Powered by Blogger.

A Day in the Life of a PhD Student

phd student day in life

As some of you may know, I am currently in my first year of a PhD programme at the University of Leicester's Department of Museum Studies. Studying for a PhD is very different to the undergraduate and Masters degrees I've completed in the past and adjusting was quite a learning curve! Today I thought I'd give you a bit of an insight into my life and answer the burning question of "So, what does a PhD student actually do all day?" Hopefully this post won't end up being too boring...

What's involved in completing a PhD?

The aim of a PhD project is to produce an 80,000 word thesis. I have three years to complete this. There are no traditional written exams, but I will have a viva voce examination at the end my my three years, in which I'll be expected to defend my thesis to a team of experts in the field. If you pass your viva, you'll become a Doctor!

My Project

My PhD is on the subject of archaeological plaster casts. These are exact replicas of ancient Greek and Roman statues that were manufactured in the eighteenth and ninteenth century using Plaster of Paris. Archaeological plaster casts have somewhat of a bad reputation in museums; they are often considered "fakes". My project aims to understand how to present these sculptures as objects in their own right and how to convey their complex individual histories. It is an incredibly interesting interdisciplinary project in which I am investigating issues of authenticity, authority, and value in a museum context. If you have no idea of what an archaeological plaster cast looks like, the photos for this post were taken in the Cast Courts of the V&A Museum in London, to give you a bit of a flavour of the objects I'm working on!

phd day life student

Friendships vs. Cliques in the Blogging World

blogging friendship cliques

Having a group of friends is a perfectly natural thing. You had them at school. You had them at uni. You've probably got them at work. This is entirely normal - you might gravitate towards certain people because you share a hobby, or perhaps you simply have a similar outlook on live that draws you closer. In a community as diverse as the one created through blogging, it makes sense that you'll come across people with whom you have interests in common. You may even come across several people that you share a real connection with and this shared connection may develop into a friendship group, complete with a group chat on Whatsapp. And all of this is good right? The Internet is a great place to make friends.

But what if it's not? What happens when friends turn into cliques? I asked on Twitter whether my followers felt that cliques were a big problem in the blogging community and the majority of people answered YES.

Today, I thought I'd delve a little deeper into this issue. Are we bloggers really cliquey?

cliques blogging community
Mesh Bodysuit: Boohoo
Meek Grande Watch: Adexe

A clique is defined as a group of people who actively exclude anyone from outside of their friendship circle. The word clique is associated with bitchiness and spiteful behaviour. The members of a clique thrive on making others feel small and unwelcome. Essentially, a clique is a friendship group gone TOXIC. Let's hear some examples of that, shall we?


Well. This is awkward. When I asked people on Twitter for examples of cliquey behaviour that they'd experienced, this turned up very few responses, despite 74% of people viewing cliques as a serious problem. I also asked several people privately and although a few very isolated incidents of clique-y behaviour were reported, the vast majority of people couldn't think of a single example.

clique blogging community blogger

It seems to me that what we think about cliques is basically a series of big fat assumptions.

"I bet all Ellen, Steph and Ashleigh do in their group chat is bitch about others!" 

People seem to think that every group of bloggers in a Whatsapp chat uses that chat exclusively to bitch about others. I'm not saying that this categorically does not occur, because I'm sure that in some cases it does, but should we really be assuming that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in a group chat actively uses that to spread rumours and talk shit? Pffft. I don't think so. I don't know about your group chats, but in mine, we discuss everything from boy dramas and outfit advice to Olaf the snowman and ideas for our new Instagram themes. There's very little time left to bitch about people. Frankly, we've got better stuff to do.

"Poppy tags Rachel, Tamsin and Lucy in every #FF, they won't want to talk to me!"

People also seem to think that just because the same group of friends tag each other in #FF every damn week that these people won't talk to anyone else. And that just isn't the case. I don't think I've ever come across a blogger who exclusively talks to people within their friendship group. I am a member of several friendship groups and I've never been made to feel bad or unwelcome because I have friends who aren't within these groups. 

friendship blogging clique

All this talk about cliques really brings me down. What's really happening when we put the label of "clique" onto EVERY SINGLE FRIEND GROUP is that we're judging people for the simple human action of having friends. I'm not saying that the blogging world doesn't have a single clique, it most likely does. But we need to remember that not every friendship group is a clique. On that note, I'm going to conclude this post with a question, Carrie Bradshaw style. 

When we make assumptions about "cliques", are WE the real bitches?

cliques friends blogging community

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. If you have experienced cliquey behaviour, do let me know in the comments below - let's have a discussion! Please also show your appreciation for Hayley and her ace photography skills in this post!

Until next time,

A x

Why not check out my monthly advertisers?

