Category Archives: International

Say bye-bye to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for now?

With it being that time of the year, when television networks line up our beloved shows only to axe them in the back, there are times when even the brightest TV heroes cannot save themselves.

And the latest one to join the list of martyred television series is the cult favourite Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Fox lists falling ratings as the reason to cancel the show and to make more space on its schedule to bring in the newer crop of shows for the fall TV season.

But they surely have underestimated the power of its Fandom.

Outraged and hurt fans took to Twitter to express their betrayal while Dan Goor, the co-creator of the show, expressed his gratitude for all the fan support.

Support for the series poured in from all directions, including celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeting: “I ONLY WATCH LIKE 4 THINGS. THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS #RenewB99.”

The stars of the show too voiced their sadness over show’s cancellation and gratitude for running long and strong for five seasons.

The reason why this show is such a cult favourite can be attributed to the fact that it has been dealing with social issues like homophobia, gender representation, workplace dynamics with such kindness and without evoking inappropriate jokes to amuse its audience that it quickly seeped into the hearts of its fans. And the fact that at the heart of every episode, there is the sense of helping everyone and uplifting their spirits throughout all the drama and tension just seals the deal for its viewers.

It has successfully evoked a range of feelings, from acceptance when Rosa’s father offer his daughter this wholehearted apology: “I want you to know that I accept you for who you are, and I love you very, very much.”, to pain and uncertainty when Jake and Rosa gets prison sentence and we see for the first time the scared and vulnerable side of Rosa, to absolute joy when Jake finally proposes to Amy in the precinct via a championship-wrestling belt.

But all hope’s not lost. With networks like Hulu and Netflix gaining more and more popularity and focus of viewers, there are chances that Brooklyn Nine-Nine may be picked up by one of them, giving fans a thread of hope to hang onto. And hopefully in near future the viewers will see the return of their beloved show.


‘It’s non-stop here in Beijing’ – says Dr. Linfoot

On the 5th of May, Dr. Matthew Linfoot took a group of students from the University of Westminster to a summer school in Beijing Foreign Studies University. The Global Opportunities program will last until the 22nd May.


During their visit to China, the students will be able to visit some of the most interesting places the capital has to offer. The National Museum, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven,  The Forbidden City – all are included in the plan. Another important location to visit – the CCTV building.

The Students will also have an opportunity to join the Chinese students in their classes such as Intercultural Communication, Mass Communication Theory, History of Journalism, Photography, Introduction to New Media Studies, Public Diplomacy, News Writing. DSC_0914.JPG

So far, the students have had a dinner with the dean of the Media Faculty at Beijing Foreign Studies University. The main topic of the dinner became podcasts as they can be reached in China, but not made yet…

Is teen-mom Kylie Jenner really the next role model?

So earlier this year Kylie Jenner, youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, gave birth to a baby girl at the age of twenty. And we all know that she isn’t any ordinary teen becoming a mom, she is a model, reality television star, socialite and social media tycoon. And with her lip kits and self-branded cosmetics business, also a multi-millionaire.

Now she, having a baby at an age when most people are busting their backs getting degrees or working (and paying off their starter loans) might seem a little odd. Funnily though, it seemed only ‘a little’ odd, if not completely normal after a while when the news first broke in the media. And now look at us, talking about it as if nothing really major happened.

But the other day, I was at one of my friends’ house, just chatting about the news, when her mom tells me she too was a teen mom. And I look at my friend with an almost shocked and disbelieved look. I couldn’t believe that my friend, who would be twenty now, had a mother who was just eighteen years older than her. And suddenly a presumed mental image of their lives popped in my head, complete with all the society’s pressures, expectations and resentments. But then I also could see my friend sitting next to me, so happy and relaxed, and her mom so full of life and humour, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was life like for a regular person who became pregnant during their teenage years.

Did she get the same level of acceptance from the society as Kylie does today for her early pregnancy? What were the circumstances that lead to it? How did her family react to the news? Who supported her during the time and along the way? Did she feel alone? Did she feel ready? How did she manage to provide for her daughter when she herself was practically so young? Did the stress of a different (and a significantly difficult) life, make bonding with her daughter difficult? Have they reached to the point in their lives now, when they feel comfortable with their life’s story despite all the stigma attached to this bigger idea (and how)? How do they make this unique bond between them work amidst all the pressures and responsibilities?

