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Q+A get to know me

I started this blog one morning on Sunday 10th May for the purpose of wanting to share my life experiences through my passion for writing. The feedback and positive support from doing what I enjoy is extremely empowering from my readers and I am grateful for the support given. I wanted to do a Q+A get to know me style post which some people who may not know me want to read in order to be familiar with the face behind the screen. Below are some Q+A questions

Who do you live with? I live with my Mum, Dad, twin brother and older sister, but during term time I live in Cardiff as a full-time university student. In September I’ll be moving into a shared student house with my four friends which I am extremely looking forward to!

What are your career goals? I’m currently in my first year of uni, studying English and Education studies as I aspire to be an English Secondary school teacher. I believe I have the passion and capability of this rewarding career, and I hope to inspire my students as much as some of the teachers who taught me during my time in education. Amongst this, I’d love to write my own book(s), fictional and non-fictional about my time in the education system.

How old are you? I’m 19, 20 in March (ages away)

Where are you from? Gloucestershire, England

What do you do in your spare time? Prior to lockdown, amongst being at uni full time and having a part-time job which I both love and hate, I would spend my time amongst my friends and visiting my family, shopping, going out clubbing, and one of my favourite things to do is go out to restaurants for food!  During lockdown however, I watch a lot of youtube and netflix, I regularly read and write these blogs, and I try and do a workout routine daily.

Do you have any pets? I have a Jack Russell called Zeze who is scared of everything and loves my Mum


Describe yourself in 3 words: Confident, hardworking, considerate

What are some things you aren’t very good at? Resisting the urge to online shop, anything practical (I’m very much academic), I have no musical or sporting talent.

What is your ‘death row’ meal? Mozzarella sticks or Halloumi, TGI Fridays sesame chicken and chips, and a melting chocolate pudding from Prezzo!!

What move can you watch over and over without getting tired of? Street Dance

Favourite genre of movie and book? Action/adventure

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home? In the UK, Edinburgh, and in the world, Bulgaria.

What do you value most in life? Happiness!!!

What is something you’d like to learn more about? Many things, sounds nerdy but I do love learning new things! I’d say international politics and laws and the economy worldwide.

One item you can’t live without? My phone, I try and have breaks from it as I’m literally on it too much.

What was the last book you read? Cleverlands by Lucy Crehan

Do you have any bad habits? Yes, eating too many takeaways!!

My older sister, my twin brother and I (the height difference is unreal)

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one”

Dolly Parton
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British Black Historical events #BlackLivesMatter

I can’t ignore what is going on in the world at the moment. My Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has become my political news feed where videos, photos and information is being shared, such important information, that has failed to be covered by our own British news. The reason I am writing today is to educate and inform MY readers through MY platform about some key British historical events relating to the struggles of black people which some people may be unaware of, and to provide contextual information surrounding this enduring issue that white people may never face.

Furthermore, below are some key events which happened in the UK which should be spoken about if they aren’t being spoken about already.

The issues of racism will forever be important. Racism still exists in the UK and worldwide, it hasn’t just gone away. I do not and will not ever understand personally the issues that black people face, but I will stand against the people who think it’s acceptable to create and escalate these racist issues. Enough is enough. #BlackLivesMatter

“Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet”

Maya Angelou
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Mental health, well-being + self-care

Previous to writing this blog post, I have been researching and reading around the subject area of mental health for the purpose of wanting to become more knowledgeable around a subject area which is so significant in all generations but not necessarily spoken about. I personally feel like it’s a subject that gets brushed under the carpet, and this could be due to people’s lack of knowledge surrounding mental health. Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or anything of the kind, just a student doing their research, having conversations and promoting awareness.

Firstly, I figured ‘mental health’ is hard to define as there are so many areas which contribute to this, but this definition I found portrays a clearer message: “Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder. Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health”.

Different mental illnesses have different categories, and different people are affected in different ways. Below are some positives and negatives of the categorisation of mental illnesses (It’s a good and bad thing):

Secondly, I was interested in knowing the triggers of mental health and how it all begins. Speaking to various individuals, not all of them were sure on the trigger, but it was most likely a combination of bad environments and feelings and lack of support throughout that. This could include change and new situations, bad relationships and friendships, stress from school, work etc, social isolation and feeling lonely, bereavement, trauma, employment, bullying, abuse, anything that leaves a negative impact on your mental state.

