8 Things to Decorate Your Uni Room With

8 Things to Decorate Your Uni Room With

Ah, student accommodation. Always cramped, usually damp, and the place where we spend some of the best days of our lives. Although these digs are temporary, it’s nice to make them feel like home. I’ve picked out a few of my favourite things to get your inner interior designer on and help you to settle in.

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Good bedding is worth investing in. Avoid scratchy fabrics that are uncomfortable to sleep in, and go for something soft that will last the weekly wash. When you’re living in a small, dreary student room, it’s a good idea to go for colours to really liven things up. The set I’ve picked out is from Debenhams, but Primark actually do some really great sets that won’t be such a sharp stab at your purse.

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Get a plant. They really help to brighten up a small space. If you can’t be trusted with regular watering, opt for a cactus (or three) like this little set from IKEA. Super cute, affordable, and the pots come in loads of colours so you can match them to your room!

 

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Bunting is a great way to liven up any room, and looks super cute draped over a bed (especially paired with some fairy lights!). These pom pom ones are lovely and colourful, and I’d definitely pair them with that Debenhams bedding. Depop is a great place to look for a few homely bits, so don’t miss out on catching a great deal on art prints and decor while you’re browsing for clothes.

 

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Posters are a classic. You don’t have to revisit your days of cutting posters of Paramore or One Direction out of magazines and plastering them over every free space on your wall, but you can find some pretty cool ones to whack on your pin board. I try to make myself a little corner of things I love to make my room feel like home, and I tend to gravitate towards vivid colours to really brighten up a bare room, so this Grand Budapest Hotel poster is a winner for me.

 

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A lamp might not be your first port of call when you’re scanning the home section for decorations, but sometimes you don’t actually get one in the room, and it’s nice to have a little bedside lamp or something on your desk so that you don’t have to have the mains lights on all the time. This one from Dunelm is a complete steal, and I’m in love with the colour.

 

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Sometimes in a small room, you can be short on space and storage. Getting together a couple of storage boxes to keep in the bottom of your wardrobe or under your bed or desk can be really handy. Chuck in your toiletries or even your socks to free up drawer space. This understated box from IKEA is the perfect size for tucking into inconspicuous places.

 

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We can’t forget a laundry hamper! Sometimes these things can be difficult to hide in such small spaces, so it’s nice to pick one with a cool pattern or with a bit of colour. Pop-up ones are the best for transporting rather than hauling a big basket in the car, so I’m really feeling the Plumsa laundry bag (from IKEA once again – they really do have everything).

 

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Pictures of your friends and family are the final touch to any home setting. Finding cute frames is pretty easy, or go ahead and stick them straight onto your walls (landlord permitting). I really like these kinds of frames where you can just peg the pictures straight on and make your own collage of pictures. This one is a gorgeous copper colour, so I was desperate to snatch it up as soon as I saw it.

Have I missed something off? Let me know what you’ll be taking to uni with you, and how you like to decorate!

 

 

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5 Tips For Moving to a Uni Far From Home

5 Tips For Moving to a Uni Far From Home

And we’re back! After three months of working full time, I am making my return. So happy September everybody! Did you have a nice summer?

We all know that September means the dreaded back to school period. But it also means a fresh start, particularly if you’re going off to uni for the first time. So this week, we’re going to have a little series of posts all about moving to uni.

As somebody who picked up and moved five hours away from home, I know how scary it can be to fly the nest and go so far away, particularly when all your friends seem to be sticking within a one hour radius of your home town. So I thought I’d compile a list of tips that might help you deal with the inevitable pangs of homesickness that will strike during your first few months.

