Thursday, 27 June 2013

The beauty of hindsight

Hindsight is an immensely bittersweet feeling. It enables you to wish away an amalgam of possibilities of what you could have done differently, what you could have said and what you should have done.
The phrase "It is better to have loved and to have lost, than to have never have loved," is extremely true. I am adamant that 9 times out of 10, you will only regret the things you didn't do. Saying that, I'm thankful that  I have never and never will set foot in a tattoo parlor, bought drugs or paid for sex.
Much of the time being a student is spent balancing on the tightrope of deciding boundaries, deciding what ought not to be done, and what is acceptable. We all have had that ni

ght, where that thing should never be bought up in front of your parents. All my friends have had them - perhaps enough for an entire blog of these mishaps.

Saying that, my biggest regret of university is not that night, but it's regretting not speaking out soon enough. I regret worrying about the consequences of facing up to people, and worrying what would happen if we had an argument. I am a rash person, and I often say things too quickly without thinking. Now I compensate for that and don't say things enough. After months of living in a house where my friend helped herself to food, toiletries and continuously lied to us about her daily life, we finally plucked up the courage to tell her to leave. My biggest regret is not telling her to go, but wishing I had had the argument months before. A leopard can't change its spots, but I'm still left feeling like I didn't give her a chance.

I have finished the year with good grades and am firmly set up for third year. I didn't go to enough societies, do enough sport, or volunteer enough but I came out pretty well. Nevertheless, the most important thing I have learnt this year is this: Be Brave. Hindsight is bittersweet. Speak up, ask for help, and don't let others tell you what to do. Be protective, but look after yourself. Help others, but learn to say no. Finally, when in doubt... have a McFlurry.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Revision, Exams and a Google + question

Hi everyone!

So so so sorry for not writing in the past week. I've had 2 exams (German listening and speaking if you want to take pity on me) and I have 4 more exams to go in the next two weeks (including 2 24hour open exams.. um WHAT?!). I've got loads of things to write about when they have finished so I promise I will be back in the next couple of weeks, please don't unfollow me!
This is my exam face...
 I also have a question for you...
So my google + account is linked to my uni address, and this is where you can find my blog. When I tried to change my google + email address to an email where not everyone in the whole uni can find my blog, it told me I needed to contact the administrator. I did this, and they told me that with a google + account you cant change your email address, but have to get a new account with every new email. Is this true? If I can't change it then I will have to set up my blog, google + and everything all over again, which is putting me off blogging for the timebeing!
Anyway, I'd love any help, I really don't fancy having everyone at uni see the blog!

So yeah, I'll be back in two weeks, wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Are you a feminist? The not-so-feminist feminist.

Until this week, I would not have described myself as a feminist. I joke that I'm a stereotypical woman because I can't park, cook dinner, and clean the house. I enjoy the traditional protocol of dating and find chivalry extremely romantic. Nevertheless I am at University. I was able to study sciences and maths at school  until I was 18, and now study history. Moreover, I can vote, and I can wear trousers. By denying that I am a feminist, surely I am disregarding those women before me that put their lives at risk to enable me with the means to get an education? Surely I would be insulting my mum who made was able to go extremely far in a multinational company?

Suddenly it has just dawned on me that feminism is not about refusing to shave your armpits. I am skeptical of feminist histories because in some histories there are extremely limited accounts of women because their traditional gender roles restricted them from having any real influence in say, medieval political history. Moreover in many historical cultures women play a significant part in the workforce and surely feminist histories would fail to acknowledge the importance of men in these cultures? I don't know.
I now realize though as I am approaching graduation, that feminism is important to me. I want to be able to succeed in a career without needing to worry that I will hit a glass -roof and be unable to fly higher, just because of my gender. There are iconic women before us that demonstrated that gender shouldn't be a hindrance - look it Joan of Arc, Isabella Bird and Margaret Thatcher. However, we learn all too frequently that these women succeeded because of their ability to appear masculine, which is extremely worrying.

Yes, I am extremely ambitious, and I know that with the right work, I can reach my goals - if my gender doesn't prevent me. I say that I won't let my gender hinder me, but I still don't walk by myself after 10 o'clock at night by myself, I lock my car when I drive at night and I struggle at uni when men disregard what I say because I am a girl, so therefore my opinion doesn't count.

Feminism is a shady word. Many influential 'role models' such as Beyonce won't say they are feminists because they don't want to be blackened with such a label. I can see why, it's only just dawning on me that if I want to support my gender I don't actually have to suddenly change my image.

We are entrenched in a society embedded with traditional values that are struggling to adapt in such an evolving society. Our society is changing faster that it has ever changed before - I'm only 20 and I can remember when my family first got the internet.

