Saturday, 27 February 2016

I Survived University!

Considering it's been 9 months since I finished university and 5 months since I graduated, this post is most definitely long overdue! I know everyone says it but I really don't know where the last 3 years have gone, they've flown by in the blink of an eye. First year seems like a lifetime ago, as does second year really. I definitely saved the best year until last because my third year was just amazing. I felt settled, happy and content with my house, my degree, and my friends. Everything seemed to come together perfectly and I really ended university life on a massive high.

No-one ever really properly prepares you for university. They make out like it will be the best three years of your life; no-one telling you what to do or what to eat, living with people your own age 'just like you', rolling out of bed at 12pm for 2 hours of uni and then spending the rest of the day in the SU bar. That is the case some days but for the most part, that's not the way it goes. In your first year, you get put in to a flat with 5 random strangers and you're expected to all get on and want to do the same things and live in similar ways and it just doesn't happen like that. Personalities clash and you realise that not everyone wants the kitchen to be clean and the pots washed everyday, not everyone wants to spend every night of Freshers' Week getting drunk, and not everyone wants to watch the same things on T.V. as you. That doesn't mean you can't still get on with them, but it does mean it makes life a little more difficult and compromise is key.

University is a huge change even if you are still in education, the education is a lot different to how it was at GCSE and A-Level. There's a lot more responsibility on you to turn up to lectures and seminars and then do 5 hours of work per module each week, on top of the essays you usually have to write. You basically need to work 9-5 every day, if not more, so if anyone tells you it's a cop-out and 3 years of getting drunk and doing what you want, tell them to try it first and see if they still think that. It takes time to adjust to it but again, no-one really prepares you for that. You don't have people there to constantly check up on you, make sure you're doing the work you're supposed to be doing and hold your hand through essays and exams. It can feel isolating but essay writing and studying with friends whether in the library, or at someone's house, really helps and having something to look forward to each week gets you through it eventually. Just because you chose your degree subject, doesn't mean you have to enjoy every single minute of it.

In terms of living away from home, it's been both amazing and disheartening. At first, you're so wrapped up in the euphoria of living with a bunch of people your own age and having the excitement of Freshers' Week that you don't really notice you're not at home anymore. As the three years go on, it gets much easier and often when you go back home, you can't wait to leave again (sorry family, if you're reading this!) but when you do feel homesick, it hits you a lot more. I did feel left behind at times and when things are tough at uni and your family aren't there it can feel like you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders but that's where having amazing friends helps. I made some of the best friends I've ever had at uni and we're at the stage now where we've gone from talking to each other and seeing each other every single day to being back at home, at work, with very busy lives and not as much time as we used to. It is a massive change but I wouldn't want life without them now and that's enough to keep your friends by your side no matter where in the country you all are!

I haven't quite managed to leave university behind just yet, considering I'm working at the University of Sheffield but I love it. I really enjoy my job (most of the time) and I'm a lot more confident in telling people that no, I don't want a job relating to my degree right now. Perhaps that will change in the future, perhaps it won't but that doesn't mean it's been a waste at all. People struggle to understand this and don't quite get why I wouldn't want a job that relates to my degree after all that time and money spent on it. The truth is, university was the best time of my life but at times, it was the worst as well. I wouldn't change a single second of it though, it's cliched to say it, but it has helped to shape who I am as a person and it's also changed my outlook on so many things - I think I've come out of it a much more open-minded person who is confident of her own opinions. Plus, without university I wouldn't have met my wonderfully brilliant friends who really did keep me sane and made it all worthwhile. Seeing them all graduate with 2:1s and being able to graduate with them was the most emotional day ever! Just because I don't have a job relating to Criminology doesn't mean those 3 years were a waste, far from it.

So, 5 months on, life is definitely a lot different! I'm working full-time in an office with some lovely people and it's been a huge challenge for me to adjust to a "normal" job and routine. It's been difficult not having my friends around at the end of the road and being able to have spontaneous nights out or go for coffee whenever we feel like it. Everything takes so much organisation and effort now but in some ways, it's nicer that way because we know we all want to see each other and between the 5 of us, there's never nothing to talk about! I'm happy that I took the decision to go to university; to move away from home, to try something new, and to meet new people (who are some of the best people I know). For now though, I'm settled back in Sheffield and I feel happy and content with how things are at the moment. That chapter of my life is over with and it's time to start a new one!

Friday, 18 September 2015

3 Years Later...I Graduated!

I can honestly say that my graduation was up there as one of the best days of my life. The whole thing was so much fun, so emotional and so rewarding. Seeing those 3 years of hard work, tears, tantrums and so many moments of wanting to give up, pay off not only for you, but for your best friends and course friends, is the nicest feeling ever. I felt like a proud mum watching everyone go on stage and officially become graduates! Everyone's university experiences are different of course, but we have all been united in the feelings of pride, relief, excitement, happiness, sadness and stress that come with being students. For one last day, we were all together to share each other's achievements and to just enjoy and celebrate all that has happened in the last 3 years to get us to this point.

