Songs that sum up uni life so far

A year of University in song…

Seeing all of the new 1st years arrive at the University over the past few weeks has been a strange experience for me! Not only does it mean that I’m no longer one of the younger students at the University, it’s also made me realise that I don’t actually have that long left here at the University.

This got me thinking about all of the amazing times I’ve had here at the University of Essex so far. Here they all are, in song form…
I will survive by Gloria Gaynor

This pretty much sums up my first week here at Essex; “being alone at first and petrified” before finding out about all of the things I can get involved at Essex which made me think that “I will survive.”

The first few weeks at the University were scary and overwhelming at first. Knowing no one and suddenly having every opportunity at your doorstep can make you feel anxious but it’s important to remember that everyone is in exactly the same position as you are!
Losing my religion by REM

It can easy to be self-conscious  at first, as it’s likely that you feel out of place in your new environment thinking “Oh no I’ve said too much” when in actual fact “I haven’t said enough”.

At university you’ll often find that, for some of the time, you’re alone and you get used to your own company. This means that it’s the perfect time to get to know who you are as a person; what you like/dislike and how you typically are and behave. This can mean that you change a lot, as you take on a new phase of your life and you get to have the final call on a lot of the stuff you do. It’s important to embrace this change though and make sure it’s for the better!
Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader

At the weekend, when you and your friends get together and “everyone’s feeling warm and bright”, just go ahead, let go and get “dancing in the moonlight”.

As well as your studies, it’s really important to spend time with your friends and spend some quality time together. Whether that’s going out to a nightclub or going shopping in town, it’s often the people that you’re with that make the memories when you look back at your time at Essex. So make sure you make the effort to stop working some of the time and enjoy yourself!

Eye of the tiger by Survivor

During exam season, after a number of long sessions in the library, it can be easy to feel like giving up and to just not care anymore. But finding motivation within “the eye of the tiger, the thrill of the fight; rising up to the challenge” can make it seem much more bearable.

Exam season can be relentless and tough depending on your exam timetable, but everything can be so much easier and bearable if you take the opportunity to make a revision timetable and stick to it! Also it’s easy to forget but sleep is most definitely your friend, not your enemy during this time of year!
Summertime by Will Smith

Following the stress and pressure of exams, the summer ball waits on the other side which offers the perfect opportunity to “sit back and unwind” before the “summertime”.

Everyone goes to the summer ball in all of their finery for the final night of the year. It’s a really nice evening full of amusements and big name acts. Last year we had Professor Green headlining along with the excitement of a big wheel and dodgems among loads of other cool stuff!

Rather be by Clean Bandit

When it comes to going home for the summer, it may make for sad thinking; having to earn money by working, getting bored and not seeing your friends for ages. You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking “there’s no place I’d rather be”.

But a new year is only around the corner and loads of memories are waiting to be made.

Perry

5 quick, easy and affordable recipes!

You get in from a late lecture and the last thing you want to do is cook…but you’re a student and can’t afford a takeaway so have to muster up the strength to at least cook something quick. Here are 5 quick recipes that won’t break the bank and will taste so much better than supermarket brand noodles (we’ve all been there).

Chicken Fajitas

Cook it all in one pan and takes around 10 minutes.
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Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken breast
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 fajita seasoning packet (I know this is cheating, but these are quick recipes)
  • 1 pack of tortillas

Recipe

  1. Slice the chicken, onion and pepper into thin strips.
  2. Splash some oil into a hot pan and then add the chicken, stir-frying until fully cooked.
  3. Throw in the onion, pepper and seasoning mix, keep stir-frying until the chicken is browned and the seasoning is well mixed.
  4. Warm the tortillas – pierce the packaging and microwave on full power for 35-40 seconds (cooking time may vary depending on microwave and tortillas).
  5. Then simply spoon the mix into your tortilla, add any salsa or sour cream if you wish and wrap it up!

Serves 3.

