life after a masters; what’s next?

2020, career, student

Hello!

Just short of a year ago I started my masters in digital media production at Oxford Brookes University and in normal circumstances I’d be days away from handing in my dissertation, but with the pandemic my deadline has been pushed back by six weeks so I now have until the end of October to finish my dissertation and find a job.

And it’s mildly terrifying.

Last time I finished a degree I spent a year being rejected from probably over a hundred jobs and that had a massive impact on my already low self esteem, so subconsciously I think I’m really nervous about that. But I can’t just not think about what happens after my masters because I have lots of work left to do (like a lot of work left to do…) – although it doesn’t feel like it now, life will go on after October 29th and if I don’t think about it till then, it’s just going to make things more difficult.

What I need to happen is to jump straight into a full time job – although many of my peers from my undergraduate degree found companies they loved and still work with straight away, I’m not expecting that. I just need to get my foot on the lowest rung of the ladder and start climbing, however many steps it takes to get there (wherever ‘there’ is).

But with being so unsuccessful two years ago, I just don’t know how I’m going to get a job when I don’t feel like I’m good enough. After so much rejection, I feel like I just don’t know how to get a job, even though I’ve actually worked two retail jobs since then so I’m not totally unemployable.

It all feels so far away but too close simultaneously – I see so many people I know whether they be media graduates I studied with, people I went to school with or random people I follow online working their asses off to get what they want to achieve and I feel like I have the drive and the motivation but I don’t feel like I’m skilled enough. Every job spec I look at feels so overwhelming and unachievable and I’m not good enough at it.

But actually? I’ve done my fair share of working my ass off. I’ve got a Post-Graduate Certificate and I’m so close to finishing my masters at the most unorganised, least supportive uni I’ve ever heard of,  I live in a house with the love of my life, we’re saving for a wedding and a house deposit, I’ve got the best support network of friends I could ever dream of having and I have a whole future ahead of me.

Do I know where I want it to go? Absolutely not – there are lots of areas that interest me and I think I’d be happy in any of them. Is there a whole multitude of jobs and industries that I still don’t know about to explore? Absolutely – having grown up at an incredibly academic middle class grammar school, there wasn’t much outside of doctor, teacher, engineer, lawyer – very obvious jobs that you can find in a kids book. Multimedia journalist was beyond their repertoire. TV camera operator? Nope, they’d probably class it as ‘low skill’. Even photography was wiped from the A Level options when I was in sixth form because it wasn’t academic enough.

I am creative – I love words and telling stories. I love data – comparing analytics, noticing trends, making spreadsheets, graphs and lists. I love coloured pens and post it notes! I love answering emails and organising calendars. I love working with creative people that can bounce ideas around and come up with something incredible as a team. I love the idea of sitting in an open, comfy, modern office space and taking myself off occasionally, finding a Spotify playlist and listening to piano instrumentals while my fingers type faster than I can think.

I have good, employable skills. I just need to get out the mindset that someone needs to ‘give me a chance’, because there is something out there for me and I will earn it; I am not a risk.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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new (school) year, new start

2020, student

Hello!

The end of summer and September is my favourite time of year – I feel like there’s a certain type of person who’s favourite month is September and it’s either:

  1. People who enjoy school (whether it’s educationally or socially)
  2. People who love stationary and buying a new pencil case is very exciting.
  3. People whose birthday is in September

I am all three – I’m pretty sure everyone has a soft spot for their birthday month in the same way that December is always exciting because of Christmas, I am somewhat of a stationary nerd (though I’ve been on a pencil case and pen spending ban for, like, years and I still have so many) and my birthday is September; the full trifecta!

For so long, the start of the new academic year is more impactful than the New Year – 14 years (minimum) of new school uniform, new stationary, new shoes, seeing your friends every day after 6 weeks of not being able to meet up because everyone’s on holiday at different times, a new planner, a new timetable! I’m getting excited just thinking about it and I’ve not had a new planner for six years!

This year I feel a bit different – this is the second time I’ve not been going back into education in September since I was a toddler and even then it’s still a bit strange because my masters dissertation deadline is at the end of October so I’m still somewhat in education and having been at home for the last 23 weeks (not that I’m counting) the whole ‘new school year’ feels so much less significant this year.

But outside of school, using September as an excuse to have a fresh start is an opportunity that I think many of us will be taking this year! Any time is a good time for a fresh start whether it’s a Monday, a new month, any time but sometimes it takes these markers to feel like we have the opportunity to put something into practise. Hence why I love setting my monthly goals!

Maybe it’s because I’m still working on my masters dissertation which should have been nearly ready to hand in but now the deadline is six weeks later – I do feel like November is going to be my ‘fresh start’ because I’ll be officially done with education (though I said that after my undergraduate degree and here I am… but I mean it this time!).

New starts and this time of year can always feel exciting and nerve wracking and both significant and vastly insignificant simultaneously – for some getting out of the habit of feeling like a new school year is easy because they leap straight into a full time ‘grown up’ job, for some it’s nice to have that time of year as a little mental shift and for others it’s just another month.

