Christmas! 

I’m finally getting to the end of the first part of my second year. My year abroad decisions deadline is this coming Friday, and exam week is straight after Christmas in January so we all know what I’ll be doing during my holiday! Yup – working! The good thing is that this Christmas I can still earn money doing deliveroo (they are going to transfer me back home) and babysitting/childminding… so I’ll be able to afford better presents for people hopefully 🙂 I love shopping for the best deals and bargains and getting things I know people will like. Some are more easy than others… for example, I know that my dad shares my love of dates so I usually get him the best dates I can find in Worcester (ASDA – in the Polish/international foods section, you can thank me later!). 

Going home as a student can bring up mixed feelings. I am so lucky to have come from a happy home and amazing family, who I love very much. But when you’re at uni, you kind of get into your own independent routine. The key word here being independent – although it’s great to go home to a clean kitchen, a dishwasher, sofas and plenty of free hugs, you know you’ll miss the independence of your uni home, being able do do whatever you want when you want and not having to wait for others.

It struck me that essentially, you can become a bit selfish at uni. I want to do this at such and such a time…. it’s easy to not have to consider other people and even just not see them for weeks! 

I think the key is to remember that in life you can’t always have what you want, and sometimes that means sacrificing your desires to put someone else first. It’s not easy, but without it your relationships can’t develop. It’s about loving people! 

And what better time of year to do just that? Christmas, for me anyway, is about love – God sending his only son into the world so that we can know Him and have a relationship with him, our Dad in heaven. So much love! 

I don’t really have a picture for this post – it was kind of strung together on the spur of the moment (like most of my posts in all honesty!). But I hope it helps someone out there 🙂 

Merry Christmas (or happy advent!) I may post again once I’m home – who knows? But ’til then, have a good holiday guys 🙂

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Why Exeter? Why Russian? 

Hello again guys 🙂 

Hope you’re all loving life right now – I definitely am! Even though work is an ongoing uphill struggle, I’m just happy knowing that I’m where I’m meant to be right now. I.e. At Exeter, studying languages… and yes, yes I’m going to mention my faith in this post. God is a huge part of my life – I can’t just leave that out!  So, as I lie here on my bed enjoying my heater (rent with bills included for the win!) and feeling cozy even though outside it’s raining and like 5 degrees C… I’m going to write a post. 

I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about why I came to Exeter. It’s a funny story. My A-level years were pretty stressful – I was living life like a robot… every five minutes was planned and timed – each activity had a certain duration. I had no social life really. It sucked. And then I was trying to apply to unis… actually, I was applying to Oxford. And Oxford applications have to be in super early so they can do interviews etc. I actually applied there to do Spanish and beginners modern Greek. I got to interview and by the time I was there I realised I didn’t want to go. Why swap one stressful situation for another? I knew Oxford would be a pressure cooker and I would not do well in that kind of environment. (Sorry to those that go/have been – personally I knew it wasn’t for me!)

So then what? Well… I had Bristol, Exeter and Durham on my list. Oh and Warwick. I had offers from all four of them – which I’m told isn’t normal?! Warwick was too close. Durham was too far. So that left Exeter or Bristol. Bristol offered Catalan as a module alongside my Spanish course and was closer to home but not too close. I don’t want to go to Exeter because it didn’t offer Catalan and it seemed a long way away. 

Moral of the story is – never say never to God. I’m not going to go to Exeter, she said. It doesn’t tick all of my boxes, she said. Guess where she ended up? 

Yeah that’s right! I visited Bristol on an open day, and it was fine, but that was it. “Fine”, But not quite right somehow. It was a ‘I could survive 4 years here’ kind of grim feeling. I visited Exeter a week or two later…. and just knew. Even my mum said she felt peace knowing I would be here. That night I put it as my first choice. 

On results day, I got a text from Exeter to say congratulations my offer was now unconditional before even knowing what my result was (which it turned out, was exactly what I needed to get in). 

It’s not been easy all the time here – my first year, as you know, was tough. But I knew from the beginning I was here for a reason. 

So yeah. That’s why I am where I am today 🙂 

Oh and to answer the “why Russian” part – I have no idea! A combination of wanting to do something extraordinary and challenging. Something not many other people were doing. And I have to say I couldn’t have made a better choice ❤ I am loving learning about Russian history and culture and can’t imagine doing anything else!

