Monday, 30 November 2015

Update - November

Also known as November - part 2. So after my post yesterday, all of the main things that have taken up the month have already been discussed. It is so weird to look back at the month and realise how much like a scrap book our thoughts are - we can remember the littlest minutest things about what we wore one day and yet not remember what we had for breakfast this morning. But then again, life is moment and that is how we remember things I guess (I feel very much like Confucius when I type things that way!)

Right at the beginning of the month/end of October was the Deborah York master-class which it was an honour to be a part of as a first year student as usually these things at the beginning of the year are mainly aimed at the older more experience students who are getting ready for their final exams. Getting to work with someone who had studied in Manchester brought a nice touch of home to Leeds, especially when I was feeling home sick at the time, it was good to hear the familiar accent. The main thing we focused on was my spoken projection, as my habit of quietening what I am saying when I am speaking can sometimes damage what I am doing technically when I am doing something which is quite recitative-esque.

Class wise, my first assignment (the creative project, seventeenth century song) is done and dusted and my attention is now solely on my musicology essay which is about the musical language of three different composers (three of my favourites, who you can probably guess!) and how they acquiesce to the labels of classical and romantic music - is it just a chronological title or does it genuinely categorise them in terms of content? We'll find out when I have finished drafting the conclusion! One of the most useful lectures was last week when we discussed Schubert. The thing about Schubert is that he is just so likeable - he was a middle class man who wrote Schubertiades for his and his friends enjoyment in a middle class environment, and he seems like someone you could have a coffee with and enjoy a debate over music without feeling that he was being condescending (sometimes I get this impression from Mozart and Beethoven, no matter how great they may be in terms of their work) My favourite pieces by Schubert, the ones which I am writing about, are Die Forelle (the song from the cycle, not the string quartet) and his death and the maiden (yes, the string quartet) Next year when I visit my pen pal in Austria, we are going on a trip to Vienna for a few days and so I am really looking forward to seeing Schubert's old house when we do go! Fun fact about Schubert - where Vivaldi was fondly titled 'the red priest' because of his hair colour, Schubert was nicknamed 'little mushroom' because of his shortness and the height of his collar!

Away from essays, master-classes and the like, as you know I have been visiting the Christmas markets and getting more and more excited for Christmas, what with the Halle Christmas concerts ever nearer, and the carolling, and the busking this week with part song choir, and the holidays, and getting to go home and spend time with family. But mainly the fact that I have managed to find a nut free advent calendar! It would probably shock you if you could comprehend how much this excites me - more even than Schubert pieces! :

This evening I also went with some friends to see the chamber orchestra concert, which was quite the epiphany. There are lots of concerts on at the moment in LCM because it is the 50th anniversary - a very good first year to be here! So if you do find yourself in the Leeds area, do make sure you check our what's going on because there is bound to be something exciting or interesting to listen to. The first half was mainly contemporary music (some Goebbel's) and there was the use of electronic music and sampling which was quite distinctively mixed in with dissonant orchestral music to create an overwhelming sound world which was also hugely influenced by the use of lighting. In the second half they played Beethoven's seventh symphony which I have always liked because of the richness of the cello part and the brightness of the woodwind part throughout - I really enjoy Beethoven for his clash between light and dark, and his almost teenage rebellious habit of creating something that develops ever onwards even though it is a time for stillness - to me, he will always be part Shostakovich in that way.

On a final note, UCAS have just launched their new app which is actually really useful with researching universities and getting news updates on all things student, even if you are already in university (there is still postgrad to consider as well as employment and projects) It is completely free too, so if you do want to have access to lots of useful UCAS tips, advice and ideas, do make sure to download that. I'll put the link below:

And for now, yet another November has drawn to yet another close, so I will say goodbye and good luck with the application process for now, or with your assignments, and you will be hearing from me quite soon!

