Dear future me: stress self-care tips

I know that this academic year will undoubtedly be the most stressful and pressured year I’ve ever had so I thought, whilst I’m still relatively calm about exams, I’d write this post to Future Cara, because something tells me I’m going to need a few of these tips.

1. Exams are not the end of the world

Although it certainly feels like it, they’re not! There are other ways to where you want to be and everything will work out in the end so just…calm down.

2. You’re allowed to have a break

I used to feel guilty when I took breaks from revising because I felt like I needed to be revising and wouldn’t do as well as I could if I just carried on, but actually now I think it’s the opposite. Your body needs a break and you’ll feel so much better for letting it have one.

3. Completely switch off for a day

Sort of similar to point 2 but I’m going to plan to take full days off revision when A Levels come round – once a fortnight or something, not like every other night don’t worry! Have a movie marathon, go for a run, blog all day, have a day shopping, just do something that will completely take your mind off everything.

4. Stress is temporary

As soon as exams are over, you’ll have completely forgotten about them – the stress won’t last long in the grand scheme of things. Keep it in perspective!!

5. Have a set sleeping schedule

Because there’s nothing worse than being tired and knowing you have another 20 pages of revision to do. Set a time to finish revision, have 2 hours to yourself then go to bed early and you’ll feel so much more refreshed and ready.

6. Make sure you’re reading for fun as well as for school

If, like me, you read regularly, ensure you keep a book aside that has no relevance to school work. Reading is arguably one of the best forms of escapism.

Q&A: study edition

On my old Instagram account I used to receive a fair amount of questions relating to school, and after reading Hebah’s post (hebahpervaiz.co.uk) I decided to just compile a few of the questions I’ve most frequently been asked.

What GCSEs did you take and how did you do?

I took my GCSEs last summer in English Language, English Literature, Maths, Spanish, Geography, ICT, Art, Core Science and Additional Science. On results day I got 9, 8, 8, a*, a*, a*, a, a, a (in that order). I also got half a GCSE in Preparation for Working Life, literally the most pointless waste of time.

Which A Levels are you doing now?

I take English Language, English Literature and Geography.

Did you stay at your school for sixth form or move elsewhere?

I actually wrote a post about this a while ago (which you can read here) but I stayed at the school I’ve been at since Year 7, which was definitely the right choice! But take into account all the pros and cons of staying and moving, because for some people moving will be a lot more beneficial.

What tips do you have as a current sixth form student?

Stay on top of your work! Keep yourself organised!! Revise as you go!!!

What are your career ambitions?

Ahhh the dreaded question! I honestly wish I knew for definite what I’d like to be – some days it’s a journalist, others I wish I could just blog for a living, I’d also love to work for the UN…I just don’t know.

What is the best way to revise?

This is a tricky one because different methods work for different people. The way I revise best is copying notes and summarising them as well as using flash cards, but other people will find that the least helpful method, so I can’t speak for everyone! The best way to stay motivated to revise, I find, is making to do lists – I wrote a post on how I make them here.

What plans do you have for after school?

University hopefully, provided I get the grades!

So that concludes today’s post, I hope you enjoyed and maybe you found out a little more about me than you knew before. Are you still at school or sixth form? What subjects are you taking, and how are you finding them?

Cara xx

A life update

At the start of the summer holiday I said to myself that I was going to upload a blog post every other day 😂 whilst that hasn’t happened, rest assured I have been doing equally important things.

I’m currently in Spain on holiday and having such a good time, but I just got the urge to write something – a form of procrastination? Yes. I’ve brought some books I want to read for school as well as for my personal statement but ya know, it’s the holiday…I don’t have a lot of motivation right now. Anyway, blogging/writing counts?? I take 2 English a levels, surely it’s at least a relevant form of procrastination!

It’s Saturday as I write this, which means I have one week and 2 days left of the summer holidays, and I still have a lot to do. However, I’m also promising myself (and vowing that I will definitely not break this promise!) that I’m going to write at least 2 posts before the end, as a mini back-to-school series. I’ll definitely do a study-oriented Q&A and I have a few ideas for another post, but is there anything you’d be interested in hearing my opinion about? For context, I’m studying in the UK and about to go into year 13, and I study English lit, English Language and geography and I took my GCSEs last year. Leave me a comment, I’ll answer it regardless of whether I also write a post about it!

I bought my first bullet journal the other day and I’ve got to say, I’m possibly too excited about it. As soon as I get home (I didn’t bring it with me) I’m going to start setting it up because I just can’t wait until 2019! I’m hoping it’ll provide some motivation throughout the year and give me an accurate record of what’s possibly going to be the biggest year of my life – the year I turn 18, sit my A Levels and go to uni!