Price per portion: £2.22

Stir fry

This recipe is really easy and the reason I include it is because all supermarkets seem to offer a £3 stir fry deal –  great for students!
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Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of stir fry vegetables
  • 1 pack of noodles (I used rice noodles)
  • 1 stir fry sauce

Recipe:

  1. Heat up a wok (or frying pan).
  2. Add the vegetables and stir fry for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the noodles and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  5. Serve up!

Serves 3.

Price per portion: £1

Burgers

They always seem to taste a little better when they’re homemade!

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Ingredients:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Burger buns

Recipe:

  1. Chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Place the mince in a large bowl and add the onion and garlic.
  3. Add the eggs to the mix.
  4. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Mix all the ingredients (I prefer to use my hands but a wooden spoon would also work).
  6. Form the mix into 4 burgers.
  7. Seal the burgers by frying for 1 minute on each side.
  8. Grill the burgers for around 5 minutes on each side (depending on the size of your burgers this may vary. Cook until no longer pink in middle).
  9. Add to your bun with any sauces, salad or cheese!

Serves 4.

Price per portion: £1.11

Chilli

My personal favourite, a great winter warmer.

Ingredients:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tin of baked beans
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 chilli seasoning packet
  • 300g rice

Recipe

  1. Put a pan of water on to boil – once boiling add the rice.
  2. Chop the onion and add it to a frying pan.
  3. Add the mince to frying pan.
  4. Let the mince brown and then add the seasoning.
  5. Once the seasoning is well mixed, add the tomatoes.
  6. When this is mixed, add the beans. Cook for a further few minutes.
  7. Check on your rice, it should take around 10 minutes.
  8. Drain the rice and serve up!

Serves 4.

Price per portion: £1.34

Pancakes

More of a dessert than a meal but great to cook with flatmates. See who can flip their pancakes without sticking them to the ceiling!

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Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 280ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil or vegetable
  • Pinch of salt

Recipe:

  1. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  2. Add both eggs, 40ml of milk and the tablespoon of oil.
  3. Start whisking, starting in the middle and working outwards until you have a thick, smooth paste.
  4. Add a large splash of milk and whisk.
  5. Pour a steady stream of milk into the mix and keep whisking until all the milk is incorporated (it will be quite a runny mix).
  6. Heat the frying pan and add a small amount of oil. It’s best to use kitchen roll to rub the oil around the pan so it doesn’t all stay in one place.
  7. Pour some batter into the pan so that the bottom of the pan is covered in a thin layer.
  8. Leave to cook for around 30 seconds and then flip, cooking for a further 30 seconds.
  9. Your pancake is cooked and ready for toppings!

Makes 8 pancakes.

Price per pancake: £0.06

N.B. I bought all the ingredients from Tesco as this is closest supermarket to the University of Essex and worked out prices accordingly.

Boo-tiful and cheap Halloween costumes

HOORAY! It is almost Halloween!

pumpkin

The ‘’All-Saints’-Eve’’ or ‘’All Hallows Eveday’’ day is nearly here and everyone is getting excited about it! This is the period where we all start thinking about our costumes, make-up and what mask to wear.

But why is Halloween a spooky feast, featuring ghosts, witches and pumpkins?

Halloween is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. This day is dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. The so-called ghosts are in fact evil spirits which are threatening.  On Halloween, “barns and homes were blessed to protect people from the effect of witches, who were believed to accompany the malignant spirits as they travelled the earth’’. The lit up pumpkins usually represent the souls of the dead, but at the same time they constitute a clever and funny decorative item. So, let’s make some fantastic and affordable Halloween costume choices!

Mummy.

Probably the simplest and cheapest Halloween costume. All you need to do is to wear white clothes, cover your face with a white face-paint and wrap your body with loads of toilet paper and bandage roll. Add some ketchup for a gory effect and draw black circles around your eyes with cheap eyeliner.

mummy

Bat.

