What I’ve Been Reading At University #5 – 12 Days of Blogmas

WRAU

What scares me the most about this post is that this series is ending soon, and it only feels like yesterday when I was sharing the books I was reading in my first term of university! I’m now scarily enough in my final year of university and I’ve loved every second of it. This year so far is probably one of my favourites in terms of modules and reading lists and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my TBR shelf! Anyway, I hope you enjoy the fifth installment of what I’ve been reading at university!

The Ladies Paradise by Emile Zola – I think this has to be one of my favourite books I’ve read during my entire degree, everything about it was wonderful and they’ve even adapted it into a TV show which is an added bonus! I read this book for my Fashioning Fiction Module which explores the different clothing and accessories in novels as in the words of Virginia Woolf, ‘Clothes are but a symbol of something hid deep beneath. The story itself is set in and around a department store in Paris and follows the journey of Denise who must adapt to the inner workings of such a new and influential model of retail.

Orlando by Virginia Woolf – I’m ashamed to admit that before this I had never read any of Virginia Woolf’s novels but you’ll be pleased to know that I really enjoyed Orlando! To make things even better this is another book of my Fashioning Fiction module so I get to study all the wonderful outfits, movements and gender performativity throughout the novel, its a literature students dream!

Gigi by Colette – After watching the trailer for the new biographical drama on Collette, (played by the wonderful Kiera Knightley), I knew that I wanted to look into more of her work and literary influence, so it was ideal when I saw one of her books on my reading list! Gigi is one of her shorter stories and if like me you’ve seen the trailer and actually want to read some of her books, then this is a fun place to start!

The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford – Probably one of the most unexpected enjoyments of my course this year as I went into this book with the sole aim of finishing it as soon as I could (I was an idiot and left it till the night before to read, whoops!), however, I was really surprised and ended up finding it a fun and enjoyable read!

Uylesses by James Joyce – A beast of a book, not only in size but in the concentration you need to tackle such a unique and challenging novel. The 700+ page book is set over the span of one day and focuses on the lives of two individuals that eventually meet. Joyce’s stream of consciousness technique, rich characterization, and experimental prose have let it be regarded as one of the greatest literary works in history. At the moment I’m currently having a love/hate relationship with this book because it is just so difficult to grasp but when I finally do I can appreciate why it is so widely appreciated.

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton – Another one of my unexpected favourites this year and is a book that I’m studying on my South African Literature module. World literature has always been one of my favourites to explore and I think the whole history behind South Africa and its political situation is again a really interesting topic to explore. The book is centered around a black pastor who travels to Johannesburg in search for his sister and only son but things take a turn for the worse when his son is found guilty of murdering the son of a local white farmer. What seems like a very simplistic story is actually one of understanding and is one of South Africa’s most powerful novels.

What I’ve Been Reading At University #4

I wrote a few posts like this during my first year of University and I got some great feedback and response from all of them, so I thought I’d keep you all updated with what I’m reading in my second year! This year I was not only able to choose my own modules but more of them too, which means more books to read and study!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – Hollywood has sadly butchered this book and this is a clear a case where the book is far better than the film. The concept, the characters, and the prose all come together to make this classic tale a masterpiece and it was so interesting when it came to analyzing it!

The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin – Fans of Avatar will love this book because both have a very similar plot and message in regards to consumerism and deforestation. I’d never heard of Ursula Le Guin, however, I’m looking forward to reading more of her novels later in the year as her writing is so detailed and complex and it just makes you think.

Avatar (2009) dir. James Cameron – Avatar is one of my all-time favourites films because of the thought and craft that went into creating such a masterpiece and if it wasn’t three hours long then I’d watch it a lot more. However being able to study and analyse it, is a dream come true and as sad as it sounds I’m actually enjoying reading lengthy essays about the science, creation and meaning behind the film.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathan Hawthorn – The first book of the year that I hated. For me, there was nothing good about this book, and I understand that it is a celebrated American Classic so my apologies if my thoughts offend you. It took a lot of effort read and I hated pretty much all the characters especially Dimsdale!

The Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey – I’m a sucker for a good Western novel or film, so when I saw my lecturer getting very excited about the prospect of sharing her thoughts and starting lengthy discussions, I knew it was going to be a good read! Thankfully I loved it and my American Literature module has redeemed itself, the characters, storyline and open landscape all came together to create this brilliant story that is far more than just a western adventure!

