Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

twenty-two at twenty-two;

Hello everyone!

If you don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you might have missed the fact that it was my 22nd birthday on Monday! (Insert party poppers here.)

For many of my teenage years and going into my early-twenties, I’ve completely hated my birthday. No one ever came to parties I hosted, and when they did, it was boring and awkward because I’m TERRIBLE at throwing parties. I always felt pressured to do certain things like spending an evening drinking or hanging out with a huge group of people when that’s not the kind of thing I like to do. So often I let other people plan my birthday for me and it was never stuff I actually wanted to do. Last year I decided enough was enough and I had my first genuinely enjoyable birthday since my 18th because I planned it the way I wanted to.

Today I thought I’d share with you 22 of the things I did to celebrate:

  1. Bought myself an expensive cake. I popped to a bakery just under two weeks before my birthday and ordered myself a five-layer rose and raspberry cake complete with white chocolate, tons of buttercream, edible glitter and macaroons.
  2. Bought myself balloons. My parents aren’t particularly keen on balloons but I always wanted those huge number balloons. Mum and Dad always said no because they thought they were a waste of money, but this year I just bought myself them anyway because I’m an adult with my own money and I can. (It’s crazy how often I forget I can do what I like with my money…)
  3. Took a rose bath. For the past few years, on the evening before my birthday, I like to have the most extravagant bath I can possibly make. This year I had a huge amount of bubbles, rose petals, glitter, cocoa butter, rose oil, and rose-scented soap! It was totally heavenly and I could’ve stayed in that bath forever…
  4. Tried on every perfume I possibly could. I forgot to put on perfume on my birthday before I went out so I went to local Boots and tried on everything. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled more expensive in my life! At least I have ideas for my next bottle of perfume now.
  5. Went out for breakfast with my Mum and Lorna. Going out for breakfast is, without a doubt, my favourite thing to do. I’m very much an early-bird and breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. The earlier I go, the better! Breakfast is even better with friends, family, and cocktails.
  6. Went out for cocktails. After breakfast, Lorna and I migrated to the Slug and Lettuce for an afternoon of gin and prosecco. Plus one of our cocktails came with a candy necklace and it just filled us with so much joy.

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7. Booked time off work. It was really important to me that I didn’t have to go to work near or on my birthday. I work somewhere with only six staff members, including myself and my manager, and because I work part-time, I’m often called in to cover shifts. To avoid an early end to the celebrations, I booked time off so no one from work could call me in!
8. Went bowling with my parents and brother. I used to have bowling parties as a kid all the time so I decided that we should all go bowling for the evening in a moment of nostalgia. I came third and last because I’m terrible at bowling but who cares because we all had fun and we spent some rare time as a family doing something together!
9. Stayed in for a chinese takeaway. I love being home and in bed by 10 because I’m actually very old at heart. Instead of going out for the night, I stayed in with a chinese takeaway and watched friends in my pyjamas. Absolutely heaven.
10. Bought new clothes. I have a personal tradition of buying myself a new dress to wear on my actual birthday day. I did that again this year but then also went out and bought two other dresses as well! (And obviously as soon as I bought summer clothes the weather turned and it’s now grey, rainy, and windy…)
11. Took myself out for breakfast. Again. Yes, I really do love going out for breakfast that much. Two days after my birthday, I continued celebrating by getting up early and finding a restaurant by the sea. This time I went alone with my new camera and spent some quiet time with just me and the fresh air. Plus, this was a personal achievement for me since I have anxiety and I usually hate eating alone in public. Eating alone in public at a restaurant in outside seating is practically a miracle for me but I did it!
12. Took time out to catch up with friends individually. I hate being in large groups of people so I decided to see people individually or text people for a little catch up. It’s much more intimate and it doesn’t leave me as emotionally exhausted.
13. Went to Build-A-Bear. For the first time since I was a child, I went to Build-A-Bear and I got myself a Charmander toy complete with official noises that the Pokemon makes in the show and a lavender-scented disk for an optimum cuddling experience. I loved that I got to indulge in my inner child and that the staff didn’t seem put off by my over-excited enthusiasm.
14. Ate cake for breakfast. Is it even your birthday week if you don’t eat cake for breakfast at least once?
15. Added birthday-related items to my scrapbook. Samples of the wrapping paper from my presents, photographs from the day, gift notes and gift tags…it’s all there in my scrapbook ready for a future me to reminisce.
16. Went for a walk. I love walking and I especially love walking around some of the most beautiful spots in the city. With all the time in the world I took my camera out in the rain and took a gentle stroll.

