Life, Student Life

An Open Letter To Myself

It is a fact of life- when we were younger, less experienced and innocent- a child we all imagined what life would be like. Who we would be when we grow up, who would stay in our lives and who would disappear. And nine times out of ten we all wished we could grow up faster. I’m 22, an adult-in-training and if I could go back to my younger self now there are things I would tell her. So, I’ve decided to write an open letter to myself. And maybe we should all do this. Is there anything you would have done differently or people you wished you’d have given more time too. The open letter is one way to get all of that out. Here goes…

To a redhead, blue eyed, freckled care-free yougster,

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Oh the innocent days

Aged 4-11

I’m here to tell you a few things. First off, that attitude you’re sporting at home is not impressive and in about a years time you’ll suddenly mellow out and wonder what all the fuss was about. If I could go back, I’d still push the same boundaries but not so loudly. However, I would thank you for this because without learning from that attitude I wouldn’t be able to harness the same confidence for job interviews, getting through university and meeting some amazing people. But we could have toned it down a bit.

Secondly, you’ll eventually get your own room at eight/nine so just put up with sharing for a little longer…He’s not that bad. Although, the trick of dumping his mess in his bed was the best thing ever because he always tidied up and it still works now. Maybe you could have gotten rid of some of the clutter before hand though because it took myself and mum a week to do when we finally sorted through everything. It was a pain and at heart we were all ready into the simplistic look so do yourself a favour and keep on top of the clutter instead of getting stressed.

And finally, embrace your hair. We are stuck with this for life so, just embrace it. The colour, the curls because now people try and dye their hair this colour and can’t. So, when someone teases you about your hair simply reply with “And? Your issue is…” That puts off the kids if they don’t know it bothers you. Also you are currently growing it out so you can wear you long, thick curly hair down more…so maybe tell mum you don’t want it cutting short that would have helped a lot. It’s a pain to grow now. Also, you are going to start to straighten it in secondary school so, it isn’t all bad. And when you start putting lowlights in and straightening it- nan does complain but you’ll carry on doing it regardless and she liked it actually once you didn’t put as many in.

12-16

Okay, so we’ve just started really getting into secondary school and focusing on studying. The first thing I’m going to tell you is that it is alright not to know what you want to do in life. As a kid, we wanted to be a load of things;

Nurse: Mum and dad can attest to the fact that this should not be your career choice. They had the bruises to prove it.

Teacher: You don’t have the patience for it. I remember getting bored every five minutes and wanting to do something else. Well you have more patience but if you do teach it would probably be at college level because you’ve now turned into one of those adults who can’t believe the mouth on young kids these days. 

Athlete: So you fell down some stairs and that put a stop to that. But it’s all good because we like to go for a run now as it is a great de-stressing tool. Plus, by stopping the athletics you got to try out new things. For a start, you became more girly for a while. But, it’s all good because you’ve now settled on somewhere in between a girly girl and a tomboy.

And many other careers… But, at 22 we’ve finally made a decision. So it’s time to start trying to get into that. However, rest assured that you are young, we are still young and can try as many things out as possible. Life is not about money, it is about experiencing things, memory making and having fun.

We finally got that bookshelf and the double bed after years of asking. So it pays off. However, that book shelf is nearly full so the dream of owning a home with a library in one day may become a reality because we won’t be throwing away books anytime soon. The only thing we would probably change now is not asking for two colours in our room because as much as I still like blue and purple, turquoise was then and still is our favourite colour. And would probably match the curtains, carpet and bedding much better. Also, don’t put posters up…you get bored after a few months and now both the walls and doors are bare except for the faint marks of blue tack.

Thirdly, embrace the clumsiness. You not only fell down some stair aged 14 which resulted in a trip to the hospital, eight-twelve weeks of recovery and causing your mum stress on her day off but, the falling is going to happen a lot and you’ll always have bruises to prove it. Just last year, you damaged your ankle again which resulted in some very good friends convincing me to go to the hospital again but the year before that you couldn’t run for four weeks after hurting your knee while running. I’d say don’t push things when it comes to injury, don’t be stubborn but we still are now which gave mum and dad a lot of stress last summer.

