Picture of Hannah and Pau-l Louis

I appreciate this is a late review, but I have been extremely busy coupled with illness and painting my bathroom! However, it is the last season of GIRLS! Me alongside many other viewers will be sad to miss our favourite 4. Here is my review of the first episode.

In short, this episode sees Hannah being published, her going off to write about her experience at a Surf retreat in Long Island, Marnie going through a divorce and is trying to make it work with Ray. Finall,yRay after being found that he cannot stay at Marnie’s finds that Jessa and Adam have taken over the flat so shack’s up with Shoshanna instead.

I am glad to see that Hannah seems to have landed on her feet job wise (she never really was cut out to being a school teacher!), what I was shocked about was she seems to have gained some sought of fashion style. I loved her yellow mustard jacket (which I really couldn’t pull off myself!) and those black sunglasses! A real laugh out loud moment was when Elijah casually asks Hannah if he could borrow her room for her weekend to hold a small orgy. Marnie’s face when Hannah is completely fine with it is such a picture. Even more funny is that Elijah is holding the orgy to get himself noticed in the acting world, Marnie asks ‘why don’t you just take an acting class’ and he responds with ‘I am just going to fuck my way to the top’.

I appreciate that GIRLS is a programme that wants to show females making bold choices and liberating themselves but there were so many unnecessarily naked scenes in this programme that it felt like Lena Dunham is making a point for making a point’s sake. No one needed to see her bathing her vagina in the sunlight. No-one needed to see Jessa and Adam eating yogurt naked in the sitting room.

Marnie in her bedroom talking to Ray in bed

I think everyone was sad that Marnie started kissing Dezi. Dezi is such a tool! Marnie interests me a lot as a character and I feel has learned a lot about herself in New York in the way that she is not as perfect as she thought she was. At the moment she wants Ray to move home as her ‘online therapist’ suggested (of course Marnie has an online therapist) but that has pushed Ray to live with Shoshanna It will be interesting how her relationship with Ray turns out this series.

When Hannah was at the Surf retreat she falls for the instructor Paul-Louis, after her faking injuring her arm to get out of surfing, and a crazy night out (an absolute must see because her dancing is hilarious) and trying to have sex in a bunk bed. She spends the day with him. Paul-Louis opens up her mind to the fact that some of the best plans are sometimes the ones that you haven’t made yourself.  Hannah, completely smitten, is willing to leave New York behind for him, however is in a open relationship and has different ideas. This upsets Hannah. The irony that Hannah who is (or tries to be) very liberal and open minded about everything but prefers her relationships to be monogamous.

Paul-Louis talking to Hannah in the bar

We didn’t see much of Shoshanna this week, throughout Girls she is the one that has had the most growing up to do. From her time at NYU (remember her failing the glacier module so she couldn’t graduate with everyone else!) she was the girl that seemed to be doing everything right but life was working against her. She is very naive. Now that Ray seems to be staying at hers it will be interesting to see how there friendship between them plays out.

What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Best Sites for Blogging and Social Media Beginners- BecBec

Being a beginner to blogging and social media can be really scary. There seems to be so much information out there and so many different ways to do things. As a beginner, it can be daunting with the pressure of producing an amazing blog layout, photography and content all in one go. It is enough to make you want to give up!  I am still learning about blogging and social media therefore to save you time I have shared a few tools and websites below that I use:

Social media scheduling tools

Hootsuite a well-known scheduling tool. I use the paid version at work and the way the dashboard is set out is simple and it is easy to use. What I do not like about Hootsuite is that it still turns the Twitter images into ow.ly links so you have to click the link to view the image, which I view as a barrier. To get round it I schedule Twitter posts with images on Buffer.

Buffer is another social media scheduling tool. The free version is ok but you can only post ten posts on each social network on this compared to Hootsuite where you can schedule more.

Websites to learn about social media analytics

Kissmetrics– is a helpful website that focuses on social media analytics. There is an infographic section on a variety of subjects ranging from how to get more likes on Facebook to how colours affect conversions.

Social Media Examiner– If you are looking to up your social media game. This website is good. With many how-to blog posts and posts going into great detail about how to make the most of those figures.

Buffer blog – Another reason why I like Buffer is the social media blog. I read this a lot for when I want to try different things with the social media at my work place such as A/B testing.

Best website for wanting to find twitter chats in one place

Design that fits – If you are based in the United Kingdom this site lists as many Twitter chats as you can possibly think of. Personally I take part in #bloghour and sometimes #weddinghour both of which I found through the site.

Best sites for finding royalty free images

Sellfy – This blog post lists a wide range of high-quality images that you can use for free to get you going. It is a really good blog post and one of the few I have seen where you can really use the images for free.

Best websites for editing your images

Picasa – Second only to Adobe Photoshop in my opinion. This application I have found to be really useful when I am using my laptop (which is so old if I loaded Photoshop onto it, it would just crash) for editing photos. Picasa 3 is so easy for cropping, adjusting light and straightening photographs and is free to use.Canva -This website I have used for work is good for creating Facebook and Twitter headers. With so many design options, it is really good for those without Photoshop or have limited design skills to make professional looking designs.

