Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Travel Wish list #1

 Hello there! Today's post will be something that is a bit different, but that I would like to start regularly writing about, and that is wish lists. I for one love making lists, and I always like to hear what others have as a part of their lists. I think it's good to have something to aspire to, and hopefully one day complete. My wish list today will be dedicated to countries that I would one day like to visit.

1. New Zealand
 After watching many films that use New Zealand as their background, I have seen what a beautiful place it is. If I do ever get to go to New Zealand, I'd also like to pop over to Australia. I feel like it might have to be 'walking' holiday, although I really hope it wouldn't be as I'm not the biggest fan of walking!

2. Japan
 I would love to go to Japan, as I think it would be so interesting to see such a different way of life. I know some people complain because of how commercialised it has become, and that this has ruined the landscape of the place, but I would like to see both areas. Although it would be manic to stay in Tokyo, at this stage I'd like to say that I would be able to do it, but I don't think I could stay in one of those pod hotels! (If you haven't seen them, they're a room filled with single bed 'pods' which can only just fit you in when you are laying down. It would be way too claustrophobic!)

3. USA
 When I say the USA, I don't mean that I want to visit every single state. However, if I did ever get to go, I would want to go for about a month, go to everywhere that I wanted to, and then it wouldn't matter if I never returned. Off the top of my head, I'd really like to go to New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles and Orlando just to name a few! 

4. Italy
 This one is a bit of a cheat as I have actually been before whilst on a Cruise where we went to Rome, Florence and Pisa. I would love to be able to return though and to visit other places, especially Venice. Florence would have to be on the top of my list of places to return to, the city is just so beautiful and it has the best ice cream ever!

5. Russia
 I say Russia, but I really mean Moscow. Not that I have anything against the rest of the country, but I don't really know much about it. Again, although in Europe, to me they have a different way of living which would be really interesting to see. I love the look of the architecture that they have, and it would be great to actually see it in person.

6. South Africa
 This is a new one on the wish list for me, but my old flatmate Katie goes to South Africa a lot and really raves about it, so I would like to be able to go one day. One thing that I have always wanted to do is to go on safari; it would be so nice to actually see the animals in their natural habitat rather than just at the zoo! 

7. Canada
 I actually have relations that live over in Canada, but I have never been! I'd love to visit Niagara Falls whilst there but I wouldn't want to visit in winter as I've heard storied about it being -50°C and I wouldn't be able to cope with that at all. 

8. Iceland
 I would like to visit Iceland for one reason alone: to see the Northern Lights. There was a geography trip while I was at sixth form to Iceland, but unfortunately I didn't do geography so I couldn't go! I'm not sure how I would cope with the cold temperatures though, and you can't always guarantee to see the Northern Lights...maybe I'll put this to the back of my list, although I definitely do want to go one day!

9. Switzerland
 To me, Switzerland is again one of those places that you hear about, but don't actually really know anything about it so it would be nice to actually visit. I'm not one for skiing but just looking on google images makes me want to go as the landscape looks breathtaking!

10. Thailand 
 Thailand is the last one on the list for me today. Again I would like to visit here just because of the diverse and different culture. The beaches look amazing and I would love to ride an Elephant!! It would also be really interesting to see all of the old ruins as we have nothing like that here.

I took this quote off pinterest and it fits in really well here. I actually have this printed out and stuck on my wall in my room. It's not only about having a good time whilst you are away, but about learning things from new experiences and taking this back home with you.

Have you been to any of the countries that I have listed? Which countries would be in your wish list?

