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.

Talking: books.

The only thing better than reading a book is talking about that book with somebody who loves books equally as much as you! And recently, I’ve had the pleasure to talk to Eleanor, from eleanorclaudie.com, and the lovely M, from cadmiumxred.

I didn’t write my book club post last month for April, simply because I was in the middle of a book and I didn’t know whether to include it or not, so later on this month/early next month I’m going to write a combined April + May post. I finished The Picture of Dorian Gray and have since recommended it to everyone, M included – and although she hasn’t read it, I can forgive her, since she said “I’ve been obsessed with theatre plays lately, especially Shakespeare’s work! I find just find his way with words fascinating!! I’ve read a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet.” Me and you both 😉❤️

Now, I’m not one to gravitate towards a non-fiction book to read in leisure time – sure, I will read some, but I just prefer a good story to delve in to! Saying that though, Eleanor definitely persuaded me to have a look for When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi “because it was so inspiring and touching and I could’ve cried at various points in the novel”. I’m a weepy person anyway so I’m not quiiite sure if I can face the emotional trauma reading this autobiography will bring, but maybe one day I’ll have a grip on my emotions and decide to face it. As a plot though, it sounds truly moving and devastating yet inspirational.

Fun fact: there are around 134 million books in the world (I bet Gutenberg never thought his idea would take hold like it has done haha). It can be a little overwhelming to decide what to read next, or at least it is for me, but recently I’ve found that YouTube is a good place to start – and Eleanor has too! “Estee Lalonde recommended ‘A Little Life’ on her YouTube channel a while ago so I really want to read that [and] Ariel Blisset (❤️ her) recommended All We Shall Know”. I personally want to read some of Sunbeams Jess’s recommendations, although a lot are quite text-heavy so I’ll save them until summer, when I have unlimited time!

From our conversations, a few other book recommendations came up which I’ll list here if you’re stuck on what to read – I’ve got my to-read list updated already, hehe 😊

— Fahrenheit 451: What I love about F451 is how deep it is even though the story is simple, it’s very philosophical! – M

— The Underground Railroad

— Leviathan: because Thomas Hobbes is a political philosopher that we look at for the Stuart’s in history. – Eleanor

— If This Is A Man: I think I’m going to read a few more history books during the summer for my uni application such as if this is a man by Primo Levi (it’s about someone who survives the holocaust). – Eleanor

— Frankenstein

A big thank you to both M and Eleanor for talking books with me, and if you have any time, check out their blogs (they’re both very very cool people!)

The book club: March

It’s finally the Easter holidays and my aim is to have read at least 2 books by the end, so hopefully next month’s post will be full with mini book reviews!! This month I’ve really enjoyed The Power, by Naomi Alderman – it was such a gripping storyline, I’d read it within days!

If you’re an astute reader of mine (actually, you don’t even have to be that astute because I say it practically every other sentence), my dream uni is Cambridge to do a degree in Linguistics, so I’ve been fuelling my interest in that this month by finally getting round to finishing Linguistics – A Very Short Introduction, by PH Matthews. I’m entering an essay competition and I’m hoping that reading around the subject a lot will help me with that, and in turn with my UCAS personal statement.

Next week we’re going to Stratford upon Avon so I felt it only right to delve into Hamlet, and I’m also going to start The Picture of Dorian Gray within the next few days which I’m really excited to read!

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!!

life updates

Bonsoir! It feels like a long time since I’ve written anything (it’s been a few days, I guess…) because the last few weeks have just been really weird and disjointed to be honest. So I thought today I’d just basically spill my mind onto my blog – do you ever get the feeling that you have so much stuff to remember or so many things to do that you’re near to bursting?! Because I feel like that at the moment 😂

Ok, where to start?! Recently, I’ve had 5 days off school for various reasons which I think is primarily why my brain is so confused at the moment: I don’t know where I am or where I’m meant to be haha! It’s weird how nothing out of the ordinary happens for ages, then suddenly lots of things come along at once – I haven’t been on a school trip since last September, for example, and now suddenly I have 3 trips in 3 weeks! Last Tuesday, I went on a school trip to Saltaire for geography which was a fun, but dare I say unusual, day – I was told by a lady dressed head-to-toe in Victorian attire that I have ‘luminous urine’ because i have red hair, I counted a lot of pedestrians and I also ate some very nice pizza 😋

The week before that, we were in the grip of ‘the beast from the east’, so we had 2 snow days meaning that I was able to go sledging!! Whoop whoop! And then, we had another snow day last Thursday too – which I wasn’t entirely sure was necessary, since most of the snow had actually melted, or was melting, at 11.30 😐 but anyway! The next day we had a training day so in reality I had a 4-day weekend – not bad, haha!!

Me, attempting to sledge 😅😂

This week I’m also going on another geography trip, this time to the Holderness coast to look at erosional and depositional landforms. The week after THAT, I’m visiting the Newcastle football stadium for an Oxbridge conference with some of the students in my year, which gives us more information on applying to either Oxford or Cambridge as well as detailed insights into various courses, so that’ll be fun and hopefully helpful!

Moving on from school and academia-related topics, the new Years & Years song, Sanctify, came out this week and I. Am. Ob. Sessed. I’ve been waiting so long for this – literally since I went to their Communion tour in 2015 – but their new song was definitely worth the wait. If you haven’t heard it already, I would head right on over to Youtube or Spotify!!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on my blog but I saw The Greatest Showman a few weeks ago. I’d really like to get your opinion of it – personally, I didn’t see what all of the hype was about for the film itself, but I LOVE the songs! I also thought it was pretty cool because I linked the story to part of A Streetcar Named Desire – when Blanche talks about a Barnum and Bailey world, she’s referring to the circus, and the main character of The Greatest Showman was PT Barnum. Cool, no??

I’m going to write another post tonight or tomorrow which will be published either tomorrow or the day after all about my recent trip to see a petrified forest which has been uncovered by the storms last week and the delicious cake I had, so until then, have lovely days! ✨✨

The book club: February

Hey hey hey, it’s a new month so it’s a new update on the book front 🙂

I’m pretty sure I said this in January as well but February has not been my month for reading. I’ve managed to strain my eyes and I was suffering a little bit with that for about a week so I’ve been trying to limit the amount of reading (and other close work) I do this month to try and help them recover – which I’m sure you’ll be glad to know has worked!!

I finished Birdsong which was so good and I will happily admit, I cried 😂 I won’t give any spoilers, but I thought the naming of the child was just so sentimental and touching and…yeah, I cried.

I’m currently on To Kill a Mockingbird which I love so far; it’s one of those modern classics that I’ve just never read! I’m also reading Linguistics: A Very Short Introduction which is part of the Oxford Very Short Introduction series – I find it very interesting and engaging (as it’s the subject I want to take at uni probably!) but difficult to read in parts. I think it’s just the amount of information you’re being told and how hard you have to concentrate to fully get your head around some of the concepts, but nevertheless I still love it and if you’re interested in languages I definitely recommend!

I’m sorry this has been another short post but as I say, I’ve been struggling a bit with my eyes recently, but hopefully now that they’re feeling a lot better I’ll be able to read more. Let me know what books you’ve been enjoying recently, and if you have any blog post 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.