Monday, 2 December 2019

WHAT I GOT UP TO IN NOVEMBER

A sign for the start of the queue to collect tickets for The Reciepts Podcast Live
At last, we're a week away from the end of semester one of this academic year! November was a busy month for me, I tried to start regularly blogging again but I wasn't organised enough and let life get in the way. Starting from today, I'm trying again!

My routine as a student is pretty much the same, work, hockey, uni, repeat. I realised that I wasn't being social enough and it was starting to make me feel down so I made the effort to start being more social. 
A selfie with one of my housemates in front of a bonfire
November started with a trip to Northallerton for Bonfire night. It was nice seeing where one of my uni friends grew up and exploring somewhere so different to London. 
A stack of fluffy American style pancakes served with a blueberries, a jar of syrup and a dust of sugar
One thing I love about being a student in York is the amount of coffee shops, cafes and tearooms there are. I'm yet to go to the famous Betty's but I'm slowly making my way through all the popular spots, the stop for November was Brew and Brownie. I got a stack of american-style pancakes for £8.50, not cheap or particularly student budget friendly but worth the dent on my weekly budget. 
A shot of Milena, Aubrey and Tolly on stage at the Reciepts podcast live tour in Manchester HOME theatre
Every year since I've had a job, I've bought myself a birthday present (or two). This year, I bought myself a ticket to The Reciepts Podcast tour and used it as an excuse to leave York for the weekend, catch up with friends studying in Manchester and just forget about university for 48 hours or so. If you didn't get a chance to go to this tour, you need to go to the next tour. I went alone as none of my friends really listen to this particular podcast and I was taken in by a group of women who looked after me for the entire evening. The energy of the crowd was unmatched, I can't wait to see what Audrey, Tolly and Milena have in store for the new year! 

I was stressing about housing for next year for a while but I've finally got a house for the academic next year! If you follow me on twitter and have seen the milk tweet that went viral, you can imagine how excited I am to leave this accomodation. I don't move in until July but expect a room tour when I do.

What did you get up to in November?

Fran
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Monday, 4 November 2019

LIFE LATELY

A side profile shot of me sitting in a white hanging chair
We're in the penultimate month of 2019, have you achieved one or all of your resolutions for the year? I didn't bother setting any. Instead, I set myself weekly or monthly goals throughout the year. Circumstances can change and set you far away from your yearly goal and you're just giving yourself unnecessary pressure. If you're someone who makes new years resolutions and never sticks to them, try setting daily, weekly or monthly goals instead. 

At the beginning of October, I started a new job at the Yorkshire Soap Company as a Sales Assistant. I'm only a Christmas Temp and though the opportunity to stay on after my contract ends is there, I miss the fast-paced, busyness of hospitality.

My birthday is a few weeks away and I actually have plans this year. I was supposed to be writing an essay the other night but spent hours planning and putting things together so I can actually celebrate with friends this year, the struggles of being a Boxing Day baby. As my 20's approach, I'm starting to feel a lot of life pressure. Admittedly, I'm not exactly where I wanted to be by the time I reached 20. In my 19th year, I've achieved so many things that I didn't think I was capable of achieving and I may not be on the path I hoped to be on but I am working towards getting there and slowly but surely, things will and are falling into place. 

Remember when I said I was going to stop saying men are trash and attempt dating? I'm getting somewhere, I think? I've discovered that I'm very reserved with my emotions and find it difficult to open up about how I feel, I don't like PDA and the talking stage is a tedious journey. 

How's your life lately?

Fran
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Monday, 14 October 2019

IF YOU'RE FEELING LONELY AT UNIVERSITY, YOU'RE NOT ALONE

A candid shot of me laughing while sat on a wet tree branch in the middle of a forest


"I don't miss home, I miss my friends and family"

Bonjour, Guten Tag, Hello, Hi! How are you all doing? 

This week, I want to get back into the routine of posting regularly here on my blog while juggling university, a competitive sport and a part-time job. 

Two weeks ago, I was contacted by Capital FM North East to speak about York freshers and whether or not freshers flu is a thing (it's definitely a thing) on the radio. It was such a good opportunity and I would love to speak on the radio again, maybe exploring other student-related topics such as loneliness.

I think I'm right in saying that every student experiences loneliness. I thought I was immune to the feeling but last weekend, it hit me and I spent nearly all day in bed, feeling sorry for myself. During my gap year, I was constantly surrounded people e.g. my colleagues or I was out doing something e.g. visiting friends at university or meeting up with other bloggers. There are days at university where you don't have any lectures, you're not in the mood to go out clubbing or to the SU, so you're alone in your room with your thoughts and that's when the feeling of loneliness hits. 

