Final year

Final year is in full swing. I feel so old all of a sudden. Why are there so many freshers around? They’re all so small and dress so weirdly…argh, it’s making me feel ancient 😦 On the plus side, I had an eventful first two weeks back in the UK (and a third not so eventful one). The first was spent working, a mere five days after I had landed back in the UK – most of the week was spent recovering from being ill though. I spend three months in America and am totally fine but when I get home I get ill. Typical. Work was fine though. I was a team leader this time which was interesting, there’s a bit more responsibility than the others but it wasn’t too much extra. Although one day I got a phone call at 10.30pm when the two working the late shift didn’t know what to do with the box (it has the phone and other important stuff in) but we eventually got a solution. That was on the second day too, my first day as the leader…

The second week was officially freshers and I missed it because one of my best friends from school and I booked a holiday to Disneyland Paris. We had been with school about four and a half years ago and decided to go back and be children again, now that we’re ‘adults’. I’m going to do an entire post on it as we did a lot of stuff.

I still have posts about America to do and put up the photos – I took a lot of them, my friend took over 100 photos in 14 days when she went to Hong Kong but I took that many alone in Boston when I was there for 2 days! (They’re not all good though, only the good ones made the cut to the flickr album :P)

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Boston!

The past two days have been spent in Boston as they were my last two days off before I leave here. I really really wanted to go and see the Red Sox (which I have done and bought the cap and hoodie!) so convinced a girl at work to go with me. We both had such an awesome time! There is virtually no baseball in the UK (there’s cricket but that’s not the same, at all). Nearly everyone has heard of baseball but no one really knows how it’s played or anything like that but I wasn’t too lost when we went. It took a long time though, we didn’t leave until after 11pm! The atmosphere was crazy though, and it’s something I won’t forget. We also visited Chinatown and I got food which was like something my auntie would make. It was yummy. We also went on a trolley tour around Boston and saw most of the sights, we went past MIT and we went on a harbour cruise too which was fun. I’m pretty sure nearly every city I go to that has a cruise I have been on it, I don’t know why but I always end up on them. Another boat passed ours and made waves, as in actual waves. The boat was rocking and some people sat down because it was making them queasy. I also finally tried a lobster roll and the meat was sooo good. Didn’t need the bread roll or the salad, I would have been happy with just the lobster. We went to Quincy Market and bought some touristy souvenirs and we took a lot of photos in the past two days. A lot. I must have taken over a hundred!

On top of that, after I finish work here I’m hoping to go visit some family in Atlanta who are then going to drive to Orlando the weekend that I’ll be visiting. Roadtrip time! 

It’s getting closer to going home, and two of my roommates have already left! It’s all very strange to hear everyone talking about what they’ll be doing when they’re back home and where they’re going to travel after they finish work. I’ve met a ton of great people (and not so great) but it’s been an awesome experience. I’ve gotten better at navigating (airports as well as places, we didn’t have a very good map in Boston) and surviving on public transport in a place where it’s virtually non-existent and walking everywhere even though it’s a little far and everyone tells me I’m crazy and should get a bike. I’ve gotten better at being able to talk to new people because I came here on my own and knew nobody, absolutely nobody. I met people who are from my university and even my homecity but I didn’t come here knowing them. I had to find them myself and start all over again, which I haven’t had to do since freshers week so it’s been good. I needed this. I needed to leave home for a bit and see the world, and also see how well I’d survive here without anyone and to see how everyone at home survived without me. It’s been pretty hard on my sister, she’s definitely missed me the most and this is the longest we’ve been apart (it used to be the three weeks I spent in China but this definitely tops that) and even though I lived in halls for the first year of university, I was only a bus ride away and not across the Atlantic Ocean. I hope it’s made her stronger too, she’s had a lot to cope with over the summer, being ill, getting a job, learning how to drive and generally surviving without her (awesome) big sister. She also has done pretty well on her AS-Levels so I’m proud of her for that too 😀 now I just have to motivate her to get herself in gear for applying to university.