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Sunday, 29 November 2015

Future plans and Kings Singers Consort group competition

Let's consider this November update part 1 - as the month isn't quite over yet and I am sure there will be lots more exciting things to come. So the first thing to mention actually happened Sunday evening and I still haven't quite gotten over it! As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a soprano currently in the Halle Youth Choir. The older singers in the choir have recently been organised into consort groups, which are basically smaller choirs within the choir, with maybe two of each part (there isn't always a balance) This is mainly sixth form and above in terms of who is involved. Our most recent project with the consort groups has been for the competition that we took place in this evening, judged by members from the Kings Singers (Fan girl moment!) The competition was amazing  - it was really good to finally hear some of the singers in much more depth and detail than in the average choir rehearsal, and with such a variety of music - we didn't just stick to typical secular choral music, we were allowed to experiment with close harmony and jazz, which was a great challenge to approach and really fun too! My group sang 'the Bear Necessities' - which was yes a great laugh at times because it is a bit of a silly song from our childhood, but it was actually a difficult arrangement and I am really proud we managed to sing it from memory - I am even prouder to be able to inform you that we won the competition! I still am not over this - it was just amazing to hear someone I have listened to on records over and over, someone who inspires me, telling me that our ensemble was of a good quality and a good enough standard to win. I am so proud of us all! 

Beyond this, lots of stuff has been going on so bear with me - I will probably forget things or leave out details, but will try and remember to include as much as possible. Not related to work stuff or college or anything like that, but I have attended two Christmas markets now and am quite in the holiday spirit, as the markets have not disappointed this year! Manchester was so busy when I went last weekend, the tram was full of people from a football game but it was so worth it, just to get a glimpse of the hot chocolate and the hand carved chess sets (One of my favourite things in the world about the markets) But the Leeds markets too, which I had never been to before, were where I ended up getting everyone's Christmas presents from - there were such pretty, unusual things, like candles made out of beeswax and honey sweets (which actually taste like Kellogg's Frosties!) and flavoured coffee beans (blueberry, chocolate orange, pancakes) They even had this beautiful merry-go-round which has been at the Christkindl markets every year since 1800.

Manchester Markets

Leeds Christkindl markets

And we took Rolo (our new puppy) for his first walk in the snow at Hollingworth lake! Possible the cutest thing I have ever seen - a Labrador jumping, like a little hamster half his size, through the snow because he had never seen it before and was confused. Experiencing his first experiences of life is so exciting some times and makes me feel very lucky!

But back to the serious side of things, work and all that jazz (more on the fun things like the renaissance project soon, I promise) I have been looking at everything I do and trying to consider my options for the future - finding a new thing to aim for, since university has always been that goal and I need to create new goals, new dreams and new aspirations now - that is how life goes after-all. Even if, like me, change (good or bad) is something that you approach tentatively. 

Currently, I am involved in lots of things to do with music and to do with college, like being a student representative, which basically means I go to student forums and voice suggestions from my year group and the classical pathway, and also go through examiners reports and write feed back. This is important to me because I feel that a syllabus, what we are graded on by others and ourselves, is often an intimidating thing and I like being able to have some sort of influence in breaking down the intimidation of that sort of thing so that it is not as scary and is much easier to approach as a result. I am also a BAPAM representative, which is similar in terms of breaking down intimidation levels to make people feel more comfortable with approaching us if they feel they need help with any thing they feel is perhaps mentally impacting their performance standard. And I am also a UNITE Green consultant, which is fascinating as it allows you to dig into the heart of environmental issues and make a direct impact. 

But why do I do all of these things? It makes me very busy, sometimes tired, and sometimes I find myself asking this question. And perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation, so I though I would give us all a little reminder about why they do these things: because we care and we want to make a positive change for others, as well as ourselves. And that is an immensely useful thing to be - motivated to create good change. 

So how does this impact my future? 

Currently I am studying my music undergraduate degree and considering where the future may lead me from here. But am beginning to realise the future does not lead us, only we ourselves lead ourselves and that is what makes that future so. By studying so many varied things we continue to learn everyday and to open up our options with the new things, new skills, we retain. So currently I am enriching my mind with all I can - I encourage you to do the same: to be a life long learner.

