Living alone? 8 tips to get you through

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It’s a funny thing to live alone. I have recently moved back to London due to the opportunity to work practically on my course, and this means I am now back to living on my own. I’ve had this experience at the beginning of this academic year and again, now. Both times, I was going from two extremes; constantly being surrounded by family (especially in the lockdown environment) to then being by myself. Whilst I have always enjoyed my own company and carved out time for myself, there are definitely times I struggle. There have been many people forced to live by themselves during this time, and because of the up and down nature of living by yourself I thought I would compile a list of ways I deal with this that may help someone in a similar situation.

  1. Make plans. When I look at my week I make sure I have made plans to see people. Whether that’s catching up with a friend for a walk and a coffee, or organising a study date at the library. I make sure the social interactions that are available to me, sticking to Covid regulations, are built into my week. I can then be excited to spend time with my friends and not leave it to chance.
  2. Bubble up. Remember, if you live on your own, you’re officially allowed to join with another household, so speak to your friends and make sure you set yourself up with a support network you can see in close proximity. If you have friends that you can’t meet, call or FaceTime them, play an online game or have a Netflix watch party. I often get in a rut of not reaching out to people for fear of seeming needy, or just being too wound up in my own head, but I guarantee you that people will be grateful for the contact and to do something a bit different, too!
  3. Listen to music, podcasts, YouTube videos. Sometimes I like the peace and quiet but other times it gets too much. When this happens I simply play a favourite song through my speakers, or choose a podcast to listen to, filling my room with background noise and entertaining myself. I particularly like chatty, relaxed podcasts where it’s in an interesting conversation with two people and I can especially recommend Grounded with Louis Theroux, Table Manners with Jessie Ware and IWEIGH with Jameela Jamil. Or a study YouTube vlog that seems relatable and like catching up with a friend, also great for gaining ideas for things to do, ways to study and other life tips. For this, I recommend Unjaded Jade, Moya Mawhinney, Nanya Florence and Vee Kativhu. They are often inspirational and motivational to get work done too!
  4. Treat yourself. Find ways in your day to do things for you and you alone. Order that takeaway you’ve been craving or binge that Netflix show you’ve always wanted to watch and don’t feel guilty about it! Do what makes you happy. One of the benefits of living alone is you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone else so I recommend just making the most of that!
  5. Establish some sort of routine. Though my days generally look quite different due to various commitments, I try to keep a morning routine of journaling, mediating and yoga. This means I have time to focus on me and my mindset, to start the day the best way possible and to structure my time so I’m not wondering what to do with myself.
  6. Read! As an English Literature student I have to make the time to settle down into a book but for anyone interested or wanting to get into reading I think now is as good a time as any. Fill those quieter moments that are getting you down with a good book and you’ll feel you’re living your life alongside the characters, investing in their worlds and the unfolding narrative. It’s another way to find connection throughout this time.
  7. Try to get out of the house every day. Any space by yourself can quickly feel very small when you spend too much time there. I try to get out, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, every day. Getting that fresh air and enjoying the sights around me really does wonders and I feel much more appreciative and grateful for everything around me when I get back and I’ve had that headspace.
  8. Create a nice space. If you have to be on your own, create a nice environment around you. Decorate your space, this can be done easily and cheaply with maybe a colourful pillow, a cosy blanket, a nice rug, or some pretty fairy lights. Print out pictures of friends and family and stick them on your wall to remind yourself you are surrounded by loved ones. Further surround yourself with your favourite things, things that spark joy in you and take the time to appreciate them. Light a delicious-smelling candle or drink tea from your favourite mug. Create a space you want to spend time in.

I guess my final tip (you get a bonus one here!) is to remember: this too shall pass. It’s not forever. You may always want to live on your own but it won’t always be in a lockdown scenario. There will be a time where you can once again invite friends over, hug, drink and eat together. Go out, explore the city, travel to new places. As summer arrives and things seem to be slowly but surely opening up again, hope is in the air. Hang in there because better times are on the way!

