BACK TO UNI: Weekend Away

I treated myself to a long weekend and made the most of every inch of it. I decided to go back to my second home- Canterbury. Having spent 3 years of my life here, it’s safe to say for many reasons I have an emotional attachment to it. When I first visited this quaint city I immediately fell in love with it. The cobbled streets, the marvellous Cathedral and the pubs tucked away in every nook and cranny reminded me of something from a storybook. No matter what stresses or challenges I experienced at University, I always found comfort in the city itself.

This weekend I stayed in the Best Western Abbots Barton Hotel, an old English manor house turned hotel, located only a ten minute walk away from the city centre. Despite being only a 3* hotel, the standard double room is a comfortable size, but could do with a slight renovation. Nonetheless, the style of the room keeps in line with the hotel grounds and I could not fault the service or the cleanliness of the hotel- two key aspects in my opinion in hospitality.  There was also a friendly gardener who told me and my boyfriend the history of the hotel whilst we were taking some snaps.

This would be the spooky part in a film where someone tells us there is no gardener and hasn’t been one in 50 years… (I am sure he was real though, at least I hope so…)

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Arriving relatively late (about 8pm) on Thursday night me and my boyfriend met up with one of my oldest friends, and enjoyed a classic Nando’s together (oh so chic, I know). We drank and chatted at The Shakespeare, which you can find opposite the Cathedral but do not be fooled by it’s size as they also have a separate entrance for the restaurant. The cool atmosphere of the pub is perfect for wine lovers and ale drinkers. They often have evenings dedicated to wine tastings for all you enthusiasts.  They also tend to have live music, making this is a little gem of a find if you fancy a change to the chart music played in the larger chains. Overall the bar is very stylish and is a must for a visit to Canterbury. We also visited the Canterbury Tales (opposite the Marlowe Theatre) which is convenient for an interval drink if you’re seeing a show. We also had one drink at Seven Stars, a pub I surprisingly did not visit at Uni, but I imagine it would be a good stop for a pub crawl.

The next day I had brunch at the Refractory and did not hold back. The Refractory is a small cafe with brilliant service and has a very family friendly vibe to it. I am usually pretty stuck in my routine with breakfast and can have the same cereal for 6 months until I get bored. However when I have more time in the morning I try to make more of an effort. This weekend was the perfect opportunity to be more exciting with mybreakfast choices so I opted for Eggs royale followed by something sweet- buttermilk pancakes with banana and chocolate sauce. The rest of the day I walked off my sugar hangover around the shops and visited campus, whilst I reminisced about how hard it was to attend those 9am lectures ( little did I know what working life had in store for me!) Saturday late afternoon I went to Blackheath to watch the firework display and relived part of my childhood with star shaped sparklers! The firework display was free and lasted about 15-20 minutes and the crowd did not disappoint on their enthusiasm with echoes of oo’s, ah’s and wow’s! Come Sunday I was pretty wiped out so finished off my health filled weekend of Nando’s, beer, prosecco and pancakes with a McDonald’s vanilla milkshake.

Bon appetit mes amis! x

FLASHBACK: Results Day – Fresher’s 2013

I told you to keep your eyes peeled for more blog posts on university themed pieces and I didn’t lie! When I started to write this post I was going to write about surviving your first year of uni, but then me being me, I got nostalgic and found myself writing about my Fresher’s week itself. So here in some detail I shall start from the beginning…

Where were you when you found out which University you were going to be studying at? Was it at school when you picked up your results? Maybe you went through clearing and felt that mixture of relief and joy when they confirmed your place on the phone?For me it was in August 2013 when I was sat in my kitchen alone after breakfast. I didn’t want to check UCAS before I got my results, for fear of seeing that I didn’t do as well as I hoped. I was planning on checking UCAS once I had my results envelope in my hand, so I could brace myself for what was to come. Suddenly I found myself logging into UCAS on my phone, probably due to the anxiety and the amount of pressure I put on myself for that one moment combined with those months slaving away on essays and working harder than I ever had. I decided to bite the bullet. If I remember correctly before me I saw the words, “Congratulations! Your place at University of Kent studying Psychology has been confirmed.” I was shaking and overcome with joy, I had done it! The next few years of my life were planned, I was going to Canterbury, the city I had fallen with when I first visited the university open day in September 2012. That day the sun was shining and it perfectly framed the Cathedral, instantly reminding me of the castle from Disney; it was a picture that I had carried with me throughout the toughest study period of my life. I was ecstatic, I was going to being studying and living in a place that already felt like home and made me smile and already nostalgic every time I looked at the Cathedral.