My options are many: Maybe I will pursue teaching qualifications, apply for university in another country or study my masters here straight away, study another undergraduate in literature combined with another language, travel, create things - the options are never ending for all of the things that I want to accomplish and I fear not having time to fulfil each and everyone of them. But life is for living and not for counting, so we'll see how much on this 'virtual bucket list' of sorts gets completed. 

But I am not settling on any just yet - the future is just beginning to open up again after lots and lots of exams and many more still to come, I'm sure... But I am starting to realise that as much as making errors can frustrate me at times, life is more about them than anything else. And although university is great, an entire story of its' own, looking back I realise just how much I miss the adventure of getting here - it was an amazing one. And I guess what my advice to you is, fellow future chaser, don't be so focused on your goal that you lose sight of the way there, for that is where the best learning and experiences do take place.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Creative Project Week

So currently I am in the middle of writing my critical review of my creative project, which took up all of last week. Basically, we get two creative project weeks per year here at LCM, and we get to choose what we do. During creative project week, you are given a completely different time table to your normal time table, so you are still busy just not as busy as you normally might be. For my creative project, I was studying C.17th song.

As a madrigal fan, yet still not knowing much on how music was taught back then, I decided that this was the project for me. The project was split into seminars and work shops. In the seminars we learnt a lot about what was important to C.17th singers and their music education. The reality is actually quite fascinating - technique wasn't something they were particularly interested in due to timing issues. For classical music, it is not what we really expect with modern art song as their sound was no where near as projected and was much more internalised. When they were learning about how to sing, they would be given a simple melody with no dynamics, with no ornamentation, and would have been expected to add those things themselves. This sense of improvisation, or jazziness as I like to refer to it in my head, was the reason that these singers were admired at court. Their dynamics were much more diction based than volume based, and they played so much with tempo (this was a particular element which I struggled with) For example, rhetoric was all about using your physical speech and sense of body when singing to create the character, opposed to gesture to express 'passions' They learnt how to analyse music - what to look for. Features such as echphonesis (e.g. alas, o' - an impassioned exclamation of sorts) and epizeuxis (restatement of a word) were things they would look for and create interpretation from. A really good example of this is the passage 'down I go' in Emma Kirkby's version of Dowland's Sorrow Stay.

Interpretation today is largely impacted by our modern ears, and our further advanced knowledge of things such as technique, posture, instrumentation. The instrumentation aspect is actually fascinating! If you have just listened to the Kirkby version of this, listen to a version with the piano if you can find one and you will hear the difference. It just sounds so much more reserved, so much more like something Schubert might have written. With the Lute, it is transformed into something of old. I find that I like the clear sound these pieces have, so different to the vibrato coated singing so much of us engage in far more regularly today. That clean pure sound is almost otherworldly. It has made me even more wary of using vibrato in any piece... I once heard the quote 'too much vibrato is like too much ketchup' - but who is the judge of how much is too much? I guess that is interpretation.

The work shop was pretty challenging because I had never sung with a lute before. This made rhythm difficult for me as the piece I was singing, Attey's Sweet was the Song, is rather slow and hence you can get lulled into a false sense of easy rhythm and hence not accent this sort of thing correctly : 

It was useful to do with an instrument I was unaccustomed to though as the lute is just so much quieter than you would expect, especially if you are used to singing with something like a piano. It makes you much more aware of your sense of ensemble. Co-operation is essential or else the music will stay stock still, or move more like this extract on sibelius - not coming to life as you would aim at all. Being aware of this is crucial to practice. Some of the other pieces my colleagues sang in the work shop were particularly interesting to see in progress - from Purcell (thy hand Belinda) to several different performances of Music for a while which has been so popular with tenors and sopranos alike this year here at college, both in and out of this creative project. From what I can remember, it is based on St. Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland? But I might be wrong on that one, so don't look too into it without further research.

