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Guilty pleasures

One phenomenon I have never been able to identify with is the concept of ‘guilty pleasures’. Are societal norms that overpowering that we feel guilty for our own likes and interests? What is so bad or shameful about being different, and having different views?

Image result for guilty pleasures dave grohl
Dave Grohl

Whatever it might be, for example art, music, sport or television, it is all subjective. What one person enjoys can vary between different individuals and in similar vain with what we dislike. You might really like hockey or country music which are two things I am not overly fond of. But am I right in belittling your taste? Absolutely not. It is perfectly fine to appreciate those with different tastes.

But to feel belittled is exactly what can happen from a clash of two tastes. I firmly believe people become so afraid or insecure over their interests, that they end up categorising their love of ‘Taylor Swift’ or ‘reality tv shows’ as silly or ‘guilty pleasures’ if you will. This is generally to prevent people making fun of them for any potential unconventional interests, that society has taught them to mask out of fear of embarrassment.

When it comes to ‘guilty pleasures’ I for one hate to get bogged down in what social norms have been pre-determined for us, especially when it comes to gender. From my time in mainstream clubbing the concept of ‘a cheese room’ generally attracts female attention to hear these ‘guilty pleasures’. But I am generally the one dragging my friends into these rooms to hear some Westlife or Peter Andre. If there is something that you like then you must appreciate it for all its glory, rather than hide it from fear of judgement. So crank up some Nickelback and savour it!!

Please comment your favourite ‘guilty pleasures’ or even better… what you’re not afraid to love!!

Malmö so far.

So… It’s been a while. I am now studying in Sweden (Malmö to be specific) and it has been an interesting experience so far. It has not come without its challenges but I am trying to embrace them. It has been almost a month so far and I am yet to freeze to death. Weirdly enough it was not until two or so weeks in that I really felt the cold… Malmo is extremely windy and grey like all the time… So not too dissimilar to the UK really.. The cold is worth it though to be out and to appreciate the architecture and bask in the nature Sweden has to offer.

The turning torso

There is a significant emphasis on outdoor life/activities or ‘friluftsliv’ as its roughly known here. The large selection of accessible parks offers great scenery in a peaceful environment – a lovely escape so close to the city. My favourite so far is Kungsparken, which is actually the oldest park in Malmo and was formed on the area previously belonging to Malmohus castle. The park is spacious and is occupied with lakes and the park itself is really well maintained, which makes for a fabulous time in the sunshine. There are also tons of birds, ducks and swans which makes for some interesting sounds! But it is great for zoning out and listening to the nature, to truly indulge in it.

It is often grey and ‘miserable’ so despite the cold weather, it is important to appreciate the blue sky and sun when it does come. I think everyone else has a similar mentality, with many people located in the parks even if it’s only 4 or 5 degrees celsius. Children are often outside and playing in parks and people are cycling… There is a very relaxed environment in Malmo and I for one am really enjoying it so far.

A bit close to the water on Ribersborg beach… Thank gosh I can swim.

My studies and settling in have kept me busy and the weather has kept me inside, so apart from one school visit I am yet to venture outside of Malmo (and get one of those yellow, regional buses!). I cannot wait to get around when its a little warmer but for now, I am really enjoying my course. I am studying near enough the same thing as I would back home, but from a Swedish perspective.. hence the Swedish school experiences I am gaining. It has been fantastic seeing different PE lessons take place and see how my favourite subject is taught in another country. Here there is a significant emphasis on health over competition which I think is fascinating.

Sports hall of a school I visited.

I will to keep this updated better… I have so much more to say!


Daylio – an application to benefit mental health through mood tracking.

My friend showed me an app called Daylio which is basically used as a mood tracker. You rate your overall feeling of the day through one of five emoji on a ‘rad to awful’ scale. You can click different activities that you’ve done that day, which takes seconds. If you have more time you can even fill in a little diary.

The diary may take a little more time but to me it is the most beneficial aspect. I can pinpoint exactly what went well on a day (or even a week) if I’m struggling to see the positives. I can then also link it to the activities that I’ve done such as ‘sport or ‘cleaning’. These activities act as indicators for how the day went, as the app makes a connection between the two.

From there you could potentially take up a certain activity more if you notice that it is contributing to better days. For instance if a lot of your good days involve sport then perhaps you look to do more physical activity. But obviously this is hard to assess if sport is something that you constantly do. So for me, it could still be a ‘meh’ day for instance.