Now I just need to decide where I want to go next year… St Petersburg, or Siberia (Novosibirsk). Let me know in the comments which one you think I should go to and where I absolutely HAVE to visit while I’m in Russia 🙂 

I just love the autumn colours ❤

An answer to prayer…

So my last blog was a bit more serious than my normal posts… but I was being real and honest – life isn’t always hunky dory! 

This week has gone so much better and I’ve been ploughing my way through my work so that I can do fun things this weekend 🙂 it’s one of my friends’ 20th birthday and I need to get her present tomorrow, and it’ll be another friends birthday next weekend so I am probably going to look for something for her as well. I’m also about to run out of paper… a vital necessity as a student! 

I love my weekends because I get to be more chilled and do things at my own pace 🙂 

I’m in love with autumn right now and all of the colours. As always here are some pics I’ve snapped through the week:


Mmm all the feels… apparently it’s snowing else where in the UK right now… but that hasn’t reached Exeter yet (even though it’s 4 degrees C outside right now!).

My year abroad plans are moving along and even the second round of this group project we have to do in Spanish is going quicker than I thought which is a complete relief. Even my friends’ depression is lifting, and she’s so much happier this week (an answer to prayer – God has literally turned that situation around and it’s worked out so well.) 

I have to admit at the start of the week I wasn’t in such a happy place – but then last weekend I got locked out of my room when the reception staff weren’t in and had to ring the out of hours security to get let back in (you use a fob but I left it in my room to put something in the kitchen and forgot to put my door on the latch so it closed on me!!) you get fined £30 for ringing the out of hours people so it was very frustrating especially as I’m juggling two jobs right now so money is a bit irregular. Also, is it just me or have priced in Aldi gone up? Please tell me this is cos it’s winter and not because of Brexit?? 

Anyway… things are coming to an end and it’s an answer to prayer because I was freaking out about everything I had to do and get through this week. I’m feeling encouraged…. and I hope that if you read this you’ll feel encouraged too. Sometimes we have bad days, or weeks or even months but that’s all they are – short periods of time which will pass. It’s all about how you handle it. If you let it get you down too much and give up all hope of getting through, it’ll just drown you. But if you hold on and try and trust that something will come of it and the storm will pass, you’ll come out stronger and realise that there was nothing to worry about really. 

Something I’m learning anyway! I’ll update on my Year Abroad plans soon when they are more concrete – it should be interesting for you all to follow my adventures in Spain and Russia! 

It’s just been one of those weeks

Sometimes life doesn’t go so well. You get low marks in your test. You hand in an essay you don’t feel proud of but you worked hard for. You lose confidence in an area where before you had no problems. Your friend is feeling low and dealing with a ton of problems and wants to chat to you for hours when all you want is to make a dent in your never ending pile of work.

And then: You get a punctured bike tire which takes 2 hours to fix.

Yes, this was my week this week. No worries, I’m not going to rant. (I’ll try!).

Sometimes you have a frustrating week where nothing seems to go well. You know? So what do you do about it? Rant? Scream? Cry? (Crying’s not such a bad outlet actually…). Usually, when I’m feeling like dirt, I try and pray. I tell God what’s going on. It helps to know He’s there and that he cares. Because when everything else lets me down, He is constant and unchanging. Ready to pick me up. Do I always believe this? No. it’s hard sometimes to trust Him with everything. But He’s the only one that can give me peace in the end.

Philippians 4:6-7 is my faveourite verse for this kind of situation… I have kind of memorised it so I can bring it to mind when I need it most.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

It’s hard right now, sitting here with all of this noise in the back ground to believe it, but from past experience, God has never not shown up when I’ve prayed that verse^.

Short and sweet I know… but please forgive me – I have had a bad week after all! Maybe next week I’ll post something a bit longer 🙂 I just want to be real on here and SAY when I’m having a bad week because it’s not always rainbows and lepricorns! (I wish!)

And as I like to attach a picture to my updates… here are some snaps of my pumpkin and my flatmates pumpkins from Halloween…. mine was Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc.


I hope you all had a good week this week 🙂

The Year Abroad madness begins!

Hello again – golly I need to be more regular with my posts huh?

Here are some pictures taken outside my accommodation one morning this week when it was really misty… we live right by the railway line which I think is so cool because you can watch trains go by!

I think the mist makes it look really atmospheric

I messed around with a grunge filter on this pic to make it look creepier!