All these questions, but the question that surprised me the most was the one that I asked myself, why did the idea of my friends’ mother being a teen mom shocked me when I felt next to normal when I heard Kylie Jenner’s news?

So, I sat down with my friend and her mom, for a day of storytelling and revelations.

“I was young when I got pregnant. And my family was very religious. My mother was understanding, but my father and the society [were] not so much. So, when they found out [about it] they demanded I marry *Margo’s dad. I knew he wasn’t ready but since that was the only option we were left with, we went for it. Eighteen years old, in love, married and with my baby on board, I was quite happy. And one of my sisters was also expecting her baby around the same time, so I was excited to have our babies grow up together.” **Lily says with a rueful smile on her face.

And I think to myself, well that’s a good start. Mostly everyone’s happy and there are no mean blames thrown here, like that would ever be in case of Kylie and her family, them celebrating this change instead of being worried about future.

Kylie Jenner at her Babyshower, November 2017

“But life works in unexpected ways,” continues Lily, “and shortly after a year of marriage, me and Margo’s dad separated. He wanted different things in life, [things] that no longer included room for his family. So, baby Margo and I went back to living with my mom. Suddenly single and with complete responsibility of my little baby but no real work experience, I felt like I had somehow further failed in life.”

I can see that on outside, Lily looks relaxed as she goes down the memory lane, though a pained expression plagues her face, as if she could almost physically feel all the stings and stigma of her past again.

“But my mother was there with me, supporting me still, and pushing me to not give up hope in life just yet. So, I studied to become a teacher, and later started teaching at this place called ‘Kumon’. See Kumon is a kind of an after-school in Brazil, where kids go to improve their English and Portuguese skills. But my earnings from [working] there weren’t enough to support my family. So, in year 2008 I decided to move to UK to make a better earning and life for us.”

So many twists and turns in such short time, I feel my own heart sinking a little for all the problems Margo’s mom had to face in her youth. Social stigma and financial security, now that’s something Kylie Jenner would never have to worry about. After all, she is a celebrity worth millions.

Reality television star, Owner of self-branded cosmetics, Multi-millionaire

“Coming to UK was not that hard, we came through our EU citizenship. But after that things again got tricky to manage. No job, money or even a proper place to live, the only thing I felt like I had was a little piece of my family here, in this foreign country. My sister and her husband were already [settled] here, so Margo and I simply moved in the same house as them. Getting a roof over our heads felt like a huge blessing I received after such a long time. Shortly after that I picked up job as a nanny, and since I already had teaching experience I was good at looking after children.” says Lily, looking proud of the bravery her younger self showed at the time.

But now a troubled, and sad look came upon Margo’s face.

“Ever since then mom has been working as nanny. In our first year here, mom worked so many hours that I barely got to see.” says Margo. “Sometimes I felt really bad, I was young you know, and I missed my mom so much. We never had enough time to spend together. But it got better with time, and I think I too adjusted with my new life.”

I see Lily exchange a subtle look of deep understanding with her daughter. And Margo continues, “It’s similar in the present, she is working until late but since I’m older now so I don’t really mind anymore.”

“But during the time when she worked a lot and I was young too, it was difficult. But then it all got better once we started travelling together. We went on our first vacation to Brazil in 2010, which was great! But we really started bond when we travel more after 2014, and we visited Spain, Italy, Scotland and many places around England. Travel became our thing, it became the activity which truly brought us together.”

“And I think the best moment [between me and mom] was in Spain, where we just played cards by the beach. In that moment, I could feel all our worries and responsibilities drifting in the back of our minds, and we could just focus on spending our time with each other.” says a glowing Margo, looking happy to relive that moment.

“I guess in hindsight, I think we got lucky a lot of times. I know it’s [life after teen pregnancy] not all the same for everyone, but I feel quite blessed and content with how my life turned out. I am happy now, with only a few regrets, but who doesn’t have some [regrets in life] anyway.” says a broadly smiling Lily.

Margo and I were still sitting in Lily’s living room, but Lily took her leave to prep some tea for everyone after sharing her life’s story. And I can’t help but think to myself, even though they feel comfortable in their lives, look so happy now, and boldly accept their story, but overcoming all of that pain and struggle must take a lot of hard work and constant effort every single day. We all know by now that not everyone who walks down this path gets a happily ever after. Society makes that possibility perfectly clear and unforgettable, but only for the ordinary people. The rich and famous have the privilege and means to break free of the social boundaries that most of the world has to live in.

