Year two: reflections 

 

Yay! Second year completed – no more exams, revision… just relaxing and enjoying the sunshine! Not for long though..

I fly out to Spain next weekend for 2 months to work as an au pair, and then come back for august before flying out to Russia for 9 months. Is this real life? I cannot believe that it’s happening already! My year abroad is finally upon me, and I have to admit I’m excited but also a little nervous.

Last summer I had a not so optimal au pair experience, so I’m really hoping and praying that this year won’t be like that. I’ll be living in Madrid until the end of July, and I’ve never been there before so it will all be new to me! I’m hoping to make some friends at the church I’ve found and intend to go to while I’m there, but I also hope to gel well with the family.

I will take as many pictures as possible so hopefully a few will end up on here, and also I’m going to do some year abroad posts – things like what to do/what not to do and how to go about studying your language while abroad and making the most of your time out here. I hope it will be useful!

The weather in Exeter is beautiful right now, I’m loving the sunshine and clear blue skies. I’m missing my church camp back home (this weekend) which is sad, but I rang my family yesterday to top up on some lurve before I go home on Tuesday. Yeah, I know, I’m already about to go home and leave for the summer!!

I will admit, this year hasn’t been easy. It’s been somewhat easier than last year in the sense that I knew what to expect a little more. You can usually tell the difference between and fresher and a second/third year because of their confidence levels and how they behave. I definitely feel more confident and well on my way to being a True Adult. Although I’m not sure I’ll ever fully grow up! But I can at least feed myself decently well and put a wash on once a week so we’re doing good so far!

I was so glad to walk out of my last exam yesterday knowing that that was it. The thing is, I’d been struggling with the more complicated grammar stuff we learned this year in Russian, and even Spanish was giving me a run for my money! The step up was bigger than I expected… so I had to amp up my game and work harder than last year. I pretty much coasted last year – which is not the best approach, but then it doesn’t count towards your degree so most people do even less work than I did!

So yeah that’s the first thing – this year was harder work-wise. Because it counted. So everything had to be good. I had to read tonnes of books and things while doing all of my grammar/homework for my lectures and preparing before the lecture in order to write my coursework in my second term. And I had to revise hard over Christmas for my January exams, which is never fun at that time of year.

Secondly, I learned to trust God a lot. I couldn’t work a lot this year because I was so busy with my studies, so there were some hairy moments where I had barely enough money for food and things. Don’t worry – I made it through, but it was a little rough in places and this is also partly because I didn’t really earn a lot of money last summer. It’s hard to get a job as a student because bosses look at your CV, realise they’ll train you up to only lose you again in 3 months and say nah not having you. #studentlife.

But this summer that won’t happen as I’m working as an au pair through a company and the family has to pay you. But anyway, back to my point. I had to learn to trust God with my finances… to trust it would all be OK and try and still meet up with friends even if I couldn’t buy food or a coffee, but to just be there to enjoy being with them because that’s the important bit.

Lastly, I learned to forgive myself and love myself for who I am. It’s something I’ve found hard my whole life, and I’m sure I’m not alone with this. But this year has really been a turn around in many ways… and that has definitely been helped by reading the Bible and discovering what God thinks about me and not worrying about what other people think.

Bring on summer… I hope you’re all well and enjoying the weather as much as I am!

Exams and year abroad plans

Why hello there….

You guys… I’m sorry I’ve not posted in forever, life has been so hectic and over Easter I just needed the break to clear my head and get ready for my final exams (eek!).

Yup, I have 5 exams… most people only have 2 or 3. But no, language students get more. I’ve now taken 4 of those 5 exams, the last one is on the 25th, so think of me if you can between about 9.30am-11.30am!!

Aside from the fact that I’m busy cramming and revising my socks off, I’m also madly applying to work as an au pair in Spain this summer before Russia in September. I think I possibly mentioned plans to go to Mexico in a previous post, if not, then briefly; I was considering going to Mexico this summer but the plans never got off the ground, mainly due to the cost of flights etc. and how it was kinda unwise to spend so much money on that when I needed to pay for my visa and insurance etc for Russia.

Basically, I have Russia on the brain right now so be warned, I will be talking about it A LOT as of now. Hopefully you’re all interested anyway!

OK so I’ve bought my insurance, paid my deposit and admin fees…. so I am officially GOING. Which is kind of scary when you think about how a year ago it felt so far away and downright impossible.

I’m working my socks off in the Ram trying to pay for various flights and such, so that means balancing work with revision. So yeah, that’s why I’ve not been writing in a long time. I’ve been so busy! Yesterday the fire alarm went off while I was in the Ram kitchen and we all had to evacuate… something about oil leaking into the cellar and setting the alarm off. I don’t know exactly. But it was pretty exciting!

