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.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Life After Graduation | Hannah - Canterbury Christ Church University

It's about time I brought a fellow blogger in on the interview action, so let's kick it off with the lovely Hannah from Suitcase and Sandals who graduated in 2015 with a degree in Religious Studies. 

How does it feel to be a graduate? 
Bittersweet. I miss uni quite often, but love earning my own money! I wish I still had as much spare time as I did at uni, but it’s nice to be able to save for things and travel too. 

What’s been the biggest challenge?
Not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I’m still not 100% sure. I think it’s quite tough being thrown out there without knowing what you want to do so at the moment I’m enjoying gaining some experience. I’m not sure I’ll ever know exactly what I want to do though!

What’s your current living situation?
I’ve moved back home, and with my boyfriend in tow too! My parents are so flexible and we both have the freedom we would have at university anyway so the only thing I really miss is having some time to myself with Dan!

What’s the best and worst things about graduate life?
Best thing is earning some money, and the worst thing is not being allowed lie-ins, and the lack of spare time. But good things come to those who wait! 

Do you have any plans/goals for the  foreseeable future?
We’re saving for a house and travelling where we can – including a week in New York in October which I’m so excited about. 

Is graduate life as you expected? 
I expected it to be harder to get a job, but maybe I am one of the lucky ones as I signed up with an agency and was offered an interview where I work now which is in a company who have trained me up from scratch which I believe is quite rare. I did expect to miss uni though and that part is definitely true!

If you had the opportunity, would you do university all over again?
Part of me would, part of me wouldn’t. I think I miss my university city the most, but I do miss learning and seeing my friends too! This is such a hard question…. 

What’s your social life been like as a graduate in comparison to what it was like at university? Different. I appreciate my social time more now – seeing friends is more of a treat in a way! I definitely don’t go out (even sober occasions) as much as I did at uni – I guess that comes with being so busy all of the time.

What would you say are the biggest differences between the first year of university life, and the first year of graduate life? 
I’m sober now? I’m just joking. I work full time now compared to having 8 hours of lectures a week which is a huge difference. Looking back I wish I’d made a bit more effort to use that time wisely but you live and you learn.

Do you feel you’ve changed much since you graduated?
Without a shadow of a doubt. I’m so much happier in myself and have realized how resilient I am. I’m more confident in my abilities too I think! Plus, I know how to adult a bit better… 

Have you seen your university friends much since you graduated?
Some of them yes. We mainly see each other for big occasions like their graduation, or our summerball. We’re all so busy so it can be hard to meet up!

What advice would you give to future graduates?
Make the most of your final few weeks of university. Even if you don’t wish to do it again you will miss your university days. Enjoy your first experiences of being a graduate, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself: good things come to those who wait. 

How does it feel to be considered an adult? 
Scary, but exciting. I can’t wait to buy my first home!

Do you feel that going to university was worthwhile?
Absolutely. I may not be directly using my degree, but I loved it. I moved away from home, volunteered, made friends, laughed and cried. But I made it through and I came out a better person. I think the university experience is invaluable and unique to every single person. It is what you make it, and I think my experience of university made it so worthwhile.

And a final comment from Hannah...
Make the most of your graduation day! Mine ranks in my top 10 days of my life I think and it felt so good to be up there celebrating my hard work with my course mates.
*Photos courtesy of Hannah

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Life After Graduation | Hannah - Keele University

It's about time I brought in another fellow Keele University graduate, and who better to pick than someone whom I studied English and American Literature alongside. Hannah always worked so hard and excelled when it came to our assessments and now she's moved in with her boyfriend, Lewis, has been working hard in her grad-scheme and has taken the time to discover the pleasures in life post-graduation....
How does it feel to be a graduate? 
I had the safety of knowing that I had secured a place on a graduate scheme during my final year, but I hadn’t brought myself to think about adult life and what that might mean for me. For a while I was in limbo and adamantly refused to be called anything but a student. I think the shelter of a graduate scheme has been a really good stepping-stone for me and has definitely helped me transition easier into adulthood. 

