Uni: Third Year Life

Feeling the Pressure…

So. It’s been a while since I updated the blog with how my final year is going. It’s been a weird few weeks. Almost immediately after my last set of posts I had a good week, and then that was followed by a really dreadful week.

The last week of the vacation was awful for me, because I was trying to work here at uni while also feeling anxious because I was barely seeing anyone (because I was working, energy levels etc) and the whole General Election shitstorm.

Luckily that’s sort of passed now and I’m feeling a lot better, albeit not 100%. Yesterday I handed in my penultimate essay for my History degree. It was a really weird moment. It was a day earlier than it was due, which is very unusual for me, and I couldn’t quite decide whether I liked the essay or not. In the end I decided it really didn’t make much difference, seeing as it counted very little towards my final score and there wasn’t really anything I was clear I wanted to change about it.

It’s been a little bit of a slow morning, but I’m going to go and get ready and head out to do the final pieces of preparatory work before planning my final essay of the year.
And once that’s done it’ll just be the long slog of a few weeks revision and then my degree will be over.

I’ve been thinking about that since the middle of second year, how uni doesn’t last forever, and I’m conscious of the divide I have between wanting to cling onto the social life uni can bring and knowing that I’ve gained all I can for now from studying History.

It’s a tricky one, but I know that over the next few weeks I really do need to prioritise my degree and making sure that the end result is something I’m happy about and proud of.

For all those out there also currently reaching the end of their GCSEs/A-levels/uni, best of luck to you!

Hopefully I’ll be back with some bona fide creative writing very soon.


Reading Regularly

Reading Regularly 2017: Book 7 [Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan]

Wow. This one was a real shocker for me. I bought it on a whim, after realising that out of the mountain of books I’ve bought this year there wasn’t really anything I was desperate to read. It was chosen because it seemed like the least ‘middle class family in crisis’ crime novel, as I’m really sick of those, and because it was just £3.85 and had a Sunday Times bestseller announcement on the front.

This book really impressed me because every twist and turn was perfectly orchestrated and while it was possible to guess what was coming around half way through, the way it was put together kept you turning the pages. I started reading it in the middle of the afternoon yesterday and by the time I went to bed — much later than I would have liked to — it was done.

Definitely recommend this one.

Personal, Uni: Third Year Life

On Endings and Beginnings

So much of my energy over the past three years has been dedicated to gaining a single sheet of paper. It’s not an especially unique piece of paper. After all, millions of other people across England and the world will have very similar slips of paper of their own.
It’s odd that something so small can grow to mean so much.

I’ve been studying History in a small market city in northern England for the last three years, developing from a teenager who furiously wrote through the night to hand in half-developed scribbles to lecturers who despaired of our laziness into someone who actually cares.

Learning to care about the work I do is perhaps one of the greatest lessons I’ve been taught during my university experience, but only because it came from within. I taught myself that I wanted to be proud of what I do and I’ve made that happen.

The more you care, the more difficult it is to learn to accept that you can’t control every aspect of what happens. Change happens whether you’re ready or not.

Next month, I’ll hand in my final essay and sit the last exams of my degree. There’ll be a brief four week interlude during which I’m neither a student nor a graduate and then, with an hour long ceremony inside a centuries old cathedral, it’ll be done.

I’ll have graduated. The city I’ve both loved and hated over the past three years will no longer be my second home and all of the accumulated debris of my university experience will either be in the dumpster located just outside my studio flat or boxed up in the shed back home.

May is going to be a time of both endings and beginnings, of moving forward into adulthood and in saying goodbye to people and experiences I’ll never see again.
But first, I have to complete this final full month of student life in a city that’s not my own. I’ll be a student again one day but with a new focus and not in the same place, with these people at this time in my life.

This is a promise: to seize the day, to make the most of every moment and to have no regrets.

We are young and this is our time.

[Originally posted on Medium.com]

Reading Regularly

Reading Regularly 2017: Book 6 [My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella]

I only realised that Sophie Kinsella had released this book when I saw it in a Costco near my home. It was weird, considering that I was used to following her publishing schedule avidly as I had done earlier in the Confessions of a Shopaholic series.

This book was a great quick read and another one where I did stay up a lot later than I had planned to. The difficulties of affording to live in London while in an entry-level job were something I could definitely relate to, as a soon-to-be graduate who has a keen sense of the challenges that moving to London would bring. There were also some really insightful comments on baby boomers and the generation gap that got me thinking, making me almost believe that Kinsella was a twenty something just like me… Of course she isn’t, but her characterisation was just that good!

One of the difficulties the book had for me was the level of sympathy I was able to feel for the MC as the book progressed. Her Dad and Stepmum ended up opening a glamping resort as they had that much land and spare cash available. This was a great backdrop for the drama of the second half of the book but detached the experience of relatively well-to-do farmers from my own life experience a little too much for me.

I’m usually put off by books that have overtly middle class characters at the centre of them as I like to read about people I personally identify with, but the opening sympathy I’d felt for the main character kept me going.

Avoid reading the inner jacket copy if you don’t want to be spoiled as it took a little bit of the intrigue away from the first half of the book.