Why I Love Neal's Yard Remedies Skincare

neal's yard remedies skincare recommendations
In a world where there are a million different makeup and skincare options, brand loyalty is a pretty big deal. It's all too easy to walk into Boots or Superdrug every time you run out of moisturizer or cleanser and select an entirely new product that you've never tried before. That life is not for me, however. For years now, there has been only one brand of skincare on my bathroom shelf and that is Neal's Yard Remedies. So today, to get into the spirit of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a love letter not to my partner (sorry pal) but to this brand to show exactly why my ardour for their products is so strong.

neal's yard remedies skincare natural recommend

I love NYR because.. They change the way I feel about myself

I have prominent dark undereye circles. Always have, always will. Whether I've slept for 10 minutes or 10 hours, they're an omnipresent part of my face. As I mentioned in my makeup free month post, I always used to pack on concealer to try and disguise these eye bags but to no avail. I felt that they were the most noticable part of my face and I was incredibly self-conscious about them. However, a product from Neal's Yard Remedies has gone a long way to changing how I feel about my eyes. My Mum introduced me to their White Tea Toning Eye Gel a couple of years ago and from my first use, I fell in love. I apply a tiny bit of this gel under each eye every morning and it really brightens up my eyes. I feel more awake and as the product tones the skin under my eyes, I feel like my eye bags are firmer and much less noticable. The gel is light and and non-sticky, ideally suited to the delicate undereye area. Plus, like all Neal's Yard products, it smells AMAZING. Yes, I am still self-conscious about my eyes but wearing this eye gel helps me feel more confident every single day.

neal's yard remedies white tea eye gel review

I love NYR because.. The products are worth every penny

When I rave to pretty much anyone who will listen about Neal's Yard Remedies products, the response that I get most of the time is "... yeahhhh but they're EXPENSIVE." And yes, that definitely is true. Whilst they're not quite on the level of high-end designer brands like Dior or Estée Lauder, they are pricier than your standard Boots own-brand face wash. However, with Neal's Yard products I genuinely believe that you get what you pay for. A little of their products does go a long way. For example, with one of my long-standing favourites, their Wild Rose Beauty Balm, which you can use as a cleanser, moisturizer, makeup remover, and even as a highlighter, I only need a pea-sized amount of product to cover my entire face, leaving it on overnight for an intense nourishing treatment. What's more, the price really does reflect the quality. Every product is so gentle yet effective, which the Geranium and Orange Body Scrub demonstrates perfectly. I have tested out other body scrubs but this wins hands down. Its coarse texture really does make you feel like you're giving your legs / arms / whatever an invigorating polish, but at the same time it is deeply moisturizing and I often don't need to apply another moisturizing product once I've stepped out of the shower.

neal's yard remedies body scrub review natural

I love NYR because.. They're cruelty free and mostly vegan

No bunnies (or any other animal for that matter) will be harmed in the testing of Neal's Yard products as they're 100% vegetarian and certified by Cruelty-Free International. Most products are suitable for vegans too, although a small number do contain beeswax and honey, so if you are vegan make sure you check labels or consult a vegan product list. The rest of the Ethics page on the Neal's Yard website makes for pretty happy reading too. All of their products are sustainably sourced, organic, and fair-trade guaranteed. They were also the first high street retailer to be officially declared carbon neutral, using recyclable packaging and manufacturing their products in a purpose-built eco-factory to minimise resource wastage. Whenever I head into a NYR store, I know that I'll be shopping guilt-free, which is massively important to me.

neal's yard remedies beauty balm review natural

To sum it all up one sentence: I love Neal's Yard Remedies skincare because it loves me back. 

Do you have a go-to skincare brand? Or do you like to try new things? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

Say hello to this month's fab advertisers!
*This was not a sponsored post and I was not sent any products by NYR to review. This post is based on many years of testing (and loving!) NYR products.

Blogger Book Nook #6: Sharing the Love of Books

a court thorns roses review book

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and since February is the month of love, Tabitha and I decided that it couldn't be a better time to share our love of books with those around us! That's why this month's Blogger Book Nook reading prompt is "book swap". We've been encouraging the wonderful Book Nook members on our Facebook group to find a fellow bibliophile with whom to exchange reads, whether it's a friend, colleague, or family member, or another Book Nook blogger from the group. Tabitha kindly offered to send one of her all time favourite books to me, and I returned the favour! I'll be sharing my mini review of Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses later on in this post, but first we have a Q&A which combines book swapping and LURRRRVE! What could be better?