As per, I think I’m making a much bigger deal out of something that’s not that big! A new month always makes me feel a little bit excited – like I can reset and refresh a little, but then suddenly it’s the 25th of the month and time feels like it’s going too fast and I can’t hang on to the present for long enough to enjoy it.

Today was a day I just needed to have a little ramble! I consider my corner of the internet to be a personal space for expressing what’s going on in my life – whether it’s new exciting things like moving house or reading a new book, less exciting things like navigating my mental health in a pandemic or things as trivial as an outfit I enjoyed wearing or a place I went on holiday! I love having my little space and a time capsule of who I was at so many different points in my life.

2020 is a weird ass year, we can only hope that 2021 gives us a bit of a break!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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graduating in a pandemic

2020, career, student

Hello!

I feel like I haven’t written about ‘student life’ in a little while – once I finished my undergraduate degree and spent a year receiving rejection email after rejection email, going back to uni to do a masters didn’t feel like becoming a student again as much as taking a step back. I definitely haven’t felt like a student since I started my course but that’s a whole other kettle of fish (which is a very strange phrase now that I’ve written it down…).

I wrote a whole post about finishing my masters in a pandemic so I don’t want to repeat myself, but I wrote that post at the beginning of May and it’s now the beginning of August – a lot can happen in three months.

In terms of final dissertation deadlines and graduation, my graduation date was always going to be Summer 2021, as the course was intended to finish in September 2020 and my uni don’t do winter graduation ceremonies, so that hasn’t changed. However my final dissertation deadline has been pushed back by about six weeks, so I now have until the end of October. I was given the opportunity to drop my dissertation unit and pick it up again in September, finishing next May and still graduating next July, but the course has been so awful and with my project idea I could work from home without the resources of the university.

Oh how I regret that decision!

Kind of – I still don’t want the course to go on for the worst part of two years, but expecting myself to do everything from home including teaching myself brand new softwares, techniques, writing a dissertation essay (which I didn’t do for my undergrad)… that was a big ask and one that I’m not managing to keep up with.

But I didn’t want to write this post to complain about my dissertation – I wanted to talk about finishing a degree in a pandemic and the consequent graduate job market… or lack thereof.

I think back to 2018, I graduated with a really high 2:1, my lecturers and peers had all told me I wouldn’t struggle to get a job and here I was applying for probably over a hundred jobs in the space of maybe 6 months and not getting anything. It was soul destroying.

So applying that to a world that is on 80% salary, predominantly working from home and making redundancies left right and centre… I can’t imagine how much undergraduates are struggling when the job market is so significantly reduced.

I’m at the point where I’m starting to look for jobs, both because I need to financially support myself and my partner and because I want to start my career – I’m 23, I (nearly) have three degree level qualifications and I want to start building a life for myself. I want a routine and tasks to do that I haven’t set myself and work friends and to share ideas and go to meetings and answer emails and all the boring stuff! I’m sure it won’t feel nearly as exciting if I get there but right now? Working with a company for a purpose, rather than desperately trying to pull together a dissertation in the wake of an awful masters course sounds like a dream.

Do I know what I want to do with my career? Absolutely not. Do I know that I’m good at admin and organisation and diary management and would like to work in a creative environment? Yes, so that’s what I’m going with. But very few places are hiring. Unless I’m looking in the wrong places, any advice would be more than welcome.

Graduating is scary at any time – especially as an undergraduate, you’ve often been in education for about 17 years and not knowing what comes next can be equally terrifying and exciting. But in a year where you don’t get to wear the cap and gown, get nervous about walking across stage without tripping and say goodbye to your mates, I can only imagine how much more disconcerting it feels.

All I can say is my heart goes out to undergraduates with a degree and no graduation. And if you’re in that position and you feel like not being able to find a job is a reflection on your ability; it really isn’t, something will come in time but right now? We’ve just got to ride the wave; our time will come; and you’re still amazing.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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2020 Goals – Mid Year Check In

2020, books, career, goals, student

Hello!

I’m big on goal setting – ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ / Yearly goals, monthly mini goals blog posts, weekly and daily to do lists are just goals of what I want to achieve in the short term – I like pushing myself to make progress! Does it always work? No, but at least I’m trying!

In my 2020 Goals post I never could have guessed that six months into the year I’d have spent more time isolated in my own house than out in ‘the real world’ but luckily my goals are adaptable and hopefully as the year goes on I’ll be able to make progress.

In a very stereotypically ‘Sophie’ way, I have two sides to my goals – the first side where I have three categories – Professional, Personal and Home – each with three goals, and the other side that’s more ‘bucket list’ style just a list of 9 things I’d like to do this year.  So let’s jump right in!

PROFESSIONAL:

  • Finish my masters at Oxford Brookes – in my original post I said “I don’t think there’ll be any barriers stopping me from finishing my masters” because it was back in the happy days when we could give people hugs. I was given the option to postpone starting my dissertation unit and pick it up again in September to finish in May next year, but my media project doesn’t require any of the facilities at uni so I’m muddling through at home.
  • Start my career – have a full time job by the end of October – this deadline was based on finishing my dissertation in September and now that my deadline has been pushed back to the end of October, I’m now aiming for November if not the end of the year. I’m very nervous about getting a job and with how unexpected 2020 has shaped up to be so far, I don’t want to put any additional pressure on myself.
  • Learn website design – I’ve done a couple of short coding courses but whilst I’m now doing a completely self taught dissertation with not a whole lot of brain capacity, so I’ve mentally parked this for after diss, then I’ll start working on making my site look better!

