Second Year Room Tour!

Hellooo!! At the beginning of September I moved into my new student house that I’ll be living in for my second year at uni. I’ve been gradually accumulating more and more decorations over the past move on so and making my room feel more homely. Somehow I managed to do all my reading for next weeks seminars yesterday so as I don’t have a lot to do today (and the sun is actually out for once!!) I thought I’d do a room tour!

My room is a bit of an odd layout as it has a corridor leading into it, so I thought I’d start off with my bed. I have a double bed again this year which I love as I can use all my bedding from last year. On one side of my bed is my chest of drawers which has an assortment of ornaments on top and my wire grid memo board which I’ve decorated with some fairy lights and some photos from over the summer. I’ll probably add to this over the year. Above my bed I have a world map poster and then on the other side of my bed is y bedside cabinet which I keep my Himalayan salt lamp on and my books, glasses case etc.

Round the corner from my bed are my windows. I keep my spider plant, cacti and basil plant on my windowsill and they seem to like it there as they’ve grown a lot since I moved in!

On the wall opposite my bed there are three doors. The middle one is my en suite bathroom and the other two are big cupboards, on of which I use as a wardrobe and the other as a general storage cupboard. I’ve also got a bookcase, mirror and tall cabinet on this wall which I use to store my folders, text books and other random things. I’ve also strung up a load of photos along the top of this wall which I love as I did a similar thing in halls last year.

Then finally there’s my desk area. I used the notice board above my desk to make a collage of some photos, paintings and drawings I’ve done and random things like train and concert tickets. I love how big my desk is this year, the only annoying this is it doesn’t get much light as I have my back to the window when I’m working, but it’s fine!

So that’s pretty much my room, I’m sure it’ll change a bit over the year as I add new things in but I’m really happy with it so far!

Hope you enjoyed this room tour and are all well!

Impostor Syndrome at University

London skyline at night

Today someone suggested to me that I might be suffering from impostor syndrome. I hadn’t really considered it before, but now I think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

Since coming to university, I have always had this overarching feeling that I don’t belong here. Although I love my university campus and surrounding area and couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else, I’ve never really felt like I belong on my course. At the moment, I think it comes from the fact that I’m not studying the course I applied for – I switched degree within the first two weeks and now I keep wondering whether I would have been accepted on this course if I had applied directly to it. I imagine myself sitting down and writing my personal statement back in the summer before Year 13 and wonder what I would have wrote to persuade my university to offer me a place on this course. Although I enjoy what I’m studying now – international relations, by the way – politics hasn’t always been a passion of mine, like most of my course mates.

I’ve always struggled to contribute in class throughout school, and since coming to university I’ve found participating in seminar discussions equally as hard. When I’m sat in my seminars, I constantly feel that I’m not good enough, I don’t know enough and I don’t deserve to be here. I always make sure to do all my reading to prepare for seminars and I understand the material, but when it comes to forming opinions and debating with my course mates, my brain freezes and I can’t think of anything to say. To me, it seems like everyone else on my course has a really strong understanding of politics and is really opinionated. I don’t come from a very political family, we hardly ever just had discussions about what was going on in the world when I was growing up so I feel like discussing politics in any way is still very new to me and I haven’t had the opportunity to form strong opinions on things.

I guess because seminars are the most direct way for me to compare myself with other people on my course, I presume because I struggle in this aspect of my course, I must not be good enough to be doing my course at all. Which, thinking about it, is ridiculous. Last year I averaged a 1:1 overall and somehow won the departmental prize for outstanding achievement. However, when I got my grades back, I didn’t really feel anything. I wasn’t happy or proud and I shrugged off my achievements by telling myself that I only did well because I’m good at memorising facts for exams and researching for essays and that I’m not good at my actual subject, just studying in general.

I’ve realised today that my experience of impostor syndrome at university has probably been caused by constantly downplaying my achievements throughout my time at school. I’ve always been a high achiever but for some reason I’ve always felt like I couldn’t celebrate my grades if my friends were disappointed with theirs and now it’s become a habit that I can’t seem to shake.

