What they don’t tell you about graduate life

Since graduating from university in July this year, life for me has been a bit of a confusing rollercoaster. Filled with relief I finally finished uni, joy I never had to write another History essay again, and terrified that now I was no longer under the academic safety blanket with no job, and no clue what on earth I was going to do with my life. I can’t speak for all, but I know for a fact that no-one quite prepared me for how weird this time would be. So, I suppose this post is my small attempt at saying I think a conversation should start about how, while life as a graduate has its undoubted perks, it also holds a lot of struggles that I wasn’t quite expecting and that we need to talk more honestly about it. This isn’t all light-hearted, but I do hope at the very least this makes some of my fellow graduates feel less alone.

  1. Whatever decision or path you take, it’ll always feel like the wrong one
    Whether it be jumping straight into a grad-job, picking up a panic, (or not so panic), masters or taking the year out, what no one tells you is that whatever you do, it always feels like you picked the wrong path. I decided to take a year out to relax, do some travelling, get some experience, and work out what the hell I want to do with my life. But almost none of my friends have done that; most have gone straight into jobs, gone back to uni for their final year, or started a masters. I have never doubted myself so much as to whether I should have taken a different route. I know many of my friends who have chosen different paths to me have waves of feeling the same. Ultimately, no one told me that I just have to take a step back and realise no choice is the right choice, and that’s totally fine too.
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  2. Being at home has major plus points
    Washing day at uni was always a drag, and coming home from a day on campus to remember you have no food in the house was the worst thing in the world. Being at uni has made me totally appreciate how good I have it at home. My washing is always done, food is always in the fridge, I’m not wearing 50 layers of clothing to save the heating bill, and for the time being, I am living rent free. It won’t be much more time before that all ends, so I am fully on team parent-appreciation-society in the meantime. I don’t think I say it often enough, but my parents are the best.

 

  1. Life is a lot lonelier than you realise
    Suddenly moving out from living around the corner from your best friends, seeing course mates on campus every day, or even having relatable experiences, like essays to discuss, just seem to disappear. Since moving back home I felt like I didn’t have anyone in the same position who seemed to be going through the same feelings that I could talk to, and that was super isolating. As much as my parents are amazing and supportive, they didn’t quite understand why I just felt like crying a lot of the time even though I have a part-time job and plans to go travel. There was genuinely no real rhyme or reason to any of it. This period of life is super confusing to go from high stress and deadlines to suddenly nothing at all. For whatever reason, it just meant that if anyone asked what I was doing with my life, if I watched an episode of Bake Off, or just couldn’t find my glasses, I’d cry. Not ideal.

 

  1. The world is completely your oyster
    You’ve got a degree, no one can take that away from you now. So even though every decision you make may not feel like the right one, the beauty is you HAVE the decision. If I want to get a job I can hustle and apply to loads. If I want to take time out, I can book a flight. Although I may not be able to snap my fingers and have my dream job, or have the money to go travel, the only thing that matters is I have all this time and all these opportunities in front of me which is part of the whole reason why I worked so hard at uni in the first place.

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  1. You cannot rely on Instagram to give you the full story
    With our generation, it is so easy to open Facebook or Instagram and feel like everyone is #livingtheirbestlife, totally happy, and doing exactly what they want. But honestly, I am never going to post a photo of me crying mid-dissertation, or of me pouring my 100th pint of the day behind the bar, or even when I get my 3rd rejection of the month from an internship that would have barely paid my travel expenses. My point being, we only post the highlights, and so while everyone might appear to be living like life is peachy, remember it’s only for a moment, and often reality is a little more complicated than a perfectly filtered square photo.

 

The left is an actual image of me post-20 minute breakdown in the toilet close to my dissertation deadline, the right image is what I posted on Instagram instead. 

  1. You’ll be even more careful with your money
    Gone are the days of that juicy student loan, and now those Friday night beers are totally self-funded. If you’re like me and trying to save for travels, then suddenly happy-hours are a lot more important, birthday cards start to look a lot more ‘homemade’ and a night in with Netflix seems a lot more tempting than a night on the town. Every penny counts in the grad world as you’re either saving for travelling, saving to move out, or just straight-up trying to stay afloat in this new scary adult world.

 

  1. Everything is, and will be OK
    I’m fairly sure people do tell you this about grad-life, but it’s worth hammering in anyway. Everything is, and will be OK, even when it feels like it’s not. Things work themselves out, you will find the money, you will find a job, you will finish that masters, you will have an amazing time traveling, and you will see your friends.

