Sunday Seven: Seven Things No One Tells You About Graduation

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This week I became a graduate. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you will see I have been absolutely spamming my accounts with pictures and thank yous and a lot about the whole day. After this I will stop badgering you all on social media about graduating. I did think, however, I’d share with you seven things no one tells you about graduation.

Gowns may look good, but they are hot as hell.

If you graduate later in the year you may be ok but graduating in the hottest week of the year meant a lot of sticky, sweaty gowns. I was very pleased to get this off at the end of the day.

No shoes are worth taking skin off your feet. 

I tried two new pairs of shoes and I’m still paying the price. Make sure you wear them in if you really want fancy new shoes and take a lot of plasters.

Souvenirs are worthwhile, but expensive. 

I was not prepared for how expensive souvenirs were going to be! Photo’s were the most (although I’m yet to order mine), followed by £45 for a hoodie, £15 for a bear, £10 for a scroll holder and £15 for a pin of the university’s coat of arms. It’s only because this is the only time I plan on doing this in the near future I bought what I wanted but be prepared!

You will need to charge your phone. 

Phone calls to relatives, messages to you, photos, some sneaky Pokemon hunting. I really wished I had taken one of those charger blocks that you carry around in your bag. Ali has one and it’s a good investment, so it might be worth getting one.

Speeches are both long and boring, but can make you feel proud of where you’ve come from. 

There were some great parts of speeches but there was no denying that they were very long, especially in the heat. While a lot of us tried to be serious, but were really like a bunch of grown up kids, it was nice to think about how far we’d come and that Kingston would always be a part of us.

You’ll have an overwhelming amount of University pride.

I was SO proud of myself, the people I studied with and the university I spent 3 years of my life at. I never knew I would feel that much university pride on graduation day.

The day will go faster than you think, so soak up as much as possible. 

Just like your degree, the time will go so fast, so enjoy as much as possible.

 

 

Pre Graduation Nerves

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Tomorrow, after 3 years of reading, tears, late nights, hungover mornings, trying to stay awake in lectures, essays, library days and trips to the pub, university will be over. I left with no idea what I’d do once I left, or if I’d even want to stay in the first place. So I’m sitting here (and a big follow up post about the end and looking back and all that jazz to come Friday or Saturday) and just thinking about tomorrow, this big ceremony that we’ve all been told about for years. I’ve had my hair done, my eyebrows, I have a new dress and even heels for the actual ceremony (not all day though, you have to be kidding me), Ali’s going to be there, my parents, my sister. Mostly I’m feeling nervous right now, worried about how the pictures will look, the walk across the stage. I’m not as panicked as I thought I’d be, actually I’m pretty proud of the fact that next week I’ll have spent a month in a job that I love, I have a car I saved up for and I feel like I have some idea of how I want my life to go. Fingers crossed I don’t fall over in the 5 minutes I have to be in heels.

Image from Pinterest

Going, going, gone- Goodbye Dissertation

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If you are following me on any social media, Twitter, Instagram any friends I have on Facebook I now apologise for the avalanche of dissertation related posts for the past few weeks. It really has been my life, every minute I had ‘free’ was spent on my dissertation, reading, editing, re-reading, having a meltdown, carrying on and finally submitting!! Yes today at about 2.30pm I finally handed in my printed and bound dissertation and it felt so good. So, so good.

It doesn’t mean I’m finished, I have two more assignments to finish and submit before everything is done but I do feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I know for a fact I handed in looking exhausted and I don’t really care about that because I am absolutely exhausted! I’m hoping that the next two essays don’t leave me working until 3am (they’re a lot smaller) and so I’ll just feel better.

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THE selfie I’ve been waiting to take for three years

I’m in two minds about whether, if I started my degree all over again, I would take a dissertation again if I had a choice. Looking back on this year and the stresses and strains I’ve had because of my health and my body I would probably been better doing two special studies, but hey ho it’s done and dusted now. Sylvia Plath will always hold a special place in my heart, hell I think I could even write a book on her if I wanted after all the research I’ve done for this! I mean I’m not going to, Sylvia is now just for pleasure reading. On that thought, ah pleasure reading, the TBR list is piling up now!

Honestly, I just feel so happy that it’s over and yes there are niggling little thoughts but I’m pushing them aside. It’s done, it’s over and there’s nothing I can do about it now. Buh-bye! Thank you to all of you who have commented on blogs, liked them, sent me messages on Instagram and Twitter, it feels like I have my own little support group when I’m struggling. So now, onwards and upwards, I’m halfway through submission and come the 3rd May it will all be done!

Fresher’s week 2015

After last weeks celebrations for birthday week, I am surprised I’m still awake after my second week of activities and shenanigans. This week was Fresher week and although I haven’t been out pounding the dance floor I have been pretty busy and, well, I definitely feel like a first year. I spent my first Freshers week being incredibly awkward and nervous and I spent a lot of time in my room, my second Freshers week I went out with my friends, signed up for societies and partied…for my third, I was actually having to be a responsible person.

