Sunday, 29 January 2017

University: Semester 2, Week 1

Coming back to York has been somewhat an odd experience. Not in that it has been negative, but in that it has been getting used to everything again. You'll see yourself once you attend university, or know if you already do, that returning is kind of like starting all over again. All of the modules and assignments are new, so are many of the professors and students you are working with. It it almost like you are back in freshers week. Not in every regard - campus is still the same, is still home. And all of my friends are here, the books in the library too that I never got chance to read in my spare time last semester. But gradually, I am falling back into the habit of planning essays, of scribbling out everything as fast as possible in my lectures and of reading wherever, whenever and however possible.

My personal library is growing!

The winter break has been good for me. Largely because after all of the stress in my assignments last semester, I just needed that opportunity to come up for air before diving back into everything again. Whilst the new assignments are intimidating in that I know they will require hard work and focus, it is my aim to remain able to meet that challenge and to not become complacent. This first work has been difficult in the amount of information being given out, but next week will be easier when it comes to focusing on the tasks ahead.

So far I have had one of each of my classes. Whilst I enjoyed the teaching style of all of my previous lecturers and seminar tutors, it is also refreshing to hear people with other areas of expertise speak their ideas and thoughts. It provides fresh information and inspiration. My favourite class is contemporary writing, because it looks largely at modern texts and the world around us. What is going in the news is very much something which is a part of our discussions. I enjoy this because it reminds me how relevant to the modern world literature is. It is crucial to our understanding of many things due to the fact that it comes in all kinds of formats. Whether that be a play, a movie, a book. Literature is everywhere. When I went to London, one of the first places I found it was in the poetry leaflets handed out on the tube. Words make our world better, or at least clearer to understand.

My other classes are proving enjoyable also. Reading texts 2 is split into two parts this semester: The first six weeks being short stories and criticism, the second half five weeks of poetry. Seeing the evolution of poetry in more detail after we studied sonnets last year will definitely be intriguing to say the least, though I am not sure if I can quite say I am looking forward to Chaucer... we do not get along well he and I. Gender and writing, just as with contemporary writing, is all about looking at the issues which arise in the modern society surrounding gender. We began by looking at an extract from Plath's The Bell Jar. Reading her exquisite and heart breaking phrases took me back to that day in early January when I visited her grave at Hebden bridge. It was easy to imagine her reading it.

Like I say, the first week is always a little odd because it is somehow manages to evade the norm. There is time to not be worried about assignments and to pause for a little while. Getting to spend time with my friends has been one of the best parts of being back because it means discussing ideas, setting short story challenges for one another, re-visiting the same places together and most importantly taste testing hot chocolate from across the city. Finding a new cafe to work from is never a bad thing.

As this second week begins and the first draws to a close, it will be good to feel the work effort becoming a tad lighter. It will be pleasant to have time to play the violin for a few minutes each day but to know that my main aim is to get an essay plan completed before the end of everything. The more work I put in now, the better the afternoons will be when my assignments are over once more. Some of them are in new formats (such as a critical review or a blog assessing my overall performance in a presentation on the construction of gender in society) which I am as of yet unaccustomed to, but all of that will soon change. It is definitely going to be a memorable experience learning about these things and something from which I can learn a great deal.

Outside of research and planning (feeling in a good place with that right now which is a relief!) my aim for the week is to carry on reading the Romanovs by Montefiore and to find some extra reading to do other than the supplied criticism. In addition to this, I want to go and see another academy award nominated film because so far all of them are proving pretty awesome - it is difficult to say who will win each of the awards this year for sure! Still living the dream from La La Land so far though - here is another little arrangement I have been working on this weekend between practice for Halle:

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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

Thursday, 26 January 2017

January Favourites

It's easy to fall into the trap of being gloomy the first few months of the year. But it's actually a really great time! For instance, it is when all the announcements are made for some of the cultural events which will be happening. Not only is it a new season, it is also a new year. The perfect time for positive change and continued hard work.

Staying positive isn't always the easiest thing. It is easy to avoid looking at the bright side and to mope about all the negatives in the world. Whilst there sometimes are unavoidably sad things which happen to us, smiling is what gets us through it all. Plus terrible jokes always help. Something about how bad they are always makes them funnier - are they then, good jokes? Ah philosophy! The way I am staying positive is by surrounding myself with my favourite things. Especially new favourites, as those are always exciting!

In keeping with my theme this month of staying cheerful and optimistic, here are some of my January 2017 favourites which have been keeping me going throug the cold winter weather so far:

1. Reading

No matter the time of year, no matter my deadlines, no matter the reading lists - I am determined this year that I am going to read more for my own enjoyment than I ended up doing in the second half of last year. Whilst it is important to get through all the reading in the semester (especially this term when even more critical reading is being introduced to accompany and help understanding of the essential texts) it is also important to keep your mind open to new ideas and thoughts. Without the inspiration of a good book, how are you going to stay sane and motivated through some of the less awesome moments of your reading list?

My favourite reads so far are rather varied. Because I have finished a large amount of the reading list (it was my focus over the long winter break) my focus was largely on the books I got out of the college library this week. There was a lecture I read by E. M. Forster on Virginia Woolf which was very intriguing. It is always interesting to see how writers view other writers, and he captured her just as I always imagined she would be through the tone of her works such as A Room of Ones Own. I also read a really incredible book called Disney Pixar: The Art of Finding Nemo which explained and gave examples of the process and lengths the Pixar team went through for creating every little detail of Finding Nemo. They studied everything from lighting to scale patterns and jaw motion in sharks.
It is not wonder they are so successful because so much time, effort and interest goes into bringing a story to life. And so much focus too is on the balance between cartoon and reality.

I am currently still reading the Series of Unfortunate Event Series which is going well. Almost at my favourite one now which is the fifth, though I am really looking forward to getting to the eigth and thirteenth too. My other current reads feature: Twitterature (a retelling of the classics through twitter) Reading and Writing (some short essays by Naipaul) the 6 books of autobiography by Maya Angelou, The Grapes of Wrath (I will finish it eventually!!!) and most excitingly of all, The Romanovs by Montefiore which I have been waiting for foreverrrr to come out in paperback! It's so beyond exciting to finally be reading it!