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17. Bought myself new craft supplies. Thank you Hobbycraft for the free £5 gift you give me every year! You’re keeping me in bullet journal and scrapbooking materials.
18. Got myself some new books. My TBR pile is already huge but I just made it bigger by buying another armful of books. Oh well, at least I don’t have to buy any more for a while!
19. Bought myself a theatre ticket. A few months ago I booked a ticket to see Titanic the Musical as both an early and a belated present to myself. I am clearly the gift that keeps on giving.
20. Went for breakfast with my Dad. This is the last time I’ll mention breakfast, I promise! My Dad’s birthday is two days after mine and since he was working both days, we didn’t get much of a chance to celebrate our days with just the two of us! So this weekend we went for breakfast to do just that.
21. Watched my favourite movie multiple times with no regrets. No, I won’t stop singing Come What May and crying over Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, please leave me alone.
22. I let myself be me. Most importantly, I didn’t pretend that I wasn’t enthusiastic about the little things, I didn’t let myself be embarrassed by my interests and the things that I wanted to do, and I certainly didn’t force myself to do things that I didn’t want to.

It’s been a pretty good year and a pretty good birthday week so I’m looking forward to the next one!

What are your favourite things to do on your birthday?

Bethany xo

 

 

Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

50 things to do on rainy days;

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Me and two friends enjoying the rain two years ago.

Hi everyone!

Today I’m back to talk about rain (yes, my life really is that exciting!)

It’s nearing summer here in the UK – evenings are light and bright, humidity is up, and it’s raining constantly. Half-term is upon us and the whole thing is going to be a huge wash-out. If you’re managing to escape the thunderstorms then you’re still experiencing rain, dark clouds days, and fog.

Whilst I can’t stand thunderstorms, I love rain, especially heavy rain. For me, it’s incredibly calming and cleansing for the soul, so I embrace this time of year and our above average monthly rainfall. It’s a time for me to reconnect and reflect upon myself. But for others, this is the worst type of weather, especially if you’ve got kids.

So, here’s a list of things to do when it’s raining to suit every person regardless of age or personality:

  1. Go for a walk and indulge in splashing in puddles.
  2. Dance in the rain. (Cheesy but fun!)
  3. Gather all your blankets and cushions and have a movie marathon or binge something new on Netflix.
  4. Build a pillow fort.
  5. Find some objects outside and take them to a large puddle to see what floats or sinks.
  6. Spend a day doing some colouring in.
  7. Spend a day doing arts and crafts.
  8. Make rain art.
  9. Try out some new hobbies.
  10. Learn a new skill.
  11. Read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf since forever.
  12. Spend the day baking.
  13. Play board/card/video games with your family/friends.
  14. Make a time capsule or a memory box.
  15. Have a home spa day.
  16. Go to an actual spa for a spa day.
  17. Have a home clear-out and tidy up.
  18. Organise clothes/books/ornaments you no longer want to take to a charity shop.
  19. Catch up on any work you have to do.
  20. Listen to new music.
  21. Enroll on a free online course (I love FutureLearn for this!)
  22. Go and see a show at your local theatre.
  23. Go to your local library.
  24. Go to an art gallery or museum.
  25. Put together a photo album.
  26. Try out a new hairstyle, or if you have kids, play hairdressers.
  27.  Go to the cinema.
  28. Go bowling or to an arcade.
  29. Make a playlist for someone you love.
  30. Make a playlist of all your favourite songs.
  31. Learn how to cook something new.
  32. Make paper boats and race them in large puddles or ponds.
  33. Play hide-and-seek.
  34. Go to your nearest aquarium.
  35. Make pasta pictures.
  36. Have a fashion show with the clothes in your wardrobe.
  37. Research your family tree.
  38. Phone a friend you haven’t seen/spoken to in a while.
  39. Write letters to international friends.
  40. Have a tea party. Real or imaginary, that’s up to you!
  41. Make a list of things you want to do before you die, or if you fancy something less morbid, a list of things you want to do before your next birthday.
  42. Play around with your home decor or redecorate a room completely.
  43. Start a diary or journal.
  44. Make a really decadent hot chocolate with loads of cream, chocolate, marshmallows, sweets, or anything else you have in your cupboards that would go in!
  45. Try a new restaurant.
  46. Find a muddy spot in the garden or a park and make some mud pies.
  47. Upcycle some boring furniture.
  48. Do some karaoke at home or at a karaoke bar.
  49. Write a story or a poem.
  50. Sleep. If you have nothing to do, you don’t want to deal with the world whilst it’s so miserable, and you have the option, take a nap and have a duvet day!