I spent Monday in physio and working, Tuesday practicing with the boys and taking the Amp for emergency repair (not an ideal situation), Wednesday working with the newbies and taking them to enrollment, Thursday at Freshers fair and then straight to a show at the Fighting Cocks (quite possibly the best crowd I’ve ever played to, shouting, dancing, clapping and an encore!) and back to the fair again on Friday where we got over 100 sign ups for the Horse Riding Society! Get in!

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I’d be lying if I said that everything was completely easy this week. I’ve struggled a lot with both my spine and my anxiety. I’ve got a love hate relationship with Freshers, I love that it’s the beginning of the year and I’m excited to get stuck in, but at the same time I get so anxious with so many people around and everything going on all at once. I’ve met other people like that too, which makes me feel a little better. I’m also freaking out a little out third year, all the work I have to do, the thought of applying for my MA and funding and not knowing what’s going to happen once I graduate. It was also more than a little bittersweet not having Eleanor, Maisha and Alissa around this year to hang out with too.

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Overall, it’s been a good week, definitely challenging but I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved. Am I ready to go back? Yes. I can’t wait to get back into lectures and have something to get stuck into again. I know this years going to be a bit hard because of my spine and I’ll have to miss out on some things that I wanted to do, but maybe I’ll get to do something I hadn’t planned on. I have some great things this year, I love my job, I love my friends, my bands FINALLY getting somewhere, I have two lovely little hammies and the best guy around at my side. I think this year’s going to be a pretty good one.

Society Awards 2015!!!

Last night I mentioned that I was getting ready for the university Society Awards. It was all a bit of a rush at first with missing trains, busses not turning up and my sat in my wheelchair waiting for someone (Amy) to come and push me. We’ve gotten A LOT better at navigating around Kingston since the last time and Amy has strength that she never knew she did. So Amy, Laura and I headed out to represent Kingston Horse Riding Society at the awards.

It was a big dinner and award ceremony and I was wheeled around (and to my embarrassment carried because there weren’t ramps to the waiting area). We ate, laughed and took photos. First up was volunteering awards, which I’m embarrassed to say that I really didn’t know anything about. I’d love to volunteer but next year I’m going to be doing so much it will be unreal!

We nervously waited for our categories. This year we were nominated for Most Improved Society, Best President and Laura for Outstanding Contribution. We were shortlisted for the first….and then we won!!!!! We screamed so loud, our little society had won most improved! I was gutted that I couldn’t go up and accept with the others but a special mention was made and my picture taken! It was an incredible feeling and something I’m so proud to take through when I am president next year.

The society’s award!!! 

Next up was president of the year, which unfortunately Laura didn’t win but was shortlisted! We sat through the rest of the evening grinning like idiots because we did it! We had an award!! We only had one more to go and I, being the clumsy idiot I was, was trying not to knock everything over on the table.

Can you tell how excited we are? 😀 

For the final award of the night, Outstanding Contribution and we have a winner!!! Laura was one of 8 chosen! I cried when she won this award. I’m proud of all for my friends for different reasons, for Laura this is just a smidgen of how proud I am of her. Like me, she had a fall last year but is STILL recovering and had 9 months off of riding while she helped all of us and taught me everything I know about horses. She’d dealt with a load of other stuff as well and always has a smile on her face. Well deserved is an understatement and I am so happy to have her in my life and I can’t wait to watch our friendship grow over all our riding adventures!

Lovely Laura with her incredible award! 

I was so glad I went, after all the nerves and panic I felt about going in the chair. There were also times while I was there and feeling a little bit overwhelmed. So many people wanted to know about the wheelchair and what happened and what was going on in terms of recovery. I appreciated their kindness but it sent my anxiety into overdrive and nervousness.

Later on I’d calmed down and enjoyed myself. I was even wheeled on the dance floor and spun around, trying to wave my arms like a mad thing. Later, Laura did the same until my meds started to ware off and I got tired. I ended up getting wheeled home after midnight with lollipops and sweets. I was tucked up in bed (after being lifted in when my back decided it didn’t want to work) with a smile on my face and a tummy full of nerves for a fantastic society next year.

Dressing up

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I’m writing this in the 15 minutes or so that I have before Laura and Amy arrive to pick up me and my wheels for tonight’s society night out. It’s the Volunteering and Society awards, yaaaaay! The Riding society is up for best new society and best president (go Laura!).

No was with many of these types of occasions there is a theme to adhere to, this year was a mix between carnival and Gatsby. It meant I had to find something to where which didn’t make me feel hideously underdressed but still fancy enough while being comfortable in my wheelchair. I’ve had an outfit change already due to to outfit I wanted to wear not looking as good sitting down as standing up.

I don’t know what it is about dressing up to go out but it leaves me in a cold sweat. I’m not entirely comfortable in short dresses/ skirts for a night out and as fo heels? I love wearing them but I’m not great at walking in them. There was a time when I was younger that dressing up was my favourite thing ever, I loved discos and parties and would try ANYTHING in terms of fashion. Now I seem to have developed a uniform at uni of jeans and a nice jumper or t-shirt to uni, with my parka on top and either converses or Doc Martin’s on my feet. In the summer jeans get changed to shorts and tops to vest tops, with some floaty dresses thrown in one or twice a week.

