Do I go to university? A review of my three year degree

Firstly, I want to say hi! It’s been a while! So much has changed hasn’t it?! Dare I say the dreaded C word? Coronavirus is obviously unavoidable in today’s society, so I guess it’s unavoidable here too!

The last time I wrote about university on this page, I was giving advice on Freshers week, and now here I am, a fully fledged graduate with a full time job. There have been lots of changes for me since then, as there have been for everyone! Covid-19 struck and shifted a lot of aspects of people’s lives. I think it’s important to remember whilst Covid has been the main change, everybody has had their own changes over the past two years, and whilst some are unfortunately not so good, there are so many things to celebrate too. For me, one of these was graduating.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but I studied Psychology and during my three years, I have had so many questions about my degree I thought I would band together the most frequently asked and then finish off with my own quick review of university as a whole experience. So if that’s something you’re interested in, then keep reading!

1a. What did you study? and bonus follow up question… 1b. What do you want to do with it?

Wow, this is a big one, and probably the most frequently asked. Anyone that has done a degree/chosen their GCSEs, A-Levels or any other type of course can tell you, this is the first thing people ask. And I suppose rightly so, surely we have good reasons for choosing our subjects? What we enjoy, what we’re good at, what peaks our interests and makes us want to know more… For some people they have a passion, such as they are brilliant at Art, a great sportsman or they really geek out on History, their choice might be easy! But for a lot of us we are fairly average at everything, and the choice can seem tougher.

In short, I chose to study a degree in Psychology because I think in the world today, a lot of young people in the job market have a Bachelors or higher. I knew I wanted a degree but had to choose which one. At the time, I was studying English, Maths, Spanish and Psychology, with that being my strongest and most enjoyed subject. It is also known to be widely applicable to a variety of career paths, and I was also acutely aware that most people take jobs in a completely unrelated field to their degree subject. So I wasn’t backing myself into a corner of becoming a Clinical Psychologist; it gave me options and more time to decide beyond the degree what I would do.

Tying into part b, I am as of yet to find out what I will ‘do with my degree’, however I have started a new job recently (my first full-time job) and I am really enjoying it! It’s not anything that I would have imagined I’d be doing but it is an exciting role in a lovely work environment with room for progression. Beyond that, I’m not sure where I’m heading, but I know that I have the foundation of a degree behind me. Whether that is actually beneficial or simply it gives confidence of knowing that I have some sort of qualification.

My final year Dissertation title

2. How did you decide where to study?

Another excellent question but with a fairly simple answer. Do your research, look at prospectuses (not tonnes), visit their websites and social media pages, watch virtual tours and visit the campuses (again don’t do a tour of the whole UK!). I found when visiting universities, I knew fairly quickly if I liked a campus or not, for example I wasn’t a huge fan of the Loughborough University or Cardiff University campuses, but when I went to Nottingham and Oxford Brookes University, I knew I loved them. You honestly get a feel for the university and you have to trust your instincts. Yes, you do have to consider entry requirements, distance from home etc. but at the base of it you have to like to campus and accommodation. So my advice; see what feels right and trust yourself.

3. Did you join any societies/clubs?

Whilst at university I was part of the Psychology Society and I played tennis socially. Personally I love playing sport and keeping fit, but I know that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Universities have so much to offer. Sport societies can sometimes get a bad reputation, but they are what you make of them and you decide what you want to be a part. If you love going out every night and getting plastered, go for it, you do you! But if you don’t, that shouldn’t be a reason to stop you taking part in sports you enjoy. There are also lots of events that aren’t focused on drinking, with universities pushing for a more ‘healthy’ social culture.

Most (if not all) universities will hold a Fresher’s Fair in the first week (see my post on Freshers here), and I’d encourage you to go and check out what is on offer. Pop your name down for some bits and see how you feel about them later if you’re not sure you want to commit. Change your mind? Take your name off the list, or just don’t show up! But it is a brilliant chance to try new things and probably one of the rare points in life when you have time. Make the most of it! Cliche I know, but if I could go back and do it again, I would take part in a lot more.

4. When did you choose 2nd year housing?

We were fairly organised and as a group, had found a house by Christmas. A bit of a different story in third year; in April we found out the house we were in was suddenly unavailable for the following year and we had to change our house very last minute. This gave me experience of being both very organised and being in total panic. Here’s how it went:

Organising yourself early is definitely preferable, you have more time to look for houses and you have more time to get closer with the people you will live with. You can also sort out all paperwork, tenancy agreements and deposits earlier and this can be done and dusted, no longer a stress. However, if you have left it a bit late and you are desperately looking for a house, there are options. Luckily for me, my housemates didn’t change much, so we just needed a house. We viewed a house 10 doors down from our old one in the morning, and by the afternoon we had secured it and received contracts. One tip, if it is a last minute scramble, you have to have perspective. You may not find something super nice, and you’re going to need to use some imagination when viewing these student properties. Think about how your things will look in the rooms rather than how it looks with a strangers stuff lying everywhere and it being (probably) a lot dirtier than you would keep it. Keep an open mind, and remember look for something in your budget. Just because it’s last minute, doesn’t mean you have to pay through the nose for something left on the market that’s too expensive for what it is – awful student digs.

