Home Sweet Home

Back from the ‘land of the rising sun’ to the ‘land of the rising rain cloud’.

I decided to take a short break from my dissertation and fill you guys in with what exciting thing have been going on in the past 3 months. My apologies that I am only getting around to this now but there are some cool trips that you ought to hear about.

So,  Japan was quite the experience and you were all able to come with me on the adventure thanks to lifesofar.org!  I haven’t updated my blog in a little while (dissertation fun) and I have felt the need to talk about a few different trips that I have gone on recently.   Over the course of my year aboard I learned a lot about Japan mostly, but also people and myself. I also happened to meet some very influential people that have really had a positive effect on my life. The new friends I gained and the old ones that only became closer, and of course, not forgetting the teachers that changed the direction of my path. These people have all helped me to have a much more positive outlook on life and make small changes that in turn (I hope) can help others.


Big up iCLA, I would recommend the University if you wanted to study in Japan! – https://www.icla.jp/en/ 


All and all it was one of the best experiences of my life to date, if you are studying at university and can a year or term abroad it’s a must. Or, maybe you are just thinking about going to live aboard, study or travel. Take my advice and DO IT!!!!!

Back to basics

For those of you know don’t know much about Northern Ireland (my first home) or England (my second), it tends to rain a lot. Not so much in Brighton where I study and live in England, but it makes up for it in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland my hometown. I’m currently at home writing my dissertation for my final year and of course Christmas! After coming back from Japan I have made many Japanese friends at uni, and have gone on some little day trips with them.

Northern Ireland

Got new #vans and took them to the causeway. #asianontheeastcoast

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Now that I have made these international amigos and of course advised them to come to Northern Ireland Aka ‘the most beautiful country in the world’ (disclaimer, I may be a little bias) there is just no stopping them. Some of the hot spots that I have visited recently with some friends from all over include Carrickfergus Castle, Belfast, Crumlin Road Gaol, Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, Gobbins Path, Carrick-a-reed Rope Bridge and the Giants Causeway (to name a few). If you do wish to come to Northern Ireland, I would strongly advise the Antrim coast as it is undoubtedly one of the most (if not the most) beautiful and interesting parts of the whole Island.  Home to Game of Thrones, the titanic and some very friendly people it is much more than meets the eye. Food, coffee, culture it ticks all the boxes and probably one of the cheapest places to visit in the UK!

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Brighton, England

Sunset at the pier. #sussex

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Brighton pier is probably the most famous landmark in Brighton and believe it or not this is one of the most beautiful times of the year to see it. Especially with the sun so low in the sky, it makes for quite a dramatic backdrop.  As I’m sure you may already know this was my city of choice to study in, it has also played its role changing my views and perceptions of the world. An unforgettable city that is a must if you are travelling around England. With its extremely unique culture, diversity of thinking and people, it is a one of a kind and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Things can be a little pricey, so, be prepare to pay a little extra for your tea and coffee.

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Out and about

If you are like me and manage to get yourself on the international trips you are golden. This term I booked myself a trip to visit Oxford and Harry Potter Studios, and if you go through your university or even an agency sometimes it’s cheaper. When adding up the cost of travel, the time it takes and what you are going to do when getting to said location it can be easier and cheaper to book with a tour group. For big cities in the U.K I find it can be much easier (and cheaper) just to book with a tour company, there is no fuss with buses or trains you go to the stop and they pick you up. When you arrive usually there is a city tour and you have the rest of the day to do what you like.


If you are in Brighton I would recommend a company called Discovery tours I have used them in the past it’s cheap, their tours are good and happen year round! – http://www.discoverytours.uk.com/


Oxford, England

Oxford was the first trip and I spent the day with Ryan, a nice guy that I meet on the journey there! When we arrived our group was taken on a tour of the city, to our dismay the weather was of course raining, but that didn’t stop us. We started our city tour on the campus of the Christ Church University of Oxford that is famous for the staircase from Harry Potter films, then visited a church. We walked around the city centre by our guide who told us mainly about good pubs to go to and what famous (mainly English) people came from the schools, this was funny as everyone else on the trip (international students) had no idea who he was talking about.  After the tour, Ryan and I went off and visited a few places around the city, like the famous market, the botanical gardens, the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Turf Tavern (famous for Bill Clinton allegedly getting high there). There was also a few free museum that we visited, like the museum of history and science, it was also a very interesting visit!

