Lazy Summer Days

Back when I just started reading and was still living in Bangladesh, I would get so excited about whichever new book (usually a Goosebumps one) I bought from the ‘library.’ I would cosy up on the sofa or on our king sized bed and read all day long.

While buying books will always be something I love, I haven’t felt that joy and excitement I used to feel for quite some time now. Perhaps it’s because now it’s much easier for me to get my hands on books I want. Or maybe because I have more things to keep me busy with. We didn’t have internet connection till twenty eleven and my free time was (when simplified) divided between TV, computer and books.

Anywho, I got a few books after my exams in May and haven’t gotten around to finishing any of them. I am this close to finishing The Universe In Your Hand by Christophe Galfard and I actually like the book, so I am not even sure what’s holding me back. For the most part, I read it while travelling and refuse to pick it up now at home.

I was a quarter way through Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. As much as I enjoyed it, I had to pause it in June for some reasons and proceeded to reading a poem or two from The Essential Rumi. I haven’t read from it for a while now.

The Universe In Your Hand is a book about cosmology for regular folks interested in cosmology and the origin of our universe. I happen to be one of them. If I was ever any good at maths, I would probably be studying physics and specialising in astronomy. My sister thinks I am being ‘educational’ when I read these stuff but honestly, I just really enjoy learning about these things. To each our own.

I have also been listening to podcasts when I am out and about. (Piece of advice though, take off your headphones while attempting to cross the road. Learn from my mistakes!) Castbox app probably existed for a while now but I am obsessed with it. Instead of listening to music which makes me feel low, I just listen to interesting podcasts that almost make me forget that I am in the Underground. (Subway for Americans)

A notable few podcast ‘channels’ that I enjoy listening to are The Life Scientific, Writing Excuses, History Extra, TED talks, The Guardian UK: Politics Weekly, Social Triggers and Pod Save The World every now and again.

The Life Scientific is actually a BBC Radio 4 programme where Professor Jim Al-Khalili interviews leading scientists about their lives, struggles and achievements and as a scientist on the way, (hopefully!) I just find listening to these interviews very inspiring and interesting.

Writing Excuses is run by a few authors including Brandon Sanderson, and they interview other authors to discuss their writing techniques and advice. I really like listening to these discussions and I honestly believe aspiring writers can really benefit from it.

I can’t afford to go abroad for holiday at the moment, so I have been out and about around London a lot. Mostly with my sister though after getting annoyed (for no particular reason) and losing touch with the handful of people that I used to know. I know, I am a horrible person. But my sister’s cool company to be around. We have been eating out, shopping, popping into a few festivals and leaving like five minutes later and watching movies. By shopping, I mean necessary shopping. Mostly.

We watched Wonder Woman, Despicable me 3, Spiderman: Homecoming and Annabelle: Creation so far before she left for University. One of my friends from college and I are going to go watch It on Wednesday for which I am excited because we haven’t seen each other in a while and we both like horror movies.

For someone who is no longer a teen, I watch a hell lot of cartoons. I just cannot help it! I also binge on regular series but cartoons hold a special place in my heart. Ironically, I never liked anime enough to get into it. As you can tell by now, my life isn’t that interesting. God forbid, someone I know reads my blog!

I binged on Star vs The Forces of Evil, Loud House, Harvey Beaks, Milo Murphy’s Law, and Over The Garden Wall this summer. I am now watching Daria! A little late but my God that girl embodies my spirit!

As for the series, I finished watching Reign because my best friend also got into it. Really loved Suits along with Jane The Virgin and Riverdale. I was pleasantly surprised with Riverdale because I tried watching it before but didn’t like it back then.

I also opened a pinterest account and if anyone reading this actually enjoys the content I post, ya might want to check my account out. I found a few recipes that I might actually be able to make. My skin has broken out a lot thanks to my unhealthy eating habits at home but since my second year of University is about to begin in a few days, I hope to change that.

I have my priorities straight now and chances are I am going to remain busy with work, assignments, projects, etc. so I am actually looking forward to going back. I also feel like I have matured as a person and developed more confidence in myself now compared to a year before. Here’s hoping, this year I won’t be miserable!

You know what I deserve a medal for? Joining the gym and actually using it regularly. Seriously, I did.

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Lessons from first year of University

Before August 2016, I was supposed to take a gap year (a year out of education, usually after completing A levels and before starting university) which was more of a gamble that I lost. My poor grades meant I couldn’t apply for medicine and studying anything else wasn’t an option at that time.

In the UK, we apply to University through an online application process called UCAS which we send off near the beginning of A2 level or Year 13. Or so it was during my time, some things have changed since then. The deadline for medicine is in October while for everything else it’s around January/February. I can’t exactly remember. After that, it’s through ‘clearing.’ A process where you call up universities after receiving your grades and see if they will offer you a place on the subject of your choice (except medicine). But you do need to have a completed UCAS application to be eligible for a place through clearing.

I applied through clearing. Once I received my my grades and realised there’s no point in taking a gap year, I completed my application in two days and started making calls. Long story short: Lincoln was the best I could do.

I came to university without researching. I didn’t even attend the ‘open day’ held for students who were coming through clearing. That’s lesson number one: visiting university during open days. That way I would’ve been more prepared, mentally at least. It would’ve probably opened up a window for me to have met more people. Furthermore, had I known beforehand, I would’ve joined those freshers facebook groups where one can meet people from their course and accommodation. It’s just easier to settle in when there’s a visible ‘support group’ around.