Finally, you are now and were then a huge geek. With a love of action adventure films, marvel films, Doctor Who and many other sci-fi/ fantasy books, films and tv shows you aren’t exactly into the girly love films. You will sit and watch a few but they really aren’t your cup of tea. So, when you were putting on all that makeup, straightening your hair and attempting to fit in…well that is what sets you apart from others now. Basically, you should embrace your uniqueness because it’ll be much easier down the line and you’ll meet some amazing friends with the some of the same and different tastes as you.

17-20

You know when your parents tell you- you don’t stay friends with everyone in life? You should have listened much earlier. All the stress could have been avoided. In life, we don’t get on with everyone and if you’d have realised that sooner well a lot could have been avoided. Overall, if you hadn’t have gone through this though well, I don’t think I’d be the person I am now. It reminded me of myself, the person I liked who exuded confidence, embraced challenges and loved life and well, we are that person and more now. This doesn’t go without saying that some of the people you meet over these few years won’t still be in your life, and other still are and these are the people who are there for you no matter what. Just remember there are still those childhood friends who you still talk to, and even when you are busy know you will still be there. A click away.

You’ve applied for university and are waiting to get in. Well, you do. And we’ve just graduated with a 1.1 class honours degree so, we did something right. It is something to be proud of so as you make those difficult decisions, expel the negative energy and start to see your grades rise? Well you made the right decision. Be proud of getting an offer from all five universities, be proud of improving with your overall grade every year and be proud of achieving such an amazing result because it’s all us. We did it!

And finally, at 22 we are still an adult in training. We moved out for university which was the best decision in the end. At 22, we are still growing so don’t feel at 18+ that this is now the time you need to know everything in life. Because all that pressure isn’t good for anyone. Achieve the goals you set for yourself like you have so far. We’ve lost that weight, we run regularly, we eat healthily, we have some amazing friends and we are well on our way to becoming an amazing adult. Although, the best adults are those who never really grew up, the one with their inner child still joking about and laughing.

With Love

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We graduated

Still a redhead, blue eyed, freckled, but experienced slightly older youngster….

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Life

Christmas Gift Ideas

Not everyone has a lot of money at Christmas, whether it is because you don’t have a job, you are a poor student who needed to eat this semester, or you don’t like to spend a lot of at Christmas- this list is for you. There are cheap Christmas gift ideas to help you out, even though it is only a few days to go. I’m sure there are still people out there struggling. Sites such as Money Saving Expert suggest loads of cheap ideas for adults, family and kids so if you are struggling simply google cheap Christmas gift idea, set aside some time and get ready to give something useful and crafty to your family members.

Of course, some people don’t expect a lot for Christmas and you may be able to get gifts cheap through vouchers but, not everyone has that option. Here are five options for you:

1. Make Something

It’s simple, it’s easy and meaningful. Nine times out of ten, anyone would appreciate a handmade gift and for those who don’t? Well Christmas is about family, happiness and spending time together and NOT gifts so, in that case take it off them and let them be the grumpy person at Christmas whilst you have fun. Whether you teach yourself to knit, draw something, buy some card and use old scrabble tiles to spell out everyone’s- an original family tree type gift. It’s something and you won’t spend a lot. My nan makes something every year. A couple years ago, we had a very funny incident whilst she was in the middle of making loads of angels. They took on a rude shape before she finished them off.

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She called them angels…They weren’t finished honest

2. A Favourite Photo

We all have memories. And your mum may talk about loving certain photos. So, remember what she said and buy a cheap frame from Wilkinsons. This gift is both thoughtful and can be given to friends too. We carry tons of photos on our phone and boots offers a cheap print off service. At most, you’ll spend a fiver.

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3. Christmas PJ’s

It doesn’t matter where you buy the pjs, whether Primark or Tesco wait until the sales a week before Xmas and get them cheap. We all wear pjs, they are useful gifts and you’ll probably need a new pair by the end of the year. What are you waiting for? Buy some pjs.

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4. Memory Jar

You buy food most weeks. Save your pickled onion jar, branston, mayo and rip the label off. Now find some paper in your house, write down some of your favourite memories but don’t fill it all the way to the top because then you can encourage the gift receiver to add their own memories throughout the year. Next Christmas you’ll be able to empty the jar and talk about some of your favourite memories from the year.

