Opportunity: Captured?

Earlier today I attended the ‘Opportunity: Captured?’ event and exhibition that I was invited along to through my work with the university outreach programme. I was not really sure what to expect when I entered the Nottingham Contemporary, however I was faced with an exhibition that featured images which were among dozens submitted to the Centre for Student and Community Engagement.

Films, artwork and photographs capture what ‘opportunity’ means to students, staff, pupils and friends of Nottingham Trent University and therefore I really enjoyed going along to show my support. Everyone utilises university differently to access a range of opportunities; I personally have valued getting involved in as many younger pupil led workshops and sessions, as well as throwing myself fully into getting the most out of my degree as I can.

The showcase really did display the differing interpretations of the question around opportunity and how this has had a positive impact on the individuals. Themes included female empowerment, trips abroad, how university has helped after graduating and fostering creativity in activities such as dance. It also opened my eyes to the opportunities NTU offer to students not within the university, including NTU Summer School and Art Clubs.

I did not previously know much about NTU’s innovative work on social mobility and therefore the exhibition was a great visual and interactive way to raise awareness around this work. I now realise that the uni was first to sign the Social Mobility Pledge and has since been selected to co-run a national evidence centre to determine ‘what works’ in social mobility in higher education.

Although the event was only in the Nottingham Contemporary, I feel that it is a great way to get students involved in a positive movement that will encourage future bodies of students to join NTU.

Rachel

The Power of Instagram

Brand Zine Interest

Our Period. Zine has been posted and shared on Instagram a couple of times which has amazed and surprised us all. When we were creating our zine, none of us expected that anything would happen after our final presentation at the Nottingham Contemporary. We were surprised when we got contacted by Wolf and Gypsy Vintage.

“An awesome and factual zine.” – Amy (Wolf and Gypsy Vintage)

“I received your zine and I am blown away with how great they are.” – Laura (Wolf and Gypsy Vintage)

After we printed the new design of the zine, Wolf and Gyspy posted our zine on their Instagram which we were all proud of. We were overwhelmed that someone else loved our zine outcome as much as we did.

We are honoured to be part of the campaign promoting such a worthy cause that is period poverty. I liaised with Laura from Wolf and Gypsy and we came to the conclusion that our zines will be offered free with every HeyGirlsUK charity tees purchased in-store and online. Alternatively a donation can be made to receive a copy.

Rose Sinclair from @roseonthecanal got in contact following on from the Instagram post. The Feminist Library in London would apparently love a couple of copies for their archive and activist collection. She is also going to put us in touch with their bookshop. I am still waiting on a reply, however if this goes ahead, it will be another avenue to get our zine and work out there which is amazing exposure for us all. This has just shown me how topical the issue of period poverty is and the number of likeminded people.

I am so happy that we chose to go for the less safe option, exploring the taboo around periods, rather than a more likely match for TSPTR of women in sport. I will remember this in the future – going with a topic you feel passionate about can lead to more effective results. Similarly, it has reinforced the power of social media – gaining interest from TSPTR’s initial Instagram stories to now.

We never expected our work would take on a new life outside of the classroom environment and I am very grateful for this experience. It just shows that all the work produced at uni does count and an exciting opportunity could come off the back of it. I am thankful for all of the help from Simon to make this all possible for us.

Rachel

Research Project

Since September I have been a part of a research project at NTU, exploring what it means to belong (or not) at NTU. It has been a great learning opportunity for me to develop my primary research skills, as well as great academic knowledge of how to conduct a literature review and analyse research findings for example. I also had the opportunity to work with an academic to construct an abstract for our project.

The collaborative project brought staff and students together from different disciplines to gain insights into the extent to which students experience a sense of belonging. After discussing various primary research methods, data was generated anonymously over a three-week period using talking walls positioned in four locations across the two campuses. Using paper cards, students were invited to share their perceptions of belonging by posting them on the walls or into privacy boxes. 

Initial findings show a clear correlation between positive staff/academic influence and belonging. Our evaluation of the data also shows some students use coping mechanisms to manage the discomfort of not feeling they belong even to the extent of trying to mask who they really are with different personas. Similarly, some respondents see belonging as a fluid state that is dependent on the situation and/or company they are in. Our study suggests that understanding common motifs around belonging is important for HE students to continue to develop both academically and personally. Being able to look at situations through different lenses creates possibility and may create a greater sense of community. 

Following on from this, I have been working collectively to design a BTEC module for the Equine Science course. The aim is to support individuals from diverse student groups to develop a sense of belonging which is right for them.

Being a part of this research has allowed me to not only gain academic confidence, but also personal confidence. It has allowed me to practice speaking in front a group of people and sharing ideas, which I have usually shied away from. This knowledge of research will help me massively when it comes to my individual project in level 3. I will have a greater insight in to how to conduct ethical research and how to categorise findings. 

Rachel 

Malala Yousafzai – Every Girl Deserves the Same Chance

Flicking through the November Vogue Magazine, I came across an article sharing Malala Yousafzai’s experience. I find it hard to believe that Yousafzai is in the same year at university as me, but she has achieved so much and is such an inspiration to so many people.

I really related when Yousafzai stated, “The hardest part for me is managing my time, as, on top of my studies and balancing work with Malala Fund, I want to take advantage of everything university has to offer.” I completely understand that Yousafzai has so much more to juggle, but I appreciate how overwhelming overscheduled days are.

Although I throw myself into studying and working hard and often feel like I never stop and give my brain time to switch off, I never take this opportunity for granted. I know how lucky I am to have access to an incredible education, lectures and new perspectives. This view point was cemented further when I read that at 11 years old, Yousafzai woke up one morning and could not go to school because the Taliban had banned girls’ education in Swat, the region of Pakistan where she was born.

It is for this reason, I am so pleased that Yousafzai is the activist that she is today, speaking out and campaigning for girls’ education – I too want to live in a world where every girl is able to weigh her future career options in the way I hope to when I graduate.

I still cannot fathom that 130 million girls are out of school around the world. Many are forced to marry as young as 11 or 12 years old, so instead of learning, they are cooking, cleaning and raising children of their own. In many places, poverty forces girls to go to work so they can help support their families.

This hardest thing is to read was, ‘Girls my age, with all the dreams and aspirations that I have, stuck in a situation she didn’t create and unable to choose her own future. Everywhere I go today, I more than likely always see feminist T-shirts and hashtags, “The future is female”, “Girl power”, but if we really believe this, I agree that we need to support girls on the front lines of this fight.’

When girls have access to 12 years of education, primary and secondary, they reduce the risk of violent conflict, improve public health, slow the effects of climate change and grow economies. Getting more girls in education can change their life trajectory and make it easier for the next generation of girls from their communities to do the same; which is why Yousafzai’s campaigning is so aspirational.

Rachel

TEDx: What is a healthy relationship with food?

Rhiannon Lambert – TEDxUniversityofEastAnglia

Most of us are foodies. Food brings us together, and gives us comfort. But have you ever stopped to think whether your relationship with food is healthy?

Harley street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert is someone I follow closely on social media and the person to turn to when I require nutrition advice or her expert opinion. She promotes a healthy balanced relationship with food and I admire her because she is constantly studying to update and define her existing knowledge. She is all about nutrition, not numbers and shows that food shouldn’t be feared or labelled. Rhiannon is a Registered Associate Nutritionist and a Master Practitioner in Eating Disorders and Obesity.

In Rhiannon’s talk she makes the audience think about their food habits and whether they have a healthy relationship with food. I found Rhiannon’s myth busting talk revitalising; it gives the viewer a lot to think about. Her philosophy and passion really shone through; food should be a positive aspect of life, offering enjoyment, fuel and happiness for both the mind and body!

The talk starts with Rhiannon questioning the audience, making them think. ‘Have you ever calculated the calories in your meal before eating it.’ ‘Have you followed the lasted dietary trend?’ I know I definitely have and I’m pretty confident that so many others will have tinkered with their diet at some point in their lives.

The relationship with food is developed over time; the journey. So many people have unhealthy relationships with food. I now see food as fuel that should be enjoyed! I learnt that it is very difficult to separate what a person should be eating with how they feel about this food. Psychology and nutrition work hand in hand. We all have that inner voice inside our heads. For some, this voice dictates and rules how they choose the food they choose; it essentially tells you what to do.

The most important thing is to learn to separate the voice from what you really want and what you will enjoy that day. Making small changes can have really large results. The scales cannot be a scale for health, in the same way that how you look on the outside cannot reflect how you are feeling and functioning on the inside.