Thirdly, the signs of mental health problems can be hard to identify and vary as people are affected in different ways, and different mental health issues have different signs and solutions. Most mental health illnesses, if left untreated, may get worse over time. If you are worried or have signs of a mental illness, it is better to be seen by a doctor than not at all. Some main signposts include:

  • Feeling sad or down for prolonged periods of time
  • Excessive fears or worries
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Problems sleeping, extreme tiredness, low energy
  • Detachment from reality, paranoia or hallucinations
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use; addiction
  • Major changes in eating habits; physical signs
  • Excessive anger and violence
  • Suicidal thinking

Next, I looked into the ways of dealing with mental health which was helpfully provided by the people I spoke to and online advice.

Furthermore, I wanted to assess whether the advice given from professionals i.e Doctors, groups, councillors etc were actually beneficial as there is always a question of whether the government does enough for mental health illnesses despite facing major lacks in funding. Amazingly enough, all the individuals who contacted me surrounding this said that going to doctors/specialist groups and seeking help most definitely were helpful, some more than others perhaps, and through processes of psychological therapy or antidepressants for example, they managed to make it through the other side. A lot of people would not be here today without these incredible services that are in place.

It’s hard to offer advice generally when people go through different things in different ways as a solution for one person may be useless to another. What I would like to say however from someone who has never necessarily suffered from mental health, and I don’t know who what need this advice as mental illness is something you can never see on the surface of a person, but there is always going to be someone willing to listen to and support you through your bad days, whether that’s friends and family, support groups, websites, or professional help, including myself. However hard it may be, speaking about your issues, whatever they are, and getting them out in the open will hopefully help the process of finding a solution to get you back to having good days. Every single person has bad days, even the celebrities posting daily on social media when their lives seem the most glamourous.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone who has contacted me surrounding what may be a sensitive subject to them. I’m grateful for you allowing me to be apart of your journey so I can understand more about mental health and use this platform as an insight for others. By sharing your stories, it can help others to deal with their individual stories and know that they are not alone in how they are feeing. Thank you.

Useful contacts:

Anxiety UK – Text 07537416905 or go to anxietyuk.org.uk

Beat – Offers information on eating disorders, go to beateatingdisorders.org.uk

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – Male suicide helpline, call 0800 585858 or go to thecalmzone.net

Mind – general mental health issues – go to mind.org.uk or call 0300 123 3393

Sane – Offers support and information for anyone affect by mental health problems, go to sane.org.uk

Student Minds – Mental health charity supporting students, go to studentminds.org.uk

Turning Point – provides health and care services for people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems, go to turning-point.co.uk

YoungMinds – Improving the mental health of babies, children and young people including support for parents – Go to youngminds.org.uk

“Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you, doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone”

Lisa Olivera

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you can realise is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it, you’re not going to be the last to go through it”

Dwayne Johnson
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How to stay positive during lockdown

Admittingly the advice I can give surrounding positivity is easier said than done – amongst this global pandemic I have suffered some good and bad days which are completely normal, happy and sad days, relaxed and agitated days. I would like to share some of the things I did to get myself feeling back to normal:

  • Focus on yourself – Make sure everything you do makes you happy and feel good about yourself. Also be kind to yourself – acknowledge and accept there are always going to be good and bad days and try not to fight it. Surround yourself with people and things that make you laugh and feel good.
  • Stay connected with friends and family and people who bring positivity only !!
  • Develop a new routine at home – keeping yourself busy is key! Even if that means binge-watching Netflix. 
  • Taking time away from social media (Always negative news coverage) and spending that time going for a walk, a run, a drive to clear your mind and rethink into a more positive state. For me, going on a long countryside drive listening and singing to my favourite songs works for me the best!
  • Prioritise your sleep – I automatically feel done with the day if I haven’t slept properly.
  • Embrace the extra time to do things you have never done before/work on the things that you need to work on.
  • Remind yourself of happy times – think positively when faced with negativity.
  • Try and be more considerate of others and have more of an open mind as people may be dealing with things in a different way to you. Reach out to friends and family where necessary.
  • Reward yourself – Order a takeaway, have a film day where nothing else happens, have a nice long bath and put on a face mask – we all deserve to be relaxed.