  1. Throw yourself into the social life. It’s hard when your friends have dispersed all over the country and you’re living somewhere completely alien to you. You know nobody, and you miss everybody. The best way to tackle this is to make new friends, and join in with everything that you can. Whether it’s a trip to the pub, a game of table tennis in the common room, or a movie night, get involved. There are hundreds of new people to meet in your flat, on your course, and just about everywhere else, so take full advantage of all the new faces and make plans everywhere you can.
  2. Plan your trips home in advance. Being so far away can mean hefty ticket prices. Find out which way home is cheapest (train, coach, or even flight) and book in advance to save your precious pennies. Trust me, booking last minute might be convenient, but it isn’t cheap.
  3. Master basic life skills before you move. At the risk of sounding patronising, you’re going to have to learn how to do things for yourself. Unlike people who stay close to home, it’s not so easy to just pop home at the weekend to get fed some vegetables or ask your mum to do your laundry. It’s the little things you don’t think of that catch you off guard, like how long you need to boil potatoes for to get the best mash, or what to do when your shower won’t drain. Although your parents may only be a phone call away (and Google is always at hand) it’s best to be prepared so you know what to do if you accidentally mix bleach and ammonia.
  4. Connect with your lecturers. Although they might not be able to give you a mumsy cuddle when you’re feeling homesick, they might just make you a cup of tea and talk through what’s bothering you. Lecturers are amazing both inside and outside the classroom, so make use of their support and don’t be afraid to talk to them if you’re struggling. They’ve heard it all before, so they know how to help.
  5. Make your room homely. Coming back from a long day at uni and shuffling into your tiny, bare student room is very disheartening when you’re feeling homesick. Make your little shoebox feel like yours, rather than a temporary student residence. Decorate with pictures, bunting, posters – whatever you feel like! You can turn even the dingiest of rooms into a cosy home if you try hard enough.

Got any more tips, or want any more advice? Don’t be afraid to comment, or drop me a tweet if you’d like to chat.

My Music of the Moment

My Music of the Moment

You may have noticed that my blog has had a bit of a revamp! It was time for a new look, so I’ve made a few changes and a few additions. I’ve also added a little what I’m listening to page, so that you can keep up with what I’m listening to on my Spotify and uncover my (not so secret) love for dramatically miming Kelly Clarkson classics and singing old school Avril Lavigne songs in the shower when I’m home alone. So as an intro to my new blog and my Spotify page, I thought I’d make a list of some of my favourite songs that I’ve been listening to lately. If you’re interested in listening to these songs on Spotify, I’ve included a link to a playlist with all these songs in below!

STRFKR – Open Your Eyes

Will Joseph Cook – Girls Like Me

Feed Me Jack – Until Then

Max Frost – Adderall

Kishi Bashi – Can’t Let Go, Juno

I also thought I’d make these into a little Spotify playlist for anyone who fancies a listen, but doesn’t really want to bother with the hassle of YouTube videos. So if you’re interested, you can listen to all these songs here.

If you’re like this kind of post, I’d be happy to do updates on a regular basis, giving you a taste of some of my favourite songs of the moment. Let me know what you think!

Let’s Get Political

Let’s Get Political

I will have you know that I’m currently singing “let’s get political” to the tune of Olivia Newton-John’s Let’s Get Physical, so that’s where I’m at right now.

I’m not usually one to get political on my blog, but with the election looming there are a few things that I think we need to talk about.

I’m going to start off by saying that no matter what your political views are, this applies to you.

Now, the thing that really grates on me about politics is that people get so defensive about everything that their party does – they don’t try to understand the basic concept that there are pros and cons to each point of view. I’ve seen Labour and Conservative supporters alike utterly convinced that their party leader can solve all of the world’s problems like some kind of magical politics fairy. But, sadly, it doesn’t work like that.

To assume that the party you support is completely without flaws and everyone from all walks of life should support them is a very narrow minded and naive way of looking at things. No party is going to make everybody happy, no matter who becomes prime minister. Die hard Conservative voters completely disregard the merits of Labour, and vice versa, and there seems to be a general belief that one party must be completely angelic and the other is simply satanic, when that isn’t necessarily the case. People are quick to shun any opinion that doesn’t line up with their own in an attempt to make themselves look superior, and refuse to even consider the benefits that another point of view might have. Not everything that the Tories have done is evil, and not everything that Labour has done is a waste of time and money. It’s about trying to have a balanced view of things without automatically going out on the attack. You may not agree with certain policies, but the problem is that the majority of people don’t even try to understand the reasons behind the choices that politicians make. They don’t just go around making these big decisions willy nilly (although sometimes it might feel like it) – whether you agree or disagree with the choices they make is absolutely fine, but at least try to understand their reasoning before you lash out. You may not be happy with it, but at least you’ve made a conscious effort to see what they’re trying to do.

