New series: commuter reads

So, since I’m now working a full-time 9 to 5 job, I get the joy of commuting into the city that comes with it.

Although, I am actually finding it a joy if I’m honest. My commute is 30-40 minutes in the morning and again in the evening, but so far that has been enough time for me to read about one book a week.

After having done a three year degree in English Literature, you have no idea what a relief it is and how exciting it is to actually read books that I want to read and just enjoy them for what they are, rather than thinking of them in terms of an essay I have to write!

But my problem is that I get through so many books that if someone asks me about one that I read more than three months ago, I have a real trouble remembering the details, I usually just have a general feeling of whether I enjoyed it or not.

By creating this new series, it’s not just for me to tell other people what I think about the books I read, but also so I can have some kind of record of what I’ve read and what I thought about it. I’ve got a few weeks to catch up on first, but after that hopefully it will be a book a week.

So without further ado, my new series “Commuter reads”.

Series: island hopping in the Caribbean – ST. BARTHS

Often know as St. Barts, this island is hugely popular with celebrities and people with a lot of money to spend, and it’s not hard to see why!

The island’s port is a tender port which means it isn’t large enough for large ships or cruise liners to dock, this means the port is far less touristy and bustly which is a nice change and is probably why so many private and high profile figures enjoy the island. However if you do go on a large cruise liner or ship it does mean that you have to catch a tender from the ship when it is anchored, to the shore. The limited number of tender boats on the cruise liners mean this process can take quite a while especially with a choppy sea and unanchored boarding stage, It makes a very long and difficult task for elderly, disabled, unstable or children/prams to get into the tender boat as it isn’t attached to the boarding platform of the main boat. Having to time your day around when the tender boats are taking and bringing back also cuts your day short and means you can’ vender too far into the island.

St. Barths is expensive. The streets are full of designer stores and there are plenty of luxury chains, restaurants and yacht trips if that floats your boat (no pun intended). Even knick-knack shops or snacks are more expensive. On a budget I opted for a reasonable (but still not cheap) snorkelling trip out to a reef on a catamaran.

I’m a strong swimmer and pretty adventurous when it comes to the sea and exploring so this trip was fairly tame for me but I would completely recommend this for families, those with young children or those that aren’t confident in the water. The trip was run by two French brothers, both experienced snorkelers and divers who live on the island. They provide you with all the equipment as well as water and sandwiches for the trip back to the shore. The actual snorkelling reef area is enclosed by large rocks so although it is a way from the shore, it is largely untouched by currents and is around 2 – 6 metres deep. They give you a feel safety briefing before and your life jacket can be inflated as much or as little as you like depending on your confidence.

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It’s the chance to see some beautiful fish and marine life, build confidence swimming in the sea or just float gently on the water and watch the world beneath you, it really does cater for anyone from children to the elderly.

I spent the rest of the day on a beach after the boat trip. There wasn’t enough time to go exploring on the rest of the island so we walked through the town and found an, albeit beautiful, beach (feature picture).

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I would say that St. Barth’s didn’t live up the the hype that I’d heard about it, being the exclusive and sought after destination for celebrities to holiday or own property. But then again I’m not a celebrity and I didn’t have the budget to let me experience St. Barth’s like I was one!

 

 

tips:

  • if you’re just there for a day trip, either take food/water with you or plan for it to be an expensive day!
  • lots of suncream and a hat, as always.
  • booking excursions in advance can be helpful but I found there was plenty to choose from along the port.
  • if you’ll be arriving on the island by a tender boat, make sure your whole party is comfortable getting on the tender from the main ship – it can be a unpredictable and choppy experience!
  • swimming gear is a must if you don’t want to spend money, the beaches are still free!

The Power of Social Media

I think it’s safe to say that most people around us frequent at least one social media platform on a regular, if not daily, basis. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress or even Snapchat, the prevalence of social media in our daily lives is indisputable.

Now, social networking gets a lot of criticism surrounding how it is negatively impacting our generation and undermining all the conventional/tradition aspects of communication and language. The social media bubble which encloses us all is slowly creeping into children lower and lower down the age spectrum: children at the age of six or seven being provided with mobile phones and learning “text talk” before they can read a children’s novel. I recently heard about a 12 year-old girl who didn’t understand why the hash tag symbol (#) was invented before Twitter was…

Then comes the argument over privacy. With the safety of communication methods constantly questioned in the press: the phone-hacking scandal, controversy surrounding potential government surveillance via social media or the questionable problem of photo copyright ownership once a photo is uploaded to the internet. Companies such as Snapchat have faced huge criticism under the allegations that they allegedly store the photos which their application-users have sent. On top of that, recent surveys have shown that Facebook has been cited in as many as one third of divorce cases in the UK; worryingly it is very easy to imagine the variety of Facebook-related reasons why this statistic is probably reasonably accurate.

As a 20 year-old student I have multiple social media applications installed on my phone which I can access when I’m away from my laptop. I will freely admit that I probably somewhat fulfill that stereotype of a typical young person who’s mobile phone appears to be a natural extension of their hand. However, the eye-opening experience of university has, for me, revealed the power of social media far beyond the petty lives of young teenage arguments and instagram-filter selfies.

Over the past year and a half I have witness the impact of social media on university campaigns as organisation platforms for students to discuss and co-ordinate information and action for causes they believe in. For more university specific campaigns we have recently witnessed the Union Officer elections for the next academic year which involved a week of campaigning where social media platforms were vital to spreading candidate manifestos and rallying support. On a national university scale, UEA is one of many universities throughout the country campaigning to stop the government privatisation of student loans. Their use of media outlets – Facebook, Twitter and petition website (change.org), has rallied hundreds of UEA students not only to protest but providing everyone with the knowledge and understanding of what the government is proposing: https://www.facebook.com/DefendEducationUEA

On a much bigger scale, most people across the UK have heard of the viral Facebook action of recent weeks in aid of Cancer Research UK: the #nomakeup selfie. This internet phenomenon raised over £2 million for the charity; can we really fault social media when it provokes such mass action and is utilised successfully for such a worthy cause?
http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/mar/21/no-makeup-selfie-campaign-facebook

The world is moving into the online sphere with the emphasis on magazines, books, documents, emails, applications and so much more all moving from paper to online. It is an undeniable shift which must be acknowledged, accepted and utilised to it’s maximum potential. With evidence of the proven power of social networking, is it any surprise that as a student, I am turning to these social media outlets in order to create support or let my voice be heard on topics I’m passionate about? Is it any wonder I’m hoping it’s creative power will attract the attention of employers for prospective work experience? With the prospect of thousands of CVs to troll through, is the future of job application turning towards the power of Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr? I don’t know. But the resonance that social media platforms can create is enough evidence for me, which is why I’ve taken up the initiative. If something is so powerful as to get people noticed, why should I not utilise that power and that creativity to exhibit myself to all the possibilities that it has to offer?

Helena Bradbury

Sources:
http://www.theguardian.com/media/socialnetworking
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/facebook-divorce-linked-i_n_3399727.html
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/defend-education-uea