As the spring sun is getting bright enough for me to start regretting that my apartment does not have curtains, it's time to close the door on winter and look back at all the things I've been watching and reading.
Despite this being an incredibly busy period in my life, I've been cramming in lots of literature and TV, luckily. I think I've started rewarding myself more by being more productive during the day, then handing myself over fully to my book, being able to enjoy it guilt free.
So let's take a look at all the stuff I've been rewarding myself with!
#1 Call the Midwife series 7 (and intermittently also rewatching series 3)
God, this truly deserves to be the number one on my list. I would like to refrain from spoilers but I doubt I'll even be able to when I properly start being all mushy about this show. Because series 7 was a wild ride from start to finish, one of the most emotionally taxing shows ever. I think it's so particularly odd that even the BBC introduces this show every Sunday by claiming it's a nostalgic look back at the 60s. Well, pardon me? Series 7 was real and painful and beautiful in a thoroughly heart-wrenching way. We meet new characters and say goodbye to the dearest people.
What I love so much about Call the Midwife is that it does not take kindness and compassion for granted - in fact, this show is about everybody learning that compassion is a good and a beautiful thing. As someone who's on the warpath to achieve a kinder world, this appeals a lot to me.
#2 The Power - Naomi Alderman
I picked this book up quite by accident. A colleague had left it lying around, and after flipping through it for about two seconds, I was hooked. I read 80 pages in one go at work, and then afterwards I couldn't wait to get my own copy.
In this book we get to experience what it would be like if women started getting the upper hand in society. One day, all girls get The Power, and with that they're able to give electric shocks and even kill people. We follow this reversed world order along as it slowly starts to unravel and get out of hand.
While this book is certainly flawed, it is a compelling novel that you can never put down. It is obviously quite well thought out, and perhaps its most compelling aspect is that the ending is not even that weird or apocalypse-sci-fi-plot twist-ish, because the slow lead up is just portrayed so realistically! It's a definite recommendation!
#3 The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
After the trailer for the upcoming film came out earlier this month, how could I not reread this classic. I read it about four years ago for the first time and fell in love with the format, the characters and the overall feeling of the novel. This time I was back at it again within seconds. I just love this book to bits, and I figure it is one of those books that I'll be able to read and reread a hundred times.
Right after the Second World War columnist Juliet is struggling for a new subject for a book - that is, until she receives a letter from someone who tells her about the Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club that inhabitants of the island Guernsey established accidentally, which grows into a way for the islanders to cope with the German occupation.
It is such a beautiful book about love and survival and healing from pain. I am definitely looking forward to the movie coming out soon!
#4 Pride and Prejudice (1995)
During the last week, I've been busy writing an essay on marriage in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for a non-classics related gender course. It was lovely to write and it was nice to close-read the novel a little more, but what was even nicer was to have the 1995 series playing in the background. While the 2005 version is obviously way better on the aesthetics, I feel that the 1995 show has captured the novel perfectly. I love the casting and the music and the scenery. It's amazing. I could start again this minute. But perhaps after so much Pride and Prejudice, I should maybe switch to Persuasion for tonight's Austen screening. Now we're on that topic: Persuasion 1995 or 2007? THE big question ;)
#5 Outlander: The Fiery Cross & A Breath of Snow and Ashes - Diana Gabaldon
It is no secret that I love me a good saga. We've seen it often enough before: Hornblower, Poldark, the Bridgertons. I was amazingly happy when, this summer, I finally decided that Outlander was worth another try. Of course then I had to read all the books. I have a lot of time at work to read (I work during the day and there's hardly anyone around at those hours), so I can devour these novels pretty quickly. I love them even if they are a bit heavy-handed and overly descriptive sometimes. I can't stay away from them. The characters and the writing fascinate me in a way that I always NEED to know what is going to happen next.
#6 The Midwife's Daughter - Patricia Ferguson
Though I eventually felt a bit conflicted about this novel - simply because it was a bit too ambitious, tackling way too many subjects in too short a time period -, I still really enjoyed it. We follow Violet, one of the last local women who help in childbirth. It's 1900 and the world is changing fast. Violet's twin sister, Bea, works at a foundling hospital. One day, Violet's eye spots a little child who looks just like her own deceased daughter... only the girl is black. After this, we follow the girl, Grace, as she tries to make her way in the world.