Don't let the label feminism stop you from pursuing who you want to be. Let feminism help you to succeed in your career and not fear the walk home from the bus stop at night. I will keep you updates as I learn more about it!
All these images are from

Sunday, 12 May 2013

How to fix your car with kirby grip and other quick cheats.

Quite by chance I have discovered 3 miraculous every day quick cheats, to make my student life even simpler than it already is.

1) How to fix your car with a kirby grip. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME. 

Lucky old me got a brand spanking new, gleaming Fiat 500 a couple of weeks ago. As I was driving home from the car dealership, lets say at 77mph to keep on the right side of DVLA, it started making a noise that sounded like the wind rushing through a small hole. Irritating to say the least. Seeing as the car made the noise at speeds you are technically not supposed to travel at however, we decided it probably wasn't necessary to turn back round the dealership. A few weeks later I put a kirby grip on the dashboard while I was sorting out my hair. I obviously forgot about it, and the kirby grip managed to fall behind the dashboard. Funnily enough, the noise stopped. I don't know whether I have managed to fix my car by losing a kirby grip in the engine, but I am chuffed to say the least. Nevertheless, it's probably not wise to try this at home.

2) The student solution to ironing clothes.

The bane of every students life is ironing clothes. Seriously, when have you ever seen a student wear perfectly ironed clothes? The problems start when ASDA's £3 iron's have holes at the top for water and no lid, so you've spilt water all over your clothes before you've started. Then the cord is always far too short and you end up in some horrible cramped position trying to stretch to the plug. Finally, every student house is far too cold to stand hopping around in your underwear whilst you try and iron your shirt as quickly as possible, before all the water has dripped out the spout. Therefore, we don't bother. Sadly, there are a whole bunch of clothes thrown to the bottom of every student wardrobe that are all perfectly wearable, except the effort of ironing them is simply too much. UNTIL NOW. I don't know how my housemate found this out, but she has introduced me into the fabulous world of hair-straightening clothes. They warm up quickly, no water involved, and its pretty easy to skim over the absolutely necessary bits. Fantastic. My mum thought I was absolutely crazy when I introduced her to this idea, but she too has now realized that it is actually, an extremely clever idea!

3) Hairspray. USE IT FOR EVERYTHING (especially tights)

Tights are expensive. Supermarket tights are baggy and thin, and so all my lovely 40 denier tights are worn to death. I mean this literally, unless the holes and ladders stretch to below mid thigh, where they become visible, they get worn. Yes, this is horribly embarrassing when the wind blows lorry drivers get to see what colour knickers I'm wearing, because the hole in my tights is so big, but hey, at least I'm wearing knickers. The beauty of hairspray is that it prevents holes spreading any further. Pop on the tights, spray the ladders and hey presto the tights are completely wearable. Clear/black nail varnish  is even better as it works through washing too, but I've spent too many times walking around with tights stuck to my legs when I've been in a rush. Hairspray also fixes make up, if you enjoy slapping on 600 layers of foundation, and eyeliner that give panda's a run for their money.

Who said students weren't resourceful?

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Am I fat?: The Daily Battle with Body Image.

"Do I look fat in this?" "How do I get rid of saddlebags?" "How can I make my thighs look smaller?" These are all questions that regularly go through my mind. I don't have an eating disorder, and I know I'm not overweight, but these are the typical worries that overwhelm myself and the majority of women (and now men) at least at some point in their lives. 

I have finally discovered why I have been in such a bad mood today. I wasn't concerned about exams or revision, but instead I was wearing a pair of waist high trousers that are a little too tight. Therefore all day I have been aware of my tummy, and consequently have had a typical "fat day." I love food, don't get me wrong, and I like to enjoy the best of both worlds. I try to eat healthily the majority of times, with plenty of vegetables and freshly cooked food. Nevertheless I am not afraid to have a McDonald's or to bake with my friends (so naturally it always goes downhill every evening.) However I still find that somewhere there is a niggling voice in the back of my head telling me that I shouldn't be eating certain things, and so generally a day of indulgence is always followed by an evening of food guilt.

It concerns me that me and so many others out there should have to think like this. Why should I really care that "Abs are made 80% in the kitchen and 20% in the gym," when really, who will ever see my abs? I'm pretty sure that one holiday once a year to the Lake District, is not worth sacrificing a year of carbs for. Some-days I do think that if I went on some crazy diet and lost a stone then it would be totally worth it because of how much more confident I would feel about my body. But really, would I really be more confident just because my thighs didn't touch each other? Surely I would be more insecure because of the amount of people that would be concerned about me starving myself?