The Poetry of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Two of my all-time favourite poets due to their beautiful and magical representations and relationship with nature. Both poets mastered the ability to transport their readers to faraway places and breathtaking scenes through the power of the imagination and it’s been a real joy to study and appreciate some of their finest work!

Modules I’m Taking in My Second Year at University

I can’t believe how quickly a year has gone and how I’m already about to start my second year at University. For those who don’t know, I’m currently studying English Literature at the University of Chester and for my second year, I was able to choose all of my modules! There were so many to choose from and I was only able to choose five, however, I’m really happy and excited with all of my choices. If you’re also studying English Literature then I’d love to know what modules you’re taking this year, so please leave a comment below!

  1. Romantic Literature – I’m a sucker for Romantic Literature so there was no way I wasn’t taking this module. I love all the novels and poetry as they are all just so beautiful and a treat to study! I’ll be studying works of Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats and one of my favorites Austen.
  2. The Gothic – After reading Northanger Abbey in my first year, I began to fall in love with Gothic Literature and I can’t wait to read and study more short stories, poetry, and film from the late-eighteenth century to the present day.
  3. American Literature – I’ve always loved American Literature especially anything to do with the roaring 20’s *cough* The Great Gatsby *cough*! The module will concentrate on a variety of important American writing, considering both the context of its production and the influence it has had on American life and thought.  As well as this the module will offer me the opportunity to explore the themes and preoccupations of American literature, and will also place them in specifically American historical, social, and ideological contexts.
  4. Alternative Worlds –  This is the module that I’m most excited for as it’s everything I love and the books I get to read are some that I’ve been dying to read for ages or are among some of my favorites! The module is designed to develop my understanding of fictions that explore alternative universes and to provoke a response to the challenges such fiction pose and I’m hoping that it’s also going to help me develop the skills to creating a successful fictional world. Some of the texts and film/tv adaptations I will be studying include Game of Thrones, Cloud Atlas and The Man in the High Castle, are you jealous yet?
  5. Varieties of Writing – Sadly I won’t be studying this module till April next year but I am so excited for it as I really want to develop my skills by writing and experimenting in different forms. Typically, students will study and try their hands at writing: magazine adverts; newspaper reviews of books, plays, TV, films, and albums; book blurbs; autobiographical and travel pieces; plays for the stage; poetry; and short-short stories. Hopefully, by the end of this module, I will be more confident with my writing and that I’ll also have a successful portfolio which will aid my efforts into finding work experience.

University Room Essentials​ – How To Make Your Room Feel Like Home

Moving away from home and into university accommodation is a daunting process as it’s the first time you’ve properly left home to go and live somewhere else and its the start of a new chapter in your life. For me having a cosy and personal room made it easier to settle in and it was nice to have a little space to call my own. When I arrived, my room was completely bare and it was nice to have this blank canvas which I later turned into my own little space with the help of photographs, fairy lights and many other little bits, so I thought I’d share a list of ‘essentials’ on how to make your room feel like home! Enjoy!

Photos – I loved putting all my photos up in my room as it helped make my room so much more personal and cosy. I put them up all around my mirror and over my notice board so whenever I was doing my hair or work I was greeted by a particular memory or familiar face which was really cute! I love the polaroid look for my photos and I used the LaLaLab app to print mine off which was super easy as I had all my photos on my phone and all I had to do was select which ones I wanted! I think I went a bit overboard and ordered over 70 photos but they weren’t crazy expensive either. If you would like to give Lalalab a try for yourself then I have a fab £5 discount code for you to use. Simply use code PGTJ9BAD at the checkout to receive £5 credit to your account (this is a referral program so I will also receive £5 credit every time somebody uses my code).

Fairy Lights – I am a huge lover of fairy lights as not only do they help your room look like something off Pinterest but they also help it look nice and cosy especially on those dark winter evenings! You can get loads of different styles and types of fairy lights but I recommend you get the ones with the battery packs rather than plug socket as it gives you more options of where to hang them! I got mine from the wonderful Ikea but I know there are loads of other places you can get them from!

