Time to breathe

Good Afternoon everyone,

I hope you’re all having a lovely relaxing Sunday, doing Sunday-esque things (e.g. sleeping, eating or relaxing). Following my previous post I thought it would be important to have a bit of a catch up. Much to my own dismay and despair in the last few weeks I have taken a gap year from my studies. Yes, that means I’ve paused my 3rd year until next September so that firstly I can get better and feel more like myself and secondly as my blog post title suggests I have time to breathe. This time to breathe is something all of us are guilty of forgetting to do, especially in this generation we’re always so busy checking our phones, getting jobs, getting work experience, seeing friends, updating social media about said friends and work experience.

I want to emphasise how important this time to pause and reflect is for me especially. Some people might think that I’ve just taken the easy option out of the stress of 3rd year of uni, but I haven’t left permanently I’m going back next year no question. But I’ve been constantly switched on with work, family, uni, exercise and stress for a good few years and its taken its toll on my health because I haven’t stopped once, and quite frankly I’m exhausted. I’m not looking for a pity party because I know its my own fault really, but I’ve decided to make this decision for this time off, for me, because it is the best thing for me and everyone around me as well…I hope.

I’m going to keep a part time job and work on my dissertation when I feel strong enough to do so. It’s not the end of my studies, and I’m far from giving up and hiding in a hole. But as I write this post, I’ve just taken some healthy banana bread cupcakes out of the oven (own recipe, woohoo!), I’ve got a cup of lemon green tea and cosy socks on and I’m planning what I’m going to do for the next few months and I know I’ve made the right decision for me.

Whether it be a gap year travelling abroad, time to recuperate at home or a break to get some work experience- it is okay to stop and take some time for yourself. Don’t let anyone pressure you otherwise because you’ll end up like me, ill and unhappy before you have no choice but to stop! I’d have loved to finish my degree in three years, but clearly that just isn’t how things have planned out- time to move forward and make the best of what is happening, now I have the time to breathe.

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The Final Act is Always The Hardest

Hey everyone,

Back to University again so back to the blog I suppose! Now I’d like to say this is going to be a happy post but I wanted to talk about something that might be considered fairly taboo in the mad excitement of University, freshers week and everything anyone will ever tell you about it. It can be a very lonely place even with a society for every zany habit under the sun. Don’t get me wrong I have amazing housemates, a lovely house for my last year and great friends on my course but still I have to say I feel very alone. I know its not something everyone experiences, and its a difficult feeling to articulate but I’ve just started my final year of Uni, the work load is already beyond belief and expectation is just horrendously high from lecturers to my well wishing grandparents. Yet I’m sat here thinking, am I the only one who isn’t happy here? I don’t enjoy the work anymore, I don’t feel like I have the time to go out and enjoy myself with all the work and right now I just want it all to be finished so I can say that I’ve got my degree. Thats not really how it should be…is it? I want to enjoy my final year, cherish every last bit of freedom and student loan that I have left. But right now, I’m not in that place at all.I admit that I haven’t been overly well in the past few months and its made matters worse, so I’m questioning do I stay and last it out, possibly at the expense of my health and happiness or stop, give myself time to recover and recuperate and begin my final year how I should in September but let everyone else around me down?

I know I’m not the only student who feels like this but it is never talked about and I definitely think that needs to change. University is and can be a very lonely place but it doesn’t have to be if you ask for help. I never ever thought I’d be in this position, but here I am…

Hello strangers

Hi everyone,

Firstly, I think I should make a grovelling apology for my absence and lack of posts. University exams and revision have taken over my life, and this post is actually a form of procrastination before my last exam tomorrow so it’ll be quick. So I am very very very sorry for being so slack!

I’d like to say that I have been away on exciting adventures and enjoying the lovely sunshine that we’ve had recently. But sadly I have been sat inside, glued to my highlighters and assorted cue cards trying to remember historians and why they dislike one another for completely irrelevant reasons. But as of tomorrow all of that will change as I will be finishing my second year exams! I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone and how much has actually changed since I embarked upon my second year.

