January has been a somewhat busy one.

To wrap up my time visiting my hometown for the holidays, I saw some friends, went to a University of Arizona hockey game (they crushed GCU 11-2), got a car (2009 Honda Civic, she’s amazing) and saw my favorite band Senses Fail live in Phoenix. This was the first time I saw them since their most recent album came out, which is one of their best in a while, and since I got my tattoo in August of 2017. It was also my first time at The Van Buren, a new venue in Phoenix, and I absolutely loved it. I think it might be my new favorite venue, I can’t wait to see Architects there for my birthday in April.

About halfway through the month, I moved in with my grandma who lives a bit outside Los Angeles. I want to try my luck in a big job market while living rent-free and think living with family is a good transition to a career, especially after being away for so long. I have been applying for all kinds of jobs like mad. I expect career job applications to take a while, so I’ve also been applying for part-time jobs in the mean time. I had an interview at a movie theater and pizza place last week and hope I get one of them!

Other than applying for jobs, I’ve been keeping myself busy as I settle into my new (temporary) home and routine. I saw Tiny Meat Gang (a.k.a. YouTube comedy duo Cody Ko and Noel Miller) live at a warm-up show for their sold-out tour. I’ve never been to a comedy show and had no idea what to expect. I showed up a bit late and ended up with a shoddy seat, but the security was nice enough to let me stand in the back for some bits. For my next comedy show, I know to arrive early for good seating!

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No pictures (or phone use of any kind) allowed inside.

I am going to try to volunteer a few times a week at the library (tutoring) and dog rescue (walking dogs, driving to vet appointments, host adoption events, etc.) as long as I’m not working.

Finally, I try to go to the gym and read most days and with a big family and a lot of them local, I’m enjoying catching up with all of them as I haven’t seen most of them in a year and change. My aunt from out-of-state visited and we had an especially busy time visiting the Norton Simon art museum and dining out.

Next month will look quite similar, hopefully I’ll land a part-time job by then. Wish me luck!

January In Review 2018 || January In Review 2017

What I’m listening to: Stranger in the Alps by Phoebe Bridgers, Time & Space by Turnstile, I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty, Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, King of Cowards by Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Negative Qualities by Single Mothers, Fantasy by LANDMVRKS

What I’m watching: Sex Education (season 1), My Scientiology Movie, Mr. Nobody, Requiem for a Dream, Make Happy, Bandersnatch, Diving into the Unknown

What I’m reading: I have started making Reading Wrap-Up posts where I review books I’ve read in the month, check out some of the books I’ve read in this post and let me know what you think! (I’ve read about 5 more in January coming in another Wrap-Up post soon, until then, follow or add my GoodReads)

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Although I didn’t have time in December between my moves and the holidays, I’m excited to make another post talking about animals with interesting stories. Last time we talked about the California condor, now, we are heading to the Indian ocean to meet a very special fish.

Before we start, a small disclaimer with about this post: there are actually two (living) species of coelacanth, the West Indian (Latimeria chalumnae) and the Indonesian coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis), but for this post, I will speak of them as one species for simplicity sake.

Don’t be intimidated by the spelling, coelacanth is actually easy to pronounce: see-la-can-th. But what the devil is it?! They are one of the most ancient animals on earth with their evolutionary history dating back 400 million years since taking its present form… that’s older than the first dinosaurs!

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Photo by Peter Scoones

These fish were thought to have gone extinct millions of years ago until they were rediscovered in the 1930s2. However, these fish are elusive and we haven’t been able to learn much about them since and its place in the evolutionary timeline is still highly debated3. They have unique features such as paired lobe fins that extend away from its body like legs and an electrosensory rostral organ4 and are considered a transitional species between fish and tetrapods5.

Just like most other marine species, this “living fossil” is threatened by human activities. Coelacanths can be caught as bycatch6 in oilfish operations and injured or killed. Relatively recently, a photo of a coelacanth with a trash in its stomach appeared on Twitter causing outrage7. This species could be the key to answering big unanswered questions in evolutionary history that outlives humans, yet we are actively making choices to harm these animals.