This time next week I should be in Atlanta with my family. Here’s to my last two weeks here!

Let’s go to the beach beach…?

I’ve been here for nearly nine weeks now, and have just under three until I go back home and honestly, I can’t wait to go back home.

I’ve been working for eight and a half weeks and it’s been…interesting. Orientation (which was training) was very long and a bit tedious, as is most training and then I had another day of food and beverage specific training which was a bit more interesting as it related a bit more to what I do. I serve food at the beach, or at the pools which can be fun, and spending all day at the beach is fun. I have a nice tanline too! Which proves to everyone that I know that I CAN tan and I’m pretty dark too. Even the girls I work with think I’m getting dark! Although lately I’ve been working at the pools so my tan is fading a little, will have to go to the beach and top it up at somepoint.

Housing…housing…To be frank, it’s not great. I feel like I’m overpaying compared to some other people, which is annoying but I can’t do anything about it as there’s nowhere else to go and the landlady is very nice…I know for next year though, and I hope that HR sorts it out for next year so that other people know what they’re getting into. Housing in general for a lot of people is one of the main things that might stop them from coming back here next year, and probably the monotony of the job (and the small town atmosphere). I will give advice to anyone who has any questions about J-1 visas and will help to the best of my ability! I’ve been through all of the paperwork at the embassy, social security, bank accounts and travelling for insane amounts of time (probably not but it feels like a long time to me).

The people I work with are mostly nice, I’m the only English person working in the cabanas. There are (was) one American (he left for another job a few weeks ago), three Macedonians, three Bulgarians and two Jamaicans. Our supervisor is from Haiti but she’s been living here for the past 10 years so I’m not sure if she’s American or Haitian? Anyway, we all get along relatively well except two of them can get very bossy when we don’t have a supervisor around. It’s a little annoying but one of them might be in trouble because he insulted a guest in his own language, but one of the other guests could understand him and I think he’s getting reprimanded for that. I don’t know for sure what’s going on but he’s still working, his girlfriend is nice though. She said she enjoys working with me because we are both chilled out and not bossy, I don’t order her around and she doesn’t order me around. We have a new Romanian guy and one new Macedonian girl who work occasionally because they don’t have enough hours but they’re nice enough. It can get hectic at the beach sometimes, and even though we have 4 of us, there aren’t enough but hopefully there will be 5 at the weekends to ease the pressure a little. We also got into trouble because we haven’t been going around to take orders and the guests have to call us to order anything which they aren’t used to. If they haven’t noticed that there are only 4 of us but only 3 can serve at once and when it’s low tide the beach can span a pretty big area, even for 3 of us. I don’t know the guest for sure, I don’t think I’ve had to serve them but my supervisor is on our side and said we go around and do our work. Our manager (who’s head of food and beverage) says that he sees us working when he visits and when it’s low tide he thinks that doesn’t help because of the vast distance. It annoys me but I can’t do anything about it. Next week I’m working at the pools for 4 days which is good because I prefer the pools to the beach so hopefully the problems will be sorted out and I won’t get into anymore trouble because I did well on Friday at the pool. Good cash and good cash tips so they shouldn’t have much to complain about me. I hope.

I’ve been to the mall twice now. The first time I went was a few weeks ago but everyone had been and it took me 5 weeks to finally go. I went with a girl from work and bought some new shoes for myself 😀 they’re galaxy print and so cool, I’ve never seen them at home before. I’m going back to buy another pair of a different design because they’re cheaper and they have better designs here 😀 my friend bought work shoes and we went to McDonald’s for lunch. I got a habanero ranch quarter pounder which was really, really hot and it felt like I was on fire. I’m tempted to get it again…there was strawberry fanta which was nice mixed with sprite. Why isn’t there strawberry fanta in the UK? And for that matter, why isn’t there Minute Maid lemonade in the UK? It’s so nice!

