University of Surrey Open Day

Arriving at the open day was a breeze, we managed to park directly outside the main entrance. The university has a massive car park which was free to park in and meant we did not walk far at all. Once we arrived we had a really swift check in, no queuing at all! We dropped off our registration bar code in a box and collected a campus map. My first and initial impressions were good, there is a lovely fountain water feature at the entrance.

We headed over to the “Innovation of Health Learning Laboratory” aka the science labs. The foyer was bright and cheerful, with a clean feel to it. We booked our self onto the next lab tour, which was unfortunately 30 minutes away. So we decided to take a quick browse at one of the Band D accommodation rooms first. I was actually surprised to see how big the rooms were, they were huge! Each room had a proper desk, that is large enough to spread out all my paperwork on! The en-suites were also much larger than I expected, with nice showers. I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of accommodation, it certainly is a lot better than the accommodation in other universities I have viewed. However the price of the accommodation was unknown, it didn’t say on the door or in any booklet I had picked up. Based on accommodation I have seen in other universities I expect it is quite high.

After checking out one set of accommodation we went back to the venue for our tour of the science lab. After the whole organised booking and receiving a ticket they didn’t even ask to see the ticket, which makes me think I could have got onto the earlier tour with out booking in the first place, never mind! The tour of the lab, wasn’t really a tour so to speak more of a viewing. I say it wasn’t a tour because we only went into one room, it wasn’t exactly a tour of the facilities more of a viewing of one room. The laboratory room seemed rather vast and could hold 200 students at one time, it was also very modern. The laboratory had only been opened in February, so it certainly did have a new fresh style to it. I had ago at one of the practical demonstrations, which was a fake urine analysis. The lady doing it said the practical was from the biochemistry course, however I would have argued it was more biomedical science instead. They also had a rather interesting mobile phone samples, where they had grown all sorts of bacteria and fungi from volunteers phones. There was also some sort of pond dipping/lake water type demonstration going on, which was part of the ecology module in biological science. While in the lab we got to wear the classic white lab coat and had to disinfect our hands on exit, which is standard protocols.

From the tour we headed straight out and other to a talk which was on “Biosciences, Microbiology and Veterinary Biosciences.” The talk itself was very good, the lecturer was hilarious and really captivated the audiences attention. I certainly didn’t get bored during the talk and I actually had fun! The only thing I can say is that the talk did appear to have more of a biochemistry focus, the lecturer was a biochemist and 3 of the 4 students helping out were doing biochemistry. Both microbiology and veterinary biosciences were barely touched upon, with just a quick over brief. There also appeared to be quite an emphasis on doing a year in industry or a placement year, which the university will find for you.

Once the talk was over, we went to the on campus shop to buy lunch…to find they had ran out of sandwiches! We then had to trek around the campus and eventually found another cafe to eat. The cafe was full of the student ambassadors which made me feel a little awkward as I felt like we were not suppose to be there. Not only that the food was poor, my sandwich was vaguely edible and my mocha was more of an overly sweet hot chocolate.

We then decided to explore the campus more on what I believe some people would call a “self-guided tour”. The overall buildings did look a little untidy here and there, with a few coats of paint required or that might be me being picky! The library was rather odd, based on the fact that it didn’t start on the ground floor, but the first floor. However it did look like you standard library: plenty of study space, computers and books. However there did seem to be fewer group study rooms than in other universities.

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The surroundings of the campus were spectacular. They have a massive pond and water features.  The campus seems to be situated in a beautiful area, full of natural wildlife and greenery.

The student union was by far the worst I have seen, so far! There was absolutely nothing happening, the place looked abandoned and derelict. The entrance made it look like some dodgy kebab shop! I wasn’t even sure if we were allowed in to be honest, but the door did open. The place was messy and full of random cardboard boxes, almost like a store room. Feeling rather uncomfortable we quickly moved through the building into what I believe was the bar and student club. The place was called “Flirt”… not the best name ever, it sounds more like some lonely dating agency if I am honest. The place was very dark and had flashing lights of pink and blue colour, there was what looked to be a dance floor and a stage, which lead into a bar. The music was playing loud rap type music and the lights were flashing, yet the place was empty. The whole venue looked like the top floor of a multistory car park, the leather seats in the bar gave me an uneasy feeling. I felt totally out of place like we were not suppose to be there, so we quickly left. In the whole student union I didn’t see any nice cafes or a nice social spot to sit down and have a chat.

We then went on to view two more accommodation options. One of which was another ensuite which was very similar to the first one we viewed. The other one was a Band C, which basically means it has a shared bathroom. The actual rooms were again a decent size and had their own sink. The shared toilet and shower didn’t look too gruesome and not overly grotty. However this time it was the kitchen that got me! The sink looked like a trough that you get to wash your dishes up on a campsite. The hobs looked medieval and full of rust, the whole kitchen had a very basic feel to it.

The information fair was a large marque which had lots of stalls inside and free coffee. I collected booklets on all the bioscience courses. I tried to find out some information on scholarships and bursaries available however nobody seemed to know. It seemed to be a common theme that was running, nobody knew anything about the costs. Nobody could tell me accommodation costs, financial support available or even additional costs. It seemed like the finance department hadn’t sorted out their budget yet.

