Reflections

Hello. It’s been a while since I’ve checked in here and quite frankly a while since I’ve checked in with myself. I thought I’d take the time on this sunny afternoon to sit down and give myself space to write, let the words flow out of my head and onto the digital page. I think it’s very easy to forget to take time out to just sit and think when life becomes fast-paced and I’ve definitely fallen into the cycle of suppressing thoughts and feelings and saying I’ll ‘deal with them later’. Well, I guess now it’s time to start dealing with it.

Generally, the past few months have been great. I was determined to enjoy my second term at uni a lot more than the first and I definitely have. I’ve got used to living independently now and am (mostly) managing my workload. I’ve also done a lot of things outside of my comfort zone like applying to become a peer mentor next year, starting volunteering and applying for jobs/summer placements (I somehow managed to get called to interview in a few weeks ahhh). However, all this has come at the price of me feeling really disconnected from myself and the present.

Whilst I’m happy with how this past term has gone, it feels like my life is very quickly moving in a direction that I’m not sure I want it to go. I thought going to uni would open more doors for me, but it feels like I am constantly having to make decisions which are leading me down an ever-narrowing path. It’s probably irrational, but the more I specialise in my degree – by picking my second year modules for example, which resulted in me switching degree again from Politics and International Relations to just International Relations – the more I lose touch with myself. Part of me still feels like I’m not doing what’s ‘right’ for me, despite having changed degree twice. I think part of the problem is I don’t know what is the right pathway for me yet I’m making decisions which will impact my future career prospects.

I know, realistically, I don’t have to go into a career that directly relates to my career, but I think being surrounded by other politics/IR students all the time who do want to go into careers in governments, NGOs, policy making etc. is making me feel like I should do the same. I’ve also realised that I’m not an overly political person. I don’t have really strong views about things and politics isn’t my passion, I just enjoy studying how the world works and politics/IR is one lens through which I can understand the world. I do love my degree, but it doesn’t define me as a person and I have many other interests alongside which I’m worried are going to get pushed to the side as I get further through my degree.

Also one thing that’s always in the back of my mind is my love of languages and how studying and speaking French made me feel. I wouldn’t say I regret dropping French at uni as I know the course wasn’t right for me and that I’d like my journey with French to continue by moving to France using the language in a practical way. However I do really miss it. It’s a bit strange but since I’ve come home for Easter, I keep finding myself spontaneously thinking and speaking in French – much to the annoyance of my family who don’t understand half of what I’m saying when I respond, almost automatically, to their questions in French. I think it’s because being back home reminds me of studying French and that part of my life where languages were very important to me.

That leads me onto another thing I wanted to talk about. Coming home from uni is very strange and hard to adjust to. I mean, it’s probably my fault as I had been away from home for around two months before I came back for Easter. It feels like my life has stopped and I’m stuck in this weird sort of limbo where time is passing really slowly. I feel like my life at uni is very fast paced and because I’m settled in there now, my life back home feels like it’s stopped. I’m not sure if this is making sense, but it’s really hard coming home and trying to work out how I fit back into my old, given how much I’ve grown since moving out.

I really wish life wasn’t flying past so quickly. I always seem to be planning something or waiting for something to happen in the future, never being able to fully enjoy the present. My mind is always thinking about the next thing. I think this is partially due to the fact that every week at uni is very different and friendships in particular are constantly changing. It’s really hard to hold on to a single moment before it slips away.

I’m not sure why but I feel very uncertain about the future at the moment. And I don’t just mean the distant future but even about what will happen in the next month or so after exams are finished and I’m allowed to go home for summer break. I know I’ll be coming back to university in September, I’m just not sure what will happen in between. I’m not ready for the long summer break and feeling like time has stopped again, as I do now, but I don’t want to spend the whole summer waiting for September and missing out on the present. I think I’ll need those few months though to properly slow down and catch up with myself before I become too lost.

I don’t think writing this has made me feel any less like I’m living in a whirlwind, but I guess it’s a start to slowing down a bit and trying to experience the present without worrying about the future. I think I just need to have a little faith that hings will work out in the end and I don’t need to be so worried about what the future holds. I really hope you’re having a lovely bank holiday weekend if you’re in the UK and hopefully I’ll be writing more frequently soon. πŸ™‚

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Travel Favourites: Memories from Extraordinary Places

Hello! I’ve been loving writing more travel-themed posts this summer (mainly because I really wish I could be traveling right now!!) and I think this is the direction I want my blog to head in, as well the odd post about studying or ramble about life. This time I thought I’d reminisce on some of my favourite memories from travelling and favourite places I’ve been to over the years. I haven’t travelled a lot or gone on a massive tour around multiple countries (I’d love to though!!), but I have been lucky enough to go to a few different places over the past few years, whether that be on family holidays, with school, friends or Scouts. I hope you enjoy! πŸ™‚

Austrian Mountains

Sunset over a river with mountains in the background
This is one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken??? (I just wish 11 year old me knew how to focus a camera properly lol)

I went to Austria back in 2011 with Scouts and we stayed in a town called Stanzach in the Tyrol region. The scenery was breathtaking, particularly the mountains which you could see form anywhere within the valley. I remember going on many evening walks to the river in the photo and skimming stones and building dams whilst the sunset. We also took a ski lift to the top of a mountain then hiked down. I’d love to go back one day and explore the mountains more!