Travel Tips: Best of Berlin

Still reeling from the most gorgeous holiday we had in Berlin last month, I thought I would do a little write up of all the places and ‘attractions’ we visited (in-between all of the eating and drinking we did). So here is your rough guide to the places we went, a little bit about them, and some tips about the best times to visit or if you need to book. The best part about all of these places is that most of them were totally free and within relative walking distance of each other, I can’t recommend you visit this city enough.

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Brandenburg Gate
Located in the district of Mitte, the Brandenburg Gate is a hugely impressive 18th century monument which has become the site of major historical events throughout its existence. As you will find with many of Berlin’s much loved tourist spots, it’s totally free and is located within walking distance of the Reichstag and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews, so if you plan your trip right, you can do all three in a morning/ afternoon. There are bits of information dotted around the gate, but if you are really keen to learn more about its history, there are plenty of tour-guides walking around the gate offering free tours in many different languages, so hop on one if you have the time.

Reichstag Building
The meeting place for German parliament, this impressive building has a lot of history, and now boasts an impressive glass dome which offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding cityscape. Great news for students and those trying to travel on the cheap, it is totally free to go and visit. But a word of warning, to visit requires prior registration on their website and I would really recommend booking a slot way in advance. We tried booking on a couple of days before and there seemed to be little-to-no slots available. After reading online that it is possible to sneak onto some slots on the day, we took a chance and arrived in the morning, but were sent over to a huge queue of people who had obviously thought the same. In the end we gave up on the idea of waiting and so only saw the outside, however I know it is definitely worth the visit and worth the effort of registering a few weeks prior.
You can register to visit and book a time slot here – just make sure you read all the terms about what you need to bring on the day 

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The 200,000 square ft site is covered with 2,711 concrete ‘stelae’ at different heights across the sloping ground. Just around the corner from the Brandenburg Gate this was by far the best thing we saw on the trip. The uneven blocks are supposed to create an atmosphere of confusion and unease. The memorial is completely free to get lost in for a while, and whilst at first I couldn’t think of how a load of blocks could be that interesting or impressive, once walking around you really get a sense and a feeling quite unlike anything else. It’s hard to describe, but it is a really effective memorial and can’t recommend you visit it enough.

Topographies of Terror
Based on the site of buildings used as the SS Reich Main Security Office, and the headquarters of the Gestapo, Topographies of Terror is an outdoor exhibition and indoor museum, which also runs alongside an old part of the Berlin Wall. The permanent exhibitions tell you all about the institutions of the Gestapo, SS and Reich Security Main Office and the crimes they organised. Documents and photographs display how the Nazis rose to power and evocative personal accounts of those involved. It’s a really interesting exhibition, and once again totally free – but it is quite lengthy and requires a lot of reading, so I’d recommend visiting when you’re fresh and ready in the morning rather than when you’re a bit tired from all the exploring later on.

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Check Point Charlie
The best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Germany, Checkpoint Charlie pulls thousands of tourists every year, which is exactly why I wouldn’t recommend you put this stop as a priority on your list. As many of the guidebooks say, Checkpoint Charlie is now a total tourist trap and so the best advice I could give you is to walk past in en route to other attractions. It is swamped by so many people you can barely see the checkpoint, surrounded by built up modern buildings such as a huge McDonalds right behind it, and a pricey cheap looking ‘museum’ across the road made us sure we didn’t want to hang around. A quick rubbish picture and we made our way elsewhere, you’re probably much better off reading up about it than wasting much time here.

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East Side Gallery
One of the most famous galleries in Berlin, open-air, and totally free, is the 1316m long East Side Gallery. Murals painted directly on the remnants of the Berlin Wall by artists from all over the world pulls millions of tourists every year and it’s easy to see why. The paintings document the feelings of many after the Wall was finally brought down, expressing hope for the future. They’re super impressive, but I’d recommend you go later in the evening or super early in the morning to have a better chance of taking some uninterrupted pictures.

