Misc.

Things I Have Learnt From My Thesis…

So I’m 22,500 words into my thesis. I have one chapter and the conclusion left and I’ve just been utterly stuck. The draft is due in for 1st May, but my sister is visiting from 26th-29th April, and this Saturday is going to be busy too. So, with a deadline looming over my head and (academic) writer’s block, what better than to write a post about it?! This is also the reason for a lack of posts lately – and I’ve got about seven books read and waiting to be reviewed.

Fran knows how I feel. (image source)
Fran knows how I feel. (image source)
  1. Procrastination knows no boundaries… I should be working on it as I write this. Cleaning my flat suddenly became a LOT more interesting. As did organising my clothes.
  2. The view from my room is fascinating. People watching is my new hobby.
  3. Coffee is my friend. Until the effect wears off.
  4. Literally 90% of my thesis stress comes from Microsoft Word. I’ve been writing chapters using Scrivener, but I’m using Word to compile everything and it’s the worst thing in the world. It’s like it sees you want to place something in an exact spot and goes ‘NOPE! NOT HAPPENING! YOU WANT TO ADD FIGURES?! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? FOOL!’.
  5. Music is ESSENTIAL. But it has to be the right music, namely film/video game soundtracks and classical music. Something without lyrics, but also epic – to accompany my quest to finish this thesis…
  6. Finding the right font is a time consuming, yet important, process. Those sub-titles need to look perfect.
  7. As is formatting chapters before the whole thing is finished just because it feels productive.
  8. And thinking up a snappy title.
  9. Below the word count?
    Below the word count? Sorted! (image source)
  10. The thesis becomes 80% of your conversation topics, in one way or another.
  11. It’s also the first thing you think of in the morning, and the thing you fall asleep worrying about. Or don’t sleep well because of.
  12. The gym is a wonderful distraction. I never thought I’d say that sentence.
  13. Non-uni related book guilt becomes worse.
  14. I LOVE LISTS.
  15. Sometimes it’s best just to write SOMETHING, even if that something is crap, and look over it later.
  16. I’m totally cool with wearing the same outfit 5 days in a row. Who’s going to see me?
The final deadline is 15th June. Wish me luck!
Thoughts

Thoughts #28: Blogging and Studying

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One of my major worries last year about moving to the Netherlands to study was my lack of blogging time. As August drew closer, I suddenly felt confident that I’d be able to manage it – it’s not like I’d have NO free time at all, right?

But you know what? It’s been REALLY difficult to balance.
I mean UGHHH.

I mean UGHHH.

I didn’t factor in several things:

  • the fact that I’d actually have a social life and want to leave my room like a normal person, rather than the recluse I’ve been for the past two years
  • that I need to get out and EXPLORE this country (and the others surrounding it) whilst I can
  • that maybe sometimes I just won’t feel like writing posts when I have the time, not to mention replying to comments and commenting on other blogs
  • a Masters degree actually involves a LOT of work. I mean a LOT a lot. I work hard, but I have more of a variety of hobbies to balance out in my free time than last time, and it’s getting the balance right between working the right amount and driving myself crazy with work that’s difficult

I know I’m still posting a decent amount, but I rarely feel entirely happy with my posts. Before I spent ages on them, making sure each one was written to my heart’s content (or at least close!), but now I feel like I’m just writing to make sure it gets done. I also feel like my reviews have no real passion anymore – when I read I don’t want to feel bogged down by making notes, so I might try writing a few reviews just from memory and see if that changes things.

Another issue I’m having is feeling really awful about not commenting on any other blogs! I really appreciate every comment received on here, and wish I could return them all. I’m really sorry for not commenting back – but even my own blog is fairly low priority in the grand scheme of things.

I want to emphasise that I am not going anywhere. I just wanted to explain my lack of presence within the blogosphere – normally I’d be commenting, Tweeting and chatting away everyday, but I hope my lovely readers can understand when I say that I currently have some very important things to concentrate on. So if my usual features disappear for a while, or I don’t post at all for a few weeks, you’ll know why.

Not how I want to end up feeling!

Not how I want to end up feeling!

How do you deal with blogging and studying? Do you have any advice for me? I would really appreciate any tips that anyone can share!

Notes from the Netherlands

Notes from the Netherlands #4

Note from the Netherlands

Notes from the Netherlands is my feature where I discuss my time studying at Leiden University. I want to blog about this amazing experience as much as I can!

