Sunday, 4 December 2016

Life | Counting Down to Cornwall

Counting down to Christmas in Cornwall has been the main thing keeping me going these past few weeks. Work's been challenging and a new role that starts on Monday will top the challenges I've already experienced. I've had one day off since my holiday to Cornwall in mid-August and I feel like it's been nonstop. Home life has been the most difficult of all - there's been an abundance of tension around the house with fall outs and fights galore. Having five adults under one roof who don't always see eye to eye is never easy going. So, I'm 100% ready for a break. 

I've had my Countdown App at hand to remind me how many days, hours and minutes away my journey back to Cornwall is, and when I started writing this post it was exactly...

So to fill those days, hours, minutes and seconds I thought I'd share what I'm most excited about...

I'm excited to, obviously, see my family. Unfortunately, my brother won't be able to make it home for Christmas this year, but on Christmas Day we're having my sister's family round for a sleepover which will make it so much more special. Christmas with children around the house just gives the Christmas spirit a real boost! We've got the dinner menu planned, the sleeping arrangements ready, a few boardgames to play and hopefully some good Christmas films to watch. And I'm sure we'll manage to get my brother up on Skype to join in the fun! 

I'm excited for decorations. My boyfriend's family don't, a single thing. They have cards up around the house but they don't even always put the tree up. I don't know if they've always been like this - but they don't even do stockings! I assume they once did when Michael and his brother were children, but if, like my brother, you're not home for Christmas, my mother will damn well post the stocking up to you! She has also never missed posting up advent calendars, and I doubt that will ever change! But with no decorations in sight around here, my Christmas spirit is currently low. People have started to decorate the office at work which helps pick me up a little. 

I'm excited to be and feel at home. I've lived with my boyfriend's family for over a year and a half now, and it may sound a little sad but I only feel at home when he is there. And even then, I only feel comfortable tucked away upstairs in our bedroom. I don't always feel welcome here and I don't always feel comfortable. So, to get back to where I belong is what I'm most looking forward to. 

I'm excited to go for long countryside walks and strolls on the beach. I found the area around Michael and I got boring quickly, mainly because neither of us feel like we belong here. But I find so much peace when I'm walking around my village, Porthleven. The people are more friendly, the air feels fresher, I just feel so free. 

I'm excited to have my first Christmas with Michael. We've been together for three years now but due to our family homes being 300 miles apart, and over the years us having either University or work commitments, we've not been able to spend a Christmas together. However, this year he'll be coming home with me. Yes, we'll be sleeping on a not too comfortable sofa bed, and yes we'll have to wake in the early hours to drive those 300 odd miles, but it'll be so worth it to spend Christmas with everyone I adore (except the aforementioned brother who can't make it down due to work!).

I'm not wishing the days away at all, but I really cannot wait to travel back. I know the ten days we're down there for will fly by as they always do, but I'm just so ready for a break away from Nottingham that lasts longer than just a weekend. 2017 is just around the corner now and I'm definitely looking forward to what's in store for both Michael and I!

So, what have you got planned for Christmas and what are you most excited about?

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Student Life | Is University For You?

Five years ago when my second year of college rolled around we were instantly hit with the pressure of making our minds up about whether university was right for us. 

Honestly, at the time I was daunted by the idea of going to university. I was constantly torn between a year out and submitting an application which meant that in the end I cut it pretty close to the UCAS deadline and in fact rushed things to the point that I actually applied to one of the wrong universities. And then I only found out that I had applied when they rejected me! Nonetheless, I'm glad I took the time to ponder but I felt like I wouldn't have taken so long had I not lacked support and knowledge. Only one of my siblings went to university and he studied relatively close by which allowed him to commute from home. So when it came down to it, he still didn't quite have the insight of university life that I was looking for. I looked outside of the family circle for a bit more support and that came in the form of the parents of my boyfriend at the time, who I'm still so grateful to. Without their help, I wouldn't have gone to Keele. 

So, I thought, how can I really use my experience to help you guys out? 

Well, I think it's important, having experienced the mind boggling toil of making a decision about going to university to share how I felt and what put me off, and furthermore how I reasoned my fears and made the big decision to leave home. On each point, I've added in 'what to research' so you know what to consider when narrowing your choices down to your UCAS Top 5.