Love Jess xxx

Saturday, 27 September 2014

#52weeksofhappiness- Week 19

 Hello there! How has your week been? I have again had a busy one, what with it being freshers and all! I found that I was able to enjoy freshers in a different way this year, as I actually knew a lot of people, and I knew where everything was. There were all the perks of free food being given away, poster sales, the activities fair...need I go on? 
 On Sunday I had another day of working in Ranmoor giving out keys to the new students. I really enjoyed being able to see all the new people move in! I moved someone into my old flat and was really excited about it, but she didn't care so that was awkward! Monday night my house and I (and a few other friends) went out to the 'Frat Party' that was being held at the Union. It was really good, but it made me feel so old as I knew I wasn't a first-year anymore. If you are reading this and have just started University- take all the opportunities that you can get as your first year just flies by. 
 Thursday brought about the Activities fair, where I, with the rest of the Make up and Beauty Society committee, were getting people to sign up! It was a great success, and I look forward to the events that we have running next week. The fair was absolutely manic with people, the queue outside was so long! 
 I went to a Pilates class today, which was actually really relaxing and I will definitely be going again. This has also made me want to try out other exercise classes like yoga. This was a good part of my day, as this week has been quite stressful as I have been so busy; not only going out to places, but also with reading for next week, and this allowed me to calm down. If you're feeling stressed, I'd recommend giving it a go!

What made you happy this week?

Love Jess xxx

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

10 Books that Left a Lasting Impression

 Hello there! I have seen this tag going about Facebook a bit, so I thought I would turn it into a blogpost. It is a list of ten books that have left their mark on your life, or made you think about something in a different way. This will also enable me to do sort of mini book reviews for each one as well! So onto the list:

1. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
 I initially read this novel as a part of my studies during AS level, and I am now overjoyed as I get to read it again for one of my modules this year! This was the novel that began my love for the way in which Thomas Hardy writes, and for the characters that he depicts. If you want a happy cheerful novel, then don't go for this one! Even though it is quite depressing, it is still such a good read. I love the story of Tess and the BBC series does it justice. 

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 
 Set in Afghanistan when the Russians were in power, this novel takes you up to the Taliban taking over, and the aftermath that follows.  Following both Mariam and Laila, Hosseini tells the story of how their lives intertwine and how the political state of the country affects them. Although harrowing, this was just such a good read! I found it really interesting being able to read about a different culture and country, and also the history of the place itself. 

3. A Circus of Adventure by Enid Blyton.
 Something a bit cheerier for you! Yes this is a child's book, but I still reread this today. It was originally my mum's book, and I enjoyed it even more as I knew that she had enjoyed reading it before I did. This has the generic Enid Blyton style of children solving a mystery, but I was really encapsulated by the story, and I didn't know what was going to happen next. Even though I now know what happens, I still go back to this time and time again to re read. 

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 
This for me, is on par with my love for Tess. This may be owing to the fact that I had to read them at the same time, but this is one of my favourite classics. As it is a Bildunsgroman (coming of age novel) this follows Jane from childhood right through to her adult life. For me, I never understood the love of Mr Darcy, it's Mr Rochester all the way. Full of mystery, education and love, this novel covers a variety of genres which makes the plot stronger.

5. Harry Potter by J K Rowling.
 I don't just mean the first one, but all of them! I know some do not few Harry Potter as 'proper literature' but it had a huge impact on my life! I was of the generation that grew up with Harry, and I was so sad when it came to the end! Some of the books I prefer to the others (FYI my favourite one is The Prisoner of Azkaban) but it just made me wish that Hogwarts was real, and that I could be learning Defence Against the Dark Arts rather than maths. (I have still never used Pythagoras in my day to day life).

6. Atonement by Ian McEwan
 Another sad book. There seems to be a theme here doesn't there? I promise I read happier ones too! Following the lives of Briony, Robbie and Cecilia, this novel is split into 3 parts, with the focus on each of these characters, but continuing on the story throughout. There is also a film adaptation which I would definitely recommend watching. If you're interested in WWII, then you should definitely read this.

7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

 Another novel from the Brontë trio, however this is very different to Jane Eyre. You've all probably heard of Heathcliff, the tormented orphan, full of anger and unrequited love. I won't lie, it took me a few attempts to read this, but I think that I may have been a bit young to understand the significance of it when I first tried to read it. After reading this, if I ever go out into the Peaks, or basically anywhere that is a wide expanse of land, I always shout 'Heathcliff' and 'Cathy'. (I've even managed to get Tom to do it too).