The story was nice, but, as I said, a little bit much. Perhaps it would have been better as a series. But still if you like a historical novel, this is a good one!
#7 The Frankenstein Chronicles
I discovered this recently with my boyfriend and we got really into it when I was recovering from wisdom teeth removal surgery. It's quite loosely based on Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein. Somewhere at the end of the 1820s, Sean Bean's character finds a body washed up on the shore. Except, it's not just one body, but it's different body parts of different children sewn together. Sean Bean's character is charged to find the perpetrator, and we follow him on a gritty journey through even grittier London. There's poverty, there's syphilis, there are creepy pimps, and body snatchers. There's handsome doctors, creepy doctors, zombie-ish galvanism, and what not. So what's not to love?
Of course it's only a short version of everything I read and watched, but these are the books and shows that stood out to me most! I have also been watching lots of movies in the cinema (perks, I know), but perhaps I'll be making a separate post about them!
I immensely enjoyed my dosage of TV and literature these past few months and I hope that the next have even better stuff in store for me. I know Poldark is due to start again somewhere near the summer... ;)
Tell me what you've been watching and reading!
I am a bad person when it comes to shopping. I can buy nothing at all for months and then get so frustrated about my lack of clothes that I buy a lot of cheap and crappy stuff that I half-like. I decided that perhaps this might not be the best way to go about it. A lot of these clothes I don't really like anymore after a while, and since I buy cheaply overall, a lot of them are washed out after a season of wearing them.
So for this spring and summer I am going to attempt a more put-together style of shopping clothes. Items that are always wearable and that I can combine with a lot of different stuff.
What am I aiming for?
For spring and summer I will be all about skirts. I have an A-line leather midi skirt which I absolutely adore - but sadly it really is a little too wintery to be wearing in the summer, so I'll have to build up my spring/summer wardrobe with a similar skirt but in a lighter fabric. A skirt like this can work for colder days (with thin pantyhose and boots) or for hot days (just like that with a pair of flats). I can wear a t-shirt over them with a jacket, or a jumper if it's colder. Basically, the flowy-midi skirt is going to be my love for spring/summer.
I would really like a skirt with a bolder floral print, like one of these below:
Pieces, Gina Tricot & H&M
I want a couple of blouses/shirts. I have a couple of black jeans and some chique suit pants that I wear all year round. During the spring and colder days during the summer, I can wear jeans and top them with a blouse. And these I could also pair with the skirt of course!
Think: Robin Ellacott from Strike, Patsy Mount in s3 of Call the Midwife, and a general 50s-ish low-key office-chic-ish vibe.
I want a pair of low-ish heels that I can walk in all day. More walk-y shoes than show-y shoes. And I would also like to have a pair of brogues-ish shoes that I could wear with jeans and skirt. I already have a pair of flats that are still alright from last year!
I want to have a jacket. I had a leather jacket for jears from Bershka but sadly after all these years it's quite worn out and in need of replacement. I want it in a muted grey/green-ish colour. I've already seen one but it's quite expensive D:
As for accessoiries, I am pretty basic. I love small and delicate gold necklaces and earrings. I would also like a new larger bag to go to Uni because my old one is in desperate need of replacement.
I will slowly start buying stuff for the new season the coming weeks and I'll check back in with you guys to show you the things I bought. Or not! Who knows how much money I'll have to spare for clothes after my wisdom teeth removal bills come in.
For now I hope you've enjoyed a little look into my wardrobe planning for next season!
Lots of love,
2017 was a weird year in many ways that I won't dwell on - lots of anxiety and stress and a severe lack of confidence. All the more reason to make 2018 a better year! And some exciting but scary things are going to happen in 2018! I will be moving out of my current apartment (since my co-renter is leaving I will have to find something as well) and I'll be writing my thesis and hopefully graduate and find a nice job somewhere! How crazy is that?