The Eden Project, Cornwall

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It’s been a fair few years since I visited the Eden Project, but I remember really enjoying my visit. There are some really interesting and exotic plants within the rain forest and tropical ‘biomes’. My family and I were obsessed with the mimosa which look like mini ferns but when you touch their leaves they close up! It was really cute haha.

Studland Bay, Dorset

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Studland is one of my favourite beaches! When I was younger, we went camping in Dorset quite often so we’d visit Studland a lot. It’s great for swimming as the water doesn’t get deep very quickly and great for sand castles too! One of the most amusing memories I have comes from this beach. My sister and I decided to partially bury my mum in the sand and turn her into a mermaid but we later discovered that we’d left the camera in the car park down the other end of the beach. Not wanting to miss this photo opportunity, my dad, my sister and I walked back to the car park, and on the way my dad was convinced he’d seen his brother and children playing in the sand, so he went over to say hello. My sister and I realised immediately it wasn’t them but my dad insisted and kept saying to the man “don’t lie, you are my brother!” (in a friendly way). He thought his brother was messing around haha (can you tell we don’t see our family often enough to recognise them haha??). Eventually my dad gave up (my sister and I were so embarrassed at this point) and we carried on walking to the car park. When we got there, the funniest coincidence happened – we bumped into his actual brother and his family πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ It was so funny! We told them about the mishap with the look-a-like and they said that that man was actually staying on the same campsite as them and that my cousins kept mistaking him for their dad, so at least it wasn’t just us!!! It was so weird though πŸ˜‚ I’ll never forget that haha.

Double-decker trains in Berlin!!

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I still get slightly excited by this but DOUBLE-DECKER TRAINS AHHHH. I didn’t know they existed until I went to Berlin???!!? We took one out of the city one day and it was a really cool experience even though I’m too tall to stand up on the top deck haha.

Kynance Cove, Cornwall

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This beach really is a hidden beauty. We only found out about it as we are National Trust members and they own the land, but it is definitely worth a visit!! You have to walk quite far from the car park before you can descend the headland to the beach. The water was so blue!! And there were lot’s of little caves to explore. The main thing I can remember though is getting my hiking boots soaked. My dad told me to stand in front of this big rock to take a better picture of the sea, not realising that the waves came in really fast so when a big wave came in, my dad was able to scramble up onto the rock whilst I couldn’t because I was holding my camera so I was submerged up to my knees! When the wave went back out again though I was fine but had very soggy feet for the rest of the day!

Branscombe Beach, Devon

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As you may be able to tell, I really like beaches. I think it comes from growing up in a seaside town – I just love being on the coast! Branscombe Beach is another sort of hidden gem. We had to walk for a few hours to get there from our campsite, descending through the lovely village (and stopping for cake). The beach itself was stunning with sloping red cliffs and red-tinted water. My family and I spend a long time on the beach walking around, paddling and posing on various rocks for photos (as you can see above haha).

Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille

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I visited Marseille last year and one of the highlights of the trip has to be going to the Notre Dame de la Garde cathedral, which is perched atop a hill overlooking the city. The views were incredible, especially looking out to sea, and we had to take a little train up the hill to the cathedral which I’ll always remember as it was one of the first times I had a proper conversation in French (in France) as I was volunteered by my classmates to ask if our tickets were valid for the train. (Still surprised that I actually managed to do that, though! Speaking to natives can be daunting sometimes!).

MuCEM, Marseille

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Another memory from Marseille was visiting the MuCEM – the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. The architecture of the building was?? INCREDIBLE?!! The outside is basically made to look like water ripples (I think??) so on the inside the light reflects through the gaps in the outer shell making it feel as if you were underwater! The actual exhibits themselves were really interesting too as I got to learn more about Mediterranean history and lifestyles. There’s a rooftop cafe with a bridge connecting you to Fort St. Jean, which used to guard the entrance to the port of Marseille. The Fort was full of things to explore and sadly we didn’t have enough time (or energy- it was so hot!!!) to do it all, so I’d definitely love to go back!

A’DAM Lookout, Amsterdam

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If you’ve read my Amsterdam series from back in July, you may remember me mentioning the A’DAM Lookout! It’s essentially a hotel with a restaurant and ‘lookout’ on top from which you can see across the city. It also has Europe’s highest swing which swings you over the edge of the tower!! I’m not the biggest fan of heights but I do LOVE being high enough up to see an amazing view, and the A’DAM Lookout definitely didn’t disappoint!! The whole experience of the Lookout was so fun, from getting stuck on a giant red horse, to battling the fierce wind and running for the ferry! Definitely one of the highlights of the holiday!

