//Year 13: expectations vs. reality//

Hello! As it’s approaching the start of term 2 in the UK, I thought I’d reflect a little on my first term as a Year 13 student. So far this year has been quite different to how I imagined, but I think it’s also going to be my favourite school year so far, which I’ll talk about below!

(I know most of my writing lately seems to be about studying, it’s just because I have so much studying to do it’s all I can think about! I’d like to start writing about a greater variety of topics again, so please let me know whether you like these type of posts or if you’d want to read something different!)

Workload:

Obviously I expected the workload to be a lot more demanding than year 12, as generally school gets harder the further you progress. Over the summer I was probably overthinking and stressing about the daunting amount of new content, coursework and revision that lay ahead! Although I frequently find myself swamped with work, which lives up to my expectations, I think I am coping with the workload better than I thought I would. I’m much more productive than I was last year and somehow I’m managing to stay on top of my work and get ahead in some subjects.

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Subjects:

I had some individual expectations for each of my subjects this year – which are the same as last year; geography, history and French – so I’ll go through them seperately.

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French – I actually thought French would be the most similar to last year, as we have the same amount of themes/units and no coursework, plus slightly less grammar as we did a lot last year. I’m really enjoy the themes as they’re very political, however I’m really struggling with the speaking-aspect of French this year, which I wasn’t expecting. I thought I would be fine because my speakingand confidence improved so much last year and I ended the year on a high getting a B in my speaking exam. It’s seems like the summer break has really affected my confidence though, and I’ve been getting anxious before our fortnightly speaking exams and having mind blanks during them. I can really tell my quality of ideas and grammar is slipping which is NOT GREAT so hopefully if I spend lots of time practicing my speaking, I’ll be back to my pre-summer standard by the exam period!

Geography – as with last year we have four modules in geography but whilst I enjoyed all of these in year 12 I didn’t think I would this year as the modules are a lot more science-based. So far we’ve done a human topic which was superpowers and I absolutely loved it however I’m kind of dreading starting the water cycle unit next term.

History – I didn’t think I’d enjoy the witch craze topic we’re doing this year, and although I didn’t at first, i’m finding it really interesting now that I understand it more, so that’s good!

Organisation

Last year I like to think I was pretty organised and had a good study routine, so I sort of just assumed I’d carry on with that this year. However my timetale has changed quite a lot so I haven’t found a good routine of when to study yet, Also I didn’t think I’d start a bullet journal but I have and it’s totally changed the way I stay organised!

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Stress

Before starting year 13, I definitely expected it to be the most stressful year of my life so far, what with the stress of A Level exams and applying to uni,. I’ve certainly been extremely stressed this past term, but because I anticipated it, I think it as helped me to get over it and cope with it quicker. Also a couple of weeks into term I decided I needed to properly take better care of my mental health and since I’ve been using some of the methods I mentioned in this post, I’ve definitely been a lot happier and positive. Even thought I still have low points, I know I can get through them now and have picked up some strategies to help me deconstruct my emotions and work through them.

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Well that’s all the expectations/reality examples I can think of so I shall conclude the post here. Let me know in the comments if you’d like more study themed posts, or more of a variety and I’ll try to get writing more often because I really miss it!

How has school been for you so far? Is it what you expected? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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//The world through an autumnal lens//

Hello! As it’s half term, I’ve had a lot more free time within which I’ve rediscovered my love of photography. I’ve taped up my broken digital camera so it’s now semi-usable and have enjoyed being able to take some very autumn-y photos that I thought I’d share here. 🙂

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I love experimenting with photography, so I’m really pleased with the way these turned out, especially the effect of the light through the leaves and shifting the focal point! Hope you’re enjoying the autumnal weather too. 🙂

//The School Routine Tag//

Hello! So the other day Eve did the School Routine Tag over on their blog, and I thought it was an interesting and cool tag to do, so I thought I’d give it a try (even though I go to sixth form college not school but hey ho)! I love hearing about different people’s experiences of school haha.

1. How long does it take you to get to school?

Well, it usually takes between 50 minutes and an hour on the bus for me to get to college, but sometimes it can be a lot longer as the bus service is really unreliable (when you end up stood at the bus stop for 45 mins waiting for a bus service that’s meant to be every 10 minutes…does anyone feel my pain??). When I was at secondary school, it was only a five minute walk away so it’s quite a different journey to back then! The annoying thing is, by car it only takes around 20 minutes to get to college but I don’t drive so have to use public transport (buses are painful argh).

