My Dyslexia Story

Like 1 in 10 people, I suffer from dyslexia. However, I have never let my dyslexia hold me back.

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Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/0c/8e/82/0c8e82af8742109489ff85d3f95fcae6.jpg

My Dyslexia Story

I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 18 and started university. I’ve always been awful at spelling and my reading age was below average, but somehow I always managed to be in the top classes for English in high school. When I was 15 and in my last year of high school doing my GCSE my Grandad told me he was dyslexic. He suggested that I should get tested. So my high school gave me a test and it came back with moderate signs of dyslexia. However they decided since the waiting list to see an educational psychologist was 6 months and I was due to do my GCSE in a couple of months they’d give me extra time. My sixth form did the same.

After my A-levels were way better than I had ever expected, when I came to university I decided actually I probably wasn’t dyslexic since it had never actually been picked up by teachers. I did my first couple of pieces of coursework and failed one and got a 48 on the other. I was gutted because I’d really tried hard. This was when I decided to contact student services. They were great and got me an appointment with an Educational Psychologist. Within a couple of weeks I was diagnosed and had been given loads of help by the university with extra time in exams and a cover sheet to go with my coursework to explain my diagnosis.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning difficultly which may affect a persons ability to spell, write and read. There are many different symptoms of dyslexia. I tend to suffer with poor spelling ( I am having to spell check dyslexia every time I type it), have a limited vocabulary and find it hard to understand long passages of instruction or text.

More Symptoms can be found here

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 How the university can help you

Any advice you would like about dyslexia or any learning disability is available at student services. Like they did for me, they can arrange for you to have an assessment.

If you already have a diagnosis then they can provide academic support, make arrangements for exams and provide you with a cover sheet for your coursework. If you feel you could benefit from their help, pop down to the Silberrad student centre and go to student support on the first floor for any advice.

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Not letting my learning difficulty hold me back

It is great the amount of support you can be offered from university, but what happens in the real world while applying for jobs?

Firstly, I think it helped me getting a job in a shop. The type of tasks you do while working in a shop aren’t demanding, but it helped me with skills such as problem solving which is something that is affected by my dyslexia. It also helped with my confidence.

During university I have completed a frontrunner position and I am online brand ambassador. I mean I never in a million years thought my writing was good enough to write blogs!  During my interview for frontrunner I had to do a timed assessment, something that really panics me. A symptom of dyslexia is that you generally work slower and need more time to understand instruction. But somehow I managed to complete the assessment and got the job!

I am now in the process of applying for graduate positions. The first one I didn’t mention I was dyslexic. I had to do a online timed assessment and panicked and didn’t finish it before the time ran out. I got an email back to say I had been rejected. Since then I have made sure I have put about my dyslexia on my applications. The latest job has arranged for me to have extra time so I have less pressure on my online assessment.

Understanding dyslexia

People will say “You can’t be dyslexic and do a degree” or “You won’t have dyslexia if you weren’t diagnosed in primary school”…well these just aren’t true. Morale of the blog is I don’t want people to let their learning difficulties hold them back. You can get a degree, just like I am and many other people at this university who suffer from learning difficulties!

The ultimate guide to pancake day

This year it falls on Tuesday 28th February. Households everywhere will do some flipping, frying and tucking into delicious pancakes! Don’t know how to do your own pancake day? Fear not, I am here with all you need to know! I use this blog to show you how to make your own, topping choices and recipe ideas!

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History of pancake day

Pancake day actually have a religious background and comes from Anglo-Saxon Christians. People would use up all their ingredients so they could fast for 40 days before Easter. The ingredients made pancakes.. and that’s why we now have pancake day! Pancake day changes every year but is always on a Tuesday. It is dependent on when Easter is!

How to make a pancake

So option 1 of is to make your pancake from scratch. They are easy to make.

You’ll need

  • 100g of plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 300ml of milk
  • Some sort of oil
  • Frying pan
  • Toppings of choice (see below for topping ideas!)

