Blissfully Happy

This morning I woke up and opened my curtains to the delight of blue sky and sun. I love this time of year when the weather’s getting warmer and the days are getting longer. After doing some work, I joined my parents in our garden and sat in the glorious sun, reminiscing about all the memories this garden holds. 

When I was younger, I remember running around making up elaborate fantasy games with my sister, or playing football and cricket with my dad. Those rare heat waves where it would be warm enough to get the paddling pool out are some of my favourite memories. As I’ve grown older, the garden has become more of a place of rest and studying. For the past few summers, I’ve spent my days revising in the garden surrounded by flowers and birdsong and the sound of mowing lawns and children playing outside as I once did. I love it. I love how seeing blue skies and sun reminds me of all of this.

Summertime in secondary was great, we used to sit out on the picnic tables and laugh lunchtime away, not to mention the after school water fights. Summer breaks we’d go away camping as a family together and explore the Great British Coast. 

I guess I’m feeling about nostalgic because this spring/summer will be my last summer at home, surrounded by my friends and family. The last time I can revise for exams in our garden, the last time I can make trips to the beach with my friends and revel in our lack of responsibility and being able to get away with acting a (little) bit childishly. 

I’m determined to make the most of my last few months at college though, surrounded by great friends who I hope I can stay in touch with and spend our last summer together with. Thinking about it, college has been the best few years of my life so far and I know I’ll cherish these memories forever. If I could go back and do it all again, I would definitely make sure I spent more time socialising and having fun with my friends instead of declining invitations in order to study like I did last year. If there’s one thing you should all take from reading this, it’s to cherish your teenage years and have fun whilst you can.

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Music Habits Tag!

Hello! The awesome Ana Regina @ Diversion 3000 tagged me to do the Music Habits Tag, which was created by Sumedha @ The Wordy Habit. I haven’t done a tag in a very long time (sorry to anyone who’s tagged me in anything!) but since I love music, I thought I’d give it a try!

The rules:

  • Tag the creator.
  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Answer all the questions.
  • Tag at least three friends.

Do you download songs or stream on apps like Spotify, Wink?

So mostly I stream music on Spotify or occasionally YouTube. I don’t really download songs as such but if I really like an album I’ll buy the CD then transfer the songs from that into my phone.

What’s your current favourite song?

Oooh I think it would have to be between Cheetah Tongue by The Wombats and Everybody Wants To Be Famous by Superorganism. They’re songs I just keep hearing on the radio lately and consequently end up singing or humming along to subconsciously ๐Ÿ˜‚ Ahh but there’s also Wild Love by James Bay that I’m in love with ๐Ÿ˜

Last song you listened to?

According to Spotify, Hard Times by Paramore. I actually really love this song so this is also kind of a current favourite (it’s so hard to just pick one favourite eek!)

Who are your all-time favourite artists?

I have quite a few to be honest, the artists that I’ve been “in to” for quite a long time are Catfish and the Bottlemen, James Bay, Bastille and Walk the Moon but more recently I’ve fallen in love with HAIM. Also anyone who knows me will know how stupidly obsessed with the Bee Gees I am. Then there’s bands like Take That who were the soundtrack to my childhood so y’know, should probably include them too.

Have you been to any concerts?

Yes! My first concert was The 1975 a few years ago. Since then I’ve seen Catfish and the Bottlemen (who were amazing) and I went to Leeds Festival for a day last summer, where I finally got to see Bastille (my baes) amongst other artists including Ratboy, Bear’s Den and Kasabian to name a few (you can read all about it here!). This month I’m going to see Eliza and the Bear and Walk the Moon, both of which I’m very excited about!

Do you play any instruments?

I actually learnt to play the guitar and ukulele in year 8 – my mum and sister taught me. Then I tried to self-taught myself piano for a good few years but it was very hard so I don’t really play piano much anymore. However I still play guitar quite often – I can still remember the chords no matter how long I don’t practice for, ukulele on the other hand, I’ve forgotten the chords. Oops. I would like to learn piano properly one day as it’s such a beautiful instrument.

Do you play your songs on shuffle or choose a playlist?

I usually play a playlist. At the moment I have one called “2018 motivation” that I made at the start of the year with a few songs that help to put me in a positive mindset for the year ahead and I’ve just been adding new songs I like ever since. I never really put all my songs on shuffle as I listen to so many genres it’ll jump from musicals to 80s to indie and I’m never in the mood for all those types of music at the same time!