I have also started to appreciate the public transport system back home too. It’s cheaper here which is nice, it costs $2 and you can go to a different town which is hours away but the buses only run once every hour so if you miss it…that’s it. At home there’s at least one every half an hour which I’m too used to so I hate waiting around for the buses. I end up going to Starbucks and drinking something whilst I wait for the bus. Last saturday I went to the bank and met one of the employees from the place I work and we became friends almost instantly. It was really funny but it’s a small town here so it’s easy to run into people who I work with (and the resort is very big, they have hundreds of employees during the summer) but I’ve never met before. He was telling me about himself and we then met another one of his friends on the bus on the way back. Small world!

On top of my work/travelling/experiencing America I have stuff to do for university too which is due fairly soon. I need to sort out some things for work in September plus choose my modules for next year which is a bit scary because it’ll be my final year! Most of my friends have graduated this year, which I missed because I’m in America but it’s nice and sad to see their photos on Facebook and see that they’re growing up and moving on with their lives. That’ll be me next year (hopefully!).

Finally, here are some of the photos I have taken in the past nine weeks. There are a lot of food and other strange things I’ve seen here. It will be updated soon once I filter through all the pictures.

Summer begins

I finally landed in Boston yesterday after 12 hours of travelling and then had another 2 hour coach ride AND then had another hour before I actually arrived at my host house.

The layover in Paris was interesting. I had just enough time to find the next gate because I had to get a metro/train thing but had to change which no one was aware of.

The flight from Paris to Boston was good though because the seat next to me was empty so I could stretch and relax. The seat felt pretty big too or I’ve just been on small airplanes for most of my life. Food was fine, got fed every few hours so that was nice 😀

I had a look around the town today and a quick wander into Orleans which is nearby. It’s raining pretty heavily though so I feel like I’m still at home! Apparently it’s sunny at home too!

 

 

2013 becomes 2014

The new year came around and like my family do every year, we stayed up late to watch the fireworks and had toast/bread with cheese and pate. We’ve been doing that since the millennium…when I think the fireworks/tv coverage went on longer than the usual 12.10am and my dad got hungry, so he ate some toast and it’s become a tradition now.

The day itself was spent studying/revising and watching The Adjustment Bureau. It was a pretty good film, my dad even gave it 4.5/5 which is really good. He said the concept had been used before, and bits of it felt like Men in Black (the mind erasing, the guys in suits, no sunglasses though) but it was still good. I liked how he (Matt Damon) learnt how to use the doors, that was really cool. It would probably take awhile to learn where each door goes but once you got the hang of it you could get to places in mere minutes. If you had the hat, of course.

Looking back on 2013, it was probably one of my worst years. It’s possible that it was the worst year so far, but I’m not that old so I don’t know how long that would last.

Yes, some great stuff happened last year, I got to go to Beijing on the Study China Program which was incredible, it was such an amazing experience and I don’t regret going. I regret not doing more revision beforehand…and for taking a 70-50 credit split, that was a bad idea. I also got to spend a week at a bank (no names) and learnt more about banking and met some great people who are going to go far and I hope they stay contacts for the future. I didn’t get the internship after though, and I’ve just about managed to convince myself that I don’t want to do banking anymore, some of the people on the program weren’t people I’d want to work with for the rest of my life.

I’ve also had 5 job rejections (so far), three of which were based on my group work skills and one of them was the final stage so I was really, really annoyed. I had a good rant about that with one of my friends (and an earlier blog post).

So the good things this year? I met some new people, one of whom is becoming a really good friend, really quickly. I also got a car! So that was pretty sweet. I spent a week helping international students move in and made a new friend, who does maths and just gets me. Hopefully I can find a way to do it again next year because I really enjoyed it this year, but maybe I’d want a different role. There’s only so many bags I can handle in one day 😛 I got some great Christmas presents from my sister, who totally gets me and my crazy obsession with Disney at the moment.