Let's kick things off with the big one...

The Cost
My year were the first to be hit by the £9,000 tuition fees and it wasn't really something that put me off, but I know it does for many and quite often put parents off too. The tuition fees are paid directly to your university and you don't have to start paying them off until you're earning £21k+, and even then it's not a hugely noticeable amount. I've put my mind at ease with the loans I have from university, because they're not like any other loan. You won't have bailiffs around your house if you've not paid it off quick enough and despite what people may say, it won't have a real impact on you getting a mortgage in the future either. The cost should most definitely not stop you from going to university.

If you want to know more about student loans, I would have a read of this post and get your hands on Student Finance for Dummies. 

Aside from tuition fees there's of course also loans and the general cost of living. Your loans and grants are means tested, which means what you get is assessed on what your parents earn, which in many cases isn't fair. Your parents may earn more, but it doesn't mean they can necessarily support you. University will always cost money, so you'll need to see if you can afford to move away from home, what forms of financial support you'll have and if you'll have the time to work and study. The main thing is, if university is really an academic step you'd like to take, consider it as an investment (yes, a big one at that), because realistically you are investing in your future.

What to research when choosing your Top 5:
  • If there are scholarships for high achievers or low earning incomes that will financially support you and what qualifies you for these, and particularly whether or not you need to apply or you get them automatically upon meeting the qualificiations
  • The cost of living in the area - don't just consider Halls either, have a look at how expensive the local area is for renting a student house too because most universities don't give students the opportunity to remain in halls every year
  • What kind of work is in the area - many chains of supermarkets, restaurant and bars actually offer transfers for students - this means you can work for a certain company back at home, and during term time transfer to a different store/bar etc. local to your university. If you're unsure if working in first year is right for you, check out this post with lots of pros and cons. 
Whether to Move Away and How Far To Go
Some people don't always go far away for university, but the move out of your parental home can always be something hard to come to terms with whether you go near or far. You're growing up and whilst 18 is still a young age you still hopefully have some basic skills to survive alone. Most parents are always willing to make a visit and there's the likeliness you'll return home during the university holidays. If you'd like to move away to experience a new place, but don't want to be too far from family, consider a university that has some familial ties nearby.

What the research:
  • The cost of travel - this is something I didn't consider, stupidly, and taking a complicated 12 hour bus ride home cost me around £60, but a more relaxed 6 hour train journey cost me nearly £100. It's important to do your research!
  • The cost of keeping a car - if you're lucky enough to be bringing a car to university, make sure it's worth while doing so. 
    • Can you afford to repair it if it breaks down? 
    • How much does parking at halls or on campus in general cost per year? 
    • Can you really afford to keep a car running? 
  • Is it the right place for you 
    • Do the places you're looking at have everything you feel you'd need? 
    • Are supermarkets nearby and easy to access without a car? 
    • Are there places for you to relax and unwind? 
    • Does it have the right social scene that you're looking for?
Living Independently
For most, independence is one of the main reasons they look forward to moving out; I know it wasn't one of my worries and I was excited about it. However this isn't the case for everyone, so before you head off to university make sure you're prepared with the basics: cleaning, washing, cooking. If  having to live independently is affecting your decision, look at places that are closer to home so your family can easily come visit if you're struggling. My best advice is to simply understand that the chances are one day you'll have to live independently anyway, so once you get the hang of things independence doesn't seem remotely daunting, if anything, it's pretty liberating!

What to research:
  • I'll delve into this further below, but research the support systems that the universities have in place
  • If you don't already know how, practice your house keeping and cooking skills!
  • If you're not ready to go it entirely alone, look into what catered living the university offers
    • How much does it cost?
    • Are meals available on weekends?
The Support
People warn you that the jump from school to college is not something to be taken lightly, and the leap from college to university, especially if you move out of your parents home too, can sure seem like a tough new challenge, but there's so much support at university. You'll be able to get support from your lecturers, your personal tutor and your new friends. There are also other people and support services in place to listen to your problems whether they're personal or financial, petty or problematic; there's always someone who will be able to listen and help.

