My Freshers Week

My freshers week at uni has been the strangest week I’ve had in a very long time (in a good way!). I didn’t really expect freshers week to be exactly as everyone tells you to expect it – you’re told to expect the strangest things, and I didn’t really anticipate it happening, but indeed on Monday morning, I was meant to meet someone outside my block but I wasn’t quite ready, so ran down in my slippers – and almost literally ran into a guy standing outside, hungover in his dressing gown.

Honestly, I wasn’t aware of being nervous/anxious about going to uni at all. It was all just like a matter of course, something that was meant to happen. I mean, it was a plan 15 years in the making, so it wasn’t like it was unexpected. And I’d had nigh on 3 months to get sick of wasting time over summer.

Actually, I was ill for the three weeks preceding moving to university – first my acid reflux was seriously playing up, then just as that started easing off, I was put on seriously strong antibiotics for two badly infected bites, and they messed with everything about my stomach, and I’d just about recovered by moving day. So, as you can probably imagine, I didn’t really feel up to going out for the first couple of nights.

When I went out on Tuesday, it was to a really weird club – it was my first experience of clubbing, coming from the quiet emptiness that is my hometown, and let’s just say I hadn’t been expecting statues of gorillas, elephants, a bouncy castle, and quite that much sweat.

…Or a crazy drunk ginger chick. I’ll not elaborate on that one.

Nor did I expect the sheer amount of people hanging around the uni campuses with bags of vouchers for food – got free pizza! – or the volume of McDonald’s customers at one in the morning.

Moving to a city has been a bit of a shock to the system – where I’m from, there’s nothing but a couple of pubs filled with middle-aged patrons open past 9pm, so the town centre is always dead – and here, there’s people all over the place all through the night. I sort of expected it, but then didn’t at the same time.

The lectures I’ve had to attend this week have been all very introductory, getting you ready, meeting your advisors-ish, and I’m really looking forward to actual lectures and seminars starting. I’m looking forward to the work starting!

I did a bit of exploring the libraries on my own – unfortunately, the library I’ll need most is the one furthest away from me – but they’re pretty cool. There’s one room in the library nearest where I’m staying that looks like your stereotypical, old-fashioned, dark wooden, musty study room and I love it – I’ll probably end up studying there even though it’s not where my books will be. At the library I need, there’s rows and rows and rows of movable bookshelves, where you turn handles and shift the shelves side to side and walk in the gaps between.

Near the end of the week I ran into someone from my secondary school/sixth form I just left, who’s actually going to the same uni I think (or one of the schools round the corner from it at least), which was quite amusing.

Come Saturday, most people were hungover, so I stayed in for the morning and then went out about midday. The central library in the city centre was so cool! Way better than our local library at home! It even has a dedicated reading room which is so beautiful, it’s crazy. If I’d had access to any of the history books they have during my A Levels, my work would have been so much better.

And today, I finally went to the gym for the first time (I say finally, it’s only been a week and I only booked the membership on Wednesday). Having not had a membership before, I’m not sure how to use most of the machines yet, so I just used the treadmill, bike and cross trainer. I’ve got an induction scheduled for Thursday morning which should help me out… I also finally took the rather large collection of recycling from the kitchen/my window and took that out. The plan was to get some washing done, now that I’ve located the laundry room, but reception was closed so I couldn’t pick up my Amazon pantry order.

(Yes, I ordered my washing powder online. I am too weak to carry it back from the city centre, okay? I also ordered other heavy things. Don’t judge me.)

Honestly, this week has passed in so much of a blur, it feels both like I’ve been here no time at all and like I’ve been here for weeks already. Picking out my soon-to-be favourite study/writing spots has definitely been a pastime! Here’s to the weeks to come 🙂

Katy x

The Loss of a Friend

This is the story of a friendship I had for over a decade, before, almost a year ago now, it sort of fell apart. I met this girl in primary school in Year 2, just before we both turned seven. I’ll call her M. We were only 15 days apart in age – she was older than me – but we always found it funny that I was so much taller than her. It turned out she’d just moved in to a house at the end of my road.