Anytime with my friends from school is good, and we spent a lot of time together over summer because friendships do change, and I am starting to notice it more now than ever. If I weigh up the things, yeah, the bad definitely outweigh the good but I’ve had a ton of learning experiences and I need to use those bad ones to make good ones later on in life. 

I have decided this year to do some new things. I’m thinking of doing an abseil in March from the top of the velodrome with RAG (Raise and Give), the sponsorship is only £100 and it looks like fun. I really love abseiling…just jumping from stuff in general. Two of my friends and I are going to start learning how to rock climb in February too, after exams are over so then we can go by ourselves in the future and actually know what we’re doing. I’m also looking for a new orchestra to join, I haven’t been to an orchestra practice in ages and it’d be an interesting way to meet new people and not forget how to play the violin. I can just about still read music and remember where all of the notes are so that should be enough. I also want to swim more this year, do something incredible over summer, potentially make it to 4th kyu (orange belt) in Aikido, learn how to scuba dive, learn how to ice skate, learn parkour…so many things, so little time 😦 My friend from uni has 52 things he wants to do in 52 weeks, but some will be done in less than week or he’ll do a few in one week but as long as he gets them all done he’ll be happy. I can’t even think of 20 things to do, nevermind 52!

So that aside, happy (late) new year and here’s to 2014!

Two rejections and a rant :/

Week 9 has felt like one of the more hectic weeks. I had a breakfast thing on Tuesday for the tutoring agency that I work for which was nice, might take on some more assignments and I met a girl who tutors and is on my course, and works at the same school that I do! Weird, huh? This was all before a 9am lecture so we had literally 5 minutes to get breakfast, pick up some leaflets and say a quick thank you to the girl who had organised it.