So…next year. I’m disappointed in myself, to be honest, that I don’t post on my blog more than twice a month or so, and I’m going to change that. Next year is going to be more pressurised but I also need to bear in mind that I’m allowed to switch off from school and indulge in hobbies, and therefore I’m going to be making a really conscious effort to post at least once a week. I think I’ll have a set day where a post will go live and then there may be extras throughout the week, so watch this space 😉

I’ve also set up a new Instagram account which may be a little drastic but I was just feeling a bit trapped with my other – if you’d like to give me a follow, you can find me @avo.cara.

Hope you’re having the best summer!!

Boilin’ in Berlin

Hallooooo, wie geht es dir? (As they say in Berlin)

At the moment, if you asked that to anybody, whether tourist or resident in Berlin, their reply would be something along the lines of “bloody hot”, or the equivalent of that in German. I thought I’d learned to adapt to the heat since we’ve had an actual heatwave here in England, but throughout our entire trip the temperature was constantly about 32°c in the daytime. Pffft.

Incessant and suffocating heat aside, my trip to Berlin was lovely – it was a holiday, after all 😉 – but unusually for a holiday, it also was really quite a depressing place to be. Wherever you go in the city you’re reminded of the atrocities that took place there, some of which only happened in very recent history, and that was quite a terrifying thought. There are hardly any older buildings, because of course they were bombed in the war; the only old ones you’ll see are commemorative ruins (such as the Anhalter station which was used to deport Jews) or new buildings built in an older style.

Our hotel overlooked the Ministry of Finance and a huge tethered balloon, so that was pretty cool. We were about a 10 minute walk from the Topography of Terror (one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall that’s still in nearly perfect condition that’s now been turned into a museum) and, in the other direction, Potsdamer Platz (where the Mall of Berlin and first ever traffic light are located!) so our hotel really couldn’t have been much more central. On the first day we wandered over Potsdamer to the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate (obvs – if you want to find the tourists just go to Brandenburg). The Reichstag is home to the German government and there’s a huge glass dome on the roof that you can walk up, which would have been made much more enjoyable had it not been 37°c outside; it felt like a huge greenhouse lol.

We went also to the East Side Gallery, the longest section left of the Wall (which was knocked down only in 1989, how scary!!) that now has been turned into a graffiti art exhibition, so that was cool. Around a mile’s walk from the East Side Gallery is the Molecule Man statue which, if you can be bothered (it felt like a lot longer than a mile, although maybe it was just the heat) is really interesting – it’s basically just a sculpture in the river but it’s funky. I recognised it but I couldn’t think where from, but when we’d got back to the hotel I remembered; there’s also one at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which isn’t too far from where I live!

If you have a spare 3-4 hours and are willing to spend those hours in a museum learning about Hitler’s rise to power and the War, I definitely recommend you visiting the Hitler – How Could It Happen? museum – one of the coolest/most nightmare-inducing parts of the whole museum is that it’s held in a WW2 bomb shelter with walls 4m thick. Despite being more interested in arts and humanities subjects I couldn’t help being engaged in the museum; it’s so terrifying to see how such a huge amount of people could be indoctrinated, and the victims of this.

I’ve only been to Germany once before in my life, and that was on a coach to Austria so this holiday was pretty much my first impression of the country. Everyone we spoke to was so friendly and nice, and also the food was amazing (and really cheap!) if you’re ever in Berlin and looking for somewhere to eat, I recommend:

• prinz bistro, near Anhalter bahn (I had a halloumi doner kebab!)

• Berlin burrito company – I think there are two in the city but the one we visited was near the Rosengarten

• grand rocka cafe is definitely a more touristy choice – it’s in the hackeshe markt, for a start – but their spinach pizza is literally everything omg

• nafi’s is a hidden away Iranian restaurant which I think is more residential than tourist but nevertheless the food was amazing!

Have you ever been to Berlin, or would you like to one day? I think there’s a lot more to do so I’d definitely like to return one day!

Cara xx

Exploring Den Haag

This post has been a long time in the making: I went to the Netherlands on 27th May, and it’s now late July. Hey ho! Here we go 😝

I’ve been to holland many many times before, although never to Den Haag so it was lovely to explore a completely new place, although I feel that a lot of Holland looks quite similar so in a way, even though I’d never been before, I felt like I knew it.

