Term 1 Year 2 – God and other things :)

Life has got crazy pretty quickly down here in Exe.

This year, sadly, I haven’t joined any clubs. Not break dance, not gymnastics, no orchestras. I have my reasons… primarily, the cost. Gymnastics is £90 for the year, which, long term, works out pretty cheap, but as an upfront cost at the start of term, when you haven’t really had a good solid summer job to earn tonnes of money, is pretty steep. Likewise with the orchestras… the price is huge up front – but also, my course is pretty full on this year. I mean, it was full on last year, but this year its 13 lectures/classes and they are adding TWO MORE for Russian. Which is great – but not great at the same time because it means two more hours that I have to get to everyday. Plus my timetable is so spread out it’s unreal. I might have one lecture in the morning, then two hours, then another one, then one or even three hours, then another one. There isn’t enough space in the library and around campus all the time for students to study so I tend to go home. By bike its quick and not so bad – but Exeter is hilly. Really, really hilly. So some days I’m cycling to campus 3 times. I’m hungry all the time… and, like last year, I have a small budget for food. Add to that the fact that I’m now a Deliveroo rider (on my bike) and basically I am hungry ALL THE TIME.

So yeah I have a second job – casually mentioned that^ – but this means time for me is scarce. I’m still trying to go to CU every once in a while but it’s not likely to be regular. I’m prioritising church and going to my community group every week and church on Sunday… but apart from that I have to spend all my time doing my work and reading before my next module lecture. Such is life in your second year. I was comparing hours/work with a friend of mine doing medicine the other day and we have the same amount of hours and work each week. I’m effectively doing the equivalent of a medicine degree but in languages. This is when learning Russian really bites you in the bum. Like, why Russian???

It means that I might find it harder to meet up with friends and things around all of my various commitments. Oh and I’ve signed up to do peer mentoring and I’m helping a friend with a Spanish module she’s taking on the side of her degree….. The list goes on!!

Basically, it’s so good that I’ve got God with me. Because if I didn’t have God on my side, I think I would be having multiple melt downs right now.

I’m learning not to worry. I’m learning that sometimes you have to say no. Even though people always want a piece of me and are inviting me to socials and training etc. I have to accept the fact that my degree and my sanity need to come first. I mean it’s flattering that people want me around, but this IS what I’m here for after all. (And why I’m so in debt!) It was interesting because I found an article (it’s on my wall on Facebook) about why uni at the moment is one of the most unhealthy places to get your degree – so many people are suffering from mental illnesses and have this warped mentality that uni is meant to be the best years of your life and if you aren’t enjoying it an  going out to all of these events etc. then you aren’t doing it right. It’s not true. Honestly.

Last year I was definitely a victim to this mentality surrounding uni and the moving away from all that is familiar thing. I thought I would be fine and that uni would be the best 4 years of my life. Then, slowly I realised that some of my flatmates were really difficult people to live with and be around, and actually that I was spreading myself too thin and this was stressing me out making my IBS flare up – so I was getting ill. I’m so glad that I’ve come out on the other side stronger for it and ready to tackle the year ahead with a smile on my face. I feel so free now that my eating disorder is gone and I’ve stopped believing a whole load of lies about myself that I’d been carrying for years. It’s amazing what happens when you start seeing things positively and speak blessings over yourself and not curses. All the rubbish falls away and you’re just left with happiness… sometimes I think I’m so happy now that people around me can’t handle it. Wow.

You will definitely grow at uni – There’s  no other option. Either you grow and make it through, or you don’t and you drop out. Probably because you weren’t ready to change. You have to be ready to adapt to this lifestyle. Some people are lucky and they pick a course which has 4 lectures a week but most people either don’t do enough work or kill themselves going after that 1st (as in the grade). You have to find balance. It’s this word which floats around and no one really knows what it means or how to get there – but that’s because it takes practice And practice is a day-by-day thing. A teacher of mine always used to say that practice makes progress, not perfect. I believe her. I will never be perfect. But I’m definitely further along in my progress towards a good k-life balance than I was before because of all of this time management I’ve had to do to keep organised and on top of things. Actually, I prefer the phrase keeping afloat. Sometimes it feels like you’re swimming in deadlines and work and only just keeping above water enough to breathe.

This is where God comes in – I try and have a little bit of quiet time to read my Word For You Today (UCB) and a bit of the Bible or listen to a good podcast (I have some Bethel ones) and this really helps ground me. A lot of people on social media are talking about meditation and its benefits for grounding you and helping you live stress free. So I guess this is my ‘meditation’, if you will. Talking to my best friend and looking at life from His perspective and trying to be more like Him. Trying to show love and kindness. Trying to be available for people even when you have so little time and it feels like too much.