Bedding – Your bed is probably the main thing in your room so it’s got to look good and be super comfy. I brought loads of pillows with me which was really handy as my room became a social space and everyone was able to cuddle up with a pillow when we watched a film together. You can pretty much get bedding and pillows from anywhere but recently Primark has had some really nice homeware bits.

Fake Plants – Keep in mind the word ‘fake’. I love fake plants because not only does it save me from watering them but they help make me look like a fully functioning adult to visitors as it looks like I can care for another living thing! They are green and succulent all year round and can help add a little of bit of colour to your room.

Fragrance – What you do not want at university is the ‘I live with 8 other people smell’ so make sure you have an air freshener or a diffuser to keep your room nice and fresh but don’t make it too strong! I know many landlords and university rooms don’t allow you to burn candles but I still bought mine and left the lid off it as it still produced a homely and sweet scent.

I hope this list gives you some ideas when decorating and personalising your room and good luck to everyone starting their studies at university/collage!

Life as a First Year Student Midwife

This last year has been equally the best but hardest year of my life. At the end of August 2016 I started training to be a Midwife, something I had worked so hard to be able to do. There are many misconceptions about Midwives and Midwifery, most people seem to think that all we do is catch babies, or alternatively drink tea, eat cake and cuddle babies. Admittedly during the year I have done all those things, but that barely skims the surface of what we do. Midwives look after women throughout the whole of their pregnancy, running long antenatal clinics and answering hundreds of phone calls of anxious women. We can take blood and give injections. We are there during labour and birth. We also look after women and new born babies for a minimum of 10 days postnatally, among so much more. We are the ultimate feminists.

Obviously this isn’t something one can learn from a textbook, my university year was split between time at university to time on ‘placement’ when we’re out in the real world, learning on the job, this is a 50/50 split. Before I went on my first placement I was at university, this time in the year was probably the most ‘normal university’ experience I had. I moved into uni halls with 5 other midwives, I participated in freshers week and I attended lectures. It took me a while to get used to the new way of learning, suddenly so independent and I had to get my head around referencing! I met so many new people and made friends for life. At this point, the thought of actually becoming a midwife didn’t really seem real, it only clicked when we were given our uniform… this was such a proud and exciting day, we looked grown up and professional, I think my mum actually cried when she saw me in it for the first time.

It soon became time to go out on our first ever placement with the community midwives, nervous was an understatement, none of us felt ready, even though we had been learning basics for 8 weeks, we all felt like we knew nothing. In hindsight we did know nothing, but that was how its meant to be, the bulk of learning is on placement, as scary as that is. My first day was on Halloween, I distinctly remember this because all my friends at ‘normal university’ were out on the town that night, whereas I was in bed at 8:30 utterly, utterly exhausted! At first I found placement tough, I was working full time (which I wasn’t used to coming straight from school) and learning every second, I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted every day. Luckily I loved every second. I found everything I was learning fascinating, I was gaining new skills every day and pushed out of my comfort zone constantly! believe me when I tell you this degree is hard work, so much so I feel as though if you didn’t absolutely adore the career, the degree and the qualification would be unobtainable. There were times on placement where I felt lonely, even though I saw people everyday at work, I barely saw anyone outside of work and my family, and even when I had time to myself there was uni work to be completed and obviously recovery from the previous week, there is no time for a social life when training in midwifery, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make!

As the year went on I gained so much confidence in my skills, so much so I was given a lot more independence. The days of observation were over, I now felt like an asset to the team. My favourite part of the job is undoubtedly the people you meet and the lives you influence. It is honestly the best feeling in the world to know that you have influenced someone’s life in such a positive way. As humans we can tell when people are genuine and it is the best feeling in the world when someone says thank you with all their heart, so much so we can see it in their eyes. We often get cards and gifts for the kindness we show, but the best gift is that look they give you when you say goodbye.

These have just been a few of my thoughts throughout the year, I could have written so much more! I truly adore midwifery, as tough as it is, it is most definitely worth it. It’s been the best year of my life and I look forward to another 2 years of training and my whole career ahead of me.

