Posted in Blogmas

Buying presents as a student

 

 

Hello and welcome to Blogmas Day 2! Today’s song on the Christmas countdown is I Believe in Father Christmas – quite an appropriate one given today’s topic! As we now have just over 3 weeks until the big day, and student loans are beginning to look a little low, most of us begin this panic of what to buy everyone. Secret Santa presents need bought, there’s family to think of, and then there are those of you who are lucky enough to have significant others to buy for as well.

 

Do not fear my friends! Below is a list of what you can either buy or make as a present for even the pickiest of people. Of course, there are so many different options that I won’t be able to list them all but hopefully something will come into your head!

 

  1. A photo book. With the app Free Prints, you can order 45 free photos a month, all size 6×4, and only pay postage on them! Then either buy a few cheap frames from your local pound shop, or buy a scrap-book and stick them in with little messages relating to the picture. It’s a really personal present and shows you care. Best part? It can all be done for less than £5! If you give your invite code to family and friends, you gain an extra 5 free prints per month, so if this is something you’re interested in, why not use my code and then share yours? Mine is ‘kburton15’.
  2. Christmas decorations. From snowglobes to Santas, to snowmen and more, you can never have enough Christmas decorations! Again, your local pound shop, or Primark can often have lovely little things you would never have thought of. I personally like scouring the charity shops in my areas as it means I’m donating to a good cause too.

    christmas-993304

  3. Homemade potpourri . I actually made this for my aunt and uncle last year and it’s still smelling strong! Just google homemade Christmas potpourri and there are so many to choose from! Pop it inside a sandwich bag and tie with some ribbon, and it becomes the perfect gift. Of course, you can always buy a cheap but nice dish to put it in too. Pictured below is the potpourri I made them this time last year. The picture was taken in August and when I went visiting in November it was still there and smelt incredible!
  4. Gloves. If you’re anything like me, you will constantly be losing at least one of a pair. You can never have enough gloves, and there are often some lovely ones in Primark, Dunnes Stores, and there are even some great bargains in TK Maxx!

    img_0537

  5. Socks. Again, a bit like gloves, but these are things that no one likes to buy themselves. I don’t know about you but even just one new pair of fluffy socks brighten up my day.
  6. Fudge or shortbread. A quick search online will quickly give you so many recipes for this and you also have the fun of taste testing! Homemade treats always go down well, as it shows you’ve actually spent time on their present rather than just grabbing the first thing you see.

    img_1388

  7. Personalised calendars. Again, these do cost money but they’re nearly always on sale at this time of year as everyone makes a mad dash to buy them for the start of the new year. Upload pictures for the person, add in any key dates you think they should remember, and Bob’s your uncle!
  8. Hidden compartment book. Okay so if you’re anything like me this idea of this is great but actually creating it may hurt a little. Head to your local charity shop for a hardback book and use this tutorial to make a little hiding spot for anything your recipient may want to hide, whether it be the last chocolate bar, keys or their phone!

    img_1192-1

  9. What (Name) Likes canvas. Do you have The Works near you or a similar shop? These places sell canvases that you can paint and decorate. To be honest, I got this idea from a present my amazing flat mates got me for my 21st, although they didn’t make it. Not that that makes it any less great, but this way probably would’ve been a lot cheaper! Pick up a paint sample from your local DIY shop, or you may find you know someone with left over paint in their garage from their recent home decoration. Paint the canvas and allow it to dry before writing in permanent marker ‘What (Name) Likes’ across the middle and then list all the things you know they like in different sizes and directions. They’re sure to love it!
  10. Board Games. Once again, get down to your local charity shops and have a search for their board games. There’s nothing better than sitting down with friends or family to play a board game on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day, and it’s something they can play at any time. A lot of these games probably won’t have even been used!

 

So there you have 10 ideas that you can consider! One thing I would recommend is looking at whatever deals and offers are on. Whether there’s a 3 for 2 offer you can take advantage of, or if something’s half price, any way you can save money is a great idea! Personally, I love looking on Groupon, Living Social, and Wowcher to see what deals there, and one of my friends pointed me in the direction of Wish! Although I would recommend Wish for if you aren’t in a rush for presents as the delivery time can be ages. I placed an order on September 28th and by October 9th still hadn’t had it confirmed!