It’s all good.

 

Anyways, that’s update for those interested 🙂

Red flowers Mum got me for my new room ❤

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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).

Homesickness dissected.

Ok this is hard to write. Know why? Pride. Yup. That’s why no one says if they feel like they want to go home and see their family or friends… they are too proud and so desperately wanting to show off and prove themselves to their friends that they will not shed a single tear, even admit, that – shock horror! they actually miss their old life. Maybe even just a little piece of it. This makes me angry.

Being honest, I am a “people pleaser” through and through – I hate making people angry or upset with me, and I hate people looking down on me if I couldn’t tough something out on my own or for a little bit longer. Being even more honest – I came to uni determined to enjoy it to the max and have no problems, and absolutely on no conditions be homesick. But tough luck I guess. One month in, one month full of flat parties, no sleep, tonnes of (fun, but at the same time) exhausting work and processing to do (I’m talking about Russian here), and I kinda want to go home. Just for a few days. It’s not helped by the fact that most people’s parents have managed to come visit since the Drop Off at the start of Freshers Week or they’ve managed to pop home for a weekend and I haven’t.

At some point, especially if you’ve come straight from college/A-levels, you’re going to miss the familiar from back home and it’ll hit you just how massive moving to uni is.

Don’t get me wrong – the independence I have here was very much needed and welcomed. But I want a small breather. And this is ok. Recommendable, even. Huzzah for reading week. Hopefully, all going to plan, I will be popping home for a few days 🙂 They better have stored up lots of hugs for me. Gonna need them, here at uni they have been few and far between!!!

Students: don’t conform. If you’re homesick…. IT’S OK. Everyone is, they just hide it. Except for maybe those that have had a gap year. In which case they just had it a year earlier than you. Try and ring home or skype or facetime. It helps 🙂

Feeling like a proper student now

Freshers fair was amazing. Just UNBELIEVABLE.

Ok, to start it wasn’t so much. You got crushed in the middle of a crowd the moment you entered any of the buildings or halls, and there were stalls crammed tight everywhere. So many freebies…. I have a massive XL shirt which is practically a dress from Deliveroo (something I never intend to actually use, but in the true spirit of being a student grabbed the freebies on offer on the stall because, well, why not?) I got a load of pens too and a highlighter which I’m pretty happy with.

At first I thought actually, maybe I won’t join anything. I couldn’t find the stalls for the stuff I wanted to join anyway, and the atmosphere was fizzling with excitement as people turned up to join… oh I don’t know – knitting club, or the chocolate society. (Yes they exist here at Exeter, along with a few other odd balls like the Hide-and-Seek society).

Then I realized that actually the stalls I needed where elsewhere on campus, and after finally locating them, I managed to join a) the music society, aptly named Exetunes, which gives me access to the music rooms, instrument hire etc and also allows me to go for an orchestra. I booked my audition with the Chamber orchestra, the cheaper of the two, and await that with terror….. (Why do I do this to myself??!)

Then I finally found the Breakdancing society, which was not in the Peter Chalk building as marked on the maps but actually outside the forum. It kinda made sense that they weren’t behind a table, it meant they could rock up with a stereo and literally advertise by jamming right there. I can’t wait for my sessions with the crew, it seems pretty chilled.

Then I joined gymnastics. This one was more expensive than the other things, but it’s only one session a week at the moment and it fits in nicely between some lectures so I’m happy. I can’t wait, in fact.

It feels like finally I can do things I thought I’d never get to try because I had no money or it was too late. Uni’s good for that I guess.

I can’t wait for lectures to start on Monday I’m so stoked.

I practiced the cello in my tiny room again today ready for the audition (still freaking out) and managed to wedge myself between the wardrobe and desk to have enough bowing room. Yup that Exetunes membership is going to come in handy!

I also made my first trip to Aldi with one of my flat mates (Ellen) and didn’t quite anticipate how heavy tins of sweetcorn and veg were going to be in my rucksack and on a bike in a very hilly city…. But I made it home! And I didn’t even smash any of my eggs! (We wrapped them in Ellen’s tea towel just in case!) The look on her face as I loaded everything into my ruck sack was priceless – she couldn’t believe I was actually going to try and cycle with something so heavy! I just laughed it off (until I had to cycle uphill with it)… I reckon in the end the ruck sack was heavier than my cello! My shoulders still ache even now!

