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New academic year… same sh*t

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As the start of term begins, I’m left with only one thought in my mind. What sh*t will I come up against this year? In all honestly, probably the same as I did last year, with only one real difference. First year was, looking back, a ‘find your feet’ year. It’s a chance for students to get to grips with uni life, settle in and have fun. Second year is a whole different ball game. From the moment I stepped foot in my first lecture this week I knew something was different. I was taken aback by how quickly we jumped into course content, there were barely any introductory slides in the PowerPoint and we were immersed straight away in all things English Language. Dreaded words like ‘parsing’, ‘adjectives’, ‘noun phrases’ and ‘class tests’ jumped out at me and hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t help but think back to last year when things were easier – we were having introductory lectures for a few weeks before any ‘heavy’ content was thrown our way. This year, we were thrown straight in at the deep end. I swear I heard everyone gulp when the words ‘class test in December’ came hurtling out of the lecturer’s mouth. And I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. Yep, I was right. New year, same sh*t.

Almost everyone I’ve spoken to who has graduated uni has told me that second year was their worst year and I’m starting to see why. Lectures are now two hours instead of one, we have no seminars and I was set 8 chapters to read for the next lecture which was only a few days after the first. The sheer amount of time we have for independent study daunts me, and I’m hoping I can stay focused and motivated. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself when a sh*t ton of work is thrown at you. But I know it’s not a question of should I do it, but I HAVE to do it. I have ambitions and I have a career plan in mind for after I graduate and I have to stick with it to be able to achieve them.

Now I assure you it’s not all doom and gloom. I love being reunited with the same faces as last year, and also miss those who decided uni wasn’t for them after all and decided to pursue full time work. I also love having as much free time as we do this year, but I know it’s not really ‘free’ at all. It’s so easy to get distracted when I’m studying. I usually try my hardest to avoid all distractions, but when I have my laptop staring me in the face I can’t help but wonder what shows I can watch on Netflix or what stupid clips I can find on YouTube. However, I know I simply HAVE to focus. The thought of failure terrifies me in a way I can’t even express and that’s why I’m determined to do as best as I can.

So, even though it may be a new year with the same sh*t, I’m determined to wipe that sh*t away and make the most of the year ahead. It’s going to be tough, but it WILL be worth it. To anyone in the same position as me and fighting through those tough days of education, trust me, it WILL be worth it. Hard work and dedication gets you EVERYWHERE these days.

As much as the saying “good things come to those who wait” gets thrown around and may be true in some respects, I prefer to rephrase it as “good things come to those who go out and bloody work for it!” (apologies for sounding so awfully British!).

My tips for the week and for the academic year are:

  • Focus on your goals and you will be more motivated to achieve them
  • Take everything one step at a time, focus on the work that’s most important for that week, and keep a record of the work you’ve done so you can keep track of what you still have left to do
  • Work your butt off!!
  • Remember, work hard and play hard – have fun too, but remember, those few months of your life you dedicate to work will pay off in the long run. You have so much time to have fun after your studies.

Best wishes,

Katie x

 

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Self esteem… and why mine has been lower than ever just recently

Hi guys,

So I wanted to write this post because I feel it’s so important to say. Writing these posts not only helps me express my feelings but I also hope it will help other people if they came to read this post and were feeling exactly the same as me. I usually don’t like to dwell on negative topics, but I feel this one is very important to me.

Self esteem is defined as “a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth”. At the moment, my ’emotional evaluation’ of myself has been very negative. I’ve found myself putting myself down recently a lot more than usual and it’s started to affect the way I see myself on a day to day basis.

With summer well and truly upon us, it’s usually the worst time of year for me and I want to explain why. I have never been one of those ‘skinny’ girls or ones with flat stomachs that every guy wants to date, and I don’t feel I’m very pretty either. Well not compared to most of my friends anyway. I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin and that’s just something about me which I will have to learn to deal with and change for the better.

Therefore, when summer approaches I never feel comfortable. As the temperature increases, people tend to wear less and less clothing and it almost makes me feel like I should be doing the same. But I just cant bring myself to do it, at least not in public anyway. I have tried putting bikinis on but I end up almost crying at myself over my body image. I am quite comfortable wearing shorts, but its only up until recently that I realised I was happy to go out in public wearing them. However… they still have to be fairly long so that no-one can see my top half of my legs. I hate my legs… they wobble when I walk and my thighs rub together. They are probably my ugliest feature.