I’ve had some pretty good times meeting up with friends – went round to one friend’s house for tea and a movie the other night which was lush… she always cooks amazing food and it’s so much fun to hang out and chill. We watched The Pacifier with Vin Diesel – funny film which I used to watch a lot as a kid….

So yeah sorry this is a brief update I’m sending out there into the world… not sure if any of you remember me I haven’t posted in SO LONG. I’ll try and post more often and the plan is to post a lot while I’m on my year abroad to help future language students out.

So ’til my next post – have a great rest-of-the-week!!

 

It’s not even half way through term yet!

Fellow students – I know you’ve been there!

That weekend when you’re so tired you can’t bring yourself to work, and you kind of feel like you should but at the same time know you need a break. Yes, that’s where I am right now! Yesterday was the worst – by the end of the day I was half asleep in my final lecture (which started at 4:30!) and it’s like I didn’t sleep deep enough or something because I’m still tired!

Assessments are stacking up… not that they haven’t been doing that since week 2 but now it’s even more full on – if that’s possible.

I have some Formatives due by the end of February, and a lot of reading to do (as always). Formatives are basically mid term tests, which don’t count towards your grade, but they are your only point of feedback before you do the Summative, which does count. So basically, if you want to do well, you do the formative. Simples. But stressful. As if doing just the normal grammar/exercises from lessons wasn’t enough. (To be honest, as if turning up to said lectures wasn’t enough! Where’s my medal? 😉  ).

Fortunately I haven’t needed to do Deliveroo this week because I’ve had a lot more work at the Ram. I’m constantly balancing the two, which works out well most of the time because I can adapt to the weather. But also if there isn’t work in one then I just do the other one. Sadly, the Deliveroo app has kept on crashing since before Christmas so I’m glad I’m not part of that drama. Also, it seems as though every day my Team Leader is recruiting new Roos (yes that’s our nickname as riders) and now there are SO MANY of us it’s almost no wonder the app keeps crashing when so many people log in at one time!

Plus, it’s been so cold recently that I probably would have lost my hands to frostbite… it’s actually currently snowing a bit as I write this… not the kind that settles, but it’s pretty 🙂

I’m not the best at selfies but I thought this one summed up my mood that morning 😉


Year abroad plans – a couple of things have changed. Us modern languages students have lectures every week scheduled on Wednesdays to talk us through the key components – so last week it was about our assessment. We have to write reports and compile a portfolio, etc. I can’t remember what the coming lecture is about but they follow the same theme really. Just stuff we need to know.

So yeah it’s set in stone now – I’m going to St Petersburg. I have managed to contact some people from a charity called Love Russia and I’m looking forward to maybe helping out if I can while I’m there. The situation in Russia surrounding Churches etc is a little tricky at the moment; there is a law about sharing your faith with other people and being a ‘foreign agent’… so that is going to be interesting to experience. The church I’m planning to go to is on a ‘watch list’, which sounds quite ominous, but apparently I have nothing to worry about according to my contacts/the people I have met through my friends/family.

I’m taking a module called Understanding Russia, and it’s really interesting learning about the current situation there (and in the world generally – it’s all kind of interlinked). I’m not going to post to much on here about it because at the moment I don’t know if that’s a good idea (as in, if it could affect my getting a visa or something), but if I find out it’s OK then I will. I might have to leave it ’til I get back in 2018! Seems so far away but time literally flies here at uni… no day is the same and I think it makes time seem to speed up. Sometimes it feels like the week only lasts 3 days. Anyone else get this?

On another note: I miss the kitten so much. My family posts pictures of her on Facebook and I wish I could play with her and cuddle her again!! She’s still absolutely bonkers but she’s the cutest.

Absolute tinker 😉


I also miss hugs – feels like at uni you can’t get enough of them! My family knows I love getting hugged a lot… I read a study the other day about how hugs can improve your mood and immune system etc. I can believe it! 😉

Sorry I’ve not posted in a while, I’ve literally had nothing to post about or no time to post in. I have some recipes to post, and some to try, so hopefully that’ll make stuff more interesting on here! I am going to get some flour today hopefully to make some pelmeni (пельмени) or vareniki (Вареники) – they are like dumplings #russianfood – so I’ll try and take some good quality pics this time with my camera and not with my phone. Naturally I’m going to be experimenting making Russian food so I hope you’re all down for that.

Oooh, funny story before I go… I joined the Russian equivalent of Facebook a few weeks ago and a load of strangers tried to add me. I got a couple of Egyptian guys trying to message me and one of them pretty much proposed after a short polite convo, saying he’d fallen in love with my picture etc. I checked all his followers and they are all women -_-. Don’t worry – I don’t add them, I block them or delete the friend requests unless I know them. But they can still message me if I haven’t blocked them. Still, it was a very bizarre experience!!

