Wednesday, 13 May 2015

First Year

My beautiful university town\\ St Andrews

One more exam and I will have completed my first year of university; here are my thoughts and reflections on this amazing, stressful year. 

Don't doubt yourself

I am my own worst critic, if I don't get the best mark then I beat myself up about it. In classes I don't contribute an answer for fear of being wrong, the times I have said something I've been told it was a good contribution. Even when I know I am right there is still a nagging fear that I'm wrong and that I will make an idiot of myself. I know I am capable so I need to remind myself that I can do it. 

Find a balance

Whether this balance is between studying, partying, going back home or anything else, balance is so important. I work part-time at the weekends so for me having a balance between 'work' work and university work was essential. I'm a terrible procrastinator and it means I'm spending hours at the library and then working all weekend, with no time for a social life. Its important for me not to burn myself out.

Never compare yourself

I study Ancient History and this is the first time I am ever studying it in an academic sense, I've had an interest in it for years. There are a lot of fellow classmates who have studied it before and had amazing opportunities to work on sites abroad, something that I never had or did. Sometimes it's so hard not to compare yourself to these people who know more than you, it can be disheartening. 

Grades are important

But they're not the most important thing. I've been told multiple times that I only need a 7 to pass, but I don't want to scrape a pass, I want to do well! If I try my hardest and make an honest attempt at something then I will be happy with my grade. Sometimes I struggle with motivation and when I don't have anyone telling me to do work I put it off until the last possible moment. This is a terrible habit to have. I need to be my own biggest motivator.

It's hard
It's a lot harder than high school and you have to be prepared to do a lot of work. My first semester was hard, I was going a module I hated and considered dropping out if I couldn't change in the next semester. But I put my head down, passed the exam and then changed my module. Now I'm doing a module I love and that I'm good at. 

Enjoy yourself
I worked really hard to get into university and now that I'm here it's still hard to comprehend sometimes. I get stressed so easily about stupid things and it prevents me from doing things I enjoy. I'm at university for five years and I am going to enjoy my time here before I have to be a proper adult and get a full time job. 

I have my last exam and I turn twenty next week. Goodbye to teenage years and hello to second year of university!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Revision Playlist

I'm still awake when the sun rises \\ St Andrews

Exam time is upon me and I cannot study without music to block distractions out; here are some of my favourites

Frank Ocean: Channel Orange is one of my favourite albums, and it's the perfect sound for studying. I'm also a big fan of Swim Good.

Mumford and Sons: Their new album Wilder Minds was released recently and although there aren't a lot of banjos I like it. I love their earlier albums, add a banjo and I'm hooked. 

Bon Iver: The perfect music for revising and focusing. His Stems Project album is especially good.

I listen to music predominantly through Spotify and there are some really good ready-made playlists, I listen to the ones categorised under 'focus' often. 

My favourites are Atmospheric Calm, Cinematic Chill Out and Mellow Beats. In other playlist categories I recommend; Dinnertime Acoustics, Have a Great Day! and Sunny Side Up. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Spring Break

I recently spent five days exploring London, here are my photos. 

ft\\ British Museum, Natural History Museum and Tate Modern 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

2015 \\ Reflections

I've decided that this year I'm not going to set myself resolutions; I last a month at most and then feel like a failure for the rest of the year. This year I am being selfish and focusing on myself.
These aren't resolutions per se, I see them more as goals for the future and becoming the best version of myself I can be. It's a change of habits, attitude and persona.

You are not a match. You are a goddamn wildfire. (Amanda Oaks, full poem)

This year I'm going to do things that make me happy and help me remember how lucky I am. I am studying something I love, I live right beside the sea and my friends are amazing; what isn't there to love? This year I turn twenty and I think I've finally realised that if someone doesn't like you then it doesn't matter, I'm not here to impress anyone. I'm going to embrace my terrible dance skills and my loud laugh. Why should I be ashamed about things that are natural and make me who I am. I'm going to be enthusiastic about Alexander the Great and Herodotus and no one can stop me.

I think it's intoxicating when someone is so unapologetically who they are. (Don Cheadle)

I'm going to stop relying on people and things for my happiness. It is so easy to depend on certain people to pull you through the dark times and difficulties but I need to learn how to do it myself. I may be young but I've done a lot in my short life. I volunteered for two months, travelled to Peru on my own, I have consistently worked for the past three years and I got into a top class university. I am proud of myself. When did having pride in yourself become a bad thing, I work hard and I deserve good things. I am capable of great things and this year I intend to become the best version of myself.