 

Hopefully I’ve helped even a little bit. If you’ve any suggestions that you think I should’ve included please feel free to mention them in the comments below!

 

Have a great Friday, and try not to murder anyone when doing your Christmas shopping this weekend!

 

Ktkinnes xx

Advertisements
Posted in Lifestyle

Stress

Whether you’re currently stressed, or you’re relaxed and ready to take on the week, stress is something that comes for us all at some point and likes to play havoc with our lives – mentally and physically.

 

Right now, while writing this, I feel a tiny bit stressed. I know I have 6 posts to write up today and this is the first of those, so I want to do the best I can with each of them. It’s not like I can just write them, schedule them, and forget about them again! But overall, I’m not too stressed at the minute. If I stop and think about hosting the GRLPOWR chat on Thursday, then yes I will be quite stressed but we’re trying not to think about that right now. My questions are written up and all I can do now is hope you all come join in.

 

Normally, I get stressed over very trivial things. They may seem trivial to you, or even to me now while I’m reasonably relaxed, but in those moments I get so wound up about the tiniest things. For example, and one my friends won’t let me forget for a long time, we barbecued for 24 people and it reached a stage I just wanted food. Dad sent through the freshly cooked sausages and a few minutes later no one had moved but it was one of those situations where family were waiting to let friends go first and friends were waiting to let family go first, and I just didn’t want to be the first to go. So I waited a few minutes and then went through and told everyone that sausages were ready and they should go get them. Except I may have been rather forceful in how I said it… whoops… Ah well, it meant I could eat!

 

I get stressed if I’m running late for something, if I’m travelling, if I’m organising things, and if people don’t do what they were meant to do when they were meant to do it. Normal things like exams stress me out. I got so worked up when I had to go to my first LGBTQ+ event on my own last year that I ended up crying in Nuala’s room before going. Loud noises, big crowds, tight enclosed spaces… Wow I get stressed over quite a lot!

 

I try not to let these things affect my day-to-day life but sometimes it does get the better of me, and I end up a quivering mess feeling paranoid and struggling to breathe normally. Either that, or I just get angry and/or cry. If you remember back in August during my resits? I was so stressed I cried for 3 hours without stopping – not great! Normally during exams I get stressed because I feel I know nothing so spend all day inside revising and doing nothing else, and then when it comes to bedtime I can’t sleep because I feel guilty for not being up and revising. So I get up and continue revision, and start the next day exhausted. And so the new day brings about revision with very little going in due to the lack of sleep and so the endless cycle begins.

 

However, I know I have at least 3 people who can calm me down when I reach that level of stress. Nuala is great at supporting you and being there for you when you need her, even if the rest of the time she doesn’t give off that impression. The number of times I’ve been stressed and ended up going straight to Nuala to help me calm down and gain some perspective. Jason is also pretty good at calming me down, simply because of the number of times he’s had to in the past! The third actually isn’t in the flat (and this is nothing against Mary – she’s great but I haven’t gone to her when I’m properly stressed yet. But yes, Pablo  (again, he asked for this name on the blog so you won’t know him) has a calming quality that I am drawn to when stressed. I don’t know what it is but he would actually be my first point of call if he wasn’t so flipping busy all the time.

 

So, as you may have noticed, those three are all based in Scotland and it very much depends on if they’re around for me to talk to, so what do I do to destress without them? Well, any form of exercise is good. Even if it’s just a walk, getting into a completely different state of mind is good. Either a hot shower or bath also helps, especially if I can play my music as loud as I want and sing along. Of course, I frequently turn to blogging when I’m stressed – I suppose that makes you a part of my ‘who calms me’ part! Reading, knitting, colouring, anything creative just distracts me and I eventually feel better. Surprisingly, watching TV and films doesn’t actually help me unwind – I do them, but they don’t give me that feeling of clarity that the others do. Funny, considering how much time they take out of my day.

 

How about you? What stresses you out and how do you deal with it? Let me know!