Sorry I’m always aware that I go off on a tangent before I actually talk about anything to do with uni or whatever. Oops! So as the title suggests I’m planning my year abroad. I have to have chosen and planned it all by December the 9th and I can’t change it after that – the part involving me going to Russia anyway. So the pressure is on (on top of everything else!)

Right now I’m curled up on my bed having a rest because my group has finally finished its website ready for the presentations we have to do today and tomorrow! I was heavily involved in the editing so I feel like I need the break. I’m also packing before heading home tomorrow for reading week and my dad’s birthday bash on Saturday.

But yeah – where do I even start with the Year Abroad thing? I know I want to go to Russia and study – I will take all the help I can get with the grammar!!! It tends to work out that you have to study anyway because it’s tricky to get work and then get Russian companies etc to sign the paper work saying they’ll take full responsibility for you so internships are usually off the charts. And actually I kind of want to study cos I want to meet people my own age and make friends that way!

I will need a visa and I also have to be tested for HIV apparently… there might be other vaccinations I need too so I’m not looking forward to those!

And although I really want to visit St. Petersburg and Moscow they are more expensive to live in so I might go elsewhere….

You see what I mean… so much to decide – and I need to look at flight costs, insurance and scholarships and things to help get a rough idea of how much I need to save! It’s a lot of work but I hope it’ll be worth it.

Being vegan in Russia will be interesting – I think they aren’t as aware of this kind of thing and meat dairy and eggs and fish are a big part of their diet – especially in the winter when the temperature is -20 degrees Celsius! But from reading other blogs and things I think I can manage it – you can usually get potatoes and beans and nuts and veggies everywhere! And in big cities there will be supermarkets selling stuff too so fingers crossed! I will probably blog while I’m away as it’s recommended to try and keep touch with your writing and things so watch this space if you’ve ever wondered what it must be like to live in Russia – especially right now with the tensions and things.

Life is generally going well at the moment despite lots of work (I know I’m always going on about it but seriously the struggle is real!) and a couple of formative assessments due the week I get back from reading week (so the week after next). Formatices dont count (might have mentioned this before) but they are good indicators of where you’re at and what areas you should work on before the summative exams which do count. So I try and do my best in them, and this year I’ve managed to read a lot more so I feel like I can do this – so pumped! Just as long as my family don’t all try and drag me out to various events then I’ll have time to do this stuff!!

Yesterday I made potstickers and here is a picture to prove it!

They didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped but I thought it was worth a try making them 🙂 that red stuff is tomato purée which I use like ketchup because I find ketchup is too sweet (and more expensive). I’m one of those people that likes more bitter/blander tastes (except when it comes to ripe bananas made into ice cream or medjoul dates!!) but I will pick a green granny smith apple any day or have black coffee or 90% cocoa chocolate any day hands down. In my opinion tomato purée is just as delicious and my fave go to meal is beans, rice and tomato purée mixed together when I’m in a hurry or need to pack my lunch!

I made an aubergine curry recipe that I’ll have to share with you at some point soon as well 🙂 Actually that’s what I’m all full up on right now, along with the leftover filling for my pot stickers – it was made from cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, garlic, onion and tahini and ginger. It’s a good combo and it meant I had a kind of salad already prepped so I just had that with my main meal – rice and the curry sauce!!

But anyway, I guess I need to start saving because visas are about £100 and I have no idea how much flights to Russia will cost!! I also need to plan if I want to go to Spain/South America during the summer before or after Russia (I think I’ll need it after surviving the winter months in Россия!!

So yeah lots of planning and dreaming. ‘Til next time 😉 пока пока!

Beginning of the year

Something I’m learning is you literally cannot judge people – you don’t know what battle they are in right now – they are just too scared or afraid to show/tell you about it, or they don’t feel like they can reach out to those around them to keep them afloat. I know, a bit of a sober start to my first post of the year, but I’m telling you that judging people is so worthless… People surprise me all the time.

Freshers week is the perfect week to meet new people, so maybe that is what has inspired my mood.

I’ve had two flatmates pull out of living with me in this flat this year, for various reasons of their own, and I have already got freshers flu – sore throat, ear aches, headache…. But I’m still going. I’ve literally been working in the Ram kitchen every day since Sunday so I’m taking advantage of today, my first whole day to myself, to chill out and write this post! I also have an “interview” with a company called Deliveroo tomorrow – they deliver food from top restaurant chains by bike. Hopefully I’ll shake my cold and be a bit more alive by tomorrow! My friend and flatmate Mia has had her hands full all week rehearsing for the Breakdance show off thing tomorrow so she’s exhausted too.

