Saturday, 24 September 2011

Everything Will Be Fine

You may not know this (although I sense you’ve got the gist of it) but I am actually quite worried about going back to university. A large and relatively sensible part of my brain knows that everything will be fine. A smaller but significantly louder part is wholly unconvinced.

I could give you the reasons why I am so worried, couldn’t I? I’m not going to though. I’m trying to be positive.

With that in mind, here are the reasons why EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE.

1. I am much more attractive than I was when I first started university.

You might be thinking ‘oh, what a shallow and ridiculous woman’, and I won’t pretend that you’re wrong. You can say whatever you like – looks matter. And you would agree with me if you had been forced to live through your first year at university with Bon Jovi hair.

2. I am less socially awkward than I was the first time around, too.

I have spent the last couple of years cultivating an actual personality. I no longer dress like a goth or seek to impress boys with my brain-damaging coolness. I dress like a person, I’m quite interesting, and I am perfectly comfortable with the affection I feel towards Britney Jean Spears.
Well done me.

3. I am doing a subject that I am good at and that I am actually interested in.

Arguably, this is the most important bit. My psychology degree came about because there were a lot of psychologists on television and I wanted to be called Dr Laura and have a talk show. That was literally it.
As it turned out, I hated the entire thing and spent three years of my life wondering why I hadn’t thought things through properly.
This time, though, I am armed with a plan, some experience, and realistic expectations.

And breathe.

There we go. I feel a bit better now, except for the fact that I go in EXACTLY ONE WEEK.

Obviously, I haven’t even tried to pack anything yet. My mother keeps trying to get me to write a list of things I need to buy, but I can’t even find the energy to do that. As I’m trying to think positively, though, I should mention that I DID manage to order a replacement for my favourite (and quite recently deceased) Back To The Future t-shirt.
So that’s alright. I’ll have to keep hold of this feeling of accomplishment for when I’m crying into a pile of clothes next Friday night, asking myself why I didn’t start packing earlier.


Oh, and SPEAKING OF LEAVING HOME, Silly Old Daniel – user of twitter, writer of blogs, love of my life – is moving to France for a year to teach english to french teenagers and find himself a dishy boyfriend called Laurent or Zacharie or something.

I would like to officially declare that I am not happy about it, because I will miss him if he is too busy for the internet.

Apart from that though, I hope he has a lovely time.


Sunday, 4 September 2011

Helpful University Advice

It's September, as you are probably aware, which means that it's the time of year when magazines and ill-informed newspapers begin to release "advice" for university students.
Let me tell you straight away that the people who write those things are idiots. They clearly have no idea about what it is actually like to spend three years avoiding lectures and doing irrevocable damage to your internal organs. I, however, know exactly what all that is like, so I have decided to share some pearls of genuine wisdom.

You are most welcome.

Things To Do When You Are New At University

1. Dilute your personality.

If you have ever been referred to as ‘a right character’ or perhaps as having ‘a strong personality’, do not unleash yourself upon your new flatmates straight away. It’s really best to find out how easily frightened they are first.
With any luck, you'll be able to tell quite quickly who the mental ones are. They are the ones who I suggest making friends with.

2. Pace yourself.

Although this is useful advice on a nightly basis (see point 3) I am actually referring to your social life as a whole. It might be tempting to go on every single night out on offer, but just don’t go mad. That kind of thing is fine in Fresher’s Week, but you’ll burn out sooner or later.
I made the mistake of going in all guns blazing in my first term. The thing is, though, I set a precedent that I was unable to keep up with. About half way through the year, when my alcohol-damaged body was draped over the bowl of a questionable toilet and I was sobbing out a solemn oath to never touch red wine again, I realised that I could no longer go out on every single week night and expect to survive the year.

3. (Somewhat related to above) Know your limits.