What to research:
  • What support does the university offer? I.e councillors, personal tutors etc. In Keele we have a 24 hour anonymous service where you can phone someone in the support team and just talk about what's worrying you.
  • Does the university have a student mentor programme? These are often a good way to meet a second or third year student who knows exactly what you're going through
  • What are the processes for long term absence including sickness, bereavement, maternity  leave etc? 
The Social Life
University is often represented as a place for heavy nights out and I admit I've been guilty of this representation too simply because for a good part of university, that was my experience. However, just because university is often seen in this light it doesn't mean that it's all there is. There's more out there in terms of socialising than just having a pint in hand. And then there's also the academic side of university life to look into as well, which is likely where you'll find a lot of your new friends. University entices a plethora of characters so you're sure to find common ground with plenty of people.

What to research:
  • What societies does the university have? 
  • Are the halls dedicated to people who want a quieter experience? 
  • How close is the accommodation to the Students Union or other pubs, clubs or bars?
  • Are their opportunities to study abroad and widen your experience both socially and educationally? 
A whole new bag of opportunities...
...Is how I came to see university. It's not just about academics and socialising, it's about educating yourself in independence, about finding new hobbies through societies, meeting new people who could shape your life into something entirely different, travelling the country or further either to study  or to visit your new friends. You'll be able to attend guest lectures, book launches, poetry readings, film screenings, and in general, experience things that you perhaps wouldn't have ever thought to go to. Your years spent at university can offer you so many opportunities and the best way to find out what they are, is to do your research.

Don't rush your decision to apply, think long and hard and take a year out if you feel you need to. Don't think just because so many people go that you have to as well, and don't apply this year just because your friends are if you're on the fence. It's a big decision and can often change so much for you, but it's not something that should terrify you. Be scared by all means, but it should feel exciting too. It's a new chapter in your life and you'll experience so many wonderful and fun things alongside studying a subject or subjects you love. Look fully into the places you're considering applying to, if you haven't already made a few visits do so soon and if you're struggling with choosing a course, think about the things you enjoy most and the career path you could get out of it.

If you don't think it's right, try to have a plan in place to ensure you get the most out of not going. I know plenty of people who instead decided to work their way up, and later came back to doing a degree or didn't do one at all. University isn't for everyone and it's hard to have your life all planned out at the ages of 17 and 18. It's a ridiculous expectation, but it's also part of our reality - so, don't rush and research, research, research. 

If you have any other questions, or comments about your experience of choosing to go to Uni, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email -

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Life After Graduate | Scarlett - Keele University

My next Graduate to share her story is Scarlett. I only briefly got to know Scarlett during the time we studied at Keele, but I do know that she is an incredibly talented and creative individual who will most definitely lead a successful life. Without further ado, here is Scarlett's story...

First of all I’d like to thank Issy for asking me to contribute to her “Graduate Life” series. It’s been wonderful to keep up with the personal journeys of some familiar faces and it’s an absolute pleasure to take part. 

I feel like my experience of university very much took the form of chapters, and I would struggle to give a comparative “before and after” of my university experience. I guess that’s why I’m writing in this way; to be a little less formal than a ‘question and answer’ format. 
Being asked what it ‘feels like’ to be a graduate is a difficult question because as my time at uni progressed I sort of faded out of the campus community and never really felt as though there was one particular moment that I ceased to be a student (save for that heart-wrenching moment Urban Outfitters stopped giving me my student discount). I’d lived in halls for my first year and it was then that I made amazing memories of which I’ll always be fond. However I very much lived with one foot in Keele, and the other at my home in Cannock. I’d come home on weekends for my job and then in later years I lived with my then non-student boyfriend an hour away from campus. So by my second year I’d already began phasing myself out of “Student” status and it wasn’t really much of a shock for me once I’d graduated. Also as I had already cultivated my social circle outside of Keele, it meant that I only keep in regular contact with a handful of really close uni friends. 

If I could time travel, yes I would definitely go to university all over again. I’ve always loved reading, but without being exposed to creative writing courses and the kind of fertile environment of university, I would never have had the confidence to produce my own work as well as meet other like-minded people that inspired me and helped me to grow. The ‘light bulb moment’ for me was when my lecturer told me “even when you write prose it sounds like poetry” and I just knew I’d found who I was as a person. I’d always encourage people to go to university if they have the opportunity as you learn so much more than just what is prescribed on the course.

