Reflections from the Cambridge Half Marathon

Over a week ago, the 7th edition of the Cambridge half marathon started at 9:30am. Over 9000 people descended to Midsummer Common to run in the…

Half Marathon? Why not! 

Over a week ago, the 7th edition of the Cambridge half marathon started at 9:30am. Over 9000 people descended to Midsummer Common to run in the cold March weather, which is more than double the number of runners from when it started in 2012. Not being the most athletic I decided to join this group, getting to midsummer around nine am and the grass was already replaced with mud, luckily the organisation had provided tin foil blankets to keep us all warm. Which apparently are donated to the homeless shelters around Cambridge after the marathon. The organisation had done an amazing job organising all the stalls and tents around the common to accommodate the amount of bags and bikes brought along.

The route of the marathon led us from Midsummer common to Chesterton road past King’s College and Fitzwilliam museum all the way through Trumpington and the toughest bit around Grandchester which is where you run past the halfway point to go back into town and past the backs to make it back to the common where lots of family and friends have gathered to cheer you on.

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Sketch of a runner by our new illustration artist: Maisy Ruffels 

When signing up for a half marathon non-runners declare you for crazy and experienced runners will tell you about how rewarding it is when you finish. This is the second time I’ve participated and I can tell you, while that might be the feeling for some – it was not in my case. When you finish there was nothing of the feeling of reward, I regretted starting in the first place. In fact; this is the second time I’ve ran and despite it – I’m pretty sure I will do it again. Why? To prove that I can do it, but also so I can get that medal and a great Instagram post!

So do join us next year at the 8th edition of the Saucony Half Marathon that is currently up for a favourite award for half marathon with 5000+ entries at the Running Awards at https://therunningawards.com/vote/179/183#vote

Well done again to everyone who took part!

By Merel van Schooten 

18 March 2018

Illustrations by Maisy Ruffels.

Culture Focus: Ibiza

It’s February, it’s -2 outside and summer is still four months away. To get the summer buzz back, I will be reminiscing and talking about the top things in…

It’s February, it’s -2 outside and summer is still four months away. To get the summer buzz back, I will be reminiscing and talking about the top things in Ibiza which I loved when I visited last summer, being one of my favourite trips and would highly recommend to anyone! Our culture focus pieces aim to encourage students to look at the wider world, learn about a new culture and give you a chilled reading break from your studies/

First of all, Ibiza can be for the party-goers who love staying out till the sun rises or for the chilled-out kind who love exploring the island’s historic culture – it suits everyone! Ibiza is the third largest island of the Balearic Islands with its capital city being Ibiza Town; mainly split up into two parts – San Antonio (the party part) and Ibiza Town (the chill part.)

San Antonio Beach – The most popular beach on the island, the long strip stretches out for  miles, giving holiday-makers various viewpoints of the island. The beach is surrounded by bars and chill-out places with the most popular being Ibiza Rocks, hosting a variety of bands and artists, performing live throughout the summer season.  There are also a lot of water sport activities to take part in which are a lot of fun!

Ocean Beach – Well known for being the best daytime pool party on the island, Ocean Beach is an absolute must when visiting Ibiza. The venue has a variety of swimming pools, sunbeds, bars and insane DJs, making it one of the most luxurious places on the island. Surrounded by entertainment, acrobats in the air, inflatables covering the pools and giant disco balls, the fun is never-ending, partying till the sun goes down!

Café Mambo – The most iconic bar in the whole of Ibiza. Café Mambo has become renowned for being located in the best place for sunset views, being able to enjoy cocktails, live music and watching the sun set behind the sea, giving off amazing views! BBC Radio 1 tend to host their Ibiza weekender at Café Mambo, adding to its popularity.

Ibiza Town – Full of historic architecture, boutique shops, food markets and a selection of bars, there is plenty to do and see! There are many museums, art galleries and historical churches to admire too, offering something completely different compared to the main strip in San Antonio Bay. The must have food to try when visiting Is Spanish paella, being the Spanish famous dish!

Overall, I think that Ibiza is definitely a place to add to your bucket list if you haven’t been already. Flights out there are relatively cheap and even accommodation is too if you look on the right travel sites online!

By Eliza Rawson 

26th February 2018

Image Credit: Eliza Rawson

American Gun Violence

By Elle Haywood – On the 20th April 1999, 13 people were murdered at a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. On the 15th February 2018, 17 people were…

By Elle Haywood

On the 20th April 1999, 13 people were murdered at a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. On the 15th February 2018, 17 people were murdered at a shooting in Parkland, Florida. In 19 years, there have been 25 fatal school shootings in the United States of America, let alone other incidents including the Orlando Night Club shooting in 2016 and the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 which has been recorded as the largest mass shooting in history which included the deaths of 58 people and the further horrific injuries to 851 others. (1)

This week’s shooting, occurring at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is one of the deadliest US school shooting since 2012 at Sandy Hook high school. At Douglas, three teachers and 14 students aged 14-18 have been reported to have lost their lives in the violence. The shooter has been named as Nickolas Cruz, an ex-student at the school. The FBI has admitted to having been tipped off about Cruz last year, and there were images on his now-deleted social media page of him with guns and knives. The BBC has reported that:

“He has appeared in court charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder”. 

“Two separate Instagram accounts, now deleted, purport to show Mr Cruz posing with guns and knives.”