I know there is an "obesity epidemic" lurking out there, waiting to get us, but there is also the dark world of "pro-ana" where people inspire themselves and their friends to only eat ice cubes and wait for their bodies to shut down, in the pursuit of looking like a skeleton. Clearly, we live in a world of confusion. Millions and millions of people in the world are starving, and can't even produce breast milk to feed their children. Moreover, millions of people out there are so big that they can't even walk up the stairs. Yes, these two extremes are both horrible problems that need to be resolved, but is it really fair that these two extremes push those people in the middle into a spiral of worry about the damage that one McFlurry might do to us? Should I really worry about eating white bread because I fear I might look like "half-ton Uni student?" I don't think so. 

Apparently the perfect body shape for a woman is 36-24-36. So not only is my waist too big, but my hips are too small. Does this make me fat? Does this make me unattractive? Moreover, the British Model Association considers people at 34-24-36, and at least 5'8". So now, my waist is too large, my hips are too small and I'm too short. None of this should ring alarm bells, but for me it does. Since when has it become acceptable to live in a world where people like me are allowed to suffer from anxiety about the way they look, just because they are forced to believe that a model, with five inches airbrushed off her waist, is the only acceptable way to look? It makes me sick to think that vulnerable thirteen year old children are going to aspire to look like Abercrombie & Fitch models, whilst the other half are going to sit and make themselves obese, eating cake, because they are so depressed that they don't look like Abercrombie & Fitch models.

 I know that tomorrow I will wake up and face the same battle with my body image. I will do the same as millions of other women in the world. I will look a my thighs and wish they were thinner, I will wish my hips were slightly larger and my waist slightly smaller. I will wish away any arm flab and I'll hope my boobs decide to grow a bit more.

Luckily for me though, I have my head screwed on. So following the horrible confrontation with the mirror I will put on clothes that suit my body shape, and I'll eat a healthy breakfast that probably still contains too much sugar. Then I know that at some-point in the day I'll get at least a small compliment about one thing or another, and it will probably be enough to make that niggling voice go away for a little bit, like it needs too. Eventually I'll learn that image is not just about body size, it's about the way faces light up when they smile, eyes gleam when their laughing, and cheeks dimple when they giggle.

If you do one thing differently from your usual routine tomorrow, give yourself a compliment, smile in the mirror instead of frowning and start the journey to get rid of that voice that needs to go away. 
Time to enjoy worry free! 

How to make money: A review of my eBay experiences.

"How to make money." Admit it, you've typed this into Google before when you've had a panic about how you are going to pay next months rent. Whether it's searching for a way to scrape together twenty quid, or whether it's trying to find a miraculous idea to make the big bucks, we've all been there.

As a typical student, I can scrape together enough money to buy food, a few bits and bobs every now again, and obviously, enough money for those all important night outs . Nevertheless every time I  come home from uni I am desperate to make some cash, and I reckon that I've tried most of the best options.

Last year I decided that I would become an 'eBay Millionare' and that it was the perfect way to fill my purse. I did my research, and found the best ways that I could make some cash. So these are my advantages and disadvantages of the mega- market.


  • As a marketplace, eBay is extremely easy to use. Anybody can sign up, and it is extremely easy to start selling.
  • If you have a lot of things to sell, eBay is a quick option. Companies such as MusicMagpie take ages to verify the things that you've sent to them whereas on eBay you can choose to have a short auction and request immediate payment.
  • The beauty of eBay is that you can sell pretty much anything on eBay - jars of air, imaginary friends and Tesco bags. If you are selling something that comes in two parts where one part is broken, someone might buy it because they have the other part that works.
  • Finally, eBay is reliable. Feedback helps you find out reliable other sellers are, and if you sign up to PayPal you are eligible for refunds when things go wrong. Having accidentally bought a fake iPod off eBay and receiving a full refund, I know that this is an extremely valuable service.

If you have time to spare there are lots of  ways to make money on eBay. Many people have set up small and large businesses buying wholesale goods and selling products off individually. Many people buy things in bulk at car boots and charity shops and then sell them off for much more. In theory, once you have got the hang of it is an extremely easy way to make some cash. I spent hours, searching the house for items to sell, painstakingly taking pictures and writing descriptions of items, and planning the best times of day to list my items. In total I probably made a couple of hundred pounds on eBay, but once I realized the following pitfalls of eBay the pace slowed down.


