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Every Vote Counts

With the election date nearing, all we seem to hear on the news these days is politics. Well, more than usual! I see convincing arguments for each electoral party (except maybe UKIP) all over my Facebook and Twitter news feed.

I’m more than happy to read each person’s views on opposing parties, but what I hate seeing is when people don’t want to vote. I often hear “my vote doesn’t count, what is the point in voting?” In my opinion, this is far from true. If 20,000 people decided not to vote then that is a large amount of people who had a chance to potentially change the way our country is run for the next few years.

One thing we must not forget is how lucky we are to be able to vote. So many countries do not have this ‘privilege’. People have died in our country in the fight for the right to vote (serious topic, but it rhymes), and many people are still dying in other countries to be part of a democracy. The more of us ‘younger generations’ that vote, the more the government will listen to what we need. This goes towards issues such as tuition fees, help finding a job or getting on the career ladder. I personally feel that rather than giving up and saying voting doesn’t matter, we should be encouraging people to look more into voting and why it matters.

If you are able to vote, I highly recommend making the effort to either go to your nearest polling station or register for postal vote. There are options for everyone. Even if you don’t agree with a political party, you can choose to vote ‘none’, which is recognised a lot more than not voting at all.

For more information, this link is extremely useful. I don’t mean to sound like I am preaching, I just want to encourage people to inform themselves on how they can make a difference. You don’t need to tell anyone who you vote for, or get into any political debates. Just go for who YOU think will benefit your life the most. We are all living in different circumstances and are all at different stages in our lives. Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote is wrong

Another useful link is: http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/register-to-vote/why-should-i-register-to-vote which also leads to a link to register to vote if you haven’t already. There’s only one more week left to register.

My next post will be a lot lighter, I promise. I just felt that this was an important topic to talk about.

Amy xo

If you know me quite well then you would know that for the past year I have been hardcore budgeting and saving money in order to fly off to South-East Asia for two months.

Well, I’m now back! I debated writing travel entries as I travelled, but I decided that I didn’t want to rush my stories just for the sake of posting. I truly had the trip of a lifetime and can’t wait to share my stories and travel tips!

I’m finally over the jet lag and will be updating regularly from now on with a mix of travel and lifestyle blogs.

I hope everyone had a great Easter. Mine was spent with family and lots of food – just how holidays should be!

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It’s been just over a year since I graduated with a 2:1 degree in Magazine Journalism and Feature Writing. Once the initial pride of my achievement had worn off, reality began to set in. What was I going to do with my life now? My ‘life plan’ so to speak had reached the end of its course. Obviously I didn’t expect my life just to end after university, but with the third year woes I hadn’t really set myself a plan for afterwards.

One thing I have always been passionate about is travel. I was very fortunate to go on nice holidays when I was younger. I travelled to Spain, Turkey, Germany, America, France, Holland and Greece. I always had the idea to experience different countries and cultures, but I never had a plan.

It wasn’t until I went on a university trip to China in 2013 that I well and truly caught the travel bug.

Summer Palace

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Once the time came to think about the future I decided that I had two options: To work towards my perfect job, or to save and go travelling. I know, you may think ‘why not do both?’ But I had such overwhelming feelings of wanderlust and ambition pulling at me in different directions. I decided I wanted to put my heart 100% into each goal separately.

So, my decision was made. I decided that if I landed my ‘dream job’ it would limit how long I was able to be away for. I wanted to get the travel bug out my system. Well, quench some of the thirst anyway…

Now I am only thirteen days away from the trip of a lifetime! Over a year of planning, scrimping and many tears. It feels almost surreal that this is really happening now. But I will go into detail about the trip on another post.

My advice for those who are desperate to travel is GO FOR IT. Once you get a taste for adventure and experiencing new places, it will be hard to let go. Get the big trips out your system now, have fun and be free.

Amy xo

Apologies

Apologies for the lack of posts. I tried using a different website for a while but did not get on with it as well as this one. So… I am back! I am going to be regularly posting from now on, so please let me know what you would like to see.

Amy xo

eReader or Physical Book?

With 2013 around the corner, will you be converting to an eReader or sticking with a traditional book?