 I also have a huge amount of admiration for the people on my course. Not everyone is as open about their lives as others but everyone will have had their struggles in the last 3 years, myself included, yet we've all come through them and still achieved great things. People often tell me that university will have been a waste of money if I don't pursue a career in Criminology, or it's a waste of money because I only spent 8 hours a week in lectures/seminars and I'm now facing endless questions regarding my future. The truth is, I have absolutely no idea what I want to do or where I want my life to go. I've spent 3 years learning about all things criminological and it has opened up my eyes and I've now realised that maybe a criminology-related career isn't for me. Does that mean the last 3 years have been a waste? Absolutely not! The 90 minutes I spent in Lincoln Cathedral hearing so many lovely things being said about us all made it so worthwhile and I don't regret any of it whatsoever. University isn't for everyone and I would never judge someone for choosing not to go but for me, it was 100% the right choice, has been the biggest learning curve ever and has taught me some really valuable lessons that maybe I wouldn't have learnt elsewhere. In short, I don't think for one minute that any of it has been a waste and no matter what direction my life goes in, I will always be grateful for the 3 years I spent in Lincoln.

I have also met some wonderful people, some I know I will more than likely not see/speak to again which is fine. We shared our 3 years of university together, we enjoyed the time spend in seminars and seeing each other on nights out and making idiots of ourselves but the truth is, not all friends come in to our lives to last forever. I think as you get older, you start to realise this more and realise that it's okay not to be best friends and get your nails painted or have lunch with every single friend you make. Sometimes people just aren't meant to be in your life for very long but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate them and learn from them and enjoy their company! On the other hand, I have made some lifelong friends, the kind of friends that make you struggle to remember what life was like before them. Seeing them at graduation was just the best feeling because we all live far apart, we all lead busy lives now and we don't get to see each other every single day and decide to spontaneously meet up. Meeting up takes time, planning and organisation! Again though, as you get older you deal with it and you come to appreciate that not seeing or even speaking to them every day doesn't mean that they're not your best friends anymore. It's a difficult adjustment to make, especially in my experience because I saw at least one of them every single day at uni and it's really strange (and rubbish) not to be able to send a quick text asking to go for food or come round for coffee. What is does mean though, is that when we do see each other, it's all the more special and we have loads to talk about and catch up on!

Basically, the last 3 years have been bloody awesome and I am very lucky to have met such wonderful people and to have had the support from them and from my family and friends back home. University has always been in the plans for my future but now that it has actually happened and I'm now a graduate, it doesn't quite feel real! Maybe I won't go in to a Criminology-related career and maybe some people will be disappointed by that but I had the best time and learnt so much - for me, that makes it all worth it. Thank you to my friends, for supplying me with endless words of encouragement, advice, for listening to me rant and complain, and for supplying me with alcohol and chocolate when necessary - you know who you are and I love you all.

Thanks for reading, here's to the future!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Election 2015: Why Your Vote Matters

In 25 days, the UK will go to the polls to decide who is going to govern our country for the next 5 years. Five years holds a lot of potential for change, for better things, for better lives but unlocking that potential starts with us. We have the privilege and the right to choose our government, to choose who makes the decisions that will affect us over the next 5 years and beyond. There are people across the globe who would do just about anything to have that right. I don't want to tell you who you should or should not vote for but I will tell you that you should vote, because it does matter and it will make a difference.

This is the first general election I am old enough to vote in so I have spent a lot of time considering each party and deciding who I should vote for. Especially as a young person, my vote matters even more because young people notoriously don't use their vote because they don't think they are important.

Don't vote, don't complain
If you don't vote, you don't have the right to then have your say over what happens next. If you want the NHS or the benefits system or the education system to change then vote because it's the only way it will happen. If you don't vote, don't complain afterwards that the party you don't like got voted in because you're part of the problem.

You can be part of the change
For us young 'uns, we are more important than we realise when it comes to elections. The big parties often direct their attention to older voters or groups of people who they know will give them their votes but not many direct their attention to us. I often find that older people aren't set in their ways, but stick to who they vote for and tend not to change their minds. For people like me, who are voting for the first time and about to leave university at 21 with their whole (uncertain) future ahead, the next 5 years of government is really important. Change doesn't happen unless people make it happen.

It's your future
Our generation are the future and what happens on 7th May affects us all until the next election and beyond. Decide what you want for your future in terms of maybe housing, education, the NHS etc., research what each party sets out to do in each of these areas and make your decision and help to shape a (hopefully) better future for yourself.

