Student Stuff: Deadlines and Overhauling my Approach to Studying

All summer during the lead-up to returning to uni I was telling myself, and my family, that this year was going to be different. I was going to take my studies, health and general life more seriously. I had meal plans, a limit on how much alcohol I could drink a week and I had a LOT more time I could dedicate to studying. Naturally, I didn’t know until I actually moved back to Glasgow to start my third year whether or not this plan for my ‘new life’ would actually come to fruition.

Thankfully, I took it seriously this time. There have been soo many times in the past where I’ve told myself I’d try harder next term and actually get proper sleep etc but when it came around to it I was the same disorganised, drunk, self-detrimental girl as I had been every time previous. Obviously I’ve not become a completely different person. I’ve improved my ways significantly but I still have days when the alarm goes off and I just CAN’T make it to that 9am lecture. For the most part, however, I am going into uni (unlike last year when making it to one hour a week was a success), I am cooking all my meals for myself instead of relying on Deliveroo and I’ve even managed to submit an assignment almost 24 hours early!

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How did I do it? To be honest I think the majority of reasons are environmental factors. I’ve moved into a new flat which allows me to live a far more functional life and, consequently, get more studying done! I’ve started my third year which counts for 40% of my final degree classification… which basically means work bitch or you’re gonna get a third class degree! It’s really important to mention that, despite these things that have helped a LOT, I have made an active effort to get myself more organised in terms of reading and a plan of attack for studying and I have also given myself a kick up the back side in terms of motivation. I have a question that I ask myself whenever I’m going to cop out of something: “What’s stopping you?” if the answer is “myself” I HAVE to do it anyway. It seems to be working so far! 🙂

This plan isn’t foolproof and I have still managed to fall behind with reading a little bit but FAR FAR less than I have done in previous years. There’s been years where I’ve left everything so disgustingly last minute that I’ve had to read two novels the day before an exam. I don’t recommend this technique to anyone who wants to a) achieve anything at uni or b) remain mentally stable. It has been these experiences, however, that have allowed me to revamp the way I approach studying and life in general.

On that note I wish you all luck with your upcoming deadlines and exams as we’re coming towards the halfway point of semester 1. Remember, if I’ve managed to pass thus far SO CAN YOU!

Until next time,

J x

‘Student Stuff’ is a new series I’ll be writing on my blog for online student community Campus Society relating to the many experiences I’ve had as a student over the past 3 years. Hopefully I can impart some wisdom or even just warn you what to absolutely avoid doing!

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Recipe: Easy Healthy Bolognese

*Disclaimer* This recipe is not vegetarian, however, by removing mince and beef oxo cubes it can easily be a delicious veggie dish.

This recipe is for a large pot, most of which I freeze away for future meals.

Ingredients:

  • Rapeseed oil (you can use other oils but rapeseed oil is the healthiest due to the fact that it has a higher smoke point than most oils: it takes higher temperatures for it to begin to release toxins).
  • 2 white onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 packet less than 5% fat beef mince
  • 2 Beef Oxo cubes
  • 3 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • Basil (fresh or dried)
  • Oregano
  • Paprika 
  • Worcester Sauce (a generous splash)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Peppers (2-3 depending on size)
  • 2 Courgettes
  • 3 carrots

Method:

  • Dice onions (and try not to cry like I did). Oil pan and begin to sweat the onions and brown mince. Once they are somewhat cooked crush and finely chop your garlic and add to pot.
  • Add a beef oxo cube to the mix and stir.
  • Once both onion and garlic have gone mostly clear add 2-3 tins of chopped tomatoes and bring to simmer while beginning to chop your other veg.
  • Once chopped, add your carrots, courgettes and peppers and stir in. Bring back to simmer.

Now time to season this bad bitch:

  • Boil the kettle and prepare some stock by adding a vegetable stock cube to a mug of water and dissolving then add to pot. I often add another veg stock cube straight into the pot for more flavour. Then add a splash (but not too much) of Worcester sauce (this isn’t vital).
  • Add a generous shake of salt and black pepper.
  • Add a tablespoon or oregano, basil (if fresh quite a lot of leaves because they wilt down and they’re just bloody delicious) and paprika and stir in.

At this stage the mix should be looking quite nice. Allow to simmer for ten minutes and then have a taste of the liquid. If it needs more seasoning you’ll know best what to do but I usually add a bit more salt and pepper and maybe a bit more stock if it really needs a kick.

If the mixture is too thin add a generous amount of tomato puree and stir, this will thicken it up. Sometimes I like to keep it thin though, especially if I’m using the sauce to make a lasagna.

Simmer for about another 40 minutes (making sure you stir so that the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom) and it should be ready to serve!

