- You love baking, and watching the Bake Off on telly is the highlight of your week
- You carry sweets in your handbag at all times
- Or even better, you carry cough drops or Werther’s originals in your handbag at all times
- You’re very forgetful
- You have more than 3 pairs of hand-knitted socks
- You were the one who knitted them
- You get emotional watching Location, Location, Location
- You love a bit of village gossip
- You enjoy playing bingo
- You take getting your minimum of 8 hours of sleep very seriously
- You’d choose a cup of PG tips over vodka any day
- You own several shirts with floral patterns on them
- You always force-feed your friends and family when they visit
- Mary Berry is your ultimate role model
- You own a heated blanket
- Your cat is your best friend
- You call people “hun”, “dear” or “love”
- You get excited by crossword puzzles
- People always ask you for advice
- You can’t stand for too long without your back starting to hurt
- You don’t remember the last time you went to a club
- You haven’t heard any of the songs that are currently in the top 10 of the charts
- But you know pretty much every single 80s song ever written
- You love gardening
- You always wear the same perfume
- You always know what the royal family is up to
- You still send letters and thank you cards
- Tea time is your favourite time of the day
- You always order the same thing at restaurants
- Everyone loves you for your kindness, loving nature and baking skills
I’ve loved to read ever since I was little, and even though I sadly don’t have as much time for it as I used to, it’s still one of my favourite things to do when I want to wind down and emerge myself in a different world. In this post, I want to mention a few tips on what you can do to make your reading experience even more enjoyable!
Write down your favourite quotes
There were so many times when I was too lazy to write down passages I liked while reading and regretted it afterwards when I couldn’t find them anymore, so I’d really recommend getting a notebook to put all your favourite book quotes in or to write them in your journal. You won’t only be able to find them again at a later time, but the passages you pick also say a lot about who you are and how you are feeling at that particular time in your life, so it’ll be really interesting to read them back in a few years time and see if they still speak to you in the same way. Alternatively, you could get a jar for collecting little notes with quotes on them or put up post-its on your wall or on a notice board.
Mark your favourite pages
If writing down your favourite passages takes too long, you might as well just mark them with those sticky bookmark thingies you can get at any shop that sells stationary. (Does anyone know what they’re called? Do they even have a name?) If you don’t plan on reselling your books, it’s of course also always a good idea to take notes, underline things and write down what certain passages make you think of. You could also try to do this with sticky notes if you don’t want to write in the book itself.
Make a list of books you read every year
It’s easy to lose track of what books you’ve read and when you read them, so making a list of all the ones you’ve finished in chronological order is a great help. I also like to write the date of the day I started and finished a book inside the cover because I always find it really interesting to know how old I was when I read a certain piece of literature. Keeping track of your books might also help you be motivated to read more frequently, especially if you set yourself a goal.
You can also set yourself a reading challenge on goodreads, which tells you exactly how many books you’ve finished and how close you are to achieving your reading goal. This is only one of the many useful feature goodreads has, though: You can add your books to shelves to organise them a little better, leave reviews for other readers and future reference as well as reading other people’s reviews, follow users with similar taste in books for reading inspiration and save books you want to read in the future so you won’t forget about them.
Start a book club
Do you ever finish a really good book and are just dying to talk about it to someone, but don’t know whom to? This is what a book club would be perfect for! Literature is written not only to be read, but also to be discussed and shared with each other, so why not ask some friends who like similar books as you to start a book club? You could agree on a book to read every week or month and have regular meet ups to chat about what you’ve read. I absolutely hated Kafka the first time I read it but became a fan after discussing different interpretations of his books with others, which proves that sharing ideas with others can really change your perception of a piece of literature. If your friends don’t like to read or prefer different books, you can of course also start a club with people on the internet, it works just as well!
If you have any more tips, do leave a comment below! x
You will need:
- 150g basmati rice
- a can of black beans
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green paprika pepper (if you can’t find one, just get another bell pepper)
- 1 onion
- 2-6 garlic cloves (depends on how much you love garlic)
- 2 big tomatoes
- about 1/3 of a cucumber
- 1 avocado
- any other veggies you like and feel like would fit, kale and chard can work really well for example!
- cumin or tortilla spice blend, salt (or even better, a salt and herb mix) and pepper to season
- a splash of olive oil
- optional: coriander leaves to serve
- Cook the rice as stated on the pack instructions. After draining it, put it back into pot to season with cumin or a tortilla spice blend and salt and pepper and keep it warm. (I also added a pineapple curry spread I still had in the fridge to the rice, so if you have something similar, do put it in!)