Porthor Beach, North Wales

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(Another beach oops!!). My family and I visited Porthor Beach on our most recent holiday to Snowdonia, North Wales. My dad is very good at planning holidays in that he picks out the less well-known places for us to visit, such as Porthor. It was very difficult to get to as we kept missing turnings, but after a longer than exepcted journey, it was definitely worth the hassle!! As far as beaches go, Porthor wsas fairly quiet which was nice because sometimes Studland Beach (which I mentioned earlier) is very busy and you don’t have much space. Porthor is also known as the Whistling Sands beach because!!! THE SAND WHISTLES WHEN YOU WALK AHHH! (I was probably way too excited by this but it was so fun!!! Although you can’t really sneak up on people haha). Due tot he type of sand at Porthor, when you walk the sand compresses and makes a sort of squeaky noise!! We spent the whole day at the beach, swimming in the sea which was clear blue and home to some jelly fish and also playing multiple matches of beach volley ball with our make-shift ‘net’ made of pebbles. It was great fun!

Aberglaslyn Gorge, North Wales

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Another memory from my holiday in Snowdonia was hiking through the Aberglaslyn Gorge. This was in the height of the heat wave in the UK so it’s safe to say we were VERY hot and possibly hiking in the heat wasn’t the BEST idea. However, the gorge was so beautiful!! The majority of the walk involved scrambling over rocks along the side of the river – some of which had metal handholds to help you across difficult sections. It reminded me of going canyoning in Austria! We had to stop halfway and cool off our feet in the river. When we reached Beddgeleret – a small village which is the river passes through – we stopped for an ice cream and looked around. It was sch a lovely little village, I could have seen myself living there, surrounded by the mountains. We sat on a wall by the river eating our ice creams and two tourists asked if they could photograph us sitting on the wall within the space of ten minutes which was STRANGE??

Snowdon Street, Porthmadog

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My final memory to share is from the same holiday again, this time of Snowdon Street in the town of Porthmadog. It may not seem the most interesting honestly it was so cool just walking through the town then at the bottom of a side street you can see Snowdon, perfectly framed between the rows of houses. I have so many memories of climbing Snowdon itself, which I shared here, and considering I couldn’t get any non-cloud covered photos whilst climbing it, I’m pretty pleased I had the opportunity to see Snowdon again, from the ground this time!!

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my favourite memories from traveling and places I’ve been, I’ve certainly enjoyed reminiscing about them! There are so many beautiful and interesting places to see, whether that be in your own country or abroad. I’d love to hear your travel top picks below!

London Bucket List: Places to Explore!!

Map of London and text reading 'London Bucket List!!'

In three weeks time, I’ll be moving to the other side of the country to London for university which has come around SCARILY fast – it feels like I was taking my A Level exams just the other day! At the moment, I’m excited to go and meet new people and study subjects that I love, but I know nearer the time I’ll probably be quite nervous, so I thought writing this post would hype me up a bit and also give me some inspiration for days out whilst I’m there. I haven’t really been to London a lot – although I did go twice last summer which ultimately convinced me to go to uni there, but before that I hadn’t been since I was very small! So it’s safe to say there are a lot of London landmarks that I haven’t been to yet – some of which I will be sharing in this bucket list.

Before I start, I apologise for the lack of relevant (??) photos in this post! I wanted to include some fancy photography but as I haven’t really been to these places, I didn’t really have any. Although!! I do have a tube map and colour-in map of London (which I need to finish colouring!!) which the amazing Eve sent to me in a swap box we did a few years ago! So I did have a few London-y props. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and get onto the bucket list!!

(Also: do any Miranda fans remember Stevie Sutton’s bucket list because I was SO TEMPTED to start this post with that haha)

Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book next to a pot plant

I couldn’t not include Harry potter in this could I??? When I was little, my dad took us on a tour of Harry Potter filming locations that he’d put together around London and it was SO MUCH FUN although Platform 9 3/4 wasn’t there then so I HAVE to visit it!!!! ( You never know, maybe I’ll get a Hogwarts letter soon too).

Warner Bros Studio Tour

More Harry Potter stuff but AHHHH I’D LOVE TO GOOOOOO!! I know my uni does an a annual trip so hopefully I can visit it then!!

London Eye

I have never been on the eye and I feel like it’s something you have in London?? I’m not a big fan of heights but I do love photographing amazing views so hopefully that’ll distract me from how high up it is haha.

Tate Modern

I remember going to the Tate when I was really young and I probably didn’t appreciate art much back then. I love going to galleries though – I find it so relaxing so hopefully I’ll find time to visit the Tate and other galleries in London!

See a West End musical

I LOVE MUSICALSSSS. And we don’t get many big musicals touring where I live 😦 There are so many I’d like to see though so it would take me forever to decide haha.

Using the Tube

Tube map hidden behind leaves

This may seem not seem very interesting to people who are used to taking the tube, but I’ve only used it once (which was HECTIC AHH) and my goal is by the end of uni to actually be able to navigate the tube by myself and not look like a flustered tourist.