I had an assessment centre on Wednesday for a graduate job, which I failed 😦 I didn’t contribute enough in the group work, and got interrupted and backed down too easily which they didn’t like. I aced the tests and report though, so if I did get the job my work would have been amazing but maybe the others did well on those parts too and the group work but I’ll never know. I was pretty bummed out about it though, I was so close to a job. So close :/ I also had an interview on the same day in the afternoon for a different company which I passed and went to the assessment centre today which was pretty tough. I hope I did well though, I really want to work for this company, the guy interviewing me (on Wednesday, he was also one of the assessors today) was so nice and the office is much nicer (and in a better location) so hopefully all will go well. The interview itself was really chilled out though, we were talking about how I promote my university to 16/17 year olds and what I say, he seemed to find it really interesting for some reason, and the work I do at open days and John Lewis! (it was a question about client service and we just talked about John Lewis for a good 5 minutes). We also talked about my tutoring and the weather (as all British people do) and the bus, which was a weird thing to end on but yeah, he was nice and it was one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve ever had in my life, possibly because I knew I would pass. I had a phone call on Tuesday saying that there was an assessment centre for the company on Monday so could I have my interview before then and I naively said yes, sure, Wednesday around 4 is good for me, pushing back the thought of the assessment centre I had in the morning…I get the feeling that someone dropped out last minute and I just happened to appear and be a good person to fill their space. Their loss if that’s the case! My friend is in the same boat, he got rejected from the first company too because of the group work and we both ranted about how we hate it and why is it so important and why is there always one person who dominates which screws you over. He’s also got the assessment centre for the second company but not until next Friday! I think they called him earlier in the week regarding it, but he had his first interview in October! He’s waited nearly a month for this assessment centre, I hope we both get it. It’d be cool to work with someone I know, and this company seems nicer than the previous one. So I had an assessment centre for that company yesterday. It wasn’t too bad, the group exercise was slightly better as everyone wasn’t so cut throat but I think I didn’t include everyone enough so…the in-tray just had loads of information, some of it irrelevant so we had to decide what was and wasn’t needed. Then we had to draft a letter and mine was quite short compared to the others. The presentation wasn’t too bad, she asked some tough questions but I thought I answered them pretty well (obviously not) and we had a general chat too. She was very nice, as was the partner who interviewed me afterwards (it’s all lies, I see it now. It’s all fake, all that hammering on about client service and personal relationships, screw them!). We spent the full hour allotted to talk, even after we had finished the competency questions, we were just talking about life and Manchester in general. He also asked about other companies and what he would need to say to get me to accept the offer at his company, so I thought that was a good sign (Clearly it wasn’t) The other guy I spoke to on the way home got asked the same thing so hopefully it’s all good, I think there are two spots so we could have both gotten it. Lunch was good too, chatting to some of the trainees and what they do/don’t like about the company, they were all quite jokey/banterous with each other too, and I mentioned that in my interviews, saying that it was nice to be part of an office where people felt like they had a good enough relationship to make jokes with each other (but it isn’t going to happen now). The partner was really nice, I thought he genuinely liked me (but no, he didn’t), he said my answers were satisfying (is that good though? No, it’s not) and he said one of them was quite honest and genuine (I was just being me…) so I hope he gives me good feedback! (apparently not…) I genuinely enjoyed that interview though (not anymore, going to hate on that company for a long, long time). Well I found out today that I didn’t get it, and I was really upset about it, because this was the last stage and I was literally competing with 2 other guys (they had 2 spots I think) which was a major bummer and blow to my self-esteem. I got feedback though and they were being really picky, as if they were trying to find reasons for not wanting to hire me. I apparently didn’t know why I wanted to join the company (I did, but let’s face it, in this climate even if I really want to work at a certain company, the people who want it the most tend to not get the job at the end of the day so why bother setting your heart on a company when they’re just going to reject you anyway? The people who usually get it don’t always want to work at that company, it’s just that this is their only job offer, and right now us graduates/final years will take just about anything) and in the group exercise I didn’t give enough of my own ideas which I did disagree with on the phone, casually saying that maybe my assessor missed it as I made my contributions, but it was hard since everyone agreed and you can’t just bring up any old idea (I think a rubbish one is worse than no idea, why would I waste the other people’s time by saying something stupid/irrelevant/obvious? That wouldn’t happen in the real world, I’d get laughed at or pitied on or something). We had an intray exercise too and apparently I did solidly but could have built a better relationship and used some of the numbers…right, because if I get that job I will get an hour to read a bunch of information and send a letter to a client, when I haven’t even started and have no technical knowledge whatsoever. Very logical. I’m pretty sure in real life you’d get more time to do it, and you could talk to other people too and have a