8. The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis
 This might be a strange choice out of the Narnia series to make, and I do love the more well known ones, but I chose to include this one, as it made all of the other ones make sense. As I didn't read the series in order, this explained where Narnia, the witch and Aslan actually came from, with little bits that relate to the other novels, so I was able to say 'oh, that's why that's there!'. 

9. Tom's Midnight Garden
 I know there's a few children's stories within my list, but this is because they have stayed with me to this day. If you've never read this, I would definitely recommend to (and with all of the others that I have talked about). It's just such a magical story, and the first time I got the train to Sheffield, we made a stop at Ely, and this is where the characters skate to! I always like being able to put an actual place to the story.

10. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
 I chose to include A Christmas Carol, more for the overall story than the actual book itself. It was always a tradition that near Christmas time I would go and help my Nanna decorate her Christmas tree, and then I would watch the 1951 film adaptation with my Grandad. To this day, this is still my favourite version, and it always will be just because of the memories that surround it. Plus, when I watch or read this, it means it's nearly Christmas and that just makes me so excited!!

 I took this quote off Pinterest and I think it fits perfectly in with the idea of books making an impression on you. Everyone interprets a books differently and so reads it in their own way. I now invite you, either in the comments, or if you have a blog in a blogpost, to list the ten books that have left a resounding impression on you. I look forward to reading your responses! 

Love Jess xxx

Saturday, 20 September 2014

#52weeksofhappiness- Week 18

 Hello there! How has your week been? I can't believe that we are already at week 18 with the #52weeksofhappiness- the time just flies by! My gym induction on Sunday went well, and I even went to a spin class on Tuesday. This was something that I had never tried before, and there are two words that I would use to describe it: 'Hard' and 'painful'. I'm not one for actually cycling (after breaking my arm by falling off) so I thought that I would give the static cycling a go. I was a bit apprehensive about having to stand up on the pedals, but this was the part that I liked the most! It was a really good workout, but the seat was just so painful!! I actually can't express how uncomfortable it was. I really have no idea how some of my friends go on 40 mile bike rides when it's that uncomfortable. 
 One of my favourite days of the week was Thursday where Tom and I dedicated a day together, which we (more me) nicknamed 'Jhomas day'. We went to the gym together in the morning, where I went on the cross trainer and played solitaire while I ran, but both games failed! After lunch Tom and I took a trip to Weston Park Museum (situated in Weston Park funnily enough). It has free entry and was actually really interesting! Sometimes these free museums have hardly anything in them, but we managed to spend an afternoon there. Fellow Sheffielders I would definitely recommend going there! 
 Today I have just completed my first day of working over intro weekend where I handed out the keys to the new students moving in! I really enjoyed doing this, it took me right back to being a fresher. I can't believe that this time last year I had only just moved into my flat, it makes me feel so old!

Acting creepily as a Victorian maid haha! 

What made you happy this week?

Love Jess xxx

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Foolproof Cupcakes

 Hello there! If you don't already know, I love to bake. I've been loving the fact that The Great British Bake Off has been back on! Have you been watching it? There's been some quite dramatic moments! (If you've never seen it you're probably thinking how can baking be dramatic? But believe me it can).  I have to say that my speciality is making cupcakes, and everyone always says that they're so nice and that they wouldn't be able to make them, but in actual fact they're one of the simplest things that you can bake! To get into the spirit of the bake off, I thought I would share this recipe with you so you can have a go at making them too. If you're worried that you never bake or cook anything, don't! These really are ever so simple and anyone can do it. I'm even going as far as calling them 'foolproof'. 


-150g self-raising flour (if you want chocolate ones like I did, substitute 25g of flour for cocoa powder)
-150g margarine
-150g caster sugar
-2 eggs (weigh them and try to get as close as you can to 150g)
-1 tsp baking powder
-optional chocolate chips

(I'm sorry that my ingredients aren't as professionally presented as they have been in previous posts, I don't have any small ramekin pots in Sheffield!)