What’s been the biggest challenge? 
Definitely adjusting to the 9-5 life. I’m famously not a morning person but nowadays I have to get up at 6am to travel into London for work… gone are the days when I had no commitments so could just roll out of bed (or stay in bed) whenever I wanted. 6 hours a week at university did nothing to prepare  me for work. 

How does it feel to be considered an adult?
I feel a lot less pressure than I thought I would but I do sometimes miss the safety net of being a student. When you’re a student mistakes are part and parcel of the experience but as an adult you are expected to know better – but let’s face it we all know adults who do not!

What’s your living situation?
When I finished university I moved back home for the summer before moving in with my boyfriend in our lovely little rented flat. We had to pick somewhere half way in between where we both worked. I have been living here for nearly a year now and I love it! I love making it all homely and adding our own little touches here and there. It is a welcome change from halls, which were mouldy and a health and safety nightmare. I also don’t miss carrying my laundry half way across campus or standing outside the block each time someone set the fire alarm off! 

What's the best thing about graduate life? 
The best thing about graduate life, and the main difference to being a student, is finally earning some money to do the things you’ve always said you wanted to do. I always look back on third year at university where I sat and calculated that, after loan and rent deductions, I had around £20 a week to live on – and that needed to buy my course book - so it’s safe to say that having a stable income is a welcome change. 

And the worst? 
As I’ve said, I definitely have struggled adjusting to 9-5 work life. One minute you have that 6 hour schedule to do whatever you want (and you spend it sleeping & binge watching Netflix) and the next (if you have secured a job) you are working 9-5. If I was to do university all over again, I would make sure I ticked off a list of all the things I want to do and have the time to do – you sure as hell will miss that freedom when you’re sat in an office on the sunniest day of the year. 

What’s been your biggest achievement since you graduated? 
When I started on my graduate scheme, I really didn’t know if it was the right thing for me. I had no experience in finance and banking. My degree seemed like a world apart from it, so those first couple of months were a real struggle. After nearly a year, I’m finally getting there. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’m proud that I have stuck it out and I am starting to feel like I am making a lot of progress. Whether it is where I will be long term is a question I can’t answer yet, but I’m learning a lot about myself and the type of place I want to work.

Do you have any plans or goals for the future? 
My main aim for the next year is to complete my scheme, find a lovely house and a job I love. I have learnt over the past year that you absolutely have to have a job you love (or at least 90% love). 

Is graduate life as you expected?
I guess it’s a lot better than I thought it would be. Besides not having student discount (I’m very bitter about this), lots of free time, and being tired all the time, I find that I’m a lot happier because I’m kept busy and I can do the things I’ve always wanted because I have a bit more cash and independence. I also have a lot less drama than I did at university – everything seems a bit more stable. 

What did people tell you about graduate life - and has any of it proved to be true?
The one thing I heard time and time again before I graduated was ‘Don’t worry, even adults don’t know what they’re doing’ and I didn’t quite believe it. But it is so true! In the last year I have witnessed grown adults not having a clue, making mistakes or going back on something they were adamant about. So I have learnt that it’s okay to not know where you are going/what you are doing. I went from wanting to be a teacher, to wanting to be a publisher and now I’m working in banking. Who knows where I’ll end up! They are all experiences and it doesn’t matter if they’re not right in the end, at least I’ve tried it. 

If you had the opportunity, would you do university all over again?
No, but don’t get me wrong - having the opportunity to go to university was something I will never take for granted and I absolutely loved (almost) every minute of it, and would not trade it for the world. University gave me the opportunity to study a subject I loved, find a circle of amazing friends and it’s also where I met Lewis. It also gave me the confidence to get involved more and lead a breast cancer charity team on campus. However, it did come hand in hand with a lot of stress, sleepless nights, arguments, mouldy rooms and no money. University taught me a lot but it was definitely time to leave.

