How have I kept to my resolutions so far?
My first blog post of 2018 was a list of my New Year's Resolutions and while writing that post, I told myself to keep on top of them by reflecting at the end of each month. Obviously, I won't be writing about my NY Resolutions every month but I thought the end of January/start of Feb was a pretty good place to start. So, how have my resolutions been going?
Go to the gym more
I think I've done a pretty good job with this one, which I didn't think I'd do. I was aiming for two workouts a week, but I've actually been doing three or four (except last week, I only managed one as I was unwell). I've been going to the gym every Monday and Wednesday, and then I head to a gym class with my stepmum every Tuesday and Thursday. The variety has actually been a great way to keep me motivated and I've definitely been feeling healthier for it.
Drink Less Alcohol
Looking back on this resolution I now realise that I don't actually drink that much alcohol, and I that I had just had too much in December (I think I can allow that as I worked so hard, too). Anyway, I've still managed to cut down and only drank on the first Saturday in Jan - I do think I'll be more lenient with this resolution, though!
Focus on Exams
I'd like to think I'm doing pretty well with this one. I know I'm doing my best and I'm currently in the process of doing the bare minimum at work so that I can focus on my studies. I'm just hoping I see the results!
I've got to be honest, I'm very on the fence about how well this one's going. In some ways I've done a great job of saving, but in others I've done an awful job. I've made a few impulse purchases, but I have definitely kept to my "half in savings, half in current account" task.
Drink More Water
Drinking more water seems like a simple task, in theory. I managed to ace this resolution by downloading a free app called Plant Nanny, where you have a little plant that you have to water every time you drink. For the majority of Jan, I drank as much or more water as I should per day. It's made me feel loads better in myself, and I've definitely seen an improvement in my skin.
Look after myself more/focus on what makes me happy
I'm throwing these two resolutions into one as I think they go hand-in-hand. I must say, I feel like a wave of positivity has washed over me over the past few weeks and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I've just been feeling great. Writing this blog makes me so happy and I really strive to do one post a week (aiming for more after exams) but sometimes things get in the way, especially in this vital year of studies, so I have to make some exceptions. All in all though, I'm smiles all round.
Start a Bullet Journal
Starting a bullet journal was sort of an after-thought, but I love doing it. I don't think my current lifestyle (EXAMS!!!) allows me to do something creative with it every day, but I use it daily and do something new every few days. I find it very relaxing while not feeling like I'm wasting time - sometimes, when revision is too much, I take a break but TV makes me feel like I'm not being productive - and it's very fun to organise all of the aspects of my life that I prioritise.
Look after my nails
Okay, so far looking after my nails isn't going great. I don't bite them but I definitely pick at them when I'm nervous or bored, and I'm almost always one or the other. I may postpone this until after exams, when I'm not constantly worrying!
There's not a huge lot to say about this as I am just having fun. I'm trying to put myself first this year and it's definitely changing my outlook on life.
How're your New Year's Resolutions going? Let me know in the comments!
The UCAS deadline was on the 15th January and I was one of the many students this year who used it to apply to university. I'm up to my neck in revision at the moment, so I thought a quick blog post about university and UCAS would be easy and a good way to motivate me with my work, too!
The whole university process began for me by using a website called 'Unifrog' which I had access to through college. It's a great site and it allows you to put in the course you want to study and your predicted grades and then comes up with a list of universities that are aspirational, solid or safe (my predicted grades were decided based on a set of internal exams I did last summer). You then create a shortlist of those universities and it gives you more information about them. I used 'Unifrog' throughout my application process, and it certainly put me on the right path.
After I created a few uni shortlists on 'Unifrog' I went onto the universities' websites to look at my course (which is Journalism) and I booked in on a few open days. If you're planning on applying to university any time soon I would absolutely recommend going to these open days. My first and second choice unis were my 'back ups' before I went to look at them, and I ended up not even applying to the university I was originally adamant I'd be going to. I went to these open days in May/June, but they run throughout the year and they're a great way of getting a feel for the place and knowing how far you'll have to travel. It's also useful to look at the accommodation, too. I'd recommend looking at the university's library, because you'll probably spend a lot of time there, and anywhere else you may be interested in, such as their gym.
I should add that I went to a UCAS convention in June which really helped me confirm that I was interested in certain unis. There were talks going on throughout the day which were great for me as I was completely new to the process (I have no older siblings) and these talks covered accommodation, the application process, Russell Groups, Oxbridge and many other topics. There were also stands for different universities everywhere, with staff members standing ready to discuss your future with you.
I signed up to UCAS in about June (I think) with my college, but I didn't do much else with it until the start of Year 13. The pressure really started the kick in then as my college had an internal deadline of 22nd November. To begin the application process, you have to put in your personal details (address, date of birth etc) and your past education and employment history, including the GCSEs/other qualifications you've acquired up to this point. You then have to put in your chosen unis (you don't need to order them) and whether you will be applying for student finance. There's no particular order you need to do these tasks in, I just found it made more sense to get the easy stuff (my details) out of the way. I also left my personal statement until last.
The PersonAL sTATEMENT
Everyone always stresses about their personal statement and I think they have every right to. Trying to sell yourself in 4,000 characters really isn't an easy task.