Conversations I've overhead at university:
"I just want to go home and be surrounded by people again"
"Please can you come over, I had being in my room alone"
"My flatmates are never in"
"I eat dinner alone"
"I haven't made any friends yet"
"I don't feel like I have anyone to speak to"
"I'm starting to feel depressed tbh"

I live 3-4 hours away from my university so going home and surrounding myself with close friends and family is not an option. I had to tackle this feeling quickly before it could chip away at my mental health. To help combat this, I joined the university hockey team and got a part-time job, that way I am constantly interacting with different people and when I'm not working or training, I'm at university, writing a blog post or doing research for upcoming seminars and lectures. 

My solution to feeling lonely may seem "easy" but not everyone can juggle university, a job and being part of a society or sports team. One of the worst things you can do is staying in your room. I'm guilty of locking myself away and spending hours scrolling through Twitter instead of doing work. Locking yourself away can make you feel more lonely than you actually are. Go to the library, a nearby cafe, sit at your dining table or in a friends room, anywhere where you're not in complete silence and can interact with people.

There are so many other ways to combat the feeling of loneliness at university that I am yet to explore and I'm working on producing a mini Ebook or digital leaflet to advertise across my socials and hopefully present to the wellbeing team at my university. 


Have you felt lonely at university? If so, how did you combat it?

Fran
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Monday, 7 October 2019 / York

FLAT TOUR

A shot of a duck egg blue door with the numbers 203 in white lettering across the front
Now freshers week is out the way and things have calmed down a bit, I can finally give you a tour of my new place. I live with 5 other students ranging from age 18-22, all girls and we share two bathrooms, living room and kitchen.

I love the colour of the front door, is it blue or grey? I'd say blue, sort of duck egg colour with more of a grey tone.

Moving onto our kitchen.
A fridge, cupboards, stove
More cupboards, sink, kitchen surfaces
Our kitchen is mustard, black, white and grey. Excuse the collection of alcohol on the kitchen windowsill, for the first few weeks, the window wouldn't open so we ended up using it for storage and even now it's fixed, it's still going to be our alcohol storage for the rest of the year.

Onto our living and dining area.
Dining table and seating areas
A bench style dining table and chairs, pretty standard really. I wish we had a sofa, I miss being able to spread myself across a sofa. Maybe next year.

And last but not least, my bedroom.
I still haven't fully decorated my room yet and my bedsheets are currently in the wash but this is what it's like at the moment, standard really. I don't know what else I need to add to make it more homely and personal. I was thinking fairy lights and some cushions but I have no idea what else, any suggestions?

Fran
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Monday, 23 September 2019 / York, UK

THE TRUTH ABOUT FRESHERS WEEK

It's been a while but I'm back with my first post as a university student. Last week was freshers week here at YSJ and while the memories of the week are still fresh in my mind, I thought it would be a good time to document my experience and share my tips for anyone heading to university this acaedmic year or in years to come.

Freshers week is a week before you start proper lectures filled with introductory lectures, welcome receptions with your coursemates, club nights, SU events and the freshers fair. Be ready to get involved, knock on your neighbours, let loose and make friends. This is the best time to get to know people because you're all in the same boat and trying to make new friends and build a support network or family away from your actual family.

01. DON'T BUY A WRISTBAND
You're better off waiting until you've met your housemates in real life and deciding then what events you want to go to. I went to 3 of the offical club nights and my flat, our neighbours and another flat below us had games nights and movie nights on the other nights. Unless you can guarentee that you'll be out every single night, don't bother. 

02. BRING A DOORSTOP
I know fire doors are supposed to be kept shut but during freshers week, keep your door open so your flatmates can pop their head in, say hello and get to know each other

03. YOU DON'T HAVE TO DRINK
Usually, I go out clubbing and I don't drink but I allowed myself to take advantage of the cheap drink offers during freshers. If you don't drink, its not biggie. You can still go out and have just as much fun as those who do drink.

04. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF FIRST
Everyone in your accommodation is an adult, they can look after themselves and if they can't, its not your problem. Your mental and physical health comes first and if you don't feel like leaving your bed, going out or whatever, don't force yourself to go.

05. EAT IN THE COMMUNAL AREA 
It can be very tempting to look yourself in your room and not socalise with others but sit in the living room or communal area while you're eating. As people are walking through to make their dinner or grab a snack or whatever, it's a good time to bond. 