“US media quote the head of white supremacist group the Republic of Florida, Jordan Jereb, as saying Mr Cruz had once trained with them, but the group had not wanted or ordered him to carry out a school shooting.”  (2)

Despite these attacks on citizens, the issue is highly politicised and requires White House legislation to push through gun laws, and receive a majority vote from congress and the senate. To those not familiar as to why there is a lack of legislation, one of the reasons is because of the 2nd amendment in the Bill of Rights which was written in 1789. The Bill of Rights includes the 10 amendments to the constitution which was written in 1788 (3) . The document was written by the founding fathers as a physical way in which Americans would have set laws to abide by, and rights in which they owned as citizens of this nation. However, over 2 centuries later, the world as we know it has changed, including weaponry and society – which is a case to argue for laws that are appropriate for the modern world.

Most countries place emphasis on protecting their constitutions because of the rights they have entrenched within them, especially the US constitution which references freedom of speech in the first amendment. In the UK, we have an unwritten constitution, which allows the courts to interpret laws as they choose and not to a strictly worded document. This could be viewed as more democratic and applicable to the 21st century. In 1987 in Hungerford, UK 16 people were shot dead, and in Stirling, Scotland in 1966 – 18 were killed at Dunblane Primary School. After this, strict Firearm rules were implemented which require an individual to have an SGC FAC certificate and have no prior convictions or a history of medical conditions (4).

The point here is that, having no regulations in regards to guns is contributing to these fatal mass attacks in the US. Many individuals are quick to comment on the fact that it is ‘people not guns’ who cause these unnecessary deaths, however fail to acknowledge that it is access to these weapons that is the issue. Many high profile figures have commented on the mental health of the individual as an issue, but currently the US and sadly the UK government has reduced mental health funding. There is a correlation to suggest that by having gun license laws enacted, then there would be a reduction in gun violence – as seen in the UK for just one example.

These sentiments are similar to those expressed by the students and families affected by the shootings in Florida. Many young people who attend Parkland High School have spoken out on Twitter. A few high profile figures have commented on not politicizing the matter, however the unfortunate students who were literally hiding in cupboards and rooms in fear of their lives have condemned this. During a CNN broadcast, one of the survivors begged to politicians: “We are children. You guys are, like, the adults. Take action, work together, come over your politics, and get something done”. In terms of changing the legislation, VOX reported that:

“The truth, obviously, is that it’s extraordinarily unlikely that anything will be done. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the United States Senate, and even if two or three moderates could be tempted to cross the aisle and endorse a modest gun control measure, as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and a couple of others did in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, you’d need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, which is very hard.” (5).

Despite this, it appears evident that people are going to keep protesting against the lack of gun controls, including thousands who attended the funeral of those who lost their lives. As university students ourselves, it is devastating to even consider this happening in our country and we are lucky that we have laws in place to reduce the ownership of firearms. This issue needs to be tackled head-on, with the commentary and cooperation with other governments and secret services globally to help reduce, nay eliminate mass shootings.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Source References:

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_shootings_in_the_United_States 

(2) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43081361 

(3) www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com

(4)  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1997/5/contents) 

(5)  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/15/17016136/majority-stoneman-douglas-parkland-david-hogg)

Let’s Be Honest: ARU’S Mental Health Report

By Elle Haywood and Hanushka Karnani – Over the course of the year, Anglia Ruskin University’s Student Union and Student Services have been running a campaign targeted…

By Elle Haywood and Hanushka Karnani

Over the course of the year, Anglia Ruskin University’s Student Union and Student Services have been running a campaign targeted at focusing on student’s mental health as a top priority. They believe in addressing the stigma surrounding mental health head-on and create an open conversation about this invisible illness. Across the country, there has been a rise of students suffering from mental health issues which are not always being addressed or diagnosed, primarily because of the fear of judgement and lack awareness. The campaign has included running a survey and subsequently a report about the mental health of students and staff at ARU, which has helped to identify issues and causes of this. The report is incredibly significant as it presents recommendations about the provisions the university can make for those suffering and pledges about changes that should be made to improve the quality of help available.

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We were invited along to the launch of the Let’s Be Honest report, which included speeches by the President of the SU Jamie Smith, the author of the report Hannah Belcher and the director of Student Services Julie Walkling. The Vice-Chancellor also skyped in from the Chelmsford campus, and there was a gallery display of mental health-related artwork contributed by students.

We spoke firstly with Jamie about her involvement in the report and how they mapped out the campaign.

 “The union are firm believers that mental health is just the same as physical health, and that is really important to us. If you broke your leg or broke your arm, you would go and see a doctor. There should be no stigma around poor mental health, and you should feel able to help yourself out in the same way. We currently are recruiting for students to go on mental health first aid training, including committee members and reps. You write a 250 application about why this training would be beneficial for you in your position – and with limited spaces, we want to give it to people who can really go out to help students. All our officers at the SU are also trained in this area.”