Houses of Parliament

I’m hoping as I’m studying politics that we will get to visit and watch some debates. I visited the Welsh Senedd last year and it was so interesting!! I’m low key sad that Big Ben won’t be fully functioning for the entire time I’m in London though due to it’s repair works 😦

Churchill War Rooms

We wanted to visit the War Rooms last time we were in London but the queue was so big and it was close to closing time so we had to give it a miss, but the history fanatic in me definitely needs to go back and visit.

French Film Festival

This isn’t like specific to London as such, but every year there is a French Film Festival in the UK where lots of independent cinemas around the UK show French films. I wanted to go last year because my favourite French film was showing but all the locations were too far away from home, but hopefully this year I can watch a film or two in London!

London Pride!! 🌈

I’VE NEVER BEEN TO PRIDE AHHH but I really would love to go!!! Especially London Pride as it’d be much bigger than back home! Hopefully I can find people to go with πŸ™‚

Day trip

Various train tickets next to a cactus

Also not London specific but because London is technically better connected to the rest of the UK than Somerset, I’d love to take a day trip on the train and explore somewhere new in the UK.

Well that concludes my ‘London Bucket List’ so far! (It bothers me that there are only 11 things in this list because ODD NUMBERS AHHH). I know there are many things that I have probably missed out of this, so I’d love to hear your recommendations of places to go and things to see. I’m really looking forward to exploring London more, so hopefully this post will give me a few ideas and motivate me to go out and explore!

Uni supplies haul!!!

Greetings mes amis! As I’ve now finished A Levels (exactly two months ago) and will be going off to uni (exactly one month from now!), it’s fair to say I’ve had a lot of shopping to do in terms of supplies for uni.

I’ll be moving away from home – 121 miles away to be exact – hence I am going to be living in university halls. I was really excited to start buying bits and bobs….until I realised just how much you need to buy when you move out and how expensive it is! Nevertheless, I have enjoyed stocking up on the essentials this summer, so I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite items so far (because if I showed you everything, it would be a VERY long and probably not very interesting post!).

My accommodation is self-catered, so I had to buy all the stuff for the kitchen too but luckily my duvet and pillows are provided by the uni so that saved me a bit of money!

(Also I’m sorry about the poor quality photos!! I am just,,,not good at blog photography oops. I’ve tried to include where I bought stuff from and prices if I can remember them too!)

Coat hangers

T K Maxx/Homesense Β£3.99

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Okay so coat hangers aren’t the most interesting of objects, BUT THESE ARE FLUFFY AND GREEN (grey??) AND I LOVE THEMMMMMM. Also I love the rose gold metal too! I have a feeling I’ll need more than 12 because I don’t have any drawers at uni so most of my clothes are going to have to hang, so I’ll either get another set or just take some from home.

Duvet covers

London duvet – Argos – Β£11.99

Colourful duvet – Primark – Β£8

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The first duvet cover I got is a sort of hand-drawn map of London. As I am moving to London, I couldn’t resist buying this!! The back of the duvet cover is black and white with London street signs on it.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The second one I got is a very brightly coloured one!! The photo is just the pillowcase because they are double duvet covers so I couldn’t fit it all in the shot, but the whole pattern as yellow, blue and red geometric shapes on it and on the other side it is just black and white polka dot.

Both of these items were in the sale so I don’t know if they’re still available!

(Also once I’ve moved in, I’ll probably do a little room tour so you can see what the duvets and other various items look like).

Crockery

Dinner plate – Wilko – Β£2.50

Side plate – Wilko – Β£2.00

Bowl – Wilko – Β£2.00

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My next favourites are my bowls and plates!! I bought two dinner plates, two side plates and two bowls in case I break some or have someone over to stay. The two plates are from the Mediterranean collection at Wilko which I just had to get after going to Marseille last year and falling in love with the Med! The bowl was from a different collection because the Mediterranean bowl was really flat (??) so it doesn’t really match the others but I still like it!

Saucepans

T K Maxx/Homesense – Β£14 (ish)

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Okay so I know they’re just saucepans but???!!! THEY’RE BLUE. AHHH. I don’t really know what else to say lol. I think they were about Β£14 for both but I can’t remember the exact pricing!!

Stationery

Office Outlet/Staples – Pukka Pad 200 pages – Β£1.99

Office Outlet/Staples – Campus Refill Pad 300 pages – Β£2.49

Office Outlet/Staples – Hole punch and stapler set – Β£3.99

Tesco – Crayola Super Tips 24 pack – Β£3 (ish)

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I was thinking about doing a separate stationary haul but realistically I don’t think I’m going to need to buy a lot this year as I’ll reuse lots of stuff from sixth form. However, I did pick up four pads of paper because I get through so much of it!! And I needed a hole punch and stapler (after I broke mine last year trying to hole punch a 30 page document oops). My felt tip pens had been running out for a while so I treated myself to a 24 pack of Crayola ones (yes, I feel like a little kid but oh well) for bullet journalling and general revision! They should last ages since I won’t be using them all the time! All the stationary I bought was on sale at around half of their original price, which is why I stocked up on so much paper as it is usually so expensive!!