06. BUY THE BASICS
Buy the basics for your room, kitchen and bathroom, the bits that will get you by and once you get to uni and into a routine, you'll know what you actually need and you can always pop into town with one of your housemates, coursemates or whatever and grab the extras

07. PACK YOUR STUFF AWAY BEFORE YOU GO OUT 
Once you've moved all your stuff in from the car, it can be tempting to sit around doing nothing. Power through, put everything away and then relax. Keep up this habit for nightsout and before heading to lectures too, you'll thank yourself when you stumble into your room after a long night and your floor is clear and your bed is ready to jump straight into. 

Anyone else sick of hearing Sweet Caroline on every night out?

Fran
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Monday, 2 September 2019

LIFE UPDATE | I GOT A NEW TATTOO, QUIT MY JOB AND MOVED TO THE NORTH

Francisca elevating her arm against a white background to show her new abstract tattoo on her inner arm
And just like that, it's September. For me, September is when a new year really starts, a new academic year, a fresh start and new beginnings. 

As you're reading this, I am galavanting around London on a Boris bike with some friends, reminiscing and enjoying our last day in close proximity as next week, I move to York. From the day I first applied to university in 2017, I knew that I would study at a university in the north, the cost of living is very appealing to me - a working-class Londoner. And next week, after a year and 3 months out of education, I am doing just that, starting university at York St John studying BSc Geography. With moving to a new city and starting university comes new content. I will be documenting my entire university experience from start to finish here on my blog and over on my Instagram

So, you know I've been working at a bar for the last 10 months and recently got promoted to a management role? Well... I quit. There's no tea to spill, it was a long time coming. I wasn't happy there, I didn't feel like the work I did was appreciated so, I handed in my notice and left with immediate effect. 

And now onto the real reason, most of you clicked on this post, my new tattoo. I wanted something to commemorate the end of my gap year. I was browsing through my tattoo board on Pinterest, which you can follow hereand I came across this particular design and fell in love. It's my first big piece and I think it compliments my other tattoos really well.

The Blog: 12 THINGS I LEARNT ON MY GAP YEAR & SO, WAS THE GAP YEAR WORTH IT?


Hope you all have a good week!

Fran
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Monday, 26 August 2019

SO, WAS THE GAP YEAR WORTH IT?

A collage of photos from the year 2018-2019
And that's a wrap, my gap year is officially over.

Unofficially, my gap year started in June. I finished my exams on the 8th or 15th of June last year. 

I made the decision to take a gap year on a bit of a whim with little to no thought on how the year would plan out but it couldn't have gone better. Admittedly, I wish I had planned my year and travelled more but I did so many other amazing things that made the year even more worthwhile.

Had I gone to the University of Liverpool as planned, I wouldn't have received the job offers and work experience I did, I wouldn't have met the new friends I made, I probably would've given up on my blog and I certainly wouldn't have started my podcast. 

I now truly believe that everything happens for a reason. A decision I made a year ago has put me on the path that I was supposed to walk on. 
A collage of photos from the year 2018-2019
So, was the gap year worth it? Absolutely. 

Do I feel behind my friends? In the beginning, yes but now? No. 

Am I prepped for uni? I don't think you can ever be fully prepped but I feel more mentally prepared than I was last year.

What skills have I gained? Leadership, better communication, better time management, professionalism, better money management, confidence and more independence. 

I gained a lot of work experience, grew my blog, I made new friends, saved a lot of money, conquered a fear, visited a country on my travel bucket list, secured a spot at uni (again) and got my head in a better place. I now know what I want from life, the career I want, the people I want to surround myself with etc. Life can only go onwards and upwards from this point. 

Fran
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Monday, 19 August 2019

12 THINGS I LEARNT ON MY GAP YEAR

A shot of me crouching in front of street art in Shoreditch by Oliver Rig of a man looking sorrowfully into the distance
With just two weeks left of my gap year, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on the last 12 months and document what I have learnt following a year out of education. 

01. If a situation makes you unhappy, leave.
At the beginning of my gap year, I worked at Mcdonalds as a 'Customer Care Assistant' aka a glorified cleaner. I started working there as a crew member and I was promoted to the customer care role after a year. As my 2nd year of working there approached, I started to feel unhappy. I would often call one of my friends while walking home, to cry down the phone to about how awful the shift had been, customers speak to you like shit when you work at Mcdonald's, I know this is the case in most customer facing roles but the abuse you face from customers while working at Mcdonald's is next level. Or to cry about how nasty a particular shift manager had been that day. I quickly realised that a job that reduces you to tears is not a job worth having. I identified the reasons and the people who were making me feel the way I did and filed a grievence against a certain shift manager and my business manager. I felt relieved. I started applying for new jobs almost immediately and landed a job at ASOS. Within two weeks of filing my grievance, I'd handed in my notice and left. I instantly felt a lot happier. I told myself that from this day, if a job made me unhappy, especially to the point of crying, I would leave. 