Later in the afternoon Me, Bex, Sarah and Ellen went into town to go shopping and get some bits and bobs. We went to the cafe at the top of the massive John Lewis and ended up chatting for ages about things – I’m so lucky to have such lovely flat mates ❤

Tomorrow I’m off to the church search in the morning – hoping to go to Belmont as I’ve heard good things about it and the pastor came to talk at the CU Central meeting thingy on Thursday. Tonight I think I’m just going to chill out with my flat mate Bex and watch something on Netflix.

Can’t believe Freshers week is almost over!!!!!!! Ahh where did that time goooo????

Friday.

So tomorrow is Freshers Fair and I’m still figuring out what I want to join.

I saw the break dance demo yesterday in the forum and it looks kinda more like my thing. I mean, I’ve been harping on about gymnastics for ages but now that I’m here (and missed every gymnastics session without fail) I’m not so sure it’s what I want. I chatted to one of the guys at the break dance demo and said how I’d been teaching myself some moves from YouTube and he was like “no way who do you follow?” So I mentioned VincaniTV and he was like, “Yeah he’s my boy I know him he’s great!” So he was mega excited that I might join. Plus, its £25 A YEAR! I’m still going to ask about gymnastics at the fair tomorrow but I think I’ve changed my mind about what I want. Scary.

Ordered my first load of meat today – let me explain that better though. Basically, for a while, maybe 6-8 months, I’ve wanted to experiment with this thing called Paleo. It’s not a diet, it’s a life style. And it just seemed to match my criteria of what I want to eat to make my body work well. I’ve had a lot of tummy aches, bloating and stuff in the past, and it’s come to the point where I just don’t feel like nutritionally I’m doing the best for myself. So, now I’m at uni, it’s my money, and I can eat what I want. So, I checked out grassfed meats locally raised and found a sweet little deal from Pipers Farm in Exeter, (hence trying to find the farm shop yesterday), and they do free local delivery. So today I should be getting this thing called the Fitness Box, which has so much meat in it it’s going to last me a month. Possibly more. Not kidding. So I thought it was worth the upfront cost as I’m going to freeze it and literally it will last AGES. that way, all I need to do is get some fruit and veg and other bits and pieces like eggs, and that will only come to what, £10 a week tops? maybe less as I do use up literally everything, although this week was unfortunate with the fridge freezing all of my food :/

hey ho – I’m literally leaving it until the last minute to shop so here’s something I made with leftovers this morning – in America they call them ‘Zucchini Fritters’ which sounds better than ‘Courgette Fritters’.

zucchini fritters

They tasted pretty good actually. I used a frying pan with some coconut oil in which I brought before I came. I grated the courgette down with a cheese grater and mixed in 2 eggs, then just fried them in the pan. I recommend drying the courgette out before you make them so there’s not too much excess water! Just a little tip for you there 😉

N.B – If you’ve no idea what Paleo is – check out Steph Gaudreau’s site at stupideasypaleo.com for a good start and some amazing recipes 🙂

Report that keeps on growing……

There’s a little more to report on now that Freshers is almost over, and each time I try and publish this the student wifi in my room chooses not to work!

Where to start…. on Monday I went to this thing called Body Combat with the girls from my flat. It was a morning session and has to be the most hilarious thing I’ve ever done. An extremely energetic (and small) lady practically bounced around at the front squealing out exercises at us while we punched the air, squatted, karate kicked the person standing next to us (on both sides). It ended with the inevitable core sesh – gotta have some plank in there somewhere. I’m not joining personally, although the other girls are up for it 🙂

I also tried out the main Symphony Orchestra. That was good. Nothing will be like the Worcestershire Youth Orchestra (with Rob Marshall as conductor – he’s the absolute boss and reason I stuck with it so long!), but it was friendly and I got into it after the initial fright of sight reading 🙂 Not the cheapest society but the chamber orchestra (for stringed instruments only) might be slightly less and equally fun.

Some of us girls went to see Pitch Perfect 2 in the cinema and it had an amazing intro from the Exeter Male Acapella group which was stunning – seriously the talent was AMAZING! Best start to the film ever 🙂 We laughed the whole way through and it was a great evening.

Last night was a bit more chilled – the girls in our flat hung out in the kitchen watching the bake off. A few went out but people are tired now from continuous partying.

Today, finally managed to meet up with the CU for the people in my block, which apparently has the most Christians in it normally and it turned out to be pretty accurate. We chatted together in a nearby park so it was nice and relaxed, and tonight I’m going to head to the main CU meeting in the Forum. After that it’s Avengers Age of Ultron (which I still haven’t seen) in the cinema! Hopefully joined by a flatmate too 🙂 It’s only £2 this week for the film, which is a brilliant price considering normally you pay £8+ for Vue or Odeon.