Jewish Museum
The largest Jewish Museum in Europe, the Jewish Museum was one of the first places people told me to go and visit when I told them I was taking a trip to Berlin. If anything, the building itself is beautifully designed and visually stunning. You first make your way through the ‘Axes’ exhibition, divided into three different areas to symbolize three paths of Jewish life in Germany. The most impressive features of the building have to be the Garden of Exile and the Fallen Leaves installation, both extremely powerful and well thought-out. Our only disappointment was that the real pull of the museum, the reason we were told to visit, was the permanent exhibition, which happened to be closed for reconstruction and won’t open again until 2019. Whilst the museum was impressive, I feel we definitely missed the main attraction. That being said, if you’re visiting on a sunny day, the gardens and courtyard at the back of the building are a lovely spot to grab some lunch and bask in the sun as you mull over what you have just walked around.
It’s only €8 for a standard ticket or if you’re a lucky student, then you can get in for a mere €3 

TV Tower
Situated in Alexanderplatz, the TV Tower standing at 368m is the tallest structure in Germany. It serves as a home to several radio and TV stations, but its main pull for tourists is its floor at 203m, offering a view across the whole of Berlin. Take a trip up here to admire the breath-taking views whilst sipping on a beer or a cocktail from their rotating sky-bar and restaurant. Best advice I can give you is to book a visit to the tower in advance. In a bid to save money, we found out that getting tickets on the day are cheaper, and we could also apply a student discount. However, after arriving and seeing the queue to even get to the ticket office was over and hour and we had a flight to catch, we decided to settle for having a wander around outside. For the sake of spending an extra €7 we could have arrived, skipped the queue, and been up there enjoying a pint without any hassle, so bare it in mind when planning.
Fast track tickets are €19.50, or its €15.50 on the day, with an offer of 20% student discount, all prices can be found here

Markthalle Neun
As already mentioned in my previous post about budget food in Berlin, if you find yourself in Berlin on a Thursday night, head over to Markthalle Neun in the heart of Kreuzberg for their famous food market. In a beautiful hall covered in fairy lights and a buzz of people, the market is filled with a huge variety of food and drink stalls, where your only problem will be deciding between them all. There is something for everyone, where the vegan, vegetarian and meat-filled options are endless. One minute you may find yourself tucking into some tasty tapas, the next a decadent cheesecake, or tempting tacos and sugar soaked churros. We opted for some octopus dumplings, a fresh calzone and a naan wrap filled with marinated cheese and pork. Wash this all down with a large glass, (or bottle), of wine from one of the many bars and soak up the atmosphere.

Try This: Fuss-Free Overnight Oats

For the last year or so I have been OBSESSED with overnight oats. Super quick and easy to prepare, this delicious twist on your morning bowl is basically porridge, but soaked over night to create a creamy, cake-like texture and means when you are in a rush in to get to lectures or work, your breakfast is already sat in the fridge waiting for you to enjoy.

Just like porridge, overnight oats are also super versatile, with a simple base you can adapt and add different flavours and toppings to mix up your mornings and satisfy your tastebuds.

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Overnight Oats – The Base
Serves 5ish – Depends how big you like your portions!

Ingredients  
1 cup/ 100g Porridge oats
1 heaped tbsp Nut butter (Almond, peanut, cashew etc.)
1.5-2 cups / 375-500ml Milk of choice (Almond, coconut, soya, rice etc.)
2-3 tbsp Chia seeds
2 tbsp Honey/maple syrup
1/2 cup / 125ml Any thick yoghurt- (Optional, it makes it thicker and creamier but if you’re on a budget its not an issue to skip!)
1 tbsp Vanilla extract (also optional, I literally never have this at uni but it’s nice if you do)
Pinch of salt

Method:
1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined
2. Add more milk depending on how thick you want your oats
3. Place in any sort of jar/container/tupperware and whack it in the fridge. Its best left over night but if you can’t wait that long and fancy it for dessert after dinner, around 2 hours should give it time to set enough!

 

 

At uni I put mine in a big tupperware container and take out as much as I fancy in the morning, but alternatively to give yourself even more time you can portion them out into individual pots. That way you can also make lots of different flavours or add your toppings before so you don’t even have to think!

Variations:
You can do SO much with overnight oats to tailor to your individual tastes.

Toppings:
First off, you can change your toppings every day, my choice is normally a banana, or a handful of raspberries and blueberries. But you can also add granola for some crunch, seeds, nuts, coconut flakes and literally any fruit that you can get your hands on.
Top tip: I can’t afford too much fresh fruit at uni so I buy bags of frozen raspberries and then defrost a handful in the microwave for 30 seconds.

