NaBloPoMo: Graduation

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Yesterday, I got up bright and early and made my way to Bristol for my graduation.

Prior to the event I wasn’t that excited because all my friends had attended their graduation in the summer whilst I was in America.

However, when I saw the famous sites of Bristol and was gowned up, by a friendly bald headed man, I felt a sense of achievement and my mood soon picked up.

I had professional photographs taken and then another thousand pictures outside with my mum and dad. The reason I had to pose so many times was because neither my mum or dad could work the iPhone camera. For some reason they kept managing to make the photos all blurry. Luckily, in my happy state, I just found it pretty funny.

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Then the service began and I started to feel a little nervous about having to walk on the stage to shake the mans hand. Thankfully I did not trip up and it all ran smoothly.

The whole experience was an enjoyable one and I felt proud of myself for graduating with a BA Hons in Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.

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Job done!

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Travel: I love being a tourist

On Wednesday the rest of the campers arrived for session two. As usual I took pictures of all the arrivals and later in the day I officially moved into a new bunk with Ashley.

I am extremely happy with my new bunk, mainly because I share it with Ashley but also because I no longer have to walk all the way up the hill, battling against all the flies!

The rest of the day was pretty relaxed as all the new and old campers unpacked their stuff and made their bunks their homes for the next month.

I cannot quite believe that session one has already finished. Orientation week seems so long ago but the whole of my time at camp also feels like it has flown by.

That night I sat OD but was relieved fairly sharpish so I was able to get an early night.

The next day I took pictures in the morning and then caught up on a lot of different things in the office. I planned what I am going to do with the campers as I now know what to expect having learnt from session one.

In the evening Ashley drove Casey, Dan, Nick (a lovely guy from England) and I to Walmart and then the diner. I bet you can guess what I had…French onion soup for $4 :).

On Friday I met the campers that have chosen to learn photography whilst they are at camp. I am so impressed at how well I managed to remember their names this session. They all seem like a good group and I am looking forward to seeing what they can produce.

In the evening Ashley and I watched a film and ate all our junk food. I ended up falling asleep half way through the film though so we will have to watch it again.

The next day my alarm went off at half 7 and somehow I immediately got out of bed to get ready for my day in the city.

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When we arrived we got the tube straight down to downtown New York as we wanted to go and see the memorial for 9/11.

We queued for about half an hour but none of us seemed to mind. When we got inside I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of people that lined the memorial. The huge waterfalls that mapped out the foundations of where the building used to stand were beautiful and I am glad they got chosen to represent such tragic losses.

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Even the sound of the waterfalls made you feel detached from the city. It was as though they drowned out the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing you to really think about the people who lost their lives that day.

I was also shocked to discover that a tree had managed to survive such a disaster. The stump of the tree was found by workers amongst the wreckage. They removed it and New York City park nursed it back to health. In March 2010, the tree was uprooted by severe storms and still managed to pull through yet again. Then in December 2010, the tree returned to the World Trade Centre plot. It was a honour to be able to touch the leaves of such a magnificent plant. As the guide points out, it really does embody the story of survival and resilience.

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I am glad I was able to visit the memorial to pay my respects.

We then all walked towards the Statue of Liberty. Looking across the sea I was wondering where the statue was and then suddenly, as I walked past a column, there it was. It was one of those moments were I stopped and thought, wow I am in New York right now. These moments happen a lot!

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I have to say, it was a lot smaller than I imagined it to be. Unfortunately we were unable to get the ferry to Ellis island to actually see the statue as we were to late so I will have to do it another time.

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As we walked towards the Brooklyn bridge we passed a lively street filled with small shops and stalls. True to his nature, John Teva wanted to explore and I was happy to go along with it. We wandered through the streets and ended up in a sweet shop. I was pleased with myself for resisting the urge to buy anything.

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We wondered further and found ourselves a small garden so John decided to water the plants.

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Finally we made it to the bridge and started our trek across. Lots of people were walking across it, many of them looked like tourists. Mid walk we saw lots of people had signed their names on the bridge and some had put padlocks inscribed with their names on. Without a padlock at hand, Mia and I decided to use a trusty sharpie to sign our own names.

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We also bought the most amazing mango which happened to be on a stick, it was lovely!

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Just before we made it into Brooklyn we passed a herd of Amish who stood out in their hand made clothes. I found it a little odd especially as all the younger children were crying.

Stepping into Brooklyn felt like a small victory. Once there we found a subway and made our way back to midtown New York to meet Dan and Steve in the MET museum.

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It was about 7pm by this point, I was hungry and my feet were hurting so I don’t think I fully appreciated all the art that filled the building. I did enjoy the photography exhibits, especially when I recognised some photographers work, such as Sally Mann, William Eggleston and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. My favourite piece was by an American man named Larry Sultan of his grandfather reading a newspaper. Something about the mystery of who hid behind the paper had something to do with my attraction, I think.

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As a group we all went to shake shack and I had fries for dinner. For desert I had some amazing custard, ice cream stuff that was really smooth and creamy. I loved it!

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After eating we all began the tiresome journey back to camp. I think we all slept on the train home. City life is tiring but not as bad as camp life.

As usual, on the following day, my eyes refused to open and I begrudgingly got up out of bed to head to breakfast. It was a rainy day at camp so taking pictures was slightly mundane. With the hobby kids I set up a white background and taught them about portraiture. I also started the calendar which I have to create before camp ends. In the evening staff from a different camp came to compete in a basketball game against staff from our camp. There entrance was something I will never forget as they bounded in equipped with their hippy gear on. They all seemed very friendly and certainly weren’t taking any of it seriously. I am glad Steve made me go and watch.