The week ended with our lecturer giving a performance of some music with the lutenist. It was a collection of songs based on love from the books of ayres. After hearing students in progress, it was fascinating to apply our new knowledge to analyse and discuss a professional counter tenor performance because it was delivered so well it genuinely took you back in time to a stately court where everyone might have been eating at a banquet or celebrating Michaelmas or something! This performance was especially interesting as it included pieces we had never heard before, some of them very comic which I really liked in comparison to the more serious pieces, as well as some we had already analysed in the week too. Seeing how quickly we could begin to understand and implement rhetoric and the use of all the ancient Greek terms we had used (this type of music was written looking back nostalgically to antiquity, similar to the Baroque) was great and very reassuring. Now lets hope that that confidence continues on into the rhetoric.

Currently I am engaged in another concert and the preparations of that, so hopefully I shall have even more to tell you on seventeenth century song in just a few short weeks time (when it will also be the beginning of the Christmas holidays - Home time! So excited!) This one is particularly exciting as it is a collaboration so I can't wait to get even further in the development all of this. Learning about something new in your field is so exciting - not only because it is something different but because your subject continues to excite you and not to disappoint which is what everyone dreams of getting from their degree. This article I suppose has been just a means of a long winded spider diagram into my essay (which has a deadline of next Tuesday) which is currently in the drafting process and being proof read. Hopefully there was something of interest to read about - particularly as it will hopefully be something I will be talking a bit more on in the future. My mum will be visiting soon, so I had better go and get ready. Until next time!

If you like, you can click  Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank-you!

Further reading:

-Editions of the book of Ayres (lute song)
- Ian Spink: English song, Dowland to Purcell

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Dealing With Stress

Remember remember the fifth of November... Bonfire night this year was fun, although late buses and traffic meant I ended up not seeing any of the festivities - so here is a photo of the bonfire from last year instead:

But, in all seriousness, back to the issue at hand - stress and dealing with stress! The fifth of November is a date, as is Christmas, our birthdays, Halloween - they may not seem it (because they are fun) but in a way, they too are deadlines! But college deadlines, any form of academic end date, seems more stressful than it needs to because we overthink things in that bothersome human habit we have. But this can be dealt with gradually - we can train ourselves slowly but surely to handle stress a little better. Here are some of the things I have been doing in an attempt to reduce stress levels throughout the manic university schedule and deadlines:

1. Taking the time to eat and sleep 
It might seem an obvious one... but you would be surprised at just how many ambulances are called throughout the year due to people not drinking enough water. This is especially an issue with teenage girls between the ages of 16 and 19. Although university is an exciting opportunity to try lots of new things and to socialise etc, you should aim to have a healthy 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Scientists still don't know why exactly sleep is so valuable to humans, only that it is - it is our bodies way of recovering from having a gazillion things to remember from lectures, and then worries about all those other things, such as finance, and home sickness and excitement - that never ending list of thoughts which runs through our minds each and every day. Whereas with eating, you need to get three meals a day or be snacking light and regularly. Aim to maintain a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, particularly as these foods are simple and cheap - allowing you to create dishes fairly quickly and for a low price. This can be said of water - free and constantly available, meaning there is no excuse for lack of hydration! A study has shown that if you are hydrated or have a bottle of water available in an exam, you are 5% more likely than your dehydrated counterpart to succeed in an exam.

2. Talking 
Personal tutors are going to be one of the most important parts of your first year at university because they are the people who will help you settle in and who will be a friendly face when you need someone to turn to to talk about things to do with class or to do with worries, if you don't really feel you can discuss it with your friends and family, though they will of course always be there to help and to talk about important things when you do wish to involve them, no matter how far away they might be. When I arrived in the first week, I met my personal tutor alongside the other girls who were working with her and it was really nice to just have a chat about how things were going over cake and coffee - take it from me, I didn't even realise how run down I had gotten by that point and it was only a week in! I email her quite often if I feel the need to - it has been an immense help with my peace of mind if ever things have gotten too much. There will also be other facilities if you feel you cannot go to any of the afore mentioned people with your problems. I work as a BAPAM representative (to do with musicians health) and I sign post students who believe their mental health is affecting their performance towards the correct place for help in BAPAM. It is so rewarding to be able to be a part of this, and to see someone grow more confident because they have spoken about how something like anxiety might make performing hard. There are also numerous help lines where you can have a chat about your worries, which your university will sign post and point out to you throughout the year, especially in freshers and re-freshers weeks/s.