Anyway, until next time guys – have a good weekend 🙂

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 🙂

 

 

Reading Week

I’ve been working all day every day for the past 3 days to try and get my workload down! So far, so good. I have to submit an assessment online by Friday, and it’s almost done. The other one is for next week so I have a bit more time but that one’s almost done too. So feeling good right now! Just loads of reading to do (as usual) so I’m reading my pdfs on Evernote, which is this great app that lets you clip and save things from the internet and then annotate them afterwards. It’s pretty cool.

The flat is super quiet now there’s only 6 of us, four boys and two girls. I thought initially it would just be me and Rob, Trevor, Ted and Alec at first but then Bex came back today 🙂

It’s kinda nice… But hey going home tomorrow wooo. It’s a 3 hour train journey, but still. Counting down 😉


I finally remembered to turn the grill on yesterday and grill my grapefruit with some banana slices and cinnamon!

Thought I’d just share that.

Anyway…. I read a great article by Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella recently which I found really helpful.

Here it is – I recommend you read some if not all of it.

http://deliciouslyella.com/why-i-dont-like-labels/

It’s about finding the right balance for you and knowing what your body needs. I’m really interested in this stuff (as you can probably tell) – and what’s more interesting is that now people are starting to realize that not one “diet” fits all and actually we should all find our own personal mix. I heard a saying once, something along the lines of, healthy is a dress that fits everyone differently.

I think you should eat stuff you know is going to make you feel good. Personally this includes lots of fruit and veg, beans, eggs, fish and meat, with not a lot of sugar (I actually prefer bitter tastes anyway) and little to no refined food.

I am in no way placing this on anyone – what you eat is your decision. I just wanted to put that out there so people didn’t think I was promoting any particular “diet”. It’s about a healthy lifestyle. Diet doesn’t come into it.

Oh yeah… so I had my first shift at the Magdalen Chapter Hotel last night! It went well and I have another one tonight – only 5 hours for the moment as they want to break me in gently. I actually thought I was going to be there for 6 hours so this was a nice surprise! I needed my sleep. They are so much nicer there than at the Costa franchise were I worked over the summer. The pay is less though – minimum wage, which is about £5.30 an hour, but hey I need all the money I can get! Student…. hellooo 🙂 But its quite a fancy hotel – 4 stars I’m told. It got quite stressful last night for the chefs – it was busy for a Tuesday I’m told. I think busy is better – the time goes quicker when you’re running around not thinking about it. Sometimes business is good.

Most people don’t bother getting a job in their first year, its usually second, third and fourth years that go for them. So I’m an exception to the rule. Most rely on their parents’ support. I’m probably going to still need support judging by how much I’m going to be paid, but a little on the side will help things. It means I might actually be able to buy some clothes. I just discovered that my favorite pair of leggings has ripped down the seam slightly. Sad times 😥

It also means I can pay for my ticket home at Christmas and for other holidays. Unfortunately we don’t get a reading week term 2, so we have to do the most we can this week and over Christmas!

Better get back to editing my submissions for my assessments. Fun stuff 🙂

Up early.

Guess who got up at 6 thinking it was 7 because her watch doesn’t automatically change?! Me. But I don’t mind!! I got to watch the sunrise as I took the bins out. They were overflowing again and way too heavy for me but I managed to get them out to the big bins. The sky was all pinky and orange 🙂 I get an extra hour all to myself – I’m not going to complain! The only downside is I had my breakfast too early so now I’ll want lunch early too! 

I’ve got plenty of time before I need to go to Grace church so I can do some work and maybe some yoga or something. Maybe I’ll go for another run?! Nah too lazy this morning! Occasionally I do yoga because it’s great for core and arm strength. And stretching – I’m quite flexible so it helps me stretch completely and get rid of knots in my back. Oh and don’t worry – I would never make myself live through a breathy meditation-y video. I pick ones which are just focused on activity, not meditation. I’m just not into that stuff personally.

  
My beanie is my new joy 🙂 I wear it a lot – it’s a slouch one! Because it’s been raining a bit recently it’s so useful. Especially as my hair becomes a serious health hazard when it meets humid or moist air. It just becomes a massive frizz-ball!

Still amazed at the convo I had with my flat mates last night. It was so bizarre. One of them, Rob, had been saying recently how you just never know if any moment could be your last. It’s possibly because he had this sudden (hernia) operation, and he’s actually waiting for another one for his knee which he busted playing football a while ago. His surgery has been delayed again, and he’s literally not allowed to do any exercise now – not even swimming. So I guess he’s in that kind of mood – you know, thinking about life and stuff. 

Maybe that’s why he initiated the conversation last night. It’s hard to explain it… I’m aware of how crazy it all must sound to someone who doesn’t believe… Three in one? God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same guy? Huh?!? One of them actually asked what the Holy Spirit was. I’m not perfect, and my answers felt so inadequate. I’ve no idea if God can use them to sow seeds… That’s in his hands now. 

God is teaching me a lot at the moment that’s for sure!

Short post guys – like I said I have some extra time! Happy Sunday 😉