“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome”

William James
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Exercise tips for beginners

At home workouts are on the rise as gyms remain closed, and even I have jumped on the bandwagon of trying to get into shape during lockdown and whilst I have this huge amount of free time! I am by no means a fitness expert, but these are some things I recommend that worked for me:

  • Make sure you do a warm up/cool down activity of some kind to avoid injuries
  • Know what you want to achieve – lose weight, tone up, be generally fitter, and this will help with setting goals
  • Set yourself a goal – make sure it’s realistic! Whether that’s daily, weekly, monthly, having a goal will hopefully help maintain a positive mindset and focus on the purpose of doing the exercise in the first place
  • Buying gym clothes motivated me to use them more as I didn’t want my money to go to waste
  • Add weights/resistance for an extra challenge – I improvise with paint pots for my weights and I bought a cheap resistance band from eBay!
  • I follow pre-made workouts based on what fitness instructors/my friend from uni makes to ensure I’m challenging myself, and then I can easily select which part of my body I want to work each day. I recommend Chloe Ting, Pamela Reif or Lilsfitnessdiary on Instagram (My friend’s fitness page, she is fab!)
  • Change up your routine each day to avoid it becoming tedious, but try and incorporate your exercise amongst your daily routine so it isn’t forgotten!
  • Although I personally hate cardio training massively, it helps massively with 
  • If you’re aiming to lose weight, keeping a food diary to track your calories helps, and makes you realise how many calories are in the sort of items you consume regularly, and which ones you should probably avoid!
  • Observe the technique of professionals so you know your exercise will 1) work and 2) won’t injure yourself
  • Keep yourself hydrated with water to replace the fluids lost in your body after exercise

“The best project that you will ever work on is you”

Unknown
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Essay writing top tips

As I’m just finishing my last English essay of my first year of university, I have always wondered what the perfect essay would look like. I’ve written countless essays throughout secondary school, sixth form and university and I’ve also read many myself. I have stayed up until 3am before trying to submit my essays before their deadlines at university due to some essays being too overwhelming. As I’m studying an English and Education joint honours degree and aspire to go into English Secondary School teaching, I thought I’d put together some essay writing tips to help others with their writing.

  1. Always plan your essay – Brainstorm your ideas and make logic of your thoughts by writing them down. Planning ensures your essay will have a direction/line of argument meaning you will always be answering the main essay question. 
  2. Don’t leave it until the last minute! – Writing essays can be time consuming, therefore leaving it to the last minute to complete it may result in a rushed essay.
  3. Read your essay out loud to spot any grammatical errors, and always proofread your work.
  4. Always read and consider the feedback given to you from previous essays. This will enable you to build on your essay writing skills. Try not to take any constructive criticism personally, the marker is criticising your writing and not you as a person.
  5. Try and read the work of other people and how they construct their essays. This can give you inspiration on how to write parts of your essay.
  6. Always begin with the main body of the essay, and come back to the introduction and conclusion after you know exactly what you’ve written so you can properly introduce and conclude what you have written and you know they’ll both be relevant. 

I also emailed my university English lecturers asking if they could give one top tip, what would it be and here are their responses:

  • Nick said: “Plan! Always sketch a plan before you do your research, and then re-write that plan accordingly (even if that means reversing things or cutting things or adding things). Having a clear plan of what you’re going to say will help you make sure to explain why you’re saying it in the body of the essay.”
  • Jayne said: “My tip would be to have a developmental argument – i.e. being able to develop an argument from something quite simple to something more complicated. A good structure should be the backbone of this, with each paragraph being a step in the process.”

They have both written and published their own books, and are good at their job, so they really do know what they are talking about!

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure”

Collin Powell
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My favourite makeup products

Along with being quite nerdy, I would definitely describe myself as a girly girl. I love watching makeup videos on youtube and instagram in my spare time and practising new makeup looks on myself. I always love knowing which makeup products people are using and loving so I can test them myself. If you’re like me and want to know what makeup products are worth buying/need new ones to try, my favourite makeup products are as followed:

  1. Primer – Becca backlight priming filter (£28 Cult beauty)
  2. BB cream – Marcelle Golden glow BB cream (£25.50 Birchbox)
  3. Foundation – Maybelline Superstay 24H full coverage foundation (£9.99 Superdrug) OR L’oreal infallible longwear shaping stick foundation (£8.99 Lookfantastic)
  4. Concealer – Revolution conceal and define concealer (£5 Superdrug)
  5. Powder – Rimmel stay matte transparent pressed powder (£4 Superdrug) 
  6. Eyebrow pomade – Anatasia dip brow pomade (£19 Cult beauty)
  7. Eyebrow gel – Wet n Wild megaclear brow mascara (£3 Lookfantastic) OR Benefit gimme brow (£18 Lookfantastic)
  8. Eyeshadow – Violet Voss Berry Burst eyeshadow palette (Beautybay £18) OR Jeffree Star X Morphe The Artistry palette (£35 Morphe) OR Revolution Pro regeneration revelation palette (£9 Beautybay)
  9. Contour – Revolution Ultra contour palette (£8 Superdrug)
  10. Bronzer – Too Faced chocolate soleil medium matte bronzer (£25 Boots) OR Kiko gold waves powder foundation 06 Dark (£18.50 Ebay) OR Revolution bronzer reloaded (£4 Beautybay)
  11. Blush – Beautaniq Beauty bloom blush in Darling Dahlia (£9.50 Birchbox)
  12. Setting spray – Iconic London prep-set-glow in Original (£22 Iconic London) OR Mac Fix + setting spray in Coconut (£21 MAC)
  13. Highlighter – Beauty Bay Living my best light palette in Brilliance (£12) OR The Beauty Crop glow milk highlighter drops in Pear Pressure (£15 Birchbox)
  14. Mascara – Benefit they’re real mascara (£22 Boots) OR Benefit roller lash mascara (£22.50 Boots)
  15. False eyelashes – Ardell Demi wispies (£5.49 Boots) OR XO Beauty lashes (£4 XOBeauty Shop) or Doll Beauty lashes (£10 Beautybay)
  16. Lip pencil – NYX lip pencil in Natural (£3.50 NYX) OR Mac lip pencil in Soar (£15 MAC) OR Kiko lip pencils (£3.50 Kiko)
  17. Lipstick – Mac lipstick in Honey Love (£17.50) OR Mac lipstick in Taupe (£17.50)
  18. Lip gloss – Anastasia Beverly Hills lip gloss in Kristen (£18 Cultbeauty) OR Kiko 3D Hydra lipgloss in 20 (£8 Kiko) OR Makeup Obsession clear plumping lip gloss (£5 Revolution Beauty)

Top tips:

  • For more coverage, leave your concealer for 30 seconds before blending out
  • For a more glowy base I mix liquid highlighter drops with my foundation
  • Apply eyelash glue to your lash line instead of the eyelash – application is a lot smoother!
  • Heat your eyelash curlers with a hair dryer
  • Set your matte lip colour with translucent powder or lighten it with concealer
  • To avoid your skin breaking out, make sure to clean your makeup brushes and sponges on a regular basis to avoid transfer of bacteria!

Be sure to message me your thoughts if you do try these products, or if you have any good recommendations of products let me know!

“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity”

Dan Stevens
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Tips for Uni freshers!

Without a doubt, starting uni was the most exciting time for me, and thankfully my moving in and Freshers experience was made easy by my parents helping me move all my belongings into my room (There was A LOT) and having the nicest flat mates ever so I settled in quickly! In September I’ll be moving into my second year of university so the moving in part will be happening all over again which my parents may or may not be looking forward to (even MORE stuff)!

Below are some tips and things I found useful when starting uni:

  1. Facebook groups – Before attending uni, join your university freshers pages on Facebook to find people on the same course/accommodation as you so you can try and get to know each other before moving in, and hopefully you may have a familiar face to help you with anything.
  1. Freshers Fayre = Free stuff – Believe it or not, the freebies you pick up from the events in the first few weeks of uni are actually really useful, Dominos vouchers and shopping trolley coins, toothpaste and pens to last you a lifetime.
  1. Socialise as much as possible – Try and avoid staying in your room and unpack early and get all of the ‘setting up’ out of the way so you settle in as quickly as possible. Remember everyone is in the same boat being in a new environment, and making friends isn’t as daunting as it first seems! Be yourself too, do not try and pretend to be someone you are not.
  1. Be sensible with money – DO NOT blow your whole student loan in the first week meaning you have to live off of rice for the rest of the term! Budget your money from day one so you allow yourself a weekly/daily budget. I’ll be writing a student budgeting guide in an upcoming blog.
  1. Have basic domestic skills – Make sure you can cook and provide for yourself, and this also includes laundry, cleaning, washing up, etc. I thought I could do all of this independently before coming to uni and quite frankly I was wrong. Very wrong.
  1. Shared meals – If you are living with a group of others, try and establish a routine of buying group ingredients and taking it in turns to cook meals each night which can help lower the cost of your food shop. Shared items such as bread, butter and milk can also save you buying things and them going to waste.
  1. Stay safe – This is mostly important on a night out, familiarise yourself with the area as much as possible and stick with people you know, do not wander off by yourself. Make sure you go home and have money to go home with a reliable taxi service.
  1. Make the most of student services – I know my university offers well-being services that you can go to or refer a friend to if you’re worried, money advice, one-to-one meetings, payment enquiries, etc. If you think you may be entitled to a hardship grant/Student support fund, it is worth enquiring about to check your entitlements as a lot of student’s maintenance loans are not enough to even cover they’re rent.
  1. The Freshers Flu – This famous flu is real, you will get it, and I do not know anyone who did not get it by the end of Freshers. It’s the constant socialising with new people in a new environment which is prone to spreading illness. Drink lots of water, take some paracetamol and get some decent sleep as I ended up on 10 days of antibiotics with a chest infection!!