I don’t know what it is there is just this horrible panicking fear when I dress up and wanting to measure up to other girls around me. Now I know 90% of girls do this, they look around the room and try and see if they look ‘good enough’. I try not to do this but I’m human like all of you. Once I’m there and relaxed I mostly calm down but the thought of dressing up and going to a big room full of people I don’t know, especially when I’m in a wheelchair, makes me go incredibly shy, which I NEVER AM!

It’s the huge internal monologue of Ok, who do I know here, do I know anyone here? No? Ok right talk to people, come on talk. Right ok now you’re talking to someone don’t say anything stupid. Did I hear someone laughing, shit is my dress up at the back? How do I subtly find out without making it look like I’ve got a major wedgie? Oh god what are they talking about now? Just smile and nod, smile and nod. 

Usually I get away with it and people are nice and I catch up with what’s going on. So there you have it, I’m off out, nervous and anxious as hell for no apparent reason, which is odd because if I was doing a mental health speech I’d be fine, but this and feeling out of my depth, not so much. That’s me off so hopefully I’ll have a good night and something interesting to tweet about later!

One of the best days of my life.

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You know those days that are totally kick arse and at the end of it you kind of still can’t believe it. Yeah that happened today. I’d mentioned before how I had been asked to speak at the Diversity conference and to be fair I was so nervous. Last night and this morning I was so worried, what if no one turned up? What if loads of people did but they disagreed with my points? Do I really know what I’m talking about?

Turns out I shouldn’t have worried. After speaking to our Chancellor, Bonnie Greer MBE, I felt at ease. I’d watched one of her speeches before and she was absolutely incredible, I was able to watch her again before my own speech and I was just so inspired by it all.

As for my speech? It was well recieved, I got the most questions of the morning and the best thing was that I was really helping people. I had so many people come up to me after, asking my advice and if I would be involved in certain things. It was overwhelming but everything I wanted to be. I’m hoping to write a blog based on the ideas that I spoke about today.

I was also ableto be a part of a Mental Health workshop and we could really discuss how it impacted our lives, how we could help the university etc. Overall a really positive day in terms of Mental Health and I will also hopefully be participating with a member of staff on a research project on students with MH issues. How exciting!

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My wonderful tutor Sara giving her support. 

After catching up with my friend Joe, who was so supportive today and I can’t thank him enough. My next part of the day was to head to the Kingston Writing School and a talk that I had helped organise. If you haven’t read any of R.S Pateman’s novels go now! The Second Life of Amy Archer is out now and The Prophecy of Bees will be out later this month.

Rob gave a brilliant talk, honest, funny and humble. I was also pleased to find someone else who writes like me! Scattered and all over the place, not careful planning if I can help it. Hopefully I’ll be attending a book launch for The Prophecy of Bees soon which should be a lot of fun!

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Rob Pateman (R.S Pateman) and I 

Other than that general smiles, good company and some exciting news about my academic future (possibly) overall a great day and still proving you can LIVE  with depression 🙂



Why I LOVE Kingston

It’s no surprise to any of you who read this blog regularly that I am absolutely in love with my university. I study there, I live there, I have friends there, I met my band there and I want to stay there. Without sounding cocky after my results came out I could have applied to other places I recieved A*, Distinction *, Distinction *, Distinction and B overall and had a stack of UCAS points I didn’t expect. I worked bloody hard and threw up in my exam, so yes I was proud of myself. This actually let of a fair bit of snobbery, people would ask why I was applying to Kingston with my grades and I’m writing this to explain why I chose Kingston and why I want to choose them again.

Kingston was one of the first places that I felt like I could fit, I was excited as well as terrified but that didn’t stop me. Since I got here it’s been amazing, the support I get, my incredible tutor and lecturers, my mental health team, the student life team, working with the students union, awards and endless opportunities. It is because of all of this I get incredibly angry when we are seen as a number on a league table, spend a year like I have and you’ll realise life is abut more than tables. I didn’t even look at them when I applied! I just wanted to be happy.

Now my first year is over I can say that despite some challenges and my decision to become a full field literature student, I’m happy. I’m so, so happy. I still find people giving me a look when I say where I study because they study somewhere more prestigious, blah, blah, blah. Oxford, Cambridge, UCL I know for a fact none of these places would have been right for me as a person. I’m more than just a brain in a tank. I love that my lecturers treat me as a person and arn’t too busy to have a chat when they have office hours. I love the fact that my tutor hasn’t given up on me despite some really bad anxiety this year.

Most of all I love the fact that I’ve been given a chance and a boost of ambition. I’ll finish my degree in 2 years and start my masters, which will hopefully be at Kingston. This is a post about uni pride because that’s what I feel so strongly. I’m not trying to recruit people (I’ve already done that at Open Day), this is just how proud I am of my uni. I honestly think Kingston has helped me so much in fighting my illness and boosting my confidence so far, for that I’ll always be grateful.