The secret life of a graduate

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People say the best years of your life lie at university. Three, perhaps four, maybe more for the medics, years of education, self-discovery and all round shenanigans. Of course, those hours in the library are important, but there is so much more to university than just the certificate you frame at the very end. Be careful, because the person you went to university as may not be the person who graduates.

There is a certain sense of emotional and mental maturity that accompanies a degree. A rite of passage. The surprise on your parents’ face when you somehow manage to navigate a sticky situation (even if it just the laundry) without running to them for help. Now that is the hardest part of being a graduate.

Some are fortunate enough to have a job lined up as soon as they tossed their mortarboard into the air. For others, like yours truly, it’s somewhat trickier to get your foot in the door.

Ah yes, the job application. Or rather, the endless job applications. The ones that make you question if you really did proofread your CV, and if your cover letter is actually as persuasive as you initially thought. The first rejection is both the hardest and the easiest. Hard to accept, but easy to bounce back from. They eventually became commonplace to me. Although, rejections were easier to handle than cold, hard silence.

My lucky break came to me in the form of a job as an Administrative and Marketing Assistant at International Profile. Getting to work with the big guns in the fashion industry is something of a dream; even if it’s not directly the line of work I one day want to end up in. From working on a Hackney market, to interning with Lulu Guinness; if I’ve learnt one thing, it’s that sometimes your dream isn’t down a straight path. Right now, I’m happy co-ordinating projects for one of the fashion powerhouses and exploring creativity in my hometown. This job isn’t set in stone, but it’s a blessing I am grateful for.

Be willing to work your ass off. Start every morning with a coffee and your own company. Eat your vegetables. Call your mum every Sunday. And remember, you aren’t the only one struggling with your post-student status. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed in one go. Keep plugging away, you’ll get that job one day. Then you’ll have bills and taxes to pay, and you’ll realise that being a graduate really isn’t all that.

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Warwick Castle

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“Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise!”

She always wanted to be a princess. Jasmine was her favourite, but Cinderella gave her hope that a pair of shoes could change her life. Belle made her proud to be a bookworm and Snow White, well, perhaps she was more like one of her shorter counterparts.

There’s something about castles that is inherently fascinating. Looking out over the turrets and wondering what it must have been like to do that in a billowing ball gown. A now sunny courtyard that must have been muddy and strewn with knights practicing their swordsmanship. The dungeons that made you scream in horror as they played a practical joke. You walked out hiding in embarrassment behind a big strong man after that.

You find yourself lost in time. Exploring your way through history, on a Viking boat and in between barrels of gunpowder. A trench to pay respects to fallen soldiers and a sour look on your face when you are the heaviest on the witch scales.

And when you needed a good old fashioned tea break, you are British after all, you share a lunch in the most beautiful garden with peacocks strutting their stuff around you. There are moments of silence when not a word passes between you. But that’s not because you don’t have anything to say, but because you didn’t need to say anything.

Instead you listen to the tales of what’s happened between these walls. The many men and women who have passed through the gates. Those who have left their mark and those who threw extravagant parties- that family sounds the most fun for sure. You know you will never remember half the history, yet you’re with the biggest history geek of them all. Their memory will pick up your slack.

Of course, being a princess was only part of it. The biggest part of it. All you needed was a Prince Charming.

After all, dreams do come true. If they didn’t, then why would we have them?

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The Oh Shit Kit

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Here’s to the nights that turned into mornings with the friends that turned into family. The full-time friends that became part-time lovers. The philosophical conversations about political standings and the meaning of religion. The childhood memories amidst the endless exams. And then of course, the early mornings with empty bottles of wine and dancing shoes in hands.

It’s no secret that the start of summer signals parties a plenty, especially as a student. Whether it’s celebrating an essay deadline or the poor unfortunate souls still pulling all-nighters in the library, late nights and cocktails start to take their toll and there’s only so much that coffee can fix.

This is my Oh Shit Kit. For when the bags under your eyes are heavy as the ones you carry to the library. For when you stayed up a little too late last night waiting for him to text you back. For when you couldn’t sleep because you were stressed about finding a job. This is all you need.

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When you feel hydrated it will most certainly show on your face. Of course you can chug a litre of water before work, but your skin needs a little something extra. This will brighten you up a tad and the zing perks you right up for that early morning lecture after a night on the town. Apply generously to a freshly washed face for some day long hydration without the grease factor.

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The eyes give it all away, so a pair of sunglasses can lend a helping hand. But sometimes they don’t work for some godforsaken reason like your boss telling you it’s not work appropriate. This is the next best thing. Blend in under your eyes twice daily to soothe the delicate area. It won’t rub away your bags, but it will provide both moisture relief and a good base for any concealer.

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Miles better than boing, which explains the almost empty pot. Truly one of the best concealers on the market, it’s heavy duty, but feels lightweight. And it even works under the eyes as well as on blemishes, making it perfect for some emergency handiwork. The trick is to dab it on rather then furiously blend in. Use your fingers or a small brush, and it will be as if last night never happened.