For the icing:
-100g icing sugar (again can substitute some with cocoa powder)
-50g softened butter


Saturday, 13 September 2014

#52weeksofhappiness- Week 17

 Hello there! How has your week been? This week I have felt a lot more settled in my house and it is now starting to feel like home! For those of you who know me, you will be surprised to know that this week I joined the gym! If you had said to me a couple of months ago that I was going to join the gym I wouldn't of believed you! I have my induction tomorrow so I will let you know how that goes next week. 
 On Thursday I went with a few friends to the local Alpaca Farm. I didn't even know that there was one, but when Jade asked if I wanted to go, I was all for it! It's about a 15 minute drive away (although we took slightly longer as we got a bit lost) but it feels like you're no longer in Sheffield as you're surrounded by all the green hills. There was one Alpaca called George, who pushed all of the other ones out of the way so he could get to the food! As well as Alpaca's, they also had chickens, turkeys, horses and pigs. I was so happy to see the pigs, I'd love to have one!


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My University Experince: Part Two

 Hello there! In case you missed last week’s post, I am doing a two part special on my experience of University so far. My last post focused upon the year leading up to University, where you have to go through the UCAS process and my thoughts/tips on that. Today’s post will be about my experience as a fresher at University. So if you are off to your Uni in a couple of weeks, or are just interested in my personal experience, keep reading! Again, this promises to be a long post, so grab yourself a drink/snack before you continue!

 Results Day
 My last post finished with me discussing the wait for your results. I should have said last week that I personally took A levels rather than a baccalaureate or another means of getting in, so I’m not sure if the same process applies to those of you who are using a different form of education to get into University. A level results day is generally in the second week of August on the Thursday. On the morning of results day you are able to log in online to your UCAS account and a message will come up to say whether you have been successful or not, and if you haven’t been accepted by your first place, whether you have been by your second choice. If you haven’t been successful in either then you have a few options; you can either apply to another University through clearing, or you might decide that you want to stay at home for another year and re sit the exams that you perhaps didn’t do so well in. I wouldn’t do anything until you have gone into your school or college to get your results and have had a chat to someone about it there. Personally I was accepted by my first choice, but I think I would of chosen to go through clearing if I hadn’t of got in to either of my choices, as I didn’t want to have to go through the stress of A levels again! You will receive an email later in the day, and a letter in the post confirming your place at the University.   
 Throughout the rest of the summer, you will receive emails/letters when you need to complete any tasks. One of the big things is that you will receive your accommodation contract through! When you were confirming where you wanted your first choice and second choice to be back in the spring, you would have had to of applied for accommodation for your first choice. I didn’t mind which student area I lived in, as long as I had my own bathroom! However when I received my contract through, I had been put in a catered room where I had to share a bathroom and this was the complete opposite of what I had asked for. If this happens to you, I would get into contact with the accommodation team and explain your situation to them. I did this and luckily I was able to be moved into the type of room that I wanted! Once you have signed your contract and sent it off, I would then join as many groups as you can on facebook that are to do with your University/block that you are living in so you can find your flatmates! This made moving in a lot easier, as we had all already talked before we lived together.

Buying things for University
 One of the exciting parts leading up to leaving for University is being able to go out and buy all of the things that you are going to need! I would make a list before you buy anything, and see if there’s anything that you can take from home (I was able to take crockery/cutlery so I could cross that off my list). There are a couple of websites that I looked at when making my list, the student room's one, and another blog that I read, Dizzybrunette3, had a post where she listed everything that she took and you can have a look at that if you want to. You can either buy everything gradually but my parents and I decided to buy it all at once, just so we knew that we had got everything and didn’t need to worry about going back another time to the shop. I purchased most of my supplies from The Range, remember to buy things to decorate your room as well as the bog-standard purchases of pots and pans! I loved decorating my room and visiting my friends’ rooms to see how they had decorated, as we all had the basic same room but everyone’s looked completely different. One of the main things that made my room feel more homely was having photos up everywhere. I ordered a load of photos through Boots photo online, and I was really impressed with the service! I would recommend having some memento, or object that reminds you of home. I had a moneybox that was a beach hut, and I found little things like this that reminded me of home really helped. I also found having a kettle in my room was great. Although you should be given a communal kettle in the kitchen, it’s so much easier having your own for those times when you’re basically too lazy to go into the kitchen!