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Tweet by @Seasaver

This is a prime example of the conservation philosophy that we don’t really know how many different species are out there (or even the exact population of rare species like the coelacanth), especially in the vast ocean, and that if we’re not careful, we may kill off amazing species before they’re even discovered.

Notes and sources

1 Johanson, Z.; Long, J. A; Talent, J. A; Janvier, P.; Warren, J. W (2006). “Oldest coelacanth, from the Early Devonian of Australia”Biology Letters2 (3): 443–6.

2 National Geographic, Coelacanth

3 Smithsonian, Coelacanth

4 rostral: situated or occurring near the front end of the body, especially in the region of the nose and mouth

5 Meyer, Axel (1995). “Molecular evidence on the origin of tetrapods and the relationships of the coelacanth”Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Submitted manuscript). 10 (3): 111–116.

6 bycatch: the unwanted fish and other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a different species

7 IFL Science, “Depressing photo shows that even deep see living fossil can’t escape ocean trash”

Photo by Laurent Ballesta

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Today was my graduation ceremony (in Brighton which I didn’t attend as I’ve been back in the U.S.) and the final hurrah in my education and study abroad part of my life. Time to change my blog tagline, I suppose!

In lieu of attending my graduation ceremony, I’ve decided to answer the top five common questions  I’ve been asked about university and study abroad and feed your curiosity about my life these last five years.

A quick bit of background: I’ve just finished my Masters of Research degree in conservation biology at the University of Sussex. For my undergraduate degree, I studied at conservation biology at  Arizona Sate University with my third year (2015-2016) abroad at the University of Sussex. I began in August 2013 and finished in May 2017.

University Q&A

How did you decide what to study?

In this post I recounted a more detailed journey of how I landed on conservation, but long story short, it started with my high school environmental science class and love for animals and the ocean.

Did you work?

Yes, with the exception of my very first semester and my year abroad. In my undergraduate, I worked two theater jobs as an usher and in my Master’s degree I worked as a barmaid and carer. The theater jobs were especially nice with only working evenings and weekends and working with fellow students.

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How do you make friends?

Everybody is wondering this, so it’s really hard to make an arse of yourself when everybody as is desperate as you! To be honest, my best friend (Nolan) and I met by pure luck: at the Life Science orientation, I told myself to make one friend and introduced myself to the guy next to me. It just so happened we were in the same class block and lived on the same floor in the halls. Needless to say, we were good friends all through university and remain in touch today. I made my other friends through classes and clubs. The hardest part about making friends is that very first icebreaker, the rest comes easy!

What is one thing you would have done differently?

Joined clubs earlier. They are a great way to gain experience, usually require little of your time, and look great on CVs.

What do you want to do?

My aspirations are still largely up in the air, but I have a few ideas outlined in this post. Positions with field work, animal rehabilitation and community outreach interest me the most.

Study Abroad Q&A

How much does study abroad cost?

It depends on your program. I chose to do an exchange program where I pay my usual tuition to go to an international university for a year. Housing, eating and personal care costs were about the same as they were in the U.S., but things like nights out and trips were the outliers, and these can cost as little (or as much) as you can manage.

How did you choose your program?

I was quite restricted with universities in the U.K. that offered good programs for conservation. I looked at a few universities and decided I liked Sussex best for its program, location (close to London and airports) and town life.

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Where did you travel to?

Dublin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Milan, Nice, Monaco, Prague, Paris, around Germany, Budapest, around Italy, around the United Kingdom (first term, second term). Please bear with me as I update these posts with pictures.

How did you use your phone?

I’m surprised how concerned people are about this. I unlocked my phone (ask your provider how to do so but it usually involves paying it off) and got a U.K. SIM card (can be easily replaced in iPhones with an earring) once I arrived and did a pay-as-you-go plan. I paid £10 a month for 500 minutes, unlimited text and 2GB of data, but there are a wide range of plans. I even saved my SIM card from my year abroad and used it for my Masters degree when I returned.

