Sweden – an unexpected discovery

One of the best things about doing a science-related PhD is that travelling abroad to attend international conferences is positively encouraged. These meetings are invaluable opportunities to gain experience in presenting work in front of academic audiences; network with colleagues from around the world; pick up new ideas for future experiments and to scout out future jobs. And of course, it’s a great excuse to visit somewhere new!

A VERY busy, bustling conference!

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We need to talk about depression

As a depression survivor, I’ve wanted to write this post ever since the news about Chester Bennington’s suicide hit the Internet. You might wonder what is the  relevance of this to the University community, but my own depression has greatly impeded both my strictly academic work, as well as my presence – or lack thereof – on this blog.

The front man of Linkin Park was not the first “famous” person to commit suicide. Yet I would still argue that he has been a companion to many of our’s trials and tribulations growing up, perhaps even more so than the greatly missed Robin Williams. Linkin Park’s songs – safely – saw me through the experiences of feeling inadequate, lonely, and / or controlled. They didn’t cure do away with those feelings, but they gave me a sense of being understood; of not being alone with those problems.

The last, but not least poignant example of that was with a song from LP’s most recent album “One more light”: “Good goodbye”

While going through extremely challenging personal circumstances, I found that Chester’s chorus of

[…] Pack it up and disappear
You better have some place to go
‘Cause you can’t come back around here
Good goodbye […]

resonated with me a lot. Equally, Stormzy’s lines about “saying goodbye to his demons [… and his] past life”, etc. were sort of a catalyst for my recent improvement. But what sticks out for me is that Chester Bennington himself didn’t have the much needed support. I keep thinking of the “Good goodbye” as his cry for help.

That is also why it’s high time for us to have a frank conversation about depression. We need to underline that no amount of fame, money or power can render us immune to this horrifying disease. It is also high time to think about depression in terms of what it really is. Depression does kill. Thus, we need to stop telling our friends and loved ones to “get over themselves” or to “stop inventing problems”. Most of us wouldn’t dream to say any of those things to someone struggling with flu, or a broken limb for that matter. Why on Earth do we even begin to entertain those sort of ideas about mental health? What does it say about our societies and local communities? How many lives could’ve been saved if they met compassion instead of judgement?

I want to leave you with those questions… But before I go, let me remind you of the brilliant University Couselling Service who have helped me on a number of occasions. If I can recommend something about accessing their services, I’ll say this: try not to wait until matters get really bad – the sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll be seen. I know it’s not easy (been there, done that), but really it’s best to tackle those challenges in the early stages!

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with suicidal thoughts please contact your GP for an appointment.
The following phone services are also advisable:
The Samaritans: 116 123
Nightline (term-time):  0114 222 8787
You can also visit our Mental Wellbeing webpages for further details on local and University services.

Another side of Sheffield

Student life can easily become an affluent bubble. My daily commute during first year meant that I hardly strayed from Endcliffe and the University’s world-class facilities. If I did, it was often only to Division Street, for lunch breaks in hipster cafés with my student friends who were equally immersed in this world. It is very easy to create the illusion that Sheffield is entirely made up of large, tree-lined boulevards, where life is laid-back and comfortable for pretty much everyone.

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The General Election: A reporter’s experience

So, what did you do during the war?

It’s a question often asked decades after a conflict. What type of service did you put in? Where were you stationed? See any key battles? Any high profile scalps?

Elections are often similar, if not frequently shorter.

It might be rather trite, but there’s huge similarities. A clear end-goal, seldom a clean-cut result, the day-to-day attrition, the big attacks, the counter-blows, the casualties, and the domination of the news cycle. Continue reading

Gap year 2.0

Back in 6th form I had no real clue what I wanted to when I finished school, so I did the classic and went on a gap year. If you’ve heard enough about gap years I’d probably give this blog a miss.

I spent my gap year in the south of Chile volunteering as an English teacher for the charity Project Trust. I lived with the family of one of the students I taught and I had an amazing time – in fact, it was so good that I’m back here now visiting, I booked the trip in October and it was a huge motivation for working hard at university and it was well worth it. Continue reading

Student summer hack

Summer on a student budget can seem tricky. It’s that feeling of wanting to spend money that you probably don’t have, or should either save. But this summer I started to realise that you can use what’s already in front of you, and still have a great break.

Going to uni made me realise that I hadn’t even begun to explore my home city. It had been over ten years since I’d visited Norwich cathedral (the last time being on a school trip). So I started to research my own city (a weird experience when you consider this place ‘home’, having lived here for 18 years), and discovered a lot. Continue reading

A year on from graduation

It’s almost a year since I graduated from my degree in English Language and Linguistics.  It feels like just yesterday I was holding my degree in my hand and I remember it feeling like such a strange concept.  That piece of paper represented my three hard working years at Sheffield (with a few trips to Corp in between) and there really is no way to describe what that feels like, which isn’t very good for an English Language graduate, is it?!  I’m now waiting for the Facebook Memories to bring out the pictures in a few days, featuring the many attempts of my friends and I trying to throw our grad caps successfully into the air.

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Jog away the summer to avoid dissertation stress

If you are like me, you love reading ‘how to do lists’ and chances are that you never put them to practice. However if, like me, you are spending the summer in the library working on that dissertation or thesis, perhaps you will want to hear how I got rid of my writing-induced stress. My answer in two words: slow jogging.

Running in Western Park is great when the weather is sunny

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How to improve your CV over the summer

Make some plans

What do you actually want to do with your life? It’s a scary question, but there’s no use in avoiding it – the answer isn’t going to appear to you in a flash of light, it’s more likely to come after some careful thinking and examination. What do I actually want to do? What do I like to do? What can I see myself doing for the rest of my life? The summer is the perfect time to consider these questions, free from the stress of university. Once you have a vague idea of some answers, you can start to shape your activities about what will look good on your CV in the future. Continue reading