Tour of Scotland pt 2: Inverness to Lewis

From Inverness, our tour of Scotland had us heading to the Isle of Lewis: an island with wondrous scenery in addition to peace and quiet. Lewis is the largest island of the Western Isles (or Outer Hebrides) of Scotland. Because our 10-day tour was literally called the “Best in the West”, it is clear why Lewis was on our itinerary.

isle of lewis 1

Our stay on Lewis was for two days and we spent the nights in a lovely hostel in the Gearrannan Blackhouse village, which is a group of old crofting buildings that radiate a certain old-world charm and history. The village is situated near the Callanish Standing Stones, which are even older than Stonehenge, and the Carloway Broch, an ancient castle-like construction from the time before castles.

The Carloway Broch is incredibly impressive and you can even climb a little ways inside the stone structure. However, while the broch was majestic, my absolute favorite from the whole island were the Callanish Standing Stones. It’s hard to comprehend how old the stones truly are – I felt like I had stepped into Outlander and was about to be whisked away into the olden days with bagpipes sounding in the wind. Okay, in reality, I was around a bunch of tourists and posing for my very 21st century selfies but that didn’t diminish the magic one bit.

isle of lewis 2

The various white, sandy beaches were another incredible sight for sore eyes: the turquoise waters and the long stretches of bright sand looked like they could’ve belonged to some exotic, warm country rather than the cold, windy Scotland. We visited on the Isle of Great Bernera that hosts the Bostadh Beach and an Iron Age mill. It was the perfect spot for a lunch break as we noticed.

In addition to Bostadh, another wonderful beach-y spot we explored was the Uig beach, which is actually one of the biggest beach areas on the island. It was huge – let me tell ya! It took forever just to walk from the parking lot to the waterline…like, if you were to go swimming (not that you would unless you were impervious to the cold) it would be a workout in itself just to get to the water. But there was a wonderful set of hills around it where we hiked on little twisty trails to see the beach from higher ground. It was gorgeous!

Must see things on Lewis:

Sights that I saw and loved:

  • Callanish standing stones (though there are numerous standing stones around the island, these are arguably the most famous!)
  • Carloway Broch
  • Any of the gorgeous white beaches
  • Isle of Great Bernera
  • Uig Chessmen

Sights I wish I’d seen:

  • Lews Castle
  • Crannogs
  • St. Columba’s Church Ui

Finally, check out the first part of my Scotland tour: Edinburgh and Inverness!

Tour of Scotland pt 1: Edinburgh to Inverness

When this school year started in September, I promised myself a reward for finishing my Master’s Thesis in the form of a trip to Scotland. I coaxed my friend to join me and after I returned my thesis in April, we packed our bags and embarked on our tour of Scottish moors in mid-May.

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We started out in Edinburgh where we had a lovely sunny evening walking around the main street and around the Edinburgh Castle. The next morning we boarded a minibus with eight other backpackers and headed out to the wilderness. Well, to Inverness, actually. Our first proper stop, after briefly getting out to snap pictures of the Forth Bridge, was the Highland Museum where some scenes from Outlander were shot. The 1700s village was quaint though the inside of the buildings was gloomy without any light source.

From the Highland Museum, we made our way further up north to the famous Loch Ness, which was magical. The lake was gorgeous and serene and somehow the entire scenery seemed imbued with the bluest of blue. Though we did not spot Nessie, the Loch Ness monster hunter (now there’s a profession I’d like to try) who has made his home on the shore of Loch Ness did sell little figurines to make up for it.

inverness scotland 2

From Loch Ness we rode on to Inverness where we arrived around 6 p.m. after traveling for nine hours. After such a long day we first wanted to shower and go have a bite to eat. Afterwards we would’ve wanted to go sit somewhere where we could hear music, but apparently it’s hard to find a place with live music AND free seats on a Monday night in Inverness. However, we decided to take a stroll by the river to the Ness Islands that were decorated with adorable fairy lights. It ended up being a lovely alternative to sitting in a pub.

It would have been nice to have more time in Inverness as we only got to spend one evening there (after everything had already closed) but hopefully I get to visit again another time. From Inverness our trip continued across the country to the West coast and to Ullapool, which I will tell more about in the second part of my travel diary.