I think impostor syndrome at university is quite common. When you’re surrounded by people from different educational and personal backgrounds, it’s normal to compare yourself to them to an extent. I think when it becomes a problem is when you start to feel like your ideas and opinions are not valid because ‘everyone else is smarter than you’ or that you ‘don’t belong’ because your learning style is not the same as others. Impostor syndrome can make being a student really hard, but if you also think you suffer from it like me, I want you to know that you’re not alone and that recognise it as a struggle you face is the first step to overcoming it.

I’m not sure if this ramble will be useful to anyone in anyway, but I think it’s helped me to write down and deconstruct my thoughts.

I hope you’re all well and hopefully I’ll be back with another post soon!

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always struggled with making decisions. I’ve read it’s a thing that many INFJs struggle with because we see multiple pathways ahead of us and struggle to commit to one, feeling that if we do, we will exclude all other options. I think the first big decision I remember having to make was choosing my GCSE options in Year 8. I mean, it wasn’t that big of a decision but to my 13 year old self, it felt quite daunting.

Then when GCSEs were over and I had to choose which college/sixth form to go to to study A Levels, I found myself toying between two. It took me even longer to decide what A Levels to actually take and I changed my mind several times along the way. At the end of Year 12, I had to decide whether I want to go to university or not, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to study. This was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made. I wasn’t sure if university was right for me but the prospect of not going and having to start working was even more daunting.

From about Year 10-ish I said if I did go, I would study history as it had always been an interest of mine. Then when I got to college,I found myself really enjoying geography, so thought I would study that. Then I was considering a joint honours in history and geography. Then I realised I didn’t really enjoy those subjects enough to study them at degree level and that languages – specifically French – were my passion. Although I was advised that studying just French would be too limiting, so ended up applying for French and Politics, despite wondering if I should switch to German instead as I’d always wanted to learn it but never had the opportunity. So that was that, I thought. I would go to university and study French and Politics, graduate with a language degree and pursue a career in the field of languages.

Choosing which university to go to was hard, but simplified by the fact that not many university in the South offered that course combination so I didn’t have too many to choose from. After accepting my place at my current university, I still wondered if it was the right place for me, if the campus was too small, if it was too far from home, if I would meet like-minded people. But I went, I passed first year and I still don’t know if it is the right place for me or if I’m studying the right subject.

I ended up dropping French two weeks into term as the way it was taught just didn’t work for me and my style of learning. That was a really, really hard decision to make. It felt like the life I had planned for myself was falling apart. I would no longer get a language degree or be able to pursue careers that require language degrees. It felt like everything I had been looking forward to had been taking away from me. I mean, in reality there was nothing stopping me from continuing to study French and graduating with a French and Politics degree except for my gut feeling that it just wasn’t right for me. I just didn’t want to be in those French classes and wanted to take the extra Politics modules that I was missing out on. This probably sounds really dramatic but it just made me feel really sad and lost because I realised I wasn’t who I thought I was. I still enjoy French, yes, and I want to continue studying it in the future but realising I wasn’t going to be language student was…hard to get my head around.

So now I am a politics student – well, international relations in fact as I changed degree again, turns out politics is too much of a mess for me to enjoy studying. And honestly, I still feel lost. I have no idea if I made the right decision and if this is the right pathway for me. When I started uni as a joint honours student, it felt like I could see two different pathways emerging, two different futures. The one where I continue to study French, make friends with other passionate linguists and pursue a career in translation or interpretation and the one where I become a single honours Politics/IR student, a route I could follow with no idea of where it would take me.

