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How do you even make friends here!?

So I should be adjusted now. I have officially ‘lived’ in the North for four months now. But I don’t feel like I live there because I just sleep in Sheffield and then work in Manchester with the rest of my time taken up by travelling in between the two and only seeing what’s outside the train window (not that I’m knocking my view of the snowy Pennines each morning- it really is beautiful) and the usual haggard commuters (who all have funny accents- still). If you were my long suffering boyfriend you would know, I mean really know how much this travelling bothers me. As a reader of my blog you probably still have a pretty good idea!

Boyfriend suggests moving closer to work. That’s me not us. He suggests that it will increase my happiness and well-being (not to mention my bank balance- Northen Rail you rip off you). All I hear is ‘I don’t want to live with you. Move closer and stop moaning about how hard your life is’. Though what is said and what I hear is valid I’m not going to be packing my bags anytime soon. Unlucky boyfriend.

I don’t want to move because then I’ll come home to a different Northern city I don’t know except this time the accent is worse (sorry Manchester but Sheffield’s ‘Northern farmer’ is closer to my Dorset roots than ‘Karl Pilkington in a fit of rage’), cooking for one (as opposed to eating for six) and no familiar face. Maybe I’d make more friends if I was forced to be alone. But what if I didn’t? And that’s not what I moved all this way for.

So I must make the best of ‘home’ (for those few measly hours I’m there- have I mentioned nearly four hours a day commuting!?) but it’s dawned on me that I’ve never really had to make friends. I am not suggesting that I am just that damn loveable- although c’mon ;) I’ve simply realised that I have been ushered through life, through school, uni, parties held by friends of friends, birthdays of various family members, clubs that you’re made to go to with next door’s kids…All the hard work is done for us as children. And as people who never leave home.

Boyfriend has suggested I join a club (I heard: you have no friends, you hold me back, no-one likes you, leave now. And then I cried). It has come to this- to make friends in a new city when you don’t work there or know anyone, you must sign up for something. Several (charming) friends have reacted to this in much the same way as I have sadly realised everyone else will- what are you going to join, what do you even do, and my personal favourite ‘I actually couldn’t name one thing I think you liked enough/ were good enough at to join a club for’. Ta very much. I do like things of course, but these things are shopping, eating out, reading, looking at ASOS over and over, walking (though there are a lot of variables to consider with this one!) and drinking- and these things are either solo activities or require ready made, close friends. Imagine, ‘hey random person in Topshop, would you like to shop with me? After we could look at dresses online together and maybe I could watch you read whilst we drink wine.’ It really would be this creepy.

I’m not being stubborn. I have looked into joining clubs and have browsed ‘Sheffield Social for newbies’- Google it, it really exists! And as lovely as these all look it’s rather hard to find anyone who a) doesn’t look like they may kill me b) I can’t help but see why after living in Sheffield for 18 years they have a need for ‘Sheffield Social for newbies’ c) they are men looking for single females and a ‘good time’ only or d) they are much older than me. It seems finding a newcomer, who is near to my age and won’t mind watching me read is hard to come by. I mean why would a 21 year old have moved 400 miles away from home for a job that is another city, where she doesn’t know anyone? Who would be that stupid and thus in need of friends!?

So for now I’m gonna put the club thing on the back burner (though I am welcoming friend-making/ club-joining solutions, mainly to reassure me that someone has faith in me but also for constructive purposes!) I’ll travel home more, descend upon my various friends dotted around their various locations (yes, despite what this post may tell you, I am relatively normal and do have some chums of my own) and make friendly chit chat with my fellow commuters (that’s a lie- despite spending more time a day with them than my beloved I’ll be avoiding their above the Metro glances and train ticket price rants).

Instead I’m going to invest my sparse time and hard earned cash into learning to drive again. Maybe I’ll make friends with the instructor (assuming this Sheffield man has no Sheffield accent to speak of, wants to be friends with a 21 year old Southern pansy and also enjoys Internet shopping) and I’ll be able to leave the North more often to see the friends I already have. Really, I do.

Going home for Christmas

I’m not sure if it’s true that home is where the heart is, unless home is where you make it, is true too. Because after moving (insert miles from Bournemouth to Sheffield here because geography has never been my strong point) away I don’t feel like I’ve left my heart behind, and I do feel like I’ve made a home. But knowing that when I get stranded I can’t call my Dad to pick me up in the trusty Vectra, or that there’s no-one to go to the local with (even if I did know where my local is), certainly reminds me that this isn’t my first home, and it probably won’t be for a while.