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Monday was a good day. Camp turned into a carnival and all the specialists had to be in charge of a certain booth. I got to run a face painting booth and I had tonnes of fun doing it. During the break from the kids, John painted a glorious rainbow right across my face! I looked like part of gay pride and I am proud to say I left camp and entered the real world with said rainbow still intact.

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In the evening Ronny Ron, a hypnotist, came and hypnotized some of the staff members for the viewing pleasure of the campers. It was hilarious, especially when ‘Big Poppa Korn’ slumped to the floor due to be so relaxed.

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The next day consisted of usual camp activities, I took pictures and taught speciality.

The weather at camp has also improved! It is no longer humid, just nice and sunny with a bit of a breeze. I hope it remains this way because I don’t think I can handle the heat again. As soon as I would get out of a shower my body would immediately feel sweaty. It was not a pleasant experience and I am sure all of camp would agree!

For the first time since I left England, camp provided us with a good meal; chicken, potatoe and green beans. I was happy!

I am also not sure if I have posted a proper photograph of where I am currently living, it is a lovely place…

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Comment: What a way to end it…

This weekend, my three years at university came to an end. On Thursday evening, I returned to Bristol with my mum in preparation to hang my final year photographs on the wall in the Philadelphia Street Gallery in Cabot Circus.

Throughout the year I have been working towards this point on a project that explores surveillance and voyeurism. All my hard work has been recorded on another blog which comprised a percentage of my final grade, feel free to have a gander.

On Friday I was up early and out the door before 10am. We arrived at Philadelphia Street Gallery with drill and supplies in hand. As soon as we got there I was shown to the area of the gallery which had been allocated for me to display my images. We immediately got to work, plotting the places where they were to be hung.

The hanging process was slightly complicated as I was not just putting frames onto a wall. After 9 hours of solid work and with the help of a fellow student (my knight in shining armour), I finally had an exhibition piece that I could be proud of.

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We did not end up leaving until 7pm, hungry and tired we headed to Bella Italia and I enjoyed a lovely pizza.

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The following evening was the opening night of the exhibition. Lots of people arrived to celebrate all the students hard work. I feel it was a great way to end my three years at the university.

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A few weeks beforehand, I attended the UWE Summer Ball and enjoyed an evening of dancing, drinking, dodgem rides and candy floss. This was another great way to end the three years at uni and we took some lovely photographs of that night which I wish to share…

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University has been packed full with new experiences, friendships and a lot of work. Like anything in life, there has been good and bad points to the three years I have spent in Bristol.

I have loved, lost and laughed my way through it all and have finally come out the other end with a whole new set of possibilities for my future. Without a shadow of a doubt, third year has definitely been the best year for me. I lived in a lovely house with three girls that couldn’t be more different from each other. I think that is what made life at uni so interesting. I joined the dance society and ended up performing a hip hop routine in the show, I must mention I cannot dance. I made friends with two lovely men and have learnt a lot from witnessing their solid relationship with one another. I rekindled a friendship with my ex boyfriend and feel proud to say that I can be friends with an ex without complications, simply because we make better friends than we did boyfriend/girlfriend. I have also explored the city a bit more and found some lovely cafes that serve cake and my favourite tipple, tea.

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Second year was probably one of the toughest, dealing with a break up and living with dead, rotting rats that produced flies was not ideal. That said, with my flatmates in tow, we lived in the rat house and made some amazing memories that actually make me miss the place. I think the one of the best questions I have ever been asked, happened in that house…Lauren: “Where does all the rubbish go?!” I guess you had to be there! Beyonce’s album will forever be linked to the car journeys I had with my flatmate Lauren that year!

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And first year was the most bizarre and unimaginable year out of them all. When I think back to that year I can hardly believe it was part of the same chapter, it could not have been more different to what my life is like now.

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With no regrets I now look forward to my future and whatever adventures that may bring. Goodbye Bristol and the people I met there! You will all be missed!

Comment: Bantham beach in the sunshine

Today has been a beautiful day and I have had the luxury of spending it on Bantham beach. It has been so warm and sunny, I am so glad I got to take a road trip with one of my closest friends before I leave for America.IMG-20130531-WA0001 IMG-20130531-WA0002

The beach is about an hours drive away from where I live and was well worth travelling the extra mile to enjoy (almost) white sand, in comparison to our red sand. I should not really complain because there are some lovely beaches just down the road from where I live, it just makes a change to go and explore somewhere new.IMG_7739 IMG_7741 IMG-20130531-WA0000

I took my camera and I was able to take some lovely photographs of children learning to surf, donkey rides, blue skies and white sand.IMG_7730 IMG_7734

It cost Β£5 to park in the car park for the whole day. There were toilets available and a food truck, which you could buy ice creams and snacks from. Before we arrived in Bantham my friend and I had stopped off at a local bakery, The Crusty Loaf, to buy chicken with stuffing baps. These rolls are huge, nearly as big as my head and are always fresh and yummy.Β IMG_7722 IMG_7723 IMG_7728

As soon as we arrived, we found a spot on the beach and tucked into our food. After applying sun cream we began to relax and enjoy the sun, listening to two women talk about their kids. It is so strange listening to other peoples conversations because it makes you realise how different everyones lives are to yours. The two women happened to be talking about how their children like to wonder around naked. I do not have children but I cannot ever imagine expressing to a fellow mother how my child likes to be naked, so weird.IMG_7712 IMG_7717

The women were packing their possessions away and as they picked up their towel we got sprayed with sand. Sand and just applied suncream do not mix which was highly unfortunate as we then had to sit for the rest of the day with sandy stomaches – fun!

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Despite being covered in sand, I did enjoy the day because it had been such a long time since I had been able to relax in the sun.

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On the way home we blasted our songs and sang along with the windows down with our shades on. It all sounds very cliche but I don’t think I care!

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