Get a black umbrella that you can rip apart and attach to yourself as ‘wings’,  wear black clothes, and make yourself some bat ears out of felt.

bat wings

Dead Bride.

Simply wear a white dress and make yourself a veil from some cheap material. Add some drama to the outfit by putting  red face paint on your mouth and neck and spreading some on the dress. Frightening contact lenses will make the difference!dead bride

You can go and visit ‘’Bags O’ Fun The Magic & Party Shop’’ in Colchester, and buy yourself contact lenses and scary masks starting from £10

Bags O’ Fun The Magic & Party Shop, 58 Head Street, COLCHESTER, Essex,  CO1 1PB

dress shop

 

Spider.

This simple step-by-step guide will give you a spider-looking makeup, ideal for amateurs -myself included!

http://www.popsugar.co.uk/beauty/Killer-Halloween-Inspiration-10-Makeup-Looks-Try-Year-32218174#photo-32218161

spider face

Witch/Wizard.

For the girls who would like to dress up themselves as witches, you can simply choose a black/dark dress,  purchase a hat, and use dark makeup, like purple lipstick. A broom is always needed and you can get cheap child-sized ones from most supermarkets! Frightening contact lenses are necessary!

For the boys who want to be wizards, there are really cheap costumes on Ebay, starting from just £1.75!

Here’s the link: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mens-Wizard-Medieval-Merlin-Robe-Hat-Fancy-Dress-Costume-WIG-BEARD-TASH-GLASSES-/201010476041?var=&hash=item2ecd287409:m:m-H_0GDAP7IdTIbnhrkoW2g

wizard

Have a happy Halloween!

Extra-Curricular Activities

University life is not only about lectures/classes and deadlines, parties and friendships. It’s also the perfect framework for development, from both the professional and personal perspective.

discussing book

In order to stand out the crowd, a 2.1 undergraduate degree is no longer enough and students need to go that extra mile. As a fresh graduate (I just finished my Bachelor’s this summer) I can assure you that getting involved in extra-curricular activities is a must – an enjoyable one, though.

Keep an eye on societies, get involved in their activities and maybe in their executive committees, as this looks really good on your CV! You will find a wide range of societies on the essexstudent.com website, the Students’ Union official page. Societies can be based  departmentally, be activities based, and be sports focused; there is always something for everyone. The Employability and Careers Centre is also worth mentioning here. This is the free University provided service for students to increase their employability – they will help with CV Clinics, Career Advice, Interviews Preparation, workshops, conferences and presentations that will find quite useful!

sports

How to research potential universities

Picking a university is a daunting task.

What exactly are league tables, why is student satisfaction so important and do I really need to go and visit? Hopefully, after reading this it will all seem a little bit clearer – but the tough decision is still down to you!

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League tables

Once you’ve picked what subject you want to study, the first place to research the best university for you is league tables. League tables bring together large volumes of information about universities and rank them according to things like student satisfaction, graduate prospects and research quality. You can view all universities as a whole or can look specifically for your course, to see which universities are best in your interest area. However, please remember that just because a university is high on a league table it does not mean it is definitely the one for you.

Picking a university is about finding a balance of a good university (academically) and also one that you will feel at home at. You need to enjoy living in the area, have a commute home that is suitable to your needs and you need to like the university campus/city. There are so many more aspects of going to university than just the studying and, although the studying is the most important part, if you aren’t happy there it will directly influence your learning.

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Student satisfaction

A key part of league tables is student satisfaction. Student satisfaction scores tell you how happy current students at that university are with their course and the university in general. Every year there is a national survey (the NSS) which asks final year undergraduate students to rate how satisfied they were in a broad spectrum of academic areas. This information is important as it is anonymous and therefore students give their true feeling of their university and their experiences. This year the University of Essex was rated 2nd out of the whole of the UK for student satisfaction!

nss2015

Module outlines

Look at the module outline of the course you want to study at any potential universities. Some courses are similar across most universities,  for example I study Psychology and in order for the course to be BPS accredited, all universities have to offer certain modules. However, I did look at the lecturers’ research topics at the University of Essex in order to help my decision and found that their topics really interested me. Yet, for some courses the modules can range hugely from university to university and therefore I really advise having a good look at the topics you would be studying.