2. Hot Chocolate

Me and my friends have a thing about hot chocolate. Every time we go somewhere and try it at a new place, we have to tell the others our rating of it! I think it will probably become a thing at some point that we integrate an hour at a new cafe every week into our timetable. Firstly, because there is far too much hot chocolate in the world and too little time. Secondly because we are English literature students and sitting down to write or read in a cafe with a mug of hot chocolate just makes you feel like Hemingway.

My friends tried the white hot chocolate the Waterstones cafe the other day with smarties cookies when we went book shopping and I think that will have to be the next one I invest in. The one in the Double Dutch pancake house also looks really good. But my current favourite would have to be my home made Freddo hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream! With how cold things have been lately, there is nothing more satisfying than getting back to my room, out of the cold, taking off my scarf and sipping hot chocolate whilst watching Gilmore Girls (still also a favourite - but it got a whole post not too long ago, hence why it does not make an appearence here)

3. Swimming 

Rediscovering swimming has been like rediscovering an old part of myself I had forgotten about. It has been like that moment in Jumanji when the dust is blown off the board game and suddenly the story begins. Maybe a slight exaggeration - but also not. When I was younger and still training regularly for swimming, I also used to read a lot of books about people who had become professional athletes and who swam in the Olympics and so on. Frequently they talked about the feeling of sliding into the water and of feeling like they could cut through it just so and it was like flying in a way. Their own means of flying. It never made sense to me then as it does now. It makes me feel a lot healthier, and as a result much happier. Being down and being grumpy waste too much time, so it is a relief to find that swimming and exercise in general helps with this. There is just something about walking back home after a swim - the air feels cool and crisp, so much easier to breathe than it did before. I find that feeling intoxicating.

4. La La Land + Movies (But mostly La La Land...)

You may have guessed from my post Why The Arts Are So Important that La La Land has left me feeling pretty inspired. After watching that movie, it feels like no failure is truly a failure. It is easy to brust the dust of my ego and pride after a stumble and to get back up again. Each failure is never a failure in the world of the arts. Instead, it is simply the next step in the cliche of the metaphorical journey. From it, I can learn and develop. We cannot learn from others telling us how to not make mistakes, because making those mistakes ourselves is important in so many ways. It humbles us overall and makes us into better people. Also, a movie which portrays how much artists of any kind sacrifice in order to succeed is one which has been much needed for a very long time. Just like sinking into a pool for a long swim, this film made me that happy.

I've been watching quite a lot of movies this month. Some of them rewatches of classics like Mean Girls and Disney (mostly Pixar) but also some new. Series have also started to take over my life which is not good. At the moment, I really like the Crown. It is taking me back to my first year of A level and reminding me of all of the things I thought were left behind in my exams. Apparently they're still in there which was a cool surprise of sorts.

5. York, Family and Friends!

My final favourite has to be returning to York (the city of adventure and learning!) where my second family/friends are. I've already learnt so much from my new classes, started planning out assignments (new deadlines, new projects) and been to an exhibition (on the life of Anne Frank) two cafes, a million and one book shops and tonight before I commute back to Manchester tomorrow I'm going to a movie night with friends (we're watching Toy Story) Whilst I am missing my family, we've also already started writing letters again which is lots of fun. The challenge of staying organised and up to date is awesome and I'm glad to have so much to look forward to. No doubt so many of those things will be in my February favourites - Please do let me know your January favourites!

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Update: Back To York

I'm officially back in York and back to my regular classes. It is really good to be back and to know that there is so much interesting content to learn ahead. One of the classes I am most excited about so far is my contemporary writing class. All of the books are fairly recent (C. 21st) with glimpses at different issues the modern world faces. As well as being one of the most interesting classes I get to work through, it is also one of the most important. All of the things we talk about (such as globalisation) are ongoing matters in the world around us. The sorts of things we are discussing are the things we tend to see in the newspaper or hear on the radio. It is somewhat refreshing to think about the question What stance does literature take in the modern world? Whether that be in the format of a book, a graphic novel or even a movie.

After my class on Tuesday, I headed into the city to look through some book shops for something to read. The beginning of the semester requires some comfort reading to help me get back into the habit of reading heavier literary criticism alongside the set reading list. My main comfort read of the moment is A series of unfortunate events which was inspired by the release of the new Netflix series. Re-reading the book is so far proving an important means for me to comprehend the value of childrens literature. These books are still entertaining as a somewhat adult, and they take on a new meaning due to all of the things I have experienced in life since first reading them. Whilst it was only around ten years ago, in that time so much has happened. So much in my mind has changed. For instance, the topic of grief in those books is one which is much easier to comprehend now but was practically impossible to grasp when I was 10.

Another of the books I stumbled across, other than more Lemony Snicket, was a book called Twitterature which is the funniest thing I have read in a while. It takes classics (pick anything from Wuthering Heights to The Divine Comedy) and tells them through a series of tweets. A rather ingenious idea some students from Harvard thought up to make classics more accessible to the modern student. Hopefully this idea is one which continues as it really is funny and I think an excellent way to encourage young people that the classics are not so scary to approach afterall.

My first day back was also fun, though busy. Monday is still the busiest day of the week it would seem. Reading texts 2 is a good class though - we began with studying a short story called Those Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin. The story is science fiction and is all about raising the moral questions of what is right and what is wrong. Of what is acting and is not acting. It could be symbolic of so many things, which is what made it so intriguing. As did the author herself. Urusla Le Guin has written quite extensively and I hope to write half as well as her some day. In that one short story she managed to capture and represent perfectly so many ideas, from Rousseau to Kant. That isn't an easy thing to do. Neither is translation which is another area she works in. She even got a degree in medieval French!

It's been a moving week in many ways so far, especially in moments such as those I spent at the Anne Frank exhibition on Monday afternoon. Anne Frank is one of my literary heroes - she wrote so well but underwent too much. Her career was over before it had even begun. In addition to that, I am sometimes just overwhelmed by all of those artists and authors who set out their work into the world. It makes me feel incredibly lucky to be where I am now. I need to remember that. As Anne Frank said

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Every time I go to class, or open the page of a new novel, all I can think about is that I want to do what those authors did. And by working hard, maybe I too will one day be able to improve the world too.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

How To: Take Lecture Notes

Being in a lecture can often be an overwhelming experience. Largely because you have someone talking very fast, whilst also having to read information which contrasts and complies with the spoken message from the board. Being surrounded by all of this at once can at first be difficult to settle into, and it might seem that you will never succeed in taking lecture notes efficiently. At least nothing that will prove overly useful when it comes to your exam revision time.