Christmas shopping has hit me hard. Where once I stomped in and out of crowds of buggies and old people (they truly believe they rule the high street- a fast lane is needed for the pavement as well as the road for these offenders!) in my home town, I now slowly search and falter in front of hardened Manchunian shoppers who know where they’re going and don’t take too kindly to lost pansy Southerners who are umming and arring about which Starbucks to go in or where to buy a pretentious, over priced candle in a box from (when asking for candle guidance in a well known Yorkshire department store I was told by the saleswoman that they were a waste of money and ‘you can buy 200 tea lights for a poond in The Pound Shop, they have set a few homes alight mind, but you’ll be alreet, worth it for the saving, duck’.). I’d rather be pretentious with a nice safe Jo Malone than a dead duck thanks.

Knowing I’m going back for xmas has had my heart and Internet search history behaving like a homing pigeon too. I’ve been counting down and every time I speak to my sister (who I wasn’t fond of when I lived twenty minutes away, but it seems even the badger from hell- my Dad bought me up to believe it wasn’t a birthmark on her head but ’666′ tattooed on- is easier to love (insert miles again) away. Home is now idyllic too and I constantly Google posh Southern haunts that I’ve never been to and probably never will go to and pine for them as if that was the good life I left behind for the smokey streets of Steel City.

Mostly my pining is made up. I think I miss things I never had or never did, it’s just the knowing I can’t have them, can’t go back that gets me (shocking revelation there from the girl who went to uni half an hour from home ‘just in case’… And because you could take me for lunch too, Dad!).

But this imaginary pining doesn’t make my excitement for two days time any less! I’m coming home and I cannot contain myself. I can’t wait to get my presents, I mean see everyone :p and to watch Dad get drunker than he should and start showing boyfriend old submarine films, in German that boyfriend is the only polite one/ newbie who’ll put up with it. This is why I also anticipate the Uncle’s arrival as he will engage in talk of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and other strange but of course manly pursuits that Dad can be distracted by and thus the TV will be free for Downton not Das Boot once again. I cant wait to see Dad’s hot young squeeze either as she will undoubtedly make copious amounts of tea and make sure I’m fed on the hour every hour. Thats love right there for me. I can’t wait for my sister to pull that look at every present that either isn’t money or the monetary value of said gift can’t be easily guessed. She likes to know these things so she can compare who is more generous, you or her. Of course she will decide it is her, every time. I can’t wait for my eight year old cousin to order fish at any eating establishment we find ourselves in just because I hate it and she loves it and she loves to see my ‘shocked’ expression that she dared to inflict such a thing on me. I also can’t wait for a little cuddle with her. Even though she smells. Lots. I look forward to seeing my Auntie too. Because she thinks like I do and can’t wear boots above the ankle either. And thus together we are normal and right (and probably drunk and cackling) and the rest of the world can just…. A cuddle there will do quite nicely too.

So despite being rather content up North I think it’s quite safe to summarise that a) I am not safe and next door’s tea lights will probably be the end of me and b) for this week at least my heart is firmly on home and my rather wonderful and rather Southern family… If not only because I can understand what they’re saying and won’t be killed by a rogue candle!

Sometimes even rodents get lucky…

It gives me the greatest pleasure to begin this post with: I HAVE A JOB!! I don’t mean a ‘job’. It’s not an internship. I don’t volunteer, and I don’t ‘work’ ‘freelance’ from my home office aka boyfriend’s sofa. My unpaid work has paid off and somewhere along the line someone deemed me ‘so bright and on the ball’ (shush!) and I’m going to be paid for my 9-5.30 now.

I’m employed! Just call me Editorial Assistant for an online fashion magazine :) yep it’s not just a job, it’s basically my dream job. So much so it may have even been worth being dumped by the MediNazis in London, paying rent on a flat I don’t live in and moving in with a real life boy. My new title outweighs it all :)

Day to day is writing, playing with dresses and the odd photo shoot. Oh yes! I got to go to a photo shoot- imagine how well I pulled off the ‘I’m cool, I’ve been to hundreds of shoots and mingled with models’ look..

It really is like TV: the photographer really does shout ‘yes, yes, the camera loves you, ooh I love it, work it’ and no-one bats an eyelid. Except me who had to keep running to make tea because it was too funny to hear as a mere mortal. Talking of which the models aren’t. Mere mortals that is. They really are stunning- and have waists the size of my wrist. Not my ankle. My ankles are sadly bigger than said model’s waist. But she wasn’t mean. She was very lovely, and ate like normal people (well ish. She’d just had her teeth whitened – obviously dahhling- so she couldn’t eat anything sugary or drink the very milky tea I proudly presented her with between six and a hundred times!).