It was a fun, quick read. Not really something that has stuck in my head much weeks after I read it, hence why I’m calling the leading lady ‘MC’ rather than her name (as I can’t quite remember it!)

It would be a perfect beach read.

Up Next: I’m about to start reading Dear Amy, which is a Sunday Times bestseller so I have high hopes for this one!

Uni: Third Year Life

Home, Thinking and Dreaming

I’m trying to keep up with these regular short posts on what it’s like to be in the final year of uni, in the hopes that it’ll mean something to someone. I know that, for me at least, reading posts about what it’s like to study different things at different places is quite interesting. So here goes.

Since my last post on Thursday things have been a little bit quieter and more introspective. On Friday I woke up early to head home for a few days, having a meal out with my Mum at a local restaurant in Newcastle. It was low key, the place we went to wasn’t that great but it was wonderful to spend some quality time together catching up outside of the uni bubble.

Things have been a little bit of a blur lately; of spending time with family and cats, watching TV and slowly making a tiny bit of work progress. It’s given me a chance to reflect on just how much I’m putting into my degree and also how once it’s done I need to give myself something new to hold on to.

Today my sister read the first couple of pages of Robot Dreams, after I gave her it back in January to look at (better late than never) and we’ve been talking about another project of mine I started last summer before returning to uni, while I’ve spoke to my mum about yet another potential story to tell.

There’s still that interlude where I don’t have a lot of time or energy to write but I’ve been looking this afternoon, after we all managed to fix up our outside space a bit, at an experiment some writers have done on Medium where they try and write each and every day for a month or a year. Sharing something of themselves with the world as much as they can. It looks great. And I might just try it. Soon.

For now, hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine and I’ll catch up with you in a few days!

Uni: Third Year Life

Forests, Farms and Reading

It’s been an interesting few days. I wrote my second uni focused blog on the 3rd and it’s now the 6th… trying to keep days straight in my head is quite hard at the moment!

Tuesday: I genuinely can’t remember what I did on Tuesday, aside from ordering in food as I wasn’t feeling the best and was really craving something more substantial than I had left in my room.

Wednesday: Yesterday I managed to read five journal articles/book chapters relating to my two essay topics that I’m working on and then met a friend in the evening to try and find a hidden gem located close to where I live… We found it, but turns out it’s only open on certain days, so we instead ate and watched Rick and Morty. Interesting show but not quite sure what I think of it really!

Thursday: Today was another slightly odd day. I woke up slightly earlier than I have been and met up with a friend who studies my course. We met in Freshers’ Week, at the History Society party I think, and so we’ve really known each other quite a long time! We had lunch and then went for a wander, as the weather has been surprisingly amazing the last few days. I’m talking no-coat weather, wow.

The week’s almost up and I’m quite tired now, but making good progress on my work. I’ll try and keep up with these short blogs, especially as I don’t seem to be able to mix writing with final year stresses at the moment!

Hope everyone has a great weekend 🙂

Uni: Third Year Life

Sunshine, Pizza by the Slice, Revolution

                          April 3rd.
Today started earlier than other days so far this vacation but was rather dull on reflection. Shopping for necessary things, having a slice of garlic bread and some chips in the marketplace (definitely recommend Brooklyn Pizza if you’re in Durham and want a cheap lunch), returning library books etc. I’m reading my third French Revolution article of the day, after seeing a heartwrenching episode of Broadchurch and that’s really all that can be said about today.

Except… I did collate my Rome notes together and sent off for them to be printed (it works out not much more expensive to get them printed on cream paper which is easier on the eyes and delivered to my postbox bound than to stand in front of the Bill Bryson printers for ages!) Doing it this way also means there’s the opportunity for a little bit of design based procrastination — I put some pretty pictures at the front of my notes to make them slightly more appealing when it comes around to reading them.

The day’s almost up and there’s really just time to finish reading that article, so best get on with it 🙂 If you have any questions about uni, third year or Durham then feel free to ask!


Uni: Third Year Life

Introducing… Third Year Life!

Recently, post dissertation, I’ve been thinking a lot about my experience here at Durham and how I’m going to look back on it. I’ve also been watching some Youtubers who have Vlogged about their own university experience and have realised that, while that format isn’t for me, I’d quite like to record my last few months at university.

There’s something final about leaving Durham as, although I might come back, it won’t be the same. I’m feeling oddly nostalgic and know that when I look back, everything might seem clique or strange. But that’s ok.

It’s 2nd April and my last exam is 30th May. 

Watch out for some posts about my experiences during those two months and apologies for disruption to the usual Creative Writing posts, although I hope the broadened focus is of interest to you.


2nd April

Today I’m finishing off my notes for the triple module that I’m taking, in the history of fifth century Gaul. It’s a topic I knew nothing about at the start of this academic year and have really enjoyed learning about, especially as the collaborative style of the course has reduced the loneliness that having less than five contact hours a week is likely to cause.

I’ve also explored the area around Durham with a friend, stepping out into the sunshine and away from journal articles and computer screens for the afternoon. I’m back now, flicking between Netflix drama Thirteen Reasons Why and articles on the fall of Rome.

Tomorrow I’ll probably be starting my essay work for either this module or my French Revolution historiography module. But, that’s at least not tonight!