2. What do you like to eat for lunch?

It depends on what I feel like really. I usually pack my lunch the night before to save time in the morning and my lunch usually consists of sandwiches, a cake of some description, a muesli bar, grapes, sometimes dried fruit or an apple as well and sometimes crisps. Although once a week I make myself some pasta with tomato sauce and in the summer I ate pasta and salad a lot, so it really depends on the season and what I feel like eating, and obviously what food we have at home!

3. What classes are you taking?

I’m taking three subjects  – A Levels in French, history and geography. 🙂 In the UK, it’s the norm to take 3-4 A Levels as they are so intense!

4. What’s your favourite subject?

Ahhh this is hard! It’s difficult to pick when you aren’t studying a great amount of subjects, but I’d probably say it changes between geography and French. I love geography because I have a great group of friends in my class and we have really academically-stimulating discussions (as well as laughing at pretty much EVERYTHING) and I just generally love how I feel more connected and knowledgeable on world affairs by learning geography, BUT I really don’t like physical geography, which makes up half of the subject, so it can’t be my favourite if I don’t like 50% of what we’re learning! French is another contender for favourite though as my classmates are really friendly and funny and I feel really comfortable talking French around them, which is very important when learning a language. Plus there are only 6 of us, so it’s a pretty unique experience and I love learning in a small group. The lessons feel more laid-back to my other subjects as you learn languages in a completely different way to everything else, plus the topics we do are very up-to-date and interesting, like at the moment we are learning about diversity and marginalized groups of people in France and french-speaking countries. But obviously sometimes I find French very hard and stressful, which takes a bit of the enjoyment out of it she says whilst mere weeks away from applying to do French at university.

5. What’s your least favourite subject?

Regrettably this would have to be history. For the whole of my secondary school life, I was convinced I wanted to be a historian, but to be honest I’ve sort of been put off by A Level. I mean, the A Level programme is well structured and there is a lot of flexibility over what your teachers can choose to teach you, but I haven’t had the best experience. For one I don’t really feel comfortable around my classmates , not to mention the fact that we had three teachers last year because they kept leaving and we ended up being taught the same stuff multiple times and missing out huge chunks which meant I had to spend ym summer catching up. So yeah, history isn’t my favourite, but I am enjoying it a bit more this year as we’ve got a good teacher and we’re learning about the witch craze, which is so strange but surprisingly interesting lets not mention my 4000 word assignment due in in two months that I haven’t started yet.

6. What grade are you in?

I’m in year 13, so the last year of compulsory education in the UK! (Although I am going to go to university next year because I clearly haven’t had enough of studying)

7. What time do you get out of school?

Because I go to a sixth form college that isn’t attatched to a school, we don’t operate a normal school timetable. So, the times I go to and leave college are different each day – Friday’s I don’t go in at all! – and everyone has a different timetable dependent on subjects, so some of my friends I hardly see because we’re in at different times. So Monday’s I finish at 12pm, Tuesday’s I finish at 4:30pm, Wednesday is the same as Monday and Thursday I leave at 4:30pm. Some of these days are half days though, except Thursday which is 9-4:30pm.

8. What do you like to wear to school?

I usually go for a pair of comfy jeans and a t-shirt or shirt, depending on how cold it is. Sometime I’ll wear my denim jacket over my t-shirt for a bit of extra warmth and in the winter I tend to wear woolen jumpers and hoodies. Occasionally I’ll wear a dress, skirt or shorts with tights.

9. How early do you have to wake up for school?

If I’m starting at 9am, which is three ays a week, I have to wake up at 6:30am *sighs* because I have to get the bus at 7:40am. But on days where my lessons don’t start until after lunch, I don’t set an alaram so I usually wake up between 8am and 9am.

!0. What’s your favourite item in your backpack?

I’m probably gonna have to copy Eve on this one and say my pencil case. I’ve had it for about three years and I love the design so much, plus stationary is one of my favourite things in life and I couldn’t survive at college without my pencil case! (Mainly because I wouldn’t be able to make my notes pretty).

That was quite fun to do so if you want to give it a go, consider yourself tagged!

//Autumn favourites//

Hello! Today I’d like to talk about some of the things I’ve been loving so far this autumn. It’s been a long tine since I last wrote here, so I’m going to use this post to sort-of bring you up to speed with some of the things I’ve been up to lately as well.

