Monday, 24 April 2017

How I feel about Travelling Alone

So as my final year at university is creeping to an end (so close yet so far...) I'm starting to get pretty excited for my freedom and therefore plans to head off to the land down under and have a bit of fun!

Of course, we'll ignore the crippling fear of no job, no prospects or any ideas of what to do with my life - that's for future Josie to worry about! For now, I'm going to totally let go, be wild and do whatever the fuck I want! Because I've earned it!

So enough of the off rambly intro - this post is about how I feel about taking on this adventure alone. Years, even months ago (even now sometimes) I would never have even considered going alone, and as travel is a common desire among a few of my friends - one's even out in Australia now! - I've always assumed someone will come along with me. But as things are getting closer, myself and others have actually started planning/considering actually doing things, our timings, finances and actual willingness has turned out to be different.

For a moment, I'll admit I did consider postponing a year, until a few other friends had finished uni/earned enough money to come out with me, but I know myself, and I know that the minute I get a job or get stuck in a routine, I'll be finding excuses or other responsibilities will come along that will mean I never get to do it. 

There's also the point that, because going alone is so scary and different, that's completely out of my comfort zone, and for that reason I sort of have to do it! 

'Life begins at the end of your comfort zone' ~ Neale Donald Walsch

So it's ended up being just me. And at first that was seriously scary - it still kind of is - I'll be going to the other side of the world, a country I've never been to, one that I have no/little family there - bit of a scary prospect.

There's also the fact that I can sometimes really doubt my 'friend-making' ability, don't have the most amount of common sense and have just about enough money to see me through a couple of months.

However! As I'm doing my research (when really I should be revising, ssshh!) and I'm getting more and more ready for summer adventures (I think the recent spring/summer-ness is definitely boosting my mood), the fear I had - though still there - is turning more into excitement!

And as I'm planning/researching, I'm sort of getting excited to be on my own - as a constant people pleaser - I'm looking forward to having a bit of freedom to just do what I want, and to have that alone time.

Also, the number of people I've spoken to (hopefully aren't just trying to make me feel better) have ALL said that they almost couldn't not meet people - all/most other travellers, therefore a lot of fellow Brits thrown in there - so that's definitely dampened my worries a bit. It's also getting me all excited to meet some new, amazing people and learning so much more about myself and this amazing world!

I'll do another post after I've been and satisfied my travel-bug (if I ever come back) to let you all know how I got on.

I know it'll be scary at times but I've vowed to myself to - going against everything that comes most naturally - just have faith! I'm a smart(ish), kind and friendly person - and I'm going to have a freaking amazing time!!

Anyone ever been travelling? Did you go alone? Any places you'd recommend?

Friday, 14 April 2017

Baking Easter Brownies

Happy Easter to all!

So I was procrasti-baking last week and thought I'd make them Easter themed, using an idea I got from a Facebook video and thought I'd share the idea with the internet if anyone fancies anything different to the standard Chocolate-Cornflake mini egg nests (although I'll admit this was my first thought when deciding to get baking)!

As I've been quite tight for time lately, I picked up a cheat version and got one of the brownie packets by BakedIn where you just add 3 eggs and 200g unsalted butter, cook for 40 minutes in the oven and hey presto, 12 deliciously tasty brownies!

The idea I got to make them Easter-themed, was to use white chocolate and orange food colouring to coat some strawberries and make them look like carrots! However, unfortunately, when mixing in the food colouring, the melted white chocolate seemed to congeal (apparently don't melt it in the microwave?) so plan B was to make some orange icing to coat the strawberries and I think I just about saved them (however my presentation isn't always immaculate so I'm sure you could do a much better job!)

Once cooled, I covered them in chocolate spread and sprinkled on crushed Cadbury flake to look a bit like soil and then added the orange strawberry 'carrots'. And for a couple I used mini eggs, because you can't very well bake Easter themed cakes without them!