There are also ten achievements available to motivate you to keep filling it out. You can set your phone to remind you and if you’re still busy the apps allows you to add entries days later. This is helpful as you may forget or run out of time to do so. Overall it is a very helpful app and it is free. It counts your activities and adds up all your different feelings from different days. This can be great for reassurance and also help you in the right direction to get better

Where have I been?

I must start by apologising for my inactivity in recent times. It has been a while since my last post so I figured I should begin to explain how I’ve been spending my summer away from University.

After finishing my first year which was a huge milestone for me, I dove straight into an incredibly unique and out of this world experience. This involved my two-week summer school trip to Taiwan. Baring in mind that I had never been abroad or on a plane before, yet I was about to embark on a 12,000 mile round trip by myself. Some would call me courageous whilst most would think I was ABSOLUTELY bonkers.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I think that is what helped benefit my experience. I was deeply out of my comfort zone (such as taking a week to pluck up the courage to use chopsticks) but oddly enough, that was okay. Everyone that I met was so friendly and welcoming which was reassuring at this point. I felt that I could be more involved than I normally would be, in which was a very busy two weeks.

The two weeks ultimately flew by, with it taking a week for me to adjust to the dreaded jet lag and coping with the humid climate.I remember climbing Huoyan mountain and being so dehydrated I could not eat. Which for me, who nonstop eats is obviously very significant! But once I had adapted and stumbled onto Super Supau (an AMAZING Taiwaneese isotonic sports drink) I seemed set for the second week.

What I loved most about the trip was the amount of food and drink available at such a low cost. I remember getting a huge McDonalds breakfast the one morning for 99 Taiwan Dollars which roughly converts to £2.21. Whilst other mornings breakfast could cost as low as 62p. Because of this almost every meal I had was in a resturant of some sort, which was convenient and alleviated the worry about how I’d fuel myself each day.

The days involved a good mix of culture enrichment and adventure tourism. Rock climbing and bouldering seemed a popular choice there but for me it was river tracing and cliff jumping that captured my attention! Whilst it was also fantastic to experience another culture and well they look after public areas like parks and museums.

My days there were challenging in many different ways but I will never forget my experience in Taiwan. I couldn’t imagine a more positive first time experience abroad, where I was well looked after by the amazing people I met. Two weeks was simply not enough as there was so much more to explore. Visit if you ever get the chance!

Self esteem and autism

Self esteem can either be healthy or unhealthy and refers to an individuals confidence in his or hers ability or self-worth. Those with a healthy self-esteem can find it easier to believe in their worth and abilities, to assist themselves in achieving a task for example. Whereas those with a low self esteem can belittle themselves struggle to find their place or value in society. This is closely linked with autism, of where an individual may already face difficulties of low self esteem, if struggling to fit in.

Impact of self-esteem

silhouette photography of man illustration

Concerns of low self esteem and poor mental health can lead to depression. It can also lead to some questionable friendship choices if an individual does not see their self-worth. They may not be portraying the best version of themselves and instead only receive what they put out there. For someone with autism, developing and sustaining friendships is already a great enough struggle as it is. But facing this issue too is like ‘double trouble’ where you are battling two issues.

Why have healthy self-esteem?

two man jumper on charcoal

It is therefore important to look after your mental health and stay clear of negative energy. You may be vulnerable and unable to pinpoint who these people are, but it is pitival to your happiness to do so. Being around supportive people is great for your confidence and self-esteem. It means people are encouraging you to chase your dreams and your development. Whereas negative people might only see the worst in you which can hinder your abiity to unearth your talents and success.

Celebrate your own achievements!

woman in green jacket raising her hands

Someone with autism may already be constantly reminded about things they struggle to do, or cannot do. The last thing we need is someone that is inpatient and unsympathetic. Knowing that someone is tolerant and understanding is more reassuring than you can ever imagine. Celebrate your progress as though it is unique to the individual. What might be nothing for someone else, could be an outstanding achievement for you. Therefore I see this as a key aspect of assessing a persons motive and energy, as your supportive friend will compliment such an achievement.

Surround yourself with positive energy

portrait photography of man

You need people that will love and support you. It is simply not good enough to keep unwanted company just for the sake of it. Strive for better and take risks. If that means cutting someone off, then it may have to be a risk that you have to take. We aren’t always destined to be a consistent or prominent aspect of every persons lifetime. Sometimes people drift and you should not feel bad for drifting away from negative energy. You should put yourself first and be around supportive people, as they will encourage and compliment your push for better health.