However, getting the most out of your lectures is not as difficult as it first may seem. The first key is repetition. The more that you go to lectures, the quicker you will adjust to the situation and begin to process things at a faster rate. It is crucial that you learn how to record the information you hear in a way that is useful to you. There is no point in writing down everything you hear if you are never going to read it again or make use of it. Equally, there is no sense in recording everything exactly as it is said! Write things down in your own words. That is the best start because then you can begin to internally process and digest everything you need to learn. It is the most efficient way to begin taking lecture notes.

And on that note, here are  a few tips and tricks on how to take lecture notes:

1. Begin With The Slides

Before a lecture, the slides will be available on Moodle for you to view, or whichever virtual learning platform is in place for your school/sixth form/university. Once they become available it can be useful to go over them in advance and copy up a few fundamental things. This way when you are in the lecture, you can take notes from the lecturer alone which will save a lot of time. It also makes it easier to concentrate for those who find multi-tasking difficult. 

In some institutions it is the case that slides might go up a little later or simply after the lecture. If this is so, then when you are working on your notes throughout the lecture be sure to start with the slides. These will have a summary of whatever it is the lecturer is going to say. The information is often a little less dense and so easier to process and get down onto paper. Once you have the fundamentals, then you can begin to add more chunks of information as with a mind map. For instance if you were in a lecture about ants and their habitats, a slide might summarise how they go about building their houses. You would right about this information first as it is about the prime piece of information, and then you could tune further into what the teacher was saying and get down some interesting facts on the types of materials they use to build those houses or how they communicate with another to transport them.

Of course, all lectures may not be as fascinating as one on the lives of ants. Some will be more interesting than others, but it is important than you remain alert and eager to learn. If you do so, it will make getting notes down an easier ordeal to get through. Just remember this quick tip - fundamental facts from the board/slides and then further interesting lecturer based information.

2. Paraphrase The Lecturer

Where seminars are long, lectures tend to be short and sweet. Whilst they can occasionally feel like they are dragging, you do not in fact have the time in the world. There is no pause button or subtitles available that will make it easier for you to copy down every single word the lecturer is saying. This is where paraphrasing comes in.

Just as you find the fundamentals from the less dense content on the board, you need to pick out in detail the information you want to record and hence retain from your lecturer. Focus on the things that are peculiar or which stand out. For instance, I will never forget thanks to an excellent primary school teacher that a slug has 27,000 teeth. If you hear something which you think is relevant but quirkily phrased then make the most of it! If there is a quote, note who you quoted the information from or make it obvious that it is not your own words by writing differently. I usually do this by writng in italics as my usual hand writing is printed. Also make notes of any of the contributions made by the rest of the group that catch your ear.

3. Drafting Process

Your independent learning time can be used however is most helpful to you, the individual. Which is why it can be useful to type up or copy back out the notes from your lecture afterwards. Not only will this allow you to go back over the content (meaning immediate confirmation and revision) providing further security in your knowledge, but it will also result in you having a much neater copy of the notes. One that is readable and not hastily scribbled. 

As well as being useful in terms of keeping things neat and organised, copying things out is an age old trick to remembering things. So in essence you will be working well in advance. And of course, working in advance means that the nearer to a deadline you get the more comfortable you will feel. Preventing stress is equally as important as doing well in your classes and recording information in lectures. You can pair this with colour coding or flash card format to provide you with further revision supplements, saving yourself work and keeping information where you can learn from it the most. 

Whilst not the most fun thing in the world, it is calming to know that there is not a time limit capping your thought process after the lecture. You are free to think about what you have learnt. And so think of that as an open drafting process into which you can put any new ideas you come up with later.

4. Record The Lecture

Always ask for permission before you record a lecture. Some teachers and students are not comfortable with this, though usually it is fine as long as you ask in advance. You can record your class on your phone, though these do not always have the best recording quality. Of course you cannot get an entire TV team in to record for you, so the next best thing is to get a special sensitive microphone to clip onto the top of your laptop computer. You can use software such as audacity to keep these recordings available to you after they are made.

For some students it is difficult to concentrate or there might be reasons specific to you which might make concentrating and working in a lecture particularly testing. In this situation, my advice to you is to talk to a member of the welfare team or your teacher directly about any problems you are having. They will have more advice to provide and will be able to support you through this issue and keep you up to track work wise. 

5. Study Groups 

Post lecture, keep the conversation going! It's fun to discuss the ideas in class and your own unique opinions because every body will have a different approach. Here at York St. John, I have formed the essay club where I meet up with friends and fellow students in the library once a week to go over the work we have done so far, to peer assess one anothers drafts and to encourage any discussion ideas we might have. 

Getting to be a part of a study group is great because it means you can catch up on any lecture notes you might have missed or find out new ideas which you might not have thought of before. It is a wonderful thing to be in a university because the learning environment is full of people just like you who want to do well, succeed and who are interested in the same things. Make the most of it while you can! Organise, arrange and be a part of as much as possible that will help cement your knowledge and understanding of a wide variety of topics. The richer your knowledge, the happier and more successful you will be, and the more useful your lecture notes will be also. 

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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

Monday, 23 January 2017

The Importance Of The Arts

Recently, I went to the cinema to see the movie La La Land. After hearing so many positive reviews (not just from the newspapers but from my friends too) I was curious to learn more. As a viewer who had seen teaser trailers and not really heard much about the film, I went in with no expectations or previous knowledge. In a way, it seems that this is the best way to go about watching a creation made by another person. Especially with the academy nominees as, it is important that we like films because we like them. Not just because they are nominated for five oscars.