Jamie Smith holding a copy of the report in front of student artwork portraying mental health 
jamie

 “So in terms of getting these recommendations implemented, the next step is a strong lobbying process. The university are quite good at supporting SU campaigns but we are asking a lot from them naturally as this is a huge crisis, and working in partnership with them is vital. We play quite a critical but friendly role, because we need to make sure the university is acting upon this report and making sure the sole focus is in the interests of their students. If they put up any barriers we will fight against those. We also want to develop the Let’s Be Honest Campaign as well as the report. Doing things such as creating advertisements, releasing these statistics to students to get them behind it. It hopefully encourages the conversation surrounding it, such as ‘yeah I’ve had poor mental health’ and stand up to help break the stigma. It’s important for students to know that everyone has gone through something and we have a shared common experience of being a student. Whilst also being individuals, we are also united in having been or as students, and issues such as fees which are a huge problem, and we should be ok talking about it.”

 “We have launched something called the principles of partnership, which has been created in conjunction with the university, and essentially says that we as students shouldn’t be given a decision and asked to comment on it – students should be part of the decision making process. The report backs up this notion, because students are constantly told what they need to be, how they need to do things, when in fact students are individuals and should be able to do what works best for them.”  

“The plan is for CMT to have access to all of this data, and then send out the link and PDF online. We have had so much university support from different faculties which is more than expected, and this turnout shows how important this report is. Even having the student union in a new, physical space is crucial to the welfare of students in that there is a place for people to come and feel comfortable and talk to someone. For example, just having a small front desk takes away an imposing barrier, and people can just walk in.”

A student observing some of the written artwork

This has been a huge part of Jamie’s presidency and will definitely leave a mark as a significant campaign during her tenure and the report has only just been published, which will lead the way in a progressive mental health movement throughout 2018. The walls of the SU were decked out in paintings, interactive displays, poems and graphic design work. Many people were walking around taking it in, the displays showing physical and literal representations of how it feels to cope with mental health. One of the artists there tonight, Media and Film student Milena Beyene, spoke about the different aspects of her painting, and how it was an opportunity to create art without the pressures of assessments or essays.

One of the artists, Milena Beyne, reading through the full report and plans 
milena

Next, we spoke to the Director of Students Services Julie Walkling, who has played a crucial role in the campaign so far and will continue to do so over the next few months. Her speech during the evening was uplifting and pragmatic, which she ventured into detail with when speaking to us after:

“The campaign was so refreshing; it was really nice to have a different take on mental health. It was nice to have a shared experience, as we all experience this. Not just students, but staff too – it’s all of us as people.”

 “A lot of these recommendations are already in the works, the university has taken some time to consider this wonderful report, and we are always trying to make things better. We have this ethos in wanting to do more, but there are never enough resources or hours in the day to do everything we want to do. The nice thing about being in partnership with the SU and the student’s voice is that it often helps us to make a case. If the students want something, it’s better than just asking alone. We want to offer the best service possible by making as many provisions as we can and get as many resources as needed to deal with all situations.”

“We have already secured funding for three extra posts in the counselling and wellbeing department. What we are doing is recruiting for cover, but hopefully have these as permanent positions soon. We have also added two extra posts with staff this academic year through the student services and reprioritising resources. This has also included allocations for helping students who have gone through sexual violence, and may not realise at the time the impact this may have had on their mental health. It is a balance of seeking help, understanding your mental health and finding ways to deal with it in a healthy way.” 

“We all have issues surrounding mental health at one time or another, more or less extreme, and there are always people there to help. You should never think that there’s something strange or unusual about you, everyone is different and there are always people there to help you.”

Co-author of the report, Hannah Belcher, stood with the director of student services Julie Walking
julie and hannah

None of this would have been possible without the co-author of the report, Hannah Belcher, who tells the Ruskin Journal how she applied for the funding and what this means to her:

“So I got involved with this through the disabled student’s society which I led, and also set up the art therapy groups. We have been running the therapy groups for the past year, which was initially trial error but have had great success out of it. Initially, we had ten people sign up, with a few dropouts and took their scores in regards to symptoms, wellbeing, coping and functioning. By the end, they had all significantly improved. The group environment allows people to share, and there is strength in realising you are not alone. Sitting in a few of these groups, it was inspiring seeing students interact with each other, and there was an inclusive, empowering dynamic. Some students liked the mindfulness and enjoyed the art too! Others liked the group dynamic and some were just happy to come for a chat. Art is also so expressive and freeing which is a productive way to deal with their situations.”

A few pieces of artwork on display at the SU for the event

You can access the details of the report in the links below, including the statistics from students about their mental health. This report also puts forward recommendations for University Policy and Strategy, Strengthening University Services, Wider University Support and the Student’s Union / External Support. We spoke to Students’ Union officers and society member who were contributing to a group piece of artwork at the event:

Laura Douds:As someone who has suffered with mental health, it was awful as a student. I needed more support than I knew, and I didn’t entirely acknowledge this until after three doctors’ visits. I’m so pleased that this report is out and if it had been in place when I was studying, I don’t think I would have been as bad. It’s a great start being made.”

Ben Morris:Being a student paramedic, you see a lot of the tough situations that students go through, especially being on placement. It’s important in the SU to have a place where you can come and chill out, and this really makes a difference.”

Many people from all faculties attended the event, and officers contributed to a group design piece

This snapshot of the student experience in regards to mental health is an inspiring lead into having a broader conversation about our minds, feelings and experiences. It is a reminder that you will not be suffering these issues alone, and that all of the university services are there to help you get through your studies no matter what you may be going through. This is exemplary, and huge commendations to the individuals in this piece and to all those who are working towards improving to reduce the stigma and open up a conversation.