It’s okay to have strong views. I’m not saying that you should umm and ahh over something when you’re confident in your political stance, but what I’m saying is that you should be able to appreciate and respect other people’s opinions and political standings, rather than come out with generalised statements like “all Tories are heartless” and “all Labour voters are scrounging drug addicts”, because we all know that both of those statements aren’t true. Try to educate yourself on each stance in a balanced way before you let a few angry Facebook posts influence your decision.

The other thing that really grinds my gears is the way that people try to lug unnecessary and irrelevant information into politics, and try to use the pettiest of things to big up their own views and drag down somebody else’s. To be honest, I don’t care what shoes Theresa May is wearing or how Jeremy Corbyn chooses to groom himself, and you shouldn’t either. What do these things have to do with the way they will do their job? Are you really going to make such a big decision about who you’re going to vote for based on a pair of shoes or a suit? What matters is what they’re going to do for our country and how they’re going to make our problems smaller.

I try to be level and fair when it comes to politics, and I like to think that I can give each party praise where I think they’re deserving of it, and criticism where I think it’s necessary. No one is perfect, and in the same way nobody is completely flawed either, it’s all a matter of bias. Not everything you read on social media is true. Question the things that you read, check your sources, and do your research, because it’s all too easy for someone to make up any old nonsense in a feeble attempt to sway a few Facebook friends or bag a few retweets.

It’s also important to be careful of the way that you discuss politics with others, whether online or in person. Some attacks on those with differing political views are getting a bit too personal. The party that somebody chooses to vote for is not an excuse to be abusive towards them, or generalise them as being a malicious or senseless group. Somebody choosing to vote for one party over another does not mean that they are any less intelligent or don’t work as hard as you, and it is rude and misguided to make these assumptions. How are we supposed to work together to improve the way we run our country when we’re all pitting against each other?

Politics concerns everybody, whether you like it or not, and that needs to be taken into consideration. You need to understand that not everybody is in the same situation as you, and therefore they’re not going to think or vote in the same way as you. By all means, debate and challenge each other, but leave the petty, irrelevant comments and mindless abuse out of it.

 

Staring into the Face of Terror

Staring into the Face of Terror

I initially had a different post planned for today. But another topic seemed much more pressing.

The horror of last night’s incident in London is still sinking in for me. The terror of the Manchester bombing, in my very own city, in a place so familiar to me and full of so many happy memories, is still raw. The tears are still fresh, the fear is still there, and yet tragic events like this are becoming all too familiar.

We know the pure elation of seeing our favourite bands and artists in concert, surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of people who love them as much as we do. We know the thrill of the lights going down just before they come on stage for the first time, when everyone starts screaming and your heart starts racing with excitement. We know the unadulterated joy of singing our favourite songs back to the people we love, our voices mingled in with the rest of the crowd in a moment of complete bliss. We know the buzz of that post-concert euphoria: on top of the world, ears ringing, voice rasping, feet aching.

Similarly, we know the awe of walking around the big city, our jaws dropping at the skyscrapers and the old stone buildings, the hustle and bustle of business people and tourists alike drawing us in, hundreds of cultures surrounding us in food, dress, art, and history. We know the excitement of all the sights, whether we’ve seen them once or a hundred times, and that feeling that you just can’t quite put your finger on when you take in all of the city’s beauty.

We know what that feels like. And we can’t let the actions of a few select people, full of hatred and bitterness, take that away from us. We can’t let them stop us from living our lives, going to the places we want to go, and making memories with the people we love, because that’s how they win.

They can try time and time again, but we will always just dust ourselves off and carry on. It’s what we do here. Yes, we’re scared, but we won’t show it. We’ll just go about as normal, because it’s all we can do, and that’s how we demonstrate our strength. We’ll continue to show nothing but love despite their hate, we’ll pull each other through and open our arms to one another in the face of adversity. I know that it is easier said than done. Masking our fear and anxiety isn’t a simple task, but it’s all too easy to let our minds go into overdrive about what’s going to happen next, where the next target will be, and how close to home it’s going to hit. It’s a piece of cake to cancel our plans “just in case”, and stay home wrapped in bubble wrap and tissue paper, delicate and protected. But once we do that, they’ve got us under their thumb, and they’ve got us under their control. We can’t put our lives on hold just because something might happen. We are not delicate – we are hardy, persistent, and unshakable. We do not crumble.