Have the best time you can as before you know it you’ll be flooded with deadlines and will have to start doing some actual studying to pass first year!

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Things I have been loving recently!

It’s Day 55 since the official lockdown was announced, and I have been finding ways to occupy myself throughout my time spent at home whilst staying as positive as possible! Here are an array of things I have been enjoying recently:

  1. Baking – I have been practicing my baking skills since my last baking attempts at uni ended up with a flooded kitchen and burnt brownies (I also blame my flat mate Rhiannon!). I followed the BBC Good Food recipe on how to make gooey chocolate brownies and they came out extremely tasty! I’m ready to impress my house mates with my cooking skills in September when we move into our student house!
  1. Giving my skin a break by not wearing makeup – I have worn makeup a handful of times since lockdown began, and those days were to make myself feel good or to test new makeup as I find doing my makeup fun. This has also been a good time for me to test out new skincare products.
  1. 1000 piece Harry Potter Jigsaw puzzle – I have just completed this as we speak after 7 weeks of doing it and it was bloody hard!
  1. Disney Plus – One of the best things to come out of lockdown! I’ve been watching all sorts, and I prefer this to Netflix.
  1. Pick n mix sweets – There are plenty of online websites that sell pick n mix which gets posted to your house, I used PostedSweets and my family enjoyed our sweets!
  1. Hair masks – I have the Tresemme colour protect hair mask which one of my best friends brought me as a birthday present and I use it once a week to treat and nourish my hair and it leaves my hair feeling amazing! 
  1. Chloe Ting free workout programmes – If you’re looking for a structured workout programme catered to your needs then give this a go – it is hard work!!
  1. Didsbury Tutti Frutti gin – £13 a bottle from Aldi, it is so nice and refreshing and worth every penny!
  1. Cleverlands by Lucy Crehan – a great non-fiction read based on the exploration of Finland and China’s education systems and what the UK is getting wrong!!
  1. Making dalgona iced coffee – I learnt this from various tiktok videos and they will definitely explain the method better than me, but I love these and I previously was not a coffee drinker!

What have you been loving during lockdown?

“Don’t count the days, make the days count”

Muhammad Ali
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Dodgy lockdown haircuts

As we all know the hairdressers probably won’t be open now until July minimum! Any males in your household (If they haven’t already shaved off their hair with a grade 1 all over or attempting their own haircut) will probably be wanting you to tackle their hair by now and will also be expecting you to have the same hairdressing experience as their usual hairdresser which we know is not the case!

2 nights ago my twin brother asked me to give him a haircut. He usually has a skin fade done in the barbers but he would not let me go so minimal with his hair. After watching a 7 minute youtube video a few weeks previous, I thought I was the best person suited to the job and I gave it a go. I do not have any hairdressing skills at all, I’m not good at anything practical, only academic, so you can imagine the result.

I am extremely clumsy and he also would not let me go near him with a pair of scissors so instead he got our Mum to cut his long fringe into a shorter one, but still keeping it long on top. She cut my hair a few weeks before that to get rid of the split ends and it actually came out good for my low expectations. Although she is most definitely not a hairdresser, she isn’t actually too bad at improvising a decent hair cut.

Anyway, my brother’s hair took an hour and a half roughly to complete until he was 50/50 satisfied with it. After my Mum used the scissors on top I went in with the clippers starting with a grade 1 up to the top of his ears and around the sides, and using a grade 2 and then 3 to try and get a half decent blend, using a flicking motion with the clippers and a comb to try and get an equal cut the whole way around.

For a first attempt, I do not think the results came out that bad, as I have definitely seen worse bowl cut lockdown attempts! I would not normally recommend this as hairdressing is a fine skill which many of us do not have, but during these current circumstances, anything is possible, apparently!

This was straight after!
This was after he had been to work the next day so it’s a bit of a mess!
This is the dodgy side where his hair overhangs… He wanted it done!

“Challenges are what makes life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful”

Joshua J. Marine