Friday, 6 January 2017

New Year, New Me + All That.

How can I make the most out of university life this semester? 

Today I took my sister into Falmouth as she is leaving tomorrow and I wanted her to see the final part of my uni experience, which is going into town and to the local beach. It was really lovely and as I write this she is next to me doing her art work in the scanning suite in the Photography Institute. But it's making me think a lot about what I am going to do with myself once she leaves.

The first semester was a mess. I enjoyed it get don't get me wrong but in month one I was homesick and just wanted to go back home, month two I came to the apparent realisation that I was studying the completely wrong subject (I now feel otherwise), and by month three I was stressing out so much about deadlines I couldn't really panic about anything else. 

So in a cliche beginning of January kind of way I want to things to change. Where resolutions are concerned I first want to get fitter. Ideally I would love to get into the habit of going jogging early in the morning but I have genuinely never done that and really don't know if I could commit to it. However in general I want to go out on more walks and generally do things everyday that get me out of the flat and moving. As I live in a beautiful place and didn't manage my time as well I could have last term to enable me to see even more of it. 

My big resolution however is to get more organised. I have received a proper academic diary off of my parents for christmas (definite hint from them there) and really want to get into the habit of using it to plan my days and organise myself with deadlines. I also want to make sure I do more stuff with the societies I am in this year, fit in lots of guest lectures, keep on track with my art history course and also do lots as a student ambassador and mentor. I feel like I could spend the next hour talking about what I want to do with my course and life in general this year but you get the picture. I want to do lots of things. 

I think the main obstacle is going to be feeling stressed and also not managing my time well enough. But these first few weeks are going to give me room to breath and allow me to ease back into my studies gently, so I definitely have time to start getting organised. Start as you mean to go on as they say.

I hope your new years are starting out well and you are looking forward to the future and making the most out of it. Till next time. 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Arriving Back in Falmouth.

A Fresh Perspective

On Monday I finally arrived back on campus for a new semester here at university. This is my second semester so saying goodbye to my friends and family was a little easier, as I now know what to expect out of life at uni now. This time I have also brought my sister Stef down for the week so it was more exciting in a way than sad leaving Sheffield because I have been looking forward to showing her where I live. 

Yesterday I finally finished up with my inductions and a presentation I had to give for the week so I was free to take Stef wherever. I chose the two reservoirs near campus as I only had the latter half of the day free. It is really nice having Stef here, especially seeing her get excited about where I live and the resources I have here. Which as she is an artist she is making lots of use out of, in particular the scanning suite in the photography institute which I am having to take her to every evening. 

I want to do a separate post about new years resolutions and such but I wanted to briefly say how much I feel my perspective on the whole university situation has changed this year. I finally know what I'm up against stress wise and really feel ready to get organised with it all and make uni life work for me. 

Friday, 30 December 2016

Winter In Derbyshire.

It has been so lovely to be back in Sheffield with my family these past few weeks and one weekend we decided to go out into Derbyshire walking. We explored the Hartington Dales and went to the raised coral atoll you see as you drive towards Hartington from Buxton. Being able to get to places like this so easily by car from Sheffield makes me feel very lucky to live in this area. 

On Monday I am going back down to Falmouth and my sister is coming with me for a week! I am sad to be leaving my family again so soon but I am looking forward to showing my sister where I live in term time because it really is beautiful down there. I am also looking forward to a New Year as I really feel like starting fresh with a lot of things. I want to become a lot more organised and for my confidence to grow. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Happy Holidays!

As it has been a while since my last post I have to decided to share a couple of pictures and wish you all a happy holidays. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are making the most of seeing your loved ones and having some well deserved time off. 

I am only back in Sheffield for three weeks so I am making the most of being with the people who matter most. I feel very lucky for many things that have happened this year but I feel very spoiled this christmas in particular. I got an amazing camera and lens and have eaten so many beautiful foods. It has been a very busy and stressful semester but I wouldn't change any of the ups or downs. I really feel I have grown as a person this year and couldn't be more grateful to those around me, who have supported me through everything. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Talking About Mental Health at Uni.

"Where there is cake, there is hope...and there is always cake."

The other day I helped some members of the FXU Raise and Donate Team by taking photographs of their Depressed Cake Shop bake sale. If you don't know about The Depressed Cake shop it is an organisation aiming to end the stigmatisation of mental illnesses through engaging people in discussions about the topic, through bake sales including recognisable grey cakes. It was really lovely talking to and photographing the events management students running the store based at AMATA, on our Penryn campus, and also the people buying the cakes. 

There was also someone from Mind who had come along to hand out leaflets and give any advice to students who needed any, and there were people from student support there to let students know what kind of support is on offer for those with mental health issues. 

Being there and hearing conversations from people who were receiving things like counselling and doing what they can to help their mental health, really made me step back and think about my own struggles with mental health. 

I have mentioned before in previous posts that I suffer from anxiety and depression and honestly moving 7 hours away from home to university was really going to be sink or swim for me, in terms of whether I would be able to deal with being out of my comfort zone so much. I think it surprised a lot of people that I was so committed to doing this particular course here at Falmouth, especially those who are closest to me as I am very reserved and have a small group of friends, so just suddenly moving away from all that clearly wasn't going to be easy.

Fresher's week was hard for me but I pushed myself to go out on society tasters, and even though I didn't make any close friends that week I was making sure not to spend all of my time in my bedroom, where I would inevitably sit and miss my family. I remember looking on social media sites like Yik Yak and our freshers page on Facebook, and many people were writing about how much they hated it here and that they didn't like their flatmates and they wanted to go home, and it made me really sympathise and also made me question whether I really want to be here or not. 

