On finishing university?!?!

So, you guys, don’t freak out, but I have some medium enormous news…

I have completed my degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol.

I admit I am still in shock. I have yet to catch up on sleep (or game of thrones) but I thought a quick post thinking back over the adventure that was my uni experience and also looking forward to the adventures to come would be cute and topical. So here goes:

I have submitted 27 essays. Sat through 9 exams. Written a 13,000 word dissertation. Thrown up 9 times (that I can remember). Been on 3 compulsory zoo trips. Visited 7 castles. Managed 9 (rainy) days of digging. Had 16 housemates. Racked up £27.000 worth of tuition fee debt (and even more student loans) Let’s not talk about that part. Had 6 jobs. And ultimately, survived 3 years – 156 weeks – of studenthood.

Boiling down three years of my life into a list of numbers feels pretty bizarre. A typical anthropologist, qualitative data is more my cup of tea. But where to begin when summarising such a roller coaster of an experience? I have learnt so much. Not just about Aztecs or Athens or Primates or Personhood, but about living with others, drinking cheap cider, making an unknown city a home, and writing entire essays in all-night stints.

The weirdest thing for me now that I’m done is that for literally the first time in my life, I have no real plans or deadlines. From progressing through school, taking GCSEs in order to take A-Levels in order to get into university, I’m suddenly left with… whatever the hell I want. In the next couple of weeks I have arranged to take part as part of the Social Media and Public Engagement team at an archaeological excavation at Berkeley Castle (See more about that here) and I know that I will be spending the summer in the Alps as a holiday representative (more about that to come), as well as a planned family trip to the Isles of Scilly, and a later trip to Istanbul with L. But come September I will be returning to my family home, to my single bedroom in the attic with my cats, and then…. what?

A little bit terrifying to suddenly have infinity choices..

I suppose it’s true that the world is my oyster, but I just wish that it was a slightly smaller oyster and that someone could come and show me how to do that thing with the lemon and the vinegar and the little forks and the gulping – The oyster analogy actually is a little bit confusing. Let’s move on from that. WHAT I MEAN is that I wish someone could come and tell me what to do with my life and how to do it. However, I suppose I just have to have faith that things will work out how they are meant to and that it will soon become clear what my future holds. Or not. Either way, one thing I have definitely learnt in the past three years is that even when things get really really REALLY crap, you are stronger than you think and can and will endure. So there world. Bring it on.

Any advice from those of you who have graduated and have already tackled the Big Bad World of grownuphood? Anyone else in the same boat as me? GUIDANCE PLEASE!

    IMG_0474

Advertisements

The Galápagos Islands – A Natural Paradise

This article was originally printed in the Epigram’s travel section, ‘Eden edition’, with the title “Ecuadoor to Paradise” but I thought I might share it here too in case you were interested. 

At first glance you could be forgiven for mistaking the Galápagos Islands for somewhere closer resembling purgatory than an idyllic island paradise. Roughly 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador, the unforgiving heat, ferocious hardened lava landscapes and ominous, smouldering volcanoes make many of the 19 islands in the archipelago seem like hell solidified – or at least something imagined in a post apocalyptic novel. Seemingly demonic creatures are abundant: Marine iguanas with their beady eyes and sharp claws eye you up as they sizzle on their volcanic sun-beds. Hammer heads and reef sharks are two of the 30 species which lurk not so out of sight in the depths of the surrounding Pacific. Aggressive and vocal pelicans bicker and fight with albatrosses over scraps of fish at the harbour on Santa Cruz. And worst – large and unafraid spiders scuttle noisily across the corrugated iron rooftops at night and wind up in your trainers by morning.

And yet few who visit these ‘enchanted islands’ fail to be moved by the experience. After being fortunate enough to spend three weeks working and traveling there I have come to understand why Darwin described the Galápagos as a “little world within itself”. Snorkelling in the neon turquoise waters off Isabela Island I remember being awe struck by the colours and activity: big black fish with yellow lips and bright blue eyes dash past, enormous scarlet red starfish glint on the seabed next to others a vivid electric blue, impossibly graceful yet impressively large turtles float by. The diving on the Galápagos is rightfully famous, with over 500 species of fish, beautiful corals, 22 types of whale, fantastical and alien looking manta rays, dolphins and (bizarrely) penguins all pottering around in the waters with you. Not forgetting the unmissable presence of the sea lions, who are far from shy even on land as they lounge on pavements and benches.