Name one song that you always skip when it comes up on shuffle.

I don’t think there’s any particular song, because it depends what playlist I have on, but sometimes if an older song comes on by an artist I’ve listened to for years and know all the words to, like James Bay for example, I may skip it because I prefer to listen to their newer stuff. However that doesn’t mean I don’t like to reminisce and listen to older music, I’ve just got to be in the right mood. 

Do you prefer playing songs on a speaker or listening in ear/headphones?

When I’m studying I’ll use a speaker (well…my laptop or radio) because wearing headphones gets in the way but when I travel to and from college in the bus I always listen to music through earphones (don’t think people would appreciate me having a race on the bus ๐Ÿ˜‚).

Are there any popularly liked songs that you don’t like?

Controversial opinion but: I just don’t like Ed Sheeran’s music?? I know everyone is obsessed with his songs but I’m just not a fan of them. Sorry guys.

Where do you usually find new music? Example through shuffle online, recommendations.

Usually through the radio! I spend a lot of time listening to BBC Radio 1 and Capital FM when I’m studying or on the bus, so usually I’ll hear new songs on their and if I like them I’ll add them to my 2018 Spotify playlist. Occasionally Spotify will play a suggested song that I like, but that’s very rare.

Do you like songs based on tunes/beats or lyrics?

Both! Most pop music I like because of the beat – it’s good to (attempt to) dance along to, but I feel like the quality of most current pop song lyrics is declining. Then there are songs I like because the lyrics stand out to me, even just a line but if I feel a connection to the lyrics, I like the song a lot more. For example at the moment I love the line “let’s leave the atmosphere, disappear” in Wild Love by James Bay.

Name one song that you think everyone should listen to.

I would have to say Falling by HAIM. I mean, all of HAIM’s songs are amazing, but this one in particular always motivates me with it’s repetition of “never look back, never give up” (and their voices are so beautiful, you should just listen to them like seriously).

That’s all the questions – I actually really enjoyed answering them and finding out more about my own music habits. 

I’m going to nominate Victoria @ Doodles and Scraps, Jas @ It’s Simply Me Jasmine and Ellie @ The Diary of Ellie

Please don’t feel obligated to do it, and likewise if you’d like to do the tag and haven’t been tagged, please feel free!

How To Have A Productive Day!

Hello! Lately I’ve had to learn to manage my time and be productive as exams are drawing nearer and my workload just keeps growing. Since we had two snow days the week before last, I’ve spent more time at home than at college, so I’ve been trying to maximise my time and be as productive as possible. I thought I’d share a few tips with you to help you be productive too. ๐Ÿ™‚

To-do lists

The first thing I do after I’ve woken up, had breakfast and got ready is to write a to-do list. With A-Levels there tends to always be hundreds of things you need to get done and deadlines all over the place, so I find writing down what I need to get done that day/over the weekend a good way to structure my day.

If I’ve got loads of work and the thought of tackling it is stressing me out, I’ll make my to-do list into a table with four boxes to help me prioritise what needs to be done now and what could be done another day if I run out of time. Otherwise I just take a sticky note or piece of paper and make a standard list.

It’s so satisfying to cross thing off of a to-do list when you’ve completed them, and it also makes sure you don’t forget to do something you need to do.

Countdown timer

Something I’ve been starting to do recently is set a timer when I’m doing revision/homework. My lessons at college last for 1 hour 30 minutes with 15 minute breaks in between so I’ve started adopting the same structure for my studying at home. I’ll set a timer for 1 hour 30 minutes using this website, take a 15 minute break then set another timer. I aim to get through 2-3 lesson-length chunks of work each day, because I don’t want to exhaust myself. It really does help to give some structure to your revision and stop you from procrastinating as you know you’ll have a 15 minute break at some point.

Taking breaks from studying helps your brain to stay focused and ensure you don’t burn yourself out, so it’s really important if you want to have a productive day. I’m writing this post in one of my 15 minute breaks, for example, just to give my brain a break from the French revision I was doing! Breaks are also a good time to get a drink and a snack, take a walk around the room and stretch out.

No distractions!