Talking of food: They bought sushi. They ordered it in and thought I’d be suitably impressed with free and trendy food. I was not. Normally I’d lie and be polite, but I have high hopes that this job will last longer than the last (three weeks shouldn’t be too hard!) and I’m not sure I can force down fish for that long. I got Katsu curry :) don’t worry tho it hasn’t all gone to my head I’m still stupid- everyone ate with chop sticks so I followed suit. I don’t know why I followed suit, I struggle with cutlery at times. So of course I ended up with my dinner down me. And the model nomming on seaweed next to me. She didn’t notice. But later I heard the stylist tell her off for having to have rice brushed out of her hair…

Things are looking up and as much as I an not loving the commute (Northern trains suck you have to stand the whole way, I’m currently balanced half on some unfortunate woman’s knee and half on someone’s luggage, whilst trying to direct my nose away from the armpit that keeps finding my face) I do love the job. And heck I’m employed. Which for graduates is a bloody big deal. So… When the free portion of my role is up and I’m raking it in (let me believe this for a bit- I’m excited!) the drinks are on me! In exchange for chop stick lessons so I am not rejected from the money providing role for being a complete nonce/ attacking models with Japanese cuisine perhaps…

(employed) rat over and out -x-

I thought I was bubbly by nature not by hemisphere!

As was famously said by Donkey in Shrek ‘you’re like an onion, you’ve got layers’ and less famously by my friend to me. My lovely friend believes that I can write my blog because I have layers. Like an onion. And I think she meant it as a compliment- did you!? However, I’ve come to believe it’s a hinderance having these layers. I’ve realised this since leaving uni/ the land of dreams and happiness and very cheap pints and home/ the land of free food, wine and a motorised salt and pepper shaker (thankfully having not been capable of living without this contraption after leaving home loving parents got boyfriend/ flatmate one for his birthday- sneaky and v. Much appreciated move- thanks ‘rents!).

At home and at university my top layer was always a bundle of talk, and friendliness, chatty, annoying and silly. I call this my Southern layer. My quiet hard-working layer was buried somewhat deeper but not far- it got me through a long few years of education. but it didn’t need to be on top: I could be hard-working when I needed to be but what always got me through was my ability to make friends.

The wise thing to do when moving away from everyone I knew would have been to take this Southern layer up a notch. But I’ve got this other layer. The one where I analyse things too much and worry what other people think. Mainly I worry if they’ll want to be my friend (only if they’re nice of course, not anyone who eats fish and hates animals or anything drastic like that). And so Southern layer would be best. But worried/ negative layer pulls through hard-working and it turns out the very stuck up voice along with it. Not a great choice there layer monitor, in Manchester where most people sound like Karl Pilkington when he doesn’t want to be strapped to a rickety old plane… But with more expletives.

So I dub this my Northern layer. Or my stand offish layer. Stupid I know. Suddenly, out of my comfort zone (I didn’t even know the South was my comfort zone, I thought I was bubbly by nature not by hemisphere!) I am not myself. I get my head down and work really hard- only I’m an intern so as good as it might make me look, I won’t get paid and everyone else is wondering what kind of crazy I am/ how much is in the trust fund. I don’t go to the pub at lunch on Friday. I have work to do yes, but being the only one in the office at lunchtime isn’t because I have a huge deadline* (did I mention I’m an unpaid intern!?). It’s because I’ve forgotten my best layer. I don’t know how to make people like me any more so i just shy away from any opportunity to do so. And I don’t have any of the chums I charmed with Southern rat to fall back on, just a Northern boyfriend/ flatmate who is busy showing off his Northern charm with his newfound Northern friends. I didn’t believe it at first either.

My layers have shifted. And it’s so well received these layers might as well be made of onion. A month old onion. You know those really rotten ones that stick to the bin lid? Them.

So, thinking onions got me in to this (i am now blaming this evil veggie for my personality disorder) I figured food could get me out. So today I took Jaffa cakes to work. Mini ones. Baby steps. A peace offering to my Northern acquaintances/ missions. And an attempt to lure my good old Southern layer out (without stuck up posh voice which I have since been told makes me sound pretentious and like I think I’m smarter than everyone ‘but that’s you Southern pansies in general int’it!’).

