Saturday, 23 February 2019

Molly’s Quick and Easy Cookie Recipe

This is my favourite thing to bake as it doesn’t require many ingredients, some of which you may already have or are fairly inexpensive to buy. Even better, you can add anything you like to the cookie dough or split the mixture to make a couple of different flavours.

1 Egg
150g Unsalted butter
150g Caster sugar
200g Plain flour
100g Chocolate chips
½ tsp Vanilla essence or extract 
1 tsp Baking powder

Makes 10-12 large cookies.

1.    Preheat the oven to 180C.
2.    Beat together the sugar and softened butter until pale and fluffy.
3.    Mix in the egg, vanilla essence and baking powder .
4.    Sift the flour and add to the mixture.
5.    Add the chocolate chips (or your chosen filling).
6.    Spoon the mixture onto greased baking tray, make sure to leave plenty of room between them as the cookies will spread.
7.    Bake in the oven for 12-15 mins or until golden.
8.    To avoid breakage allow to cool completely before transferring to a storage container.

Other suggested fillings:
White chocolate

Chocolate orange 

Monday, 11 February 2019

How to Study Effectively

I’ve been actively studying now since my GCSE’s yet it’s taken me until my final year of Uni to actually figure out how I study best. There’s been a lot of trial and error throughout the years, mostly me underestimating how prone I am to distraction and procrastination. With that being said I’ve put in place a few extra steps to maintain my sanity during study season and minimise the time I spend staring blankly into space. Hopefully you can apply these tips to studying for your A-levels and see a difference in the amount of time it takes to get the work done.

1.    Get Organised 
This means knowing of when your deadlines or exams are and organising your study time accordingly, by writing deadlines down in a calendar or planner as soon as you’re given them you’ll never be shocked by work sneaking up on you. This gives you a general sense of what you’ll need to be doing when, and how long you have to complete each assignment. Following on from this its best to get started ASAP even if this just means choosing a question for an assignment or picking out a topic which you struggle with. Setting out a plan from the start helps to combat procrastination, you’ll feel better for having made a start even if it is only small. You may also need to consider if you work best in isolation or around other people; do you work best when someone else is there to spot if you’re getting distracted, or do you need complete privacy to get your head down. Once you’ve figured all this out you can begin to crack on with work without becoming overwhelmed. 

2.    Say ‘so-long’ to social media
When I was writing my most recent assignments I deleted all social media apps from my phone. Everyone knows social media can be a hamper to productivity but I didn’t realise just how much time I was spending every day mindlessly scrolling until I deleted the apps and saw my screen time plummet. I didn’t have to delete my accounts completely, I just deleted them from my phone but even this made a huge difference as scrolling on a phone is so much more addictive than on a desktop. 

3.    Ditch the tech
Along similar lines to the previous tip, leave the phone itself in a different room. Even without social media apps I could still manage to find a way of getting distracted checking my emails or whatever else. I left my phone in the kitchen while I was working in my room, and I have to say that out of sight out of mind really did the trick in this case. If you’re still getting distracted on your computer then you could try turning off the Wi-Fi if it’s okay with the rest of your household, otherwise you could have someone change the Wi-Fi password so you can’t log on until you’ve done some work. 

4.    Set measurable deadlines & hold yourself accountable
I always find that time runs away with me when I’m studying or writing essays, especially during vacation periods when the long days blend into one another. In order to make sure I’m getting stuff done and not letting procrastination take over my life I try to set measurable deadlines that I can hold myself accountable to. For example I might say ‘I want to write 500 words today’. This breaks the work into smaller more manageable chunks. You might need to work in blocks of time to get into the swing of things, e.g. half an hour and carry on if you’re making progress. Just make sure to reward yourself with breaks when you reach your targets to maintain morale and avoid burnout.

5.    Little and often 
Now I don’t mean taking a break every five minutes, what I mean is, if you have a deadline in 2 weeks you should be working on the assignment for a couple of hours every day over a prolonged period of time. Not all in one go the night before. Leaving work to the last minute is far from ideal, mistakes can easily slip through the net when you’re working up until the last moment, especially if you don’t leave enough time to review your work. Studying regularly keeps the work fresh in your mind and makes it easier to come back to when you need to. I find this to be a really useful method of re-assessing and improving work as a fresh pair of eyes the next day can be the key to making your work better. 

I hope you’ll find some of these tips helpful but please keep in mind that what works for others may not work for you, you may need to play around with different systems until you find the right one. However hard or pointless it may seem at times (I know, I’ve been there) putting your efforts into studying is absolutely worth it in the end. Give these last few months of the academic year everything you’ve got because you’ll never regret working hard.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Why I Chose the University of Birmingham for my Undergrad

I’m in final year now but I still remember how difficult it was to be in year 13 and have to make the huge decision of which Uni I wanted to go to. My main priority was that the university had a good reputation and that I would enjoy the course, however that didn’t really narrow it down too much. 

Actually going and visiting the Uni’s in person really helped me to decide; I liked the campus and social scene at Warwick but it lacked the ‘city life’ I was used to at home, I tried Sheffield and the city was great but I didn’t like that the buildings were spread across the city centre. From this it was clear that I wanted a University based in a city, but which had its own campus, that helped narrow it down to Nottingham and Birmingham, which were both about an hour away from my hometown.

