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Losing hope | #Brexit

Today I woke up in a different country.

I first moved to the UK about five years ago. I came as a 19 year old full of hope, expectations, enthusiasm. I couldn’t believe my luck that I got into a British university. I was happy, elated, excited to get away from a country that promoted racism, bigotry, that played with the lives of the poor and made a mess out of everything. 

This country has given me a lot. It’s given me an education that was pretty great, a degree in Journalism where I had the opportunity to explore, to be academically challenged. It‘s given me jobs that paid more than I could have got at home doing the same things. While my friends were working for as little as £1 an hour, I was making a living. Thank you, Great Britain, for being here for me to pursue the truly idealistic view of making a change.

However, today I realised I’ve had just such a privileged view of this country. Its working class is in shambles, disillusioned and blaming immigration for all of their troubles. Of course, I’ve known and been victim of this first hand before, but the extent of the matter hadn’t hit me until today.

Everyone hates the establishment – and I’m the first one there on the picket line when it comes to that. The EU isn’t the perfect institution that brings only joy and happiness and unity.

But for me, it’s done some great things.

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As a 19 year old from a poor European country, I had the opportunity to get a great education. I worked my ass off for it and I’m paying back every cent with interest, but the EU made it so easy for me to just pack up and go. And you like that, Britain, don’t you? You don’t mind the tens of thousands of EU university students that come to the UK every year and buy into thousands of pounds of debt instead of paying into their own countries. We are the kind of enthusiastic, skilled workers you can’t wait to snatch up. My university hired people to recruit from other EU countries and that’s at the heart of its strategy for expansion. Should I mention that, so ironically, the majority of students employed by the university were also from the EU? Was that because we had privileged status? No, it was because British students were going back home for the summer while we were hanging around, trying to make a living to pay back our student fees and pay our rent.

Secondly, the EU made it possible for me to gain a qualification in the UK as an English teacher and then (in a week after finishing my course) to get a job in Spain. No equivalency needed, no paperwork, just pack up and go. Is that going to be possible in a Brexit world? I don’t think so. Bureaucracy will take over and slow down anyone who wants to pursue a bigger dream than staying at home their whole lives or moving up the street.

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The same EU then provided funding for a project which allowed volunteers from all across Europe to come to Bristol, European Green Capital 2015, and help out small charities and organisations which promote environmentalism in the city. My bias is clear here – I benefitted directly, I was paid by the EU to come and do something I loved in a city that I admired.

And that’s exactly my point. There are many more just like me. People who look for opportunities, who want to be part of an international community without the hassle of visas, discrimination and so on. We are the new generation who doesn’t see borders, who grew up in online communities where we empathise, befriend and admire people all around the world. We care about the environment, we care about the poor not only in our own countries, but in every country.

Maybe I’m not the right person to speak here. Maybe I come from a place of lower middle class and I’ve never struggled enough to have a say. Maybe I’m thinking only about myself and how I’m pissed off to be living in a worse country today than I was yesterday.

But I’ve found the best things I’ve had in this life have been because of opportunities. Those opportunities were there because people worked together. I am now giving back my share by working, volunteering, campaigning. I do wish the generation growing up now will have at least the same chance I had…but from the looks of it, they’ll just have to stick to this lonely island.

Tracy-Hetzel

Personal · Uncategorized

How messy are you?

My heart is messier than my room

There might be clothes lying around. With memories of where I wore them and who took them off.

The red dress is lying on the floor. It’s a wardrobe of its own. It’s a reminder that I put up a front of confidence. It tells you I know what I’m doing, that I’m a nice person who cares about what others think, of how I know first impressions are important. But it’s lying there, disregarded as soon as you walk through the door.

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You can find bobby pins all around, bread crumbs from the past, putting together a trail to where it all went wrong. This place was spotless, but now these little signs show you how I’ve learnt and what I’ve been through; how there were people who I felt comfortable with to put my hair up. They’re hidden in the most obscure of places and exactly when you thought you couldn’t find any more, you’ll one day discover they’re everywhere and you can’t get rid of them; just accept them.

There’s a bit of dust everywhere. Not covering it all just of yet; you could get rid of it with a quick swipe. But it’s starting to settle and it announces no one’s been through here in a while. It’s just been me and my feelings, gathering the particles and clinging on to them as they represent the pause my heart has needed.

