My favourite lunches at the moment

It can often feel that at university the days are busy. This can mean that making lunch needs to be quick, that’s why I’ve decided to give you my favourite quick ideas. I love a warm lunch so these aren’t the best for a packed lunch but with most things being online there’s less of a need for those. I may do a packed lunch ideas post some time soon, for some inspiration.

Omelette – I made my first omelette a few weeks ago and I’m already in love with them. It’s such an easy thing to make, all you really need is eggs and you’re good to go. You may also want some salt and pepper and as you get more confident making them you can add some toppings. I used ham and mushrooms the other day and it was just yummy.

Hummus – there are so many flavours of hummus to try, my favourite has to be red pepper but I do always love an original flavour. I serve mine with carrot sticks and toasted pitta bread to dip in. It’s so easy to make you could even prepare the carrots in advance so you can quickly put everything together at lunch time.

Soup – soup has so many flavours so you can really mix this one up. Whether you make it yourself or use a shop bought one that’s up to you. My favourite is definitely tomato soup and I have it with a warm bread roll to fill me up a bit more. I do sometimes use sliced bread instead but there’s nothing like bread from the oven.

Pancakes – occasionally I love to treat myself to some good old pancakes. Whether they’re the American style or crepes I just love them. There’s so many toppings to choose from, at the moment I’m loving Biscoff spread on mine.

And there we had it my top four lunches for when I need something quick and easy. Plus they can all be done on a student budget.

Finding your feet

Most people are back to university and settling back in but this may not be true of everyone. Not everyone will find their feet as soon as they move to university; whether that’s settling in to first year or adjusting to the new year. Just remember these things take time and you don’t need to worry about accomplishing everything in your first day.

It can be important to just take your time to get used to the new surrounding especially as you would have most likely been stuck in one place for six months due to lockdown. Even if you are moving back to the same university you may be living somewhere else or you may be used to living at home making it just a little harder to get settled. My best advice would be to have things with you at university that make it feel more homely or remind you of home. Whether this is pictures, blankets or fairy lights it’s nice to surround yourself with cosy things.

Another issue you might have moving to university is making friends. Especially with the pandemic and limits on socialising it can be difficult to find new people. Even with this you can get to know the people in your flat or join a society to meet people. I know my university is not doing a fresher’s fair this year but all the information on joining societies should be online and easy to find. Not only will this allow you to meet new people but it can teach you a new skill or allow you to continue with something you love.

Just remember you have time to do things. You don’t need to do everything at once at university, just take you time and things will fall into place. Sometimes you just have to be a bit proactive to get what you want and university is the perfect place to get involved or discover something new.

Socialising in a pandemic

Social distancing and 10 pm curfews are becoming a big part of our lives. While it’s important to adhere to the government guidelines it can feel like they are getting in the way of you having fun at university. I’m here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be the case, there are so many things you can still do to enjoy your time at university and spend time with friends.

Go out for food – whether this is breakfast, lunch, dinner or even brunch there are so many places you can try. Me and my housemates have decided to go for dinner once a month. It gives you a great opportunity to sit down, catch up and have some great food. Maybe there’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to go or a cuisine you’ve always wanted to taste. Try it out, the best part is you don’t have to wash up afterwards.

Have a movie night – rather than going out why not have a cosy night in. Especially as it’s getting colder and the days shorter it can be so much nicer not to leave the house in the evening. Snuggle up with a hot drink and a movie. Maybe even bake some snacks to enjoy as a daytime activity.

Go for a drink or have some drinks at home – yes, if you go out for a drink your night will be cut short but you can still enjoy it. If you don’t fancy that you could just host drinks at home, sticking to the government guidelines of course. It’s a great way to make a night in just a bit more exciting.

Have a games night – get your housemates together for some fun. Whether you play board games or go for a drinking game, it’s a great way to spend an evening.

Bake or cook – make yourself a tasty treat or get your housemates together to make a house dinner. These are such fun activities and then at the end you get to eat what you have created which makes it even better. You could even learn to cook something new or try a friend’s favourite dish just to mix things up a bit.

Take a day trip – within reason of course but there are some great places you can still visit. I recently went to the Victoria and Albert museum and it was a great day out. You did have to book a time slot but it was still free, just means people could adhere to social distancing.

There are so many things that you can do to enjoy your university experience. Most of these things you can do in your own home with the people you live with which is a good option at times like this. Remember to stick to the restrictions put in place by the government but still try and make the most of your university experience.

My goals for third year

Today is my first day back to university, even if it is an online seminar. Luckily I do have half my seminars in person so I look forward to those as I feel they will really get me into the mood to start this year. As I look ahead I’ve decided to set myself a few goals to give me a sense of direction and if I feel lost I can look back at these.

