student

♥ Coming to terms with the impending death of a grandparent ♥

After 21 years of being fortunate enough to not have had to deal with the death of anyone close to me, I have recently been told that my eldest grandfather may only have a couple of months left to live. Yep, this is a fun one…

So I am currently in the library attempting to study for my final exam next week and thought maybe writing down my feelings would help to ensure that when the time comes I am mentally prepared. Of course, I’ll be devasted but I suppose I am lucky to have a warning. Coincidentally, my master’s degree in Medical Law and Ethics has introduced me to the medical world and the concept of death. I was so reluctant to choose modules relating to the ‘end of life’ at the beginning of the year as I branded it ‘too depressing.’ However, I quickly changed my mind when I realised that this reason was ridiculous! The module was popular and controversial (just like me! Just kidding – I am not popular,) and I am delighted that I changed my mind and did a module called Ethics at the End of Life. Basically, it taught me to grow the f*** up and come to terms with the bleak reality that we’re all going to die. Or even worse, end up in a Persistent Vegetative State. That sounds really depressing (and word of advice: have a think about what YOU would want in such a situation and consider signing an Advance Directive, or at least tell your loved ones clearly,) but I do think the module gave me a more positive outlook on death, and whilst some of my modules made me decide I want to be healthier and try to live to 100, this one forced me to contemplate the harsh reality of life. People will die. People you love will die. YOU will die. AND THERE AIN’T NOTHIN’ YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!

I did some coursework on ‘ageism’ in healthcare and whilst my initial reaction to the question of whether resources should be allocated using age cut-off points was in favour of such policies, my view rapidly changed as I thought more about the meaning of life. Who has got a right to tell you when your time is up? Who has got a right to tell you how to live, or not live? In reality, whilst I started eating vegetables with the intention of living until 100, my grandparents seem to have rather different perspectives. They claim to have done all they have wanted to do, and seen everywhere they have wanted to see. I have no doubts that in my grandfather’s lifetime he has seen it all – he was a doctor in the British army, has lived, worked and travelled all over the world, and lived long enough to know all of his grandchildren when they are old and mature enough to really get to know him and spend time with him. He’s even stuck around long enough for the birth of his first great-grandchild! All whilst having Type 1 diabetes since his 40s.

I’m sure most people out there have been through a similar loss (or losses) before so maybe this is deserving of an eye-roll. Poor me! 21 and has all grandparents and has never experienced a huge loss! I admire everyone who has been through such things and managed gracefully. This is me trying! Though when the day comes I really have no idea if I will be mentally prepared or glugging a mixture of wine, snot and tears… I think with a touch of spirituality, an ounce of weed* and as much time as possible spent with my grandparents I should be able to make it through this with a grateful smile, a stronger family and ideally…. a training contract?

 

*Don’t smoke weed kids. Comedic effect.

King’s College: Don’t be a fossil FOOL! DIVEST NOW!

I am angry and determined. I’m a ‘snowflake’ and ‘naive.’ There is a lot to be proactive about right now and whilst we may not be able to do much about Trump the C***’s presidency, we are in one of the best cities in the world to stand up for what is right. But I’m going to try (TRY) and focus on one issue here. It’s an issue that as a student, paying £9000 a year or more, we ought to be speaking up about!

So I just googled (ecosia-ed, actually) King’s sustainability and environmental policies and… they do exist. King’s CLAIMS to recognise ‘it has a responsibility towards being sustainable and protecting the environment.’ Funnily enough, sustainability week starts very soon! Yet for some reason, King’s still invests into an industry which, as we should all be aware, is DESTROYING OUR PLANET! For 30 years, the university has been investing student fees into the oil and gas corporations. Freedom of Information request made in 2013 revealed that the university invested over £8 million in fossil fuel companies (including Shell, Exxon Mobil, Rio Tinto, Centrica, Petro China, and China Petroleum.)

Why? Why is one of the top universities in the UK, if not world, still turning a blind eye to the severity of the situation? Why is action not being taken as fast as possible?  Why are others still failing to follow in the footsteps of Glasgow and SOAS (University of London)? Now, many in the UK have announced divestment plans. However, King’s only agreed to ‘phased divestment’ several months ago and progress seems extremely slow despite a recent survey showing that 96% of King’s students, support divestment from ALL fossil fuels NOW. I suppose we shouldn’t be that surprised that these colonial institutions are more concerned with profit than ethical responsibilities. Hell, even governments are not prioritising such issues. But surely, with levels of pollution being at the highest and most dangerous level yet and with three-quarters of the arctic now melted… you would think (or at least I would think,) that such well-educated bright young minds would be eager to do what they can to encourage sustainability and put pressure on our university to meet its ethical responsibilities.

King’s College Climate Change Emergency is a group set up to achieve just this, and I was proud to attend today’s rally, calling for direct action, at the Strand campus. Whilst campaigners have tried a variety of conventional channels over the years, such as peaceful protests, King’s are still failing to act fast despite the importance of such action for the planet, students and the reputation of the institution. Some activists sprayed removable statements such as ‘Divest now’ on walls of the uni in washable, tried-and-tested chalk-based paint. Foreseeably, some students disagree with this action despite the protesters turning up with an enormous bag of cleaning products. They also happily began to wash the walls and were stopped by King’s staff.

