Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.

My mum’s ironing and singing the Strictly Come Dancing theme tune. My dad’s supposed to be fixing a hole in one of the bedroom ceilings. I’m studying. Yep, that’s right, I’ve finally made a start on the music therapy reading. I’m finding it SO interesting which is a really good sign I think. From the looks of it my sister is studying too. She’s got GCSEs this year. I do not envy her. My brother’s still away at uni. Goodness do I miss him.

My auntie’s popping by in a bit to say hello. I’m off to the cinema this afternoon with one of my best friends to see Bridget Jones’ Baby, which is supposed to be hilarious! I hope it lives up to expectations. I’ll let you know. AND roast dinner’s still on the cards for this evening. It is Sunday after all.

Trying to take things a day at a time because right now the thought of working a whole ‘nother week in this school makes me so nervous. But I don’t feel like I should give up on it just yet: The pupils are lovely, the staff are amazing, it’s a great school, everything I do there is so relevant and I’ve so much to learn from them but I cannot shake the butterflies! I do hope they’ve enjoyed having me so far. More than anything I worry that I’m doing a rubbish job. Still lacking confidence.

I’ve taken a weekend job at a restaurant in town too and I’m so excited about that. Having a little extra money coming in will be excellent and I’ve always enjoyed working in hospitality. Fingers crossed funding a masters will become a real possibility and I’ll have a lot of fun too.

Hopefully when I’m blogging this time next week the millions of butterflies I’m battling now will be a distant memory and I’ll have had the best of weeks. One day at a time. First things first, pick up my pen and get back to my books. Today’s a good day.

Studying at degree level is more

It is more than anyone will ever tell you it is. They tell you it is hard work, when in reality it is more difficult than you can imagine and at times so stressful giving up is more tempting than pressing a big red button that has danger written all over it. Therefore they tell you that you will need to be determined when actually you need to be willing to get up after falling down for what feels like the one hundredth time in just one day. They tell you that you will learn a lot when in reality you learn so much you feel as if your brain might explode. They tell you it will surprise you. University will be nothing you expect it to be, but everything you need it to be. Strangers quickly become friends for life and things you’d never have dared to do become the things you do on a daily basis. They tell you that you have to love your subject. In that particular case they are right. They tell you they’ll be the best years of your life and while you face all the challenges and trip on all the hurdles you might begin to doubt them. Except, when you sit down, look back through the photos, remember the good times and look at the person you’re becoming, you realise it’s all worth it. Studying at degree level is worth it, worth all of it.

AMBEDKAR

As I wrote my dissertation I fell gradually in love with India’s dynamic  history and with the story of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Dip in and out if you please. Read as much or as little as you want. My only hope is that I can draw at least a little attention towards Ambedkar; a man whose story should serve as inspiration to all of us.

Note: For the purpose of this dissertation I wrote in the past tense, but many people living in India today, still live as untouchables and are still limited by their caste, a caste they are born into and did not choose. Ambedkar’s movement was a beginning, but the story is still far from ending.

Continue reading “AMBEDKAR”

Time to conquer life

During the last week of the Easter break, home became just wonderful enough to ensure that leaving it again would be as difficult as ever. I’m back in Cardiff now and until recently, I was feeling very sorry for myself. For the first time this year, I’d had a meltdown and it felt like my fresher self was back to haunt me. Anyone who knew me in first year, knew my meltdowns were just my way of escaping life when the anxiety became too much to handle. I’ve been far too happy this year to need an escape, but my best guess is I finally needed to burst… I needed to release all the butterflies, probably to make room for the ones that would inevitably come when it was time to meet the last few deadlines and sit my second year exams. Once I was back here, I realised I needed to get a move on whether I was ready to or not. The more sorry for myself I felt, the more time I wasted, the more time I wasted the more rubbish I felt, the more rubbish I felt, the more I missed home and the more I missed home, the more I lost focus. It sounds so silly now, but I came to a holt. With an essay to write and a tonne of revision to plough through, a holt was not where I needed to be.

