How To Get FREE TV

40854025_239718670047988_5278440134482591744_n.pngIn the US free television no longer really exists. You can get PBS and some channels, but only if you have a satellite or an antenna. And you know what I mean by antenna, the two metal rods that sit on top of your TV and you point them in a certain direction to better reception.

Well, in the UK there is so much free TV! Honestly, I don’t think people need to pay for cable in the UK because the free channels have so much to offer. Channel 5 plays drama, movies, cooking shows. Channel 4 has reality tv, documentaries, and soap opera. BBC has movies, documentaries and obviously some of the worlds best news. All 3 of these channels (and several more) are all free! Once a year you do have to pay for a tv license, which is basically to have access to anything on your tv. But the cost is minimal, I don’t know any household that doesn’t have it. Stations like Channel 4 or ITV are able to keep the cost to consumers so low by charging for commercials and some brand endorsements. Certain shows will say they are sponsored by a toilet paper brand or beer.

Why is it that the UK can offer so much free entertainment, but the USA can’t? America is supposedly a very wealthy country, we can afford to have the world’s largest military. But simple thing like health care or TV can’t be free? I can’t find any  logic for why the UK offer’s its residents so much and the US offers so little.

So, do you want to find a way to get these free channels? Most of them offer their shows online with streaming. You can gain access to all of them (except BBC) by creating an online account with your social media like Facebook. They might have a lock for people watching from outside the UK, but you can easily get around that by using a VPN. A VPN is basically a work around where it tricks a website into thinking you are in the UK or a certain country, when you really are not.

I’ve included a list of the free channels you can check out below, and some of the shows I like on them.

BBC: I love the docuseries on here! The Sex in Britain one is very compelling.

ITV: It is terrible, but I love to watch Bridezilla’s.

Channel 4: You have to watch the Great British Bake Off! It is homely cooking with friendly competition.

Channel 5: Rich House Poor House is such an interesting show! It forces two families to swap lives for a week so the rich can see how it feels to live on the bread line.

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Crucial Advice If You Are Going to University

auditorium benches chairs class
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I started university earlier than most, I had my first uni class at 14 in China. I officially started studying uni in America at 16, three and a half years later I had my first degree. Now, I have 2 degrees and have attended 4 different universities all over the world.  I’ve lived on and off campus, taken out student loans, paid tuition, and pulled all night study sessions. Suffice it to say, I am an expert at university life. 

In all my experience at universities, I’ve been given massive quantities of advice. Don’t drink on a Sunday, hand write your notes, focus on studies, maintain a side job. The suggestions never end. And NONE of it has helped me in the real world. No one warned me that university is the easy part of life, that studying is for an exam is relaxing compared to job hunting. No one said student loans would make me suicidal. No adult has ever given me worthwhile advice about university. 

So, I’m going to do every student the favor I was never given. There are only 3 things you need to know about university. Live by these rules, and life will be simplistic. 

  1. Unless you are going to Yale, Cambridge, Harvard or some other Ivy League, NO job will ever care where you got your degree from. They WILL NOT care if you went to your local college or a state university. (Honestly, a lot of jobs won’t care if you went to an Ivy League either). So, DON’T take out more $$ and debt to go to a fancy private school across the country. Go to the school that is the cheapest for your chosen major. 
  2. Your grades/marks DO NOT MATTER. At the end of the day, on your resume/cv you will put down that you graduated from X university with Y degree. I’ve had dozens of interviews and an employer has never asked me what GPA was, they don’t care if I got honors. An employer cares if you got the physical diploma and THAT IS IT. Therefore, don’t drive yourself crazy at university to get the perfect scores. Learn what matters for your chosen speciality, enjoy sports, party with friends and experience life outside the lecture hall. I promise that your marks/scores truly will not matter once you walk across the stage at graduation. Literally, NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT GRADES.
  3. The real world and job market all rely on one skill. The ability to sell. If you can creatively interpret your skills and summer jobs on your CV so it matches for each position you apply for, then finding employment will be easy. Every job should have a personalised resume that uniquely sells YOU to that specific employer. This is all a nice way of saying, on your resume/CV and in interviews, YOU JUST GOTTA BULLSHIT. I’ve been hired for dog walking and teaching English, and my degree is in political science. How did I get those jobs? I sold the hell out myself. I am my #1 product. 