 

Ktkinnes xx

Posted in Lifestyle

Uni and Blogging

For so many of us, there’s that constant choice between university stuff and taking time out for our blog. I mean, I planned to have this post written on Sunday so I could focus on university this week, but I spent so long doing university work that I ended up not getting to spend as much time blogging as I would’ve liked. Sound familiar?

 

Everyone makes promises to themselves that as of the new academic year we will do our best with our workload, and try and keep to the blogging pattern we’ve fallen into over the summer. In fact, it may take me another 3 months to figure out how frequently to post! Honestly. Did a blogging challenge last month and had amazing stats (well, amazing for me anyway, I’m no big blogger) and then this week hits and I’ve noticed a decrease. Is it because everyone’s back to university and school now? Or has my writing actually just gone downhill recently? By the way, these are rhetorical questions.

 

Also, I must apologise, my wifi is misbehaving tonight and the GRLPOWR girls and I are trying to organise Christmas on the account – exciting times ahead so make sure you’re following us on @GRLPOWRCHAT!

 

But yes, I’m getting distracted. As is often the case when blogging. It’s a hobby, somewhere to relax and something to do to pass time, which is why – for me – it’s important to keep it up while back at university. But the struggle of balance is hard.

 

It’s important to find that balance. You don’t want to risk grades dropping, nor do you want to lose any followers or stats. I mean, here I am on my 5th day in a row posting and I’ve got a planned break tomorrow, but I couldn’t not post today otherwise I’d have ruined my posting streak. See what I mean?

 

It’s for this reason that blogging is now what I do just before sleep. I’m really trying this year with university, doing all the extra work and making sure I know everything I’m being told. We’ll see if it’s made any difference come Christmas exams. Even today, hungover as I was from the GULGBTQ+ Launch Night last night, I dragged my rather sleepy and nauseous backside to my lectures and I actually felt better having been to them. I wasn’t lying moping in bed. Instead, I got a good walk, I saw friends who really should’ve been equally as hungover as me, and I felt if I had achieved that then I could achieve anything today!

 

So, while this isn’t a great post on how to juggle the two (yet), I hope you understand now why I may disappear every now and again, and if I don’t make a 9am post I will try and get one up asap.

 

But yes, advice. All I can advise is have a bit of a routine when it comes to how many hours of university work you have to do before you can blog, and keep a diary or planner of what’s happening when so that you can try and move things around better if you need to change plans last minute. I also find it helpful to always have one spare post saved as a draft for if I’ve forgotten to write one or haven’t had time to write the planned one for that day.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are several blogmas posts needing written!

Ktkinnes xx

Posted in Lifestyle

University Challenge Part 2

img_4921

Yesterday, you may have seen my blog post University Challenge (if not, here it is!), in which I asked Rach, one of my all time favourite bloggers whose blog can be found here, 10 questions for advice on University life. Hopefully these questions will be helpful to anyone at any stage of their university career!

In return, I was asked 10 questions and am here now to answer them – so hello to anyone who’s come looking for the answers! My 10 questions to answer were:

1. What would you advise when choosing a university location? 

2. What is your one essential item that you would recommend any student to take to university?

3. Do you think it’s important to do extra things on top of your degree?

4. What would you advise when making friends at uni? 

5. What advice would you give to anyone choosing a course at university? 

6. What advice would you give to anyone worrying about the costs of going to uni? 

7. How would you advice on keeping track of money through uni?

8. Do you think it’s important to move into a student house instead of uni accommodation? 

9. What was your favourite experience of uni? 

10. If you could offer one overall piece of advice, what would it be? 

So here goes answering them!

1. What would you advise when choosing a university location? 

The main thing I would advise would be to not restrict yourself in any way. A lot of my friends from school chose to apply to our 2 universities in Northern Ireland simply because they didn’t want to have larger tuition fees or face the prospect of fully moving away from the support system they had in their family and friendship group. Secondly, and I can’t stress this enough, have a good proper look at the university and its surrounding areas. I personally feel I hit the jackpot with University of Glasgow. We’re close enough to the city centre that I can be there in 10 minutes if I feel like a day in town, but I also live 5 minutes away from the Botanical Gardens. Location means a lot to different people. The final thing I factored into my choices 3 years ago (wow I feel old thinking its been 3 years since I started looking at universities…) was how easy would it be to get home if there was some reason to rush. Whilst I loved the look of some universities in England, and their courses looked fantastic, I realised just how long it would take me to get back if ever I was needed home quickly.