I finally slept well last night – first time in ages and I think it’s a testament to how much I’ve worn myself out in just 3 days of non stop work and moving around!!

I moved into my new room/flat on Saturday with the help of my mum, who I miss a lot already… 

It’s a lot bigger than last year, with loads of storage space and an amazing en suite bathroom – to me this is like a luxury as last year (if you guys have been following you’ll remember) that I was in a flat with 11 other people and we had to share toilets and showers and it was minging. So this year we have amazing en suites in every room and a lovely kitchen area etc and it’s just so much better like this. I forgot to bring so many things… Plates being one of them!


I think it just shows how far I’ve come. The fact I do forget things, the fact that I can laugh at myself now – before I would not have been able to do that.

Also…. my new bike has proven to be amazing already – I have panniers and a rack attached so I can even out my food load when I go to Aldi or just to town etc. so I won’t be risking my back breaking this year 🙂 Yes I’m still going to be doing my crazy trips to Aldi even though the trip will be like 10 minutes longer – better NOT forget my purse this time (this happened twice last year, but fortunately Lafrowda was close enough for a quick trip home).

Cello playing is tricky as although my flat mates love it there are also the ones that live above and below me to consider, which limits the times I can play in as not everyone wakes up at 6:30am like I do! However I’m playing at a wedding this Saturday so practice is crucial! 

Tonight I’ll be going back to my community group and getting stuck in again… just going to do my best to find balance this year. Last year things got hard when I was trying to balance work and social life… but also in the flat things were really strained – I won’t go into too much detail but two of my flatmates were not the easiest to live with and this made it hard for the rest of us as it made for a bad atmosphere, which is not what you need when it’s your home and all of your work/making new friends/adulting for the first time is stressful enough.

So yeah I have high hopes for this year and I guess this is just a introduction to my year kind of post. I’m not actually sure if I’m going to keep up this blog – let me know if you actually enjoy my posts and want me to keep going because I’m not really sure what I’m doing this for anymore – I kind of set it up last year for any students wondering about their first year at uni and what it would be like, and also to share some recipes etc. but now I’m a second year it’s different. I know what I’m doing now and I’ve got a years experience under my belt. So please let me know!

Back to relaxing for now…..

 

End of a Chapter

Completed. There goes year 1… 3 to go and I know there’s a heck of a lot to come! Thanks for all of you following along on my mad journey through life and uni and becoming a (real) adult.

Dad came to pick me up – my stuff only just fit into our car!

It feels like time has flown now, but there were definitely moments where it was really tough and I couldn’t imagine just how I would get through it all. I think uni has proven to be the opposite of what I was expecting in many ways… So I thought I’d sum up some stuff I’ve learned for any of you out there reading this and thinking about uni but have yet to experience it!

So yeah, here it is…

Things I’ve learned in year 1

1. First year might not be your best year. It’s true… A startlingly large percentage of freshers actually don’t enjoy freshers week or their first year… it happens. I was one of these (kind of… I loved my course and my societies… but my flat mates were hard to handle at times!!) Be prepared for anything to happen. Maybe it won’t be like this for you, and if it isn’t, that’s great! But if you do find that it’s a little bit disappointing or you feel homesick or you feel like you have no friends… this is NORMAL and actually most people are probably feeling exactly the same… they are just covering it up! Talk to people and be honest… that’s the best way to make friends anyway. If they know that you’re going through the same thing you’ll probably find most of the time they’ll agree and admit that they have found first year to be a bit less than the amazing experience it’s bigged up to be. The main thing is not quitting. Unless you know for sure it’s not gonna work and your course is wrong… quitting because you don’t get on with your flat mates isn’t always the best solution!!

2. Keep in contact – yeah your parents are going to be further away now and maybe you feel like it’s uncool to ring them up once (even, dare I say, twice) a week and that once you’re at uni that’s IT. No more contact at all except at the holidays. This is sooo not true and actually your parents are going to be there for you because they love you. Make sure you have talked about finances before you go and feel comfortable talking about them when you’re there too – it helps with loans and food money etc.

3. Make new contacts – getting involved in societies which really interest you, and a new church too, are really super important. These are where you’re gonna make new friends and find out new interests and skills, and they’ll give you a break from lectures and studying.

