Lake District

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Lake District


Showing posts with label experiences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experiences. Show all posts

University Survival Guide | Part I - Getting Ready

If you've been following my blog for a little while you might already know that I just finished my first year of university in June. Around the end of my exams this year Rebeka suggested that I do a little round-up of some tips I've learnt for surviving uni so far. I thought it was a great idea since I know of a lot of fellow bloggers at the minute who will be heading off to university in September-October time and although I don't consider myself an expert on university life by any means (I'm still learning), as a recent fresher I would be very happy to bestow upon you some little tips I have learnt from my experiences at university this year! 

Originally I was going to write all my tips up in one post but as it turned out a bit too long, I've now decided to break it in to parts, starting with a few things to think about before you start uni.

1) Check which household items are already supplied
In terms of the stuff you need to get for uni, it's worth checking what sort of appliances/facilities/household items are already supplied by your university halls or accommodation beforehand to save you from buying anything unnecessary! For example, our kitchen at university already had a toaster and kettle and we also had a vacuum, iron, ironing board, brush and mop and bucket supplied for the flat so it's beneficial to know what you definitely do need to bring and what you don't need to worry about!

2) Storage boxes never go amiss! 
They're so handy for managing all the random clutter you accumulate over time. I got the baskets on my shelves as a gift from my aunt a long time ago so I'm not sure where they're from unfortunately but they were so useful for a bit of extra storage! You're also likely to have some space under your bed or desk for storage boxes or shelves.

(Left: patterned cardboard box from H&M Home - £6.99Centre: Komplement storage with compartments from IKEA - £15; Right: Duck egg clothes storage box from Dunelm - £3.99; )

(Left: Keter 4 drawer tower storage unit -Argos - £14.99; Pink Damask Rectangular Storage Box - Dunelm- from £2.99; Plastic Underbed Storage Box - Dunelm- £6.99)

3) Neither does desk storage
I never actually got around to buying a decent desk organiser (I ended up using Kilner jars to store pens and pencils) but I'd definitely say they're a worthwhile purchase to keep your workspace clear and clutter-free!
(From left: Hanging heart jar- £2.95; Vintage leaf storage tin- £6.95 - both from dotcomgiftshop; Red 3 drawer storage unit from W.H. Smith- £6.49)

4) Try and buy books second hand 
A lot of times the books you'll need for your course are ridiculously expensive. If you want to save a little cash you can try and source out some of your books from second hand bookshops or find used books on Amazon. You could also try and buy them from a second year student. At my university second years usually advertised their old books for sale on our freshers page on Facebook so keep your eyes peeled if your university has a similar set-up!

5) Think about the practicalities of your laundry bag
Ok this is a really random one but just consider the fact that if you're living in university halls there's a good chance you'll be lugging your laundry down to the laundry room at least once a week, in which case it's worth investing in a sturdy laundry bag- easier to transport and much more discreet than your standard laundry basket.

The DotcomGiftShop have a load of these amazing vintage-style storage bags in all different colours and patterns for £4.95 which I think would make great laundry bags, alternatively though you could just use a bag for life from Tesco or Sainsbury's- or just a plastic bag, whatever floats your boat, you know.

6) Consider bringing a printer
I personally feel like if you're in a position to bring a printer with you to uni- do it. When it comes to deadlines and last minute lecture work, having your own printer in your room rather than having to run down to the library every time you need to print something off will save you a lot of time, but this one is a bit of a personal preference thing!

8) Hone those cooking skills!
If you're like me and had never really cooked a real meal in your life, now is as good a time as any to learn! Truth be told, ready meals and oven chips will only get you so far in life and you will eventually miss home cooked meals. Knowing how to cook will also make you a very popular housemate and there are a ton of great recipe books aimed at students that you can buy if you need a little inspiration.

(Left: The Hungry Student Cookbook - Charlotte Pike - £6.29;  Centre: Nosh for Students - Joy May - £6.39; Right: The Really Useful Ultimate Student Cookbook - Silvana Franco - £3.99; all from Amazon)

7) Remember you don't need to buy everything in advance
If you want to travel a bit lighter, especially if you have to travel far to uni, you can always hold off buying some things until you arrive. It'll save a lot of space in your luggage and it'll also be easier to figure out exactly what you need and what you don't once you get there.