As someone who has, in the past, been ‘the one who is always dangerously drunk and needs looking after’ as well as ‘the one who looks after the dangerously drunk one’, I know how important this bit of advice is.
It’s not cute to fall over every time you have to negotiate a footstep, and it’s not endearing to make a fool of yourself every night in new and increasingly annoying ways.
Know your limits. And if you don’t know them, learn them.

4. Plan ahead.

This one is boring, and I’m sorry, but basically you need to sort your finances out BEFORE you’re forced to cry down the phone to your bank manager, begging for an extension on your overdraft.
The first term of the year is undoubtedly the most expensive. There’s more stuff to do, you have books to buy, and you discover food-freedom (see point 5.) Once you’re past all that, though, you have to remember that there are two more terms. You have rent to pay and you need to eat. Don’t be an idiot.
Side note: I was an idiot. I ran out of money at the end of every second term like it was a key part of my religion. The anxiety and sleepless nights that follow are not something I would recommend.

5. Eat The Occasional Vegetable.

There is a thing called Fresher’s Fifteen. This refers to the (average of) fifteen pounds in weight that first year students gain in their first term.
The reason this happens is food-freedom. Most first year students have never done the ‘big shop’ at home. They’ll know the basics – bread, milk, biscuits – but will completely neglect fruit, vegetables and what most people would call ‘ingredients’. Most people, myself included, when allowed to roam free in a supermarket, will spend their entire food budget on things that they like rather than things that will keep them alive.
You, though, will undoubtedly think you are different. You’ve bought a Student Cookbook! Maybe you’ve even bought the Vegetarian Student Cookbook! DO NOT KID YOURSELF. We had nine Student Cookbooks in our kitchen and the only time we ever used them was when we ran out of plates and the curry sauce was dripping from our chips.

I hope I have been of some help.


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Change Of Pace

In just over four weeks I go back to university. For those who don’t know – although I’m not sure how, because I bang on about it enough – I’ll be doing a Masters in Social Work.

The first time around, I did a degree in Psychology. I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much I hated it. I loved my university though. I got on with my lecturers and made amazing friends, but the subject that I so stupidly lumbered myself with rendered me practically catatonic.

Annoyingly, the overwhelming response to “I have a Psychology degree” is “Oh that must have been SO INTERESTING.” It bloody well wasn’t, I can assure you.

Nevertheless, it’s been two years since I graduated, and in those two years, I have been employed for exactly six months. Luckily, that six months absolutely confirmed what I wanted to do with my life and made sure that I could get my place on the (much coveted) course that would get me there. Had I not been so lucky, however, I would undoubtedly be contained in some sort of facility.

Unemployment and an obvious tendency towards mental unbalance do not mix well, let me tell you.

The thing that’s worrying me at the moment is that, having spent the better part of two years being unemployed, going back to university is going to be a massive change of pace.

Most of the time, in my current life, I have very little to do. Occasionally I have a phonecall to make or something, but that’s about it. This might sound fine to you. I bet you make dozens of phonecalls every day.

But, sometimes, I don’t even feel like I have time to make a phonecall.

You see, I get up quite early – usually at about half past nine – and from this point onwards, I have a set-in-stone television schedule that I dare not deviate from. I watch the news, and then the Jeremy Kyle Show, and then I watch some documentaries so that I feel as if I am learning something. (I’m quite partial to a religious documentary, but if it weren’t for the Crime & Investigation channel, I imagine my life would be very empty.)

Anyway, before I know it, it’s half past three and officially much too late in the day to start thinking about making phonecalls.

At university, though, I will be expected to get stuff done. 'Getting stuff done' has never really been my strong suit. Nor has commitment or enthusiasm in relation to anything academic. Being astonishingly clever*, I have always swanned about during the school year and somehow managed - despite being allergic to revision - to do reasonably well in exams. During my degree, for example, I attended about 6% of lectures in my second year. Less in the third year. I probably don’t need to tell you that this is UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR that must not be repeated when I am back there in October.

I have to be a grown-up, and learn to be a Social Worker.

Good luck me.

*I would consider this to be no more than a slight exaggeration.