Cacti

Sainsbury’s – Β£5

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The last item in this mini haul are my cacti!! I already own two pot plants which I will be taking to uni with me but when I saw this trio of cacti I couldn’t resist!!! My mum and I have given them names haha. The little glass pots they are in are actually tea light holders from Flying Tiger (my fave shop) which were 2 for Β£2!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little haul. There are obviously many more items that I’ve had to buy for uni which I haven’t included (if I had I’d have to unpack all my boxes!!), but these are my favourites so far. I definitely need to get some more decorative bits for my room, although I am taking some stuff from home. I think I need to hit up Primark’s home ware section πŸ˜‚

Bye for now πŸ™‚

Results Day 2018 (+ A Level recap!)

Right. I’ve already written this post out TWICE but somehow managed to lose the drafts?? (WordPress is CLEARLY conspiring against me!!!!!!!!). So now I’m handwriting it up in a notebook to type up later because I don’t trust technology anymore!!

As it was A Level results day last week, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the past two years now that this chapter in my education has come to a close. I don’t know if this will be interesting but I like reflecting on things and can’t really believe A Levels are over???

For context, in the UK after you finish secondary school at 15/16, it is compulsory to staying education until you are 18 and one pathway you can choose to go down is studying A Levels and that is what I’ve been doing for the past two years. After having a bit of difficulty trying to narrow down which 3 (or 4) subjects I wanted to study, I finally settled on geography, history and French as these had been the subjects I enjoyed most at GCSE. I did contemplate taking law as well but decided to drop it on enrolment day as I wasn’t really interested in it. Even though the college tried to force me to take four A Levels due to my GCSE results claiming I’d “get better results” if I did four as it would “make me work harder” (I ranted about this hereΒ lol), I was happy with the three I chose.

I think it took me the best of September to December of Year 12 to settle in at college. Everything was new to me. I had to take an hour bus journey instead of a short walk, my timetable was very different with lots of free time that I had to learn to manage effectively, the workload was very demanding and I was surrounded my so many new people. However, all of these new experiences have really helped me to become a lot more independent and confident.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably read my various rants about my different A Level subjects (perhaps I’ll link some of my A Level related posts at the bottom of this one in case they’re useful to someone??). I think when you study subjects in such a level of depth as you do at A level, you soon discover what you’re most interested in and best at. Although I loved geography at GCSE, the A Level really was an uphill battle. I definitely enjoyed most of what we were learning and the broader perspective it gave me on global issues, however the scientific and geological aspects really weren’t my strong points, not to mention the maths! I probably did the most independent work for geography as well as it just took me forever to get my head around things. At the end of Year 12, I kind of wished I could drop geography as I didn’t know how I would cope with another year of it, but I persevered and I’m so glad I did. In my exam recap, I explained how badly I thought the geography exams went. I feel like I never really understood how to do the geography exams?? Or answer the questions?? I think my brain just works differently to how a geographers brain should, and it didn’t help that my teacher didn’t really understand what the examiners wanted from us and didn’t like marking our work. Either way, geography was definitely my hardest subject. I’m just so glad I spent so many hours writing and re-writing my coursework because my results last week confirmed that the exams didn’t go too well, especially Paper 1 and 2, so my coursework really saved me there! (And thank goodness for low grade boundaries!!!!!!!).

As for history, I didn’t really enjoy the course as much as I’d hoped. History had always been my favourite subject and I was sure I wanted to study it at uni but I just?? I don’t know what it was but I just didn’t love it that much. It’s not that the content wasn’t interesting as I did like the paper about changing democracy in Britain in the 20th century and the coursework on the origins of the Holocaust,Β  I think I just realised it wasn’t for me anymore and I wanted to broaden my mind and knowledge in other ways. I still worked really hard for history though, and the exams went really well so the hard work really paid off!!

French was the subject I was most apprehensive about because back in Year 11 when I chose my A Levels, I was very quiet and wouldn’t contribute in class, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do a subject that depended so heavily on speaking and having confidence. However taking French has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It really has changed me and I have so much more confidence now!! Languages are so rewarding to study and out of all of my subjects, I made the most progress in French across the two years. I barely knew French grammar or could string more than a sentence together when I started, and somehow I managed to do a 20 minute speaking exam, write essays on a book and film and complete translations with decent accuracy???? I was just SO SHOCKED when I opened my results because I couldn’t believe how much progress I’d made??? It’s so hard to maintain a constant grade in languages as it really depends on the paper and what comes up. Literally the week before my final French exam – the literature/film essays – we did a mock and I got a D which really threw my confidence as I’d been getting As and Bs all year, but I worked so, so hard after that and managed to write the best essays I’ve ever written in the final exam??? I just CAN’T believe that I did it and got the grade that I wanted????!!?! AHHHH.