So, my only hope is that girls out there who are now in a similar position, transitioning into teen moms, don’t go into this life naively thinking it would all be rainbows because of what they see of celebrity lives on social media.


(Names of *daughter and **mom have been changed to maintain their privacy and anonymity)


Elena’s story

Lithuania – a country of blue lakes, green fields, and impassable forests. For long centuries these poet chanted and its rulers praised forests were giving shelter and defending its people from grievous dangers. In a small 14th century town called Birstonas, now known as the royal resort for its spa centres, we meet the protagonist of our story – Elena Gecioniene.


Elena, her husband, and son

“At the time I was living in a village located nearby – on the other side of the river. My mother Veronika and father Mykolas were farmers. Besides me, there were six other children in the family. Three older sisters, two younger sisters and a younger brother, so I was in the middle.” – begins to tell her story Elena and takes us to the 50s Lithuania – one of the most painful periods of the country.

To set the background to the story, in 1940 Lithuania was occupied by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ruled by Joseph Stalin. In 1941 the armed forces of Nazi Germany stepped in and took the land to itself. In 1944 soldiers of the red army drove Germans out and once again, Lithuania fell under the repression of the Soviet Union. The aim of Russians was to Russify the citizens and eventually make it a part of the huge empire. It became compulsory to learn Russian language and to praise the great leader Stalin. All of the Lithuanian symbols, including the flag, got banned, the Lithuanian history and their heroes became forbidden to speak about as well. Anyone, who would proudly show off their Lithuanian patriotism would be called a public enemy and be sorely punished, with words of all – banished to Siberia or one of the gulag camps. To find out about such enemies, the government established The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs also known as NKVD.

“When the Russians came, my father became a partisan.” – proudly declares Elena. “One day I and my siblings came back from school and saw father packing a bag. Later, we all sat at the table for the dinner, it was the moment when father announced about leaving to the forests, to fight for the freedom of our  homeland.” Everyone at that table was in shock, describes the woman, no one had any clue about this decision of the head of their family. “He told us to tell everyone that he left the family and we don’t know where to find him. It was for our own safety.” Everyone cried themselves to sleep that night. Going to fight for resistance was almost the same as a death sentence. “When we woke up next morning, the father was gone. It was one of the saddest moments of my life.” – she adds.



Elena and her children in 1979


From that moment none of the kids had a chance to see or speak to their beloved father ever again. Only on some occasions the mother would go out somewhere to those dark forests always bringing a basket filled with the best food they could have as well as the necessities such as warm clothes. As much as children would beg the mother, she would never give a positive answer to the question whether they can meet their father.

Weeks and months passed, life with only their mother was getting harder and harder, so “my two oldest sisters, who had just graduated from the school, decided not to seek to get a higher education and start to work to help support the family. Then the winter came, we had a fire in our barn, till this day no-one knows what caused the fire.” – tells Elena describing the hard times. Then the spring came, as the heavy winter snow was melting, the grass was getting green again and flowers were starting to bloom. By the end of March, it started to seem that the better days are finally coming. However, that was not the case at all.

“One afternoon I and all of my siblings were all at home. We were cleaning the house when my mother ran inside and slammed the door. All of her clothes were dirty and she was crying as if she has just seen something indescribably terrible. After a moment she invited my oldest sisters – Monika and Dana – and told something to them. They looked shocked. Then the rest of us were told to grab all that was precious to us and as much food as we could.” After approximately an hour all of them left the house and ran into our cache. Before the Russians even marched into the country, Mykolas Gecionis build a small bunker under a hill located at the very end of their backyard. As our protagonist describes it was just a small door outside covered with moss, so it was almost invisible. Inside it was like in a basement – cold, damp and dark. There was some conserved food left there in case of emergency, so they were not starving. “My mother told us by no means not to leave the hiding-place. She said that we were in a danger. After a couple of hours when she got calmer, she told everyone what happened. It was the worst that we could hear…”

Apparently, the mother went to visit the father, however, she had no chance to really talk to him. On the way to their meeting spot, she heard obtuse sighs. As she found where they were coming from, she found, the father. He was laying in a pit. He was shot. He was not really conscious anymore. Veronika Gecioniene witnessed her husband to take his last breath that time. She did not know what actually happened, but she decided that it will be safer to take her kids out of the house for some time in case the NKVD agents ar their collaborants would show up.