What are some of your favourite things to do when it’s raining and how has the weather been where you are?

Bethany xo

Lifestyle · Monthly Favourites · Things to make you smile

January Favourites;

Hello all!

January is coming to an end, payday is imminent, and the sun is coming out (or at least, it is here!) So, it feels like an appropriate time to share a bit of positivity and talk about my favourite things this month.

  1. FRIENDS – I don’t mean the people I call my friends, though they are very dear to me, I mean the TV show. After Netflix added all ten seasons on New Year’s Day, I binge watched it almost every day for about two or three weeks. It’s such easy watching over the festive period and still funny. I’m also still of the same opinion as all those years ago when I first watched this show – I hate Ross and Rachel shouldn’t have gotten off the plane. tumblr_own1q6o4bE1raamyno2_400
  2. This jumper from Yours Clothing – Okay, I didn’t buy this green jumper in January, but it has remained my favourite winter warmer. It’s thick, soft and comfortable. I love it so much that I also bought the same jumper in blue.
  3. Candles – For Christmas, I bought myself a Yankee Candle gift box and one of my family friends bought me another Yankee Candle. Then in the January sales, I bought myself some more! My favourites from my little collection are Macaron Treats, Berry Trifle, and Spiced White Cocoa.
  4. And speaking of cocoa, I’m also loving hot chocolate this month. Usually, I hate hot chocolate because it’s far too sickly and sweet for my liking. But Hotel Chocolat’s classic hot chocolate is made of 70% smooth, rich, dark chocolate. It’s perfect for cosying up in bed with, ready for an early night and a movie marathon.
  5. White roses – I love flowers and especially roses. I try to have fresh plants and flowers in my bedroom as much as I can. This month though, I have been particularly drawn to white roses. I’ve bought real ones, fake ones, I’m pressing some in books, I’ve got white rose fairy lights adorning my shelves…I’m a little bit obsessed right now but I don’t care because they’re so pretty!
  6. These Deichmann shoes – They look like your nan’s curtains but that’s just part of their charm! These shoes have velvet laces and feel like your nan’s curtains too. They’re an unusual yet comfortable pair shoes that have gained me plenty of compliments whilst I’ve been wearing them.
  7. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig – I adored this book – it was sweet, funny, sad, and poignant. I devoured this book in two sittings and I regret having read it so fast! I had the Chris Riddell illustrated version of this book and I highly recommend it. tumblr_p3df1cVAE91raamyno1_540Haig and Riddell make a damn good story-telling team. I’ll write a more in-depth review of this book over the coming weeks because I loved it too much to leave it at only a few sentences.
  8. Cardamom Coffee perfume – This perfume is my favourite from LUSH’s new fragrance collection. It’s one of their strongest and warmest scents with top notes of cardamom. Once it’s been on the skin for a few hours, the cocoa absolute and rose oil leave a mild, sweet and rich base note. This perfume feels like a winter hug in a bottle.
  9. My pink and blue scarf – I bought a scarf from the Little Barbican Boutique, a shop owned by a good friend of mine. It’s long, soft, and made in my favourite colours – I have worn it every time I’ve gone out this month and I’m not looking forward to when it’s too warm to wear it. I wish winter scarves were fashionable and convenient all year round.
  10. Takeaways – When I come home from work at half seven, tired and achy from standing up all day in a kitchen, the last thing I want to do is stand up in a kitchen and cook dinner. I’ve gotten into the habit of ordering food from Just Eat or Deliveroo on the bus home, so I can spend as much time relaxing as possible. I’ve discovered some great food by ordering in so much this month, but it has taken its toll on my bank account. So, as much as I love it and enjoy the convenience, I’m going to try and curb this habit in February.

