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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