I got my degree in English Lit and History after doing a dissertation in Creative writing. I stumbled into a job in web design pretty soon after graduating and found that I had a flair for copy writing and content creation because of my background as a wordsmith. Along side that I run my little online poetry shop (which you can check out here) and continue to go to poetry reading events and workshops. Working full time has made me realise how precious personal time is, and evenings are either spent tac’tac’ting’ing on my typewriter until midnight to fulfil orders, or trying desperately to fit a half an hour of reading in so I can get to sleep at a decent hour to be up for work. However I feel that most of my friends are in a similar boat with jobs and commitments, so when we go out on a weekend we’re all ready to either let off steam and party till stupid o’clock, or vegetate with chinese food and trash telly; there is no in between. 

For now, I plan to continue writing, taking part in the poetry community and running my online shop. I'd also love to eventually end up with my own book of poetry! If I had any advice for recent graduates that find themselves overwhelmed with the sudden mountain of pressure and responsibility, it would be to not give up on what you love to do. I enjoy web design as it’s in a creative field that challenges and interests me, but I feel that my occupation complements my life rather than completes it. I would describe myself first and foremost as a Writer. So even if it means staying up half an hour later to read that book you’ve left dog-eared for weeks, or continue your blog you haven’t updated in a while, or paint that scene that’s been lingering in your head, then make sure you find the time to do it. Because if university was about finding yourself, then to lose it now would be too much of a waste.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Journey's End | Eugene - Keele University

My life has felt a bit up in the air recently. Work's been very busy as I've taken hold of more opportunities and new challenges, and my boyfriend's Mum has recently had a hip operation so we've all been chipping in to help out. I've also been making time to go to the gym and go out for dinner so I've really not had the time to blog as of late. I thought blogging during my student years was tough, but boy was I wrong.

Nonetheless, I'm back and bringing another Keele University student with me. Eugene is my next interviewee, who graduated with a degree in English Literature this year. Here's his story... 

Have you enjoyed your time at University?
I have enjoyed my time at university; in order of enjoyment I'd say 3rd year, 1st year and 2nd year last.
Do you have any regrets?
Not putting myself out there earlier and in general, not getting involved in more events and societies. I lived very much in the middle lane during 1st and 2nd year. I was willing to take part in nights out and anything else I was incited to, I travelled fairly often as well, but only in 3rd year did I actively seek out things to do, and get more involved with friends and social activities. I lost more sleep in third year but it's been much more enjoyable.  

What was the highlight of your university years?
Screaming at the militant black guy from Balls of Steel during my first freshers’ week was pretty fun, I got an applause from it. The first time I performed at karaoke as well, about a month before writing this. There are too many highlights to count.

How do you feel you’ve changed over the years?
I felt like I was quite an open person before university, but if possible I’ve become even more open to different walks of life. I’ve become a lot more tolerant as well. My housemate in the room next door pretty much didn't let us sleep after a night out, which my other housemates and I have learned to deal with. As well as dealing with him knocking on my door at obscure times.

Has your friendship group changed much?
I’ve stuck with two of my original housemates from 1st year for all three years which is pretty cool. So in that sense it’s not changed too much, I’m always with them. Perhaps my friendship group has diversified; one of our new housemates this year I’m pretty close with now, as well as people in the KRAP society, whom I’d never really connected with until this year.

What was your biggest achievement?
Maintaining a long distance relationship for near the entirety of my university life. Although my relationship has now ended, we made it pretty far and it was a testing time, one I enjoyed.

Do you feel like going to university has been worthwhile?
I feel like it has been worthwhile; if anything, you gain a lot of experience in numerous aspects. There’s more learning done at university than just inside the course you study. All forms of learning are a positive for me so even if I’m in the same situation when I return home as I was before beginning university, I at least have lived the university life and experienced what it has to offer. 

What are your plans now?
At the moment I’m going to try and form a band. This will be my main priority when I return home. I will most likely work part-time in my mum’s fish and chip shop as well. I will be relearning to drive with confidence and other than that, hopefully relaxing for a bit. I also have a Ninja Warrior audition, which I will be training for.
Eugene captured this photo whilst exploring the grounds of Keele
How do you feel about graduation day? 
Quite excited. It will be sad to finalise the end of university, though I suppose while I can visit, the end is never the end.