- Cut the garlic into tiny pieces or use a garlic crusher to press it and fry it in a frying pan with olive oil for about 2min. Meanwhile, chop the onion and add it to the pan. Chop your peppers and add them and the beans to the mix as well. Season with cumin, the tortilla spice blend and salt and pepper. ( A bit of paprika gives it a nice kick as well if you happen to have that.)
- Leave your beans and pepper mix to warm for a bit while slicing the avocado tomatoes and cucumbers and assembling them on your plates and seasoning them with salt and pepper.
- Remove the rice and the beans and pepper mix from the heat and add them to your plates – time to eat!
You can also make some guacamole to go with this dish or to serve as a starter or snack with some plain tortilla chips. It’s very quick to make and super delicious!
You will need:
- 3 avocados (or 2 big ones)
- 1 red onion
- 2 tomatoes
- juice of one lemon or lime
- 5 garlic cloves (or maybe less if you have to go out later and don’t want people to run away)
- optional: coriander leaves, peppers, chilis, cucumber
- salt and pepper
Put on the Guacamole song for more fun, then start by cutting the avocados in half and removing the seed. Now you can simply take a spoon to scoop out the flesh and put it into a bowl. Chop your veggies and add them as well, then drizzle over the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Finally, mash everything together with a spoon until there are no big avocado chunks are left.
- Create your own lemonade recipe
- Read your favourite poems aloud and talk about what they mean to you
- Make a playlist of songs that remind you of each other and listen to it on repeat
- Make daisy chains and wear them around town
- Go for a picknick
- Have a cherry stone spitting contests
- Crush the patriarchy
- Go for a drive and sing along to the Backstreet Boys in the car
- Write cute little notes for strangers and put them up around town
- Start a contest about who can make the most puns in one day
- Pick some wildflowers and give them to someone you love
- Go to a free concert in your city
- Climb a tree like you did when you were kids
- Make a day trip to a place you’ve never been before
- Exchange your journals for an afternoon and let the other person write in it
- Start a debate club
- Write down all of your inside jokes and favourite memories together
- Go to a flea market or even sell some of your own stuff
- Search for Question Tags on Tumblr and use them as conversation starters to learn even more about each other
- Go to a garden centre, get cacti and give them names
- Make your own jam
- Play boardgames in your garden or a park
- Learn a Shakespeare sonnet by heart
- Have different flavoured ice cream every day
- And don’t forget to tell your friends how much you love and appreciate them 🙂
you’ll be more
you’ll be free
you’ll spread your wings
except i lost them a while ago
the glowing wings that once sat on my back so naturally
slowly lost their light and became dim
now just a faint memory
of stories and hopes and a child’s imagination
sometimes they appear in dreams
or for a hopeful second in the day
and make me believe
before they dissolve once more
go out and fly
and i’m left here in the gloom
Note: I wrote this poem pretty much exactly one year ago, when I had just graduated, was still not sure whether the degree I applied for was actually right for me and generally felt very, very confused and afraid of the change that was to come. I know this poem is not exactly optimistic, but the reason I decided to post it today is that now, 12 months later I can look back at it and say that I don’t feel nearly as hopeless as I did then. Of course, there are still moments when I get scared of the future and wish I could stop time for a bit so that my brain can catch up and I can figure out what it is that I actually want, but I know I’m on the right track now. I’m fortunate enough to study something I truly love and care about, I am surrounded by wonderful people and sometimes I get so happy that my metaphorical wings do not only glow brighter than ever, but seemingly take me high above the clouds. (Gosh, this was way too cheesy and pretentious, time to go now!)
(Image: Zsa Zsa Bellagio)
This is a mix I made for a friend, but I’ve actually listened to it myself a ridiculous amount of times – especially on the train to uni when it was way too early to read or let alone speak to anyone. Enjoy and let me know which songs you like best!
- Daytime Dilemma / Ramones
- Highway Child / Jimi Hendrix
- Tupelo Honey / Van Morrison
- Ruby Lee / Joe Cocker
- Just Like Heaven / The Cure
- A Sunday Kind of Love / Etta James
- Mess Around / Cage the Elephant
- All Shook Up / Paul McCartney
- She Bangs the Drums / The Stone Roses
- Painter Song / Norah Jones
- Denial / The Vaccines
- No Buses / Arctic Monkeys
- Daydreamer / Adele
- The Chain / Fleetwood Mac
- Meet Me In The Hallway – Harry Styles
- Flowers in the Window / Travis
- There is a Light That Never Goes Out / The Smiths
- Down to the Market / The Kooks
- Octopus’s Garden / The Beatles
- Already Over Me / The Rolling Stones
- Cherry Wine / Hozier
- Ain’t No Sunshine / Bill Withers
I recently looked through my journal and found an entry from about 2 weeks before I started university – and oh dear, I must have been absolutely mortified when I wrote that. I had nearly forgotten about the sheer panic I felt during those few weeks, but there was probably nothing about uni that I wasn’t scared of. Just the thought of my fellow students, my future lecturers, the confusing giant buildings, the high standards and the exams I would have to pass made me want to hide in a cave for at least a couple of months.