Have you been to Scotland? How did you like the country?

Our Shared Shelf: First 4 Books

Our Shared Shelf, the feminist book club Emma Watson founded on Goodreads, is now well established and has a huge following as well as some very fascinating discussions on various aspects of womanhood. I was very eager to try and read all the books chosen for the club because I wanted to expand my horizons and discover books outside of my YA/fantasy-filled comfort zone.

our shared shelf 1

January: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Our Shared Shelf started with Steinem’s My Life on the Road, which right away generated a mixed bag of opinions: some readers appreciated Steinem’s strong point of view while others thought her writing as abrasive and inconsiderate. My Life on the Road is Steinem’s memoir that collects stories and anecdotes from her travels, while discussing important figures such as Martin Luther King and Hillary Clinton. She is also very focused on activism and talks about many of her fellow activists. While her writing can be somewhat disorganized, the overall tone of the book will quickly engage the reader.

February: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I haven’t been so affected by a book in a long while like I was by The Color Purple. Walker’s novel has often been censured due to its themes of sexuality and violence. This of course tends to be the case with books that are in the position to make a real change in the prejudices of our society. The novel is structured as a diary (and later, letters) that is being written by a young African-American woman, Celie, in the 1930s. Celie shows true growth and strength of character as she learns to deal with racism, sexual assault, and an unhappy family life.

our shared shelf 2

March: All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

Another book that divided opinions was All About Love: New Visions. bell hooks is widely regarded as a great thinker and feminist, which is why it was surprising that this particular work of hers was in fact slightly off-putting with its frequent, long-winded thoughts about religion. Furthermore, the book struck me as perhaps even too theoretical when talking about love and how one should find it and how it relates to e.g. abuse. However, it was still an interesting read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in theoretical discussions, existentialism, religion, or philosophy. And, of course, feminism!

April: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

How to Be a Woman is a hilarious, strange, and quirky piece of writing that might rub you the wrong way – or it might crack you up like no other! While I had trouble understanding some references (international reader here, hello), more often than not I found myself snorting with laughter while I read. Moran has strong opinions about all the different things women are “supposed to” be like and she is utterly unapologetic about it. She is a great example of a woman who has found her path in life and at least appears to be totally comfortable in her skin.
Our Shared Shelf is reading along quickly and the May book has been plowed through as well. I will post a review of The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson and the newly announced June book (graphic novel) is Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (and a few more additions hopefully) at the end of the summer.

Helsinki Art Museum: Free Admission Day

Last week I decided to visit the Helsinki Art Museum – or HAM – (located in Kamppi, in the center of Helsinki), which offers free admission every first Friday of every month. I often take advantage of these kinds of free days at art museums because my budget doesn’t allow me to spend a lot of money on art shows. Free admission days, then, are the perfect chance to switch gears and move from school and work mode to culture mode.

HAM has several exhibitions on at the moment: Tove Jansson exhibition (which is featured on Her Campus at Helsinki right now), HAM’s Roots (featuring various paintings from Finnish artists), From Heino with Love, and more. The exhibits vary greatly in size but they are all fascinating.

helsinki art museum 1

I felt that the most interesting exhibit was From Heino with Love, which includes numerous pieces of contemporary art from The Heino Art Foundation. The foundation is run by a couple and their son, who have collected over a thousand pieces of art. The exhibit itself consists of 100 pieces that include paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptures.

helsinki art museum 2

I loved the use of color in most of these works; the boldness of the works made a huge impact on the viewer. Most of the paintings were very bright and – I thought – very street art inspired. Some of my favorite pieces were the green and white sculptures that reminded me of some strange fantasy anime.

Helsinki Art Museum has become one of my favorite museums during my university years because they show a lot of contemporary art and often have very interesting and topical themes. I will, however, make it my mission for the summer to start visiting other museums, too.

Have you been to any art shows lately? What kind of art do you like? (I prefer contemporary)

Most Recent Book Haul: Feb + March

It’s book haul time, you guys!