I liked the quote, ‘Everything in moderation, that’s what life should be about.’ We should all eat what we enjoy and be mindful about how we feel. Respecting our bodies allows us to give it a whole variety of foods on a daily basis. Allowing ourselves to have the food we crave, means we are less likely to overeat and binge on these foods we are restricting. A restricted food item then consumes the mind and becomes all a person can think and talk about; the all or nothing mindset. This is where guilt and shame comes in; it can trap people.

As a population, we constantly focus on what we can take out of our diet, rather than what we can add into it. What works for me, will most likely not work for you; we are all unique. The secret to good health is not how you feel days or weeks later, it’s how you feel months or years into the future. If diets work, we would all be doing them!

Rhiannon’s 4 Principals to nourish the mind and body: The 4 R’s

Respect your body

Refuel – food is energy

Rehydrate – the body is 60% water

Recover – allow the body time to rest

The key is to go back to basics and seek expert advice; don’t listen to the latest social media star or celebrities unqualified and untrained advice. Education is empowering.

I am very interested in health, wellness, nutrition and food choices and so I thought the talk was very inspiring. Rhiannon is on a mission to fight diet culture with evidence-based nutrition and build healthy relationships with food free from restriction.

Rachel

Things I Have Learnt At Uni So Far – Part Two

This is the second post on this topic. I split it into two parts as I have quite a few things that I wanted to share. These are some other elements that I have come to realise; I wanted to do a reflection of the things I have discovered and learnt so far in my first year of uni.

Flip-flops in the bathroom are essential

Although I have the luxury of an en-suite, I still wear my flip flops in the shower every day! I have a wet-room so the whole bathroom floor gets soaked. It did take a bit of getting used to, but now it’s just part of my routine. I do clean the bathroom and the floor each week; however I still don’t like the thought of going bare foot in there.

You can never have enough pants

Having to the laundry is a bit of a faff and there may come a point where you’re extremely tempted to just buy more pants instead of doing a wash more regularly. I have enough clothes and towels to last me up to 2 weeks but at the start of uni, pants were a struggle! At Christmas, I brought back more with me so I knew I had enough to last me. Stock up!

It all goes really, really fast

Everyone always used to tell me this and I never fully believed them. My first semester was so busy that I didn’t have time to count down the days, they just flew by! It won’t be long until I’m on the other side of the tunnel looking stressed and unprepared for the real world. It only feels like I have just arrived in some respects, but in others, it seems like I’ve been here forever. I think the main thing is to take advantage of everything university has to offer while you can!

First year does kind of count

Although on my course, the marks in first and second year don’t technically count towards my degree, putting no effort in when met with first uni challenges can have some knock-on effects in the coming years. I have come to realise that first year is all about getting an overview of the course so lacking the basic skills and knowledge would make it so much harder for me to get the grade I want in my final year. I also feel that my tutors are less likely to help if they don’t feel I’ve been making the effort already. Similarly, getting a good grade in first year can help to secure work experience and placements in second and third years.

You’ll regret the things you don’t do

I am the type of person who likes a routine and feel nervous about stepping out of my little comfort bubble; this may speaking up in a seminar or going up to a tutor to ask for help. Uni also comes with so many opportunities being thrown at you; it’s sometimes hard to choose which ones to take. I now realise that I may not get these opportunities after these three years and these might possibly become my best memories at uni. I will never know this unless I go for it and say YES to more things. My first big decision was to go to New York with my course this January and I’m so glad I did.

Rachel

Things I Have Learnt At Uni So Far – Part One

I have been at University for 4/5 months now and these are the things that I have come to realise. I wanted to do a reflection of the things I have discovered and learnt. I have split the post up into two parts as there were quite a few things that I wanted to mention; I could have listed at least ten more, but I thought this way enough!

Uni is very different to school

No one is going to chase you to do the set work or your attendance. There is so much more responsibility than I thought. Tutors expect the work to be done and don’t ever check-in with you. Feedback is not very regular at all so the work is really up to your own interpretation which is the part I have found most challenging. We are very much left to our own devices and I have discovered that academically, it’s up to you how much time and effort you put in.

Work experience is extremely helpful

Although I’m only in my first year, I now realise the importance of gaining experience; few employers will hire you based on your degree alone. I am starting to look at getting myself some relevant industry work experience and also getting involved in extracurricular activities before I graduate in a couple of years. I hope that my School Rep role and Student Ambassador job, as well as any work experience I manage to get will massively help me get my CV close to the top of the pile. Another reason I would like to try and gain a couple of placements is because I am hoping that this will help me make my career choice as presently I’m not sure exactly what direction I want to go in. I think it would be good to have a taster in a few different industries and roles to see what I enjoy (and what I don’t).

