An Not-so-foreign Foreign Issue

Even though I have only been in Scotland a little over two weeks, it seems that the way politics are handled here are not so different from the way they are back home in the U.S. of A. Before I hopped on that 9 hour flight to Edinburgh, I was told by many people to be excited because I was going to be in Scotland during a very turbulent but exciting time–a time where the word “independence” would be whispered with feelings of adoration and beguilement. “How exciting,” I thought. “How lucky I am to be able to be in the midst of a group of people stirring with the same emotions that stirred in the hearts of those who fought for the freedom of America.” A bit nostalgic and a tad overemotional of a thought perhaps, but, hey, that’s just the kind of girl I am.
Upon arriving in Scotland, I was driven to my flat by a man with whom I conversed about the Referendum a good bit. He was an older fellow who seemed to believe it was high-time that Scotland had its independence; he wanted to vote Yes and believed that this country could easily sustain its own economy with oil and, to no stereotypical surprise, its whiskey. Since he was the first Scottish individual I had spoken to about the issue my whimsical picture of the fight for Scottish independence was perpetuated.
The second individual I spoke to about it was a uni-age guy who had some very interesting beliefs that he was gathered from a myriad of different sources. He believed the whole vote to be some what of a conspiracy–a way for the Scottish government to trick the English into giving Scotland more power by threatening a YES vote. An interesting idea to be sure.
The third group I spoke to were two of my classmates who both held a similar view of the issue: disillusionment. Ah yes, now this feels like home. Discussing the topic with them made me think for a quick second that I was back in North Carolina talking about “politics” and the next big issue with a few friends at coffee. They both see the whole issue of independence as an issue that could have maybe had merit at one time or another but due to oversaturation by the media and the ridiculous blind-loyalty of Scottish Nationalists neither of them really want much to do with it at all. I can’t blame them. Oversaturation of politics in the media is something I am quite familiar with as an American, especially as an American student whose home university is very liberal. It seems like everyday the young adults and 20 somethings of the U.S. are bombarded with different viewpoints on a whole host of different subjects but one thread remains common amongst them all: the issue is never really the issue. Now, what I mean by that is the topics the media chooses to speak on are rarely at the actual heart of the issue at hand. Rather, they focus on the fringe issues that get people really heated up and polarized like abortion, homosexuality, freedom of speech, etc. None of those issues are wrong to discuss at all; however, most of them they are abused, used as distractions from discussing the topics, though perhaps less clear and more difficult to handle, that truly affect the situation.
For the issue of the Referendum, this fringe issue that everyone seems to be playing on is the hatred of the Tories and/or the English in general. The YES campaign, according to my classmates, appears to be driven by this essential polarization: either you want to continue to be associated with the English/Tories or you are a loyal Scot and want nothing to do with them. Quite the heavy-handed viewpoint, is it not? This is what politics has become in America and it appears to be no different here. And, because of the plethora of information coming at us from every direction in this world of 24/7 news media cycles, the issue gets lost. It is so hard to discern truth from extravagant lie and because of this, it is so much easier to just sit back and let other people handle it all. We just want our peace and quiet right? Why does anything have to change at all? While I agree with this to a certain extent, there is no denying that if all of the sensible people decided to sit back because they are overwhelmed, that means that the floor is open for all those extremists with their heavy-handed opinions to make the final decision. And, let’s be honest, no one wants that. But how is one to wade through all the muck of the political media marsh in order to find solid ground?
What everyone wants to know is if Scotland can survive on its own, monetarily and politically. But, the majority of what appears to be discussed in the media focuses not on that central question but instead on the perks of saying YES and what a terrible Scot you are if you say NO. Now, don’t take my word for it for I am just a wee American lass attempting to understand a complex issue about a country that is not my own. Even though I am still very much in the dark, I am intrigued. So, ermm, let the games begin??

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Super foods? Super skint.

A couple of wee pieces I wrote on the conundrum of being healthy with the ever-present money constraints of your average student. The first a comment style piece and the second more news-y..

You’re Mackereling me skint. 

