Showing posts with label University. Show all posts
Showing posts with label University. Show all posts
Girl sitting in a cafe

If everything went according to plan, on the 21st July, I would have walked across a stage collecting my degree. On my feet would have been a pair of Jimmy Choo’s I had been saving up for, for this exact moment. However, no part of 2020 has gone according to plan and instead I spent the day as any other day. 

It’s been three years since I moved to Portsmouth to start my Journalism degree and it feels absolutely surreal to say I made it to the end. I haven't shared my whole journey online but you can see highlights on Instagram and Twitter (@aoifecaitrionax). In my first year of university, I felt very lonely and I struggled to make friends. Like anyone, I signed up to almost every society I had a remote interest in. First year is all about trial and error so don't be afraid to make mistakes. 


Second year came along and I was stuck living in a house that lived on drama and animosity. It wasn't very fun or healthy but I learnt a lot about myself during that time. The main one being how to stand up for myself. Academically and career wise, I was starting to get ahead and had articles printed in local news websites. When final year came around, I promised myself that this would be a year I could be proud of. And I am. Despite the ups and downs, which as a uni student you will know, I have met some amazing people who are now my friends and made memories that will stick with me for life. 


Aside from the academic side to university, there are plenty of important lessons to learn outside of lectures and seminars. So here’s what university really taught me and what I wish I knew before starting:


Use your time wisely. And by that, nothing is waiting around for you. At university, you have a lot of time on your hands when you’re not in lectures, seminars or working. Use that spare time productively. I spent a lot of time in my first year blogging and making videos on YouTube. Unfortunately, I slowed down in second year and lost motivation in third year. I regret not believing in myself more and sticking to it. I really recommend using your spare time productively by taking up a new skill, hobby, or searching for internships and grad schemes. 


Do something you’re passionate about. University is a lot more fun when you’re passionate about the subject you’re studying. I wrote essays on feminism, did presentations on the fashion industry and put together video packages which I had a lot of fun doing. I really enjoyed the work and the skills I was learning with it. There were a few late and stressful nights but I wouldn’t change a thing because I was still doing something I loved. I've spoken to my friends and other people about it who all agreed that you should be studying something you're passionate about and interested in. It will be a greater experience and you'll enjoy it more.


Make the most out of the University services. There are so many services that universities offer these days and I'm pretty sure, you're not even aware of half of them. I struggled a lot when I moved back home for lockdown and my anxiety was at an all time high. My lecturer recommended that I reach out to the wellbeing team to get some additional support. To be honest, I don't know if I would have finished university without the support and weekly session from a councillor. Most universities also offer academic support with essays or career support. We pay a lot of money attending university so we may as well take advantage of what it offers.


Neon light against flower wall

(Money management) How to have fun on a low budget. Regardless of whether you have the maximum grant or the lowest grant, we all struggle with our money at some point. In your first year, you make bad money decisions and by final year, you’ve decided to go vegan because it’s cheaper and save all your money instead. Social life is a big part of university. Clubbing at uni has never been my scene but I still went out for lunches, dinners, day trips and everywhere else with my friends. This all adds up. However, by the end of the whole experience you've learnt how to have fun on a low budget.


It's not a race but it's not a marathon either. Your grades are not everything at univeristy. Sure, they're important because you need to pass to move up a year and you want a good degree classification. But, they're not the be all and end all. Lecturers are looking for how you engage with the content. My highest scoring essays were down to referencing different scholars and sharing ideas and theories. You're not in a race with anyone because you're not competing with them. Getting a degree is something you do for yourself and a personal journey. 


Good luck! And if you've already been, what did you learn at university?


Love, Aoife xo 

Girl reading The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

The last few months have not been easy. Being in lockdown has been a challenge for us all but for some of us, it has been an even bigger battle. One thing that came out of my recent therapy sessions is that I need to be kinder to myself. I need to learn how to be confident in myself and not see my weaknesses as completely detrimental. 