If you try this recipe I hope you enjoy it, I definitely feel better about my life when I add loads of veggies to normal dishes because it’s a yummy way to sneak nutrients into my diet 🙂

Until next time,

J x

 

 

 

The Addams Family Musical

I am currently lying in my bed, trying not to feel guilty about it because it’s Sunday, still suffering from Friday night when I went to see The Addams Family Musical (followed by a big night out) as my birthday present from one of my friends.

Since then I have been hungover singing the songs, thinking about the performance and what it must be like to perform in a professional touring show like that.

The opening number of the show “The Addams Family Theme” was an amazing number and the choreography was awesome. I immediately thought that the casting of Cameron Blakely as Gomez and Samantha Womack as Morticia was spot on. I’ve linked to a video of the opening number with the current cast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jum02Ku4ylU

I loved the story that was chosen for this musical, Wednesday’s sort of coming of age story which I don’t think has really been told before. Songs like “Crazier Than You” and “Pulled” are absolute classics and Carrie Fletcher’s (who played Wednesday and who I’ve watched on youtube since about 2012) voice was so strong and clear. It was amazing to be sat in the audience watching.

Going to see things at the theatre is not something I do often. I went to see Wicked in London a couple of years ago and going to see The Addams Family in Glasgow is the only thing I’ve seen since, however, I’ve decided I definitely want to go to more shows like this. The rush it gave me was amazing. I spend a fair bit of money on going to music concerts and the feeling I had when leaving the show on Friday night was the same feeling I have when I leave a particularly good concert (such as Lorde who I saw recently, but that’s for another time).

Actually seeing this show live took me back to when I used to take drama classes. I tried to imagine what it must be like to have thousands watching you every single night. I can’t even imagine the nerves of standing in the wings waiting to begin a show, I’m not sure if I could cope with that. I did a few shows with my drama group but only to an audience of friends and family. I remember one time I had a costume change where I had to put a shirt on and button it up in the space of like one minute and I didn’t quite get it done so you could still see my red t-shirt underneath when I went on stage. I don’t think anyone really noticed or cared but it was enough to nearly send me into full on panic. I also remember one time I was doing a short performance from a section of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with a few other young girls and we got on stage, the lights went up and one of the girls (who was to start the whole piece off) muttered under her breath “I can’t remember my lines”. Luckily after a few seconds of sheer panic she remembered them and began, but what if that were to happen on stage at an actual theatre?! Obviously these actors/actresses are professionals and have done it hundreds of times but there’s nothing preventing somebody from just having a mind blank one day.

Anyway enough of my rambling because none of that happened, the show went flawlessly and I left feeling exhilarated and wishing I could go again the next night (until I woke up with my hangover).

Until next time,

J x

Life Update: Valencia, sunburn and Starting Third Year

So I’ve been absent recently and haven’t really written any blog posts. Sorry about that, I’ve just been super busy getting settled into another year of uni to be honest and I’m so tired all the time!

Anyway I thought I’d do another little life update because I’ve been up to quite a bit recently.

So, instead of going back to Glasgow for freshers week this year me and some of my friends decided that we’d go away for the week instead. We figured that if we go cheap we’ll probably only spend about as much as we would’ve spent in the clubs at home anyway. We decided on Valencia (because it was cheap) and headed out there on the 11th of this month. This is how blue the sky was.

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we stayed in an apartment with a private terrace with sun loungers on it. It was roasting all the time (over 30 degrees most days) so we spent a fair bit of time there!

On the first day we went looking for a restaurant to have dinner at, but we went at an awkward time and for that reason we could only find one place. I’m a big lover of prawns but in the UK they usually do all the dirty work for you so when a big plate of fully shelled prawns arrived I was a little intimidated. I had to rip the head off (at which point a load of brown goop fell out onto the plate) and then wipe the poo track out… to be honest by the time I’d done all that the idea of the prawn wasn’t so appetising anymore!

We went to a beach club one of the days as well and the sun was super hot and we just lay on sun loungers drinking cocktails and occasionally dipping in the pool to cool down (aka it was absolute bliss).

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This was a berry mojito, ,very nice.

We headed to Marina Beach on our last day and I was …very burned from the day before

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so I stayed in the shade but it was a beautiful day nonetheless and I enjoyed sitting reading my book and cracking open a few cans of shandy from our cheap cooling bag that ripped as soon as we lifted it up to leave the hotel 🙂

Most of the food we ate was amazing. Caprese salad was a favourite with the group and also the classic Patatas Bravas. I’m getting hungry now writing this (but when am I not hungry)!

Now I’m back in Glasgow my workload has increased a lot. I have novels to read and essays to write and a 2 hour lecture at 9am on a Monday morning… who’s idea was that?

