Exploring Madeira.

On the early hours of this past Monday morning, I arrived home from one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Despite the holiday getting off to a riotous start (thanks Jet2),  I had the loveliest time in Madeira with my boyfriend exploring the island and trying to get a tan.

As always, I wanted to share some of my favourite photos from our trip.

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Where to next?

Leigh.

An honest chat about the blogging community.

It’s almost been a month since I’ve posted anything on my blog and I’d love to tell you that I’ve been super busy recently and that I’ve just not had any time to blog whatsoever. I’d love to tell you that I have so many exciting posts scheduled. But I’d be lying.

My excuse, to put it simply, is that I’ve lost my way. I think a lot of people have.

I pride myself on not filling my blog with the same stuff as everyone else. I don’t say that to sound like a total prick.  I don’t have a niche and I’m fine with that. I’ve pigeon-holed my blogs in the past and being restricted to being solely a ‘beauty blog’ or a ‘fashion blog’ makes blogging a bit of a chore. Little 17 year old beauty blogger me was completely blind-sided when I realised I was just writing the same regurgitated reviews as everyone else.

Blogging is completely different to how it was five years ago. It genuinely hurts my heart that some of my favourite blogs to read are now just full of sponsored content. I hate to describe people as ‘sell outs’ but I feel like I’m left with no other option. I get it, build your brand, make some money, get free stuff to review, that’s cool, but it shouldn’t entirely consume your blog and what it was originally about. Nobody started reading your blog in the beginning because of your free meal in a restaurant that you reviewed. They read it because you wrote in your own style about your own life, thoughts and feelings.

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I started my first blog when I was sixteen. It was a creative outlet for me while I was sitting exams and trying to get into university. I fell in love with the people I was chatting to on Twitter, Instagram and in the comment sections on blog posts. I felt involved. Almost five years later, I feel like the blogging world is completely saturated with a handful of big name players being the only ones that anyone cares enough about to follow. I don’t feel like it’s inclusive anymore. It feels like one big competition with everyone trying to out do each other and if you don’t have a niche, you’re not relevant.

I don’t get involved in Twitter chats, Follow Fridays, or go to meet ups or events. And you’re probably thinking ‘no wonder you don’t feel involved, you don’t try to get involved. I don’t. Because I have tried it in the past and I don’t feel welcome and I guarantee, so many other bloggers feel the same. I’m not trying to portray bloggers who do participate as ‘bad’ people but I feel like the whole community has become quite cliquey and almost elitist. The big beauty bloggers have their own tribe, the popular fashion bloggers stick together and so do the foodies. And I find that really sad.

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I’m not trying to shit all over established bloggers. I have a handful of favourites that I read religiously because their content is varied and it really does interest me. More and more people are quitting their jobs to become full-time bloggers and truthfully, I think that’s amazing. Working with brands, working from home and being your own boss sounds brilliant. I don’t have anything against the bloggers who do that but don’t forget where you came from. Your first few followers were there because they liked you for you before sponsored content was involved. They liked reading your authentic content.

At present, I feel like I kind of don’t know where I’m going with my blog and I’m lacking in inspiration. I feel like too many people in the community are trying to shout their names all while writing about the exact same things.

I’m not going to quit blogging. I love it the same way I did when I was still in high school. I’m not going to bend my blog and my writing style to force myself into a mould that makes me appealing to brands and I’m certainly not going force myself to fit into a ‘community’ to try and build my following either.

What do you think about blogging? Do you think it’s changed over the recent years? I want to know your thoughts!!

Leigh.

 

Your ‘pro-feminism’ t-shirt is part of the problem.

The slogan t-shirt is as much of a wardrobe necessity as a crisp white shirt or a little black dress. Wham’s “Choose Life” or Cara Delevigne’s “Last Clean T-shirt” back in 2013 are perhaps some of the most recognisable.

Christian Dior’s “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt recently made its debut in a politically fuelled runway show. The high-street fast-fashion retailer and chronic catwalk copier, Topshop, wanted to put their stamp on this trend, selling inspired versions of a £490 Dior t-shirt for a fraction of the price. Now, Topshop now offer several different tops and sweaters boasting pro-feminism and girl power slogans. Pro-feminism tops and sweaters that don’t go past a size 16, that are sold by women and girls who are paid VERY slightly above minimum wage.

