University Life

My guide to all things university


July 2015

Adventure in Adventureland

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fourth Wall.”

‘You get to spend a day inside your favorite movie. Tell us which one it is — and what happens to you while you’re there.’

If I could spend a day inside a movie it would be Adventureland (2009). Set in 1987 it has a great soundtrack – music from the 1960s,70s and 80s which I love – and very pretty scenery. Also, there’s a tiny ‘theme park’ (as in a few rides and games) where I live, and I’ve always had a fascination with it, so it’s like being allowed to visit there after closing time whenever I watch Adventureland.blogpic1

I’d spend my time inside the movie world of the Adventureland Theme Park playing games, going on ‘the music express’, trying to win a ‘giant ass panda’ and dancing in Razzmatazz with Em, James, Lisa P and Joel until my 24 hours are up.

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Blue Plasters and A Glass of Wine

A really big part of university life is the ability to feed yourself. The past 18 years I’ve had very little need to cook. So, this summer I’m going to learn how to cook for myself, hopefully without getting food poisoning.

For now I’m using my mum’s cookbooks, my favorite’s being James Martin’s ‘My kitchen’ (it divides everything into season so it’s not one I’ll be using that much when I’m at uni but for now it’s useful), ‘500 Greatest Ever Vegetarian Recipes’ editor: Valerie Ferguson and some others. I’d suggest to anyone becoming a student next year to start learning a few recipes that they will actually cook (no point only learning how to make pasta from scratch if you don’t know how to turn it into a meal).

I should point out that I’m a vegetarian 99% of the time (a few drunken burgers have been consumed over the years).

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Green Eyeliner and Jumping Down Stairs

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Well, I Never….”

‘Tell us about something you’ve done that you would advise a friend never to do.’

I’ve done plenty of things that I would advise a friend not to do, but then at the same time I would tell them to do it just so you have the experience of doing: getting blind drunk (it helps you get to know your limit, and the hangover might help turn you off drinking forever) jumping from the 4th step (it puts an end to your belief that you’re superman) and green eyeliner (you learn that coloured eyeliner only looks in magazine shoots and the 80s).

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Hoist The Colours High

So this is my first go at the Monthly Travels Challenge, although, for this one I didn’t have to travel very far!

Pirate Day 2012
My Pirate Day 2012 crew

On the South coast of England I think it’s safe to say that we are all a little crazy (in a good way) and my hometown is no different. Back in 2012 Hastings managed to gather 14,231 people dressed as pirates on the beach to gain the world record for the most pirates in one place – this is not even counting all of the ‘pirates’ downing rum in the surrounding pubs. I’m proud to say that I was one of those pirates (in the record number, not the pub!) and thoroughly enjoyed myself. As we’ve gotten older it’s become a bit difficult to go every year as we all have different commitments but it’s great when we can get together to sing a sea shanty or two on this great day.

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Music Is What Memories Are Made Of

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Always Something There to Remind Me.”

‘A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place.’

Avril Lavigne – What The Hell

‘All my life I’ve been good,
But now whoa, I’m thinking what the hell’

This song takes me back to when I was in year 9, on the German trip, dancing around our house on the first day on our ‘bikini rave’. This was on repeat for the whole hour we were dancing, singing, giving each other piggybacks, jumping on the beds and being silly. It was the first time we were staying away from our parents, in a different country since me and loads of people from my primary school had joined that year. It was a chance to get to know each other better. One of our bonding experiences was the house wars between us and the boys’ house (we still maintain that they started it) and sneaking wine that the teachers had left on our outside table when they took one of our friends to A&E for a fractured toe – we were young and crazy and that trip is defined by this song, played for an hour solidly day one, and several times each day for the rest of the week. Long live Germany, Friends and The Rainbow Chalet!

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Our Own Kind of Forever

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”

‘At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?’

Like a lot of things in my life I can’t place exactly then something happened – I don’t know when I stopped believing in Santa, I can’t remember when I started being friends with some people and not with others, and I don’t know when I realised that life ends. When I was around 7 the first of my pets died, and that was when I realised that life doesn’t go on forever, but when I connected that to my own life is a mystery. But perhaps it doesn’t matter when you realise, but what you do after. And there is plenty I still need to do, although, there’s plenty that I’ve done to be proud of.

Things I Still Need to Do:

  1. Learn new skills Like horse riding, playing acoustic guitar and learning new languages.
  2. Travel – I’ve been to some countries, like Italy and Germany, but I’ve never been to America, Asia, South America, Russia, Africa or Australia. There are so many countries out there. When I was younger I always thought how amazing it would be to walk down every street in the whole world, but I realised that it would be impossible, especially as I don’t have all the time in the world.
  3.  Live in Italy – For at least a year I would love to move to Italy, but I’d also love to move to one of the lakes when I’m in my 60s, retire from whatever job I had and write novels from a study overlooking the water, then in the evening go for walks with the future husband, and watch the world go by.
  4. Listen to soul, blues and jazz in New Orleans
  5. Spend New Years in Sydney 
  6. Go bear and whale watching in Canada
  7. Travel around the UK – One day I want to wake up at the crack of dawn, pack a VW camper van and take off for a year, travel around the UK and see the beautiful places that are on my doorstep.
  8. Glastonbury – I’ve been to some festivals but I’ve yet to go to Glastonbury. I plan on going in the next few years, but I also want to go when I’ve got long grey hair and go with my future family (husband, grown up children and grandchildren) and go ‘glamping’ and act like I’m a teenager again.
  9. Learn to drive – At 18 I should probably already have started to learn, but I haven’t really had the time, plus it’s never been too high up on my to-do list, but I’m planning to learn when I’m at uni.
  10. Go in a shark cage – Even after watching Jaws I’m not afraid of sharks and I would love to go in a shark cage and see Great Whites in their natural environment.
  11. See a dolphin in the wild
  12. Get a university degree
  13. Have my own house

And a lot more.