What was it like doing a final year project?
Quite challenging. I knew what I was like as a person in terms of studying, so I made a point to try and begin earlier and plan a lot more. I finished a chapter of my dissertation before the Winter holidays and it was still difficult to keep on top of the work load. Having picked modules which were all essay based, I had a lot more typing to do which was difficult to balance at times even when I finished some of them early.

What advice would you give to students going into their final year? 
Plan a little day by day. Try and make a schedule and stick to it. Make your life difficult at the start of the year so that you won’t be stressing towards the final hand in date.

What was the best night out you had at university?
I have no clue; I probably don’t remember it. Any night out where the SU is completely packed out I find enjoyable; I like being surrounded by lots of people whilst on a night out.

How did fresher’s week feels as a final year?
Just like any freshers' week I suppose - a lot of fun. Being a final year student didn’t make too much of a difference because university work hadn’t come into the equation yet.

How did your nights out change as university went on?
They became much more of a reward given the increase in workload. It was also a lot of fun being able to recognize people and say hi to old faces all the time.

Would you do it all again?
Without a doubt.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Journey's End | Holly - Edge Hill University

My next interviewee is the lovely Holly, who blogs over at Holly Quills And Ivy. Holly studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Edge Hill University and is a huge book lover. In this post, she's reflected on her third and final year at University including the highs, regrets and looking to the future. If you'd like to hear more from Holly, check out her blog featuring all things books, beauty and graduate life! 

Have you enjoyed your time at university?
Yes, without a doubt I would say that my three years in university have been the best years of my life. 

Do you have any regrets?
Yes, I didn’t move into a student house for second or third year and now looking back I really wish I had. I decided to move back in with my parents and due to this I missed out on some many chances to go out with my friends which I regret now. 

Is there something that you really wish you had done, but never got the chance to?
Placements or work as a part of my course. There are some courses in my university that did do placements as a part of their course but for English Lit and Creative Writing me and my friends were never given that option/ I really want to work in publishing so I would have loved it if my course or even university gave the opportunity to work in a publishing house, instead I had to go and find one for myself for only a short period of time because I had to be back at University. 

What was the highlight of your university years?
I think it was my Graduation Ball. It was kind of just the culmination of relief that the work was over and I could just have fun with my friends without the stress of thinking I had another assessment due in. It was so nice to see everyone in one room and dressed up, which none of us had ever got to do before with our uni friends. It was such a lovely night because everyone was just so happy and looked incredible. 

How do you feel you’ve changed over the years?
I know this sounds cliché but honestly I feel like I have become a whole different person from going to university. I have grown in confidence and become more sure of myself which I wasn't before I went to uni, I became independent for the first time and I have really come out of my shell. 

Has your friendship group changed much?
Through the three years, not really, it has just grown. Because I'm a joint course student I have two groups of friends. My friends from my English Literature course have stayed the same since day one whereas with my Creative Writing I only really had two close friends in the first year but come second and third I made more friends, who are now my closest friends, including the two friends from first year and I honestly think of these people as my best friends. 

What was your biggest achievement?
I think my biggest achievement personally was still going to university when I was going through a really difficult time in my life. The fact that I kept going to uni and seeing everyone when I just didn’t want to makes me so proud of myself because I could have easily dropped out of uni and cut myself off from everyone, but I pushed myself to keep going, that is definitely my biggest achievement.

Do you feel like going to university has been worthwhile?
Definitely! I had always wanted to go to university and because of it I have had the chance to do so many things and meet so many people that I would never have had the chance to if I never went to university and it has definitely made me so much more sure of what I want to do with my life.

What are your plans now?
I plan to work throughout the summer and try to find myself a job in the publishing industry and if that’s doesn’t work out, I'll find myself work experience opportunities and internship in order to get my experience up so that I can get a job in the industry one day.

How do you feel about graduation day?
I’m honestly not sure. It’s a very daunting day. I’m excited for it as I have spent the past three years working towards this moment but at the same time I never wanted this day to come because then it’s over. All in all I’m excited but terrified.

