One step forward, one step back

I went and bought a beautiful new mirror for my university room today. I also bought a new organiser and a new duvet cover and I managed to stay nothing other than excited. I took another look at the enrolement email I received to see which dates I need to be at which schools and I pencilled the dates into the new organiser ready. I booked a hairdressers appointment for just before I head back and I even worked out exactly how much money I’m going to have to spend each month. I also started googling retail careers, hoping to find someone in Cardiff who wants to hire a Bronwen for the year, but doesn’t mind letting her go home for Christmas and Easter.

Then another email arrived confirming my enrolement and I started reading about auditions for operas and choirs and it all just became too real and way too scary. Just like that I felt like my fresher self was back to haunt me and I wanted to hide from the world. Facing my anxiety wasn’t something I wanted to do anymore. The idea of finding myself, conquering life, living independently and having the freedom to do whatever I wanted suddenly wasn’t as appealing as a positive Bronwen would have told you it was.

Going back for my second year in two weeks is terrifying. Nothing scares me more, except perhaps the thought of auditioning for operas when I get there. Or the spider that my dad just had to come into my bedroom and save me from.

So I’m not a spider fighter just yet, but I can conquer university by myself, right? There is a braver Bronwen in here somewhere.

A step towards London, a step in the right direction

My Auntie celebrated her birthday in style this weekend. She stayed at a Hilton hotel near Tower Bridge. She spent three days and two nights drinking, eating, seeing family and sightseeing (stopping in her tracks to take photos as only a true tourist does) and ended it all laughing hysterically at the comedians performing in The Comedy Store.

I jumped on the train to join her yesterday. I’d never stayed in a London hotel or been to a comedy store so I was a little excited. However, I was also feeling nervous about leaving home and going to University and if I’m honest, all I really wanted to do was start getting organised then curl up in pyjamas and watch a feel good movie.

I’m glad I got on that train though. I’ve come back from London feeling like I could conquer the world if I wanted to. Some people would say that when you’re among the commuters of the rush hour the atmosphere in London is hostile and unkind, but when ever I’ve been to London I’ve found that to be a part of the hustle and bustle of such an incredible city is exhilarating.

The hotel was incredible. The sky lounge sold expensive drinks, but had the most amazing view, a view that was even more amazing at night. The comedians we saw at The Comedy Store were, as my ticket told me they would be, ‘The Best in Stand-Up’. Okay, perhaps not… I mean, I am not saying that they were better than Michael McIntyre, who in my opinion is the most hilarious man on Earth, but they were very almost as good as him. They may not be famous just yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some time soon they appeared on my television screen.

We woke up for breakfast today and I helped myself to a bowl of fruit, granola and yoghurt as well as serving up a proper full English. It all just looked so good! We walked across the Tower Bridge walk way this morning and then headed to a pub for drinks before heading home.

Not only has this weekend left me feeling like I could go back to University today (if it weren’t for the four hour journey and the ridiculous amount of packing still to be done), but while standing on Tower Bridge looking out on the river I couldn’t help imagining myself at music college there in two or three years time.

For now at least, I’m heading in the right direction: I’m feeling positive and loving my mum for having just made an amazing roast dinner. Here’s hoping my Auntie enjoyed her weekend as much as I did.

Two days till Take Two

Just two more days left in Chelmsford and I am the weirdest mix of scared and excited.

Part of me wants to ring Cardiff University and tell them I won’t be studying there this year after all because I’m sissying out and I’d like to stay home. I want to cry every time I consider saying another temporary goodbye to my friends and family. I feel like I’m sixteen again and all I should be doing is spending time with friends at the park, going to Smirnoff Ice house parties and worrying about GCSE results . When I imagine waking up in my new room in Cardiff Sunday morning I want to run up to bed, hide under the duvet and never come out. I can hope that the next two days go slowly, but I doubt I’ll have much luck: The next two days I am so busy seeing friends, shopping and packing that I might as well be going to Cardiff in an hour or so.

The other part of me keeps telling everyone who asks just how much I am looking forward to going back to Cardiff and how I cannot wait for the fresh start. This part isn’t lying either, there is a part of me (quite a big part of me) that is exploding with enthusiasm. I cannot wait to unpack and decorate my new room, to go out in Cardiff with friends I haven’t seen in ages, to experience my first university house parties, to get a job, even to sit surrounded by books in the library studying a brand new and hopefully interesting topic. I may be sad summer is over, but I was admittedly a little excited when I had to pull a jumper out of my wardrobe to wear yesterday and even when I left the house with an umbrella.

How one Bronwen can feel so scared and so excited all at one time baffles me.