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The Student Room

Another method of researching what students think of a university is going on The Student Room. The Student Room is a forum based website where students can discuss anything from whether they are enjoying their course, to what they should cook for dinner! It’s a great place to get honest answers from current students and ask questions that you perhaps wouldn’t want to ask at an open day.

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Open Days

This brings me on to Open Days…I cannot stress enough the importance of these! Open Days are a great way to find out more about your course’s department, the university’s campus and the local area. Open Days vary depending on the university, but generally you get the opportunity to view the facilities of the university, ask questions to the lecturers and also get shown around by a current student. They are a chance to see whether you feel like the university is right for you and to visit the town or city that the university is in. I think a lot of students forget that they will be moving to this new place for at least 3 years, so you need to have lots of things that interest you to do in this new area. Overall, an Open Day is a great way to view the university, learn about your course and discover the local area all in one day!

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I know that is a lot of information to take in but my main point is: pick a university that is right for you. Of course you want one that is high on the league tables, but you also want to make sure it suits your needs. Your degree will be one of the hardest things you do, so you want to be happy whilst your studying!

My time whilst studying abroad so far

I have been studying in Melbourne, Australia now for 2 months now and it has been the most amazing experience! I have been participating in group assignments, group presentations and a group photo story. My course at home does not involve presentations or group work and so it is fun to experience something new. Also, this way of being assessed has boosted my grades so far, therefore it shows that different ways of teaching and assessing abroad can actually help your degree!

Aside from studying, I have managed to travel up the East Coast of Australia to Byron Bay, the Gold Coast and Noosa in my mid-semester break. A lot of other international and exchange students want to travel while they are here as well, so it is a great opportunity to travel in groups and make new friends. New Zealand and Bali are also close to Australia, so I am hoping to visit them too.

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I have not yet felt homesick as I am so busy with work, sight-seeing and travelling that I never feel alone. Also, Skype and Facebook are a great way to keep in contact with people; I have managed to keep in contact with my friends and family at home regularly. Not only this, but the study abroad office at the University of Essex is always very quick to reply to emails about any queries you have whilst you are abroad and have always been very helpful.

From studying abroad, I have made some good friends from all over the world which is great because they have helped me learn about so many different cultures and languages. We are already planning to meet up next summer once we leave Australia!

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Thinking about studying abroad?

The University of Essex offers an opportunity to study abroad for either one term or a whole year for any course that they offer. You can choose to do this either before you start, or during your course. Your time abroad would always be in your third year of studying and it requires you to return to the University of Essex for a fourth year to complete your degree (some people know this as a sandwich course).

I chose to study abroad in my second year of university. I chose to do it because I came from Essex and also study here, so I wanted to get out of the area to explore more and widen my knowledge of the world and different cultures. I had travelled the year before in the summer holidays and loved it, therefore it made me want to travel more and studying abroad was a great, affordable option.

I visited the study abroad office many times to discuss my options and they were extremely helpful! They discussed different countries with me and were very supportive. I finally decided that Australia would be the right country for me, so they gave me a list of universities there that the University of Essex have links with, so I could then begin my research.

Since I have been here I have made many new friends and had lots of new adventures. Alongside my studying I have managed to travel to various parts of Australia, which has been amazing!

I would really recommend doing a year abroad if you want to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Consider all the opportunities and costs before making your decision and make sure you research into the universities abroad before choosing!

Check out the link below if you’re thinking about studying abroad at Essex!

http://www.essex.ac.uk/essexabroad/

How to make the jump from School to University

In a lot of ways, University is very different from going to school or sixth form. Whilst this change won’t just happen overnight, there are a few things that you should be aware of when you finally come to University!