3. Headspace and other apps
Finding space to think and to drown out all the facts, figures, statistics of classes and lectures, course modules and assignment codes, is crucial to maintaining sanity! Everyone has different ways of dealing with the constant thread of thought racing around behind their eyes, but I have found that me and many of my friends have found apps useful because, if you have access on your phone, and some head phones around, you can take it literally any where with you. I found one called head space recently, which is kind of like yoga for your brain. There is a ten minute recording every day which speaks through what you should focus on, what you should listen for in your surroundings - and this is also one app which is free for certain courses, so it won't cost you anything. Linking back to 1, having a healthy mind is comprised of many things - two of those things we have now identified; enough sleep and finding the space to think as you and not as your version of a text book: that can wait for tomorrow.

4. Hobbies
Adding to thinking for you and not as your text books, continue all those hobbies and all those things you enjoyed over the summer. Life is for the living - even if you have deadlines coming up you still need to be making space to keep living and reminding yourself why you chose to do what you do - keep that love for the subject part of what inspires you to work on it every day. You could turn making your meals into an enjoyable activity by making cakes or new recipes, even involving your friends. Or you could read in your free time, even if it's only a chapter a day, and could even start a book club. There will also be plenty of clubs and societies you will be able to get involved in - from choirs to trampoline clubs. Maybe even pick up something new - for me, that has been letter writing as a nice way to stay in touch with my friends and family. 

5. Pacing, time tables and schedules
We all have different rates - so bear that in mind when you feel the envy at the fact that you spent hours on your essay and someone who spent ten minutes on it still got a better mark. Your course is not a one day race - it is the training for the ultimate marathon. Your training is made up of time tables and schedules, so go to as many of the classes as you can attend, do the extra reading, start your assignments as early on as you are comfortable with and find out what fits you as someone who has studied. I read once in one of my friends blogs that people go the library purely to give the image that they are studying - the most valuable study occurs when you do not care about your surroundings and allow yourself to have that pure concentration you need. You can also help yourself organisation wise by keeping an updated copy of your time table with you in a diary at all times so that you always know where you need to be - having a personal timetable for when and where you want to work on things beyond the class room will also be very useful in staying in top shape when it comes to those mental gymnastics, especially if you are studying music and need practice hours - as  a singer I split my practice into three half an hour slots throughout the day (not counting choir rehearsals, instrument practice, language diction practice, etc)

6. Having a to do list + daily challenges/goals
As previously mentioned, have a personal rotar or time table every day - a to do list, if you will - so that you can give yourself the motivation and satisfaction of being able to tick off another thing you managed to get done successfully. Phrase this like a daily challenge if you feel this will add further motivation - aim to get three new pieces done in your singing lesson in exchange for a dinner that isn't entirely vegetables, or reward yourself if you get everything on your list done with a chocolate bar. You will get yourself to do more if you activate that reward system and continue to actively reward yourself for each new thing you do. 

7. Staying optimistic 
How you heard the glass is half full thing? Well this is that - only just remember the glass is never more empty or more full than it was before when you hold it (and never drink from it) the glass seems to get heavier the longer you try to hold on to it - in other words, don't let your worries way you down - life is too short for those worries to be getting you down and keeping your mind closed to all the wonderful, better things you could be focusing on. Staying optimistic means adding to that reward system by giving yourself reasons to get through the week - maybe you can get yourself through a really bad day by talking to your mum, or reminding yourself that you are going home at the weekend and will see your friends. There is always something to look forward to coming right around the corner. To quote Annie 'the sun'll come out tomorrow' *cheesy perfect cadence*

8. Stay calm - strategy
Have a strategy to stay calm immediately when it comes to things like exams. For me, this was preparation. If I was prepared and organised then I could calm myself by going through the checklist to prove to myself that everything had been done or that I had done the correct amount. But this is different for everyone. Some people will say that they stay calm because they have something which is lucky (like a particular pair of socks) or talking to someone before going into the exam hall. Either way, make sure you have yours at the ready in case there are any last minute nerves.