Overall I was impressed by the science labs and how well equipped they were, the talk was very good and the lecturer was great. The course itself for me is what sells it, the course I want to study looks very interesting and it is an accredited course, which is like the cherry on the cake. However through out my day none of the student helpers spoke to me, not one. They all seemed very shy and nervous, almost frightened. I didn’t get a very welcome feel from the university and I felt a little left to my own devices so to speak. There also didn’t seem to be many student helpers about, I’m not sure if most of the students had already moved out or they struggled to recruit them.

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Imperial College London Open Day

Arriving in the heart of London was not as problematic as I first expected it to be. We did get stuck in traffic and queues going into London, which was as expected. We parked in a near by car park which was obviously expensive! On arrival at the university we ended up walking in through the back entrance, so arriving wasn’t as grand as you may expect.

We were greeted with a free bag which contained some highlighter pens, an information booklet and a fold able plastic water bottle. Once signed in, we headed over to a room full of stands. We got a free coffee, which was actually really good and then went to my first talk.

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Talk number 1 was on Medical Biosciences, it was a 90 minute talk taking place in the rather posh Sir Alexander Fleming Building. As we arrived we received a free pen and some more booklets with information. The first part of the talk involved us sitting in a rather small conference room, rather than a large lecture theatre. We were told to begin with about Imperial College as a whole, what life was like as a student there and the clubs and societies on offer. The next part of the talk focused on the course and how it was structured, with information on the modules that will be taught and the hours of lab time. We were then told about the admission procedure, which has a lower than 6% acceptance rate! The typical grades were AAA, but realistically you need to be looking at A*AA to stand a chance. After the talking was done, we were taken into a side laboratory where we had to do a practical, yes a practical! This involved the classic extracting of DNA from a strawberry, which was rather fun and enjoyable. However I wasn’t expecting to be thrown into a practical like that!

After the first talk we had a break ate some food and prepared for talk number 2. The second talk was to be on Biochemistry. The talk took place in a grand lecture theatre. It started off poorly right from the start, they had an IT issue which meant they had to restart the laptop they were using. Which to be honest must have been awkward for the guy running the talk and an embarrassing mistake to make in front of a hundred people. Once the laptop rebooted itself the talk began. The beginning of the talk was similar to the first and involved some data about Imperials history. Then the gentlemen started talking about biotechnology instead of biochemistry, it was quite a shambles! After a rocky start a lady took over for the second part of the lecture. She was a professor and decided to dive right in to a taster lecture on proteins. She seemed to have lost most people as there was no warm up introduction, just straight into undergraduate level biochemistry with no prior warning. Most people lost attention as she went off on one about the isolation of proteins. By that point most of the people there were truly fed up and were itching to leave. The woman ended her rather odd talk by saying “right that is it, I’m off to a meeting now.” Which just caused confusion as the talk was suppose to be 90 minutes but we had only been there 30 minutes. Everyone was half way out of the door, when some PhD student walked in to do the 3rd section of the talk. By now 40% of the people were already gone and the rest of us were up and out of our seats. So we just carried on and left, I did feel sorry for the man after her as everyone left before he could talk!

Once out we headed back to the information stands in the main building, I picked up some leaflets on finance and accommodation etc. Along with a few free pens of course! We then jumped onto an accommodation tour. The accommodation we went to see was about 5 minutes away from the university (it was literally across the road). I was wowed and amazed by the halls, they were so nice and modern. The entrance was rather stylish even down to the fine details such as the lights in the stairs. We looked at 3 types of room: twin, single en-suite and premium en-suite. The twin room wasn’t to bad there was a divider type board in the middle and the en-suite was obviously to be shared. However I don’t think I could deal with sharing a room, even though it is much cheaper the lack of privacy and the worry of not getting along with your room mate would be too much! The en-suite room was rather spacious and was much nicer than any university room I have seen. The premium version was a little bigger with a double bed, rather than the single. As you could imagine the rooms were rather pricey! The kitchen was clean and tidy, with a lockable cupboard and eating space. The common room wasn’t as good as I was expecting. It didn’t feel like a common room, more of an empty wide corridor that someone had left some sofas in by accident. The common room was very long and narrow, which didn’t give it a social and homely feel to it.

Overall I was in awe with the prestige and academic excellence of the place, I did feel a little daunted by the large city. However I would not get bored, there would be plenty to do and the National History Museum is next door along with the science museum and Royal Victoria Albert Museum. The overall buildings did look cool and had a real glow to them and the accommodation was lovely. However my biggest worry is that it is practically impossible to get in! The entry requirements are very high and even if you meet them there is no guarantee you will get in. Also the cost of living in London is crazy and the accommodation prices are just overwhelming!