Topshop do not have the cleanest track record for ethical manufacturing either it would seem. It’s no secret that the brand use international factories to have their stock produced – who doesn’t these days? However, there were reports of previous highly sought after collections – including Kate Moss’ limited edition collection and more recently Beyoncé’s ‘Ivy Park’-  allegedly being produced in factories by women and girls who were paid mere pennies. While these t-shirts are not part of a celebrity release, you do have to wonder if they’re being manufactured in a similar way.

Suddenly, this trend is nothing more than a feeble polyester t-shirt with an empty and disappointing message. Topshop declared the t-shirts part of their collection of “Talking Point Tees”.  In all honesty, there is nothing really to talk about except the hugely ironic message they are sending out about feminism to their customers. Essentially, customers who purchase the garments are supporting poorly paid retail and manufacturing jobs both in Britain and abroad. It might say feminist on it but frankly, it doesn’t even begin support the plight for gender equality. If anything, it degrades it.

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According to Topshop’s item description, wearers of the t-shirt will “transform the plain white t-shirt to make a bold statement this season”. Not only does the classic wardrobe staple of a plain white t-shirt require no transformation whatsoever, the only statement being made by those wearing them is “I don’t actually understand the concept of feminism”.

There has been a global surge in the awareness of feminism and it has almost become popular to support the movement and declare your feminist status across various social media platforms. Scrolling down Instagram and Twitter, I can’t help but feel that the whole sudden interest, particularly from brands, is a bit disingenuous.

These slogan t-shirts are  very much a passive and lack lustre attempt at supporting feminism. In an industry where creativity has no limits, Topshop and other high street favourites could have fashioned something that was captivating and progressive. Something that would become a true talking point for females around the world. It gives me the impression that the company care more about the profits rather than supporting feminist values.

This doesn’t necessarily make it okay for designer brands such as Dior to trivialise feminism either. Whether its £490 or £22, it boils down to the same thing.  Ultimately, buying and wearing a top with ‘feminism’ plastered across it is the epitome of “white feminism”.  It’s a pathetic bid of activism from women who do have choices, freedom and access to education, jobs, finance and material things. From women who are guilty of taking for granted the rights and abilities they have as a female living in the developed world. Women who are so absorbed in self-image that they forget about all of the women and girls around the globe who are continuously under-mined and disregarded.

It would seem that feminism is now just another throwaway trend. Creating a fad out of a genuine desperation for equality of the sexes is a tasteless fashion faux pas and not really very feminist at all.

Leigh.

* I know I might be a bit behind the times with this post but it was submitted as part of a university assignment feature writing and journalism and therefore couldn’t be uploaded anywhere before now because plagiarism, y’know?? It’s also not meant to offend – just some thoughts.*

Prague in Pictures.

Never have I fallen in love with a city as much as I did with Prague. I recently spent 5 days there with my boyfriend and it is definitely my favourite city out of any that I’ve ever visited. If you follow me on Instagram (@leighmeganm) you’ll have seen some of my Prague trip photo spam already, but as always, I love to share pictures from any trips I go on. Here are a few of my favourites.

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Our Hotel was about a 10 minute walk to Republic Square, also home to the Powder Tower. The tall black building, once used to store gun powder is not only impressive to look at but boasts some amazing views of the city. Access to the top is relatively cheap at 100CZK so around £3. You can see around the city for miles, the only down fall being the world’s longest, narrowest and darkest staircase to the top.

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The Jan Hus Monument stands in the middle of Prague’s Old Town Square, a place where we spent quite a bit of time during our trip. Old Town Square is a people watching paradise. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to rest at with a Czech Beer or Flavoured Homemade Lemonade – which seems to be the soft drink of choice in Prague.