basic idea of what to do and how important it was. The presentation feedback was that I should have dug deeper and tried to understand what the company does…I know what they do, I read the website and interpreted it but I guess that didn’t come across very well. I can’t imagine that in real life they would do presentations that often, they work in tax…they hardly deal with clients (not like audit who are out all of the time) so is it a big deal? Do they have to be salespeople too? Don’t they have people for that? Maybe they should hire people for that. Sorry for my rambly thoughts, I’m just very annoyed at the moment, I know that I would have fitted in well, I’m not the perfect candidate but I know I could do the job. This sounds terrible, but I hope they don’t fill the vacancies and realise they were being mean to me (and the other guy who I assume didn’t get it as he spoke even less than I did…) and we could do the job. My dad said to not take it too personally and move on, or maybe that the world is trying to tell me to give up on accountancy and try a different career path. I guess I’m just annoyed at how out of touch (or so it seems to me) the recruitment people are, do they know anything about university students and what we’re like and how we’ve changed in the past couple of years? Do they even care? I should go into recruitment to see the other side of the story, and to get an idea of how they think and how it doesn’t align with what we think. I’m starting to feel like the culture/values they have are just a load of bs to suck you in, sure, they followed the values to a point and I even told the partner that they were doing that but now, I feel like they’ve just played me. Me and the other candidates (at most 2 of the others got it) and actually they are just as bad as the big companies for stringing us along so far only to shut the door in our faces. I hope you crash and burn! (unless my friend gets a job there, in which case they can wait until he qualifies before they burn) I haven’t ranted this much before in my life, two rejections in less than a week is taking its toll on me. Why do I have to decide now what I want to do? I’m not that old, jeez, I’m barely two decades old and already need a job for the rest of my life. I totally understand the travellers and people searching for ‘wanderlust’ as it gives you a bit more time to be a kid/young adult before life screws you over. I don’t know if having nice assessors makes rejection worse or not, as you feel like they didn’t try to trip you up but given my feedback they were just looking for flaws…lesson learnt, don’t trust the nice ones, they will also screw you over :/ Alright, rant over. I’m back to my calm self. When I was tutoring on Thursday, one of the boys was doing A grade questions and I couldn’t help him :/ I’ll have to explain it properly to him next time, he sort of got the hang of the concepts, but got confused with the plus and minus signs. The other boy started on D grade questions and moved up to an A grade one which we’re going to go through next time, I felt so proud that I’d helped him get that far. He realised it was fairly easy and that he could do those questions, contrary to what he thought at the beginning when he said ‘I’ll just do the easy ones’. Go me! And go him! This is what I love about tutoring, making kids feel smart and giving them the confidence that they can do it, and they can do it well. Even if it’s just one topic he’s better at, it gives him a confidence boost for everything else so hopefully he can get his B/C grade at the end of the year (or even A, who knows?) I got a mid term back, which I only got 13/20 on because I’d written down the wrong proof…so annoying but I’ll have to amend my notes for that. I also got 92/100 on a different coursework and am aiming for 100% on the next one so that module will have some serious marks before I go into the exam. It was a fairly simple coursework though, the module itself is very straight forward and methodical, and I really enjoy it. I also had another UCAS visit day on Thursday, I’m a regular as I seem to be one of the few people who have Thursday afternoons free which is a good source of income 😀 and lunch. It also gives me great things to talk about in interviews regarding promotion and when things go wrong (losing someone on the tour, someone freaks out about their interview) etc and developing leadership skills as I lead the tour and everything for that group for that day. I got the parents this week though, which is always more fun as they ask more questions and are less worried than their children, and since I’m from Manchester I can give them inside knowledge that my other friends don’t have (they’re southerners…) and put them at ease about it. We’re getting less Oxbridge candidates now, which is good as they always think they’re too good for our university, which I suppose they are but they don’t have to be mean about it, I love my time at uni and am glad that I’m here, I get so many opportunities that I wouldn’t in Oxbridge, Imperial etc. purely because of the competition. I’m on the committee for a society, and this wouldn’t happen at Oxbridge/Imperial because everyone would want to be on the committee, so I wouldn’t stand a chance. I’ve also got some good connections now, some of my friends will be bankers (who we love to hate but can’t because they’ve got a job) and I’ve got a ton of international friends too now, who are actually my friends as opposed to some business connection. Since I started university I’ve tried to embrace all things and any opportunities thrown at me to make the most of my time, and yet I still feel like I haven’t been able to do as much as I wanted/could. Ah, c’est la vie. It feels good to get all of my thoughts written down and collected somewhere so in the future I can refer to it and see how much I’ve grown (or not?) since then. I will definitely not forget those two companies, and am going to scour the news for anything bad about them. I’m going to get a job somewhere else and if one day (this will probably never happen) they come looking for me, I might just be tempted to turn them down. Maybe I do need to start a business or something? Something to empower students…hmmm…