This is the only forever we’re going to have, so make the most of it!

The UCAS (not very)Merry-Go-Round

Whilst I’m busy thinking about what I’m going to be doing next year at university and all of the adventures that I might have, there are soon-to-be A2 students who are just starting on this process. I didn’t do a perfect UCAS application (I’d planned to have mine sent off by the start of the first half term holiday, that just did not happen!) but I’m able to give some advice, seeing as I still have a painful memories of the UCAS process embedded in my brain!

  • Get university brochures now – it can be part of your summer reading, get as many as possible, even ones that you might never consider because you’re aiming high or because you doubt you can get AAA, it will help just to see the different standards that are out there. I ordered pretty much every one I could (my poor, poor postman) and divided them up into ones that were too high, ones that were too low, ones that were too far and ones I actually liked. Some I kept in the like pile just because it had an amazing course, even though I had no chance of getting in (you’ll get back to college, the work load will hit you and you’ll happily discard these ones).
  • Make a realistic action plan for things like university visits and personal statement writing. There’s no pointing doing what I did and saying you’ll have your application sent off a month after returning to college. It just isn’t going to happen in a lot of cases. Find out when everything needs to be in for UCAS, find out when open days are and when you’re free to do all of this stuff.
  • Personal Statements take time, it’s true that if you haven’t done much that you can write about (eating 30 hot-dogs in a minute does not make you a good candidate for an engineering course) you’ll need to try and cram some things in now, but it’s not that hard: medical courses require work experience so take the opportunity to do that this summer (it will also give you a taste of what you can do after uni), get involved in volunteering (there are always plenty of places looking, they might not be relevant to what you want to do but it’s important to show that you are able work as part of a team, on your own, help the community etc), get involved in drama productions (as an English student I spun my involvement to show how I appreciate literature in all of its forms), join a sports team (even if you’re really bad – you don’t need to tell the unis that you can barely kick a football!) or join a local interest group (I live in a historical area so there are plenty, it has nothing to do with English Lit, so I said that it helped me to understand the context of pieces and it shows that you don’t have a narrow focus). There is always time do things that increase your chances!
  • Take a look at Pesky Personal Statements for some links that I used to help me (and I had a pretty sweet personal statement, if I may say so).
  • When you get back to college talk to your teachers, pester them like crazy about reading drafts of you personal statement (your form tutor and course tutors are actually really good at helping, you just have to corner them so they have to help you).
  • Talk to your family – they might not be able to help you finance uni so you might have to start looking for a job now or take a year out to have a full time job. Also, even if your parents haven’t been to uni it will help if you sit down and ask what they expect from you and what you expect from them – you might need to know how far they are willing to drive to uni if they’re going to be the ones dropping you off, and they might need to know how they can support you best with your application (they’re your parents so think you’re the best person ever, which is basically what you’re trying to tell whoever is reading your personal statement, which makes parents very useful).
  • Your friends are also key to making it through all of this craziness, you’re all going through it together so can help each other – why not spend a few lunch times on UCAS together? Even if it’s just filling in a few simple sections, it helps to have support of people who are doing this too.
  • Apply even if you’re not sure you want to go, you don’t have to reply until 2016 if you’re applying this year, you might decide you want to go or decide that you don’t. Keep your options open!

Good luck to everyone applying this year, it’s tough, but it’ll be worth it when you get to go to the university of your dreams!

Work, Life and Deadlines

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Heat is On.”

Do you thrive under pressure or crumble at the thought of it? Does your best stuff surface as the deadline approaches or do you need to iterate, day after day to achieve something you’re proud of? Tell us how you work best.’

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A Little Note to Say a Big Thank You

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Dear Mom.”

Write a letter to your mom. Tell her something you’ve always wanted to say, but haven’t been able to. ‘

I’ve been offered unconditional love from my parents my whole life, yes we annoy each other, yes we fight, yes there are times we don’t talk or if we do we’re screaming. But that’s all part of family life, you fight with passion because you love each other so much and expect a lot (even if you don’t mean to).

Although, I don’t think love can ever be truly unconditional, I think all love demands love, or at least respect, in return, and if you accept unconditional love I think it comes with the condition of gratitude. As I’m off to university in September I only have a short time left to show that gratitude, and I’ve already started by spending more time with my parents, but I’ve also written a card and have my eyes out for a present to thank them for everything they have done these past 18 years.

So, I’m cheating a little as this is what I’ve written to both of my wonderful parents, and they will get to read it in a few months:

‘To Mum and DadWP_001435

Thank you for all of the support you have given me over the last 18 years. From spelling tests to being able to write an essay detailing the pros and cons of the American electoral system, you’ve always given me the support I needed to do my best. Even when I was in tears – like when I was convinced I would never pass my maths GCSE – you believed in me. Thanks for all of your faith in me and putting up with the tears and stress!

I’m grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities and experiences you have given me. My childhood is filled with memories of our big, blue plastic swimming pool and trips to Disneyland, and my teenage years of live music and being given the freedom to explore this small part of the world, and the wider world on family holidays. I’ve been very lucky to do everything I have, and that’s down to the both of you.

Even though I haven’t always said it I love you both so much. I couldn’t ask for more understanding, loving and trusting parents.

Continue reading “A Little Note to Say a Big Thank You”

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