Immediately I was excited for all the memories I was going to make, the people I was going to meet, and how it would be the best years of my life ( no pressure, right?!) I remember the day that I moved into halls. I had carefully planned my outfit that day, my favourite jeans, a new top and my hair curled in that “it took me five minutes to get this look” but really it took about half an hour. The universe was also on my side, I had mastered the perfect winged eyeliner that day too. Everything was going smoothly, even my parents who notoriously leave much later than they plan to, were even on time. When I arrived at my halls, a couple of uni students helped carry my bags from the car along with my parents. I had a flashback to being 11 years old on my first day at Secondary school where I looked up at the sixth form and thought they were so grown up and adult like. This time I was the adult, where had the time gone? In the same breath I was also looking at these uni students and thought, wow, they are so old and mature! It really was a mix of emotions.

Once my bags were in my room, my parents shortly left and I left my door open saying hi to my new flatmates as they came in, introducing myself and swapping the standard, so where are you from, what are you studying, how did your A-Levels go chat. After I unpacked it seemed that dinner couldn’t come soon enough. For my first meal I made pasta and whipped up some tomato pasta sauce and grated cheese- a guaranteed meal that I would not burn. TBH I remember being conscious not to overcook the pasta, as I didn’t want to be known as that girl who could not cook, Turns out everyone was pretty much in the same boat so there was no need to worry. Pre- drinks could not come soon enough. I remember getting ready quickly and getting out that rosé out pretty sharpish. My flat was all girls, which can be a blessing or a curse! I knew some balance was needed and luckily my boyfriend was also studying at Kent and he had all boys and one girl in his flat, so by combining the two together we had a pretty good mix. What helped was that everyone had already somewhat bonded and overcome the small talk in our respected flats, (well mostly- it wasn’t something a bit of ring of fire could not sort out!)

Most unis have a plan for the week ahead and for my Fresher’s week each night had a theme such as “back to school”, “Freshbook” and some random night out we had to wear the colour that our halls were given (mine was pink), as well as the most exciting of them all, The Fresher’s Ball featuring a silent disco and an appearance from Miss Dynamite-tee-hee…

I think the thing that I loved the most about Fresher’s was the energy everyone had and how nice every one was (everyone wanted to make friends and tries hard regardless) Whether your Fresher’s is a week, two weeks or even a month (bless your poor liver) those long days cramming and memorizing quotes from Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, really are worth it. I hope that you enjoyed this snippet and reminisced yourselves about that first week or if it was your Fresher’s week recently, I hope you had fun and that you raise a toast to all those “friends” you made in the bathroom, who you most likely won’t speak to ever again. That really was a beautiful short lived friendship. RIP.

What to pack for Uni

Somehow it is already mid September and that Autumnal feeling has arrived. For some of you, you may be starting University this week. Well done, all of your hard work has paid off! I have been feeling quite nostalgic recently, having now graduated a year ago which has led me to writing this. Although I had older siblings who went to Uni so it was easier for me to gauge what to pack, for some of you, you may be the first one off on this crazy adventure, or like me, you want to reminisce on  those Fresher days. Here is a list of the top 10 essential and luxury items to pack!