During the first few weeks, I dreaded leaving my room. I have a terrible sense of direction and I had no idea what I was doing. My confidence levels after the results were incredibly low and I just felt afraid of everything. Which brings me to lesson number two: that feeling of dread will subside no matter how unbelievable that might seem at that moment. 

I wasn’t in the best state of mind and didn’t have the courage to join any societies. Most people have their thing: Disney, Harry Potter, Anime etc. I just didn’t know what my thing was…or is. Lesson number three: join societies even if the plan to stick to it isn’t long term. Because attending that first social/event by a society can introduce opportunities one never saw coming.

I don’t drink and refuse to sesh (another term for clubbing/partying/raving) but literally 99% of the people around me do, even if it’s to an extent. Sometimes, I do have thoughts like maybe it would’ve made my life easier if I related to the habits of the masses. It’s not a secret that I am insecure about my personality and being in a situation of immense peer pressure didn’t help. Don’t get me wrong, the pressure in university is different than to being in high school. Most of which stems from FOMO or the fear of missing out.

That being said, lesson number four: life is too short to compromise values and beliefs that essentially make up one’s identity. It’s hard but priorities are priorities. In the end, no one’s going to look back and think: well, at least I fit in or at least those people I knew for like three years thought I was ‘fun.’ I wanted to be more involved with ‘internal affairs’ without having to drink or sesh, so I got a job which puts me at the centre of student affairs.

Another interesting thing I observed was that it takes longer than one might expect to really get to know someone. Even if things seem stable, for better or worse, things change throughout and quickly near the end of the year.

Lesson number five: don’t give up so quickly, things change when one least expects it to. Take small steps to change a situation but if something doesn’t work out, it was never meant to in the first place.

Lesson number six: for the love of anything at all, learn how to cook. Plan weekly meals to make life easier. Because I don’t eat things with alcohol or ‘meat’, I can’t just grab any ready made meal from supermarkets. Even worse, I am awful at cooking. But with practise, I’ve gotten better. I make weekly meal plans now and pin easy recipes down to try out. Pinterest recipes are life savers!

Lesson number seven: living in a private space, e.g. a studio, doesn’t mean living in isolation. There’s a fair split between people who get along with their flatmates and people who don’t. Usually, in second year people get to decide who they want to live with and have a better experience.

When I had to decide in November where I wanted to live for this year, I had only one close-ish friend and we actually considered looking at a two bedroom flat. Long story short, we are actually very different people and us living together would’ve been a recipe for disaster. Some people just need more time to find the right friends than others, nothing wrong with that.

Lesson number eight: many things will NOT go the way one may want them to. Just have patience, things tend to work out in the end. I lacked vitality and any sense of joy for the first five to eight months but things did turn out okay in the end. I don’t want to continue being friends with some of the people I’ve met. And not for any spiteful reasons either. We make different friends at different stages as we proceed through life.

Lesson number nine: not comparing experiences with others. It’s honestly pointless. Not everyone will experience the same things the same way and that’s just life.

Lesson number ten: no matter what happens, things will get easier. Including things like cleaning, cooking, adjusting to a new style of education etcetera etcetera. Some people are so focused on the social aspect, they forget the main purpose of being at an university. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time, it’s so important to realise that education is the main focus and it costs a lot too.

Personally, I don’t think my experience is a particularly relatable one. But when I was going through it, if I had found something like this it would’ve helped me cope. Most people have a fantastic time and I am sure if any student is reading this, you will too.

On moving cities

The coughing during lectures is unbearable.

I have been living alone for almost two weeks now. Before leaving my house in London, I felt relatively calm about this major change in my life. When I permanently moved back to London after thirteen years in Bangladesh, things were different. At least, I have grown here and there as a person over the years.

I am currently studying Biomedical Science in the University of Lincoln. Initially, I planned on taking a gap year but my A levels didn’t turn out to be good, so taking a gap year would have been a bad idea for me. Henceforth, I applied for University within two days to secure a place through clearing, which led to where I am at the moment.

When I moved to Lincolnshire on Saturday the 17th of September, my self-esteem had a full on relapse. To shine some context, I am a social socially awkward person. Which means I am not afraid to speak to people but some of my general behaviour can be awkward, especially when I am anxious and self-conscious. Maybe, I will talk more about that on a different post.

The day started with the pre-booked taxi cancelling on me just a few minutes before leaving. I was somewhat ill which didn’t help my case. We did end up boarding the train without rushing but the moment we came into Lincoln things only got worse.

As I was already in a negative frame of mind and my anxiety levels were sky rocketing, my first impression of Lincoln was: I am going to have to spend three years of my life here. Read it with a I am doomed tone instead of a cheerful one. Then the taxi which was supposed to drive us to my accommodation was more or less an hour late. When he did arrive, he was the most unhelpful driver in the history of drivers.

It didn’t end there; some stuff happened later on and I felt like burying myself alive. When we kind of settled in my studio room and I calmed down a little, I realised it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was overthinking things.

I remember thinking: today is the worst day of my life and I can’t do this by myself. What a great way to start a new chapter! Obviously, it wasn’t the worst day of my life and I have grown to like Lincoln. Let’s just say things are working out for now.