4. You don’t have to drink! (Or club… Power to the early-to-bed people!) Seriously, everyone at uni is waaay more chilled out than people in Sixth form/A-levels and school. If you don’t want to drink, just say so, and stick to your guns. There is absolutely no need to drink because you feel pressured to or go out and stay up really late because it’s what everyone else is doing. If they can’t accept that it’s just not what you do, then they aren’t really your friends… but most people are pretty easy what ever you decide! My flatmates asked me if I wanted to go out with them the ENTIRE YEAR and I just said no every time pretty much. What I did instead sometimes was hang around when they had pre-drinks (“prees”) in the flat and talk/socialise, then when they went out I would just go to bed or watch a movie or whatever. Don’t feel like you have to impress people – they will figure out pretty quickly if you’re just putting on a show when you can’t maintain it anyway!

5. If you’re a Christian… make sure you know your stuff! This might not apply to everyone reading this, but to those that it does… Try and prepare yourself for the questions people are gonna ask you. Do you believe in…?? Sex before marriage. Taking drugs. Masterbation (yes, I’ve actually been asked about my stance on this!). Homosexuality. Everything and anything can be asked about. Even if you go to Church every week. Just make sure you have an opinion basically, because you never know if you might have to argue or explain it. I basically decided I wasn’t going to bash people with my faith… I wasn’t even going to tell them straight up “Hey guys I’m a Christian”. Usually people can tell after a while that there’s something a little different about you (usually the fact that you don’t swear!). I just treat people like my friends and get on with life. If they are curious, they’ll ask, but there’s no need to make a massive deal out of it, as you could just end up alienating them! This is just my experience so take it or leave it 🙂

6. If you can’t do it, say no. And don’t beat yourself up either! You don’t have to always say yes. You get tired, and that’s ok. Don’t try and take on the world. You don’t need to do EVERYTHING. Freshers is a great time to join a bazillion societies (even though you probably won’t be able to go to all of them anyway) and yes a thousand times get stuck in … but pace yourself and don’t burn out!

7. Budget. And try and stick to it. I have an overdraft I haven’t touched. I have a set amount for food, I pay my tithe (10% of my earnings to the church) and I put another 10% into my saving account (if I can). The other 80% is for whatever I need it for. 80-10-10.

8. You might not get on with everyone. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know I’ve actually had a really tough time in my flat. At first I thought it was all amazing, during freshers and the few weeks after, when everyone was trying to make a good impression. But pretty quickly, people will reveal their true colours. It happens. You’re living with them – and when you’re in that close of a contact with someone you are going to find out what they are really like. The key is to try and be as patient as possible (it’s hard, I know!) and forgive them and move on. I blame myself a lot, and this isn’t a great reaction either. It’s not necessarily your fault that you find it hard to live with them. Some people are just hard to live with! (If you do struggle in this area, make sure you talk to someone about it and keep them close, as it will keep you sane!).

9. Don’t go home too much. Yeah, if you can, go home once or twice a term between holidays. Try and space it out too. The more you go home, the more you’ll realise how much you miss it, and the harder it’ll be to come back!! Everyone will get the January Blues after Christmas, so you aren’t alone! (Again, talk about it with someone, it will keep help you keep going).

10. Remember God is going with you. It hit me a few weeks in that I wasn’t going to uni on my own, being dumped there and that was it, I now had to make friends in order to survive. God is your dad, your best friend. You can talk to him at any time. Remember you are never alone in this, and no matter what happens, he will provide and he will keep you safe.

 

Feel free to comment below any questions you might have about first year etc if you’ve managed to read this far and have anything I haven’t covered!! I would love to answer your questions 🙂

Just a few more pics from today… some daisies from James and Naomi’s garden (some friends of ours from our Church who moved to Devon.) We are currently staying with some family friends but we went to see James and Nai today and their kids just to catch up and go to the beach!

Here’s the beach we went to for a few hours in the afternoon. It was nice and hot!


#ladsontour – or rather my little brothers and sister chilling with me on the rocks at the beach playing ‘Cheese and Wine’ (it’s a game).

 

Cool so that’s it! We came back to our other friends’ house and had tea. I was really hungry by then! Now we’re all playing Catan and chilling (not me obviously, I’m updating y’all!)

I’m feeling proud that I got this far and amazed at how much I’ve learned. There is so much more I could write but I thought 10 points was enough for one night!

My battery is literally about to die as I type this so I’m going to finish this and post – have a great summer everyone! I may just post a few recipes from now on… but I’ll definitely be back for year 2!

Adios! (Пока пока).