I had no reason to grumble: Last week was far from awful. The first day back here, I had dinner with the loveliest couple of people and went to a music social where I drank a little too much wine and smiled lots. Half way through the week I caught up with one of my best friends and we escaped life together for a couple of hours of wonderfulness. An amazing friend invited me over on Friday evening and when I arrived, warmed up chocolate cake and served it with banana. She cheered me up more than she knows. The problem was, the rest of the week was spent sat on my bed, staring at the research for my essay and then deciding I wasn’t ready to face it yet, so avoiding it at all costs. If I wasn’t doing that, I was curling up in front of netflix, eating too much and moping. I’ve always known I’m happiest when I’m busy, so why on Earth I didn’t drag myself out of bed and out of the flat I don’t know.

This week already looks so much brighter and not even just because the sun is shining. I finally handed in my last essay yesterday and with nothing but revision to bury myself in, my work seems so much more manageable. The Tesco shop was delivered yesterday and even having hot cross buns in the cupboard makes life that little bit easier. My dad booked the family holiday today and he doesn’t know how much of a difference he’s made to life by just giving me something to be very excited about.

Now, I’m sat on my bed, listening to the radio and revising while smiling like a fool. I’m looking forward to going for curry tonight with some brilliant friends from my course. I’m finally back on the move again. Here’s to staying positive. Sometimes we need to panic and we need to mope and that’s okay, so long as we can put ourselves back together, pick ourselves up and get moving again as soon we’re ready.

Time to conquer life.

Life has been a little crazy, that’s all

Trying to work out how to justify the fact I haven’t blogged in over a month and considering giving up trying. Life has been a little crazy, that’s all. In just over a month I’ve written five essays, finally found the courage to go along to music socials, met some amazing new people and become president of a choir society.

I got my life back when I handed in my last two essays on Wednesday. It turned out that all an end to deadlines really meant, was a return to chores. I came back to life to find that I’d been a living in a mess of a bedroom, I had no clean clothes left and I had no food in the fridge. I spent Wednesday afternoon sorting my life out.

I spent the last two days storming around town, trying on dresses, deciding I hated all of them and wishing I could turn up to the end of year, 1920’s themed, music ball in skinny jeans. I very nearly headed to the ‘men’s formal’ section of Debenhams to find myself a suit and a tie and some jazzy musical socks. I should have been a boy. Luckily when I turned up at her house, collapsed on her sofa and demanded tea, an amazing friend reminded me to breathe and after shopping trip number two I’ve ended up with a reasonably 1920’s style, actually kinda lovely, skirt and top combo.

Today so far has been spent in bed in pyjamas with my keyboard and my laptop, preparing for a keyboard test that’s tomorrow, getting distracted by netflix and trying not to panic about the fact I’m going to the ball tonight. I know I am bound to do something ridiculous… give myself mascara panda eyes, walk into a door and give myself a black eye, make it to the ball then spill gravy down my skirt, fall over on my way to the after party, who knows. Hopefully, whatever happens it is going to be an amazing night. My keyboard test on the other hand? That is going to be a complete disaster.

 

Sunshine, Cocktails and Flappy Birds

I am no expert, but I think I’ve been suffering from a serious case of the infamous winter blues.

January and February, through no real fault of their own, have very bad reputations. January signifies the end of the holiday season and our return to every day life. It is as we struggle through January’s wind and rain that we begin to realise just how far away the summer really is. February is infamous because by February most of us notice we’ve already failed the New Year Resolutions we were determined to keep. It always tends to be a struggle for us single folk, no matter how much we claim we love the single life and completely oppose Valentine’s Day.

As someone who has always been just as fond of the winter as the summer, normally I wouldn’t sympathise. (Snow, wooly jumpers, wellington boots, yummy Christmas leftovers, what’s to complain about?) This year, for the first time, I understand. Since coming back to Cardiff I’ve spent an unjustifiable amount of time in my onesie, drinking wine, eating chocolate and ice cream, cuddling my hot water bottle, watching TV in bed, singing love ballads and wishing I were Bridget Jones. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time complaining about slow internet connectivity, my lack of boyfriend, the cold, the wind, the rain, and my subsequent lack of determination.

