27 Aug 2015

journals: looking back at how I've changed

Keeping journals is a nice way to look back at our lives when we were younger and perhaps less knowledgable about life. However, keeping journals don't mean you have to stick to writing down all your inner thoughts and dreams; I like keeping holiday journals too. My holiday journals are mainly for my holidays to Hong Kong because that's my heritage: my parents were born there so I'm 100% Hong Kongnese by blood. Therefore, I like to keep as thorough a diary as possible of my time there.

From top to bottom: a travel journal of my time in Hong Kong in 2009, my 'normal' journal from 2012 - 2015 and another travel journal of my time in Hong Kong in 2013.
After exams, I had a week or two where I genuinely had nothing to do - and I don't get to say that often - so I decided to have a flick through these old journals. And the first one I had a look through was my 2009 Hong Kong one.

This one is a journal from a brand called 'Sukie' and though the quality of the paper was a bit shoddy, I loved the retro design of the front. The inside was perfect with integrated mini-envelopes, ideal for slotting in those small momentos and tickets from the holiday.


Comparing the above journal with my one from my 2013 Hong Kong holiday, I've noticed that I'm less inclined to write about the things I bought and have referenced family events and food more in the 2013 one. I guess our priorities change as we get older?!

Also, I can see how technology has changed too because back in 2009, I didn't have a phone with a decent camera but in 2013 I did. This is reflected by a distinct lack of photos in the 2009 journal.


Finally, my 'normal' journal. It pretty much documents my journey from the end of my first degree to my current one. A lot of my entries were based around my medicine application/want to do medicine and some trivial worries including the thought that I was too young to be accepted onto a graduate-entry medicine course (completely ridiculous in hindsight). No images of the inside of this one unfortunately - as most of the entries are very personal!

Looking back at these journals has made me see just how much I've changed as a person and what values are now at the forefront of my mind. I'm glad I kept these journals as it allows me to reflect on what changes to myself have been for the better and what other areas of myself may need improvement in the future. After all, it's never too late to change into a better version of myself, right?

25 Aug 2015

a guide to packing for university

Today, I thought I'd write a guide on packing for university. Hopefully this'll come in handy for some of you who are starting university in the coming months as I want to share the tips that I wish I knew when I was 18 and going to university, back in 2009!

This post is aimed at those moving into a university halls' of residence but a lot of it is still applicable to those renting private accommodation. Before packing or buying items, try and find a list of things that are provided for you already.

Wardrobe

As most people will know, the British weather is temperamental so choosing what clothes to pack can often be a headache. It definitely was for me so here are a few tips I have to share. Bear in mind that most halls' of residences only provide you with a tiny wardrobe and no hangers!

Another thing to take into account is that some of you will inevitably buy new clothes (ASOS, you just make it too easy for us students) and with limited wardrobe space, you might want to pack only the bare minimum.

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- Co-ordinating: Pack clothes that go together. That one top that only goes with that skirt? Leave it. 

- Layering: Clothes that can be layered are amazing when the weather starts to turn a bit cooler.

- Packer's Remorse? You'll probably go home at least once halfway through the term and if you know you definitely will be, you can go back for that top and swap the clothes you've not worn so far for ones you wished you had packed.

- Coats and the Cooler Weather: One thing you definitely need is a solid winter coat!

- Loungewear and Nightwear: Don't underestimate the importance of loungewear and don't forget to pack nightwear!

- Fancy Dress: Think about the events you may be going to that term. You might want to consider packing some black tie outfits for these! For themed events, local pound shops should have you covered on that front so don't worry too much about packing clothes that fit the 80s theme/toga theme/any other theme.

- Smart Clothes: If you know you'll have placements or days where you'll need to dress smart, pack more than one shirt and more than one pair of trousers/skirts. That way, you won't be stuck with only one outfit.

- Sporting Gear: Definitely bring some of these - university is a brilliant place to pick up a new sport and sports clubs are great for meeting new people.

Kitchen

Depending on the type of accommodation you're moving into, what you need to pack will vary. My own accommodation was self-catered so my bare minimums were:

- Plates, Mugs and Cutlery: These are essentials! Bring two of each item - this will encourage you to wash up and if you break them, they can be replaced pretty cheaply. Also, Freshers' and Careers' fayres are a good place to pick up free glasses and mugs.

- Cooking Essentials: Go cheap. Asda were pretty good for me and also pretty good quality for the price! A saucepan, wooden spoon and a microwavable bowl (such as one of those Pyrex sets) are the bare essentials. Maybe throw in a colander if you are impartial to the odd pasta meal.

- Food: Honestly, buy these when you get there. Ordering online with the use of discount codes (I've seen ones online for Tesco, Sainsbury's, etc) is a good and frugal way to stock up on tinned goods, pasta, etc. from time to time and saves you lugging them back from the supermarket.