Life plans are great motivators

I have always been a planner and am always looking ahead. I like to have an idea of what I’m aiming to achieve in the near future and this is always a great motivator for me. It gives me the extra push I need when I’m fed up of uni work; knowing that if I do it to the highest standard I personally can, I’m potentially more likely to achieve what I desire. When I come to graduate, I hope that these plans will make me feel less anxious as I might have a better idea of the road I want to travel down. I just need to keep reminding myself that life goals can change all the time and this is okay! My idea may grow and change just as I do over the years.

Eating the same meals over and over again

This is a big one for me and one that I get very fed up with! I hate having the same things all the time, but when I’m studying and am really busy, this is just the easiest thing for me to do. It’s not that I can’t cook a variety of things, it’s just that I would rather get my work done than make something new each day. I tend to batch make meals so I have dinners in the fridge for 2/3 days after. Although this may be cheaper, and what I make is also healthy, it does get repetitive after a while and I feel myself eating because I have to, rather than because I am enjoying what I’m consuming. This is why I love going home; I can cook in a clean kitchen with my mum’s company.

The student loan is never enough

In an ideal world, my student loan would cover everything including food, meals out with friends, accommodation, books and art supplies. However, my reality is that my maintenance loan doesn’t even cover my rent. If it wasn’t for my parents help, I wouldn’t even have enough for a food shop each week, so I am very grateful for this! This is where budgeting comes in: having an idea of how much you can spend each week is a good start. I also got a small Student Ambassador job to give me a few extra pennies each month.

Rachel

Fragrance talk & lab tour at FIT

During my trip to New York I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. FIT is an internationally recognised college for design, fashion, art, communications, and business. NTU have a long lasting relationship with the college; I was interested to experience the connection that the two overseas Universities have.

FIT are known for their unique academic programming, experiential learning opportunities, academic and industry partnerships, and commitment to research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Whilst I was in the building, I recognised the institution’s commitment to their students to prepare them for professional excellence in design and business. There was definitely an air of creativity, a global perspective, and a commitment to sustainability.

The next project brief at university is based around perfume and therefore I booked on the talk in order to broaden my fragrance knowledge for the next module.

I didn’t realise how many perfumery raw materials there are – natural and synthetic. The talk also covered the technique of smelling and matching, as well as how to select great fragrances. I also found the section on scientific fundamentals of perfumery interesting; chemical reactions to perfumery and chemical structure of fragrance materials. The regulatory issues in perfumery was also covered and similarly fragrances for functional products.

A tutor at the collage, Virginia, gave the talk which was very engaging as she let us smell all of the scents, notes and branded perfumes that she was talking about in the presentation. She also gave us industry facts and figures and spoke about the latest perfume trends, including unisex fragrances and the extension of scents on the skin: increasing the duration throughout the day. I enjoyed listening about all of the different groups of fragrance, such as Floral, Oriental, Woods, Fresh. It made me wonder what notes and bases make up my preferred scents. The best one I smelt was a burnt rose scent or a fresh note, however, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Woody noted ones!

Virginia stated that there is now becoming a common thought that natural is better. This was the part I was most surprised about. She stated that this is not necessary true since the ingredients and combinations of these scents are hard to access and therefore would not be as sustainable.

My favourite part of the talk was when we were allowed to choose between two fragrances that were made in the lab at the institute. Once we had picked our favourite, we used a pipette to fill a small tube with the scent to take away with us. I thought that this was such a lovely way to remember the experience by. The tube even had a little spray at the top and so could act as a travel/handbag fragrance.

Even the room, the lab, we were in was interesting. We were surrounded by small bottles of liquid that are the ingredients to perfume and fragrance combinations. I am intrigued by all of the different processes and techniques that go into a single fragrance. I didn’t realise that perfume making was such a precise skill! I’m definitely going to be able to use some of these insights to inform the bases of my next project.

Rachel

2017 Trend Briefing by The Future Laboratory

I recently attended The Future Laboratory’s 2017 Trend Briefing: The Age of Re-engagement. The talk was held at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. Below I have summarised the key points and included the parts that I found most interesting. I have also placed a couple of quotes in my post which I felt were most poignant.