Robogals, TEDx and changing the world?

WOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am a little bit excited because I have finally finished all of my mid-terms and my coursework, so now all I have to do is focus on getting a job when I graduate 🙂 Which is probably harder than my mid-terms and coursework but yeah…

So my goal of posting every day (or thereabouts) is not working that well as I’ve just been too busy/lazy to write anything. I do write down the day’s thoughts on this new App I found called Momento. With that and Wunderlist, I feel like my life is becoming slightly more productive.

On Saturday 2nd November, I was helping out at the Manchester science festival, and my friend was running an activity/stall thing. I went last year and volunteered too, it’s actually for the same cause that I went to Deershed with (Robogals). Although the room this year was bigger and much warmer so that was a plus, but we had to fit sooo much stuff in the car. There were three people in the back + 8 laptops in the boot and about 10 robots and extra stuff. I didn’t go over 25mph for fear of something falling over but I’m impressed that we managed to fit everything in as it’s not a big car (a VW Polo to be precise). It was really fun though, and I love explaining how the robots work to the kids, and they get so excited when they make it go in a circle or go backwards and nearly hit their parents/siblings. They always love the puppies and the snake too, and the dog sled is oddly popular…I don’t know why they get so excited over a dog (or horse as one kid said…) moving forward…The parents were all really enthusiastic too, the feedback we got was great and the organisers told us how a lot of parents had mentioned us to them and that they hoped to see us next year! Success!

Last Sunday, I went to TEDx Salford but only for the morning session as I still have uni work to do and job applications but it was really, really, inspiring. Okay, there were maybe 2 talks that I wasn’t that interested in/didn’t really inspire me but the rest were amazing. They were so…cool? No, wrong word. Inspiring I suppose is the best word I can come up with.

Here’s a picture of the stage before the conference started:

IMG_0094

The first guy was Dave Erasmus and he was talking about his new business called Givey which is like a social platform for giving to charity and how giving £1 can turn into £2.25 and then £4.50 if you get another person into it too. The main message of his talk was that we (the people) can make the difference for giving to charity as opposed to governments and if enough people support a cause then it will work. I’m not sure if I believe that :/ 

Then came Rachel Elnaugh (any Brits might remember her from Dragons’ Den) who was fine. Then she started talking about quantum physics and the ‘fourth dimension’ but mentioned words like ‘love, soul etc’ which didn’t impress many people (I assume they’re physicists/scientists) and there were quite a lot of harsh tweets about her talk. Her main message was that it was time to stop living ‘her dream’ and live ‘God’s dream’ and just take it as it comes as her first business (Red Letter Days) went out of business and the day before it did, she said ‘I give up, you do what you want’ and she claims it was a major turning point for her.

We then had a video shown which was made by soulpancakes and had their ‘kid president’ giving us a pep talk. He was really, really cute and pretty inspiring too. I have now subscribed to them on YouTube, their videos are awesome.

Next came George Smoot, who got lots of applause when his bio was being read out, but got the most for appearing on the Big Bang Theory, even though he’s won a Nobel Prize too! His talk was about how everything we’re doing is a simulation and life isn’t real. He went through it pretty quickly and glossed over a few details but it was so strange. He said that if physics makes sense and agrees with itself then it’s real life, but when we get inconsistencies then it’s a simulation…and look at physics today. Mind blowing!

The next guy, Nitin Sawhney, gave a talk about when Einstein and Tagore met. He asked ‘what was the first thing they said?’ and it turned out Tagore had said a really long sentence about something science-related. He then went into detail about how they were both vastly different and how this affected their music/musical styles. He also had Nicki Wells who sang and she was amazing! She sang the Indian National Anthem and my friend (who’s Indian) said only a couple of words were mispronounced but her voice was awesome!  It was really interesting to see the differences between Indian music and western music and how this is represented through Tagore and Einstein respectively.

We then had a half an hour break where people went to the toilet (or attempted to…) and bought coffee/snacks etc but I just stayed in the theatre and read the bios for the upcoming speakers and made some quick notes about the ones who had already been on. Oh, and I read the twitterwall too, it was projected onto screen and all of the bad ones got axed almost as soon as they were posted!

The first speaker after the break was Quinton Fortune and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to listening to him…boy was I wrong! He was so funny! And really chilled out, down to Earth and he had some great stories. He used to play for Manchester United and told us about his journey there, how he had come from Cape Town and his mother didn’t want him to get into drugs or a gang and wanted him to do something positive with his life so let him go to England to pursue being a footballer. Even though his talk didn’t really have anything too educational or academic, hearing his stories and how he got to where he is was really uplifting. And it broke up the day and let my brain relax a little.