What’s your social life been like as a graduate in comparison to what it was like at university? 
My idea of a perfect night now is getting home from work, PJs on and watching some TV with Lewis – our current favourites being Peaky Blinders and Stranger Things. I am out the house from 7am-7pm and often I just don’t have the energy to do anything else. I do still make time to catch up with friends when I can and try to plan in things to look forward to. 

What would you say are the biggest differences between the first year of university life and the first year of graduate life?
There is a familiar feeling of being a ‘deer in the headlights’ – but otherwise the two couldn’t be anymore different. I have developed a lot more confidence since that first year of university, so I feel like I’m better prepared to face the “unexpected” and tricky situations that might come my way. 

Do you feel you’ve changed much since you graduated?
I don’t think I have really – perhaps I'm just becoming a bit less naïve (I hope) and a lot more confident. 
Have you seen your university friends much since you graduated? 
Not as much as I would like! We've all gone off in different directions with different schedules because of work and various commitments outside of it which make it difficult to plan anything without imposing on each other! Though, we do regularly keep in touch and make sure we know what is going in each other's lives; it’s nice to know that no matter what, they are still at the end of the phone. 

What advice would you give to the next year of graduates?
Don’t consider the next step you make to be the one you are stuck with – learn to be fluid and go wherever you need to to do the thing you love. And if you don’t know what that is yet, don’t panic. Keep going and you’ll find your fit eventually. 

Do you feel that going to university was worthwhile? 
Absolutely, besides what I’ve already mentioned about studying something I loved, I learned so much more about ‘life’ in general. It sounds really cheesy but everything that happened helped to shape who I am now. Prior to university, I didn’t really have the confidence to do anything – applying for and moving to university was a massive step for me and to be honest, I’m still quite shocked I came out the other side of it with a degree. I bet a lot of my family thought I’d be home by the first Christmas. I know that if I hadn’t made that move to uni, I wouldn’t have had any of the experiences I have had since and definitely wouldn’t be where I am now.
*Photos courtesy of Hannah

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Journey's End | Emily - Winchester School of Art

The next post I'm sharing is from the Journey's End series and revisits a lovely now-graduate who partook in my second round of interviews back in 2014. Then, Emily was sharing her experience of her first year at Winchester School of Art (WSA), which you can read about here, and now she's come to the end of her Fashion and Textile Design degree and has successfully made her first steps post-graduation into her dream career. 

Here's Emily's university story...
Have you enjoyed your time at university?
My time at university has been an amazing experience, as cliché as that sounds. I have definitely grown as an individual and as a designer, in first year I couldn’t even draft my own pattern and I’ve just made a six outfit final collection from scratch. I have also learned how to stand up for myself (which has helped in my design work too) and to trust my gut instinct, as 99% of the time it is probably right. I have made friends for life (again pardon my cliché). My housemates are three of the most wonderful and supportive people I have ever met.  

Do you have any regrets? 
Absolutely none. Unfortunately my Mum passed away last October and everyone expected me to drop out or to defer a year, but I knew it would be an insult to her memory if I had given up on my education & my dream of being a designer. Especially since she was the one who taught me how to sew. Plus, if I wasn’t going to graduate with my friends, then I probably wouldn’t bother going at all.

Is there something you wish you had done but never got the chance to?
I wish that I had tried harder to get an internship in my summer between second and third year. It was not for lack of trying, however, I was quickly deterred at the lack of responses so took the decision to work full time instead and do my Visual Merchandising training with White Stuff. Though, this was in hindsight the better option for me as I went into third year much more financially stable and with a clear idea of the direction I wanted my Final Major Project (FMP) to take.

What is the highlight of your university years?
Watching my collection walk at Future Feast. This is the WSA press show where 20 out of 52 students are selected to showcase their work. It finally all seemed worth it! All the sleepless nights and the 12-hour days in the studio, which became my second home. I was also lucky enough to have my portfolio shown at the British Fashion Council Portfolio Day and Graduate Fashion Week.   
Here's a snippet of Emily's collection featured on Vogue! 
Do you feel you've changed over the years?
I have grown up at a spectacular rate, particularly in the last eight months, as I have had to develop an extremely adult approach to my life to get me though my final major project without having a complete breakdown. Nineteen year old me who moved into halls in September 2013 would never have thought that she would become the person I am today. 

