Walking my way out

In my first year of university I hated, as in despised speaking out loud in lectures and seminars. Compared to the other people on my course, I felt like I had nothing valuable to add to debates and discussions, so I let that lie get to my head and it stopped me from speaking out when I sometimes did have ideas, whether or not they were relevant or useful. These lies followed me into other aspects of university such as my social life and fitness aspects. I didn’t feel like I belonged in certain places for reasons that were really irrational and didn’t actually exist.

I’ve walked into this year feeling more confident, more determined and more willing to shut those lies up and walk on out of my mindset of overthinking everything I do. And it’s working. I’m not afraid to speak out in seminar discussions, I’ve joined the gym despite fearing judgement from more experienced gym goers, I’ve been feeling so comfortable when out at social events with friends (the ones covid allows). The thing that keeps repeating in my head every single day is this; “you deserve to be there just as much as anybody else” and for me, that pretty much changed everything.

Every single day I’m become more self-aware, more confident and I’m on my way to becoming a better version of myself. Don’t let fear or comparison to others stop you from doing anything. I know it’s daunting and sometimes impossible to always think positively about yourself, believe me, I struggle too, but the moment you start believing for yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to, you will do it.

And don’t worry if you don’t always have it together. If you had a peak into my life you’d see that 85% of the time I haven’t got a clue about what I’m doing – and I quite like being organised. We’re all winging it, we’re all finding our way out of the things that once held us back and we’re all on our way to a better tomorrow. Set your goals and smash them!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Managing money as a university student

Are you good at handling money? Do you know when to spend and when to just…. you know…. not spend? Since becoming a university I’ve had to learn how to handle my money more. I have a part-time job since I was about 16, so I started to pay my own phone contract, buy my own bits and pieces and save since then. But it didn’t compare to the financial independence that I experienced in uni. Obviously everyone is in a different position, some have their lifestyle paid for by their parents, some work extra jobs and run businesses to earn a bit of extra money, and some are just naturally better off because they have stacks of savings from the years leading up to uni. However, most uni students are on some form of budget. Here I’m going to give you a few tips of how you can make your money stretch throughout uni – take it or leave it.

LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS – You know what this means, right? Maybe at home you were accustomed to a certain lifestyle that you just can’t afford anymore on a student budget. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having less expensive things. Maybe the things that made you feel fancy or boujee in the past have to be replaced until you are no longer on the same kind of budget. I know this can be hard for some people, but easier and more convenient for others and either is okay. Change is okay.

PRIORITIES – My priorities go like so: rent, essential shopping, direct debits, everything else. Yours may be the same, or different. What you don’t want to do is blow a ton of cash on a great night out, a new pair of Air Forces or a fancy meal and then have absolutely nothing left for milk and bread the next day. That’s not to say don’t do and have these nice things, but just make sure money for the essential things is put to the side. Maybe this doesn’t bother you, maybe you don’t mind living of 30p for a week but if it does, I suggest you make some form of priority list.

STUDENT DISCOUNTS – You’ve heard of Student Beans, UNIDAYS, TOTUM right? – Use them like your life depends on it. Thank me later.

LEARN TO SAY NO – You might have F.O.M.O or maybe you have J.O.M.O. One thing that I have found to be important in university is to be okay with saying no thank you. Believe it or not, you don’t have to go to everything people invite you to, especially if you really don’t want to go. Personally for me, I have no issue with staying cosy in my room watching a film or staying up chatting with flatmates instead of going out and spending money that I don’t have. I do love to go out and socialise, do new fun things and meet new people, don’t get me wrong, but I’m also okay with not doing that all the time. If you have the funds and the want to do it, go ahead, but if you really don’t fancy something one day, no real friends will think bad of you for hanging back. Just make sure you’re prepared for some of the negative reactions you may get for saying no.

SAVE – This one might be tough for those who are on a realllyyyy tight budget. But even if it’s £5 a week, even if it’s £2.50 a week, it all adds up eventually.

BUDGET! BUDGET! BUDGET! – Whether you get one of those fancy finance books, an app or a scrap piece of paper, lay out your budget as often as your student loan, money from parents or wages come in. I tend to budget out my rent, direct debits for the month, and other essential expenses as soon as my money comes in. An d then I can see what I’m working with.

PART-TIME JOB – You may not want to have a part-time job, especially if you have a packed schedule from a demanding degree such as medicine, vet-med or engineering. However, for those with less demanding, more independent learning degrees a part-time job is a great way to earn a bit of extra cash. Try not to take on too many hours though and remember your studies come first.

Hope this helps!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Quarantine Talks: Reading, Writing and Watching Netflix

How have you been spending your lockdown? It’s become the new norm for me, I sometimes even forget I’m in lockdown until I get the daily news bullentine on the BBC News app. I’ve had a lot of astonishingly productive days so far where I’ve met personal targets and deadlines. And I wouldnt’ say I’ve completely gone mad (maybe a little) but I’ve honestly had days where I haven’t even wanted to get out of bed or do anything remotely productive. One of things that I was certain about when creating this blog is that I was going to be completely and utterly honest with my readers.

