers crossed* final year of university. It's safe to say I'm very anxious about this last year, I want to do the best I can of course, so I'm definitely putting the pressure on myself. It's been a very long and chilled out summer of not doing nearly as much as I should've, which I've already gone into here, and now it's time to get down to business. It's not all hard work and stress for me coming up though, so I thought I'd do a little breakdown of all the things I've got coming up in the next few months, which I expect you'll hear plenty about!

*Warning, lots of bragging about how fabulous my life is coming up!*
  1. Third year begins - It all kicks off, dissertation stress sets in, and life gets very intense...
  2. Seeing Florence + The Machine - I managed to get tickets to see them on their last night of the UK tour, which will be the third time I've seen them. I absolutely love them (*cough* understatement), so understandably I'm really looking forwards to this.
  3. Going to New York - I set off at the end of this month to the Big Apple for a couple of days with my mum, and the excitement is so real! It's one of my favourite places in the entire world, and I can't wait to be back strutting on the sidewalks, watching musicals, and shopping until I drop.
  4. Turning 21 - Big moment for me, I'm turning the grand age of 21 on October 1st, whilst I'm in New York. Naturally this means only one thing, cocktails!
  5. Seeing Eliza and the Bear - I saw these guys supporting Twin Atlantic earlier in the year, so Em, Jess and I are going to see them in London which will be awesome!
  6. Seeing Michael McIntyre - Em and I have had these tickets for what genuinely feels like forever now, and the time has finally come! Hopefully we'll be spending the weekend chilling in London while we're there which will be pretty fab.
  7. Seeing Years & Years - So I'm completely addicted to these guys album, and they were just incredible when I saw them at Wildlife. I'm excited to see them again, doing a much bigger set, and hopefully playing a lot more of the insane album.
  8. Going back to my old job - I was going to have to fund all of my mad adventures somehow! I've actually missed working there with some really lovely people, so I'm looking forwards to being back and getting back into things (even if I'm slightly terrified because I'm worried my coffee making skills have pretty much just died this summer.)
  9. Hopefully trying to go to Italy - One of my nearest and dearest friends Steph who I've known for pretty much an entire decade is doing a semester in Parma, Italy, so at some point before Christmas I'd really love to squeeze in a little trip to go and see her beautiful face again!
  10. Another USA field trip - Yes, another! This time it's a 'Civil Right's Pilgrimage', basically a trip around the American South, visiting places of great interest and importance during the Civil Rights Movement. This is going to be such a beautiful and once in a lifetime experience for me, I've loved studying it, so I really can't wait to physically be there and absorb myself into it. Gosh I just love my degree!
So as you can see, it's going to get a little crazy in my world in the next couple of months, but strangely I feel pretty prepared and up for the challenge. If anything, it's the figuring out what's going to come next which is the difficult part...
 
Much love
 
 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The 'F' word - Don't tell me what to wear..

Ladies and gentlemen, it may or may not be a shock to you to learn that I, Hazel Coleman, am in fact a feminist.

 
I can already picture your reactions to this statement. Half of you are slowly edging away whether it be in fear or because you honestly couldn't care less, and half you of you (I hope) are thinking "right on sister!". I don't know why feminism gets such a mixed reaction, it's certainly the marmite of the social activism and political world, but it's something I hold very dear with my beliefs, morals, and general day to day life.
 
The topic of feminism is so broad,so I'd really like to come back to the idea of writing about feminism in other debates. Therefore I would like to say I'm not ignoring parts of the issue, or groups of people, or anything else you feel should've been mentioned. I'm also not looking to offend, and I apologise if I have done. I have included some links below which may be helpful as well for those of you who may be looking for more information on the subject, which might explain what I'm trying to get across a lot better than I have!


Links:
UK Feminista - Information on feminism in the UK
Everyday Feminism - Lots of articles on feminism in different topics
Belle Jar - A blog about feminism which I find really interesting
HeForShe - Movement for gender equality
 
 
The 'F' Word - Don't tell me what to wear!

I have a serious problem with people telling women how they should be dressed.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm a firm believer that there should definitely be a level of appropriateness involved. However, what I do have a big problem with is women being told that what they are wearing effects how others will behave.

Perhaps the biggest example that springs to mind here, is girls being told what they can and can't wear to school, and being told that their choice of clothing is distracting for boys and male teachers. I can't even begin to explain my frustration with this. In essence, girls are being told that because of how they dress they will be sent into isolation or sent home and therefore missing classes, and that subsequently, their education is not as important as boys. Again, in terms of practicality and appropriateness, short skirts and low cut tops can be exposing, but if a girl is comfortable with how she is dressed, who are we to tell her she can't wear it?

When you send a girl home to change because her shoulders are showing too much, or her dress is too short, you are teaching her that boys having a “distraction free environment” is more important than her education. You are diminishing both sexes by perpetuating the ideology that women are objects and men are wild zoo animals who can’t control their sexual urges. You are enforcing a rape culture, and making girls to feel dehumanized and ashamed of their bodies. Instead of punishing girls for exposing our shoulders and legs, teach boys to have respect for women.

