Finishing what I started

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so thanks to those of you who have stuck with me!

After leaving my course at the university of Reading and taking a couple of years out, I returned to university as a mature student to complete my degree. Last week, after years of wanting to do it and a lot of moments doubting whether I could, I finished!

It’s been quite a journey. For a while I became the student that all universities have, who completes their studies a ghost. They’re a face in lectures without a voice or personality. Every now and then people question whether you’re actually on their course at all.

Strangely enough it was one of the most antisocial things that I did, that changed all of that…

I started eating lunch in the Chapel. I felt a bit awkward sitting in a loud, crowded refectory full of chatting students when I was by myself. The Chapel was quiet, comfortable, and boasted free Coffee: which in my opinion is always a win. At some point this changed, and I’m not sure when or how, but people started appearing. Other people eating their lunch in the Chapel, inhaling the free caffeine, and chatting to me!

These people are now my friends, my community. We studied together, laughed together, held each other up when we felt ourselves slipping. All of a sudden I wasn’t a hermit but part of a little family.

I did an internship at the University too, working with the Equality and Diversity manager. I got to work on projects such as a reciprocal mentoring, focus groups, a report on improving staff mental health and the organisation of a conference. Its been tough at times but with supportive friends and colleagues around me I’ve got through and produced some good and long lasting work.

Now I’m moving on! I’ve got a job in Sussex working within mental health, and am really excited to enter this new chapter of my life.

I’ve learnt a lot since I last wrote and I’m looking forward to posting each week again. So thanks for bearing with me while I’ve been so busy! Remember to take care of yourself and I’ll be back with you next week!



Enjoy it!

Enjoy it!

I know I’ve droned on at you this past month about balancing your workload, keeping in touch with people and keeping yourself safe while you’re at university… I suppose there’s one thing I haven’t spoken enough about – having fun!

Call me a killjoy but I don’t totally agree with that saying that university is the best time of your life. That being said I’m just a 90 year old in the body of a 22 year old. Inside, I’m just aching for a cuppa in front of the fire with a nice chocolate digestive. So ignore my opinion on this matter because, for you, university could be the best time of your life. You don’t have to work 9-5 every day, most of you will live with (or at least near to) your friends, and there’s an offer of a party nearly every night. Trust me – you’ll never get that again!

So do what you love. You’re studying a subject which you hopefully enjoy, and while the deadlines may be a drag (I’m drowning in them at the moment) at least you’re writing about things which you’re interested in. There’ll probably be a society at the university focused around something you love, why not join it? Give it a go and enjoy your favourite hobbies with people who are as enthusiastic about it as you are! If you want to party, go for it! Obviously make sure you keep yourself safe and don’t show up to lectures so hungover that you see two lecturers while there are only one, but letting your hair down is good for you.

So after a month of feeling like an old lady lecturing her grandchildren about the dangers of university allow me to say this:

  1. I’m not your mother.
  2. Enjoy yourself!

Checking In.

Checking In.

When you’re at uni, especially if you’re a fresher, it can be easy to end up in the bubble of uni life. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is important to remember that there is a life outside of uni! The best thing I can recommend if you’re feeling a little bubbly is to check in with people.

Check in with your hometown.

Keeping in contact with those back home is important – if not for your sanity, then for the sanity of your family! Every now and then try to drop them a text or give them a call to let them know how things are going and catch up on what’s happening in their lives. As well as bursting the bubble of uni a bit, it has the added bonus of offering a bit of home comfort.

Check in with your classmates.

If you get a bit of homesickness, stress or anxiety being away from home for the first time, you won’t be the only one. Why not speak to some of your uni friends and see how they’re doing? Or tell them how you’re feeling? Most will understand.

Check in with staff.

You’ll have a personal tutor, module tutors andirons you need them there’s normally some sort of extra support staff within the university. Your health and wellbeing are as important as your work, so if you’re struggling tell someone! You can normally arrange a meeting over email quite easily.