5. Do you miss it?

Yes and no. I would say the bits I miss the most are the socialising and the university lifestyle. Realistically I’m not sure many people ‘miss’ the work, so it isn’t a surprise I’d be happy to not write another social psychology essay again. But I do miss certain parts of the work, such as the experiments and the research projects, they were (at times) fun.

The social aspects of university, such as living with friends, going out, having a very free schedule (honestly there are not enough contact hours for the amount it costs!), these things were great. But whilst I miss them, I also like having my full time job, I still see friends and go out, play sport etc etc. I just have to priories and manage my time more.

My final thoughts:

It’s so difficult to summarise whether university is worth it in a blanket statement that applies to everyone, because each person’s case is different.

Generally speaking, I would say for certain careers there is a definite set path to get there, e.g. clinical psychologist, vet, orthopaedic surgeon etc. But for the majority of us, if you are considering university simply as something to do for 3 years I would suggest you strongly consider other options, such as Apprenticeships (earn as you learn) or finding a job and working for the three years. Sometimes, working in a professional environment gives you valuable life experience that university cannot. Along those lines, and mentioned in previous posts, find a part time job whilst you’re at uni, at minimum this will give you a bit more cash and I found it helped to structure my week.

As I’ve said, everyone is different and a simple yes or no is not going to fit for everybody. Personally I am pleased I studied for three years and think even though I won’t necessarily go into a ‘Psychology-based-job’ it has given me good experience in other ways that I have enjoyed, and there a definite aspects of my degree that I use in my job now and will in future careers too.

There’s no doubt university is fun, you’ll have an absolutely amazing time, but it is hard work too. At the end of the day, you’re there to get a qualification and at some point that will need to be a priority, but do enjoy yourself, three years will whizz by so quickly and you have to make the most of it!

Thanks for reading and look out for more posts on student/graduate life!

Imogen x

All Shook Up Cocktails!

Hi there everyone! So tonight I’m posting something a bit different, and it’s only going to be a short one.

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Image taken from www.allshookupcocktails.co.uk

I recently tried the All Shook Up pre-mixed cocktails and I just wanted to share how cute I think they are! They only have three cocktails out for sale at the moment, as they are a fairly new brand. But, here are the three they have available!

Images taken from www.allshookupcocktails.co.uk

Flamingo Colada:

This cocktail is great for you if you like Pina Coladas (and getting caught in the rain!) The Flamingo Colada is a gorgeous pink colour matching the design of the can (which is also just the cutest!) and replaces the traditional pineapple juice with Grenadine. Add natural coconut, lime and fruit juices, all shaken together with white rum, this cocktail is a delicate take on the classic and gives just as much of a taste of paradise!

Passion Fruit Martini:

This one is my favourite of the three! It takes the classic Pornstar Martini and adds passion fruit juice to make it that little bit extra fabulous! Shaken together with vodka, sugar syrup, natural flavourings and fruit alcohol, serve with a shot of prosecco on the side, you’ve got yourself a fruity and fabulous Passion Fruit Martini!

Espresso Martini:

This one is my least favourite (not to say it’s bad, by any means!), just because I prefer fruity cocktails. It still tastes great – A take on the classic Espresso Martini, this takes the hassle out of making your favourite cocktail! Simply pour into a martini glass and add espresso beans atop your ice cold beverage and you’ve got the easiest espresso martini you’ll ever drink! With coffee, sugar syrup, natural flavourings, all shaken together with fruit alcohol and vodka… you can’t go wrong with this simple classic!

 

These three cocktails are perfect for a low-key catch up with your friends, or for pre drinks before a huge night out! They would be ideal for taking to festivals, and I’m always on the look out for new and exciting drinks! These three are available in Tesco and independent convenience retailers, best to check with your local stores! At Tesco, these little cans are selling for £1.25 each and until 7th March 2019, they are 4 for 3! These are perfect and, as the website points out, the adorable cans are the perfect accessory for any outfit!

Thank you for reading! If you like this sort of content, give it a like and comment with any suggestions for new posts! I really like posting about things that are a bit different and quirky, and these have been so fun to review! I hope you’re all having a fabulous new year! Thank you again!

