Future · Journalism

2017: The Good, The Bad and My Goals for the Coming Year

Just two more days left of this pretty interesting year. It’s had its good times, and its bad times but in the end, it was certainly memorable. And that’s both on a worldwide and personal level.

We all know about Trump taking office and doing his best to further screw up the world. And we’ve all heard about the ongoing Brexit drama that I seriously doubt will ever end. And every one of us have, at one point or another, had personal issues that have worn us down.

But it’s better to focus on the positives, right? I decided to look back at some of my own best times from 2017.

Back in April, I went to the National Student Television Association (NaSTA) Awards ceremony in Birmingham for the first time. I had the most brilliant weekend. The most incredible part was meeting one of Journalism’s greatest names. Fiona Bruce was absolutely amazing – in the relatively short time I spoke with her, she gave me so much fantastic advice. It is genuinely my number one highlight of 2017.





Also in April was the Student Achievement Awards Ball. RGU: TV, the student TV station, won Best Media Group and Radar, the student magazine, won Most Improved Society. Having been really involved in both, it was night I felt especially proud of our student media. And having won my individual Half Scarlet award was also lovely!


Half Scarlet


And anyone who knows me or has followed the blog will know what an awesome experience Brussels has been. It’s always worth reiterating though!

But whether things were good or bad, 2017 was always insightful. This past year has taught me loads about so many different things and I’ve accomplished so much more than I could ever have guessed.

I also have so much to look forward to next year in terms of my career. I plan to develop my journalistic skills even further, expand my network and get even more real-life experience in broadcasting.

On a more personal level, I plan to continue learning Dutch until I become fluent, however long it takes; I’ve started learning it here in Brussels and I plan to keep it up. One thing I regret is not having continued with French after leaving school. I will not make the same mistake twice.

I also hope to travel to more, further away places – it sounds pretty clichéd, I know, but the foreign correspondent in me has really blossomed since coming to Brussels.

So it looks like a pretty busy year ahead! As it’s my final blog post (another 2017 accomplishment) this year, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has read and supported it so far and have an incredibly happy and safe New Year!


Illnesses: you never really understand them until they become personal

I remember when I was six, when I still lived in South-East England, I went to visit my grandparents in Aberdeenshire. I became shy at dinner time and started to cry. My grandmother told me it was ok and made me feel better.

I remember when I was 10, when I had to move to Scotland from the place I always called home, my grandmother helped us throughout the process.

I remember when I was 11, I had just returned from a school trip, with one of my friends having straightened my hair for the first time. My grandmother asked me if I liked my hair like that (to which I replied ‘yes’). She got me my first hair straighteners for my birthday that year.

I remember my 20-year-old self in February of this year sitting in my grandmother’s living room when she told me she would help me with going to Brussels for Erasmus.

I also remember a few weeks ago when I got some sad news. My grandmother has dementia. She had to move into a care home. And what got to me the most was that after all she’d done to help me, I couldn’t be there to help her. After all, I’m in a completely different country.

But what my grandmother did to help me come to Brussels – and everything else – I will always be grateful for. I have had, and will continue to have, the greatest time ever. And I suppose that’s one of the best ways to say thank-you – by making the best of it while I’m here.

You never do fully understand something until it affects someone you know. You hear about all the statistics and everything but it means nothing if it isn’t personal. You realise just how quickly a person can change. But, at least the way I see it, the best thing to do is to always think about all of the great things about a person, because that’s the most accurate portrayal of them.


What Erasmus Has Taught Me: Part 5

Have you ever gone to bed at night and only been able to think about how happy you are? You can’t stop thinking about all the great things that are happening, the things that make you so grateful for being where you are. That’s happened to me a lot since coming to Brussels.

This is the longest I’ve spent away from the UK but trust me, it has been the best time I’ve ever had. Being in Belgium has helped me to let my guard down and do things I usually wouldn’t have.

I’ve travelled more and seen so many new and beautiful places. Being in mainland Europe makes this so much easier. That is, ironically, one of the great things about Belgium – it’s so easy to go elsewhere. I’ve also met literally the greatest people ever here – I feel like I’ve known them forever. My friends and I clicked from the very start and we get on really well.

Of course I do miss certain things about the UK. But Belgium has honestly become my second home. Despite the language barriers (which I’m definitely working to overcome), I feel like I have a sense of belonging here. I feel happy and confident enough to wander to places here I’ve never been before. If I had the chance to move to Belgium permanently, it would be an easy decision I’d be delighted to make.

Part 5 of what Erasmus has taught me: what it truly means to be happy. Being here, I’ve genuinely been the happiest I’ve been in such a long time. Being in a foreign country, surrounded by so many incredible people of so many different nationalities is, for me, the most amazing things in the world. I only hope my future career can put me in this situation again very soon.


