Let exams begin

To be honest – I’ve actually already had one of them! My Russian speaking exam was on Wednesday at 12.20pm (EST) and it was the most bizarre exam I’ve done in my life. For the first 5 minutes, I had to stammer my way through an A4 sheet’s worth of Russian to show my pronunciation – and some of the sounds that they put together are really tricky to get right. On top of that, you had to judge where the emphasis was, because this can change the sound of the letters before and after the stressed syllable/letter. Then, as though that wasn’t hard enough, you had to actually talk to the examiner about yourself (о себя), and then the discussion could go in pretty much any direction after that. Mine ended up talking about how I used to live in Spain and because Spanish is my second language, I kept trying to say ‘Sí’ instead of “да” (both of which mean ‘yes’ (the Russian word is pronounced ‘dah’)).

After the exam she kept talking to me in Russian even though we weren’t recording anymore, which was weird too – aren’t we supposed to revert back to English and then she can console me and tell me that I don’t need to worry I did ok? I mean c’mon!

So next up is my final Russian summative test (summative count, formative don’t – just so you remember!). That’s 2.30 pm today. The other exams over the next few weeks are listening exams and reading and writing and translation (Spanish only for translation I think – and hope!). The thing is with languages, you can’t really revise in terms of learning a load of facts…. you have to just know as much vocab as possible and have a great grasp of the grammar and be confident when you speak/listen. So it’s kinda down to what’s on the paper/in the recording on the day. Which is fine, because it means my ‘revision’ mostly consists of watching tv programs in Spanish and Russian and going over vocab/grammar areas I find challenging, or reading a book (in Spanish…. maybe next year for Russian!).

So yeah revision is finally CHILLED for me. I don’t need to learn a bunch of quotes for an closed text English exam or a ton of facts and details for a History exam. This is waaaay better than A-Levels. Ok so I have one module exam which was about plays – but I don’t mind revising a bit harder for that one because it’s only ONE exam like that. And it only lasts 1hr 30mins. That’s not that long really!

So things have got a bit tense in my flat. I’m not going to go into too much detail about what has happened, but basically Rob and Ed have really upset or hurt most of the other F3 inhabitants, and now I and about 4 others are actively avoiding being in the kitchen for too long because they are always in there, and if you go in alone, they will insult you or take the jip out of you and intimidate you…. they’ve also been harassing Ellen a bit. That’s as much as I’m willing to say – but we’re all finding it really hard to live with them anymore. I’m kinda relieved to know that I’m not the only one finding it hard. I always blame myself when things go wrong… I thought maybe I wasn’t loving them enough, maybe I wasn’t being patient enough, maybe I just wasn’t being enough like this or that…. but it turns out that they’ve been rude to quite a lot of us, and as a result we’ve all become quite alienated from them. It’s really sad, because we shouldn’t have to feel like we need to lock our doors and hide away and never go in the kitchen (where they always are). It’s our home too for crying out loud. At least for the next few weeks it is.

This is why none of us are going to live with them next year. They will be living together, with some of their friends. I hope they don’t end up alienating them as well, although maybe they’d realise what they are doing if that did happen. I don’t know. I just never expected to meet people like this. Maybe my upbringing has been too sheltered or something…. but it’s a lesson learned for us all that’s for sure.

Not everyone’s experience is like this…. I just wanna point that out! But it seems that we happen to have got these two people who are probably lashing out because they’ve been hurt in the past. Even so, bullying is never the answer.

Anyways… I’ve just cooked some rice in my little rice cooker in my room for my lunch so I’m going to get on with that and then some work before my exam this afternoon. Wish me luck!

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Let’s talk injuries

I’ve been banging on and on about all of these leg injuries I’ve had in various posts so I thought I’d explain a bit more about why I get them and maybe this might be something someone out there who reads this can relate to! 

I’m flat footed and slightly double jointed. This is because I’m naturally very flexible. (Thanks to my momma!) 

I’m also kinda petite, which means my knees naturally tend to knock together! 

These are a recipe for disaster if you love running because goodness knows what way your feet are landing when they hit the pavement. Not just once either, but several hundred times. 

This leads to injuries if you don’t have the right support. 

