Second Year Summery: A year of self learning

I am two thirds of the way through my university degree; its a scary warning that soon I will have to enter the world of actual adulthood full-time. So far university has taught me a lot; not only academically, but about myself and others. This has taught me a multitude of skills that will stick with me for life.

I’ve learnt that I don’t need to rely on my parents to make important decisions; and that failure happens sometimes, its how you pick yourself up after that means you really succeed. When I first started uni, I didn’t think I would learn a lot about myself, simply the skills and knowledge to pass my exams. I avoided discussions about going on nights out and halls life, simply because I lived at home and was never interested in that sort of thing. Now discussions have changed to work experience, internships, careers and deadlines; nobody needs to talk about parties anymore; we’ve been there, done that and got the hangover.

University has been the way in which i’ve gained independence and self respect and although sometimes I regret the decision I know its the best thing I could have done. Thankfully its now my summer break and I have over three months to decide on where adulthood is going to take me and which of the many paths I am going to take. Most importantly I am enjoying the sunshine, because I know I will be spending most of third year in the library with my head over a textbook or three!

NHS Cyber Attacks: why did no one listen?

The NHS cyber attacks crippled the systems yesterday and some health trusts are still affected. Yet the government has received not one but two warnings about the network systems susceptibility to attack. An EU funded SIRENS (Securing internet routing: Economics vs. network security) Project was published four days before stating that the border gateway protocol (BGP) is highly vulnerable to cyber attacks. BGP is a vital component of the internet routing infrastructure and the findings showed the protocol downgrade attacks were extremely effective with some S*BGP were useless against attacks. The SIRENS Project suggested a routing protocol that would make the internet work more securely.

It also appears Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, was warned last summer about 60 hospitals, GP surgeries and dental practices whose “computer hardware and software could no longer be supported” and needed to be urgently replaced; the hospitals were still using these outdated system, on Windows XP. It seems to be a huge coincidence that the WannaCry virus attacks machines running Windows and some hospitals are using the same outdated software.

Everyone is aware of the multiple problems facing the NHS, but with the risk of patient care being halted and valuable data being lost or stolen, why was security not improved sooner? Money plays a large part of it, but Security Minister Ben Wallace insisted to the BBC that the NHS trusts have enough money to provide the security measures. Data must be regularly backed up and the security patches must be installed correctly in order for the safety to be continually up to date.

The recent cyber attacks were a huge wake up call for the NHS into the security of its healthcare software. Surgeries were cancelled, patients records withheld and issues with test and scan results are among the problems faced by trusts with computer systems held hostage. We are fortunate that most of the systems have been restored and that so far there has been no sign of a second wave; but 11 trusts are still affected, including Barts Health NHS Trust, whom operates 5 hospitals in London, has reduced or cancelled surgeries and outpatients appointments in response to the current issues.

The attack has raised many questions, including how safe our personal hospital records are or the effectiveness of the UK’s cyber security means reports such as these two are coming more and more important as the world becomes more reliable on the digital age. Hopefully this attack is the only one of its kind and while unsuccessful for the perpetrator, it has successfully shown the world where its vulnerability lies, its not terrorism, its cyber-warfare.

When a service goes wrong…

I spend the majority of my work shift face to face with the customer, thats what it takes when you are a bartender and waitress. It’s often the waitress’s that get the food complaints and the disappointment when guests are not happy. That’s exactly what happened last night; the food was sub-par and taking it to the tables was embarrassing.

It gave me a great appreciation for my boss, someone who does this job full time and without complaining (too much) and an amazing appreciation for my parents who work in this industry full time to. I struggle with events that go wrong mentally, often wanting to just curl up in a ball and pretend its not going this badly, because I am so obsessed with giving amazing service that when it fails to do so I become disappointed in myself.

There was nothing I or my manager could have to done to rectify the situation last night, yet it was us who fielded complaints and tried our hardest to keep the smiles on customers faces, whilst holding fake smiles on our faces. When you complain to your waiter about food; please remember they didn’t make it, they often have no control over what they give to you.

It’s the people that you work with that make a job worth doing in hospitality. Last night I would have undoubtably quit without the support of the rest of my colleagues, and my boss would have too.

I love my colleagues, they are a crazy bunch of people who make me smile at work, even when I am having the worst of days. They are good at what they do and have the largest personalities you will ever know. We go out for drinks together and we can band together to achieve amazing customer service in such a quick paced environment as a theatre pre-dining and interval service. Last nights service was a private dinner event, one I have worked many times before or similar to events I have worked since I was sixteen.

Hospitality is a hard career choice, so smile more at your staff, show them they are appreciated. You might just make their day…

Hospitality is almost impossible to teach. It’s all about hiring the right people.

– Danny Meyer


So I am back to planning my next expedition… this time I think it might end up being a solo trip!

That both scares the living daylights out of me and thrills me at the same time. Traveling alone as a young women is a scary thought; when I told my mum her response was a flat out no. She said I wasn’t going on holiday I was traveling to get raped and murdered… only the view would be nicer.

I think she doesn’t quite understand the calm and serenity that going abroad alone can give someone; how its a perfect opportunity to relax and meet new people, to truly experience life.

Theres a method to the madness of going alone, getting to achieve everything I want. I follow a lot of travel bloggers, mainly women who gave up there job and travel alone full time. They to admit that at times it is scary. But they also explain the wonders it does for self discovery.

I have the desire to escape from reality, from hard work and people complaining over the phone about the hardships their lives are.

The important question still remains… where should I go?