Imogen ❤

University Freshers

Hey everyone! I moved into my new university halls last Sunday and have been at uni for a week now and I thought it would be a good idea to share some of what I’ve been up to and things you can do during Freshers (aside from going out of course!). I’m not a huge ‘party girl’, but yeh, I like to go out with friends and have a couple of drinks, go to the clubs etc. but not every night. So, during Freshers, its been interesting to see how much I can actually avoid going out and getting smashed like a lot of people love doing!

Getting a job

I have been transferred to a new branch of the company I work for, which has meant I have a secured job for me whilst I study. Of course, this will vary from company to company, but it is a good idea to see if they offer student transfers if the new city you’re moving to have a store! It has worked really well for me and my first shift was good! Even though I am in a new role in my new branch, I think that makes it more interesting as I have new things to learn!

Look out for part-time jobs on sites like indeed.co.uk as lots of places will be offering short term temporary contracts for students, that will be flexible around lecture times. Companies know that student timetables change, so will be willing to work with you at getting the best hours. Another popular idea is a part-time jobs fair at the university, which my university have held, and this is where companies and brands advertise their jobs specifically for students. One more idea that is excellent for students is working as a student ambassador for your university which usually working on open days and giving tours around campus (training is provided) and the pay rate at my university is £10/hour! Because it is based at university, they also work around your lecture times and know not to take you out of anything, and some work on a 0 hour contract meaning it is something you can really control around when you have the time free or not.

Meeting new people

Freshers week is so daunting at the beginning, moving into a flat full of people you don’t know, going to induction and enrolments with lecture theatres full of people you don’t know. But, the lecturers know that everyone is in the same position and they will do icebreakers and similar activities to get you more relaxed and allow you to introduce yourself to people on your course. This has really helped me meet people doing my course and we have then gone to other events together and got to know each other better. With flatmates, it’s not so easy sometimes! Instead of eating in your room, why don’t you eat in the kitchen and then if anyone comes in, introduce yourself! Be friendly! If there is a group chat for your flat, ask if anyone wants a drink or if you’re ordering take-out ask if anyone wants to join! My flatmates and I had a movie night this week and ordered a curry and it was a great chance to get to know them a bit better! If you’re planning on going to the campus at the same time, ask if they want to walk or get the bus together. It’s the little things that you wouldn’t necessarily ask about normally, but they are a great chance to get to know the people you live with!

Join a sports club or society

I have joined the Tennis club at my university. I had trials today, which was fun to go to and, again, meet new people, make new friends! Even if I don’t make the team, I will still play socially with my friends and it will be a great way to take my mind off work and lectures and relax (strangely enough)! Doing sport has always been important to me and it takes my mind off of stress and studying, as well as keeping me fit. I have played tennis since junior school and, as I said, even I just play socially, it will be really nice to make friends and have fun!

I have also joined a couple of societies, one of them being the society for my subject. Lots of subjects offer their own societies, and you don’t always have to be doing that course to join! It is another great way to meet new people, within and outside of your course. If that doesn’t seem like something you’d like, there are always a bunch of random and totally crazy societies that you can join. Some of my personal favourites that I spotted were Tea Society and Fashion Society! There really is something for everyone to choose from, so make sure you go to Freshers Fair and the Sports Fair to see what there is available! Try something new and have fun!

Keep in touch with friends and family

Moving away from home can be scary and nerve-wracking! But don’t forget! Your parents will be sad to see you go too… and your friends! So during that first week, make sure you stay in contact with friends from home and family, they will want to know what you’re up to and how you’re doing. My boyfriend has been to visit me and it’s been nice having a bit of home to visit, even if it has just been for the day. And don’t forget… people you know may have come to the same university as you! If you know someone and they are at your uni, drop them a message and get a drink or meet one day to look round the city centre. A friendly face in a crowd of new ones can really settle Freshers weeks nerves!

I hope everyone that has already moved to uni is having an amazing time, and anyone that is moving soon (or today!) you have an incredible Freshers week! Party hard and have fun!

Thank you all for reading and keep an eye out for updates of how university life is going for me!

Imogen ❤

A Level Results Day

Hey everyone! It is 11 days until A Level results day! Yes, I am counting down the days, not because I am petrified of finding out my results but because I am excited to see where I will be heading in September! I have previously written a piece about GCSE results day, as I knew a few younger people were quite nervous about receiving their results. Now, one year on, I am waiting for my A Level results, hoping to achieve the grades I need to get into my first choice of Universities!