I started the process of writing my personal statement by quickly writing up things about me in bullet points. This included why I wanted to study my subject, my past achievements (things I've done within journalism, work, sports etc) and then I typed up some things about me. I then categorised these bullet points and got rid of anything I thought was irrelevant, I repeated this step a few times and made paragraphs based on each section. I actually typed up my official personal statement in less than an hour, because of how much prep I'd done. I then emailed it to my college tutor and he gave it the all clear. I revised it a few times before sending it off, but didn't make any major changes.
I think the key advice I'd have is take your time and take small steps. A personal statement seems daunting, but you can get plenty of advice from UCAS and if you use your own pace it will work out fine. I know people that took days to write theirs, everyone has their own method. After uploading my personal statement to UCAS, I went over all of my details and sent it off.
After I sent my university application to UCAS, they forwarded it to all of the universities I had applied to. At this point, you've done all you can and all you do is wait. Many people I know got uni offers in the first day or first few days, but all I got was a load of emails saying "thank you for your application". This left me very worried as I was just imagining a load of 'declined' emails, but after a week I received my first offer and I got my second offer a few days later. I received offers from every university except for my first choice (which was also an 'aspirational') before Christmas, but luckily got my final offer on the 8th January. UCAS Track is great as you can see all of your offers in one place and you know what your offers are (all of mine were conditional except for one, which was unconditional).
After I received all of my offers, I had to choose my 'firm choice' university and took up the option of an 'insurance choice' too. I consequently had to decline the rest of my offers. In the end, I accepted University of Leeds as my firm choice and University of Sheffield as my insurance. I feel very lucky because these were the two I wanted to get into.
After accepting my offers, I've booked to go to applicant days at both unis and I've applied for accommodation at Leeds - accommodation at Sheffield doesn't open until March, but I'll be applying there too. All I'm doing now is my best, my A Levels (as well as everyone else's) are so important and they really do open up the door for the next stage of my life. I'm just hoping all of my hard work pays off and I'll be a very happy student in August when I open up my results.
(Sorry this post is so long, I forgot how much I had to do to get where I am!)
With the arrival of the New Year I've become more and more reflective of my lifestyle and changes I want to make, and there's no better time to make these changes than the now! I have a lot of goals for 2018 with it being my most important year in education to date, and I'd like to keep a good balance between college life and social life, because I really didn't do that in 2017.
1. Go to the gym more
This is a huge cliche and a very typical New Year's resolution, but keeping active is very important to me. I went through a breakup in 2017 and to keep me distracted I almost became obsessed with going to the gym, then I went back to college and seemed to lose all of the time I had for exercise. It's not that I want to lose weight, because I'm fairly happy with my figure, but I find that I become much happier and feel better when I exercise regularly. I also love how my body feels when it's exercised and at its best. Even if it's only two sessions a week, I want to keep to a regular routine to make sure I'm getting the exercise my body needs.
2. Drink Less Alcohol
I drink a lot of alcohol in my opinion, I tend to go out for drinks with friends after work and they all add up. I don't drink as much as other people I know and I'm in no way an 'alcoholic', but alcohol is expensive and I don't drink fizzy drinks because they're bad for me so I have no idea why I drink booze. I'm not aiming to cut alcohol out of my life completely, but I'd certainly like to drink less of it.
3. Focus on Exams
Last year, I worked at my job way too much during the exam season and while I didn't do dreadfully, I know I could have done better with my results. In 2018, I want to focus more on my studies and exams because I know all the hard work I put in now will benefit me in the future. I know there will be days where I will feel demotivated, but I have to keep telling myself that it's now or never.
4. Save Money
This is a fairly generic goal but I think it will be fairly easy to stick to. I recently read an article in Cosmopolitan magazine which really inspired me to save my money. My first step is to not buy any more makeup unless I've run out; I'm constantly looking at new makeup products and convincing myself I'm desperate for them when in reality I'm not. I have a few other ways of saving money - every time I get paid, I'm going to put half of my wages into a savings account (which I did in 2017 anyway) and every time I get any cash (either from my other job which is cash-in-hand or from my tips) I'm going to put it in a jar and let the money accumulate. It's not like I'm desperate for money and need to save, I just sometimes find myself buying things I don't need so I need to be more strict.
5. Drink More Water
A fairly simple goal to stick to, I just don't drink enough water at the moment so want to keep more hydrated.
6. Look After Myself More
I mean this in every aspect of life. I want to take better care of my skin, my body and my mental health to make sure I'm in the best state I can be in. There's no time like the present to eat better food, look after your skin and give yourself a mental health day when it's needed.
7. Focus on What makes me Happy
2017 was a fairly negative year for me, and while I can look back on it now and see how strong I was, I know I didn't put myself first a lot of the time. This year I want to do what makes me happy; focus on my blog, see my important friends and focus on myself. As I get older I realise that you are the most important person in your life and there are only a select few that actually deserve to be put before you.
8. Start a Bullet Journal
This one's a late entry...I got an adorable notebook for Christmas and I really had no clue what to do with it because I have more notebooks than you can shake a stick at. Then I thought, I've always wanted to do a bullet journal so why not? It gives me something to blog about, too.
9. Look After My Nails
After a rough year, I started nibbling at my nails again. They're by no means dreadful, but they're very weak now and I'm dying to get them back to their strong, beautiful selves. And once I've done that, I'm going to treat myself to a manicure!
10. Have Fun
Another cliche, but I want this year to be full of memories. I'm going to New York in the summer and I'm planning a solo trip to Portugal before my exams, and I just want to really have the best time and let loose. You're only 18 once!