Then there are the pictures on the wall, showing where I’ve been and what inspires me. You don’t see these at first; you have to question, to ask about the past and about abstract feelings and not everyone is comfortable with that. They lead to the most interesting conversations, but are you brave enough?

If you start looking in drawers, you might get lost in the sea of unnecessary things hidden away. If you open the wrong one, they might just fill up the room and you’ll find yourself swimming in a sea of regret, mistakes and misadventure.

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Then there are the boxes. Boxes of people long forgotten that somehow always find a way of getting spilled on the floor. You might pick up one of these and then a necklace that says ‘Forever’ catches your eye. It’s now rusty and you see how ironic it is that even Forever doesn’t last the passage of time.

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A cute fluffy animal is hidden away in a dark corner of the wardrobe. It has instructions that say if you put it in the microwave for 3 minutes, it can heat the whole place up. You can see it hasn’t been loved in a long time and its warmth has long gone from its limp body.

Finally you get in front of the mirror and it’s so clean and clear you can see every one of your freckles staring back of you. The light from the window shines so bright it gives an eery feel to the place.

This might be messy and complicated, but it’s honest. It knows itself better than any other place, with all its nooks and crannies. It might be a scary room to go, but it’s not afraid of turning the light on itself and remembering. Because the darkest corners are the ones we turn our backs on.

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Why you should follow Jeremy Corbyn on Snapchat

 

When Jeremy Corbyn drops by

My week faced an unexpected turn on Thursday. I was sat peacefully at my desk when a really short, concise e-mail came through. It was announcing just that Jeremy Corbyn was coming to The Station, as part of a Labour meeting we had going on.

I couldn’t really believe it. I’m definitely a Jeremy Corbyn fan girl at heart and yes, I’m a bit ashamed of it. But every time a new breath of fresh air comes to politics, I can’t help it, I’m drawn to the underdog that’s speaking the truth.

I had the privilege of walking around and taking photos of Mr Jeremy and it just so happened that he was speaking on the EU referendum and his mission on the day was to get young people registered to vote.

The #EUref

If it’s not obvious from my name, I’m not British; I’m European and pretty darn proud of it as well. So the issue pulls at my heart strings. Not only because the UK leaving the EU would bring about so many problems for me, but because I love the UK. I really do love this country. It’s brought me so many opportunities.

I got a better education than I could have gotten in my country. I got job after job doing the things I’m passionate about (helping young people, campaigning on mental health, being a radio producer, advocating for women’s issues). I couldn’t do that back in Romania; there just isn’t a market for it yet and it would be impossible to get paid for what I do there.

I think I’ve given back plenty to the UK as well. I’m paying back my student loan, I’ve been paying hugely inflated rent for 4 years now and I brought with me my parents’ hard earned Romanian money and spent it here, contributing to the economy. That on top of the normal stuff like tax and the skills I bring to the table.

Can Snapchat convince young people to register?

enhanced-12464-1460824900-1So my argument is this. In an issue that is going to impact so heavily on young people, Jeremy Corbyn is actively seeking to engage this audience. He was one of the first people I followed on Snapchat because a politician (and a high profile one at that) using that platform means one thing to me. He’s trying. He’s trying to have a conversation in means that the political landscape doesn’t yet understand – social media. And a very hard to use for brand engagement social media platform.

Snapchat is new, fresh and unknown. It’s really hard to make an argument for using it for any brand or organisation. But Jeremy Corbyn and his team aren’t afraid. They went where their audience is. Young people are on Snapchat. And they want to hear from leaders on the platforms they’re already using.

Does Jeremy have a long way to go from posting photos and videos and putting emojis over there to convincing a young person to register to vote? Yes, of course.

However, he’s decided that it’s worth it. It’s worth his team’s time and effort to do it because he cares. I see that as progressive as it gets.

That’s why you should follow Jeremy Corbyn on Snapchat. We need more leaders who care about us and are taking digital and social media seriously. Give it a shot, you might end up in one of his stories if next time he happens to drop by your office.

Book reviews · Uncategorized

Girl 4 by Will Carver | Book review

Let’s talk about crime, baby!

It’s been a while since I read a thriller/mystery/crime book and I forgot a little bit how much I enjoy them. When you start reading a bit more, it seems popular fiction gets forgotten or readers are either really into literature or only reading pop fiction. It’s a shame, as I think both can be awesome to enjoy and teach you valuable lessons.