Let’s face it, we all get fed up of our parents and teachers nagging us to put our phones away and work, but we all know that it’s for the best. For many of us phone = procrastination so if we want to be productive, we need to put our phones and other technology out of sight.

If you can, study in your room and make sure you’re away from TVs and computers (unless you really need your computer to do your work), switch your phone off and put it in another room. Even better, try studying in your local public or school/college library – the atmosphere will motivate you to work as everyone around you is doing so.

You’ll find you can be so much more productive when you’re not checking Twitter every five minutes.

Music

I could go on about the benefits of studying whilst listening to music forever – it is honestly so helpful for motivating you to study and giving a “rythym” (I have no idea if I spelt that right) to your work. Of course sometimes it can be a distraction if you find yourself singing and dancing along, that’s why you have to be selective about what music you listen to and when.

If I’m doing work that doesn’t taken much concentration like writing up notes I’ll have BBC Radio 1 on in the background as it doesn’t matter so much if I lose focus a bit. Also listening to music you enjoy can help motivate you to tackle tedious tasks.

However if I’m answering exam questions or doing difficult homework, I need something a bit less distracting so I’ll listen to French radio stations such as Radio Nostalgie or Radio NRJ because I can’t understand what they’re saying unless I make a conscious effort so they tend to be less distracting.

Time management

I don’t know about you but I feel like a lot of my time is wasted during the day by things such as travelling to and from college (Google maps gladly informed me I spent over 40 hours travelling on buses last month!) or waiting for meals. For example, often I won’t bother doing any work between 5pm and 6pm, because I know I’ll have dinner sometime during that space so it’s not worth starting any work. However, I have recently made a list of “short” activities I could do to fill that time instead of just surfing the internet – things such as practising French vocab on Quizlet, planning exam questions and essays for Geography and History and testing myself on flashcards. These things only take around 5-10 minutes and they are really useful to make sure you are constantly refreshing and testing yourself on things you are revising to input them into your long-term memory. If you commute to school or college like me, you could make a list of things you could do on public transport – Quizlet for example has a mobile app so you can take your flashcard apps anywhere and study on the go. Or if you do languages like me, you could listen to a foreign radio station on your phone whilst travelling to practice listening skills. Being productive is all about using your time wisely!

So that concludes my tips on how to spend each day productively. I hope you’ve found some of these tips useful, and as always share any tips of your own in the comments!

Good luck!

 

Thoughts on Leaving Home & University

Hello! Before I start, can I just say how much I am loving this spring weather?? Finally, the snow and cold has gone and we’re experiencing proper spring here in England. As I’m writing this, I’m sat on my bedroom floor watching the sunset through my windows – it’s beautiful!

Today we went for a bit of a drive through the countryside to pick up my mum from a Cub Scout event and it was like I’d almost forgotten how beautiful the rolling hills of Somerset looked in the golden sunlight. We drove past the farm where my family buys eggs from now and again and I felt really nostalgic about all the times I went with my parents as a child to collect the eggs. We also came across a couple of tractors and farmers just casually chatting in the country lanes – it really made me realise how much I’m going to miss living here.

Ever since the prospect of going to university became a reality, I’ve always said that I’d go to university on the coast. It may sound silly, but I’ve lived by the sea all my life and for a very long time, the thought of living away from the sea seemed impossible. For me, the sea represents so much more than just the mass of water that it is. When I stand on beach, looking out into the – albeit brown – sea, I find freedom in the horizon that stretches out further than the eye can see. It represents endless possibility and, most importantly, that there is more to life that I’m living within this bubble. When I feel trapped and claustrophobic under the blanket of pressure from college, friends or family, even just thinking about the sea gives me hope and ignites my spirit of adventure. I always thought that if I lived inland, I would feel trapped and swamped by society, so therefore when thinking about university, 15-year-old me decided Iย mustย live by the sea.

However, a few years down the line, I applied to university with none of my five choices being located on the coast. What happened? Well, as I’ve been exploring different pathways and possibilities, I found myself pursuing – unexpectedly – a rather niche degree in the UK comprised of (roughly) European politics and French. Therefore, the selection of universities I had to choose from was sadly quite limited.

I think that’s why it’s taken me so long to decide where to go to university – I received all my offers back by early January but was torn between them all because none of my options seemed the obvious choice. Sure, each one had it’s benefits but none of them would allow me to continue living under the safety blanket that the sea provides me.