2. What is your one essential item that you would recommend any student to take to university?

This one is tricky, I can’t think of just the one! First thing that came into my head was speakers. No matter who you are or what your hobbies are, having a set of speakers (even cheap ones from the pound shop) will be a great thing to remember when packing. All those flat parties you’ll be having during fresher’s week will need some background music, not to mention when exam time comes and you need to blast those revision playlists that will get you through the torture that is university study leave. 

I would also strongly recommend bringing one decent sized pot/pan to cook a large meal in. It became quite a common thing to find me in the kitchen, cooking enough food to feed a small army. It sometimes works out cheaper to buy in bulk and so it made sense to cook it and freeze what I didn’t want immediately.

Finally, I would recommend a warm dressing gown or onesie. Fire alarms will go off at any stage and you don’t want to find yourself standing outside in the snow at 3am on a Saturday morning in January because some idiot thought it would be a good idea to allow their friends to smoke in their room. Not that I had any experience of this last year, of course not… But these are also great if you’re in a student flat where the likelihood is you will be freezing the majority of the time. Unless you’re super rich. In which case, please be my best friend!

3. Do you think it’s important to do extra things on top of your degree?

Last year, I didn’t. I was in a great set of halls and knew at least 20 people so never had the need to be out meeting new people or doing something different. But this year I signed up to whatever I could, having missed the society fair during fresher’s week. Clubs and societies are a great way to make new friends (so cliché I know but stay with me) and they’re also good to help you find out what it is you actually enjoy doing. If clubs and societies aren’t your sort of thing, and you hate the idea of anything sporty so avoid the gym like the plague, then I still recommend finding something to do on top of your degree. All work and no play makes life dull and you’ll probably end up regretting this when your dissertation is done and you’ve got one exam left to sit. 

4. What would you advise when making friends at uni? 

Like above, I would advise clubs and societies. The first friend I made in halls, I stopped speaking to a month later. But she introduced me to kitchen 14 and the wonderful people who were assigned there. Be yourself as much as you can be. It’s a whole new experience and if someone doesn’t like you for you then you don’t have to know them! This was one fact I forgot when I first started to open up to people but now it’s the mantra I hold on to when I meet new people. Be honest with yourself and talk to as many or as few people as you want, someone somewhere along the line will introduce you to more and more people and bam! You end up on a group chat with 29 other people and a chat name that no one remembers creating but you don’t want to change it. 

5. What advice would you give to anyone choosing a course at university? 

This is tough, simply because I don’t enjoy my course. Which actually leads me to the first and most important point of this question and answer – pick something you actually enjoy and want to spend your time doing! Yes, it might cross your mind to consider life after university but jobs these days are mainly looking for those transferable skills. Employers don’t care if you did Physics or Archaeology, all they want to know is whether you can work in a team to solve problems in the workplace. So yeas, consider job prospects but don’t let it cloud your judgement. Before finally deciding on the course you think you want, have a look around at the syllabus for the course in different universities. This will give you an idea of what is actually involved in your course and what it is you’ll be doing for the next 3+ years of your life.

6. What advice would you give to anyone worrying about the costs of going to uni? 

Simply: don’t. I know it’s easier said than done but worrying is just going to make the whole experience worse for you. We all know the faults of the loan systems – judged on parental income, rarely covers rent never mind actually living, and the overall problem of paying it all back when you eventually leave (forever student anyone?). Many universities now have hardship bursaries that you don’t have to pay back, along with other bursaries, grants, scholarships and incentives. I know of a girl on my course who got £250 for being one of the best in the year! If you find yourself short of cash, there will always be somewhere hiring students, even if only over summer months. Make yourself a clear budget plan and stick to it, even if it does mean turning down that invite out to the new cool club night happening. There will be other nights, and your bank account will be very grateful. The final bit of advice towards money and costs of uni would be to not blow your student loan the day it comes in. It’s so tempting when you see it sitting there to start buying everything around you, heck I used mine to book a trip to Paris! But you will seriously regret it when you check your balance and find yourself with £30 left for the rest of the month. 

