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New Term Essentials: What To Take and What To Leave Behind

My new university room!

   September brings the smell of anticipation, Pringles and cheap alcohol as thousands of almost adults leave for their triumphant return to university. 

Thousands too are starting at university for the first time, full of enthusiasm and nerves. It’s a bit of a cliché that University is the best time of your life and that Fresher’s Week is amazing. 

My personal experience of Fresher’s was horrendous, but university life has certainly improved and is so much better than just one week at the very beginning. It’s taken two years, but I’ve learnt to eat healthier, balance work and play, and have a small group of amazing friends. Give university life time. 

As a somewhat seasoned packer of university essentials going in to my third and final year, here are my top five items of what to take and what to leave behind, from my own meandering experience. 
You won’t need;

  • Full 10 piece dinner set: you need two of each thing, maximum. One clean, one dirty. 
  • Iron: despite best intentions, you won’t iron your clothes. Hang them up and hope for the best.
  • Your entire wardrobe: pack sensibly and seasonly. Remember, by the time summer comes around, chances are you’ll be back at home for the holidays!
  • Corkscrew: screw top wine bottles are a gift to embrace.
  • Negativity: A bad attitude doesn’t get you anywhere, and other people can sense them a mile off. Give everyone a chance, you never know who you’ll meet, and remember: university is completely different to the drama of high school! 

You will need;

  • Laundry essentials: you’ll have to learn to use a washing machine, either in your halls or the local laundrette. Remember detergent! I always managed to forget it. 
  • First Aid Basics: gather a little box of plaster, antiseptic cream, tablets and stepsils to see you through the grazed knees of drunken antics and the notorious Fresher’s Flu (living in such close proximity with new people means you’re bound to get ill)
  • Photos, blankets and cushions: take the time to make your room your home. It’ll help you settle in, especially when inevitable homesickness hits and make a comfortable space for you and your new friends.
  • Door Stop: this is one of the most important items in your possession during Fresher’s. Propping your door open means you can target new flatmates as they walk past and make them into new friends. Offer cookies for bonus results.
  • Positivity: Being a positive person makes university a brilliant experience. You’re paying for the education, try to embrace and enjoy all aspects. 

   

Love fresh coloured bedding.


 

Wardrobe and pull down desk

  

Bookcase corner

 Check out these other great articles:

My Experience of and Tips for Fresher’s Week by PollyCatContemplates

Essential University Checklist  
What Not To Take To University
13 Common Myths about University
Fresher’s Flu: Causes and Cures
23 Things Grads Wished They’d Known In Their First Year

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9 Lessons I Learnt in 19 Years

Monday morning brings the dawn of my 20th birthday and the start of my twenty-first year on Planet Earth.
Today, I’m sharing with you the 9 lessons I’ve learnt in my 19 years. Philosophical, educational, and I hope a bit witty, this is my advice to those who seek it.
1. Strive to be a good friend.
It is a sad truth that some friendships don’t last as long as your best intentions might hope. Some are strictly weekdays, 9-5. While others survive through the rockiest times in each of your lives.

From Pinterest

2. Life is short.
Appreciate your family, by choice or blood. They are are the ones who will support your choices and pick you up from metaphorical or literal gutters.
3. Those who mind, don’t matter. Those who matter, don’t mind.
4. Love your body.
In the words of Baz Luhrman, “Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. It is the greatest instrument you will ever own.”
 

Myself, at the age of about 3 years.


 
5. Disappointment doesn’t last.
When I reviewed my GCSE results I was disappointed in myself. I thought I could have achieved better if I had put my mind to it.  But almost 4 years later I’m studying for the degree I wanted to do at a university that last year achieved the prestigious Times High Education University of the Year, 2014. I’ve learnt that I did my best throughout my GCSEs. And now, my best is even better.
6. Attend as many concerts, gigs and shows as possible.
I love the theatre and concerts. The sense of unity you get from being part of an electric audience is unlike anything else. It enriches who you are and teaches you more about a culture than anything else.
McBusted in concert. 2014.

McBusted in concert. 2014.

7. Find comfort in music.
My iTunes varies from Abba to Led Zeppelin and contains the poetry of lyrics “to help me cope with anything”.
8. Read widely.
Invest in that bestseller, seek out the dusty unbroken spines of little known volumes or search for new bloggers and columnists. Always go back to your favourites, they become part of who you are.