By Maya Nardoni

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Award Shows- A Diversity Problem

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They are some of the most glamourous events of the year. Actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers, costume designers and creators gather in a fancy setting, wearing beautiful dresses, sipping on champagne and celebrating each other’s work in film and TV over the last year. This time last year the same thing was happening, something we look back on now as some of the last days we were able to be in big groups, sit in theatres and hug each other. This year, with the evident delays and the obvious changes taking place, the award ceremonies are looking very different. The Golden Globes have been the first to adapt to an online ceremony, with the actual in- person audience made up of key -workers on socially distanced tables. The stars sat at home, logged into a Zoom call; he best part about it for us watching from home definitely being able to judge their homes and interior design. Some surrounded by family members, some sat on their own (I felt sorry for those! A little anticlimactic perhaps?) But whilst all these adaptations were being made to make it possible for an award ceremony to go ahead during a pandemic, a much more insidious sickness was evident, and has been evident since the beginning of this tradition. The lack of diversity and the racism in the industry which is highlighted every year at these glitzy events.

The nominees being made up of predominately white actresses, actors and directors, with some categories being entirely white. This is nothing new, each year with each ceremony it is a recurring theme with outcries of how lacking in diversity the categories are. Disappointed but not surprised is the general feel each time the nominees are released and all white categories have been able to pass. This is obviously the result of a systematic racism that seeps into all industries, workplaces and careers. Who is and isn’t getting a seat at the table? With not one single black person in the HFPA, the answer to that question is clear. And so in lies the root of the problem. But how do they keep on getting away with this? It’s the same every year and as soon as we see a little glimpse of hope for progress, we then seem to take huge steps backwards in the opposite direction.

However, I cannot speak to this problem without highlighting some of the incredible performances and wins of black actors and actresses this year, who will have worked a hundred times harder than their white peers to have the recognition they deserve. This year at the Golden Globes, Andrea Day won Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her role in  “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday,”. With this win she became the first black woman to win the award in 35 years, and the second black woman to win at all after Whoopi Goldberg in 1986. This highlights the deeply rooted racism held within the structures of the awards that are given. The winner of the Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama was Chadwick Boseman for his role, and wonderful performance, in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. This win had an extra tragedy to it as his widow collected the award on her dearly departed husband’s behalf, making his win and this moment even more poignant and moving.

Two black performers winning Best Actress and Actor seems the progress needed is being made. And their victories should be celebrated. Daniel Kaluuya also celebrates his win of Best Supporting Actor. John Boyega won Best Supporting Actor – Television. And unlike many previous years, Chloe Zhao won Best Director of a Motion Picture, with three women nominated in the category, for the first time since Ava DuVernay’s nomination in 2015.

But the problem pertains as the categories continue; Best Supporting Actress nominees, Best Actor and Best Actress for Television Motion Picture, Best Television Actor and Actress for Drama Series and Best Supporting Actress Television were all white.

In their opening speech, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler poked fun at the fact that the HFPA is so white and male, and at a lot of the films and series that were nominated, with Poehler calling them ‘a lot of flashy garbage’, before they highlighted the black actors and black-led projects that were being overlooked. Jane Fonda similarly called for a change, questioning which stories we respect and elevate and which we tune out, pointing out who gets to decide not only who is awarded, but what gets made and who gets hired in the first place. This emphasises the award seasons as the tip of the iceberg that reflects the inner workings of the industry. Though Black, Asian and minority-led work is getting made, it’s not getting recognised to the same level. For example, it was extremely disappointing and frustrating to see the powerful and complex work of Michaela Coel, who wrote, directed and starred in ‘I May Destroy You’, an original series depicting her own trauma and offering a nuanced conversation surrounding sexual assault, go unnoticed.

Sterling K. Brown, whilst presenting an award with This Is Us co-star Susan Kelechi Watson, also noted the imbedded racism, purposely stating ‘It is great to be black at the Golden Globes,’ before correcting himself ‘back at the Golden Globes.’

This is nothing we haven’t seen before. On the 15th January 2015, the Oscars announced their all white nominees, leading April Reign to start #oscarssowhite. Two consecutive years of Oscars nominees being all white led Reign to state, ‘one time you could call a fluke, two times feels like a pattern.’ (The New York Times) With the hashtag trending and gaining notable traction, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the academy 2013- 2017, criticised and questioned the Academy; ‘The statistics showed that our membership was 94 percent white and 77 percent male. People would say to me that it wasn’t on purpose, and I would ask them: Are you sure?’ (The New York Times).