To improve my 2018 and make it significantly better than 2017, I've come up with some New Year's Resolutions and Goals.
1. Get my driver's license and buy a car - this is quintessential to the moving to a new apartment-plan, since the city I might live in is a half hour's drive from the city where I have my driving lessons.
2. Move out and get my own apartment - whether this be with my sister or with my boyfriend or on my own, I am moving to a new place and it's going to be stressful but rewarding, and I'll finally have a place that's 100% my own and I won't have to deal with flatmates! How exciting! I haven't found anything yet, and it'll be six months still before I'll have to move out, but I'm looking around just because! And that's so exciting! Have my eye on a new building complex which looks great! Eeek!
3. Write an awesome thesis and graduate - I'm as we speak planning a little bit of a course next semester that is about thesis preparation - as a part of it I'll have to read a classical text independently and I've decided to read a part of Tacitus' Annals because I want to write a thesis about historiography. So that's finally taking some shape! The exact theme of my thesis I'm not sure about yet. I don't know if I want to focus on one emperor in particular and research about him, or if I want to do something more thematic through the entire text. The role of women in the Empire is something that I think would be very interesting! Excited!
4. Read more about anxiety and ways to deal with this - I'm currently reading The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight, and while the message is probably alright, I'm not such a big fan of the language and style. Too much 'don't you fucking dare to give a fucking fuck of a fuck about that fucking thing', I prefer normal words. But anyway, I'm just flipping through and seeing if I can read through the fucks. Additionally I ordered The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Botheridge, which I read a few pages from when I saw it in a bookshop. It seemed more my kind of style. So we'll see. But at the moment I'm letting my anxiety dominate a little too much and I need to get it more toned down! So that's a goal for next year!
5. Become more decisive - this of course relates to the previous resolution, but I made it a separate point because this is really my number one issue in life. I'm always trying to not-offend anyone by making everything their choice. A 'what do you want to eat'- is just about the most difficult question in the universe. I'm joking of course, but only partly. I've really experienced a lot of difficulties with decision-making this year, ranging from the food-question to what I want to do after I get my BA. For now my post-BA plans are not to do a MA immediately just because I don't know what MA I would like to do. But I think becoming more decisive will massively improve my life in 2018. If anyone has tips on this, you know where to find me!
6. Say 'yes' and 'no' more - get off your lazy ass and go out with people when they ask you. Quit with the anxious thinking and just go and have fun. On the other hand, say no more when people ask you to do things you don't want to. Tadaa, it's easy.
7. Become active in politics - I come from a political nest and I've always been proud of my political stance. This year I hope to become active with a political party because I would really like to be a local politician one day. I might start helping with campaigns or do administration or whatever. Just anything would be fun I think!
8. Don't stress out so much and just have fun - often my worries get in the way of having fun, and I'll get massively stressed out and my (and other peoples') day gets ruined. This is so unnecessary when I could just be having fun! Have more fun! This is my ultimate New Year's Resolution!
I'm excited to see what 2018 is going to bring me. For sure it's going to be better than 2017. There may be stress and anxiety but a lot of awesome things as well and I mean to focus on them!
Best wishes to you all,
Recently, a shocking research was published and shook up all of the Netherlands: 75% of all students were supposedly suffering from emotional exhaustion due to juggling education, work and a social life. To me it hardly came as a shock, having experienced some proper emotional exhaustion due to university life as well. So what are my strategies to keep hold of my sanity?
1. Plan, plan, plan!
Find yourself a good diary, a desk planner, or anything that you think works to keep up with all of your coursework. I highly recommend sitting down one afternoon before your semester starts, printing out all of your schedules and organizing all of your required reading. Put all of your deadlines down in your planner and just take some time to flip through your coursework. It allows you to keep an overview and makes things relative, which is important so that you won't lose yourself in the heat of the studying-moment, and can always keep a clear head.
I usually sit down once a week and look at all the things I have coming up in the next week. This way I can schedule it in next to my work schedule, my driving lessons, and my other social engagements.