Next was The Scary Guy. His name says it all. He did look a little scary actually, covered in tattoos and red hair! But then he said that little kids think he’s sponsored by Crayola and it made me think about how what he does, and how the world probably needs that. He tries to eradicate hate and prejudice and he said that he can have an entire pavement to himself in New York as people don’t want to walk near him. He goes around asking ‘do you think you’ll see world peace in your lifetime?’ and most little kids (around 5 or 6 years old) say yes and as he goes up to high school they say ‘maybe, no, I’m not sure’ and he realised it was because little kids define their ‘world’ as being about them whereas the older kids define the world as a global world. His message was to make our world peace, and then go from there.

John Robb was next and he was…eccentric. He’s in a punk band, after all and he spoke about how music and the universe are connected. I was surprised the physicists from before didn’t comment about him talking about science, but he didn’t try to act like he knew it all. He was talking about how he spoke to some scientists and how they can explain some really complicated ideas to them, and how he related a lot of it to punk music or music in general. Fun fact, apparently when the Big Bang happened, it made a sound between a B and B flat, which I only just found out. He thought that was cool, and so do I and he spoke about the scientists’ views on what happens as you get to the end of the universe and how they made great song titles! The talk got better towards the end, and I did enjoy it.

I think the next video came here, it was about…toilets, or more specifically s***. The video was hilarious though, even if it’s for a good cause it had everyone laughing because he mentioned s*** so many times!

Next was Aubrey de Grey and had the longest beard I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like hair…someone even tweeted about him taking Movember to ‘new heights’. He spoke about how aging is a disease and many things like cancer and parkinsons and alzheimer’s are related to people aging. Then he said how his model of ‘maintenance’ was to maintain the body like maintaining a car so that it can live virtually forever. He quickly went through the 7 types of problems and how they can be cured, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. In some ways he’s right, but I wonder about the people who get cancer when they’re young?

We had a ‘mystery speaker’ who was revealed on the day and he was from NASA! He was Clayton Anderson and he’d just retired in January and told us about ‘gravity’ and his story of being an astronaut. He showed us the trailer for the new movie Gravity and how it’s relatively accurate but he was lucky that nothing like that happened. He also had some amazing pictures of Earth and told us some funny stories. It took him sixteen applications before he finally got chosen, and he told us to never give up on our dreams. He had wanted to be an astronaut since he was eight!

The final speak of the day was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford and he spoke briefly about cities and their stories. He quickly ran through Salford itself and how it has changed in the past 100 years, moving on to why people go to cities and their culture and art which some more modern cities don’t have, and he thinks is a shame. But he also mentioned the problems about cities, that they are contradictions and spoke about the riots of August 2011.

I thought the day was good, one of my friends didn’t quite feel the same but I’m feeling more inspired to get some stuff on my ridiculously long to-do list crossed off and maybe change the world if I have some spare time 🙂

The week itself has been busy, as per usual with a catchup with some of my friends from college on Wednesday. They’re both going to be doctors whilst I am not sure what I am going to be, but we had fun and had massive burgers for lunch. We’re also well into November now which means interview time! The Year 13s come to uni on Wednesday and Thursday and our department get students to help out (and we get paid, bonus) and I help out on Thursdays because I don’t have lectures and they always need students so it’s a pretty steady source of income. It’s also above minimum wage and because I help out early, I get lunch too! I also started tutoring again, which wasn’t too bad but I forgot my calculator! That was awkward but fortunately the topics that the students needed help with didn’t require a calculator so the tutoring was fine. I also found the school by myself (my parents thought I’d get lost or something) as it was on the other side of town but I made it there in good time. Next time I might get the bus though so I don’t have to worry too much about motorways and getting off at the wrong junction :/

Final note, at this time of year Costa has their festive drinks and I love the honeycomb hot chocolate. It’s like drinking melted crunchie!