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Harry Potter Studios, England

At last, it was a long time come!! I have always wanted to visit the studios of what has to be one my favourite childhood (and still today) films! HARRY POTTER!!!!! It all started in 2001 believe it or not, yes I know, feel to make you feel old… If you were into the books the adventure started before then, but for me being the kind of kid that couldn’t sit still for 2 minutes unless it was Runescape or great show on, it had to be the films for me.  I have always enjoyed it and of course, it is one of my guilty pleasure nowadays to spend a week just watching each film one a night!

The Studio is a little bit expensive I think it will cost you roughly 40 pounds for a ticket, this is a bit steep but for me totally worth it. I am a massive fan of the franchises and I don’t mind giving back to the film industry every now and again!

The studio tour is self-guided and there is SOOO MUCH TO SEE! If you get hot for props and all things Potter-related, you have to go here! I really enjoyed see all the sites in full size and learning a lot more about how much effort actually went into making the film! Excuse some of the funny coloured pictures, they seem to love their pink and purple lights in the studios…

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P.s unless you like sweetness don’t go for the butter beer….

So, thanks for looking/reading!

Stephen!

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The EU, Do we LEAVE, or STAY?

So, what shall we do? 

I recently posted this same piece on Facebook, I was torn as to where I should put it first. As my blog is new to the world wide web I thought my message would be better heard posting it straight to Facebook and the people I felt I could best reach.

This is an issue that I feel very strongly about and I think that or at least hope, that I can inspire some young people or old to do their own research into the referendum or at least register to vote.

If you want to – https://www.registertovote.service.gov.uk

 

This isn’t my normal kind of post in that it isn’t about a project or traveling that I am currently doing, just something I feel strongly about and want to get the word out there!

 

 

 

A little background

I have been personally very lucky to travel around the world and know how much trouble it is to obtain visas or to even find out if it is ok to travel to certain places. Being a part of this larger group of countries has its obvious advantages when it comes to travel. But of course, there is a lot more to it than this.

All that talk of easy travel – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/what-would-brexit-mean-for-travellers

I have been directly affected by the EU, it has changed and enriched my life greatly. Growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland with not a lot of opportunities or anything going on, the EU has made contributions in such a way that I think the Brtish government would never have.

As I’m sure you are aware, or if you aren’t in Northern Irelands very recent history there was an era known as ‘The Troubles’. Northern Ireland is still a very new country, about to reach its 100th birthday in 2021, it as any other new country had its fair share of difficulties.  The troubles were undoubtedly some of Northern Ireland’s darker days and because of this the country has been shaped in such a way that you can see today.

 

 

 

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Starting in the late 50’s early 60’s and going on to nearing the millennium the streets of Belfast and often other towns and cities were like war zones. There is still a presence of terrorist organisations and people to this day live in fear of others just because of what religion they are or where they are from. If you want to find our more there is great information and a good video on the BBC about this.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/histories/troubles

Anyway, as I was saying, I was blessed to be chosen to take part in a European youth exchange that completely turned my life around. At the time, I was going through a very rough patch and this was the turning point for me. With EU funding, I and a group of 20 other young people from the Northern Ireland and Croatia were able to meet and travel to and from each other’s countries.  Learning about like the culture and how most countries in fact nearly all have had their fair share of recent trouble.  This ultimately inspired me to carry on and led to many more great experiences learning just how lucky I am. It also got me to the position of Youth Leader within the NEELB or Education Authority as it is known now. I had the opportunity to take young people on the same journey that I went through and help them find their way!  The 3 Exchanges that I took part in were unquestionably the best and probably one of the toughest experiences of my life! But enough of all the heartfelt mumbo-jumbo…

With EU funding, a group of 20 made up of  young people and myself from the Northern Ireland and Croatia were able to meet and travel to and from each other’s countries.  Learning about the culture and how most countries in Europe faced their own troubles if you like, in there quite recent history.  This ultimately inspired me to carry on and led to many more great experiences. It also got me to the position of Youth Leader within the NEELB or Education Authority as it is known now (the youth service of Northern Ireland). I had the opportunity to take young people on the same journey that I went through and help them find their way!  The 3 Exchanges that I took part in, with Poland, Germany, Austria and Croatia were unquestionably the best and probably one of the toughest experiences of my life! But enough of all the heartfelt mumbo-jumbo…

 

 

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Back to it, as I’m sure you are all well aware I am currently living in Japan and 6000 miles makes a big difference. I don’t actively seek out the news in the UK unless something major is brought to my attention. This, of course, is pretty major, but I must admit I am kind of into politics anyway. As I am not at home and will not have the opportunity to vote I wanted to come at this in an unbiased way. I am very much on the fence when it comes to the EU ref, as I feel Britain always lands on its feet or finds a way to get by, just look throughout the history of the country. When push comes to shove we can get stuff done, but is that what I want, or what the people of the UK want? Or do they think that if we leave the EU it will be easy and everyone will just instantly become rich? This is why I wanted to write something hopefully inspiring people to look past the stupid videos that come up on their Facebook Newsfeed that they take as the word of God himself.  Find it out for yourself!! P.s don’t read articles made by the Sun…

 

 

The EU, do we leave, or stay?