PERSONAL:

  • Work on making a savings plan for my personal bank account when I’m in a position to afford to save – with pushing back getting full time work and a literal pandemic, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to start this any time soon. But I have been working on spending less in my current account and making my money last longer so I guess, inadvertently, it’s kind of related?
  • Develop my knowledge of film photography – at the beginning of lockdown I finished my first roll of film and haven’t been able to go anywhere to get it developed so I don’t know if it’s any good… But I love my film camera and cannot wait to use it more when life gets back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is).
  • Learn more about vegetarian cooking and aim to eat veggie 3 nights a week – when my boyfriend worked away a lot, I made an effort to eat veggie when he wasn’t home. Now that we’ve been together for over 14 weeks, slowly we’ve been cutting down how much meat we eat mostly from a cost perspective, but I’ve now got him to a point where he prefers quesadillas without meat so progress is being made!

Home:

  • Don’t move house! Stay put for a whole year (please) – that’s the plan!
  • Travel! A European holiday with my boyfriend, also Centre Parcs with family friends and MCM ComicCon – yeah, nah – we had great plans to go on a Spanish beach holiday which have now been halted, Centre Parcs probably won’t happen this year and MCM ComicCon has been cancelled until 2021… so no travelling this year.
  • Save £500 in Help To Buy ISA account – as with the job and the savings goals, I think this is unlikely, but in hindsight I think it was quite unrealistic amount anyway. But when I set these goals we hadn’t decided a wedding date so now I’m definitely thinking about saving for a wedding more than saving for a house.

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

  • Read 12 books – smashed it, currently reading book 26 and absolutely adoring it!
  • Do 6 writing challenges (January, March, May, July, September, November) – first three writing challenges were particularly successful, I’m excited about July’s challenge and I’ve actually been working on my old notes for redrafting the book I started 8 years ago so maybe I’ll actually have a full draft to work with by the end of the year!
  • Keep adding to 5 year plan – so far I haven’t really had anything to add, other than the wedding and ‘kids?’ with a big question mark, it’s hard to make career goals when you have absolutely no idea what you really want to do with your life…
  • Register at the doctors and dentist and actually go – amongst a three month tooth infection and getting my anti-depressants moved to a local pharmacy, I actually did both of these! I thought the dentist was meant to be a 6-monthly thing but I was told to wait a year so feeling very grown up about this goal!
  • Figure out a fitness routine and reach weight goal – the word ‘pandemic’ is feeling repetitive now, but after gaining a significant amount of weight and being closer to my ‘heaviest weight’ than my end of year goal, it’s really disheartening. But I’m really trying to work on my diet, I’m going to pick up Couch to 5K again next month and my boyfriend has decided he wants to tone up to cosplay Spider-Man next year so I might be able to convince him to do some workouts together!
  • Get another tattoo! – financially, I don’t think this is going to be an option this year, but I know what I want if I do get one!
  • Listen to new music and podcasts – this is something I would generally do on my commute to uni, now that I don’t have a commute to uni I actually prefer the quiet of my own home. But who knows how this might change as the year goes on.
  • Have monthly date nights with the boy – tick tick tick!
  • Actually start making my t-shirt blanket – I did this! The first stage is done, but as I don’t have anywhere in this house where I can lay out the blanket properly flat because 1) my house is small 2) the blanket is big, I’ve decided that I’ll work on it again when I am somewhere that I can actually lay it out and see it in it’s full glory!

So overall, I think most of my goals are either on track or have been pushed back slightly by the pandemic, but I feel like I set reasonable and achievable goals that I’m now freshly invigorated to keep working on them!  (or just curl up back in bed and carry on reading…)

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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saving money in quarantine | unemployed, full time student

2020, student

Hello!

Finances are tricky, no one understands taxes and where was the guidance to be able to financial support ourselves in adult life when we were in an enforced educational environment such as school, eh? (Gosh darn that would just be far too sensible and convenient)

Figuring out finances is bloody difficult and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but here are the things I’m doing to keep myself afloat at the moment when I’m an unemployed, full time student and coronavirus has turned the graduate job market to dust quicker than Thanos could find all the Infinity Stones.

*disclaimer: I’m very fortunate to be living with my partner who works full time and currently has been furloughed and still has income to pay rent, so I’ll be looking at saving money in other aspects of life but I appreciate I’m very lucky to still be financially stable in a pandemic*

  • write down everything

It can be a bit embarrassing at first to see how much money you spend at Tescos written down on paper (or how many Amazon orders you’ve made in the last six months…) but being able to see it all on paper and have a solid figure of what you’re actually spending is a good way to figure out where you can save money.

If you commute, is there a way to get a season ticket that would be more expensive initially but save money in the long run? Is your car insurance up for renewal and you could look for a better deal on comparison sites? Do you spend too much money on coffee and really need to reevaluate your relationship with caffeine and/or bring a cup from home? Little things like that can make all the difference.