The full report can be accessed from the Students’ Union website.

Image Credit: Rebeka Kancsár

Disclaimer

The information in this article is from personal experience and does not constitute professional, medical or psychological advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions, or if any of the issues in this article affect you.

A Third of Women Are Too Embarrassed to Have a Smear Test

By Hollie Luck – A study of 2,017 women by the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust Charity has shown a third of the women either delayed or missed going to their cervical cancer…

By Hollie Luck

A study of 2,017 women by the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust Charity has shown a third of the women either delayed or missed going to their cervical cancer/smear test because they were embarrassed about their body shapes and having someone that intimately close with them.

15% of the study group also said they would skip their appointment in favour of going to gym classes or for a wax. Nationally, it has been found that one in every four women miss their cervical screening appointments.

So what exactly have some of these women been avoiding?

A cervical screening test is offered to 25-65-year-olds and takes a small swab from the cervix so the cells can be detected for abnormalities. The NHS page for cervical screening states that around 1 in 20 results come back as abnormal, but do not worry! A lot of these abnormal results are not cancerous and will often go back to normal.

Despite it being a little embarrassing or uncomfortable, surely making sure your body is healthy is worth it? It should only take a couple of minutes and is done every 3 years for 25-49-year-olds and every 5 years for 50-64 years old. To me, the choice is simple, 5 minutes every few years in return for peace of mind that your cervix is healthy.

When you turn 25 you will receive a letter from your GP asking you to make an appointment. If you’re one of the women that have missed your appointments so far then it’s never too late – ring up your GP and ask to book one.

Below is the NHS webpage for cervical screenings if you would like more information, as well as a link to a video that well explains how the procedure works.

NHS Website

Disclaimer

The information in this article is from the NHS website and does not constitute professional, medical or psychological advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions, or if any of the issues in this article affect you.

The Other Eating Disorder

By Robyn Robles – Anna* walks almost silently into the pub where I’m sitting having a drink. She sits opposite me and looks studiously at the table, fiddling with the sleeves of her sweater…

By Robyn Robles

Disclaimer

This article deals with some sensitive topics, including eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. As per request from the interviewees, names have been changed to prevent identification of those who have shared their story. If you have been affected by any of the issues in this piece, there are advice contacts at the bottom of the page. 

Anna* walks almost silently into the pub where I’m sitting having a drink. She sits opposite me and looks studiously at the table, fiddling with the sleeves of her sweater.

“Are you ready to talk about this?” I ask. She avoids my eyes and takes a few deep breaths before answering, “I don’t know. I guess I am. I have to tell someone eventually I suppose.”

She isn’t overweight but I can see that she has some generous curves, despite being swamped in baggy clothes, and her face is round. At first glance, Anna doesn’t look like a girl who is killing herself slowly with a deadly eating disorder. But she is. She is 21 years old, a performing arts student at Anglia Ruskin University. Green-eyed and tall, with a steady boyfriend and friends that she describes as ‘fierce and loyal’ and yet, the picture Anna paints of herself is bleak. Words that she uses continually during our interview are ‘gross’, ‘fat’ and ‘stupid’. Although I originally set up my interview with her to talk about mental health problems more generally, I quickly come to see Anna’s eating disorder is her focal point. “It doesn’t matter if I get bad grades, or if my Dad refuses to see me, or anything,” Anna says, “None of that can hurt me, because the person who’s hurting me the most is myself.”

Anna is one of an ever-growing number of university students who have turned to self-destructive methods to deal with the stresses in their lives.

“It’s definitely become worse since starting uni. I’m a performer,” she says, “There’s pressure there from my professors to lose weight to get the roles I want. I know you don’t see girls like me on stage.”

Anna describes daily binging and purging behaviours to me, fuelled by her anxiety. “It’s ruining my life,” she admits. And yet she questions, “Does bulimia count?” when I ask her if she has an eating disorder. And Anna is not alone in this question. When typing the words ‘is bulimia…’ into Google, one of the most-searched results is sinister: ‘is bulimia really that bad?’

In the public conversation about eating disorders, the image of the anorexic teenage girl wasting away to look like the models in magazines has long held centre stage. And a report commissioned by leading eating disorder charity BEAT in February 2015 found that females account for around 89 percent of eating disorder cases in the UK. However, the medical journal Diagnostic Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders estimates that only ten percent of eating disorder sufferers are anorexic. It finds that bulimia, on the other hand, accounts for about 40 percent of known cases of eating disorders in the UK. A multitude of other disorders such as binge eating disorder and orthorexia make up the remaining 50 percent.

Bulimia can cause a host of scary or fatal complications. These include eroding teeth, irregular periods, kidney damage, fits, and damage to the heart. Boerhaave syndrome, where vomiting regularly with excessive force leads to the rupture of the oesophagus, is also a risk.

And Anna is experiencing many of these side effects already. “I’m always cold,” she tells me, “and so tired. My face and neck are all swollen from my glands. And I’ve thrown up blood more times than I can count.” It isn’t only the public that dismisses the severity of this eating disorder. Sufferers also detect bias among members of the medical community.

Anna said, “I went to a psychiatrist for a while. But every time I would try to talk about food he would ask if I was still having periods. I was, so he didn’t want to waste time on the problem after that.”