A selection of some of my favourite books

9. Be kind to yourself.
Self-care is paramount in my option. Take the time you need to unwind, relax and treat yourself. Wallow in a bubble bath and not in self-pity. Run yourself fit so you can run (read: fly) towards your goals. 
 
Happy Monday, ladies and gentlemen. Have the best week!
 


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Top Tips for overcoming The Student Slump

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It is the middle of term; assignments are due in a few short weeks, then it’s Easter, exams and the end of the year. If you’re anything like me, by now you’ve run out of steam to make notes during lectures and can’t bring yourself to do them at home either. This is the time of Peak Procrastination.

Runners call it The Wall. Writers call it Writers Block. I am hereby dubbing this The Student Slump.

(Has anyone guessed how much I love alliteration yet?)

Here are my top tips for overcoming The Student Slump.

1. Be honest with yourself

You know what needs to be done. And you’re avoiding it. Make a comprehensive list of the work that needs to be done. I tend to do daily lists and include even the minute details. The satisfaction of crossing out things you’ve successfully completed is great!

2. Don’t beat yourself up

Don’t mistreat yourself during this. Make sure to schedule in your food and rest time to your lists of thing to do. Try not to feel guilty about the Everest of work you have to do. I know this is difficult, but guilt tripping yourself isn’t going to help motivate you. Yes, maybe you should have done it sooner, but that night out and whole day marathoning Game of Thrones was worth it, right?!

3. Reward yourself

Done a couple of hours work or made headway with that reading? Reward yourself. Have that hot bubble bath, crack open the special offer Ben & Jerry’s and watch an episode of your current favourite TV show ( share your favourites with me! I’m currently watching Once Upon A Time.)

Taking reasonable measures towards getting out of that Student Slump means you will be back in the swing of things in no time.

I’m off to the library to follow my own advice and stop my blog post procrastination.

Cheers!


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The Freedom of Freshers

The past few weeks have flown by in a blur of alcohol and people. Last year, my Freshers week at university was dismal: homesickness and nerves are not a good combination. So for the second time around, Freshers this year was a lot more successful!

With what I have experienced and leant in my life so far, I want to be able to provide advice for those of you who have headed to university for the first time, or are returning like myself.

First off; homesickness and nerves.
Being homesick is something we all suffer from time to time, it is perfectly natural and I suspect part of the fight or flight defence mechanism. A homing device if you will. If my time in Spain taught me anything, it’s that. Starting university is a difficult leap from A levels or equivalent to degree level working. It is new experiences, new people, new work and, if you have chosen to, living away from home! I will not deviate from truth, it will make you nervous. But that adrenaline in your system will help, I promise.

Try to make the most of a bad situation. I am sharing my house this year with three friends, all of whom go home at the weekend. This is proving difficult as not only does my university house creep me out a little bit, it’s almost always dirty (the perks of living with boys) and almost always empty at weekend. But alas, make do. Yesterday, Beck and I cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom top to bottom so now it positively gleams and it feels much better. This weekend I am getting out and about, off to visit my Auntie and Uncle and Grandma who live not far away! Try not to sit alone in your room if you don’t get along with people. Join new things, meet new people, go places with them and meet more. Share things with them, not just food but stories and secrets, it brings people closer and forges friendships from where you would never expect.

Preparation pays off. This past week I have started new classes for my second year, where all my marks count towards my final degree. Thankfully my seminars have the familiar and friendly faces of last year in too, which definitely helps with nerves. I’ve learned from last year that preparation counts, I finished my first year with a 1:1. So this year I intend to keep up and improve my organisation when it comes to assignments and time management.

The other day, one of my lecturers, a German gentleman who often unintentionally borders on the offensive with what he embellishes lectures with, earning giggles, told us something that really hit home. University is the most friendly place we will ever experience in our chosen careers. That university is the place to speak up and embarrass yourself if you get it wrong, to win peer respect if you get it right. The chance to make mistakes and learn from them. Nothing will ever be as friendly as the environment I am in now. This is both scary as hell and exhilarating.

This is what I shall keep in the forefront of my mind this year; step up and plunge into the deep end of experience. Organise and work hard. But play hard too, because life isn’t all academia. Nor is it about the path to true happiness. Create your own happiness in everyday moments. Seek knowledge and experiences and above all enjoy yourself.

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