It doesn’t last forever.

This is not a downer post. At least, that’s not my intention.

I want to talk a bit about friendships at uni. Might add in a bit of comparison between first year and second year, giving some experiences. Sorry – I’m a humanities student… essays are my life and always have been. Analysing is what I do…

Friends. They are so important to our development and well being, and especially to our confidence. I know, I know, you shouldn’t care about what people think, you should just be you. But to a certain extent in this world you are going to care, no matter how hard you try. And if you really genuinely don’t – please share your secret with me!

A bit of history is due here: I’ve always been a people-pleaser. I don’t really know why; I guess it’s because I’m a perfectionist (aren’t we all) and I set really high standards for myself. I’ve been bullied before (who hasn’t?) and I can remember all too well the times when I would speak my mind and say what I was really thinking only to meet crushing rejection and have my ‘friends’ gang up on me and make my life miserable for a few days, until we were ‘friends’ again. (Kids can be cruel right?) I would lose myself in my story writing – or journal the experience, you know, to try and get it all out. Now when I look back, I’ve realised it said more about them than it did about me. I always blamed myself, thought that I was the problem. But really they were just jealous, insecure, and wanted to be in control of their friendship group. Now, I’m not saying I never did anything wrong. But I don’t remember doing much to provoke this treatment.

So it sounds sad, but I never really had many friends most of my life until I got to uni. And even now, I only really have a handful of true friends. Ones I would feel comfortable being 100% myself around. Maybe I just go for quality over quantity…

I also have 2 best friends… Elisha (Ellie) who I’ve known since birth (literally) and Ruth, who I’ve known for probably 5 years now. Ruth goes to uni in Glasgow, and Ellie lives and works in Manchester at the moment, so geographically, we are really far apart. But the amazing thing is our relationships pick up from where they left off when we meet. I have made more friends at uni and it’s really amazing – it’s getting to the point where this whole concept of having only one best friend has become ridiculous, because I have many close friends now.

Anyway… on to the comparison. So before starting uni, I was told I’d make tons of friends. Especially in Freshers week. If you’ve been following my blog long enough, you’ll know that Freshers Week wasn’t all it was cracked up to be for me. Everyone was out partying and getting horrifically drunk, and I personally don’t find the idea of that fun. Especially seeing the aftermath every weekend of such antics. You might call me boring, but actually I just think I stayed true to myself and did what felt right for me. I saved a ton of money which would have been spent on club tickets and alcohol… And I did meet tons of people – but half of them I never spoke to again. Because they only really talked to me when they were drunk… because it made them more confident. Again, it says more about them than it does about me. And it’s OK. You wouldn’t be able to keep track of everyone anyway!

The people I found I really clicked with were those on my course – studying the same things as me and as passionate about them as I was. Also at Church, where there will always be a ready-made community ready to accept you with open arms. I made friends with people in the societies I joined… although I haven’t seen them so much this year because I chose to have more time to focus on what I’m really here for: my degree.

And that’s the thing: you’re here to study. That’s why you’re thousands of pounds in debt. You’re here to get a degree. Sure, friends are great. Societies are great. But things like that, they come and go. Friendships are sometimes only for a season or phase.

It’s hard to grasp, but I’ve come to realise this for myself in the last year or so. I moved around a lot when I was younger – my family moved to Watford (London) for a few years, then back to Worcester, then to Spain, then to Worcester. I changed schools a lot, and got used to making new friends, but also to expecting to probably move again. So as I progressed through school and found that some relationships weren’t the best for my growth, I knew that it wouldn’t last forever. And that’s completely normal. In fact, I think that this was what made my life at uni easier in my first year, socially.

Don’t take all this the wrong way – I’m not saying that you shouldn’t invest in your relationships and keep in touch with people. But if you do happen to lose touch with someone, or you find that they are toxic for you and you grow apart, that’s totally fine. And I hope you know by now that who you hang out with has a profound influence on who we grow into. We do become like our friends, to a certain extent.

Oh, and also, people aren’t perfect. Sometimes, you’re going to get annoyed and want to go home and change the scenery for a couple of days – or even a week. I’m currently at home doing just that. Ok, so it’s not all because of friends and stuff – I was stressed from work and, fortunately, I know the warning signs for when I’m getting burned out. Listen to yourself! If you need a break, take it. Whatever gives you that rest… it’s so important. And if you’re finding your friends get on your nerves… that’s fine. It’s not forever (hopefully) but people will annoy you sometimes. You probably annoy someone else too occasionally. (I know, it’s not often something you would think about yourself.) but yeah.