Lots of people will be nervous about getting their results. Some of you may know that you smashed the exams after months of hard revising and you are confident you are going to do well! Others may think the exams have gone well but are staying quietly confident that you will get the necessary grades. And unfortunately, other people will be dreading the 16th, knowing that their exams did not go as they had hoped and that they are going to need a contingency plan if they get worse grades than the Universities are offering to accept.

Even if you are one of the confident individuals and you know that you have achieved your grades, having a back-up plan can never hurt! One thing I had forgotten is that if you do better than you had expected or have achieved higher grades that will get you into a higher University than is your first choice, you can go through Clearing to apply to the higher Universities. For example, you have a conditional offer from University of Liverpool for Mathematics for ABB, but you have achieved 3 A*’s! You could now apply through clearing to go to your other higher choice of UCL for A* A* A. If they have the spaces, they should accept you, as you have not only met the requirements, but have exceeded them. Keep this in mind if you do better than you had expected!

Similarly, if you have changed your mind about your first choice University, after checking the entry grades, and knowing that you have met them, you can apply through Clearing to your new choice. If you now want to go to University of Sussex (ABB) then you could apply through Clearing (as long as they have the spaces).

Clearing (through UCAS) works by creating a new application, and therefore a new UCAS Track profile. This will become active once your application is complete and you have received a welcome email. You can apply through Clearing for a number of reasons but the main ones include –

  • You have applied after the deadline of June 30th
  • You didn’t receive any offers
  • You don’t want to accept the offers you have been given
  • You do not meet the entry requirements of your University firm and insurance choices

If you don’t get the grades, don’t panic! If you really want to go to a specific University, ring them up and explain why you want to do your course there. Don’t try to make excuses about why your grades were lower than expected, unless there is a clearcut reason (for example a grievance or illness etc.). One thing to remember is that the Universities really want passionate and brilliant students, and often, with the rising number of other options instead of University (apprenticeships etc.) Universities may even be reaching out to fill the spaces they have for a course! Be hopeful, and don’t get flustered, if you do decide to ring them, try to stay calm. If you have become upset after receiving your results, just take a moment to compose yourself before you speak to the University.

If your University doesn’t have space on the course you want, you can try a different course, for example, if you were planning to do Psychology, try seeing if they have spaces on a Psychology with Education or something along those lines. Who knows? Perhaps the course will interest you more than you think! If it really isn’t your cup of tea, once you start your course, if you request to swap to your original course soon enough in the year, they may be able to fit more people in, due to drop-outs and people declining their offers.

The other option with Clearing is that other Universities may have spaces on the course you want to do. These may be Universities you hadn’t thought of, so be open minded and think; if I really want to do this course, does it matter which University I am at? Do try and look around any Universities before you confirm your place, or at least see if they offer a virtual tour online. Failing that, try using Google Maps Street View to look around the externals of the buildings to get a kind of feel for the campus.

If the exams have gone so badly wrong that you are not going to be able to get into a University you would like to go to, then perhaps you should rethink your options. Could you take a year out? Retake a subject? Work full time until you have a clearer idea of where you want to go? Do an apprenticeship? There are lots of options and although it might seem like a huge disaster on the day when the results aren’t what you hoped for, everything will be ok in the end!

A Level Results are released on the 16th August 2018 and are usually available for collection from your school/sixth form/college. Alternatively, if you know you can’t make it there on the day, you can receive them over the phone or arrange to have them emailed to you (check individual rules for your institution). This may also be the default option for some schools, as they have so many students, emailing out the results can be easier.

Good luck to everyone who is waiting for results in just over 10 days and I hope that you all get the grades you are hoping for and if not, you are still able to find a way to study something you love!

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on my blog for more content as I move to University and blog about questions and key topics that have been requested!

Imogen ❤

 

UCAS… What next?

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while, I’ve been concentrating on my courses and all the work that comes with doing A Levels, fellow strugglers, you know what I mean! I have sent my UCAS application off and have received offers back. But, I have been asking myself, what next? What do I do in this long wait between now and results day (aside from revision for my all important exams… obviously!)? And then I thought, maybe if I don’t know the next steps, others don’t either. So I thought I would do some research and compile a little guide as to your next move closer to starting University!

Of course, I know that not everyone chooses to go to university, and that’s great! Some people are suited to different styles of learning, others want to travel and work. Whatever you choose to do, as long as it is what you want to do, then it’s going to be okay! But, this post is focused on people who have applied through UCAS (hence the title) so if that’s not you, please feel free to either stay and read anyway or skip this post!