Mix the flour, eggs and milk together until smooth. Put some oil in a frying pan. Remember the size of the frying pan will be the size of the pancake! When the frying pan is hot pour some of the mixture into it. Cook each side of pancake till it’s golden brown (should take 1 or 2 minutes each side).  To turn the pancake over you could have a go at flipping the pancake!

pancake-flipping

Option 2 for pancake day is using a ready made mix. Pancake day is completely student friendly because supermarkets sell ready-made pancake mix with instructions of what to do! Bonus: they’re only £1 in Tesco and make up to 6 pancakes! All you need is this mix, oil and a frying pan!

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Popular Pancake toppings

Pancake is all about experimenting and finding out what makes the perfect pancake topping for you! Here are some ideas of toppings that are popular on sweet and savoury pancakes!

  • Lemon Juice
  • Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate- Nutella, melted chocolate, chocolate chips
  • Fresh fruit- strawberries, bananas, raspberries blueberries ect
  • Dried Fruit- Sultanas, bananas, apple, apricots ect
  • Cream
  • Honey
  • Caramel sauce
  • Soft cheese
  • Jam
  • Ice Cream
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt

Pancake Ideas

Can’t decide from that long list of what to put on your pancake? Here are some ideas of toppings mixes you could have!

The Traditional

When I was growing up the traditional toppings for a pancake would be lemon juice, syrup and sugar! If you are looking for something lighter and less sickly then this is the perfect topping combination for you!

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The Nutella Filled

My favourite pancake is a Nutella pancake with strawberries and banana! To make a Nutella filled pancake fill the pan with a layer of pancake mix, then add ½ a teaspoon of Nutella and spread this around. Then add another layer of pancake mix and start cooking! Cut up some strawberries and bananas and you have my perfect pancake!

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Banoffee Pancake

Another idea is a banoffee pancake. For a banoffee pancake you’ll need bananas, caramel sauce, whipping cream and roasted pecans.

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Millionaire Shortbread Pancake

What about a millionaires shortbread pancake? Sprinkle shortbread over the pancake and put some caramel sauce over the top. Melt some chocolate, Nutella or chocolate sauce over the pancake and you’ve got a millionaire shortbread pancake!

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The healthier option

If you still want to enjoy pancake day, but don’t want to completely ruin your diet, a healthier option for pancake day would be to top the pancake with your favourite fruit! Berries such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries add a great flavour to the pancake. Adding dried fruit and nuts would be a good mix too!

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Now you’re all set to have the perfect pancake day! Remember 28th of February is pancake day – don’t miss it!

The Only Way Is Essex: Why I Didn’t Choose Another Uni

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Oh Essex, the land of fake tans and stilettos, or so The Only Way is Essex would have you think. When I told people I was applying to the University of Essex, people would automatically think of the stereotypical Essex resident. I found myself explaining that Essex was much more than what a reality TV show would have you believe. Along with the four other universities I applied to through UCAS, I researched Essex in great detail. It just really stood out to me as a university and a place that was unique and somewhere I could imagine spending three years of my life.

The Course

Out of all the unis I visited and applied to, I found the politics course at Essex to be the best for me. The content sounded really interesting and introduced me to new concepts. The wide variety of things covered in first year helped me to work out what I was most interested in, allowing me to choose more concentrated modules in second year. When I visited the Department of Government on an applicant day, the staff made me feel so welcome and that I could ask them anything. After starting at Essex it turned out I was right! The Government Department also has a great reputation for it’s research, which is great when those researchers are your lecturers and you’re learning about cutting edge research as it happens!

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The Campus

Essex has a campus that really is one of a kind. Now it might not look as grand as some other universities but it had a vibe that I didn’t get when I visited the other unis I applied to. I loved that everything was so close together and it wouldn’t take ages to go between my lectures. It’s big enough not to feel claustrophobic but also small enough that you rarely make it to a lecture without running into someone you now. I was also attracted to the location of the campus. Colchester is a town with all the shops that you would need and it’s only an hour from London if you fancy a day out. The train is pretty cheap too. I thought it was great that Stansted airport was nearby too. Me and my flatmates made the most of it when we decided to go a spontaneous trip to Dublin to get away from exams!