I picked up Girl 4 by Will Carver on a whim, in a massive sale (50p/book whoop whoop!). It seemed to have a whif of a psychological thriller rather than a whodunit. I wasn’t deceived.

This is the first book in the series by Will Carver and our main guy is detective January David. As he gets to see Girl 4 in a series of brutal, ritualistic murders, suspended in a theatre ten feet above the ground, he realises he knows the latest victim in the investigation.

Characters 

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January Davis is quite the typical detective. He’s determined, smart, observant and all the great qualities a detective should have. He puts his job first, before his family and his fiance, but tries to keep the illusion that he can take himself out of his job when he comes home. He’s also a very flawed hero: he drinks too much, sleeps too little and is afraid of his discoveries.

Now this might be considered a bit of a SPOILER so if you want to go in 100% blind, please skip this paragraph (although it won’t ruin the story if you read it). The only thing about this book I found annoying is that is has a certain supernatural aspect, which isn’t exactly done properly. It has some relation to the bigger picture once we start going forward in the series, but for this particular chapter, it’s neither here nor there. It doesn’t fit the narrative surround it and doesn’t make much difference to the overall story, but rather complicates things unneccesarily.

Possible spoiler over.

Plot

The story is told from the perspective of different characters, including the killer. This is really refreshing and is done in an impressive way. The voices aren’t all that different and the style sometimes remains the same across chapters, even though one is from Jan’s POV and the next is the killer’s story. It does offer some complexity to some parts of the narrative, as we can experience the same scene from different POV.

This also gives voices to the victims, which is rarely done in crime novels, especially those about ritualistic serial killers. We get to know Girl 1, 2 and 3 and see bits of their lives.

Overall

This is a great crime novel that’s going to get you hooked. I couldn’t stop reading it because I really wanted to know what was going to happen. It has lots of twists and turns and there’s a big reveal just at the end that not many people would ever think of.

Our detective Jan may be a bit of a stereotype (and you’ll probably not going to like him), but the writing style gives the story a unique slant which brings it out of the ordinary crime genre.

Rating: ★★★ – I really enjoyed it!

  Read any good thrillers lately? Which ones are your favourite? Let me know, I’m looking for more now that I’ve got into it again.

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Yoga Camp Mantras: Day 1 | I accept

I’ve always struggled to listen to my physical body and give it all that it needs to be happy and healthy. I often feel disconnected from it and in my stuborness I refuse to accept that it contributes to how I feel. I do believe we need a deep connection between our bodies and mental state, as they’re feeding from each other so often. I’ve been looking for a way to exercise both at the same time, as I can’t help it but be bored when I’m only focusing on physical exercise. Until now, the only thing I’ve actually enjoyed has been yoga.

That’s why I’ve decided to combine a creativity exercise with a daily practice…for 30 days. I found Yoga with Adriene a couple of years ago and I (almost) finished the 30 days yoga challenge (I moved out of the country when I was at about day 20-something). I really enjoyed the energy of the channel and I think it’s about time I started to pay attention to it again.

Adriene’s new series of 30 videos started in Jan and it’s called Yoga Camp. What’s really cool is that each video/day/yoga session has a different mantra and the series is focused on waving together the mental with the physical.

This series of blogs is my response to that idea, my little contribution. I’ll write each post after I’ve done the yoga session, reflecting on the mantra, and hopefully, that will make me want to get on the mat more often. It won’t be 30 consecutive days, as I realise there’s so much going on right now that I don’t want this to be an extra stress, but rather an exercise in body, mind and spirit.

I accept

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What a wonderfully appropriate first mantra!

It’s so hard for me to start anything because I’m afraid it’s too late. It’s too late to get in shape, I haven’t done anything in so long. It’s too late for me to learn something new because if I want to be good at it, I should have started earlier. It’s too late to move somewhere else, because I haven’t learnt the language.

Continue reading “Yoga Camp Mantras: Day 1 | I accept”

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The Veracity Challenge | A world of adjectives

I discovered this challenge on Erika’s blog and I found it really exciting and difficult. So I had to do it, naturally. Writing without adjectives is something I thought I’d be good at. I’m a journalist, I’ve written news before and that’s supposed to be only facts. But when you’re writing from your imagination and creating a story line, you want to express so much through description. However, you can describe without adjectives – and I think great writers do that a lot. They create a feel and a vibe without using unnecessary language. It’s a skill I admire, so I had to give this one a shot.