Imagine sitting on a beach miles away from home reading the book you had bought months back but had forgotten about. As you laugh your way through each page, you look over at your partner and they are downloading a copy of the book to join in on the humour. With a new book available to download in minutes, is the future of books looking electronic?

There are many different views both for and against the development of online books, but sales seem to be speaking for themselves. Amazon has reported that sales of eBooks have thrashed those of paperbacks and hardbacks combined. So, with the sales of books decreasing does this mean the ‘old-fashioned’ novel will eventually become extinct?

Technology enthusiast, Michael Smith, 30, loves the new developments: “I prefer eBooks to physical books because it seems more interactive – you can highlight extracts without making any permanent changes. I am limited for storage space at home so it’s good that I can store an entire library of books on one device and have them with me all the time.”

Charlotte Muir, 21, also agrees that eBooks are the way forward: “They’re convenient, accessible and easy to use – anyone and everyone can use one. I prefer it to a book because it seems less of a challenge. When you have it in book form you can physically see how long it is and how much more you have to read. They are lightweight too, which is ideal for travelling, but it will never be to everyone’s taste.”

While the eBook is convenient space-wise as you can pack it away in a small space or tuck it under your arm when dashing for the tube, can having the physical can ever be beaten when scouring the shelves of a library or book shop? ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a saying that people rarely pay attention to when exploring the shelves. Without the excitement of holding a brand new book and finding the perfect story call out to you from the shelves, is half the excitement of buying a new book is gone?

Natasha Wimberley, 18, is against the rise in popularity of eBooks: “I like having the words in a book, everything today is so modern and on a screen. The Historian in me loves having the words in its original form, and with emotional books you quite often find tears in them. I love the way an old book looks and smells”

Stories are an adventure where the reader can feel personally involved in a different world with the turn of a page. Reading the words off a screen and not having the thrill of the paper flicking through your fingers as the story becomes more enticing can be seen as injustice to the author.

The Kindle is environmentally friendly as it doesn’t use hundreds of pages of paper and eBooks can be merely deleted when unwanted and finished with. However, physical books don’t pose the risk of running out of battery when the story gets gripping.

Chiara Stone who works at the bookshop Hoobynoo World says the shop has seen a change in sales: “Sales have definitely changed! There has been a distinct downturn in book sales. So much so that Waterstones will now be selling Kindles. Children’s books aren’t affected because they don’t really own them. “

While there are inevitably many different arguments for and against eBooks, everybody has different preferences. Book sales are unavoidably going to keep dropping, but it’s unlikely that the tradition of a regular paper book is going to be discarded in a hurry either. The biggest question this coming year will be: convenience or tradition?

 

I’m still here!

Just a quick post to say that I am still alive, and there will be more posts coming soon! Third year of uni is crazy at the moment,  need to sharpen my time management skills.

As the generation that has grown up alongside enormous technological advances, is it any surprise that we have more confidence in speaking through an electronic device, rather than face-to-face?

Conversations that we would have had face-to-face ten years ago, we can now have hidden behind a screen. It could be argued that technology now plays an important part of our everyday lives. If there’s a situation we’re wary about dealing with personally, we can now resort to an email, text or even writing it on a social networking site.

Relying on electronic communication makes it easier to avoid awkward situations, but this constant hiding can have a lasting effect. While it might be easier to not deal with our emotions in person, it can have repercussions on your ability to deal with social interaction.

Psychologist, Deborah Smith says: “The effect [of technology] on everyday life is that there is less face to face interaction or chatting on the phone which is more personal than on a site.  The overuse of these sites can affect people’s social skills and ability to relate when in direct contact with people – [for example] they may have less awareness of non-verbal cues.”

In days before technology was such a priority in our lives, people would meet up and spend hours catching up with the good, the bad and the funny sides of recent events. This still occurs, but it’s not unusual for people to tell a story, only to be interrupted by a friend saying that they have already seen it on Twitter or Facebook.

Official Facebook statistics say that there are over 800 million active users, with 50% of these people logging onto their account everyday. This is a lot of people who rely on social networking as a part of their daily routine.

While online communication has big benefits, like being able to share photos, connect with friends who have lost contact, and keep up to date with news, it is still a good idea to go out and speak to people in person. Knowing that you can say whatever you want hidden behind technology makes real life situations such as job interviews harder to deal with.