Surprisingly, I’ve finally settled on going to London, which if you know me well you’d be shocked at as I’ve always said I wanted to go anywhere other than London. However after my travels in London last summer and going to various open days and applicant days, I fell in love with city and the prospect of living in the hustle and bustle of it all started to appeal to me. Also, the university I’ll be going to offers me some really exciting opportunities for the years to come, including spending a year abroad working, studying or teaching in a French-speaking country.

I think, in all, this decision to move to the capital has come from my growing self-confidence over the past few months. I felt confident enough in my decision-making skills to accept my university place and was pretty sure that, in five months time when I move in, I’d still feel as though it was the right decision. I also felt confident enough to leave behind the sea that I love so much as I no longer need it to act as a source of optimism about future adventures in the wider world. University is the start ofย myย adventure after all, so I could finally stop dreaming and get ready to start living it.

Although the thought of leaving home thrills me and terrifies me in equal parts, I know it’s the right decision for me. So many great opportunities lay ahead, and I’m so glad I’ve found the courage to let myself experience them. I will miss home very much, which is natural of course, but I know the sea and rolling fields will always be here waiting for me to return.

 

(I can’t think of a title help)

Yo yo yo, my name is…Em?? (And I swear I’ll never say that again ๐Ÿ˜‚). Let’s face it, I’ll never be cool but hey, that’s okay, I occasionally turn up on here and type out a post, what more could you want?

In all seriousness, where has time gone? Honestly, the weeks are just flying by towards the dreaded exam term *cows start quivering in their fields*. I have been very very VERY busy, but I’ve found some time to give you all a little update of what I’ve been up to.

Obviously revision and college work has been the main inconvenience, but I leave that there to spare you another rate. I will add though that I *think* I’ve found my motivation again (imagine me whispering this so as not to scare it away again). I’ve even ordered some revision guides because I’ve been super product over the past few weeks and need to capitalise on it. 

Aside from college, I’ve also been working hard on my mental health. I know it’s been a feature of a few recent posts because quite frankly since about November-ish I’ve been feeling my lowest and my self-esteem plumetted. Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had the energy or motivation to do anything about it, but I managed to talk to friends, as I wrote about here, and have been reading books from the shelf-help section in the local library to learn to understand the way I am feeling and how I can cope with it. I wanted to talk about this sooner, but I needed a few weeks of putting self-care into practice without putting pressure on myself. I’m glad to say it’s helping, I can’t really explain specifically what I’m doing – aside from methods I’m using to control overthinking and improve the way I think about myself – but it’s just sort of…working?? I don’t really know, I feel much more confident than I have in a while and I’m starting to learn to not care about what others think of me. As a result of this, I’ve had the confidence to socialise with my friends – and new people – instead of isolating myself. I’m starting to feel more positive about the future too, most importantly going to university because it got to the point where my mind was too crowded with worries about not fitting in, being to shy etc. that I couldn’t concentrate on the present. So yeah that probably doesn’t make much sense but honestly I’ve noticed such an improvement in my mood since I started paying attention to my mental health! (Perhaps I’ll write about it more coherently another time…no promises!!)

And that leads me on to the next thing. Something that’s undoubtedly improved my confidence is that I’ve been socialising a lot more than I usually do. I’ve been out with friends at least once a week, sometimes twice, and it’s been great. I’ve even gone out to lunch with some people I didn’t know very well and I actually went clubbing for my friends 18th and met a big group of new people. Yeah I’m shocked too ๐Ÿ˜‚ I’m so glad I’ve had the confidence to socialise and be myself around people.

In more ~general~ news, we had lots of snow last week! I live in the southwest so we were in the red warning zone on Thursday – it was basically a blizzard, the winds were very strong and we had so much snow. It was quite scary when the news presenters kept warning us that there was a risk to life in the red warning zone, but on Friday the wind had calmed down so my friends and I could have a proper snow day! We literally stayed out all day in the snow sledging, having snowball fights and attempting to do the skeleton (didn’t end well – I am now bruised and aching but it was all good fun!).

On the downside, I have a history mock tomorrow, a student rep meeting on Tuesday and a French mock on Wednesday, so I better get back to work! 

Hope you’re all doing well. ๐Ÿ™‚