Anyway I’ll hopefully get past to posting about weekly now, I won’t be able to do two posts a week anymore as I’m back at uni and in third year so it all counts now!

Until next time,

J x

Life Update: Moving and University

Tomorrow I am moving. A few months ago in a previous life update I mentioned that I had a new flat. So far I’ve lived somewhere different for every year of uni (I’m going into third year now) and I’m hoping that this flat will be the one I stay in from now on!

Key differences between new flat and old flat include:

  • New flat is not infested with mice.
  • New flat has a living room.
  • New flat has a properly fitted kitchen with a window.
  • New flat is just for Ellie and I so we can do whatever we want.

I am SO glad that when I get off the train tomorrow and get in a taxi home it won’t be to my old flat. It was a second story tenement that had been lazily looked after and was rented out at a ridiculous price to students who knew no better (me). Living there was a total misery. I woke up in my room, studied in my room, ate my meals in my room and socialised in my room (or Ellie’s). There was no communal area to spend time in. We weren’t even allowed to keep a table in the hallway so our dining room was literally in Ellie’s room which was disgusting.

It’s a miracle that I passed the year and made it into honours to be honest. I didn’t study and I didn’t go to classes. In fact it got so extreme once that I read two novels in a day right before an exam once. Somehow I got my first A at university in my honours subject English Literature, but I also got a G in another subject so you know… that wasn’t so great haha.

Over the summer I’ve had plenty of time to think about how I want to go forward in my third year. I’ve overhauled my diet (which was genuinely shocking last year) and exercise routing and I’ve decided that I want my whole lifestyle to be different. It probably sounds like a cliche, I mean I say “i’m going to work harder this time” at the start of every term but deep down I do always know I don’t mean it. This time, I really do and I’m taking steps towards it already. I’ve got started reading books for my Victorian Literature course and I really believe that living in a new flat that is actually fit for human habitation will allow me to lead a more stable life with a routine.

The days of being so hungover I spend most of the day in front of the toilet at least twice a week and buying a bottle of wine (to sit and drink by myself) on my way home from the one class of the week I actually attended are over. They need to be. Spending like a third of my life hungover is maybe the biggest reason I never got any work done and also it just feels HORRIBLE. Anyone who’s ever been a big drinker will probably have come to a point in their life where they’ve either had some kind of intervention or done it for themselves.

Anyway, enough of that alcohol talk. Tomorrow I am getting on a train, probably not very gracefully because I will be struggling with a lot of luggage, and heading back down to Glasgow for round 3. Also my brother is coming with my to come to an open day, so I won’t be completely by myself when I arrive at the flat. That’ll be nice because coming from a house of 4 people and 2 cats to an empty flat can be daunting! I’m always the first one in the flat.

Well that’s about all I have to update right now. Oh and in a week I’m going to Valencia with a few friends!!!

Until next time,

J x

Black Mirror’s San Junipero

Today’s post isn’t really a review, more just an appreciation post for, what I consider to be, one of the best hours of TV I’ve ever watched.

Black Mirror is a unique show in many ways. Every episode is self contained which allows viewers to dip in and out where they are interested and takes away the sense of “commitment” to starting a new TV series. It’s accessible and deals with a subject matter that is relevant to pretty much everybody living in the modern world – technology and techno-phobia.

Many of the show’s episodes have sparked conversation and controversy, some of the most famous ones being “White Bear”, “Nosedive” and “Shut Up and Dance”. Viewers are accustomed to the dark, pessimistic undercurrent of the show. Most episodes end in some form of disaster as a result of some futuristic technology that seems uncomfortably realistic and possible given society’s rapid technological advancements.

San Junipero, however, offered something different. It was a risk for the show because it deviated from a tried and tested formula. Charlie Brooker, show creator, decided to inject some optimism into the otherwise bleak landscape of his show. Of course, viewers don’t know this at the outset of the episode.

In a, fictional, vibrant 80’s beach town called San Junipero we are introduced to Kelly and Yorkie. Kelly is an extroverted party girl and Yorkie a shy, inhibited and slightly gawky girl. These are the two protagonists drag us through a colourful, romantic and surprising episode.

I don’t want to describe everything that happens in the episode, if you haven’t seen it it’s on Netflix and if you’re going to watch only one episode of Black Mirror I would recommend this one. As I slowly started to piece together what was going on in this, seemingly fun, lighthearted town I was, once again, in awe of Brooker’s imagination and ability to construct an immersive and convincing fictional reality. Of course, the technological aspect played a key part in conclusion of the story. [SPOILER] This time it allowed a person’s consciousness to be “uploaded to the clouds” after they die. They can then live out eternity (or as long as they wish) in San Junipero, in their younger and fully functioning bodies.

