Welcome back

As you may be able to tell my blog as changed since I last posted. I’ve decided to reinvent Student Life and Beyond as Eden Emily Blogs. I feel this creates something more personal and allows me to talk about so much more than being a student.

As you may know from my previous posts, I will be graduating in the summer and will therefore not be a student anymore. Though I want to document the rest of my student experience, I want to be able to use this blog to talk about many other lifestyle elements.

Of course, I will continue talking about student life and how I am navigating it, giving you all my top tips. That’s where this blog began and is something I want to keep at the heart.

I also want to post more book reviews. Before I mainly focused on fiction but I have realised there is a whole world of non-fiction out there. I have really enjoyed learning new things and just gaining a wider perspective on society through reading. I’ve also been watching more documentaries for the same reason. I feel they inspire me and make me want to consume more which I can then share with you.

This brings me on to another thing I’d like to share. I’m on a mission to be more sustainable. A lot of the documentaries I have been viewing have made me change my outlook on life and pushed me to want to be more sustainable. I know I won’t be perfect but I want to share the journey.

I also want to just share other thoughts on life, write posts about what I’m up to, what I’m enjoying and how life is in general. I feel this rebrand will help me step out of the student bubble and into a wider world.

As you may be able to see I have two new tabs on my home page! Lifestyle is everything related to my life that I don’t feel comes under the Uni Life category and New Things is everything I do that is something new to me. I’ve decided as the lockdown restrictions ease, I want to try doing new things, maybe push myself out of my comfort zone and this is the perfect place to document them.

Top tips on being a student in a pandemic

Once again we find ourselves in lockdown which means for many of us we won’t be going back to university until at least mid-February. Of course this can make many things a lot harder; living situations, accessing course materials, online learning. To help you get through it I’m going to be doing a series of posts on these different topics to hopefully help you be a bit more productive and a bit less stressed. Of course these are things that work for me, they won’t work for everyone, but if you’re feeling a bit lost you might as well give them a try.

At the moment I am living at home after returning for the Christmas break and attempting to get my work done. I’ve been trying to put little things in place to help myself stay productive but it’s always important to remember that these are very strange times. It’s important to remember that you may not feel as encouraged at the moment, don’t beat yourself up about this because it’s only natural to feel a bit of a strain on your work at the moment.

With working on my dissertation, assignments, seminars and reading there’s a lot to be doing and it can be nice to have something to focus on at the moment. However, the importance of taking a break is a big as ever. Go for a walk, watch a bit of Netflix, call a friend, make sure you’re doing things to relax yourself so that you can feel that bit more fresh and ready to go.

Book Review: Saltwater by Jessica Andrews

⭐️⭐️⭐️

What it’s about- it follows the life of Lucy who has moved to university in London from Sunderland. She struggles to fit in to the new environment, working long shifts to make ends meet. She leaves for Ireland to find who she really is.

What I thought – while it was written in a poetic way, which I liked, the story was very difficult to keep up with. There were times when it seemed to flow beautifully but then it would suddenly jump to something else, maybe a different time, which just didn’t work for me. It made it hard to know where the story was going and there were some passages that just completely confused me. I personally liked the writing style it made the passages flow and rather than being written in chapters it was written in short passages as though it was a group of poems that linked together.

Would I recommend – I feel it is a book for people with a specific taste. If you love poetry this could perfect for you as I feel it’s the sort of book you need to really read into to understand what is happening.

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.

Living alone for the first time

If you’re moving away to university, this may be the first time you’ve ever lived alone. Though the idea of being completely independent can be exciting, it can also be very daunting. I hope this post will give you some peace of mind with your worries and gives some top tips of how to settle in well.

The big thing to remember is that some people will take longer to get used to the new way of living than others which is okay. Please don’t beat yourself up if you feel like it’s taking you more time to get settled. This is a big step in your life and often new things and big changes can be more of a struggle for some individuals. Not only this, but there will be others who are struggling that can hide it so well. If you feel like you’re looking at others like ‘I wish I could deal with change like that’, they may be feeling exactly the same as you. You can always share your thoughts with others and maybe they will relate and you can get through it together.

Not everything will come naturally when you first start out; whether that’s cooking or laundry or just a bit of everything. Everyone will be having struggles and the best thing to do is to help each other out, it’s also a great way to bond with your new found friends. There is always the option of just calling home, which I did a lot in my first year. I had so many random questions especially about cooking.

Home sickness is a thing. I’ll be honest I was so caught up in university life that I didn’t feel this at all until a few weeks in. If you feel this way, call your family, FaceTime your friends. Especially if all your home friends have moved away to their own university they may need that reassurance from you too but do remember they’ll be doing their own thing. Remember different people will settle in, in different ways so be patient with them if they are getting more involved at university. Find times you are both free and have a good catch up then.