The problem with getting mental health support at University is that even if you state that you have a mental illness and apply for extra funding etc before you get there, you still have to seek help yourself if you need it whether that be in person or over email. Which takes a lot for some people and is something I still haven't done yet. Mental health is incredibly stigmatised and even if there is counselling available and other help it can still be very daunting to make use of that, especially if you are feeling isolated already at University being away from your family and friends. 

So what can you do? Well you can go on external forums or call up a helpline so you can discuss what's on your mind with someone anonymously. You could try talking to your flatmates/uni friends or contact friends and family from back home. You could also book an appointment with your GP to see what kind of therapies and treatments are available to you outside your university.

Personally my biggest issues are stress, social anxiety and not feeling good enough. My problem is that I let these things bottle up and then I need time for self care, and to get myself back to a good mental state. Which is time I don't really have while doing my studies. I have been talking to my friends back home about it which has been really helpful and I do plan on mentioning my lack of confidence in my studies to my personal tutor. In terms of getting support from the University I am looking into these stress less sessions that they offer. Admittedly I am avoiding counselling at the moment as I really don't like talking about myself to strangers, but I really see how talking through unhealthy behaviours and learning how to think differently in response to triggering stimuli could be really beneficial. 

My real point here is that people are more understanding than you think about mental health. Mental Health disorders are incredibly stigmatised in our society and it makes it very off putting to label yourself as having any kind of mental health disorder, but if you need help don't ever feel like you are not allowed to seek it. And in terms of being at University plenty of people suffer from mental health problems here whether they seem like they are fine or not. 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health disorder so you are not alone. I was shocked at the people at the bake sale who opened up and said they were receiving counselling for something, as they are people I never would have suspected as suffering with a mental health problem. 

If you are at University and feel as though you have no one to talk to about any of this know that there are support systems in place that you can reach out to if you need it. There is also external help like I mentioned and feel free to contact me personally if you want to talk to anyone who is in a similar setting to you who doesn't know you personally. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

3 Days at the Eden Project.

Today I wanted to share some photographs I took on our classes' three day residential trip to The Eden Project and share what I thought of the experience. We went on the first week of October and the purpose of the trip was to take photographs of the workers there and to learn more about the project itself. I had never been there before but it is somewhere I have been wanting to visit so was really excited when my lecturers told us we had a trip planned there.

We stayed at the Youth Hostel there in Snooze Boxes which are rooms made from re purposed shipping containers, which were very cosy to say the least and had a bunk bed and double bed in it. Each day we used the land train to get into the project and back from the hostel, and we were lucky enough to have our breakfast and evening meal in the dining area between the biomes, when the project was closed to the rest of the public.

Our first day involved us exploring the biomes on our own which really are beautiful. There is the rain forest biome which Eden is most famous for as it is the biggest rain forest in captivity in the world. The other biome is the Mediterranean biome which was my personal favourite as it is beautifully curated and made me very nostalgic of when my family used to go backpacking around Southern Spain.

But it isn't just about the biomes. The Eden Project has beautiful surroundings such as wild cornwall and the gardens next to the biomes which are equally as interesting as the biomes, however a lot of tourists seem to go straight past them and head straight to the biomes.

On the second day we got to meet lots of workers and we also were lucky enough to receive a talk from Tim Smit who created the Eden Project. The story of how Eden came to be is really worth a read into, and Smit is an incredibly inspirational individual who I recommend you find out about and listen to one of his talks.

Overall Eden was pretty special and is definitely worth revisiting. They have loads of events throughout the year and as I am at University down here in Cornwall I will definitely keep checking what is happening there. The photographs I shared with you are not my project work and instead I shared some of the photographs I took for myself to remember the experience. I hope you like them and if there is anywhere else in Cornwall you think I should visit do let me know!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Trying New Things.

Trip to Godrevy Seal Colony with the Ecological Society

Walk at College Reservoir with the Expedition Society

Moth Trapping with the Ecological Society

Beach Cleanup

Freshers week started for me on the 12th of September and it really was a hectic week. If you've read any of my past posts you may know that I get anxiety about certain kinds of social situations and a big thing that I struggle with which doesn't really bother me anyway to be honest is going out drinking. So freshers week for me wasn't as predictable as you maybe would assume and it really scared me for my first few days because I was convinced that everyone around me would be drinking and going out constantly in the evenings. My first two days were mostly spent in my bedroom and I would pop out to run the occasional errand. However on the second night I found a freshers events list for my university and was shocked to see that the events weren't just parties, and there was in fact lots of other things for me to do during the day, in particular with societies.

I had barely spoken to anyone in my first day or so and it was really scary going to the first event which was a walk with the Expedition Society to a small village called Flushing. But straight away I was completely put at ease. It became apparent to me that everyone is in the same boat and everyone came out for a lovely walk of course but also to meet people. It was such a lovely afternoon and it just gave me so much reassurance that I wouldn't have to do this uni thing all by myself or in my bedroom for that matter. 

So I continued trying new things. Ok I have definitely been on a walk before but being in a society is alien to me and it's been a very long time since I have been in a club of any kind, so I continued my week doing different tasters and events to maybe discover a new interest of mine and to help me find my place more at uni. It meant I would be kept busy instead of getting worked up about finances or missing my family and I also would come back to my flat in the evenings feeling like I have made good use of my day. 

Two weeks later and I have signed up to four societies and cannot wait to do lots of different things in my spare time with them. I know not all of you reading this will be at uni or even thinking about university life, however if there's one thing I learnt in my first week that I want to share it's that there is so much more to do and see wherever you live, and it really is special to be a part of something that is something extra alongside your main focus. 

Is there anything you do in your spare time that I should try? Have you been to University and been in societies yourself?