This explosion of natural life, much of it found nowhere else on the planet, is complimented by the beauty of the clear night skies (supposedly you can see all of the constellations from your spot on the equator) which leave your mind boggling and the fabulous, intense sunsets which take your breath away. The locals are forever friendly and endlessly proud of their beautiful islands and are eager to give visitors tips on where to hike or swim or eat. One taxi driver, Freddy, spontaneously transformed into our personal tour guide and took us to the best place to see flamingos and where to watch the red throated frigate birds swooping to dip their wings in a collapsed volcano crater lake.

If you get the chance to visit these fabled isles – I urge you to take it. And even if natural history isn’t your thing… There is nothing more blissful than sitting on a gorgeous mangrove lined beach, a book in one hand and a cocktail made from oranges you picked that day in the other, looking out across the clear, turquoise waters at the sea lions merrily dipping and diving and the finches swooping. I’ve been to paradise and I’m just longing to go back.

Here are some bonus Galapagos pictures:

2014 : reflections

This post is admittedly a little overdue, as we are already racing through January, but I thought it would be worth taking some time to think about the adventure that was 2014 and look forward to all that 2015 holds.

2015/01/img_3470.jpg2015/01/img_3736.jpg2015/01/img_3463.jpg

For this adventurer, thinking back over 2014, I am filled with memories of some truly overwhelmingly happy times, as well as some of the most challenging. It is so reassuring to think that despite a rocky start to the year (to put it lightly), with no adventuring and frankly no desire for any enterprise more daring than lurking under the safety of my duvet, I am still able to think back and remember some fantastic and exciting days spent with some fantastic and exciting friends. I feel like I am successfully escaping from what seems now to have almost definitely been a curse or bewitchment cast over me by some super mean and grouchy witch. So, for now, please indulge me while I recap some of 2014’s adventures – perhaps it will inspire some of you for whom happiness seems scarily distant.

Travelled by boat to Hurst Castle and learned about Henry VIII’s coastal forts.
Flitted from pub to pub and band to band for Bristol’s Dot to Dot Festival.
Got extremely muddy and equally glittery at Love Saves the Day.
Headed off to Paris with the best people, staying in a 4* hotel at the Place du Vendome.
Sprinted around Disneyland Paris and hopped on Big Thunder Mountain more times than we should admit.
Cycled from the Eiffel Tower along the River Seine all the way to the Bois de Vincennes.
Boogied to Kool and the Gang at Guilfest. Cried at my first ever Opera experience at Glyndebourne.
Picnicked on the beach at Lepe (Read more here).
Visited an impressive number of castles (including Cardiff which I also wrote about).
Made a hell of a lot of bunting.
Visited Dublin and travelled across to County Clare to see the Cliffs of Moher.
Volunteered at Bristol Zoo Gardens (I wrote a post about this place) and got hands on with butterflies, lemurs and lorikeets.
Sang/played at my first open mic night in years.
Got incredibly lost returning from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and discovered Leigh Woods by accident.
Learnt how to dance a little bit.
Saw a truly fantastic performance of Julius Ceasar at the Globe Theatre as well as a bunch of other fantastic theatre performances.
Met a guy who is pretty cool.
Celebrated in the new year on a boat on the River Thames.

I suppose the main thing that I can take away from what might seem like a relatively short, or rather tame list of activities, is that popular definitions of the word “adventure”, yapping on about “reckless or potentially hazardous actions”, with reference to “danger” and “the taking of risks”, seem to be somewhat lacking. I visited a number of art galleries and public museums, I went on a number of coastal walks, I learnt how to bake – hardly risky exploits. And yet the sense of achievement, the feeling that I have returned, successful, from a thrilling, exciting and emotionally daring undertaking is still there, and surely that must be what adventures are all about. Throwing yourself into the world despite uncertainty of what might be in store and (re)discovering a sometimes lost sense of excitement in all there is out there to experience. I think realising the joy in this pursuit might have been my biggest and most challenging adventure yet.

adventure
noun
Sarah’s Official Definition: TBC

For now I could give you some words that rhyme with adventure instead? Helpful? No? (Bencher. Denture. Wrencher? Trencher. Dementia?)

Ok the end.

2015/01/img_0294.jpg2015/01/img_3473.jpg2015/01/img_3477.jpg2015/01/img_3469.jpg2015/01/img_3462.jpg2015/01/img_3471.jpg2015/01/img_3467.jpg2015/01/img_3465.jpg2015/01/img_3739.jpg2015/01/img_3734.jpg2015/01/img_3732.jpg2015/01/img_3466.jpg2015/01/img_3738.jpg2015/01/img_3741.jpg2015/01/img_3735.jpg2015/01/img_0295.jpg2015/01/img_3742.jpg2015/01/img_0293.jpg