02. The grass is NOT always greener 
Remember when I said my first day at ASOS was the best first day ever? I lied. It wasn't bad but I didn't feel how I thought I should feel about a new job. I walked into the office and felt anxious. The fashion world was not my cup of tea. This feeling went on for two weeks and on Sunday, the day before my third working week, I woke up, emailed the relevant person and quit the job with immediate effect. 

03. Your mental health should always come first 
This is pretty self explanatory but nothing should ever come before your mental health. Your mental health can make you or break you, take care of it. 

04. I am privileged
I may not be privileged financially but I am privileged to have a roof over my head, a loving family, a solid group of friends, a job, the ability to walk, talk, feed myself and so on. Every one of us is privileged, to live in a country free of war and dictatorship is a privilege. 

05. Being single really ain't that bad 
With my current level of independance, I can see myself dying single and unmarried and I'm not mad. I used to think marriage was the be all and end all but there's more to life. There's nothing a man can give to me (apart from dick but even then, sex toys) or do for me that I can't give or do myself. Children? I'm happy to adopt. I have found peace with myself. 

06. Food is expensive.
I don't think I will ever step foot in a Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury's etc again, Lidl and Aldi are the way forward. I can get a pack of 5 Whirlz aka Twister mini dupes from Aldi for 79p vs going to Tesco for a pack of 8 for £2.20. For 17p more, I can buy 3 packs of Whirlz from Aldi.

07. Outgrowing your friends is normal.
I lost a friend in the first few months of my gap year who I had been friends with since the age of 12. I was upset at first but after a few days of letting it digest, I realised that we had outgrown each other and our friendship had served its time and that's okay!

08. Always keep money saved
Do you have a savings account? No? Open one immediately and put whatever you can, weekly or monthly and do NOT touch it unless you're in need. Wanting a new pair of shoes Fran is not a need and does not warrant taking money out of your savings!

09. Take every opportunity you can, especially the ones outside of your comfort zone
At the beginning of this gap year, I was terrified of heights. A friend of mine asked if I would do a skydive with him to raise money for a charity close his heart, I couldn't say no. I did it and conquered my fear of heights, read the full story here 

10. Don't compare your journey 
Over the course of my gap year, I have found myself comparing my journey to those around me, particularly my peers. "So and so just bought a brand new car", "So and so just graduated" "So and so bought their first flat", you are on your own journey, going at your own pace, I will buy my dream car one day, I will graduate even if its years later than my peers and I will buy my own property, when my time comes. 

11. Take time out.
A day, a week, a month, a year or a few years, it's good for the soul.

12. It's not bullshit, you find yourself.
365 days, 525600 minutes, 8760 hours... a year is a long time! I am not the same person I was at the beginning of this journey and in a month's time, I won't be the same person who is writing this. You learn new things, bump into new people, overcome hurdles, conquer old fears and develop new ones. You're on a constant journey to discovering your full capabilities and the true purpose of your life.

Fran
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Monday, 12 August 2019

PHOTO DIARY | THE LAST TWO WEEKS

A collage of the my last 6 instagram posts: a vegan meatball sub, cafe interior, flocking in a field, street art of a turtle, shot of Brighton pier and a plate of Bella Italia prawn spaghetti Bolognese
In the last two weeks, I have started posting on Instagram again. Instagram is my least favourite platform, it's so easy to get consumed by the number of likes your content is getting, how many followers you have or popular trends, you lose yourself trying to compete with other creators. I started to lose myself so I stopped posting. Up until the beginning of August, I hadn't posted on Instagram since May, I deleted the app and abanonded the support/family I had built on there but now I'm back with a new mindset and fresh ideas.

I started the month with a trip to the cinema to see the new Lion King, it was amazing! On the same day, I tripped and fell into the tattoo shop and booked in to get a new tattoo, something to commemorate the end of my gap year. I took a trip to the seaside with Emmanuela, that's one thing on my summer bucketlist ticked off and I should've been heading to Cornwall last Thursday but Boardmasters got cancelled due to a severe weather warning. I've spent the last 5 days in bed doing absolutely nothing. I could've planned a mini trip somewhere but after working 14 days in a row up until the day before what was supposed to be Boardmasters, I needed this time to relax.

You may have noticed an increase in food posts on my Instagram feed, I think food blogging might be my calling so expect to see a lot more food shots on the gram. 