Just a minute walk away is the famous Astronomical Clock on the walls of the Old Town City Hall. Unfortunately the building was covered in scaffolding and then eventually partially boarded up during our trip. I got as good a photo as I possibly could, but I’d love to see it again when it’s not being worked on. Every hour of every day it had hundreds of people gathered round to see it and quite rightly so.

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On our way to Dinner at The Lemon Leaf, a lovely Thai restaurant (get the ‘Udon Keng’ a huge bowl of pan fried udon noodles with the nicest shredded duck, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, garlic, ginger and piquant mirin sauce – it is AMAZING, I swear), I spotted this statue of a man with an umbrella hanging from a wire near Mosaic House. Prague is full of little arty bits like this. I love it so much.

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On the third day of our trip we decided to Visit Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral which stands in the castle grounds. I’m not usually the type of person who is into history/castles/cathedrals but I couldn’t pass this up. The Castle and Cathedral tower over the city and the buildings are stunning, not to mention the stained glass windows in the cathedral. We spent a good three or so hours looking round it all. We didn’t have the opportunity to access all of the courtyards as there was several official visits being made to the president but what we got to see was definitely worth it.

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Nearing the end of our tour, our tour guide directed us to a statue of a ‘boy with a golden penis’  in the castle courtyard in front of the Toy Museum. According to our guide, rubbing it brings you good luck, so me being the tourist piece of trash that I am, couldn’t resist a picture. Make of it what you will.

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At the end of our tour we headed down to the castle viewpoint where we were met with the most beautiful views of the city. I could’ve spent all day here taking photos and just taking in the view. The architecture in Prague is so beautiful and entirely Instagram worthy. If you ever come to Prague, I really recommend visiting the castle, cathedral and the viewpoint, it is nothing short of amazing.

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On our last full day of our trip, we decided to rent (the world’s most uncomfortable) electric bikes to allow us to see part of the city we might have missed otherwise. We cycled along the Vlata River, across some questionably loose and potentially life threatening wooden bridges, alongside some crazy drivers and through the tiny back alleys of the old town. While my legs didn’t forgive me for a couple of days, I’d really recommend doing this as you get to see little parts of the city that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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I’m the first to admit that I’m not a huge Beatles fan, but I was desperate to go and visit the Lennonova Zed – The John Lennon wall . Covered from top to bottom in graffiti, writing, intricate drawings, sculptures among many other things. Politically influenced messages and John Lennon Lyrics take pride of place. We visited the huge shrine on our whistle-stop bike tour of the city,  just a few minutes from Charles Bridge. I’m so glad I got the chance to see it.

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We spent some time around the Charles Bridge area, somewhere that is ALWAYS full of tourists no matter what time of day. It falls across the gorgeous Vlata River where you can take boat trips to see the city. I was trying to take a photo of the locks on the bridge and this man in the sailor suit moved perfectly into shot for this picture, I love it.

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I’d rush back to Prague in a heartbeat. I’d go back right now if I could. The people are so friendly, the city is beautiful and the casual, laissez-faire vibe of the city suits me to down to a T.

I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t already looked at flights to go back next summer…

Leigh.

Exploring Camden Market

This past weekend, I spent some time in London after going to the o2 Arena to see John Mayer. We headed up to Camden Town on the Saturday to have a stroll around the markets to see what was on offer. Naturally, I took too many photos.

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We took the northern line tube up to Camden and the Camden Locks market is around a 5-10 minute walk away. It’s a totally different vibe from being slap-bang in the city centre albeit still as busy but there’s no urgency to do anything.  In Camden market you are spoilt for choice and unsure of where to begin. There’s a billion and one food choices from bars, to street food and drink stands from all around the world. There’s live music, street performances and hundreds of stalls with anything from vintage clothes, to art and prints, second hand records, craft beer and ales and specialist tea and coffee blends. If you are planning on heading to Camden, give yourself a few hours at least, to make sure you get around everything.

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After a couple of hours we headed to LOCK17, situated in The T.E Dingwall Building for a bite to eat and a few drinks before heading back out to the markets. It’s a pretty cool little place that doubles as a gig venue We grabbed a few of the Small Plates to share rather than a big meal as we were heading up to Notting Hill for Dinner. If you end up in LOCK17, you NEED to try the spicy chicken wings – so so good.