Outside of lockdown, sometimes I found giving myself a cash limit was helpful as when it was gone it was gone. I definitely think much more about clothing items I want and whether they will bring my short term gratification or if I think it’s something I will actually wear.

Being aware of what you spend, how it adds up and comparing it month to month is a good place to start.

  • no spend month!

Maybe it doesn’t need to be a month but just a week or cutting out a particular purchase like clothes or coffee. I saw online about someone doing a no spend year and her friend gave her vouchers for her birthday so she could go shopping without spending her own money which I thought was lovely.

I’m doing a no spend month this month and I’m finding in lockdown it’s much easier because the little things you pick up on the go that build up – food, drinks, parking tickets, bus tickets etc – have already wound down. It’s the online shopping that will get you.

One thing I’m doing to combat this is just putting things in my Amazon basket and then not going any further – I’ve had the satisfaction of thinking of something I want and browsing and putting it in my basket and then I know that at the beginning of next month I will review whether I actually need it (and then come to the conclusion I have no money and not buy it anyway).

  • don’t save if you can’t afford it

The word save can be confusing – what I mean is try not to put pressure on yourself to put money into savings accounts if it just means you’re going to take it out again to do a weekly food shop. In 2019 I followed a weekly saving plan where I saved an extra pound a week (so £1 in week 1, £2 in week 2 etc). This worked up until about week 40 and then I just couldn’t afford it with moving house, ending up living in a hotel and… y’know, surviving and stuff.

Although I then ended up spending all my savings on being able to move across country for my degree and my boyfriend’s new job, I saved over £1000 that year and I learnt a lot about making sure I had money to put aside, planning ahead for driving lessons and a car etc.

Financial income ebbs and flows, especially if you’re in between studying and starting a career and a time for saving will come. If you feel like you want to put £5 a week in your savings account, go ahead; if you can afford £100 a month do it; if you’re watching the 20p of interest add up every month, that’s still progress.

I’m getting married in two years, I want to buy a house and have a baby and all of that takes a lot of money and saving, but right now I’ve got to keep myself afloat – it’s all steps and whilst planning for the future is important, there’s no point doing it to detriment yourself now or you’re never going to get there.

  • repurpose stuff you already have and it’ll feel like brand new

I’m not a fan of the phrase ‘upcycling’ but that might be because my mum hates it. The principle however – I’m a big fan. Since spending so much time at home I’ve cut the legs off my dungarees to make a cute playsuit for all the nice weather we’ve had (she types as the grey clouds loom outside her window…), I’ve cut up on old duvet cover we didn’t use and I’m going to teach myself how to make face masks, I’ve rediscovered old activity books that feel like ‘new toys’ (one’s called ‘1 page at a time: a daily creative companion’ and the other one is full of creative writing activities and exercises!).

Between revamping your wardrobe, shuffling around your belongings to rediscover old things or even learning new skills (drawing, cooking, photography, gardening, yoga and so on) – there’s so many things you can do at home that you can learn for free with materials you already have.

Lockdown is so different for everyone – some have had their entire lives turned upside down, some are working harder and longer hours than they’ve ever worked before and I’m privileged enough to stay at home, crack on with my masters degree and try all the new creative hobbies.

It’s taken me a few months to settle in to looking after my money and figuring out how I’m going to make it last over the long term. My ‘no spend’ month has been really eye opening that all these things I wanted that I thought I needed are so not necessary at all.

But also I’ve racked up a £200 Amazon basket waiting for my to click ‘buy’ so… depends on your definition of successful. I haven’t clicked ‘buy’ though so I guess that’s a win!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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setting up my weekly bullet journal spread

2020, creativity, organisation, student

Hello!

Whenever I write a post about how I lay out my bullet journal, someone messages it to tell me how they’re going to try and implement something I do in their journal or they’re going to try bullet journalling as a concept instead of their diary. So I thought I’d do a little update on how I lay out my weekly spreads, step by step!

My layout has remained the same for all of this year so far and it might be the longest time I’ve stuck with one design, but it’s really functional for me and right now with so much uncertainty in the world, having one thing on paper that I can always come back to is quite grounding, I find.

Rather than making all my blank weekly spreads in one go at the beginning of the month, I prefer to make them one week at a time – not only does this mean I get to sit down for half an hour every week and focus on something offline, but it means if I want to lay out any other spreads in between (like figuring out any finances, my uni assignments, any other notes) I have the freedom to do that. It’s probably not the most efficient but I don’t need filling in my weekly spreads to be efficient – having the task to come back to every week works well for me. But it’s personal, so you do you!

STEP 1

Creating the blank canvas – I use stamps to write ‘WEEK’ because I have them and it makes me feel crafty, then I draw my calendar, the divider on the left page, my weekly to do list check boxes, the daily to do list boxes on the right page and all the labelling. This is the most creative bit so this is actually the big I enjoy the most.

Also I don’t use a ruler to draw my lines because I like the almost ‘homemade’ look of freehand drawing them and following the dots means I don’t accidentally draw anything really wonky.