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Warwick Open Day Experience

Image result for university of warwickArriving at the open day was complicated and tiring. After a 2 hour car ride we had to queue to get into the ‘car park’. (‘car park’ being a dusty old field). The queue of cars took us about 30 minutes. Then we parked up and had to get into an another queue, this time a queue of people which took 40 minutes. This was all for the park and ride service the university was offering, as they didn’t want visitors parking in their car park as there would not have been enough room. Oddly we managed to park next to one of my friends from school, which was crazy considering we had know idea she was coming and we had driven 2 hours away from home and yet in a car park full of about 2000 cars we managed to park next to each other, truly amazing.

The queue didn’t seem so bad as we had someone to chat with and there were plenty of buses. The bus ride its self was not great, I ended up sitting on what I think was an heating vent. Even though it was a hot day June it appeared the heating was jammed on. Not only that we had to sit at the top and the windows had to be kept open due to the heat. However when we drove through the narrow roads with low hanging branches, tree debris and leaves fell on us!

On arrival we had our bar code scanned and an open day booklet given to us. We said goodbye to my friend from school and headed towards the Student Union. We bought a plain standard coffee and sat inside the main part of the student union. There were bright coloured chairs, that looked like something you would find in a nursery play room! The overall appearance of the Student Union did not look too bad though, it did have a modern clean feel. In the student union they had a hair dressers, cafe, bank, bread shop, pool tables, arcade games, bar and what looked to be a music room.

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We then decided to walk around campus and found our self in the sports centre. We didn’t have a proper look around, mainly because I wouldn’t classify myself as a ‘sporty’ person. I saw the main sports hall, which looked pretty standard with 4 badminton courts. There was also an indoor climbing wall, which I wasn’t too impressed with it was more of an indoor climbing cave, rather than wall.

I decided to have a quick browse of the chemistry department, we walked in saw the stands and then walked out again. We didn’t stop and speak to anyone, there did seem to be more going on, but I was conscious that I hadn’t booked or anything. Not only that I am not really interested in studying chemistry anyway. Afterwards we went to the library which was a little disappointing, there didn’t seem to be many books! Instead everything was computerised and the so called 1.2 million books were actually ebooks. There just seemed to be endless amounts of computers and plenty of study space.

We then headed towards an accommodation that was en-suite, we once again queued at the entrance. The kitchen was nice and stylish, there was a large table for people to eat around. With two cookers (8 hobs) which would be shared for about 8-12 people. The room seemed fairly average and typical of a common uni room. The en-suite did have a bath tub though, instead of just a shower.

Giving our self plenty of time we decided to leave the main campus and head to a side campus known as Gibbet Hill campus, where they teach medicine and life sciences. This was really what I was interested in and came for. The campus was about a 15 minute walk away from the main campus, but the walk there was breathtaking (in a good way). The pathway took us through a beautiful woodland area, where there were lots of trees and wild plants. We walked across a scenic little bridge across a stream. It felt so refreshing like a break from the busy campus life style a spectacular little walk in nature. In the Summer month of June the sun was beaming through the green leaves and the area felt full of life. I could picture the gorgeous blue bells that would appear there in the spring and a glittering blanket of frost in the winter. I loved how the life sciences campus was separate from the main campus, it somehow made you feel important and special. It was lovely to know only scientists and doctors would walk down the path and that you were valued and treated differently from everyone else.

As we entered the life science campus we were greeted and given a plastic wallet full of information. It was truly incredible the plastic wallet was sturdy and strong in an aqua blue colour, the wallet is practical and can be reused. Inside was a nice notepad of paper with “Warwick life sciences” printed at the bottom accompanied by a free working pen! But best of all there was a ¬£5 gift voucher to be spent in any university run cafe! Wow, we were truly valued by the university. We had a lovely tour of the science labs where we spoke to one of 12 lab technicians. It was also reassuring to find out the first 2 practicals did not count, so we could get a feel for what a proper practical was like before being assessed. We then went into a room known as the ‘Orchard’ as it had 120 APPLE IMAC COMPUTERS! Yes, one hundred and twenty! I was amazed about how much value was in one room. We then went to a mini-library place known as a ‘biogrid’ to be fair it was a bit rubbish, there were only 3/4 book shelves and a tiny group study area. The group study looked as if it would be noisy and rowdy.

After the tour we attended a talk on life sciences, which was a 45 minute talk covering all the life science subjects. This included biomedical, biological sciences and biochemistry along with something else called “Global sustainability” or something similar. For me the talk confirmed that biological science was not for me, but I could do either biomedical or biochemistry. It was also reassuring to see that 80% of those who graduated were doing something useful, whether it was working within the field or further study. The other 20% went into different fields such as banking etc. We then headed down to the onsite cafe and had sandwiches, crisps, cake and tea.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the demonstrations as such because I didn’t know where they were. We saw the poster display, but there didn’t look to be anyone demonstrating anything. I didn’t want to ask “Where is the demonstration?” just in case they replied “this is it!” and then I would have to awkwardly do the “ohhh”

We then headed back to main campus and looked around some more accommodation we went into another en suite place which was very similar to the first except the kitchen was a touch smaller and the desk in the bedroom a little smaller. We then viewed the cheapest accommodation open which was a shared bathroom. The room itself didn’t look too bad, in fact the room was bigger than the en-suite rooms. I did like how the toilet was separate to the shower. The kitchen didn’t look much different to that of the other places except just a touch smaller. I think the biggest difference was the fact that 19 people could be in that one kitchen, compared to the max of 12 elsewhere. I know they say people have different schedules and stuff, but with 19 people and only 4 toilets and 8 hobs. There must be times where you have to wait.