I went to an outdoor swimming pool the other day with my friend and as soon as we walked in and I saw the crowds of people, I panicked. I saw girls walking round with slim bodies, toned stomachs and nothing but bikinis on. Of course, I am by no means body shaming – being slim isn’t something to be ashamed of, in reality, its something I aspire to be.

I told my friend I felt really uncomfortable and she asked me why. When I explained to her how I was feeling she told me I shouldn’t worry because I’m beautiful and that she’s gonna punch me if I say one more bad thing about myself.

Knowing my friend, I know she’s not comfortable with her body either, but this doesn’t stop her from being confident and posting pictures of herself on social media wearing dresses, bikinis etc. I know she hates it when I put myself down, and I hate it when she does the same to herself. She’s absolutely beautiful, long dark hair, toned stomach and massive boobs! She gets a lot of attention from guys and this is something she absolutely deserves. I know it sounds awful but I really envy her sometimes. The attention she gets is something I could only dream of, and her confidence is something I wish I had. I know she has her own insecurities but she really doesn’t need to worry. She’s even managed to pick up promotion deals for clothing brands and bagged herself a manager through her posts on Instagram – and she still doesn’t think she’s worth anything!

It’s frustrating seeing someone like her have little confidence in herself, and I do what I can to change that. Daily compliments and kind remarks go a long way these days and I know she appreciates it. I’m so proud of her and all she’s achieved and will go on to achieve. If you’re reading this Paula – I love you.

I digressed a little there but my main point was going to be that we got into the changing rooms and she had changed into this amazing bikini that hugged her in all the right places. Me on the other hand had changed into a swimsuit that definitely doesn’t hug me in all the right places. I felt so insecure in myself that I refused to walk out like that, so I walked back into the changing rooms and shoved my clothes back on over my swimsuit. The only thing I changed was my shoes and slipped on some flip flops so I could walk around comfortably.

As I walked out of the changing rooms I knew my friend wasn’t judging me, after all, she knows I have insecurities and she lets me be me, and I love her for it. She didn’t say anything apart from how nice the weather was and how she couldn’t wait to spend time with me in the sun. I appreciated this more than she knew. The last thing you want is someone pointing out all your insecurities.

As it got later and later, I said to her that we should get in the pool as all we’d done is sunbathe and put our feet in the water. I saw many people having so much fun that I wanted to experience their joy too. I had also been watching the people frolicking around and realised something. There were SO many people just like me, who didn’t have ‘perfect’ figures, slim stomachs and the like, and were walking around unapologetically. They didn’t seem to care what people thought or if anyone was staring – the simple fact was it was hot and they wanted to wear a bikini and they didn’t care who saw.

I for one was definitely staring, but not because I was judging them (after all who am I to judge), but I was staring because I was admiring them and their confidence. I needed some of that. So I turned to my friend and said “I wish I had that confidence” and she said “you can”. She was so right. I can. And I did. I decided to ‘take the plunge’ so to speak and said to her I’m gonna go get changed. So I did. I took my clothes off and wrapped my towel around me. I walked out of the changing rooms and waited for my friend. I weirdly still felt so exposed and naked, even though I was fully clothed and had a towel round me. I think its because all these girls were walking around me and I envied their figures and tans. I’m whiter than white and fake tan does not suit me. So I have to spend hours in the sun to get a tan, and when I try, I just end up burning anyway so half the time I don’t go outside.

I saw my friend and we walked out to the main pool area. It was a bit quieter as it was getting near 5pm and it was a weekday. We threw our towels onto a nearby bench and walked to the stairs of the pool. Now the thing I want to highlight here is it was only about 4 paces away from us, but that was the worst part for me. Walking around ‘exposed’ with no protection apart from my swimsuit and knowing people were looking at me, or at least it felt that way anyway. I wasted no time to jump into the pool and even though it was freezing cold, I just wanted to be hidden again. When you’re in water no one can see what you look like unless they’re below surface and it made me feel more comfortable. I also started to realise the longer we were in there that no-one was looking at me, It had just felt like they were because I was so convinced I looked so awful and that definitely reassured me.

I came to a few realisations that day:

  1. I’m not as awful looking as I think I am
  2. I DO have confidence – I just need to show it more
  3. You can learn so much off other people’s confidence and it really is truly inspiring

I know they’ll never read this but I want to thank those girls who were walking around unapologetically owning their bodies and wearing their confidence. If it wasn’t for you I probably wouldn’t have got in that pool.