Socially, you will effectively have to start from nothing. But that won’t last for long!

Unlike the move from school to Sixth Form, where you’ll likely know a few people before you arrive, when you arrive at the University it is highly likely that you won’t know anybody. Apart from people you might have chatted to beforehand on Facebook, near enough everyone will be a stranger to you.

However, you need to remember that at the start, everyone is in the same boat! Just making the effort to start a conversation with someone will make you feel at ease and you never know, that person may end up being your best friend for life…or you may never see them again!

When you get settled in though, you’re likely to find friends with your flatmates, course mates, people from any society’s that you join, people who work at the same place as you (if you get a job) etc. This means that you’ll find the chance to socialise 24/7 if you want to!welcome friends

You’re independent.

Before University you might have had your parents to moan at you if you didn’t revise or do your work, whereas now it’s totally up to you. Getting work done before a deadline, getting up in time in the morning, cooking your meals and doing your laundry – it’s all up to you!  “With great power comes great responsibility”, as the old saying goes.

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Your schedule will be completely different to what you’re used to.

When you first look at your University timetable, you may think that it looks a bit empty in comparison to your old timetables. But once you take into account your independent work; reading, essays, revision, it soon adds up. Furthermore, when you take into account being a part of a sports team, or a society, or having a part time job, you’ll find that you might not have as much time as you previously thought.

Although you have less teaching hours, it doesn’t mean that you have less work to do, it just means that you have more freedom over when you want to do it! Therefore, getting a diary is a really good idea to keep on top of things.

Endless opportunities

Whichever University you go to there is guaranteed to be a never ending list of stuff to get involved in. There are sports teams, societies, volunteering, getting a part-time job, and that’s just the start! Whereas at Sixth Form you were restricted to what you could get involved in, if you want to do something at university, then it’s quite likely that it’s possible. For example, here at Essex we even have a Korfball team, a cheese and wine society and various on campus job opportunities.

The only worry you’ll have is finding enough time to do it all! I do all the time, but it’s quite a nice problem to have!

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Languages for All – for FREE

Languages for All gives students the opportunity to learn a language for a year, for free, at a beginner or post beginner level. It is available to all full-time and part-time registered students who are enrolled on a University of Essex course and applications to enroll close on the 9 October 2015.

Languages for All

With Language Express you can learn Arabic, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, or Spanish. These are taught in classes on campus in the evening.

With Language Portfolio you can study French, German, or Spanish through flexible web-based learning alongside your main course.

I was lucky enough to take part in French Language Express at level one (beginner) and absolutely loved it! I got to learn a language, have fun doing so, and have it added to my Further Achievements Transcript. I think it is so important to take opportunities like this that are free and can really set you apart from others when you apply for jobs in the future.

This opportunity is a gift that should be taken and made the most out of!

Languages for All Classroom

The Tony Rich Teaching Centre is where the classes are taught if you choose the Language Express option.  You will have one two-hour class each week and classes are in the evenings, so they won’t clash with lecture/class timetables. Learning is really fun and interactive with group activities, pair work, games, listening exercises, speaking role-plays, reading, writing and grammar exercises.

Teaching Centre Study Space

If we are talking about the teaching centre then I must mention the adorable Campus Cat, who spends most of his time hanging around the Teaching Centre. I’ve found him curled up on one of the sofas plenty of times and have always stopped by to say ‘hi’ before heading to my French class!

Campus Cat

Make the most of your University experience and get more than just a degree!

How to Beat Homesickness

This phenomenon usually happens to those who need to move abroad, either they are teaching, studying, working, volunteering or interning. The experience of moving abroad and leaving back your homeland for an extended period of time can be marvellous, but at the same time it can be complicated too.

But, what is homesickness?