Overall I liked the layout of the campus it was like a mini town. However for me there was too many cafes, bars and restaurants. To me everywhere you went there was a cafe in some places 3 or four cafes in one building. It makes you wonder if the students actually cook, I do think I could potentially get bored there after a while. Especially since there felt like there was no life outside the campus, it wasn’t next to a big city or anything! The student ambassadors were friendly and the were visitors friendly too. Overall I enjoyed my day there, even though getting there was a nightmare!

 

My University of Bristol Open Day Experience

Image result for bristol universityYesterday I hopped onto the bus, armed with my campus map and braved the 25 degrees heat to head out to the University of Bristol Open Day. As you can imagine the weather was marvellous, it was bright and sunny…just like the photos in the prospectus!

Getting there was challenging, I got off at the wrong bus stop (I think it was too early) which meant I had to navigate free hand. To make matters worse I had no data on my phone, so I couldn’t just get a map up and get some directions. Instead I had to ask random members of the public for directions, I got quite lost and ended up in some antique market. After I kept asking different people, I slowly came closer and closer to the university. Then it was quite a long walk up a rather steep hill to the top where the university is located.

Once I arrived there was no time to take in views or anything, I was straight of to my first talk of the day ‘Cellular and Molecular Medicine’. To be honest going in I knew little about the course, so was simply keen to get a better insight. I was actually quite surprised the course sounded quite interesting and something to consider. Afterwards I headed to their cafe in the Chemistry department, where I ordered a rather expensive latte. From the cafe I walked down the corridor and had a quick browse of the biomedical library. ¬†The library was not that big to be honest and there appeared to be quite a lot of ancient books. ¬†However there was some good study space and plenty of desks, some of which had computers and a nice view across the city.

Afterwards I went over to their labs to have a look around at their displays. I found the biochemistry and biomedical science displays, which was what I was interested in. I spoke to a biochemistry first year student who briefly explained the difference between the two courses. Then I went to biomedical science and asked one student if she knew if the course was accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Scientist, surprisingly she did not know. Which was quite surprising really considering the fact that she was studying the course! However the whole area was quite busy with people so I didn’t really speak to many people there. Looking back on it, I think I should have spent a little longer at the displays and asked some more questions.

Once I had checked out the laboratories, I headed into the city centre to look at the city accommodation. First I went to a rather nice place that was extremely modern and newly refurbished. Location 1 was a short walk from the department I would be at, which is a bonus. The rooms however were very small, it was quite literally shoe box living. What made the rooms appear even smaller was the fact that they had a double bed, which meant the floor space was rapidly reduced. I don’t know about you but I would rather be able to walk around my room, than have a large bed. The en suite was practically a cupboard, but was clean and tidy. In location 1 they had a nice communal room and a good launderette. However the corridors were extremely narrow and tight, with what felt like endless stairs!

Also in the city centre was Location 2. Location 2 was cheaper and older. The rooms were on the whole larger and you could easily walk around. The beds were single, but the desk was much larger. Yet the room was very dull and poorly lit, with one small window. The light was kept on even though it was in the middle of a very sunny day. But the worst part had to be the en suite, it was very grubby and grim. The floor was stained, to the point where I would consider wearing flip flops in the shower!

Once we finished snooping around the city centre accommodation we headed back to the biology and chemistry departments. We managed to attend the biomedical science talk, which was ultimately the one I most wanted to go to, however it was “fully booked” however not everyone turned up, so we managed to get in. The talk on the whole was disappointing, it was practically identical to the “Cellular Medicine” one I went to a few hours earlier. Straight afterwards I had the biochemistry talk, which was much more engaging. The lecturers really grabbed my attention and rather than just rambling through the modules, they gave examples of what you would be learning.

The last thing I wanted to do, was check out some more accommodation. The next location was a lot further away and required quite a walk, so it didn’t quite tick the whole location box! Once I arrived I realised that they were basically closing. So I only got a real quick peek at the rooms. I viewed an en suite room and was very impressed, it was a lovely big room, with a sink for cooking (yes cooking!) and an en suite! The only thing I can say is that I dread to look at the pricing of a room like that! The kitchen itself, was not quite as nice as other places. The whole grounds on the whole was amazing, it was like entering a stately home: a beautiful historic entrance and extensive gardens. However time was of the essence and I was only able to view one of the two locations.

Getting back home was equally challenging, as the bus decided to pick me up from a different stop that it dropped me off! Nevertheless I managed to get home safely and avoided getting sun burnt!