    Since then, I've been on a little journey of self-confidence in learning how to identify unhealthy behaviours and make them healthier. I think we all need to not just be kinder to ourselves, but learn how to  instead. We can be kinder to ourselves by treating ourselves to a bar of chocolate or a new Dior bag. However, that's only short term. By 'learning', we can create long term healthy habits. Here are four tips that can help boost self-confidence:


Be proud of what you’ve achieved- How often do you stop and reflect on what you’ve achieved? I can’t remember the last time I did that and that’s an issue. We continue to achieve every single day and that should be recognised. I don’t think about what I have overcome or really acknowledge all the amazing things I’ve done in the past three months. And they’re a pretty big deal. I just graduated with first class honours, woah! As humans, we tend to have the habit of chasing one thing after another, never really feeling fulfilled at what we’ve already done. When you have a moment, think about everything you have done in the past week, month or even year. The most important thing is that you can smile about it and think, I did that.


Don’t put too much pressure on yourself- Do you know what’s human? Making mistakes. No one is that perfect and if they are, they’re lying. In order to be kind to ourselves, we have to allow room for errors. We’re going to get things wrong from time to time and that’s how we learn and overcome it. By putting so much pressure on ourselves, we’re missing the opportunity to learn and grow from experiences. And Rome wasn’t built in a day. Things take time and they’ll take as long as they need to.


Rupi Kaur The Sun and Her Flowers


Accepting you don’t have complete control over everything that happens- Anxiety often stems from a lack of control. In situations where we’re not in control, we often feel anxious. I get waves of anxiety that tend to last a few weeks to a few months. I guess it never really goes away but I’ve learnt how best to manage it, if you will. One thing I always get told is to focus on what I can and am able to control. This can be quite difficult in some situations especially where we feel helpless. Take the coronavirus, we can’t control that or being in lockdown but we can control how we choose to act and use our time now that we’re at home more often than not. We can control some things and we can’t with others. Finding a balance is really helpful and focusing on what we can control.


Treat yourself- I’ll admit that use those two words a lot normally. I only realised the impact of not treating yourself when I starved myself of that. Pre-lockdown,  I’d treat myself by going shopping or buying artisan doughnuts (so so good). But since we went into lockdown and I was struggling with everything including really bad acne, I stopped. I stopped feeling worthy of myself and stopped being kind to myself. One way you can treat yourself Covid friendly is to buy flowers. Flowers can make all the difference by brightening up the space and making the room feel happier. My Nan said to buy flowers for someone when they’re sad and that’s a good lesson to remember. So, whether it’s your favourite doughnut, flowers or something pink (my happy colour), remember to treat yourself and do things that make you smile. 


Love, Aoife xo


A new year gives you the opportunity to explore new places and try out new things. Unfortunately, last year I was unable to do most of the things I had planned when I was in London because I worked throughout most of the summer holidays. Since my exams finish in May and I graduate in July, I will officially be free from being a student which means I'll have more time on my hands before I start working *sarcastic yay*. What's on my list for things I want to do in 2020?

Visit a new place in London // 
Last year, Aoife and I went to Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park and it was so gorgeous and peaceful! After uploading a video on Snapchat, I received countless messages asking about the location, Many people were surprised to find that the garden was in London. There are loads of places I haven't discovered or yet seen. One of the places I really want to visit is Kew Garden which looks beautiful. When I planned to go last year, it was raining but I'm going to make sure I see it this year!

Solo Trip // 
Since I can't travel during summer at the moment -I have eczema and a skin disorder that makes my skin sensitive to the sun- I thought it would be great to go somewhere in Europe during my reading week this month. I know most of my friends are not available or don't really want to go...so, why not make it my first ever solo trip? After travelling to Venice last August, I have to go back to Italy! I would love to go to Milan or to Florence for a few days. The whole experience of travelling alone can definitely be daunting but this doesn't put me off at all! I know I would meet great people along the way. It would truly be an unforgettable experience.


Spa Day // 
Because I deserve it and you do too! I would love to treat myself to a self-pampering day where I can unwind, focus on my wellness and enjoy a relaxing massage that puts me to sleep. I've seen so many incredible places for a spa getaway trip- maybe I have plans for my 21st after all!

Go to another city // 
I have never been to another city outside London before. Except for Leicester since  I go to university there. Birmingham and Nottingham are only a train away so I don't really have any excuses! After being told how big Manchester is, I would love to spend a day experiencing city life elsewhere.

