Moving House

Moving In For The First Time

This week I’d like to talk about settling into your new place.

For most of you, this will be your first real excursion in living on your own and it can be absolutely daunting. I remember this time last year, I was sat with my parents in the living room and going through my list of stuff I needed to take with me and I was surprised I didn’t bring the kitchen sink. I genuinely could have lived off of the stuff in my room and never ventured into the kitchen. I had that much powdered milk, sugar, coffee and snacks.

However. Now is your time to decorate your room how you would want it. Whilst most Universities have a rule on posters and blu-tac, however, with a few command strips from a local supermarket or Amazon, you are more than allowed to put them up.

For lights, usually if your accommodation won’t give you a bedroom lamp, you’re more than welcome to travel down to Argos where (I got personally) some nifty little bedside table lamps from their colourmatch range that are touch activated and yes, like a child in a sweetshop I played with them for hours.

Then comes other decorations. Funko pops and figurines can really liven the place up a little bit, even some flowers or growing your own pot plants in your windowsill. It’s something quite amazing when you can have a chilli in your cooking that you grew earlier in the year and it has a sense of “I’ve saved a little tiny bit of cash” by doing so this way.

So that’s another thing to look into. However, books are your best friend (or video games if you’re like me). They can fill a room with your hobbies and your pleasures then it genuinely brings that feeling on homesickness down a little bit. Even having a huge photo collage of all of your family and friends from home can help ease the pain a little.

So when you get into that dorm room, remember that it’s yours for a year. Go and make it a home.

Until next time!

Conor ^-^

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General Advice

Living For One

Okay so I’ve discussed previously about batch cooking and why it’s so useful, but I’ve not explained why you should do it.

I learnt personally a lot about cooking before I came to University, I always wanted to appear on a programme like MasterChef or The Great British Bake Off when I was growing up, and me being a teenage boy at the time… yeah… that doesn’t usually go down well with bullies so I had it as my “forbidden passion”. So when I arrived at University, I was so used to cooking for six, that it was hard to transition into only cooking for a single person (and pasta is still pasta no matter how much time you give it, you will always use too much) so I looked into basic foods that could be made on a budget and stored safely in the fridge and freezer space I was given and that would last me the whole week.

Over time I’ve gotten better at this, and thanks to moving into a flat of my own, I’ve now got enough space to bulk buy in the start of the month and then just simply top up each week with stuff I need, like perishables, and a few tips I’ve picked up are here:

Ask Your Parents For Cooking Tips
So at the moment, I’ve been saving up as much as I can so what I tend to do is spend very little on food. When I was at my lowest, I brought four packs of sausages, then 7 days worth of noodles and frozen veg. This would be good enough and healthy enough that I would survive on about £5 a week on food, whilst I was spending so much trying to fix my computer so I could actually do my work. Ask your parents/carers for any tips they might have. You never know, they will have gone through something very similar when they were our age and might know some stuff. My mums tip to me was for a “chicken dinner”. Get some instant mash, chicken slices for sandwiches (or beef or ham), some bread, frozen veg, and then some toad-in-the-hole style Yorkshire Puddings, layer the chicken slices around and place cooked frozen veg, mash and maybe some gravy if you feel up to it and then eat it out of the yorkshire pudding. It might not look like the most appitising dish, but it definately has that student feel and filling appeal of a Sunday dinner.

Whilst my dad gave me the tip of “befriending your local takeout”. No, seriously, my dad apparently got Christmas cards addressed to the stores “number one customer!” each year…

Excel Spreadsheet of Money In and Out
I gave this tip previously, but one of the things I’m quite proud of is my spreadsheet. It tells me all of the money I have outgoing and incoming each month and will tell me an estimate of what I should have by the end of the month in both of my bank accounts. You can usually find these online or make one yourself. You then have the added bonus if you make one yourself by putting “Excel Spreadsheets” on your CV.

Washing Clothes
I have four pairs of jeans with me, enough underwear and plenty of t-shirts. Jeans (nearly) never need to be washed. Honestly. It’s amazing. T-shirts and underwear can be all handwashed, which makes the only real thing you need to wash is bedspreads and towels. I personally go to a laundromat because I don’t have a washing machine in my room and then leave them hanging up to dry on clothes horses during the day and the next if necessary.