Overall the day was good, I enjoyed the talks and displays. Most of the student ambassadors were helpful and none of them were rude. However I wasn’t overly keen on the whole location, it was all very hilly and spread out, which meant a lot of walking. The student ambassadors were only directly outside the university, so actually finding the place was challenging! It would have been nice to have people spread out a little further to direct people towards the university, which would have saved people like myself endlessly walking up and down.

TV Review: ‘Three Girls’

‘Three Girls’ is a TV series consisting of 3 episodes of 60 minutes each, the series is based on a true story of sexual exploitation of young teenage girls in the Manchester area, in the UK.

For me I found the short series compelling from start to finish, I was engaged in the story line, shocked and upset by what happened to the girls. I was so shocked that I watched all 3 episodes back to back online, to try and figure out in my mind what happened to these girls and the pain they must have gone through, my greatest sympathy goes out to them.

The first episode was a little slow to begin with and slightly confusing, the series follows the main character ‘Holly’ it appears that she has trouble at home with her family, particularly her dad. However it is unclear what the actual cause of the trouble is, she appears to struggle with starting a new school and it is suggested the family had just moved into the area. Holly finds herself involved in a group of girls who to begin with appear to have fun and a laugh together, however this is not the true reality of what is going on behind the scenes.

Holly finds herself visiting a kebab shop run by men of Pakistan origin, she is invited around the back and is given free food including kebabs, curry and alcohol. However she quickly finds out that she has become involved in a vicious cycle of alcohol, rape, money, fear and betrayal. She is used and abused by the men and lives a life of fear, scared to speak out of her abuse. When she does the police do little to help her and she finds her case being dropped, causing her to find herself back in the same cycle as before.

What I found very interesting is the relationship that forms between Holly and Amber, who is one of the girls the men were also engaged with. Amber takes on an unusual role as both a friend of Holly’s and her worst enemy. Amber appears to help Holly come to terms with what happened after her first time with one of the men and offers her advice on what to expect. Yet she appears to ‘throw her under the bus’ on occasions. Amber gets out of the vehicle to leave Holly with a man that she knows will rape her, one must question the type of friend who would do this. She also appears to force Holly into going with the men, saying “you have to” and “yes, you are” when Holly objects. Amber appears to play an important role for the men as she arranges and gathers up girls to take part in the activity. She appears to form what she believes is a relationship with one of the men, but it quickly turns abusive and he uses her for money. I believe that Amber is a good girl who is so vulnerable and has been abused by the men for so long, that she ends up looking like a bad one. This is seen when in the court she is not called as a witness but it instead is suggested that Amber was as bad as the men. To me this was one of the most shocking parts of the series as we see a young naive and vulnerable girl who is the victim of abuse and rape turned into the criminal.

One of the biggest problems that face girls like these is the stereotypes that evolve. Even Holly said it herself when she said ‘Shall I do a prosy dance for you?’ Holly herself believed that she had become a prostitute as she was receiving alcohol, cigarettes and little money. This was later confirmed when she became pregnant and the support officers suggest that she lives a ‘prostitute lifestyle’. This really highlights how young victims of abuse and rape are so easily negatively viewed by society and how quickly people are to make judgements without knowing the full extent of the problem.

Overall I found ‘Three Girls’ to be an emotional and heart throbbing series that has really opened my eyes and made me view the way the legal system works and treats victims of rape differently. I would highly recommend watching the series as it gives you an insight into the lives of youngsters who have become involved in an unimaginable scale of sexual abuse and assault. However I must point out that the series is very emotional to the point that I cried on three separate¬†occasions while watching it, therefore if you become easily upset by things ¬†such as abuse I would not advice watching in it. They also by no means hold back on swearing in the series, with the F word being used in almost every sentence!

2016- ‘A year of change and opportunity’

For me personally 2016 has been an outstanding year, full of achievement and change. Let me take you on a whistle stop tour of my year in review.

My greatest memory of 2016, comes from my GCSE results. I sat so nervously in my mum’s car, grasping the envelope in my hands as if it was so powerful and so important I barely could¬†hold it. Hands trembling, I struggled to rip the envelope open. My eyes scanned down the page, taking in the grades without looking at the subjects. All I could see was A*s and As (with that one pesky C). I squirmed and squealed in joy and happiness, tears forming in my eyes. I received 8A*s, 4As and a C. I was so pleased and so proud of my achievements ¬†I literally screamed in happiness. I was especially proud of maths, I received an A* for the first time ever! I also managed to pass further maths with an A, which I had expected to fail.

My brother managed to pass all 3 of his A-levels, with BCC. I was very happy for him and he really put the effort in this year. He really changed and improved his attitude towards education, good for him. He is now taking a gap year and has even managed to find a job!

This summer I took part in National Citizens Service (NCS). Although it had its ups and downs, I am really glad I took part. It was a very memorable experience and I tried many new things, such as kayaking and paddle boarding. I am proud of myself for completing the 4 week course, as I never thought I could do it. All my family thought I would drop out on day 2, but I pulled through and graduated this September. Standing on stage collecting my award was a moment full of self-accomplishment.