So if you have similar feelings about going off to uni or college – I understand. But I also know that 100% of my worries turned out to be completely unnecessary. I’m now about to finish the first year of my degree and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been in a better place in life than I am now.
Of course, I’m still far from being an expert and what I’m going to tell you now is only based on personal experience, but here’s a few pieces of advice I would give to any university fresher!
Get all the information you can
Especially when you’re feeling a bit anxious about uni anyways, it can be very tempting to skip welcoming lectures and information evenings to hide in your room and watch Netflix instead. However, putting together your timetable, finding your way around the university and getting the hang of how your online student account works can be quite tricky, so you probably need all the info you can get. Don’t hesitate to ask other people as well – they’ll either be in the same situation as you or they’ll know how overwhelming things can be when you’re new and have no clue what’s going on, so they’ll be happy to help you with any problems you might have. And once you get the hang of how everything works, it suddenly won’t seem that complicated at all.
Fresher’s week is a brilliant way to make your first friends and get to know your university, and for many students it’s a really fun and exciting experience – but don’t be too upset if it isn’t for you. I’m quite introverted and I struggle with speaking to a lot of new people at the same time, so fresher’s week was an absolute nightmare for me. I’m not sure if that’s always the case, but my Fresher’s week essentially revolved around getting pissed and nothing else – which shocked me so much that I seriously thought about dropping out before classes had even started.
But what I’m trying to say is, don’t let this first week intimidate you. Have a few beers if you want to, but don’t give into the pressure if you don’t, and always make sure to stay safe. Maybe you’re lucky and you’ll meet people you get along with right away, but if you don’t, don’t give up! Everyone is super insecure in those first few days so it’s perfectly normal if you’re struggling, and it will get easier.
First of all, don’t worry if it takes a while until you find the right people. My courses were all really big in the beginning, which made me feel like making friends was nearly impossible. I spoke to about 20 new people every day during the first week of classes and most of those first conversations were even more awkward than I was afraid they would be. The other problem was that, if you did get along with someone, you probably wouldn’t see them for at least another week because the university was so big.
Quite soon though, I noticed a group of people who seemed really cool and secretly planned to make friends with them. Now, if you’re braver than me, you should probably try and actually speak to people you find interesting, but all I did was sit near them a couple of times until one of them, now one of my best friends, started talking to me – and it sort of just took off from there. Later on, I actually found out that they had sat next to me on purpose too, and had wanted to speak to me since the first week – so if you feel like you might get along with someone, maybe don’t be a chickenshit like me and start a conversation right away, that’ll save you a lot of time and worries.
If you don’t want to speak to people first though, I’d recommend wearing shirts with band logos, references to tv shows etc., that’s always a brilliant conversation starter! Also, remember that you already have a mutual interest with every single person in your course – you all study the same thing!
Do your reading
I know that some of the texts you have to read for uni seem like the most boring piece of literature you’ve ever come across, but it really is worth at least having a proper look at them nonetheless. Most lectures are based on texts and knowing your material in advance will make following what your prof is saying a lot easier. Very often, the knowledge you get from reading your texts is simply assumed and you can feel really lost (and ultimately, bored) during lectures if you don’t know what on earth your lecturer is going on about. Additionally, all the texts you have to read could come in very handy when you need some secondary literature for an essay or term paper!
Talk to lecturers
Some lecturers and professors can be pretty intimidating at first, but speaking to them and asking questions is always worthwhile. If something they said in a lecture interests you, go and ask them about it! They’re usually really chuffed when they see that their students are passionate about their subject area, and it’s always helpful if they know who you are as well.
If you struggle with an essay, don’t be ashamed to ask them for advice. One of my lecturers actually personally gave me and some others a tour through the library when we mentioned we were still confused by how big it is, helped me pick out a title for my paper and recommended me literature to use as a reference.
Writing my first exams was an extremely scary thought, and it didn’t help to have lecturers tell you how many people usually fail every other day. However, you’ve got to remember that if you go to class regularly, do your reading and do even just a little bit of revision, you will most probably be fine. If you have procrastination issues like me, I’d recommend forming study groups with people you know are responsible and revise together – that’s not only a lot more fun, but you’ll also get things done a lot quicker.
I hope this was at least a little bit helpful and I wish anyone who’s starting uni this year the best of luck and a lot of fun! University is such a wonderful time because you get to learn about something you’re passionate about every day while meeting lots of amazing people along the way, and I really hope you’ll all enjoy it as much as I do x