I know people always tell me to ‘stop being silly’ or ‘shut up’ when I mention how I feel about myself but to me it isn’t that simple. I cant just shut off my feelings when it comes to my body and I sure as hell wont be shutting up anytime soon either. But what I can do is make a change to improve my confidence. I can start looking after myself better and doing things which will help my body. Instead of that chocolate bar I will eat some fruit. Instead of a fizzy drink I will make a smoothie. Instead of no exercise, I will make sure I do some. I’m not sure whether I will have stuck to this when I come back to read this, but I know that for at least one day of my life I had confidence in myself and was not afraid of what people thought because I realised there is more to life than worrying about what other people think of me.

It definitely doesn’t help me when I’m surrounded my people who all have the body types I aspire to. It makes me feel so rubbish when I see them eat so much junk food and do no exercise and not put on any weight at all. I so much as look at junk food and I will have put on about 10 stone. Okay so I’m exaggerating of course but you see my point. On the other hand, it gives me motivation. I aspire to be as slim as them and be confident in myself. I want to be able to wear bikinis without feeling I shouldn’t and I want to look at my legs and not feel ashamed. This is why I’m determined to do something about it.

Maybe my next post will be on the start of my journey, but who knows, I don’t really stick to much these days.

I’m so sorry this has been a long and probably whiny post, but I wanted to write it and I hope it might help someone out there someday.

My message to anyone who feels the same as me and has constant days of feeling ashamed about their body is:

You are beautiful, you are worth it and you can be confident. Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should look or what you should do. It’s your body and only you can change it, if you really want to. If you want to make a change, do it, you never know how it could change your life. If you don’t want to make changes, that is perfectly fine too. No matter what body shape or size you are, you ARE beautiful. I’ve come to realise now that self love is the most important thing in the world. It affects your mental state, actions and more. So gaining self love is the first step to great things.

Thank you for sticking with me on this one. I promise my next post wont be as long.

Stay amazing guys and remember – only YOU can be the change you look for.

Katie

x

 

 

End of first year… and exciting opportunities!

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So I haven’t posted in a while. I apologise! Uni has been crazy busy and as you can probably appreciate, exam time was upon us last month and the build-up has been crazy! The amount of paper I have used over these last few months has been mad!

I wanted to take this opportunity to write about what’s been going on since I’ve been away. Well, first year of uni has ended. I have mixed emotions about it all really. Whilst I hated uni to begin with, I really managed to find my feet towards the end of it and I will definitely miss it over summer. Living in halls has been such a great experience and I wish I could do it all over again. Sadly I’m all moved out now for summer and I wont be living in halls again. My flat and I never got on as well as most others, but that’s part of life – you will meet people you get on with and some people who you don’t. It’s about how you deal with it that matters. Being civil was the key, whilst I may not have got on with my flat (apart from one amazing girl called Amy), I was civil and spoke to them when I saw them and made sure I wasn’t making any enemies!

Before I moved out of halls though I was busy conducting my first year exams. I was lucky this year that they were multiple choice – not lucky because they were ‘easy’ but because it was much less stress. I knew the answer was going to be there somewhere – I just had to work out where. There is no such thing as a trick question with multiple choice, the answer must be somewhere!

During my exam period I was very lucky to have been able to be selected to be a part of two amazing opportunities for which I’m very grateful. The first is something called a STaR mentor partnership at Reading University which basically involves me helping new students to transition to university life. Whilst I am by no means an expert on university life, I like to think I have enough knowledge to help these students transition well to uni. After all, I was in their position this time last year – so many questions in my head about what uni will involve, whether i’ll make friends and what living in halls is like. I am really excited to get started in August and continue it into the Autumn term.

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STaR Mentor Ad

Another exciting opportunity is something which I feel was luck and nothing else. I have never been one to brag about anything, whether it be any of my achievements, my life or just general things. I will always downplay my ability because I always think there’s someone far better than me. Anyway I digress… it all started when I was scrolling through my emails during a day where I was meant to be doing revision. I came across an email from an online panel that I’m part of advertising a competition they were running. I usually dismiss all competition emails because I never win and I don’t consider myself to be very lucky! (I think I may have won a Hannah Montana CD back in 2006 but that was about it!). However, there was something different about this that struck me. It was titled something along the lines of “Exciting opportunity to write for Which? magazine!”. Now I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the magazine because I wasn’t really aware of it either, but I knew I liked writing and it was something I may be interested in entering. So I opened the email and read down to the bottom where the entry link was staring me right in the face.