Politics affects us all
I know that when a lot of people hear the word politics, it invokes a groan and a 'I hate politics' mindset but it really does affect everyone on a daily basis. From the cleaner who works all hours God sends on minimum wage and still can't afford to live properly, to the student who owes thousands of pounds but can't get a full-time, well-paid job in their degree area, to the big companies who get away with not paying their taxes. They are just a few examples but they affect everyone. If you want a better minimum wage because you're fed up of being stuck on £6.50 an hour then vote. Politics isn't just about the big parties and what happens in the Houses of Parliament, it's about what happens in everyday life in our society - we have the power to change society.

Like I said, I won't tell you which party I'm voting for or which party you should vote for but I really think that the right to vote is one of the most valuable rights we have and we should all exercise that right. So go and research each party, watch the TV election debates and listen to what politicians are saying, educate yourself and don't waste your vote on 7th May.

Remember, you need to register to vote in the election if you are 18+ before 20th April. It literally takes 5 minutes (make sure you have your National Insurance number to hand), you'll get your polling card through the post with your local polling station information and then you're good to go on Thursday 7th May 2015.

Register to vote:

I also find the BBC website really useful for election information and for keeping up-to-date on all the goings on in the run-up to the election.

BBC Election 2015:
General Election FAQs:

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Welcome, 2015

Last year, I did a round-up of 2013 with pictures and reminiscing of the days and months gone by but this year, there are so many photos to go through and organise already on my computer that I just don't want to tackle it. Instead, I've included photos of the people who really made 2014 what it was, which was a bloody good year! I really enjoyed 2014 and I'm not really sure why as I didn't go on any exotic holidays or experience anything particularly life-changing, it was just a good year. I changed, as did my surroundings and the people I surrounded myself with and I ended the year feeling very happy and content and positive about the year ahead.

2014 highlights: seeing in the new year in France, having the Rev from Reverend & The Makers play a gig at my house, putting in a lot of effort to my blog in the first half of the year, Manchester with the fam: safari & Coronation Street, McBusted in Sheffield with Sarah, final night out after the last exam and getting emosh during Aerosmith, Tour de France day, Manchester with Josie (our first trip away on our own!), Matlock Bath for Josie’s birthday, the whole of Freshers’ Week & being an SU Helper, my 4-day 21st celebrations, Josie visiting Lincoln, Halloween, Bonfire Night, library days and Tesco meal deals involving chicken, stuffing & bacon sandwiches, Friday afternoon lunchtime chills with Amanda, Elise & Harriet, Bunty’s tea dates with Amanda, sleepovers with Amanda, weekly Starbucks treat, Christmas meal and drinks with the girls, last night out with everyone before Christmas and singing Mariah Carey with Amanda in the fake snow…then laughing at the guy who fell asleep on the takeaway floor with his chips, the very drunk and eventful house Christmas celebrations, having Amanda in Sheff for a couple of days, the nicest Christmas at my auntie's, all topped off by spending NYE 2014 in the local WMC with my favourite people playing bingo and drinking too much wine - a perfect end to a pretty damn good year!

In recent years, I haven't really been one for resolutions, I don't like putting pressure on myself to lose x amount of weight or read x amount of books (that one failed massively last year) so this year, I'm taking what I learnt in 2014 and applying it to 2015 so that I can continue all the things that made 2014 good and build on them to make 2015 even better.

- Worrying about the future only means you won’t enjoy the here and now. Work hard and have your goals but let life take its course and enjoy it - you only get one life.
- Being there for your friends and family is incredibly important but make time for yourself too…
- …and don’t give all your help and energy to people who don’t give it back, you encountered a couple of people like that in 2014.
- You are capable of achieving good grades but you have to work hard for it. Keep it up, there are only 5 months to go.
- Don’t let other people stress you out, take a step back and work alone for a while if you need to.
- Stop spending all your money on Starbucks and meal deals...
- …the less you spend, the more you save and the better summer you can have.
- Looking back, you’re a lot less of a bitch than you used to be but keep working at it.
- You don’t need all that vodka to have a good time and it only fucks up your liver and makes you feel shit the next day so take it easy this year (I have a feeling this may fail as soon as I'm back at uni...).
- Continue to work on loving yourself, that is really what has made you much happier this year.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and a happy New Year - here's to 2015! Let me know what you're taking from 2014 and hoping to get out of 2015.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Why Victim-Blaming is NEVER Acceptable.

Hi guys! Once again, sorry I haven't been blogging for a while, I have just been a very busy little bee and at the moment, I can only blog as and when I have the time.

I have a couple of beauty posts lined up which I will hopefully be able to publish soon but for now, I wanted to talk about something a little more serious that has really been angering and upsetting me recently. The comments I have included in this post relate to a particular rape case that has hit the headlines this week - the case is that of former Sheffield United footballer, Ched Evans. (There is speculation over whether or not United will allow him to play for them again so for the time being, he is a former player.) If you haven't heard about this case, I don't want to go in to it in detail so I'll leave it for you to look in to it and make your own mind up over it. That said, I am not going to even speculate on whether or not I think he is guilty. I know that a lot of people feel as though they can play judge and jury and know better from what they read online than the people in the courtroom did but as far as I am concerned, he was found guilty in a court of law and he is a convicted rapist.