As the deadline for my Master’s Thesis approaches (only two weeks left!), I’ve been a little MIA from the blogosphere. Who knew it would take so much time and effort to write a 60-page thesis paper. Okay, I knew. I just didn’t want to believe it.

book haul

I did, however, manage to film a short a book haul video after I was done suffering from a flu that lasted for almost a month. So, without further ado, here is my February and March book haul:

I’ve recently (well, during that horrendous flu) gotten back into the groove when it comes to reading. Especially now that I can actually read for fun instead of reading for school. I’m currently 28 books in to my Goodreads reading challenge and after I finish my thesis I’m assuming that the number will suddenly climb quite a bit higher.

What are you reading right now?

Party OOTD + March Link Round-Up

Here is my OOTD (from Friday actually, I just didn’t have time to post it then). I wore an ankle-length black gown that has a lace detailing on the top to the academic dinner party of the English student organization. It was the 44th anniversary of the organization and the dress code was black tie. I paired the dress with black hunky heels and a black cardigan with a pearl collar.

party gown

The party was really lovely: we had coconut soup for starters, salmon as main course, and chocolate cake as dessert. There was lots of singing and a fun speech from one of our professors (also, teacher of the year!). This is probably my last academic dinner party before I graduate with my MA so I was super happy to attend.

dinner party

I also wanted to add a few links here since I haven’t done a link round-up in a while. This is a short one, I’ll make a proper one later during the spring :)

Link roundup

Links:

My job hunt journal made its way to our English students’ webzine Better Than Sliced Bread: A Humanist’s Search for a Job

I also wrote a piece for Her Campus Helsinki about Emma Watson’s feminist book club (my other articles for HC Helsinki can be found here)

We filmed finally an introduction video for Her Campus Helsinki!

This article on xoVain about the effects of accutane was really informative (especially since my acne is worse than it’s ever been – hence the slightly cakey and flakey makeup on the ootd photos – and I have a dermatologist appointment for next month to talk about the possibility of Roaccutane)

You can be productive on your couch? Well, that’s good to know (she types while laying in bed on a Monday afternoon).

The Literary Chic Is Now on YouTube!

Guess what? Well…if you read the title, you’ll know: I have a channel on YouTube! Technically I’ve been on YouTube forever, but over the course of time, I’ve deleted all my old videos that were fandom montage ones. Now looking at them (I saved them, naturally) makes my eyes hurt because of the low quality. However, I recently decided I wanted to start vlogging so here I go!

youtube the literary chic

Here is my first proper video with my FACE SHOWING. My goodness. I’m showcasing my four favorite books from this winter (although I have many many many more I could’ve shown). It was really scary making this because I suffer from bad stage fright and, for some strange reason, it also seems to apply to videos. Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy the video, though!

I will continue to do book videos as well as maybe some haul and art videos (next up will most likely be a February book haul). Maybe some day I’ll even advance to tutorials :D If any of you have any video ideas, let me know!

For those of you who experience ASMR (if there are any of you out there), I also have an ASMR channel (which is actually more full of content already).

For those of you who might not know, ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a strange (and not much researched phenomenon), which is usually characterized by a tingly sensation on your head, neck, or even arms. It’s a nice feeling that can be induced by whispering, calm voice and movements, and other triggers. It’s like meditation that can be induced with a YouTube video. I got into ASMR about a year ago to help me sleep and I thought it’d be fun to make my own videos. Naturally, those don’t trigger ASMR for me – it’s like trying to tickle yourself. Just doesn’t work. But I enjoy making videos and it’s nice to know they might help others relax and/or sleep.

What kinds of videos do you prefer?

Pottermore Sorting: I’m a Hufflepuff?