STEP 2

I fill in my June Goals and my Content boxes – the goals are the same every week so I copy them out from the previous spread and then I copy out the content I want to make from my monthly content plan. There was a little space at the bottom this week – sometimes I leave it blank, but a reminder to stay hydrated is never a bad thing!

STEP 3

Next I make my weekly to do list – this is an overarching list of what I want to achieve over the week that I will divide up into the daily to do lists. I make my weekly list digitally first so that I can figure out which 16 tasks I want to prioritise and in what order. Generally I have:

  • Dated tasks – like appointments, meetings or family quiz night
  • Uni work – currently just my dissertation
  • ‘Boring’ to dos – things like finances, cleaning the house etc
  • Stuff to do in quarantine – things that I don’t need to do but fill out my time a little more where I’m still stuck at home
  • Content – my blog and YouTube channel
  • Monthly goals – steps to help achieve my monthly goals
  • ‘Fun’ to dos – the stuff that isn’t as boring; painting my nails, watering my plants, little jobs that I don’t class as boring essentially!

STEP 4

(Sorry this photo’s a bit blurry – I have shaky hands and I can never tell!)

Next I fill in my daily tasks on the right hand side – this year I’m doing 1 Second Everyday and if I don’t write it down I forget so I put that in first. Some of my monthly goals involve daily tasks – like this month I want to try and do 5000 steps every day (it’s not going very well tbh!) and I’m doing Hannah Witton’s ‘Dear June’ instagram challenge but I thought three tasks written out everyday is going to mean I don’t have enough space to write other tasks in so I put them in one of the spare boxes at the bottom of the page.

STEP 5

I write in when I want to make a publish all my content, because if I don’t write it down I will forget. Breaking them down into smaller tasks rather than writing posts on the days I want to upload them or filming, editing and uploading in one day makes the overall task of producing content much more achievable – I spend maybe half an hour tops on each task (other than editing the video, that can take longer) and it means all my blog posts get properly proofread and no tasks feel too big to achieve.

STEP 6

Next I fill in uni work and the dated tasks – I’ve decided to give myself regular times each week to do my uni work so it feels like attending a lecture or something more time bound rather than ‘just do it’ because I will not do it, because procrastination is my middle name.

STEP 7

Fill in the rest! I definitely didn’t take this on a different day! Generally I go down my weekly list and assign tasks to different days – Sundays and Mondays are generally pretty similar every week but everything else just slots in wherever I fancy. If I’m having a really productive week then I’ll do tasks ahead of time anyway, but if I’m not, having only 6 (ish) tasks a day is generally pretty manageable. I’m getting better at not giving myself a hard time if I don’t get everything done.

And that’s my finished weekly spread! I know so many people are so much more artsy and creative with their bullet journals but mine’s always been about personal function and that’s what works for me.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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I HATE working from home

2020, lifestyle, mental health, student

Hello!

One thing I’ve been really struggling with in the latter half of lockdown so far (12 weeks and counting!) is working from home – after the initial boost of getting four assignments handed in on the same day, my motivation hit rock bottom – the two that were due the following week were a struggle and then I took a two week extension on the project that was due the week after (but with the extra time my partner-in-crime and Software Wizard Agata and I made this bomb animation called ‘Life After Lockdown‘).

But now that all my semester 2 deadlines are done and the only thing left is 5 months of looming dissertation deadlines, I feel even less motivated than I did before.

In my time on my undergraduate degree, I worked really hard to make my home a ‘work free environment’ – I would be on campus or in my favourite cafe (oh The Artisan, how I miss you) by 9am most days and would only really come home for dinner, at which point I would cook, play games with my boyfriend or do whatever not-work activities I wanted to do in my home environment.

I carried this over into my masters degree as much as possible – working on campus, making the most of group work whilst we were physically together and using the facilities, equipment and the computers that were better than mine.

Now that I’m facing doing my entire dissertation project at home? Every time I sit down to work on it, I feel this ball in my chest and I just can’t make progress – sitting down to read or write or learn more new software (because god knows the course didn’t actually prepare me for anything) is just so overwhelming. But I can’t afford to give myself a few weeks because I have other dissertation related deadlines before that where I have to document my progress, so I have to have progress to document.

It’s worth mentioning that I’m fortunate that I don’t have to balance a real job type work alongside my dissertation – many part-time students do and most people working from home at this point will be doing ‘proper’ work that they get paid for, not working on assignments, but the work from home struggle is universal regardless of what type of work.

A quote I see floating around a lot is ‘you’re not working from home, you’re at home, trying to work in a global crisis’ and I find that comforting when I’m finding it so difficult… but it doesn’t make the work any easier and the work still needs doing.

Something else I find difficult is working while my boyfriend is home – in our ‘normal life’, he’s either away working on live sports broadcasts around the country or at base 10-5, so if I wasn’t at uni I’d have the house to myself. Now, we’re in the same room all day every day because he spends most of his time playing games and my little office set up is in our open plan ground floor. Somehow over 12 weeks I haven’t got used to him talking on headset to his game friends and I just find it so much more difficult to concentrate when he’s here.

Sometimes it’s not even that he’s doing anything or saying anything – I can see the game on the TV even if he’s muted it, I just can’t work while he’s in the room. This isn’t something I can do anything about, but I’m more nervous about him potentially going back to work and being exposed to the virus so… there’s no winning!