Because I went in with few expectations my first pleasant surprise was that it was a musical. And an upbeat one at that. There were many other elements I ended up really enjoying too - such as how much Jazz music is involved, how many references to the most famous movies of all time there are and also the ambiguity of the time the story is set. Because of the way it is filmed, it does possess attributes of the golden age of Hollywood style. And yet there is modern technology and some cliches involved only so they can be seen as silly and to show how they can be made better.

The main thing that struck me from seeing this, the reason I am writing this post, is that there are so many people who want to pursue a role in the arts. Specifically in the performing arts. So many people love the stage, love to play their music to people or to express their entire thought process through dance. It's a beautiful thing to be able to love the thing you are good at and to want to devote yourself to it completely. It is a difficult thing to do. That was why this movie was so poignant and why that thought struck me so suddenly. Because whilst it showed the love of performance, it also showed how sometimes loving it so much can lead to a frustration or anger at it.

Because it occurred to me that each creative individual must pursue their love of performance at a great risk - the risk of failure. Often we look to those who are famous, such as our favourite pop stars, actors, or writers and we think that they are so successful because they never made mistakes. Because they are so famous and successful they could never have made any failures or at least not huge ones: This is what we subconciously tell ourselves. But this isn't true, not at all! La La Land captures this perfectly. It is all about picking yourself up and brushing yourself off, getting the job at the coffee bar to support you while you audition and pursuing that dream at all costs. The hard work shown not only in the story line but in the very creation of that story is something no artist truly wants to admit. And that is because once you reach success, it can be difficult to look back at that failure or to admit to it. Oscar Wilde is a perfect example as he wanted people to believe the words just ran from his pen into the perfect order on the paper, and that was that. But the reality was he drafted and edited (and drafted again) probably more than anyone! Appearences can be deceiving.

It was refreshing to see a movie that directly dealt with what it is to feel like a failure and how you get back up from it. How sometimes it might seem you will never get the opportunity you have always dreamt of, or that you might have missed your chance. The reality is, just as La La Land showed throughout, sometimes you have to give yourself that extra push  and keep trying.

If that dream is (some Rainer Maria Rilke here - Letters to a Young Poet) all you can think of when you get out of bed in the morning, then that is your dream. That is who you are. What on earth are you waiting for? They are dreams for a reason; because you aren' making them happen. The minute you start acting upon them, they become a reality. That is a piece of advice I give myself on a daily basis and every opportunity I can. It doesn't always work because sometimes our own subconcious is our darkest place, but when it does work it works like laughter. It becomes the best medicine. It is almost therapeutic to throw yourself into expression through your projects and ideas. There is a line and lyricism to each move that makes it feel like the worlds' best game of chess.

The arts give us a break from reality, and from the mundane repetition of the day to day. When the world gets us down and when things are too difficult, we turn to the arts. Whether that be to sing the song or to listen to it, we all turn to the spot light in our own way at some point. It adds a little magic to the ordinary day and offers a world to step into that is full of surprises. Whether that be for a second or for hours, we can be who ever we want to be, know whatever we want to know and imagine beyond imagining just for imaginings sake. There is nothing more powerful than one thing which can spark a creative revolution. All of those poets who wrote sonnets to the earth, All of those composers who set out their skeletal melodies piece by piece to build a symphony and All of those dreamers who have ever dared - they are the people who sparked change. Those are the people who inspire us and who we most desire and aspire to be like.

And that is, of course, why the arts are so important. Beyond important - essential. Without dreams, we have no vision or creativity. Without the arts, we wouldn't be able to dream at all.

^ A small clip of some arranging I have been doing of the music from the movie.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Application Process: An International Student's Perspective

Laura Klepeisz graduated secondary school in Austria and is currently applying to university in the UK.

1. What most made you want to apply to university?

Firstly, because I don't want my education to be over yet. I feel it will be an opportunity to further enhance and develop the skills I have already gained. In addition to this, student life is full of enriching experiences. Not only does it present new opportunities, but it also broadens my outlook on life in general.

2. Of the application process, which element did you find most difficult?

The personal statement!  It is the key to making it or not making it for me, so I wanted to give it my all. It wasn't difficult to understand the application in general, in fact it was quite simple to understand. It is just that the statement is the most challenging aspect and requires hard work to complete.

3. Where did your interest in journalism begin?

It largely became an interest from my love of languages and cultures, which goes back to as far as I can remember. Working with Know Your Rights (an Austrian human rights organisation) when I was around 13 or 14 opened my mind to journalism as I began to experience more of it. There was also a time when I went to the Vienna TV company for a school trip and I just had to know more about everything I was seeing and hearing. It inspired me because of how fascinated I was by it.

4. You speak both German and English - tell us more about your love of languages and why you think they are important.

Words have always intrigued me and I've always loved writing. Firstly in German and later in English, which I have now been learning for around 8 or 9 years. Seeing how sentences and writing styles can be put together in both languages is so interesting. Over time, language is broadened by the people who use it and so it is always evolving. The communication aspect is great because it allows me to connect with other people, their lives and the world. I would love to learn even more languages too!

5. What do you think are the values of being an international student and studying abroad?

There are many advantages. For me the main reason is because I have always liked English culture. But in addition to this it also broadens horizons. By being in a new place and practicing language skills it becomes possible to increase opportunities by doing something more unique and strong minded. You get to meet likeminded people who are passionate and interested about the same things as you and can learn from them too. They are important connections to make. But overall, it's just a fantastic opportunity and amazing experience.

6. What are some of the most rewarding things you have learnt so far from your previous experience with travelling?

Through travelling I've learnt that everything is not only done one way. Other places have traditions too, and they have their own versions of culture and what is defined as normal. The world is an incredible place but that cannot be fully realised without seeing these places firsthand. Once you are up close it is easier to comprehend those different cultures. Through being open minded, I've seen and experienced some wonderful countries, plus made some close friends. Finally, as well as learning from my travels, I also enjoy nature and photography which are both a large part of my trips.

7. What advice do you have in terms of the overall application, specifically in relation to finding referees? 

Choose someone as a referee who knows you well. For instance, a teacher who knows you quite well because of working with you on a regular basis. Make sure they know your passion too and show it fairly. In terms of the overall application, talk to friends and family. Friends who have been through this already may be able to offer some advice or comfort. But above all, start early and give yourself plenty of time to prepare everything. Don't be too stressed by it! Keep calm, focus and you shall succeed.