Befunky is a website that I discovered recently where you can make lots of different photo collages and upload them for free. You can also create Facebook and Twitter headers with the photos.

VCSO cam – Lots of bloggers use this to touch up their photos for Instagram and social media. I downloaded the app and found that the filters were a lot better than Instagram. It is just as easier to use too. My favourite filters are B1, C1 and P5.

Best site for blog design

Pipdig – Biased, I know, as my blog design is by them. They offer really good professional, modern blog designs that are very reasonably priced. What is also a bonus is that they will add the template onto your site free of charge. The customer service is fantastic, I have tweeted and emailed them on two separate occasions and they have got back to me within about two hours.

Best sites for blog advice

I Can Build a Blog – I have mentioned Dana before on here as her blog The Wonder Forest is one of my favourite blogs to read. Dana has created another whole website dedicated to building a blog from scratch. Again simplicity is the key and Dana has the habit of answering all those blog questions that newbies have.

The Nectar Collective – Similar to I Can Build a Blog, The Nectar Collective focuses on growing your blog through from the basics to advance. The website is designed well and in my opinion a good example of how good design aids the reader around the site and makes them stay longer. It is essentially the website of my dreams.

Zoella – Not her whole blog site but this post (an oldie but still a goodie) on how to edit your photographs was one of the first I read. Zoella was producing great blog photography long before anyone else and is the perfect starting point if you really don’t have a clue.

Best book for blog ideas

Not a website but a book, 365 blog topic ideas: For the lifestyle blogger who has nothing to talk about by Dana Fox of The Wonder Forest. It does what it says on the tin. A no frills book which has a blog topic idea on each page. It is really good for dipping in and out of or if you get stuck with something to write about.

Those are the sites and book I use. Do you have any other sites to add?

 

 

Dear Stranger Book Review BecBe

The deets:

Author: Various
Pages: 286
Publish Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Dear Stranger is a collection of letters written by a variety of people from celebrities (such as Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson and Caitlin Moran) to those who have mental health issues regarding the subject of happiness. The book which is in the aid of Mind a mental health charity with at least £3 from every book sold going towards the organisation.
As the variety of authors is so different, it means the letters are all completely different. Some letters were illustrations, others based on personal experience and others were critiquing happiness. At most the letters were two pages long which is enough to create a real impact and leave you thinking about what has been written. Letters I particularly liked were ones by Arianna Huffington, Nicholas Allan, Nick Harkaway, Rachel Joyce, Seaneen Molloy- Vaughan and Thomas Harding.
 

Studying Geography at University
Me in my graduation gown 🙂
(Image Source: Authors Own)
Studying Geography at University
Throwing our mortar boards in the air!
(Image Source: Authors Own)

Today seems rather fitting for this post as it has been three whole years since I have graduated from university. In England, it usually takes three years to complete a bachelor’s, therefore it has been a whole degree cycle since I have finished. I studied a BA (Hons) in Geography and got a 2:1 and a certificate for best final year performance and although I work in Marketing now (yes completely different career path) I did enjoy my course and took some skills that have helped me. If you are interested in studying Geography at university or just want to read about my experience then read on.

Why Did I Study Geography?
Geography was by far my favourite subject in school. I got an A at GCSE and B at A-level. I had an interest in the world for a very long time exacerbated by the fact that I had only been abroad a couple of times when I was young. I wanted to see more of it! I decided to study at Staffordshire University for a number of reasons including all field trips were free ( which is a massive plus as you will see later), the area to live in was cheap (as it is based in Stoke-on-Trent), the lecturers seemed really friendly and because I had studied Geography for so long, I felt comfortable in continuing the subject rather than starting a subject I had never studied before.

What Was The Course Like?
In the first year, the lecturers focus on building your skills so everyone is up to the same level.  This included creating maps on Adobe Illustrator, a field trip to Cannock Chase where we had to take lots of soil samples! An overnight field trip to the Peak District where we had to look at the pro’s and con’s of placing a fictional reservoir at a place called Edale and a module in human Geography which focused on the slave trade. I wasn’t keen on first year as it felt that there wasn’t enough human geography. This was intentionally done so people could swap to physical Geography they could, but frustrating for those who knew early on what they wanted to specialise in.

The second and third years were more focused, I remember a module called Cities where we explored how they were functioned and built. A module where we looked at financial districts around the world and how they worked. There was a module called Investigating Geography where we honed our research methods and built a research project. I took a module called Geographical Information Systems (GIS) which is an absolute must if you want to go down a Geography/ environmental type of career, as it combines mapping with data. I mapped land uses in Stoke- On-Trent as one of my assignments. The annual field trip was to Bangor in Wales where we looked at sand dune formation and how and why seaside towns are formed as they are and what impact has this formation has on tourism.

In my final year, I studied this topic called Refugees and Immigrants. It was by far one of my favourite modules. It looked at world migration movements and why people migrate, the implications and there was an in-depth view into the terminology used in migration.

In addition, I undertook two research projects- my dissertation which was exploring Staffordshire University students’ attitudes towards the environment and researching if the Times of India reported on certain environmental issues more than others. The second research project of which I had to be interviewed by my lecturers as it was a research project where you worked alongside your lecturer. I was quite pleased to get this as I was up against people I knew and I am very competitive. Finally there was a field trip to Barcelonia!