The streets of the Netherlands all feel so warm and welcoming, and Den Haag’s were no different. In contrast though there seemed to be two quite distinct areas – the modern, businessy side of the city, then the more historic, typically Dutch-style buildings. The Sting’s building (also know an the candy box because of its funky colours!) is home to a really nice shopping centre and if you’re in Den Haag, definitely have a look inside – aside from the clothes (obvs I bought some), it’s spectacular and the roof is a beautiful stained glass dome!

The government buildings were absolutely beautiful too, and what’s really cool is anybody was allowed to meander through. We also stopped off at the Mauritshuis (the yellowish building on the left of the photo right above) which is the current home to The Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch paintings – I was so excited to see The Goldfinch after reading the book by Donna Tartt, hence the cheesy grin on my face 😉

On our second day we visited Scheveningen on the coast, which is only a 10 minute tram ride out of the city centre yet had a completely different vibe about it. I can’t begin to stress how hot it was that day and how much of a relief the freezing cold North Sea was (despite the look of slight pain I was enjoying myself, I promise!).

I’d like to think I’ll live in the Netherlands at some point in the future, and I’ve got to say I wouldn’t be too unhappy if I ended up in Den Haag!! Despite it being the 3rd largest city in the Netherlands it felt more like a town in some places, very friendly and welcoming yet brimming with culture and diversity and things to do!

The ultimate summer bucket list

I have precisely 6 more lessons until summer, but sadly they’re spread out over 3 days…ugh, nearly there!

To get into the summery vibe well and truly (I say that as if I’m not already haha, I’ve literally done no school work this past week since my mocks have finished!), I thought I’d write all the things I’d like to do this summer – my purse may not allow everything haha, but hopefully I’ll achieve a lot.

  • Book tickets for a concert
  • Read 50 pages of a book per day (at least!)
  • Rebrand my blog (ooooh, exciting!)
  • Go book thrifting
  • Go alpaca trekking!!!
  • Write my English language coursework (fun fun fun)
  • Get started on English lit coursework as well as geography (again, fun!)
  • Explore towns and cities nearby
  • Go on trains!
  • Plan an interrailing route
  • Try at least one new food
  • Run more
  • Start drawing again, especially mandalas and portraits
  • Go shopping for clothes
  • Have a huge clear out of stuff (I’ve come to the realisation that I am actually a hoarder)
  • Try at least one new cafe
  • Visit at least one new place
  • Buy some posters for my wall
  • Get up early enough to see the sunrise
  • Learn Spanish again
  • Write blog posts every other day (let’s see how that goes!)
  • Do some baking
  • If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen (or will soon see) that I’m temporarily deactivating my account. I feel like Instagram has changed and I’ve not completely adapted to this new version; I’m not drawing as much as I used to, which is what I used to feature mainly on my account and so I’m struggling for photos; I’ve lost so many followers in the last couple of days because of the stupid algorithm and I’m just generally not enjoying posting. I’ll probably only be gone a couple of weeks, just so that I can get back into the zone, but I’ll be focusing much more on my blog and twitter (hint hint: if you want to keep up with me, follow me on here and on my twitter!)
  • 12 things I’ve learned in Year 12

    I think some apologies are in order.

    I haven’t posted in what feels like about a month – it may be more to be honest – because I’ve had one of the busiest months in the history of humankind. Ever. But it’s nearly summer, my hectic few weeks have died down and so I have some time to write at long last!

    Since the school year is winding down (finally!! I need a break) bringing my first year of sixth form to a close, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned from it: academia aside, I’ve learned a heck of a lot.

    1. Your friendship group will change so much.

    If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that around the end of year 11 I had a few friendship issues so naturally I was apprehensive about starting sixth form with really, only good acquaintances instead of a group of best friends. I was also worried about who would be in all my new classes, and whether I’d be able to fit into a group – I can only speak from my experiences at my school, but there were definitely some very defined cliques in my year, and if you weren’t originally part of them it was kind of hard to be accepted. However, a lot of the silly childish pettiness of year 11 diminishes and actually people are a lot more willing to make friends with each other – I’ve become part of a completely new group of friends and I hardly see or speak to the people I thought I was friends with in Year 11 (wow how snakey does that sound!?)

    2. It will go SO quickly.

    My teachers kept telling us this at the start of the year and I didn’t believe them to be honest – I thought with the increased workload it would drag! But they were so right; it feels like it should still be about February time!! I’d say to just enjoy every day as it comes because even though some do drag, the first year will fly by.

    3. A lot of the pettiness and judginess will have gone.

    From my year 11 class of around 250 students, only around 120 have stayed for our sixth form (some went to colleges, some went to other sixth forms etc). You’ll find that it’s mainly the mature and sensible people who’ll stay which makes it a nice environment to be in, and it’s a lot less judgemental than year 11 – people now are more like “hey, whatever, you know, she wants to wear that, let her wear it” if you get me?! Everybody seems to accept each other a little bit more, which is SUCH a relief, let me tell you!