By 2019, a change felt palpable. It was obvious there was a want in audiences for diversity in the movie-going experience. ‘Get Out’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Coco’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ were films that became box office hits, and that year this was actually represented in the Oscars with a record of 13 winner’s of colour. This proved there is a desire for a multitude of a diverse range of different stories, experiences and perspectives. The data is there. And for once, so was the recognition of that.

That year Spike Lee recognised the change thanks to the work made by two black women: ‘If it were not for April Reign’s hashtag and Cheryl Boone Isaacs being president — the work of two sisters — I would not have an Oscar.’ (The New York Times)

So by 2020 there was hope in the air. But it didn’t look like much progress had truly been made. Just as having Obama as President didn’t solve the deep-rooted racism in the US, and the world, one year of success for black artists didn’t solve the issue present for some many years before. Only one performer of colour, Cynthia Erivo of “Harriet”, was nominated and prominent films of the year with female directors were ignored such as Greta Gerwig of “Little Women,” Lorene Scafaria of “Hustlers” and Lulu Wang of “The Farewell,”. And we saw this pattern again with the Golden Globes this year.

The Oscars will be announcing their nomination on 15th March so it remains to be seen if they have committed to any progress, especially after the rallying call of #BlackLivesMatter this summer and a demand for more representation and diversity on our screens. We will see if the demand for change is met with any significant progress made. But there is a certain sense that if these award ceremonies don’t get it right, if they continue the way they have, disappointing and frustrating audiences, they will be left behind in a culture that must move forward and recognise the work, creativity and talent of all.

By Maya Nardoni

References

https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/oscars

https://www.goldenglobes.com/winners-nominees/2021

https://www.ibtimes.com/andra-day-first-black-woman-win-golden-globes-best-actress-award-35-years-3153978

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/movies/oscarssowhite-history.html?ref=oembed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBYEUSvDzac&ab_channel=Access

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Small Pleasures

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It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s only 4pm.

January plus lockdown is proving to be a difficult combination to get through. Getting anything done, being remotely productive or feeling any excitement about the day and week ahead has it’s challenges. So I need this reminder as much as anybody else; focus on finding the small pleasures right now.

A small pleasure may be something that is part of your lockdown routine that you don’t normally experience; an extra 5 (or 10) minutes in bed each morning because the daily commute is no longer necessary, or the time to watch an old favourite series or to start a new one you’ve been meaning to watch for a while (I conquered Game of Thrones this lockdown). But I know the novelty of staying at home might have worn off by now. Maybe it helps to turn attention to sensations you haven’t noticed or appreciated for a while, the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, the feeling of blowing away the cobwebs on a brisk, cold walk or eating some chocolate with a cup of tea. Or maybe creating your own pleasures on an otherwise grey day will bring you joy; putting on an outfit that makes you feel good, making a drink in your favourite mug, running a bubble bath, texting or calling a friend. These things may seem very small, and they may only take a few minutes to do, but appreciating them and taking a moment to feel grateful may bring some pleasure to your day. In the busyness of our normal lives we may forget about them, they may pass us by, but with most of our usual activities stripped back and a forced slowness upon our days, focussing on the small is worthy. And creating these moments throughout your day may bring you some fulfilment and happiness.

My mum received a book for Christmas entitled Small Pleasures by The School of Life. The intention is “a step in a wider cultural project – to move these small pleasures from the margins closer to the centre of our collective consciousness and our lives.” (p.9) I don’t think there is a better time to apply that than now. Each chapter in the book is an ode to a small pleasure, that perhaps may be the thing that brightens your day, or that makes you look for the thing that will. A few of my favourite chapters are entitled ‘The Fish Shop’, ‘A Night Alone in a Hotel’, ‘Realising You Both Dislike the Same Popular Person’ and ‘Crying Cathartically Over the Death of a Fictional Character’. Each description has made me smile, whether I’ve been able to relate to this moment and it’s reminded me of the satisfaction and happiness experienced, or whether it’s set my intention to seek these pleasures in the future. Either way, it has made me more aware of the pleasures that can be found around me. To the point in which reading this book has become a small pleasure within itself.