Safe to say we became really close friends pretty quickly, and I was really grateful to have her friendship, because I found primary school quite frustrating – I didn’t feel like I fit in with the majority of my peers, and I hated the school we were at. We didn’t agree on everything, so we challenged each other sometimes, but we easily passed over any disagreements.

Three years later, M told me while we were at school one day that her dad had been offered a position in Singapore and her whole family was moving there, probably for two years. In the end they only stayed there for just over one year, and she came back to England for the rest of our final year in primary school, but had to return to a different school because ours had downsized and didn’t have any places open.

To be honest, we stayed pretty close while she was abroad – we Skyped a lot, wrote letters, whatever. (Yes, we wrote actual letters. We are both a year older than Google, and thus grew up before the social media era.) She came back for a brief visit somewhere in the middle. It wasn’t until she came back for good that I felt like something had changed. She was different somehow, and we argued more.

Nevertheless, we started secondary school together, and our Year 7 timetables matched exactly. We had every class together and were in the same form group, and we were thick as thieves again. Year 8 was a struggle, at least from my perspective. We were in different cohorts this year (our year group was split in half and generally you only saw your own cohort in classes). The people she began to hang out with were very different to the people I would hang out with, and that year I met another girl who I also became really close with (that friendship had a weird melt down the year before this one).

I think M was initially jealous when she saw me getting to be closer friends with this other girl. I always remember a weird day after school on a Friday, when I was walking home with this new friend instead of M, when M came up behind us and tried to persuade me that I needed to go back to school with her because I’d left my PE kit in my locker. I knew I’d taken it home the day before so this made zero sense – but it fit in with M’s personality. She had this strange habit of somewhat neglecting her existing friends for a while, then when they started to pull away, reverting straight back to playing the best friend.

I’d say that from that point onward, our friendship was turbulent. We continued to have some mutual friends and some very different friends. We had very different attitudes towards things like school and relationships. She never told me as much as she used to about her life. I can’t really explain the logic behind us staying friends as long as we did, but there were many times where I thought that was it, friendship over.

Fast forward to 2015, we were in sixth form and had been friends for ten years. In January we both decided to sign up for the school’s Iceland trip the following October (yes, the one I blogged about). We were both really excited about it, and planned to share dorms together as we always did on school trips we shared. That didn’t end up happening as the rooms were in threes, and M decided to room with two other girls instead. I was put with one girl who I do get on with, and one who I’d never been fond of and had some strong peculiarities like choosing to dye her hair purple in the sink halfway through the week.

The week was brilliant, but I didn’t spend all that much of it with M. I spent a lot of the time on the coach reading etc, and did a lot of the activities with other people on the trip.

The real kicker came a couple of weeks after we came back: her 18th birthday came and went, and she had a party for it – but didn’t invite me or tell me about it. I think that was the point where I realised that we clearly viewed our friendship differently. As far as I could tell, to her I had become that old reliable friend who would always be there. To me, I expect as much from a friendship as I put into it.

I’d finally reached the point, after eleven years, where I was bored of her random little lies, tired of her strange manipulative personality, and where I realised that the best thing for me was to simply get rid of the expectations. If, I reasoned, I no longer viewed her as a friend, then she couldn’t disappoint me by failing to be one. So that’s what I did. I celebrated my eighteenth birthday without her, and soon she stopped making excuses for not walking to school in the mornings as she had done for a good while now. I purposely left the house ten minutes earlier than usual so that if she did knock, I wouldn’t be there to answer it.

We fell into a routine of avoiding each other. There had been no confrontation, no argument, nothing explosive. I took her off Snapchat, stopped following her on Facebook (and more recently unfriended her for good). I don’t use my old Instagram account all that much any more, so I stopped seeing her on there. We had very different timetables for Year 13, and didn’t end up in form together very much, never had study periods together, and didn’t take the same enrichment activities.

So that was kind of it, for me. After a couple of months she started trying to reach out again, via WhatsApp. I don’t know why, and I wasn’t interested in knowing why. She tried starting a conversation a couple of times, and each time I replied only to answer whatever question she’d asked and then deleted it. I asked nothing more from her.