    4. Start your uni application early!!!!

    Trust me, your teachers will start talking about university on the very first day, but if you actually take some notice of that (I didn’t haha, big mistake) you’ll find the whole UCAS process much easier. Yes, there’s a limit to how much you can do in preparation – it depends on when your school gets the UCAS buzzword sorted, for starters – but start researching early and begin your personal statement ASAP. As well, for some unis (especially for competitive courses or Russell Group unis) you need to have work experience before a uni will even consider your application, so get going! I’m currently in the slightly sticky situation of knowing exactly where and what I’m applying to, but I haven’t even started my personal statement…😅 I’d say try to get a first draft done in May or June time and then you know you’re on the way to getting sorted.

    5. Another thing every teacher will tell you – organisation is key!

    I have a few quite simple (I think) tricks that’ll hopefully help you to stay organised:

    • colour code your folders – I have 2 folders for each subject, one for my notes in school and one for revision and past papers, and each subject has a specific colour. This makes it so easy to grab a folder when I’m late (often) and saves me getting confused.

    • Have a completely separate notebook to record all of your homework and other deadlines in – then you know exactly where everything is written down.

    • When revising, start early; there’s more to get through than you first realise! Also make plans of exactly what you’re going to revise and when, because then you see the full extent of what you need to do, and you’re able to plan it around your days.

    6. Classes are small, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fun!

    During the summer after my GCSEs I had this terrifying thought that all of the fun people would have left and so lessons would be really boring. This isn’t the case at all! Class sizes are a lot smaller (or they are at my school, at least), but we still laugh and joke around, it’s not just work, work, work.

    7. Revise what you’re learning as you’re learning it

    That sounds a little bit paradoxical, even to me as the writer…but as you learn things in class, make your notes, ensure you understand the concepts, make flash cards etc as you go. It will make revising for mocks or the actual exams a lot easier, because you’ll just have to remind yourself of the content instead of learn it for the first time.

    8. The academic jump isn’t as terrifying as everyone makes out.

    Honestly, it’s not! I’d heard horror stories of people who’d got all A*s at GCSE failing each and every one of their A Levels…it’s not true! There is, admittedly, a jump – but that’s expected! From my own personal experience, I haven’t found that the content itself is much more difficult, the issue is there’s just so much more of it, although I think that’s quite a subject-dependent view: a lot of my friends take maths a level (they’re the complete opposite to me, haha) and it just looks like a foreign language, IMHO. Some subjects (I’m thinking STEM subjects particularly) will have more of a step-up in the academic level, whereas some, like English, will just have pages worth of content (pun intended!). Nevertheless, don’t let that put you off – you have free periods, remember, and teachers know that you have other commitments too.

    9. Punch hole reinforces will change your life

    I’ve got to give my mum some credit for introducing me to these, because otherwise my folders would have been in a right state! They’re basically small vinyl circles (a little bit like sellotape) that you stick around the holes in refill pads to make them stronger and they’ve saved me and my notes so many times!

    10. You become a lot more aware of what you can do.

    In Year 11 I definitely thought I’d be the stereotypical head girl next year, volunteering 3 days a week, running the school newspaper, working 8 hours each weekend and doing charity work whilst simultaneously getting all a*s – you know, that girl haha – but sixth form really teaches you how to prioritise and not to bite off more than you can chew (and actually, I don’t do a single one of the things I thought I would!) yes, the social life/fun stuff of sixth form is great, like the opportunity of running clubs for lower years etc, but at the end of the day you go to school to learn and eventually pass exams, and they should be the priority. By no means am I saying ‘do nothing but work’, but you learn pretty quickly that actually, A Levels are time consuming and you need time off too, so you’re not going to be able to fit everything in – don’t aim to be doing every single extra-curricular activity going!!

    11. Read around.

    This is one of the phrases that teachers will say repeatedly, throughout your entire time at sixth form, so you might as well concede to what they’re saying early as it is quite helpful! For each subject you’ll probably have a textbook that your teacher/school recommends, but maybe also buy another or borrow a different book from the library so that you have multiple resources to reference in your notes. It also really helps if you don’t quite grasp something – often, if you read it written in a different way it’ll just click instantly (lol this has happened loads to me with geography)

    12. You will honestly have such a good time.

    Enjoy it; I know sometimes it’ll be a bit of a drag, but you’ll look back and think that it’s been amazing. I only have one year left and I’m already dreading leaving.