Has your friendship group changed much?
It has definitely gotten smaller; I think that happened more so when we moved out of halls, as everyone split off into their houses and gradually started hanging out less. Though in third year I definitely got closer to my course mates, mainly cause we were spending so much time together as we were all in the studio all day every day!

What do you deem as your biggest achievements? 
Not dropping out after my mum passed away, keeping my job throughout second and third year, graduating with a first class honours and landing myself a job straight out of uni at a Menswear design company. 

Do you feel like going to uni has been worthwhile? 
Definitely. In the Fashion Industry you are rarely taken seriously without at least a BA in a relevant subject. However regardless of this studying full time has taught me so many skills, and I have had the chance to hone my craft without the pressures of learning on the job. You take more risks, as there is less at stake, because if you make a mistake there is time to fix it before the final hand in at the end of the semester. Also I am extremely lucky that I have some of the most supportive tutors, who have replied to my emails at all hours and dealt with my most indecisive moments spectacularly.  

What are your plans now? 
I have just moved three years worth of stuff back to my Dad’s house (which he is not happy about), and as I write this I am on the train to London to look for a place to live ahead of starting my new job at the end of July (which Emily has now started thanks to my staggered posts!). 

How do you feel about graduation day (which has also now happened already!)
I am extremely nervous! I am petrified I will fall over on the stage and I don’t have a dress yet (as a fashion student this is a massive deal). I’m also just wishing I didn’t have to go; it’s not going to be the graduation I had hoped for, as my Mum won’t be there. However, I know that I will definitely regret it if I don’t go, plus my dad would never forgive me, he is more excited than I am.   

What do you recall as your best night out? 
I’m not sure about best, but my favourite nights were always random Sunday evenings in the Black Boy (the weirdest/best pub in Winchester) where we would have a couple of ciders and play board games, before climbing (scrambling) up St Giles. 

How did Freshers' Week feel as a third year?
I wasn’t even really aware that freshers was even happening in third year because I was still working full time and frantically trying to get my summer project/report finished (last minute as always)!

How did your nights out change as uni progressed? 
More quiet pints in the pub, and drinks all cozied up in the living room watching films than crazy nights out. Mainly due to not having the time or the money to go out out, as being a fashion student is horrendously expensive.  

Would you do it all again?
In a heartbeat, though next time I wouldn’t leave basically all my sewing to the last week before garment hand in. I still don’t know how I got it all done but, by some miracle, I did.  
What are your plans now? 
Move to London and sleep on Tegen’s sofa for the foreseeable future, whilst I try to find a more permanent living situation. 

What advice would you give to students going into their final year? 
To your best ability plan ahead whether it is an FMP or your dissertation, develop a routine (it will save your sanity) and allow yourself some “you” time (procrastination) every once in a while, you are only human after all.  

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bloggers | This Week's Reads

Earlier in the year I really got back into blogging and created a new series called This Week's Reads. Now, if my blog is known for anything it's probably its inconsistency. Whether this be down to university distractions, hangovers or my weakness/one true love, Netflix, I haven't been the world's best blogger when it comes to committing myself. So, I may have lost the week by week share of the series, but I want to bring back This Week's Reads nonetheless. Though this time round, I will make no promises to provide it with consistency. I love reading other people's blogs and I love to blog myself, but when you work in an office all day staring at Excel and emails, blogging doesn't always become a post-work priority, or even something you deem as fun.
Now, if you've not stopped by to read This Week's Reads on my blog before, it's basically a little weekly round up of what blogs I've been reading. Inspired by blogger Belle, whose blog you can check out here, I felt it was worth not only doing my usual of reading and commenting on some wonderful blogs, but also sharing my favourites from that week with my followers too. I expect nothing back from doing this, I simply enjoy sharing some worthwhile reading material! 

