“Why are you here?” Bratislava on a budget

I’ve ended up doing a few rather serious posts lately, so here’s some more frivolous fare to balance matters out. Last week I went on a last-minute holiday with Megan, who was in desperate need of a break from studying. Naturally, as a good, dutiful friend, I felt it was no more than my duty to accompany her in this endeavour. Bratislava was our destination of choice. Here’s the lowdown on this fine European capital, through the mercenary but practical lens of how much everything cost.

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The Paris attacks: a personal view

I’ve written this piece quickly, and it’s really a response to what I’ve seen on social media about yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Paris – my alternative to a Facebook status. It is intended not as a journalistic exposé but as a portrayal of my opinion and, while I have carefully considered what I say, I haven’t done a huge deal of research. If you have interesting articles or facts and figures, or just responses to share, I’d appreciate hearing them. 

As many of you will know, just over two years ago I witnessed a fatal car crash. Its effect on me was incalculable, even though I had only just met William, the victim. Had it occurred the previous day, I would probably have felt nothing more than a slight pang of sympathy at the news article announcing the incident. However, because I did briefly meet him, and because of my presence that night, his loss became the single most significant event of my life so far. It still defines aspects of my relationship to myself and others, and my approach to life, that I had never previously thought to question. Because of this chance encounter, too, I subsequently learnt more about William, met his family, and tried to understand and share their much deeper grief. Continue reading

The value of Dead Time: why it’s sometimes good to miss the train

Before I launch into another topic, I’d just like to thank everyone for your incredible response to my last post. I always get super excited when people share my stuff and give me feedback (by all means do more of that 😉 ) and talking about mental health is ridiculously important, so thanks for helping me spread the word and being generally lovely about it. If you want to support more work on mental health at Oxford, I was sent a link to this project, which looks really cool. And now for something completely (well, slightly) different… 

Despite the slightly Halloweenish title, this post is not about ghosts. Instead, it’s an impromptu collection of musings about the gaps in between proper activities, otherwise known as Dead Time. A quick Google offers this definition:

Time in which someone or something is inactive or unable to act productively

The most frequent source of enforced inaction is probably travelling, closely followed by queuing. Having done a lot of the former over the last few months, I’ve been coming to the conclusion that, frustrating as it can be, this kind of dead time isn’t always wasted. Continue reading