I clicked on the link and it took me to this page explaining the rules of the competition and what was expected. Long story short, they wanted someone to write an article about what people don’t tell you about living in university halls. If you were selected, they would publish your work on their website for university freshers and students alike. I thought this was right up my street, especially considering I had been living in halls for the past 8 months or so! So I decided to take my chance and enter, why not, I had nothing to lose.

Within about half hour I wrote this article and formatted it loosely based on what I thought was an acceptable standard of writing. I usually take so much pride in all work I do, but I didn’t in a million years think I was going to win, hence my loose formatting. A few bold subheadings here and there, short paragraphs and some pictures later, the article was done! I was fairly proud of it and decided to take a shot. I submitted the article and thought nothing more of it.

A few weeks later I was back in my home town just scrolling through my emails again(exciting life I lead right?). I usually just spend most of my time clicking delete because most emails are junk or ones which I don’t care to read. Apart from one which was staring me in the face…

“Congratulations! Your article has been chosen… it was exactly what we were looking for…. Which? would love to publish you!”

O.M.G.

I couldn’t believe it! Me? Little old me from a tiny town no-one has ever heard of being selected to be published on a website!! I think I must’ve read the email 100 times over just to make sure it sank in. I even proceeded to check that the email address was real and not one of these “jimmy@jimbo47583.cog.lol” type ones which are clearly fake!

Yes it’s true… I won! I am now going to be published online for loads of people to see. To tell you the truth it still hasn’t sunk in but I’m so unbelievably grateful for this opportunity. I have always loved writing and to be selected really made my day. I think this could be the start of something great! So thank you to Which? and also the online Opinion Panel Community – I am so very grateful.

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To most people this isn’t really exciting. But to me this is everything I could’ve ever hoped for. For my writing to be recognised by people and chosen to be on a website. That to me is the best thing.

So it just shows that the old saying “you never know unless you try” really is true in this case. So in light of this… even if you think you won’t win or succeed or whatever it may be you want to do but don’t think you stand a chance at. DO IT. Look what happened to me!

I apologise for this post being so long, but I had lots to catch up on and as most of my friends and family know, I can talk for England…

Be back soon, take care,

Katie x

 

How have I been at University for 6 months already?!

 

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Source: https://jadebloom.com

Hey guys,

For my second blog post I wanted to share my thoughts on how fast university has gone for me in the first few terms of my first year. Never did I think that I would still be at university 6 months after joining. I was too worried about being homesick and missing everything back home. I thought I wouldn’t be able to hack uni life. I was also worried I’d never make friends and would become a loner for life! Luckily, uni has been better than I was expecting, and here is my story from the beginning…

I came to Reading Uni on 16th September 2016 full of nerves, sad to be leaving home but also excited for my new adventure. Luckily Reading isn’t too far away from my hometown so I have  a constant comfort knowing I’m never too far away if I do have a period where I become homesick again. My parents joined me that day and to say they were emotional is an understatement. My mum held back her tears pretty well. My dad on the other hand was bawling his eyes out and at one stage I never thought he’d stop! Bless him, gotta love him though.

I remember telling him to stop crying so much because I didn’t want to miss home even more than I did already (and I’d only been at uni for 2 hours at this point!). Eventually things calmed down and we sat and had lunch after our hard task of lugging all my belongings up to the very top floor of my halls. Just my luck to be placed on top floor of a building that has no lift! Anyway that was a small inconvenience and once i’d unpacked it felt a little less surreal and the traipsing up and down stairs was definitely worth it. At this point it was more exciting and I couldn’t wait to meet my flatmates. I was the first to arrive out of my other flatmates, my parents have always prided themselves on being early to events. It was 10am and my other flatmates weren’t due til at least 4pm. So we had a lot of time to kill. Lunch in the cafe it was!

With lunch done and dusted it was time for goodbyes. “I’m so proud of you” was said to me about a thousand times. But I didn’t mind. Things like that make being away from home worth it. Knowing I have made my family proud is the best thing for me and at times is the only thing that keeps me motivated. Wiping away my tears I finally  managed to say goodbye and waved my parents off, wondering what was in store for me that day. Hurry up flatmates!!