Although dress codes rarely apply to boys, the reasons behind them often are. Boys are not all sex-crazed maniacs who can't keep in it their pants at the sight of a bra-strap, we can at least give them credit for that. And I'm pretty certain they've sussed that girls have legs, shoulders and breasts as well. So why are we forcing girls to cover up? We are teaching both genders that female sexuality is a male weakness, and that women are solely to blame for this. Therefore, what schools are really doing is brainwashing kids into a way of thinking which is horrifically harmonious with rape culture.

Dress codes are quickly becoming an excuse for the sexualisation of women and disgracing young women, and quite frankly I'm sick of it. From first hand experience, it's humiliating to be pulled up for dress code errors, being called out in front of the class for having my skirt too short or my tights too see-through. Girls should not be made to feel ashamed to their bodies. We should be educating them to feel comfortable and confident in their skins, and that they shouldn't have to hide themselves away.

(Picture credit @ehannan3 on twitter)


Rant over.

Let me know what you think about this matter in the comments box, or message me.
 
Much love
 
 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Summer 2015 - Expectations Vs. Reality

It feels like I've had the longest summer of my life. I moved back here to Weymouth at the start of April, and when I move back to Winchester next week I'll have been here for 5 1/2 months, which is crazy! I had such high hopes for my super long summer, and honestly it's not lived up to my expectations at all. I thought I'd have so much free time to get so much done, but I've barely done anything I hoped I would. So as I'm on the brink of moving back to Winchester, and my summer draws to a close, I thought I'd weigh up just how successful my time has been.
 
 
 
Expectation - I'd get loads of uni work done
Reality - I've watched every single episode of Sex and the City
 
As I have my dissertation to write this year at uni, I thought I'd get a bit of a head start and do absolutely loads of reading and drafting of my ideas, so that when I go back I can focus on writing a really good piece of work. While watching Sex and the City is vital to writing my dissertation (I'm basing it on the representation of women in sitcoms...), it's pretty much all the work I've bothered to do as far as prepping for my dissertation goes. I have barely done any wider reading at all, which means as soon as I move back to Winchester I'm going to have to knuckle down and actually do some serious work.
 
 
Expectation - I'd work loads and save lots of money
Reality - I've worked a fair bit, but not saved as much as I'd hoped
 
I've been working quite a bit this summer, so why isn't my savings account overflowing? I've had a bit too much of a social life and gone shopping too much is the answer. Every time I have a little bit of money, I'm already planning what I'm spending it on instead of saving it up. I've got enough to pay for everything I have planned until the end of October, but after that? Nope. Got to start saving again.
 
 
Expectation - I'd spend as much time enjoying Weymouth as possible
Reality - Most of my time seeing Weymouth has been on my commute to work
 
I'd hoped to hit the beach a bit this summer, go on long dog walks, and just generally adventure out and about as much as I could, but I've barely done this at all. Minus the very few days where I've gone for long walks along the beach, or spent the day on the beach, the only real part of Weymouth I've seen is the route to and from work on the bus. How depressing!
 
 
Expectation - I'd have loads of free time to chill and see my friends
Reality - I've either been working or napping/sleeping..
 
Although I've been careful not to waste my days off as I've always planned to do things, see people and go places, on the days I work,  I'm usually pretty tired so I just crash. Therefore, I've wasted so much of my summer just by being lazy! I've not seen my friends half as much as I hoped I would, which is massively disappointing, especially as I won't really be able to see them again really until next summer. *sad face*
 
 
Expectation - I'd go to the gym, eat better, and lose weight
Reality - I'm exactly the same...
 
As part of having so much free time, I thought I'd be able to go to the gym (hahaha!!!), eat so much better and healthier, and subsequently lose some weight. Have I? Hell no. If anything, recently I'm eating worse because I've started snacking instead of having proper meals, and I'm so tired that going to the gym doesn't even cross my mind. I think it's pretty fair to say I haven't achieved my dream summer body in the slightest...
 
 
Expectation - Finally having the time to sort out all my old stuff and redecorate my room
Reality - Leaving it all until one week before I move out
 
Being back in Weymouth for pretty much half of the year, I thought it would make a lot of sense to have a huge clear out, and redecorate my room so it's less cluttered and just nicer. Although I did manage to upgrade my bed to a much comfier double bed instead of the single bed I've had since forever, my room looks exactly the same as it always has. And as for my huge summer clear out? I've left it all for the last couple of weeks before I move out of course! How on earth am I this disorganised...
 
 
I hope you've all had a much more successful summer than I have! Although I have done a lot, it just hasn't been all the things I'd hoped I would do which is such a shame. I guess there's always summer 2016....
 
Much love  ♥