Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Duck to Water

Hello!

It's so weird for me to be writing this from my room at Hope! After wanting to come here for so long, for me to be sat in my room writing this seems like a dream! I can't believe that this time last year, I didn't even have this blog, yet here I am now at uni - and loving every minute so far! My hall mates and course mates are all lovely and my lecturers are warm and welcoming. I just can't believe I've been here for over a week now: Time has flown by but at the same time I feel like I've been here forever!
So with Freshers'/Welcome Week now over, I thought I'd take this opportunity to reflect on the past week and all the good times I've had!

24/09 - Moving In Day

Before I moved in, I was so nervous it was crazy. Not about the course, the uni or even the move to a bigger city. I knew these things would sort themselves. But I was so apprehensive about meeting so many new people. However, I need not to have been worried! Before I even walked into my halls, I recognised and was able to talk to several of the people from the many Hope online group chats. This immediately made me feel more relaxed, even in the chaos of unpacking the car, registering with a GP and getting my student ID card. When I went into my hall, several people were already unpacking and we were able to chat to each other as we unpacked and sorted our rooms. My parents stayed with me for a while before they said their goodbyes and headed home. After that, I was able to really start getting to know the girls on my corridor. It was so lovely to discover almost immediately that we have plenty of things in common and we all have similar senses of humour. That night, we headed to Liverpool Concert Square for our first night out together which was so much fun! I couldn't have wished for a better first day at Hope!


Car all packed and ready to go!

The beautiful view from my bedroom window


25/09 - My 19th Birthday

Nothing is weirder than having your birthday on your first full day at uni - and your first full day living away from your family. I was so nervous about this (yes, I was nervous a lot at the start of Freshers'!!) and so my family came over for the afternoon to celebrate with me. They brought me my cards and presents from family and friends at home (thank you all by the way!!) and we went out for tea to celebrate as well. When I got back to uni I suddenly felt all alone and was worried about how I would cope by myself. However, my friend Catherine and I went to Mass at the University Chapel and I was able to relax and hand my anxieties over to God. It was a lovely experience of Mass - only a few members of staff and students but it was a really beautiful celebration. I'm really looking forward to being part of the Catholic Society and community at Hope over these next three years.

After Mass and more food at the Chaplaincy, I returned to my halls and got ready for our second night out. The Chuckle Brothers were doing a guest performance at one of the clubs and so we were all varying degrees of excited about seeing them! However, before we went out, some of the girls from the other floors in the hall called me downstairs and everyone was gathered in the foyer area singing "happy birthday" to me. As much as I was embarrassed at the fuss, it made me feel so special that these people who had only just met me were wanting me to feel special and cared about on my birthday.

Birthday Night Out

Birthday Meal with my family

26/09 - First Day

After all the fun and excitement of the first two days, on Monday we had to get down to business with an Introductory lecture, Faculty Welcome and Commencement Ceremony. While the first two were pretty self explanatory, I was unsure about what the Commencement Ceremony would entail. This was an official ceremony where we were properly welcomed into the community at Hope and introduced to all the Faculty and Department Heads, as well as other important figures in the University.
Later that evening, we decided to have a girly night in and so some of us headed down to the common room to relax and watch Cold Feet.
This was also first night that I made a proper homemade meal for my tea, so I was very happy that I could make a tasty meal by myself without needing my Mum's help!!


27/09 - A Busy Day

Before I moved to uni, I knew that I had post that I needed to collect during my first few days however it took me until Tuesday to finally work out how to collect it! It was so lovely to be able to collect my cards from family and friends which had arrived in the previous few days. As I only had a couple of departmental welcome meetings in the morning and was free for the rest of the day, I took Tuesday as my opportunity to decorate my bedroom and arrange it how I like it. I think I'll do my next blog post about how to make your uni room feel like a home away from home, so I'll talk in more detail about that next time. Tuesday was also Freshers' Fair and as it was at the other side of campus, it was a great opportunity to explore over there and see what it's like! I also enjoyed being able to see all the clubs and societies that were advertised - I've just signed up for Badminton and Catholic Societies as I unfortunately couldn't find a stand for the English one! I'm hoping that I might be able to sign up for it online or in a lecture or something.