- One Pot Cooking: Consider investing in a rice cooker or a slow cooker so that you can cook quick, cheap and easy one pot meals. A lifesaver during exam and busy periods!

- Tupperware: Perfect for freezing portions of food for those days where you don't feel like cooking. Perfect for storing snacks in to ensure they stay fresh. Perfect for packed lunches.

Books and Stationery


- Textbooks: Don't buy these before going to uni! Borrow them from the library and then buy the ones you keep renewing and using. Alternatively, older students occasionally sell their copies at a heavily discounted price and you might find that they've already highlighted or stuck in sticky notes in the most important sections.

- Stationery: Bring what you used in high school. You'll inevitably end up buying new stationery when your loan comes in or when you want to try out a new study technique you've seen online. Freshers' and Careers' fares are also another place where you'll come away with pens, notepads and post-it notes.

- Desk Storage: The plastic drawers you can see above are perfect for your desk. You can get similar ones quite cheaply online and are ideal for storing paperclips and other small bits of stationery. Or make-up!

Bathroom and Laundry

- Sharing a Bathroom? Bring a pair of flip flops for when you get out of the shower. In my first year, I shared a bathroom with five other guys (yes, really) and I think that's when my obsession with cleanliness started. Bring a shower caddy - I used a basin so that I could easily carry shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, a shower pouffe, two towels and everything else on each hygiene trip!

- En-suite? You can forego a pair of flip flops here if you want. However, be prepared to shell out for toilet roll on a regular basis!

- Laundry: Get a laundry basket that is tall rather than wide. This is especially important if you have a smaller-sized room. Also, if you know you'll be using a laundry room that only takes certain coin denominations, start keeping a coin box in your room. Every weekend, empty your purse of these coins and then you'll always have money for laundry.

- Laundry Bags: Perfect for when you launder those more delicate items such as your favourite dress or top that you don't want to get ruined. Make sure you read clothing labels to see what can and can't be machine washed too - this'll save you the disappointment of seeing your favourite jumper shrink to a quarter of its size.

Decorations


- Wall: Some halls of residences don't allow blu-tac so be really careful what you use to pin up posters/photos. In my first year, there was a pin-board so it wasn't really an issue and I ended up filling my walls with photos and posters. Definitely consider doing this to make your room feel a little bit more homely.

- Desk: Desk estate may be an issue as some halls only give you a small desk! However, I like to keep small trinkets on my desk so that it feels more cosy (as you can see in the photo above).

- Room: Depending on the size of your room, you may forego any other decorations. One potential thing you might want is a doorstop but other than that, there won't be many other essentials in this category. A good way to keep your room smelling nice is to use reed diffusers and they also add an element of decoration too.

Electronics

- Laptop: Definitely something to consider buying if you have the funds! A desktop computer isn't a necessity as you'll most likely want to take your laptop to the university library from time to time.

- External Hard Drive: I'd almost count this as an essential! Remember to back-up your documents and external hard drives can be bought fairly cheaply now.

- Gaming Devices: Not really necessary - my advice here is to see how much time you spend studying in your first term and if you find yourself sorely missing your Xbox/Playstation/Wii and you have the time to spare, then it might be worth bringing it with you after Christmas break.

- Television: Again, not necessary. The TV licence is a hefty fee for any student and most halls' have a television anyway. Plus, watching TV in the common room with others is another way to be sociable!

Other

- Bedding: Bring two sets! And bring a pillow or two. Cushions and a throw are a nice touch to make your room look and feel more homely. Also, consider bringing a duvet that has an adjustable tog for when the weather turns cold halfway through the term.

- First Aid Kit and Medicines: Fresher's flu and colds are pretty much inevitable! As are study-induced headaches.

- A Torch! Because you never know when that power cut may or may not happen.

- Alarm Clock: Your phone one might be sufficient but never underestimate your ability to sleep through a single alarm!

* * *

If you're really struggling for space, like I was, you can pack up a box of stuff that is heavier/bulkier and not essential for the first few days and send it to your new address by courier so that it arrives after you do. Just bear in mind that most of what you bring with you to uni needs to be moved out at the end of that academic year...

There are probably many more tips out there but these are the ones I can think of that I wish someone had told me before I first went off to university. Any questions? Let me know in the comments - I'll try my best to get back to you or maybe another reader will :)

23 Aug 2015

my week #175

This week, my neurology placement made me seriously consider a career in this specialty. It's a bit annoying for me that this has happened - almost every placement I've done, I've thoroughly enjoyed and this trend looks like it might continue this academic year...

For the last few weeks, I've found myself reaching for my stash of fountain pens more than usual. I've even started using them to make my revision notes when usually I'd reserve my Muji gels for that! You may have seen a post of my notes on Instagram this week and the notes in that photo were made with a Lamy Safari. More on this fountain pen love soon (or maybe not so soon - it depends on how busy uni gets!).


How has your week been?