2. Prepare for your classes!
Seriously though, it may seem obvious, but I can't stress enough how important it is to prepare for all your classes. It makes you understand lectures better, you can ask questions, you won't have to catch up on readings just before your exams, and also because your lecturer will like you! Seriously, this is pretty important! What if you fell ill right before the exams? What if you don't understand something completely and want to ask at the last moment? A lecturer will go much further for a student that works hard and is well prepared, than someone who doesn't.
3. Reward yourself!
So you've made your weekly planning, you've worked hard, you're well prepared and on track. You've been working long shifts. You've been up late, or you've woken up very early. It's important that you don't pass yourself by. I am firmly against that babyboomer-outlook on life that it's somehow insensible to spend money on yourself in the moment. Buy that Starbucks coffee you like so much, get yourself a new red lipstick. Take a night off and binge that new show (Alias Grace! Watch it!) Treat yourself, or it will become too much.
4. It's all relative!
University is really all relative. This is what you should understand. It's good to want to do well, and it's good if you do do well. But once you get into the obsessive about wanting to achieve the highest, the best, etc., then you should REALLY take a step back and look at what you're doing - it's important to recognize that there are invisible mental boundaries and that you shouldn't cross them for your own sanity. Learn to accept that sometimes you can only do your best, and that's all. A grade is not worth sacrificing your health, your sleep, your eating for. You are more important than grades. Take a step back if you're feeling it's getting too much for you.
That being said, I won't claim that I am the perfect anxiety-free student that this may make me seem. Neither am I an expert on this subject. I myself feel overwhelmed and anxious sometimes, but reminding myself that it pays to work with a good schedule and keep in mind that it's relative, really helps me to stay on track and put any stressful feelings I have behind my.
So I hope that these tips will provide some help for those struggling with Academics related stress.
Lots of love,
October so far has been a pretty amazing month. We've had the most glorious after-summer weather, we've had big autumn storms, and now in the last couple of days we've had the inset of those bleak pre-Christmassy autumn days. Lovely. So what have I been doing in these past few weeks?
First of all, as a general theme for (September and) October, my boyfriend and I have been visiting Dutch castles (aka wedding venues). Oh yeah, the British don't have complete monopoly on aesthetically pleasing country houses. We've been visiting a lot of them the past couple of weeks, and this month we've been to Slot Zuylen.....
Dear Future Employer,
Yes. I studied Latin. Why? I'm not so sure about that myself. There was something about playing with Latin syntax and learning about classical society that propelled me to do it. And yeah, I'll admit that I was being flippant and just a little naive all those times that I said I'd just wait and see where I'd end up with a degree in Latin and that there was always education as a last resource.
But, Future Employer, what's past is past and we're both of us just going to accept that I've studied something that is practically irrelevant in today's society and that there isn't much for me besides Academia and education. Though I've pretty fine reading and analytical skills, I still can't read mathematical formulas to figure out economical stuff and I don't know the best way to organize a social media campaign or anything like that.
But I'm here and I'm willing to do practically anything to make some money. I would love to get a job someday, and I don't really care what kind of job. Only a half-decent salary is fine by me. Just as long as I can manage to rent an apartment with my boyfriend. You should see him, he's worth it to invest in me with a decent salary.
I have compiled a list of my skills for you to see if you have literally any job for me.
So please, dear Future Employer, if you are in any way interested, and feel the slightest bit of compassion for this confused little catlady who is pretty much down for any job because she just wants to have a decent life, please contact me.
Lots of love,
Your Future Employee
Whenever I'm studying, I always feel incomplete when everything is quiet around me. For me, music is a way to shut myself off from the world completely when I'm trying to do work. It allows me to sink back into my own private studying world and pretend that I can't hear anybody because I'm wearing headphones. I mostly listen to period drama soundtracks, because really, what else would I be listening to?
Since they always work well for me, I decided I might make a list of my current go-to's in Soundtrack World.
1. Victoria - Martin Phipps
At first I really hated the Victoria intro, because I was expecting a Serious Period Drama, but well.. it turned out that Victoria is just pure (fan)fiction. And now I love it. The rest of the soundtrack is just as light and happy as the show is. Not too heavy, but not at all boring either. It's a good listen, but perhaps it doesn't work flawlessly to enhance your concentration game.