 

 

Flavouring:
The easiest way to mix it up is to use a different nut butter or different kind of milk to give you that variation in your life so you don’t get bored, but the ‘world is your porridge-oat’ in terms of stepping up your flavour game. My all time favourite is adding a spoonful of cacao powder (or just regular chocolate powder), and tadahh you have chocolate overnight oats! Add banana and you’re looking at banana, chocolate and peanut butter oats, the perfect combo. Add grated carrot, cinnamon and chopped nuts to get a carrot cake flavour for a morning ‘treat’, or go one step further by having cheesecake for breakfast by adding cream cheese, some lemon zest and then your choice of fruit! For any protein fiends out there, you can also get your fix, add a scoop full of your favourite protein powder and you have super-charged your morning oats with minimal effort.

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So fill your boots, (or your fridge), with delicious, fuss free overnight oats to get you going faster in the morning and see you through till lunchtime!

 

Try Here: No. 1 Polsloe

Tucked away on the corner of Polsloe Road, No. 1 Polsloe is a hidden gem where locals and students alike can’t get enough. If you aren’t in the know, it’s probably because most have been keeping this tiny café a secret from you so we can grab the Instagrammer’s dream window spot, or any spot for that matter, it’s always packed with hungry brunch loving exonians!

And it comes as no surprise that No. 1 Polsloe is always as full to the brim as their artisan coffees, this café is calm, cool and cost-friendly. Their food is seriously top-notch, with delicious options for meat-eaters, veggies and vegans a-like, you are spoilt for choice, and there is something for everyone. From American-style pancakes, to eggs royale, hearty soups and health bowls to the classic avo-on-toast, all the food is made with high-quality ingredients and a lot of love.

 

But your options don’t just stop at food, No. 1 Polsloe offer an amazing range of locally sourced, fresh barista coffees, delightful milk alternatives, decadent milkshakes and fresh juices. This is not forgetting their interior of beautiful flowers, fairly lights, local art and funky furniture is a sight to behold, (and will make your Instagram feed look incredible).

It’s hard to believe with its well-established fan base, slick service and affordable food my hangover dreams are made of, that this café is only just over 2 years old, and thriving every day. They have also already hosted a number of exciting sell-out evening events such as creative workshops for silver rings and festive wreaths, and the ‘world’s smallest Christmas market’!

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No. 1 Polsloe has well and truly won my hungover heart, to the point I’m not sure I want to spread this worst kept secret of a gem anymore, I’ll never get a table! Having moved just around the corner from the café for my final year at uni, I am sure I shall frequently be there hiding away to forget my dissertation meltdowns and indulge in some of the best brunch around.

 

 

A Year in a List

Yes, I am fully aware it is March and not the 1st of January or even the middle of January anymore, and while I am a strong believer in having a good starting point, I also believe that change and challenges can be started at any time. Hence, this list.

I was really struggling for my next blog post already until I realised a few things,

  1. I love lists
  2. I love to challenge myself
  3. There were a lot of things I wanted to do/ change in this next year

I have been punishing myself about my weight and fitness for a while, and every other day I am dreaming about adventures  or things I want to do and so, I have created a list. Between the date today (March 7th 2016) and a year from now (March 7th 2017) I aim to complete as many things on this list as possible.

It’s not a massive list, and I imagine not even very interesting to you out there – but here it is. I’ll blog about each thing as I complete it, and update this page when they are completed.

But for now here it is – let me know if you have a list which is similar, or want to share different things on yours to make me feel like I’m not the only one trying to get their shit together!

Health and Fitness:
  • Be able to run a 5K
  • Be able to run a 10K
  • Up my yoga fitness and strength
  • Master the head/hand stand
  • Complete a 30 day squat challenge
  • Be able to do 5 chin ups
  • Do a colour run
  • Complete a 30 day ab challenge

Photo on 07-03-2016 at 12.32

Blogging and Social Media: 

  • Update blog at least every 3 weeks – (I know that isn’t a lot, but with uni deadlines all the time, it is more realistic)
  • Get total views to 1000 – (again, not a lot, but I am a tiny beginner blog, so any views are good views)
  • Write a blog post that gets over 20 likes
  • Blog about each thing I tick off the list

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Travel: 
  • Visit 3 different countries
  • Visit every main beach in the area I live
  • Take a spontaneous day trip to somewhere in the UK
  • Go to a Christmas market somewhere else in the UK
  • Visit winter wonderland in London
  • Visit Joe/Matt at uni

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Getting Organised/ Work/ Uni:
  • Learn to do leaves on coffees at work
  • Start learning to drive
  • Write more for the student paper
  • Have something published in the physical paper
  • Have my phone sorted and fixed  29/03/16 (I won’t blog about this as it is highly uninteresting to me and to you – but in summary it was a nightmare I wish to never repeat) 
  • Complete my first year of uni with over 60%
  • Save £2000 from working the summer