Autumn so far has been both uneventful and eventful. I mean, nothing much exciting has really happened – although I have celebrated a few friends birthdays, gone on a few shopping trips and visited my favourite art gallery – but otherwise I’ve pretty much been studying constantly. Year 13 has certainly been more intense than I was expecting, the workload is so impossibly huge that I barely have time to work on the two pieces of independent coursework and my university personal statement that need to be done by Januray, let alone blogging! On top of all that, I was suffering with a nasty cold for two weeks, and last week my phone broke so it’s been shipped off to France where I’ll probably never see it again.. for repairs, and whilst I’m writing this, our wifi at home haa gone down so who know’s when I’ll get to publish it!

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now and I should really start to write about my autumn favourites, which I’m excited to share with you! Autumn is my favourite season, and I’m loving it even more than usual this year, which is great!

Fashion
I’ve been really getting into fashion this autumn. I may not be the most fashionable person, but I really enjoy putting autumnal outfits together, especially featuring this top and skirt that I bought recently (in the sales of course!) (Sorry for the bad photography)

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Lemon

This is a bit strange, but I’ve been drinking lemon squash a lot recently, and I really love the taste! Although citrus fruits are more summery, my dad bought some lemon squash when we both had colds in a bid to help our sore throats, and I’ve carried on drinking it since – it’s so refreshing.

Geography!

Yep, you heard correctly. The girl who was saying just a few months ago how much she had fallen out of love with geography has included it on a favourites list…Basically, we’re studying global superpowers at the moment, and it’s so interesting from a political and historical perspective, and something I want to explore more when I study politics at uni next year. I’m so glad I’ve fallen back in love it, because gsography is so demanding and if you’re lacking enthusiasm, it can be a real uphill battle. The coursework is another question, but so far I’m loving the lessons enough to spend time making pretty notes!

(N.B. this was written before I had the end of topic test on Tuesday which was HORRIBLE)

Candles!

Of course candles are an autumn essential, but in particular I have been using an apple and cinamon candle (which I conveniently forgot to photograph) a lot that my friend got me for Christmas last year. It’s not a yankee candle, but the scent is so powerful and warming.

Make-up Revolution

I bought the Make-Up Revolution New-trals vs Neutrals pallet in August because I loved the pink and orange shades in it, and have never had a proper eyeshadow pallet so I decided to treat myself. I’ve been using it so much over the autumn, as it has some really deep bergundys and oranges that give off an autumn vibe. Although I have nothing really to compare this pallet too, I am very impressed with it as to me the colours seem very pigmented and apply well, and there is a great range of matte and shimmer-y shades. 10/10 would recommend.

ITV Victoria

Ahh! The series finale was on Sunday, but I definitely loved this series a whole lot more than last series. I got so attatched to some of the characters, and to keep this spoiler-free, let’s just say the plot took some interesting turns!

Absolute 80s radio

Music-wise, there haven’t been any particular artists that I’ve really been into, I guess other than HAIM who I listened to a lot last month. That’s because I’ve rediscovered my love of 80s music, so spend most of my music-listening time tuning into Absolute 80s or playing some of my parents records.

Well, I think that’s all I can think of for now, which is good because this post is alreasy quite long. I’ve got plenty of ideas for upcoming posts so hopefully over half term next week I’ll more time to write them. Goodbye for now!

//8 ways to have a positive new attitude!//

Hello! Feels like it’s been a long time since I last wrote on here, but that’s because I’ve had such a jam-packed few days with deadlines flying at me from every direction but such is life. Anyway, today I wanted to share with you some tips for how you can have a positive new attitude.

I think it’s safe to say since starting Year 13, I’ve sort of been in a rutt when it comes to mental health, and I think a lot of you will relate when I say sometimes when we’ve got piles of work to do and hundreds of obligations and to-do lists, taking care of our mental health is not a top priority. But, over the past few weeks I’ve realised that mental health absolutely should be a bigger priority in my life. So, I’ve taken the decision to make some changes to my life and mindset, to hopefully take better care of myself and make sure I’m as happy as I can be.

1. Communication is KEY

As a naturally shy person, I’ve also been lacking on the communication front. But recently I’ve decided that I don’t want to be the person who sits there silently, holding back their opinions for fear of judgement as I have important opinions to share and you do too. If you’re sat their thinking, no one cares what you think then you’re wrong because you don’t know how people are going to react to what you have to say unless you take the leap and say it. I’m not saying you should be in polite and say anything on your mind, but you should definitely be scared to voice your opinion in class discussions, to ask the teacher for help, to talk to those people who you’re like sort-of-friends-with-but-do-they-really-lile-me-because-we’ve-only-talked-like-once because trust me, the worst thing that can happen is that someone decides not to reply to you which is their loss. Honestly, for the last few weeks I’ve made every effort to communicate with people around me as much as possible. I’ve joked around with my friends, I approached my teachers, I talked to people I don’t usually talk to, I met new people simply because I was engaged in conversation with my friends and other people decided to come and join in too, without knowing us. It was great. I felt so included and so, so much more confident as I kept reminding myself that it’s just talking and I talk to people every day so I don’t need to make a big deal out of it. Finding the confidence to be less shy and quiet is hard though, so if you need a little bit of help with this like I do, when you’re in class or in big groups of people, just try to focus on talking to one person at a time and pretend the others and their and that they don’t think twice about what you’re saying – or the fact you’re talking – because 9 times out of 10 they don’t.