9. Exercise
Like with sleep and eating, exercise on a regular basis is really good for the brain and releases all those feel good chemicals (like dopamine, usually triggered by things like chocolate) into your brain allowing you to be alert and ready to go. Aim to get around 30 minutes to an hour of exercise done a week (if you aren't studying sport degrees of course, ballerinas need much more than this) so that you can keep those chemicals topped up as backup if you lose out on precious food or sleep.

10 Most importantly - remember that you are only human. Everyone has a breaking point - yes, even you!
This can be one of the hardest and most difficult things to deal with, because it is ongoing. There will be lots of opportunities and people who see you as an asset to their team or their project. But you can only do so much. Sadly, the hours in the day run out and in order to look after yourself you need to make sure you are not doing too much - this can mean saying no. If the person doesn't understand then they clearly don't comprehend just how stressful it can be to have so many people depending on you and occasionally treating you like a machine. But saying no, though it never feels good, is often the first step towards getting back to your normal, happy, stress free self. And that is the state we aim to remain in always.

Please do state if there is any content you would like more of or that you would find useful. If you like, you can click  Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank-you!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The perspective of a first year : The international student

Arina Mkrtchian 

Arina is currently a first year student studying a BMus in vocal performance at Leeds college of music. She is an international student who previously studied in Russia.

1. What is your favourite aspect of being a music undergraduate student so far?
First of all, I like being a part of the chamber choir and I am really glad that we had an opportunity to audition for it. Second of all, there are so many performance opportunities here, including performance in context class, master-classes etc.
2. How have you dealt with any feelings of homesickness? Have there been any resources available in college that have been specifically helpful for this?
In my opinion, if you are feeling homesick…you can not really do a thing with it...
But what I am trying is to do as much work as I can before vacations and just keep in mind that my family is always with me and supports me throughout the journey I have chosen. Also I speak to them every single day and it really makes a difference for me.
I have no idea if there are any resources in college to make me less homesick…
3. How has your playing/singing developed so far?
Well, it is hard to be a judge. So far, I would say that I am getting better with sight-singing and also my understanding of breath support has developed a bit. I would say these are the two main things.
4. Has the BMus course lived up to your expectations so far?
Frankly, I had expected more lessons (and more individual lessons as well) and more support in our essay writing, like at school. But otherwise, it is great. I just wish that we could have a few more lessons and less individual study.
5. What are some of your thoughts on the arts in general?
The Arts have always been something which are important and interesting to me. I love going to museums or watch BBC movies which give me new knowledge and new ways of thinking and, most importantly, some kind of expression/feeling. And because of these reasons, I have chosen to study music, because music is the most important of the arts to me.
6. Do you have any future ambitions which you are aiming for after music college?
Everyone has future ambitions they aim towards - I would love to graduate from college and audition for a well known choir, or audition for a theatre and sing there. If not, I would audition to work in musical theatre perhaps.
7. What are your short term goals to complete in the next year?
My goals are to develop my technique to the level I would not think of it SO MUCH, like I do now. The second goal is to finally become confident during performances. I would love to be better at singing in Italian and French, hopefully language classes will help with this.
8. Does the UK education system differ vastly from the education in your country?
The UK education differs vastly from the education in Russia. If you go to the university in Russia, you usually have 6-8 hours a day ( Monday - Friday) and then, you have two big slots of exams in January (right after New Year) and in the end of June.
9. What is your least favourite aspect of the course and why?
As I have already written, the first year students need much more help with all the written works. So, I can be sure that I am writing about aspects the teacher wants me to and not just something which is irrelevant …
Moreover, I do not have experience with writing essays in such a large scale format, and it is not because I am an international student (I have never done such a big essays in my native language) and I have heard that a lot of students struggle writing it (even though English is their first language)
It is just because we need someone to guide us - perhaps we could suggest a supervisor and see if this could be a possibility for students in academic classes in the future.
10. Finally, How do you feel studying in Leeds has impacted on your studies and progress? Do you believe it has been at all beneficial?
It is a great opportunity to experience something like this. I would say it is hard, but it is worth it in the long run. Studying in Leeds doesn’t have a huge impact on my studies at all (I am studying like I usually do) However, it definitely had an impact on my progress.
I believe it is important to have a whole college of musicians, so you can gain so much knowledge from them. Being surrounded by lots of people in the same situation is great! But what is most important is that, you get a chance to work with all of them: to get all the knowledge, advice and experiences in a shared environment.
Thank-you for your comments!