Being able to confront someone electronically and not see their reaction makes it easier for you to say what you really want, whereas in person the likelihood is that you’d probably avoid the situation. However, when it comes to a time when you have to deal with an awkward moment face-to-face, it is likely that your confidence skills will be considerably lower.

When speaking to someone through writing you can think more rationally about what you want to say, but then any attempts at humour or sarcasm can be missed when written in plain black and white. Where is the fun in a conversation when you have to work so hard to understand everything?

Former hairdresser, Tracy Sandford has seen first-hand the differences that technology has had on her daughter, Hannah, 18:

“Hannah always has to be watching her phone 24/7. If someone doesn’t text her back immediately she thinks that they have fallen out with her. Social media gives people the need to know exactly what everyone else is doing, and if you’re not a part of it you feel left out.

“If Hannah wants pocket money, or to ask if she can go out with her friends she will send me a text, even if we are both in the house – the same room even. I’m her mother, not a stranger but she is losing the confidence to do things in person if there is a chance of rejection because it’s easier to be embarrassed behind a screen.”

She continues:

“It seems that it has become so easy to correspond with another person by tapping on a keyboard or keypad that facing someone and having even the simplest of conversations with them has become daunting. Hannah gets horrified at the thought of ringing a family friend to thank them for a birthday present, but if she could tap out a few letters and press send she wouldn’t see the issue.”

Tracy has noticed that there is a trend in people creating a different persona when they don’t have to deal with confrontation:

“I’ve found it’s not just Hannah, but people in general embellish the truth when they don’t have to deal with the consequences face-to-face. People like to seem more interesting, even to people they have never met. To me it seems that some people may be using these technologies to hide behind and give them false confidence. It’s very easy to say things this way that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. “

An emotional intelligence coach and blogger at Future Mind Training, Paul Ryder, has been looking at the effect technology has on our confidence and relationships: “7% of what we communicate is words, 37% is roughly tone of voice, and then the rest is body language. So obviously through the internet and text you can’t see what their body language is saying. I think it’s quite damaging, personally.”

Paul predicts trouble in the future if we continue to rely on technology:

“When it comes down to the internet I think it’s a way that we can hide, but eventually life will throw us something we have to deal with. But if were not trained for it we’re in a lot of trouble. The internet is like a drug now. I went into an office the other day and they all scurry around dressed in black, head down, hiding on their phones. So they can’t look at everyone else.

“I think the world we live in now the majority of people hide away in the internet. I think what I would do is actually go to their level of the internet and text. My goal is to create a website, a portal that people can go to and educate them where to go now.”

It is important that we still find time to maintain relationships on a face-to-face basis. If there’s a situation that could be dealt with in person then we need to make an effort and build our confidence. If we carry on relying on an electronic device to speak for us we could find ourselves with reduced confidence skills, resulting in lower prospects from years of allowing technology to take a hold of our lives.

A high price…

Browsing the internet I came across an unusual ebay auction going ahead…

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/170772427515?ssPageName=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649#ht_500wt_1287 

The seller has put up for auction a teabag that they supposedly dropped on the floor where the tea leaves allegedly formed the shape of the famous actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Alongside the tea bag there is a post-it note with a drawing of the picture the leaves formed.

When I clicked on the auction I noticed that the current bidding price was £1000, which I thought was ridiculous. However, after 10 minutes the auction had gone up to £150,000!

Despite the numerous questions about how legitimate the claim is, the biggest one on my mind is “Why would someone pay that much for a teabag?!”.

Society is odd at times…

Hello to another year

I’m not really a big fan of celebrating new year, although I like the fact that it’s an opportunity to start afresh. Some could argue that you could make resolutions any time of the year which is true, but a brand new year seems almost like a fresh slate. At the end of the year, you could look back and say “In 2012, I achieved…”

I didn’t see in the year like I expected, but it was still a good night and I wouldn’t have changed it. I have decided this is the year to be more optimistic. Soo here are some of my resolutions for the year:

1. Join the gym

Joining the gym may seem like your cliche beginning of the year resolution. Most people who join the gym tend to do so around new year, wanting to burn off the Christmas calories and look good for the summer, and most people don’t continue to go after the first couple of months. However, before I went to uni I used to go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week and really enjoyed it. At the time I didn’t appreciate how much excersise I was doing until I look back now and realise that I actually used to do quite a lot. As well as cardio and numerous situps, I used to do weights and ended up being pretty strong (nowhere near a bodybuilder though haha). Although this time I aim to keep away from the weights, I will do a bit just to try and tone up, although my area of focus is my bum, tum and legs. I am joining a 24 hour gym on Tuesday and I’m really excited!

