Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Summer Reflections


It's so hard to believe that my long summer is finally coming to an end. I've had the most amazing few months and I feel like I'm in a really great place to "fly the nest" as such and move to university on Saturday.

This summer has been my best one yet - I feel like I've really been able to step out my comfort zone to meet new people and have new experiences which have helped me to build up my confidence before I start uni. So on that note, I thought I'd share with you some of my highlights of the summer!

Celebrate Cleethorpes
I kicked off the summer with helping out at Celebrate Cleethorpes - a Catholic Conference. This was so much fun - three of my best friends also helped out and so it was lovely to have the experience together. We helped to lead the groups of younger teenagers which was a really great experience. I found it so rewarding to work with our stream and to help them to deepen their relationship with God and each other. Thank you so much to Ruth and Joe for such a great weekend, along with everyone who made the conference possible!

The Dream Team

World Youth Day
I'm not going to go into detail here as I've already written this blog post about my experiences, but WYD was the most incredible event I've been part of. I absolutely loved the atmosphere, the people and just everything about it! There were many difficult moments on the pilgrimage, but we were able to get through them with the help of each other as well as plenty of prayers and also laughs! I think that some of the challenges we faced during WYD (such as walking 12.5 miles in monsoon-like weather carrying all our possessions from the vigil) have made me a stronger person because I would never have thought I could have done it previously!!

Waiting for Pope Francis

Youth 2000
For anyone who doesn't know what this is, it is a Catholic prayer festival in Walsingham. Again, it was an incredible experience, however in a completely different way than World Youth Day. While WYD was a beautiful experience, Youth 2000 was even more so. I felt like it really had a huge impact on my life and greatly strengthened my faith even deeper. If anyone is interested in finding out more, I wrote this article for my diocesan youth service website, and you can find out more about Youth 2000 here.

The loveliest group of people to enjoy Y2K with

Hope Meet Up Picnic
It was such a nice afternoon and I loved meeting some of the people who are also going to Hope this weekend! We had a really good time relaxing, chatting and then exploring the campus! Meeting fellow freshers has made me feel much more calm about finally moving into halls on Saturday!

I have a very close-knit immediate family and so I think I'm going to find it a bit tough being away from them so I've been trying to spend as much time with them as possible before I go! We've had some great time together this summer - from meals out to cinema trips, car breakdowns to days out and almost everything else in between! At the end of August, some of our family from Australia came over to see us and we had a lovely afternoon together catching up on two years' worth of news! So grateful for social media that we're able to see what's going on in each other's lives and organise get togethers when they're in the country!

(Still working on the whole family selfie thing!!)

With some of our wonderful family from Australia

Time with Friends
I have to admit, despite spending so much time with my friends this summer, there are still quite a few friends who I didn't get chance to catch up with. However, I still made the most of the time we had together before university and we were able to enjoy plenty of time together. Whether it was just relaxing in the sunshine at the park or going for a meal, I've had so much fun with my friends this summer and have made some amazing memories!

Surprise Birthday/Going Away Party
On the subject of friends and family, I still can't believe this actually happened!! My family told me that we were going to go for a couple of drinks with some family friends at our parish social club and when we arrived there I walked into a room full of my closest family and friends! As my 19th birthday is the day after I move into uni, the party was to celebrate my birthday as well as to say goodbyes (for now anyway!!). It was such a lovely afternoon full of laughs, chat, music and lots of love! It was so nice for me to realise how much so many people care about me and was much-needed before I move away! Once again, thank you so much to everyone who came and celebrated with me, as well as to my parents, sisters, Gill and Neil for all your hard work in organising it!

As you can probably tell, I've had the most amazing summer! It's been full of faith, laughs, happiness and love. I've made friends from all over the world (and some closer to home!) as well as strengthening bonds with friends I already had. I've realised more than ever before this summer how blessed I am to have so many amazing people in my life. So a massive thanks to each and every person who has made my summer as amazing as it has been!

Here's to hoping and praying that the next chapter of my life - starting uni - will be filled with just as many happy memories and friends!

If you'd like to vote for me as UCAS Blogger of the Month, you can do that here. All your votes are much appreciated, as always!
I'll hopefully be back soon with my thoughts on moving in to uni... It's so weird to think that the next time I blog will probably be from my uni room at Hope!! At last!

Until next time,
Anna x

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Freshers' Advice


I can't believe that after all the excitement and everything, I'm finally moving into Hope in just over 2 weeks! It doesn't feel real, but I can't wait to get there and get started!

I recently went away with a few of my friends who are all a couple of years older than me and while we were away, they gave me some amazing advice for freshers.
The tips they gave me were too good not to share, so here we are! Some are pretty self-explanatory, while others are a bit more detailed! Hope this is helpful/interesting!

1) Student Loan
It has to last you three months, so don't spend it all in the first week!

2) Don't eat out/get takeaways all the time
As my friend Rachel beautifully put it: "there's an oven with hobs on that are your friend!". On the same subject...

3) If you are going to get a takeaway...
Never order Dominos without a voucher - the 50% off exists for a reason!