Now, I can try to understand the frustration of some. I attended SOAS, one of the most politically active universities in the UK (and the first in London to announce plans to fully divest from fossil fuels in April 2015.) There, students are vocal and active about causes they are passionate about, usually whether they see themselves as being directly affected or not. Sometimes, some students do take things too far when engaging in serious vandalism and disruption of other students and their work. However, this was rare and ultimately it was a blessing to be surrounded by active, compassionate individuals who dared to act to make the world a better place. Generally, the student body are willing to take whatever non-violent direct action necessary to ensure the institution lives up to its promises and responsibilities. Here is a snippet of the 2015 statement: ‘In June 2014, SOAS agreed to freeze all new investments in fossil fuels, while the question of divestment was investigated. Oil and gas equities currently stand at £1.5 million. In order to implement the divestment plan, an ethical investment criterion will be added to SOAS’ Ethical Investment Policy and the School’s Gift Acceptance Form and due diligence procedure for philanthropic gifts will be amended. The School will also continue to comprehensively collect data across SOAS to establish its carbon footprint.’ Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS at the time, said: “SOAS is proud to become the first university in London to divest and we hope more universities will follow suit. Divestment from fossil fuels will enable SOAS to fulfil its responsibilities as an ethical investor, while continuing to ensure that the School’s investments deliver a financial return. This is in line with SOAS’ commitment to environmental sustainability and an important part of the transition towards renewable energy, which SOAS takes very seriously as an institution. As the harmful social and environmental impacts of climate change becoming increasingly clear, these initiatives ensure that SOAS is doing all it can to show leadership on this issue.”

For environmentally-aware students across the globe who do not believe that climate change is all one big ‘hoax’… PLEASE do what you can to encourage your university to divest. The issue is an urgent one. With Brexit, Trump, and climate chaos, the peaceful prosperous future we all want is seriously threatened. We need to start fighting NOW! We may disagree about how to best achieve this goal, but let’s focus on being proactive and showing these institutions that we will not allow them to act like corporate monsters if we can help it. These are our institutions, and we should be able to be proud of studying at them.

From Bliss to Bills

Adulthood… the fairytale freedom we spend 18 years waiting for. The independence to eat what you want for dinner (junk food,) wherever (in bed) and however (usually avoiding the use of cutlery…) Getting to lie in bed all day or go out all night free from disapproving, sensible moans and groans! The liberty to dye your hair any horrific colour of your choosing, to leave your bedroom in your chosen, well-lived-in state and wear whatever inappropriate clothing you desire!

But first, along come all ridiculously boring, time-consuming, stress-inducing jobs we never intended to sign up for.

BILLS?! I can barely remember how to turn my calculator on. WASHING UP?! Come on dishwasher, you should be bigger and better. I should be busy getting drunk and doing nothing.

Why hello there!

I haven’t yet introduced myself. I’m an almost(?) 19 year old law student at SOAS in London. Yes, SOAS. (‘What does that stand for?’ you wonder…) School of Oriental and African Studies. (‘Oriental and African?’ you wonder…) No, I am doing a normal UK law degree and am neither oriental nor african, I’m afraid!

Having just completed my first year at my wonderful little SOASian bubble, I reminded myself to, unlike the past year, actually achieve something other than drink a LOT of wine whilst I return to my wonderful hometown of Malaga. And does that involve studying for my driving test? Doing something inspiring? Finishing my mum’s two-week-belated birthday project I’ve been putting off for fear of splinters? No. It involves talking about myself every so often. About completely random things. With no clear direction.

And so that is my plan! Bear with me for some bantz. (Oh wait, i can’t do that, apparently. Bear with me for some riveting new posts!)

How to look like you’re working hard when you are really really not:

procrastination

1. Make extensive lists. Your to-do list should include not only your important academic tasks but also any other tasks you might actually complete. As you complete a task, cross it off. As a result, the list will convey your productivity, and may also boost morale.

Example: brush teeth, finish coursework, go to the gym, catch up with lectures, make lunch, eat lunch, watch 30 rock, sunbathe

2. Appear to be organised and tidy. An example of a way to do this may be to put up the lists made in step 1 for those around you to see. Whilst this will help you fool others, it will also provide you with more procrastination activities.

3. Look focused on your work (or Facebook homepage,) by frowning intensely and occasionally typing several phases extremely fast.

4. Comment on or criticise others around you who are procrastinating almost as well as you are. Whilst hugely hypocritical, this step is extremely convincing. The downside is your peers may be more motivated to work thanks to you, whilst you continue to do nothing.

Example: ‘Gertrude why have you not done any more work?! Isn’t your coursework due next week?! You should really be working harder… Like me.’ *shakes head*

5. Start a blog or find another hobby which can provide a good decoy for step 3.