There you have it. These 3 things are the most important pieces of advice you will ever get. By following my words of wisdom, university life will be less stressful, you will get interviews, and most importantly, you will survive in the real world. 

(Please excuse my colorful language in this post, my goal is to get the point across as clearly as possible)

 

Red Tape Connects You, Me, and Everybody

two person shaking each others hands
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If there is one thing I have learned from travelling the world, it is that somethings are the same in every country. A McDonald’s burger always tastes the same amount of greasy and wonderful. People universally dislike the average American tourist. Lastly, bureaucracy is a impossibly difficult no matter where you go. I speak from experience, I have dealt with governments agencies on 3 different continents.

In the UK, it is challenging because they want multiple documents for one thing. Proof of address for example, they want you to have at least 4 items, from different sources! This is especially challenging when most bills and mail are sent via email rather than physical post.
In China, they expect you to wait in massive, huge lines (queue’s). Upon reaching the front, the believe you should already know the paperwork, documents and information you need. There is no room or error or leeway. Everything must be perfectly in order to get what you need.
I think America is one of the worst locations of this. Trying to simply prove your identity is a chore. They want your birth certificate, passport, drivers license, social security care, and your left arm. This is just to prove you exist, to prove your address/residency is a whole other matter. Today, I attempted to get a driver’s license. As I have residency in two countries, having snail mail isn’t easy. But, I managed to round up several pieces of mail with my name and address, along with a title to the house I was in that also had my name on it. Yet, none of this was enough! Proving that I had a partial ownership of a piece of property in the state wasn’t enough evidence that I was a resident. My mother had to sign a legal form stating that I was a resident at the address. Then, they attempted to say our physical address wasn’t correct. Oh, the drama!! Then they charged me $70.
I shouldn’t complain. I recently discovered that in Turkey to obtain a driver’s license, you need to have a health examination to assure the government you have no health conditions that might impede your driving abilities.
I take comfort in the fact that bureaucracies are the same world wide. We might all live in different lands, but we can all unite in our loathing of the red tape.

The Forgotten Victims of Terrorism

“UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond echoed her call, saying Muslim countries had “suffered the greatest burden of terrorism”
-BBC “EU urges broad alliance on terrorism, at Brussels talks”
desert
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This quote struck a chord in me.  Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Westerners have tended to focus more heavily on terrorist attacks by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other militant groups committed in Western countries. In the aftermath of the Boston bombers, the American media could talk of nothing else. A similar situation is occurring in France.

Now, while these atrocities are horrific, and deserve widespread discussion/attention and to have efforts made to prevent them, I think that the world tends to largely ignore the terrorist attacks that are occurring in the Middle East. Arguably, the countries that are harmed the most, and victim to the most violent attacks are Middle Eastern states. However, media coverage on these attacks is negligible. A news story will pop up in the headlines of BBC, The New York Times, or any other major media source, but there is very little follow up or discussion afterwards or it is relegated to the little viewed sections.
 It is fair to say that these news sources don’t focus on these attacks because they report on American or UK news, but is it fair to solely focus on the terrorism that occurs on Western borders? When discussing ISIS in Afghanistan, it is usually in reference to the military attacks, how it threatens U.S security, and the involvement of the US army. It is not discussed from the perspective of ISIS continually inflicting terrorist attacks on the citizens of Afghanistan.
A prime example of the focus media sources take on Western based attacks is the school shooting that recently took place in Pakistan. 141 people were killed by the Taliban, most of them children. It was a top story for a day or two, then it was forgotten. In France, 12 were killed, and the attackers were found within days. In Pakistan, the terrorists weren’t found, and 120 more people died in this attack than in France.
I don’t intend to imply that the deaths in France mean less than those in Pakistan, or that those in Pakistan are worth more because more died. I just find it curious that in a world that is increasingly more global, and interdependent, media and politicians for the most part still focus on crimes committed in Western countries and push other crimes to the side. While Western politicians don’t have control of what occurs in Pakistan or Afghanistan, they most definitely could be more pragmatic and make more of an effort to support the victims of these attacks. If none of this can be done, then media sources could give more press to the attacks, so the suffering of the victims is known, and the hardships are acknowledged. No one wants to feel that their sorrow is silent, that the world doesn’t care about the pain that has been inflicted on them. I respect the UK foreign secretary for acknowledging that Western countries aren’t the only targets of terrorist attacks and I hope more acknowledgement is given to this in the future.