What was it like doing a final year project?
I didn’t actually do one because I am a joint student so I just did extra modules compared to everyone else, which I am very thankful for because I know I would not have been able to deal with the stress that comes along with doing a final project like so many of my friends did. 

What advice would you give to students going into their final year?
Work as hard as you possibly can, take breaks when you need to, don’t stress too much because trust me it doesn’t help and treasure the time you have left, you will miss it. 

What was the best night out you had at university?
I think it was either between my 21st birthday night out or my Graduation Ball. My 21st because my friends had organised it for me which was the sweetest thing and they said that they wanted to make sure I had a great night and it was so lovely to have all of my friends together celebrating with me. Also my Graduation ball because it was such a perfect way to end it all, dancing with everyone I knew and feeling so proud of everyone, I just had a great time. 

How did freshers week feel as a final year?
I didn’t do Freshers week in my final year because I didn’t live near my university in order to do it. Oh well.

How did your nights out change as university went on?
I guess the change was that in first year everyone was ready to go out almost every night and in the next two years we were very happy to just go out for a couple drinks and then back to a friend’s house where we would talk and play games until about 3am. 

Would you do it all again?
Yes. I would go back in a heartbeat 

What's your living situation now? 
I have been living back at home for the past two years but I would love to move back to my university town. It was so cute and peaceful and whilst it was in the middle of nowhere you could jump on a train if you wanted to go into the city. I would love to go somewhere new, I am hoping to move out soon and hopefully find myself a job in London so I can move there, I have wanted to live in London for years. 

What’s your plan after graduation?
Find myself a job in publishing for however long it takes me, and maybe try and build up my blog maybe even start a YouTube channel…who knows the future is what you make it and I hope to make it good.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Journey's End | Nadia - Keele University

I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's always so interesting to read about the experience of others at university and see how much it differed to your own, but it's more so when you studied at the same University. I got to know the latest student to share her story, Nadia, through my blog. I share a lot of post on the Facebook University forums and people got familiar with my face after I was spamming posts in the run up to Freshers' Week a few years back. It's how I've become familiar with plenty of people over the years, and it's lovely that Nadia has been kind enough to share her story. Nadia studied Human Biology and Mathematics and graduated Keele this year...

Have you enjoyed your time at university? 
Overall, yes. However my experience has had may lows, as well as highs. 

Do you have any regrets?
I don’t know. Part of me regrets not switching to single honours Maths in second year, but then again, my grades in Human Biology have always been higher than my grades in Maths. They are what ultimately pulled my grades up. Nevertheless, I do my best to never have regrets. What’s done is done and the positive aspects of my life may not have occurred if it weren’t for the choices I made in the past.

Is there something that you really wish you had done, but never got the chance to?
I regret not attending a normal KRAP night. Numerous times I have made plans to go, but they never followed through. I have attended KRAP Karnage and other larger events, but I have never been to one of the weekly nights. I know I really missed out on that one! They have always sounded like a lot of fun!

What was the highlight of your university years?
Academically, I would say my highlight was the most recent results day. I found out that I got my first ever 1st in a module that was entirely coursework! Socially, this is incredibly cheesy but I would say it was the night I first kissed my now boyfriend! (Or one of my favourite events – Mariachi Band night, 80s Night, Sink in the Pink, etc.) More generally, perhaps my overall highlight was performing one of my all-time favourite musical theatre songs (‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ from Funny Girl) on the Ballroom stage in front of my friends and family and, if I do say so myself, absolutely nailing it! hahaa...
Keele Musical Theatre Society - Christmas 2013
Do you feel you’ve changed over the years? 
I’ve become more cynical and sarcastic. Not too much though, I’m probably just more British now. In all seriousness though, I think I’ve become less naïve now too. I have always tried to befriend everyone I meet, to some degree. I’ve always been very good at ignoring the less appealing aspects of people’s personalities and tried my best to at least be civil with everyone. No matter whether they hate my best friend or have been mean to me in the past. I always believed in being polite and civil no matter what. Whereas now, I guess I do not see the point in putting in the effort with people who clearly do not reciprocate. This may be a negative thing, but it somewhat works in my favour. All my life I have tried so hard to be friends with everyone, that I struggled to get close to those few around me. However now, I can say I have made a handful of really close friends, that I am sure I will be in touch with after university. 