I can remember in first year being very nervous before our fortnightly speaking sessions or before reading passages in class, even translations were scary when we first started doing them and now they’ve become something that I love. I’m so, so glad that I’ve had such a good teacher over the past two years and supportive classmates. Some of my best memories from college come from French and I’d love to do it all over again.

As you can probably tell, I am most happy about my French result because I just fell in love with subject and when you do well at something you love, it’s such an amazing feeling. I am proud of my other results too though. I know I could’ve gotten better results in different circumstances but there’s always more work youΒ canΒ do but that doesn’t mean youΒ needΒ to (this me is attempting to deal with perfectionist part of my brain lol). I still can’t believe my friends and I have made it through A Levels and are now going on to the next stages of our lives. It’s a very surreal feeling.

I know this has been a bit rambly, but as you can probably tell I’m just a liiiiittle bit emotional after results day. I’m so happy with what I achieved and it feels SO STRANGE that I never have to do A Levels again?? I’m a bit sad about finishing college in a way because although it had it’s fair share of drama, stress and tears, I feel like the struggle of A Levels really has shaped me as a person. I can’t quite put my finger on it but reading back through some of my posts from Year 12 and 13 just feels so weird?? Like, I can’t believe how much my friends and I have changed. I will definitely cherish the good memories!! I didn’t miss secondary school after I left, but I will definitely miss college.

I sincerely hope that everyone who received A Level results last week got the grades that they needed to progress onto their next step. You should be so proud of yourselves for making it through and I hope you can look back on A Levels with some good memories in spite of the all the stress!! Good luck to anyone collecting GCSE results this week too πŸ™‚

I’ve linked some previous posts about A Levels from the past two years in case they might be helpful! This will be the last post I ever write about A Levels so from now on you are free from my rants hahaΒ πŸ˜‚

A Level study/revision tipsΒ  (this is from Year 12 so by Year 13 I’d developed a few new ways of studying but these tips may still be useful!!)

A big thread of A Level advice

My French journey including thoughts about A Level French!!

My experience of Year 12 and what going to college is like

Summer between Year 12 and 13 study goals

Tips for starting sixth form

Sixth form stationary haul

The School Routine Tag

Study with me: Year 13 revision edition

Study with me: Easter revision edition

Exam season thoughts 2018

A Levels are over!! Exam recap

Random Facts About Me Q&A

Hello! Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend so far. The weather has been grey and rainy here (and probably across most of the UK) so I’ve been having a cosy weekend in πŸ™‚ Today I bring you the Random Facts About Me Q&A which the lovely Megan tagged me in (you should go follow her amazing blog!!). I’ve had so many blog post ideas lately but I just can’t seem to start writing them???? Or I start a draft then decide that it isn’t interesting enough to post anyway but I’m hoping this tag will get me back into the swing of things.

Without further or do, here are the questions!

When was the last time you cried?

Sometime last week as I was having a bit of a breakdown about cooking (learning to cook for uni is really stressing me out and my parents keep bringing up how useless I am. But I’m getting there!! I could for my family three times this weekend!)

If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?

Hopefully. I mean, I am quite odd – my family could back me up here, I randomly quote songs or speech from adverts/films/TV programs or start singing at multiple times throughout the day so I’m probably a bit annoying but I try to be a loyal and caring friend so??? Probably. πŸ˜‚

Do you use sarcasm a lot?

Not really. Well sometimes I do but I wouldn’t say I am naturally sarcastic but sometimes sarcasm just comes to me! Idk AHH!!

What’s the first thing that you notice about people?

Their smile. I’m quite a smiley person and I usually look to see if other people reciprocate my smile when I first meet them. πŸ™‚

Scary movie or happy endings?

Definitely happy endings!!!

Favourite smells?

Campfires, bread and cinnamon. (If someone could make a candle out of all three scents that would be gr8).

What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

A little village called Stanzach in Austria where I stayed on a Scout camp. Although the furthest I’ve been ‘independently’ without ‘adults’ (funny bc we were all technically adults) would be Amsterdam where I traveled last month with two friends.

Do you have any special talents?

Not really, I can juggle but that’s not very special πŸ˜‚

Where were you born?

In my hometown in Somerset!!

What are your hobbies?

Blogging is my main hobby, but I also like to be arty and paint/sketch/make things. I can play the guitar and am learning the keyboard but I don’t play my instruments very often.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

The first career I remember wanting to go into was being a scientist as I got a really cool science book for my birthday once. Then alongside that I simultaneously wanted to be an artist, a zookeeper and a professional cricketer. Then a vet at one point, then a historian and now I’m not heading down any of those paths πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

How many countries have you been to?

England, Wales, Scotland, France, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands. So 7 but we can’t really count England right??

What was your favourite/worst favourite subject at school?