What I’ve Been Reading At University #2

After the success of my first post, I thought I’d share what other books I’ve had to read in my second term of University. For those who don’t know I’m currently studying English Literature at the University of Chester and being an English student means lots and lots of reading but I don’t mind because I’m a bit of a bookworm. I will link my previous post here if you wish to see what I read in my first term! Anyway, let’s begin…

  1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin – I’ve always been a fan of Jane Austin with ‘Pride and Prejudice’ being one of my all-time favourite novels but I’d never read ‘Northanger Abbey’ until now; I loved it. I enjoyed the combination and satire of the Gothic novel and how active and crazy Catherine’s imagination was.
  2. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan – Most Ian McEwan books, are slightly weird and obscure and this wasn’t an exception. I enjoyed it but it’s certainly not something I would recommend to my mum! If you’re looking for something short, funny (in an odd kind of way) and a little different then I recommend you pick some of his early works up including ‘On Chesil Beach’.
  3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Another book I had to read for my contemporary module and I absolutely loved it. It’s unique writing style and the post-apocalyptic world had me hooked from the very first page and I easily finished it on the train back to Uni.
  4. The Worlds Wife by Carol Ann Duffy – We’re changing things up here as this is a collection of poetry rather than a novel. If you don’t know, Carol Ann Duffy is the UK’s poet laureate and many students in the UK study her poetry at high school. This collection, however, focuses on the fictional wive’s of many male historical and mythical figures and are just quite nice to read now and then.
  5. The poetry of Franchesca Haig – I’d be impressed if anyone knew who Francesca Haig is as she used to be a lecturer at the University of Chester until she wrote her first young adult novel ‘The Fire Sermon’ which was quite successful and has now been picked up by Dreamworks to be made into a film. Anyway, her poetry is some of my favourite and today I’ve been lucky enough to be chosen to interview her so keep your eyes peeled on a blog post on that!

I hope you enjoyed the second instalment of what I’ve read at university and that you’ve found it interesting and if you’re are currently studying at University too, I’d love to know what books you’ve been reading.

What I’ve Been Reading At University

For those who don’t know both myself and Eleanor are now in our first year of University, Eleanor is studying Midwifery at the University of West England and I’m studying English Literature at Chester. To be honest it’s been really difficult to read whilst at University thanks to our workload, long hours and reading lists. However being an English student I have been able to read some really interesting and enjoyable books so I’d thought I would share what I’ve read so far!

  1. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – I’d heard a lot about this play before studying it and I was really looking forward to it. I wasn’t expecting it to be so funny!
  2. First Love Last Rites by Ian McEwan – Pre-warning this book is very weird, I mean seriously weird. But after re-reading it, I am beginning to enjoy it and understand it more.
  3. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – This was a hidden treasure on my reading list and I’m glad that I was able to read it. It was a very short story filled with drama and twists…
  4. Hard Times by Charles Dickens – Probably one of my least favourite reads just because it was so complicated and detailed but nevertheless I’m glad that I’m finally being able to read so of Dickens work.
  5. Atonement by Ian McEwan – I loved this book!! It was heartbreakingly beautiful, and if I have to recommend any book on this list it would have to be this one.
  6. Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling – Who would have thought that I would be studying Harry Potter at degree level? Certainly not me! But I’m loving it and it’s even better that my lecturer is a massive fan like me.
  7. Hunger Games by Suzanne Colins – I am meant to be writing an essay of the Hunger Games now but instead, I’m writing this blog post and procrastinating. I love discussing all the different themes and discovering more about the book!

Please let me know if you’ve found this interesting and enjoyable because if so, then I’ll do another post later in the year with an update of the books I’ve read and studied.

The University Book Tag

Those of you that follow our blog may know that myself and Eleanor are both currently studying at University; Eleanor is studying Midwifery at the University of the West of England and I am studying English Literature at the University of Chester, and so far we are both loving it! I was inspired by my time at University so far to create my own book tag based of the key elements of University life, so feel free to give this tag a go as we would love to read your answers and I hope you enjoy reading ours!

Moving In – If you could only bring one book/series to University what would you bring?

Amy: Probably my Throne of Glass series, just because I am in love with those covers/spines and I think they would look perfect on my shelf but sadly I was unable to bring the whole series with me due to lack of space, however I did bring Empire of Storms!

Eleanor: Well, University is quite intense so I don’t really have that much time to read. But I would say a fairly easy, simple, comforting series would be great, Harry Potter perhaps?

