I became vegan gradually. I had been vegetarian for a while during sixth form and later, at university, only ate meat occasionally – partly for environmental and animal welfare reasons, and partly to save money on a student budget. In August 2014, when I was gluten free but had not yet been diagnosed with coeliac disease, I became ill on a trip to Copenhagen. I’d accidentally eaten gluten and more dairy than my body could handle. (Yoghurt and granola pots are less innocent than they look.)
I was recently asked by the British Association for Jewish Studies to write a piece for their newsletter on my dissertation and what I have been up to since graduation. Having pursued interests in the historical and literary representations of gender, culture, social action and the Holocaust throughout my degree, my final year research focused on the ways in which women in Britain supported Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. What follows is a summary of my findings and some thoughts on the current refugee crisis.
‘As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.’
I first wrote this Amy Poehler quote in my journal in early 2014. It made me think of the incredible people I’d met through Student Hubs at that time. I’m grateful to have met even more of them since then, particularly during my time on the Worthwhile graduate scheme, which is quickly coming to an end.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of home recently. I’m writing this as I approach my last week in Oxford, after ten months here and three years in Southampton before that. I’m moving back to live with my family, where I’ll be based as I work for Student Hubs and study for a part-time MA in London.
‘I’ve realised that self-love is an action, not a belief. Sure, it starts with the belief, but it only works when put into action. It’s a verb. And it’s exactly like loving other people. Because love is just a word until you have the power to make yourself or someone else feel truly, deeply loved.’
I came across these words by Jamie Varon last week. They seemed like a fitting start to this post, which was then just a few thoughts I’d collected in a note on my phone early one morning. They reminded me that looking after myself requires effort and intention. When I feel tired, unwell, stressed, anxious, low or a combination of these, I know I need to dedicate more time to self-care.