The sorting is back on Pottermore! I was so excited to find out that the sorting function has been reinstated on Pottermore because it was lovely to have your own house in the previous incarnation of the site. Way back when I first sorted myself into a house, I got Hufflepuff as a result….and the same thing happened again! I’ve always related to Slytherin the most, but I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that inside this Slytherin there was always a little Hufflepuff heart beating.

hufflepuff-pottermore

My wand is a lovely rowan wood one with a dragon heartstring core. Neat, huh? Now if only I could choose a pet to take to Hogwarts (or would I have to attend Durmstrang since I live in Northern Europe?)…

pottermore-wand

Reasons why I’m now all about Hufflepride:

  • They are loyal and kind…what else could you want from a person?
  • They can grow up to be kickass aurors like Tonks!
  • They’re good at herbology (and I could use a greener thumb since I even managed to kill my cactus).
  • They are hardworking but they don’t brag about it – Cedric, anyone?
  • They’re common room is next to the kitchens and I adore food…I’d be having a midnight snack every night.
  • Newt Scamander was a Hufflepuff and from what we know of him so far, he’s a pretty cool cat.
  • They don’t go dark. I wouldn’t want to share my house with a bunch of dark wizards (and yes, I’m aware I said that I relate to Slytherin most. It was based on ambition and a slight dark side – not being a dark wizard!)

Pottermore also now includes new information about other magical schools besides Hogwarts. I love especially the African one…though they all sound absolutely epic!

Did you get sorted already?

5 Fandom Friday: Late to the Game TV Discoveries

5fandomfriday

This week’s 5 Fandom Friday topic is about TV…more specifically: “Favorite Late To The Game TV Discoveries“. And oh boy, I have loads.

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly link-up about fandom-y goodness, which was started by the lovely ladies of The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick.

Great TV Shows
 

Merlin

I absolutely adore this show! Everyone seems to have great chemistry, the dialogue is funny, and of course I love the whole story idea (what with me writing my MA thesis about Celtic myths and all…)! Morgana is an admiringly twisted persona and Anthony Stewart Head is brilliant as king Uther.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this show. Marvel is sometimes a bit of a hit and miss for me personally. But I really like the dynamics between the characters in the team as well as the “mutant” plot lines (I’m a sucker for superpowers).

Reign

I don’t know why it took so long for me to start watching Reign. The characters are amazing, I love the plotting and scheming, and the costuming is to die for. It’s also very emotional, I’ve gotten very invested in all the characters (read: I cry over everything).

Lost Girl

Another fantasy show :) This Canadian series is filled with interesting folklore and kick-ass female characters. What more could a gal want? I also like that the main character is a succubus but no one treats her like a crazy woman because of her enhanced sexuality. Instead, it is embraced. Hurrah for female empowerment.

Girls

I was a bit hesitant to start watching this show – I’ve seen all Sex and the City episodes a million times and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the comparisons between the two shows (as in, Girls is Sex and the City for millenials). However, once I did watch a few episodes I really liked the odd characters, especially Adam and Shoshana.

5 Fandom Friday: Growing and Taking Chances

I’ve been away from this little corner of my online world for a bit because I had to make up for my missed Psychology exam (which I couldn’t take because of my bronchitis earlier). BUT now I’m back! And I’m back with a 5 Fandom Friday post: I decided to combine the this week’s and last week’s topics because I feel that they are linked so closely and also because I just want to write down for myself a reminder of my New Year’s resolutions.

So last week’s topic was “5 Ways You Grew/Changed/Evolved in 2015” and this week’s “5 Ways You Are Going To Take Chances in 2016”.

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5 Ways I Grew/Changed/Evolved in 2015

  1. I faced my Master’s thesis head on during the fall and actually managed to do literary research on a scale I haven’t done before (which gave me confidence that I can finish my thesis now during this semester).
  2. I became more confident about my time management due to writing for three magazines while studying full time. And doing occasional work shifts at the office too.
  3. I also gained a clearer picture of what is is I want to do with my life.
  4. I realized that I should be more proud of my accomplishments instead of minimizing them (and myself as a consequence).
  5. I made more time to do what I want (read: to bury my nose in books) despite my busy schedule.

5 Ways I Am Going To Take Chances in 2016

  1. I’m going to apply to jobs even if I’m not confident I have all the required skills. There’s no harm in trying (even though I’m scared of failure – I just have to overcome that).
  2. I’m going to have fun more! (or continue to have fun at least)
  3. I will travel. Which is always taking a chance :)
  4. I’m going to try and get to know new people.
  5. I will transition into life after university, which is huge!

5 fandom friday blossom

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly link-up started by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick.

How did you change last year? And what chances will you take this year?