I’ve been looking at a few places both close and far away. The first is to rent a seaside cottage in Cornwall, just a weekend away from the family; with a book or three enjoying the time alone to rest and recuperate post exams. Another is a 5 day break in Nantes. Located in the south of France, Nantes has the perfect mix of old heritage and modern infrastructure. It has a creative tourist experience called the Green Line; painted on the ground following the green line takes you to the heart of the city taking you past all the major monuments, must see sites and modern art installations. The trail is constantly looked after and following it can cause you to see many small surprises along the way.

Then again, maybe I could save up and go truly wild… wait a little longer, save a little more and go traveling somewhere, maybe through Australia or America for a few weeks as a 21st birthday gift to myself. The world is open to us all, and I have no idea where to start!

The featured image is of Nantes’ trams on a lawned line; Nantes was the first french city to reintroduce trams in 1985.

Adventures in Paris

My birthday trip to Paris was a success, and a successful completion of a good chunk of my bucket list.

Our train arrived midday Friday, and we spent the first few hours getting completely lost in the streets. When we finally made it back to the hostel we stayed in, we unpacked and then wandered down to the Louvre. Where we saw beautiful art pieces including the Lady Victory, Statues of hercules and the Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa is a wonderful piece of art and something beautiful to look at however my favourite piece contained something that looked extraordinarily like the Death star and Darth Vader in the top right hand corner of the painting, making my friends and I laugh to this day.

That evening we watched the light show on the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe, it was a great way to see anticipate the our adventures the next day, climbing the tower itself. We walked up every step the next day, which was very painful. We went right to the top, it was an amazing site and something i would suggest everyone does at least once as the view from the top was definitely worth it.

That evening we walked back up the Rue La Fayette, with an amazing view, and had a nice dinner in the bar, with some live music. Leaving late the next day, we spent the morning walking down the Champs-Élysées, adventuring into the shops and having a nice relaxed time before the train home.

Sunset down the Rue La Fayette

It was an amazing adventure that was the perfect end to my teenage years and begin my twenties, completing as much of my bucket list as i can to fill my life with amazing experiences. There are somethings i didn’t get to complete, but i believe thats the perfect excuse to go back again!

Adventure in the works

I’m looking for adventure, something to not only give a small piece of adrenaline but improve my life. This desire to crave adventure is vital to growing as a person and keep life interesting.

There is a mini-adventure coming up at the end of the week with my weekend city trip to Paris. It helps with my mission to check off items from my bucket list as Paris is a big chunk of my travel section.

I’m looking for ideas, wondering what i can achieve as i finally grow up and reach adulthood. There are some ideas running around in my brain for up and coming projects but i welcome any ideas!

Life experience is what defines our character, even if it means getting your heart broken or being lied to. You know, you need the downs to appreciate the ups. Going on the adventure or taking that risk is important

– Nev Schulman

Knee Deep in Research Papers: an overview into writing my literature review.

One of the most dreaded parts of a university degree is not the exam season, it is writing your third year dissertation. For a science student, this all starts with your literature review; a summary of all the literature surrounding your scientific topic of choice. My degree path has decided to change things up this year and have the deadline for this section come in second year, specifically in 21 days.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this, the first being it breaks up the whole degree path and give you a little more time to write the required word count. However, as a second year student I feel vastly underprepared for a task which compromises a large amount of my degree grade.

My writing technique is strange, mainly because I have a habit of thinking faster than I can type, which is nowhere near 100 words per minute; I also struggle with spelling and grammar (the dropping of words in my northern accent not helping). I started of my literature review by doing all the necessary reading; which lead me to discover I am vastly out of my depth in terms of subject knowledge. When I picked an interesting topic I failed to take into account the amount of knowledge I had in the subject and instead went with a summary I found most interesting; this has left me scrambling to gain the basic knowledge to competently understand my review. After gaining a basic knowledge I wrote a pretty basic list; just bullet points of the major sections and subsections.

The list gave me the basic form I had in mind for reviewing and summarizing all the reading I had done and specifying it to my topic. It was easy then to transfer this to a word document; writing the titles and expanding small sections by adding starting sentences and summary statements. This has given me a good starting point to go back in and write the science-y parts and develop the ideas into a sound project topic; it reminds me of a painting by number, though more academic and brain numbing.

With 21 days to go I am not too stressed about the completion of this, as I have friends at university who haven’t even started yet. What concerns me is the lack of information about what a literature review is and the best tips and tricks in terms of writing one; especially when a majority of the grade comes from the lowest plagiarism score as its supposed to be completely your own ideas and words based of your understanding of others research.

Struggling with this I wrote out my preferred method of getting through a literature review, bare in mind I left out the copious amounts of tea, biscuits and chips consumed during the process to help with self control.

Step 1: Read! Read like you have never read before, all textbook passages and research papers you can find on your topic – you need the knowledge

Step 2: write down each paper, where you found it and when – along with a few words or a quote about what you learnt from this in relation to your paper.

Step 3: plan out what you have to write about

Step 4: Expand the plan into a basic pro-forma (questions to answer)

Step 5: Fill in your pro-forma

Step 6: reference – there should be a variety of these but not repetitive use as theis hsould all be in oyur oown words. This is a key part of the literature review.

Step 6a: I have the opportunity to early submit, giving a chance to check the simmilarity percentage before final submission. This is a great opportunity to figure out the weaker parts of the paper.

Step 7: Check spelling, punctuation and grammer. Computers are not perfect, it is vital that you read through your literature review and check this yourself.

Step 8: Submit! – and party! My deadline is the 20th February 2017, my 20th birthday ironically, so I have two reasosn to celebrate that day.