I’m trying to be gentle with myself – beating myself up isn’t going to get the work done any quicker and it’s not going to motivate me at all.

Does confessing how much I’m struggling working from home really help anything? Not particularly, but I’m sure there are lots of people who’ve read everyone’s ‘working from home’ blog posts and watched all the videos and still not become the Working From Home Queens they hoped to be. Sometimes it’s reassuring to know that other people are still struggling, so I hope to provide that.

Starting is always the worst bit – once I’ve started and figured out what I’m doing more I’ll probably get into it but right now, it makes me want to cry a little bit so I’m going to do everything else on my to do list until there’s nothing else left.

Small progress is still progress!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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June Goals 2020

2020, goals, student

Hello!

On one hand, it feels like we’ve been in quarantine forever and it’s never going to end, but on the other hand how has another month flown by??

May was an incredibly mixed month for me – some days I felt great; I went on walks, I was productive, I made the most of my new creative hobbies. And some days I felt lower than I’ve ever felt before and my monthly goals were the last thing on my mind, but the internet doesn’t need the details of that.

My May goals were mixed – some I hadn’t really thought through and some I achieved in the first few days, so I’m trying to learn from that with my June goals.


1. Do Hannah Witton’s #DearJune instagram photography challenge – I’ve been re-evaluating my relationship with Instagram, trying to be less structured and ‘talking to an audience’ like I’m pretending to be an influencer, but I do love a good challenge. Taking pictures to fit all the prompts when realistically I’ll probably be spending another month in my own home might be difficult but I’m really looking forward to it!

2. Make a video game – for my dissertation project for my masters, one of the artefact’s I’m producing is a video game. However, the unit I took where I was meant to learn how to make a video game last semester was pants so I’m going to be teaching myself – I want to follow a tutorial from start to finish and make a game by the end of the month, using those skills going forward to make my own game for my project.

3. Do 5000 steps a day! – as I’m writing this, it’s nearly 6pm and my FitBit tells me I’ve done 696 steps today. I can pretend to justify it by saying I’ve been working at my computer, I live in a very small house and I’m not that lazy I promise but if I’d been for a walk down to the end of the street and back I’d probably have got a couple of thousand steps so I really want to do this in June! I’m working up to starting the Couch to 5k program again but I definitely need to work on my baseline fitness first…

4. No spending – in lockdown, I have been spending significantly less than I did in ‘real life’. But I have also placed a hefty Amazon order roughly once a month and considering I have no income and my last instalment of student loan will run out at some point and I still have rent to pay, I think trying to resist Amazon purchases is probably for the best!

5. Start planning my novel again – I wrote the first draft of my novel nearly 8 years ago when I was just 16 and pretty much every year since I’ve said I’m going to work on a second draft but this year I am determined! I’m using the idea I created oh so long ago as the baseline for the game I’m making for my dissertation so I’m hoping that it will be two fold – getting back into planning the novel again will inspire me to work on my diss project and working on my diss project might inspire me to carry on working on the novel.


I’ve really tried to make these goals more achievable than last months goals. In part, it’s all about my mindset and how much I’m willing to put into achieving these goals but I need to seriously evaluate how useful these goals are to me before I set myself them. This month, I think these goals will all contribute to my growth in ‘the big picture’.

I hope you and your loved ones are happy and healthy! If you’re setting yourself goals in this strange time, remember to be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to take things slow sometimes. This isn’t ‘normal’ life at the moment and it’s okay to give yourself that space.

A good quote to come back to is ‘you’re not working from home, you’re at home, trying to work, in a global health crisis’!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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Treasured in… May

2020, books, creativity, film, lifestyle, student

Hello!

As we come to the end of our second full calendar month in lockdown, little posts like this full of things I enjoyed and want to share are more important than ever. Everywhere I look people are complaining about the government, singing the praises of the NHS and arguing about what are appropriate social distancing activities (though how anyone could defend packed beaches I really don’t know) so having this little list of happy things will be a nice little mood boost for me as well as you!

Here are my the things I treasured in May!


blog post:

I really made more of an effort to read more this month – I’ve been on the hunt for bloggers that don’t exclusively talk about beauty, fashion or other stereotypical ‘successful blogger’ categories. I really want to find people like me who don’t necessarily blog for income, writing about the ramblings trapped in their heads and talking about all their random hobbies without limiting themselves to a ‘niche’.

I’m still hunting, but these two blog posts from YouTube influencers I follow were topical and well written.

recipe:

I don’t think I’ve tried anything that particularly blew me away this month – I made this creamy chicken chorizo pasta bake which was nice but we’re not rushing to make it again. I’m still really enjoying the bacon and pea risotto that I linked last month, I’ve somewhat rediscovered a good jacket potato and we made a really nice lasagne but it all came out of jars so it wasn’t anything to do with my ability to cook!

Top tip for ‘homemade out of jars lasagne’ – use a Mac and Cheese sauce rather than a white sauce, it worked really well for us and is making me hungry just thinking about it!

online course:

Again, this month I didn’t find anything new – I had one last big assignment to finish off my semester 2 work for my masters and with lockdown and a generally not good course, my friend and I who were working together on it (group project, not cheating I promise!) spent more time teaching ourselves than knowing what we were doing.