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I definitely will be heading back again to Camden whenever I’m next down in London, it’s probably one of my new favourite areas of the city. It’s a totally different vibe to the city centres where everyone is too keen on rushing everywhere. It’s so chilled and casual and even if you don’t go to the market with the intention of really buying or trying anything, it makes for a great people-watching spot.

Leigh.

 

 

Things people my age do that I cannot stand.

People my age have some annoying habits. I’ve made a nice little passive aggressive list of all the things people my age do that really annoy me. I know it wouldn’t do if we were all the same and I know they shouldn’t affect me but you know when something just becomes so annoying? 

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Obsessing over unicorns and mermaids. I honestly will never understand.  This probably bothers me more than it should. We didn’t care for them when we were nine so why all of a sudden is everything in the shape of unicorn heads and seashells? New Look is definitely the biggest culprit in promoting this horrendous trend. Their homeware range would have such potential if it didn’t have ‘contains unicorn tears’ written all over it. Surely it’s not just me. Get it together people.

Thinking that 18-30 holidays are still cool. They’re only cool on your final year of secondary school because its your first holiday without parents. After that, nah. There are so many amazing places to see and explore yet some people will STILL opt for Ayia Napa. No thanks.

Going travelling round a country for a week and then instantly think they’re ‘well travelled and cultured’. Please.

Not voting or having no political stance. The ageing population and the baby boomers have royally fucked over my generation on multiple occasions in a number of ways but there are still people my age who don’t give a fuck about influencing political change.

Unnecessary codependency. Especially over the smallest things like going and speaking to an authoritative figure, asking for help or refusing to do something unless someone does it with them. If you still need someone to hold your proverbial mental hand at age 20 there’s something not right. Do ya own thing, innit.

Boomerangs on Instagram of girls clinking glasses of prosecco. Imagine a world where you can go out with your friends, drink prosecco and NOT document it. We get it, you like a drink. So do the rest of us.

Pretending to be wine connoisseurs. Stop reading through the wine list in restaurants and acting as if you know shit. We all know you’re all about that Echo Falls Summer Berries life and that’s okay. 

Hanging out in Sainsbury’s car parks at 10pm in the freezing cold to show off their cars with Heinz bean can exhausts and blacked out windows. Do you seriously not have anything better to do?

Posting pictures on Instagram that have Snapchat captions on them. Instant feed aesthetics ruiner. A perfectionist’s (me) nightmare.

Not being able to go a night out without having your make up done professionally. This to me is really annoying. Getting ready is half the fun, especially with your friends. I blame the rise of Instagram make up artists and outbreak of ‘self-taught MUA’s’. Who even has the money to get their make up done for EVERY night out anyway? If It’s a student night out, you certainly don’t need to look like an ‘Instagram Baddie’ (I cannot believe I just wrote that I want to shrivel and die).

I do like people my age, I swear. Just not all the time.

Leigh.

(Anti)social Media

Having been crowned ‘most addicted to Twitter’ and ‘most likely to win gold at the selfie olympics’ at my high school prom back in 2014, it’s relatively safe to say that I am partial to spending (a lot of) my free time on social media. Quite the titles to uphold as you can imagine.

Bluntly, Social Media is almost entirely unavoidable and I don’t mean to be dramatic but it’s a  bit like the plague. It’s nowhere near as bad as the plague, obviously, but it is a somewhat accurate comparison in terms of catchiness. Bare with me.

If anything, social media gives us the perfect excuse to be anything other than social. It allows us to hide behind a screen and excuse ourselves from physically interactive situations like meeting for coffee or going for dinner, drinks and a good old catch up with friends. You already know about your friend’s new job from her Facebook. You already know how her holiday was because you already liked the pictures from her trip on Instagram so why would you waste time to meet up when she’s going to tell you stuff you already know, right?