2. Save up £1000 for my gap year.

Over the summer of 2011 I worked fulltime and managed to save enough money for my ideal round the world ticket. I’ve been looking into travelling for over a year now, and it’s definately something I want to do after I graduate. I have found the round the world ticket that suits my needs and now I have the money for that, I need to save towards accommodation and spending money. I’m not delusional I know I’ll need way more than £2400, but a start is a start. I plan to hopefully work back at the same place over summer and to be better at my saving as I earned way more than I saved but it went towards rent and pointless things such as clothes. I’m going to work full time from the end of my 3rd year of uni until graduation, and if I manage to save enough I will fly out after Christmas 2013 🙂 I don’t mind waiting a bit longer as long as I get the trip I have so carefully planned 🙂

3. Get more work experience.

To be able to have a fighting chance in succeeding in the journalism field I need a lot of work experience. I have some lined up for next week, but I’m going to need to put my fears aside and beg magazines and newspapers for any type of work!

4. Lose 1/2 a stone.

I managed to lose some weight towards the end of 1st year, but it wasn’t intentional I just somehow had a smaller appetite and lost quite a bit of weight. I was surprised at what a difference just 7lbs made to my figure but I really liked it. Coming home over summer to a job with free food, and the comforts of home cooked food made me quickly put the weight back on. I know it’s going to be difficult to lose weight but I’m hoping tied in with the gym, my goal might be a little easier to achieve.

5. Read more.

I used to read so much. I love being caught up in another world and being so intrigued by a story that I stay awake until the early hours of the morning, unable to put my book down. I have about 10 books I want to read stacked ontop of my wardrobe at uni so I want to get through them by Easter so then I can buy some new ones.

6. Stop taking things to heart.

I’m the type of annoying person who thinks that if someone is down that it is because of me. I want to help people I care about, but sometimes people are quite rude to me, or do rude things and I take it really personally. Obviously sometimes I do annoy people, or things are my fault but I take to heart the fact that people sometimes just have an attitude problem. So I want to become thicker skinned and let them deal with their attitude issues themselves. 

7. Put more effort into uni work.

This isn’t really a new resolution as such. Last term I was proud of the fact that I managed to complete all my university work days before it was due in, and I had put a considerable amount of effort in too. I haven’t got my grades back yet, so for all I know it could have been appalling quality – but let’s hope not!

8. Find a talent/hobby!

There are quite a few things I’m interested in persuing so hopefully this year I will get off my bum and try them out! I really want to become a decent cook. I want to explore different recipes and ingredients, but I have no idea where to start really. I have a vague idea though, so I think I’ll start out simple! When I was younger I took part in swimming, ballet and tap and was selected to be part of special ‘gifted and talented’ classes at school. When I went on to college I had low confidence so didn’t persue anything, I just kept to myself. It wasn’t until 3rd year of college when I joined the student union that I realised I really liked being part of a team and organising events – it made me feel like I had a purpose. I’ve always liked raising money for charity, and although that isn’t a talent it is something I want to continue to do. I used to enjoy 200m and once considered joining the Olympiads – an athletics team in my town and was asked to join but never bothered to. So, I’ve decided I need to stop being lazy and worrying about what could happen and just try out new things.

9. Sort my mind out.

This resolution pretty much explains itself. There’s some things that I worry will happen, and I have to stop worrying about whether they will or not because it doesn’t get me anywhere. And on the other hand, there’s some things I want really badly to happen, and I need to stop hoping for it if I’m not going to do anything about it.

10. Go abroad.

I’m hopefully going to Tenerife with a friend but not really sure if that will end up happening. Hopefully. But either way I really just want to go SOMEWHERE!

11. Blog more.

Voila 😉

Biased Blogging?

Whenever somebody puts their self in the public eye whether it be in front of the camera of behind, there will always be people who disapprove. However, it is how you deal with this attention that helps you generate the majority of positive or negative attention that comes with it.

