A trip to Edinburgh

Last week I spent a wonderful two days in beautiful Edinburgh, Scotland. I started with a picnic on Calton Hill, where there are loads of fascinating monuments and a fantastic view of the city:

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We walked along the Royal Mile and saw St Giles cathedral, which was really beautiful inside and out, and walked up to the castle:

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We walked down to see Scott monument, which is really cool:

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There are so many beautiful vies in Edinburgh, from the view from Calton Hill to Castle Hill:

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But my favourite view my far was the view from Arthur’s seat, which I was so in awe of that I didn’t even take a picture. The view from the other side was also beautiful though:

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and the hill itself:

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We walked back past a lot of lakes:

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and had a lovely wander around the Old Town and the New Town. We did a bit of shopping, had ice cream, and had a lovely dinner at the Elephant House, where JK Rowling wrote a lot of Harry Potter. Walking back from the station in Durham, we were also blessed with this beautiful view, which finished off the weekend perfectly:

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A day trip to York (UK)

Last week I had the most amazing day in York with my better half. We’ve both been so busy all term and had so much on that we haven’t seen each other nearly as much as we wanted to, and when we have been together we’ve been so tired we’ve slumped into a routine of binge watching and not much else.

We decided to spend a day in York, which is a beautiful city not far from our university, to spend some quality time together and explore some more of the world.

We walked along the wall,

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reading the information boards as we went, which were fascinating. We walked along the river,

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caught a glimpse of the Minster,

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and then up close,

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And had a tour inside, which was really interesting. We saw the Clifford’s Tower, the keep of a Norman motte and bailey castle which was originally built under William I,

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did some shopping, had some lovely food, and even made some new friends.

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It’s important to make time for the people you love, and even if a long, exotic or expensive trip isn’t on the cards, a day trip can do the world of good. Even just leaving the bubble I spend the majority of your life wrapped up in for a few hours made me feel more relaxed, happy, and glad that I live in such a beautiful world.

Feeling the stress

I did pretty well this year over the exam period at not getting too stressed and feeling like I couldn’t do it, but now exams are over I’m feeling a whole range of emotion that I didn’t expect to.

Last year I felt very down leading up to and during the exam period. I felt as though I couldn’t do it, that I was out of my depth, that school had never prepared me for this. This year, I was better prepared. I knew how to tackle my revision more effectively, past papers were going reasonably well. Sure, there were things I didn’t understand, there were exams I knew I would struggle with, but I knew I’d done my best and that I couldn’t ask myself for anything more. I knew I could make a stab at whatever was thrown at me.

Now that they’re over, that wave of hopelessness has finally hit. I’m more stressed than I’ve been all year, and I can’t work out what it’s about. My list of 10 things to do every day (last post) lasted little over half a week before I descended into a routine-less, stressful way of life.

This summer is the summer I really have to throw myself further into the adult world than I ever have before. I’m planning a bellringing tour for my university society, and while booking accommodation, food, T-shirts has been easy, communicating and coordinating with dozens of church towers has been exhausting. I’ve finally come into contact with adults who are uncooperative, unresponsive, plain lazy or even rude, adults who don’t want the best for me and who don’t want to make my life any easier.

I’ve also spent the last two summers working for my dad. While the offer’s still on the table this year, I know it isn’t the best way to grow my CV and my skill set. I was hopeful at the beginning of the year, applying for internships and jobs within the university, and though I am very grateful for the short, unpaid internship I have managed to secure, it’s nowhere near the length I’d hoped, and the rest of the summer is a terrifying blank canvas.

I don’t know what more I can do to sort the things that I’m stressed about out, and will probably just have to wait until it’s all over and time runs out. And that’s not how I thought this relative freedom would feel.

Post exams

I’ve just finished all my second year exams and am embarking on a two week long bliss of freedom.

The exams didn’t go amazingly, but could have been worse, and since there’s nothing more I can do, I just want to try to move on! I have loads of things to sort out, like the tour I’m booking for my ringing society, researching for the lab project I’m doing soon, and finding something to do over summer, which are really stressing me out still. Mostly though, my lifestyle has become very unhealthy and made me less happy than I could be, so here’s ten things I plan on doing every day for the next two weeks:

  1. Getting outside – either by going on a walk or a jog, or just going into town to run errands, I will not be spending all day holed up revising for a long time!
  2. Take small steps in organising the things I need to organise by doing a little bit every day.
  3. Do a nice thing for my housemates or other friends who still haven’t finished their exams, to make life a bit easier for them.
  4. Write – I want to write a lot for myself, for this blog, and for my science blog which you can find here
  5. Take control of what I’m eating by keeping a food diary, cutting out or reducing snack foods like crisps, biscuits and chocolate, and eating a lot more fruit and veg
  6. Read a lot! Books, magazines, comics, I want to read them all!
  7. Relax by meditating or practicing yoga.
  8. Listen to music from a variety of genres, and really stop to listen
  9. Learn a new thing. Something completely separate from my degree – I’m considering teaching myself some of a new language or taking up the piano again
  10. Talk to anyone I can find. Talking to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while or a stranger or even people I regularly talk to really lifts my mood and my confidence, and I need to push myself to seek that connection again.

These are the ways that I think I can really improve my mood and my confidence – I’ll let you know how I get on!

Self care in stressful times

It’s exam period (I’m sure you all know – I’ve been banging on about it enough!), and when times get tough it can be hard to take care of yourself. Here are my top tips:

  1. Plan time off. Even if you think you can’t afford to have a break, you need one to stay healthy and to work better. I try to stop working every evening by 7.30pm, and since I have a lot of extra curricular which I have to do on a Sunday I take the rest of the day off so I can fully enjoy it.
  2. Eat regular meals and as healthily as you dare. It can be easy just to eat biscuits and  chocolate and call it a meal, and easy to subconsciously snack as  you work, but it’s much healthier (and better for your teeth!) to have meals and try to avoid snacking. I try to have a long enough break to heat up some soup and toast for lunch, and a main meal in the evening. I don’t have much time to cook at the moment, so I’ve planned ahead and cooked and frozen some meals in advance. I’m also greatly enjoying exploring the variety of ready meals available from tesco (although this is not the most cost effective solution it’s definitely not the worst!)
  3. Don’t spend your time off just watching TV! I’ve fallen into this trap more than once. It’s just so easy to grab some nibbles and slob the evening away. But going out, seeing friends and doing things is so much more exciting, and makes you feel like you’ve actually done something!
  4. Sleep lots. Just go to bed. Take a nap. You can’t work if you’re tired.
  5. Try to enjoy it. Hopefully you picked a subject you love, and while revising for exams 60 hours a week isn’t the best bit you can hopefully still find some interest in what you’re learning about!

Start of term: stream of thought

Term starts on Monday and I’ve been back in the house for just under a week, and very busy with revision.

I’ve noticed when I have plans to see people in the evening I work a lot better, as you’d probably expect. It’s nice to have something to look forward to and a time you know you need to stop, and I definitely feel less lonely and more healthy, and I’m sleeping better. At home when my family get in from work I’ve been alone all day but all they want is some time to themselves, which can be frustrating and sad.

I’m having the weekend off now, and just had the best day shopping in town with my boyfriend. I managed to get some absolute bargains from New Look and a couple of charity shops, and have finally realised my dream of buying a leather jacket. I managed to find some new jeans, something I’m always on the look out for and I struggle to find. We had a break for tea and cake, and an all round lovely day. Looking forward to a small party this evening and another relaxed day tomorrow!

I’m a bit worried about the start of term, especially since it signals only three weeks until my exams start, and only four until they’re over. I’ve been doing past paper questions and still really struggling with organic Chemistry, which I’m really looking forward to dropping next year, and some of the Physics that I’ve spent less time on.

Everything else seems to be ticking along alright though, and I’m trying not to think about it too much for now!

Easter revision

Just under two weeks left of the Easter holidays and I’ve finally worked out how revision is going to work best for me!

Since starting uni, the way I revised has changed considerably, and I’m starting to think it’s not a good thing. I used to do four half hour to an hour bursts of revision a day, one for each subject. When I started uni, I realised I needed to do a lot more. I decided to do blocks of an hour and a half, and do eight hours a day. I decided it would help to go through one subject at a time.

I tried for weeks, losing motivation every hour, and often not making it through the day. I was lucky if I managed four hours before I gave in to the pull of my book or a tv program.

I needed to change, and fast. Working with my boyfriend when he came to visit made me realise that 45 minutes is probably the maximum time I can concentrate for. I started doing 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes break every hour. It worked fine except for some of the more confusing topics, which I then started splitting into two lots of twenty minutes with a five minute break between.

I make notes, go through flash cards, read notes, do questions, and worst of all attempt to learn mechanisms. And that was what the sticking point was. 45 minutes, even 20 minutes, of organic chemistry was far too much more me. So the finishing touch to my perfect revision timetable was to spread the organic throughout the day by doing 5 minutes in each of my quarter hour breaks and 10 more at the end of the day.

I can now make it through all of my planned revision for the day, and despite only having six full hours planned I get a lot more done than I used to.