Receive your offers:

This will be dependent on a number of factors, such as how your predicted grades align with the grades the University is asking for (or tariff points if that’s the system they use). They will also consider how many places they have on offer, and if they have fewer applicants than they expected, they may offer you the place but on lower grades, which is great! They may also give you a ‘contextual offer’ if you attend an Aspiring College or Sixth Form, of which there is a list online for each University if your institution fits the criteria, or if you make that University your firm choice, then they will perhaps lower the grades too. All in all, the Universities are really searching for the people that show they want to be there and even if their grades aren’t ‘up there’ they will still be given a fair opportunity to bag a place!

Reply to your offers:

Congratulations if you have had offers back from Universities saying that they would like to give you a place! There are three responses you could have received; Conditional, Unconditional or Unsuccessful. Depending on which you have received will determine your next steps.

Conditional means you’ve got a place! That is, as long as you achieve the grades that the University are after.

Unconditional means congratulations! You’ve got a place at the University with whatever grades you get! Some people automatically assume that this means they don’t have to turn up for their exams, BUT! I would strongly recommend carrying on revising and working hard, not only because Universities can withdraw their offers, but it will also make the first year so much easier, having a strong base of knowledge at a higher level!

Unfortunately, if your application has been unsuccessful, that means you haven’t got a place at that University. But, the other 4 applications may be successful, so don’t lose hope! I have had unsuccessful applications and everyone sort of tiptoed around the topic if it came up, but the first thing I said was “Don’t worry! I’m sort of happy I got rejected… it makes choosing my top two easier!” You’ve just got to look on the positive side of these things and you’ll be fine!

Applying for Finance:

I will go into more detail about this on a separate post, but the basic gist of this is explained really well on the UCAS website, and through various emails advising you on the best course of action. UCAS will email you with the 16 digit code you need to set up a student bank account (this is slightly different to applying for finance but I’ll explain later). Other information you will need to apply is your UCAS Personal ID number, Passport number and National Insurance Number. The process takes about half an hour, and you then print a form to sign and send to the Student Finance HQ. They suggest that it will take roughly 6-8 weeks to process, but as soon as the application is in, it’s one less thing to worry about!

So there you have it, the next few steps after you have sent in your application. Of course, there is accommodation, applicant days and lots of revision, among other things, but I’m going to be writing some more in-depth posts for these bits as I think they just need their own posts. I know lots of people are quite daunted by the process, but it honestly isn’t that scary and once you do it, you feel so much better for being on top of it!

Thank you for reading and keep an eye out for new posts under the University tab on my page and I’ll be posting more content soon!

Imogen S.

Uni Open Days

UCAS has just opened applications for September 2018 undergraduate entry for universities. Part of the fun of uni is getting to explore new places and make new friends, and it all starts with researching what you want to do and where you want to go. Part of this research is visiting universities on an Open Day. I have been to a few as part of my research, and there have been some I have really liked, and others that just haven’t quite hit the spot.

Some important things to remember when you’re looking around are:

  • You don’t have to like it! Your friend might say it’s the best university in the world, but your friend isn’t spending 3+ years there for you to complete your degree. The league tables might say that it is top in the country for the subject you want to study, but if you don’t like it then it’s going to make studying more difficult and less enjoyable for you! Make sure you like it because you’re the one that will be living there.
  • Everyone (mostly) is as confused and unsure as you are. The majority of the prospective students around you, are probably similar to your age and haven’t got a definite plan for what they want to study, let alone do for the rest of their lives. It’s great if you have a plan because you know what courses and qualifications you need to get into that career! But, it also isn’t the be all and end all of the choices. Most students change their minds during their course as they learn new areas of their subject, so don’t feel too pressured to make a decision and have to stick to it.
  • Look out for the helpers and students from the university (they’ll probably be wearing a coloured top that matches the university, or be holding a big flag etc). There are often multiple registrations and help point tents scattered around the university, so just pop over and ask for help if you need it. It’s what they’re there for!
  • Take the time to go to talks or presentations. Some of these you might need to book in advance and get tickets, or others you can just turn up and see if there is any extra room. Or, if a talk doesn’t appeal to you, head to an informal Q&A that most departments will hold all day in their respective buildings. I would recommend going to the department section anyway because you can look at the facilities and lecture halls and see what kind of environment you will be studying in.
  • Pick up as many leaflets as possible. Don’t go too crazy, but do take the opportunity to get more information about specific things that are important to you.
  • Got a passion? Sport? Music? Reading? Go take a look around the facilities, because they might offer something that will be the winning factor! You could also take a look at the library, even if you rarely touch a book, as they are often the place for computer suites and study areas.
  • Tour the accommodation and be realistic. I know the thought of sharing a bathroom with 8 other people doesn’t sound overly appealing, but universities tend to bump up the price of a standard room to ensuite by roughly £40/week if you’re lucky! Keep an open mind and remember you won’t be spending the whole time at university in halls. More often than not, students move out in their second year to external student accommodation. Then again, if you know you have the money to pay for a private student flat for £200/week, then go ahead and splash the cash!
  • Lastly, ask yourself the harsh and realistic question of; Am I going to get the grades to come here? It is brilliant to aim high because it makes you strive for success and people always get better grades if they truly believe they can. But, on the other hand, if you have got a C at AS, are you going to get an A* at A2? I am not suggesting that you completely close off the option if the requirements are slightly higher than your predicted grades, but make sure you have a backup plan. If you do love a university and their grades are high, then great! It could motivate you to work really hard all year and get those grades but it could also demotivate you and stress you out, chasing grades that are not realistic.