If you have any further questions you would like to ask Arina, please feel free to get in touch with me and I will pass them on to her.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Update: Reading week/ Half term

In my last post/article, I talked to you about university and conservatoire time tables - a little bit about the hectic life that is being a university student. I hope that reading that hasn't put too much doubt and worry into the nerves that lead up to your undergrad - but if it has then I reassure you that being this busy looks much scarier on paper than it is in real life! It is much easier to handle than you expect, and is all about learning how to get a healthy balance and routine that works for you. That is the element of settling in and moving away that can take a little longer to get used to, but it is the same boat for everyone so like I said, try not to worry about that for now. Leave it for a rainy day nearer the time.

This week off has been so fantastic! Getting to spend some time with family and friends away from the stress of deadlines, meetings, practice room bookings and rehearsals, was exactly what I needed to say goodbye to the great month of October. So much has happened, that it feels like a life time away since sixth form. This year my life has definitely changed for the better - a lot has been ticked off my bucket list, for sure!

Cinema wise, I have been wanting to see so many things for ages - it was fantastic to finally get to see Pan and Suffragette. Pan I thought was a really imaginative story that fit so well to J. M. Barries traditional fairy tale - I could definitely imagine lots of those things happening. Plus, it was just magical how the adventure unfolded and still managed to remain a story whilst coupled with special effects that made me remember that moment in the life of pi where everything is glowing. As for Suffragette, this was an section of history I remember revising mercilessly in history GCSE back in highschool and seeing it brought to life was something which really hit home. A film having an important message based on real events and real people is always wonderful because it carries on the message whilst giving justice to those who were there at the time and who helped make those events a reality - who helped make today and shape the future. Which I guess is what we are aiming to do now as we go on to university and work for our degrees to go out into the world and make something, even if we aren't completely aware what that might be yet.

Halloween wise -

We went to see Blackpool illuminations in the evening (a family tradition) and carved the pumpkin (fondly nicknamed Fred) and used a new recipe we found to cook the seeds - which make a really great snack by the way, and only take about 30 minutes to cook with olive oil and sea salt.

Halloween was also the day that we got our new dog - Rolo, who was already with a family who had to find him a new home which was lucky us! He is only four months old and hence quite small but will be huge soon and joining the other Labradors in their height. They met today and it was quite the comic sight - he looks so small compared to them: 

After our last dog passed away sadly last year, it is lovely to have a dog to come home to at the weekends, even if he wakes us up very early! The house seems much warmer than it has been, which can't be a bad thing! 

It also means someone to go hiking with - something I haven't done much in the last few years because of my grand dad being very ill. Seeing Blackstone Edge has to be a highlight of this week: 

And then we also went to the Christmas lights switch on concert at the Trafford centre which was great (fireworks inside) particularly for my mum who is possibly the biggest Peter Andre fan of all time:

Hopefully I'll be able to talk to you on more of my adventures soon - but until then I'll leave you with this fact from a documentary on ancient Egypt I watched yesterday: 

The honey found in king Tutankhamen's tomb is still edible today!

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