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5. Baking

Everyone loves the presents they can eat at Christmas. You get to pig out on boxing day with these gifts. Pop to your local shop, pick up some flour, eggs and other baking items. Google a recipe and you’ll be set for Christmas. The person gets food for Christmas and you’ll have spent about £3-5 at most.

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Student Life

University Survival Guide: Living Away and Starting University

We have finally reached it! The big day is upon you…are you prepared?

For first years, second years or anyone choosing to move away for university it is a daunting experience. You may not think so at first but the feeling sneaks up on you especially after Freshers. Freshers is a new experience for you, you are buzzed about being away from parents and having your freedom however, this is where your journey begins.

“Freshers Flu- a sickly feeling including symptoms such as a cough, sore throats, sickness etc. A general feeling of illness.”

Freshers Flu gets us all. Whether you are a partier, a quiet night inner or a mixture of the two. No matter what you will catch something because there are so many germs floating around based on the increasing amount of people surrounding you. I have a theory that lecturers either catch it and get on with their days or over the years have managed to build an immunity. Either way, they never really seem to be affected by it. As a recent graduate and someone who chose to move out I thought I would write a little blog post about tips I picked up whilst living away and attending university. So here goes…

Colour Co-Ordinate Your Things

Buy your cutlery, plates, and other crockery in specific colours. You will come with that silver cutlery, talk to your flatmates, and decide to mix up all your stuff in one draw which is all well and good till you move out at the end of the year because if you are not living with those people again how will you know which is yours? Also, if you are the type of person who prefers to keep their belonging to themselves then it will help a lot because your flatmates cannot claim to have used the stuff accidently. Finally, your parents will thank you at the end of the year instead of having to buy another load of stuff for you to move into your next place.

Stock Up on Medicines

We all get ill, it is a fact of life! So, if your family asking if there is anything left you need before you move out then ask for them to put a first aid/medicine kit together with the basics. You will need things such as plasters, antiseptic cream, paracetamols, blister plasters (girls your heels will take a toll), cold and flu calpols etc. but it’ll save you spending a fortune buying them when freshers flu hits if you already have them to hand. All you have to do is remember to stock up your kit when needed on a weekly shop or if you’ve popped into the city for a spot of shopping.

Keep them handy! #medicinekit #funktrunk

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Little Sowing Kit

Do you know how much of a pain it is if you get a hole in your favourite trousers, or if the underwire is popping out of your bra (girls)? Well, its handy if you learn how to sow and perform small fixes to your clothes where possible. Already you have rent, food, and leisure activities to pay for already it is not always ideal to buy new clothes every time there is an issue or waiting until you go home next to dump it all on your parents. You are going home to see them because they miss you…not to dump all your stuff on them whilst you just go out with friends. Also, these little skills will help you later on in life because you’ll have to learn one day. If you are not sure how to sow then ask your family, I am sure they will be delighted to teach you something and if not, there is google.

First Year Does Count

And for some courses it might. But, there are other courses where they do not count the first year towards your final grade. Yet, this does not mean you should slack off and try and pass on the bare minimum. First year serves to raise everyone to the same level in terms of academic writing, teaching basic theories and completing assignments etc and it is true that only 40% is needed to pass into second year but that does not mean you should run off out every night, miss all your classes and then ask for someone to help you pass with the bare minimum. You did not work your butt off to get into university to blow it off. It does count…this is the year teachers assess how you write, research, work and complete assignments which allows them to understand where support is needed but if you are just scraping through so you can go out every night then you should give your place up for someone who really wanted to come and do the work.

HOWEVER

It also counts to have some fun, to let go and be a little crazy. You have moved away, you are independent and you only attend university some of the time so go and have that extra drink, get that tattoo you have always wanted and make friends with a variety of people! First year counts in multiple ways. You have to learn to juggle the fun with work and well because second and third year do count and you cannot rely on just one year to get that 1.1 (first) if you do not have any other grades to fall back on. Everyone is different and I actually managed to get a 1.1 out of my last year but that is not always the case for everyone no matter how hard they try.