Sadly, a lot of my food has gone off because the fridge apparently is a wannabe freezer. Try having tuna ice chunks for dinner; it’s…. interesting. Shopping trip no.1 will be taking place this weekend – hopefully at Aldi. I intend to cycle with my rucksack as it’s going to be the cheapest place to go until I can find my way to the farmers market and check out prices there.

Literally everything you want to buy you have to think about twice now. Do you have enough money? Will it last ages, or need to be consumed/used immediately? Will your flatmates want some?

I made my first trip into town today to sort out my phone at the 3 store. I changed to 3 the day before I came. Big mistake. My number didn’t change over for days, and even when it had, my phone was still texting from the wrong number! But they sorted it and I went for a nosey about my new home city and it’s a really nice place. Found a cool ukalele shop called Maker Maker whilst trying to find the Pipers Farm shop on Magdalene Street.

ukaleles

I thought my sister Beth would appreciate this as she has a ukalele 🙂

I also found some really yummy coconut icecream in ‘Healthy Pulses’ near the high street and it was SO GOOD!

Coconut icecream

Yum. So yeah my little explore of Exeter city centre was great 🙂 I feel like I know where to go now – especially if I need to collar someone from the 3 store if I have further phone troubles :’)

Anyways. Last night I went to the CU central and it was great to be able to relax and worship a bit and listen to someone from Belmont Church talk. I also re-met some of the girls from my block so that was awesome!

I then rushed off at 9ish to catch Avengers Age of Ultron in the student cinema 🙂

So yeah to present all’s been good. I’m still looking forward to lectures. I bought  my first core modules book for Russian which is exciting. My flat mates Bex and Katie who came with me at the time were mind blown that I’d be learning Russian all over again just looking at the writing in the book!

But this report must end somewhere……

Day 2 – Sunday 13th September 2015

First one up this morning as usual! The communal table still had some remains from the pre-drinks and drinking games and as I was alone I snapped some shots because I wanted to play with the manual settings on my camera and the early morning light through the big windows in our shared kitchen.

After the party

Looking at it now, I think the cards/bottles one needed a bit more exposure and possibly less of my shadow 🙂

bottle lids

Breakfast today: 1 fried egg with 1/2 an avo, some broccoli, mushrooms and spinach and sprinkled some ground flaxseed over the top. It was simple but delish because I used coconut oil to cook it in. Oh, and the blueberries ❤ My absolute faves 🙂

Day 1 Breakfast

Still experimenting with my camera settings so some of my early shots will not be as good! I returned to the kitchen about 10 minutes later to do some washing up after myself and one of my flat mates had made his breakfast – which included about 8 eggs – and lined the egg shells up along the sink. I don’t think he’d even cooked them as there was no frying pan in sight! Made me chuckle as I regularly drove my mum insane with the amount of eggs I get through!

So yeah – you’re probably wondering what it’s been like so far? Well we’ve already run out of loo roll, apparently they only provide one per toilet and that’s it. It’s a pretty cruel awakening in the Adult World. You have to buy your own bog roll. It will not just magically appear. I also realised pretty quickly that I have no clothes hangars and no chest of drawers to compensate. So I’m going to be looking for the nearest place to get those tomorrow! Oh, and we have no toaster. I don’t feel too deprived, I don’t really eat bread – (Ok, I don’t eat it at all) – but I can sympathize with the others. We’re going to put together for a 4 slot one asap.

My block is sat next to this amazing lake and wood so I’m going to be having some early morning adventures in there I’m sure! Pictures will follow 😉 It’s one of the older blocks at Lafrowda, one of the halls of residence on campus, so it’s really convenient because it’s a few minutes walk to everything. I’m so blessed to be here really because it’s one of the cheapest places of accommodation and my maintenance loan not only covers it but I have extra. I wasn’t allowed a grant; my parents’ income was too high, despite the fact that I have 3 siblings, which student finance apparently take into account. But I’m not complaining. I’m happy here. It’s not as luxurious as ensuite but it’s still good 🙂 So as I’m sat here writing this now at my huge desk, feeling a bit more organised, I think I really am going to enjoy it here.

What’s up for tonight? I believe I and some of the other Block F girls are heading over to the Welcome Drinks event at a place called Phoenix. None of us know where it is, so we’ll need to find a map!

NB: *Just warning y’all, I might not post so regularly in the future due to studies etc so it’s kind of a hobby. Sorry that the first few posts might be a bit boringy updatey/ journalistic – hopefully once term starts things will get going! Oh, and once all of the taster sessions start too! Goodness knows what I’m in for this week!