What Erasmus Has Taught Me: Part 4

Don’t rock the boat, it’s not worth the unnecessary arguments. There’s no need to be confrontational, it’ll just be awkward. Sometimes it’s better not to say anything, the problem will just escalate.

No. Stop making excuses. Speak your mind.

If there’s one thing I was never good at, it was being vocal about things when it became difficult. When there was a problem, I would never give the full picture. I’d worry that I’d offend someone or that they’d be hacked off with me.

Not anymore.

There is a huge difference between speaking up for yourself and being a bitch: I’ve always known that. Brussels has definitely made me grow a thicker skin though. I’ve noticed that I’m pointing things out more and being more direct and proactive about issues. I’ve been pretty blunt in what I have to say. And I think that’s a good thing.

Since being here, I’ve really found my voice. I’ve been able to speak my mind and say when something was unacceptable. And if I’m being honest, I’m kind of proud of myself for that. For being able to say what I think. For being able to really speak up for myself.

Belgium has been amazing for so many reasons. My favourite thing about it though – and apologies for the cliché – is that it has absolutely changed me for the better. In three short months, I’ve become so much more outspoken.

I really do have so much to thank Brussels for.


What Erasmus Has Taught Me: Part 3

You’re going to a country you’ve never been before. You’re going for four months. You don’t speak either of the languages. You’ve got to make your own way to your new home. You’ll be completely alone.

Sounds scary, right? Well it was. Even as I landed at Brussels airport, I had no idea how I’d do it. How I’d navigate through a totally unfamiliar city to get to the dorm – the place I’d call home for the next four months.

But I did. If I’d been told a year before I left that I’d manage to do all of that, I would never have believed it. I’d have asked how. Or why I’d do that to myself.

One thing Brussels has taught me though, is how to trust myself. I’ve realised that I’m more able than I think and that I need to just remember that. I always work things out one way or another. So all I really need to do is not worry and trust myself to get where I need to be.

It’ll come as no surprise that going on study abroad isn’t easy. But it does become easier as you meet new people and become more resilient. You change so much by studying abroad – it’s so gradual that you hardly notice it. It’s only when you look back at who you were that it hits you.

That has definitely happened to me by being in Belgium. I have to say, Brussels has made me far more confident to take on more challenges in the future. And I’m so excited to do just that.


What Erasmus Has Taught Me: Part 2

It’s hard to define what it is to be “mature” or to know when you’ve got life all figured out. At what point do you ever really figure it out though? But one thing Erasmus has taught me, to a huge extent, is how to grow up. I thought I was pretty independent before but I wasn’t. At least, not half as much as I am now.

Being alone in a foreign country: what a challenge it has been! I’d never been to Belgium before and I’m not fluent in Dutch or French. Before I came here, I knew absolutely no-one. So to say it was difficult (at the beginning) would be an understatement. But I’ve realised that self-improvement never comes by doing what is easy.

It sounds strange but I’m glad it was hard at first. I’m glad I struggled in the first couple of days. I’m glad I began questioning my decision to go abroad. But ultimately, I’m glad I managed to see it through. I can honestly say that one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done turned out to be the very best.

I really have learned to grow up here. I’ve learned how to make more ‘adult’ decisions that I would otherwise have not needed to make. I’ve learned how to be completely responsible for myself and my decisions, with no one there to guide or influence me.

That has got to be one of the most important things in life – knowing how to think for yourself. And being here in Brussels has made me do just that. Being completely alone was kind of a shock and difficult at first, but it has now made me become far more independent. Now I’ve managed to deal with this, I’ve realised I can now deal with anything I decide to do in my future.


What Erasmus Has Taught Me: Part 1

My time on Erasmus is, sadly, coming to an end. I have just over a month left here in my new home, Brussels, before I have to return to the UK. So I’ve decided to start a 5-part series in which I talk about what Erasmus has taught me and how it has shaped me as a person. And these are life lessons that will make my life so much better. The posts won’t necessarily be long, just an honest account of one way in which Erasmus has had an impact on me. So here’s number one:

When you realise that everything is temporary, you begin to realise how special each moment is. You know you’ll never get it back, so you can’t let it go to waste. And sometimes, it’s only when you look back at a moment that you realise just how beautiful it was. And you wish you’d appreciated it more at the time.

I’m so lucky because my life has been filled with some absolutely magical times that will always make me happy. Especially recently, in my new Belgian home, I’ve had some amazing moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life. And I’m so grateful for all of that.

I never want these times to end – I want to live in the moment forever because I know how much I’ll miss it when it’s gone. So that’s why I’ve got to just enjoy the moment while it’s there, instead of thinking about what’s coming next.

So that’s the first post about things Erasmus has taught me. And I seriously hope that, in my last month in Brussels, I really can remember to live for each beautiful moment as it comes.