So I learnt a lot about the Maya animation software, modelling environments, materials, different animation types and multi-camera set ups, but I didn’t find a course online to take myself.

Next month I’ll be starting all the self-teaching I have to do for my dissertation project so I’ll be rambling all about designing a video game, making a 2D animation and writing scripts for both!

music:

The only time I really listen to music is when I’m cooking – when I’m trying to write or work, it means I can’t concentrate and if I’m knitting or doing my cross stitch I use it as an excuse to catch up on YouTube videos (I’m 300 videos deep on my watch later…).

With everything that’s been going on, I’ve been craving a bit of nostalgia so my partner has been finding playlists on Spotify along the lines of ‘year 6 disco’ and ‘the best of the 2000s’ and we’ve been listening to everything from S Club 7, Steps, Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers to Bob The Builder’s ‘Big Fish Little Fish’. Thoroughly recommend a throwback disco if you need a little boost!

YouTube video:

Most of the YouTubers I’m subscribed to are vloggers, so watching vaguely ‘normal’ home life vlogging has been most of what I’m watching and it’s been nice to feel that little bit ‘normal’ by watching the creators I’ve been following for years just living their daily lives.

So I’m going to use this section this month to talk about one of my own videos – it’s currently unlisted on my channel because it’s for a uni assignment and I always feel funny about publishing my work while it’s still being marked (so it’s a fun little secret for my blog!). But this is the animation my friend Agata and I made for our assignment – the main character is animated from motion capture data and we built pretty much everything in the environment ourselves.

I’m so ridiculously proud of this little animation and I loved working on it with one of my best friends (even if we did the majority of the work in the three days before it was due…), so here is Life After Lockdown; a little topical comedy animation for our  assignment.

books I’ve read:

loved this book – this take on life after death and the way the characters have conflict without antagonising each other (except Evie’s mum, she was actually evil). It was one of those books that made you think about what life after death really is like – I genuinely think this is a pretty good idea and worth a read in these challenging times.

I read this because my boyfriend loves the Game Grumps and recommended it but it wasn’t for me – I didn’t find it funny but it felt like they were trying way too hard to be funny, the murder mystery was a bit too Scooby Doo for me, but it was entertaining enough.

This book is taking me actual weeks to get through – I like the writing style, but it feels almost non-fiction and there are so many characters that Pomerantz clearly expects the reader to remember who they are, how they were relevant and details about their life and career. It’s about a plane crash and it’s really depressing and long and there’s not much of a story yet and I’m about 75% through? I think the main thing putting me off is that on the back it declares that this back will become a classic but… it definitely hasn’t and I just can’t vibe with someone arrogant enough to assume their work deserves to become a classic. But I’m nearly done and a review will be on my Instagram when I do!

snack: 

I never thought I particularly liked minty chocolate – I can appreciate a few After Eights at Christmas and maybe a packet of softmints every now and then but not big on mint. I thought I’d prefer plain chocolate aero bubbles to the mint aero bubbles but my boyfriend opened my eyes and I have to stop myself buying them or I will eat the entire packet.

I also picked up a packet of Tesco’s own Salted Caramel Munch Bars thinking it would be an easy breakfast option – they’re really good but they’re so not good for you in any way that I’d be better off going back to a slice of toast in the mornings. But they’re really yummy and if you’re not really a breakfast person then something is better than nothing right?

visual entertainment: 

I’ve not watched any new TV this month but my mum, my sister, my boyfriend and I have started a remote film club using a 52 Week challenge book my mum picked up on Amazon – 52 challenges, divided by 4 people means 13 categories each. This month we watched Pulp Fiction, Eighth Grade, Dumbo (the live action one) and Top Gun and I’m really enjoying the excuse to watch all the ‘classic’ films I haven’t seen but should have as well as some newer films that I want to see.

Pulp Fiction was an interesting choice and having done a unit where one of my lecturers tried to teach us artsy-fartsy film theory (when he shouldn’t have been) it did make it more interesting to think about the decisions the director made, but then I thought about if a film makes you think about the decisions the director made and takes you out of being fully immersed, is it really a well made film? Either way! Eighth Grade was fun and a really accurate portrayal of life as a 13 year old, Dumbo was alright but I prefer the original (and Colin Farrell’s character was literally useless) and Top Gun was an action for the sake of action, ‘put it on in the background’ kind of film that really proved that Tom Cruise literally only plays one character in all his films.

Other than that I’ve watched a lot of Kim Possible on Disney+…

wedding planning update: Before lockdown, I attended a couple of wedding fairs and one of them was near my old hometown. There we spoke to a lady who was representing the most beautiful venue near a lake that my boyfriend and I are very sentimental about. It was beautiful, it’s a great location and it makes me feel a little bit emosh just thinking about it! We’re 90% sure it’s the venue we want to go with but we don’t have the deposit money yet. However, with two months of lockdown, people are re-planning weddings for years to come and our date of November 2022 is looking like it’s going to get infringed on quite quickly, so I want to contact the venue and at least get our foot in the door for our date so we don’t lose it. Otherwise, there’s nothing much more I can do in lockdown other than coming up with more and more ideas on Pinterest…

So I’ve not done any wedding planning this month but we have reached this decision, so there’s a bit of progress there!