Exploring Your Hobbies
When you’re at home, you’re probably going to be used to playing games or reading books all the time and now you have your own money, you might be tempted by that £100 collectors edition of your favorite game, or a limited edition signed hand-written book by your favorite author (seriously, if anyone has a copy of Robert Muchamore’s CHERUB in handwriting, hit me up), and that’s perfectly fine. However, you have to hold yourself back. Save it as an end of month thing. Each month you buy yourself something new, then after a year at University, you’ve saved some cash and gotten used to that feeling you get when you can read a book and feel like you’ve earnt it.

I hope these tips help you out as much as they helped me survive my first two years at University,
Until next time!
Conor ^-^

Relationship

Why Everyone Is Right When They Say: “Move On Before You Start University”

So today I’m going to talk about romance with University and all that jazz surrounding relationships before University and I’ll start with that little saying: “If you’re in a relationship with a person back home and you’re at Uni, it’s not going to work.”

This is true.

Nine times out of ten you are never going to stay with your secondary/middle/high school partner, and it’s namely down to maturity. You may think you’re the most mature kid at school, but when it comes to love, no one really is. You haven’t seen the world, you’ve been stuck in your home town.

For example, when I left for University, I was in a relationship during my first year and it messed up a lot of chances I had to make friends. You don’t wanna have the embarrassment I did of having to explain to my closest friends at University that “I haven’t told her about you all because I know she doesn’t want me to have other friends”. Which is such a fun convosation.

Okay, so maybe all pre-University relationships aren’t like my previous horror story.

But you still have to be aware of the fact that it simply won’t work. You are now in a new place, a new city, a new country even! You will meet like minded people like you who want to succeed, and like me you will find someone who loves you for who you are, that you can connect to, can go out and enjoy hours and hours of walking around shops and pondering stuff like “What Hogwarts house would the characters from such and such a film be in”.

I look back on my first year with regret. I missed out on a lot of things, meeting new people, I got to a point where I was so afraid to go on Facebook and say I was heading out to meet a friend because I knew that I would have a game of 20 questions over their gender, their close partners, everything!

Even then, regardless of if they are or are not like that, you still end up missing out on a lot of opportunities, one of my first flatmates ended up leaving his course, simply because he missed his girlfriend back home too much and I know that he will one day regret leaving University, because it’s a whole new world.

We missed out on going out with our flatmates, seeing films and going off to different festivals and the like, simply because we were always on the phone, stuck, in an eternal loop of ‘how is so and so from this street.’ We were so holed up in our rooms, we barely got to see our University in all it’s glory.

So my advice is this, and it follows suit with so many other people, like Rhett and Link (also check out their song about graduation, it’s so funny), don’t stay with someone back in your hometown.

It simply isn’t going to work. Tensions will rise because you are off doing revision and they are wanting to talk to you every second and you just can’t. The revision you get for University can’t be treated like a college assignment anymore, it’s a career, something to give you an insight into what you will be doing for the rest of your life. You will also end up being reminded each day of home, and your family. Homesickness is not a nice thing to suffer from, especially during exam season after Christmas. So don’t let someone stop you from that, from enjoying your life, simply because they are not there.

Until next time!
Conor ^-^

University Advice

Undertaking A Resit Examination

I apoligise for my lack of updates over the past week, I recently resat my Artificial Intelligence examination last Thursday so I had to sacrifice some of my pleasures so I could study more, and unfortunately this was one of those.

The first time around, I was given two days and I realised when I was walking out of that examination I was destined to fail. I didn’t expect to pass. But I knew that I was going to be able to resit. So I took that chance.

I sat down with my girlfriend and she helped me plan a revision schedule, (I’ve never been good at focusing, I get distracted way too easily) so after she left for her Industrial Year, each morning I would do some early morning revision until about 12PM, then break for lunch, then do more revision until the evening when I would spend time talking to her on the phone and via texts.

I got into a routine, and that was the way I like it. So much so that even now I’m finding it hard to break out of that routine. This is my advice for today.

Don’t worry about your retakes. They’ll go a lot better the second time around. Talk to your friends, let them know that you didn’t pass. They might be able to help you out as much as they can, take a load off your mind for instance or help you unwind where they can.

The second time around, I walked out of that exam hall feeling more confident about that exam than I have ever felt about any exam retake I’ve done.

All because I let people in to help me and yes, I fell at some points, I stumbled, but where I stumbled, my friends helped me back on my feet and I knew that I could do it.

Don’t stress too much. Take some time to do the things you want to do, whether it’s walks, playing games, or reading books. Enjoy yourself. Just make sure that you do a little bit of revision every now and then.

Until next time!
Conor ^-^

University Advice

Hope on Results Day

Results.

A horrible time of the year I know, where you open it up and see the letter that will determine how the rest of you life goes, or does it?