8. What do you most enjoy writing about? And what would you like to explore and write more of in the future?

Even more travel writing because this could perhaps open up a career in this area. It would link my love of travel with journalism. I am not sure of the specifics because of my range of interests - I'd like to write more about everything. Really it's about opportunity. If something is offered that's new then you should rise to the challenge.

9. Where do you see yourself in another 5 years time? What are some of the things you would like to achieve?

It's impossible to fully answer this question because it's about taking every day as it comes. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. On a smaller scale, I am very much looking forward to beginning university and further travel through Erasmus. Later, I would like to study a masters degree in London.

10. Any final comments or thoughts for your fellow applicants?

If you have a dream, don't let anyone tell you you cannot achieve it. Afterall, this is your life and you should be the one who decides. Take your fate into your own hands.


Thank-you for all of your thoughts and ideas Laura - It's been great hearing about what it is like to be applying for university in 2017!

If you would like to hear more from Laura, you can read some of her previous articles here:

Day 2 - London

After getting to know the city on a smaller scale through the village of Barnes, today was all about getting right to the heart of the city and getting to experience London with someone who is a local. At times, it almost felt like being a local myself. I can really see why London is such an exciting place for students. There is so much going on all the time, especially in terms of new ideas. They compliment the history and bring out the best in all aspects. There is so much potential discovery - whether it be discovering a new museum or finding an old movie theatre which plays only Charlie Chaplin.

Now that I have defeated my confusion over the tube, it was much easier to relax and follow the maps that are posted around. The first place I could think of wanting to explore was the British museum as I haven't been there in a very long time and don't remember it too well.

It was another crisp, clear day and when we arrived, the stone of the building rose up in front of me like something from a movie. Seeing the flag soaring over the top made me feel oddly patriotic because yes, I was about to head into the British museum and learn about the history of not only Britain, but other cultures and all of those who have gone before us. The energy before you head into a new place, specifically a new museum, is one which cannot get any more exciting. Because you know that you are about to be presented with a million new pieces of knowledge and nothing gets much more exhilirating than shaping your mind around fascinating things.

Copyright Clss 2017

Stepping into the warmth from outside, the first thing that struck me was the ceiling. The ceiling is made entirely from glass and because it was such a clear blue sky above, the brilliant white of the new modern architecture was striking against the old stone foundations. It gave it thsi surreal and exciting quality, which also allowed for some of the artefacts on display before the exhibition to really stand out. Getting to see the snippets made it easier to decide which sections to head to first.

There is also something about walking into one of the most famous museums in the world that just makes learning even more exciting than usual. This day I got to learn about the Egyptians, the Maya, about Ancient Rome and Greece, about the formation of America. It just adds those details to all of the places I want to travel to that make it all the more important to me that I get there as soon as possible. It's also mindblowing to see first hand small perfectly preserved objects which have been unearthed after thousands upon thousands of years. To think that our ancestors from around the globe were able to craft using only simply tools and their hands to make art or cookery ware is quite striking. It made me think a lot about humanity, how much it has evolved and changed and how different the world has been at different points in time. It's something that I know, but sometimes it strikes me to a larger extent of epiphany.

Copyright Clss 2017
After the British Museum, it was interview time but we were also so hungry after wandering around learning so much! So we headed to a little cafe and discussed musicals (of course) London is brilliant for musicals and it is a shame that I wasn't able to watch one this visit. It seems every time I do visit the city, it is for some reason relating to music. There is so much going on art wise there, which is why it is as new and exciting as I keep telling you it is. On the way to the cafe, we must have walked past at least 20 different advertisements for musicals, including An American in Paris and The Lion King (which I really want to see) Who knows, maybe I will head back soon to attend a concert or two and to see that American exhibition at the British museum when it begins.

Whilst heading to the education/tourist based centres, it was nice to just carry on behaving like a local. Wandering the streets, hopping on and off the tube. It adds to that sense of adventure. There was this one point on Bloomsbury where a shop caught my eye. It looked like Ollivanders except the window was full of oil paint tubes instead of magic wands and spells. The supplies were such good quality and some of them hand made. To see so much love go into art is always wonderful and I even managed to find some good sketching pencils to invest in for my trips to the art gallery once I get back to York next week.

copyright Clss 2017
It's been an amazing but brief trip and I've really enjoyed my first trip to London alone. It has opened my eyes a lot to a city I wasn't seeing properly before. It makes me want to go again and again. I stumbled across a leaflet on my way home called 'Poems on the London Underground'. Apparently they are starting this up again which I am so glad about because I really enjoyed reading a collection book of these when I was travelling on the train in my second year at sixth form. There are some really poignant and beautiful poems which add a little something to the day. One of my favourites to end this trip on was that of Wordsworth - Composed upon Westminster Bridge. It goes something like this:

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Day 1 - London

It's been a long time coming, but finally I was able to head up to London this weekend to see my friend Laura who is currently working in the area and in the process of applying for university as an international student. We met up last summer in Austria, so it feels like forever since we have been able to meet up and catch up on everything that doesn't fit into letters, post cards and emails.

The train journey began early in the morning, but it was pleasant overall. Even though I had planned each part of the journey specifically (I had one note book and one book for everything!) it seemed there was still too much time for me to go without getting bored. Luckily it was only towards the end of the travelling that there was time to get bored, otherwise I probably would have started pacing the train. It's this odd thing I have where patience and being patient is fine for months or weeks, but then ten minutes before something is about to happen and it seems impossible to wait even a second longer!

Walking to the train station was a pleasant trip because the sun was coming up. It was early and the buildings of Manchester took on their characters. The old stone of the galleries and the library cast shadows over the pavement, whilst the newer glass spirals and domes of the modern architecture glinted so brightly I had to shield the top of my eyes so that I could see the top. It's one of my favourite times of day, getting to see the city wake up and come to life like one big play. It also adds to the whole experience of being in one place when you begin your day and ending it in one far away. It always makes me marvel at the complexity of human thought and imagination, that it can create so many wonderful things.