And voila, double chocolate brownies perfect for Easter - if they last until then?!

Disclosure, this post isn't sponsored by BakedIn, it was just the one I picked up from Tesco!

 My brother and I are kicking off Easter Weekend by heading up to London tonight to watch Part Two of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and OH MY GOD It was so amazing last night I can't wait to see the rest!! How's everyone celebrating their Easter Weekend? 

Friday, 7 April 2017

How University harms Mental Health

So after the term I've had and things I've experienced, as well as yet another piece of devastating news, I realised some of the serious dangers to mental health the university can cause and so I wanted to do a post to try and voice the issue.

When a lot of people experience mental health problems, a common feeling is loneliness and shame; feeling as though you're not allowed to feel weak and sad because everyone else is coping just fine.

However, I've noticed this year, that there have been a lot of issues with mental health, not just at my university but among family and friends too, and this has devastatingly resulted in suicides. It's extremely hard to attempt to help someone when they're in that place, however we can do our very best to try to prevent it getting to that stage.

University is hard, and it's different levels of hard for each individual depending on the subject, their work ethic, the way they deal with things and of course external and social influences. But it is hard. And yes it's meant to be hard so that it's worth more when you come out and yes I've definitely grown as a person and will be better equipped in the real world knowing I got through it. And don't get me wrong, I don't regret it - I've met some incredible people and am a stronger person because of it.

 But I came pretty low this last term - I mean very low, too low in fact for it to be worth a 'degree' (oh and life long debt), and I'm evidently not the only one. Just looking around at my friends - not to mention hearing about other students from mine as well as other universities in England - I can feel the stress, despair and worry (and not going to lie we're all pretty smart and hard working) and through meeting with a university counselor, they've been chocka-block all year with concerned students.

In my opinion, it's a little bit too far. In some ways I think it's good that young people can experience and learn to handle stress and a busy workload while they have the support easily accessible and 'free' (cough cough £9000 a year) so that they're more prepared for the future. However, there's a line. There's a line where a degree, £27,000, relationships, bullying, body confidence etc etc IS NOT WORTH IT!  And it seems that a lot of students either don't want to or don't know how to find the help they need and it all gets a bit much. And unfortunately crossing this line cannot be undone.

Universities have an obligation to their students to support them and unfortunately some of these support services are not well promoted or potentially not equipped enough to deal with the demand. Now I'm writing this post thinking, well there are plenty of support services at my uni, we've each got a subject supervisor who's with us all throughout university and a project supervisor who's meant to guide us through our dissertation project. But the thing is, being at a Russel Group University, everyone has their own research, i.e. they have their own work to do on top of, marking endless essays/exams, planning lectures, they're own life. Everyone is stretched so thin that I have felt that I can't go to these people when I need to, leaving me to deal with it on my own.

Mental Health and Mindfulness is becoming a new hot topic so I'm hoping that things will start to change and ideally become more relaxed and focused. Not only in universities but school as well, young people are so vulnerable and are learning new things everyday - we need the support of family and friends, who not everyone has support from making the support from the community/institution so much more important.

At the end of the day, a degree/exam is a piece of paper, it doesn't not signify your worth. Nowadays there are plenty of opportunities for everyone. Nothing is worth ending your life for. Nothing. 

If you're feeling down or stressed and feeling like you're not coping here's what to do. First, don't feel ashamed, we all (really, all of us!) go through it - I always thought university memes were a bit drastic, but nope we genuinely feel like that. Second, talk, it really does help, seek out what support your university/school provides (you should have a subject supervisor, of if you want more anonymity there may be counselors on site) and if they don't - make it happen! Third, if there's really no support, there's services like The Samaritans that provide free counselling. 

*Little disclaimer to point out that I didn't personally know the people who have recently passed very well, and therefore don't know the reasons for their actions. But simply based on their occurrence, mine and others experiences, I strongly feel that this is an issue that needs addressing urgently.