The way Manchester responded as a community to the attack at the arena is far more important than the attack itself. The resilience, love, and support that was shown by Mancunians that night, and in the days since, has been overwhelming. On the night of the attack, I saw so many people offering up their homes to those who were stranded, had lost family members, or just needed a phone charger or a hot cup of tea. People were rushing complete strangers to hospital, comforting each other, and helping each other through pain and loss. Taxi companies were giving free rides to those who couldn’t make it home on public transport. The emergency services were incredible, and are still working so hard to keep our city safe and help the injured recover. Cafes and restaurants across the city have been offering up free food and drinks. There have been vigils, flowers, and balloons everywhere in memory of those we have lost. People from all over the city have been singing Don’t Look Back in Anger in their thousands, united by the music that has made this city so great. It has been one act of hate against millions of acts of love, and these are the things that we have to remember. I have never been prouder to call this city my home, to show the world what we’re made of, and to smother hate with love. And this is how London will respond after last night, just as it has done in the past. This is how we handle things in the UK. We get back up in the morning, complain about the weather, ask who wants a cuppa, and carry on like normal. Hate won’t win. Terror won’t win.

Some people will try to use these events as a force for hate. They will use the horror of these attacks as a way to promote and justify their xenophobic agenda, and they will bring suffering to the people who make up our communities purely based on their race or religion – making them feel unsafe, unwelcome, and guilty for crimes they did not commit. We can’t let that happen. We have to stand up for those who are made to feel so vulnerable and wrongly responsible for actions that are not, and will never be, their own. Terrorism has no race or religion.

We must continue to spread love and support each other, and not give in to malevolence. There is more that makes us the same than makes us different. What is important right now is that we all come together and take care of one another. The more that they try to make us hate, the more we must love.

Look after one another. We can’t afford not to.

 

Friends and Frustrations

Friends and Frustrations

Friends are tricky. We’ve all loved them, lost them, and moved past them.

People don’t tend to talk about how friends can break your heart, but we all know that it happens. It might be an argument that never gets resolved, or you might just drift apart over time. But we’ve all been there.

Sometimes, it’s the friends you already have that leave you feeling deflated and broken. You might spend hours wondering why they didn’t call you back, or if they’ll ever be the one to text you first. Cue the overthinking: did I do something wrong? Have I upset them? Why do they always cancel plans? Why is it always me who makes the effort? Why do they never give anything back? Do they even care?

My mum always told me that friendships are the hardest relationships to maintain, and sadly, she’s right. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. When you have a true friend, it’s easy. You don’t have to question whether they care about you, you don’t spend hours agonising over the fact that they didn’t message you first today, you don’t have to talk every day because you understand and respect that their life doesn’t revolve around you, but you could talk all day every day if you wanted to. You know without a doubt that they love you, no matter what happens. It’s easy peasy lemon squeezy.

The thing is, if people want to talk to you, they will. If they care about you, they’ll show it. And if they don’t? Well, to be blunt, they won’t. So there’s no point waiting around for that message asking if you want to meet up or crying for somebody’s attention when they’re not up for giving it to you willingly. It’s taken me a lot of time and a lot of failed friendships to realise this, but I’ve learned my lesson. You can miss somebody all you like, but that doesn’t make them miss you. And you’re wasting your own time pining for love and affection from somebody who isn’t dishing it out freely to you.

Don’t beat yourself up about it though. It’s more than likely not your fault. If someone isn’t putting in effort with you, that’s their concern, not yours. You don’t actually need the people that don’t bother with you, as much as you may think you do. Frankly, you’re worth more than that, and there are people who will give you all the love that you’re worth and more, and they’ll show you how real friends are supposed to act.

I’ve learned a lot about friendship over the years. I’ve had some bad ones, some good ones, some that have lasted for years, and some that only made it a few months. I’ve overcome arguments, separations, distance, and god knows what else. But most of all, I’ve overcome my own obstacles and my own ideals of what makes a good friend. I have learned that it is better to have just one person who makes you feel valued, who puts in the effort, and who makes it known that they love you and care about you, than it is to have a lot of friends who leave you wondering if they actually care at all. I’m lucky enough to have found a couple of people who are continual sources of love and support, and everybody deserves friends like that.