Time to step in at the deep end

The car is all packed up and it is time to go. First year I jumped in at the deep end (heading all the way to Cardiff to study before I even felt ready) and then spent the year doggy paddling and treading water. This year I’m going to step in to the deep end, keep my head above the water and swim. That’s if I don’t sissy out and use the steps like I did so many times on our family holiday this year… In my defense the water felt freezing after an hour or so spent reading in the sunshine and jumping in was quite a shock to the system.

Packing was an even bigger hassle than the first time ’round. If it’s possible, I think I’m even more unorganised now than I was this time last year. Most things are chucked in the car individually and if not they are in random boxes: There really is no method to the madness.

I’m so excited I can’t stay sitting down for longer than two seconds and I haven’t stopped smiling all morning and yet so scared that the butterflies in my stomach won’t rest either. I’m putting the fact I don’t feel like eating down to the amazing night I had last night, for an amazing friend’s 20th birthday. Despite the fact going out the night before heading back to University may not have been the best idea I’ve ever had, last night was the perfect way to say goodbye to Chelmsford and to all of my friends until Christmas. Anyway, sleep in the car should get rid of the bags under my eyes and lack of appetite shouldn’t be a problem for long: I have never successfully resisted purchasing food or coffee at a motorway services before now so I am sure by the time we stop for lunch I’ll be happy to eat as much as is Bronwenly possible.

Now, to stop using my blog as an excuse, shut the laptop, get in the car and choose the best song to start the journey with (something I love and my dad can grin and bear). In roughly four hours time I should be collecting my keys from the letting agency and heading into my new flat. Here goes.

Thank goodness for dongles, wellies and hairdryers

Sat on the sofa jumping every time I catch a glimpse of a van as it turns down our street in the hope it’s either the delivery man with our TV or the man from virgin here to set up our WiFi. So far every van has turned in the opposite direction. Luckily, I’ve discovered the dongle: A magical device that connects your laptop to the internet through the mobile network.

Moving day was a success. We may have left two hours later than we’d expected to, but I managed to gobble up a burger king on the way here despite the nerves and I remembered everything besides extension leads and screw drivers. I took my time settling into my room, and may have hit my head on the slanted ceiling several times while doing so, but now I’m settled I’m really happy with it. The atmosphere in the flat when I arrived was amazing, everyone was ridiculously excited and the boys were already discussing ordering pizzas, buying drinks and heading out that evening. As weird as it felt to be back in Cardiff and to be going to Cardiff pubs and bars, we had an awesome night. Starfishing in my double bed at half one in the morning, in my new room, having just been out with my new flatmates, I was a happy Bronwen.

Since then I’ve been to visit some of my other friends, who despite my fears haven’t forgotten who I am over the summer, been to a pub quiz that was no match for the one I go to every Sunday in Chelmsford (which made my heart ache just a little), bought hoodies to replace the ones I lost over the summer, handed out job applications and CVs and lost horrendously at chess. Today we braved the rain and gales we woke up to, grabbed wellies and umbrellas and headed out to complain at the letting agency about the broken washing machine and windows. The rest of our time has been spent playing card games and attacking the freezer, which frosted over during the summer, with a hair dryer in the hope of being able to buy frozen food soon.

As is to be expected I miss home, but I am settling in here AND having a great time and with little time to stop and think I’m yet to consider jumping on a bus and heading home.

It’s my turn to cook tonight, so I’m about to head to Tesco. Breaking all of the rules and heading to Tesco with my tummy rumbling, but hoping I’ll still be able to resist buying the whole shop.

Singing goodbye to butterflies in the shower

Caught myself singing in the shower, wondered ’round with a towel turban on my head, left my stuff all over the sofa while I went out last night, sung opera in my bedroom, let my iTunes music shuffle freely without cringing when The Circle of Life started playing: One week here and it feels like home already.

As a fresher, I’d sit and read my book on my bed in my room, or perhaps on one of the hard chairs around the communal table in our kitchen. And don’t get me wrong, I loved our kitchen for all the amazing moments we shared and memories we created there. Right now though, I’m sat on an actual sofa, curled up among the cushions reading my book with a cuppa tea and loving life.

As soon as I wake up in the morning I come downstairs in my pyjamas. My bedroom door here is almost always open and so are everyone else’s. Heading out in the evenings is easy now we know where to head and on which nights. I can cook without embarrassing myself by asking silly questions, dropping things or burning myself. I know the quickest route into town and into University and back, and I didn’t have to try three different routes to find the best. This year I’m applying for jobs and even now I’m paying bills student budgeting doesn’t seem like such a scary concept.

Life as a second year student so far has been so incredibly different to life as a fresher. I feel so much more comfortable living with my friends, in a beautiful city that I now know and love.

We may still be lacking internet and our washing machine may be broken, but the butterflies that lived in my stomach permanently last year seem to have temporarily fallen asleep this year already. Who would have thought it!? Now to conquer the world.