There’s also something to be said for the concept of hygge which is a Danish word and philosophy that strongly links to appreciating the small pleasures of life. Loosely translated to mean comfort, togetherness and well- being, The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking says “you will know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on the sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort foods with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right. It is about gratitude and savouring the simple pleasures in life. In short, it is the pursuit of everyday happiness.” Hygge may have become a somewhat trend or hype word when it was revealed to be the philosophy behind the Danes being some of the happiest people in the world, but it is a tangible concept we can pursue in our lives. Particularly at the moment when the big, exhilarating new experiences of life; travel, festivals, concerts; aren’t an option to us. Snuggle up with a hot chocolate, a thick blanket and some cosy socks, light a candle, read a chapter of a book, play a board game with your family or flatmates, and embrace the feeling and comfort of hygge. Perfect for these otherwise long wintery nights.

My simple pleasures during this time have become walking everyday (I set myself a goal to go for a walk everyday come rain or shine and so the benefits of fresh air are coupled with the feeling of accomplishment), journaling and writing out goals and gratitude lists, listening to a good podcast whilst cooking or having a spontaneous dance to a favourite song. I’ve even taken up knitting (yes, I am a granny). Though I, of course, have times of feeling flat, bored, or overwhelmed, it is these activities that I have built into my day that I can focus on, and be grateful for, that bring me joy, and mostly keep those other feelings at bay and manageable. You can create your own small pleasures and you can incorporate that mindset by appreciating what is also happening around you; a pretty sky, bird song, the sound of laughter. This can be a valuable lesson we can take into our lives once they return to some normalcy, no matter the world around you, no matter how busy and demanding your day, or how bored and flat you might feel, there are pleasures that can be sought, found and created. I hope you can find some, no matter how small.

By Maya Nardoni

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

New Year, Same You

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It’s a new year, 2021 has arrived and as we say goodbye to a year that has changed all our lives in so many ways, it seems we have not been given a rest bite from the onslaught of advertisements that appear at the start of every January. Despite the strangeness of these times and facing the continuation of living through and dealing with a pandemic, this new year seems to be no different in the marketing we are faced with. Marketing that claims because we have entered a new year, we must become fitter, healthier, more motivated and productive, smarter and generally better. A new year must mean a new you. 

This is the focus of every new year in a culture where we are always sold more, more, more. In a society where we are taught to believe that what we have, what we do, and who we are, is not enough. And this is the message that has been constructed in order to make money. In the instance of adverts that insist, we need to be healthier, fitter and consequently slimmer. It’s a message that means that gyms recruit more members, detoxes and diets are sold by the millions and the whole weight loss industry is able to capitalise on the idea that you haven’t being doing enough and this is the only opportunity to right that wrong. 

With the increasing and dangerous rise of social media influencers who are paid to peddle weight loss fads, these money making schemes and the messaging behind them are increasingly difficult to avoid. A message that promotes guilt and self -loathing. A message I am sick of seeing each new year. Yes, there may be some extra indulgence over the Christmas period and it can be a positive aim to try and set about a more healthier diet or get back to doing some physical exercise. But this should be because we want to do it for ourselves, for what is healthy for us and our individual bodies. We shouldn’t feel forced into this because we have been shamed into losing weight. The rhetoric of shame that surrounds these campaigns is what makes it so damaging. We do not need to punish ourselves for enjoying ourselves. We are fine the way we are. And crucially right now we are dealing with an unprecedented moment. We should be able to do whatever makes us feel good and slightly better about a testing and trying time. The last thing we need at the moment is to be made to feel bad about not following the latest diet trend or exercise routine. 

It’s not just the diet industry that makes us feel guilty about not doing enough. I remember at the beginning of lockdown 1.0 seeing posts on social media that claimed Shakespeare wrote some of his best works during quarantine from a plague and so we should now finally have the time to write that book, or learn that instrument, or start that business. We were told there were no more excuses now and we mustn’t waste this time. If you did these things then I’m sure it may have been what helped you through, but the outside pressure of how productive we should be is not helpful or motivational. It’s toxic. We should be proud of ourselves for simply making it through and waking up each morning, getting out of bed and facing the day. Simply surviving during this time is enough. 

So, the next quote on Instagram you might see about being ‘your best self’ can simply be you as you are now, doing whatever you are currently doing to get through. You do not need to become a new you just because it is a new year. It’s great to set resolutions and goals and intentions for the coming year if this gives you a feeling of focus and purpose, but these should be extras to who you are because you are good enough already. Welcome this year with goals, resolutions, a list of things you want to do or accomplish but don’t feel you have to re-create a whole new you. This is a new year but you can be the same you. 