The new building for Sports Science
The beautiful view from the top floor of the library

The campus is so beautiful even with the grey skies and rain!

On Tuesday, some of us again decided to have a girly night in. So nine of us packed into my room and huddled round my laptop to catch up on the X Factor we'd missed over the weekend. I really enjoyed this as it was a great opportunity to get to know some of the girls better and to bond over similar likes and dislikes of contestants on the show!!

Q) How many people can you cram into Anna's room?
A) Nine (at least!!)
28/09 - Meeting Tutors and Bake Off Bonding

After all the introductory lectures and welcomes on Monday and Tuesday, by Wednesday it was time to meet my personal tutors for both English Lit and Creative Writing. One of the many things which drew me to Hope was the fact that is a small and personable uni - everyone knows each other and that creates a really vibrant and friendly atmosphere. The tutors that we have for tutorials are also our personal tutors and so they are the first person we can turn to if we have any issues while at Hope - whether academic or personal. I really enjoyed being able to meet my tutors, who are both so warm and friendly and I instantly felt at ease with them. It was also great to finally meet people who will be in my lectures and tutorials for the next year at least and to see that there are many people who I have much in common with. I'm a massive fan of different accents and so I'm in pure heaven - with people from as vast areas as Derry, London, South Africa and of course Liverpool to name just a few; just hearing other people speak is great!!!

Also on Wednesday, The Great British Bake Off was on and so, of course, we just had to watch it before we went out for the night!! I absolutely love watching Bake Off and it was so much fun to watch it with some of my new friends! Later on, we headed out to town for the night and had a really great time having a laugh and a dance before heading back to halls for some sleep before another busy day on Thursday!



29-30/09 - Girly Film Night and Exploring the SU

Thursday and Friday again consisted of more induction lectures and tutorials where we were told more details about the course content as well as doing plenty of icebreakers to get to know other people in the group. Although we all moan about doing so many icebreaking activities, just the fact that no one enjoys them helps us all to relax and start talking!! While Thursday and Friday were pretty similar during the day, the evenings were very different! On Thursday, nine of us crammed into my friend's room and we all watched The Fault in Our Stars. Such a good girly film and it was lovely to just relax and have a pyjama night after being out the night before. On Friday, my two closest uni friends and I decided that we would go and check out the weekly student night which Hope Student Union puts on. And we were not disappointed - it was a really chilled pub-like atmosphere with great music from the uni's Irish indie band, The Left Backs. It was nice to end the week of lectures etc on something so chilled and lovely.

01/10 - First Shopping Trip

Unfortunately, this is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds! Some of the girls and I had pretty much run out of food (a key error as a student I have to say!) and so we decided it was probably time to head to the supermarket! I have to say, it was quite an experience!! It was pouring down with rain and we ended up waiting at the bus stop for around 40 minutes before two buses turned up at once - so typical!! We eventually found the supermarket and we were all confused when we walked in because the store begins with the frozen and bakery sections which was very different than what I'm used to at home! However, other than that it was a very successful trip! We managed to stick to our shopping lists and more importantly, our budgets!
We again stayed in on Saturday night and watched X Factor together and had an early night - we all knew that Sunday would be a late night!!

Feeling very grown up after our shopping trip together!

02/10 - Roast Dinner and Student Fest
After such a busy week, we tried to have a lie in on Sunday morning- especially because we knew that the hard work began on Monday!! We didn't do a lot during the day really, mainly just trying to get on top of the course reading we needed to do and other little jobs like washing and tidying. However, in the afternoon, some of my friends and I made our first roast dinner together! To think that we were virtual strangers a week ago, it was so lovely to be able to share a meal with the lovely girls who are now my friends!

Couldn't resist sharing a picture of our amazing roast chicken dinner!!!
On Sunday night, it was time for Student Fest - the concluding Freshers' event and the one event which was for all four Liverpool unis. And it did not disappoint! We were all in uni teams and our t-shirts were our tickets into six different venues. The best part about this was that we could see what different places were like without having to pay! The atmosphere was amazing with all the freshers out from all the unis and we had such a good time! I would say it was definitely the best night out we had during Freshers' Week - if you're a student in Liverpool next year I would definitely recommend it!


My favourite Austin Hall girls :)

Being a triplet with my uni best mates!
So that, ladies and gentleman, is my Freshers' Week! I had the most amazing time and I've met some amazing people already. I'm so excited to see what other exciting experiences are in store for me over my next three years at Hope. I can't wait to begin my lectures, seminars and tutorials and get properly started on my course! I feel so blessed to have made really good friends already and I'm so glad that I've got friends! As the title of this post suggests, I have taken to uni life like a duck to water and I look forward to sharing my adventures with you all!

I'll be back soon, but until then, if you'd like to vote for me as UCAS Blogger of the Month, you can do that here. Thank you! 

Until next time,
Anna x

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Summer Reflections

Hello!

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!


Family
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

Hello!

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!!!

Hello!

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!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Most Life Changing Experience #WYD2016

Hello!

I don't know if you watched the news on Sunday 31st July, but if you did you might have heard about an event in Krakow, Poland where 2 million young Catholics gathered in a field and had Mass with Pope Francis. Well I was part of that amazing event - World Youth Day! What they probably didn't mention in the news is that the World Youth Day events had taken place all week from the Monday, culminating with Mass with Pope Francis on Sunday morning. I can honestly say that it was the best week of my life so I'd love to share some of the highlights of the pilgrimage!


1) The People

Our fabulous group - Lancaster Diocese

The group I went out there with was absolutely fantastic and I love them all. It's amazing how a 30+ hour coach journey can bond a group so quickly! The amount of jokes and banter in the group was unreal and we spent nearly all our time laughing (obviously not in the serious moments though). Every time I have been on a pilgrimage with Lancaster Diocese I am amazed by how close-knit the group becomes and the deep friendships that develop through our shared faith.


  
Along with the fabulous people from Lancaster Diocese, we also met many people from across the world: From Italy to Argentina, Lebanon to Spain, America to Australia and everywhere in between! It was amazing to meet people from across the world who share the same faith as we do and I absolutely loved meeting you all! I took loads of bracelets out with me and I loved swapping them with some of the people I met. Although my favourite swap has to be a little cuddly toy koala which I was given by an Australian girl at our first catechesis session - it's just so cute!! The number one most popular topic of conversation when meeting people from other countries was Brexit! Everyone was very eager to discuss with us our opinions and their opinions too! It's crazy how things happening in Downing Street are having such a big worldwide reach!

Canadians!
With the most lovely Italians who spoke English better than we do!!
Some lovely Lebanese

When you have nothing left to swap... Selfie!!

2) The Atmosphere
It's quite easy to describe people and the friendships that were made. But describing the atmosphere is impossible. Unless you were there, it is so hard to imagine how unbelievably happy and full of life everyone was. You would walk down the main road to get into the centre of Krakow and everyone would walk past in a line giving high fives. There were hundreds of people wearing "Free Hugs" signs and thousands more accepted the free hugs! The constant singing and chanting. The dancing, the laughs, the love. I can't even begin to explain how happy I was. When people describe an atmosphere as electric, this doesn't even start to cover it. Everyone was so excited to be there and so filled with joy. Some people argue that religion is divisive, but I have never known an atmosphere so incredible.


At the Opening Mass of World Youth Day

On the final night of WYD, before Mass in the morning with Pope Francis, everyone camped out in the field together for a beautiful prayer vigil with him. It was truly one of the most amazing events I have witnessed, with two million people praying together and then singing to God. The sheer emotion was unbelievable!

At the Stations of the Cross - the most moving and prayerful experience at WYD (Photo credits to Stephen)
There's something so powerful (and also very emotional) about praying in a field with people from across the world who all share the same religious beliefs as you. Whether it was just the 50 of us in the Lancaster group or the 2 million at the final Mass, to all the numbers in between, I found it a really amazing spiritual experience.

3) The Emotions
Again, this is something which is really hard to explain to people who weren't there. There is something about an intense religious experience which is incredibly emotional. From the huge highs where we were crying with laughter to the moments where the intense prayerful atmosphere brought more tears, it truly was an emotional rollercoaster!!

From our joy at the Pope's Arrival


To a prayerful and peaceful quiet time with Pope Francis

From dancing in the rain


To smiles when the storm passed

However, there was something which was emotional on a completely different level. On our penultimate day in Krakow, our group took the opportunity to visit Auschwitz. This is something I have always wanted to do, partly due to my interest in Modern History, but also because I think it is somewhere everyone should visit due to the horrendous and unthinkable crimes which happened there.
Due to the sheer number of visitors to both Auschwitz and Auschwitz II-Birkenau (which I hadn't previously realised were two separate camps) because of World Youth Day, a route had been assigned so that visitors were able to visit the most significant parts of the site but also so that the camp could be protected for future generations to visit and pay their respects.

Auschwitz I

With studying this period of history several times, as well as having an interest in WWII History anyway, it felt so strange to be walking on the ground they walked, to stand where they stood. It was a very surreal experience and one that I will never forget. It was a very emotional day and I felt like I'd held my emotions in until I came across what could be best described as a small pond during our time at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. There were several gravestones there with inscriptions in various languages. The English translation read words along the lines of "In memory of all the people whose ashes were scattered in this lake". These words made me very emotional as the prisoners ashes were not put into the lake. They were not scattered. The ashes of these people who had suffered unimaginable hardship at the hands of the Nazis had been carelessly dumped. None of their bodies were treated with dignity or respect as we would. I find this absolutely heartbreaking.

Auschwitz II-Birkenau
Found it incredibly strange and almost oxymoronic to be walking round in the glorious sunshine and scorching heat

Although it was a very upsetting and emotionally charged visit, I cannot recommend visiting both camps enough. I feel like it brought a great amount of perspective into my life. You realise how much you take freedom and even life itself for granted. Pope Francis visited both camps earlier in the week and spent his time there in prayerful silence. I read this article earlier and found it particularly striking, especially the part at the end where it describes what Pope Francis wrote in the visitors' book.

So I can safely say that going to World Youth Day changed my life. It was the most incredible and indescribable experience and I'm hoping and praying I'll be able to go to the next one in 2019 in Panama!

Massive thank you to everyone who made it such an amazing experience - to the other pilgrims from across the world but especially the wonderful Lancaster group who are the most lovely bunch of people I've ever met. I love you all! #playhardprayhardwyd #chiveoclock

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy this slightly different from usual post!

If you'd like to vote for me as UCAS Blogger of the Month, you can do that here. Your votes are much appreciated as always :)

Anna x




Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Advice for new Year 13s

Hello! It's me, I was wondering if....

No, don't worry, I'm not going to turn all Adele on you!

Today I thought I'd share some of my advice for those of you readers who have just finished Year 12 and are about to enter Year 13. I found Year 13 a huge step up from Year 12 so I hope this is able to help even one person!

1) Choosing which subject to drop
This is potentially the biggest decision you'll have to make so far in your college career. This was quite easy for me, because I did a lot worse in one of my subjects than the other three - and I also did not enjoy philosophy so that was an easy decision for me! But for you lucky people who have done well in all your subjects, this could be a much trickier decision. When deciding which subject to drop, I would recommend thinking of it this way:

A) The subject you did worse in - especially with your year group having much less coursework, I would be aware that it's much harder to increase your grade through an exam. (Or consider a resit as well?).
B) The subject you find hardest - If you find one of your subjects much harder than the others, consider dropping this one. Remember that everything gets much harder at A Level than AS so if you're finding a subject really hard now, this might make you enjoy it less at A Level.
C) The subject you like least - This is a pretty obvious one really I think. If you hated a subject before, you might enjoy it even less this year. However, I would consider what is you dislike about the subject before you decide to drop it. Is it the course itself? Or the contents? Or the teacher? Remember that both the second two can be very different at A Level than AS.

However, despite all that, my number one piece of advice is that it MUST be your decision. Ask as many people for advice as you like, however don't let them make the decision for you! If someone else heavily influences your decision, it may affect how much you enjoy Year 13. Also, remember that it's not going to massively change your life, so don't worry too much!

2) Personal Statement
I know that you're probably going to want to be enjoying your last few weeks of freedom before you go back to college/sixth form in September, I can't tell you enough how much I recommend getting a first draft done for when you go back to college. I didn't do this (despite college advising us to) and I wish I had. It just makes the whole UCAS/applying for jobs or apprenticeships process so much simpler and quicker for when you go back to college. Also, the sooner you have your application finished, the sooner you'll get the offers back from the universities or the requests for interviews. So even if it seems like hard work starting it now, it's going to save you a lot of stress in the long run! Also, it can take a lot of drafts to get your personal statement perfect and when your tutors have a lot of people's to check, it's good to get ahead of the game so that they can get changes back to you!
I wrote this post a while ago giving my advice for writing your personal statement, feel free to check it out again!

3) Concentrate on Coursework
Sorry, couldn't resist the alliteration!!! When I got my A Level results, I hadn't done at all how I expected in my exams - especially in my resits (I'd done worse in all but one resit) and so I was amazed at how I had managed to achieve such good grades overall. When I looked closer at the breakdown of my grades for each subject, I realised that it was my coursework that saved me. All my subjects were 40% coursework and so all the hard work I'd put into my coursework had been worthwhile! The high grades I had achieved in that had saved my grades overall!
If you'd like to hear more of my advice for coursework, I wrote this post a while ago.

4) Get the balance right
I doubt that I need to remind you that Year 13 is the year you turn 18! I'm guessing that for a lot of you (like I was) who are looking forward to finally being a legal adult and able to go out clubbing etc. There are many advantages of this, in that it can take your mind off all the stress you're probably going to be facing at college, however there are also some disadvantages of this as 'recovery' time (if you know what I mean ;) ) can take away time from your studies. The main thing is to have fun, but make sure that you're sensible. Having a good social life is really important, especially in Year 13, as it can be a welcome distraction from everything else!
Similarly, having a part time job is great for many reasons, especially in that you can save up money for uni or whatever you're doing the following year. Just make sure that your college work is always the priority because that's what will help you most in the future! My bosses at work were very understanding, especially in the build up to exams and I'm sure that yours would be too!

5) Enjoy!!
Although ridiculously hectic and often stressful, the last academic year was my best so far. I made new friends and solidified friendships I'd made in first year of college and generally enjoyed life. So make the most of this stage of life because if you're anything like me, you'll look back at the end of the year and be glad that you worked hard but also had fun. So make the most of it!

So that's my main bits of advice for new Year 13s! If you'd like advice for anything specifically, feel free to get in touch!
Thanks for reading, and for all your support, it means a lot!

If you'd like to vote for me as UCAS Blogger of the Month, you can do that here. Thank you!

Until next time,
Anna x




Sunday, 21 August 2016

So Many Levels of Joy

Hello!

If you haven't guessed by the title of this post... I GOT INTO HOPE!!!!!!!

I can't even begin to describe how happy I am! Not only did I get into university, I surpassed my own expectations and achieved AAB - grades that I only dreamed of!

Thursday

I woke up at 5:53am, with my A Level results being posted on my online college account at 6am. I knew I couldn't bear to wait those seven minutes so turned over and went back to sleep. During the time I was asleep I dreamt that I'd failed English Lit and woke up in a panic! I imagined it was around 7:30am. It was actually just gone 6am!!! I anxiously logged on to the system and then spent a good couple of minutes being too nervous to click on the "exam results" sidebar! When I did it, I was at first a little confused as there were a lot of exams on there (from both last year and this) and I hadn't done particularly well in a lot of the exams. I then realised that my overall grades were at the top of the page. And I was absolutely elated!!

The night before results day, my Mum and I were talking about what grades I actually wanted - not what I needed to get into Hope. I had told her that the grades I wanted so badly were AAB. And that is what I achieved!! To say I was overjoyed is the understatement of the year!!
That morning, I went and woke up my parents and told them my results. Although both were still half asleep, they were also extremely happy and also very proud. I tried to go back to sleep after this but was unsuccessful so I put some music on and messaged my friends to see if they'd also had good news!

Later in the morning I had to go into college to officially collect my results but it was also a good excuse to see my friends and begin the celebrations early!!


Six extremely happy people
The fact that my closest friends all got into the universities they wanted made my happiness even greater. With us all being happy, it made the celebrations even better - both at college and then later that night!
Liverpool, Manchester, Ormskirk, Preston and Stirling - watch out, we're coming for you!!!

I'm not going to go into detail, but the celebrations continued long into the night and early morning! It was lovely going into town and celebrating with loads of people from college who I hadn't seen since the end of exams!


Friday

The celebrations for me continued on Friday, with my parents taking my sisters and I out for tea to celebrate both my A Level Results and my younger sister's AS results (which were also fantastic, so proud of you Rachel!!) I had a lovely meal and it was really great to relax and celebrate with my family.

Can't celebrate exam success without a family selfie!!! ;)

So overall, I'm ridiculously happy! The celebrations were amazing and I'm so proud of my results, I feel like they reflect the hard work that I put in over the past two years. Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this time, whether to encourage me or to be a shoulder to cry on when it got tough. I'm so blessed to have such amazing and supportive people in my life, so thank you all!

If you'd like to make this month for me, please vote for me as UCAS Blogger of the Month, which you can do here. Thank you!

I'm so excited that in a month and three days, I'll be moving into my halls at Liverpool Hope University! I can't wait for this next new chapter in my life to start!

Anna x

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Mixed Emotions

Hello again!

I know its been a long time since I last blogged but fear not! I have a couple of posts in the pipeline so hopefully it won't be too long before you hear from me again!!

With less than 10 hours until my A Level results are released, I wanted to write a very brief post about how I'm feeling: Mainly so I can look back tomorrow or some day in the future and remember this!

In all honesty, I'm not fully sure how I feel. I'm extremely nervous and apprehensive but at the same time slightly excited for it all to be over and done with so I can get on with prepping to go to uni this time next month!!! (So soon!!!) I want tomorrow morning to be over so badly but at the same time I really don't! My head is like a washing machine and I can't wait for it to get off spin cycle and everything to slow down!

Avril Lavigne might have said "here's to never growing up" and while part of me is wishing that to be true, the other part of me is really excited for this next stage in my life to begin - with tomorrow being the first stepping stone on the road!

So to all my family, friends and lovely readers, I wish you all the very best of luck and I hope that you get the results tomorrow that will not only get you where you want to be uni/apprenticeship/job-wise, but will make you happy and feel proud of yourselves. Whatever happens though, everything happens for a reason and so even if things don't go as perfectly as you hoped, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.

All my love and best wishes to you all (and I hope we manage to sleep at least a bit tonight!!!)

Anna xx