11 Reflections on My University Experience

Four years ago, I spent the summer stressing about whether I’d received a place to study at the University of Birmingham. If only I could go back and tell my 18 year-old self that it was going to be fine and that I would be graduating with a first class degree in four years time (yay!!).

University was always in my plan, the next step. I visited so many university open days, mainly as an interesting day out, but also to think about what life could be like there. When you find the right university for you, you’ll know.

Now it’s four years on, what have I learnt?

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How I’m Navigating my Final Year of University

If someone could tell me where the last 3 years have gone, that would be great. I can’t believe that I will (hopefully!) be graduating in the summer. It only seems like yesterday that I was actually getting ready to embark on the big adventure as such. Who knew I was going to fall in love with the city of Birmingham? (Not everyone’s cup of tea though I know).

Final year can bring quite a bit of pressure. It feels like time is running out and you’ve got deadlines, seminar reading, class tests, job applications, friendships, fun, health and wellness all to juggle in one go. Talk about spinning a few plates at a time. Mainly it’s pressure that I’m putting on myself, I want to get the best grades possible but have the best time too. I’m getting by (I think?), so here’s how I’m attempting to navigate my final year at university.

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4 Quick Veggie Lunch Recipes

After a December of typically eating whatever we want (because it’s Christmas right?), starting the new year tends to align with eating a bit healthier. All about the balance though, I may have made a smoothie with all the fruit today, but I’ve still got a box of Ferrero Rocher to eat. But the whirlwind of Christmas is almost over and I’ll be heading back to university on Sunday. One of the biggest spends from my student budget is food, and I’ve quickly realised that actually being that bit more organised the night before and prepping a lunch for the day works out really well. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t always happen and sometimes you can’t beat a Tesco meal deal, but the intention to make lunches is there. Here’s some veggie lunch ideas that are great to take on the go.

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Setting Self-Care Goals for 2020

Creating goals for the new year might seem a little cliche, but I’m here for it. Has anyone mentioned that we are starting a new decade?

Time feels like it is going a million miles an hour at the moment and being in my final year at university, the obvious goals for 2020 will be completing my degree and hopefully securing a job for after graduation. Quite a lot of pressure seems to be riding on this year, right?

I do really like the idea of ‘starting afresh’, opening up the chapter to the new year and setting goals is one of the ways to get my thoughts in order. Thinking about the year ahead has made me realise that I need to make time for myself, so the goals for me this year will be more simplistic but hopefully easier to keep on top of.

Yoga once a week. I started 2019 going to weekly yoga classes but had about 2/3 months where I didn’t do any. That time made me realise how much I’d missed it, so getting back into yoga classes at university has been so good (and kept me sane!). The plan is to set aside time every week to do yoga, whether that’s a class, a YouTube video or a combination of my favourite moves.

Reflect and Journal as much as possible. I’m not setting a ‘measurable’ on this one but hopefully it’ll become a habit. This year I started using a bullet journal (you can read about my September bullet journal here) and it was set out in a way to manage blog posts/university/mental health. I want to do more of this in 2020 as I find the process of setting out my journal creative and by reflecting over time, this should help get my thoughts in order. I’ve also started working my way through Fearne Cotton’s Happy and Calm books which I’m finding really good so far!

Read 20 Books. 20 books for 2020 right? I’m a pretty quick reader when I want to be and give me a good fiction book, I’ll plough through it as quickly as possible when I’m hooked. I read 10 books over July and August but as soon as I settled back into University, my reading definitely took a back seat. Setting a yearly target (as inspired by TheAnnaEdit) will work through the ebbs and flows of my motivation for reading. I’ll keep track of this on my instagram if that is something you’re interested in!

Healthy Eating. A few years ago, I decided that I need to scrap the ‘new years diet’. Typically, I became frustrated that I couldn’t stay on track. Over the years, I’ve learnt more about intuitive eating (Tally Rye has really good info on this!) and being a vegetarian has made me feel better. I’ve got used to the recipes I make regularly now so 2020 will be the year of exploring more recipes that will be healthy and delicious!

That’s all from me for 2019! Hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas break and are feeling ready for the New Year. What are your goals/resolutions for 2020? Let me know how you get on!

Im x

How to Improve your Productivity over Christmas

I’m really not sure where the last university term has gone, it’s felt like a whirlwind. The conclusion that I’ve come to is that final year is a marathon, with sprints thrown in every so often. Not to mention the stress, it’s a constant weigh up of wanting to have fun and avoid stress but also not wanting to stress yourself out by having fun. And unfortunately, the January deadlines that seemed miles away at the start of October are now just around the corner. Fun, I know.

This is my fourth Christmas break with January deadlines & it’s definitely been trial & error to work out the ways to be most productive, whilst still enjoying the time away from uni. If you’ve also got deadlines in January too, don’t worry, I feel your pain! Everyone is different, but here are my productivity tips for getting assignments done over Christmas. Hopefully you can adapt these to suit you & we can all *try* to be productive over Christmas right?

Set Achievable Goals

Essay deadlines can seem like a HUGE task and when you’re home from the Christmas break, it’s not as easy to sit at a desk for the day & bash out a few thousand words for your essay. By setting achievable goals for what you can do & when, this should be the best way to break down the task in hand, get things ticked off your to-do list & overall feel that bit more productive.