Whenever I have been to London before, it always been to perform with other people. My first real time in London was the Halle tour for the BBC proms in 2015 and since then I have returned more and more frequently - to perform in concerts with Future Talent, and to see the proms from a seat beyond the choir circle. And despite feeling my knowledge of the performance venues and several of the museums is up to scratch, when it comes to the tube I was hugely intimidated by travelling alone because there is nothing like that in the cities where I usually am and just looking at a tube map confuses me!

Note to self - confused me. No more shall it win! The tube is actually a great transport method. It reminds me a lot of the system in Germany because of how efficient it is. I understand how people can never have the excuse of being late in London; things run like clockwork. The Oyster card is such a cool device and so handy in how it is used. For instance, it means I don't have to have cold hands because my gloves need taking off to use the ticket machine.

It was really cool to get to see so much of the city just by looking out of the window and watching it all pass by in a blur, like some sort of contemporary 21st century Monet painting. One of the stations which made me smile was Baker street because, after the recent incredible series finale, all I could hear in my head was the Sherlock theme! It was a very cool moment. All of the brickwork and the red signs make it very Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - esque. There were these two seats free in front of me at the time, and I amused myself by imagining a conversation about the weather between Watson and Sherlock. The journey passed quite quickly from there and I was soon in Hammersmith on a bus.

Laura showed me around the local village/city area of Barnes, which is a very pretty area. The park there has been around since the early 1800's and I bet in the spring and summer time, it is alive with the plant life in a way only a park from Pride and Prejudice could be. There was a pond where several swans swam nonchalantly, seemingly unaware of the freezing cold and the fact that much of the pond was frozen over. Because of how blue the sky was and how icy the pond had become, the entire scene looked like a watercolour painting depicting a moment from The Snow Queen. 

After looking around the park for a while, and watching the ducks maneuvre the ice with serious skill, we headed further into the village to look at some of the local shops. There were little independent bakeries and stores, including a cheese store which reminded me of the one in York on Gillygate - every week it has a new cheese related joke. For instance How do you get a mouse to smile? Say Cheese! I've missed those jokes so much over Christmas/Winter break. 

One of my favourite things in Barnes though was the railway bridge. It has the most spectacular view over the river. Particularly on such a clear day, it felt kind of like being at the beach because the river wasn't too high and some sand/stone had gathered beside the water. Even the river had some ice. Though the arcs and iron rails which made up the bridge stood strong and cold, they were bare of frost. Bridges are peculiar things - they seem to have their own characters and to stand so strongly and independently without any help, yet they are man made. Being up there was somewhere between being a bird trying to decide where to fly or a movie set construction. Peaceful and still, the world stretched out quietly before my eyes.

As we walked back through the village mid-discussion, the light caught our shadows and I found it quite funny because in my shadow I looked tall! And I must be the shortest person on the planet, so that was great! It was another moment where the street felt more like the path down to a pier or a beach than a street by a fairly busy road. By the time the walk was over and the day had ended, I think we had caught up on pretty much every book the other had read (lots more books for my reading list) It was a really good day, as are all days spent in the company of good friends.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Stay Inspired!

So often it is easy to take for granted getting the opportunity to do all of the things that we love. We can overlook the little things that make us happy when there are mistakes - perhaps you burn the cake, spell the word wrong or don't get the cadenza just right. But that's ok! Those mistakes are what make us human. Development is key the learning process, even though sometimes it might seem a little annoying and we might wish it away a tad too quickly.

Another way of saying stay inspired which is used far more quickly is 'stay motivated'. But that is too vague for me. Motivation is easier said than done because it is a word that we see repeated in adverts, in movies and in the lecture hall. Sometimes it is thrown into conversation because it seems the easiest summary. So that we start to overlook why motivation is important too. Motivation/staying inspired is important because it is what keeps us progressing, achieving and soaring. Without it, we are nothing.

If you are feeling a little down and you are starting to forget all of those important reasons why it is you do what you do and love what you love, here are a few ways you can help to remind yourself:

1. TED Talks 

Hearing people talk passionately about what they do never ceases to help me. TED talks in particular are useful because there are so many of them you just can't not find on that captures the essence of exactly what you are thinking or feeling. They teach you a new perspective of the things that is familiar to you and that is never a bad thing. It is research, without all of the dusty books and late library hours.

One of the TED talks that most picks me up when I am down is one where a speaker talks about how every individual thinker throughout history who has made something of themselves has had bad habits. And those bad habits are generally what defines them and makes them unique or noticeable. Without their failures, in particular without their bad habits (such as procrastination), we might still be a world in which some of the most famous companies to ever be created (such as Apple, Pixar or Disney) the greatest films and literature ever to be produced would not exist. Remembering this reminds me that is important to not wish away how I, as an individual, create art. Because that is my technique. That is how I function and without that, I am not me. I am not original.

2. Mind Map

Link the academic with the creative and, using lots of bright colours of course, mix together all of the ideas and thoughts you have on what it is that inspires you. The point of a mind map is to put together all of that information you want to link, to compare and contrast and to gain new ideas from. You never know - just having all of that content in one place might be just what you need to get a new insight into your favourite things.

Once you have an Inspiration mind map, put it up somewhere you can see it every day. Whether that be the back of your door, next to your book shelf or over your desk. Just keep it visible. By osmosis you are going to remember all of those positive things that make you proud to study and to think the way you do. Plus, sometimes when something is right in front of your nose, you start to think up new things that you never would have before. If Sherlock has taught me one thing, it is that.

3. Explore + Research 

Using your mind map, explore and research some new things. For instance, just like netflix will provide you with suggested films that hold potential to be your new favourites, the internet holds hundreds of thousands of different pieces of content that might match up to what you like to listen to or read.

Explore firstly by looking into inspirations of your own inspirations. For instance, Alicia Weilerstein was hugely influenced by Jacqueline Du Pre, who played lots of Elgar and Elgar was inspired by folk music, etc. Create this lists and look into the names you discover or the references you stumbled over which sound like they might hold something more than just a small place in a different scale work. Sometimes, the smallest things can be the most important so don't forget to look through the foot notes in your favourite history book as they might surprise you.