After 8-9 years of playing badminton, this year saw my short lived badminton career come to an end. I gave up badminton to focus on my GCSEs and academics. It was a tough decision and one I had been pondering for months. But looking back on it now I am glad I finally left. I do not miss the cold sports hall, clothes damp with sweat and pressure of competing in tournaments.

At the end of June I went to my school prom, which was at a posh country hotel. I wore a dark blue dress with silver heels. It was a fabulous night where we were greeted with peach smoothie and danced away for the last time as a whole year group. They always say your school prom is a night to remember.

This September I started my A-levels, I am studying Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Psychology. My sixth form experience got off to a rough start, but I pulled through the first term. At the end of my first term I won the star award for psychology, which I was very happy with as psychology is a new subject for me.

At the end of year school celebrations I won a further two awards. One for ‘The Highest Achievement at GCSE’ which I got for achieving 10 or more As or A*s. The other award was for ‘Best progression from KS2 to GCSE’ which I won for getting higher than all my target grades. It was fantastic to win awards at the school ceremony, it was the first time I ever got an invite.

As a family we sold a house we inherited last year from a family friend. It was a little sad to see the house go as I had a few memories of being there. However handing the keys over to the estate agent felt like some sort of completion. We then went ahead and bought a smaller more manageable house in the town. Which we are currently doing up in order to rent it out in the new year.

In regards to music and entertainment. This year I got into two amazing BBC programs. First was ‘Thirteen’ which is a drama series about a girl who was abducted as a teenager and grew up in her kidnappers¬†basement. She manged to escape, but her kidnapper is now on the run and plans to hunt her down. It is a gripping series with two detectives and a broken family. The other BBC show I got into this year was ‘Class’ which is a spin-off of Doctor Who. Having not watched Doctor Who I was apprehensive, but the story line is very engaging and pulled me in. In regards to music one artist that stood out for me was Sia. Her song ‘Cheap Thrills’ became my motivation for my¬†GCSEs, before I went into each exam I played the song in order to get my adrenaline pumping.

So that is my year summed up, lots of great achievements and plenty of memorable moments. I would like to wish all my readers a fantastic new year, and I hope 2017 is filled with promise and opportunity.

 

Britain’s Hardest Workers: Inside the Low Wage Economy Review

2016-08-29 (3)Channel: BBC 2

Presenter: Anita Rani

Series: 1

Total episodes: 5

 

 

The title grabbed me straight in. I personally have never had a job before and have no experience of a working environment. So this documentary compelled me right from the start. Being a 16 year old student, I know that sooner or later I will find myself in work. The chances are my first job will be a part time minimum wage job. So I was eager to see what the ‘unskilled’ jobs were like before I try them out myself.

Within the series we see the volunteers doing a serious of jobs from cleaning to cooking to sewing to manufacturing to sorting rubbish. All the typical low paid jobs that are out there. To be fair I always thought that these jobs were easy and anybody could do them. However after watching the documentary my view has changed completely.

Before I though cleaning was the easiest of them all, because anybody can clean right? While I still stand by this view, my eyes have been widen by the cleaning industry. Anybody can clean, but not everyone can clean to a high standard under a strict time limit. I hadn’t even considered the fact that cleaners have an allocated time window to a certain room! Not only that I couldn’t believe the state that some of the rooms were left in! I mean when I leave a hotel, the cleaners must love me as I give them so little work compared to what they usually get! Has it put me off a job in cleaning? Probably not, if it was the only job going I would take it.

What I found interesting was the warehouse work. I have never considered working in a warehouse before (mainly because you have to be 18). However I think I could easily cut it as a warehouse operator, I mean I love technology and don’t mind going at speed. I would also happily work in a food factory. Measuring out ingredients seems quite easy really as soon as you get the hang of how the machines work. Not only that I would sign up to work in a sewing factory any day! Sewing was a childhood hobby of mine and I would love to sit their sewing cushions all day, as I wouldn’t find it at all challenging.

However I definitely could not be a rubbish picker, absolutely no way! I could do the purified and cleaned rubbish….but not the stuff straight out the bin! I hate even opening the lid of my bin at home due to the smell!

The biggest shock for me was the casual work. The idea that your boss texts you in the morning to say if you have any work that day or not. I mean that must be horrible, you would feel disposable. You can’t plan or anything, just get up and go! The idea that you have to get there in time as well is just ridiculous!

What I have learnt is that a lot of the low pay work is physical work. Like picking broccoli and carrying goods. It’s all labour intensive and physically draining, which isn’t great for me as I am not physically fit in anyway!

Overall I really enjoyed watching the series and I learnt a lot about the low wage economy. It also makes me worry that I am just not ‘cut out’ for the world of work, considering the fact that I have never needed to work in my life. It is a worry. I guess it has been an eye opener for me into what might possibly be my future!

