My Books of the Year 2019/2020:

In case it wasn’t obvious from my blog, I like to read, so here are four of my top books of the year – both course and leisure related:

1) All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – I have to start with the book that I am currently reading. If you’re into young adult fiction, a tad of romance and a bucket full of tears, this one is for you.

#CommissionsEarned

2) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens – As an English student, it was a bit embarrassing that I hadn’t already read Oliver Twist. I ended up doing my coursework assignment on it after finding out how many themes were packed into it. If you like a bit of Victorian culture, this is a great read.

#CommissionsEarned

3) Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – I could have not have done this blog without adding in my absolute favourite author of all time. John Green. I could write so much on how much his novels influenced me as a younger reader and writer. I believe I even wrote about him in my Personal Statement for university! This book is great for teen readers – but us young adults can enjoy it just as much.

#CommissionsEarned

4) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Another young adult fiction novel. Again, might need to keep the tissues near – I certainly did!! This novel was the first novel of Nicola Yoon that I had come across and I am glad I did! P.s. The novel has a film adaptation on Netflix!!!!!

#CommissionsEarned

I would love to hear your favourite books of the year!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

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Why I chose to study English Literature?

Between year 10 and 12, I was set on studying psychology at university. My original goal was to be a psychologist but about three weeks before sending off my personal statement my plans changed. I had already half written of my psychology personal statement and it occured to me that I wasn’t actually that interested in studying psychology for the long term anymore. After my first year of studying English literature at A-level and working in a tutoring company for a year, I developed an interest in both writing argumentative essays and also in teaching. I spoke to a lot of people who were primary school teachers and they said English would be a great, core subject to do at university if I wanted to go into teaching.

So I changed my personal statement (which was A LOT easier to write) and applied to study English rather than psychology. It was hands down one of the best decisions I have ever made. I probably would have got through studying Psychology – relucantly – or maybe I would have enjoyed it. But I’m glad I chose English! It can be long and stressful sometimes with endless novels, plays and poetry to read and also critical interpretations to look through but I do not regret my choice one bit!

When coming to university it’s important to pick what you love! You don’t want to be stuck doing a subject you don’t genuinely enjoy or have a strong interest in! Your career will work itself out!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Redefining Feminism

As you may know, I study English Literature. One of the modules on my course involve looking at different readings of Literature. One of them is Feminism. What does Feminism mean to you?

There have been mutilple waves of Feminism and we are currently in the fourth wave; the present. what Feminism meant in the 19th and 20th century has drastically evolved and has become redefined. Everyone has a different views and opinions regarding the topic. Some are positive, inspiring and thought crippling. Others…. are not.

Feminism from the start has been about equality. Giving women equal opportunities to men. It’s not about hating or putting men down, men are awesome too! I love being a women in the 21st century. I am confident that I can do everything that I set to achieve. I believe that I am as strong, as intelligent and as capable as my male counterparts. However, in some aspects of life women are still made to feel inferior.

Feminism to me means freedom of choice. If I want to go out to work 5 days a week when I am married with kids I will do that. If I want to stay and look after my home and children 5 days a week, guess what, I will! I feel that some people defining themselves as feminists can make other women feel like less becuase they choose a maybe more “traditional” role in life. Likewise for stay-at-home dads. Is this a gender issue or an employment issue?

This is toxic and defeats the whole point of allowing women (and men) to think and act for themselves. My mother is the strongest woman that I know and I am so blessed to have been raised by her. She spent her years working until she had my 3 siblings and I. She took years off work until we were old enough to look after ourselves after school and even when she went back to work she was still there for us after school! Many modern “feminists” may have seen my mothers decision as going against the fight and sneered and judged her for it, but it was her choice. And I’m glad she made it herself.

I can only talk about my own experiences. Not everyone has another adult figure in the household with a stable income and so have to go to work. Some work from home. Some go out to work and look after their kids. Some hire a babysitter so they can work a stable job. Some people don’t have kids. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, all that matters is everyone is valued for what they do and not looked down on for making the choice that suits their own lifestyle.

Perhaps feminism nowadays should be about equality amongst women’s choices as well as equality in comparison to men. No one is less or greater than the next. Let’s live to collaborate and not to divide.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

My University Experience: Semester 1

Today I started semester 2 of university! I thought why not write about my experience during semester 1 on my blog today! So here we go…

Driving to university on the first day was nerve wracking, as expected. All of my things were jam packed in the back of my dad’s car and it was time to say goodbye to my sheltered London life and embark on new adventures elsewhere. Arriving in Guildford at the University of Surrey was… interesting. We arrived within the wrong time slot (my bad for not double checking) but it turned out alright in the end. I knew I was staying in some temporary accomodation on campus for the first four weeks while they finished building the new accomodation in the student village, but I had no clue what it looked like or what was going to happen. It turned out sharing 3 showers amongst 14 people wasn’t as bad as expected, but yet, I am so glad to now have an ensuite!

I feared Freshers’ Week more than actually starting my course – in fact I almost forgot that I came here to study because I was worrying so much! However, I had no reason at all to worry! I met some lovely people, tried new things and finally begun living life as a student away from home.