What have you guys been loving this month? I’d love to hear about some of things that have made you smile over January so do leave a comment and I’ll see you again soon!

Bethany xo

bullet journal · Lifestyle · Updates

2018 Resolutions;

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is victory.”

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We’re officially into our second week of 2018 and I hope the year is treating you right so far!

Today I want to talk about New Year’s resolutions. If you made any, how are you getting on with yours? If you didn’t, how come? I’m interested to know!

It’s been a long time since I set up any proper resolutions for myself. The last one I made was years ago and it was, predictably, to lose weight. Obviously, that didn’t happen and I’m awfully glad it didn’t! I’m incredibly happy with who I am now and what I look like. Not only that, but it’s helped me to find a new way to create realistic ambitions for myself every year. Picking one “Word of the Year” is so much more freeing and versatile.

Last year, I lived by the word “Courage.” It led me to book a tattoo appointment (Okay, yes, I didn’t go through with it and I lost my deposit…but at least I booked it and tried!) I also got the courage to face failure at university and subsequently won that battle, I attended my first protest, I grew 10x in self-confidence, and got back into the dating game.

2018 is the first year where I have no idea what’s in store for me. I’ve left full-time educated, I’ve graduated university, I’m tragically single, I have a part-time job, and plenty of free time during weekdays. I have so many options open to me and it’s kind of terrifying to think about.

After spending December thinking about how I want my 2018 to be, I came up with the word “Satisfaction.”

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I don’t know what this year holds for me, but I thought that I should be satisfied with whatever I do. I want to fulfil and achieve my wishes and wants as much as I can and see what comes of it.

My first foray into creating a satisfying year for myself was taking another step towards becoming a teacher. I applied for a diploma course in Early Years teaching. I’m not confident I’ll get in because I don’t have the GCSE Science grade they want, but at least I’ve tried to achieve a dream.

I also have in mind to work further on my novel, connect more with the people I love, take more time to blog, revel in the things that make me happy and appreciate what I have and what I can do.

Thanks for reading today and I hope you’re all having a satisfying year so far too!

Bethany xo

Christmas · Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

Christmas Traditions;

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I’m writing this post from my bed, nursing a chest infection, snuggled up in blankets, and wearing a Christmas jumper. It’s beginning to get dark outside, the lights are dimmed, two sets of fairy lights are on, I’m drinking hot chocolate and I’m burning a candle called “Christmas Magic”. There are Christmas songs playing softly in the background; Michael Buble’s tender caramel voice is bringing an indulgent calm to my afternoon.

It’s cosy, warm and tranquil atmospheres like this that I create for myself every Christmas that got me thinking about the Christmas traditions my family and I still have, and those that we’ve let go of.