I think I mentioned a few posts back about getting new running trainers. (If not, well, now you know!) they are Nike (my first ever pair) and they replace my worn out old New Balance trainers which I’d basically lived in for the last 3 years. That includes running, walking, cycling and rowing in them. As you can imagine, they were pretty worn out! So I forked out the cash and found some improvement to my running… But my leg still felt like it was being worn out whenever I ran.


Suddenly, I realised that I probably needed to get checked out for some new insoles. The last guy I’d seen at the hospital had taken one look at me and said I was cured of my flat foot problem -that they had corrected themselves (which is impossible because it’s the way my feet just are naturally!) and he gave me some really low rise ones which were also very tired and worn out by the time I managed to get an appointment a few weeks ago with the orthotics department. 

I was kicking myself when I walked out of it. Of course it was my insoles. They were so worn they were practically doing nothing – this meant I was running and walking flat footed, and my legs were turning inwards as a result. This explained the weird strain I kept getting on the outside of my upper thigh, the sprains around my hips and the knee pains. What had I been doing to myself? :/

But anyway – the new ones are on their way – so in the mean time in just doing HIIT training (Insanity!) and it’s so much fun. It’s also really time efficient because they are only about 30 minutes long which is perfect 🙂

Moral of the story is : get your feet checked out. Especially if you are getting weird leg injuries over and over again which just can’t be explained! 🙂

It’s back to work I go…

Hello again! Time’s up – I’m going back to Exeter on Saturday… so I’m stocking up on staples I can only get this cheap (this easily) in ASDA and Aldi here in Worcester. Oats, brown basmati rice, lentils, potatoes, all of that goodness. Dad and I will go to Aldi on the way to the uni to get the fresh stuff and frozen veg/fruit which I love so much!!!

I’m gonna miss home.

I think I’ve put up with an awful lot this year and I don’t give myself a lot of credit for it. My flatmates are great people – honestly, I’m sure everyone has their good points, and I have a soft spot for all of them, believe me. But that doesn’t necessarily make them easy to live with. Long term. So I am kinda looking forward to living with friends next year instead – people I know better and get on with better.

The whole grill-a-Christian thing combined with several pointed, sarcastic comments and just the general lack of care for the flat (leading to low levels of hygiene in the communal kitchen, showers and toilets) and the lack of sleep at the weekends with drunk people screaming around the corridor by my room is kind of taking it’s toll. Also, I probably should have at least tried to go to CU every once in a while just to keep in with my Christian friends instead of going (or not going) to break dance. I mean, I love dancing, but I think this year I needed to make as many friends as possible and I felt like I missed out on hall group too often. But hey, I get a whole second year to catch up before I go travelling abroad so I’m just gonna make the most of it.

But these next few weeks seem like they are gonna take forever. *sigh*.

I’m just gonna keep active, go to church, revise (obviously – hopefully!) and try and keep going.

I have some shifts at the Ram so I’m hoping to save up over the summer to help pay my first rent instalment in September. I’m also still hoping to maybe au pair in Spain or work as an English teacher potentially so we’ll see about that. It would be great to have a paid ‘holiday’ like that. It would be a holiday to me because I would be speaking Spanish and living in Spain. WIN.

One of my best friends came to stay with my family this weekend and we went to my sister’s 18th birthday party together and boogied til late 🙂 It was good to see her again. We have a really special friendship, me and Ellie, because we’ve known each other since we were born. Almost literally. She’s 5 months older, so she’s known me since birth anyway. Our mums were best friends before that for years, and we’ve lived in Spain together. Ellie lived there longer than me though – but it’s kinda cool to be able to switch into Spanish when you want to say something in private so no one else understands 🙂

 

Me and Ellie 🙂

 
 

Left: Beth, my lil not so lil sis, Middle: Harry, our uncle who is 4 months older than me, and Right: Me.

 
My other best friend Ruth was in town too, but she was writing reports and things because she has exams too. She goes to Glasgow university I think, and she’s studying prosthetics so she gets to make fake legs and things 😉 Ellie isn’t at uni, she’s at the Message Trust as an intern – it’s a Christian trust or something which I think was set up by Matt Redman. (If you don’t know who he is – don’t worry – he’s this well-known Christian worship singer and songwriter). I went to Ruth’s house to help distract her from doing work for an afternoon which was nice – we caught up. We’re both quite bad at keeping in touch because we assume the other one’s busy, or we’re busy… and we just don’t get round to it. Last Christmas we weren’t even in Worcester at the same time I don’t think so we ended up completely missing each other.