Wondering round Stockbridge Farmer’s Market I was met by a table of silky looking chanterelles, fat bunches of coriander, plump little blackberries, and a debate about student nutrition. A blackboard brightly inviting to ‘ask about our vegetable box delivery’ would trigger cynicism in even the most enthusiastic of students. Being able to afford a fruit and veg box conjures the same fantasy of having one of those delightful, brown, cardboard ‘graze’ boxes dropped through my letter box every week.

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‘To be honest, all I want is some walnut bread and some brie’. Middle class problems, or quite a poignant voice which most students can associate with. A survey done recently in Edinburgh showed that every student who was asked wished they could afford decent cheese. If mum knew that Robbie was eating toast with Farm-foods plastic slices would her heart not shatter a little?

The problems didn’t only linger with the cheese course. ‘I try live off £10 a week because I like to have money to go out as well. Being a vegetarian helps but I rarely get to enjoy proper fruit and veg.’

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I know that organic, local produce is best. Not one celebrity chef, health expert or politician would disagree. As I left the market with the smell of succulent strawberries and just baked rye bread I thought that it would be nice to come home from the expected 35 hours of study a week, plus the 37 hour ‘part time’ job which we aren’t supposed to have, to a nutritious two veg, one meat dinner without thinking, but alas as long as a tuna steak costs £5.03 and an every day value cottage pie costs 95 pence I know what i’ll be heating up tonight.

Are we starving our students brains? 

A survey conducted on a selection of students studying in the City of Edinburgh has found that 100% sacrifice healthy food because of cost.

In recent years, huge amount of research has gone into nutrition and the effect it has on our brain function. It’s fully acknowledged how positive an impact a nourishing diet can have, particularly for growing, working brains.

A range of students were asked a selection of questions regarding their weekly spend, and this was then compared with the typical ‘brain foods’ we’re advised to eat. Oily fish, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, avocados, dark chocolate and whole-grains are the super six which consistently come out top in power lists. The UK’s leading supermarket prices for these being; £4 for two salmon fillets, £1.75 a packet of pumpkin seeds, £3 per punnet of blueberries, £1.25 a large avocado, upwards of £1.50 for a bar of quality chocolate and a loaf of wholegrain bread, £1.49. With an average weekly budget of £20, super-foods are definitely off the menu. The energy these foods combined provide around 4000 calories, sustaining the average adult for 2 days. Two packets of every day value cereal would do the same, and comes in at a whopping £1.54. Image

Students expressed that they actively scrimped on foods they knew were beneficial, but that the stress of being continuously reminded that this was detrimental to their health was overwhelming.

Isla Macleod, 19, studying Animal Biology said ‘People say wholegrain is better but every day value white bread is half the price. I just don’t feel I have a choice.’

With pressure on this generation of students already at it’s peak is there an alternative to the Catch 22 we’re plunging them into?

Charity Begins at Home

There is a simple rule in life. There is no escaping it and no hiding from it; it is an inevitable happening. What I am talking about is death. There are approximately 63million people living in the UK and eventually we are all going to die. We will live our lives growing; raised by family and making many friends along the way. Why is then that 21,000 elderly people find themselves dying alone each year in the UK? They cannot have lived their lives solitude. So why are they deserted at the time when they are needed the most?

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Chanel Linlithgow

Linlithgow is getting ready to host Chanel’s annual  Metier d’Arts fashion show. An event which aims to showcase the art of small  suppliers who create specialist pieces for the fashion house. Continue reading

Are we killing our home?

Humans are great at disagreeing. No matter what the topic is there will always be opposing sides.  We do not agree how the world started; was it created by the big man himself or through an explosion of an extremely small, hot and dense body of matter? We could argue this point until we’re blue in the face. Therefore it shouldn’t come to much surprise that we also do not agree on how the world will (if it actually does that is – another controversial argument) end.

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Sports Personality of the Year

Joanne Clark and Lauren McKinney find out who is the favourite Scot to win Sports Personality of the Year awards which will be announced this Sunday.

ASDA’s new fashion range: hit or miss?

Dresses from ASDA’s new collection have been inspired by powerful women, such as Michelle Obama, Carol Vorderman and Karen Brady. Alice and Rosie found out what Craighouse students thought.