I interviewed Shami Chakrabarti when she came for a talk at Leeds Beckett University

To see the article, click here.

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10 (mis)adventures of an International Student in The UK

A story told in screencaps and snapchats.

1. Constantly being asked about life in “London” no matter which city you’re inExplaining to your relatives over and over that you do not live in London. Whether you are actually in London or three hours away from it is irrelevant. To caring relatives and friends, all of England is also known as “London” and no amount of correction will change that.

2. The inner party you have with yourself when you find food from your cultural backgroundshopping for food After living off fish and chips and burgers and fast food, running into something from back home is an occasion, and a big one at that.

3. Constantly having to convert currencies to evaluate a possible purchase

exchange rates and shoppingBecause it’s easier to judge using the currency you grew up with, your math skills suddenly improve a lot when you find yourself doing conversions in your head if you’re too lazy to use those handy apps on your phone.

4. Having the heaviest luggage on your way back from home because your mum insists on sending everything with you.

travelling with heavy luggageRelax, mum. I’m sure they have milk where I’m going. And tissues. And painkillers. Please, the bag isn’t closing anymore, please stop buying things for me.

5. The amount of times you almost walked into moving traffic is embarrassing.

traffic, pedestriansUnless you’re from the few countries that drive on the right side of the road, you’re used to looking to the left for oncoming traffic. At least that’s the case with me. Alternatively, thinking you’ve just witnessed a smart car driving itself, then realising that you’re just staring at the empty passenger seat, because the driver’s on the right. Oh.

6. Resisting the urge to jump into conversation with any stranger speaking your native tongue

finding people who speak your native tongueHearing a few words in your language is enough to send your head whipping around to find the source. Taking creepy shots of people who you overheard speaking your native language is totally normal, right? I just miss hearing those words, please talk to me, a complete stranger who can’t help eavesdropping..

7. Having to adjust to language differences over simple terms

chips

“Excuse me I wanted chips?” “These are chips.” Happened to all of us. Probably several times. You eventually get used to it, and soon words like ‘quid, cheers, loads, lift, telly, etc’ slowly slip into your vocabulary. Then you go home and have to recalibrate all over again.

8. Going home ‘for the weekend’ is out of the question

going home for the weekend is too expensiveOf course, a plane would be more convenient, but a quick cost-benefit analysis will show that it’s probably (definitely) not worth it. Unless you own a private jet, in which case, by all means, go home every weekend.

9. The first few times being called ‘love’ by complete strangers were.. odd.

british cultureNothing says “culture shock” like the double-take you experience when your tutor, or a cashier, or a taxi driver call you ‘love’. It’s rather sweet once you get used to it, but this isn’t common practice where you’re from so it’s funny when stereotypes you’ve seen on TV turn out to be true to life.

10. Having almost too many video and free calling apps on your phone

video calling and free international callsVideo calls and international phone calls are a part of your life. So you download any and all of the apps you can find, because if one app crashes, you can just use the other. Plus, it feels better to have many. Just in case.

(No product placement was intended anywhere in this article.)

 

Got any funny (or not so funny) experiences of your own? Comment and let me know what you think!

 

Harry Potter Fans Create Their Own Magic Through Fanfilm

If you’re not familiar with the term, Christopher Moshier explains that a fanfilm “is a film or video inspired by a movie, television program, comic book or a similar source, created by fans rather than by the source’s copyright holders or creators. These fans range in every age group, economic stature, social background, and level of experience in the genre.”  He states that, while sometimes it really is just “a bunch of kids” running around with an old camera, the majority of these fans are actually keen on learning “every aspect of filming, editing, special effects, costume making, etc.” Some fanfilms have even been said to exceed the quality of some Hollywood productions.

Ever since the big screens finished their last showing of the very last Harry Potter movie, fans have been eager for more. A quick search on the internet shows expressions of creativity inspired by J.K. Rowling’s series in various froms, from sketches and comics to video montages and fanfiction. There are whole blogs out there dedicated to what fans like to call ‘headcanons’- ideas or analyses that many members of the fandom seem to agree on, each opinion trying to prove its validity by reading into the original material.

However, if there was one thing all Harry Potter fans could agree on it was the desire to further explore the magical world Rowling has created, beyond the books and professionally produced movies, and beyond Rowling’s releases via Pottermore. As this article states, the movie ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ is surely the fandom’s first dose of Harry Potter spin-offs for now.

For some fans, this was not enough. A group of film students based in Emerson College, Boston, USA have taken it upon themselves to produce their own spin-off, starring the series’ beloved marauders. As they’ve stated on their blog:

“The Gathering Storm is a non-profit fan film about the Marauders and their friends during their sixth year at Hogwarts. The cast and crew are a mixture of college students and professionals making this film out of pure love of the series.”

“The Gathering Storm: A Marauders Fan Film” is an unofficial film made by fans, for fans, based on the stories and events of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series and is not affiliated with Warner Bros., Scholastic, J.K. Rowling, or any other company or persons attributed to the creation of the “Harry Potter” series.

fanfilm poster

The film was crowd funded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where the students gathered enough funds to go into necessary expenses such as costumes, equipment, travel, recording spaces, etc. The support gained through social media was massive; the Facebook page gathered about 6.7k likes so far, and the blog has many more followers showing gratitude and enthusiasm for the project, some calling it ‘a dream come true.’