The good thing is, with both Ellie and Ruth, we just start up where we left off. Which is great, really. Best buddies are good like that 🙂

So yeah, anticipating exams and work and stuff. Just 5 weeks. FIVE. I will miss my family and how relaxed it is at home. And how clean. And the power shower. Which is also clean. Students out there – if you can afford it, go for ensuite. Trust me on this one. At least you can control the cleanliness of your own bathroom!

Anyway. Back I go 🙂 

  
 

Exams around the corner – dealing with stress

It’s that time of year again… exams are coming. I have a week exactly before I go home (I mean to Exeter… my home from home) on the 23rd. Then I just have 4 weeks of exams and some work at the Ram and I’m done for the summer woo! Powering through and going over everything I’ve learned, watching a few sneaky episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and visiting my real life friends is pretty much my life right now. I feel kinda proud that I managed to knuckle down and get some good solid work in this week. I spent about an hour at least writing out my personal statement in Russian to help with my oral exam in two weeks. I’m freaking out about it but it’s only 10 minutes long so it’ll go by in a flash. Hopefully!

I was worried that I wouldn’t get any revision done (like Christmas 2015) because I don’t know why but I just ‘slumped’ – no other word – and I just couldn’t bring myself to do ANYTHING at all. It was so bad. But I think the problem was a) since GCSEs (year 9-11) until the end of A-levels (year 13) I have pushed myself to my absolute limit trying to get A*s and exceed at everything I do. I’m a perfectionist and I never do anything by halves, but when you’re balancing a ton of things at once, it does run you into the ground eventually. I had a mini panic attack (my first and hopefully my last) back in March I think last year (2015) and I could hardly find the energy to write my coursework. I was drained.

I’m amazed that I didn’t get glandular fever or something. Plus I was rowing and running and dancing and doing Insanity about 10 hours a week and I had a job on top of that. I’m so glad it’s over. Over that summer I actually worked so I didn’t even go on holiday with my family, I thought I didn’t need it. So by Christmas, I was exhausted. So, lesson for today is, take a holiday. Please. For your own sanity. (And for the sanity of those around you too, am I right?) 😉

So yeah, this summer I fully intend to get some kind of job if possible, but I also intend to switch off and have a good rest from everything. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not doing it again!! Fortunately I’ve had a month off this Easter so I’ve been able to have a full 2 weeks of light-to-no work and these final two weeks are power weeks of revision. My head’s a lot clearer and I’m memorising things better again. I’m also away from the environment in my flat which helps a TON. And I can get as many cuddles from my mum as I want – WINNING! (She also makes us delicious juices in the morning for breakfast which are delicious).

  
  
Both of my best friends are in town right now, one of them (Ellie) is staying with me right now in my house, and Ruth is at hers. We chilled the other afternoon which was cool. She has a dissertation to write or something. My other friend Sarah (not the flat mate) has her dissertation to write and she’s almost a physiotherapist now!! We actually went to talk to this youth group in Pershore (UK) the other weekend about what it’s like going to uni, and what a gap year is like etc. It was a great evening and I think the girls that came took a lot away from it. We left it feeling pumped that’s for sure 🙂

So yeah… that’s most of the news. So have a holiday and learn when too much is too much and listen to yourself. I have seriously driven myself into the ground from stressing out too much and it’s not good. It used to get to the point where I was so wound up that the back of my head would actually ache and I couldn’t sleep properly and I lose my appetite. It’s better to tell someone what’s up, even if they turn it on its head and point out just how trivial and silly it is to be worried about a silly little thing or something, and even to just back off and not do it for a while. Maybe sleep on it. Sleep is good. #student

Also reading the Bible and knowing that God has a plan for you. I like reading this magazine thing from UCB called TheWord4U2Day (youth version) and often the paragraph for today is really relevant which is great 🙂 AND and and and…. talk to God and tell him about it. He cares. Even if it’s a stupid little thing. He loves it. Trust me.

ThisgirlAudra posted a really great video on her YouTube channel about stress and what it does toy your body which is really good so be sure to check that out 🙂

I am so excited for summer – I can’t wait!

News!