Quote saying Here at uni, we have two types of first year: 1-Always goes out barely passing with 40%. 2-Stays in, passing to a high standard but still failing. Open door number three. Have a social life but don't forget to do the work. (door)(heart)(baloons)

Don’t Lock Yourself Away

It is a temptation. You have finally settled in, you are all talked out and you have gotten through the first week of living away from your parents. Now, you may want to fall back into old patterns and locking yourself away from everyone to sit in your room. And that is your prerogative but it is a new place so go and explore, grab some food, and make a few friends. Have them over once you get to know them. Experience university to the fullest!

Boundaries

It sounds odd, I know! But if you like privacy and boundaries then let your flatmates know. They are not mind readers and you cannot expect them to either. If you do not tell people your boundaries they will not understand if they have done something wrong and it is not fair for you to take it out on them either. So, establish a few ground rules to make you feel comfortable and if they are ignored after people are aware, then it becomes an issue you can approach them about. For example, not touching certain foods or if someone uses your stuff but never replaces or washes them after. It is a stressful time to live away and so, you should try and make it as easy as possible for you.

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Have a Good Relationship with Your Proprietor/University Accommodation

Whether you live in a privately rented student house or one of the university accommodations it is good to have a friendly relationship with your proprietor or staff at the university accommodation. This is because your life will become much easier if there is a problem such as a bulb out, plumbing issues, WIFI etc. It is as easy as paying rent on time, reporting issues as soon as they occur and keeping your accommodations clean especially if you would like your deposits back. Also, this links back to boundaries in that not all places will consider you separately from other flatmates so if they break something you may all have to pay. In that case, setting up boundaries that deal with this in some way may help.

A Cook Book

You may have heard the rumours that as students we all live on pasta, noodles and take out. I am here to tell you that is not the case completely. While it is handy to have these cooking short cooks in the cupboard for those days you are in a hurry or heading to the library, a lot of students actually prefer to cook. So, it might be worth finding a little cook book suitable for students to gain ideas or putting one together based on your favourite recipes at home. Parents/Other family and the internet will provide you with great examples. Plus, the freezer is your best friend! You could make a spag bol or chilli and freeze everything else. That will be at least three or four more meals. Or cook as a group in your flat to make huge meals as long as you all split the cost. You could even take it as far as a slow cooker. One of my close friends had one with her for university and she was always using it.

Do Your Assignments

You may want to be out all the time, seeing friends and having fun but there is time to do this and complete your assignments- especially if your housemates all take different subjects. Sometimes you will have to stay in and do your assignments or suffer the consequences. Personally, I found that getting up and heading to the library even if everyone else is in bed or going straight after class and staying till work is complete was the best thing for me. It was hard to concentrate at times where I was living and in the library, I could get into my own world, write my assignments, and do the research particularly if I produced very detailed plans. It does not work for everyone but in my case, I was successful. But do not let anyone else make you feel bad for doing your work because they have not started theirs and want you to fall behind with them. We all work differently and as first years some of you may struggle to find the balance initially but, this comes with time, confidence and setting boundaries!

Make Your Room Your Own

We all walk into bare rooms, remnants of blue tack from the previous tenant mark the wall, cork boards still have tiny bits of paper stuck to them but this is now your room for the foreseeable future. So, make it your own! Buy a few posters to decorate the walls, have a Harry Potter bed spread but make it somewhere you will feel comfortable to live in. After all, it is your space and you have to look at these four walls over the next year. Also, making it your own tends to make it feel less like halls and more homey which is something you’ll need for those wet days, sad days or lazy days.

I would like to end this piece by wishing you all good luck at university and with moving in this weekend or whenever you do. It will be a challenge at first but trust me it is a great experience that you have to immerse yourselves in to get everything out of it. You may have issues with flatmates or university as a whole but, it is how you deal with them that shows your true nature. Whether it is having roommates that annoy you, ignore everyone or feeling like university is getting too hard there are people to talk too. If you have an issue speak to your students’ union, people on your course, or the accommodation staff because they cannot deal with something if it is not happening. Here is an adage that seems appropriate…KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.