  1. The Christmas Table. Now, this tradition has been in my family since before I can remember. We have a little cabinet in our dining room where we keep our “posh” cutlery and crockery. Every year this cabinet ends up with the name “The Christmas Table.” My Dad, from September/October, begins slowly piling up food and alcohol on this table until it’s dangerously mountainous by Christmas Day. There’s crisps, nuts, cakes, eggnog and more chocolate than any one family could possibly eat by themselves. No one is allowed to take food or drink from this table until Christmas Day, but after that, this table ends up being a decadent buffet table until New Year.
  2. Trifle. I don’t know about you but I’m not a major fan of the traditional Christmas cake and pudding. It just isn’t my cup of tea and my parents aren’t really fans either. Instead of traditional pudding, after Christmas dinner we eat homemade trifle that’s lovingly layered with vanilla sponge, raspberry jelly, fruit cocktail, custard and cream. I then top it off with a crumbled Flake bar from my selection box. I love the Christmas trifle and I was pretty upset when my parents decided that we should have a different dessert last year. In the end, we all missed the trifle and I’m happy to say it’s back with a vengeance this year!
  3. Advent Calendars. You’re never too old for an advent calendar. They’re a Christmas staple since early childhood but controversially, we’ve faded them out from our tradition list. Last year I often forgot that I had the calendar to open – it just didn’t seem to appeal to me anymore. This year the calendar has disappeared completely, and I must admit that I don’t miss it at all!
  4. The December De-clutter. Some people think I’m a little weird for this, but I will embrace that gladly! I adore tidying and de-cluttering. It’s stress relieving, it eases my anxiety and I feel accomplished at the end of it – particularly at Christmas. Every December I like to do a deep clean and de-clutter of my bedroom; nothing is safe. My windows and windowsills are cleaned, all furniture is moved and deep cleaned, and bags upon bags of stuff ends up going to various charity shops. Once everything is tidy and minimalist again, I can relax in bed with a candle on or some incense burning away at my desk and my fairy lights on. In a way, I’m “purifying” and preparing my personal space for the new year. I don’t feel comfortable and like Christmas has started until I do the clean.
  5. Ferrero Rocher. Every year my parents give me a box of Ferrero Rocher for Christmas and because of this, I associate them only with Christmas even though they’re available all year round. Eating them out of the Christmas season just feels wrong!
  6. Bedroom Presents. When my brother and I were children, we would get up on Christmas Day at some ungodly hour and annoy our parents to death with our excited chattering. We were too young to appreciate a lie-in and we got bored in our rooms way too easily. All the presents and food were downstairs, and we couldn’t play with or eat any of it yet! To combat our restless Christmas cheer, my parents used to put presents and food in our bedrooms when we were asleep on Christmas Eve. This usually consisted of one book, one DVD, some chocolate, cereal bars and an orange. This year, the tradition seems to be one we’re getting rid of because my parents have decided they’re too old to stay awake long enough to do it! (I have a feeling I’ll be somewhat disappointed at the absence of room presents on Christmas Day this year…)
  7. NORAD. A Christmas Eve tradition that I’ve grown to love is having the NORAD tracks Santa website open on a laptop as my family gathers together to eat and celebrate as the night draws in. There’s a little whoop of excitement from everyone as we watch Santa travel from country to country whilst eating questionable party food and playing board games. (And if we’re really really quiet, we can totally hear the sleigh bells as he flies over!)
  8. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This is my favourite Christmas film of all time and I have to watch it every Christmas Eve without fail. If I don’t watch it, then not to be dramatic about it, Christmas is ruined. There is no Christmas without this film for me.
  9. Sickness. Someone is always sick on Christmas Day whether it’s a cold, the flu, alcohol related incidents, or overindulgence. Someone is always ill. One year I had a migraine and basically spent the whole of Christmas dinner crying in pain. Sickness is my least favourite tradition and I would really prefer it not to be one, but let’s be honest, someone is always under the weather for you on Christmas Day too, right?
  10. Chocolate Biscuits. Some of my favourite Christmas memories from when I was younger was when my brother and I would bundle into my parents’ bedroom, eagerly talking about our bedroom presents. The four of us would sit on the bed or we’d go to the living room and show off our new gifts and eat chocolate biscuits for breakfast. If Mum and Dad started eating the biscuits without my brother and I then we were devastated. Naturally there would be some squabbling over who got the last biscuit, but I enjoyed that as much as I did the simple family time in the morning before Christmas Day got truly under way. We don’t tend to have biscuits for breakfast any more; we all do our own thing, but I have to say that I miss the chocolate biscuit bed pile up.

It’s probably not wrong for me to say that most people have their traditions that make the winter season unique, comforting and nostalgic. What are your favourite Christmas traditions old and new?

Bethany xo

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Lifestyle

My November Goals;

November is a strange month. It’s not quite Christmas yet and Halloween and Bonfire night are over and done with. It’s cold and wet outside and you’re frugal with your paycheck so you can splash out over Christmas. November is quite a plain and uninspiring month.

To make the month feel a little more worthwhile, I’ve set myself a few little goals to pass the time.