Don’t stretch yourself too much. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything at once if that’s too much for you. If settling in means you live off oven food and beans on toast for the first few weeks, you do you while you’re getting yourself sorted. As you get used to the new way of life you can step things up and learn new things as you go.

No matter what be proud of yourself, it’s a very big step. Not only are you suddenly living on your own, you’re in a new city and you’re having to get used to the university lifestyle.

Taking time for yourself

University can be a very overwhelming place and you may feel pressure to be socialising or working every moment of every day. I want you to think to yourself, when was the last time you had a day off? On top of that, when was the last time you took a day for yourself with no worry or guilt?

I often find myself allowing myself time off but I have to get back to it the next day or I can have the afternoon off if I work in the morning. You shouldn’t need to have this sense of ‘deserving’ a break, if you feel you need one, have one. Personally, I’ve been really enjoying taking time for myself lately. Yes, I love meeting up with people and I’ve been doing uni work to prepare myself for third year but I want to get into a habit of enjoying my own company. It doesn’t have to be anything big, I read about people ‘taking themselves on a date’ and just sitting alone in a restaurant with no phone or laptop but I feel that’s a very daunting prospect for me. Maybe I’ll get there one day. For now, I like to take myself on a walk or just go shopping alone (I’m loving charity shops at the moment as they’re both sustainable and cheap which is helpful on a student budget). It’s so good to just be with yourself, it gives you a chance to think things through while getting some fresh air. I find that if I try to reflect on things before bed, which I often find is the only real chance I give myself, it’s not the best time to do so. Just going and doing something more randomly, I feel calms me. Plus, if I ever have a day where I wake up feeling like I really don’t want to do anything, going for a walk can set me up nicely for the rest of the day.

As with so many things, it’s all about finding the right balance for you. Maybe you prefer to plan when you’ll take a rest day so you can get all your work done around it. You may however, like me, prefer to just take them when you feel like you need one on the day. You can just move any work you had planned that day to another. Uni can be a stressful place so you need to look after yourself. Of course, if you feel like you are really suffering with mental health it’s a good idea to reach out for professional help which you should be able to get advice on through your uni. I am no expert on this and I’m not saying taking alone time will make everything better, its just something I find helps me. Remember, while people may make it seem you need to be constantly doing something productive at uni, it’s okay to take time for yourself.

What to pack for university: Miscallaneous

I’ve spoken through the main things that you will need to take to university for different categories; the bedroom, kitchen and stationary. There are a few bits that don’t however fit into those categories and so this last post in the series will feature more miscellaneous things you’ll want to remember.

Laundry: you’ll want to take a laundry basket to keep your room tidy and so that you can easily differentiate between what’s clean and what needs to be washed. Its also important to remember, you will have to transport your laundry to and from the laundry room and so you’ll want something sturdy to carry it in as it may be a bit of a walk. If you don’t want to pay the price to use the dryer you’ll probably want an airer to dry your clothes. Personally, I’d use the dryer for big items like bedding and blankets and would use the airer for my clothes. On top of all that you will want laundry detergent to keep your clothes clean.

Mini First Aid Kit: you never know when you’ll need a plaster or some paracetamol so make sure you take a supply. Just take the bits you’d reach for at home so that you have them there for when you need them at university.

Food: this may seem a bit obvious but I’d recommend doing a food shop before you arrive so that you have your fridge and cupboards stocked for the first week or so. You’ll most likely be swept up in the social side when you first arrive and you probably won’t have time to go to the shop. You’ll also have to work out where it is, so having food gives you a bit of time to settle in before you have to start worrying about that.

Important documents: you’ll want to make sure you remember any official documents, if you have anything you need for enrolment or student finance take it with you. You might not need this as a lot of things are online now but it’s always best to be on the safe side. Also, your passport. Especially, if you plan to get a job you will need your passport (or documentation that proves you are able to work in GB), I left mine at home in first year and had to have my parents post it to me. Not only was this annoying as I had to wait for this to arrive, I had to pay for special delivery as it was such an important document.

20 things I learnt before turning 20

As I celebrate my 20th birthday I find it important to look back and realise what I’ve learnt from life up to this point. As I leave behind my teenage years and enter a new decade of my life, I want to reflect on my experiences up to now and how they’ve helped me to grow. In doing so, it also helps me to remember I have much to learn and to go into my twenties ready for new challenges. Because I’m going to explain what I mean by each point, this is going to be a long post so grab a cup of tea and a biscuit and dive in.