Both Notts and Brum are great student cities, both Uni’s had beautiful green campuses and were well regarded for English Literature so in the end my decision actually came down to rather specific points. So, if you’re curious, these are the points that tipped my decision and made me choose Birmingham. 

Transport – Arriving to Birmingham via the Uni’s own train station really showed how well connected everything is in Birmingham. I was really surprised to learn that people get the train into town, rather than getting the bus like in most cities, but its only 10 mins from Uni station and an off-peak ticket is less than £2 so it’s a no brainer really. Furthermore, being in the centre of the UK geographically and having easy access to major transport hubs means that most other cities are cheaply and easily accessible from Brum, which makes it perfect for weekends away or visiting friends.

City – Birmingham is often referred to as the UK’s ‘Second City’ after London, its true that living in a big and vibrant city certainly has its perks. There’s so much to do in and around town from shopping to world class museums, quirky bars or crazy golf. Birmingham already has a lot to offer but the rapidly expanding city is only set to get better in the next couple years. If you’d like to see some of the best things to do in Brum have a look at my other blog posts or my Instagram

The Guild – Every Uni has a student’s union but I really loved how involved the guild was at Birmingham, particularly the fact that the weekly student nights (Fab n Fresh and Sports Night) were actually held on campus in the guild which is just a short walk from first year and private housing. 

Accommodation – Before I came to Uni I knew that I wanted to be in catered halls, but I didn’t realisejust how different each approach to catering could be. A lot of the catered halls I looked out elsewhere were very old and dated and the meal system was quite inflexible. As well as this, some other Uni’s had a first come first served allocation for accommodation which meant by the time I had made up my mind everything I liked was full! This couldn’t be further from the case at Birmingham, all the accommodation I looked at was frequently updated and the meal plan system allowed me flexibility and choice in my meals rather than the take it or leave it approach I saw elsewhere.

Facilities – Again, other Uni’s that I visited where nice but the facilities tended to be quite tired, going to Uni is an investment in your future and students want to feel like they’re getting good value for money for their fees. The year I started at Birmingham a brand new library opened in September, followed by a new gym and various other study spaces which had been refurbished. Overall the campus was the perfect blend of traditional and modern and I could really see myself living and studying at Birmingham.

The one piece of advice I would give to anyone deciding where to study is to come and see for yourself! The best way to see which Uni is the best fit for you is to just walk around and soak up the atmosphere, see if you get ‘the feeling’ everyone talks about, try and picture yourself living there for three years. Visiting Birmingham myself allowed me to really get to know the University and see the little differences that made it stand out as the place for me. It’s been nearly three years now since I set my heart on Birmingham and honestly I couldn’t be happier, I’d love to do it all again. 

Monday, 28 January 2019

5 Myths About Going to Uni

Being at uni for three years now I’ve heard my fair share of myths about the student experience, so today I’m going to debunk a few of the most common.

1.    First year is the best year
Whilst is certainly is true that first year is the one where you’ll likely have the least responsibilities this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best year. In first year you might be nervous about adapting to independent work at University or moving in with people you don’t know, but by second year you’ll be feeling settled in and be picking the people you want to live with. Each year has its own merits, all is not lost once you make it to second year.

2.    You’ll make your best friends in freshers week
A handful of my close friends now are those I made in freshers week, but most of the people I spent those first couple of days with I hardly see anymore, and I know that’s the case for so many people. Besides, I’ve made so many other friends since then, each year has actually brought me closer to new people and I actually feel like my social circle is a whole lot bigger now than in first year as I have close friends from work, my course and each of the houses I’ve lived in.

3.    You’ll spend three years skint and starving 
Whilst it can be tough sometimes surviving on a student budget there’s plenty of opportunity to top up the cash with part time work during term time or the long vacation periods. Most of my friends have some sort of part time work and not only does this help tide us over it actually enables us to go out and have fun during our degree rather than stressing over money and missing out on experiences. We often go out for meals or drinks together, I learnt in first year that I would much rather earn a bit of extra money than spend the year feeling like I had missed out. Aside from eating out, it’s really easy to do your weekly shop on  budget with Aldi just round the corner. I usually spend between £10-15 per week and I’ve come to have a newfound love for cooking and testing out new recipes (which you can see on my Instagram), I’ve come a long way since pesto pasta in first year.

4.    Living with all girls will be bitchy
I’ve heard this so many times its almost ridiculous. Whilst this year is the only year I’ve lived with all girls this honestly couldn’t be further from the truth. Living in a house of six girls might be some people’s idea of a nightmare but I honestly feel so lucky to have found such a relaxed, funny and sociable group. Don’t be put off by old clichés, you are the best judge of who you will suit living with, even if that is six girls.

5.    Moving out = becoming an adult
Oh how wrong I was to think I would be completely mature and independent as soon as I moved out. It’s not just me though, everyone around me is just muddling their way through uni life. If I’m not ringing mum or dad asking how to do something then I’m probably googling it or asking my housemates instead. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad and I’ve definitely learnt a lot since first year, but I don’t think anyone ever actually feels like an adult, especially when you come back to mum’s home cooked meals at the end of every term.

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing some of the most common misconceptions about going to Uni, if you have discovered any other myths of your own please send me a message on Instagram as I’d love to hear them.