Eventually, by 6pm all of my flat had arrived. We had gone out together that first evening to stop us feeling homesick and it was a great night that’s for sure. We made sure we had eachother’s numbers in case anyone got lost on the way to the club in town, but we luckily all survived. I opted to stay in that night. I didn’t really feel in the “club” mood and so happily went to bed ready for the next few busy weeks of freshers.

I really tried for the first few weeks to really settle in and find my feet at uni, but it proved harder than I thought. I’m naturally a shy person until you get to know me and I’d much rather spend ‘nights out’ at the pub with my mates than raving in a cramped nightclub full of drunk sweaty people. Don’t get me wrong though, every once in a while even I like to join in the clubbing lifestyle and ‘let my hair down’ so to speak. It is always good to have a good laugh with your mates and laugh at eachother’s drunk dancing. Because I didn’t go out much I didn’t really meet many people and I had seen in my flat that they had already made friends with other flats which definitely worried me – “how am I ever going to make friends if I don’t like going out every night?” definitely circled round in my head for days.

Freshers was, to me, a big worry even before I came to university. From what people in my family had told me who had been to uni, I expected endless nights of drinking and clubbing with nothing more on offer. This came to be far from the truth and whilst there were clubbing events every single day, the daily schedule was much better than I anticipated. There were games days, societies fairs and sports events. So they really did cater for everyone. But even though this was on offer I still felt lonely and at times wondered whether uni was right for me.

Thankfully within a few months I managed to find some people who have similar interests to me and who don’t live too far away from my halls. A small group of friends is all I’ve ever wanted at university because quite frankly, it’s definitely always been more quality over quantity for me. It wasn’t until Christmas 2016 that I realised how much those friends meant to me. It may sound silly because by this point we had only known each other a few months, but they really did become and are my best mates here. We spend lectures together, spend time outside of lectures together and try and talk on our Facebook group chat when we can. At the moment we’re deciding on our housing choices for second year here and can’t wait to live together!

Maybe the reason uni has flown past is because the constant workload leaves you no time to be sat there daydreaming. At first, the workload was so overwhelming and I just didn’t know how I was going to cope, but after a few months I settled into the swing of things.

University is definitely a step up from college and there is a lot more expected of students. Independent work has never been a problem for me. In fact, I often prefer it to group tasks. The thing that stumped me the most was the essay writing requirements. 1500 words due in a week on a topic no-one had ever heard of before, had one lecture on and had a choice of thousands of books to narrow down to just 3 to use. Nightmare!

Eventually I managed to get into the swing of things and started to feel settled and successful here. With a few 2:1’s and firsts under my belt already, I can’t wait to see where uni life takes me next!!

If there’s anyone reading this who is feeling uncertain about joining uni this year, I have one piece of advice for you. Enjoy it and work hard, but don’t forget to have fun and get involved with as much as possible!

Thank you for reading, and if I don’t post in a while please forgive me. Uni work has probably taken over again!

Take care,

Katie

x

 

 

 

 

“New Year, New Me” – why we make resolutions but can never stick to them (And what we can do about it).

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Source: http://www.europeanbestdestinations.com/top/best-destinations-to-celebrate-new-year-s-eve-in-europe/

When the festive celebrations are over and the year is coming to a close, there is one phrase in particular which is probably going to be heard more than any others. The ever-popular phrase “new year, new me” rings in the ears of hundreds of thousands of people every January 1st.

In fact, I can almost guarantee that you will hear this from at least one person you know. I can probably also guess that their resolutions will be somewhere along the lines of spending less money, losing weight or spending more time with their family and friends.

Now I am by no means saying I am not guilty of this. I for one have used this phrase and made many New Year’s resolutions along the same lines, none of which I have actually managed to keep. In fact, for the last three years I have set the same resolution as the year before. I promise myself I will spend more time with my family and friends because they’re far better company and far more important than my phone or TV!

But there is one problem. The sheer fact that I keep resetting this resolution clearly shows that for some reason, I just cannot stick to it. Perhaps this says something about my personality. Maybe I cannot commit. Maybe I am just eternally doomed when it comes to change. Who knows. Maybe next year I’ll manage to stick to something!

Of course it seems like a natural time to be making changes, but why are only a select few of us able to successfully achieve our goals? According to a YouGov poll conducted in 2015, 63% of Britons are planning to make New Year resolutions in 2016 as they head into 2017.

Continue reading ““New Year, New Me” – why we make resolutions but can never stick to them (And what we can do about it).”