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Eyes that venture between dry, sleepy and watery result in panda rings- the last thing you need when you already look like a mess. This is the perfect mascara for an everyday look; it will open your eyes just enough and will not budge, not even in an apocalypse. Good luck getting it off. Don’t forget the eyelash curler!

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Your skin is a mess, so don’t you dare smother it in foundation. Sweep a powder over your face to give it a healthy flush and some space to breathe. (Although this was limited edition, there are plenty of others out there who’ll do the trick too).

If in doubt, buy a copy of Vogue and just hide behind it for the rest of your hangover. You’ll look chic at the very least.

Gas Street Social

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One of the most wonderful things in the world is to find someone you can be yourself with. That is, someone who can withstand your obsession of finding burger joints, independent coffee shops and exploring cities. Someone you can laugh with over a glass of wine, even in public with your ugly laugh that only your television screen should ever witness. Someone whose plate you can eat off and someone who will tell you when you have ketchup smeared over your face.

When the wind is blowing at one hundred miles an hour and Birmingham speeds through another day, it’s nice to take a break from the rest of the world. To hide away in a booth and pick your favourite words on the menu. A canal to look over as you share stories of your childhood holidays. Big film star bulbs that make you feel like you are somewhere special. While your umbrella dries off what can you do but cosy together and raise a toast to the basis of your friendship?

“Thank you for opening me up to new things, food and coffee that I wouldn’t normally try.” A compliment of the highest order. There’s something exciting about stepping into the unknown. In a new restaurant or café is where a foodie feels like a child in a toy shop. There’s something equally lovely about someone who accepts that wherever there is food, your camera will be close by.

Good thing too, as the food tastes just as good as it looks, even the vegetarian options. Luckily you both ordered sweet potato fries, but you share them all the same. Food, now that is how to truly bond with someone.

Of course it would be nice to ride off together into the sunset, but to share a plate of food just seems so much better.

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Gas Street Social can be found at:
166-168 Wharfside Street

The Mailbox
Birmingham
B1 1RL

Coffee Architects

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“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Endless hours between the same old bookshelves; the same pose of hunched shoulders over a laptop; and one essay after another populates the days that seem to just blur into each other. Routines can get boring quickly and it’s no secret that the life of a final year student is one of the toughest experiences. When the going gets tough the tough go out for breakfast.

Flat whites; avocados; and hipster coffee shops are the men of the moment and Leamington Spa’s very own Coffee Architects somehow give all of these a new breath of life. When the sun is streaming in and there’s the smell of coffee beans mixed with freshly baked cake in the air, life doesn’t seem so dull all of a sudden. When there’s a mountainous pile of avocado and a neat little coffee on your table, the little things seem important again. When there is good company in front of you and the morning is relaxed, there’s hope that a life outside of the mundane library exists.

Of course, dissertations should not be neglected; and those revision notes won’t write themselves. But you shouldn’t forget yourself in the process. Take a little walk in the park and Instagram those red flowers. Surround yourself with friends and remember that you are loved. Talk about why you love your hometown and remind yourself of who you are.

It really is the mark of a Humanities student when you can sit and have all these epiphanies under the duress of essays while sitting in a tiny little coffee shop. And when in doubt, order that slice of cake you’ve had your eye on for the last hour.

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Coffee Architects can be found at:
39 Warwick Street
Leamington Spa
Warwickshire
CV32 5JX

Fargo Village

“I am a woman of many moods, and all those moods require chocolate!”

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A French toast laden brunch, sunshine, hipster vibes and the perfect companion. It was a summery London weekend all over again. Except for the chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

As a Warwick student, it’s common knowledge that Coventry is a miserable little dump with few redeeming qualities such as a Nando’s and a Primark. So it’s quite imaginable how surprising it is finding FarGo Village. Although not quite on the level of Shoreditch’s BOXPARK, or the madness that is Camden, it seems someone has taken the industrial minimalism of the former and the kookiness of the latter and squished it together this far north. A treasure trove of food, clothes and other little knick knacks to suit every hipster, geek and even family.

Of course, the Festival of Chocolate was the main incentive. Plates piled high with brownies, trays loaded with doughnuts, towering chocolate fountains and cakes of every variety. Flavours and colours of chocolate that didn’t even seem possible. The Crème Egg Brownies and Oreo Brownies that made it home were orgasmic quality. Less on the chocolate, and more on the innovative side, a peanut butter glazed doughnut also proved to be a little treat. Made from sourdough instead, it was a tasty twist on a traditional favourite.

With the sweet tooth sufficiently happy, the savoury taste buds received a little TLC too- with a pizza baked in a Mini Cooper. Hand crafted, fresh and funky flavoured; cooked in a fire oven that positively invaded the British motor.

And let’s not forget the thirst for coffee. Urban was there in all of its hipster glory. Industrial chic. Minimalism. Reclaimed wood. Alternative uses for bicycles and musical instruments. The Flat White was up to scratch too.

Fargo Village- not too shabby.

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A Signature Scent

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Scent is a key element of the Parisienne’s allure. She never leaves the house with dabbing a little on her person. Her scent leaves a trail- not offensively, but hint enough to ensnare a man’s heart. She also keeps an emergency bottle in her handbag.