I’m getting a better balance of blogging and studying now!
  • I have my first two exams in three weeks and I’m kind of freaking out. I really don’t feel prepared in the slightest, we don’t even really know the sorts of questions we’ll be getting. Plus it’s just been sprung on us that we have to read an entire textbook for the Museum History exam – it would’ve been nice to have known that four weeks ago!
  • I went to Antwerp one Sunday to meet up with some friends – online friends, who I’ve known for seven years, and until that point had never met in person. It was wonderful to finally meet them after talking to them so often for such a long time. Hopefully we’ll sort another meeting out soon!
  • Antwerpen Stadhuis

    Antwerpen Stadhuis

  • There was something called Nacht van Kunst en Kennis (Night of Art and Knowledge) here in Leiden, so I went with my friend Jack. We assumed, from the description, that there would be street entertainment and stalls, so we’d be okay with not buying a ticket as they were €17.50 each. However everything was inside so we didn’t really get to see anything that was part of the event! Instead we went for some drinks and a chat, which was really lovely.
  • Our Museum History assignment is to compare two ‘time capsule’ museums: Museum Meermanno in Den Haag, and Teylers Museum in Haarlem. We’ve already been to Museum Meermanno (with a rather strange ‘Birds’ exhibition) and by the time this post goes up I should also have visited Haarlem!
  • Leiden by night.

    Leiden by night.

  • On 25th and 26th September, it was the official opening of the new archaeology building. To celebrate, they held a symposium for all students and staff. The first day consisted of a series of lectures by guest speakers from universities across the world, and the second day was a ‘crafts market’. They had stalls set up representing different areas of archaeology, for example at the osteoarchaeology stall there was a ‘skeleton puzzle’ where you had to try and put an entire skeleton together. They even had a camel you could ride and BABY GOATS!! I WANT A BABY GOAT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
  • Then there was a free bar from 5pm, and a party. Lesson learned: do not give archaeology students, or rather ANY students, an all night free bar. Fifteen glasses of wine later (in SOME cases, hahaha… I had about eight) and we were done before 10pm. Cheapest Friday night ever.
  • BABY GOATSES!!

    BABY GOATSES!!

  • Up and coming (although gone by the time this has been posted, so I will have more to tell in the next one) is Leiden Ontzet, the celebration of the resistance of the Spanish siege. Basically a HUGE city wide party, fairground and everyone gets really, really drunk. It sounds amazing.
  • My grandparents are also visiting from 9th – 13th October, so that should be interesting! I’ll have to take them to a couple of different cities, it’s so easy to get anywhere from here.

    Next time I hope to have an account of Leiden Ontzet for you! Now back to studying…

Notes from the Netherlands

Notes From The Netherlands #1

Note from the Netherlands

Notes from the Netherlands is my feature where I discuss my time studying at Leiden University. I want to blog about this amazing experience as much as I can!

I’ve now been in Leiden for nine days, and I feel so at home already. Here are some of my observations:
  • Dutch is tricky. Well I already knew that, but I’m scared of speaking it – but I’m getting better. Yesterday, I managed to go through an entire supermarket trip understanding everything and not having to use English. I didn’t give the cashier a blank look when she asked if I wanted my receipt, yay!
  • I will probably get run over one day because I’ll never get used to cars being on the other side of the road.
  • Loads of houses in the city have the names of the families or inhabitants on the front door, which is strange to me!
  • They also have HUGE windows (good) with no curtains (bad). So I end up looking into houses then immediately feeling bad for doing so.
  • Most shops don’t give change under 10 cents, which means NO MORE EVIL TINY COINS.
  • Everything just feels so relaxed. People aren’t rushing to get about, they’re polite and it seems so clean. More people on bikes means less pollution.
  • There are lots of canals (obviously), little lakes, green spaces and ducks, so I feel right at home.
  • Dutch cats don’t like me as much as English ones. *sobs*
  • This place is just AMAZING for photo opportunities.
  • I haven’t really been homesick, which is a surprise. But I’ve also had a long time to wait for this, and get adjusted to the fact that I’ll be living in a different country.

So what have I been up to?

My parents came over with me, to help take my stuff and get me settled in. I’m so glad they did, I think it would have been an entirely different story without them. They stayed until Sunday morning, and from Sunday to Wednesday morning I was by myself. I got various admin jobs done like opening my Dutch bank account and signing my tenancy agreement, I bought much needed household items and did some exploring.