Do You Say Bum or Fanny Pack?

23666823_10214692736176597_476153992_nThe fanny pack trend was all the rage in the 80’s. Neon leggings, big hair, wrist bands, leotards and fanny packs were the ‘must wear’ items of the early to mid 1980’s. . I will admit that the fanny pack was practical as well as fashionable. I mean how useful is a purse that you can wear around your waist?! Whenever I go shopping, I hate that I’m always hiking my bag back onto my shoulder or that it gives me a weird boob look because the strap sits firmly between my breasts. Worst of all is the big bag conundrum when you smack into people in a crowd because your purse is just that big.
So, I think the fanny pack was one of the more useful things to come out of the fashion industry. And I wasn’t hating it when the fanny pack briefly became a trend again in 2016/2017. I personally never bought one, but my hips don’t need the extra emphasis a fanny pack would add. Keep in mind that while the fanny pack was recently on the runways, it never went out of style with the cautious tourist. A fanny pack is the best travel accessory because it can hold your $$, passport, ID and is basically theft proof. It would take a bold thief to try and steal out of bag that was basically strapped down by  the crotch of the wearer.
It wasn’t until recently that I learned a fanny pack and a fanny can mean 2 different things. I was raised to believe that the fanny pack was basically a butt pack that went around your waist and could rest on your butt or in front of you. Mom’s would say ‘You sit on your fanny right now!’ and they would mean our bottoms. It all makes total sense.
Then I came to the UK. One day during a chat at work, someone mentioned being confused about Americans and their ‘fanny packs’. Why were they called that they asked. Well, it was obvious I thought. Fanny means butt. You wear the purse near your butt. A look of comprehension donned one their faces. They then explained why they were bewildered.
You see in the UK, the ‘fanny‘ does not refer to a bottom. In fact, a fanny is a ladies vagina. It’s slang, not widely used today, but was quite popular ten years ago. Naturally, hearing American refer to a fanny pack in that way would seem confusing. The fanny pack doesn’t go down by the fanny, so the name doesn’t seem appropriate in the UK. When my colleagues told me this I turned bright red. I had been walking around occasionally mentioning fanny packs and people thought I was talking about some sort of vagina bag. Fashion for your lady bits 😉 It the UK they call this style of purse a ‘bum bag’ which sounds just as weird to me as ‘fanny pack’ does to them.
So, now you know that fanny has two different meanings. Don’t misuse them in either country, because you could get some alarming results.

 

Do You Know the Difference Between Remembrance and Veterans Day??