I think I had a lot of favourites at secondary school – history, geography and French being the main three which I carried on at A Level. I think my least favourite became science because I didn’t get on with my teacher at all (which is a shame because it put me off doing science altogether) but also English, mainly because we only got to study American literature and I never got to study Shakespeare at all 😦 Also English wasn’t taught very well at my school. Maybe that’s a little unusual as I like writing and reading generally but just not having to do English at school.

What is your favourite drink?

Hot drink would have to be hot chocolate and cold drink would probably be a smoothie!!

What would you (or have you) named your kids?

Haven’t really thought about it so I have no idea πŸ˜‚

Who are some of your favourite Youtubers?

My fellow blogger pal Janet Bargmann πŸ˜‰ and study Youtubers like Holly Gabrielle and Eve Bennett. Although I don’t watch a great deal of YouTube!

How many boyfriends have you had?

None πŸ˜‚

What is your favourite memory from childhood?

Ahh like Megan I can’t pick just one?! So a few would be dressing up with my sister and performing plays for our parents, making an elaborate Doctor Who game with my friends in primary school and writing a script for it and picking blackberries with my family in the Autumn!

How would you describe your fashion sense?

I don’t really know how to describe it because it changes a lot?? But I generally wear a lot of shirts and jeans and either brogues or DM-style boots. (My friend and I have a running joke about my wardrobe being full of shirts…it literally is though I’m a bit of a shirt addict)

Tell us one of your bad habits?

Spending too much time getting sucked into social media instead doing actual productive things.

Hope you enjoyed reading my answers. I’ve been wanting to do a tag like this for a while so you get to know a bit more about me πŸ™‚ If you would like to do this tag, all you’ve got to do is answer the questions above!

Amsterdam Day 2|Canal adventures!

Amsterdam canals

(Read Day 1 here!)

The second day of our Dutch adventure began in a rather unexpected way. We woke up to find that we had no electricity in our room and our phones that we’d left to charge overnight were completely dead! We had to go to reception and report what happened and they called an electrician to come and sort out the electrics whilst we were eating breakfast (which was delicious!). It turns out we’d accidentally left the mirror light on in the bathroom and it had blown a fuse overnight, but it was soon fixed which was a relief (although slightly embarrassing that we hadn’t even been at the hostel 24 hours and already had an incident…).

Anyway, the breakfast we had was surprisingly nice – there was a choice of cereals, toast, cold meats, fruit and even pancakes so we definitely had enough energy for a busy day of sightseeing (and it really was busy) after eating!

As it was our first full day in the city, we’d planned to take a canal tour and get our bearings, as well as seeing the sights and learning more about Amsterdam’s history. Although before we got on the boat, we managed to locate our nearest supermarket, an Albert Heijn on the main street at the end of our road. There I got a second breakfast (I’m sorry I can’t resist croissants!!!!!) and we bought our lunch for the day incase we weren’t near a supermarket around lunchtime. I think we also looked in some of the tourist shops but I can’t quite remember as we walked down that street so many times throughout the trip!

It was actually raining quite heavily so we had to wear our rain coats (which I almost forgot to pack) and when we did get to the boat – which was a hop-on, hop-off tour so we could get on and off multiple times and explore the city – the roof was on, which made it a bit difficult to see out of the windows due to the raindrops but at least we were dry.

The boat had an audio tour guide which you could plug headphones in. I started off listening in French because I need to keep practising but eventually I switched to English as I was worried I was missing important information. It was actually really relaxing seeing the city from the water. I think we spent about 2 hours going round the whole route just to listen to the audio tour before we actually got off. So relaxing that one of my friends fell asleep for part of it!

Canals

Church next to canal

The first place we got off was at the Gassan Diamond Factory as we found out we could have a free tour of the factory included with our boat ticket. It was actually really interesting – we saw people polishing and cutting the diamonds and then learnt about how they were valued. We also stopped off at the shop to get a few souvenirs before finding somewhere to sit and eat lunch. My family and I collect patches on our camp blankets from places we’ve travelled and Scout camps so I bought some for us all. πŸ™‚

Embroidered patches

We wanted to go to the Waterlooplein market next but we discovered it was quicker to walk there than wait for the boat to arrive to take us so we (successfully this time) navigated ourselves to the market. I love looking around markets – we have some at home in Bristol but they’re all fairly small. What I like about markets is that there are a lot of handmade gifts and small businesses so you often find more unique products than you would in more tourist-y areas. My friend and I both bought some little Delftware animals for our families as gifts. I got my nan an elephant as she has a small herd of elephants in her living room, so I thought it would be a nice addition!

I also bought myself some clog slippers – which I had been wanting to get ever since my friend brought some home from Amsterdam last year. Plus my slippers at home were broken so I did actually need new ones!!! I got yellow and red ones with a windmill and tulips on the top – they’re actually the comfiest pair of slippers I’ve ever had and I’ve been living in them since I got home!!

We then walked to the next boat stop which was over the Skinny Bridge, which I didn’t realise we’d walked over until about ten minutes later! We tried to run for the boat as we had the app which told us the boat was just at the stop but when we got there it was just pulling away so we ended up having to wait half an hour sat in front of the Hermitage Museum. But as it had stopped raining by this point, it was a good opportunity to take photos of the canals!