This post is going to be a little bit different from the normal update ones. We’re gonna get kinda deep and personal. You’ve been warned! So this was probably kinda obvious really from my previous recipe posts from over the last few months… You might have noticed that none of them had meat or animal products in the ingredients list. So yeah… the reason for this is, in short – I’ve gone vegan.

Shock, horror! Doomed to a life of celery sticks and hummus… maybe salad too. Heck no. Hopefully I’ve already proved that that is definitely not the case! I’ve honestly really enjoyed the journey so far, and I know that when I first started this blog I was all ‘Paleo is the best – paleo is amazing!’. Thing is, I was eating sooo much meat. I was probably not eating enough carbohydrate. And I was eating tonnes of fat and anywhere between 2-6 eggs a day. So I gained about a stone, I felt horrible, and my digestion was messed up. My fitness was going down-hill because I felt so unconfident and the injuries I was getting definitely didn’t help (might do a post about this sometime soon as I’ve had some interesting developments in this area.)

I don’t really know how I initially heard about the vegan diet/how it got brought to my attention. I never thought I would ever go vegan. Ever. It’s actually more a surprise to me than my friends and family in some ways! I think I started watching some youtubers videos which I’d stumbled across by accident. I don’t know, but they recommended the Starch Solution…. and I read it. I also watched Cowspiracy and Earthlings, and I was shocked. Shocked at the environmental effects of the mass production of meat and dairy. Shocked at the mal-treatment of the animals. I had no idea just how bad the situation was. I guess hadn’t been exposed to the truth of things as I wasn’t a big documentary watcher (when you do A-Levels you don’t have enough time to breathe let alone watch tv programs or YouTube channels!!)

I think before, I was kinda like, oh the animals are just given an injection or something and its all kind and stuff. Also, as a Christian, I believed what my parents had always told me – and what they’ve been told themselves their whole lives about food – which is that animals were given to us to eat. That  meat is protein, that milk is calcium. I also had this (silly) prejudice about vegans and vegetarians – that they were sickly and ill all the time because we need meat to be healthy, that they were all silly people that were overly emotional about animals. I was so wrong.

Having overcome an eating disorder in my past, I wanted to be careful. I didn’t want to cut out major food groups and end up wasting away again, going back to where I started over 3 years ago now and picking up the pieces. Thank goodness I am stronger than that shadow of a girl I was – I know now that I am the daughter of a King who loves me just as I am – I am perfect in his eyes. Everyone has bad days, but this truth has taken hold in my heart deep down and I’m not letting it go this time.

That’s why I did my homework. I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t be restricting my body from the nutrients it needs. Its a temple and it needs nourishment – especially after what I’ve put it through. Turns out, I don’t need to restrict at all with a vegan lifestyle. I can eat such a massive variety of foods, and know that I won’t be deficient in any way – but also that I am healing the damage done in the past, ensuring a better, happier future, having thousands of lives and helping my world be a healthier place in the process. I’m still working things out, but this has been such a positive step for me and I am glad that I know I am doing it for the right reasons.

This decision might not make sense to everyone – I get it, I used to eat meat too, remember? But I don’t miss it. Not even a little bit. This lifestyle suits me well. It’s compassionate and positive. And I needed a little more of that! I think everyone does 🙂

I’m not asking you to agree – I’m just being real about my decision. Maybe it’ll only last a year. But sometimes these things have to be tried. Feel free to comment about what you think and if you have any questions, I would so love to hear from you! This is probably the first time I’ve mentioned my eating disorder in a post, and if it strikes a chord with you then a) I’m sending you a massive hug – it’s a tough place to be and so painful emotionally and mentally; b) You can conquer this! It doesn’t have to ruin your life; c)  I really recommend a lovely lady who has an amazing YouTube channel and I wish I’d known about her when I was going through all of that stuff. It’s called Thisgirlaudra. I might post more in the future but I know that this is a sensitive topic so I want to be careful about how I talk about it.

Anyway… that’s a lot off my chest. I just wanted to be real and honest. Hope that’s ok 🙂 Until next time, just know that I am ok, I’m doing great, I’m surrounded by my amazing family and friends, and I’ve never been more happy to be alive!

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P.S: I’m gonna make a Why Vegan page hopefully to just explain a bit more about what’s going on and why I feel like it’s really important in terms of the animals and the planet. Stay tuned 🙂