Friday, 28 June 2013

My University Experience

I handed in my dissertation proposal last month, which has got me thinking about the past two years of my life and my experiences so far at university. There are a million other posts like this out there of course, but I felt like adding my two cents into the mix.  I know a few of you will be thinking about going to university at the moment, my little sister is currently looking at open days and preparing for her UCAS application. I'm not the typical student, I live at home and attend my local university, mainly because I couldn't stomach living with five strangers. Tolerance isn't exactly my forte and I would genuinely pity anybody who ended up having to live with me, and so I stayed at home and decided to commute.

My five years at school were a nightmare, for various reasons. I left school and went to college, which I loved. At this point I presumed that this was because people were a lot more mature and that they actually wanted to be there, and so I'd be happy in education from that point onwards. Wrong. 

Not enjoying university is a strange phenomenon. I started off with a degree in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. My first day was a blur. I missed college, I missed my friends, and I was completely underwhelmed. It didn't help that I had skipped Freshers, and that was all anybody could talk about. Nobody seemed to quite understand why I skipped it and why I wasn't interested in it. Then my first week of lectures began, and I started to realise that I was dreading having to go. Creative Writing wasn't as free and inspiring as I was expecting. I felt like I was constantly being judged by the other students when I had to read out my work from the onset, which is something that I had never ever had to do before and something that I was absolutely not comfortable with. I was seeing how much of good time everyone else was having on Facebook and coming to the conclusion that there was something wrong with me. And so I decided to bite the bullet and arranged to speak to the course leader about changing courses, and I switched to English with Philosophy.

Now, I'd already been at university for about a month when I changed. It was technically too late to change but they let me switch regardless. Changing courses midway was a lot like moving schools. I had to attend different lectures, and worse still, different seminars. I had to try and function and fit in with a completely different group of people. People who had already met and known each other from the start of term. I am not the most sociable person. If I can, I'll sit in the corner and read and not have a conversation with anybody for as long as possible. So, as you can imagine, this prospect was really quite terrifying for me. I had to really push myself out my comfort zone and force myself to speak to people and to try and adjust. This where things began to look up for me.

Everybody in my seminars were incredibly nice. People either presumed I'd always been there (students aren't exactly known for their high attendance), and the ones who knew I had moved were welcoming and helped me catch up, and the lecturers helped me get up to speed with the course. I had to do double the work to get caught up with what I'd missed, but it was worth it. Within a month or so I was completely settled in. The good thing about the Philosophy side of my course is that it's an incredibly small group. Everybody knows everybody and it really helped me adjust. 

The second year is a completely different experience from the first year. At my university you get to choose your modules in the second year which is extremely liberating. This meant that my course was a lot more interesting and by that point you know people from your seminars and you are used to the work and the university structure. If you are in your first year and you aren't enjoying it, I would hang on and see what options there are for the second year, because I have enjoyed my second year so much more than my first. 

I'm a local student, so my experiences are completely different to those who live in halls. I have to commute to university on the bus, which takes about an hour and a half both there and back, depending on the traffic. This means that I wasn't able to meet people in halls like everybody else; I had to meet people in my lecturers and seminars instead. I'm also not the sort of person to go to clubs. I'd much rather go to see a band. It doesn't help that my last bus home is before midnight, so I don't tend to go out. This doesn't mean that I haven't made friends. There's such a wide variety of people at university that you are bound to meet at least one person you like. I go out for coffee or for lunch with people a lot instead of going out at night.  You do have to make a bigger effort to meet people yourself when you live at home, which is a challenge for somebody like me, but I think in a way, this has helped me quite a lot. 

If you are thinking of staying at home and travelling to university, I'd consider first the transport fees and what the best options for you are (bus passes cost me £600 a year) and the time it takes you to commute. My university also likes to presume that we all live nearby. The amount of times I've turned up and discovered my lecture has been cancelled are too many to count on my fingers. They also like updating my timetable and telling me that I have a lecture in an hour. Despite all of this, it is a lot cheaper than living in halls, and so I think for me it has worked out really well. 

So, to those of you who are starting university this year, don't stress about it too much. Everybody is different, and at the end of the day, you aren't there for very long. Everybody is in the same boat so there really isn't anything to be afraid of. Societies are also a great way to meet like-minded people if you struggle to make friends (when they don't clash with your timetable). I'd also recommend that you persevere. I was so, so tempted to drop out when I was hating it in my first few weeks, but now I'm extremely glad that I didn't. Also, if you aren't happy, speak to somebody! You are paying to attend university and the staff are there to help you. Finally, don't believe the hype on Facebook. Sure, you might feel that way and love it like 'everybody else' but there's also a chance you won't. And if you don't, it isn't abnormal. 