I stopped looking for the light. Decided to become it instead. (@heyfranhey) 

I'm going to write more, sing more, draw more and dance more. I'm going to wholeheartedly embrace my wonderful life and conquer anything in my way. In the simplest terms possible I'm going to punch 2015 in the face and kick its ass

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


Everyone is heading home for a cosy christmas with family and a relaxing month long break from university. Except me. I'll be spending the majority of the winter break staying in my university town to work, here are my plans so I don't turn into a recluse.

- Go outside -
I'm lucky that I live in a beautiful town beside the sea, and I need to take advantage of that. Whether it's a long walk or popping to the shops, I aim to go outside every day. 

- Read -
I finally have to read non-reading list books which means I'm going to tackle the huge pile of books that I've been meaning to read. Coincidently the majority of them are to do with my degree in some way!

- Exercise -
Last summer I was going on runs every week and loving it but university threw everything out of balance. I want to start running again and this break is the perfect time for that. 

- Keep in touch - 
I love writing letters and cards and want to send them to my friends, especially those in far flung places. There is nothing nicer than getting a handwritten card in the post!

- Prepare for next semester -
I want to be prepared by doing all the required reading in advance, luckily I enjoy the background reading! I also need to keep on top with my Spanish, ¡aquĆ­ voy! 

All of this will be partnered with my retail job, which should be fun in the sales.

Monday, 24 November 2014

November Playlist

St Andrews, Scotland

I listen to music pretty much constantly, whether that be when walking to class, cooking dinner or studying at the library. I've had a week of deadlines and these songs have been my saviours. 

In Dreams \ Ben Howard
Limits Lie \ Jamie T
You are the Sun \ Hurricane Love
English House \ Fleet Foxes
Bad Blood \ Bear's Den 
I Wanna Get Better \ Bleachers
Never Gonna Give You Up \ The Black Keys
Out of the Blue \ Prides
Torn Apart \ Bastille
Cherry Wine \ Hozier

If you're looking for some new music I recommend Hozier, he's amazing.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Freshers Week Advice

I moved into halls exactly a week ago which means freshers week is nearly over. If you don't know what freshers week is... it's basically a week for all new students to get very drunk and make mistakes, and of course make new friends, get used to university life and start doing things for themselves. 

Don't be nervous or anxious.
Everyone is in the same boat as you, they might just be better at hiding it. I was quite lucky in the fact that I'd already spent a time away from home fending for myself, but most people haven't. Of course it's natural to be scared, it's a huge thing to do! I'm living in halls with 500+ people and for an only child who grew up in a small town its a situation I've never been in before. Be brave and head out!

Be friendly.
I know this is easier said than done but putting on a smile and introducing yourself to people really does make the world of difference. At least say hello to the people in your corridor/flat because you're going to be living with them and they'll be the people you see the most. Introduce yourself to everyone you meet, you never know they might become your best friend! The worst thing you can do is shut yourself away in your room and not talk to anyone.

Be Healthy
Without sounding like your mother, try and stay healthy at university, and especially in freshers week to fend off the dreaded freshers flu. Eating healthily and drinking enough water makes those hangovers end more quickly and mean you're ready to tackle anything life throws at you. I recommend buying loads of vegetables, they're cheaper and tastier than ready meals!, and making a batch of soup or sauce that can be heated up quickly. I made a huge batch of Tomato and Quinoa Soup, which will last me for at least five meals. If you can't cook then learn asap!, or ask a willing cook to make you some healthy meals that can be frozen. All I'm going to say about drinking is know your limits. If you can drink someone under the table then go on but if you know yourself that one drink goes straight to your head then maybe don't do those tequila shots. The most important thing is watch your drink getting made and don't leave it unattended, I have had my drink spiked before and it was not a nice experience and could have ended very badly.

Say yes
In the past week I have avoided many people asking me to join their society, but I have also said yes (what the hell!) and put my name down for things I never even thought of. The Russian society, why the hell not? Attend a beach barbecue even though the tide is coming in, again why the hell not? Saying yes or attending an event doesn't mean you have to join or are under any pressure to go again. You'll meet loads of new interesting people and have fun! Most universities will have a fayre of some sort where you can discover all the weird and wonderful societies. I will most likely join the ones to do with my degree but I also intend on volunteering and doing some charity work so who knows? Go to events as well, if they're anything like the ones I've been to they wont be amazing but who cares? I still had a great time and bonded with my flatmates about how bad they were! 

Enjoy yourself!
The whole point of freshers week is to enjoy yourself before classes start and you have to remember why you're at university. You'll probably have to do a few boring official things during the week to make sure you're enrolled and actually down for the right subjects but after they're done have fun! Go and explore your new home town, battle through the crowds to get all the free stuff and make sure to call your mum to let her know you're still alive. 

Your life is just beginning and you're gonna be great!