9) Find out about Freshers Week events
Just so you'll know what to expect and in case you need anything like costumes etc. for themed nights! Usually there'll be a Facebook page with details of Freshers Week events.

This is of course far from an exhaustive list of everything you need to think about, but rather it's just a few random things I learnt this year from a bit of trial and error of my own. I hope some of you will find it helpful anyways! If there are any other tips you'd like to add please feel free to comment and maybe we could help each other out?

I'm not entirely sure when the next part will be up with work and everything that's going on but it will definitely be sometime this week and will be on the joy that is: Freshers Week.

Hope you're all well!

Don't Forget to Love Yourself

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance" 
- Oscar Wilde

It's one of those cruel facts of life, how exam time just happens to coincide with the beginning of that formidable bikini season.

If I'm honest, the realisation, on returning home from university (and to the bathroom scales) that I'd gained a few pounds- really not a lot, but more than I had initially felt terribly comfortable with- has made me think a lot this last week. Clearly, my pre-exam tendency for emotional eating had caught up with me: Food 1 - Beth 0.

At first, this discovery upset me far more than it really should have done; somewhere inside me I felt as though I'd failed myself, I thought even so far as that I'd ruined myself. I was ashamed that I had "let myself go" so far. Immediately I began obsessively counting calories (something which I had stopped doing over the last year for the sake of my mental well-being) and exercising compulsively. For the entirety of my first week at home when I should have been enjoying some long-awaited relaxation time with friends and family, my very small and insignificant weight gain consumed my thoughts, resulting in a very unhappy me. Until I finally decided enough was enough.

Despite my thinking regarding weight having been admittedly dysfunctional as of late, the reality is that thoughts like these are all too common in the minds of young women (and men) in our society today- the unfortunate product of messages instilled in us by the media that set an impossible standard for outward beauty. In short, the world can be a cruel place for girls, especially when far too often we are estimated solely on our physical appearances as opposed to our personalities, talent and intelligence, and right now in this moment I am saying a big HELL NO to that.

Although it had been a very unhappy week, I will hopefully always say that this particular week of obsessing over my body (as it definitely hadn't been the first one) has done me a massive favour, since eventually when I was completely worn down, I began asking myself was it really all worth it? Either way, I couldn't do it any more. 
In that moment I made the decision to accept myself for whoever I was, whatever I looked like and chose to speak truth over myself rather than believing the lies told to me by a society misled. 
And that truth is, that you are worth infinitely more than the box anyone decides to put you in. You are a unique package of countless thoughts, experiences, beliefs, opinions, quirks and habits, you are special, and there will never ever be another you. Any time you spend putting yourself down or spend preoccupied by your perceived failings or imperfections is time you will never get back.

I recently heard someone say that you should always treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend, and therefore never tell yourself anything that you would never say to them. I thought this was a great idea, since really life is just too short to spend not being confident in the beautiful person that you are.

If you ever need a little more encouragement, I have started a pinterest board on body love, self-love and just general positivity which you can visit here. I'm sorry this has been a bit of a ranty post but it's just something I've been wanting to get off my chest. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Hope you are all very well. Much love,

Weird Things My Hamster Does | Introducing Buddha

So I was going to use this post to introduce my new little mate, Buddha the Syrian hamster but since the cheeky little imp wouldn't stay still long enough to photograph him properly, the post has sort of morphed into some little snaps of some of the weird things Buddha likes to do on a daily basis. I'm not sure if some of this behaviour is particularly normal, I personally think he's the weirdest hamster out there, but it amuses me all the same and I love him to bits.

Some funny little habits include:
1. Falling asleep anywhere and everywhere at any time. He's fallen asleep hanging from the side of his cage before, he's fallen asleep in his ball and a lot of the time he either snuggles up in his wheel and falls asleep or will be running full speed and will just drop and be sleeping.

2. When he wakes up he always does a massive yawn. I've had a few hamsters and have never really seen any of them do this. Me and my flatmate can't decide whether it's cute or a bit gross (think big teeth and strange curly tongue) but I think it's probably a bit of both.