  1. Write more often. For someone with a creative writing degree who describes themselves as a writer, I actually write very little. I have unfinished projects in numerous folders on my laptop, a novel I’ve slowly been working on for almost a year, and tonnes of ideas rattling around my brain. In November I plan on getting a huge chunk of my novel written and at least one smaller writing project finished. tumblr_oz22xdvkbZ1raamyno1_540
  2. Get some practice with my new camera! Last month I bought myself a Sony Cybershot W810 to get myself into photography as a new hobby. As of yet I haven’t had a chance to get snappy with my camera, but I’m coming for you November!
  3. Finish reading The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughn. I’ve been trying to read this book for a month now and I’m still less than 150 pages in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this book but life keeps getting in the way!
  4. Get a head start on my Christmas shopping. Even if I don’t buy many of my Christmas presents this month, I’d like to have a list done so December isn’t stressful. I often end up rushing around, full of anxiety about my Christmas shopping – this year, I’d like to be able to chill out and experience December more casually. DSC00020
  5. Do more baking. My parents bought me a kitchen mixer for my birthday and I’ve only used it a handful of times since! The last time I used it, I made a pumpkin and salted caramel cake and you can find that recipe right here! I adore baking and autumn/winter seems like the perfect time to carry out that particular hobby.
  6. Declutter. Some find it strange but I love tidying and cleaning. There is nothing more satisfying than spending a day decluttering, scrubbing, hoovering, and polishing and seeing the results of your efforts emerge. Every year before Christmas, I like to do a huge deep clean and declutter to “make room” for the coming year. That probably makes no sense but it’s a tradition and my anxiety goes haywire if I don’t “make room.”
  7. Keep working on my blog make-over. I have only had this blog for a mere two months or so but I get bored SO FAST. My bedroom gets re-arranged and re-decorated all the time, I want to re-invent my image constantly, my hair never knows what’s coming next. All of this translate into my blog too! So far I’ve changed my domain and my header but more changes will be on the way!

Do you guys have any goals this months? I’d love to hear them!

Bethany xo

Lifestyle

#NationalFitnessDay: My Gym Routine.

Hello!

Today is National Fitness Day and I’ve started going back to the gym after a summer break! As such, now seemed like a good time to share with you my gym routine and exercise habits to celebrate.

Honestly, many are surprised when they find out that I go to the gym simply because I’m fat and people assume that I’m lazy and inactive. Going to the gym isn’t the only thing I do. I love playing sports – tennis, badminton, volleyball, netball, all sorts! I have an active job too, so I’m really not as inactive and sluggish as my plus-size frame makes you think I am.

 

I tend to go to the gym about three/four times a week. I don’t go to lose weight as such, but rather for personal enjoyment and health purposes. For most of my life I’ve been living with a number of health conditions that make it difficult for me to lose weight – going to the gym is a simple way of keeping on top of my cardiovascular health and improving my strength.

So what’s my typical gym routine?

  1. Bike: 10 minutes at level 4. This is my usual warm-up, averaging around a speed of 55 RPM.
  2. Treadmill: 15 minutes at various speeds and inclines. I start with 5 minutes of walking at 5km/h, then 5 minutes of walking at the same speed with an incline of 5%. The last five minutes are either 6km/h of walking with no incline, or 4km/h of walking with a 10% incline.10787735_1527445460877431_626281565_n
  3. Cross trainer: Alternating between 1 minute of high intensity exercise and 1 minute of medium intensity for a total of 10 minutes.
  4. Chest press: 3×12 reps at 11kg
  5. Leg press: 3×12 reps at 39kg
  6. Shoulder press: 3×12 reps at 4.5kg
  7. Seated row: 3×12 reps at 10.1kg
  8. Plank: 3×20 seconds
  9. Squats with kettlebell: 3×12 at 4kg

All of these exercises take me about an hour in the gym but I prefer to spend an hour and half there from 6:30am to 8am. With the remaining half an hour, I tend to go back to the treadmill for a slow walk on a high incline (anything over 10%), a gentle jog with no incline, and then a cool down set by the treadmill.

During the evening of gym days, depending on how tired or busy I am, I like to round off the day with half an hour of beginners yoga to stretch out and take care of my muscles.

Are you fitness fanatic or a total fitness phobic?

Thanks for reading guys and I hope you have a good national fitness day!

Bethany xo

 

 

Lifestyle

Lessons from University!

That’s me in the back of both of these photos as a fresh faced, and slightly less fresh faced, fresher…

It’s officially been three years since I started university and graduation is only a month away. Freshers’ is in full swing; new students are creeping around and looking like fetuses (I swear Freshers are getting younger every year…), drinking away their student loans, and avoiding that one person who always seems to be having a breakdown in the kitchen.

