green sea dock italy

12 Things I’ve Learnt in the Past 12 Months: 2019 Edition

Around this time last year, I wrote a list of the 12 biggest lessons I’d learnt in the previous 12 months. I thought it would be interesting to compile another one without reading the first and then look back and see how they compare. A lot has happened since August 2018, from starting university and completing two internships to travelling to six countries. So what have these experiences taught me?

I love learning

My course has pushed me in some ways (such as clashing deadlines), but the actual content I’ve found enjoyable to engage with. Spending a couple of years away from the intensity of education before university has made me really appreciate this.

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people on one side of escalator

Lessons from a Year of Street Photography

There is something powerful about street photography: it captures delicate, tacit moments and immortalises them. It satisfies a bit of that curiosity for the world that sits deep within me. When I think about street photography, it is the connections between people and other people, and people and the world which motivates me to shoot. I love seeing how life happens; how the small, everyday things people do keep the societal cogs turning. I thought it might be interesting to look back over my street photography sessions from 2018 and think about how my approach to snapping photos changed over that time…

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orange yellow peaches bright colours spain street photography

Colour and the Quiet – Corella Street Photography Journal

At the end of summer, I was lucky enough to travel to three beautiful places in Spain: Corella, San Sebastian and Bilbao. I’m feeling a little nostalgic today, or perhaps the reality of university is starting to hit me and I’m craving a bit of a mental step back from it all – either way, I thought this would be a good moment to look back over my street photography from my little September Spanish adventure.

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san sebastian beach on sunny day

September Reflections – Holidays and Starting University

September has been a pretty intense month for me. From going on several holidays to starting university, September has flipflopped through the full extent of emotions and has been chiseled by change. Attentive readers will perhaps have noticed this already: this is the first time my posting schedule has been so sporadic and scattered since starting my blog all the way back in November. A lot of things have happened in the last 30 days, and so I thought I’d split this Reflections post into sections. I, for one, am definitely in need of a little clarity and simplification.

Going Camping

I kicked off September in the best way possible – sleeping in a field. Well, sleeping in a tent in a field. I spent that first weekend of the month strolling through falling leaves in the late summer sunshine of the New Forest and it was wonderful. I think that spending time in nature, and living in a tent, both allow yourself to feel grounded and to dedicate time to appreciating the little things in life. For example, when you’re camping, cooking takes three times as long as it does at home – but that’s okay, because it gives you perspective.

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2018/9 academic year bullet journal title page

Dear First-Year-University-Student Me: An Open Letter

Dear Alys,

Last weekend quite a few people you know headed off to university: it’s that time of year that brings about fresh starts and big changes with the colouring, and falling, of the leaves. In a sense, this feels like more of a ‘new year’ than the actual New Year. And this weekend, you’ll also be driving up north to become a university student, in a tiny car bloated with the objects that make up your life.

In one way, it’s been a long time coming. You’ve had two years out of the traditional school system and have already left your teen years behind. You tried a distance learning degree, and even completed the first year, but you knew that wasn’t what you wanted to continue doing. So I think now is the right time. I don’t think many people ever feel completely ready to go to university, everyone has their own kinds of struggles, but I think at this point in time you’re as ready as you’ll ever be.

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6 Hacks to Start Shooting Street Photography for Anxious People

I recently put out a post about shooting street photography, which included several tips and tricks for beginners to get stuck into the art of capturing spontaneous, real moments. Lots of you seemed to enjoy that post, and several people expressed an interest in getting started but feeling anxious about having to shoot on the street with people noticing you. Worry no more, I’ve got you – this is what we’re going to be discussing today.

Now, who would be a good person to turn to for advice on such a subject? A highly socially anxious individual who has a bit of experience with taking photos on the street, I’d assume. Hmm… can you think of anyone? Yeah, that’s right, you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll definitely have come across content centred around anxiety – even if you weren’t looking for it. I’ve talked before a lot about how standing out in any way at all has given me crippling irrational fear in the past.

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July Reflections: Holidays and Undoing Stress

I’m writing this post on the first day of proper rain in a long time: not like a light drizzle, or a sea fret, but a downpour. A deluge from the heavens. And I’m welcoming it with open, now soaking wet, arms. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve missed the rain. I have enjoyed the sun over the last few weeks too, though.

July kicked off a little unusually – I was in New York, 3474 miles from home and having a wonderful time. I was feeling so much better than at the start of June, that’s for sure. I was coming to the end of a nearly-month-long adventure with my friend that took us across 5 (and a half) countries from two continents. I had a great time and really loved New York. I’ve started sharing the photos from there, as well as the rest of my travels, over on Instagram if street photography is your thing.

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What To Do in Riga, Latvia: Travel Photo Journal

Nestled away in Northeastern Europe, Latvia is perhaps an underappreciated country in the travelling community. However, this Baltic State has a lot to boast about, of which I only managed to glimpse a little of in the three days I spent roaming the cobbled streets of the Old Town, staring up at the remarkably decorative buildings and observing the traditional and much-hyped Song and Dance Festival that happened to be going on whilst I was there.

The overused phrase ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ definitely rings true when it comes to describing travel adventures; hence the start of my travel photojournal series… First up on the list is my rundown of Riga – the unassuming capital of Latvia.

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June Reflections – Illness and Travelling

Well it looks like we can all breathe a little easier as this post is going to be a lot more positive than May’s Reflections: otherwise known as the episode in the series in which disorder is the star of the show and no one knows where the plot is heading next. I would say head on over to check out why May was like rooting for Germany in the 2018 World Cup (on paper it looked like it was going to be a celebration but in reality it was a stressful disappointment) but that post is pretty depressing. For that reason I’d recommend sticking with this one (which has been more like the Russian football team: everything surprisingly and impressively pulled together in the end, and no matter what happens now no one can deny the excitement and success so far).

If football references aren’t your thing – and believe me, they’re not really mine either, that’s just what happens when you spend a month travelling with a football fan – then don’t worry as that was the last of them.

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How To Make Friends When Living Abroad

During May I put out a post about how to make friends as a young solo female traveller. As I wrote that post, the word count started edging towards 2000 and I thought that it might be a good idea to break it into two. As the post took shape, it naturally split itself into tips for people travelling from place to place, never staying anywhere for too long, and advice for those attempting to settle somewhere slightly longer-term. The post I published before covered the first of these, whilst this post will focus on the latter.

When I was travelling in 2016, I did a mix of both things: I visited a couple of countries and places for a week or two at a time, and I also lived in Sydney, Australia for around four months. That’s not too much time, but it definitely felt like a different experience to the other places I visited. I got a job there, lived in a house and made a few more friends.

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