You see, that’s all it is, at the end of the day. A simple bit of paper that just tells the government that on a certain day in complete silence you can write down an answer to a question you will probably never have to face ever again in your life.

For some however, like me, I failed time and time again. My teachers got to the stage where they started to say to me whether college was the best option for me and whether I should go straight into work instead (this was of course before the UK government declared that you needed schooling until you were 18) but you can’t give up hope. If you want to do something, you do it. I wanted to go to College and do a BTEC in Computing, because it was the best option for me. My college never did the A-Level computing and even so, I wouldn’t have taken it. I preferred my BTEC because I learnt a lot more practically than I did mentally.

I look at where I am today and I believe that I made the best option for me. Yes, I failed English 4 times and Maths 5 times (with the certificates to prove it) and I’m at University now. Studying one of the most intense courses in the world. I’ve met people who I never thought I would get to meet, my two best friends in the world, the love of my life and I still have yet to finish my course.

So my message is this. Don’t give up hope. When you get that piece of paper, don’t look at it as a restriction, look at it as an open door. To try as hard as you can do show the world you can do what you want to do because that’s just it. You can do whatever you want to do and no one can tell you otherwise, and I hope my experience with failing my GCSE’s and other exams can help keep your spirites up regardless of whatever you get.

Until next time!
Conor ^-^

Work Advice

Getting Used To Work

When you start work, it’s a shock to the system. Especially when you’ve been so used to working in your own environment. However, there are some tips that you can use for your own benefit that will hopefully make that transition a little easier.

1. If You Can, Bring A Comfort Belonging
For the first month at work, every day I brought a photograph of me and my girlfriend with me, tucked neatly away inside my backpack, just when I got nervous about something, I just opened my notebook, saw the photo and felt a little better about not knowing what I’m doing.

2. Don’t Expect To Know Everything
It’s something that everyone goes through when they start working, but you are only there to learn more, to increase your knowledge. It’s only normal to feel like you’re behind everyone else and that’s okay! It’s only a temporary feeling. Once a month or so passes you’ll feel a lot more comfortable.

3. Treat Yourself
I know it’s been said before, but at the end of your first week or month, go and buy yourself something. A coffee, a new magazine or a book. You deserve it after working so hard to get used to your new environment.

4. Don’t Get Big Headed
Don’t believe that you are better than that place. Even if you’re working in a fast food place and you have more qualifications than everyone else (I’ve seen an old friend do this and got fired in a week). Everyone there is in the same boat as you, all trying to make money so that they can feed themselves and their families and pay their rent.

5. Try Not To Worry About Getting Everything Right
You’re going to make mistakes. That’s a part of life, and a bigger part of life is accepting you made those mistakes and moving on from them. Once you’ve done that, you can do anything. I made a pretty big error in my second month of work that cost us 4 hours. It’s only natural to make mistakes and as long as afterwards you can deal with it cleanly and professionally, then that’s wonderful.

And lastly. Be yourself. No one there is out to get you. Sure, you might meet people you really don’t get on with, but that’s okay. You’re not there to make friends, you’re simply there to go in at the start of the day, do what is asked of you, and go home at the end of the day. If they hired you, they would have done it because you were the best for the job. So don’t worry at first, because humans can do amazing things, and it’s all about dipping your toes in the water.

Until next time!
Conor ^-^
 

University Advice

Working Whilst Resitting

Working at University can be tricky. Especially during resits and you are working 9 to 5 each day. Most of the time you just get home and you don’t want to do any revision for the exam that’s coming around the corner to frighten you.

 

However, you can’t lose faith. A little bit of reading here and there will always make up for it, regardless of time and means. For example, I have to resit an AI examination at the end of this month but I’m also doing my Industrial Year at the same time. The way I’ve gotten around this is to make a day by day schedule over what I’m doing and when. So the moment that I get home, I have dinner, make a coffee and read my textbook whilst I watch an episode of Futurama or Family Guy. Then after a phone call with my girlfriend, I continue my revision by reading more of my book and making notes before I go to bed at roughly 11PM. Whilst I’m at work I keep a smaller textbook on my desk and whenever I have a free moment such as a coffee break, I open it up and read that for a little bit before I continue working. Usually whilst making notes at the same time.

 

Yes, you will have to sacrifice a lot of what you would want to do in order to pass that resit, and that’s okay. After all. Your resit is only for a month. Then you have the rest of the time for yourself. I already have plans for example to learn Welsh in my spare time after I finish my resit, and it’s still okay to treat yourself with a coffee or a new book. You’re trying your hardest after all and that’s all anyone would ever want from you.

