Friday, 27 September 2019

Ultimate Travel Guide to Berlin

For anyone who knows me I have always been obsessed with visiting Germany. There is no specific or apparent reason for this, it's just something I have wanted to do for the longest time. And, I can finally say that this summer I now have a big tick next to  'Visit Germany' on my bucket list!! I went to Berlin for 5 days with my boyfriend and loved every minute of it! I love sharing my experiences of travelling and what the best things to do are so here are my recommendations if you ever find yourself in this wonderful city.


1. REICHSTAG
This was one of my favourite things that we did. You have to book in advance in order to gain entry but the building is free anyway so it doesn't make much difference. The highlight (and one of the main reasons for visiting) is going to the glass dome. In essence you gradually walk up the dome and look out at the view of Berlin as you go - it's an easy way to spot some of the major attractions and sights of the city.


2. BERLIN WALL
The classic tourist attraction and arguably one of the main reasons people visit the city of Berlin. After leaving the metro station you're pretty much at the wall. It isn't anywhere near as tall as I thought it would be for some reason and I'm not sure why I had visions of this giant concrete structure. As you can imagine there's a seemingly endless supply of art across the wall to look at so you can find yourself spending a fair amount of time here.


3. KADEWE
Think Harrods but German and you've pretty much got what this shop is. It was so much fun to just walk through the shop playing guess the price and seeing how much we couldn't afford. The pen area was a standout part and testing out all the fountain pens and writing words down could've kept us amused for hours.

4. SOVIET WAR MEMORIAL
This was a little hidden gem of our Berlin trip as there was literally no-one here when we went to visit. The main entrance was shut off but we managed to find our way round. The statues are absolutely HUGE, massively imposing structures that completely and utterly loom over you. It's located in Treptower park which is a lovely little park for a walk around too.

5. GENDERMARKT
I think this was the prettiest place we went to in Berlin and relatively quiet in terms of tourists. This cute little market place was littered with plenty of nice buildings and architecture. Also, it has the best Ampelmann shop in the square (we became a little obsessed with Ampelmann as the week went on and the shops have so many cool things in them).


Berlin is hands down one of my favourite places that I've visited and I would love to go again one day. This is just a little snippet of some of the things we visited and did but there are seemingly countless other places to explore; Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz, the Sony Centre, Fersehtum, Olympic Park, Memorial to the Murdered Jews and the Brandenburg Gate are just a selection of the other places we explored. 10/10 would recommend Berlin!


Sunday, 22 September 2019

How to Survive your First Year at Uni

It's been nearly a whole year since I sat down to write a blog post and in that time a lot has changed. I managed to survive the entire year away from home, living in a completely new and different city, meeting what seemed like thousands of new people and passed my first year and actually enjoyed it. With all this mind, a university 'survival' guide seemed like an appropriate post to write given that is what I've spent the entire year doing. Therefore, without further ado, here are some tips on how to survive your first year!

1. LEARN HOW TO COOK 
I cannot stress how important this is! You will need to learn how to fend for yourself for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every snacking hour in between. Sure, living off of pot noodles and pasta sounds amazing for a few weeks but it gets very bland and repetitive. You don't need to be the next Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver but having a few meals that you can actually prepare yourself (without poisoning you or your flatmates) will really help to make uni life seem a lot easier. Plan what you're going to eat and buy in the week - it makes life a whole lot simpler.



2. CARD GAMES ARE GOOD ICE BREAKERS
I didn't know any card games before I came to uni but that has changed dramatically. I've probably learnt more card games than I have useful things for my degree but that is besides the point. They are a great way of breaking the ice with new people, they can bring out your competitive side and they can help to make things less awkward. My flat held a weekly card night and we all bought people round to join in which was a good way of meeting new people and making connections, whilst also playing some good card games.

3. DON'T BUY EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF STATIONERY
It's very tempting, especially if you're like me, to buy every single bit of cute stationery that you see but, in all honesty you probably won't use it. For lectures, a notepad and pen or a laptop are all you need. You don't need the pastel highlights, 36 notebooks, colour co-ordinated post-it notes and paperclips and gel pens - you simply won't use them.

4. FRESHERS FLU IS REAL
Be prepared to get hit with freshers flu at some point. Luckily, I only managed to get a 24 hour bout of it and didn't get ill for the rest of the year but for most people I knew getting ill seemed constant. Freshers flu will almost definitely hit you when you least expect it and completely wipe you out for a while so be prepped with lemsips, throat sweets and Netflix in order to nurse yourself into a better state.

5.MAKE YOUR ROOM YOURS
Making your room your own really helped me to settle into uni life. Having pictures of friends and family and adapting my room to fit me made it feel less alien and strange and more like a second bedroom in a different location. It really did help to make the settling in period less daunting and having reminders of souvenirs of other things was a nice way to incorporate uni and home life.

6. TRY NOT TO SKIP TOO MUCH
It is so very very tempting to not attend your lectures, seminars, labs etc but you really should try. I wouldn't say I skipped lots in first year but there were days or hours where I just thought I really can't be bothered... On the whole, try and attend as much as you can as it is there for a reason and if you're paying the horrific sum of £9250(!!!) a year to go to uni you really should make the most of it.

Going to uni has been an experience that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I've met so many new people and been pushed out of my comfort zone a fair amount. I've been introduced to the world of clubbing (though that's not necessarily a world I wish to dive into very often at all), lectures, new people, cooking and being even more independent than before. It hasn't always been completely plain sailing and there have been a few bumps along the way but I can say that completing first year has been an absolute whirlwind of work and play and one that I have enjoyed very very much. Here's to second year being as good!



Thursday, 19 September 2019

a reflection on first year

My first year of uni seems to have gone by in absolute whirlwind to be completely honest. It only seems like a couple of months ago that I was starting out in the world of lectures and now BAM, I've only got 2 years left of education before the big wide world is well and truly upon me.

The first year was a complete mix of new people, new places and adjusting to a new lifestyle all in a relatively short space of time. Overall, I'd say the year was pretty successful though.

Getting used to the routine of lectures and seminars along with having to fend for yourself and do everything for yourself takes a while to get used to, and certainly when it came to cooking did I find myself stuck in a rut of pasta, pasta and a little bit more pasta just to spice things up a bit. I loved the never-ending freedom of first year and being able to just decide to go out and being within walking distance to the city centre was such a novelty (especially for someone who had to drive 20-30 mins to get to anywhere vaguely interesting and with a life).

A fair amount of personal things changed along with first year. I managed to find a boyfriend(!!!) which for someone as shy and awkward as me, this was quite a major life event! We've been together nearly 8 months as I write this post and things are very very good! However, also throughout first year I found myself drifting even more so from old friends and that's okay as I still have friends both new and old to accompany me through life.



The temptation to skip lectures was strong throughout first year as the fatal words of 'first year doesn't count' constantly echoes through your head. And yeah, I skipped a couple of seminars (a few more than a couple) across the year but nothing too drastic. Adjusting to the university mentality in terms of studying also took quite a while. It's so easy to stick to what you know but uni really is all about pushing your writing style out of its comfort zone and I have well and truly discovered that I will always be behind on reading no matter what.

This seems like quite a rambly and not much point to it post but it's been quite therapeutic to write. First year has been such a rollercoaster (an incredibly quick one too) and whilst I'm looking forward to second year, I know it's going to be so much more intense. But, I've got the right people with me and I'm feeling motivated so hopefully I've got this?
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