Missing Beechams’ Cold Medicine, Loving Crunchy Nut cereal

Had I written this just 24 hours ago it would have been filled with complaints.

Yesterday, I woke up with a horrendous cold and went on to have a horrendous day: I broke a glass when I was washing up, I found loads of important unread emails from my university, the internet kept crashing while I was trying to send replies, I nearly blew up the kitchen because I didn’t realise there was oil in the bottom of the oven when I turned it on and let it heat up to 200 degrees Celsius… Ok, so the day could have been much worse, but with a runny nose and a head that felt the size of Jupiter I found myself curled up in bed with a sad face on wanting to do absolutely nothing except perhaps head back to Chelmsford and curl up there with a cup of tea and my family.

My cold ridden self did however manage to book herself an audition for Cardiff University’s opera this semester and did manage to reply to emails despite the lack of internet connection. The audition is Monday evening and I’m… I’m not saying I’m terrified, not if admitting that means risking the return of butterflies just as I’m enjoying a beautiful and much needed bowl of Crunchy Nut cereal.

Once I’d had dinner I started to feel slightly better and my amazing friend gave me a glass of wine and convinced me out of the house and into a night club for the night. (My decision may have also been influenced by the fact it was ‘Propaganda’s Giveaway Party’ and they claimed to be handing out Nandos vouchers.) I had an amazing night, forgot all about my nose and my head, bought McDonald’s at the end of it and still made it out of bed and to enrolment this morning. Despite the fact I felt a little nervous when my alarm went off and I realised it was time to head into the music department for the first time this semester, once I was up and about I was surprisingly calm. By the time I was walking towards the university I was on a high just because I’d conquered step one: Get out of bed and make it out the front door by nine. Enrolment was much simpler than it was first year. Maybe because there was less to do, or maybe just because I was better prepared and less scared.

My cold is back to haunt me this afternoon, the Tesco near me aren’t selling the Beechams’ cold medicine that until now I haven’t made it through a cold with out and the audition is on Monday but my throat hurts and my cough doesn’t seem as if it will be going away anytime soon. I’m eating a late breakfast and I’ve drank more orange juice than is healthy, I’ll spend the rest of the day keeping warm and maybe cook something hot and spicy tonight. I’ll speak through my audition piece later; running through pronunciation doesn’t require a healthy throat. If I wake up with a voice as low as a man’s and as croaky as a frog’s tomorrow morning then perhaps I will panic, until then I know I have three days still left to recover before my audition, I can spend all day in bed tomorrow if I want to and I’m feeling positive.

Hippo-size and Happy

I should be the size of a hippo after eating everything I’ve eaten this week. I blame Papa Johns for tempting me with their 99p offer Tuesday night and Just Eat for making it so easy to order Chinese take away when you get home late on a Wednesday evening. My comfort food has become the occasional piece of healthy food I eat. The orange I ate after my Chinese takeaway for example, was so beautiful I think the vitamin C loving bits of me jumped for joy.

On Sunday night, this week terrified me. Now I’m sat on my bed, thinking about what I’m going to wear out tonight, surrounded by laundry that I discovered dries quickly hanging from the open sky lights in my room, procrastinating expertly and wondering what all the fuss was about. I’ve spent the afternoon curled up on the sofa drinking tea, reading the book on British History that I have become slightly addicted to and feeling productive despite the fact the book I was supposed to read today was based on the Dreyfus Affair in France.

I didn’t get into either the Opera or the Operatic Society concert. The audition went surprisingly well considering how ill I’d felt the day before. Expecting it to be a complete disaster I was pleased when I left and I had managed to at least sing the whole piece. Monday evening, after the audition when I met one of my best friends for coffee, I was feeling positive. Aside from managing to sing my piece, I’d spent a few hours in the library covering the reading for the lecture Tuesday morning and I’d been to my first music lecture of the year with out freaking out.

Tuesday, I think, was the best day. I may have had to get up at 7:30 for a lecture that exhausted my brain because it lasted an hour and a half, but I finished the day with 99 pence meat feast pizza, my first Chinese class and a night out. Chinese was brilliant. By the end of the lesson I was ridiculously excited about the fact I could say Chinese numbers 1-10, say hello, goodbye and thank you, tell someone my name is Bronwen and I am British and ask their name and nationality in return. Me and my flatmate spent the entirety of the walk home having the same conversation in Chinese over and over again. The night out was good, as they always seem to be, but the early start had got the better of me and I was home and tucked up in bed by two in the morning with McDonald’s chicken nuggets in my belly and a whopping great smile on my face.