  1. The importance of me time: I feel like I’ve definitely spoken about this on my blog before but that’s only because I feel it is so important. For so long, I would fill all my time wanting to keep busy but all this time I was neglecting my need for time alone. Don’t get me wrong I love to see friends and family and often start to feel lonely when I haven’t had contact for a while. However, I’ve learnt to embrace the time when I’m not surrounded by people and if I have a busy schedule I make time to have a bit of self-care.
  2. People will change and that’s okay: this includes you. Change can be scary but it’s important to embrace it as it can often be for the best. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time things can work out in the end. It may be a blessing in disguise.
  3. You really do live and learn: I’ve heard this saying so many times and as cliché as it sounds it’s very much true. Most people are just learning as they go along. Even if you feel overwhelmed by the future just remember you’ll learn as you grow and things will begin to fall into place. This leads me nicely into my next point.
  4. Own up to your mistakes and learn from them: It can be scary realising you’ve made mistakes and admitting to them. This however, is the only way you can learn and begin to improve yourself. Also, in facing them straight on will allow for others for forgive you, if what you have done has impacted others in some way.
  5. 18 may be legally an adult but it doesn’t feel like it: I may have been an adult legally for the past two years but there’s so many points of adulthood that I am yet to learn. There are experiences that I haven’t yet had or issues I haven’t yet worked out how to resolve but I am slowly learning. You don’t just learn how to be an adult over night.
  6. You won’t do everything first try: It can be so easy to think something is too difficult and give up after failing first try but you won’t learn if you don’t persevere. I recently attempted to put up shelves for the first time (which was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be) and I just couldn’t get it right. In the end I asked for some help but I still worked through it and now I’ve learnt how to do it for next time.
  7. Not only is it okay to ask for help but it’s important: This has so much scope. It relates to my previous point about how you may think something should be easy and it would be embarrassing to ask for help. Most of the time people will be happy to help and won’t care if they think it’s easy, people are different. Not only this, but if you’re struggling with say mental health, it is vital to open up and look for help.
  8. Other people will go through the same things you will, you just may not know it: You may feel alone in your struggles at times but often you won’t be the only one experiencing it. I’ve found that by opening up to friends about things we can often relate and feel less alone. And even if they personally haven’t been through it, they may know someone who has or offer advice on how to get through it while being there for you.
  9. How to live independently: Going to university has eased me into living alone. I have that security that I will be going home in the holidays while navigating independent living during term time. Like I said earlier about living and learning you’ll work this out as you go along. Yes, it can be daunting at first but if you’re at uni most people will be in the same position and you can get through it together.
  10. Things can be harder than they seem and vice versa: A lot of the time you could be dreading doing something thinking it will be too difficult when it really isn’t. The best way to navigate this is to wait and see. As the saying goes; cross that bridge when you come to it. Even if something is a lot more difficult than you perceived it to be you can work through it, don’t let yourself be put off by that.
  11. Make the most of your time with friends and family: I don’t mean this in a morbid way but going off to university changed the dynamic of when I see people. The friends that I saw everyday at school and my family who I permanently lived with suddenly became people I would only really see in the holidays or if I visited for a weekend. My university friends became people I live with and then don’t see when I go home. I try not to take advantage of the time spent with people and enjoy the memories we make.
  12. Growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: I remember being a young teenager looking up to people in their late teens thinking they were so grown up. Now I’m at that age I don’t feel that way at all. It’s strange how we perceive the years ahead without truly knowing what’s going on.
  13. You can’t know everything: when I was younger in school I loved the thought of discovering and learning new things and I still do now. The only difference is now there’s so much more to the world than I really realised and I can’t learn things fast enough. I find it important to accept there will be conversations where I won’t have an opinion because I don’t know enough on a topic but I hope from understanding the stories and opinions of others I can learn new things.
  14. You’ll have bad days, the important thing is learning to embrace the good days: So often it is easy to dwell on the bad days and thing what went wrong or what could have gone better. Instead, I like to look at the good days and treasure the memories.
  15. You won’t look stupid admitting you don’t know something: I personally feel it’s better to admit you don’t know something so that you can be informed. You’ll probably look even more silly talking on a topic you don’t know anything about or you don’t fully understand. Personally, I love a chance to learn something new!
  16. It’s important to go at my own pace: For so long I saw life as a race. I felt like I needed to keep up with my peers to be successful in life. However, as I’ve grown up I’ve realised I need to do things at my own pace and it will be worth taking it slow in the end.
  17. I have definitely changed over the years: like I said earlier change can be really good. I like to look back over how I’ve changed and what life events have led me to do so. I have come to the realisation that I’m not the same person I was when I was 16 and that really is a good thing. Looking back at her I’m glad of everything I went through to become who I am today.
  18. I have slowly grown into myself as I navigate life: As I have lived and exited my bubble life, I have learnt to understand myself better and developed as a person.
  19. There is still uncertainty ahead: Though I have learnt so much in my first 20 years, there is still so much to learn. I have no idea where I will be in five years or realistically even a year from now. But, I look forward to finding out.
  20. I’ve had my ups and downs but so far I’ve had a good twenty years!