Netflix and…study? Getting back into Semester 2

Though I still can’t get my head around that it’s halfway through my first year at University, things are already moving fast in Semester 2. I have already had deadlines, a hangover, and 3 new spots on my face. Thankfully, I have my second thirty day free trial on Netflix (thank god for University email-addresses) to keep my mind off things!

Nevertheless, I’ve found it a bit hard to get back into the swing of things at Uni; not everything has been hard though. I love being able to choose what to eat, when to go to bed – and basically all the other great things about having freedom as a student that I have re-discovered this semester.

On the other hand, getting back into a study routine – in fact, just a general routine – is harder. As a bit of a square (a complete understatement by the way) I do actually enjoy studying, but when what you’re studying at the moment is really not enjoyable, even on a course you love, it can be hard to find motivation. On top of that, I’ve decided to start exercising (this does not come as naturally to me as studying does) which has been hard to incorporate into my routine too!

One thing which I found had helped was getting up just a bit earlier in the morning, even just an hour – this helped me significantly to get more things throughout the day. The quicker I started my day, the quicker I finished and I had more time to unwind at the end of the day. Another thing I’ve done is resumed making daily lists or goals. They can contain stuff like ‘shopping’ to things as trivial as ‘write anything today.’ Writing down even the littlest of things to do can really help. Making bigger weekly lists help too.

Some people like to throw themselves back into their routine; others like me prefer to ease into it. Either way it can be quite difficult. Many people feel coming back is great – you’re once again on a high similar to the beginning of Uni, and new tutorial groups can mean you meet new people. Yet it can also be a shock to the system, with some feeling homesick or overwhelmed. I was both – on a high since coming back, then a bit homesick. Now, thankfully, I’m fine again.

One of the most important things is just to keep doing the stuff you like – be it working out, going to interesting lectures, getting wasted (maybe not the last one too much)… it’s the stuff and hobbies that you like that keep you going and takes your mind off stuff that gets you down. If you’re just going on a circle of doing errands and studying with no fun in between, inevitably you will get down. Balance is important – I don’t always get it right, but I try definitely try my best too.

Uni is ridiculously stressful but also one of the best times of your life; making the most of it will be one of the best things you ever do.

Living far away from your relatives: a tribute to my late maternal Grandfather

Last Tuesday it was six years since my maternal Granddad died. This made me reflect not only upon his life, but on how difficult it was to be so far away from your family; my grandparents, cousins and most of my Aunts and Uncles are in India and Malaysia and this can make seeing them frequently very difficult. Of course, I do remember my Grandfather, but I do not have as many memories with him as my cousins back in India do.

This idea made me think of what it was like for many people who have settled in the UK and have their parents – and their sons and daughters’ grandparents – far away. I was quite fortunate to visit India (roughly) every three years or so, yet I did not know my Grandfather nearly as well as some of my cousins did.

Even with the wonders of Skype and instant messaging on Facebook, it’s nothing compared to living down the street from your grandparents like some people have the luxury of having (no matter how much one might complain about their in-laws). When you go see your relatives every few years, the talk can often be the same. “She’s grown so much!” “What year is he in now?” “Do you still like to do…” As a result (at least in my experience) you don’t truly get to know them.

I discovered far more about my Granddad after he died than after he was alive. The more I heard about him, the more I wished he was still alive. I have so many questions that I wish he could answer.

Of course – and as horrible as it sounds – I did not experience as much pain and sadness as my Mum and relatives back in India did when he died. I was very upset, but for different reasons; I never knew him like they did.

There are times I actually forget that he died. I’ll be thinking “I can tell tha tha this…” and then I’ll remember I can’t. I think of all he missed: the entirety of my time at high school; my graduation from high school; and me starting University. He was keen to hear me how I would get on at school, and I used to like telling him.

One of the saddest parts is that my younger brother was only six when he died; I was twelve. He doesn’t remember tha tha as much as I do. He never even met my paternal grandfather, who died when I was very young. One thing that being far away from your relatives teaches you is how precious your time with them really is: you want to make the most of it while you are there, because you don’t know if there will be a next time.

However, I’ve not lost all hope. My maternal Grandmother has visited many times and we are seeing her soon. Thanks to phone calls and such, we still communicate and will catch up a lot when I next see her. I know the last thing my Granddad would want is for me to be sad.