Then last Friday, Cardiff woke up to sunshine. Me and my flatmate spent the day making the most of it. Sat on a bench, eating hot cross buns in the sun, I found myself smiling hugely. When we left the pub after getting cocktails that evening and it was raining again, I didn’t even grumble. I walked home alongside her, sharing her umbrella and singing songs from various musicals. It failed to bother me when it rained Saturday night because I was babysitting in a warm house, on a sofa, curled up with a cat, a cup of tea and two lovely children who introduced me to the infuriating world of Flappy Bird. When it was raining on Sunday, I was in the library, feeling abnormally determined and powering through reading for the history seminars of the week.

I am sure that days like today can be blamed for winter blues Wales-wide. To say that the walk into the university was difficult would be an understatement: Gale force winds pushed me forwards, backwards, sideways and very nearly straight into someone’s dustbin. BUT, university today was well worth the journey. I went to two and a half hours of music lectures which were probably the most interesting lectures I’ve been to since coming to Cardiff. In the afternoon I had a meeting with my history lecturer, who in just half an hour, managed to make me feel like I could conquer the world. I couldn’t tell you what it was he said that gave me so much enthusiasm, but I left his office wanting to run home, boil the kettle, make tea and immediately start writing my essay.

Now, I’m sat smiling hugely and wondering what on earth I had to moan about. I’m not really sure where this determination came from… exposure to sunlight, introduction to Flappy Birds? How ever it got here I hope it stays. As for the winter blues, no matter how much rain I have to power through this week, I hope I’ve seen the back of them.

The day before the day I go back to university

Having just spent five whole minutes sat in the middle of my bedroom floor wondering where on Earth I am supposed to begin, I am beginning to wonder whether I will ever get used to this whole ‘packing my bedroom into boxes’ thing. If I’m honest, when I sit in my room deciding what to pack, all I want to do is convert the entire bedroom into a car which I can drive to Cardiff, convert back into a room and then live in. Yes, I do still want all 5000 of my Jacqueline Wilson books and I am definitely going to need to pack every item of clothing I’ve ever owned due to a strange sentimental attachment I have to it all that I can’t really explain. Yes, I do want to take my silver spoon collection with me, all of my ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ CDs and every fluffy pen I bought during my last year of primary school. I need the pine furniture I grew up with, including the bunk bed… Even if it is no good for star-fishing in. My family and friends from Chelmsford can come along too right?

Ok, so I will not fit my whole bedroom and every Chelmsfordian I love in the car and I’m not actually quite that sentimental. My point is… this is the hardest part. I am really looking forward to heading back to university. The journey always goes amazingly quickly and I actually quite enjoy the four hours preparation time I get before life goes crazy again. Moving in is always good fun and so is the first night in or out with flatmates I’ve missed loads. Seeing my university friends, going on nights out and using my brain again always does me the world of good. So does having the freedom to order chinese at eleven in the evening just because I’m hungry, studying got too hard and chow mein is amazing.

The hardest part is today… the day you have to come to terms with the fact its time to pack up one life and continue living another. I can never help feeling a little emotional. Today is the day I empty my room and fill the hall way with an abundance of toiletries, books, clothes and high heeled shoes. The day I plan to spend packing, friend and family seeing and eating my body weight in food, but end up curled up on a sofa telling myself I will pack soon… Telling myself I’m not putting it off because I don’t want to think about leaving and saying goodbye, I am just making the most of home comforts.

But hey, all I’ve got to do is stop using my blog as an excuse, shut the laptop, pack, head out to dinner with an amazing friend and then sleep. Before I know it, it will be tomorrow.

‘Goodbye’ has a bad reputation, but it’s not always all that bad. Especially when its temporary.

Part time Sale Assistant, full time student

The first week that I had to juggle lectures and work shifts I spent so focused on getting to where I needed to be that, once I’d got there, I forgot to enjoy myself. Then, when I got back home I felt like I’d done everything I needed to do: I found food, cooked it, ate it, collapsed in bed and normally very quickly, fell asleep. Perhaps I did need sleep and perhaps I had done all I needed to do, but my first Sunday free of work or lectures was spent reminding myself what it was I wanted to do. I realised the bits of university life I loved and still love most are the night clubbing, book reading, essay writing (yes, even that), music studying, opera singing, film watching, friend seeing, takeaway eating bits. Even if it’d only been a week I realised I’d missed that.