Of course, choosing a perfume that captures one’s essence is an adventure in itself. Take time to choose and decide. After all, this is going to be yours for the foreseeable future. Don’t treat it like a last minute cadeau de Noël. A Parisienne is never dazzled by bestsellers or the newest bottle. She always tries before she buys- testing no more than three in a day- in order to choose a scent that embodies her.

The Parisienne follows the advice of Mademoiselle Chanel when applying her perfume (“Wherever one wants to be kissed.”) but always remembers her nape, wrists, ankles and behind her knees. Misting a little through her freshly washed hair never went amiss either. Never rub the perfume in vigorously as this only eradicates the high notes.

If a Parisienne is waiting for her next pay cheque she would much rather smell of nothing but fresh soap on her clean skin. Cheap knock offs are full of harsh chemicals and are never worth the risk.

This Parisienne’s favourite scent? Why, there are three! My mood varies, so naturally my perfume does too. In the wise words of my four favourite Parisiennes- ‘cheat on your perfume’.

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No5 Eau Première by Chanel is much lighter and flirtier than the heavy musk of its predecessor. Visions of silk and delicacy but ever the sophistication of Chanel. This is my current everyday scent, but I much prefer it with my girly dresses and floral prints.

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Insolence by Guerlain is a concoction that is ultra feminine and very sexy. It can only be described as sex in a bottle. You need a healthy dose of confidence to wear this, which makes it perfect for a game of seduction.

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BOSS Nuit by Boss is a little black dress captured in a bottle. Peachy notes and sandalwood make it oh-so-sensual but maintain a touch of the modern woman. It will help seal a sophisticated deal.

I’m feeling 22

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22. So naturally, here are 22 things I learnt by my 22nd birthday.

1. It gets better. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but one day.

2. No guy is worth your tears. And the one who is, won’t make you cry.

3. Being alone does not mean you are lonely. Sometimes it’s important to have a little time for yourself. Learn to keep your own company.

4. Stop living your life through Facebook.

5. It costs nothing to be a good person, even to those who hurt you. Do the right thing for the sake of it being the right thing.

6. The smallest gestures often mean the most.

7. Be selfish once in a while too. No-one will look out for you the way you do.

8. If there is one thing you maintain in life, let it be your eyebrows.

9. You were beautiful long before he told you.

10. Do not forget to live. When you are old and grey, you want to look back at memories of a full and glorious life.

11. Eat well and exercise. It seems very trivial, but the power a healthy lifestyle wields is unparalleled.

12. Fuck it and have that cupcake at the end of the week. You deserve it.

13. A white shirt and smart black trousers will get you through every occasion.

14. Find a shade of lipstick that puts the fear of God in a man’s heart and lust in his veins. Hint: it’s red.

15. It is not your job to mediate your parents’ problems.

16. Friendship is a two way street; one person should not be making all the effort.

17. Gentlemen are rare. If you find one, don’t let him go.

18. If you keep saving things for a special occasion, they will never see the light of day.

19. Lectures are not for napping in.

20. It is not acceptable to put your boyfriend’s urges before your friendship.

21. Secrets don’t always stay secrets, so stop putting them online.

22. It’s okay to not know who you are or what you want right this minute. You’ll figure it out.

Choccywoccydoodah

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It’s true what they say- chocolate does make the world go round. And if you follow the mouthwatering smell of hot, melted chocolate wafting through the streets in Carnaby, you will find yourself in Choccywoccydoodah, where there is all the chocolate in the world.

A cross between a tea shop and your grandmother’s living room, walking into Choccywoccydoodah is like walking into a kaleidoscope of colours and worlds. Flowers, animals and even the circus populate this little treasure trove. Everyday objects transformed into the delicious adorn the walls and shelves groan under the weight of immense cakes. It truly was a mesmerising experience! My eyes darted here and there; there was so much to take in! I’m not entirely sure my words do justice to Choccywoccydoodah, so if you are not already persuaded, hopefully these pictures will help…

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Curators Coffee Gallery

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Oxford Street is a little gem of a place. At least, not directly. To me, it is unnaturally busy, even for a great city of London. I cannot stand weaving through the selfie sticks and slow walkers- I would never consider stepping foot there on a casual basis! However, the same cannot be said for the rabbit hole of little streets tucked away behind. Away from the hustle and bustle of avid TopShop fangirls and Selfridge’s searchers, are cobbled little walkways and quieter food hotspots. A perfect little break.

Early one morning, on a search for some well needed breakfast, I discovered the Curators Coffee Gallery. A hipster heaven, it featured everything you would expect a London coffee shop to. From cactus plants, to whitewashed wood and bearded baristas. Having said that, it was delightfully empty and free of wannabe triangles. Instead, the familiar customers slowly made their way in and out, and a business meeting was in action over croissants. I managed to bag myself a lovely little picnic table and despite the rain pouring down outside, a relaxing morning was in order.

As for the coffee, my inner snob was certainly pleased. Presented just as I expect a flat white to be, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it. Although, I suspect the almond croissant that was the size of my head may also have had something to do with it…

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