Turns our the M&S jaffas, which I got for free from the lady I see every morning behind the till who says I’m very friendly and kind for a Londoner- Southern equals from London here- and I am not above thinking my Dad paid her to say these things and provide me with orange filled cake knowing I was lonely in the North- nice pick Dad, she has access to a lot off food, wine and salt and pepper for my shaker!) were a hit. And it seems no-one really hated my Northern layer, there just wasn’t a lot to love about it either. A lot like onions.

Moral of the story: don’t sniff the onion stuck to the bin lid just so you can compare it to your awful personality in your blog. Oh and always stick with tried and tested methods of making friends, be yourself, but preferably be yourself holding Jaffa cakes.

Lots of love a train-trapped rat many miles away -x-

*note to various family members who may/will worry: (S & DL I’m talking to you!) it really wasn’t that bad, I had a nice sandwich at my desk. I’m not at the eating in the toilet cubicle and crying in to my crisps stage yet ;)

Rat is back and has a ‘job’….

HELLO!

My sincerest apologies for this tardy post…I have been working. Or should I say ‘working’.

For those unfamiliar with the plight of graduates/idiots desperate to launch themselves into a successful job related to the degree they toiled long and hard for, ‘working’ is what we like to gloss over with the term ‘internship’.

Internships, are sadly more often than not unpaid. Yes, this means you work 9-5, sit at a screen all day, skip lunch, drink lots of tea, commute to and from with other similarly grumpy workers (and maybe some ‘workers’, but its hard to know since we actually are very convincing as actual real life paid workers)…all for free. No money. I am not paid to work.

Aside from the lack of funds, which I’d become used to before this ‘job’, it really is great. I am a Fashion Writer/ ‘Fashion Writer’. And I haven’t photocpied anything! I haven’t fetched many teas either- something I must work on for fear of being called ‘brew-shy’ again by my Manchunian ‘colleagues’ who drink so much of the stuff I’m sure it dribbles out of their every pore. While on the topic of my Manchunian ‘colleagues’- what the hell is a ‘bam’!? It might be spelt ‘barm’, I’m not sure, but I am convinced this word has been made up to confuse those not native to the North. Last week in the office, when I asked what a ‘bacon barm’ was I was stared at with disbelief, nay horror and then asked ‘Do you know what a bap is?’ in a very slow are-you-an-idiot kind of way. Of course I know what a bap is, it is bread. That is two ways of explaining that something is bread-like, good for a sarnie. Bap and bread are surely sufficient ways of expressing sandwich!? Not in the North.

But back to the internship… Did I mention its great. Its very hands on and I’ve been involved in lots editorial stuff- I speak to PRs each day in the hopes of securing interviews and images (getting images to help promote somebody/a brand for free is really not as easy as it sounds- PRs treat me as if I am asking them to dip their grandparents in honey and deliver them to a bee sanctuary/ explain what a barm is- and for this reason I am now put off ever ever working in PR). I also write the blogs for the fashion and editiorial aspects of the website and I am responsible for the social media too. I’ve learned so much already, not just about writing style for a fashion website (oh yes, alliteration is key and ‘on-trend’ never gets old) but also about websites. Who’d have thought I’d know how to handle coding for websites, link up affiliate feeds for e-commerce (let alone know what that meant a month ago!) and reformat pictures.

Its safe to say I love my ‘job’ but I’d love it even more if it were a real job. Boyfriend’s Dad summarised the idiocy of what we desperate grads are doing in these internships (which by the way the media moguls and high flyers at my ‘work’ have assured me are crucial to getting on to the career ladder in the creative industry so there) when he offered me some copy writing work for one of his websites. He then retracted his offer and informed me that he regretted his offer of cash for the job. He believes that if he’d made this work ‘work’ and called it an internship I’d have accepted on the spot! Pfft.

Anyways, I’ve got to go, I’ve got ‘work’ in the morning! x

Commuting… In a Northern climate…

Commuting in The North is an entirely different kettle of fish. In some ways there’s less camaraderie, you don’t look sympathetically at the muppet sat opposite you on the train, or squeezed under your armpit on the tube, you don’t really look at anyone at all. Because you aren’t really that close, you have your own space and yes, a seat. And because people are occupied with well, chilling out on the train, getting a bit of work done, getting home quite quickly, and with their travelling-buddies. People here are friendlier. Fact. They travel in packs on the train, straight from offices and boardrooms around the region, and they all, in their suits and stilettos get the train together and they laugh and they smile and they don’t stress, not visibly anyway. Some dont even have Kindles. Life isn’t rushing away quite so quickly here, there’s no need to cram things in as much. Or is there?