 

So don’t give up hope, just because you might not be able to put your mind to paper, because you can do it. It just takes a little bit at first.

 

See you soon!

Conor ^-^

 

Getting a Job Advice

Try, Try, Try Again

Hi there! Today I’ll be talking about the importance of not giving up. When things do get tough, such as trying to apply to Universities or Jobs whilst you’re at University, it can get tough. Especially when you may get rejections from places you thought would be good. However, it’s not the end of the world, or the end of the path of trying.

 
Before I got my IY placement I sent out a total of 17 CV’s, 15 covering letters and failed 10 employment tests. However, I did eventually find somewhere that was willing to take me on for a year just so I have the experience that regular University just wouldn’t give me.

 
It’s upsetting when you open your e-mails up and see the words “sorry, but on this occassion you have not gone through to the next stage” and yes, it ruins your morale for trying to get more applications sent off, but you will always eventually find somewhere that is willing to take you on for a go, just to see if you will be good enough for that company. All you have to do is keep trying and eventually you will get somewhere, and one day, a company will hire you and see just how good you actually are.

 
This can be said for everything however, just like J.K Rowling didn’t get her book published for ages, you may, like loads of people, not get a job instantly, but you can always try. Since, if you don’t try, then you never know.

 
Goodbye for now!
Conor ^-^

Friendship

Be Yourself When You Get To University

Going off to University will provide you with a chance to make new friends. These friends will be the people that you will end up staying friends with for a long long time after you leave University.

 
The reason for this is you’re all in the same boat. You’re all going into University to study the course you chose and you are all there to get a degree at the very end of your course. So you don’t need to worry. Yes, they will be people that are possibly not familiar with the place you are going to University at and so you don’t need to worry. The first few weeks before your courses begin is just to make those friends and to get used to being with those people and so the University will provide time and possibly occasions like movie nights and walks to meet those people.

 
Don’t be afraid of being who you are, and don’t change yourself just to suit the people you are going to meet, you don’t need to go and get drunk each night if it’s not who you are to begin with. Don’t lie to yourself and just be yourself and you’re more than likely to make friends that you will never want to trade in the slightest.

 
My experience was bad, I went out drinking each night and made my friends that way. It’s not me to be honest, and I stopped, I just couldn’t continue lying to myself that I was this kind of person that I wasn’t and eventually I started to make the close friends I know and hold dearly to myself today and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, we’ve done so much together and I even found someone who means more to me than just friendship.

 
The point is, you won’t ever be yourself when you start University, but just don’t forget who you are when you get there, because it’s one thing to make friends, but it’s another to keep the friends you won’t ever want to be apart from.
Goodbye for now!
Conor ^-^

General Advice

Keeping A Close Backup

Making backups of your information is important, and you will always be told by IT tutors, technical support, your parents and yes, it does seem like a bit of a hassle, getting an external hard-drive or a usb stick to hold a single set of documents but it can come in handy.

First however, let me tell you a short story. In my first year of University, I had a complete meltdown, I lost all my data on my hard-drive and I suffered depression during this time due to a painful experience with a past relationship. I started however to wear a USB stick around my neck, this contained photographs of my pet dog, Toby. Whenever I felt like I couldn’t do anything, I immediately plugged my drive into my laptop to go through 500+ photos of my dog until I felt like I could continue working. This held me together because I felt like I had something to keep me going when I held it close to my chest.

A USB stick for instance, these are cheap and plentiful. I have about six all used for different things, one is my University documentation, all the work I’ve completed in the past two years, in case I need to pull up an assignment and hand it back in, in case of a server failure with the University (it does happen). The others are photos that I am too terrified of losing, photos of my family and my pets that mean the most to me when I feel like I can’t continue working on projects, it’s always nice to go through old photographs and feel a little less homesick.

An external hard-drive is a little more expensive, starting at around £30 and going all the way up to £150 based on hard-drive size and transfer speeds and extra functions like “cloud access”. However, if you are wanting to protect all of your data, music, videos, photos, documents like I do, then it’s worth investing in one, and every so often, format the drive and backup all the data once more. I prefer to do it every term so that I have the freshest backup if my computer dies whilst I’m at University, I have a backup in case things go pear shaped.

However, another backup option is cloud storage. Places like Google Drive and Dropbox are especially useful when you have little amounts of data but you want to access them everywhere.  I know it’s a drag to do and takes time, but in the end, having all your data backed up in case of an emergency is a wonderful thing we can do and achieve.

Speak to you all soon!

Conor ^-^