Recently, my Facebook feed has been filled with friends going on transatlantic adventures, volunteering as camp counsellors in America or backpacking and inter-railing around Europe. I have one friend who went on a semester abroad to Australia this summer and I have major life envy seeing her adventures documented all over social media.
I had never had a grand plan for this summer. I had no ‘big’ holiday booked; the loose plan was to work this summer and save money. When I return to university I’m going back into halls because I simply couldn’t afford the amount of dead rent that I’d be forced to pay for the few months over summer when I’d be back at home.
Because of this I took on a weekend job in March and have gone pretty much full time since late May. This has been the most major thing I’ve achieved this summer; I’ve managed to save almost £2000 by carefully watching my money and saving most of my wages since March! I’ve done this by working multiple jobs and extremely long hours, sometimes seven days a week. It has been exhausting, but it’s taught me so much about the world of work, to manage finances and how to be more mature towards money. I’m keeping the job on as a holiday job so I can focus on my studies this term, but despite the exhaustion and hitting my head into my pillow at 5am screaming “I hate my job” when my alarm goes off, I can’t deny the money is brilliant and lets me live the lifestyle I want to.
My summer hasn’t been completely filled with work, I’ve managed to go on two holidays this year along with a couple of day trips. The first was back in June when me and three friends rented a lodge in the Lake District for a week. Despite that fact it rained the ENTIRE week, we had an amazing time hiring a boat to sail around Lake Windermere (in one patch of clear weather), driving along a hair raising ridge, playing crazy golf (an albeit slightly flooded course!) and making the most of the lodge’s facilities -turns out being in a hot tub in a thunderstorm is incredible! I had an amazing time with them and would definitely do something similar again!
The second holiday I’ve been on this year was a few days camping in Snowdonia with my best friend and her family. Once again, it rained the entire time but we had a brilliant time! It was Nat’s 19th Birthday so we had cake in the tent on the Tuesday night. We attempted to climb Snowdon on the Thursday but the fog was so heavy we couldn’t even see the base of it. Instead, we stayed at ground level and explored Bedd Gellert instead which is always fantastic. There’s a river running through the centre of the village which we used to spend hours paddling in and skimming stones. I then spent two evenings being completely thrashed at every card and board game! Again, I had a fantastic time and I’m sure at some point we will conquer Snowdon again!
The other big thing I’ve done this summer is obviously started this blog! I’d wanted to start this for several months prior to this summer, I always came up against the same stumbling blocks: What would I call it? What would I write about? Would anyone be interested? Suddenly one day all these ideas started to come together and I penned my first post. The enjoyment I got from writing the article was amazing and from there on I just decided to keep it up.
I started writing articles for a company called Society 19 which has given me experience working to a deadline. I’ve also become more aware of how to market articles on social media. I always have potential blog ideas a few weeks in advance; sometimes inspiration can strike anywhere though! Whatever I’m up to in a week, however busy I may be, I always try to have something ready to upload on a Friday. Right now I have three articles running parallel as I know I’m going to be very busy soon! I’m hoping to continue writing for them and exploring the potential of blogging back in Loughborough for the uni – who knows, we will just have to see!
I’ve also managed to achieve a longtime goal; to take up running. When I say running, for me this was as simple as to be able to run for more than a minute without stopping! This all came about from a conversation with my boyfriend, who is a long distance runner, about how I always admired and wanted to have a go at running but I always had something else on that stopped me. He then looked at me and said, ‘well what’s your excuse this time?’ and I had no answer… So I quietly started going to the gym more to see how far I could run each time.
I started by following the ‘Couch to 5k’ app programme but soon I found that I was fitter than I thought and could go further than the training on the app. I put together a programme in my head and as I left the gym ran into an advertisement poster for Race For Life. It was eight weeks away. I had no excuses this time. Stupidly I entered to see if I could. On the 3rd of July this year I completed the 5k in 30:25 seconds! It sounds silly but I haven’t been that proud of myself in a long time because I didn’t think I could do it! I’ve carried on with the running and it’s brought about a lifestyle change for me. I’m now in much better shape and run once or twice a week. I’ve currently had a very stupid idea about my next endeavor, but you’ll have to wait a while before I reveal this to anyone else!!!
This is an ironic one considering that I’m an English student, but I’ve managed to read more this summer than ever before! One of my key personal characteristics is my ability to
not do things when they’re essential, but the moment they no longer are I’ll happily do them. I’ll read a 500 page Victorian novel as long as no one tells me I have to! Recently I’ve managed to read several different styles of book and I’ve been engrossed in each one. Most recently I’ve finished The Miniaturist and it did remind me why I love reading so much; the clever twists and turns and the way that events fitted seamlessly together as the secrets were revealed have sparked my interest and I can’t wait to read another book like it! I’m also planning to do another post about the books I’ve bought this month as it went down really well last month. Keep your eyes peeled!
NEW TERM RESOLUTIONS
My aim this coming academic year is to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to me at Loughborough. I wasn’t ready to throw myself in head first last year; I didn’t really have a lot of confidence or know who I was. My third year will have to be dedicated to my studies and finding a job post graduation. So this really is the time to take these opportunities. On the final day of my first year, me and my two flatmates Izzi and Kitty finished the year as we began it; by sitting in the local Spoons having lunch. Back then we’d only known each other a few days and getting to know each other. In June we sat there and made a list on a napkin of everything we wanted to do in our second year.