These are some of the things I have done when visiting universities and I have found that it tends to help to go into the day with a rough plan, so have a think before you dive straight into a place you don’t know!

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Have fun looking around new places and meeting some friendly faces that are always happy to help!

Thank you for reading and I’ll be writing more soon about the UCAS application process as I go through it myself, so keep your eyes peeled!

Imogen ❤

Fudge & Vanilla Soy Muffins

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, there are a limited amount of things you can do, unless you don’t mind being rained on! So I decided to be very domestic and did a bit of baking. After a little look through a baking book, someone bought me years ago, I chose a recipe for Low-Fat Muffins, except I used full-fat soy yogurt instead.

The Recipe:

Makes 12 Muffins

280g/10 oz plain flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 Tsp bicarbonate of soda

115g/4 oz caster sugar

2 egg whites

250ml/9 fl oz low-fat natural yogurt (I used soy)

3 Tbsp sunflower oil

1 Tsp vanilla extract

40g small fudge chunks

The Method:

  • Start by turning your oven up to 200˚C/400˚F/Gas Mark 6 and ensure the shelves are in the correct place for when you put the muffins in later. This means you won’t need to move them around when they are hot and just makes your life easier.
  • Next, put 12 muffin cases in a muffin tray and put them aside until you need them later.
  • Weigh out the flour, sugar, fudge chunks, yogurt and separate the egg whites, saving the egg yolks if you think you can use them for anything else, or throw them away, as you won’t need them for this recipe. Place each of these ingredients in separate bowls so you can add them easily later.
  • Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl (or an electric mixer if you have one), and add the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Add the sugar and mix the dry ingredients together.
  • Take your egg whites and beat them lightly until they are slightly foamy. Then add the yogurt, oil and vanilla extract. Beat these together until you have a smooth mix.
  • Now, make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Fold the two groups of ingredients together, but do not overmix. Finally, add the fudge chunks and mix them in, so they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  • Take a medium-large zip lock bag and place it over the edge of a small saucepan (or anything like a bowl, that can hold your amount of mixture).
  • Spoon the mixture into the bag. I find it easier to use a silicone spatula to ensure I get every last bit of mixture out of the bowl, wasting nothing.
  • Take the bag out of the saucepan and before zipping the bag closed, take a rolling pin and push all the mixture to the closed end of the bag. If there are air bubbles, this doesn’t matter hugely as you will be doing this again, later on, to get the last bits out the bag.
  • Zip the bag shut and snip a corner of the bag, just enough to let out the mixture, ensuring that the chunks of fudge can get through this gap.
  • Pipe the mixture into your muffin cases, evenly distributing it between the 12 cases.
  • As you get to the last couple, re-squeeze the bag and move all the mixture right to the corner. This means you will waste as little as possible and get just enough mixture for 12 muffins.
  • Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, but do keep an eye on them depending on the strength of your oven, as they may need slightly more or less time than specified. They will be ready when you can remove a clean skewer from the muffins, without any mixture on it.
  • Take the muffins out of the tray and place them on a cooling rack. I placed some kitchen foil under the rack and then sprinkled some icing sugar atop of them once they had cooled. The way you choose to decorate them is completely up to you.

Here are some photographs of my process and what they looked like at the end!

 

Thank you for reading and I hope I’ve inspired you to do some weekend baking! They taste amazing and I really enjoyed making them and doing something different from scrolling through social media all afternoon!

I hope you all have a lovely week and if you’re back to school or off to university, good luck!

Imogen ❤

Results Days

The 17th and 24th of August are important days for a lot of people this year… the dreaded days of results. I got my AS results today and I know friends who got A2 results, as well as next Thursday, friends who are getting GCSE results.

Before today, the most popular question I got was; ‘Are you nervous or worried?’ I think I mainly answered ‘No.’ This was usually met with a strange look or more questions about why I wasn’t having sleepless nights about ‘the day that’s the beginning of the end’.