So what have I learned? I think I’ve grown up a lot this academic year, I’ve learned to prioritise work and people who really matter in life. I had a very steep learning curve which I shan’t go into detail about but I think I’ve come out a better person because of it. All I will say is that you should keep the friends around that make you feel happy and not bad about yourself and that you can never change someone who doesn’t see an issue in their actions.

What am I looking forward to in summer? Holidays and freedom!!! There is nothing like having absolutely nothing to do all day when you’ve just finished exams. So that is exactly what I shall do…I will be doing absolutely nothing (at least nothing educational for a while).

My plan though is to bring you along with me as I write my dissertation. Keep you up to date on how it is going, research and archive visits and progress reports. Maybe one or two breakdowns but fingers crossed it’ll be an enjoyable experience.

I promise I won’t go away for months at a time again!

Have a lovely Wednesday

xx

Springing to life.

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Finally, the daffodils are coming out and the evenings are becoming lighter which means we’re in Spring! It’s my favourite season and I love it because its the season of all things new! So if you’re feeling tired, grumpy and fed up with revision, have a look outside, even if its raining- at least the flowers are on their way!

xx

Eating well, staying healthy and keeping fit at University

As we all know those Dominos and Pizza Hut deals are very tempting, and I have been known to indulge in a Two for Tuesday deal when I’ve had a very long start to the week, but you have to remember that its important to look after yourself and your diet, especially now you have to cook for yourself and you’re responsible for your own food shop! Its a learning curve for a lot of people as they begin to realise that something has to change but its a choice you have to make and keep to, don’t yoyo!

My tips for being healthy food wise at Uni are:

  1. Plan your food shop before you go, there is nothing worse than going to the shops hungry and picking up a bumper pack of biscuits just to satisfy your craving
  2. Make healthy alternative swaps, for example I’ve swapped cows milk for almond milk (you’ll find it in the usual milk aisle) not only is it better for you, its also a lot lower in calories and tastes like macaroons, yummy! Other alternatives include swapping white bread for wholemeal and normal potatoes for sweet potatoes (BEST THING YOU’LL EVER DO).
  3. Snack attack- Just because you’re bored, working or laying in bed doesn’t mean you should consume a giant bag of Doritos in the process, make sure your snacks are healthy such as rice cakes (the Kallo ones are amazing), dried and fresh fruit, popcorn- the healthy kind at 76 calories a bag not the stuff covered in caramel, nuts- in moderation, they can be pretty high in calories, as long as its not full of sugar and processed beyond recognition you’ll be fine….yes put down that Krispy Kreme
  4. DO NOT BUY READY MEALS- Make your own version, its cheaper in the long run and much healthier!
  5. Breakfast- I have only just realised that my parents may have been right about it being an important meal of the day. Personally, I don’t eat lunch simply because I don’t get hungry (lecture me about it later okay) but breakfast is such an important meal that you cannot afford to miss it, I don’t think I’d survive a gym session or a lecture without it anymore. I adore porridge for breakfast with banana, and for a big bowl that fills me up until about 5pm it comes in at around 200 calories yippee!
  6. Don’t go to the extreme- remember you can treat yourself, just don’t do it all the time! I like to let myself have a nice breakfast on a Sunday or a pizza on Fridays as a treat when I’ve been healthy for the rest of the week. If you restrict yourself too much you’ll find eventually you’ll get a craving and end up surrounded by 6 packets of quavers and a tummy ache.

Being Active at Uni: f306859f047975d188ba80a0c13417ae

There are endless lists of sports events, classes and societies at University which means there is absolutely no excuse not to get out there and its sociable!