If you hadn’t worked it out, I’m very proud of my university and even more so to be part of it. Loughborough has the only student led Students Union in the country and as a result of this we have a number of departments dedicated to the all-round student experience.
These include opportunities such a: to get involved with the university Media team including journalism, film, photography and radio; one of the widest ranges of societies where students find their home from home; the welfare and diversity team which can encourage students to take up opportunities to benefit others; the RAG or Raising and Giving Team which organise events to raise money for a variety of different charities and finally Action which is dedicated to volunteering on and around campus or in the local community.There’s plenty else such as sports, education and union affairs but I felt this list was exhaustive enough!
ACTION AND R.A.G
The two main areas which I would like to have more to do with within the Union this year are Action and R.A.G. The lines between the two are slightly blurred as one is volunteering and one is raising money for charity but they occasionally overlap. Towards the end of this year I started to become more involved in projects such as volunteering for an hour a week in the nursery on campus reading to the kids. This is definitely something I’ll be continuing with next year as well as exploring new avenues.
In the first few weeks of university Action and RAG run two different nights: Pick a project and choose a challenge night respectively. These are fairs that you can go down to at the union and explore different opportunities. Projects refer to things such as the nursery which are opportunities on and around campus that you can take part in whenever such as helping the elderly with technology, trips to the zoo with local schools, dog walking, gardening and even visiting an alpaca farm (?!?). Challenges are events that you have to work up to throughout the year and raise money towards. This year they have included a bike ride to Paris, a trek across a Moroccan desert, the three peaks challenge and a trip to Peru! I’m seriously considering selecting a challenge this year, nothing too extreme, but when else will I get these once in a lifetime opportunities?
I have a few friends who took part in Loughborough’s Choose a Challenge last year. My friend Steph who I met half way through the year at a social excitedly told me that she was raising money to go dog sledding in the Arctic Circle over Easter. She returned with quite hilarious sun burn on her nose and lots of funny stories and pictures of husky dogs. Still I envied her confidence being able to put herself forward for that challenge!
The other project I’ve heard quite a lot about was through my friend Emily who is on my course and in my personal tutor group. This summer she travelled to India for a month with the uni to volunteer in an orphanage. This was a once in a lifetime experience and I can’t wait to get back to uni to hear all about it and see all the pictures! It was Emily who helped me to get involved with Action at the nursery and together we’re already planning new projects and challenges we can try next term!
In terms of RAG there are smaller events that run in and around Loughborough and further throughout the year such as RAG raids which involves bucket collecting in a different town or city. The event I’m interested in this year are the Colour Runs that go round our campus. There were two this year, one for general charities and another for breast cancer awareness. When I ran my 5k earlier in the year I managed to raise £140 for Cancer Research which was an incredible feeling. I want to investigate how I can raise more money through different activities this year!
In terms of societies, this year I joined the Shakespeare Society because they were performing my all-time favourite play Much Ado About Nothing. Superstitious me saw this as a sign and had to join! Although it was wildly out of my comfort zone and I went and put myself out there and managed to get a part. Two Shakespeare Plays later and with the experience of one of the main parts under my belt, I’ve never felt so at home with a group of people!
This year I’m hoping to audition for the productions of The Winter’s Tale and A Midsummer Nights Dream as well as the very exciting fact that I will be trying my hand a directing Henry IV Part One with two PHD students; it’ll be a little bit wacky from the brief they’ve put together, hopefully we’re going to make a history play as interesting as the other two – I love a good challenge! This group is definitely my family at university and there’s always somewhere there you can rely on. I’m considering running for committee at the end of this year, I’d like to have an influence on the group!
Now for a slightly more academic venture, I have previously expressed my interest in a career within the publishing industry. I’ve selected an optional module in Publishing but I’ve also discovered that Loughborough is also home to a student run publishing house called Lamplight Press. In the new term I’d like to investigate this venture and see what I can do to gain experience in the industry for my CV and employability prospects!
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Like last year, I’ll be purchasing a gym membership and trying to take part in more of the classes this year. Last year I just used the machines for workouts but this year I’m going to aim to go to zumba and spin classes as well as running. I might try out different classes too; I’ve always wanted to give Pilates a go, and recently I’ve started attending a new fitness class called Blockfit which combines four separate workouts into one: Dance, Combat, HIIT and Yoga. I really hope they’re running classes at uni because I completely adore it! When I started at Loughborough I told everyone who asked m that I wasn’t sporty in the slightest. That seems to have changed gradually!
Oh, and I should probably do some work in between all of this…
I’m sure this next year will be filled with even more exciting moments with my friends than the last – there’s a lot more plans and events for me coming up in 2017 already! For now, my plan is to have the last few quiet days at home before I start madly packing and then getting pulled back into the uni experience. I can’t wait!!!
What have you been up to this summer? Have you got any ‘new term resolutions’ like me? Let me know in the comments below and as always thank you for reading!!