My views on results days ( A-Level or GCSE) are nice and simple; once you have sat the exam (or handed in the coursework etc.) there is nothing that can be changed. Although that might be daunting if you think you’ve done badly, it also raises the question of why would you worry about something you can’t change?

If you got your results today; I hope you’ve done well and you are pleased with your grades. Congratulations if you have been given your place at the universities of choice, and if you haven’t, remember that A-Levels are not the be-all and end-all. If you don’t do as well as you hoped, don’t spend the next few weeks drinking the rest of your holidays away. You should research what your next options are. Are there other courses, at possibly different levels, that you can apply for? Can you go through clearing and get a place somewhere else? If you are truly passionate about the subject you want to study, I am sure there is a place available somewhere. There is no point hiding that you got lower grades than you wanted because otherwise, you wouldn’t be in clearing, so try and describe to universities how much you want to study your chosen subject and how much it would mean to be given another opportunity.

For GCSE students, it’s a similar story but instead of a university place, its college and sixth form offering you your next steps in education. I remember my GCSE results last year, and whilst I was happy with my grades as I had done quite well, I think I was expecting higher. I now look back and realize that the grades I got were a true reflection on how hard I worked. You honestly do only get out however much work you put in. I was fortunate to have teachers who really cared about their pupils and subjects, so I was at an advantage of good quality teaching. But, as I was at an independent school, the pressure it puts you under to achieve higher than average grades is huge, especially with many people around you with academic scholarships.

I am now at college studying A-Levels, and I am really enjoying myself. The thing that really hits hard in your first few months of college is; GCSE’s are just a ‘stepping stone’ (excuse the cliché) to your next choice. So, if you don’t get the grades, don’t worry about it! Because a D in geography at GCSE is NOT going to stop you getting anywhere in life, trust me on this. It is now one year since my GCSE results, and I can’t even remember what I got. That’s not just my terrible memory either. Multiple people, I have asked can’t even remember the subjects they studied.

I wish everyone the best of luck with their GCSE results next week, try not to panic too much and remember it will all be okay, whatever your grades are. If you’re off to university next month, good luck! I hope everyone has an amazing time. And if you are now looking at a different route to what you originally planned, don’t worry about it, because it will work itself out and if it’s meant to be, it will happen.

Thank you for reading this, especially today with everything else on your mind, and I hope I’ve reassured some people on next week. Once again, good luck!

Imogen ❤

Engineer Work Experience @CoolConcernsLtd.

What have I been up to this week?

During this week, I’ve been doing a City and Guilds RAC Service and Maintenance course including an F-Gas assessment at Cool Concerns Ltd. Basically, what that means is; I am learning to work with refrigerants, i.e. the stuff that goes in our fridges and air conditioning systems to keep them cool, and learning other bits alongside, like how to test pressures, test for leaks of refrigerants and charging and evacuating a system. Everything on the course is designed to prepare you to go out into the field and work on a system to complete repairs, check for faults etc.

I haven’t got any plans as to what I would like to do as a career, so I am trying out a variety of things over the next few years and keeping my options open. This means I can broaden my knowledge in a wide range of areas and gain experience in things I might never have thought of, like the F-Gas qualification I am completing now.

I decided to complete the qualification because it gives me an insight into what a ‘hands on’ job is like, whether I would be any good in an engineering role, and on my CV it shows I am keeping my options open, as I mentioned before.

I have really enjoyed my week so far, and have to complete an assessment on Friday to pass the course and gain the Level 2 F-Gas qualification. It consists of an online theory test and a practical assessment where I have to show a certain level of competence with the system I have in front of me, which in my case, is a small air conditioning rig composed of a compressor, condenser, evaporator, receiver, and expansion valve, among other components, or, a ‘simple’ AC system.

This obviously doesn’t qualify me to come and fix your fridges when they stop working, but it has been really interesting. This is a more practical learning style but also links to classroom lessons, like in ‘traditional’ education, as there is a fair amount of theory to accompany it too.

I would really recommend getting a variety of work experience whilst you have a little free time, and don’t have to worry about university, working, kids running around etc.! If you are heading towards, or are currently completing, your A-Levels, try and find an opportunity to do something different to the subjects you are studying. Or, if you know which direction you want to go, get some experience in those areas too! I know friends who are doing work experience in areas such as; caring for the elderly, teacher training and accountancy, as well as what I am doing in engineering. There really are such a wide range of things to choose from so have an investigate, and don’t worry if you don’t get paid for it! The experience is worth it, and who knows, you might discover something you really enjoy doing!