Lectures, seminars and pre-reading was a different story. I think it’s such a student-y thing to be so passionate about a subjuct but lack the drive and motivation to actually want to do the diffcult part! I study English Literature, so I am nearly as passionate about reading as I am about writing. I made quite a few friends on my course which has honestly made the whole experience 100 times more worth it – shoutout to them and I would totally recommend making some course mates!

I thought exams and coursework submissions would be so much different to what I was used to at GCSE and A-Level, but honestly, once you get your head around the websites/processes they use, it is pretty straight-forward. Exams, however, are still exams, and like at GCSE and A-Level, I was glad for exam season to be over!

The social side of university is, as many people say, what you make it. I live in a smaller town to what I am used to but there is still so much to see and do. Being so close to a lot my flatmates makes arranging days and nights out so much easier – I’ve been so blessed to be placed with people who I can call friends!

I am actually looking forward to Semester 2 and all the excitement and adventure that may come with it! University has been one of the best choices that I have made in my life and honestly wouldn’t want to change where I am right now.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

When things don’t quite go to plan..

Throughout my A-levels I tried extremely hard. Choosing three subjects that had little relevance to each other and without having a clear career plan it was destined to be quite a bumpy road. And that it was just that. I chose English Literature, Maths, Psychology and Biology when I started sixth form and the first term was the hardest. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist before changing my mind and doing an English Literature degree. I thought those subjects would be best. After a tiresome struggle with Biology I chose to drop it after one term.

The rest of first year was pretty good. In our end of year mocks I got the grades I needed to pass onto year 13 so I was thrilled. Halfway through year 13, juggling being head girl, having a part time tutoring job and just trying to navigate becoming a legal adult (with all the emotions that come with it) I took a bit of a mental dip. At this point I had stopped writing, even journalling, and this blog came to a bit of stand still. I wasn’t very happy with how life was going. I wasn’t necessarily in a low mood or particularly anxious, I was just a bit blank. Despite putting in as much effort as possible, I didn’t get into my firm choice of university.

After many tears, many cuddles and a very over-dramatic phone call with my dad I finally gathered my brain cells and rung my insurance university. They immediately offered me a place. My insurance univeristy was my original first choice but I wanted to push myself in picking a different one, with higher grade requirements. I was of course absolutely gutted that I didn’t get in but I eventually realised that God had me and still has me right where He wants me. After a lot of self-doubt and a big knock of confidence I realised and understood that God was going to use my once perceived failure and turn it into something better.

Looking back in hindsight, I wish I didn’t get so upset. I’m so happy where I am. I have zero regrets and I don’t even think about the absolute disgrace of results day. When it seems as if things aren’t quite going your way, there is always a bigger plan. Don’t worry about the future too much and keep up the faith!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

How do I juggle life as a sixth form student?

There are many aspects to my life currently as a sixth form student. Many of these exist within the realms of academia but there are other parts of my life that happen outside of school. Everyone’s experience with sixth form/college differs, depending on how they have chosen to navigate life. But here’s how I do it!

School Work

Week upon week I spend around 30 hours in school and I dedicate a decent amount of time (usually :/) per week to revision. For someone so engrossed in their studies like me, stress is inevitable, especially when the desirable outcomes aren’t produced. I try to balance all three of my subjects evenly but it’s difficult when perhaps I favour one subject (obviously English Literature) more so naturally, out of pure interest, I put more effort in or become so concerned with falling behind in a weaker subject (Maths) that it compromises the amount of time I get to put into the remaining subjects. I somehow managed to dedicate the right amount of time to each subject by assessing my strengths and areas of improvement and revise according to my weaknesses rather than constantly revisiting topics that I already have mastered.

Part time job

When I begun sixth form I promised myself (and my parents) that I would get a job. It was only then that I realised the value of money and could truly appreciate how hard both of my parents work for us. The cliche that “money doesn’t grow on trees” suddenly made sense. Being in charge and responsible for my own money prevented me from spending unnecessarily. Although it can be hard sometimes to juggle full time education and a job but it’s good preparation for real life – it doesn’t hold me back. I enjoy my job, I enjoy the company of the people I work with and I feel blessed to be in the position that I am in.

Family and Social Life

My family are my best friends, my favourite people ever. However, in the midst of life, between work and study, it’s easy to neglect, yes neglect, those close to you. Upon realising that I couldn’t constantly use my education and exams as an excuse to not spend time with my family, I switched up my priorities. And guess what? My grades didn’t suffer. In fact, I believe that the positivity of my family actually benefitted my study. As for my social life – personally, is not a big aspect of my life. I love my friends to bits but most of them are from my sixth form or other sixth forms with similar targets and aspirations. We’re not the biggest party animals so prefer to sit at home together and eat pizza but we have the best time. Everyone’s social life is different and balance doesn’t always mean 50/50. Although studies may take out a fair chunk of your time, always give some time to your loved ones.

There are other parts specific to my own life e.g being head girl, driving lessons etc but I think I covered most of the main general points. Feel free to comment if you want advice on any more aspects of life.

Love Always,

Shadz xo