It takes a lot to stand up and acknowledge that some people aren’t worth your time. Walking away from a friendship with someone you care about, or at least distancing yourself from it, can be pretty hard going. But it will make you feel better. I wish I’d known that ten years ago, or even just last year. You deserve to be loved as much as you love others. Don’t accept anything less than what you crave, and don’t settle for people who only give you a fraction of what you give them. When it comes down to it, you have to value yourself and your needs as much as you value the other person. In the words of Elliott Fudge, “you don’t have to be around people where you have to tolerate being second best”.

I am no expert on friendships. In fact, looking at my record, I’m probably the last person that anyone should come to for advice on buds, pals, and mates. But I do know that healthy friendships take equality and mutual respect.

I am not the same person that I was when I met Paige three years ago. I’m not even the same person that I was when I started speaking to Elliott four months ago. But they’re my best friends, and they have helped me to grow. They’ve advised me, encouraged me, and grown with me. That’s what friendship is about. It’s not about accusations like “you’ve changed” and “you’re not the same person you were when I met you”, it’s about “look how far we’ve come” and “I am so proud of you”. You don’t always have to get on – arguments happen – but you move on from it. You challenge each other, you learn from each other, and you pick each other up. Most importantly, you value each other, and you always make that known.

Surround yourself with the kind of people who love talking to you, who message you first, who make plans with you and actually follow through, and who love and support you no matter how many stupid things you do. It doesn’t matter how long you have been friends, what matters is how you treat each other.

Remember to show your friends that you care about them, and respect yourself enough to know when you’re not in a balanced friendship. Don’t take any nonsense from anyone, and you’ll be okay.

Handling Heartbreak

Handling Heartbreak

Hello again friends! Summer is here and so this blog is going to be back in full swing. So, let’s get started. We need to talk about breakups. Specifically, the way that others around us react when we go through them.

I know it’s not a particularly fun topic to talk about. Going through a breakup is hard work, as I’m sure most of you will know. And we’re all familiar with those run of the mill comments that start circulating when the news of your split gets out. In fact, we’ve probably used them ourselves.

“You might get back together yet!”

“You’ll find someone else!”

“Plenty more fish in the sea!”

“You’ll find the one someday!”

I know they’re just trying to offer some comfort, but why do all these assurances revolve around having a significant other in our lives? Why are people so determined to convince us that the only way we can be happy is by being with somebody else?

Here’s the thing: you just might get back together. If not, you will most likely find somebody else at some point. There are plenty of other people who will fall in love with you. But here’s the other thing: you are okay by yourself.

When you’re used to being around somebody all the time, sharing a bed with them, cracking inside jokes, and talking 24/7, it can be really weird trying to adjust to single life again. But trust me, you’re okay on your own. Splitting from somebody gives you an opportunity to refocus your life on yourself, to grow into your own person without worrying about somebody else, and to redefine yourself. You can make all of your decisions based on what you want, and just do what makes you happy. Sometimes relationships can make us feel like we’re stuck in one place, and being by yourself gives you the independence to move away from the people who stunt your growth. Once you’re single, you can’t depend on a significant other for your emotional support – you have to pull your socks up by yourself, and even though it’s hard, I promise that it’s a good thing. You have full control of yourself for a while. You might feel kind of strange on your own at first, but I promise that spending time by yourself will teach you so much about yourself, make you self assured, and set you up better for future relationships – romantic or otherwise.

Being single isn’t scary. It isn’t the end of the world. Yeah, things hurt for a while, but then it stops hurting and you grow and develop on your own. It doesn’t matter if it’s been one year or thirty, you don’t have to depend on another person for your happiness, and sometimes it takes a breakup to teach you who you are and what you need, not just from other people, but from life.

I’m not saying that relationships are bad. Of course, healthy, loving relationships are wonderful, but being single is a different kind of wonderful that gives you the chance to push yourself for your own benefit, and find out who you are as a consequence. These are the positive things that you can take into new relationships to make them thrive.

So maybe next time your best friend, brother, or that drunk girl in the toilets in Popworld pours their heart out to you about their freshly wounded heart, you can build them up as an individual, focus on their new potential for growth, and reassure them that being alone isn’t a hindrance but a strength.