This post has been a bit different to my regular ones, but I hope it has given a little insight into what I’m up to and some ideas for the future!

Thank you to Cool Concerns Ltd. who is the company I am completing the course with.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I’ll keep you posted as to other bits and bobs I will be doing!

Imogen ❤

 

Summer Skin

With summer well and truly here, schools are finished, the sun has appeared and everybody, except me, seems to be jetting off to exotic locations, I thought it was a nice idea to share how I keep my skin feeling healthy and the simple makeup I like to use during the warmer months.

Skin Care

My top tip? Drink lots and lots of water! During the summer I make a conscious effort to drink more, as it is always good to stay hydrated and it has multiple benefits, one of which, being that it helps your skin to look healthy and glow! The recommended average for the amount of water you should drink everyday is 3L for men and 2.5L for women. Obviously, I don’t get all 2.5L in everyday, but I do try to get at least 1.5L, and on especially warm days, or if I am at work, I try harder to hit that higher target.

With direct regards to skin care, I use Essential Waitrose 4 in 1 Cucumber Facial Wipes  (£1.59) to remove my makeup in the evenings, and then wash my face with lukewarm water. I only use a soap on my face in my morning shower and it will be one of two favourites of mine; the Nivea Facial Wash Gel (£3) or the Nivea Daily Essentials Cleansing Cream Wash (£3.15). I find both really gentle on my skin, which isn’t especially sensitive, but I still have to be careful using harsh face washes and scrubs and these two from Nivea are really kind on all skin types.

I then use a water gel moisturiser, as I find these really refreshing in the summer months. My most recent favourite, as inspired by the television advert (I am a sucker for ads!) is the L’Oreal Paris Hydra Genius Aloe Water (£6.99). What drew me in was the fact it is a water based formula, and that I am mildly obsessed with anything containing Aloe Vera. I have always used my Banana Boat Aloe Vera After Sun Gel in previous summers to treat multiple sun burns that I have suffered, so I knew it worked well with my skin type. They have 3 variations, Normal – Dry, Normal – Combination and Normal – Oily. My skin type varies quite a bit depending on the weather and how well I have been looking after it, so I went for the combination option as it gives a fair chance of being right for a variety of skin days!

Makeup

As for makeup in the summer, I have always really liked to keep it to the bare minimum and of what I am comfortable in being out publicly, which usually consists of a little mascara and filling in my brows. This means I generally get out of the house quicker and my skin thanks me in the long term for not being caked in foundation everyday under the baking sun! My go-to brow product is the NYX Sculpt & Highlight Brow Contour (£9), which has a wax pencil at one end and at the other, a sheer and glittery highlight/concealer that you can pop on your brow bone and blend. For mascara, it can vary depending on how I want my lashes to look, but I usually stick to the Clinique Chubby Lash (£18) as mentioned in a previous post.

If I do decide to go a little glam during the day, or even for an evening out, I still like to keep it light and simple, so I am not clogging my pores in the heat and makeup. Recently I have been using the Nars Sheer Glow Foundation (£32) in shade Mont Blanc paired with the Nars Creamy Concealer (£23) in shade Light 2. They give amazing coverage without feeling heavy on my skin, like many other creamy formulas can do. For eyeshadow, I am channelling burgundy or sunset vibes, so I like to use either my NYX Full Throttle quads, again, I have mentioned these in previous posts, or one of my newer additions, the MAC Burgundy X9 Palette (£25). For powder I use the Rimmel Match Perfection Silky Loose Setting Powder (£6.99), which is an excellent dupe for the Laura Mercier Setting Powder. Contouring & bronzing, I use the Nars Bronzing Powder (£29) in Laguna and for blush I use the Nars Blush (£23) in Orgasm. To highlight, I use the Morphe 134 Fan brush and the MUA Undress Your Skin Highlight in either Peach Diamond or Pink Shimmer. These are both only £3 each, and have incredible pigmentation. I use these on the tops of my cheekbones, my brow bone, just under my brows, and lightly on the end of my nose. Finally at the moment I am liking the MAC Lip Liner in Whirl and on top the Tom Ford Lip Colour (£40) in Sable Smoke.

After writing the process I go through, every time I do ‘going out’ makeup, I am now wondering if anybody will find it remotely interesting or helpful, but I have been really excited about sharing some of my newer products with you all!

I hope I have inspired you enough for a small shopping trip, albeit online, and that to ensure your skin looks beautiful and radiant all year round, it isn’t only about the makeup you use but the way you look after your skin whilst not wearing any makeup at all!

Thank you for taking a moment to read my latest post and I hope you enjoy the summer months. One final thing though… Please! Don’t forget sun cream!

Imogen ❤