4. Something Completely New

If all else fails, try something completely new. And if nothing fails, still try somethng new. We can all benefit from trying new things on a regular basis. Not only does it widen your skill set, but it also changes your approaches to different situations, whether you be an accountant or a hair dresser. Being able to keep a wide open mind which is creative in how it problem solves on a day to day basis is important. It keeps things all around the world moving in a refreshing manner.

By something new, it is up to you how new. Perhpas you have always wanted to do archery - perfect, now is the time to go out and book a few lessons. Or maybe you just heard about a nearby hike and want to partake because you haven't really done that sort of thing in a while. Perfect! Go trek that dustry track and see what you can bring back from it. But above all, if there is something which is new but you're a little afraid to try it (maybe you have never played a musical instrument but want to learn the violin) then just give it a try. Start small and work up, work at your own pace, but allow yourself the freedom to fail. Failing isn't failing really - failing is learning. Make your mistakes, learn a new skill and afterwards reward yourself with a positive thought and chocolate (because chocolate!)

5. Favourites!

And after you have tried thinking outside of the box and attempting new things, make sure you do go back to those classic favourites. The things you will never get tired of no matter what. If nothing else can keep you motivated, these are sure too because they are the foundation of you essentially. Go watch singin in the rain again in your living room, or dance around to some Mika from the early 2000's. Whilst it is important to do all of the previously mentioned (keep positive, try new things, explore, think in a new and different way) it is also important to cut yourself some slack. Sometimes the key to staying inspired and to keeping motivated is to not apply pressure at all. But to set yourself free of expectation, in particular your own expectation, and as a result you will feel better refreshed any way.

In all honesty, the people who inspire me inspire me because they have stayed themselves. No matter what life has thrown at them. And that is a pretty difficult thing to do.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

How To: Build A Schedule

Every time I try to sort out my schedule, I end up getting distracted or finding that there are too many clashes so it is easier to just schedule day by day. It isn't always that way but, throughout the majority of my year when I do need a schedule, that is the case. Schedule building isn't the piece of cake it cuts itself out to be - sometimes it can be challenging or frustrating, which is why it is good to have a bit of time and a lot of hot chocolate to help you get through it more easily.

Looking at my timetable for semester 2 of my undergraduate literature degree at York St. John is so far not too scary or stressful (then again, we don't start work until Monday officially) which means I am starting to figure out when would be the best time to do varying activities. It also means I can make sure that my extracurricular activities fit in and that I am able to make all of the necessary Halle rehearsals at weekends. Plus, on top of all of that, I need to make sure I am slotting in some personal time when I can spend time with my wonderful friends and family (balance is key afterll!)

If you are in the same boat and are wondering how on earth you can begin scheduling everything into place, here are a few small ideas which might help you in your mission:

1. Classes

Your college timetable should be given to you in advance to the new term beginning, so you will know in plenty of time whether any of your classes clash and who would be best to contact about something like this. It also means that you can get ahead on the reading lists and the work whilst you have some time off, which is always best for the schedule as it means things do not tend to overlap as much as they otherwise might. Plus, having the time to ask any questions in advance is never a bad thing.

This will make up the foundation of your schedule as it is given to you. It is useful to print a copy or to have a copy to hand whilst you are planning. I like to colour code mine so that I know what is a seminar or a lecture. It always reassures me that this, at least, is set in stone. Because it is certain, it is much easier to fit everything else around it so that I make efficient use of time. It also makes it easier when it comes to planning individual work as I can make sure that this isn't too close to the rest of a busy day and that I have some breaks between getting to grips with all of the new information.

2. Revision + Individual Work

Like I said previously, this is easier to plan out once you do have a copy of your regular time table because then you can make sure that you aren't doing too much work all at once. You should separate your revision from your other individual work (specifically, course work or written assignments) so that you aren't mixing two different lots of information together. If it is taught and filed separately, keep it that way (unless you are specifically looking for intriguing links)

When you do find places for this in your schedule, also remember that this should just be a guideline. It is one of those things where sometimes you really do need that ten minute break, even if you do need to do another ten minutes. Work at the rate that is best for you and not what looks most impressive on paper. Work is time consuming yes, but if you are just trying to make it look like you are working for workings sake then you will not achieve whatever it is you want to. Work because you feel up to the challenge and because you are motivated to succeed.

Also, aim not to schedule this too much in advance. When it gets closer to exams you will, of course, want to be revising more. The same goes for course work and assignment deadlines. However, if you try to balance out your slots so that they add up gradually over the year then you will be a lot more relaxed because of the work put in earlier. In addition to this, as I stated above, it is hard to plan this in advance. Use it as a guide line and re-arrange this from day to day if need be. Or find a time that works best and stick to that. For me, I work best with my individual work in the evenings, so I make sure to stick to the easier tasks (such as getting through close reading, research or analysis) during the day between classes, saving me time for the more important tasks later in the evening.

3. Family + Friends

For me, term time is the time of year when I focus in on staying in touch with my friends and family. It is so easy to do so when I am at home, but being far away from them and quite busy means that I don't get to see them as much as I would like to do. But it also means I get to schedule in a few hours a week to face time or talk on the phone, which is always great fun. As is letter writing which is a shared hobby and a lovely little way to stay in touch. Getting a letter in their hand writing that they sat down to write for me is one of my favourite things in the world. I have a giant stack of them in my room at halls which I look through whenever I feel sad and it immediately makes me feel better.

Always put your friends and family first. If there is an emergency, no matter what time of the semester it is, that is your priority. This is why mitigating circumstances exist. If there is a point in time when you just need to be at home, make it happen the best you can. If you are too stressed, look into going home for the weekend to get some familial support before heading back refreshed and ready to start a new week. If you feel that just isn't possible, make sure you are speaking to the well being team and your friends at uni - they have your best interests at heart and will only want to help you.

4. Exercise + Meal Times

Just as it is important to keep your mental health way through pacing the revision and keeping in touch with your family, it is also important to encourage positive mental health with positive physical health. This means regular meal times, plenty of water and sleep and (the one that sometimes gets left out) exercise!