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My generation seems to be one that is plagued with anxiety concerning direct and indirect human contact and I have to question if this is due to us becoming completely numb to other methods of interaction that don’t include DM’ing someone or tweeting them back . I’m not doubting that social phobia is a genuine illness and some people physically cannot cope with interacting with others, particularly those that they don’t know at all. Unfortunately though, nowadays the majority of us won’t pick up the phone to the doctors or dentist because we don’t like speaking on the phone. We’d rather send a Facebook message to a hair salon for an appointment rather than go in and speak to a stylist. We won’t book to eat in a restaurant if it doesn’t let us book online. Social media and the ease of being able to interact online have more or less destroyed both face-to-face and vocal interaction.

I don’t intend to sound like a total cynic. I do love social media and I enjoy flicking through Twitter and Instagram maybe a little too much.  I have a social media and digital marketing internship and in the future, I’d ideally like to work in social media marketing and branding . I like being able to easily contact my friends who don’t live anywhere near me. I like being able to chat with my university friends about assignments, I like being able to share my opinions on current affairs, new albums, trends or annoying people on the train  via my twitter account. I like having somewhere to share a few pictures here and there of my favourite memories.

Recently in a digital branding lecture at university, I learnt that only 10% of people who are socially active online would willingly participate in a digital detox. And While I’m probably part of the contrasting 90% it simply reinforces just how consumed we are with having a presence on social media platforms. We now live in a time where we have to have Twitter constantly to hand to feel in the loop. We have to constantly refresh our snapchat stories page to see what our friends are up to instead of actually asking them what they’ve been doing.

Social sites back in the day in the form of Myspace and Bebo were exciting new channels of communication, allowing us to interact with others online in a format other than email or everyone’s favourite MSN messenger – oh the nostalgia. Naturally, they got a bit shit and were overtaken by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. However, these sites aren’t exactly exciting anymore either but the pressure of remaining active on them is ever present. If you don’t post regularly, you’re viewed as boring, disinteresting and out of the loop.

Social media is everywhere and I mean everywhere. Almost to the point where it has become overly intrusive. Let me give you an example. You’re in a clothing store, you pick up a few things to go and try on. You head to the fitting room and you’re standing there more or less naked in your underwear. You glance up at the mirror and theres a sticker plastered across it “Snapchat us your outfits to be featured on our story!” with multiple hashtags to use on Instagram if you want to post it there too. You have to wonder where the boundaries lie. In a moment that should be private for you to try on some potential new clothes, you don’t have the peace to just do that without being hounded to share it with the world.

I don’t see social media sites going anywhere soon. If anything, I think they’re quickly going to become everyone’s main method of communication if they’re not already. Of course the importance and increased use of social media sites is a sign of the times but it’s just not really very social at all, is it?

Leigh.

February in Photos.

In all honesty, I was glad January was over. Towards the end of the month, I spent just about every evening looking at holidays, sunny places and trying to make plans to get out the house. January is nauseatingly boring and I was wishing it away like nobody’s business. February finally arrived and I spent the first few days of the month at university and at my internship studio.

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I was fortunate enough to discover the world’s most perfect coffee in February.  I only really stopped by Pret on my way to my internship as I needed wifi to allow me to get John Mayer tickets for his upcoming London gig. If you are ever near a Pret a Manger, you HAVE to buy yourself a Coconut Latte. You won’t regret it. Unless of course you don’t like coffee, or coconut or milk… It is amazing, trust me.

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The weekend finally rolled around and I spent the majority of it with my boyfriend.  Back in September, ‘I got us tickets for Still Game Live 2: Bon Voyage’ and it was finally time to go and see it. I was a little sceptical before hand. As a huge and I mean HUGE fan of Still Game, I didn’t want to be disappointed. I had seen the previous live show in 2014 and while I thought it was funny, a lot of people were a bit underwhelmed. However, we weren’t disappointed, the production was brilliant and I recommend it to anyone who loves the TV show.

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I really struggled with ideas for blog content towards the end of January and in the beginning of February. I very much hit a wall and I hate putting up half hearted content. Nothing exciting was happening that I felt like I wanted to write about but I hate leaving my blog without fresh content so I bought myself a lovely notebook from Paperchase and scribbled some ideas down. I spent the afternoon before my university classes hiding from the snow and planning some posts over ANOTHER Pret coconut latte – shock.