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The Year Abroad

I’d always known I wanted to do a year abroad so that was a major part for me in choosing which university to go to. After looking at all the other universities I applied to, Essex had the best opportunities for me when it came to study abroad options. I don’t pay any tuition fees to Essex or my exchange university for my year abroad. There was also so many options of countries I could go to. Being the political nerd that I am, when I worked out the US presidential election was happening during my study abroad year I was set on going to America, but there were so many other options too. I have friends all over the world in Australia, Canada, Europe and Asia. Being on my year abroad at the moment too I have also been experiencing the great support that Essex offers to its students who are away.

If you’re thinking about where to go to uni then the best advice I can offer is think about what the most important things to you are about where you’re going to spend the next few years of your life. I know that I made the right decision. Essex is perfect for me and everything that I could want from my university experience!

If I could Start over my Essex Experience: What I would and wouldn’t change

I have spent a lot of time recently reflecting on my time at Essex. I keep looking back to first year and thinking “wow that was 2 years ago?!”. I have no regrets coming to Essex and doing a degree in Psychology. However, if I could do it again, there are some things I might change and some that I wouldn’t change for the world!

What I would change

Join a sports club

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One thing I do regret is that I never joined a sports club. I assumed that if I joined a team I would have to give up my Wednesdays and weekends for it and with working that was something I couldn’t do. Now I’ve found out that this isn’t the case for some sports clubs, so wish I had done more looking into it! I would have loved to go and meet new people and go to sports fed with a team!

My advice to any first years is look into different sports clubs. Go to the just play sessions and the try outs! Get out of that comfort zone!

Getting more involved at Essex

Even with working weekends, I think I could have got more involved in my time at Essexs! There are society’s I wish I had got involved with in first year such as the Psychology society. I don’t speak to many people on my course and I think this could have been a way to talk to more people and make more friends!

I also wish I had got more involved in volunteering. I tried the teaching assistant volunteering, but since I couldn’t volunteer in a psychology class I tried my hands at maths. However, I was a bit rustier than I thought and had the slowest 1 and a half hour of my life! I wish I hadn’t let that stop me from doing other volunteering activities!

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What I wouldn’t change

Living in towers

 I loved living in Towers! Because of the fact you’re living with 16 people, you are bound to find someone you have something in common with! It was such a mix of people and nationalities and it was a real learning curve. From what I’ve heard from other people it was a lot more social than other accommodations. We had such great time as a group and I am so glad I got to spend first year in towers!

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Not doing a year abroad

There is a massive part of me that would have loved to do the year abroad! I am a traveller at heart and really want to spend some time of my life going to different countries and experiencing different cultures! I would have loved to go to Australia because 1. Who doesn’t love a bit of sun? and 2. To go and travel around the other countries around there!

However, there is a but. There was no way I could go away for a whole year, to the other side of the world! I got home sick living in Colchester let alone Australia! I couldn’t have gone alone! I am planning in June to take some time out after exams and hopefully go to Thailand, so watch this space!

All the work experience I gained while at Essex

 When I comes to jobs I definitely got involved in Essex! In my 2nd year I was a Frontrunner for Residence life. 8 hours a week suited around my timetable. It was so different to what I was used to, working on tills, filling shelves etc. I am so glad that I have Frontrunners to put on my CV. It gave me so many transferable skills and opportunities that I can talk about in job interviews!

I also worked at graduation in the summer. I was a robing assistant and had such a fun four days working with the gowning company. Everyone was so happy and the atmosphere was great!I loved being able to see what everyone was wearing and how excited they all were. It was also nice to watch some of my friends get ready to go to their graduation! I would love to do it again this year!

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Essex; it has been a ball. I have grown as a person here and I can’t wait to go on to my next adventure!

 

How to conquer an Essex applicant day

You’ve applied to university and the offers are flooding in, so how do you decide which of the five choices to go to?

At Essex we give you an extra chance to get to know us better. If you are offered a place then you will be invited to one of our applicant days (also known as visit days) where you’ll  get a chance to explore the campus, accommodation and subject in more detail.

Here is what will happen on an applicant day and what you should do to make the most of it.

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The registration venue “The Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall,” lovingly known as The Tin Can

Know where you’re going

We don’t expect you to be an expert in navigating our campus,  but its worth familiarising yourself with maps so you know where is the best place to park closest to the venues.