I also realise that it’s probably not nearly as hard for me as it is for my parents, who of course do know our grandparents well and have to deal being so far away. I suppose they get used to it, but it doesn’t mean they never miss them. Yet, this is just part of the wider experience of having your roots elsewhere in the world; it’s one of the many difficulties to be endured.

Nevertheless, I want to end on a positive. I have been incredibly lucky compared to some other people. Both my grandmothers are still alive. I intend to see them both – and spend as much time with them and my relatives as possible. I’m still young and have lots of time to make many more memories. My grandfather’s death, over many years of reflection, has taught me you have to make the most of absolutely everything. You just don’t know when it will all go; seeing my Mum with regret was one of the most painful things I’ve seen.

I want to do everything I set out to do – and better.

This article is a tribute to my late maternal grandfather. 

 

 

8 weeks and counting: a reflection of my first two months at University

Eight weeks yesterday I had moved out of my childhood home of eleven years and embarked upon a new life in Edinburgh. I was excited but also immensely terrified; I had worked very hard to get into Edinburgh University. What if it wasn’t what I expected? What if my flatmates hated me? What if I wasn’t good enough for the course after all? Questions flooded my ahead and the answers were not immediate; two months later, I’m almost a changed person.

But it’s only been two months! That’s what many of you will think, and that’s why I say I’m almost a changed person. I do miss home in some ways, of course, but I couldn’t have been more lucky since moving to Edinburgh; my flatmates are incredible (more on them soon), my course has been great, I’ve made loads of new friends and couldn’t have settled into Edinburgh life better. In Fresher’s week alone I found myself doing things I never would have otherwise; I’ve pushed boundaries since too.

Yet, it’s not all been amazing. Needless to say I have been a lot more lucky than some other people I know, who have been finding themselves incredibly homesick, stuck with a bunch of uncooperative flatmates or on a course they hated. Nevertheless, a couple of weeks ago, I myself started to really miss home all of a sudden. It wasn’t like I was constantly sad, but I did start to feel more down than usual.

I soon came to realise that many students that are initially on a high from the start of University suddenly get down about halfway through semester one; deadlines are looming and you’re suddenly not going everywhere meeting new people all the time like at Fresher’s.

So what did I do? I got up every morning and kept going. I tried to meet up with new friends to solidify friendships; I met with old friends to remind myself home was not too far away; I worked hard on my coursework – in short, I kept myself busy. This served me well and I’m already feeling better.

In terms of living in self-catered halls, this has proved an altogether different education. What you thought was ‘cheap’ before when spending your birthday or Christmas money is suddenly really expensive  (or, if you get to the point of absolutely denial of how broke you are, you go all out and into your overdraft. Thankfully this hasn’t happened to me). Anywhere with free food is a must go – and balancing your work, social life and making sure you actually feed yourself can be a great challenge. I suddenly woke up and thought one day how much my parents do every single day, as well as dealing with us teenagers and kids. Realising how much you take for granted, you suddenly become a lot more grateful (before you go back to living off your parents money and buying that extra coffee you know you shouldn’t have).

If you’re from a quiet not so heterogeneous place like me, you also realise how much more of a world there is outside your home. My flat alone has eight different nationalities including my own. I’ve met people from all over the world and learnt about different cultures within a matter of days, never mind months. I found a society for pretty much every single culture or country, which was a refreshing experience for me coming from the Scottish Borders.

However, the thing that struck me most about University was that – unlike high school – people just don’t seem to care who you are or where you’re from. Though certain groups do form after some time and circles of friends are established, the social hierarchy is not as it is in high school. There are no ‘popular kids,’ no ‘uncool’, no ‘don’t talk to me.’ There are no horrible cliques or them and us. That’s not to say University is free of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination – it’s far from perfect. Yet, you can go and talk to anyone or attempt to be friends with anyone you like. The worst that’ll happen is that the feeling is not mutual and even then, you have literally thousands of other people to choose from.

University, I have found, is not always perfect; at times it can be far from it. But it’s the time for you to find out who you really are, without being judged (too much) for it. That, for me anyway, is a wonderful thing.

Check out my last article on looks and beauty here.