The last time we spoke in person was during lunch at school. It was a strange conversation – I asked how the extension her parents were having done was going, something I couldn’t miss, living six doors down. She said I should come round when it was finished. (It’s still not finished.) I was noncommittal. She made her excuses and left. After that, we had a brief WhatsApp conversation about what universities we were going to, and that was that.

I don’t know if, had she invited me to her eighteenth birthday, we would still be friends. I somehow doubt it. The feeling that I was finally reaching the last of my patience with a friend who consistently lied to me and went back on her promises had been creeping up for a while. Really, what I took from the whole experience was that if someone wants to be your friend, they should act like it. Friendships should be reciprocal, and if they’re not, then there’s going to be a reason for it, whether you find out what it is or not.

I guess that old saying about friendships is true, some friends do only come into your life for a season. It just turned out that this particular season lasted eleven years. But the last ten months or so where we haven’t been friends and I’ve maintained a good distance from her have been really beneficial for me, as mean as it might sound. I’ve been able to become more confident in myself, I’ve been happier, and I haven’t had an argument with a friend since.

Sometimes I wonder what her side of the story would have been. Does she think I just froze her out? Does she know that I felt like she was a crappy friend? Does she know that her eighteenth birthday was the final straw? I’ll probably never know.

Katy x

5 Healthy Sides

We all know dinner can be a chore, and it’s easy to only eat the same boring vegetables over and over (or skip them entirely because peas and broccoli are the most disgusting things I have ever tortured my tongue with), but these five are super delicious and super simple. Even if you do a couple of them at a time, it’s easy to rotate them and change them up.

1) Sweet potato fries

Such a favourite of mine! These seemed to randomly gain popularity last year or so (I think I’m gonna blame YouTube for that), but I’m so glad they did because I never used to like sweet potato, but this made me try something different with them. Sweet potatoes are fibrous, extremely rich in Vitamin A, and have lower levels of a variety of other vitamins.

With these, just peel the sweet potato, chop into fries, put in an oven dish with some olive oil, and sprinkle some salt over them before shoving them in the oven for around 25 minutes to half an hour. I personally love using Himalayan pink salt, which is far less processed than table salt and helps lessen acid reflux.

2) Roasted cauliflower

I’m not usually one to go crazy over conventional cauliflower, but done this way it is insanely tasty. Just chop it into its little florets, and put it into an ovenable dish. Put a little olive oil over (not too much), be generous with some lemon juice, and sprinkle some herbs over. Mixed herbs, chopped parsley, whatever you like, just not enough to overpower the cauliflower. Shove in the oven for, again, 25 to 30 minutes – or until it’s browning off nicely. Cauliflower’s high in Vitamin C, as is the lemon juice!

3) Collard Greens

I’ve mentioned these in a previous recipe, just spring or winter greens (obviously spring at this time of year), rather than what most people usually refer to as ‘greens’, like broccoli etc (told you I have a vendetta against broccoli). Collard greens have plenty of Vitamin A, and are high in Vitamin C, calcium, fibre, and more.

How to cook? Tear the leaves from the stalky bit in the middle, rinse them, and put them in a pan on the hob with a little bit of water and some butter, and cook on a low heat for a few minutes until they wilt. Or let some olive oil heat up first, throw in some crushed garlic and cook them that way.

4) Mashed swede with butter

Another one for the Vitamin C, swede also has a bit of potassium. Boil some chopped swede in some water for up to half an hour, just long enough for it to be easy to poke with a knife, drain and mash with a knob of butter to make it just that little bit tastier. It’s so good.

5) Pak choi

This one has an abundance of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and some calcium, and is great pan-fried in oil. Use the whole leaf, and it doesn’t take longer than a couple of minutes on the hob at a medium heat. Just beware of the spitting.

So there you have it, five super simple veggie sides which will go with a whole host of different meals. These are all fairly cheap, one-pan sides and you can always add your own twist to them – maybe you’ll try the cauliflower with lime juice instead or something! (If anyone does, do let me know how that turns out, I’ve not done it before but now I’m slightly tempted.) Although I will say, I am such a weakling that I find it super hard to cut swede and currently get my parents to do it, but when I go to uni I’ll probably just buy it pre-cut. And go to the gym. I’m shamefully weak.

And on that note, see you next time!

Katy x