Follow the signs to Valley Carpark and the registration venue is the Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall (The big silver building next to the car park)

A wealth of information

The first session begins at 10am in the Ivor Crewe, which will give you a better idea of what you can experience about Essex. There will be representatives from Student Finance, Employability, Undergraduate Admissions, Accommodation, Languages for all, Student Support and Essex Abroad- so prepare to get your questions answered!

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Home away from home.

You’ll have the chance to visit our campus accommodation and if you know that you’ll be living on campus, then this is definitely worth doing. You may have seen our accommodation at an Open Day- the difference here is that it is term time, therefore students have settled into our rooms giving you a better idea as to how the accommodation works once occupied.

Talk to students

Throughout the day you’ll spot our student ambassadors who are there to answer questions, lead campus tours and help the day run smoothly. They also really enjoy talking about their experiences at Essex- so go ahead: ask them questions and get to know them.

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Never go away with questions

The worst thing you can do on a day like an applicant day is not ask that question burning deep inside. If you want to know something about the university, the course, the student way of life or local transport links then ask!

The point of this day is to answer all those questions so you can make an informed decision about where you want to go to university, so don’t go home with any questions that you could have asked.

Most importantly: Enjoy yourself

It is going to be a busy day with lots of information thrown at you, but the most important thing is to remember to enjoy yourself because who knows – this could be your future home.

10 Facts about the University of Essex that the prospectus won’t tell you

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Most will probably be familiar with the various dates, figures and other data that basically gets thrown at you during open days and other occasions. The facts presented here however are barely mentioned. Everyone enjoys fun-facts, so read on if you’d like to know which amazing bands have walked (or rather played) our campus grounds, or why Essex has the coolest academics. Even if you don’t find the following info-bites as amusing as I do, at the very least you’ll be able to impress with University of Essex related trivia!

  1. More than one famous band has honored our university with their presence (hard to imagine these days I know) so here are 15 of them:
  • The Who
  • Bob Marley
  • Pink Floyd (not once but 6 times)
  • Morrissey
  • AC/DC
  • R.E.M
  • Genesis (remember Phil Collins?)
  • Blur (played twice during the 90s)
  • The Smiths
  • Def Leppard

 More recently:

  • Jamelia
  • Florence + The Machine
  • The Wombats
  • Babyshambles
  • Radiohead

https://issuu.com/therabbitessex/docs/rabbit_50th

 

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  1. Some of our academic staff are rockstars/pilots/famous for some other reason, so here are 2 examples (yes both from the Sociology department, which is clearly the best):
  •  We have a Professor that has not only produced outstanding research but is also a musician AND happens to have a private pilot licence (guess who? Professor Nick Allum)!
  • We also have a highly renowned Professor who actually interviewed John Lennon in 1971! (Professor Robin Blackburn)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2005/12/08/the-lost-john-lennon-interview/

  1. You may have never noticed but we have the UK Data Archive with the country’s largest collection of digital research data in the social sciences and humanities right on our doorstep!

It is the lead organisation of the UK Data Service and provides access to the UK’s collection of social, economic and population data.

http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/about

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  1. An Essex Graduate, Dr Arias, became President of Costa Rica (twice) and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987!

 

  1. Our very own tin-can (yes I mean the Ivor Crewe) has actually won an award!

Despite being compared to a ‘dustbin’ by Prince Charles, the building was praised during the Civic Trust Awards in 2008.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/essex/7293569.stm

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  1. For the fellow social sciences/theorists obsessed: Among others, Jean Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell sent telegrams in support of the 1968 protests!

https://issuu.com/therabbitessex/docs/rabbit_50th

 

  1. At the time of their construction our Towers were the tallest brick buildings in the country!

Bonus Towers-fact: Initially there were supposed to be 28 towers however Kenneth Capon actually only wanted 8 and somehow we ended up with just 6.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/aug/30/university-of-essex-patel-taylor-architects-new-student-centre-review

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  1. We were the first in the country to setup the Nightline service!

In case you haven’t heard of Nightline, it’s the volunteer-run place to go if you need support during odd hours. Whether you’re going through personal troubles, had a rough night out, or simply need a cup of tea and a chat, the students on call will definitely have an open ear for you.

https://issuu.com/therabbitessex/docs/rabbit_50th

  1. Our university has been eternalized on a stamp!

Issued in 1971 with a set intended to celebrate modern buildings, the commemorative stamp is part of an online gallery for the Royal Mail’s special stamp programme.