I’ve learned a lot in three years, not all of it strictly related to my course subject. Here’s my guide on surviving uni if you’re starting or returning this year:

  1. Get all of your partying and slacking off out of your system in the first year. The first year grades hardly ever count towards your actual degree grade so you can afford to goof off…but it does determine whether or not you can go on to do your second year. Proceed with caution on this one.
  2. It’s better to attend all of your lectures BUT…most lectures these days are audio recorded. Most lecture slides are uploaded online on your university website too. If your university is one of those that uploads class resources online then it doesn’t matter if you miss a lecture or two. Don’t rely on catching up online most of the time though – some lecturers are tardy with uploading resources (accidentally and on purpose.) It’s better to attend lectures so you can ask any questions you need to and join in discussions to help you better understand the content.
  3. Email your lecturer BEFORE class if you can’t/don’t want to attend. You don’t have to tell them you can’t be bothered today, you can lie and say you’re sick if you don’t want to go…just as long as you email them! When attendance makes up some of your grade, doing this is crucial because you might find that your lecturer will mark you as present anyway for explaining your absence before class.
  4. Write up your lecture notes after class. I didn’t do this in my first year and it left me with hurriedly written notes that didn’t make any sense, that I couldn’t read, and just didn’t understand. By the time I went back to my notes weeks/months later when I needed them, I had forgotten what any of it meant. 12750374_1689349431320753_867068295_nWriting your notes up after class means the subject is fresh in your mind, you have neater, more thorough, and far more helpful notes for when you need to go back to them for essays.
  5. Make your written notes fun. Write jokes in them, use colour, use sticky notes, use stickers, use anything that will make them more interesting to look at as you read them back. Plus colour and decoration is more likely to help you remember a piece of information as you write it. Just don’t sacrifice the quality of your notes for decoration.
  6. Second year is so boring! The partying days of first year are over but the importance of third year isn’t upon you yet. It’s a comfortable middle ground with new topics to learn and new experiences are coming your way…but on the whole it can be so dull! Do what you can to make it more interesting without letting yourself fall behind in class.
  7. Don’t leave all your coursework and revision two weeks before it’s due. Just don’t do it…I’m having horror flashbacks to second year just thinking about it…
  8. Schedule regular one-to-one meetings with your lecturers and tutors. Especially in the weeks before you hand in coursework or take an exam, and after you receive grades/feedback from said coursework and exams. It’s a good opportunity to get advice on what you can do better and go through parts of the module you’re struggling with. Since it’s on a more personal and tailored session than what you can get in lectures and seminars, it’s more likely to help you. When I started making and attending one-to-one sessions, I went from getting 2:2 and 2:1 grades for my work (which were brilliant) to getting firsts – which was even better! I seriously urge you to make these appointments because lecturers and tutors don’t want to see you fail or fall short of your abilities as much as you don’t, so they will be more than willing to have these sessions with you.
  9. Writing your dissertation doesn’t have to be stressful…as long as you don’t let it. Pick a topic you enjoy and know plenty about/know there are many academic texts about for research, start planning early, and make a schedule to arrange your time effectively. Writing something you’re passionate will always make things easier and more fun. 16124109_1240018016051742_8550685690495500288_nGet the relevant support from your lecturers, tutors, and friends and never spend an all-nighter trying to write it. As explained with number 8 on this list, tutor support is invaluable, meanwhile sleep aids in concentration. Stuck on an element? Rest, go to bed, ignore it. Come back to it fresh-faced and you’ll find it easier to tackle your essay. Brainstorm your ideas so you know how to link each section to the next. DON’T LEAVE IT UNTIL THE FINAL FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE DUE DATE. Writing my dissertation was the most fun I had in the whole three years because I enjoyed it and I kept on top of it – I was surprised by how easy I actually found it, even if it was daunting to begin with.
  10. You’re going to love the whole experience. I didn’t think I’d like university, let alone love it. In the weeks and days leading up to my first day I was having panic attacks every day and I would’ve done anything not to go. When I came home on that first day, I wanted to drop out – I was so sure that university life wasn’t for me. Quickly I began to love it, I enjoyed every moment, I made fantastic friends, and I never wanted to leave. It’s the most fun three years I’ve ever had and I wish I could go back and do it all over again. Enjoy it and embrace it.

Are you a Fresher or a returning student? What are you looking forward to most or what have you enjoyed the most so far? Let me know and I wish you all luck over the next few years!

Bethany xo