This is just my take on the whole situation, from the little that I know of it and what I have heard from half way across the world. Maybe it will shed some light on the subject, who knows?

For me, it’s more a matter of personal preference, where your values lie and what kind of role you want Britain to play on the world stage. Especially when it comes to things like the planet (aka Climate Change), how children, adults, and animals are treated around the world and of course the living/working conditions in the UK.

I have been thinking about writing something on this topic for a long time now, and of course, I have seen all the videos just like you have, to do with leaving and staying in the EU. For me, it all seems to be a bit of a farce and based on pride as “WE ARE the proud nation that is BRITAIN”. Oh, and it’s nearly time to vote! p.s registration ends tomorrow. (just a heads up)

 

NO Vote

But, if you look at both arguments they are flawed. On one side you have the NO voters saying that the EU is destroying our economy (this is basically all they are saying), while making drastic comparisons of the UK or other countries in the EU to the likes of China, which in case you all forgot is a communist country with no control over air pollution, no age restrictions for workers, no minimum wage, no maximum hours, no help for people with disabilities and nothing for workers if something goes wrong in the workplace (just to name a few examples). THESE are the things that we take for granted and THESE are the things that have been set in place by the EU. Then they compare how the economy of said countries is doing so well compared to the UK’s! But forget to mention that is driven by killing the planet and child labour. (Seem’s legit, right?)

Other countries such as Switzerland are used as comparisons which of course is a lovely country and all, but it just so happens to be one of the biggest tax havens on the planet for the likes of big companies and rich people to avoid paying taxes. Sure, it’s not a big deal you say?? Well, this is the money that the government should actually be spending on you, for education, healthcare, and the arts among other things.

Then there are the comparisons to do with unemployment rates when in actual fact in the UK we are on power with countries around the world with lowest unemployment rates ( Incase you’re interested – 5. 1% as of February 2016 which is the same percentage of unemployed pre-credit-crunch.) By no means, I am trying to big up the Tories it’s just really not as bad as all these videos try to tell you.

The Government

On that topic there is also the worrying fact to do with our currently unstable government, with their stance on some of the topics already discussed for example, with regards to disabled people that are just as able as me or anyone else to have an ordinary job there have been cuts to funding for training and helping these people out. I could go on but this isn’t about the Tories, but actually, do you really want them to have complete control over you. This also reminds me of a certain case in my hometown, where the government has allowed drilling for fossil flues no further that 100 or so meters from the main water supply for 1/4 of Northern Ireland population. Things like these would become a lot more common without the regulations and the EU being able to step in and stop ‘The Man’ in 10 downing street.

The EU

And of course, I’m not saying that the EU is perfect, there is a major issue with transparency, crazy salaries for MEP’s (or anyone who works in for the EU) and what OUR role is in the decision making within EU as we don’t have elected representatives. Things must change, David Cameron needs to step up to the mark and put real pressure on the EU for Change.

YES Vote

And with that, it leads me to the other side the YES vote, that we are stronger together. They preach of us being a proud nation once again and being at the forefront of the EU to lead it as we have so boldly done before and throughout our history with the world (worked out great, I know…). This is for me is not the right way either. We, as a part of the EU, should support and help grow the great nation that is Europe. We are there to help and guide not to rule over, to support and not take for granted the peace that we are so lucky to have in the EU.

I think of the countries in the EU like I would a group of friends, they are equal and if one grows strong they should help one another grown in the same way. This is what friends do they support one and other to become stronger as a collective. When you are with your friends and they fall down you help them to their feet again, you don’t leave them behind.

So, these are just a few of the key issues that have come about with this referendum. Others would be to do with the immigration, currency or take the HNS for example if you think it would be any safer in the hands of the Conservative party than with backing and the protection of the EU, my friends you are sorely mistaken. They would tear it apart, privatisation baby!!

So again, I think it’s about personal preference and where your values lie. Do you want to stick with the EU as they have stuck by us? Or when things get tough to you want to be the “Proud Nation” that ran with its tails between their legs.

If you got this far, thanks for reading. I hope it inspires you to do your own research, find out what you want for your future!

Thanks for reading/looking guys
Stephen