Saturday, 26 March 2016

Rome: Pantheon and the rest.



For me the Pantheon is one of the highlights of Rome, it combines ancient Rome and a beautiful Christian basilica, plus it's free! We arrived at midday after a rainstorm and the lighting inside was amazing. 



The Trevi fountain was jam-packed with tourists, both times we passed it. We snapped a photo and didn't even attempt to go near it to make a wish. It is really easy to walk from Trevi to the Spanish Steps etc, which we did a few times. 




As Rome doesn't follow the typical Roman style city-plan there are tonnes of tiny streets and back alleys to explore. On sunny days everything is bathed in lovely orange sunlight, making even the grotty streets look beautiful. One quirky thing that I loved about Rome is that public buildings and utilities all have SPQR on them, meaning Senatus Populusque Romanus or The Roman Senate and the People. Referring back to ancient Rome and the power it was in the Mediterranean world.




The Spanish Steps are annoyingly shut off so the view from the top of them is blocked. However, we travelled along the road and found many viewing points with fantastic views across the city. Nothing beats a St. Andrews sunset for me but the Roman one sure was nice. 

After spending a busy week in Rome I am already itching to go back! I am a huge fan of ancient history and pizza, both are plentiful in Rome. Hopefully my academic career will bring me back to Rome in the coming years.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Rome: Colosseum and Roman Forum



The colosseum, or the Flavian Amphitheatre if you want to be pretentious, is perhaps the most iconic Roman ruin in the entire empire. To avoid the queues we arrived early, taking full advantage of our student discount for the triple ticket which included the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. After a lacklustre tour from one of the official guides we explored on our own, guidebook and personal knowledge in hand. Whilst many of the walls remain the seats and steps are gone, meaning imagination must be used. For me however the highlight of this day was the Roman Forum. 




As someone who studies ancient history and spent two weeks researching and writing an essay on the Forum Romanum, this was an exciting day. The forum itself is large and has ruins from the very beginnings of Rome through to the end of the empire and beyond. Unfortunately the majority of the buildings in the forum are now ruins but you can go into the ones that were turned into churches, and thus saved from ruin. The signs aren't too detailed so I would recommend getting a good guidebook or a tour. I could have spent all day in the forum, just imagining what it was like in the glory days of Rome. 



The Palatine Hill overlooks the Roman Forum and is the site of some ruins as well. The beautiful Farnese gardens provided a shady spot on a sunny day. It is the views of both the forum and the colosseum that make the uphill walk worth it in my opinion. 



The Capitoline Museums have a good collection of art and archaeology, making it a good introduction to Rome. There is a large amount to see but the layout and variety means you can spend a good couple of hours there. For me the best part was underground in the Tabularium, in archaic times this is thought to have been archives and nowadays has an impressive view of the Roman Forum. 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Rome: The Vatican and St. Peters


We paid €8 to get an elevator up and then had a few hundred stairs inside the dome itself to climb up. These stairs are weird and at points very cramped, just a word of warning. However the view is worth the stairs! The first view you get is of the inside of the basilica dome and the basilica itself. It was great to see the ornate decoration up so close. 



Of course, the reason anyone climbs all those stairs is to see the iconic view of St. Peters square and the city of Rome behind. 




We spent the morning at the Vatican museums which I unfortunately have no photos of. The Sistine Chapel was good to see, if a little underwhelming. The museums themselves can be overwhelming as there is so much stuff from a large period of history. The rooms themselves are heavily decorated and there is something to see in every room. 

I recommend buying your ticket online, it costs €4 more but it is worth it to beat the queues that wrap around the city walls! We sat in St Peters enjoying the weather and the views, and then explored Vatican City for a few hours.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

A Hope Perspective



I have been back for eleven days and I still don't know how to answer the question 'how was Calais?'. It feels weird describing it as good considering the reason I was there. Yes I did have a nice time meeting new people and there was a strong sense of camaraderie. But at the end of the day it is a horrible and desperate situation. 

If I had to summarise what I saw and experienced in 'The Jungle' with one word it would be hope. Just a never-ceasing hope despite the dire situation. Everyday hundreds of people face perilous journeys in the hope of a better life for themselves and their families. Even after facing death and loss they still have hope. This hope is so evident in the camp. 