Ekena (right) and her family on a holiday


“I think that we spent around two days in that place hiding, although I can not be too sure how long has it passed because it looked like an eternity for me as a child. All I had was my family, my plush doll and a tragedy on my mind.” – tells Elena. “After that time mother left and came back in 20 minutes. She said that it was safe to go out now. We went back home and saw more horror. Everything was turned into a huge mess. Everything from drawers and wardrobes was toppled down. There were shatters from dishes and other ceramics as well as a kitchen window on the floor. Each of us packed some clothes and some of our belongings and went to the yard. I took a long look at the house. Then we went to the bus stop and left the village.”

The family went to stay with the sister of their mothers until they would get back on their feet. They never saw their home again. It was too dangerous to come back at the time in case they would be really related to the ‘crimes’ of their father. They gained their land back after the country regained independence in the 90s, but by that time it was just a field.

“We left our lives fleeting like some criminals when actually we were not. Our father was a hero and even though the resistance forces were captured eventually, they gave its hope that one day we will beat the Soviets and be free again.”- says Elena. “And yes, losing my father was the biggest tragedy, however, he did what he had to do – he fought for all of us – and I will be forever thankful for that.”



Elena and her husband (right) with her sister and brother-in-law (left)



Finance in post-Brexit: battle has already started

“We’re seeing a lot of uncertainty ahead of us,” Charles-Edouard Bouée, the chief  executive of Europe’s largest management consultancy Roland Berger said to The Times, “In this case I don’t think we have seen such a disentanglement in the last 50 years anywhere in the world.”

The impact of Brexit on financial services industry in the UK is significant. Many believe as a result, Britain will be cut off from the European market. One of Germany’s top banking regulators warned that London could lose its status as “Gateway to Europe”.

With possible lose of financial passporting rights, which means losing the ability to provide services across the EU from a base in London, banks are already considering their options in the future.

Lloyds Bank reportedly chose Berlin as the location for its European hub after the UK leaves the EU, meanwhile, Barclays also operated to move its EU headquarters to Dublin. In post-Brexit, UK has already suffered from losing job chances in those transnational corporations.


Canary Wharf, the matrix of London’s global banking center taken by Andrew Testa.

The result of French election seems to make it even harder for Britain to negotiate with EU. Macron’s win tights EU together again and leaves the UK isolationism. The youngest president in French history, who describes Brexit as “a serious mistake”, has been called an EU fanatic on Twitter.

In fact, the former economy minister has already urged overseas banks to quit London for Paris after Brexit for a long time.

Though a new research by Colliers International shows that it will be “too impractical” for companies to leave London at high risk of losing high skilled graduates, uncertainty of economy in this former EU financial center may leave them no choice.

Graduate recruitment to fall under Brexit

Several job sectors are expected to be negatively affected by Brexit, with concerns over implications on the graduate labour market. Graduate recruitment has been steadily decreasing since 2016.

The certainty of landing a job is now a serious concern for a growing number of UK and EU nationals just entering the job market.

Data from Prospects reveals that the number of 21-year-olds entering the job market is projected to fall from 845,000 in 2015 to 742,000 in 2023 and is not expected to return to the optimum until 2028.

While Brexit has already affected the number of EU-born applicants, with a seven per cent fall since Brexit, it is also expected to have implications for graduate employment. This year’s university graduates will enter a job market, which is lacking stability as well as available vacancies.

A report by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation has revealed that there is a shortage of available candidates to fill available vacancies even before Brexit has hit the economy. Although that is a general concern, certain sectors will feel the shortage more severely and are expected to either tighten budgets or reduce staff.

The current state of the UK job market might have serious consequences for graduate employment and the overall availability of certain sectors.

Job sectors, which are likely to be negatively affected by Brexit in terms of work force, are accountancy, banking and finance, law, retail and media, communications and advertising and PR. Finding a job will arguably be harder for graduates, which will go into employment after graduating.


Infographic: Asya Gadzheva

The media sector will experience the economic impact of Brexit, whereby less funding will go into the sector. Less money would inevitably lead to less hired employees.

For journalism and other media students, this will mean a shortage of available vacancies and a reluctance to hire fresh talent, which could prove damaging both for the creative input of the industry and the motivation of media graduates to enter into it.

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