The Essentials:

  1. Cutlery -So this one is a given. It’s exciting going cutlery shopping getting your matching sets of knives and forks. Also remember to buy some kitchen knives (surprisingly I was the only who bought some in my first year) same goes with chopping boards, wooden cooking spoons, tea towels and oven gloves. It’s a good idea to also get a bottle of washing up liquid and some sponges so that you can take it in turns to restock your kitchen. Push the boat out on that first washing up liquid purchase, get the nice fairy liquid because after that it’s going to be Poundland’s finest.
  2. A few days worth of food – You may think this is obvious but what a lot of students forget is that your student loan doesn’t go in until you actually start your course. Take advantage of your parents generous Tesco shop; you don’t want to be in your overdraft before you actually start!
  3. Wine – Really this should have been number 1 it is what Fresher’s is all about…along with settling in and discovering your Student town/city. Buy yourself some wine or your favourite gin and tonic before you turn up so that after your room is unpacked, and once you’ve made the small talk with your new flatmates, said a teary goodbye to your parents, you are ready for Pre’s.
  4. Painkillers – Conveniently following wine, this is a no brainer. Also this is a savior if you battle against Fresher’s Flu.
  5. Backpack – Get yourself a decent bag for Uni. The first few weeks when you are keen and decide to attend every single 9am lecture, trekking up that mountain of a hill, the last thing you want is your bag breaking or your laptop barely fitting in.
  6. Lamp – Surprisingly enough some student rooms don’t provide one. Hit up argos and get a desk lamp for those midnight cramming sessions.
  7. Mirror- You take advantage of the million and one mirrors at home but some student rooms only have a small mirror in the bathroom. Invest in a cheap floor length mirror from a high street home bargains shop, so that you don’t have to resort to checking yourself out in glass doors on the way out.
  8. Toilet roll – Don’t say no to those Andrex Puppies rolls your mum wants to get you.  Take it from me, when your loan is running low this is one essential that soon becomes a luxury, leaving you reaching for the one ply orange toilet roll.
  9. Washing powder and laundry basket- Maybe it is your first time doing your washing, tip : separate your whites from darks and get the washing liquids appropriate for each one (maybe even some colour catches for those forgetful days!) Get a decent laundry basket, although you think that a bin liner will do, your washing will grow in size (hopefully nothing else!) Try Primark, TK Maxx or a Dunelm.
  10. Towels – Finally remember your towels! Bring two large towels, two small handtowels and two bathmats. As minimalist as you think you are, the superpower of your parents same day laundry service seems to get lost at Uni when you have to do it yourself. Bringing two of each means you don’t have to worry if you have yet to do your washing.

The Luxury Items:

  1. Candles – Take a trip to your town’s Primark and purchase some of their candles.     Not only do they smell nice but for those chilled movie nights in or those evenings after winding down from a stressful assignment they create the most relaxing ambience.
  2. Blanket – Bring a blanket for your bed. This may seem silly but most University buildings are old and are not famous for keeping the heat in. Plus your room looks cute.
  3. Slippers – Make sure to pack these! Living with other people means that food gets dropped, drinks get spilled and glass gets broken. Slippers really are an essential item thinking about it! Also many an evening may end up in spontaneous walks to the local corner shop in your slippers and pj’s.
  4. A warm dressing gown- You see where I am going with the two above!
  5. Photos – Just because you have moved away from home does not mean you should forget about it! Bring a few photos of your friends and family, which will also help with times you may be homesick.
  6. Kindle – If you have a kindle bring one. Not only can you download textbooks (if they are relatively new) meaning you don’t lug about heavy books, but you may find yourself stuck on campus in between lectures. Reading can help pass the time.
  7. Your hobby – By this I mean, if you play an instrument such as a guitar or love to paint, bring it with you to Uni. You are moving to Uni after all, don’t forget about these hobbies as you may find some spare time on your hands. Rather than binging on Netflix, bring your hobby with you- you will find some space in the car to pack it up!
  8. Favourite films – On that note do bring your favourite films. You may not be lucky enough to have a TV or a TV license at Uni.
  9. Your secret childhood comforter – Although I am sure you definitely do not still have your favourite childhood toy or blanket, bring it with you. Uni is a big step and it is perfectly fine to have something to make you feel at ease. Also anyone who says they don’t bring some kind of nostalgic item with them is definitely lying!
  10. Earplugs – For my last luxury item I suggest earplugs. Halls can be fun, but on days where you are the only one who has that important exam or that needs to be up at silly o’clock, this will be a quick fix to block out your laughing flatmates who are coming back from a night out!

I hope you all enjoyed the list above and best of luck to any Fresher’s out there!