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

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.

A little study with me

Hey! I only had one lesson today, and that was period one, so I was able to come home early and do some more of my own studying, and I thought it’d be cool to write it up as a Study with Me – I see a lot of these sorts of videos on YouTube but since writing (at the moment) is more my thing, I decided to just put it on my blog.

So, I had English Language today and that was my first and only lesson. After it had finished, I went to my school’s study centre to do a bit of englang revision (englang = English language) just because we have a test coming up next week, so I thought I’d do some now in case I don’t have time this weekend. I actually had to finish this at home because I underestimated how much content there is in the language and gender topic, I seem to have endless theories to learn!!

When I got home, I put the final touches to the englang revision, ate some lunch and watched a few videos on YouTube, then got straight back into studying. I first finished off an essay I needed to do – a comparison on Frankenstein and The Handmaid’s Tale – for englit, and then I completed a speech I had to write as a mock englang coursework piece.

My next job was to relax for a little while, because that essay had taken it out of me! I felt it was quite an awkward question and my answer was a bit woolly because the only valid points I had all kind of stemmed from each other, so I feel as though I’ve practically written the same point in 3 different paragraphs 😂 hopefully it’ll be ok though!

(Mini shoutout to myself – my instagram is @carascam!)

Next week I have 3 assessments in various subjects, but I’m most apprehensive for geography since it’s so precise and technical, and there’s so much to learn. I decided my time would be spent most wisely revising the Coasts topic of my geography A Level so I did that for a while, and then I just re-read through the englang notes for a second time to make sure I’d fully absorbed them.

I called it a day at that point – my way of gauging when to have breaks is how much my back hurts, because my posture is so bad when I’m concentrating! I just forget to sit up straight so I end up slumping; I decided to go downstairs and watch TV whilst doing some gentle stretches to loosen up. I was going to also put some revision notes onto Quizlet, but as it’s nearly 8 o’clock now and I haven’t done that, I think I’ll give it a miss for today 😉

Let me know if you liked this post and would like to see more similar to it – I’m struggling for ideas again at the moment, and even worse I’m struggling for time to think of ideas!!

We’re on Thin Ice.

If your Twitter feed looks anything like mine, I’m sure you’ll have noticed Donald Trump’s uncanny habit of voicing a very controversial and usually somewhat outrageous thought, normally accompanied by a backlash of equally controversial replies. A few weeks ago, he once more completely disregarded global warming as an issue, saying that New York, which was in the grip of record-low temperatures, could do with some of “that good old Global Warming”.

Despite the President of the USA writing off climate change as “a hoax”, “created by and for the Chinese”, the colder-than-average temperatures the East of America suffered are a direct consequence of global warming – it sounds contradictory since it’s global warming, but the snowstorm intensified because of the increased volume of water in the oceans, mainly due to the melting of ice caps and expansion as the water heats.  In the future if we continue doing exactly what we’re doing now, we can expect a lot more extreme weather – intense snowstorms, killer cyclones – you name it, we’ll get it.

Global warming isn’t exactly a new concept; in 1896, Svante Arrhenius thought that the burning of fossil fuels could increase the earth’s temperature, although it wasn’t until the 1930s that anybody paid much attention to his theory.  Since then, the burning of fossil fuels has increased massively with advancements in technology and manufacturing, meaning that the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere have inclined too.  Only now are we feeling the full, furious force of global warming.

2016 was the hottest year recorded since 1880, and since 2001, sixteen out of the 17 hottest years ever have occurred.  By the end of this century, scientists are predicting the earth’s temperature to have risen by another 6˚c.  Whilst it may mean you have to pay less for aeroplane tickets to exotic hot countries to get that perfect tan, this shows the effect human activities are having on the planet and the figure is only going to go up unless we do something drastic about it.

Speaking of aeroplane tickets, the two-million people per year who visit the Great Barrier Reef will now be looking at much more bleached and damaged coral than there used to be – two thirds of the Reef has been damaged by water temperatures becoming too high.  The sea levels are rising too, at the fastest rate for 2000 years due to the thermal expansion of the water and the melting of the ice caps.  Scientists say that, since 1979, the Arctic sea ice coverage has decreased every decade by between 3.5-4.1% – in more accessible figures, in 1980 there were 7 million km² of Arctic sea ice, similar in size to Australia, whereas in 2015 the coverage amounted to just under 4 million km², just slightly bigger than of all the countries in the European Union put together.

Similarly, skiing could be a much shorter luxury holiday for many, as scientists are predicting that by the end of 2100, ski resorts in the Alps could have 70% less snow.  The increase in global temperatures will result in more precipitation and humidity instead of the fine white powder, affecting the economy of many countries who rely upon winter sports for income and species adapted to live in those conditions.