  1. Make time for exercise- Its fair enough working hard and keeping up with deadlines but when you’re laying in bed until 12pm, there is no reason why you can’t get up a couple of hours earlier to go for a run or go to the gym
  2. Even without a gym membership you can keep in shape, in my Fresher year I did a workout DVD in my room most evenings, it gave me something to do and kept me in shape when I didn’t feel confident enough to go to the gym
  3. Walk to where you need to be- theres always the temptation to take the car or get the bus to University when you live off campus but you’ll really notice that extra difference if you take the time to walk instead, plus think of all the money you’ll save if you don’t buy the bus pass!!! (Thats at least 4 ASOS orders right…?) 

Thought I’d attach some of my favourite recipes that I like to use when I’m at Uni- they’re cheap to make, easy to follow and good for you! When it doubt though, http://studentrecipes.com are always an interesting read! (Wow I sound old…)

https://detoxkitchen.co.uk/recipes/grilled-chicken-with-courgetti-and-pesto– You can obviously buy the pesto rather than making it and I like to substitute the chicken for Quorn occasionally which makes it a really cheap and lovely dinner!

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2491643/cheapaschips-veggie-pizza– I learned this trick from my housemate, obviously freestyle as you wish with the toppings but using pitta breads (I use wholemeal) or tortillas as an alternative mini-pizza base makes for a slightly healthier cheat meal!

http://detoxinista.com/2015/01/2-ingredient-toddler-pancakes/– Okay so you’re going to be like nah I can’t have pancakes for breakfast and it actually be good for me??? Well heres the excellent news, one ripe banana and two eggs later you’ve got yourself a delicious batch of pancakes that are good for you and free from flour and butter- obviously depending on how healthy you’re feeling with the toppings (I don’t think I’d drown mine in syrup like she has) but they’re amazing, trust me!

I’d love to hear if you’ve got any great recipes for when I’m at uni, I swear I eat the same thing every week so I’d love some suggestions!

Hope you’ve all had a lovely week and been busy, enjoy the weekend!

x

Mid-term Reading/Writing Week- Should I stay or should I go?

For those of you who take essay/reading based subjects such as English/History/Sociology/Law ect. you will probably get a reading or writing week in the middle of term where you have nothing timetabled. This usually falls around the middle of term and usually the last week of term. Most people ask with this week off What is the best thing to do- go home or stay at Uni?

Stay?

Lets face it you’ll probably get more work done at Uni, you’ve got the library and every possible resource at your disposal, so if you need to get those essays done in that week then I suggest you stay firmly put and get writing! Even if you haven’t got that much work to do in your week without any lectures or seminars it’ll be a great time for you to catch up on any bits and bobs that you have to do around Uni, maybe even tidy your room?! It might also be a great time just to relax a bit, especially if you’re in first year when it has all been a bit hectic since Freshers.

Go?

Other people take their reading week as an opportunity to go home or to visit their friends at other Uni’s. I will sadly admit that I am always way ahead on my work so I use my reading week to head home and relax away from the stresses of being in an all female student house (it’s hard.) I think it acts as a great way to decompress and adds a bit of a break in the middle of term, especially if it feels like its dragging. Visiting other uni’s is great too though, you can meet your friends from home and their flatmates at Uni (If they’re not too busy writing essays) and enjoy a great student night out somewhere you’ve never been before!

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you use that week well its an opportunity to catch up on everything and get yourself sorted before the last run up to the end of term. Whether it be sleeping, eating and watching Netflix to recharge those batteries or manically typing an essay before the 12pm deadline, Have a Happy Reading Week!!

-Sorry this week’s post isn’t very long, I’ve just finished writing two essays so I’m ready for my restful reading week at home- 9 days to go!

xx

Location, Location, Location: Student Housing Edition.

Sorry everyone, I haven’t had a lot of time to post much recently (see my last post and you’ll understand why.) Essays all done for the time being, I thought it might be handy ]to talk about student housing forf772a4ea9b7be1b073146f6e2f9e2f3c second and third years. I have learned so much in this year living off campus that I probably could have done with knowing so this may actually help some of you. Luckily, I’ve found a gorgeous house for my final year- lets hope I haven’t got any nasty surprises then!