What is the biggest difference from the U.S.?

First, the university system is entirely different and focused more on independent work and application rather than memorization, there is a bigger casual drinking culture, which I’m fond of, the public transport is better and the people are more reserved.

I have made many posts on university and study abroad in the past, here are my top  favorite posts:

Do you have any other questions about university or studying abroad?

Photo by Marvin Meyer.

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Although I contacted a few people over the holidays to be my December Blogger of the Month, unfortunately nobody got back to me, so I missed out on featuring a blogger last month.

However, now we’re back with Hannah of Hannah Mary.

VedEfr7bTell us a bit about yourself.

Oh gosh, I always hate this question because it’s possible that I’m the most boring person on the planet and can never think of anything to say about myself (its why my about page suuuucks!) but my name is Hannah, I’m 24 and I work as a PR assistant in Bristol. I’m relatively new to blogging so I don’t really have a niche as of yet, though I do really enjoy being nicheless so maybe I’ll stick to that.

How did you get into blogging?

I’d toyed with the idea of starting a blog for a very long time and I always included a blog in whatever project I was working on at uni, but never took the step to start a personal one. I moved in with my boyfriend and his family in June 2018 and realised quickly that I needed to pick up a hobby to keep my sanity and give my boyfriend time to do one of his fifty billion hobbies without feeling guilty so I started a blog and it was the best decision I ever made! The blogging community is possibly the nicest bunch of people I’ve ever met and I forgot how much I used to love writing until I started blogging.

Tell us about your favorite blog post.

This was actually really hard, I only have 18 blog posts live but I love them all so much for different reasons! If I had to go with one, I think it would be ‘Netflix and Ch-eeeesy Christmas Films’ because 1) it got my boyfriend to watch cheesy Christmas films with me, 2) writing it made me laugh a lot and 3) it was a different way for me to incorporate a cheesy-Christmas film post into my blog, without it just being a standard review or chit-chat.

What are you doing when you’re not blogging?

If I’m not blogging then I’m doing one of three things; watching something on Netflix, reading a book or playing around with make-up eyeshadow palettes and recreating make-up tutorials. If I’m not doing on of those three things then I’m probably taking a nap (told you I lead an exciting life…)

What is your biggest goal for 2019?

Biggest goal for 2019 blog wise is to go self-hosted so I have more freedom with the design of my blog and have my own domain (currently in the process of making the switch!). And to learn how to use Pinterest, because I have no idea what I’m doing over there, unless it’s pinning pictures of my dream kitchen. Which brings me on to my next goal which is to move into my own house so I’m on step closer to getting my dream Pinterest kitchen. Not sure if this one will happen this year or next, but I’m working towards it!

What books are at the top of your to-read list?

I have a lot of books on my reading list this year as I’m aiming to read 30 books (not hard for some people but it will be a slight challenge for me) but at the top of my reading list is ‘What If It’s Us’ by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silveraand ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman. I bought them both with a voucher I got for Christmas. I’ve heard lots of good things so I hope they both live up to the hype. Though I’m currently reading ‘One Day in December’ and this is going to be a hard book to follow, I’m hooked!

Where else can we find you?

Twitter || Instagram

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Here are my top five posts from all categories:

  1. The ultimate Africa travel bucket list: Over the last year, I went to Egypt and South Africa and loved it. I would love to return for some more scuba diving and animal encounters.
  2. Moving back in with my parents: I feel a lot of this while living at home for a few weeks, although it’s slightly different living with my grandma than my parents.
  3. 7 ways to spring clean your blog in 2019: I don’t know about you, but I desperately need to clean out my blog.
  4. My 2019 TBR and reading challenge: I hope to read more this year and these different reading challenges can make it interesting!
  5. Make your perfect bucket list for 2019: This is a great idea for customizing your own goals for the year. I will certainly be using this to make my next goals update.

Science, sustainability and veganism

General travel and study abroad

Travel destinations

Lifestyle

Entertainment

Blogging

Photo by Andrew Knechel.

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