I'm not sure if there is an actual point to this post or not! If anybody has any questions about my experiences with university or with my course, feel free to ask! I'd also like to apologise for the length of it...

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Dark Wonderland Hairclip by Restyle

In the warmer months of the year I begin to experiment a little more with my hair. In winter I am content to straighten it and leave it, but in the hot, humid weather that we get in England at this time of the year I have to do something with it (unless of course I want to resemble a frightened cat). My hair is difficult enough to tame in the colder months, but with the slightest bit of heat it becomes impossible to manage. I usually just tie it back, or I braid it, but neither of these options are particularly appealing (the latter makes me look like Wednesday Addams). I was browsing Restyle's website again a few weeks ago and I came across their hairclips, which I thought might hold the solution to my summer hair problem. In the end I decided on Dark Wonderland, which I ordered from The Gothic Shop.

This hairclip features three silver pewter skulls placed within three blooming roses. It measures approximately 9cm across.

As always with Restyle, the detail is excellent and it's incredibly beautiful. It feels very sturdy. One of the main problems that I have with hair accessories if that my hair is so thick and heavy that clips often feel loose and I have a constant urge to keep checking that they are still in my hair. It's incredibly irritating to have spent all morning trying to get your hair perfect, only to have the clip pop open as soon as you leave the house. Fortunately, I've had no such problems with this one. It is weighty enough to hold my hair in place without being so heavy that it falls out. It feels incredibly comfortable to wear and I often forget that it's there.

I've worn this nearly every day for the past couple of weeks and I'm extremely impressed. Not once has it fallen out, and I've not had to move it or check it throughout the day. I did struggle to get it the centre of my hair at first, but it gets easier with practice. It's a wonderfully beautiful piece, and it's appropriate for both day and night time wear. I'm definitely going to buy a few more of these for variety and I can see me getting a lot of use out of it during the summer. It makes a simple hairstyle look a lot more interesting!

This clip costs £13.50 and can be purchased from The Gothic Shop or the Restyle website.

Disclosure: I bought this clip myself.

Friday, 21 June 2013

That you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear...

Summer is by far the most hectic and peaceful time of the year for me. It's the time that I have exams and revision to get through, but it's also the only time of the year where I can sit and work my way through my ever growing reading list and plan for the year ahead. Fortunately, all of my exams are now over and I only have a couple more weeks to wait until I get my results back. Unfortunately, I stupidly didn't anticipate the sheer amount of research and reading that I ended up doing and I didn't manage to finish any of my draft posts, but I will have some more reviews and things up soon! It has also been surprisingly hot and humid for the past week or so, which wasn't too bad at first but I'm slowly beginning to get annoyed with it. I have a love hate relationship with hot weather. My wardrobe isn't equipped for summer to say the least, and Figgy can only last in the garden for ten minutes before she decides it's too hot for her and has to hide in my room. Although summer is too hot for me and I can't last very long in heat, it is nice to finally see everything in bloom!

Yesterday my mum and I went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream at Nottingham Castle. I'd really wanted to go to Outdoor Theatre last year, but unfortunately I was away. When I went into town to book this, the lady who served me warned me numerous times that it would go ahead in any weather, and she wasn't kidding. Whenever I book anything I know that it will rain. Partly because I live in England and our summer consists of a hot rainy mess, but also because I'm unlucky. I had the option to go on either the Thursday showing or the Friday one, and of course, today is Friday and it's sunny and hot outside. It poured with rain for the entire the performance. The actors and actresses were superb, they didn't let the rain deter them and they had no shelter whatsoever. The actor who played Oberon was particularly good, overall it was a very enjoyable performance despite the rain! I will definitely look into going again next year, they have several performances on at Nottingham Castle, Newstead Abbey and Wollaton Hall. I'd particularly love to go to a Newstead Abbey one!

Nottingham Castle isn't somewhere that I go to a lot. I think I've been a couple times so far, it's a lovely place to have a picnic, I just wish that it wasn't surrounded by a busy city and tall, modern buildings. One day I will go back and take some better photographs, I was too cold and wet to really make an effort to take any. These were all taken in a hurry as I was running to the car, which is why they are blurry and dull!

Have you been up to anything interesting recently? I hope you are all experiencing better weather than I am right now! I will try to have a few reviews up as soon as possible, my draft posts folder is bursting at the seams! Would any of you be interested in seeing some better pictures of Nottingham Castle if I go back again?
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