Child Genius Review (Episode 3)

2016-08-06 (3).pngChannel: Channel 4

Series: 2016

Episode: 3

 

 

Speling, spellng, spelling! This week we are looking at grammar and language! So of course all eyes turned to the leading competitor: Mog. After the previous 2 episodes it was fair to say Mog was on top, and was set up to win Child Genius all together. However in this episode things took a little tumble. Round one was all about English language (basically remembering the entire dictionary) along with a few challenging anagrams. Round 2 was a straight up sudden death spelling round, one word wrong and your out. This week it was really hard and I am not ashamed to admit that I knew none of the words that was said! I guess the difficulty of the questions was reflected¬†clearly through Mog. Striving at language, Mog can write in Chinese and multiple different languages. However Mog fell victim to the hard questions and got booted out of the competition. I can’t say I am sad because lets face it, Mog was a bit of a show off. I guess the moral of the story is: don’t be over confident.

Apart from Mog’s shock departure, the competition was still hot with talent. Britain’s brightest children stood up on stage and blurted out letters that formed some of the most complicated words in the English language. Most viewers sat there baffled and in awe by the work of these kids. Personally I think the spelling rounds are always the best! I have never been any good at spellings, so much so that at one point in my life I thought I was dyslexic. So I guess for me watching the spelling rounds are always fascinating!

In this episode we saw another form of sibling rivalry.  This week it was between ten year old Georgia and her 12 year old brother: Stephen. It was a tense affair and it was clear to see that the two of them are incredibly competitive with each other. I know exactly where the two of them come from, me and my older brother are very competitive too! From being the youngest myself I understood exactly how Georgia felt. Being the younger sibling is never easy as some times you are almost forgotten at the bottom, so from her point of view this was the ideal opportunity to make her mark. She came so close and won a place in the final, but unfortunately her older brother Stephen managed to wriggle his way in to. Stephen just scrapped in as there was a tie breaker at the end between him and 4 other competitors. Now with both children in the final the parents have to look on anxiously, as ultimately at least one of their children will lose, if not both of them!

This week we also saw the departure of the awesomely named Jack-Bob who failed to win the tie breaker. We also said goodbye to Christopher. In a way I was sad to see Christopher go, although I wasn’t keen on his dad I thought he was quite a sweet little boy. His dad was exceptionally pushy and put way too much pressure on his child! So I felt a bit sorry for Christopher and all that he had to go through, to leave the competition with nothing.

Anyway with episode 3 over the contestants are now all lined up for the final. Two of the contestants in the final are Saffy and Rhea. Both of which scored top points in the spelling round. But with Mog safely out of the way, the child genius title is open to all…

Missed out on the epiosde? Catch it here: Episode 3

 

 

Trying Tea Types

So you like your tea? Good for you! You can join the club!

Tea is a refreshing beverage that is normally served hot, but can be served cold! It’s a very diverse drink that is enjoyed by millions of people across the world, so why is it so popular? Perhaps it is the caffeine or the simplicity or the variety of types. Who knows! But one thing that any tea lover knows is the fact that there are a range of teas out there for us. So I decided to get in tune with my taste buds and write a review on different types of tea. To hopefully give you some insight into the world of tea drinking. I like to consider myself as a bit of an expert as I have been drinking tea since the day I was born (quite literally)! So sit back, put the kettle on and let me wizz you through the world of brews.

  • Everyday Tea

This often goes by many different names, with a lot of people calling it ‘black tea’. But basically ‘everyday tea’ is your simple bog standard¬†cup of tea. The sort of tea they would sell you in a paper cup out of a burger van on the side of the road. There is nothing special about this type of tea, it’s very simple and bland. However the familiar and consistent taste has proven very popular for years, it is often the ‘go to’ type of tea. For me it’s the type of tea I drink the most, it’s safe and easy…no hidden surprises or weird aftertastes.

  • Earl Grey

Aka the ‘posh’ tea. This is the sort of tea that is commonly stereotyped with stiff-upper lip royalty, like the Queen for example.¬†Earl Grey tea is simply a¬†blend of normal tea and the oil of a bergamot. You are probably thinking what is ‘bergamot’? Well it turns out that it is actually a citrus fruit, it’s a weird looking fruit that looks a bit like a hybrid of an orange, a lemon and a lime! Despite the mysterious fruit, Earl Grey tea is actually very nice. Alright it does have an acquired taste, but to me I actually quite like it and drink about 1 cup a day.

  • Lady Grey

This is basically Earl Grey’s younger sister! It’s a more fruitier version of Earl Grey tea, it’s also a bit sweeter. It’s a citrus flavoured drink ¬†with orange and lemon peel oils to add the extra flavour. It is made using the same black tea as Earl Grey, just with a dash of fruit oils. To me I am not a huge fan as it is quite sweet and potent! However if you have a sweet tooth and don’t mind a slightly fruity drink then this could be the best for you.

  • Strawberry/ Raspberry Tea

Gulp! This really is for the sweet tooth’s out there! For me this is too sweet that it is almost sickly! I really can’t stand berry tea as they are always way too sweet! A lot of people would describe them as ‘summer teas’ the sort you have out in the back garden with your mother in law. I just generally wouldn’t recommend them at all!