Dismissing eating disorder sufferers due to their weight not being low, despite all the other dangerous complications that can come from their continued disordered behaviours, is a trend that is both frightening and downright negligent.

The term epidemic does not seem to be far-fetched; The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health estimates that over 1.6 million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder and millions of more cases are falling through the cracks. This is especially a problem in those who may not ever become dangerously underweight, as is the case with many people suffering from bulimia.

StudentMinds is a student mental health charity that holds peer support groups for people with eating difficulties. They denied my request for an interview due to confidentiality issues understandably, but I spoke to students that have attended their group. One of them is Olivia, 20, a Literature student at Anglia Ruskin; she has often encountered a similar attitude to Anna.

I’m not skinny,” she said, although with her tiny legs and petite wrists I would certainly disagree with her. I wonder to myself during our interview if this distorted image of herself is a side effect of her eating disorder.

“My mum was so worried though,” Olivia tells me, “She took me to the doctor. But he just said to come back if I lost weight […] and that throwing up was normal teenage behaviour.”

When I asked about the causes of anxiety in her life, Olivia also cited the university as a key factor. “I’m an international student and we don’t get loans. It’s so hard to juggle uni work and the job I need to have to help pay my tuition fees.”

Being away from loved ones has also taken away an avenue of support for Olivia. “My boyfriend has always helped a lot but I never see him because he’s back home. It makes it so much harder that I have to go through it all alone now,” she says.

This absence of support is a worry for prospective university students as well. Amy, 18, is from Gibraltar and has accepted a place to study philosophy at Durham University in September. “I’m supposed to be ‘recovered’,” Amy uses exaggerated air quotes, “But I’m scared, to be honest. I won’t have my psychologist, or my friends, or my mum. The bad parts of the brain are excited. No one’s going to be watching what I’m eating. I’m going to lose so much weight.”

One avenue of support that is often available for university students is in-house counselling facilities. Both Anna and Olivia have used the Anglia Ruskin Health and Wellbeing services. This service offers drop-in sessions for emergencies and six-week courses with a counsellor for those with situational difficulties that they wish to work through. Those with long-term mental health conditions, however, are often given a mental health advisor to see more regularly.

Although Anna describes the services as ‘okay’, she characterises them as “not the best. Especially the amount [of time] you have to wait.”

“I had to wait nearly two months to get an appointment,” Olivia tells me, “and I came so close to killing myself while I was waiting. And when I finally did get an appointment they only gave me six sessions to work with the counsellor. I guess I wasn’t sick enough.”

Despite our growing understanding of eating disorders, they remain shrouded in stigma. Both Anna and Olivia asked if I could change their names for my article. Olivia tells me, “I don’t want everyone knowing [about her bulimia]. They’ll definitely judge me. It’s disgusting, I know it is.”

Image Credit: Adobe Stock License

Sources

The information in this article is from personal experience and does not constitute professional, medical or psychological advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions, or if any of the issues in this article affect you. Anglia Ruskin University has its own counselling and wellbeing service, you can find out more information here. The ARU Student Union are also running their Let’s Be Honest Campaign, to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Statistics from this article.

We take the issues of mental health very seriously and use this platform to bring about a discussion and let others know it’s okay to be open and honest. Mental and Physical health is equally important and should be treated as such. There are various charities and organisations that can help with recovery.

Culture Focus: Stockholm

By Alexa Klos – Stockholm, Sweden, a city built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges surely earns the Swedish capital the nickname “Beauty on the Water.”…

By Alexa Klos

Stockholm, Sweden, a city built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges surely earns the Swedish capital the nickname “Beauty on the Water.” Whether you are interested in food, scenery, shopping or architecture Stockholm has it all!

First off, a few things to know about the city. The Swedish Krona is the official currency, the city is very expensive, the public transportation is easy to navigate and travelling there in mid-October is going to be cold but the changing autumn leaves will reward you with great scenery. My travelling companion and I are both from Minnesota in the United States and very use to chilly weather. Maybe living in the UK for the past two months had made us soft, but we were not prepared for the cold and wind that Stockholm brought.

Day 1: On our first day we started our journey by heading to Gamla Stan, definitely a touristy area but well worth it. Founded in 1252, it is one of the best-preserved and largest medieval city centres. The area is like a pedestrian-friendly open-air museum, loaded with winding alleys, attractions, cafes, bars, restaurants and places to shop for souvenirs. Since we were so cold and unprepared for the weather our first stop was a tourist shop to buy hats. Once warmed up we made our way to the Nobel Museum. A very manageable and informative museum filled with some of the brightest minds, ideas and acts dating back to 1901. During our journey to another island we walked past but didn’t enter the Royal Palace (which is one of the city’s greatest attractions), we did happen to be passing by at the right time to witness a unique changing of the guard. That evening we finished our day by visiting Fotografiska, a centre for contemporary photography with a wide variety of exhibits.

Day 2: Our accommodation in Stockholm was with Airbnb, located about 20 minutes by train outside of the city. Our host gave my friend and I a list of activities she thought we would like. She recommended taking a tour of the Archipelago Islands via boat. We started our second morning off by having an outrageously expensive £25 breakfast, (apple, tea, orange juice, porridge, mini sandwich) and then boarded the boat the Vaxholm, the capital of the Archipelago islands. Made up of around 24,000 islands, some have inhabitants, some are still left to nature. After the boat tour and an hour spent walking around the quaint town of Vaxholm, my friend and I decided the tour would be even more amazing during the spring or summer months! Upon arriving back in Stockholm we decided to check out the Vasastan area of the city. It’s known as an area with some great coffee and pastry shops. We closed our evening by climbing to an overlook point giving us amazing views of Stockholm as the sun was setting.