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/stamp_from_1971_showing_university_of_essex_features_on_special_gallery_1_3902667

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  1. Nelson Mandela himself visited our Colchester campus in 1996.

Enough said.  

 

Sports opportunities to take on this term

I can’t believe we’re already in to our second term; this academic year has certainly been a hell of a ride for me, but looking back now, it all went by so quick! When it first started I wanted to try out so many things, I wanted to join a society and a sports club and to go travelling and so much more, but no matter how good my time management was, I couldn’t really do all of them. But what I did manage to do is have an in-depth look at the sports club that the uni offers. The number of sports clubs available right now is amazing, with over 50 categories to choose from.

Today I want to talk about some certain opportunities organised by the Just Play team, that are either around just a short while each year or they just happen to be very low key. They don’t require any sort of commitment, so I highly recommend trying at least one of them!

Ice Skating

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The SU organises sessions every year for anyone interested in Ice Skating! They will take you to Chelmsford with a minibus (so you don’t need to worry about transport!) and the sessions usually last for approximately an hour. The tickets are very cheap and it’s a lot of fun, especially if you go with a bunch of your friends. If you have never skated before, don’t be scared! I went there in December for the very first time, and although I struggled to stay on my feet for a good 10 minutes, (and fell on my booty a few times) I shortly got the hang of it and it was a lot of fun!

Tickets usually sell out a few days before the event, so if you are interested, make sure to book those tickets on SU’s website as soon as possible!

Swimming

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I don’t know about you, but swimming is my favourite sport of all time! To be honest, I can barely stay afloat, and sometimes I almost drown, but I enjoy every piece of it (ok, maybe not the drowning part). The SU currently has a partnership with Colchester Leisure World, which means you can go and swim for free between certain hours just by booking your place online. I have already gone there 4 times and the pools are amazing. I would recommend anyone to give it a go if they love water at least half as much as I do!

Have a look at SU’s website for details on how to book your ticket.

Oh, I almost forgot! If you don’t know to swim at all and you would be interested in taking some swimming lessons, the SU has you covered as well. You can sign up for a 9 week long swimming course for beginners, for only £30 ( which is just over £3 per session).

I hope this post helped and I wish you all best of luck this term!

3 things that scare finalists and how to overcome that fear

Being in your last year at university is scary for many reasons. I’ve always had the plan that I was going to get my a levels, then get my degree and then… well my plan didn’t reach that far! I feel like I thought I was peter pan and university would never end. Sadly, now I’m realising that it is going to end! I have had so many questions in my final year, so I’ve written my three biggest, terrifying questions below and an answer to overcoming my fear of them!

What am I going to do when I finish?

This is the biggest fear for any finalist that doesn’t know what their next step is. I hoped that during my degree something would come to me. One day I would wake up and figure out what I want to do with my life, but with 4 months until I graduate I still haven’t had that moment! It scares me a lot that I don’t have a plan.

How To overcome this: Start being proactive about figuring out what it is you’re going to do next! Even if it is eliminating options; it’s all about baby steps! Go to the postgraduate talks and open days, start looking for graduate schemes, internships and go talk to the careers centre!

I have applied for a number of graduate schemes and internships. Every couple of weeks I am on the employability and careers page looking at any jobs that might be for me and checking the local job page.

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The Dreaded Dissertation

Below is an accurate representation of any 3rd year and postgraduate student when you say the word ‘dissertation’.

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The thing about your dissertation is that no one ever really tells you anything about it until the end of 2nd year. You just hear the word ‘dissertation’ and want to go habituate in your bed and pretend like it doesn’t exist. What scares me about my dissertation is it is worth 15% of my overall degree. That is a lot for one bit of coursework… and I have always been better at exams!

How to overcome this: Start as early as you can! You are in charge of your dissertation. You are the one that needs to message your supervisor and set up when to meet up. The early you do this, the more time you are going to have and the less stressed you will be.

Will I actually get the degree class I want?

