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.

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.