  • Peppermint Tea

Imagine drinking a mug of normal bland tea just after brushing your teeth. Boom! You have the taste of peppermint tea! To me peppermint tea tastes as if someone accidentally dropped a piece of chewing gum in your mug. Not only this it really has a poignant smell, so everyone knows that you are drinking peppermint tea! However one good thing is the fact that it is caffeine free and it has many health benefits. For example it aids digestion and can boost your immune system

  • Chamomile Tea

A very relaxing drink that is good for anyone who struggles to get a good nights sleep. Chamomile is a flower that looks very similar to a daisy and can be used medicinally. As a result drinking chamomile tea does have a few health benefits. ¬†For example it is believed to help those with diabetes and it can help people feel less tense, therefore reducing stress. ¬†However all those amazing health benefits are of course compensated with a foul taste. I just don’t know what it is, it’s not sweet or bitter….it’s just gross!

  • Liquorice Tea

For those few people out there who like the taste of liquorice then this good be for you. I personally don’t mind liquorice as a sweet, but the tea I have a mixed feeling. It starts out great and you’re like ‘Oh my I love this’ ¬†then you swallow….wait 3 seconds and then are like ‘What is that?’ It is like a roller coaster, the start is great but it leaves you with a weird after taste and a bizarre tingling in your mouth!

  • Green Tea

As the name suggests green tea is very good for you! It contains all them antioxidant things! It is believed that green tea could reduce the risk of cancer, however there is no conclusive evidence of course. Although green teas take many different varieties and forms, I have never really seemed to get along with them that well! I don’t know to me they are ‘too good to be true’ and have a strange taste to them.

That’s it! I know, there are hundreds of different types of tea out there and I would be here for years reviewing them all! So I have only chosen the teas I have tried and don’t forget you can get iced teas as well! Just because you haven’t found your prefect brew yet, don’t worry you will find it one day. My advice is to just give different teas a try and see how it goes. I often try new teas when I am out at a cafe or something, so if I don’t like it I am not stuck with a whole box of disgusting tea! I guess you are wondering what my favourite type of tea is to be honest I am an a Earl Grey kind of girl!

 

Eat Well For Less Review (Episode 1)

2016-07-24Channel: BBC One

Series: 3

Episode: 1

 

 

 

We’re¬†back for the third series of Eat Well For Less! The show that highlights Britain’s shopping flaws and eating habits. In this episode we look at the Butler family, which I must admit closely reflects my family. Out of their two daughters one is a strong vegetarian while the other is a meat eating athlete…tricky. While their mother is a huge fan of convenient, quick and easy meals. For me I found this episode very interesting as I myself along with my mother are vegetarian, while my father and brother are meat eaters. So my family situation is very similar to that of the Butler’s family.

One interesting thing I learnt is a small fact chucked right at¬†the start of the episode ‘The average 4 person household spends ¬£81.50 a week on food shopping.’ Wow! After digging through a few receipts at the bottom of the shopping bags, I found out that my 4 person household (2 vegetarians + 2 meat eaters) spend about ¬£70 a week on food shopping! So not at all bad! Those people who say that being vegetarian drains the bank clearly have got it wrong!

Another cool thing that I learnt in the program was the making of soup, I know it may sound boring but it was actually quite interesting! We looked at the difference between fresh soup and canned soup. Personally I always buy can soup as it keeps longer so I can put it in the back of the cupboard and have it on a cold winters day. However I also did feel that can soup was ‘old’ and ‘not fresh’. I thought it would be packed with preservatives, salts and them other weird chemicals that nobody really knows what they are! But apparently not, and actually can soup could be fresher than ‘fresh’ soup! How? Because they cook it in the can! Don’t ask me how it works because I have no clue, but it is pretty cool! So the motto of the story eat can soup and leave that fresh soup in the fridge…at Tesco!

Then onto quick and easy food, also known as convenient food or as I like to call it lazy people’s food. You know those pre-chopped vegetables, microwaveable rice and ready meals? Well that’s the trend at the moment! For me I would never invest in any of these for starters chopped veg is pointless. You get much less for your money, and they never cut it up to the size you want it anyway! Who wants tiny pieces of carrots? Microwaveable rice is a no go, it always ends up dry. The only thing I do get is microwaveable popcorn as it is so much easier than making it in a pan. Besides I don’t exactly have popcorn on a regular bases anyway so a quick bag in the microwave every blue moon doesn’t hurt. I used to have ready meals a lot especially when I played a lot of tennis and didn’t get time to cook up a proper meal. But one quick glance at the salt content and my mind was changed forever!

The last and most crucial mistake made is breakfast cereal. When it comes to cereal I tend to go for Krave. I always stick with chocolate and high sugar cereal with an equally high price. I don’t like those cheap, low sugar low taste cereals. So my advice is to keep the portions small. I stretch¬†one box of Krave out by reducing the portion size, you can also mix nice cereals with cheap ones to really drag them out. For example add a handful of value range cornflakes to the bowl and you’ve just made your cereal last twice as long!

There we go my thoughts on episode 1 of ‘Eat well for less?’I hope you find my advice useful and if you have any advice on cutting down that food bill, then I would love to know!

Missed the episode? Watch it here: Episode 1