This concept taps into one of our most basic human fears, the fear of death and being mortal. It also allows an escape from the effects of aging which plague us as we grow older. The idea of being able to visit another place where you are young and immortal as long as you choose to be is fantastic and the way it’s depicted on screen is artistically beautiful. Despite the tone of this episode being overwhelmingly positive in it’s final conclusion, the thoughts it leaves in the viewer’s mind afterwards are, perhaps, less positive. Of course, this technology isn’t (yet) possible and after the TV is turned off and we return to solitude, we are all still faced with the inevitability of our own mortality.

Not to leave on a negative note, this episode was cherished in the lgbt+ community. A story so universal being told through the eyes of a queer couple is exactly what the world needs more of. On top of that, the characters were individual, interesting and didn’t pander to dull, inaccurate stereotypes. What we were watching was two people falling in love. It could have been a straight couple but it was all the more special for not being.

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this.

Until next time,

J x

Charities and How to Take Part

I have always been interested in the work that charities do to help people and animals facing adversity, and finding ways to contribute towards this effort. For me, the most realistic option at this stage in my life (I’m a student and not that well off) is taking part in fundraisers and donating where I can. It isn’t feasible for me to actually visit places like refugee camps at the moment. Regardless of anything else, I simply don’t have the time. I study full time and work during the holidays.

This doesn’t, however, dampen my desire to help. I feel sick when I hear about some of the atrocities people are facing around the world and guilty that, by sheer luck, I have been born into a relatively safe country, with an abundance of opportunities and a loving family.

Sometimes it is tempting to bury my head in the sand and just get on with my life, pretending none of it is really happening. A far better approach though is doing what little I can to help, anything is better than nothing. So, for this reason, I try to make small donations and take part in fundraisers when I can. Eventbrite (click here to visit their nonprofit fundraising page), in particular, is a brilliant website for finding out about fundraising events in your local area. For example, in Glasgow in the near future, there is an ‘Open to All 5k Midnight Walk‘ for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, ‘The Glasgow Christmas Carol Concert‘ in aid of Cancer Research UK and an ‘Action on Hearing Loss Ladies Lunch‘ among many others. Having all of this information in one place makes it far easier to get involved than having to scour the internet for different websites trying to piece together information.

Below are a few charities that, personally, I am quite passionate about.

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The refugee crisis is something that I think about a lot. So many thousands of people are desperately trying to find safety and refuge from the dangerous and uninhabitable conditions of their home countries. I recently purchased a ‘Choose Love’ T-shirt from Asos. The one I bought cost £19 which goes straight towards helping people, and you also receive a super comfy T-shirt as a memento. The T-Shirts also help to spread the message. I think this is a really clever campaign and I think we all have £19 we can spare. Even if it means not going down to the pub for one night.

Choose Love Tshirts


Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland is a charity particularly close to my family. We always make a point of donating our old clothes and belongings to them because they supported my Grandad when he was very ill with a lung disease called Emphysema. Chest Heart and Stroke have a number of charity shops around Scotland that are full of great bargains with the added bonus of your money going to a good cause.

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Cancer Research is a charity close to a lot of people’s hearts. I don’t think enough money can really be put towards trying to develop medicines and treatments to fight this disease. This is the charity I have probably done the most for over the years. I’ve run many Race for Life races over the years. I have a little bundle of medals in my memory box (not for actually being fast or anything just for completing them) and when I was around 14-15 years old I volunteered in my local Cancer Research shop. Getting involved in fundraising for Cancer Research is easy and incredibly fulfilling.


The World Food Programme does incredible work to try and combat starvation and poverty around the world. Unfortunately, millions go without food every day. You can donate directly to this charity, after watching a video on their website the other day I donated some money. They also run a website called freerice.com (click here) where you can answer trivia questions and for each correct answers a small amount of rice is donated via the WFP. If you sign up you can keep track of how many grams of rice you have donated. So instead of scrolling Buzzfeed articles, start answering trivia on FreeRice! You can even choose what categories to answer questions on!

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Destroying habitats and causing the extinction of species’ is one of the most hideous marks humanity has left on the planet. So many species’ are on the verge of extinction, shockingly there are less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild. That is pretty much nothing considering there are over 7 BILLION of us. Whether it’s a donation or adopting an animal and donating monthly, this charity does vital work and is worth having a serious look at.

I would love to get more involved in fundraising in the future. Earlier this year I wanted to hold my own fundraiser but I struggle with pain in my hips and legs so doing a extreme physical challenge is kind of off the cards for me. I climbed Ben Nevis last year and since then my joint pain has worsened. Finding out these other ways to do good has been enlightening and I hope it will be as well for anyone reading 🙂

Until next time,

J x