Canal

We needed to take the canal boat to the other side of the River IJ to northern Amsterdam as we’d booked tickets for the A’DAM Lookout, which is basically a hotel with a viewing platform on the top where you can see across the whole of Amsterdam. It is also home to Europe’s highest swing as well (fun fact for you) which actually swings you over the edge of the tower! When you arrive at the tower, you get a free photo shoot in front of a green screen with various views of Amsterdam in the background and then you take a very cool lift ride to the top floor (no spoilers!!).

Modern tower
The A’DAM Lookout πŸ™‚

The views from the roof were just??? AMAZING??? I think we spent a couple of hours up there just admiring the view and taking photos and trying not to get blown off the roof by the wind. We could see the whole extent of the city and surrounding land, it was so beautiful and kind of a surreal feeling thinking about how many people were going about their everyday lives within the radius we could see. The sun actually decided to come out too which was a bonus!

View over city

View across the city and river

My friends went on the swing over the edge, but I’m not great with heights so I was quite happy looking out over the city and trying to pick out landmarks.

The A’DAM Lookout is possibly home to Europe’s highest red horse??? I mean, there can’t be many red metal horses 100m high! We had a bit of an incident with this horse too. I tried to climb up first but it couldn’t make it so I gave up (to be honest I didn’t want to get stuck!). My friend successfully climbed up second but then couldn’t get down so my other friend and I spent ages trying to help her down before a French guy came over and helped to lift her off. Then my other friend managed to climb up and down within a space of 5 minutes. It was quite an interesting experience…

We also went to the floor below the roof which was a bar and had a mini exhibition about Amsterdam, including a model map of the city. We managed to find the street our hostel was on the map so we can’t have been that bad at navigating!! There was also a glass floor, so an obligatory feet photo had to be taken of course.

Model of Amsterdam

Glass floorAfter leaving the tower, we went for a stroll along by the river. It was nice to be in a part of Amsterdam that wasn’t busy with tourists and residents and that we could walk around the grassy paths peacefully in the sunshine. We thought we’d missed the last canal boat so resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d have to take the ferry and walk 40 minutes back to the hostel in the south of the city, but then my friend spotted the canal boat at the jetty so we sprinted all the way along the waterside to see if we could catch the boat. The boat started pulling away so two of us gave up running but my friend carried on and the boat driver actually came back to the jetty to pick us up which was so kind of her (although a bit embarrassing for us!). One thing I noticed whilst in Amsterdam was how friendly Dutch people are – in Britain that never would have happened – and on other occasions too I was surprised at how friendly everyone was, like at some of the restaurants we visited where staff would have a proper conversation with you about where you were from and what you’d been up to – Amsterdam felt like such a friendly place.

View across river

Anyway, so we managed to get on the canal boat which would have taken us all the way back to the hostel but as the sun was out still, we decided to get off at the Anne Frank House and walk the rest of the way. I really wanted to go inside the Anne Frank House but we didn’t have time unfortunately, but I am definitely going to go back again!!!

We took a detour to walk through Dam Square and see the palace. It was very busy in Dam Square and pigeons (and my friend) kept photo-bombing my photos haha but it was good to see the palace! After that, we carried on walking back to the hostel which was surprisingly straightforward and we passed the Bloemenmarkt – or floating flower market – as well and had a look around because you can’t go to Holland without seeing tulips!! (These photos were taken on my phone because I somehow forgot I had my camera with me??? So excuse the poor quality).

Busy square
Dam Square

Palace with pigeons in foreground
Dam pigeons!!

Array of flower bouqet
Sunflowers = van Gogh vibes!

It really was an action-packed day, and we were exhausted by the time we got back to the hostel so ended up going out for dinner quite late. Especially as one of my friends got locked in the bathroom in our room so it took like half an hour for various hostel staff to unlock the door and let her out! Thankfully the staff saw the funny side of it – we thought they might be fed up of us after having to call in an electrician earlier that day – but we were all relieved when she finally got out!

We went to Leidseplein again and this time had pizza. The pubs and bars were really busy as it was the France/Belgium game so when we went to the Hard Rock bar for cocktails after dinner, we had to wait for the football to finish before we were served haha.

It was so pretty walking back along the canals at night, and this time I took my camera so I could get some decent shots. It felt really safe walking around too, even thought it was nearly 11pm when we left the bar, because the streets were still busy and a lot of shops were still open, whereas at home its dead at that time so I usually don’t like staying out that late.

Reflections of light in canals at night

Again we stayed up and played cards for a bit and then we swapped my mattress because I’d hardly slept the previous night as it was rock hard and I woke up aching, but luckily we had a four person room between the three of us so I could swap to a comfier mattress!

Hope you’re enjoying reading about my Amsterdam adventure and it will continue with Day 3 soon (when I get around to writing it!!) πŸ™‚