Referring back to what I was saying at the start of this post, I do still enjoy blogging but on the odd occasion I just need to push myself back into it to find the enjoyment once more. So, quite aptly, the first post I'd like to shine the spotlight on is For When You Don't Feel Like Blogging, by KatyBelle. I found Katy's post after it was liked by another blogger whom I follow, and instantly followed the link to have a read. All the points Katy makes to help motivate yourself once more are very affective and are definitely good tips to take onboard. She mentions brainstorming, which I find super helpful. A lot of the time a post pops into my head as I'm falling asleep, and rather than let the thought pass and forget it the next day, I grab my phone or a note book and jot down a title, an idea or a first paragraph to return to the next day with fresh eyes. Another point she makes is quite simply to take a break, which is always good to hear. At one point in the blogging world I felt like this really had a detrimental affect on your following but now the opinion seems to have changed and taking a blogging break has been received much more positively, which for me, has taken the pressure off having a little down time from blogging. 

The next post I'd like to share is 2 Most Important Things in Life, published by Karolina on her blog Astral Lane. I don't know why this title caught my eye, but it did. And the two most important things Karolina is discussing? Perception and perspective. It's a very thought-provoking post inspired by the film About Time and I always think that a film that has a positive impact on someone's life is a fantastic one. Now, after reading Karolina's post I have to say it's got me thinking about taking perspective in the moment and changing my opinion towards what is going on. I'm trying to learn to be more patient with people and be more understanding, and perhaps if I can perceive situations in a different light, then it may help me with both my flaws. Have a read of her post to see if it gets you thinking about your own day-to-day life.

Another post that relates to my reasons for taking blogging breaks is 4 Reasons to Keep on Blogging When Everybody Else is Doing It Too, because seriously, who doesn't have a blog now? At no point has my blog been huge, and to see people starting a blog and become famous within a month or two, or having thousands of followers after sharing three posts feels a little like a kick in the teeth when you slog away at it for years and see only minimal progression. It makes you question if your blog is rubbish, if you started at the wrong time or if you have all the wrong content. But, for me personally, I don't feel any of the above are true. When I started blogging, finding a student blog was near impossible, but now they're everywhere which is brilliant to see, but obviously did create more competition. Kelly Anne Rist's post helps remind you of why it's important to remember why you started in the first place. In my case, I've accepted I'll never be a well-known or a significantly influential blogger because I don't put in the time and effort others do, but that's okay.

After all those thought provoking posts, it's time for bit of British beauty. A blogger named Alice recently commented on my latest post, so as I always do, I went and checked our her blog AliceKateX and I'm very glad she stopped by my blog to have a read, else I may not have found hers! Alice's most recent post is the third in a series called Finding Beauty on Your Doorstep with the latest post featuring Ingleborough Caves. There's nothing I love more than seeing beautiful places in the UK and I myself enjoy a good staycation. It's easy to forget that we live in a beautiful country when people post photos of sunshine, white sand beaches and high-rise balconies over-looking incredible cityscapes. It's good to see bloggers sharing the beauty of their local area, and now I've made a note to visit these caves. Check out more posts by Alice, as it seems she's been doing a lot of travelling as of late!
Talking of the beauty of Britain, here's a snap from my latest trip to Dovedale in Derbyshire. We climbed a very big hill, and this photo doesn't quite capture how high up we actually were! 

I also read a great post from India over on her blog Touchscreens & Beautyqueens (great blog name too!) all about What Living on Your Own is Really Like. India recently bought her own home, and all the positives she mentions to living alone are all I've been thinking about recently. Whilst I'm actually looking to move out with my boyfriend, and not alone, I still feel like many of the things India enjoys about life alone, I'll enjoy about a place with my boyfriend. The 'bad bits', as India calls them, are to be expected but if I'm honest, I feel like having a place to call your own is worth it!

The final post to share is quite a simple one, a photo post more than anything in fact, but go check out City Girl Gone Coastal's beautiful Birthday Sunrise. 

