Graduation: One Year Later

Exactly one year ago, I was nervously standing on stage in front of hundreds of my peers, receiving my diploma.

I distinctly remember the feeling of achievement, excitement, and anxiousness that I had on this day.

After working hard for four and a half years, I had reached the end. I was now a college graduate.

The whole day was a blur of emotions. Thank God for the invention of waterproof mascara.

Growing up, graduating college is one of those things that seems so far off. So adult. The beginning of a new chapter of your life.

The first month or so after graduating felt like an extended winter break, with the added bonus of not having any assignments to do. It felt good to be able to relax and not have to worry about school.

GRADUATING IN AN ECONOMIC CRISIS

Unfortunately, the time I graduated was during one of the worst parts of this economic recession. Many of my peers were having a hard time finding jobs anywhere, especially in the media field.

Slowly, it began to sink in that I could be in a very tough position if I didn’t find a job quickly. There were student loans to start paying back, among other living expenses.

By the end of February, almost three months after graduating, I had finally landed an internship at a company called Ustream. It was unpaid, but it was better than sitting around at home, so I took it.

Luckily, I was offered a full-time job as Marketing Coordinator, just after a little over a month of interning.
Sure, the pay wasn’t the best, and the hours were even worse, but it felt good to be working in a career related to my degree.

A NEW DIRECTION

Despite being happy about having a job, I felt that if I continued on down this path of marketing, I would move further away from my career goals.

I wanted to be the person producing media, not the one marketing it.

Over the summer, I made a big decision to go to graduate school in London. It wasn’t an easy choice, especially considering my economic situation.

But it was the right choice.

I haven’t looked back since making that decision, as I know that by doing this course, it’s putting me closer to where I want to be.

NEW GRADUATES

This year, I watched some of my best friends walk the same stage that I did.

I’ve watched them work extremely hard over the years, and I was proud to be able to watch them be honored for their achievements.

It seems that landing a job is getting harder than ever, but I have high hopes for them.

I think that, as long as you work hard and have clear goals set out, you can achieve them. Maybe it will be a difficult journey along the way, but sometimes you learn the most from going through hardships.

So, to my lovely friends who graduated this year, congratulations! Keep doing what you’re doing, and welcome to the post-grad world.

As Monica once said in Friends, “The real world sucks…you’re gonna love it!”

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Bargain Shopping in London

Retail Therapy: a term for shopping for yourself in order to achieve a sensation of of happiness and stress relief.

I’ll admit, I’ve definitely resorted to ‘retail therapy’ on a number of occasions. I don’t know what it is about shopping that can instantly make you feel better. It’s almost like a drug.

Sometimes the cure for a really bad day can be as simple as going into shops, trying on clothes, and making a purchase.

During this recession, it can seem frivolous to resort to retail therapy. However, I’ve discovered that it doesn’t have to put a huge dent in your wallet.

London is often cited as one of the world’s most expensive cities. Coming from the United States, the exchange rate isn’t in my favor—the pound is currently about 1.6 to a dollar.

Despite this, I’ve found some great ways to shop in London on even the most meager budget.

SHOPPING AT MARKETS

Camden Market is one of my favorite places to go shopping in London. You can easily spend hours getting lost in the market, and looking through all of the different clothing stalls.

One great thing about Camden Market is that you can haggle prices there. If the stall owner tells you that something is 20 pounds, say you’ll pay 10 pounds, and then haggle until a fair price is agreed upon.

I recently purchased a 100% cashmere sweater, and a vintage dress, for 12 pounds total!

At Camden Market, it’s best to look around different stalls before settling on a purchase, as you can often find cheaper prices for similar clothes.

Portobello Road is also a great outdoor market for a dose of retail therapy. It’s less geared towards clothing, but that’s not to say you can’t find good clothing deals there.

The last time I went, I found a store in which every clothing item was 5 pounds. I’d much rather pay 5 pounds than 30 pounds for something similar at a place on the high street.

MONEY VS. QUALITY

There are some people who love to flaunt designer clothing. For me, I get so much more satisfaction from spotting a good bargain than wasting money on one single item.

Why blow all of your money on one upscale item, when you can get an entire outfit—and accessories—for even less money?

Some people argue that it’s all about quality. If it’s cheap, it won’t last long. However, I’ve had cheap items of clothing that have lasted years. As long as you take care of them, you can get a lot of wear.

Charity shops are another great way to find a bargain. They are dotted all over London. You may have to spend some time digging through the racks, but there are always gems to be found.

One last tip for any of you considering retail therapy: don’t buy it unless you love it. If you’re unsure about something when you try it on, hold out for something else. It’s a waste to spend money on something that you might not even end up wearing.

Happy shopping!