Growing Up Online

growing up online pro con
It's not news to anyone that growing up online is good and evil in equal parts. Growing up on the internet with its heavily edited Instagram imagery and online trolling can make adolescence an intimidating and overwhelming time. But let's not write the internet off completely. Recently I've been thinking a lot about how the online world has impacted positively upon my formative years and I have come to the conclusion that there are plenty of silver linings to the online cloud. Today I thought I'd share just a few things that I'm so grateful to the internet for bringing into my life as I've grown up. Maybe it'll inspire you to reflect on your experiences too!

growing up online good or bad

Checking My Privilege

I am a white, heterosexual, cis-gender, able-bodied atheist. I am PRIVILEGED AS FUCK. Self-awareness about these kinds of issues isn't something that anyone is born with, however. The fact that I've started to recognise and check my privilege is entirely down to growing up on the internet. Being online, watching and taking part in discussions, and reading blogs and news articles has been a major education for me. Posts written by amazing people like Shona have taught me to stop and consider people with circumstances which are different to mine. For example, how disabled individuals might in fact really suffer from a decision that at first sounds trivial to an able-bodied person, like getting rid of pre-cut fruit and vegetables in the supermarket. In short, growing up on the internet has taught me that sometimes, I need to shut up and let other voices be heard, or even better, to be an ally and attempt to amplify the voices of those who need to be listened to. I'm not saying that I do everything right or that I've got all of this figured out. I most definitely have not, but thanks to the internet, I will keep living and learning.

growing up online positive negative

Living My Best Life

Along the same vein of raising awareness, another way in which the internet has helped me grow as a person is in the area of ethics. Before joining the blogging community, I hadn't even considered vegetarianism as a lifestyle, let alone veganism, but the people I've met online have played a major part in my decision to go plant-based. The internet has provided me with countless resources and a method of researching how I want to live my life, whether it's through conversations I've had with online friends, or by watching videos or reading articles about ethical living. Even researching for blog posts I've written myself about being eco-friendly and going meat free have prompted me to make real and lasting changes in my life. None of this would have happened without the internet and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

growing up online good bad

Finding My People

Growing up can be quite hard when you don't really feel like anyone gets you. I had (and still have) many wonderful friends who I've met without the influence of the internet and I value them immensely, but very often, I still felt like the odd one out in a group. I was the person who didn't quite fit in; everyone seemed to have hobbies and interests in common except me. However, the internet has connected me to people with whom I share truly genuine connections. People with the same passions as me. People I can chatter away to on WhatsApp for hours on end every single day without getting bored or running out of conversation topics. People who I simply never would have crossed paths with otherwise. In this respect, I feel that growing up without the internet would've been a whole lot harder because I wouldn't have had these amazing people helping me along the way.

P.S. Shoutout to Chloe and her fab post on finding her people which inspired this section!
P.P.S. Thank you to Hels (who is very much one of "my people") for taking these snaps of me!

positives negatives growing up online

Yes, we all gripe about living life online. It sure isn't perfect and it can be full of drama and bitchiness from time to time but hey, tell me something that isn't! On the whole, I am glad that I've been growing up online. I think that I'd be far worse off as a human being without it.

How about you? Has the internet helped you to grow as a person? Leave a comment down below!

Until next time,

A x

Check out this month's gorgeous advertisers!

Vegan Protein Sources*

vegan protein sources ideas plant based
Besides "don't you miss bacon?!", the question that I was asked with greatest frequency during veganuary was "but where do you get your PROTEIN?" This is probably due to the fact that one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding a vegan diet is that it does not provide enough protein. The word protein is stereotypically associated with a slab of red meat or a chicken breast, but there are plant-based protein sources aplenty. I was spoiled for choice when seeking out protein-rich foods during veganuary, so today I will be sharing just a few of them, all in the name of mythbusting!

One thing that all veggies and vegans should be aware of when seeking plant-based protein sources is the difference between COMPLETE VS. INCOMPLETE PROTEINS. Most meat-based protein sources are complete, meaning that they contain all of the requisite amino acids for our bodies to maximise protein absorbtion. This is not the case for some plant-based protein sources, they are known as incomplete proteins. However, all is not lost for us veggie types! Different vegetable proteins can be combined easily to turn vegetarian and vegan meals into complete protein sources. Let me show you how!

Be Your Own Valentine

It's Valentine's! Cupid has been sharpening his arrows for weeks in preparation for a day of romance, candles, chocolates, bouquets of roses and (of course) lost virginities. But what about the people who don't have a significant other, or those whose partner can't be with them this February 14th? Don't worry girls, I've got you covered. Now I'm no stranger to the joys of dating yourself, I am a huge advocate of solo dates and making YOURSELF feel special. This goes for every day of the year, and V-Day is absolutely no exception. So, without further ado, here's my whistle-stop guide to being your own Valentine!