The future sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it?

Even more so when wealthy and educated countries like the USA intend to pull out of the Paris Agreement, a convention designed to try and limit global warming to 2˚C this century – when I said Trump is controversial, I meant it.  Set up in 2016, the USA was among the first of 195 countries to sign up to the Agreement (being one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases) but after Trump’s repeated claims that global warming is a “hoax”, he stated that it was his wish to leave the Agreement.  Although the loss of such a powerful contributor to global warming will make an impact, predictions show that the even meeting the target of 2˚C will only delay the worst consequences, and that as an entire population we need to do much more.

Of course, we can all introduce little things into our daily routine to help combat and mitigate climate change, independent of national and international efforts. As a hot chocolate addict, I know of some schemes that help the environment as well as your pocket.  Global coffee chains such as Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero have introduced reusable cups, discounting the standard price and therefore leading to a decline in the number of disposable paper cups being sent to landfill.  In the longer term, renewable energy resources will undoubtedly become more popular; as the price of fossils fuels rise, using sources such as solar and wind power will be more pocket- and eco-friendly.  Smart Cars are also being gradually introduced, weaning drivers off the tradition diesel or petrol-fuelled cars and increasing the use of biofuels. Carpools are also a viable option – you save the planet and get the chance to socialise, so what’s not to love?!

“Reduce, re-use and recycle” is probably a programme you’ve heard of but if you check your waste, to what extent do you reduce, re-use and recycle?  My guess would be not as much as you could, and this is a really simple way to help mitigate global warming, without straining yourself too much.  Do you really need that bottle of shampoo, when you already have 4 bottles open?  Can you really do nothing else with that empty yoghurt pot than throw it in the bin?  The three Rs are an easy method of contributing to the sustenance of the planet, and it’s one that you should definitely make a conscious effort into maintaining.

Unless we all begin to make changes in our everyday choices, the future looks very bleak indeed.  No matter what Trump says, the earth is increasing in temperature and it’s because of human activity, although with small, subtle, eco-friendly changes we can begin to make a difference.

The book club: January

It’s no lie that January is a bleak and miserable month, but it’s also been a hectic one, hence my lack of reading *cue the tears and sad music*

But this month I have read a few books – Catcher in the Rye and Murder on the Orient Express – and I thought for this week’s post I’d just give a quick review of them.

Murder on the Orient Express – the film has recently come out but I always like to read a book before I see the movie, I’m not sure if that’s just me?! Anyway, I asked for the book for Christmas and I read it within a few days in the holiday; I enjoyed it a lot!! There were some plot twists that I wasn’t expecting and I definitely think I’ll have to see the film now.

Catcher in the Rye – as I finished this book, I was left a little confused: somehow, I’d completely missed that Holden, the narrator, speaks from inside some sort of institution?! I reached the end and I thought it was only then that he was going to this place. I honestly have no idea how I overlooked that fact because after looking at various summaries to see what I’d missed, several said that there were clear hints throughout 😂 however, I’m going to read this again at some point this year and I really enjoyed it as a story.

I’m reading Birdsong currently and it’s a very touching, poignant story. I feel like it’s one of those books that you can’t really like, just because of the subject of it, but it’s sadly very realistic and harrowing to think of what happening during the War.

For English Lit I’m reading Frankenstein too and I was dreading starting it, I won’t lie, simply, because I thought it was going to be very heavy-going. However, now that I’m getting into the plot line a little more, I’m actually excited to carry on reading it, so that’s a plus (and a surprise!)

I need to prioritise reading a more next month and I have the order of the books I’m going to read written down so hopefully, this post in a month’s time will be somewhat more entertaining 😊

Cara x

Productivity after school

Now, I don’t know about you but my first day back at school is tomorrow, so I thought today would be a good time to write a really short post on how to stay productive after school. It’s hard I know! But the method I use is really simple to create and makes you a lot more likely to do what you need.

I find to-do lists so helpful, and this is what I use every single night! As an example, the one in the photo was from a day in the holidays, and as you can see I had a fair amount to do that day.

The way I create these lists is to just write everything you need to do down on a piece of paper in a bullet point list, then go through the list and colour in the bullet points if I absolutely must get it done today. I also add little lines to make them look like suns, but that’s completely up to you 😜

Although I haven’t done it on the list shown (because I had a full day to complete everything), I normally then also number the order in which I’ll complete the tasks, and I’ll just put this number to left of the bullet point. And that’s it! This is a really simple way to ensure you do everything you need – if you have it all written down in the order you’re going to do it, you’re much more likely to actually do it because you’re trying to meet your targets. That said, be careful to be realistic, because you also need to have some time to relax.