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After a busy week, I spent most of the weekend again with my boyfriend. Valentine’s fell awkwardly on a Tuesday this year but we don’t really do Valentines so we ‘celebrated’ it early and went for a Nando’s and went bowling. I hadn’t been bowling in years but I was actually not bad, still lost both games though.

A new week came around and I was back to uni and back to my internship which I’m still enjoying. I’ve written a post regarding internships: tips for getting them, my thoughts and feelings towards them. I feel really lucky to have one. Interning for a business, I see just how competitive it is to get a placement. I’ve already written a post about internships a few weeks back so if you want to check it out, you can.

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Myself and my mum headed to the cinema to see ‘Lion’ in February. In all honesty I had no idea what the film was about, hadn’t seen the trailer but I knew that Dev Patel was in it.  Never did I think  one of the teenage tearaways from the ever popular Skins, would play such an emotive character in a film that would bring the ENTIRE screening to tears. Grown men were literally WEEPING in front of me in the cinema. I’d definitely rush back to see this film, it pulled on just about every string of my otherwise cold and stony heart. It won’t be in the cinema much longer so if you get the chance to go and see it while it’s still out, definitely go. You will feel all the feels and you won’t regret it.

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On Saturday the 18th, I was heading to Glasgow to see one of my favourite bands – Deaf Havana. I’ve already written a full post about this gig which you can read here if you fancy. I had a brilliant time and I was so happy to finally have seen them live after the longest hiatus in the world (not really but y’know, a remarkably long 4 years).

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Towards the end of the month I was lucky enough to catch a cold which I’m yet to shift. Consequently, nothing too thrilling was happening and I didn’t have many plans at all. It  just meant I spent a lot of time in cafes sipping on green tea and looking for sympathy.

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Leigh.

You don’t have to study abroad.

As soon as you hit third year in university you are bombarded with emails about studying abroad, student bursaries for studying abroad and notifications about study abroad meetings with tutors.

Granted, it’s optional – you don’t have to go.

These past few weeks and months, a bunch of people I know at a few different universities were heading out all over the world to spend five or six months studying in countries across Europe with some going even further afield.

I’m not one of these people and I don’t regret my decision.

Studying abroad is something to me that at face value, seems exciting. An opportunity to live in and embrace another country and its cultures. Of course the main reason of travelling to another country is to study at a different university but I’d also get to see another part of the world, meet new people and experience new things. My pasty skin could also do with some sunshine. But the more I looked into it, the less I wanted to go. No specific factor put me off the idea of studying abroad. When it came to application time, I just wasn’t overly keen.

Five or six months away from home is a lot of time. Particularly if you are going to be spending a majority of it alone and for someone like me who is a total homebody, it just seems a bit daunting.  It’s expensive too, even with erasmus funding and student loans. Further afield and you’ve to drum up the thousands of pounds yourself. The pros and cons are evident and ultimately nobody but you can make the final decision about whether to stay or go.

If I’d have chosen to study abroad, I think it would probably have been because I always want to go and see somewhere different. I love visiting new places but I don’t need to study abroad to do that. I have a 5 month summer to spend as much time as I like travelling and seeing new places. Not studying abroad allows me to save money to spend as much time travelling in summer as humanly possible.

Honestly, I’m happy studying at home. It allows me to avoid forking out hundreds of pounds each month on rent and giving up a job at home that I might not get back. It lets me be around my friends, family and boyfriend daily. It allows me to work and intern and gain valuable experience that will aid me in a future career. It also allows me to get a head start on  essential university course work for 4th Year of University, which at this stage is a blessing because I have no idea what I’m doing (send help).

I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything by not going abroad. I was surprised to find out that the majority of people stay at home. I think that if I did go, I’d have struggled to be anything other than miserable and homesick. All I’ve heard so far from friends studying abroad are horror stories about loneliness, accommodation deals falling through and being located nowhere even remotely near where they need to be.

It’s not my intention to talk you out of studying abroad but I am telling you that you do have the option to stay at home and it is quite a normal thing to do.