Being yourself and celebrating individuality

Constantly we are told to ‘be ourselves’ but with such societal pressures, this is very difficult. We each have our own idea of who we want to be. Those wanting to be themselves may seem ‘weird’ to one yet ‘loveable’ to another. Is society actually encouraging us to be ourselves or are we slandered the second that we act out of character? We should not have to try and compromise our integrity or beliefs meet societies pressures, or gender norms and stereotypes for instance.

Stereotypes must be challenged.

man in blue Champion tank top and shorts running at the field

Stereotypes are an important element of celebrating individuality, as people can form prejudice and assumptions of a particular character. For instance an older adult may be assumed as vulnerable or weak, and that they all sit around doing nothing. This is a sweeping generalization though as there any many cases of age not limiting an older adult – such as 100 year old marathon runners. People like this should be taken seriously for their individuality and not just grouped into an ‘old, incapable of physical activity’ group.

Stereotypes aren’t always accurate or appropriate.

Younger people also need to be taken seriously though, as we are all unique and enjoy different things. Not every student wants to ‘party’ and not every older adult wants to be cooped up in their bed or in a bingo hall. Perhaps these interests can actually be contrasting to the stereotype, as an older adult may enjoy getting out more often than the younger person. The issue regarding this is the potential exposure to peer pressure or the fear of missing out – particularly if someone is labelled as’boring’.

Be yourself but free of guilt.

woman wearing black tank top

‘Boring’ just like’fun’ is a subjective word for me, in that we can all interpret and judge what is ‘boring’ or ‘fun’, differently. There is no need to feel guilty for doing what makes you happy, nor is there a need to feel pressure to do what everyone else is. A simple saying that I love to say is ‘you, do you’ which is pretty self explanatory. Always stick by your beliefs and your interests and try not to compromise yourself for the convenience of others. This can be difficult especially through teenage years and it happens to the best of us. But it is worth it to wait around for supportive friend that will accept you.

Pros and cons about living at University.


Your friends are right there!

four people watching on white MacBook on top of glass-top table

No need to panic about friends on your first day jitters, as mostly everyone is in the same boat as you. Straight away you have your house mates before even meeting your course mates. You can also then branch out and meet new people through clubs and societies.


Your biggest concern about moving away may be ‘who is going to clean up my mess for me’? As much as we seek independance, some things never change.. Luckily a cleaner should come into your kitchen and clean communal areas. Those with ensuites will be expected to clean their own bathrooms however, so stock up on your polish and febreeze!

No bills

You don’t have to worry about your water being shut off, or your electricity when you’re half way through binge watching Brookline Nine Nine anymore. Everything in halls is included bill wise, so no need to worry if you’re in halls!

Appreciate home life more

dog lying on couch

Not being able to go home as often can make you appreciate your home and surroundings more. The less that you see your loved ones and the comforts you have at home, mean that it’ll be ever so sweet when you return back to memory lane.



Some people may not even get a maintenance loan that covers their accomodation. Some will be in accomodation that they cannot afford, whilst frantically running around chasing up employment opportunities just to get by. Whilst others will be living off left overs and 20p pasta. Make sure you know your financial situation and choose your halls wisely.


two woman doing toast

Some find it hard to study at university due to the amount of distractions that are available to them. Having people on your door step has its benefits but also can be detrimental to your progression, should you let it affect your commitment. Some might experience FOMO (fear of missing out) and feel that they have to be involved with everything. Be careful and try to balance this well so that you are putting yourself well and succeeding.


Walls are thinner than a gas stations toilet paper. You’ll be subject to noise at all hours, as the nocturnals and the drunks are awake come 4 am. Fire alarms will soon become your worst nightmare as well. The noise is horrendous and someone is bound to set it off from making toast in the early hours.

Time and money to go home

photo of group on people sitting inside train

For those choosing to study in a long distance city, away from their home town then it can be very costly and time consuming to travel home. Whilst locals may be able to go home almost every weekend, you’re stuck in the flat by yourself. Your train ticket is £65 even with a railcard and you can’t bare to spend that amount of money, after burning it on a two day bender.. Not only money wise but also the time spent travelling when you could be studying or partying!

A weekend of Football

I watched a host of fixtures this weekend (16th & 17th March 2019), such as Leeds United vs Sheffield United, Wolves vs Manchester United and Aston Villa Ladies vs West Ham Women. But nothing compares to getting off that couch and away from the television screen, to truly spectate an event. This weekend those two games for me were Aston Villa vs Middlesbrough and St Johns vs Northside.