One thing I’ve reflected on over summer since having some distance from university is that we can’t always know if we’ve made the right decision right now. I’m guilty of being a perfectionist and trying to plan out how my life will go but in truth life never, hardly ever goes the way we plan and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard to accept tough decisions we’ve had to make in the present because we can’t see yet how they’re going to benefit us in the future. I might not realise that this is the right degree or university for me until after I graduate or maybe even later. I just have to trust that I enjoy what I’m doing at the moment and even if I don’t know why I’m pursuing this path and not furthering my French fluency like I planned, it will all make sense in the end. Maybe I wasn’t meant to study French now because I’ll get that opportunity in the future. Maybe in 10 years time I’ll end up in a job that’s perfect for me and wouldn’t have been possible without studying IR. Who knows.

As someone who’s a serial worrier and ‘what if-er’ when it comes to making decisions, I want to reassure you that whatever difficult decisions you’re having to make now or in the future, if you trust your gut feeling and go with what feels right for you, you will end up where you’re meant to be.

I know that I’ve rambled on about changing degree 193929485 times on this blog, but this is just my way of accepting and processing what has been quite a big change in my life and future plans. And there’s no shame in wondering where we would be now if we had made different choices, but it’s important to embrace the new future that lays ahead of you and the opportunities and experiences that will bring.

For now, I’m trying not to plan ahead. I hope that if I work towards what interests me now, I will end up where I’m supposed to be in life eventually and I hope that you all do too.

2019 (so far) in Music

Hellooo! As we’re a little over half way through 2019 (I mean, more like 2/3 of the way through) I thought I’d share what music I’ve been listening to this year! I’m a big fan of indie music and I’m glad that I’ve discovered quite a few new indie artists this year that I love. I often find the music that I listen to to be a good reflection of my emotions and feelings, so in a way these songs sort of capture how I’ve found 2019 so far and hold some great memories.

You can find my playlist on Spotify here if you wish to listen and see how my playlist grows over the rest of the year!

1950 – King Princess

Holy – King Princess

Doesn’t Matter – Christine and the Queens

Look What You Started – Paris Youth Foundation

Jessica – Paris Youth Foundation

Talia – King Princess

Rollercoaster – Bleachers

Don’t Take The Money – Bleachers

Wild Heart – Bleachers

Keeping a Secret – Bleachers

Quarter Past Midnight – Bastille

Timebomb – WALK THE MOON

If Looks Could Kill – Lauren Aquilina

Psycho – Lauren Aquilina

L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. – Noah and the Whale

Kansas City – The Mowgli’s

Retrospect – Vistas

Take Me Back Home – Coasts

Born To Be Yours – Kygo, Imagine Dragons

Joy – Bastille

Wasted – Tiesto, Matthew Koma

Arcade – Duncan Lawrence

Soldi – Mahmood

Friend of a Friend – Lake Malawi

Roi – Bilal Hassani

Eat Your Heart Out – WALK THE MOON

ME! – Taylor Swift, Brendon Urie

Adventures in London

As you may know, in September 2018 I moved across the country to start at the University of London. Whilst my university campus is not located in London as most of the University of London’s institutions are, I have managed to spend a lot of time (and far too much money on train tickets) exploring the capital!

Growing up, I can only really remember going to London twice – once in 2012 to visit museums with my family and in 2017 to see the World Para-athletics Championships at the Olympic Park. So it’s fair to say that before university, I really hadn’t seen much of London at all, let alone been able to navigate the tube!

At one point, I ended up going into London about once every fortnight as I found being surrounded by the business of the city was a good way to distract myself from the loneliness I was feeling whilst struggling to settle in. Moving back to Somerset for summer has been strange to say the least and I really miss uni and being able to hop on a train into London, so I thought I’d share with you some of the my favourite places I’ve explored and things I’ve done in the capital this past year!

Canary Wharf // Winter Lights Festival

One of the first things I did when I came back to uni after the Christmas break was go to the Winter Lights Festival in Canary Wharf. I’d never actually been to Canary Wharf before so I did get a bit lost trying to navigate my way there (and find my way around the light trail when I eventually got there!) but it was really good fun to get out and about, even if it was a freezing January evening. The light displays were really cool and I really enjoyed seeing London at night, especially looking across the Thames at all the lights and skyscrapers.