So, at the risk of becoming very slightly sleep deprived, I rediscovered my evenings. Week two, I got back in from work or from lectures, ate food and then spent the evenings doing what ever it was I wanted to do. Whether that was to head to an awesome friend’s house and eat pizza, get distracted by social networks/YouTube videos and get some of my music essay written, head to a night club, or curl up in pyjamas with my head in a book to cover the history reading for my next seminar. Late nights and early mornings are just about manageable when I can guarantee myself a ridiculously long lay in on a Sunday morning.

The week just gone was the most hectic week so far. Right now I’m trying desperately not to wish the rest of the year away but very much looking forward to working my last shift Christmas eve.

I’m trying to stay positive, but this is more testing than I could have known. I feel like my heart never stops beating too fast and the butterflies are back with a vengeance and that maybe this job wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Powering through. Now the countdown to Christmas has begun I’ve a feeling things are going to get a little easier. I’m glad I’m making the time for the things I love at least. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

There’s no place like home

It felt like the entirety of my weekend at home had been nothing more than a dream when I woke up this morning; the horribly stressful journey back to Cardiff being the disastrous ending that finally woke me up. It feels like I went to sleep after the Halloween party last Thursday and I’ve been asleep ever since. A big part of me wants to curl up and go back to dreaming of home so I don’t have to face today. Today is my first day at work and the day of my first rehearsal for my first concert of the semester. Today is terrifying.

Friday morning I wasn’t anywhere near as excited as I expected to be. I woke up with the biggest smile on my face, but only because the night before had been such great fun. I was happy because Halloween had been amazing and it hadn’t quite clicked that a megabus was going to take me home that afternoon. I got up, got ready and headed out to hand in my first music assignment of the year. I daydreamed my way through the entirety of my history lecture and then when I realised the time, half walked half ran home to pack. Time went by ridiculously quickly and before I knew it, I was sat on my bed eating my lunch as quickly as Bronwenly possible, because I knew I needed to get to the bus stop. In true Bronwen fashion I got half way up the road before realising I’d forgotten my purse and had to turn around to grab it. I caught the bus just as it was about to leave. The driver thankfully got down from his seat, smiled at me and let me chuck my bag in the hold. It took me six hours to get home, but when I did I was beyond happy. Home looked amazing and smelled amazing and my mum had left me a portion of chille con carne to reheat and eat when I got in.

Saturday morning my mum woke me up with a cup of tea and asked if I fancied a drive out of Chelmsford to pick my sister up from a family friend’s house. At first it felt ridiculous to even consider leaving my warm and comfortable bed, especially now I had a cup of tea in hand. As it dawned on me that this was day 1 of 2 at home I began to change my mind. I didn’t want to waste anymore time in bed. I jumped in the shower, my mum made us the most amazing breakfast and then we jumped in the car. I think I had forgotten just how much I love being behind the steering wheel. The drive left me on cloud nine. I spent the whole journey head bobbing and steering wheel tapping without shame. We joined our friends for a coffee in Costa before heading back. Sat with my mum and our family friends, drinking a Costa Caramel Latte I was ridiculously happy. I spent the afternoon being the laziest I’ve been in weeks and my dad ordered pizza in for dinner. We went to see the Fireworks display in Danbury (a Maggs family tradition at this time of year) and as usual it was incredible. Stood linking arms with my mum and brother, my dad with his arm around my sister just in front of us, I felt like I had the leading role in the very happy ending to a film. I was really ill when I got home, my guess is the cold got to me and the tiredness hit too. I missed out on joining some of my friends at the pub and had to head to bed at eleven before it felt like I had quite made the most of my day.

I got up fairly early again on Sunday, feeling much better after sleeping. It felt like I’d never left: I helped myself to cereal and joined my mum in the lounge. She was watching a Christmas film. Normally I would have objected considering November has only just begun but I was drawn in when one of the characters announced he was banning Christmas and the sale of toys. My mum made an amazing lamb roast dinner, I went shopping for work trousers and before I knew it I was packing up and heading back to Cardiff again. Saying a temporary goodbye to my family once again made me feel just as sad as usual. The journey home was horrible: Trains were late, I was late, buses were late, it rained loads, I did the walk home in a complete daze thinking only of bed and of putting my heavy bag down.

And then I woke up, back in Cardiff, curled up in bed as if I’d never been away.

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 in to) 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.