After my lecture Wednesday morning (which I was very happy I made it out of bed and into) I went job hunting again. When I went to hand a CV into The Entertainer Toy Shop they wouldn’t take it. They said they had finished hiring for the Christmas period already, but told me to wait a moment so they could double check. I ended up in a group interview for two hours having much more fun than I would have expected to have in an interview. I was completely unprepared, but the staff all seemed friendly and welcoming and the spontaneity of it all meant my butterflies didn’t make even a brief appearance. They said they’d call me on Friday if they wanted me to attend the Christmas meeting and work with them over the season and on Friday I got a call. If everything goes well at the meeting I can consider myself employed. I am trying me very hardest not to jinx things by mentioning how excited I am about the idea of working at a Toy Shop over Christmas helping children choose what they want from Santa, but I AM SO EXCITED. Yes, Santa is real.

The rest of the week has been just as amazing. I had a lecture on Chinese history which I know I’m going to become geekishly interested in. I wore my jelly bean wellies out the house and successfully resisted the urge to jump in puddles or sing ‘Singing in the Rain’ whilst spinning my umbrella. I planned on heading out last night, but at the last minute chose to curl up with chicken, chips, an awesome friend and a disney movie instead of heading to the club. Tonight I am going out and I’ve spent so long trying to decide what to wear that I’m starting to wonder if I actually own nice clothes. Tomorrow I’m spending the day with my head in a book again, hopefully the right one this time.

I’m not an opera star just yet, but I am a Toy Shop sales assistant and I have conquered a week of lectures and loved it. I’m a happy Bronwen.

Call me Indecisive, but

One minute I’m ridiculously excited over a quote from a book on an interesting historical topic or I’m so engrossed in writing the opinionated conclusion to my essay that I forget it isn’t cool to be caught enjoying coursework. The next minute I’m stood in my room singing Mozart’s Agnus Dei, loving it and deciding that singing is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Since the age of 5 I’ve been telling people I want to be an author or as I get older, a journalist: Younger Bronwen stapled pieces of A5 paper together, designed front covers in felt-tip and crayon and then wrote numerous ‘Chapter Ones’ for what she planned would be hugely successful novels. She bought note pads and then ripped out half the pages just because she decided the story she’d written inside wasn’t worthy of publishing.

When I discovered singing at the age of 9 suddenly, that was all I wanted to do. One performance on stage turned into two, which turned into three and before I knew it I was addicted. Performing on stage isn’t comparable to anything else I’ve done or I think, anything I will ever do. Nothing annoys me more than a frog in my throat or a cold that stops me singing. Nothing clears my head more than an hour spent at the piano singing and playing until I forget what on Earth I had to escape from in the first place. Or of course a few minutes in the spotlight scared out of my socks, but up on cloud nine.

My first meeting with my tutor this year ended with a discussion about the future; about what I planned to do when I left University and ventured out into the big wide world. I could go on to study Journalism; review musical concerts, lead political debates, write agony aunt columns. I could study Post Graduate Music at a conservatoire in the hope of becoming a professional performer. I realised just how hard the decision is going to be. For one thing I still go through days when both singing and writing are stressing me out so much that I don’t want to face either of them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll decide I want to do something completely different.

All I know is, it’s time for breakfast and I need food for thought. Hot Cross Buns it is.

Busy is Best

When I woke up Tuesday morning it was still dark. I felt like I should be jumping on an aeroplane and heading somewhere exciting, jumping behind the steering wheel of my car and driving across the country or just retreating under the duvet until the sun decided to put his hat on. In reality I’d set myself an early alarm so I would have enough time to wash my hair and get organised before my two hour lecture and my work induction. Being me, I still didn’t have enough time and I spent the morning running around like a headless chicken. The induction at work was almost a complete disaster, but I made it through and back out the shop with The Entertainer uniform in hand and rumbles in my tummy. I gave into temptation and dropped into Gregg’s, browsed all the shelves trying to convince myself to be experimental and try something new and then ordered my usual. (“A sausage, bean and cheese melt and a piece of Rocky Road, please?”) I had an amazingly productive afternoon, Chinese went really well, yet another walk home was filled with mine and my flatmates Chinese conversation and then I got an early night.

Wednesday was just as busy and just as amazing. I got up early, although it wasn’t dark this time. Had time for a cup of tea before leaving for lectures. Managed to enjoy lectures. Had an amazing lunch. Spent half the afternoon singing, first at choir and then in a practice room. Flopped in my flat mate’s room for hours while she baked bread (Inspired by the Great British Bake Off). Had a beautiful beef casserole dinner. Puzzled over more articles on the T’i-yung dichotomy in China. Went to a choir social at a pub five minutes walk from my front door and met lovely new people. Bought Chinese take away and curled up with my flatmates in the lounge, sharing jokes until the early hours of the morning.

I never thought I’d say it, but I think early mornings are the way forward. I’ve been up since eight today as well and I’ve been so productive that every part of me is buzzing. Laying in bed for hours every morning just leaves me feeling tired, smelly and lazy. Being busy is best. Goodbye wasted mornings.