The main focus of this post is to talk about why victim-blaming is never acceptable and whilst I don't want it to be all about the case I mentioned above, the comments I have included relate to that case. I think these comments are just the tip of iceberg though and I'm sure they represent the views of many people, unfortunately. I was appalled, angry, frustrated and upset, all at the same time whilst I was reading these comments and the most shocking thing for me, was that all of these comments were written by women. I know that all victim-blaming is wrong and if it had been men making those comments, I would have been just as angry; however, it is particularly upsetting that it was mostly women. The fact that rape can happen to any of us seemed to escape their attention and led them to making some utterly disgusting and narrow-minded comments.

"Let's face it...Most of us ladies have got in to some right alcohol fueled states but not so much that we'd go in to a hotel with a bloke we don't know from Adam. I mean what the f@@k was she expecting...a game of tiddliwinks maybe. Like I said I'm not condoning what he did but when a woman goes out dressed provocatively, gets absolutely smashed and goes back to a hotel with a bloke she doesn't know then in my eyes she's asking for trouble...just saying like."

"Lots of people saying 'going back with them to hotel doesn't consent sex' whilst you're right in saying that, who in their right mind goes to a hotel with a total stranger with no intention of sleeping with them to any extent. Her actions clearly show she wasn't a timid little girl!"

"Drunk or not, any woman who goes to a hotel room with any man knows what she's going there for. Been there, done that, did not cry rape."

"A woman should never ever ever get so drunk she doesn't know what she is doing, that is the point of this story. Where are her friends on this night out? Did they just leave her? To then go and accuse this man of rape is disgusting, she has probably ruined his life. She is a disgrace to herself and should have some respect for herself. What kind of message does this send out 'it's okay for us girls to go out there get blindo drunk and not know what we are doing' to then accuse someone of raping her. She put herself in this situation and only has herself to blame. She is a fool."

Those are just a few of the comments I read but there were many, many more. The general consensus among these people seems to be that she put herself in a situation where she could have been raped and should have expected it because she agreed to go back with this guy (she actually never agreed to go back with Evans, she agreed to go back with his friend but that's a whole different argument). First of all, the notion that by agreeing to go to somebody's hotel room and therefore she should be expecting sex, is ludicrous. I have known of situations where people have gone home with guys they have met on nights out when drunk and they haven't had sex with them, or been raped. It is not wrong in any way, to go back with a guy and expect for nothing to happen. In addition to that, even if she was expecting and intending to have sex, it is equally understandable and not wrong for her to then change her mind. Decisions can be made in the heat of the moment, especially when drunk, and it is not unusual, in my opinion, for women to then change their minds and they should not be shunned for that. In particular, "...been there, done that, did not cry rape" really angered me. I have absolutely no problem with people who go home with people they don't know and have sex with them and I would never judge anyone who did that if it is consensual. Whoever wrote that comment clearly gave their consent and that is the biggest and most obvious difference between that person and this victim.

Next up, is my favourite part of all the comments which is the most contradictory statement I've ever seen. "...I'm not condoning what he did but..." is already off to a bad start because there should be no 'but' about it, you should never condone it. End of. To then suggest that what she was wearing and how much she had drunk is an acceptable reason to blame her for what happened, is shocking. It shocked me that people still have that opinion and still blame women for dressing 'provocatively' and therefore they are to blame for men not being able to control themselves. Again, myself and my friends have often worn short dresses and high heels on nights out and not once have we 'asked' for male attention. The sooner society realises that not everything a woman does or wears or says, is for the benefit of men, the better.

To summarise, no matter what a woman wears, no matter how much she drinks, no matter whether she agrees to go home with a man or not, rape is never her fault. So many drunk girls go home with boys on nights out and don't get raped because those boys can control themselves.

Wearing a short dress/skirt, low cut top and high heels does not equal consent.
Going home with someone does not equal consent.
Being so drunk that you cannot properly give consent does not equal consent.

Nothing equals consent apart from YES. 

I hope I live long enough to see a society where women are not blamed for what they wear or what they drink. Women do not wear make-up and short dresses for the benefit of men and it is not an invitation for sex. Women should be standing together and supporting each other; if we can't even manage that, what hope do we have? I hope I live long enough to see women confident and strong in coming forward and reporting rape cases without the fear of being blamed and humiliated for putting herself in a 'vulnerable situation'.

Most of all, I hope I live long enough to see a society where rape is but a distant memory and we all shake our heads in disbelief that something so horrific could happen as part of everyday life.

Thanks for reading.