On the one hand, I hope that the country is safe enough for some restrictions to be lifted in June so we can do more things, I can visit my family etc, but I really don’t want restrictions to be lifted early just because people are getting grumpy about not having their hair cut, so I’m apprehensive.

I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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finishing my masters in quarantine…

2020, mental health, student

Hello!

Everyone’s been effected in so many different ways by the corona virus pandemic , but as someone who is only a couple of years out of their undergraduate degree and trying to finish a masters degree, I’ve seen a lot of people who’s studies have been negatively effected by the virus.

Graduation ceremonies have been cancelled, deadlines have been shifted, ‘safety nets’ have been brought in so people’s grades can’t be negatively impacted, student loans have been spent on accommodation people aren’t living in and all in all, it’s been a mixed bag.

Post graduate loans are a joke so my last instalment came in at the beginning of April and more than half of it went on course fees for a course that’s been not cancelled but there’s no more teaching just a bunch of online tutorials and self teaching (which isn’t that different to usual… the whole course has been a joke but I could do a whole blog post on that on it’s own but I probably won’t in case they see it and decide to fail me lol). I’m really hoping for a refund otherwise finances are going to get really bloody tight in my house because I can’t get a job when everyone’s working from home and no one’s hiring so a little £2,000 refund would be lush.

Aside from finances, the whole thing has been weird – over my third year at uni in Southampton and the whole course at Oxford Brookes, I’ve worked really hard to develop a routine where I work on campus and I relax at home. It’s not always 100% solid but it meant that when I came home, I could almost leave my stress at the door and know that this is my place to chill.

Then everything closed and I had to completely rewire everything in my brain about working from home.

That was the biggest obstacle, but this was mid-March when it all kicked off. 4 of my 7 semester 2 deadlines had been pushed back to the end of April, with two more on May 1st and the last on May 7th. With about six weeks to work on these four big assignments. Once I overcame the initial ‘omg I don’t know how to work from home’, I flourished having something to focus on – I made myself a schedule, I did a little bit of work every day and I actually finished all four assignments 2 days before hand in and ended up having the big ‘four assignment hand in day’ completely off because I’d submitted everything by, like, 9am.

I thought my student life had been revolutionised – I had become one of those students I always envied and I was feeling very smug, I’ll be honest.

Then I crashed, my anxiety hit me like a truck, the two written assignments I had due for May 1st were a real ball ache and the assignment I had due on the 7th where I had to teach myself more about motion capture, animation, working with a group member who is currently at home in Poland all within less than 10 days? It all fell apart a bit.

I realised early enough in advance that there was no way I was ever going to be able to finish the animation project by the 7th and my uni is doing a ‘two week grace period’ extension with no questions ask, so that one’s still ongoing. But the two written assignments should have taken me a day, maybe a day and a half tops and my brain was in such a poor state that it took me a week, several edible rewards and a lot of coaxing from my boyfriend and my mum.

Because between corona virus, lecturer’s that either never give feedback (or are incredibly nit-picky) and the graduate job market as turbulent as it is, finding the motivation to care or to see a point in all of it is seems impossible. When they’re talking about the world taking possibly years to stabilise after this pandemic and the thought of starting a career and really starting adult life (saving for a wedding, house, kids etc) is just so big. The world feels too big and I feel so small and insignificant.

I wish I had a nice conclusion like “I suddenly realised XYZ and now I’m a-okay again!”. I got my two written assignments in, I’ve now got over two weeks to work on my animation and I’ve just found out that all my dissertation deadlines have been pushed back and there’s an option to delay the unit and pick it back up when uni is open again, so the pressure has eased a bit there.

My masters is ending in a way I never thought it would – this course has introduced me to four girls that I know I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life and we didn’t even know our last day at uni together was our last day. In theory we’re all due to graduate in Summer ’21 so we’ll all get to do that together but right now? It all feels very uncertain.

I have a lot of work still to do and I’m focusing on that as much as possible – giving myself a routine, trying to stay productive and fill my time with new skills and learning as well as working on my masters. I’m going to write a post later this week all about my weeks in isolation but uni wise, this all feels like it’s not real.

I really hope we get to go back to campus to work on our dissertations and I get to spend more time with the girls in the edit suite, gossiping and snacking more than working. I love being a student and whilst I now feel I’m definitely ready to move into a career and start properly making a life for myself, I loved the student experience and I’ll miss my commute to Oxford to see my friends.

It’s not the ending that any of us finishing our courses this year wanted, but we’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got. I’ve got somewhere to quarantine, I’ve got my boyfriend home which doesn’t happen this much ever, we’re financially stable (for now), we’ve got food in the house and we’re healthy. Sometimes it’s hard to remember all that stuff when your laptop charger’s broken and you can’t work on anything normally and you’re anxiety is bad and you’re putting on weight (you=me), but things are okay really and practising the gratitude will make things easier.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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