Tate Modern

View of London skyline including the Shard and other skyscrapers

In March one of my friends from back home came over to visit, so we spent a day in London seeing the sights. One of the places we decided to visit was the Tate Modern – we didn’t have time to take in the art unfortunately but we did go up to the 10th floor viewing platform to see the views over London, which were absolutely amazing!! The great thing about the Tate is it’s free to enter, unlike the Shard, which is great when you’re on a student budget but still want to see the views across the city!

Art installation comprising six vertical rectangular blocks leaning against a wall with illuminated writing scrolling across

Before moving out of halls in June, I spent one of my last days at uni going around the Tate at a slower pace and actually enjoying the exhibitions. I can’t wait to go the Olafur Eliasson exhibition when I move back to uni in September!

Tate Britain // The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain

Continuing along the theme of art, I also visited the Tate Britain back in April to see the Van Gogh exhibition they had there. It was really interesting to learn about the time Van Gogh spent in London and see some more of his paintings after seeing some in the Rijksmuseum last year. I also wandered around the rest of the galleries and whilst I’m more interested in modern art than classical art, I still enjoyed my visit there!

Thames // River Cruise

Sunset behind Tower Bridge and the London skyline

For our end of year party, my department organised a river cruise along the Thames, departing from the London Eye and taking in the sights from the Thames Barrier to Tower Bridge and back. It was such a cool experience watching the sunset as we floated along the river. We probably consumed too much alcohol than should be advised in the company of our lecturers but it was a great way to celebrate the end of the year. It was pretty cool going under Millennium Bridge and having a mini Harry Potter fangirl moment and going past Parliament and quoting Vossi Bop (if you get me). I can’t wait to do it again next year and I’d definitely recommend doing a boat cruise if you’re visiting London!

Greenwich Peninsula // Emirates Air Line

My friend from home visited me again in June and we spent another day sightseeing around the city. One of my favourite things that we did was going on the Emirates Air Line which is a cable car that goes across the Thames. The view across the East London Docklands was amazing and we could even see the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which we decided to visit afterwards. Although, neither me nor my friend are massive fans of heights so we were quite relieved that it only took 20 mins for a return trip!

So, those are some of the highlights of my first year of exploring London whilst at university! I definitely want to make the most of living near London over the next two years, so it’s safe to say there’ll be plenty more adventures in the capital come!

What are you favourite things to do and places to visit in London? Let me know in the comments!! 🙂

How I Spent My Student Loan: A Guide for How (not) to Budget

As I’ve now officially finished my first year at university (eek!!), I decided to look back at how I’ve managed my money since moving out in September. One of the biggest responsibilities you have as a student is managing your income as for many people, university is the first time where you are expected to pay for your rent and bills by yourself, whilst also somehow having enough money to feed yourself and socialise.

I’m quite a visual person, so things graphs and charts mean a lot more to me than just lists of numbers, so I thought I would create a pie chart to breakdown my spending this past year. Throughout the year, I have been recording everything I spend in a little notebook, as it helps me keep track of how much I’m spending each week so I don’t end up in my overdraft. I’d highly recommend doing this as it’s a straightforward way to keep track of your spending and budget better. Also, if you’re bored and miss doing maths like me (who am I kidding??!), you can then spend hours creating fancy pie charts at the end of the year!

For context, my living costs at university have been funded by a maintenance loan from the Student Loans Company, along with a bursary from my university itself. Luckily my loan covered my accommodation costs but I know for some people this can be a struggle and they find they need to work alongside to support themselves.

The first chart I made is an overview of all my spending throughout the year.

Pie chart titled: Year 1 spending
Rent = 58%
Deposit = 10%
Other shopping = 7%
Groceries = 6%
Holidays = 4%
Social = 4%
Transport = 3%
Books = 2%
Other = 2%
ATM = 2%
Laundry = 1%
Top-up = 1%

As I expected, the rent I’ve paid for my university halls of residence has been the biggest outgoing, followed by the deposit I had to pay for my second year house (which was ridiculously expensive arghhh!!). Most student’s will probably end up spending the biggest chunk of money on their accommodation, unless you’re commuting then transport might be the biggest cost. Aside from the rent and deposit, all the other things I’ve spent money make up a relatively small percentage in comparison, so I’ve broken this down further into another pie chart, excluded the rent and deposit.