Then on Wednesday, I finally met up with two of my coursemates, and then we met two more coursemates yesterday. It was really nice to finally hang out with people and have a face to face conversation again (there’s almost no-one in my halls of residence at the moment as they’re renovating most of the rooms, so it’s quiet). We explored the city (including the bookshops, yesssss), visited the botanical gardens, took a look inside two of the big churches, sampled some appeltaart, climbed up to De Burcht for a view over the city, visited the antiquities museum and even spent one evening in an English pub before coming back to mine after closing time for a cup of tea. So very English.

It’s been a really lovely few days getting to know people and spend time with them, and tomorrow I will meet even more – because that’s when the Orientation Week finally starts! I just know that this year is going to be an amazing experience already, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Tot ziens!

Review

Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks to the likes of John Green, Matthew Quick and Rainbow Rowell, I’m finding myself more and more interested in Young Adult contemporary novels. I thought I’d give this one a shot, particularly with university fast approaching – although I won’t be sharing a room, thank goodness. I’m also a particular fan of stories set during university or college, as it’s a period of my life that I really loved (and hopefully I’ll love my upcoming experience just as much!), so it resonates well with me.

Told from the point of view of two girls, Elizabeth (or EB) and Lauren, who find that they are going to be roommates at UC Berkeley, the story uses both first-hand accounts and emails. Although obviously hesitant to tell each other much at first, the two future roommates find each other confiding more and more as the summer comes to a close, things they can’t tell anyone else in their lives. I liked how the relationship built up that way, all online – because actually it can be really easy to open up to someone you only know online, and it was nice to have a book that addressed that, even if EB and Lauren knew they would meet eventually. As the protagonists learnt more about each other, so did the reader. One of my favourite parts was how EB used the father of Lauren’s boyfriend as a sort of moral code in her life – when she did anything, she asked herself whether his dad would approve. I just found this pretty cute for some reason!

Despite the fact that the book covered all different parts of growing up and moving on, I really felt like it centered on Lauren and EB’s respective boyfriends too much. Sure, it wasn’t all boy talk – but there was a LOT. I’d loved to have read more about their families, particularly EB who gave more of an impression of her mum being this cold, unknown figure than anything else. Actually more than anything, I’d like to read a young adult book WITHOUT a romance. And regardless of the different fonts used for each girl, I had to keep reminding myself whose chapter I was reading – I felt like their voices were a little too similar (despite each girl being written by someone different?).

This book flitted between a three and four star rating, but eventually I settled on three. The ending felt a little rushed and was actually quite disappointing in a way. However, I thought it was a very sweet book, and a great read for anyone making that same huge transition in their life.

Thoughts

Thoughts #24: On Moving To The Netherlands, Part Three

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As you may or may not know, I will soon be starting my Masters degree at the University of Leiden. I’ve already posted on the topic twice before, first to discuss my worries, and then to rant a little about my problems with finding accommodation, and to make a list of reasons why it will be amazing (my attempt to combat the negativity!). But guess what? Today is The Big Day.

Eeek!

Yup, today I fly out to Amsterdam. My flight is at 5.30pm and AHHHHHHHH. We’re staying in a hotel tonight, then we can pick my keys up tomorrow afternoon and move in! Then my parents are helping me to settle in, get in some basic supplies, and they’re flying home on Sunday night. It will be scary and exciting and emotional and so many different feels but I CANNOT WAIT.

But what might this mean for the blog?

Posts might be less frequent.

Although I honestly have no idea. I already have the rest of this month scheduled (and perhaps September by the time this post goes up) so I’m sorted for a few weeks at least. I don’t know how crazy my timetable will be, plus there’s so many new things to do, so I have no idea how often I’ll be posting.

You’ll see some posts on my experiences.

I won’t just be posting about books, now I’ll be talking about my year studying abroad. The culture, getting to grips with the language, the food, various trips I go on – I want to cover it all!

I’ll probably be slower to respond to comments.

Both on my own blog, and commenting on others. I’ll get there eventually!

I may be quieter on social media for a bit.

This first week might not be so different, since I’m moving in a week before Orientation Week and also I think before many others (a lot of people seem to be unable to move into their accommodation until September 1st, which is weird). I’ll mostly be using the week for exploring the city and getting to know my way around, and how active I am depends on how many people I meet during this quieter week.

So see you when I see you, lovely readers!