Now I’m not in the capital (I’m in Sheffield, and interning in Manchester- I know, I’m unlucky on transport and I endure lengthy amounts of it each day, but I’m really happy with it), I can look back happily at what it’s taught me (apart from the fact that pigeons hang out in coach stations and always stand on the right, no left, oh pants!). I am sat on the train back to Sheffield blogging. I’m too tired when I get home and well, weekends are a luxury when you go all week without them, so I’m blogging here. Now that I’m doing more, I’m doing even more. And London taught me to do that. On the tubes and trains and even on walks between places Londoners write, read, and do ad much as they can- they are shattered (I think there is a very interesting statistic here about amount of city-rats who fall asleep mid-travel and those who don’t in The North…) but they are productive, albeit unfriendly, people.

I think I’m beginning to strike a balance between these city ways and the easy-going and more happy -for me- lifestyle of The North. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still knackered every day, as is the lady dribbling on my shoulder next to me (but work probably does that to all ex-students/slackers!) and I’m excited to have the commute that London taught me to utilise and I’m happy that if I don’t utilise it, there will be some more time- time is 3x slower than real time above LDN you know!) and a friendly face with a ‘brew’ to help get my stuff sorted.

Best end here, I’m nearly home already :)

The ‘lost generation’!?

Fellow graduates (aka unemployed, job-seekers, Jeremy Kyle watchers, game-show experts and those above the age of twenty reading this from their childhood bedroom) have you heard, we’re the ‘lost generation’!?

Being at home and glued to my laptop for approx. 98% off my life (I’m not exaggerating this time, I have witnesses, well if Basil the Basil plant counts because no-one else capable of breathing- bar Baz and myself- seems to be at home ALL day), I have stumbled across many a generic ‘graduates unlikely to find work’, ‘graduates doomed’ and ‘graduates have scales under their clothes so must not be allowed into offices’  story. However, the ones that have stuck in my mind the most are the one’s that claim we are the ‘lost generation’. Did you even know they called us that!? I’m pretty sure you can’t be lost without knowing about it…and I for one was very aware of my current position, on someone else’s sofa, in someone else’s house, eating someone else’s food and waiting for normal people to get home, because sorry Baz, you’re just not the same.

We are not lost. We know where we’re going, we’re just not sure how long it might take and how we’ll do it, but we know the destination. This is the generation who took education seriously; we took our GCSE’s we followed up with A Levels, and then we thoroughly enjoyed a good party and some trickier coursework deadlines and all to get the job of our dreams. WE are not lost. But the people who lied to us, sure were.

I remember being told, in an assembly, ‘you are the cream of the crop, you’re the best, and nothing will stop you guys achieving your goals’. Stay in school, kids. Inspirational ditties similar to this followed in the next few years of education, and always we were pushed on, and promised a hard but rewarding career and life waited for us on the other side. Did you know you were lying at the time? Did you really believe with all of this learning under my belt I would prosper? I sure did, but then that’s because that’s what you told me.

So, even if in your opinion (I think I’m talking to teachers, but only because they were the puppets of Local Education Authorities and so the government, so sorry teachers- but seriously I trusted you!) we are lost, I think you should begin to question your part, your taking away of the map shall we say.

Stop telling us we’re lost, and stop printing articles about how statsitically speaking we’re doomed- the scales thing is a little harsh too so stop that also- and spread a little love for the graduates YOU helped put here. We know what we want, and guess what, it’s not all that scary. It’s just a chance. A little opportunity, to show you that all that money ‘you’ve’ invested in our learning, and all those exams you made us take to better ourselves, really did pay off, and we really can bring something to our businesses, our economy, and our country. We don’t need directions, just a map sized sheet (in the shape of a job- I’ll take Editor of The Times, ta very much) to put our own on. Thanks.

 

 

While feeling particularly angsty about the aforementioned, I wrote an article for The Graduate Times, in response to the negative media, and all those telling us it wasn’t worth it. Well, right now, I’m not really making a return on my educational investment (or yours, Mr. Government if that’s your real name!) but, from a purely selfish point of view, and I feel this is only fair due to the amount of rejection and lonlieness us grads are facing at the mo’,  I loved uni, every minute of it, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. It was the best money I’ve ever ‘wasted’ and probably the worst map I’ll ever own.

http://www.graduatetimes.com/notebook/2011/09/14/is-university-worth-it-financially/ #lostgeneration #unemployedgraduate #imissuni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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