Attend a Meditation Class // 
Life can become stressful, overwhelming and chaotic. Sitting in silence and focusing on your breathing is a really good technique that allows you to refocus and bring yourself into the present. If you're on a spiritual journey, you know how important it is to stay in silence without being consumed by excessive thinking. A friend recommended a meditation class in Leicester that she really enjoyed. I would love to surround myself with people who are in touch with their spirituality whilst learning how to meditate more effectively without being distracted by excessive thought.

What new things would you like to try this year?



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Hey, it's me Aoife! I hope you enjoyed Rashidah's blog post. I also wrote a guest post over on her blog about books that have changed my life which you can read here.


You know the saying “you can take the girl out of London but you can’t take London out of the girl.” Well as it turns out you can’t take the girl out of London either. 

I am a city girl, through and through. Anyone who knows me will clearly see that I thrive in a big city. It’s the place I feel most comfortable and empowered. It’s home. And the moment you dare to take me out of the city: I start to crumble. It’s been two years since I took up part-time residency (left feels so final) in a smaller city to go to university. It has been the hardest transition I’ve faced in life despite everything else that has happened.


You see, London, you are freedom. I learned to navigate you growing up, thanks to my Dad, and it’s almost like being in control of the world. Whether it’s to hop on the Victoria line and arrive in town 20 minutes later. Or to jump on the central line and step out onto the charming roads of Notting Hill. I can navigate you even with my eyes closed.

Sometimes, I find it ironic how a city that’s so crowded provides me with the same amount of freedom that others may find running through a country field. I’ve learned that freedom is me being able to navigate myself. I am in control. It’s me, my two legs and my Oyster card. 


I think what I love most about London is how it's constantly changing. It evolves and opens discussions. Creates spaces that let me and others explore our passions. Excites us and keeps us on our toes. It always keeps me amused and amazed at how much talent one city can breathe. 

London, you are home. You make me and others feel like we’re on top of the world. You continue to buzz and thrive. My Mum calls you a playground and I agree. You’re one big adventure where nothing is ever the same. 

Like I mentioned earlier, moving out of London is one of the hardest things I’ve done. I miss it so much and much to my parents' annoyance, I always return to keep the affair going. 

Are you a city or country person?

Love, Aoife xo

One of the things I love about living away at university is having freedom in the kitchen. With my own budget and only myself to feed, I have freedom in what I can buy and what I can make. And, I love to take advantage of it every day. My new found freedom and the added fact of how much I hate that student stereotype (which sadly wiped out the number of times I ate my favourite type dish, pasta *sad face*), I became motivated to try new things. 

So, how does a falafel salad equate to trying new things? Compared to the simple diet I had back home, a falafel salad is something I wouldn’t really have. I have been trying to introduce more vegetarian based meals into my diet and the occasional vegan one. I find they taste much better than normal meat meals. Plus, there is so much more you can do when meat is not involved.

When I made this salad, I wanted it to more than a bunch of dry leaves. I seasoned each part differently which really helped in adding flavour. The couscous is soft and delicate contrasting to the crispness of falafel and slight crunch in the fried peppers. It’s one of the nicest things I’ve ever made.


The couscous is mixed with Italian Style Seasoning (from Sainsbury's) and I added a little more water than usual to keep it moist. The peppers and courgettes where lightly fried and mixed with a paprika-based season mix. I love cooking Kale. It's such a versatile vegetable and I have a lot of fun making it differently. This time, I steamed it and mixed in some chopped garlic to give it a little taste. When it comes to cooking Kale a little tip is to massage it when you wash it. It softens the leaves up and gives it some more taste.

There’s a scene in this film called Ramen Girl where the chef serves up ramen and talks about placing the ingredients in certain places to create harmony in the dish.  Ever since then, I’ve tried to recreate a sense of harmony in my dishes. It sounds a little silly but when everything is placed just so it tastes nicer and it somehow cleanses your mind and palette before eating. I could be on some weird voodoo zen thing but try creating a sense of harmony when you serve up food.

Love, Aoife xo