7. How would you advice on keeping track of money through uni?

Budgeting is key. At the beginning of the year, I sit down and figure out how much money I have and what it has to cover before I consider food etc. Firstly subtract rent for whatever months you need to pay. Remember to include any bills in this too! For example, if in September you have£3000 to last you until January 18th, the likelihood is you have 4 months of rent to pay using that money. Remember to include the bills for these months too, so we’ll estimate that you have roughly £1200 left. Divide this by the number of weeks this has to last you, taking at least £100 out for travelling home for Christmas. On average, this would mean you have £60 a week (rounding down). My technique this year was to lift that £60 out of the bank on a Sunday morning before my food shop and then I wasn’t allowed to use my card the rest of the week. If I used it, I had to take the cash out of my purse and lodge it into the bank on a Saturday. It’s so much easier to keep track of what you’re spending if you have to physically hand over money every time you go to a shop. 

To help your budget out during the week, I would recommend meal plans, even if only rough ones. Make a list of what you need to buy and stick to your list. Don’t let the lovely snacks and offers tempt you, unless you’re willing to sacrifice something else that week. Head to the shops later in the day, that’s when the stuff begins to be reduced and the majority of it can be shoved in the freezer! Mary managed to buy a lasagne down from £3.50 to 69p the other night on her way home from work. You can’t even make a lasagne that cheap if you’re making it yourself!

8. Do you think it’s important to move into a student house instead of uni accommodation? 

For first year, I would strongly recommend university accommodation. It’s the easiest way to meet people and you actually end up looking forward to hunting for a flat. However, after first year I fully believe it’s your own decision what you want to do. The majority of the time, a student house is going to work out cheaper than staying in uni halls. However, most contracts are 12 months long and you end up paying for months you aren’t living there. Another thing to remember is that it’s important to get along with the people you move in with if you plan on going into a student house. This way you know if you’ll have any problems and you can address them up front – Mary and Nuala sat Jason and me down to discuss their thoughts on if they shared with us, just small things like cleaning rotas and the likes. University accommodation means you might not get this option of vetting the other people and so you may have problems. Personally, moving into a student flat was great for me. With fewer people around, I actually got work done this year and didn’t just sit in a kitchen, eating and drinking.

9. What was your favourite experience of uni? 

I’m not sure! From this year, I would definitely have to say my flat Christmas dinner. I started cooking at 10am and so decided it was a good idea to start drinking at the same time. By the time I served the starter at 5pm, I was quite drunk and in a great mood! We exchanged Secret Santa presents at the table and played games between courses, finally going to bed at midnight after 5 or 6 courses of food. That was the night I realised just how lucky I was in finding these 3 flatmates and for that reason alone I will always look back on that night as one of my favourite experiences at uni. Plus, who else can say they cooked a turkey almost perfectly on their first try in an oven that can’t even cook a pizza easily?!

10. If you could offer one overall piece of advice, what would it be? 

My one piece of advice… Hmm… I would definitely have to say – be yourself and enjoy the experience. Forget about any money problems, they’ll sort themselves. Disagreements and falling outs will happen, but they’ll be patched up again quickly if they’re meant to be. But don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being yourself. We only have a short amount of time to truly figure out who we are and what it is we enjoy while being independent, before the world starts to turn faster and we have to become responsible adults. Two of my 4 years at university are over, the time has flown by. So go to lectures, make friends, explore your freedom and, most importantly, don’t ever regret the way your life is planning out – we’re young. We’re meant to make mistakes. Let’s make them now while we’re still young enough to fix them!

I hope this has answered some of the questions you may find yourself asking during the whole university thing. Remember to check out thelifeofaonesiewearer.wordpress.com for the answers to my questions! Once they’re posted, I’ll combing all 20 questions and answers in the one post for anyone who wants to read through them.

Hope you’re all well! My summary of the week will be live soon, before I say good bye to you all while I’m in Paris! Follow me on Twitter (@kvburton657), Instagram (ktkinnes), or add me on Snapchat (katiekinnes) to keep up to date while I’m away in the land of cheese, bread and wine, not to mention Disneyland Paris!

Ktkinnes xx