Having a regular routine works wonders on keeping a schedule because it gives you more that is set in stone. It is also just soothing to know that you wake up at the same time every day, have the right amount of time for breakfast and so on. It helps when it comes to planning shopping, or what to make meal wise. Knowing those things as a student helps you to budget - organisation is the key to keeping things in shape. Especially with sleep as well. There are so many different ideas going around about what the student life is like. Other than freshers though, it really isn't all parties and concerts. Whilst those aspects of life are fun, the point is to work hard, have a good experience with that being the prime focus and making sure that you keep yourself well. Sleep is the answer to all in my opinion.

Exercise wise, it can be simple enough. You don't have to be jogging to each class and drinking those smoothies made of a hundred and one different fruits. The aim is to start small and work up to whatever is best for you. Start with one hour a week and if you feel you need more than this, keep going until you find what is most suitable. It can be useful to get a gym pass to safe money if this is something you are interested in, and research also comes in useful when finding the cheapest means to do this. For me, I enjoy swimming on a weekly basis, so I am currently using month long pool passes which means I don't feel too pressured to be swimming constantly.

Swimming in particular is something I have always found calming because it makes it easier to breathe. I appreciate the air when I'm back to my studies. Plus, particularly in summer, it can be a pleasant way to feel refreshed, to keep cool and to keep your head clear.

5. Keeping Things Balanced!

As you can see from all of these tips, there is no true way to be told how to plan your schedule. I can only help by sharing what works best for me in my own experience and this acts to some extent as a guide line for you. We all work at different rates and we should cater to that. Whilst it might at times feel like time is dragging, or that there just aren't enough hours in the day at other moments, it is important to remember that the schedule you have designed itself is also just a guide line. Do what works best, what feels best and what achieves the best outcome for you as an individual. With time, the scheduling will be much easier because you will know how much time equals what particular outcome.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!
If you like, you can click Here to vote for me as Blogger of the Month. Thank you!

How To: Commute Efficiently

This time last year and the year before that, I was commuting regularly. And by regularly, I mean on a day to day basis. It made for a long day at that, largely because train rides are lengthy any way but sometimes there are added delays etc. It can be tiring, especially when you have a large workload on your back or a busy schedule. But it is possible if you commit yourself to achieving the best you can and keep yourself motivated through the smaller things.

Depending on where you are going to (in my case it was either Manchester or Leeds) and how often you are going to be commuting, you can come up with varying ideas to make more use of your journey. For instance, avoiding trains in the peak zones/rush hour can result in getting more work done as you are most likely to get a seat at those times. Even reserving a seat in advance can be helpful. There will be some incidents where it is harder to concentrate on busier trains than others, but it is achievable. This I learnt over time - it's all about adjusting to your surroundings and learning to focus your concentration fully.

So, here are a few tips and tricks to help you commute efficiently:

1. Leisure Time

In a busy day, the commute can prove useful as leisure time. It can be a good time to catch up on a series you started on Netflix, to call friends or to do some brief sketching. There are varying activities which you can partake in whilst on the train or bus, one of which is listening to music. If you are learning or studying a piece, this can be especially useful. It means you can listen to it without the stress of having to analyse anything which often results in remembering things subconsciously as you internalise the music by choice.

If you have wi-fi, it means you can look into new things. You can help yourself keep optimistic by planning a trip - whether that be looking for somewhere interesting to explore close to home so that you don't have to wait forever or googling that recipe for coconut cream cake you've wanted to make forever. Having a space that you can treat as a pause button to reality can be oddly satisfying, and it definitely makes the whole travelling experience one which is less stressful.

2. Flash Cards

Both train tracks and bumps in the road can make it difficult to maintain a steady hand when writing notes and noisy crowds make it all but impossible to focus in on a text book full of jargon. I remember trying to get through a Chekhov play on my way to university once and it just didn't happen because it was too complex to keep up with without my full concentration.

A solution to making study possible on the go is the use of flash cards. Largely because they are small, easily storable and hence easily transportable. You can make these yourself by writing on the information + facts you need to memorise and they are purchasable from most stationery shops. Whenever I have flash cards for one subject, I find it easiest to break up the flash cards into modules or topics with the use of colour coding. This means that I can easily find the sections I need to whenever and where ever.

Just reading through these little cards can reassure you that you are in fact doing something even if it feels like you can't because of everything around you. It means that you have only the mandatory and necessary information before you, and that skeletal information will give you a foundation you can build on the rest of the day once you have access to a library.

3. Travelling With A Lap Top

One of the easiest solutions other than flash cards is travelling with a laptop. If you are going to do this, my advice is that you store it well with a protective padded laptop bag and that you make sure it is fully charged before you leave the house. Whilst there are often plugs available on trains, there is not always a guarantee that you will have access to them (again, if the train is busy)

The only times I have ever really travelled with a laptop have been in the incidents where I had course work deadlines to work towards. Largely because it is bulky and heavy, which makes it tiring to carry around all day. However, when I commute home at the weekends from York nearer to deadlines it is hugely useful to have access to my own computer so that I don't have to rely on google docs. It saves stress if everything is where you are used to it being and you can work on it with your own word processor.

If you want to avoid this, you can always make use of an ipad or invest in a smaller computer like a net book. They can be useful if you are commuting regularly and have a lot of deadlines. If you aren't in one place for too long, working on the go is a must.

4. Emails + Schedules

The little tasks really clutter up your day when they are added up, don't they? Which is why the commute is the perfect time to get those things out of the way. Checking your timetable in advance, writing down important dates in the diary and checking emails. If you know all of the updated information as soon as possible, it is much easier to just get going when you arrive at work/college/school/university.

Plus if you have any questions in advance before arriving, it is better to send them now whilst you have time opposed to waiting until the middle of the day and then completely forgetting, despite it being something important.

5. Reading

Yes, I know, this should technically come under the leisure category, but this is one I am slightly biased in favour of. As you know I am a literature student, so getting my mandatory reading done sometimes means balancing the reading with the train journey in my week. But I also do a regular book challenge. Last year when I was commuting every day, I got through so many books on the train and it really ended up making me happier overall. And there are so many studies which prove reading fiction for just 6 minutes a day will make you feel a bit happier and more optimistic in outlook overall - so it's definitely worth a try!

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of which makes me smile just thinking about it!

Thank you also for all your support and comments, it is so wonderful to be able to answer or help with any questions you have, and to share this adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

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