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I started university knowing I wanted a to get a good degree class. I’ve always said I’d be happy with a 2:1. I don’t see the point of paying all the money to go the university without the goal of wanting a good degree! But with the work load I have had during my final year, I have had a lot of self doubt about whether I can achieve this! Not only do I have the dissertation, I also have lecture note taking, MCQs, essays and my final exams. I know that a lot of people fear they are not going to get the degree class that they want!

How to overcome this: All you can do is try to be as organised as you can. Plan your time wisely and don’t waste it! Get some sort of diary or planner so that you know when all your deadlines are. Also don’t take on too much. Although it is nice to have money, I have to keep turning down overtime at work, because I just don’t have the time to be working extra hours when I could be studying.

Being a finalist is scary but it is also exciting. Once exams are over in June I am about to start the next chapter of my life whatever that may be. Enjoy being a student while it lasts, but remember that this could be the start of something amazing!

 

Signs I’ve made the transition from student to traveller

Currently on my year abroad, I’ve been making the most of the Australian university summer holidays. In fact I’m coming to the end of a travelling trip lasting almost 2 and a half months!

During this once in a lifetime trip, I’ve noticed my slow transition from a student to a traveller.

Here are the signs that I’ve noticed that I’ve made the switch…

Making the most of samples at duty free.

Being low on space in my rucksack, I only have room for the essentials. This doesn’t include aftershave unfortunately… so a quick dash and a spray at duty free has been a must! In fact, if I had a pound for every time I sprayed myself with free samples from duty free, I might be close to actually affording a bottle! Actually probably not though on second thoughts…

Air conditioning is the one

Nobody likes a humid, hot room at night when it’s 30 degrees. Especially so in Fiji, we only had a small fan to cool 10 of us…Therefore, the sight of air conditioning now in a room is always a godsend!

The rush for a bottom bunk in a hostel is intense

Nobody likes top bunks. Fact. The ladders are annoying, it’s far away from all of your stuff and clamouring down for a wee in the night is a task in itself.  Therefore, the pursuit for a good bed in a room can be rife! The feeling of disappointment to find only top bunks left in a room is just heartbreaking it really is…

Free WiFi is your friend

Sitting in a cafe on the wifi with no intention of buying anything has suddenly become totally justified and normal. How else are you going to upload all your amazing new pictures to Instagram?!

Limited wardrobe

Like the aftershave, living out of a backpack means that space is always at a minimum. This means that the clothes you do have get used a lot and annoyingly they need washing a lot too…

Never being in the same place for very long.

The beauty of travelling is that if you don’t like one place then another is only a few days away at most.

Being in one place one day and another the next has become the norm.


Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my transition from student to traveller. Keep a look out for more posts about my travels soon!

Graduating in 2017: the world as I see it

27798604043_c2dbc43d4a_zI hate to say it. I even hate to think about it. I like to pretend that it isn’t going to happen. But the fact of the matter is my journey at Essex will come to end this year.

It is hard to believe that the laughs, hard work and stresses of the last three years will suddenly come to an end. No more classes, no more lectures, no more reading four books a week (I’m an English Literature student after all!), but I’ll miss it terribly.

The one thing that frightens me the most is life after university. Certainly the world of employment is experiencing difficult times and there is no guarantee of work once I’ve graduated- though I hope that the extra-curricular skills that I’ve picked up at Essex will work in my favour.

Ideally at this stage I could happily stay on at Essex until the end of the time if it meant that I didn’t have to enter into the “big, bad world.” And it is a big, bad world if we take into account the huge amount of political and financial uncertainty the country is currently in- at least at Essex the SU elections are relatively scandal free and my finances seemed to make it until the end of term successfully! Brexit, Trump and the tail end of a recession have made a number of things even more difficult compared to how it was back when I started university.

Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic, but forgive me if the thought of further “adulting” sends shivers up my spine. It could be down to the fact that I’m not actually sure what I want to do in the future, in fact I’m quite open minded at the prospect of a number of job sectors. But deep down I feel that I could go on learning and perhaps that means that further study is beckoning (what some people may think is simply prolonging not going into the world of work.)

The truth is no one can actually predict what will happen. Who knows, it could all change in the next few months! But until then I’ll continue to think mournfully of the impending closure of my time at Essex and make the most of this wonderful place whilst I’m still here!