Have a Tidy Environment

When you’re working in a different environment to the normal desk in the university library, it can impact your focus and most likely get less done. Adding clutter into the mix, it also might be difficult to get your thoughts in order & hindering your productivity as a result. Tidy space, tidy mind rings true here!

Take Regular Breaks

Essay deadlines/exams may be looming, but it is actually your break & time to rest from a hectic term. Schedule in a few hours work for the morning and do something nice in the afternoon, or vice versa. I’m a morning person, but not everyone else is!

Eat as well as you can

I’m not going to say ‘eat healthily’ here because lets be honest, it’s Christmas & the Quality Street tin is probably already open. But although all the food at Christmas is great, it can make you feel quite sluggish. This doesn’t mean avoid the Quality Street tin, but maybe find some healthy recipes to make in the midst of all the Christmas food. By eating better, this should hopefully improve your focus.

These tips may seem a bit straightforward, but often these are the ones we forget about when stress kicks in. Hopefully, by using these tips will help work out the balance between being productive and enjoying the Christmas break.

Let me know how you get on!
Im x

How to Prevent Feeling Overwhelmed as a Student

Being back at University feels like I’ve been thrown into the deep end. I’ve been really looking forward to being back & even though I am motivated to work hard, it doesn’t mean that I can take everything in my stride!

I love routine so I’m slowly working out what mine is going to be at uni. When I can exercise, socialise, go to lectures & complete uni work all falls into that. Lets be honest, when you’ve got multiple articles to read for lectures, a dissertation to write, wanting to make & maintain friendships, along with the added pressure of finding a graduate job, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

It’s always good to recognise that you need to take a bit more time for self-care, but how can we try to combat it in the first place?

Tidy Up Your Space

Tidy space, tidy mind rings true here. For me, a tidy space calms my mind & when it’s messy, that’s when I know I’m a little bit stressed out! Student kitchen’s might not be exactly helpful, but combatting that with keeping your room clean, tidy & cosy should be the way to go! You can see how I’ve started to decorate my uni room here.

Get some Fresh Air

This can be v hard in the winter but it’s one of the most important times to do so. Seeing less sunlight reduces our dose of Vitamin D which can impact our mood & energy for the day. If it’s sunny for once, make the most of it & take time to go for a walk. Hopefully, it’ll clear your mind & give yourself space to not think about the pressure you are under!

Plan Your Time

Knowing what you’ve got to do & when is probably one of the best way to reduce feeling overwhelmed. As I enjoy using my bullet journal, I’ve mapped out my October Bullet Journal to do daily plans & blog content, but for uni work, OneNote is my best friend.

Keep to a Routine

This one is never going to be down to the tee, nor does it need to be perfect. Find what works best for you, whether you work better in the mornings or afternoons? I’m doing okay at the moment with getting up early & have semi productive days, but it’s swings & roundabouts – the other week, I’d got up & been for a swim before starting uni work on campus, only to find my laptop had no battery & I’d forgotten my charger. Little things like that really make it feel like you’ve got to start the day all over again!

What are your best ways to reduce feeling overwhelmed? Let me know!

Im x

Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going to Uni

1. Not everyone will be your best friend & that’s okay

The whole university experience means that you are thrown into an environment with people to meet left, right & centre. You might be in a flat with around 5 others, your course may be one of the large ones, there’s freshers events here & there & overall, it could be a bit overwhelming.

But go in with an open mind, you might not get on with someone initially & over time they become a good friend, you might meet someone & hit it off straight away. But also, accept that if you don’t get on with someone, that’s completely okay! You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are going to be plenty of like-minded people.

2. Enjoy your nights in as much as your nights out

Most uni’s have a fab night-life & if you love going out, then that’s definitely for you. I have some brilliant memories of nights out in my last two years of uni. But the nights in are just as important, especially for bonding with your friends. Me & my flat-mate did some baking one night, started watching a series for example. Going out isn’t the be end & end all, so don’t worry if it’s not something you want to do often.

3. Get into your ‘study’ routine

The first year grade doesn’t count at most unis & I was pretty happy about that, I knew it would be a huge adjustment for me to move to uni & after a year of working so hard for my a-level results, it was good to know that my overall degree result wouldn’t be impacted by the first year grade. But by getting into some sort of ‘study’ routine does help. Remember we are actually paying for this!!

prime example of enjoying the sun & revising here

4. Food shopping is expensive

That reduced section in Tesco will become your best friend. To be honest, I can’t really remember what I ate in the first term & overtime, you’ll have a ‘go-to’ shopping list, but it all adds up. Find your nearest Aldi for all the bulk buy things but definitely treat yourself with some nice stuff every once in a while!

5. Trust that everything happens for a reason

This is probably the most important one to take away. You may have met some ‘amazing’ friends in the first week & within a month, you realise that they really aren’t your people at all. It’s okay to take a step back & focus on you. It’s okay to not have your house mates sorted for second year straight away. But I’ve learnt that if you meet someone & think ‘yeah they’re a good egg’, stick with them. I’ve met some of my best friends & boyfriend through this methodology so tried & tested eh?