Life | June & July

Wow - isn't this one big game of catch up! I had a summary post for June in my drafts and it seemed pointless to even consider sharing that post individually now we're at the beginning of September. However, as it was part-complete I thought, why not make a combo post?  

So, what have I been up to in June & July?

The main feature event in June was starting my new job. It now feels like forever ago that I started, but in reality I'm only three months down the line. It felt good to start a new challenge and move up within the company, and with my career progression on the go, my boyfriend was also facing some potential career changes. He had one massive exam to pass in June which would either lead to him qualifying as a Pharmacist, or failing, leaving him only two more chances to become qualified. It was a busy month in the working world for the both of us. 

Though, we still made time for some fun...
I never miss an opportunity to go and spend time with my friend Faye. We lived together for three years and despite her extra year at university whilst I graduated and moved to Nottingham, the distance has not caused us to drift apart. We, of course, couldn't resist the chance to get in some Snapchat selfies. We went on a night out in Sheffield and the day after, thanks to the sunshine and some encouragement from Faye's mother, we went for a walk around one of the local gardens near Faye's house. 

As June felt like a time for change, I decided my hair-do could follow suit. I've been considering Balayage highlights for about two years, but I was 1. Scared they'd look horrendous and 2. Scared that I'd have to sell a kidney to afford it. However, with a pay rise on the horizon, I thought why not! I've absolutely loved having a bit of blonde in my hair!

I also went for my usual wonders around the countryside with Michael. We live in an area close to a local park and the River Trent, so it's always a nice place to go for an evening stroll.

Finally, whilst not remotely life changing, I made pretzels for the first time with the help of The Hungry Healthy Student Cook Book. I received this book to review back in June, and I decided to hold it back for a time when I could actually cook more of the recipes in there. Living with my boyfriend's family isn't a cost affective way of trying out new recipes, and there really isn't enough space for me to get to work. So, keep your eyes pealed as I will be sharing my review soon!

Now moving on...

July was my boyfriend and I's month of travelling about and exploring new places. He had some time off between finishing his exams and finding out his results, so I took the opportunity to book a little time off too and make the most of our time together before he began to locum all over the county. As part of his post-exam celebrations (though we didn't yet know if he had passed or not) I booked us a room at The Rowton Hall Hotel & Spa in Cheshire. It was only a quick weekend getaway, but we packed quite a bit in. 

But, before I get to that...

Photo 1 & 2 capture my first visit to the races! I went with my friend from work, Sally, and a group of her friends. We drank lots of prosecco, placed, lost and won a few bets, ate ice cream at 3am (well, that was just me) and went to work the next day feeling fairly horrendous, but at least it was a Friday. 
A few days later, Michael and I headed to our hotel in Cheshire. It was a couple of hours travel there and back, which I found it very hard to stay awake for (fortunately I wasn't the one driving!) but we made it there safe and sound. During our stay, we visited Chester Zoo and Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet. We took our fairly new Canon D100 SLR out with us and practiced our photography skills at the Zoo. They're still not quite there but Michael caught a few brilliant photos (all above) and I barely took a photo worth sharing! 

The hotel was also in a beautiful setting. We made use of the pool, sauna and Michael got a bit of use out of the gym too. We had a Junior Suite that was absolutely beautiful and so homely, with breakfast included on all three mornings and a dinner on the first night. 

Following on from the visit to Cheshire, we had a trip down to Wales planned so Michael could attend a Pharmacy-related training course. We took a step down from the elegance of our Spa break and booked into a cheap Travelodge last minute. Despite the basic facilities, we were just happy to have a bed for the night. We took a short walk around the area in Cardiff on our first evening there, peaking in at the restaurants deciding what to have for dinner and then ended up ordering a Dominos, as you do. 

The following day we took a long stroll around the Bay before Michael went off to training and I took a trip into the centre of Cardiff for a cheeky shopping spree.

Whilst busy and very quick, June & July were lovely months - but it's also good to be catching up with my blogging once more. So, fear not, my August round up will follow shortly!