  • Unless you are setting up a business selling wholesale goods on eBay, chances are that you have a very finite amount of things to sell. Looking in charity shops for items to sell on eBay takes up far too much time and is too hit or miss to make it worthwhile
  • Most items that you will choose to sell on eBay will be either CD's or clothes. eBay is a marketplace - this means that according to the laws of supply and demand, those items with a large supply will sell for extremely small amounts. I choose to buy off eBay because I know that I can buy some half decent stuff for less than a pound. If you think of it the other way round - do you really want to sell something you bought for £25 for 0.99p?
  • Once you've sold your t-shirts for 99p or less, you then have to post off the items. This means that first of all you will have to go out and buy brown paper, parcel tape and jiffy bags. Then you have to drive down to the post office, and pay to post the items. Unless you have been extremely vigilant pricing the postage of your items, you will normally find that the cost of posting is more than you expect.
  • Finally, eBay and PayPal take a cut of the money you make, which might leave you with a profit of 60p on on your T-shirt that once cost you £25
  • Overall, I found that if I used eBay to make money, I would make far less than a minimum wage job would make me. If I eventually managed to make £100 on eBay, I think that I could have easily made at least £500 in that same amount of time working in a shop.
I wholeheartedly recommend using eBay to sell of those more expensive items that you will never use. I have sold old phones, designed label jumpers and limited edition CD'S. For the smaller things however, I recommend using companies such as MusicMagpie. You only make 30p or so per CD, but I  found it much easier to make £60 sending off a box of CD's than it was to spend hours individually selling them on eBay.  When you make a lot of money on these items it is amazing to feel that you have just pocketed £20 on something that would just be lying around in the house. Nevertheless, I still believe that if you took the time to brush up your CV and got a job in a cafe in your nearest town then you would make more money in your first two shifts than you would after a month of using eBay. 

Good Luck! 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

"I'm not thick, I'm dyslexic"

First of all, if you are going to say "dyslexia is an excuse, I could just pretend to be dyslexic to get extra time," then stop reading now.

When I was 15, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Less than one year before I was due to take my GCSE'S, it was hardly the right time. Nevertheless, I had gone my whole life without it being picked up, teachers always just used to think that I was a) lazy and cut corners with my work, or b) that I rushed my work. There were never any explanations for why I didn't hand in my homework on time, or why I seemed to get answers wrong when all the calculations were correct. In my head I didn't know the answers either. I didn't realize that I didn't do my homework because I just found it too difficult to get my head around the task, or that it took me much  longer than everyone else to process things. Eventually, my maths teachers picked up that I would get pluses and minus symbols mixed up which is why the calculations were right and the answers wrong. This was why I was tested for dyslexia and diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalclia.

I'm not showing-off, but I am an extremely able student. My IQ is 133, which defines me as high above average. However, my cognitive ability to process information is much lower. I also have many of the other symptoms such as anxiety about work, a hand tremor, and terrible handwriting. Most of the time I can read absolutely fine, although for difficult things it feels like I am staring at a big block of words that I just can't take in. It's the same with numbers - I can carry out difficult statistical tests, but ask me to work out how much I owe in a restaurant and I am stumped.  I can learn to spell a difficult word, but I spend half my day trying to remember which "there" or "to" I want to use. I also have an extremely short term memory. If I don't write it down I forget it. This doesn't mean I am rude, but when I forget to do my homework it seems like I don't care, and that's just not the case. Whereas most people can cram for exams, I have to learn everything 3 times over, and put it into a way that I can visually remember it in my head. Now I know my issues, I can see where I go wrong. I know I miss out letters in sentences accidentally, and I know I find it difficult when I'm under pressure or excited to actually get my words out in the right order when I speak. I have had to learn to be organised, and now I don't go a day without planning or making lists.

In 2011 I completed the International Baccalaureate with a very respectable score of 39 (typical Oxbridge offer is 38+). For those of you that don't know about the IB, it is seen as a more difficult alternative to A Levels, with 3 subjects being studied at a standard level, and 3 subjects at a higher level. I proved to myself, that with the help provided, it is possible to succeed. I have learned that you won't get anywhere unless you ask for help where you need it. I needed help to push the IBO to give me extra time in exams, and I succeeded  - I can't thank my teachers enough for that now. I had incredible help from people who took the time to work out how I learned things, how I processed things, and how I would remember things. This help was then used to help me learn to drive, which was one of the most difficult challenges.

I made it to Uni, as a result of hundreds of stressful nights and people supporting me at every angle.
Now, people praise me for my ability to successfully manage and organize myself, and I have gotten 1'st on my last two pieces of work. I know where my pitfalls are, and my friends know and understand that sometimes I will come out with a sentence that doesn't make any sense. The most important lesson that I have taken away from this is that you need to ask for help. You need other people to help you work out your strengths and weaknesses, and then you can build upon that. I might not be able to spell a basic sentence at times, but the support I have had has given me the confidence to know that I am bright and that I will succeed. Don't let people you are thick - and more importantly, never let yourself think that.

If any of you want any advice on strategies or coping mechanisms then send me a message!
Zo x