Aston Villa 3-0 Middlesbrough

Copyright @JackGrealish1

In this infuential fixture in the promotion play off race Villa came out with an important 3 nil win. Goals from El Ghazi, McGinn and Adomah sealed three points to ensure the Lions roared their way into 6th place. Whilst Middlesborough are on a slippery slope, as they just about hold 5th place and have a game in hand.

El Ghazi opened the scoring for the home side inside 28 minutes. A through diagonal pass from starman McGinn carved open the Boro defence. El Ghazi’s left footed finish across the face the goal, proved too much for former Birmigham City goalkeeper Darren Randolph. The second goal came on the stroke of half time, as many strolled off for their half time pie and beer. A wonderful team move started by Neil Taylor and converted by McGinn meant Boro had to overcome a two goal deficit in the second half.

The second half was much like the home game against Derby, where chances were few and far between. Tammy Abraham came into light later on in the second half and more chances came about, but not clinical enough. The only goal of the second half was a tap in for substitute Albert Adomah, after Randolph fumbled a feeble effort from returning man Keinan Davis. The final whistle blew soon enough and the claret and blue faithful are now unbeaten in six, after winning their last four.

St Johns 7-0 Northside

St Johns keeper taking a kick.

Again a very convincing win for the home side, this time in the Baylis Cup. This Sunday League fixture brought all kinds of weather, from wind and rain to sunshine. Believe it or not the game was much more even to start with as away side had their own chances. Silly me who arrived a few minutes late however, did not realise St Johns had took an early lead. St Johns went into their brief half time break with a 3 nil lead, after two strikes beat the keeper down to his right.

The game continued in similar vain with goals coming thick and fast for the home team in the second half. The 4th goal left the defence frustrated, with a beautiful lobbed effort. The 5th goal was a tap in after save parried straight to the feet of a pouncing player. A comical trip from a chasing defender allowed a surging run down the left flank to continue with ease. A weak cross was put into the six yard box yet an own goal was conceded. The game concluded at 7-0 after an outstanding, picturesque volley (Imagine Grealish vs Derby and you have a pretty good idea!) was scored from a corner.

6 Underappreciated tracks from Green Day.

Green Day have always been my favourite band. They were the one to truly introduce me to rock music. The first band or artist really, where I would thoroughly listen to the album and the b sides if you wish. Many people may only know the ‘classics’ such as ‘Basket Case’ and ‘American Idiot’. Across their 12 studio albums in their 33 year old lustrous career, spans a variety of underappreciated and lesser known anthems. It’s only fair that I consider a few of my favourites…

Poprocks and coke

Poprocks and coke is a previously unreleased offering on 2001’s ‘International Superhits’ . The song is about a boy that continues to pursue and confess his love for a girl bhe girl does not feel the same way. “I don’t care if you don’t mind I’ll be there not far behind” shows the extent of how far this boy goes, despite the fact that she simply does not care. The song title originates as a metaphor for explosion that is believed to occur between consuming pop rocks (popping candy) and soda at the same time.

Tired of Waiting For You

This cover version of a classic by The Kinks came almost 30 years later, as a b side on ‘Basket Case’. 8 years later it received an official release on 2002’s Shenanigans. I enjoy The Kinks myself, so when I stumbled onto Green Days cover, I was delighted. The 2 and a half minute track is well worth your time, regardless of your allegiances.


This effort from Insomniac is one of my personal favourites. Green Day started out at 924 Gilman street but after signing for Reprise (a major record label), they were banned from playing the venue. The term ’86’ed’ means to get rid of something through ejecting it. The band did later come back for a show on the 924 gilman street scene, in 2015. They (as well as other bands on major labels, such as The Offspring and AFI) require special approval to be allowed entry. The song did not feature on the boundless 23 track setlist and hasn’t featured in a live set since 2017.


One of the lengthier tracks on Green Day’s critically acclaimed 2000 studio album ‘Warning’. Man fans do not seem to connect with this LP, which opts for a more acoustic, folk and pop sound. The album is rarely considered in their liveset but for other fans tracks like ‘Castaway’ show a diverse side to the punk rock band. The song is ‘upbeat and catchy’ which is what a lot of us need. My personal favourite from one of my favourite albums. Also check out; Church On Sunday, Hold On and Blood, Sex and Booze.

Favorite son

This song containing rage and hatred, is a b side on 2004’s major seller ‘American Idiot’. This for me, is a track strong enough to be on the main track listing. It fits the political concept and context very well, and is a strong effort from the Billie Joe, Mike and Tre. Check it out immediately.

