September Favourites

Friday 12 April 2019, First year

by Charlotte Stevenson

September Favourites

Charlotte Stevenson
It's that time again where I tell you my favourites of the month, everything from the books that have really stood out for me, to unique experiences or fun new songs. September has passed by so quickly up until this point, and I think this is largely because I am experiencing so much all at once, what with the whole study abroad situation as well as all of my own individual projects. It is an odd combination to have but one that continues on nevertheless. 

In terms of new experiences, and re-discovering old ones, September has been packed full of them. I've seen so many new places, picked up new skills and learnt such a lot - particularly about writing. This past month, I've been working on more written projects than ever in order to develop and shape my voice further academically as well as beyond the classroom. The results so far have already started to pay off which I hope goes to show that hard work really does end up being your most successful quality in the end. But writing won't be a favourite on todays list, simply because otherwise it would have to be every month! The contents of todays' list focuses instead on a variety of things, from the literary to the global. So, without further delay, here are my September favourites:

1. Onset Of Autumn
Image copyright CLSS 2017
Autumn has always been my favourite of the seasons because it brings with it crispness, crunchy leaves, warm woollen sweaters and pumpkins. There is something almost magical about it where the line between night and day ceases to exist and instead we live in this comfortable inbetween. It's the perfect time for wandering and sitting somewhere wrapped up in a scarf reading a good book.

Experiencing my first autumn away from home has proved eye opening in lots of ways, firstly in that I never knew you could be homesick for a season. And yet I am! I am so excited for the October break so that I can hopefully get to see some of the fall back in the UK. But until then, I am enjoying the odd combination the Netherlands seems to possess of somewhere between summer and winter. It's too hot to say the crispness is perfect yet, but the leaves are gradually beginning to fall.

2. Zoology 

As you will know, from my many blogs discussing the value of a versatile skill set variety, I have a keen interest in the natural sciences. At the moment, my interest has shifted to zoology which is proving really interesting so far. I am currently using some of the free courses available through Open University, meaning that once I have completed those offered for free I can make a better informed decision on whether this is something I would like to study in the future. If you've never really thought about zoology before and how it can prove fascinating, let me leave you with this thought provoking question to help: How would you define the environment and nature? And how would you say the two compare/contrast?

3. The New Academic Year

The beginning of the school year is perhaps my favourite (other than the holidays during the busy periods of course). Already I am fast approaching the half way point of my semester here in Amsterdam! The work pace is quite different but it also means that we are learning a lot rapidly, keeping us occupied and thoughtful. The new academic year always brings with it new surprises and areas to research.

I always enjoy when there is something we are taught about in class which then follows me around every day. For example, if I learn a new word suddenly I am aware of people saying it more so than I would have been before and it seems to be magically everywhere.

4. The Hunger Games
One of my favourite YA books has to be The Hunger Games so getting to choose which book we wrote on for one of our assignments led me immediately back to the Suzanne Collins classic. For those of you who don't know, The Hunger Games is a dystopian book (and movie) series which follows the main protagonists of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark as they are forced from their small District into a cruel game where they must fight to the death. But obedience can only last so long in the face of danger, and our protagonists are not so virtuous as they first may seem in following the rules.

Getting to analyse the text and write about it means I am suddenly aware of elements within the book I previously didn't see in a great deal of depth. For this reason, I feel like I am getting the opportunity to read it all over again and it feels like I am back in highschool just as entranced by this grotesque and yet brilliantly constructed world. I highly recommend it as a read, even to those of you who have already read it but perhaps not in a while. Appreciating a book on this level reminds me why I continue to do what I do and to remain so eager to share the debate on literature.

5. Amsterdam
The city of bicycles - Image copyright CLSS 2017
And of course, this has been my first full month as a Dutch student! I am enjoying it so far as I say, it is proving the challenge I expected with a few other surprises thrown in for extra measure. But studying abroad has also meant being faced with many opportunities (such as more freedom on what to write my essays on) I otherwise would not have been able to experience, as university life in the UK is very different. I am intrigued by this place, by its' history, and it is certainly widening my perspective of the world to see how culture can subtly render a place into a different version of home; For it is different and yet not so very different afterall.