Check in with yourself.

Possibly most important is checking in with yourself. How are you doing? How’s your balance of work and play? Do you need more sleep and are you eating enough? Are you managing your money? It can be tempting to ignore this stuff but it’s much better in the long run if you don’t.

So what am I saying? Don’t just go with the flow, make sure you’re checking in with people and managing all aspects of your life!

Don’t be cool, be you.

Don’t be cool, be you.

At university it can be tempting to adopt a new persona to slot you in with the most exciting friends. To go to parties you hate, pretend you know more than you do about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, suddenly fall in love with Ryan Gosling’s movies or build a passion for saving stranded puppies.

Before you close this thinking that I’m a loser… Oh wait! I don’t need to pretend. I may not have done these exact things, but when I first went to uni I definitely crafted a version of myself especially for the making of friends.

We want to be sexier, more mysterious, richer, cooler, funnier,  smarter (but not too smart). It’s human nature that we want to fit in and make friend so, and when you’re joining a uni and know nobody it really is easy to blend in with people you meet. I did this until I was a shadow of myself and almost forgot who I was in the first place.

I’m doing it differently this time. You may have already realised this but I’ll say it anyway, the best friends you’ll make are those who want to be friends with the real you. I joined a board game society, creative writing society and answer questions in seminars. You don’t need to hide what you’re good at or spend time doing things you don’t really enjoy in order to make lasting friendships!

This time around I’m not pretending to like things, dumbing myself down or acting differently than I would at home and it’s been much more enjoyable than my first attempt.

So don’t be cool, just be yourself!

That Friday Feeling.

That Friday Feeling.

For the last couple of years I’ve been in the dark as to what that Friday feeling is. I was glad that my friends, family and partner would be around; but as far as my life went, the weekends were much the same as the week.Now that I’ve returned to university and spend the week in lectures or under pressure to prepare for the next day’s topic, I suddenly understand this concept a lot better.

I’ve done a lot of things this week that I’m proud of, and a lot that I’ve enjoyed. I’ve gone to lectures in rooms full of strangers without having a panic attack. I’ve learnt how to use a new library system and have stayed ahead of the reading. I’ve joined the Creative Writing Society and found a group who are starting a Board Games Society. I’ve made a few friends and learnt a few things – but it won’t be Historic facts that I disclose in this series of Friday blogs.

I want to talk about life at university, things I’ve learnt from my first year (all those years ago) and things I’ve learnt from what I did differently this time around. So on this Friday when I’ve chosen not to continue studying, I’ll talk about overworking!

I’ve mentioned in my mental health blogs the importance of caring for yourself, but in the context of university this can be tough. We’ve got a library which is open until late which contains more books than we could read in a lifetime, online journals which mean we don’t even need to move in order to access materials, and looming deadlines which get closer far too quickly. There’s also the possibility of doing the opposite – of spending every hour drinking or hanging out with our new friends and forgetting what we’re spending £9000 on.

As a workaholic I’m prone to the first, and have help organising my schedule to ensure I don’t work too hard. But what if you don’t have this help? I’d advise making a schedule and plotting in everything you have to do that week.

  • Lectures
  • Key reading (lecture prep)
  • Meetings
  • Work (if you have a job)
  • Social Activities

Key Reading: Your lecturer will sometimes advise reading for you to do before the next lecture, I’d encourage you to do this as it helps you feel more confident during the lecture and can save time later

Social Activities: Try not to sign up to every society and show up to every meeting, it’ll get crazy! But do sign up to one or two, it’s a great way of making friends with people who share hobbies or interests. Most of my friends from first year are actually dance friends who I met at a society.


So what am I doing differently? I’m listening to my own advice! I’m someone who studies too much if left to my own devices so I’m being disciplined with myself while keeping one eye on those approaching deadlines. Working too much drained me the first time round and made me so ill I had to leave, but likewise working too little could end in the failure of modules with essentially the same result. Keep it balanced 🙂