The film is planned to be 45 minutes in length, which “might actually be the longest fanfilm ever attempted”, coming in after The Hunt for Gollum, which was 38minutes long.

Aaron Rivin, the ‘mind behind the film’, is the producer and initiator of what he has said to be the biggest project he has ever worked on. In the video below he answers some of the most burning questions fans had to offer. He said the biggest inspiration behind the film was fanart produced by tumblr users, aside from the obvious -the books and Hollywood films.

Of course, this isn’t the first Harry Potter fanfilm attempted. There are at least thirty or so listed online, and another one currently starting production by a group of students in Manchester, Britain. However, the film subjects differ not only in topic but also in era – The Gathering Storm is set in the time period before Harry Potter’s birth, when his parents were in their sixth year at Hogwarts. ‘Mudblood’, the other fanfilm, is to be set in more current times and features a muggleborn student as the hero. Each film explores a different aspect of the Harry Potter universe and its social dynamics, which is what fans have been craving this whole time.

Whether it’s impatience or pure inspiration from the announcement about Fantastic Beasts, the Harry Potter fandom is still alive and well, apparently set to re-live its golden age once again, through Hollywood and fans themselves.

Below is the trailer released by The Gathering Storm: A Marauders Fanfilm

Have you heard of fanfilms before? Are you excited about these films? What Harry Potter spin-offs would you like to see in the future? Comment and let me know!

Teenagers Are Not So Lazy Anymore

Teenagers have been changing for the better despite what others might believe.

Google search suggestions for "teenagers" includes sleep, social media, and drugs, proving that the most common stereotype for a typical teenager is lazy and irresponsible.

When you look up “teenagers” on Google, the first three suggestions that pop up are “teenagers and drugs,” “social media,” and “sleep.”

Belittling an entire generation of youth into one selfie-obsessed stereotype seems to be a growing trend, even among teenagers themselves.

However, it seems that in itself is a lazy way of looking at such a large portion of the population. An article on Children & Young People Now published in early 2014 showcases the findings of a report by Jonathan Birdwell, which states that “the current generation is more socially aware than ever before and is keen to make a difference in their community.”

In fact, many teenagers  have been coming up with ingenious creations designed to solve varying problems we face.

Teenagers Invent Creative Solutions

Eesha Khare is an 18-year-old inventor who created a “super-capacitor” that “might not only charge a cell phone in just 20 to 30 seconds, but also last ten times as long once charged.”

16-year-old Jack Andraka’s accomplishment in the medical field includes “the development of a quick, inexpensive way to detect pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer.”

19-year-old Boyan Slat’s Clean Up Array scheme could potentially  “remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans.”

Boyan Slat's Clean Up Array scheme could potentially  "remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans." This would solve one of the more pressing environmental issues the world faces today.

These are just a few examples of young adults taking matters into their own hands, as listed on an Oddee post. More light needs to be shed on such stories as a source of hope and inspiration as well as to shatter the negative image of laziness surrounding the youth of today.

What Kind of Journalist Are You?

As a journalist, I have interest in several areas, including politics, education, and science. The reason for me including politics is that, above all, it somewhat governs almost every other aspect in life, and so I feel it is important to be well informed in that area. As for education, I have a deep-seated passion to learn and report about what is called ‘alternative education,’ a topic I am constantly researching and exploring in my own time. Finally, it is my personal opinion that not enough attention is paid to news in science among mass audiences, who are either engrossed in political and/or sports, celebrity and fashion news entirely –not to say that those topics aren’t of any importance.

I try to read a variety of news sources when it comes to politics, including CNN, BBC, The Guardian, as well as Al Jazeera and The New York Times.

The Electronic Intifada (http://electronicintifada.net/) mostly covers news about the Palestine-Israel situation. The main journalist, Ali Abunimah, is a Palestinian American who appeared on BBC World News in an interview.

I also follow RT news on Twitter, and several journalists who post their own work and that of others. I keep tabs on scientific news through a subscription to Discover Magazine (http://discovermagazine.com/), and frequently watch National Geographic and similar channels. I also love watching TED talks on http://ted.com, especially ones concerning education and learning.

My main hobbies are reading and writing, although I do enjoy producing art by drawing/painting and the occasional experimental cooking attempt. Still, I’m mostly known among my friends and peers and even my teachers as the one that loves to read a lot. Every year I set a certain number of books and challenge myself to read that many by the beginning of the next. When it became normal for me to read at least 20 books a year, I started challenging myself to read outside of my comfort zone by choosing books from new genres that I wouldn’t normally pick up. I track all of my progress on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/ ), and read reviews and recommendations from sites such as the Electric Literature magazine (http://electricliterature.com/) and Epic Reads (http://epicreads.com). For writing news, tips and advice, I’ve subscribed to a newsletter from I Write Like (https://iwl.me) I also read a lot of trivia on the Mental Floss (http://mentalfloss.com/) website because it hosts a huge variety of topics.