Making Friends – Which fictional character(s) would you love to be best friends with?

Amy: Celaena from Throne of Glass because we both love to read and I feel like we could have some great conversations on different books and maybe she could teach me some of her assassin moves!

Eleanor: Well, I’m on a fairly medical course, so maybe Claire from Outlander can help me with some of the biology? Maybe tutor me on some of my practical skills? I think that would be quite helpful.

Student Loan – If you had all the money in the world, what bookish related item would you buy?

Amy: Recently I’ve seen a lot of people posting photos of their Pop Figure collections on Instagram and I now want all of them especially the Hunger Games and Harry Potter ones!

Eleanor: Text books? They are very expensive! But that’s a bit of a boring answer, I would just love loads of books to decorate my room to be honest!

Freshers Fair – What book would you recommend and give out to everyone at a Fresher Fair?

Amy: Apologies to those who have been following our blog for a while because you’ve probably heard this answer a million times! But it would have to be my favourite book ‘Eagle in the Sky’ by Wilbur Smith because it is such a wonderful book which I think all would enjoy.

Eleanor: I want to say an educational book, an inspirational book that opened my eyes, the one that comes to mind is All The Bright Places, but I’m sure there are plenty of others much more worthy.

Societies – What fandoms are you apart of? What fandoms would you like to be apart of?

Amy: Wayyyyy to many! Some of the classics like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and recently I have become apart of the Outlander and Once Upon a Time fandoms! If you haven’t yet watched these shows, I highly recommend that you do.

Eleanor: Wow, I’m part of loads of fandoms, but one that I’ve entered recently and thoroughly loving is Outlander!

Nights Out – Which fictional character(s) would be the most fun on a night out on the town?

Amy: I would love to go out with the Shadowhunter lot as I think they’d all be a good laugh and  I reckon they could take me to some pretty cool clubs!

Eleanor: Errrm, I’m not really one for a night out, I prefer a night in… so a character I would love to join me on a night in would be either a cool girlfriend to chat about boys with and drink hot chocolate like Samantha  from ‘My Life Next Door’. OR a strapping young gentleman to cuddle, like Jamie Fraser from ‘Outlander’

Freshers Flu – What’s your favourite film to watch/book to read when you’re not feeling well? 

Amy: Either a rom-com like P.S I Love You or a fantasy/dystopian adaptation like Divergent or Eragon!

Eleanor: Oh definitely Wild Child, that’s such a good film to watch when you’re poorly!

The Course: What book/author would you love to study at University?

Amy: I have to admit I only included this question so that I could brag about that the fact that I get to study Harry Potter and The Hunger Games on my course which I couldn’t believe as they are two of my favourite series and films. I would however loved to have studied the Outlander series because not only do I love the TV series and it’s characters but I really want to read the books and this would be a nice excuse to read them!

Eleanor: Basically exactly the same as Amy, except I don’t get to study Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, far from it actually.

Work, Work, Work – What book have you found hard to read?

Amy: Any book at the moment! I’ve got so much reading and work to do that I haven’t had time to read and even when I do have time I’m really tired. But I’ve got a reading week soon so I plan to read a few books then!

Eleanor: I hate to admit this but I’ve been trying to read Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas, but I am finding it really hard, not because it’s not good, but because it’s really complex and my brain can’t take it at the end of a long day.

To All Our Followers – A Life Update

Some of you may have noticed that we haven’t been very active for the past couple of weeks and that is because myself and Eleanor have both been getting prepared and sorted for University. Theses past weeks have been very hectic and stressful but it has all payed off and things are beginning to fit into place. Eleanor is now studying Midwifery at the University of West England in Bristol and moved in last weekend, and I will be studying English Literature at the University of Chester in October. Both of us are extremely excited for the next chapter of our lives and can’t wait to see where it takes us. But this may mean that our blog posts won’t be as frequent as we’ll have lots of work and from the size of my reading list I know that I probably won’t have much time for personal reading either. We will try our best to try and post as often as possible but we thought we better let our followers know why we weren’t posting as much! Thank you very much for all your support over the years and fingers crossed we will be able to keep the blog posts coming!

Lots of love,

Amy and Eleanor