Estate Agents are a guaranteed nightmare for students and lets face it, they probably don’t like us much either. I’ll warn you now, they’ll charge you a horrendous amount for a deposit (mine was £400) on top of that they may also charge you ‘administration fees’, mine ridiculously was £200- not forgetting also a check in and out of the house fee. So basically alongside the sky high student rent they will also rob you of any student loan you may have left in the Easter Term. However, this year I have learned I found an estate agent who didn’t ask for a deposit and I only had to pay £250 in admin fees which compared to last year is a bargain! My advice to you is shop around, go to your Uni housing fairs and maybe even find a private landlord who will no doubt probably be better than most estate agents.

Bills, Bills, Bills are a new thing for most students moving into their house for the first time, Fresher year is no problem the Uni takes care of it and at home its our parents job right?! So when a water bill arrives on your mat do not be shocked, they exist and they want money ASAP. But for students there is such a thing as a bills package. Companies such as Glide and Split the Bills for a set monthly fee will control and pay all of your bills for you without you ever having to get one of those nasty envelopes through the door. Sounds like a dream right? Yeah think again, they have ‘fair usage’ policies and they are not happy bunnies if you go way over what they think you should. It is a much cheaper option, even though it might be a hassle, to just organise your own bills that way you’re paying for exactly what you use rather than like me paying £50 a month for gas, electricity, water and wifi- when we won’t be using any gas in the summer and our wifi is slower than a lecture without a powerpoint (student struggles.)

Housemates remember you’re going to be living with these people for the next academic year so make sure they’re people you actually want to live with all the time. So if you’re tidy and they’re basically living out of a bin bag it may not be the brightest idea to live together. It may be the sweetest of friendships in student halls but once you start arguing over the state of the kitchen and who left the lights on all night, running up the electricity bill, you will not be impressed at all. Choose wisely and you’ll have a great year. Choose badly and you could end up rather grumpy paying a fortune for a house you hate living in (cue the ‘I’m running away and booking my trip home on the trainline strop’)

Location really is essential in second and third year because you’ll need to be at Uni a lot, even though you might only have around 6 contact hours a week the library will become your second home so you won’t want to have to walk 5 miles to and from home to get there everyday. I live around a 20 minute walk from my campus with a bus if I’m feeling super lazy which I think is just about right. So when you’re house hunting set yourself some limits of where you can and can’t live, look at bus routes and footpaths for shortcuts to the Uni and it’ll make the search a lot easier I promise! Websites like Rightmove.com actually let you set the boundaries online then show you available student properties which is super handy! 

Hidden Costs you don’t really think of these until you actually have to pay them- for example house insurance- Endsleigh actually do a great policy especially tailored for students so its worth looking with them but other insurers are also great- remember you need property and contents to protect yours and your landlords stuff. Council Tax, don’t panic, students are exempt from council tax (thank god) but you have to make sure you apply for your exemption on your Local Council website otherwise you may actually get a nasty bill through your door.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T I couldn’t help myself I’m sorry. The best advice I can give anyone going into a student house is even if it is awful and messy, make sure you look after the house and avoid trying to break anything, mark walls ect. because at the end of the day it will come out of your deposit when you move out and it is not worth the fuss, you’ve already paid thousands in rent so just try and keep games of indoor swing-ball to a minimum or take it outside…

Lets go shopping? My final words of wisdom on this matter will be to shop around for houses, book lots of viewings and don’t rush into a house just because you love the look of the wallpaper. Make sure you look around, take note of anything like mould (Yuck, but happens a lot in cheap student houses) and windows that aren’t properly sealed because the windows especially will burn money on heating. You have to make sure everyone you’re living with is happy with the house, so don’t feel pressured just because everyone else likes it loads more than you do. Talk it through and make sure you’re all agreed because overall you all have to pay rent for the next year so it may as well be a happy and hopefully healthy (mould free) place to live!

I hope that will of helped some of you, I know it can be a super stressful process especially when it feels like you’re in charge, I was ‘lead tenant’ so the estate agent came to me with all their questions (not fun.) Any questions or queries let me know!

X