4) Friends
Use Freshers' to meet as many new people as you can so you can work out who your real friends are. But don't worry if you don't meet people at the beginning who you have a lot in common with - it may take time to meet your best friends.

5) Get involved
Try to get involved in as much as you feel comfortable with, you'll know the difference between being nervous about something and not wanting to do it at all. Try to step out of your comfort zone and try things you find scary, it'll either be loads of fun or a great learning opportunity!

6) Don't pack the kitchen sink!
There is no need to pack your whole wardrobe - you really won't need all the hundreds of pairs of pyjamas you own! Just pack your favourite clothes and leave the rest at home for when you come home at weekends and in the holidays. You also don't want to be the person who takes everything they own to uni - remember that you'll have to carry it up seemingly endless flights of stairs to get in your halls!

7) Washing and drying clothes
Everyone's advice on this seems to vary quite a bit, but lots of people have told me that it's important to make sure that you include money for washing and drying your clothes into your weekly budget so that you don't run out of money to have clean clothes, bedding and towels! My Mum also suggested buying 'colour catcher' sheets which you put in the wash with your clothes to prevent the colours from running. I've also been instructed to make sure that my laundry bag isn't massive and is easy to carry so that trips to the laundry won't be such a chore! In regards to drying clothes, you might want to take a small airer with you for if you're short on cash for a tumble dryer or even just for those clothes which can't be tumble dried.

8) Be yourself
This is probably the number one piece of advice that I've been given! Don't feel pressured to do something just because it seems like everyone else is. If you be yourself, the right friends for you will come along. Similarly...

9) Show your faith
If you are religious, show to people that you have a faith. Unlike at school, people will be interested and will ask questions, rather than just teasing. Also, try to find a Church/place of worship or a Christian Union/CathSoc (whatever's your thing) early because it's easier to get into a routine of going to Mass earlier on.

10)Take time out
Try and socialise as much as you can but if you need to, don't worry about having a bit of 'me time'. Wether you pop home for the weekend or even just escape to your room for comfort food and Netflix, make sure that you take time out to chill and look after yourself!

11) Homesickness
Make sure you take photos with you of family, friends and memories because these will be really useful on the days where you're missing home. Technology such as Skype or FaceTime etc is also really useful for when you just want to see your Mum's face. Additionally, if you're feeling homesick, I've been told that its better not to rush home because people quite often miss home more after they've been back. So try and leave it as long as you can before you visit home so that you can settle in as much as possible.

12) Nights Out
This was the number one topic that everyone wanted to advise me on, with the advise being very varied!!!! However, the main gist of it was that you should be careful of what you do because your friends will probably photograph everything to show you the morning after! Most importantly though, just make sure you show up at uni after a night out! You can have as many nights out in your life as you like, but you'll only get one degree (unless you do a Masters etc but that's another story!).

All the advice I was given was amazing, however I think that the best thing that anyone has said to me was that not everyone enjoys uni straight away. So if you don't love it immediately, don't worry! Uni is a massive change and can take a bit of getting used to. You wont be the only one who feels homesick, other people will be too but might not want to admit it they're struggling.

So that's all for now, I hope it was of some use - whether you're starting uni for the first time in September like me or if you're going back to uni for second/third year! Have a fab year!

** Just to say a massive thank you to my wonderful friends Rachel, Rachael and Aimee especially for their tips and advice at Youth 2000 (and afterwards), along with everyone else who has given me tips throughout the year - you're all stars! **

I'll be back soon with more posts before I start uni but in the meantime, please vote for me as UCAS blogger of the month! You can do that here and all your votes are appreciated as always! Thank you!

Anna x

Friday, 2 September 2016

The BIGGEST Thank You!!!


This is only a very brief post but I just wanted to thank you - yes, you!
Yesterday, while I was shopping for uni stuff at Ikea with my family, I had an email. This email told me that I was runner up in UCAS' Blogger of the YEAR award!

I'm not going to lie, I did kind of think it was junk mail at first!!! I was absolutely gobsmacked - mainly because I've only had this blog since November and so I've not even been blogging a full year anyway!

So I just want to take this opportunity to thank every single person who reads my blog, to everyone who votes, and to everyone for all your positive feedback.
Although I've always wanted to be a writer of some description, up until this blog I was never really very confident with showing people my writing. But this blog has given me the opportunity to get over my fears and for that I'm so grateful! It might sound a bit cringey but this blog has helped me to realise that achieving my dream of being a writer could be a reality for me!

This is definitely not the end, I'm only just getting started and there are plenty more posts in the pipeline! I move into my uni halls on 24th of this month (still can't believe it's September already!!!) and I want to blog as much of my experiences as I can: both to help other people and for me to look back on in future. As always, if anyone has anything they'd like me to blog about please give me a message.

My little space on the internet where I share my thoughts means so much to me, and I'm so glad that you all seem to like it too! So thanks again, for all your votes throughout the last ten months that have enabled me to get to this stage - 4652 page views to date and now runner up Blogger of the Year!

I'll be back again soon,

Anna x

P.S. If you want to vote for me as UCAS Blogger of the Month (and kickstart the votes for Blogger of the Year ;) you can do that here. Thank you!