What have you been up in the last two weeks? 

Fran
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Monday, 5 August 2019

AUGUST TO DO LIST

August. Summer is coming to an end, my gap year is nearly over, my tan is fading and I'm itching for Autumn to arrive. You know the drill by now, a new month calls for a new to-do list.

01. SEND OFF MY CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION
I'm putting this at the top of my to-do list because it is my top priority this month. 

02. START POSTING ON INSTAGRAM AGAIN
I stopped posting regularly on Instagram a few months ago and put my time and energy into building my online presence on other platforms and producing more quality blog posts.

03. CREATE A BUDGETING SPREADSHEET WITH MY STUDENT LOAN
My student loan is going to be my main source of income at university and if I don't account for my regular monthly outgoings, sports team membership etc then I will be broke within the first month and eating pot noodles until the next loan comes through. I don't even like pot noodles.

04. FINISH PACKING FOR UNI
I hate packing and I'm so tempted to leave it until the night before so then I'm forced to pack.

05. READ MORE
I won an Amazon gift card from a competition that I entered a while back. I wasn't sure how to spend it but I haven't read a new book in a while so I guess I'm buying some new books, any recommendations?

06. FIND MY FLATMATES
So far, I've found two of them and I'm hoping to find all 5 before move-in day. Wish me luck!

07. PUT A DEPOSIT DOWN FOR OUR GIRL'S HOLIDAY
Most of my friendship group and I are turning 21 next year and we've decided to celebrate with a big holiday. We're still very undecided on which country to visit, where would you go to celebrate your 21st birthday?

08. PREWRITE SEPTEMBER BLOG CONTENT
If all goes to plan then I will have all my September blog content written and scheduled before fresher's week so I can jump straight into the madness without having to worry about sitting down to write blog posts.

Posts you may have missed from last month:
JULY TO DO LIST
EXPLORING LONDON WITH KEETOO | #AD
YOUR GUIDE TO APPLYING FOR UNIVERSITY
A WEEK IN MY GAP YEAR
MY SUMMER BUCKET LIST 

What's on your to-do list for the month of August?

Fran
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Monday, 29 July 2019

MY SUMMER BUCKET LIST

A shot of a pink building in Notting Hill, London
Summer is the one time a year where I feel like I have to make plans and keep busy. With so much free time and the good weather, you sort of have to take advantage of it. There is just over a month left of summer and I thought now would be a good time to write a mini summer bucket list to complete before I head off to uni.
My Summer Bucket List

1. Hire a Santander bike and cycle around London, I've always wanted to do this!

2. Take a trip to the seaside. Brighton? Southend? Blackpool?  - 03/08

3. Host an end of summer party. The perfect opportunity to get my friends and family together in one place

4. Get a tattoo. Something to commemorate the end of my gap year and new beginnings

5. A day trip to a new city. Any suggestions?

6. See another Westend show. I'm hoping to see Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat

Usually, I write a summer bucket list and never update you guys on what I've managed to complete so this year, I'm going to write a post each time I tick something off.

What would you like to do this summer?

Fran
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Thursday, 25 July 2019

A WEEK IN MY GAP YEAR

As you may or may not know, I have been on a gap year for the last 12 months. I took a gap year spontaneously and you can read about why I took a gap year here. There are still a few more weeks left of my gap year and I plan on writing an entire post about what I got up to at the end of August but in the meantime, here's what an average week in my gap year looks like:

Wednesday 17th July
I woke up at 8am, took my pill, scrolled through twitter, jumped into the shower and ate breakfast. Ahead of moving to York for university in September, I have decided to sell my car and the buyer is picking it up today. Once my car was collected and documents were exchanged, I jumped back into bed, watched Matilda and took a nap. After my nap, I used my new burst of energy to start packing for university.

In the evening, I cooked dinner, watched Love Island, did my skincare routine and went to bed. Until Love Island finishes, this is my everyday night routine.

Thursday 18th July
I woke up at my usual time and did the same morning routine as yesterday. I'm off work again and I should be using my day to be productive but my period has started and it's too hot to do anything. So, I'm spending the day in bed, watching throwback movies (Matilda, HSM, She's the Man) while eating ice lollies instead of cooking proper meals. 

Friday 19th July
The usual morning routine and I'm working from 11:00 until 17:00 today, a nice easy shift to end the week. The live-action of Lion King releases in the UK and I'm hoping to go and watch it this evening. 

Update: My friend cancelled and I have a migraine, dinner and an early night for me!