Attend all my seminars: This is such an important thing, even just missing one you could miss something really important. Especially with lectures being online it is so much easier to attend the lectures. Now this does not mean turn the lecture on while you go on your phone, take notes and engage with the seminars.

Work in a work space: I often get tempted to get into bed to do some work but this really is a habit I need to break. I work so much more focused when I work at my desk and that is something I need to focus on. Even though its only the first day back I have made sure to do all my work at my desk today so hopefully this is something I can keep up with for the rest of the year.

Work hard and produce work I’m proud of: I want to come out of university with a good degree that I feel I have really worked for. I also don’t want to see my results and feel I could have done better because of this I hope to work to the best of my ability. Though of course a balance is important which brings me to my next goal.

Avoid burnout: Make sure I get the work life balance right. I feel if I work myself to death, in the long run it will have a negative effect on not only my mental and physical health but the quality of my work too. My goal is to get the balance as good as I can, I know its extremely difficult to find a perfect balance but I hope I can plan things so that it works well for me.

Enjoy the social side: With the freedom of university comes a great social life, which I want to take advantage of. It will most likely be a lot more difficult to arrange time to see friends once university is over so I want to make the most of the time I have. It may be a bit more difficult with the whole coronavirus going on but I hope I will still have a lot of fun and make some amazing memories.

Feel as sense of fulfilment at the end: The most important thing to me is really just to feel that sense of ‘I had an amazing university experience’ when I finish. That’s the big goal really to feel I made the most of it both academically and socially and not feel regrets that I didn’t try something I wanted to do.

Thinking about graduating

Now that its officially Autumn, it gives me a real sense that the new academic year is beginning and summer is over. Because of this, I’m starting to get into the mind set of third year and thinking about where I want to be this time next year.

If I’m being honest, I’m not 100% sure what I want to do. I have many ideas floating round in my head but it can be difficult to know how to navigate all this. I felt by writing this, I would give others in the same situation the feeling that they are not alone. There are many resources you can access online which can help you find the graduate jobs or schemes that would suit you best. I am by no means an expert, in fact I’m almost the opposite of that.

I am beginning to realise how important it is to think about these things early which why I’ve decided to start looking now. It’s best to look into and get ideas about this before you get fully into the third year of university as that will become such a big focus. It’s very exciting to think about the future and to see where life takes me but at the moment I don’t yet know where that will be. Yes, there is the fear of no longer being in education but it’s a new chapter of life to look forward to and something new to navigate. But first before I graduate I have to get through my final year which I’m very much looking forward to, even though I know it will be difficult.

Getting ready for the start of term

I have just over a week before I start back at university so it’s time to do some last minute prep. The more you do before, the less you have to worry about once term begins.

Moving into accommodation and settling in: This is an important one, once you are used to where you live hopefully you’ll be more comfortable. Setting up a good space where you plan to work is essential especially as it may be harder to find a space in the library with social distancing. Making sure to separate where you work from where you sleep is vital so that you can have separate mind frames for these spaces. Even if it’s all the same room have specific areas for different things.

Ensure you have the stationary you need: You’ll want to be organised from when you start your course. Make sure you have everything you need to organise your work and write your notes when you begin. The more you organise as you go along the less of a task you will have when it comes to sorting your notes out for revision.

Get to know your way to uni: Even if you are a returning student, if you are living in a new area its a good idea to work out your route to university before your first lecture. You don’t want to be late to lectures because you don’t really know where you are going.

Familiarise yourself with your timetable: It’s important to know where you need to be and when so that you can organise your life around it. Having a sense of routine before you get back to uni can be very beneficial.

Do what you can to get ahead: The more do before uni starts the less you’ll have to worry about at a later date. If there’s nothing you can do at the moment don’t worry about it, enjoy the freedom while you can!

Book review: Daisy Jones and the Six

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What is it about? Written as an oral history it tells the story of the fictional story of Daisy Jones and the Six. It follows the band from how they formed to their reasons for splitting. It incorporates all the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of the 70s music industry.

What did I think? At first I was sceptical of the writing style of this book as it is written in a script like fashion. As I kept reading however, I loved the interview style it meant all the characters perspectives were heard and you could see how they recounted the same events differently. I also felt it made it seem so much more real. The characters were crafted beautifully and even though they all had their issues and annoying moments, I wanted them to have a happy ending. The ending in my eyes was perfect, yes it was bitter sweet but it just worked so well. It dealt well with the issues the characters faced and really pained a picture of the 1970s rock n’ roll scene.

Would I recommend? Definitely, it was a lovely story and it left me with a good sense of fulfilment.