Has your friendship group changed much?
At home I am still friends with the same few people. I may not talk to them as often as I used to (which is a shame), but whenever I see them we all still get along exactly as we did in high school. At university however, my friendship group has changed a lot. I started university thinking it would be different to high school and that no matter what type of person you are, we will all get along. Turns out, university is still a lot like high school, everyone just tries to be more mature about it, that’s all. Certain “cliques” of people form over the first two years. But by third year, you learn who your friends really are.

What was your biggest achievement during your university years?
Handing in my dissertation in on time, not pooing myself and not getting called up on plagiarism for it. Hahaa I’ll probably explain this in a later question.

Do you feel like going to university has been worthwhile?
Yes and no. Yes, because I have made wonderful friends, gained a boyfriend who I do not deserve and learned some valuable lessons about life, independence and how to make a cracking seafood paella. No, because over the last few weeks I finally decided which sector I wish to pursue a career in. Hospitality – nothing to do with Human Biology and Mathematics (shockingly enough). I know what you’re thinking, going to university is a valuable experience no matter what you do (or don’t do) with it. However, getting into Hospitality has meant starting from the bottom. Working alongside those who barely attempted A Levels, let alone a university degree. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no shame in it. I am so happy that I have finally figured out what I want to do. I just wish I could say these past three years were necessary and will help get me where I want to be. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

What are your plans now?
At the time of writing this: Celebrate my friends’ graduations. Then get my head down and revise for my resit, so I can eventually celebrate my own graduation! Fingers crossed!

How do you feel about graduation day?
Well funnily enough, the day that I'm writing this should be my graduation day. I watched my friends graduate without me. I have to resit a first semester exam next month, so I don’t qualify to graduate until October. I got a little sad as the ceremony started, but then I told myself that today isn’t about me. I am here to support my coursemates. So that’s what I did! I am so so proud of them all! My graduation I am not thinking about, I need to worry about my resit first!

What was it like doing a final year project?
Horrific. Sorry, but I hated it. I started months in advance, but was still writing it up to half an hour before the deadline. Before handing it in, I had been awake for a total of 36 hours. I hadn’t eaten anything and I was so stressed I had made myself ill (hence the aforementioned over-share about not pooing myself hahaa). I had rushed the references in the final two hours before handing it in and so I was sure I would get called up for plagiarism. I remember furiously typing away in the library and seeing someone, who was doing the same dissertation, just happily chatting and laughing with his friends. I was so angry and jealous. When everyone was posting photos of themselves on Facebook with their final copies, I was running round with greasy hair hating every moment. I was in no way proud of myself. That is, not until I found out that I got a 2.1 for it. How I managed that, I will never know!

What advice would you give to students going into their final year?

Start the research for your final year project during the Summer. Don’t be a recluse, but also don’t spend too much of your time socialising! The best way to socialise without writing off the following morning/day, is to have nights in! Board game drinking nights, BBQs, house meals, etc. Events that you can start and then end early are the way to go!

What was the best night out you had at university? 
There has been so many! But probably the 80s themed charity night in third year. I was dressed as Madonna and my boyfriend was dressed as Boy George. When ‘Like a Prayer’ came on, I got up on that stage and lip-synched my heart out… until security made me get off. It was a lot of fun and I am a sucker for fancy dress!!

How did freshers week feels as a final year?
I think it is what you make it. I think it would’ve been better if some of my friends weren’t all “everyone is so young and annoying”. When you’ve been going to regular nights out at the same venue for three years, you have to learn to just let loose and not focus on all the annoying things. Otherwise, you are just going to ruin it for yourself! I believe that as long as you spent the majority of the night on the dance floor, you will have fun!

How did your nights out change as university went on?
As the workload piled, I went out less and less over second and third year. I think this is something you expect though! However, when I did go out in third year, I made sure I didn’t take any of it for granted!

Would you do it all again? 
Nooooo, I’m more than happy with how my overall experience has been and I am done with full time education.