Pie chart title: Non-accommodation spending
Other shopping= 23%
Groceries = 19%
Social = 12%
Holidays = 12%
Transport = 1-%
ATM = 7%
Other = 6%
Books = 6%
Laundry = 3%
Top-up = 2%

So, excluding the amount of money I’ve had to spend on actually having somewhere to live at university, my next biggest cost by far is ‘other shopping’. I didn’t really know what to label this but basically I mean things I’ve bought that isn’t included in my weekly grocery shop, so non-essential items. The majority of this spending has gone on clothes, birthday/Christmas presents for friends and family and the new phone which I had to buy myself in first term as my old one decided to give up on me. I honestly expected transport to be by biggest non-accommodation cost, so this was quite surprising. I definitely think next year I can aim to spend a lot less on unnecessary items so I can save more money for after university.

After shopping, I’ve spent the most money on groceries which is to be expected as food can be expensive!

I’ve also spent a lot of money this year on holidays, which isn’t that surprising as flights and accommodation can be expensive! I also had to renew my passport this year which cost A LOT, but at least it’s valid for the next 10 years now. To some people, holidays/travel may seem unnecessary but travelling and exploring new countries is something I do for fun and to relax, and whilst some people might spend £100 on a night out, I’d rather put that money towards travel. I’ve spent the same amount of money on socialising, which includes things like paying for society memberships and events, going out for meals/for a coffee with friends and going to the Student Union club nights. The amount of money I spent on socialising definitely increased a lot in second term as I made more friends and although I have spent a lot of money socialising this year, I think it’s important to find a balance between studying and social life. It also proves to me that I haven’t been as anti-social as I thought I’d been this year!

Then transport is my next biggest cost and I was totally expect this. I think I’ve spent almost £400 on train and bus tickets this year, just travelling around the UK which goes to show how extortionate train tickets are here. It costs me £50 for a return ticket every time I go home, which is why I’ve only been home 4 times throughout the year as it’s too expensive to go back more frequently. I’ve also travelled a lot around my university area, going in and out of London multiple times and visiting my sister at her university in Portsmouth, so that accounts for the rest of the transport costs. I think next year I can aim to cut this down as well. One thing I’ve noticed this year is that when things get tough, I have a tendency to want to run away and escape, which usually results in me jumping on a train to London or another nearby town/city to go and explore for the day. I have enjoyed exploring the South East, but I think next year I’ll have to try and travel less frequently to save money.

The next three biggest costs which each make up around 6% of my spendings are books, cash withdrawals from ATMs and ‘other’ (which includes random costs such as posting parcels and buying new glasses, which are ridiculously overpriced!!). Honestly, university books are so expensive and I can’t wait to sell them at the end of my degree, even if I only get a fraction of the money back. I put ATM withdrawals as a separate category as I can never remember what I spend cash on specifically, but I guess it’ll usually be groceries or bus/train tickets.

Then finally I’ve spent the smallest amount of money on laundry (3%) and mobile phone top-ups (2%). I thought laundry would be a lot me, considering it costs me around £7 each week to wash and dry my clothes. However the good thing is next year I won’t have to spend any money on laundry as my house has it’s own washing machine and tumble dryer, so that’ll be some more money I can save. As I’m not on a contract, I only top-up my phone when I need credit and I’ve only spent £50 on credit this year, which just goes to show how good value pay-as-you-go phones are (well for me anyway)!

I know finance isn’t the most interesting of topics, but I did find it quite fun making these graphs and seeing what I’ve spent money on this year. I think the fact that I’ve spent more money on shopping for clothes etc. than groceries reflects the fact that when you’re student loan comes into your bank account, you kind of get a bit carried away and start buying unnecessary things. But next year I can definitely work on cutting down this unnecessary spending and reducing the amount I spend on transport which will help me to budget better!