I used to think that going home was a sign of failure. But then my mum pointed out that this was the first time in a year and a half that I’ve come home when things got rough. It’s not failure, or weakness. Other people just don’t talk about it, but really they are having a similar experience most of the time. Everyone’s trying to be brave… and sometimes it’s best to retreat for a bit and recover. It’ll make you stronger, trust me.

I’m just giving my observations here – feel free to agree or disagree. Comment if you’ve had a similar experience/different experience – I would be really interested to know what you think!

Hello 2017: Resolutions?

Hey all, I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and New Year. I certainly have. It’s probably been my best one ever… and that means a lot I can tell you!

Even a couple of years ago I was struggling with an eating disorder and Raynauds (poor circulation) which meant winter was bitterly cold for me, and this made me so miserable, not including the fact that I was a shadow of myself. So now, it’s a new year, the start of my second whole year free of those things. I can’t tell you how much joy I feel in contrast to how I felt before… it’s just a deep sense that life is really worth living now.

So – you’re probably wondering if I’ve made any resolutions. I’m not really one of those people that does that… but instead what I do is pray and name my year. Just one word, and it’s the theme that I expect for that year. I heard about this concept in a podcast from Life Church (in Bradford) and have been using it these last few years. My 18th year (2014) was my year of Freedom, when I finally kicked my eating disorder to the dirt and began to truly accept myself for who I was. My 19th year (2015) was my year of Discovery. I discovered myself again – my strengths and weaknesses, my smile and laugh (I used to be so depressed that I could go for months without really laughing or smiling). I discovered that I can cope alone without my parents at uni in the Big Wide World. (Mostly!). And now for this year; 2017.

2017 is my year of Adventure. I don’t know what that means yet. It probably has something to do with the fact that, this time next year, I’ll have been living in St. Petersburg, Russia, for about 4 months. Scary, I know. But I’ll keep you all updated with plenty of my ramblings and pictures I promise 🙂

All I know is that I have a gut feeling this year will be a year where I step out of my comfort zone even more than before. Even more than I dared to think would be possible for me.

My Dad and I walked to the top of the Worcester Beacon (Malvern Hills).


Term two is around the corner (I go back on Saturday morning!) and I am dreading exam week next week, honestly where does the time go?? I’m going to miss the kitten and our cat Tigger, my family, my friends; but then I have friends to go back to so that eases the anticipation a bit. This term will be long and hard – I don’t get a reading week in the middle. So I’m going to have to be careful with myself and not overdo things.

[obligatory kitten pics!]


The amount of books in my room right now is ridiculous, I have about 7 for each module, and another couple for each language I’m doing.

The best thing is my parents and grandparents put together to get me a Kindle Fire for Christmas so now I can buy my coursebooks cheaply and have them all in one place – to save me crating home a whole box-ful every end of term!! (No joke – a whole box).

Anyway, I digress (as usual!) Tangents are my speciality 😉

So yeah, I’m excited for 2017. I’m sure I’m not the only one!

(Let me know in the comments what you’re most excited for!)

I’m learning

Hey guys I’m back! (Finally!)

Sorry I haven’t posted in ages I’ve been busy juggling work / sleep / friends / jobs / life generally so I’ve not been able to really sit down and write in ages.

Honestly, my weeks have been quite long and tiring as I’m cycling absolutely everywhere and while it’s great for fitness it does tire you out. On average I cycle between 4.5 – 8 miles+ a day depending on if I’m going to Aldi or town / to meet friends or if I have to make a couple of trips to campus! And then on Thursday I spend 3 hours with other girls in my group for a project we’re doing together trying to joint-write a commentary on a video which was absolutely exhausting – not made any easier by the fact that we’re all feeling a bit upset with one member as she’s not really doing any work but relying on us to do it all!

This term Russian is really biting me in the bum. I mean I understand a lot more than before but it’s still complicated. Still, every little sentence I get right, every word I remember when asked… all of these are little wins in my opinion. It shows progress – and that counts.