2. Smiling makes you happy. FACT.

Okay I don’t know all the ~science-y~ stuff behind it, but I do know that we associate smiling with feeling happy and positive emotions. Therefore, I try to smile as much as possible to help me get into a better mindset. It probably sounds really cheesy, but honestly starting of each morning my smiling at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself you’re going to have a good day is a great way to start off the day. I don’t know about you butI often feel like my natural face is quite glum-looking and often I think this makes me less approachable as apposed to someone who smiles a lot, so I try to be as smile-y as possible at college to make me feel happier but also make myself appear happier so I feel more confident in myself and socialising.

3. Music makes the soul sing.

My sister has this quote on her bedroom door, and it’s so true. Sometimes I can get so caught up in work, I realise I haven’t listened to the radio or music on my phone for weeks, which is not good! When I listen to music, I genuinely feel a lot happier, relaxed and at ease. It’s something to take your mind off life, and you can let go a bit and sing along.to your favourite tunes. I’m not saying you should listen to music all the time because it might lose it’s effectiveness, but maybe next time your feeling a bit low, stick the radio on or trawl through Spotify, or even have music playing in the background when your studying.

4. Take life one day at a time.

I’ve always found this advice clichĂ© and brushed it off as one of those things people say that doesn’t actually work, but really I’ve found it to be quite useful. By sort of compartmentalising days, it helps me to make sure each day is a little more positive than the previous. For example, if you have a bad day, that’s okay, but try to wake up with the mindset that tomorrow is a new day and you can live it out as if yesterday hadn’t happened, if that makes sense. Basically don’t let bad days blur into bad weeks or months.

5. Write out your thoughts.

When I was younger I used to use diaries to decode my thoughts and emotions, and find a way forward, but somewhere in my teenage years I decided to stop doing this and try to bottle things up, which is not good. I recently started bullet journalling, and I’ve found it to be a really helpful tool to get me to open up and write about my feelings, which I totally wasn’t expecting. Having a space where I can physically write things down allows me to declutter my mind, and I feel like my thoughts have somewhere to belong as my bullet journal is sort of documenting my journey through life. Obviously writing stuff down doesn’t have the same effect as talking to people about issues, but sometimes you don’t want to share everything that’s bothering you, and doing exercises like this can help to remind you that you are strong and have control over your emotions without having to rely on others for help.

6. Positive reminders are underrated.

Somehow through trawling through the internet last week, I discovered Shine Text, which is basically a “bot” that sends you positive reminds and strategies to meet a goal (which you set e.g. building confidence) every morning via message. You can either subscribe via text or Facebook messenger, and honestly it has made such a difference to my mental health already. I’ve learnt so much about how to better look after myself, and so many coping strategies, it’s great! Aside from that, it’s really nice to have little positive reminders each morning, as sometimes you’re too tired or stress to remind yourself to think positively. I’d highly recommend!

7. Give yourself something to look forward to each week.

Since starting year 13 I’ve been really working hard at making sure I have something planned each week that I can look forward to. That way, it’s easier to focus on something nice that will be happening that  week and give yourself something to look forward to, and puts you in the mindset of rewarding yourself as you start to think “if I do this homework and that revision etc, I can do treat myself”. A few things I’ve done so far have been going shopping with friends, going to galleries and even just grabbing a coffee. This is also a really good tip as it makes sure you schedule in a time each week to relax and take your mind of things.

8. Celebrate your achievements, however small!

It’s so easy to overlook our successes, especially in school when your main focus is getting grades so everything else feels irrelevant,but the more you start to take notice and be proud of the little things you’ve overcome, the better you will feel. Sometimes it can be challenging to feel positive all the time but you should definitely make an effort to think about and recognise little positive things you do each day to give them value. 
Well that’s all I can think of for now, but if you have any tips to share, please do so below! I’ll hopefully be posting more frequently now I’ve adjusted to my new timetable and the year 13 workload, so until the next time, goodbye!