The Forgotten

For me, the Uno, Dos, Tre era was very underrated. Releasing 3 albums at once was a bold move, that did not seem to pay off for a lot of fans. They felt that one album would have been sufficien, comprising of the highlights from the trilogy. Despite the questionable choices, a range of hits that target different genres were born. The Forgotten may be ‘forgotten’ to some fans, but this is just one of the many finer points (for me personally) from the triology. Bilie Joe dials down his anger and punk rock nature on this 5 minute album closer (Tre), to deliver a more romantic tone. A must listen from 2012’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.

Things every fresher should know in their first year.

It is your first year at University. You may be away from your loved ones for the first time, which sounds daunting. But at the same time, you are enthusiastic about a completely new and exciting adventure. You can plan and get a rough idea of what University is like but speaking as a first year myself, there are just some things that you can’t forsee. Some of these points are covered here, which I am positive any university students reading this, may have come to terms with at some point.

Friendships are not always forever

grayscale photography of group of people hugging each other

You will potentially meet some of your best friends at University, but not everyone out there will be good for you, or as supportive as you think. It is too easy to latch onto the first person you meet and although this can develop into worthwhile friendships, other times it doesn’t. The pressure to make friendships so quickly with the likes of ‘freshers week’is immense, but don’t be fooled as there is no need to panic. The majority of us are here for three years which gives us plenty of time to develop the true friendships. Go to clubs, societies and events! You’ll be surprised how many fanstastic people you can meet with similar interests.

Dealing with drama

man pouring coffee in white mug

Drama is not worth it. You can’t get on with everyone on a true level, but you can be civil. We are all adults so to speak and sometimes you just have to ‘suck it up’ and tolerate others. Whilst other times admittedly, it can be much healthier to leave this person completely. If like me you prefer a much more relaxed environment, then it can be much better for you to distance yourself from drama. Of course though this can be difficult if you’re seeing this person regularly, so tred with caution. This is why I think being civil enough to get by can help, as things can get real awkward, real fast. This is not worth it at all!

You don’t need to ‘go out’ to make or maintain friendships

I’m a firm believer that there is someone out there for everyone, and that you don’t have to compromise your integrity or your individuality to fit in. You have your housemates and coursemates already, but you can also branch off into joining clubs and societies. Immediately you already share one common interest of what the club is all about, whether that be anything from harry potter to football. I can guarentee there is a society for almost anything. If not you have the option to find these people and create a new society. This can work a lot better for the more introverted of us or those with social anxiety, or even just people who prefer peace. If you like to meet in the middle then perhaps pubs, where alcohol is available yet in a more sociable environment.

Seek all the help you can get

woman reaching hand above water during daytime photo

All Universities should have an extensive range of support available for students, regardless of having a disability or not. No one there should be there trying to catch you out as everyone is there to support your learning. Personally I have been guilty of just getting on with things myself as I’m very self motivated and driven in that manner. I have generally been getting great grades so I never really thought about it. It wasn’t till roughly half way through first year that I truly understood what I needed help with and the benefits of seeking this assistance. Whether it be academically, mentally, socially or physically, there are things you can do to benefit yourself. Don’t bury your head in the sand. At the end of the day you’re here to get the best education possible, so ask questions and seek help at every opportunity.

Extra courses and qualifications

man and woman sitting on chairs

Despite different gradings, everyone will be finishing with a degree. You need something that will set you apart from the rest,to give you an advantage over the chasing pack. In reading or progression weeks, universities can offer courses and qualifications that can further your learning. I have taken part in a range of different sporting ones that are relevant to me, such as tennis and tri-golf. These courses are quite introductory in nature, whilst giving me a brief summary and insight into them. This has improved my confidence as well as experience for a CV. Studying abroad is also offered by universities, to develop experience and skills in your chosen field.

Don’t waste your money on books!

assorted-title novel book lot

As shocking as this sub heading sounds, I can promise you it’s not contradictory. Universities have reading lists with exact books that they expect you to partially read from. Most of these academic sources are available online for free, whilst the others you can loan from the library. There is rarely if ever a need to experiment with flashy and expensive books. Look out at the start of the year for book sales, where books are sold for a miniscule price. I gained a lot of books for 50p each in a sale held by the University, which assisted me in getting an A grade in an assignment. Just be careful that the books are not too old as Universities prefer more up to date academic sources.