2. Outlander series one - Bear McCreary
Nothing like Scottish drums and violins to rev you up for some die-hard atmospheric studying. Can either work out VERY WELL, or you will end up screaming along to the intro, and looking up trivia about all the characters. Either outcome is a good one, I think.
3. Belle - Rachel Portman
God, I love this movie and I love this soundtrack even more. It's very peaceful, romantic and a little wistful. It's like the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, but better. Anything by Rachel Portman is better. The only problem I have with this soundtrack that it makes me want to write, rather than translate Virgil. And if you haven't seen this film, you're really missing out on some extremely powerful and groundbreaking cinema - and it's period drama!
4. Downton Abbey - John Lunn
Believe it or not, I'm revisiting Downton's music for whenever I'm in a light, upbeat mood, and when studying doesn't require extra tough concentration-enhancing methods. It's light, happy and familiar and that makes it work pretty well actually.
5. Viceroy's House - A.R. Rahman
The music is just as beautiful as this film is. But don't be deceived by its cheery, Downtonesque cover! The music is eerie, haunting, and beautifully heartbreaking. It's a very good soundtrack for when you are at the height of your concentration. I sometimes think that sad, wistful, sweeping-violinish music (be it soundtrack or "normal") works best for me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I associate the sadness with autumn, and I associate autumn with it being dark early, drinking lots of tea, and studying until late in the evening. Anyway, same as with Belle - if you haven't seen this, you definitely should!
6. My Cousin Rachel - Rael Jones
This also is a soundtrack that is especially good for those moments when you're in deep. Most of the songs have more or less the same melody, which makes it very easy to listen to, but not less beautiful. It has the same autumn-y vibe to it, and it is rather threatening sometimes. It's just a really rather peaceful classical soundtrack that you should definitely add to your playlists.
So that is it! About 90% of what I'm currently listening to. I'm not sure what it actually says about me that the music inspired me to write a blog instead of translate Latin, but oh, well. Does anyone know of more soundtracks we should all be listening to?
"The best time to start a blog, is when you don't have time at all"
- ancient proverb
Well, yes. I'm back at it again. I just can't seem to fix on something permanently, though I desperately want to. I want to record more of my life, and since I'm much too lazy for physically and much too bored with writing for no audience, a blog sort-of seemed the best possible solution.
So here we are. I've been good lately. In a really, really good place. I am really happy with my boyfriend. I'm happy with my academic life at the moment - I'm doing well and I'm enjoying it. I'm following a course on Intersectionality and I'm having a lot of fun studying something that is so relevant to today's world (as opposed to studying the various uses of the subjunctive in Latin...). I feel like my life is progressing, that I'm progressing, becoming more of an adult, getting more of a sense of what I want. I am also getting more confident with myself (I go to class without make-up sometimes??)
Of course there are things that aren't great. Despite getting a sense of what I want (which is actually not all that clear; just a vague thought of a) a nice job, doesn't have to be all that exciting, just a nice and steady adult job with a decent salary and b) a nice little home with my boyfriend and my cats and c) who knows from there), I have no clear idea of how I'm actually going to do it. My BA thesis is approaching reeeeally fast, and then after that there seems to be a big big gap in which everything is vague. I always had a sense of "I'll see where studying this gets me too", but the time for that is over. Am I going to do an MA? Why or why not? What do I want to achieve? I have no clue.
Also I'm growing a little more unhappy at my job. If anything causes me anxiety at all these days (GOD BLESS NO MORE ANXIETY), it's my job. It's not even something I can describe. I just know that I've outgrown it, and that I want to work somewhere else. Thing is, and I know I'm actually relatively privileged in this, is that I have a permanent contract which enables me to take time off when that BA thesis is getting more important, and offers me security once I've finished my degree. So it would be too big of a gamble to just throw away a permanent contract for the sake of wanting something else.
So I'm actually happy! I'm loving live right now. Things can be hard, choices can be hard, but still. Life is beautiful!
Until next time discussing mini existential crises! x :)
My name is Vera. I am a twenty-one year old student and catlady.