Day 3: On our third day we spent the late morning at the Vasa Museum. In the year 1628, the mighty warship Vasa embarked on her maiden voyage. In only 10 minutes the impressive ship was sinking to the floor of the Saltsjon. Due to the lack of salt and cold temperatures of water, the ship stayed very well preserved until it was rediscovered in 1956. Many salvaged objects are on display, including cannonballs, shoes, pillboxes and other artefacts that offer a vivid glimpse at 17th-century sea life. After leaving the impressive Vasa Museum we took one last stroll through Gamla Stan for some souvenirs before heading back to the UK.

There are many other things to see in Stockholm and three days was definitely not enough to experience the city. We chose our activities based on the duration of our trip, finances and location. Upon departing Sweden that evening my friend and I were both glad that we had stumbled across a cheap flight and decided to spend our 3 days in Stockholm.

Image Credit: Alexa Klos

Culture Focus: Madrid

By Hanushka Karnani – Last weekend whilst walking around the old Madrid, or as the Spanish call it, ‘El Viejo Madrid’, I noticed those little details in the town that make this vivacious…

By Hanushka Karnani

Last weekend whilst walking around the old Madrid, or as the Spanish call it, ‘El Viejo Madrid’, I noticed those little details in the town that make this vivacious capital a city that allows you to escape from your daily reality and indulge in a beautiful history and a vibrant culture. From picturesque cafes to fill up your Instagram profiles in the chic and quirky area of Chueca, to slick rooftop bars where one can properly embrace the stunning views of the capital alongside a cheap glass of wine or a ‘cana’ (beer).

Although it may be cold during the autumn season, the fallen leaves of all different shades of orange and green, paint the colours of the city. The endless and delicious tapas bars the city has to offer will never keep you from a good meal with great laughs, booze of course and lots of Serrano Ham. The streets in the ‘Viejo Madrid’ are completely chock- full of these Spanish delights and every place you will come across with will bring you its own unique enchantment and atmosphere. Art galleries, museums and theatre are also some of the other exciting ventures one can get up to when exploring this urban city.

Despite students needing to be on a budget, this should not exclude you from taking a weekend off your university work and fly out to one of the many wonderful European destinations there are on offer. For cheap travel, you can visit StudentUniverse, Sky Scanner and STA Travel.

Travelling isn’t only for Instagram updates and Facebook posts. It’s a chance to meet new people, broaden your horizons and gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself as a person.

Image Credit: Hanushka Karnani and Lavina Karnani

Expanding Your Horizons and Long-term Employability Planning  

By Elle Haywood – For many of us, January will mark the halfway point of the academic year, with a few deadlines and exams chucked in for good measure. But you are also…

By Elle Haywood

For many of us, January will mark the halfway point of the academic year, with a few deadlines and exams chucked in for good measure. But you are also in the midst of a long break from university. Many people take the new year as a chance to start fresh – and this should also include students. Especially as we have a few weeks break before classes start again. You can rejuvenate, catch up with family and have a well-earned rest. But don’t let the motivation to work slip entirely – it’s good to keep thinking of the short and long term future. It’s the perfect time to start doing extra-curricular work to improve your long term prospects, and you should start thinking about that now. But we know it’s not always as simple as that.

Many adults will scoff at us knowing about our long winter break and endless summer moths, whilst throwing out a few ‘part-timer’ privileged kid statements our way to justify their contempt at our holiday time. But what they don’t realise is the time at university for many students in the current age is not so laid back as it is portrayed in the media, and so having such a long period without structure can be slightly detrimental.  Yes – freshers is a week of binge-drinking, accidental flat-mate hook-ups and getting used to your new watering hole. There are also loads of socials throughout the year, themed events at the SU and frequent club nights every day of the week. However,  the rest of the time is filled with assignments, dozens of books to read every week and furiously studying to get good grades so that the £27,000 debt actually feels worth it. Subsequently, this has a huge impact on students during the breaks who suddenly find themselves back home with so much time on their hands and having no idea how to utilise it!

Coming back home and leaving your new university family is intrinsically difficult and emotionally conflicting. Life doesn’t quite make sense anymore. Your family have just carried on their same old lives whilst yours has been practically flipped around. Many friends are travelling or hanging out with new mates, and your experiences at university have changed you all and made you grow up. Fridays at the pub used to be filled with all the local gossip, and have been replaced with intense debates about the political climate, rent prices and if your degree will actually guarantee you a job. And for many of us, it can lead to insomnia, anxiety and depression because of your lack of purpose.  You sit alone in your old room, freaking out about the future and not actually feeling like you have a place in society yet. And sadly a bottle of wine doesn’t actually make you feel any better. The notion here is that universities need to start pushing students to fill up their winter breaks and especially summer holidays with things to do and make them feel like people again. Being pro-active and doing that yourself is possible, but some need a slight nudge in the right direction. Many of us are partially qualified and willing to work for crumbs which makes many of us ideal candidates for work experience, especially if you already have a part-time job. You have to begin to start thinking long term – you’re likely to be far more employable if you’ve gone and gotten yourself a 2-week internship at a local company in your subject field, instead of being buried under a duvet binging Netflix. Yes you do need downtime, but your time is also very precious and shouldn’t be wasted.