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Personal: 
  • Be up to see a sunrise in the UK
  • Be up to see the sunrise in Costa Rica
  • Do something for charity (or at least apply to)
  • Give blood
  • Read 15 books for fun – (This does not sound like a lot, but when studying for a history degree, I don’t have a lot of time to read ‘normal’ books)
  • Buy a new practical coat which I will actually wear

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Food:
  • Make my own hummus
  • Try a week being Vegan
  • Try a week being Gluten free
  • Create a book of recipes i make all in one place
  • Try proper sushi
  • No Dominos for a month – (I am a student, Dominos deliver till 5am, I drink, it’s a lot harder than it sounds)

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Much Love x

Are You Still Alive?

So it has officially been over a month since my last post ‘festive drinks’, great start right? Three posts in and I disappear for the whole of January! So this post will be a bit of a boring update for most of you about what I have been up to in the last month, and then I do actually have some more interesting posts planned, I promise.

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family where I got spoilt rotten and ate so much turkey I thought I would turn into one! It was a very relaxing few days with just my mum, dad, little brother and enough food to feed an army.

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My New Years’ was equally as fun but not quite as relaxing as I worked it! When I am not studying I am a part time waitress at one of my local restaurants and we had a big party to bring us into 2016 before we shut for the winter months. I would say that it was extremely gruelling serving almost everyone in the village a drink behind the bar, but I spent most of my shift drinking myself so I really can not complain!

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(IT WAS UV THEMED SO WE HAD A LOT OF PAINT AND GLOW STICKS ON)

But all good things must come to an end, and so once my celebrations were over, it was back to revision as I had an exam on the 6th. After spending days revising my Greek philosophy module after two hours it was all over and time to get back to my lectures, which seemed far too soon, and seeing my flat mates, which felt like forever ago.

One of the things which stopped me from posting for over a month was this simple fact: After a week of lectures, I realised I had no less than thirteen essay deadlines this term, and it worked out to AT LEAST one a week. Now the prospect of this totally freaked me out for about a week and I was a total ball of stress, and to be perfectly honest I still am as the next ten weeks will be as close to hell as I will care to go, but this week I handed in my first two so only eleven more to go…

In other news, this term has also brought good things, last week my flatmates and I booked a trip to Amsterdam in June which I am SO excited for as I have been meaning to go for so long. That was quite nice to do because it made me feel like I had something right after exams to work towards and it means I get to see my flatmates for one last time before we go home for the summer.

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I have also been on a bit of a mini ‘health kick’ recently (how cliché of me), but thanks to my grandparents I now have a smoothie blender so I have been trying out lots of recipes, some sound nice, some have been described my family and friends as ‘questionable’, but I promise you they all taste amazing. Some of the girls I live with and I have also started getting our run on, by that I mean we have started this week… and I have really got back into yoga so I will keep you updated on that progress, if you do not hear anything, I am probably face deep in a pizza instead, but I have set myself a challenge to be able to do a free standing headstand so wish me luck! I have quite a few posts planned to do with food and health stuff as well as some weekly challenges I am setting myself so keep your eyes pealed… (I love how I am writing this like any more people than my dad reads this, but you have to dream).

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(MY NAN DESCRIBED THIS A ‘SLUDGE’ – IT’S ACTUALLY KALE, BANANA, AVOCADO AND MANGO)

So that is me for the last month! Very busy and very stressed with uni work but also glad to see home for a month and also back surrounded by my friends again and I guess this is my unofficial promise to try and post more regularly about interesting things rather than this waffle. But thanks for reading if you got this far, much love x

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THE WELCOME PARTY

Welcome all, to Holly’s own unofficial celebration of joining the blogging world!

As stated in my about page, I am a prime example of someone who has just started a blog. Eighteen year old female uni student who loves to write and would love for people to love what she write too, hence we find ourselves here. But I am hoping one of you will see something here you find worth reading, and if not, I think I will just about survive.

So hello. Welcome to the world of a perpetually sarcastic student who lives in the middle of nowhere, loves an adventure, tea and marmite. I probably could not be anymore quintessentially British if I tried, got the pasty pale skin to go with it and all.

With any luck, as I have absolutely no direction whatsoever, there will be something for everyone as I will endeavour to be writing about everything and anything. My views and opinions, thoughts and feelings, reviews, recipes, life tips, things I am loving, things I am not and I imagine anything in-between. So have a look around, you might just like what you see.