3. He likes to "monkey-bar" from the top of his cage and swing around a little bit when he's bored.

5. He always does this thing where he'll wiggle down the back of my bed and always gets himself stuck and starts squeaking and I have to rescue him and despite this always happening he still keeps doing it.. hmm..


Ah Yes, The Past Can Hurt

During a recent- but fortunately very minor and somewhat trivial- personal "crisis", a good friend of mine came around to sit with me late one night to offer a bit of moral support. We sat and ate ice cream, I cried (such a cliché scenario) and we just talked it all out. Just as an aside though- what is life without friends like this? Anyway, during our time together that night one of the little gems of encouragement she offered me really resonated with me, and went as follows...

She asked did I recall the scene from the Lion King where Simba tells Rafiki he is apprehensive about returning to Pride Rock and having to face his past. In response to which Rafiki whacks Simba with his stick and when Simba asks why Rafiki answers "it doesn't matter, it's in the past" Simba replies, "yeah, but it still hurts" and Rafiki wisely responds:

"Ah yes, the past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it"

Then, when Rafiki takes another swing at Simba he dodges the stick, having learnt from his past.

"Next time, girl, you dodge that stick!" my friend jested.
Yes girl, dodge that stick. 

The reality of life is that some time or another you're going to get hurt, and often we experience things that continue to pain us for a long time after. It's unfortunate and sad but injury in life is inevitable.

As a child and well into my early teens I often experienced a bizarre, crippling sense of guilt. Now, being older, I can identify these early feelings as probably a touch of anxiety, but at the time it was something that was very difficult for me to understand. During my childhood these feelings were very often perpetuated by some of the inevitable mistakes I made growing up, the vast majority of which were of very little importance- though of course, at the time they felt very big. I grew up often feeling like I was a much worse person than the people around me, that no one else was as bad as me, no one else had done the things that I had done and I felt very ashamed. Although of course, in reality I was no worse than any other child my age, I spent a lot of time brooding and tormenting myself over some of the mistakes and slip-ups I felt I had made.

C.S. Lewis once said:
 "Experience: that most brutal of teachers but you learn, my God, do you learn"

As I got older I eventually came to realise that in fact, everyone makes mistakes, everyone makes poor choices and everyone does and says things they wish they hadn't; they always have done and always will do. However, something that I've learnt having made what I consider to be some genuinely hideous mistakes so far in my relatively short life is that to dwell on the mistakes we've made in the past does not do us the tiniest bit of good. Essentially what's done is done and all you can do is forgive yourself, let go, and just keep moving along, since really, life is a business of trial and error.

Of course, however, some of the pain we encounter in life isn't so simple. There are types of hurt that come suddenly in ways that are impossible to anticipate or control and most times, very difficult to understand. 
Having only been on this planet for 19 years, I don't claim to be an expert on life by any means, but as time has gone on something I have learnt is that the more hurt or pain we experience, the better equipped we are to deal with things that are still to come. In that place in time when you are really hurting bad, sometimes it feels impossible to see how anything good could come out of such a crappy situation. In truth, however, all those little aches, or even those humongous pains you might feel that you think are breaking you down are, in fact, building you up, making you stronger, and making you a hell of a lot wiser.

What I will also say, although I've said it before, while pain is a fact of life in this sad and broken world, the other side of the coin is that there is always hope and things will always get better. I firmly believe that without a few troughs in life, the peaks that come after would be nowhere near as beautiful and satisfying and it's that contrast that makes life truly worthwhile. 

This has been a bit of a different post today, but just something I've been thinking about recently. Hope you're all doing well!

Life Update | Instagram Diary

Instagram: beth_farrelly

MY LAPTOP IS BACK! And I'm so very happy that I can blog once again. I've really been missing it these past few weeks, especially since there's been a lot going on that I've been dying to share with you!