‘It is our short-term thinking today that poses the greatest threat to our success tomorrow.’ – Martin Raymond co-founder, The Future Laboratory

‘The onus is now on business, the one institution that remains some trust with those sceptical about the system, to prove that it is possible to act in the interests of shareholders and society alike.’ – Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman

LS:N Global introduced three key trends that will shape future consumer behaviour:

1) Age of Re-engagement

The unexpected votes of 2016 combined with rising anxiety over the economy, immigration and identity, have left many people reeling.We are uncertain about who to trust. The rate at which we receive information is too fast to digest. We can no longer tell the difference between what is real and what is fake.

Therefore, brands must re-engage with their consumers, emphasising education over earnings.

Consumers must learn to refocus their attention rather than succumb to the disease of distraction

People must reconsider what family means in the digital age in order to navigate the changing relationship between man and machine.

2)Civic Leadership

A paradigm shift is happening in which businesses are stepping in where governments are failing.

Brands are transforming from employers to educators, from profit-driven to community-driven and from closed to collaborative.

Distraction Antidote

Brands will need to apply a Focus Filter to their communication strategies to ensure that they are capturing deep focus instead of fleeting attention.

3) Neo-relationships

While brands are renegotiating relationships with consumers, people are reconsidering what family means.

Although the nuclear family has evolved for many reasons in the past 50 years, technology has created a new layer of kinship between people, their digital selves and the machines that act as conduits.

How are kinship relationships, the Focus Filter and benefactor brands bringing us into a new age of engagement?

– Post-ownership Products

– Sanctuary Cities

– Telepresent Tribes

– Cyber-segmentation

– Creativity Anxiety

‘Are we fit for the future? Can we provide solutions to worldwide issues? In the future, it will be even more vital for companies to work together with states and NGOs to create value for societies, and business opportunities that strive long-term, scalable value creation.’ – Kati Ihamaki, vice-president of sustainable development, Fainnair

Civic Brands

Businesses now bear as much responsibility as governments for driving social change amid increased cuts to public spending. They need to re-assess their relationship with the Juts Nots. These consumers feel forgotten and are fuelling the belief that the system is ‘no longer working for me.’

The next generation will happily drop profit-driven ventures for those that take a community-driven approach. It is time for brands to move beyond Brandstanding to communicate a real sense of purpose and create actual social change. Consumer distrust is widespread so brands need to re-establish their position as a trustworthy brand that people look up to.

The Focus Filter

The current deficit of attention means that brands need to frame their products and services as tools that help consumers to focus and be present. A minimalist approach can create deeper engagement. Businesses should reconsider minimalism as a pro-focus solution across audio, graphics, interiors and architecture.

Conviviality needs to be balanced by privacy; therefore, businesses need to build privacy options into social space, such as offices and restaurants, to give people the space and time needed to focus on what is in front of them.

Skip Culture is prevalent but can be countered with audacious, expressive advertising. Businesses should consider bold artistic partnerships that blur the boundaries between genres. Automation is good for creativity and employers would benefit from educating themselves and their employees about the upsides of at-work automation, and think about where the creative potential of their human expertise lies.

Neo-kinship

Images of idealised families no longer speak to consumers whose relationships are far more complex and fluid than the 2.4 children model.

Businesses need to translate their core ethos into their core persona. In the age of the chatbot, designing a brand identity increasingly means creating a character that represents the best of a business.

Business should consider their role in parenting. Overworked consumers are increasingly willing to let companies use technology to share the workload of child-rearing.

Business should take virtual reality seriously. Social VR platforms will transform the way consumers form relationships online making technology attractive to a broader audience than just gamers.

Businesses should learn how to market robots. As Al assistants begin to play a more active role in making purchasing decisions for households, brands will have to work out how to grab their attention.

I found the briefing very interesting and insightful. A lot of information was thrown at us; however it did open my eyes to the current trends and possibilities for the future. The part that captured me the most was a short video that showed a Smart street where cars were charged by solar power and light and when they were done charging, they would move themselves to another space to allow for another car to take their place. All of this happened while their owners were sleeping! It was fascinating thinking about what life may be like in 50 years time and the extent that technology will continue to evolve.

I hope you found this summary of the Age of Re-engagement as interesting as I did; I will definitely try to attend the lecture each year I am at University at NTU.

Rachel