I hope you found this useful in some way to see a breakdown of what I’ve spent in my first year at uni. I know every student has different priorities and will spend their loan differently, but I thought this might give people who are thinking of going to university in the next few years an insight into the types of costs you might want to factor into your student budget.

Good luck to anyone sitting exams right now! I’ll be back soon (*fingers crossed*) with a post about my experience of first year. 🙂

University Halls Room Tour!

First of all WHERE did April go??!? I cannot believe it is May already (or more like I REFUSE to believe it is May and that exams start next week aaaah). Anyway, I hope you’re all doing well!

Today I thought I’d take a break from revision to show you my room at university. Some of you may be going to university in September or maybe the following year, so I thought it might be interesting to show you what my room in halls looks like. I can’t believe I’ve only got 6 weeks left living here and I’m definitely going to miss this room – it’s changed a lot since I’ve moved in, as have I, so if anything I’ll enjoying reflecting on this in a few years time.

For context, I live in halls of residence on my university campus. My block has four floors and I was unlucky enough to end up on the fourth floor, which means every time we have a fire drill I have the joy of running down four flights of stairs and always being last out the building. I live in a flat of 8 and we share a kitchen, although we do have our own en suites which is nice!

Also: I know that accommodation does vary from university to university and even across university campuses, so not every student room will look like mine!

When you enter my room, the door to the en suite is on the left. The bathroom is actually a wet room which means basically the whole room/floor gets wet when you have a shower which is kind of annoying but now I’ve learnt not to leave stuff I don’t want getting wet on the floor it’s not too bad! I also have some hooks on the right hand wall which I hang various coats/scarfs/dressing gowns on. Then there’s a little shelf above the door which is one of my favourite things ever (lol I know that’s so sad) as it’s the perfect size to fit my suitcase, sleeping bag and roll mat on!

On the wall running along the right-hand side of my room, I’ve strung up some bits of string and made a photo wall by hanging photos off of it. I’m actually pretty proud of this as it took some skills to tie the string around the coat hooks and then tie the other end to the hinge inside my wardrobe that’s at the other end of the wall (would have been so much easier if I was allowed to stick pins in the wall!).

It’s kind of hard to get a photo of all of my room at once, but basically once you walk past the en suite it’s a square shape. This wall backs onto the bathroom and I have used it as a sort of poster/photo collage wall and added some fairy lights in for good measure too. This wall was actually plain for like the first term and a bit that I was here but I got a bit carried away at our Student’s Union’s poster sale back in January. I also have a bookcase on this wall which is adjacent to my bed and is filled with various folders, books and cans of cider (student essentials).

My room has a double bed, which was strange to sleep in at first as I’m used to a single bed, but now whenever I go home my bed feels so small! It also has storage under the bed which is great (if I remember to take my stuff out from there when I leave!).

Then on the other side of the bed is my desk which is where I spend most of my time (if I’m not lying in bed procrastinating). I really like how there’s a massive window in front of my desk as it lets lots of light in and makes studying more interesting as you can daydream. I try to keep my desk tidy but sometimes mess piles up (also excuse the random plate haha). I spent a lot of time decorating my notice board too when I moved in and I’ll be sad to have to take it all down soon!

At the end of my desk, I have a cupboard, a drawer and a few shelves which get a bit cluttered sometimes. Then there’s my wardrobe which is pretty much full now as I seem to have accumulated more clothes since moving in! It’s actually quite a big wardrobe which is great and it has a mirror in the door.

So, that’s pretty much an overview of my room in halls! I’ve really loved living here this year and I think it’s just the right size for a student room. It’ll definitely be weird living in a house next year but at least I won’t have to worry about carrying my key card everywhere with me in case I get locked out (or the 1 am fire alarms!).

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my room tour! And if you’re heading off to university soon and have any questions about life in halls, feel free to comment the below!