Saturday 20th July 
I'm working from 08:30 until 17:00 with no plans for the evening other than to sleep earlier than the night before. 

Sunday 21st July 
I'm working again from 08:30 until 16:00. Same deal as yesterday, no plans but Love Island is on at 21:00 giving me something to look forward to. 

Update: I got promoted at work and I am about to be the first black, female manager. 

Monday 22nd July 
I start work at 11:00 and finish at 17:00 but before that, I need to go to the post office to post some eBay sales. No plans for the evening other than Love Island.

Tuesday 23rd July 
I'm off and heading out to meet fellow blogger, Emmanuela to shoot content for both our platforms. It's 30 something degrees, we're inhaling Calippo's between every shot and have just booked a trip to Brighton for next Saturday to shoot more content.

The usual evening routine.

Wednesday 24th July
A restless nights sleep due to the thunderstorm. My period has ended, the sun is still shining and spirits are high. One of the other managers has been signed off work for personal reasons and so, I've had to step up and now I'm doing my first management shift this evening. Wish me luck! I start at 16:00 giving me a few hours to write tomorrow's blog post and gather questions from my Twitter followers for a podcast Q&A. 

Update: I only had to manage for an hour before having to close the entire building due to a security breach. 

Another evening spent in bed, catching up on Youtube videos and waiting until 9pm for Love Island.

This is the reality of being on a gap year when you aren't travelling. Each week of my gap year is different, some weeks are unexciting and other week's my schedule is full and I get invited to blog events, visit friends at uni, explore a new city etc.

Fran
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Monday, 15 July 2019

YOUR GUIDE TO APPLYING FOR UNIVERSITY

A shot of me walking through a field holding a Nottingham Trent open day tote
It's that time of the year again where university open day adverts are being shoved down your throat and back to school emails with discount codes are flooding your inbox. Whether you're going into year 13, a student on a gap year or a mature student, applying for university can be stressful and there's not much information online to guide you through the entire process from start to finish.

CHOOSING WHAT AND WHERE TO STUDY
The first thing you should ask yourself before applying to university is which subject do you have a passion for and can see yourself studying and enjoying for 3+ years? Forget what course is more employable or what your parents want you to study. 

In year 12, I wanted to do nursing or digital marketing and by the time it got round to applying for university in year 13, I realised that my passions lied in geography and it was something that I could genuinely see myself studying further and potentially having a career in so I applied for geography and environmental science.

As for where to study, here are 5 questions that you should ask yourself:
1. Which universities offer your course?
2. How much contact time are you hoping for? Does the course suit your needs?
3. Would you prefer to live in a town or city?
4. How far away from home do you want to study? Close to home and easy to commute to or as far away as possible so your parents don't pay you a surprise visit 
5. Take a virtual tour of the student accommodation, can you see yourself living here?

Once you've figured out which universities you're interested in, go to open days or take virtual tours around each university. You have 5 choices, use them wisely!

HOW TO WRITE A PERSONAL STATEMENT 
A personal statement is basically a 4000 character essay attached to your UCAS application telling universities and colleges why you want to study a particular course or subject. This is your chance to "show off", why are you passionate about maths? when did your passions start? what would you like to achieve through studying sociology? How have your studies up until now got you here? Are you a well-rounded person? e.g. charity work, part-time work, volunteering, wider reading on your subject, your hobbies etc. What can you bring to the university?

A checklist for writing your personal statement:
- Have you mentioned the course you want to study and why?
- How are your other A level subjects or experiences going to aid your studies?
- What do you do outside of being a student? E.g. sports, part-time work
- How did you get to where you are today? E.g. did participating in NCS make you a more well-rounded person? Did a certain article, book or quote inspire you to continue studying?
-  Why are you suitable to study at this university? What are you bringing to the table? 
- Don't forget to round off e.g. I look forward to studying with other aspiring geographers

Here's a snippet from my 2017 personal statement:
A snippet from my 2018 personal statement
AFTER APPLYING
Once you've picked your 5 choices, written your personal statement and your application has been received by UCAS, you'll be able to use the online system TRACK to check the progress of your application. You can also alter your application through track e.g. change your email address, add to your 5 choices or swap one of your 5 choices for another university or if you've changed your mind about going to university, cancel your whole application. 

TUITION FEES AND MAINTENANCE LOAN
If you're a British citizen, you've been living in the UK for 3 years before starting your course and/or have 'settled status' e.g. hold indefinite leave to remain visa, you're eligible for full tuition fees. At the moment, tuition fees are £9250 a year, this is loaned to you by the government for the duration of your degree and will only be paid back once you've graduated and you're earning over the threshold of £25,000.