Do you plan on settling down near your university, moving back home, or going somewhere new? 
I am back at home. I want to save up some money and gain some work experience. Then hopefully in 6 months to a year’s time I can think about moving in with my boyfriend. 

What’s your plan after graduation?
Gain experience within different aspects of Hospitality. I have already gained a Supervisor position in Housekeeping for a Hotel Cleaning company. So I have my foot in the door. Next step is to apply for more roles in other areas, hopefully in the Cambridge area near my boyfriend so that we can rent a house together.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Things Taylor Swift Forgot to Mention When She Wrote 22

Well, I've been 22 for half a year now and things are only becoming less and less like a Taylor Swift song. You may remember a response I wrote to Taylor Swift's 22, which you can read here, but I thought I'd go a little further now I'm older and wiser and reflect upon some of the things that she failed to mention about being 22.
Here's a snap of my 22nd birthday cake made by my lovely sister! 

Taylor, you've got some explaining to do, because I didn't hear any of these in your song...

People having and talking about babies
Let's kick this off with the big one. Since I've turned 22 there's been no end of people having babies. You'll begin to see your old party acquaintances announcing their pregnancies on Facebook and others popping them out without a grandeur announcement that leaves you gawking at your screen. Then let's not forget to mention that the majority of those babies also have a bigger modelling portfolio than Kate Moss herself, exclusive to Facebook and Instagram of course. If it's not other people's babies, I'm sure by now at least one family member or co-worker has dropped your fertility in conversation, and if they haven't, I'm sure it's on the horizon. 

The reality of renting
Call it naive, but renting at university, in most cases, gave a real sense of security. Bills included? Tick. Small deposit? Tick. No Council Tax? Tick. I know these aren't necessarily the experience of student housing that everyone will have, but now almost all of the above are much more likely to be a thing of the past. Recent places I've viewed have requested £300 just to draw up a contract. Surely it's just a copy and past job with a few name changes?! 

The expense of furniture
This also comes under the reality of renting, but of course buying too. Even Ikea isn't as cheap as I imagined. Yes, it's still a place for bargains, but how are you supposed to ever afford to fill a house? It's all well and good saving for a deposit, but again naivety really held on in there and I kind of neglected to think about furniture expenses. Furnished flats are the way forward for me for the time being, but even that comes with difficulties when the furniture is hideous. Just know, if it's ugly, I didn't pick it. 

The empty void of a month named September
In my opinion, September is the hardest month for graduates. In the past, come September, you'd be raring to move back in with all your friends, drink more than you thought possible and have a generally swell time. Now, every month rolls into the next and it's hard to remember what freedom really feels like. Fresh faced 18 year olds now descend upon the halls you once resided, drinking at your favourite spots in the city or town, writing the essays you once wanted to bawl over, but now you would almost take pleasure in doing just to be back at university for one more night.

How many years have to pass before it officially becomes weird for you to go back to uni each September just for freshers? I'm going with a limit of 10 years maybe. Or at least until people actually start to question my age. 

The lack of nights out
At university there was an abundance of opportunities to drink. Passed exams? Let's celebrate. Failed exams? Commiseration drinks! Birthday? Party! No birthday? Drink anyway! It was, for the most part, fun and games, except during the dreaded exam period of course. You'll start to find that a lot of people in this adult word tend to drink as a sweet release from the grips of the working world.

I make it sound so bad. It's really not...that bad anyway. 

The week long hangover
Remember those hangovers at university? They were dire and hard to concur without a day of Netflix, sleep and carbs. But by the time dinner came around it was normally far behind you and you'd be raring to go for another night out. Look at us now, aye? One night out and you're having to pull yourself through with triple the amount of caffeine you usually consume and as minimal social interaction as you can get away with for the entire week. Then there's your sleeping pattern, well that won't recover for a good few weeks.

You also may have heard the sentence, 'I don't want to waste my weekend with a night out' slip through your lips, or the thought may have at least popped into your brain. If you haven't said it, it's likely that one of your friends have reached this end of the road frame of mind. 

The one thing to remember is that you're still in the better half of your 20s! And, life is also still good if, like me, you're still getting mistaken for an 18 year. I'll fit right in at freshers'.

Another positive: You're probably much more well off than you were when you drank thrice-weekly and survived on a diet of baked beans and noodles.