Book Review: Women don’t owe you pretty by Florence Given

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What is it about? This is my first non-fiction book review. This is a book that focuses on feminism and gender studies. It educates the reader on the patriarchy, pretty privilege, knowing your worth and taking accountability among many other topics.

What did I think of the book? I was originally bought this book as a birthday present and was very excited to read it as I had seen it all over instagram. The pretty colours and illustrations really drew me in. I loved the book and all the contents. It taught me so much, made me question my own attitudes and actions and in some aspects solidified my beliefs in things. I ended up buying this book for a friend’s birthday who ended up reading it in a day and admitted she loved it as much as me. Given uses her own experiences to make the book more relatable but also to show how she has made mistakes in the past but she has learnt from them and grown so the reader can do the same. I liked this because there wasn’t that sense that she felt superior, it’s as though she has learnt these things and changed her ideas and you can too. Not only did it teach me things about myself it gave me a better insight into other groups. It educates the reader on different types of privilege like race and culture, cisgender, straight and non-disabled. It is an easy read with the chapters being split into topics so that you can easily dip in and out of the book though I would recommend reading the whole thing even if you feel you’re already educated on particular topics or that they don’t apply to you. You will most likely learn something. This book has definitely made me want to read more non-fiction so look out for some more reviews on that soon.

Would I recommend this? I think everyone should give this a book a read and I have already recommended it to people I know. It gives you an insight into the lives of other people but also makes you realise your own worth.

What will I be reviewing next? Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Dissertation Diaries: Summer

I’ve decided to do a new monthly series on my blog all about dissertations. It is a very daunting project and I hope that by talking through what I’ve been doing and what has been working for me I can give you some peace of mind that it doesn’t have to be that scary. If you’re planning on doing a dissertation at a some point in the future hopefully you can learn from my tips and my mistakes. Also, from doing this it will motivate me to keep up with the work! In this post I’m going to discuss what I’ve done so far over the summer and after that I plan to do monthly updates.

So, a little background, I study history. Your dissertation will most likely be different dependant on your subject and your university but I feel there will be similarities in the planning and writing process. We use primary and secondary source material for the analysis and evidence, I know some people will be required to do questionnaires or to collect data instead so just bare this in mind.

First of all, I was required by my university to submit a dissertation outline at the end of second year. This was very much my starting point; it required me to find sources, explain what I wanted to research and break down what would be discussed in each of the chapters. This was actually very useful so I’d recommend even if this isn’t required by your university you just write up your initial aims and what will be included.

I’ve done a large proportion of my primary and secondary reading and picked out key bits of text from these to put in a word document. I printed out this word document and colour-coded the information to correlate with the chapter they were most relevant to so I could use them as a starting point. There are of course materials that aren’t available online so I have made a note of these to find in the library when I return to Reading. Because of this, I know there are gaps in my reading that I will be able to fill when I have all the resources.

I wrote up an in-depth plan of my introduction, this has highlighted the gaps to me and so I know where I need to do a bit more research. I was told that the introduction should be the first thing you start and the last thing you finish so I’m not too worried about the gaps and am prepared to change things up as I go.

I wrote up my plan by hand so I have written up a first draft of my introduction on my computer. Not only has this given me a sense that I’m getting somewhere as I have started working on the actual essay, its given me an idea of just how much I’ve written towards my word count so far.

  • My goals for the month ahead:
  • do reading to help fill in the gaps
  • do an in depth plan for chapter 1
  • begin writing up a first draft of chapter 1

Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What is it about? The story follows two people from very opposite worlds. Marianne is from a privileged background but has a difficult home life and is quite the outcast at school. On the other hand, Connell thrives socially at school and is very close with his mother who works for Marianne’s mother. Things change completely when they go off to university.

What did I think? I did really enjoy this story however after hearing so much about it the expectations were extremely high and it didn’t quite meet them. I found it difficult to get used to the voice used, there was a lack of punctuation which I didn’t immediately take to. I enjoyed the relationship between Connell and Marianne, it was interesting to see how they were such different people but their lives intersected so much and seemed to go together so well. It was nice to see how they grew through the book, both together and separately; Rooney deals with such subjects as eating disorders, abusive relationships and depression. The way she dealt with mental illness in them both was important especially with Connell as so often male issues in this context are ignored. As the title suggests they were just two normal people going through life, it was quite refreshing to just see them with no added gimmicks. So much of what they went through would be relatable to different people in different ways and I just really liked that about the book.

Would I recommend? yes I would. However, I recommend going into the book with an open mind. So many people hyped it up that I feel like no matter what it would never have lived up to the expectations I had. It was enjoyable but there are other books less well known that were just as good if not better.

What will I be reviewing next? Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given