As you probably already know, I am far form perfect. I don’t have my whole entire life sorted. I don’t have all the answers to what I want to do in the future. I just don’t have it all together. Seeing as all the priorities that I have at the moment are inside jobs i.e. this blog, video making, attending online lectures and writing essay, lockdown hasn’t actually restricted my life as much as it has other people. But I’m not getting as much done as I thought I would.

I would say I’m a very driven and ambitious person – on one side. I have things that I want to do, improve in and complete. The other side of me is sluggish, demotivated and often too nervous to push the boat out just that little bit further. I’ve started making videos on my Instagram, but as soon as I post them I start worrying who will see them and what they will think. Will they think I’m boring, too serious? Or maybe over excitable and not sophisticated enough. Not so long ago this would have stopped me completely from posting anything! Including things on my PRIVATE snapchat story. Anxiety about what other people might think has been my biggest struggle throughout my whole life. It starts off as a little tickly feeling in my mind and suddenly it overcomes me like a big dark cloud. I’ve worked on it over the years especially in the weeks leading up into university and I am still working on it.

What I’m trying to get at is I’m not exactly where I want to be in most aspects of my life – in my creative passion, in my confidence, in my fitness, in my relationships, in my finances or in my mental wellbeing – but I am certainly not where I used to be. Reaching the end goal or target doesn’t matter as much as the progress or the journey. At the start of quarentine I had started none of my full-term essays written, I was slacking on instagram and blog posts and I hadn’t even made a video yet. Now, I have consistently been writing blogs, I’ve produced two mediocre videos and worked on all of my full-term essays, with one completely finished. It’s not a lot for 7 or 8 weeks of lockdown, but it’s something. I’m learning to trust that God is the one who hold the plans for my future. All I can do is rest in His strength and follow where He leads me to go. This has brought me great peace in all of the uncertainty. He promises His children rest. Even when anxiety is closing in on me, even when I want to reach something that seems untangible, even when I feel I’ve failed, I have learnt to rest in His presence. And it’s okay to stop, to scrunch up your schedule and press reset for tomorrow. It’s okay to switch off and binge watch Netflix series for hours and it’s okay to not quite reach your standards of perfection. What is meant for you is already yours.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Quarantine Talks: Let’s be honest: Being home and the reality of living away.

It’s probably obvious that because of the pandemic I have had to leave university early and come back home. But do I like being here? Or would I rather be there?

The short answer to my title is yes. I am a total homebird. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love university, I love the independence and the responsibility of being able to choose what to do and when to do it. I’m an adult so it’s not to say that I don’t get a lot of freedom at home, because obviously I do, but it’s different at university. I can only speak for myself but when I’m at home, I wouldn’t get up at 3am and go for a walk with my friends – not because I’m not allowed, but it would be weird, for me. At uni, me and my flatmates did that plenty of times, not alone of course, that’s too far for me. But certainly with my friends I would, and it wouldn’t be weird. At university, I choose to eat what I want, when I want, regardless of what anyone in my flat is doing. I choose when I shower and how long for (en-suite benefits), I choose when I want to shop and what I want to shop for, I get to buy what I want to buy. In essence, I do what I want, when I want without it affecting anybody. And that’s exactly why I prefer being at home.

I love the hustle and bustle of family life, I love cooking for my family, I love sitting around the table, laughing and making jokes. I eventually love the sound of someone running to the bathroom even when I’d planned to go in, I love hearing my mum scream “DEL DEL WHERE ARE YOU!” even if it’s just to ask what chores I’ve done today. I love the silly and sometimes annoying altercations with my little siblings. I love hearing my big brother blasting out his music out full volume from his bedroom. I love hearing the deafening sound of my dad sneezing and snoring on the couch ever so often. Now most of these things may seem strange to love, but what I didn’t understand when I left to university is that I wouldn’t have these things anymore. You just don’t have it. The things that maybe you would have seen as being inconvienient at the time, end up being the things you miss. And I miss them when I’m away.

So yes, I do miss being at home when I’m at uni perhaps more so than I miss uni when I’m at home. And I’m glad I’m home for the time being.

Uni students – do you prefer home or uni?

Love Always,

Shadz xo

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

When the start stops

In the midst of a pandemic I’m going to write. The last two weeks have been hectic. My first year of university finishing prematurely, coming back home two weeks before easter, online studying and to top it all off, being on lockdown for at least three weeks.

I’m not going to tell you the logistics of the virus or the main points of Boris Johnson’s new orders to the public because I’m sure you’ve heard all of this. I’m not even going to tell you to stop stock piling! But what I am going to tell you is what you can do in this time of a worldwide crisis.

We’re indoors. For a long time. There’s so much you can’t do, but there’s so much you can do. For writers like me, we have no excuse not to write – I’ve been putting off blogging for two weeks because of deadlines and the changes to life because of the virus. But I can’t let these circumstances become excuses for not fulfilling what I want to fulfill. Use this time to read more, make a life plan, learn something, watch something inspiring. Although this isn’t an ideal situation and EVERYONE’S lives have been flipped upside-down – some worse than others, we can really make something positive out of it. It’s so tempting to binge watch series on Netflix all day (personal dig) but I definitely don’t want to look back after we’re all free again having done absolutely nothing.

Let’s do something great with a not so great situation.

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