poppyThe UK,  USA and Canada don’t have much in common these days, but we do share a holiday! All three countries choose to honor the citizens who served in the military on the same day. Now, the day’s have slightly different meanings, but the overall sentiment is the same.
Veterans Day in America is meant to celebrate anyone who has served in the military, alive or dead from any war or battle. However, the day focuses more on the living veterans. Memorial Day in the summer focuses more on honoring the lost members of the military. Most towns will host meals for vets to show their appreciation, and stores/restaurants will give extra discounts on November 11. A lot of schools will do special performances for their town veterans on the Friday before.
Armistice Day in Canada is celebrated on November 11th, no matter what day of the week the 11th falls on. In the UK Remembrance Day is technically November 11, however it is most often celebrated on the Sunday closest to November 11. This year, Remembrance Day in the UK was actually celebrated on November 12. Armistice/Remembrance Day is celebrated on Nov 11th because that is the day a cease fire was called in WWI.
I’ve heard a lot of conflicting things about Remembrance Day in the UK. Initially, I was told it was only to celebrate those lost in WWI. So, when it rolled around, I didn’t observe it the first two years because my country (USA) didn’t take part in WWI. Then I was told Remembrance Day is meant as a reminder for the UK not to enter into any “pointless” wars like WWI. Then, I was told that it honors all lost those lost in any war or battle the UK was involved in since WWI. The primary difference between Remembrance Day and Veterans Day is the US is celebrating living veterans for their service while the UK/Canada celebrates the dead who have served.
There is another very notable difference. In the beginning of November, the UK is suddenly overtaken by poppies. By poppies I mean the red flower. You will see poppies on peoples cars, in window shops, pinned to coat jackets, worn as jewellery and basically everywhere. And on actual Remembrance Day many churches, shops and places will drop bunches of poppies. I didn’t know why the UK chose poppies until this year. It is because during WWI soldiers had to fight on fields of poppies.
I think that it is interesting and cool that all the commonwealth countries like the UK and Canada as well as America all honor their military on the same day. Especially because the original reason for the holiday was marking the end of WWI, a war the USA had a small part in.

 

Can You Find Tex-Mex In The UK?

tex mexIf you were to ask me my favorite foods it would go 1. Pizza 2. Tex-Mex 3. Candy 4. Cake/Desserts. England is full of American pizza chains, and they do a fantastic job of making American style pizza. Poppa Johns, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, all exist in abundance in the UK, and they even have stuffed crust. I can find good candy here as well, especially in the small American food sections most grocery store chains have. Cake and desserts are a no brainer. England is after all, just across the Channel from Europe where the French live. So, the cakes, pies, pastries, they are all top notch.

The food I constantly am lacking in my life is Mexican! I’ve been to many “Mexican/Tex-Mex” places in the UK, and so far none have lived up to my standard. I’ve had Mexican food all over the US, always in the little Mom’Pop restaurants that are small, set back, and not crazy busy. They all have similar decor, tastes and menu prices. And they are all delicious! I love to order a queso cheese dip appetizer, with two chicken enchiladas, re-fried beans and re-fried rice as my entree and then I’m so stuff I couldn’t possibly eat anymore. Other classics are the chicken mole which is a delicious Mexican chocolate sauce that somehow goes savory and heavenly. Going out to eat at the local Mexican restaurant never breaks the bank, is always fun, and you don’t feel like you are in a chain food environment.

Having eaten and loved Mexican food my whole life, it kills me to be in the Mexican wasteland that is the UK. I haven’t found one authentic Mexican restaurant in the 3 years I have lived here. Most do a passable job, but they are just missing certain touches. The decor is all clearly store bought, and cheap, all too shiny and new. The appetizers are always lacking a queso cheese dip. They include BBQ pulled pork in the meat options for burritos. And other small things that just make it clear that the UK will never be able to replicate the food or environment of the Mexican eateries I grew up with.

I recently gave Chimi Changa Tex-Mex restaurant in Leicester a try. The menu had burritos, enchiladas, nacho’s, and chimichanga so I thought I might finally have discovered the holy grail of Mexican. I was disappointed, yet again. I ordered the chicken enchiladas while my partner had a pork burrito. First of all, the rice and beans we were served were a kids portion. It put the massive meals at the American Mexican restaurants to shame. The rice was also not re-fried, and the beans were your basic black beans. Secondly, I could distinguish no difference between my partners burrito and my enchinallada. His was bigger and he had one large one to my two small ones, but otherwise they were identical. The enchilada was missing the key tomato style sauce that is crucial to make a meal into an actual enchilada. They also added too many veggies, not enough cheese, and the spices taste more curry than Mexican.

I had such high hopes for Chimi Changa in Leicester. It looked like it could be the real deal. But alas, it was not. If you are British and don’t know any better, then it is a wonderful place to eat. The prices are fair, the meal is exotic to the British pallet and overall it has a nice vibe about the place. I would reccommend it to all my British and European friends, just not any Americans living in the UK. Better to try and make your own Mexican food at home.

Also, in the picture, the menu describe a taquito as a ‘Mexican spring roll’! How inaccurate/wrong is that?!