Freshers week and Moving In
 Finally after the year long process of beginning UCAS, it all pays off as you are off to University! It depends on your contract and University as to when you move in. Personally I didn’t move in until the last week of September, but I know some people at other institutions who didn’t move in until October, or who actually moved in at the start of September. As Sheffield is such a long journey from where my home is, we went up the day before and stayed over in a hotel. I would advise doing this if you have some distance to travel as you’re not stressed about having to get to your accommodation for a certain time with traffic and everything. We were given a choice as to which time slot we wanted to move in, and if you can I would advise moving in earlier in the morning. (Not too early- I think my slot was at 10 am) Although you will probably be one of the first ones there, this then gives you a chance to start unpacking your things before your other flatmates arrive, so that later on you’ll be able to socialise with them properly and not be worrying about having to unpack everything!
 Freshers week isn’t only the big party that it is made out to be! In between going out with your flatmates or new friends, there are a lot of forms that need to be filled in or meetings to go in your first week. I also had to pick the modules that I was going to take for the rest of the year. You will meet so many people during that first week; it’s crazy! It’s great though as no one knows anyone else, so everyone is just out to make friends!
 I personally wasn’t anywhere as homesick as I thought I was going to be! I think it was down to being so busy all the time, with new things happening every day that I just didn’t have time to be homesick! Obviously I missed home a lot, but I was happy to be at University. I was also really lucky with my flatmates, as we all got along so well and I’m sad that we’re now living in different parts of the city! If you do find that you are feeling homesick, there is a lot of support within the University and there is always someone to talk to.
 Before I left home I opted in to have a mentor, and if you can, I would definitely recommend joining the scheme! You are matched up with someone who is doing a similar course and who has similar interests. I found that they were a great help not only before I left for University, but throughout the year if I had any problems. They’re really handy if you have any small questions, for example about transport, or the social life of the city, as they have already been through the process.

The course itself
 So you have survived Fresher’s, got Fresher’s Flu, and are now about to start your actual course! Obviously I can only talk from the prospective of my own course, so yours may differ slightly! I had 3 modules per semester, 1 of them everyone had to take, but the other two we got to pick ourselves. Before you go to sign up for your modules, I would have a look online at the description of not only what you learn about, but of how it is assessed. Personally I prefer coursework to exams, so I went for modules that were assessed wholly on coursework.
 It takes a bit of getting used to the mark scheme as there is no longer such things as lettered grades. Everything is marked out of 100, ranging from a ‘first’ down to a ‘third’ and then fail. To pass my first year I only needed to get 40% overall, and if this is true for you too I would still work as hard as you can, rather than relying on only needing to get 40%. If you learn how to efficiently do the work, come second year when your marks actually count towards your overall grade, the workload won’t be such a shock to the system. I believe in what they say though, there is a bigger leap between GCSE and AS level, than between A level and your first of University.
 Per module I had two lectures, where everyone who is doing that module attends, and one seminar, which you sign up to yourself and is a group of roughly 15 where you go through what was discussed in the lectures/the texts you are reading more thoroughly. When you do your first assessments, what I found hardest was that you weren’t allowed to give in any drafts like you used to back in sixth form. If you are struggling though, you can get help from your seminar tutors, or I found that I was given really good general advice from my personal tutor. Not only with work, but in general, if you have any problems whilst at University, there is always someone to talk to and who can sort out things that need doing.

 I realise now that this is only really about my first couple of months at University, I think if I went on to talk about the rest of my year this post could carry on for a lot longer! If you are starting University in a couple of weeks I hope that this was of some help, but my main advice is just enjoy yourself! You’ll find that your first year just flies by, and soon you’ll be about to start your second year and are questioning where your first year went! If there’s something that happens that is a bit out of your comfort zone, just go with it, you might just find that it leads onto great things.

Here are some photos of my first year of University!

 If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments!

 Good luck with whatever stage of study you are at, and if you are just reading this out of interest, I hope this gave you some insight into the start of my University experience. I can’t see what happens next!

Love Jess xxx
© jesslouisekeen | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig