Accomodation, Free time, Other University Factors, Student, Student Housing

Making Your Room Feel Like Home

I’d imagine everyone is settled in to their accommodation now whether you be a first, second or third year. However, you may be feeling a little home sick or just like you are not quite at home in your new place.

Here are a few little tips/ideas on how to make your room more homely.

My room is my absolute favourite place to be. There’s nothing like coming home to a room which makes you feel calm and happy. My room is very personal to me and I love decorating it!

The first thing to think about when decorating your room is your bed sheets. A nice duvet cover can completely transform a room. I believe it is the absolute key to a nice bedroom. The bed is the centre piece of the room and by making a statement with that, you set the tone for the entire room. The best places I have found to get bedding from are IKEA (you can get some absolute bargains without sacrificing comfort), Debenhams (where my one pictured is from) or John Lewis (bit pricier!).

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As you can see from the photographs, I am also a sucker for photos. Firstly I think they automatically make you feel at home as you are surrounded by all your happy memories and loved ones. Secondly I hate blank walls! I think it makes a room look empty and unloved. I am the queen of clutter though so maybe don’t go as mad as I have! I prefer to get the photos printed properly so they are all the exact same size and all glossy and of good quality but you could easily print them off in the library or if you’re lucky enough to have a printer on that!14513649_10207689344004910_1380821220_oI also have a soft spot for fairy lights. I find soft lighting so relaxing in the evenings. If ever I am in my room in the evening I have the main light off and all my fairy lights and lamps on. I find the main light too harsh and bright for the evenings but it’s nice to still have a bit of light in the room. My favourites are the stars hanging above my bed. I have those, red flowers around some photos above my drawers, pink and grey elephants wrapped around my guitar stand (can’t see in the photos!) and multicoloured stars, moons and circles around my window. On top of this I also have a mini projector which puts stars on the ceiling, a little light up cat light and a paper lamp by my bedside table. Lights are great because they can be used for aesthetics as well as functionally. You can get fairy lights for a couple of quid on Amazon!

Plants are another brilliant thing to have in your room. For one, they act as mini air purifiers and omit oxygen for you! They are also super cute! I had two chilli plants which actually grew chilli peppers which I use in my cooking all the time. I have moved them along with my bonsai into the living room because sadly my room doesn’t get enough natural sunlight this year and it was causing them to get poorly. But if your room has good direct sunlight then definitely think about getting some potted plants. For those of you who want low maintenance plants or have poor sunlight in their rooms then cacti are happy with pretty much anything! The three on my windowsill were from IKEA and the one on my bedside table was a gift from my flatmate from Tesco. They’re cheap and easy and look adorable!

14536847_10207689344644926_770032304_oAs you can see I am not only a sucker for photos but also for posters/ANYTHING you can stick on your wall! I really love having a very personal room and friends always comment on it. It’s nice to express myself in my little space. If, like me, you’re very into music have a leaf through your records and CD’s and you might be surprised at what you can find. So many of my posters are from my records. On the wall by my bed I made a little collage with photos, postcards, notes, drawings, posters, cards and photographs. It has little messages from friends and family, a postcard from my best friend, some of my favourite birthday cards and holds a lot of memories! It makes my room very personalised and never gets boring to look at.

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I also love pillows and cushions. My boyfriend hates them because there is simply too many to sleep on. They mean, however, that in the daytime my bed can double up as a sofa and so whenever I have friends round it is easy to use my room as a living room and social space. My current favourite is the whale cushion pictured above. My mum got it for me for my birthday a few months back from John Lewis and I absolutely adore it!

(Yes, I am also still a massive kid and have a Simba, two Stitchs, three Moomins and a very worn, very well loved Winnie the Pooh.)

I feel like it is very important to bring things which make you feel comfortable and at home. If you had a rug in your room at home see if you can bring that with you, it will be familiar and make your room feel like your own instantly.

For any more tips on decorating your room just write in the comments!

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Course, Coursework, Exams, Free time, Future, Island Experience, Portsmouth, Reflection, The city, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Two Years Down, One To Go

I feel like I should be feeling a lot more relieved right now than I actually do. I HAVE FINISHED MY SECOND YEAR AT UNIVERSITY. Wow.

There are so many mixed emotions which come with finishing a year of study. On one hand I feel immensely proud of everything I have done. I have achieved so so much and come so far in the last year. Yet also I feel quite sad. The looming reality of life after uni is starting to really dawn on me. One. More. Year.

It’s insane how quickly the time seems to be going; it feels like mere months ago I was a fresh-faced first year, battling my way up the stairs in Bateson Halls armed with a load of cooking utensils I would never take out of the packaging but needed ‘just in case’, ready to meet my new housemates. It feels like weeks ago I moved into my house I have now been living in for 8 months. I feel a little scared if I’m honest.

I can’t believe my time at Portsmouth is slowly but surely drawing to an end. My heart is sinking as I am writing this just to think about the prospect of leaving. I am so blessed to have spent the time here that I have. A year seems so far away: so much will happen in that time… And yet I think back on the past two and fear that the third will disappear into memories just as quickly.

For now, I am going to enjoy the sea, take trips to my favourite little cafes, exploit the fact we have countless outlet stores at Gunwarf Quays, ride my bike around the most flat city ever and breathe in the sea air! I love Portsmouth so much. I am going to make the most of my remaining time here like I have tried to for the previous two years. I am lucky enough to have the advantage of my course finishing early, meaning I have free time to appreciate Portsmouth.

To all students here: enjoy your time here, do not take it for granted. To future students: coming to Portsmouth will almost certainly be the best three(+) years of your life. And to myself? Here’s to the next and final year!

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Free time, Other University Factors, Reflection, Student, Uncategorized, Uni Life, Work experience

Not-Quite ‘Bucket Lists’

Anyone who has read any of my posts before knows I am a list maker. I LOVE WRITING LISTS. They keep me feeling calm and organised (even when I’m not!).

In case anyone missed the post I wrote back in January, I have started a little tradition with myself at the New Year. Here‘s the link for anyone curious. I don’t quite think I can call my mini ‘bucket lists’ a tradition yet as I’ve only done one, but I wrote a ‘to do’ list for the academic year.

On my very first day in my new house in Portsmouth, 4th September 2015, I sat down and I wrote a list of everything I wanted to achieve this year. This included things like actually getting into the sea (still haven’t done it – it’s so cold!), pitching an article to The Debrief (I did it!), travelling to Budapest or Croatia (Budapest is booked for June), performing at an open mic poetry night (I now help to run one as well) and finally showing people my music (I have my fifth gig on Tuesday). So all-in-all seems successful. I feel like I may have forgotten some things I haven’t done so I am going to have another look over it and see what else I can tick off before September comes around again.

First year went so quickly for me and I felt, whilst I loved every second, I could have done more. I could have made the most of it more and pushed myself even further. I wanted to ensure that now I am settled in Portsmouth that I did more. My list has helped me to do that, to ensure I am achieving all the things I want to achieve. It helps me to push myself and focus on my goals.

Of course there is the argument that if I find, come September, that I have failed many of my goals I may feel unnecessarily sad despite what I may have achieved. I prefer to look at it like this: say I haven’t achieved half of my goals, that would be a shame, but I HAVE ACHIEVED THE OTHER HALF. Even if I only achieve one goal, that’s still one goal more than I had the previous year. Here’s a little advice on how to get started.

Advice

  1. Don’t set unreasonable goals – you’ll only be disappointed.
  2. Really think what it is what want to achieve. It’ll help motivate you.
  3. Don’t set too many! Pick your top five uni/career goals and your top five life/leisure goals. Do a few simply because they’re fun!
  4. Push yourself, but not too hard. Know your limits. Have you always been too scared to try out for a sports team or too shy to talk to that girl in your Monday afternoon class who seems great? Push yourself to do the things you want to do but don’t say you want to achieve a first in every single piece of work you hand in. That’s pushing yourself too far and setting unrealistic goals (unless you are a complete genius – but even genius’ mess up sometimes!).
  5. Don’t stress too much over it. I find mine helps me focus and subconciously makes me do things I perhaps would normally shy away from.
  6. Have fun!

If you give it a go, let me know. It’d be great to hear what some of you are putting on your lists. I’m off to begin writing mine for next year now!

 

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Coursework, Exams, Free time, Home, Student, Time Management, Travels, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Busy Busy Busy Busy

I’m a little ashamed at how long it’s been since I’ve written a post (*cough*two months*cough). From September to February I can proudly say I wrote one roughly every two weeks but alas with the tightening grip of deadlines I have been somewhat absent from the blog.

I haven’t spent this time shying away from writing though! I have written a short story, a screenplay, twelve poems, two articles, a review and a lot a lot a lot of essays! It’s been rather hectic to say the least. I can imagine any of you reading this right now can sympathise.

Still, no excuse for how long I have been gone. I did also take a trip to Spain amongst all that so it hasn’t been all work-based! On Saturday I return to Portsmouth to finish off my second year here. It’s insane how quickly the time has gone. I remember returning after Easter last year and feeling a slight sadness that my first year at university was coming to a close. I had achieved so much in my short time and met some wonderful people who I can confidently say I will be close to for life, now. It’s jarring that I am now here again. Where does the time go? I imagine I will be writing a very similar post this time next year (apart from the not posting for two months part – let’s not do that again!). This time next year, when I am weeks away from being an actual graduate-cum-real-life-adult. I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. I’m not convinced I ever will be!

However, I am beginning to take some (sort of adult) steps towards my future. I am setting aside money for driving lessons/car/insurance when I graduate so I can get myself from A to B when I’m living God-knows-where. I am also going to move my life savings bit-by-bit, when my current ISA ends in August, into a home-savers ISA. As very kindly explained to me by my Auntie who works in a bank, you can put away a certain amount per month and when you go to put down a deposit on a house/mortgage the Government give you 25% of what you’ve saved for free! Wahoo! So, if you have a partner and you both save £12,000 each, the Government will give you £3,000 each so you have an extra £6,000 total to put down on a house. So maybe it’s not so much of a hopeless dream to get our feet on the housing ladder after all?

I have also applied to do work experience over summer with my favourite online magazine ever – The Debrief. So fingers crossed there! I feel like now that I’ve written it down I’ve jinxed it. I won’t even write it in my calendar because it’ll make me too sad to have to cross it out if I don’t get the placement.

I have one more final exam in about two weeks which makes me feel so scared I want to cry but I’m slowly getting there with my revision. I’m writing my lists and breaking it down so it seems more manageable.

I’m really starting to have to think about life after uni now, not that I want to! It’s ever so exciting but also absolutely terrifying. With how busy this academic year has been I can only imagine what I’m in for when my final year begins. Big things are coming up and I hope I manage to take the right steps to lead me to a happy future after this big university adventure draws to a close.

This blog post has been rather disjointed as it is really just an update – these are the many things I have been up to and here’s where I propose to go from here! I absolutely promise promise promise I will post within the next week. The deadline hell is over and I can get back to what I love most: writing.

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Free time, Music, Portsmouth

Sing your heart out….

I’ve never really been a confident solo singer, sure I’ve sung in choir, theatre productions and done the odd gig with my sisters for mother’s day concerts but I have never really sung solo.  Admittedly I did sing karaoke at the Student Union one night but I am assuming no one was really focussed on my singing.

So when Becki (the director of OmniArts where I volunteer who is also a singing teacher amongst many other things) asked if I would sing at her Earth Hour Unplugged Event I was excited but also very very nervous. I would be performing in front of her other students (I did not know) and would be singing acapella (without music/backing track) so I would have to rely on the power of my voice alone.

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Earth Hour takes place towards the end of March every year  and is organised by the WWF. It aims to encourage people to switch off their lights for an hour to help promote environmental causes. It started as a lights-out event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 but since then 7000 cities and towns worldwide partake in the event.

I arrived early to help Becki set up and light the huge array of candles and believe it or not it got very hot very quickly! It soon felt like a wonderful atmosphere with snacks galore and the whole room lit up by candle light.

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Bit Blurry but these were the candles and fairy lights! 🙂 

I sung first and I was very nervous, the first song I sung was I still believe from Miss Saigon as a duet with Becki and then I sang My House from Matilda the Musical. Both these songs were filmed so keep an eye out for those!

Standing up and singing acapella is very different to singing with a backing track. With a backing track you have the main tune hidden in the accompaniment somewhere so you can be sure as to what notes your singing. Singing acapella is just you and your voice. After we had all sung our set we had a discussion about how we felt it went and what we found scary about it. For me, I had no one in the audience (apart from Becki) I knew so I was singing in front of complete strangers which I had never done before as normally my parents, sisters, grandparents or friends are always at events to support me. After this we were all encouraged to sing another song and I chose For Good from Wicked. By this time I had become comfortable and apart from a few gear change issues (changing my register) I performed this song well.

This event has really boosted my confidence and when Becki and I were tidying up after we had a nice little sing song of some more classical musical theatre songs. It was a lovely atmosphere and I hope I get to do something like this again.

 

*Should anyone want to find out more about Becki or have singing lessons here is her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/beckishortsinger/?pnref=story*

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Clubs and societies, Free time, Home, Job hunting, Nightlife, Other University Factors

10 things year 1 has taught me…

Seeing as it is almost easter and almost the end of our teaching time for year 1 (how has that happened?!?!) I thought I would reflect on my time as a fresher and tell you 10 things year 1 has taught me….so far.

  1. To make gravy….you need HOT water….(yes I tried to add cold water to the granules and wondered why it wasn’t working….#fail)
  2. ALWAYS carry your key with you….like ALWAYS! There was a time where I got locked out and my key was in my room and I had to wait about 45 mins to be let in my room!
  3. Make good use of all the support you are offered the wellbeing service, student support managers…even the SABBS want to make sure you are doing okay!
  4. Make your room as homely as you can! I always feel so at home in my room thanks to the pictures an the little quotations and the fairy lights, it is a lot easier to settle at uni if you enjoy spending time in your room!
  5. Stay in touch with old school friends. Making new friends is great but I have had many a conversation with some old school friends. It helps if you or they are struggling as you are able to give them advice as you probably know them best.
  6. Buy food for lunch/dinner you enjoy making and eating, you are more likely to want to cook after a long day at university if this is the case. (see my last blog post; https://studentblog.port.ac.uk/2016/03/10/easy-meals-for-university/)
  7. Get involved! I was elected deputy faculty rep at the start of the year and I have made so many contacts through this. It has given me a great opportunity to meet some third years and masters students who are all lovely. I have also just been elected National events officer for RAG and Donor Recruitment officer for Portsmouth Marrow, I hope to be elected as  Faculty rep next year…..phew!
  8. Try new things! One thing I was adamant about when I came to uni was that I wasn’t going to go out. However supported by my UAB family I managed to stay out for almost 2 hours ….now I want to go out again!!
  9. Volunteer- but not just for your CV! I emailed a lot of performing arts schools to see if they would give me a job- I found a company looking for a volunteer and I took that on instead. It was honestly the best thing I have done. The director (Bekki) is so lovely and I really enjoy going there every Wednesday.
  10. Andddd 10. Get the balance of going home right. When I first started university I was told by my violin teacher not to go home for at least 3 weeks. It worked a treat as I was homesick but not too much. I kept myself busy and looked forward to going home. I have also made little surprises home as well this year which are a really nice thing to do and make you feel really good about yourself.
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Free time, Travels

the excitement of planning your next break!

Today’s post will be on planning a Break.

Yes, I’ve always been of the opinion that having good, quality time off work/studies increase your capability of retaining more information, boosting not only your mood but your creativity as well. And we all know that creativity is key in every single area. And, I can add, if you have breaks now and then, you will be much more sociable and understanding to others. I also believe that most discussions and upsetting situations are born from people being tired. And being tired is not always evident. You might be sleeping 9 hours a day and still be tired.

Planning a trip is exciting. The thrill of preparing and booking places to visit, to eat or to sleep is unique. And then, when you get to experience everything you put together, learning with the less positive and enjoying the great chances you allowed yourself, is just a blast!

I have the distinct idea people believe that planning a trip might be too expensive. It will all come down to what are you up for?

I can give you some tips of how I do my planning and some rules I tend to preserve while I hope you too are willing to share yours; improving our skills as travellers is always worthwhile.

1. Decide where you want to go and with who; 

Believe it or not, this is crucial. You might be BFF with someone, but in the end, you don’t share the same way of travelling. If you are travelling with people that are going for clubbing and you want to do sightseeing and a cultural programme you might have a problem! Either you adjust to each other and plan how both are going to make  good company for each other, or in the end, neither will be happy. Or enjoy as much as you can.  Choosing the location where you want to go should depend more on your interests and curiosity. But, if you just want to explore Europe or the wildlife, then you can jump to step 2.

2. Book your flights and accommodation previously;

I have a rule concerning planning my breaks. I always divide the month expenses. What do I mean? Well, if I’m going to Italy in March, I will try to pay my hotel in February and my flights in January. I know that planning too ahead is complicated, and obviously not always you can book flights months prior to your break. And plus, I’m referring to breaks, during work/classes. Holidays can follow some of these tips, but if you want to go to Australia, managing that should follow other timings. So, if you feel you can manage travel expenses (museum and other attraction tickets; food; transportation) plus accommodation, then you should only worry first about the flight tickets. Because I love to find deals, I tend to book my rooms in advance. You can find good bargains.

FLIGHT SEARCH: You probably know this one already: Skyscanner. This search engine really gives you the best deals. But, obviously, the best user you are, the most of it, you will get. For instance, sometimes you might struggle with flight’s timetable. If you are departing from Portsmouth, the closest you get from one of London’s airports is Gatwick. You can also find good deals from the Southhampton one. But, departing from Gatwick Airport you need to think when is the earliest train that can take you there and the last one, on the return. This will already limit your flight search. Usually its less expensive to book the flights combined, because of booking fees, but don’t be strained by it.

Because a break usually is short, you can also combine your options. For instance, you can combine London airports, and then you might find more interesting flights. In March, I’m planning an escape to Lisbon and because usually the more economic return flight is at 6.30am, I selected the return to Heathrow and then I was able to pick an equal-priced flight at 10.30am. This will make my return flight management easier.

ACCOMMODATION SEARCH: I am, without any doubt, a Booking.com user. I think that making an account is quite easy and it is worth it. With time, you will become a .genius member, and some promotions will be available only to you. For instance, I booked a hotel room in a fancy place in Portugal for 35 euros, when, for someone else, would cost 40 euros. You need to be patient and not rush for the first option. I usually tend to use the map to explore accommodation options in respect to the city. The map will appear in the left sidebar after you’ve put your search details. But you have other options. I’ve used Tripadvisor as well, but only once. My experience was great. I think it is more limited, with fewer options. But, you might find different ones. So, just check with the same search details. For the past two years, I have also used Airbnb. I do like this website, because not only is its structure very secure, but you can also find apartment/house deals. This is interesting if you are planning a more cozy escape, with friends or boyfriend, and you want to cook and spend some indoors time. This will decrease your food costs and probably it will be a cheaper alternative to accommodation as well.  You have rooms as well, so you can have fun exploring it. The downside of this one is that you need to pay right away whilst with Booking.com you might find some options where you can just make the reservation and pay once you get there. Plan ahead your intentions so your search can be more effective.

TIP: take your time searching. You don’t need to book right away, just because you’ve started. Do it now and then, so maybe you can find the best deal. Finding flight bargains is much like gambling, you never know.

3. Visit the tourism websites and read blogs beforehand;

Having set up the time you have got for your break and the real time you have to visit your destination, then you should focus on a realistic plan. Don’t start putting all the attractions in your plan. This is a rookie mistake, I’m afraid. Depending on the distances and the time it takes to visit whatever you want, sometimes you can go to 1 to 2 attractions in the morning and the same amount in the afternoon. Obviously, this will depend on the time you need to see what you want. That’s why blogs are an effective way to help your planning. Others usually have good tips and they are willingly sharing their know-how. It is better to see less, but better. Just rushing all the way and only having a grasp of what you are visiting is not the proper way of getting to know your surroundings. If you want to taste food during your break then you should allow yourself a good two-hour lunch or dinner.

I do like starting from the tourism websites, because not only usually  do they have an English version, but they are very well organised. It is easy to get a good idea of what you can visit. And they are more up to date than Google is. You can easily get information on the attractions timetable and any last-minute news. Put everything into your tablet or, as me, an old-fashioned gal, write it on paper. This will be your route guide.  You can save it later with postcards you might buy. Memories can last, but some items usually help them crawl out of our head.

 4. Be responsible with money;

I don’t like that feeling of counting my money to make sure I can get back home. And not being able to enjoy where I am! That’s not a good way of ending your escape journey. Therefore, and though it might seem silly, I do like the idea of putting money in an envelope. So, if I want to go somewhere next month, I will put £40/50 (depending on what I want to do) there. This is like the life-jacket. I might use it or not. But is good to have a backup plan. If you can’t do it, then just make a Plan B during your stay, so you can still enjoy but not go overdrawn.

This weekend I had my Break. I went back home and I had a really enjoyable time though the weather was quite depressing. It was raining cats and dogs and the winds were crazy. We were in a red warning zone. Nonetheless, I planned on doing indoor activities that could fill our time and, unfortunately, we had to forget about most of the outdoor ones. We went to Sintra, one of my favourite places in the world, and we managed to visit two Palaces, one in each afternoon, do Geocaching (not as much as we wanted!) and just doing some sightseeing in the end.  Overall I spent more £30 than I was expecting, which for a 3-night accommodation and everything else included I thought was okay.

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The weather conditions made this visit even more mystical – welcome to the Pena Palace

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The fog and the cold made us think how living in the Palace in the old days could have been harsh

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The king that bought the Palace was of the romantic type

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And he was very inspired by Asian culture

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Because we were in the route of palaces – welcome to the National Queluz Palace

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This is called the music room, with an extension to the next one; imagine the balls…

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and the delight of musicians, playing for kings, princes and nobles of that time

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This palace is very well known because of its gardens

 

I feel like travelling connects me more with different cultures and situations, which makes me feel more alive and human.

Hope you find my tips useful and do let us know if you are planning a break.

Ciao

Inês

 

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