Little things are keeping me going – people from back home are sending me lovely little presents which make me smile when I get them out of the postbox – today I got a Nakd fruit and nut bar and I just love them – they have so many flavours but I love the gingerbread one the best ❤ especially at this time of year…. anyone remember my pumpkin sesh last year? Well trust me it’s happening again… the moment Aldi starts selling them I buying one (or more!) and making as much pumpkin soup and pancakes as I can!!!!

Autumn is the best season!

Recently I’ve been really challenged to read my Bible more. We had a preach the Sunday before last about Recycling Prayers… as in, the more you read the Bible, the more that it becomes ingrained in you and then in situations when you don’t know what to pray, you can rely on the things you’ve read in the Bible to guide you.

I thought that was a great idea… so I’m trying to make time to do that in the morning before my day kicks off. I’m also listening to some interesting podcasts from Bethel about laughing at lies and this has been really helpful too. Things like, I can never do that, I’m not good/smart/pretty enough… all of these little things we tell ourselves which so aren’t true!!

I still have 2 jobs – The Ram and Deliveroo, so that adds more cycle time to my already very physically active lifestyle which I kind love if I’m completely honest – it means I don’t have to worry so much about doing a workout – I’m being paid to cycle!! And if I want to get to lectures on time cycling is the quickest way. So it means I do it without thinking, and it just takes the pressure off. And that’s the best kind of exercise because you enjoy it more!! Although not gonna lie the elevation here in Exeter is big!! My thighs were so sore a few weeks ago when I was getting used to it. But at least I’m getting plenty of sleep having worn myself out through the day!!!

So yeah no worries guys I’m still here, alive and well… just being a student I guess!! Hope you like my new recipe which I posted earlier – it was so good and makes a massive batch so you can save it to have through the week if you’re cooking for one or just have it as a family 🙂 It’s amazing what good food can do for the soul!

Here’s the link: https://adventuresofababelfish.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/autumn-chilli/

Hope you all enjoy the beautiful colour and atmosphere that Autumn brings 🙂

 

 

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 ❤

Nearly through this :)

Hey-hey!

I know I know, I’ve not really posted in ages. I’ve been revising for my exams – and I can now happily say that my Spanish exams are over and done with. Now for the main Russian exams. I have the writing one this Friday, and then my exam on Chekhov’s plays and then lastly a two hour (yes two hour) Russian listening exam. I’m freaking out a bit but just trying to cover my problem areas in the grammar and listen to Russian as much as possible. Anything and everything. I think good luck is удача in Russian (pronounced “oodacha”). 

I’ve been doing a bit more yoga recently to stretch my muscles out (still can’t run – no sign of my new insoles yet) and cycling and walking to keep active and not just sit in my room all day! Fresh air y’all. I need it. I mentioned some of the issues I’ve had in my flat over the last year – these make me really stressed (more than my exams) and make revising quite hard, but my personal tutor and I have been filling out a special form that might help examiners take this into consideration should my grades suffer. (Because I got ill during but especially at the end of term 2 and missed a load of lectures and had to do some exams even though I felt like I had flu!).

Gymnastics isn’t on at the moment because the club can only afford two terms at the gym… We’re still hoping for two sessions a week next year! I’m just praying I can afford it :/ break dance is even more casual (if that’s possible) so basically sessions are just turn up if you aren’t revising …. And I’m just not really going! I probably should at some point but it’s too much to think about right now! 

I’ve actually been going to CU a lot more recently and it’s been nice to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a while. I’ve invited my friend Esther to come and maybe stay with me at my house over the summer and she said she’d love that so that’s exciting 🙂

Went to my community group last night – it got too big and had too many people so we’ve had to split 🙂 I saw my other friend Bethany there – she’s having a really hard time finding somewhere to live next year because her friends and people she’s asked keep saying they can give her a room and then giving it to someone else! So we prayed for her. I actually had a erase for someone – this is the second time in my life that’s happened. God is awesome 🙂 

Holidays are coming…. I can’t wait to go home – I think I’m just ready to go back a step and be in a familiar setting again. I’m still not sure if we’ll actually go abroad over the summer. People ask me if I’m going on holiday and I just don’t know. It depends on if we can affort it! Then they ask why don’t I just go on my own…. I’ve never gone on holiday alone or just with friends…. it would be weird!! Maybe I’m old fashioned in this way but when I think of holiday I think of my family and we go together.

I am probably going to stay an extra week after exams to work and earn as much money as I can before summer and next year. Hopefully I’ll stay sane!!! Anyway… Probably should get back to revising now 🙂 

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!