What Were My Lectures Like?
The lectures were a mix. So modules such as Cities were very much taking notes and reading in your own time afterwards with essays and an exam. The field work was very hands on. Lots of data recording and taking photos and bagging up soil samples. There was a lot of group work and presentations, presentations I think are really important as I have done far more presenting at work than writing essays.

I remember my course being very organised. You knew the dates for everything in advance and you knew what was expected of you. If you were not sure about something, the lecturer’s door was pretty much always open. That is particularly important as I have heard some proper horror stories of lecturers not turning up, personal tutors not being helpful or in some cases the course not existing when people arrived to study.

What Would You Have Done Differently?
Looking back I would have definitely got myself a placement in the holidays (although I did work full time as a cleaner, so I wasn’t sitting around and doing nothing) and worked part-time during term time. In my current role where I occasionally read application forms, a placement really makes you stand out, as it has shown you can apply what you have learnt in lectures. As much as I enjoyed being on a sports team I feel that at university, it shouldn’t be treated like an extension to school and that having a job where you are dealing with customers shows interviewers that you can work in a variety of difficult situations. It is a lot harder to show this being part of a sports team.

I should have done more research into what occupations you can go into after Geography and what people did with their degree. Afterwards when I was researching I found there were very few geographical and environmental roles around in the area where I lived. When you find yourself looking at graduate schemes a lot of companies won’t accept applications from those with Geography degrees as they prefer someone with English or Business Studies or Marketing. So keep that in mind.

What Were Your Opinions Of Your Course?
Overall I thought the course was good and the lecturers were always really supportive. I did enjoy the content and the field trip in Barcelona was really fun. I do think (and although I am speaking from experience of my course, it could apply to others) that there were missed opportunities where my course could have gone from good to amazing.

In my first year, I remember in groups we had to produce a poster advertising this new fictional reservoir in Edale. Rather than just creating a poster we could have done a whole marketing campaign on it. We could have had lessons from the business department on marketing. Since I am in marketing now it would have given more of those ‘transferable’ skills that these employers crave rather than just a poster done on Publisher.

I didn’t appreciate it then, but I am so glad the field trips were free. I have spoken to people who studied at other universities and they would have to save up £800 to go on this compulsory trip. With rent and living expenses, it is a lot of money on top to think about. I appreciate Barcelonia is not that far away compared to some far flung places other universities go on (one of my friends went to Africa for his final year trip) however I would rather go to somewhere in Europe and not pay rather than go further afield.

What Did I Do With My Course?
Soon after I graduated I managed to get an internship at the SU for a year. After that I moved into marketing where I am currently at now.

Why Should You Study Geography?
If you want a career in the environment or have an interest in the world around you Geography is a good subject to study. If you are very data driven GIS is good route to go down. Geography is a good subject to build quite a few skills such as writing, data collecting even design. However these days I recommend you have at least a basic idea in what you want to do with the degree and work your way to meeting this target.

So there we have it. Three years of my degree condensed into one post. I hope you can see a glimpse into why I studied Geography and what I thought of the course.

(Image Source: Authors Own)

Not only do I love reading books but my passion for reading extends out to blogs. My Bloglovin (best app ever) is full of blogs and saved posts that I don’t know quite what I would do if I lost them all. Anyhow here is a second dose of blogs I am enjoying at the moment.

Poppy D
I have followed Poppy Dinsey right from the beginning when WIWT (What I Wore Today) was just a blog showcasing her clothes to seeing it become a full scale business. In her personal blog Poppy talks about what is going on in her life away from WIWT. Special love goes to her wedding posts (that dress FYI!), her experience swimming in open water for charity and her post, which is a few years old now, on her jaw surgery. Poppy can write, she really can write. Her writing style is chatty and a lot of her going out and food posts are based on places in London (disadvantage of me living in the Midlands, but that’s not her fault!) but she knows her stuff (Poppy is lovely on twitter too!). 
FitSugar
This American blog is a great instigator in all things fitness. Sometimes there are full posts, others are just introductions to YouTube videos. However I have been saving a lot of the food and workout videos to try out later ( I haven’t tried them yet but that’s a different story…).
Media Marmalade
Media Marmalade is another blog that I have been following for ages. Although primarily a fashion blog I have found the posts about photography (the photography is top notch) and building a better blog to be the best posts. As Melissa’s day job (being a Business Director creating communications strategies for clients), I feel this gives her advice a certain positive weighting over some others that offer blog advice.   
Autumn Leaves Blog
Finally I found this site amongst the popular posts on Bloglovin. Autumn Leaves Blog focuses on improving your blog (which I definitely need) taking it to that all important next level. Each post is backed up with relevant statistics (Check out the post How To Choose The Best Social Media Network For You as a great example). I am grateful for this quality free advice as I am sure many people would charge to give the same. Indeed Rebecca runs a consultancy service and like Media Marmalade I tend to take her advice more seriously because it is her day job.          
That’s it for today. Are there any blogs you would recommend?