However is also hard to come away from this situation without being angry. It is hard to meet twelve year old boys who have lost their families and are living in a 2x2 shelter and not feel bad about how little your government is doing. The fact is that there are fellow humans living in these horrible conditions so close to our doorsteps and our politicians, the decision makers, do not care. I am angry and sad and disillusioned. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

January Playlist

source
I spent a lot of January either travelling by train or alone in my house, I've listened to a lot of music.

Space Oddity - David Bowie
This Must be the Place (Naive Melody) -Kishi Bashi 
Death with Dignity - Sufjan Stevens
Easy - Commodores
Problem/Regulate - Hozier
Ooh Ahh (My Life be Like) - Grits ft tobyMac
Hurt - Johnny Cash
Wherever, Whenever - Mundy
Rocket Man - My Morning Jacket
Silk - Dustin Tebbutt ft Thelma Plum
Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell 
Can't Help Falling in Love - Elvis Presley 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

2016 \\ Reflections

This time last year I wrote a post about the changes I wanted to make in 2015. I like looking back at the things I've achieved over the year and also I have loads to look forward to in the upcoming year.

In 2015 I became myself, I'm still not 100% there but I am closer. I started to understand my place in the world and the way that I can impact the world in a positive way. I am just one person but that is not something that will hold me back. I have met so many passionate people this year, people who want to change the world and not for selfish reasons. I have grown deeper and more mature in my faith. I have friends that support and push me to grow closer to God and to be the person He says I am. My ideas for my future are changing and I am not sure what I definitely want to do but that's not important. I am studying things I am interested in and I love the town I study in. I travelled to new places and really went out of my comfort zone. I was stubborn and this negative trait helped me do incredible things. It was also a really hard year at times. My mental health was the worst it has been since I hit the bottom a few years ago. I am naive and worried about admitting I have mental health problems. But I know they aren't my fault and that so many people face the same battles that I do. It got so bad that I jeopardised my studies but I got around it whilst nearly driving myself into the ground. I analysed my relationships and realised that some people are toxic and that I have no responsibility to be there for them. Even if they are your mother.

In 2016 I turn twenty-one. I also start my third year of university and my grades will count towards my degree. 2016 is the year it all gets serious and I am scared but excited. Later this month I am going to Calais to help in a refugee camp. I understand that donating money may be more helpful but I want to go there to show them that they are loved and respected. I am visiting Rome with my best friend and getting to see all the important monuments I have studied over the past year. I move into a new house with someone who loves the same things as I do. I am going to write more, both here and poetry. I will sing more and not care if I am not in tune. I will continue to build on my relationship with God and let it shape me into a better woman. I am going to put effort into my relationships because I really do have amazing friends. I might finally become organised and stop procrastinating. I am going to focus on my mental health and recognise when it's bad again. I am going to admit I am not perfect and enjoy my imperfect life.




Saturday, 12 December 2015

Dressember



DRESSEMBER IS A COLLABORATIVE MOVEMENT

LEVERAGING FASHION AND CREATIVITY

TO RESTORE DIGNITY TO ALL WOMEN.



You may have seen my post about doing the Walk for Freedom with A21 the anti-human trafficking charity, this December I am supporting them once again. The idea of Dressember is that you commit to wearing a dress everyday of December, all thirty-one days. In doing so you raise awareness for women and girls who have been trafficked and don't have a choice in what they wear.

Believe me wearing a dress everyday is hard and there are times when I want to put on a nice comfy pair of jeans but I resisted that so far. For me the challenge will be wearing a dress on my upcoming days of hiking during the holidays, I will probably wear jeans. The idea is that you wear a dress even when it's inconvenient and you don't want to. This really is hard and I have a lot of respect for women. On cold and windy days, which in St Andrews there are many, wearing a dress is a horrible experience. When the wind blows your skirt up and everyone can see your knickers, you lose a little dignity. But that's why I am doing this challenge.

There are thousands of women all over the world who don't get to decide what they wear. Their dignity is not under their control. They are exploited for their femininity. We wear a dress to stand for the inherent dignity of women. 

You can follow along with Dressember at dressember.org and on instagram as @dressember. You can also follow the Just Love UK Dressember blog, a different member from groups all over the UK is posting each day about why they are doing Dressember. The posts so far have been really good and we've nearly reached our fundraising target!


I'll update this post as December comes to an end. Just two weeks in and my thoughts and views are already changing.


(picture is from @jennakutcher on instagram)