It is so important to fill this empty space with prospects and things to look forward to. Saving up money can mean planning festivals with your university chums, finding charity work to do in other countries or seeking out work experience. The ARU Employability Service is a great place to visit if you need a head start: http://web.anglia.ac.uk/anet/student_services/employability/index.phtml. And if strict work doesn’t sound quite right for you, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities that will look wonderful on your CV whilst also giving back to the community. Currently: ‘42,000 higher and further education students across England volunteer their time regularly, and these external skills help to boost their employability‘.  (Guardian, 2016). It’s not just a degree that gets you a job, bosses are interested in what extracurricular work you do also. You can check out some opportunities on the ARU Student Union Website: https://www.angliastudent.com/volunteering/.  Most departments actually email out bulletins with placements so it’s worth logging onto your uni website – but also emailing personal tutors or lecturers who have connections in the industry. But you can also fill your time with more creative outlets. We’re always looking for new writers and reporters for the Ruskin Journal (as an ARU student you can sign up here: https://www.angliastudent.com/socs/19359/) or try your hand at blogging / vlogging or writing. Maybe attempt amateur photography or taking a cooking class. The Cambridge Union membership is open to everyone in the city and so you could even attend lectures and seminars by industry professionals and engage in debates and conversations.

Do look after yourself, your physical and mental health included. Just don’t let yourself become so idle that you miss out on all the wonderful opportunities that are available within and outside the university. Being in higher education means that you are bright and motivated and have a passion for a subject. Utilise this motivation and go try something new – it can have a wonderful effect on both your professional and personal life.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock License

Has Student Apathy Towards Politics Started to Decrease?

By Elle Haywood – It has been evident for many years now that there is a certain level of apathy within the UK’s youngest eligible voting group: and there are many factors as to why this is…

By Elle Haywood

It has been evident for many years now that there is a certain level of apathy within the UK’s youngest eligible voting group: and there are many factors as to why this is. A vast majority of today’s youth do not see the point in voting as many find it difficult to relate to any of the political parties, or perhaps they just haven’t been educated in politics during their schooling years. Some choose to spoil their ballot as a protest to the current political system, with others just choosing to follow suit by voting for who their parents support. An IPSOS study published figures showing that the 18-24 turnout for the general election in 2010 was only 40%, which suggests a high level of disengagement with politics on the whole.

However, this snap-election could suggest that the tides are turning, and there might be a much larger turnout than first assumed. Due to the popularity and constant usage of social media, young people have been able to gain more access and information about all the political parties and their leaders. As a result, politicians are now more than ever being held to account and are forced to be transparent about their policies. Everything from their voting records, to their expenses, are available online – and so people are able to judge them for their actions, and not just what the spin doctors publish in the papers.

This is especially relevant to the younger demographic because this online exposure could encourage young adults to get involved in discussions, debates and voice their opinions as to their democratic right. The 2016 EU Referendum turnout was unprecedented, with 64% of 18-24-year-olds voting according to LSE. Although, this percentage is only from those who are registered to vote, so this figure isn’t as impressive as it seems. Despite this, it clearly shows that even with referendums, young people are starting to display more of an interest.

Although many are not doing the traditional door-knocking and signing up to become members of a party, they are becoming increasingly vocal on social media and attending televised debates to voice their grievances. It is forcing political parties to start paying attention to this demographic, as their turnout could swing the election result. Even on the registration deadline day, over 250,000 young people signed up last minute, which goes to show how important our voices are.

And now it is in our hands. As young adults, and as academics, it is crucial that we exercise our democratic right to vote and have a say in how our country is governed, as this directly affects our future. So if you love Tim Farron’s rhetoric of recalling Brexit, have faith in Theresa May’s plan to tackle terrorism, or are joyous over Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to scrap tuition fees – just make sure that you go out and vote. Your vote does count, so stand in solidarity with the student population and make sure your voice is heard by voting in the General Election on Thursday 8th June.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Culture Focus: Gibraltar 

By Hanushka Karnani – Gibraltar is a small British colony located in the south region of the Iberian peninsula. It’s a small and acquainted town that borderlines with Spain…

By Hanushka Karnani

Gibraltar is a small British colony located in the south region of the Iberian peninsula. It’s a small and acquainted town that borderlines with Spain and beautifully blends the English ‘pub’ culture with the Spanish ‘tapas’. Gibraltar offers sandy beaches and historic cobbled streets, as well as ethnic diversity in culture and religion within its society. The town is also popular for the apes that inhabited the rock thousands of years ago and is now considered one of its main tourist attractions.

The combination of the English language alongside a strong influence of a Spanish lifestyle, is what creates the unique subculture that exists on the Rock of Gibraltar. The distinct language, colloquialized by the Gibraltarians themselves as ‘Llanito’, derived from both the English and Spanish languages, with some words that may have originated from places such as Malta and certain parts of Italy and Portugal.