If you are interested in this topic and the conversations around it I can recommend following the movement of IWeigh, founded by Jameela Jamil, on Instagram, and listening to the podcast. Another Instagram page I found was @lucymountain, and her page @nobsguides, who also talks about the incessant messaging to change ourselves that we are bombarded with in January, and how to set healthier affirmations and intentions.

By Maya Nardoni

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

The ‘new normal’ of studying: We’re all there with you

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I think we can all agree these are strange times, and that the university experience we’re all having right now might not be reflecting what we originally imagined when we applied to university. I’m an English literature and drama student; the other day, I found myself in the loft/converted office space at home, wearing a blazer and full hair and make-up above and pyjama bottoms below. My phone balanced on a stack of books while I adjusted the ring-light borrowed from my sister. This is the way my classmates and I are filming the play we are putting together as part of our module. I had to stop, look around and think; ‘This is my drama course now’. I am sure each person has had that moment, looking around their set up of working and studying at home and having to laugh at the situations they find themselves in. We have to laugh or we’ll cry. 

When I applied to university I had romantic images of wandering around the beautiful campus of Greenwich, reading novels, attending lectures in big amphitheatres, and engaging in conversations about books and favourite authors. I imagined creating shows and plays and performances in a theatre purely used for Greenwich drama students, working and experimenting with new people that have had all different types of experience and who have come together for the same passion of theatre. I imagined the energy of getting into a shared creative space and bounce ideas off each other to make something unique and exciting. Sitting in the loft of my house surrounded by pieces of costume and talking to my phone was certainly not what I imagined. 

But we’re doing what we can.

As a second year student I know I am lucky to at least have had the first year of experiencing this; grabbing a coffee to get to know fellow classmates, or going on nights out and rolling out of bed the next day, hungover and complaining about the 9am lecture (a right of way for most university students) or in my case going on theatre trips nearly every week to see new and exciting plays in London. I miss this. What we’re now missing out on is more than physically being in a space to listen to a lecture and attend a seminar; it’s the walk from the lecture to the seminar where you can chat with different people, ask about their weekend and connect with new friends. It’s the spontaneity of suddenly deciding with your flatmates to walk to a local bar, grab a cocktail and have a chat about your day. Or randomly chatting to someone in the library because you sat down and exchanged a smile, or reaching out and having a new experience through joining a society. It’s the little moments, as well as the big ones, we’re missing out on. 

To some level, we have all accepted this new way of working, at least for now. I moved home before the announcement of lockdown 2.0, and have been working from home this month. Instead of walking through the bustle of Greenwich market, or along the Thames on a crisp, autumnal, sunny day, my morning walk to uni is now from bed, to kitchen, to desk. I sit and listen to lectures and then warn my family I am about to start a call so please: ‘Don’t disturb!’ We all have to muddle along together as we adjust to each other’s schedules and working lives.

Looking at the positives, this way of university may be easier. I don’t have to cook for myself like usual, or do all my food shopping, or any of my laundry. I again rely on my mum and dad when I’m at home because I guess this is what we’re used to. I also have the luxuries of home like a warm bubble bath, or cuddles with my dog…little things I miss in uni halls. I like to focus on what I do have and not what I’m missing out on, and we’re all in the same boat here! No one is being able to experience university like they initially imagined or planned to, so I’m here with you, trying to focus on the positive but understanding the feeling of missing out and time going by when we’re supposed to be somewhere we cannot currently be.

There are so many different circumstances students have to face at the moment, as we have all had to adapt to living and learning in ways that perhaps we didn’t sign up to when we first applied to, and started, university. I certainly wasn’t expecting to find myself calling friends from all over the country as I sit in a costume in front of my laptop with a makeshift set up of lighting and sound. Who knows how long this will last and for how long we must rely on technology to feel connected to our university communities. I certainly hope it won’t be too long until I can wander through the streets of Greenwich again, on my way to campus, to meet friends, to make new friendships and have new experiences, as this is also what university is all about. But for now, I guess we must stay involved in the ways we can, through Zoom and Microsoft Teams, through calls and meetings, through participating in seminars and signing onto societies. We’re all doing our best to reach out from our own individual places to keep connected throughout this time and we’re certainly all in this together. 

By Maya Nardoni

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.