I know my last post was quite similar to this but I thought since I'd been away for a little while I'd just give you an overall update of what I've been up to when I was meant to have been revising! 
Recently, I'm very pleased to report, Lancashire has been blessed with some beautiful weather! A couple of days last week it was hitting 20-odd degrees, which literally never happens, so despite the fact exams are looming I've been spending a lot of time outdoors, chilling out and enjoying the sunshine. A couple of weeks ago one of my friends from home came to stay with me for a few days which gave me an excuse to get off campus and do a bit of exploring! One of the days he was here we took a trip to the Lakes which was really fun, especially because it was such a beautiful, sunny day. Unfortunately, I managed to forget my camera but I did end up getting some half-decent pictures on my iPhone though so at least all was not lost. Even though I only live about an hour away from the Lakes at uni I don't get to go anywhere near as much as I would like so it's always a pleasure being able to take friends there when they come and visit me.
On the Sunday my friend was here we also visited some mutual friends of ours who live in the area and had a lovely Sunday brunch outside in their garden with sausages, bacon, eggs, strawberries, yoghurt and croissants which was a lovely treat.
Also, in the last few weeks a couple of my friends from uni and I have started going horse-riding once a week which I've really been enjoying. I used to ride a lot when I was younger but as I got older and schoolwork started taking up more and more of my time I had to give it up, but I'm so happy to have the opportunity to take it back up now. The yard we've been riding at is tiny and buried in countryside not far from the city centre. It's also just a short bus ride from campus which is incredibly handy for us and the family that own it are really lovely and friendly as well which makes all the difference! It's always a lovely break from uni life getting to go out there and spend some time in the fresh air doing something I love.
Yesterday when we were up at the yard one of the mares had just given birth to a tiny foal called May and I'm not kidding, she was one of the cutest things I've ever seen! She was only 5 days old, wobbling around still a bit unsteady on her feet but so was friendly, nuzzling up to us and letting us pet her.

Unfortunately now, since I've taken a bit of a long break this term so far I need to get back into some proper revision which is what I've been doing these past few days before my exams start at the end of this week. I'm quite nervous as there's a lot to cover but hopefully things will all go OK!

Instagram: beth_farrelly

My Au Pair Experience | Summer 2013

I actually heard about this opportunity through a friend, who messaged me just before my exams ended explaining that she had been asked through school if she would consider spending the summer in Spain as an 'au pair'. For those of you who maybe aren't familiar with what an au pair is, it's basically a young person who travels to a foreign country and lives with a host family. Au pairs are normally required to look after the family's children, help around the house and sometimes also help the children to learn English or another language, as it was in my case. My friend wasn't able to do all the dates the family needed so we were going to divide the time between us, doing three weeks each. As it turned out, the family needed the au pair to start the following week and since I had agreed to do the first three weeks, letting go of all inhibition, I booked a return flight to the Basque region of Spain.

 At the time, I didn't really get a lot of time to think too much about what I was doing since I flew out three days after my exams finished. In retrospect, this was probably a good thing since I didn't really have time to over-think and stress myself out. I did, however, have time to read over a few articles and blog posts about the sorts of experiences other people had had working as au pairs, and was slightly disconcerted to discover just how many of these experiences had been negative. Some, in fact, seemed to be real horror stories- tales of people being sacked without notice, kicked out onto the street or even abused by their host families! I was very fortunate in that my host family were extremely warm, welcoming and understanding but I really think these stories are a testament to just how important it is to ensure you find your family from a reputable source and that you get as much background knowledge on your host family as you can before-hand. If possible, it may also be helpful to try and get feedback from other au pairs who have worked for the family in the past, just to make sure everything is OK and to get an idea of what to expect. 

For me, working as an au pair for a short time-scale was at times, challenging but also very rewarding. I didn't really get homesick as such but there were times when I felt very cut-off from the rest of the world since I didn't really get the opportunity to socialise outside of the family very much during my time there. As well as this, it could also be a very tiring job at times, having to speak a foreign language from the moment you wake up until you go to bed again (although you don't necessarily have to speak a foreign language to work as an au pair, it usually helps if you're planning to work in a non English-speaking country). Despite the various challenges I faced, however, I had an amazing time. Fortunately again for me, the children I was working with were two very lovely little girls who were great fun to be around, which just made my job so much easier.

Provided you've done your research, I would definitely recommend working as an au pair for anyone who is keen to have the real authentic experience of living within another culture. It's also a great way to improve your language skills and do something a little out of your comfort zone. I studied Spanish for A level but I definitely feel my language abilities improved a whole lot from my time there, short though it was.

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