Gibraltar can also be described as a small paradise for those interested in a multicultural atmosphere. The integration of religions and communities such as, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jewish have encouraged this ethnic diversity and mindset in its culture, food and the social interactions. Gibraltarians or the ‘Llanitos’, as they like to call themselves, are without a doubt known as ‘foodies’. Their local cuisine has adopted flavours from a number of different places and because of that, dishes that have been passed down through generations such as Calentita (kind of quiche made with chickpea), Torta de Acelga (chard pie) and Banoffee Pie have become part of the national gastronomy. Around the rock one will come across a number of different restaurants to suit everyone’s acquired tastes. Options may range from a tapas night out across the border in La Linea or a traditional Indian curry at one of the town’s favourite Indian spots.

Very much into health and fitness or simply enjoy a little challenge? This little ‘ape’ land is a great place to keep fit. The sun is always shining and the views are breathtaking which motivates us, students, even more. Runs along the beach or a hike up the ‘Mediterranean Steps’ are usually what the young ones get up to in keeping up with those beach bodies. Skydiving, jet skiing and even surfing are also very popular during the summer.

Nightlife on the rock is surprisingly good  – admit it, you were not expecting a tiny rock at the last tip of Spain to be such a party place, however, it’s true. Marina Bay and Ocean Village Leisure Park are right by the sea and therefore make them idyllic areas for cocktails or perhaps a little dancing in a summery atmosphere.

Good food, good nightlife, nice people and the beach. What more does one want? See you on the rock!

Image Credit: Hanushka Karnani

Mental Health Issues Affecting Primary-aged Children as Young as 4?

By Hollie Luck – A recent survey by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) has shown a so-called ‘mental health upsurge’ among pupils…

By Hollie Luck

A recent survey by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) has shown a so-called ‘mental health upsurge’ among pupils. The survey, completed by 2,000 teachers, had some startling outcomes. 98% of those surveyed believed they had been in contact with a pupil/pupils that had mental health issues, with 91% knowing of pupils dealing with anxiety or panic attacks and 79% knowing of pupils dealing with depression. The percentages for other mental health issues such as self-harm, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders were also worryingly high.

However it is not just the range of mental health problems that are concerning, but the age of the children in which the symptoms are being spotted. Mental health issues were being observed in children aged under 4 by 7.2% of the survey group, those aged 4-7 by 18% of the survey group and in pupils aged 7-11 by 35% of the teachers.

Of course, the size of this survey in relation to the number of schools in the UK, over 24,000 of them, is very small. However, if further surveys were carried out across the UK and these statistics were replicated, then it is possible that these mental health issues could be affecting hundreds of thousands of pupils nationwide, and if not dealt with during education these issues could be carried with them into later life.

The General Secretary for NASUWT, Chris Keates, commented on the findings of the survey stating that “Teachers and school leaders take very seriously their duty of care to their students and it is clear there is a great deal of concern in the profession about the gulf in the availability of expert physiological support and counselling for pupils with mental health needs.”.

There have been clear concerns that schools and teachers cannot keep up with the upsurge of mental health issues within the education system and so earlier this year as part of the current government, the mental health service reform is investing £1.4 billion for young peoples mental health including “new support for schools with every secondary school in the country to be offered mental health first aid training and new trials to look at how to strengthen the links between schools and local NHS mental health staff.”.

It is important all throughout your education, even through university, to look after your mental health. You can take smaller steps such as making sure you eat a balanced diet, sleep well, try keeping on top of your work to avoid additional stress and opening up to a friend or family member about how you feel. If you feel you need additional support you can seek professional help from Anglia Ruskins counselling and wellbeing support. Outside of university, you can talk to a GP as well as the many mental health services in Cambridge and Chelmsford including the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

Imaged Credit: Elle Haywood

Team ARU: Bumps Riverbank Carnage

By Elle Haywood – Bumping happened up and down the River Cam on Saturday as the colleges of Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University fought to become Head of the River…

By Elle Haywood

Bumping happened up and down the River Cam on Saturday as the colleges of Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University fought to become Head of the River, by attempting to over-take or “bump” the boats in front of them.

There was chaos in the Men’s 2nd division, as a huge crash occurred on Grassy Corner. The 1st Year Downing boat Cox, Pranay Bose, said: “The Selwyn boat crashed into the bank which left a hole in our own boat and demolished one of our blades, just unbelievable.”

The ladies from the Jesus-W1 boat maintained their title – but there were unprecedented results in the Men’s 1st Division. The Lady Margaret-M1 boat was crowned Head of the River as they gained Blades from moving up from 4th to 1st.

Colleges that were bumped down the divisions, were given Spoon Awards and colleges that bumped up every race were given Blade Awards. They were given to Clare-M1 and W1, Downing-W2, Jesus-W1, Lady Margaret-M1, Newham-W2, Robinson-M2, St Catherine-W2, Trinity Hall-M2 and Wolfson-W1. ARU missed this award after a crash on Day 1 – but rumoured they will be the ones to watch in the following months.

All five days were filled with foliage crowns and muddy towpaths. The May Bumps will occur in June, post-examinations. Rory Bradshaw, 22, who is an Engineering student for the Newnham-M3 boat said: “Few experiences compare to the exhilaration of getting the bump whilst being bumped. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.” It is expected that over a thousand will attend the summer races.

ARU Men’s & Women’s Teams from Lent Bumps 2017 down on the River Cam:

Image Credit: Angus Parker from Cam FM 97.2