Who is Rachel Botia and what is she doing here?!

Like many before me, I’m sure, who have been interested in blogging, but don’t really know where to start (or have a perpetual insecurity that no one would possibly find what they have to say remotely interesting), I have decided to force myself to “just do it” and type something. And if i’ve learnt anything from joining various groups and meeting new people for the first time, the best way to get the conversation going is clearly with an awkwardly-imposed icebreaker… just this one is more monologue-y in nature and my audience is the internet, I guess.

Nevertheless, hello Medium! I’m Rachel, I’m 23 years old, born in Edinburgh, Scotland and recently graduated from The University of Edinburgh, where I studied politics and (contemporary) history.

Or that’s how the traditional introduction goes, anyway. I’ve repeated these lines about myself so many times now that I almost start to believe that these are the fundamental things to know about me. Moreover, if you think about it, we lead with “personal profile summaries” on pretty much everything, from job applications to dating sites; indeed, Medium also recommends a mini description of who you are and why you’re here. I find myself thinking that there, surely, must be a better way to convey what you’re about than this. I mean, do these little snippets of personal facts actually say anything substantial about us at all?

Well yes, and no. I’d say that the reasoning I have for me starting a blog is because I feel that I’ve been through some pretty big life experiences recently, and instead of boring my friends and family with the same observations and random thoughts, I thought I’d bore the internet with them! After all, that’s what the internet is for, right?! A place to unload the clutter you don’t want clogging up your mind, desktop or USB devices!

All joking aside, I have entered into the terribly horrible and fearful place of post-university life: an experience that has brought with it quite a few life lessons. Some predictable and cliché to many graduates no doubt, but others I feel are somewhat unique (or at least I haven’t found much written about them, and trust me, I’ve been searching!)

So my experiences over the past six or so months is what I’m really here to write about. Without revealing too many spoilers, I have been exploring the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) — going between the two extremes of enthusiasm and utter pessimism — and veganism, which has directly impacted on my interest in the CSR space.

Here, upon reflection, you could say that my university degree has been certainly influential in helping me transition towards more ethical and sustainable living, as I had already dedicated four years of my life to pursuing studies of a political nature, and so was a ripe candidate to check out the crazy world of a plant-based lifestyle!

My age, too, is relevant. I can’t deny that the way I see the world has been shaped by the fact that I am a “millennial” who fits the standard criteria of: progressive; questioning of authority and “the system”; and tries to be as “civic minded” as possible. YouTube and Netflix also play noticeably large roles in my day-to-day life, though i’m proud to say that my consumption extends beyond solely Buzzfeed for the former, and largely of documentaries for the latter (“Cowspiracy” was a big one for me, if you haven’t already guessed!)

Finally, my location is relevant. Right now I’m based in my hometown of Edinburgh still, which isn’t exactly known for its large vegan (or “alternative” as we’re often called?!) base. Rather, I have very much discovered, through being more wary of my food choices, that many local and traditional Scottish and/or British restaurants are incredibly meat and dairy heavy. Ironically, chain diners tend to offer more vegetarian options, which can be made vegan, unlike mac-cheese or cream of [insert vegetable here] soup. However, we do have a growing vegan community in Scotland — one with which I feel I’ve become quite well-acquainted, and about which I think should be interesting to write.

So perhaps those introductionary remarks I gave at the beginning of this first blog entry are enough for now. But if you do want to get a better sense of me, I guess you’ll have to keep reading on.