Your maintenance loan is based on your household income and will depend on how much your parents earned in the previous tax year.

Find out how to apply for student finance here 

RESULTS AND CLEARING 
On results day, your UCAS will be updated to let you know whether or not you have got into your firm or insurance choice. But what happens if you get into neither but you still want to go to university? or if you're no longer interested in your firm or insurance and want to go elsewhere or do a different course? Clearing and adjustment. 

If you don't get into your firm or insurance, you're automatically put into clearing. The only other way you'll be put into clearing is if you contact your firm or insurance via email to release your application. Clearing is how universities fill courses with empty spaces. If at last minute you decide you want to go to university, you can apply through clearing. 

If you've done better than expected, you can use UCAS adjustment to find alternative courses at a different university. If you try adjustment but don't find anything, you keep the course you gained on results day.

Are you thinking of applying for university this year?

Fran
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Monday, 8 July 2019 / London, UK

EXPLORING LONDON WITH KEETOO | #AD

A shot of the app on my phone in black and white
This post is in collaboration with Keetoo
You would think that after (nearly) 20 years in the city, I would've seen a great deal of what London has to offer but I haven't. It's not often that I get the chance to explore London through the eyes of a tourist so when Keetoo reached out to Jasmine and me, I had to take the opportunity! 

So... what is Keetoo
Keeto is a new 'travel companion' that allows you to explore London from new heights. Using the app, you're able to buy 'credits', these credits are your ticket into select London attractions at a discounted price and for the food lovers out there, you can claim a free starter or dessert at a select few restaurants e.g. The Rainforest Cafe.

Jasmine and I were gifted two adult daytripper passes which gave us entry to two attractions. We chose the Chelsea physic gardens (£11 for an adult ticket) and the original London tour from Victoria (£32.50 for an adult pass).
Chelsea Physic Garden
The entrance of the gardens
A close up shot of orange flowers in the garden
Using the app at each attraction is simple. You click on the attraction and a code will appear on the screen which you give to the person at the ticket desk and then you're free to run wild. 

The gardens were so beautiful! The atmosphere was so calming, I could've easily spent an entire day here just sitting on a bench, book in hand taking in my surroundings. If your Instagram is lacking candid shots surrounded by nature, this is the place to be!

Before heading to our next attraction, we popped into the onsite cafe and shared a plate of baked camembert. 
The Original Tour
A shot of the Victoria stop for the bus tour
I've never been on a London bus tour before but I assumed, you would be guided through each area by a tour guide, I was wrong. We were given a pair of headphones which you plugged into the front of your seat and as we approached a new area e.g. Hyde Park, you were given a history lesson about the area, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The bus tours are 'hop on and hop off' so you can 'hop off' at a stop, explore the area further and 'hop on' at another stop to go to a new area. Just remember to keep your ticket!

We hopped off the tour at Piccadilly and headed to the Rainforest Cafe to claim our free starter and dessert. We went for the house nachos to start which without the app would've cost £11.45. I was disappointed with my main but the dessert made up for it, we shared a warm chocolate brownie, priced at £6-7 on the menu. 

Would I recommend it?
100% - If like myself and Jasmine, you like to explore on the cheap and enjoy free food, you need to download Keetoo and get yourself to London!

Download the app here and give it a go!

Fran
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Monday, 1 July 2019

JULY TO DO LIST

A Polaroid style shot of me sitting on a bench next to a cartoon character
How satisfying is it that July starts on a Monday? I feel as though this is a sign that July is going to be a good month! 

01. SWITCH MY CURRENT ACCOUNT TO A STUDENT ACCOUNT
I have until September to get this done but I'd rather get it out of the way ASAP. In fact, I'm going to book an appointment for tomorrow right now! 

02. PAY MY ACCOMMODATION DEPOSIT
I made an application for student accommodation months ago and I've been counting down the days until I can pay the deposit. I'm hoping that it will make going to university and moving to a new city, feel more real.

03. START PACKING 
Not that I'm counting but I have 74 days until I move to York and only 1 box packed. I know it sounds like I have a lot of time but I work 5 days a week, approximately 50 of those days will be spent at work, leaving me with 24 days to buy the rest of what I need, take unwanted items to charity and pack.

04. CREATE A SUMMER BUCKET LIST
Any excuse to write a list. I do this every year to ensure I make the most out of my summer. Would you like to see what's on my summer bucket list for summer 2019?

05. GET NEW PASSPORT PHOTOS 
I can kill two birds with one stone and get this done before or after my appointment at Santander! 