Homesickness is an acute form of anxiety or emotional distress that results from feeling disconnected from familiar people and places and forced out of your regular routine. It can arise from different factors; these can be:

  • Difficulty adjusting to a new environment
  • Loneliness
  • Confusion and problems understanding a new language and/or culture

…and many other factors.

Home Sickness

Homesickness manifests in several ways. Usually, the person suffering from homesickness will be constantly calling friends and family members, will be critically comparing everything that comes from the new environment to their own culture and habits, and putting labels to what’s “normal” and what is not. Also, they might be refusing to taste new things like meals for example, and will reject the new social life. As a result, the person acquires melancholy.

Although it takes effort and time to get through it, homesickness can be controlled and fought, depending on the mental abilities of each person. What is more, is that there are some strategies which can hugely help to get over it.

Try giving these nuggets of advice a go:

  1. Don’t Skype Every Day

It is amazing how technology can keep you in touch with your loved ones, but if you are spending two hours on Skype every day, you will not be focused on exploring your new home and space and you will stay stuck to your old memories. Of course, it is important to have contact with your family, but it is also more important to keep a healthy balance on how you divide your day regarding your bonds to home and your new location.

  1. Send Gifts Back Home

It is a nice way to show your family and friends how the country looks/feels/works. Post cards are a great idea, as well as souvenirs like fridge magnets or key rings. This will make you go out of your room/apartment and socialise whilst buying the presents.

Red Bus Keyring

  1. Try and Taste Local Food

Try to find some new, local foods to suit your taste, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all the three!). I am sure that any country has their ‘something special’ and delicious to serve, it just needs some search and curiosity. Luckily, on campus there are loads of people from all around to share their favourite foods – so if British food isn’t to your liking, try experimenting with your friends favourite dishes from other parts of the world. Plus, it will be easier for you to order food online during a rainy night when you don’t feel like going out to get something. It will make you love your new home more and more and when you go back home, you can cook these new dishes for your family explain how they helped you get over homesickness.

International Food Week

  1. Take a Break from Social Media

It is true that social media is making it even easier for you to keep up with what everyone else is doing – even what they had for lunch or where they went. But I wouldn’t recommend keeping scrolling through endless pictures from your ex-classmates or colleagues, as this may be harder for you and make your homesickness worse. Instead, you can take beautiful pictures of your new home or have a coffee with some students and make your own posts!

  1. Exercise Regularly, Start Jogging or Sing up Yourself to the Gym

There is no better way to clear your mind than having an outburst of exercise! Have a look at joining a Sports Club – Essex have over 50! Also, going to the gym can be motivational, refreshing, you can socialise with others and also, you can make a great playlist with your favourite tunes to listen to whilst doing your exercise. At the same time, you will see the good and positive changes on your body and your psychology!

Evolve Gym Southend

  1. Make friends, both locals and from your homeland

It is essential that you have some company while you’re studying. You can also schedule a mini trip to a neighbour-country or travel to another town within the same country. This will make your focus on arranging a fun trip go away and you will even build some new friendships/relationships.

Freshers Friends

  1. Talk to Others About Your Feelings

It is not something that should be embarrassing and you are not alone in this. It’s OK to talk to someone who is struggling with homesickness too, or have a call with a friend who can listen. All of this positive thinking will share the problem put some more effort into dealing with your situation and also pretending you’re OK in front of your parents might not be the best thing. If you need to have a good cry, do it, but make sure you focus on being positive and it won’t happen the every day.

Also, don’t forget Nightline is also on campus and offers support to students who are having a bad time, especially at night time.

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  1. Make a ‘’To Do List’’ and Try to Accomplish it

I’m not talking about a list of all the work you need to do, but a lifestyle list. Try to find places where you can continue your old habits and hobbies, or even create new ones! Join a society, volunteer, raise money with a group of people for a purpose. You may want to do extreme things like having a tattoo or a piercing – which is fine if that’s hat you want – as long as it doesn’t affect your health!

To Do List

So, I hope this helps some fellow students who are living far away from home.

Think positive!

Andriana