The website www.teenmomtalk.com always manages to stir up a lot of controversy between the subject of blog posts and the people who read them. Run by blogger Heather Clouse, the site claims to ‘squash rumours and feed your curiosity’, talking about the mothers and fathers from the hit T.V shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.

 To give Heather credit, Teen Mom Talk certainly does feed the curiosity. I for one regularly check up for new gossip on the website. Although I don’t agree with Heather’s way of going about stories, I find some of the things she has to say amusing. The comments from the regular readers also amuse me. Although there is the point that if you don’t agree with the site then you should just not bother reading it, I personally come back for an element of entertainment.

However, recently I’ve started to become quite annoyed. It’s been known for a while that Heather has ‘befriended’ the girls from the shows in order to gain stories and claims to know a lot more about them then she publishes. Okay, fair enough. It was probably the wrong idea for the girls to tell whatever information they had to someone who they have never met and is obviously writing daily about their lives.

The thing that gets to me most is the clear bias in the ‘articles’. Obviously, the girls Heather writes about shouldn’t do the negative things they do – if they didn’t there wouldn’t  be a story for her to write about. But the thing is, there is more stories then she lets on. For example, on the Daily Mail website today there were pictures of Kailyn Lowry kissing a guy that clearly isn’t Jordan. Although we don’t know who Kailyn is actually dating at this moment in time, it’s still a story. We can be sure if it was a story published about one of the girls Heather didn’t get on with then it would be on Teen Mom Talk in no time.

I think if somebody is claiming to be a reporter or even a gossip blogger, then they should publish every story. Not just show the negative ones about the people they don’t personally get on with.

Heather has recently been publically feuding with Teen Mom 2 star, Jenelle Evans. As a ‘professional’ she should rise above it and let Jenelle dig herself into a hole, while still remaining unbiased. Although she claims she isn’t, the stories and tone she writes in make it clear there is some sort of conflict reflected in her writing. She is negative about Jenelle going back to now ex-boyfriend Keiffer, but she makes no personal opinions about Chelsea Houska continuously going back to ex-boyfriend Adam. Although the two situations are different, they are still going back to their bad-boy ex’s.

Heather’s live Twitter feeds during episodes of Teen Mom are positive towards the other girls, but negative towards Jenelle. The story written in Heather’s recap seems to change from the story actually told in the show. Heather makes out Jenelle presses charges against Keiffer for the night she initiated a fight, but in Teem Mom Jenelle herself makes it clear numerous times that it’s because of a different fight shown off-screen.

 Kailyn takes her mother’s television when she moves out of the house on the quiet. She makes a comment acknowledging that her mother wouldn’t like her to take the T.V, but she still does so. If Jenelle had done this, I’m quite sure there would be a comment about her taking it without permission.

On a last note, we see a preview of a later episode where Kailyn cheats on her boyfriend at the time, Jordan. If one of the girls in Heather’s favour had been cheated on then that would be a different story.

Farrah Abraham recently caused controversy over a tweet aimed at Kourtney Kardashian’s news that she was expecting. Although Farrah in all fairness worded herself the wrong way, the message wasn’t as rude as people thought she had intended. After explaining herself, it turned out Farrah had the right intentions with her Tweet. Instead of appealing to find the real reason, or even publishing what Farrah ACTUALLY meant after it was explained, Heather just wrote negative articles and Tweets about Farrah, even going as far as to refer to Farrah’s actions as ‘douchebaggery’. Wow.

There are articles about Corey Simms, Ryan Edwards and Leah Messer getting new partners, but for the record Farrah is also seeing someone 🙂 A bit of information that was left out from the TMT website (unless I am wrong, in which case I apologise).

I didn’t mean to go on so much of a rant, and underneath the bias of the articles I do enjoy getting regular updates. But I somebody claiming to be ‘reporting’ should be a bit more ethical and put personal issues aside to cater to the large amount of readers that constantly go to the website. Heather has potential to gain a lot of credibility, but I think she is using it in the wrong ways.

For rumour clear-ups of Amber Portwood’s recent run in with the law, then it might be worth checking out Shawn Portwood’s blog. A very good read: http://shawn-portwood.blogspot.com/