06. REGISTER FOR GLASTONBURY 2020
I want to attend Glastonbury at least once in my lifetime. Unlike most festivals, you have to register in order to be able to buy tickets and even then, you aren't guaranteed a ticket. 

07. PACK AND PREPARE FOR BOARDMASTERS 
Usually, Reading is my last festival of the year but this year, I wanted to go somewhere different. If you read my March to do list then you might remember me saying that I wanted to book a summer holiday/staycation to Cornwall. Well now, I'm going to Cornwall for 6 days to surf, sing at the top of my lungs and relax on the beach.

Posts you may have missed from last month:
JUNE TO DO LIST
A FIRST TIMER'S GUIDE TO FESTIVALS
FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING
21 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I TURN 21  


What's on your to-do list for the month of July?

Fran
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Monday, 24 June 2019

21 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I TURN 21

Posing outside the Guinness storehouse in Dublin
As of Wednesday, it will be one year and 6 months until my next big birthday. And in true Fran style, I've written a list of 21 things I would like to do before I turn 21.

01. Move out. I'm moving out 81 days, so this is one that I can tick off very soon.

02. Live in a different city. I'm moving to York so that's another one to tick off the list. I've never been to York so it'll be a completely new experience that will force me out of my comfort zone. 

03. Pass my first year of university. After being out of education for over a year, it's going to be hard adjusting to the system again but I'm positive that I will make it through the first of four years at university. 

04. Climb a mountain. Becca and I have spoken about climbing Mount Snowdon in Wales over the summer, nothing has been planned but it's going to happen. Speaking it into existence!

05. Treat myself to something designer. This is materialistic but I have had my eye on various designer items over the years but I've never been able to justify buying any of it, my 21st is the perfect excuse.

06. Learn a new skill. I want to be able to do coffee art, calligraphy or something creative like actually being able to use all the functions on my Olympus Pen.

07. Do something different with my hair. I've never done anything different with my hair and I want to switch up my look. I've wanted to dye it jet black for years but I know dying curly hair can be really damaging and I don't know if it's worth it.

08. Run a marathon. This is my second year in the ballot to do the London marathon in 2020, if I get pulled then that's another thing to tick off my list. 

09. Go vegan for a week. I could never be a full-time vegan, I enjoy cheese too much but once I move out and I'm buying my own groceries, I'm going to attempt veganism for a week. 

10. Apply for British citizenship and get a British passport. I've passed my life in the UK test and B1 English language exam. All I need to do now is fill in and send off my application for British citizenship and wait for approval. 

11. Volunteer. Back in 2014, I took part in NCS and I would love to go back as an NCS graduate and be a team leader. 

12. Learn to change a tyre. I've been driving for 2 years and I still can't change a tyre. The last time my tyre needed changing I called RAC to do it for me. 

13. Bungee jump. I did a skydive back in March and conquered my fear of heights and now I'm ready to conquer my fear of falling. 

14. Take a solo trip somewhere. After reading Emmanuela's post about her solo trip to Paris, I was left feeling inspired. My first solo trip can be abroad or to another UK city, for a weekend or a week. Something to trigger my comfort zone.

15. Apply for a summer internship or work experience/shadowing role. You get 3-4 months off during university for summer and I can't think of a better way to pass the time than by doing something that will boost my cv.

16. See more natural wonders. Can you tell I love Geography? This year alone I've seen Giant's Causeway, the Dark Hedges, Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. 

17. Get my first 'big' tattoo. Currently, I have 5 little tattoos but I'm very eager to get a big piece on my back, calf, thigh or upper-inner arm in the next few months to a year.

18. Save to go travelling. My travel bucket list fills half a notebook, there are so many places I want to visit for specific reasons, mainly to see geographical landforms or celebrate their national holiday. E.g. Celebrate St Patrick's day in Dublin and see Giant's Causeway - both of which I ticked off back in March. I'm currently saving to do a tour of Southeast Asia, would you be interested in a travel series? Where I talk about saving from scratch, planning etc

19. Get a new piercing. I've been umming and arring about getting my daith or rook pierced for years, this is the year I do it!

20. Start saving for a mortgage. I feel like I'm too young to be thinking about this but one of my goals in life is to own a property. I've always lived in rented houses and moved from place to place. I can't wait to settle in one place and make it feel like my home and not like I'm living in someone else's space temporarily.

21. Plan and host my 90's themed party. I've never had a birthday party due to being born on a festive bank holiday but for my 21st, I'm hoping to throw a 90's themed party 2 weekends before my actual birthday.

Read my last bucket list: 18 THINGS BEFORE 18

Fran
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