RULES

  1. Write a paragraph without using a single adjective.
  2. Keep the link of the original Veracity Challenge in your post (so that the creator of the challenge may receive a pingback)
  3.  Anyone can join the challenge, you don’t have to be nominated!
  4.  Nominate 6 Bloggers for this challenge

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Practice makes perfect. Work and you will succeed. Go ahead and create your world. Look ahead and see what the universe has to offer. Never sleep, never dream, don’t look up from your path because distractions abound. Don’t get sidetracked by people, feelings, others’ decisions. But find a life, build a house, get a job. There’s a person out there who wants what you want and your paths will cross. They will live where you want, they will eat the food you cook and enjoy it, they will appreciate you when you clean the house or get the children to school. You will be in love…or not…but your life will succeed. You will work for hours, go on vacation where your friends or Cosmo tells you to, enjoy it like a caveman enjoys the rain. Grow old and have money to go to the supermarket. Grow old and regret everything. Grow old and despise your husband who stole your beauty, your years, your passion for life. Grow old and love your children but feel as if you’ve never known them. Grow old and regret.

Or ignore everything and do what you want. Go where your heart tells you to go. Live as if there are no rules. Laugh about tomorrow and enjoy the sunshine that is today.

Thank you, Mon, it was great mind-boggling trying to do this!

Here are my nominations:

  1. http://thoughtsontomes.wordpress.com
  2. http://susannevalenti.com/
  3. https://booksatdawn.wordpress.com
  4. http://bookaddictkels.wordpress.com
  5. https://bftreviews.wordpress.com
  6. https://cksreadingcorner.wordpress.com

…and anyone who’d like to do the challenge! I’d love to read more of these.

How did you think I did? Not sure right now. It was really hard 😀 Let me know how you find it. Until then…

🌟 Happy reading 🌟

Uncategorized

August Wrap-up | Books, films & love

As the month comes to a close with a brilliant bank holiday weekend, I wanted to look back and enjoy everything I loved this month. August started off quite harshly, it dragged for a while with lots of stress and disappointment. It got better and better though! And these bits and pieces got me through a rough time towards a new beginning in September.

Books

After not reading anything in June and July (crazy, I know), I finished five books in August.

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My favourite by far was Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and a review will be coming soon. However, it’s a hard book to dissect because it hits so close to home, examining the immigrant experience.

I didn’t enjoy Dark places as much as I did Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I was expecting a bit more darkness (although it has plenty, I got used to a certain standard from Flynn). However, I’ll still watch the film soon and maybe I’ll appreciate the story more when it’s visual.

Films

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These films made it to my all time favourites of the year for sure! I’m still thinking about them weeks after I watched them and that’s what you want from anything kind of entertainment you get.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Inside Out so I won’t go on about the premise, but the best bit about Pixar’s new release is the light it brings to mental health issues. It teaches kids (and adults) that it’s ok to recognise your feelings and put them out there. By having characters who represent those feelings, kids can talk about their state of mind much easily and that’s so important. Stigma is slowly going away and we can start having normal conversations about our mental health and how important and fragile it is.

Maybe you haven’t heard as much abot Pride (2014).  It’s a British comedy based on a true story about how the LGBT community helped the miners during their strike in the Thatcher era of 1984. Living in the UK (and studying journalism), I’ve learnt quite a bit about how politics work here, but this shone a new light for me on the Labour party and who it is supposed to represent. The film is great fun and really entertaining, but it also has a significant political message: groups should come together and help each other achieve what everyone wants.

Music

I love the dreamy state this song puts me in. The lyrics are open to interpretation, but my favourite idea is it’s about WWII (the bees are the Axis, the dirty paws are the US, the queen bee is Germany and the creatures of snow are Russia). If that interpretation’s true, then it shows how we can always tell old stories in new ways.

All in all, I had plenty of time for entertainment this month and chose to surround myself with what I thought would be thought provoking entertainment.

What did you enjoy most in August?

The summer’s ending but new beginnings are around the corner.

 🌟 Happy reading  🌟