Tag Archives: advice

Relationships: What’s it really like to have a boyfriend at university?

Photo by Francisco Osorio

Photo by Francisco Osorio

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d avoid the cheesy posts and instead offer some advice for young couples who are facing decisions over continuing a relationship at university. When I first received my acceptance letters, took those dreaded exams and realised I had got the results I wanted and needed to move on to the university life I had been dreaming about for the past two years of hard slog throughout A-levels. Everyone had been worried – my parents thought I wasn’t spending enough time on my work and revision because of my boyfriend and my friends were worried he would lead me astray. But I sure showed them when I got that A and three B’s – more than I needed to go to the University of Hertfordshire.

Again, my parents were worried about UoH being my first choice because it asked for a lot less UCAS points than I was predicted, even less than I received. I had chosen it based on the course content, the number of live researchers who would be my lecturers, the beautiful campus and accommodation, and of course the great feeling I had when looking around. I’ve always been one for going with my gut when decision-making, and from the second I walked on to the campus and looked around, I just knew this was the university for me. I refused to compromise this for courses that didn’t cover what I wanted to study and for accommodation that looked like a prison, and it worked well because I left with a 2.1 BA Hons in English Literature and Language and Communication.

Photo by Oleh Slobodeniuk

Photo by Oleh Slobodeniuk

But enough about all of that – this post is focusing on the fact that throughout all of my time at university, I stayed with my boyfriend while he lived and worked back at home. I have spoken to several girls since who were just heading off to university and just didn’t know how they would cope with having a boyfriend back at home while they studied – they didn’t know what it would be like. Just as I was asked for advice back then, I will give it again now.

University will test your relationship, probably beyond anything before this time. You will be madly in love with your boyfriend before you go and often can’t bear the thought of breaking up, but at the same time are ready for a whole new adventure – it’s a confusing time for many. For me, it was simple. I loved my boyfriend and wanted to stay with him regardless – I didn’t see why university would get in the way of that. Of course, distance plays a big part in this and I had chosen a university that was just two hours drive from my home town (not chosen because of boyfriend, just coincidence). But if you really want to make it work, it won’t matter the distance.

Becoming an independent woman:

You need to remember that you will be experiencing a whole new world of living away, new-found independence and freedom, making new friends, discovering new passions, keeping up with your course and lots and lots of partying. Your new schedule may not have space for boyfriend time at first with all of the nights out and busy days associated with Fresher’s Week (ours turned into a month). So you have to remember that your other half might find it a bit difficult at first – not only are you off having a new adventure without him, but you suddenly might not have much time for them. It is important to make the effort to keep them updated and make them feel a part of it as well, you wouldn’t like it if they disappeared off to get drunk with strangers for two weeks without speaking to you.

Photo by Elizabeth K

Photo by Elizabeth K

Time-management is the key

A lot of this first month of university (and the rest) is spent getting pretty drunk and the lectures often take up a lot less of your time with more work expected in your own time – often this time is spent in bed, hungover and watching rubbish TV. I know there is a lot of other work thrown in, otherwise how did I get that 2.1? But my point is that your schedules could end up the opposite of each other – I got to a point where I was up all night, either partying or in the library and would sleep most of the day when I wasn’t in lectures – I just seemed to work better at night. This was difficult when my boyfriend was at home working shifts at an engineering company because often I would want to drunk call him after a night out or text him all night but couldn’t because that would wake him up, likewise, he would text in the day but I would be asleep or in lectures. You need to find your own balance that will work for you as a couple.

Don’t forget the importance of alone time

One huge benefit of going to university is having your own space, perhaps you were both living with parents at home and struggled to get time to yourselves. Suddenly, you have your own room in a block of people that won’t disturb you – you can go off for dinner, or cook your own, lay in bed all day and watch movies or do whatever you want. This freedom is great after being interrupted every five minutes at home. Make the most of this time. We had it easier because my university was quite quiet at weekends with many people going home to work in London, so my boyfriend could come up and visit and often we would have the whole flat to ourselves. Likewise, I made sure to come home and visit both him and my family – in my third year I had a car at university so I could nip home at a moments notice, or likewise he could come to visit me without relying on the trains.

Photo by LetMeBeYourSwearWord

Photo by LetMeBeYourSwearWord


This is the main one I get asked about. Yes, there is a lot of temptation at university, especially if you like sweaty blokes who are wearing too much aftershave and have been daring their mates to down dirty pints without being sick on themselves. Not really my type thanks. For some girls, they might feel they are being left out of all the drunken snogging and sleeping around that comes with Freshers but what are you really missing out on other than the Walk of Shame while dressed as Superwoman (as one of my friends had to do) and a bout of chlamydia? It is possible to go to university and not sleep with everyone, it is possible to go on a night out and go home with your girls and a greasy burger, it is possible to spend a night in your own bed. There are a lot of girls out there who get drunk and just need some affection – this was the tough bit, being drunk and wanting to call your boyfriend because you miss him, but not being able to because he’s got work in two hours. But you deal with it and move on. There’s a hell of a lot of other stuff going on that you don’t need to concern yourself with all of this – but if you are tempted, them be sure to end the relationship before making a big mistake and hurting your partner.

Put simply – it is possible to have a happy, loving, long-distance relationship while at university. It isn’t always easy, but in the end it is more valuable than any one night stand. You will have wobbles and strops over seeing each other and missing each other, but you will also have amazing times that you will never forget and you will end up a lot stronger for it. My main advice is to be sure of what you want before you go but don’t be afraid to change your mind when you actually experience university life – choose what is best for you. If you think it is worth it, it probably is. I was two years into my relationship when I went to university and now we are coming up to our eighth anniversary.

Have you been faced with a big decision over whether to break off a relationship or stay together at university? What did you choose?


Tick tock says the clock – but how do you fit it all in?

I am the beginning of the end, and the end of time and space. I am essential to creation, and I surround every place. What am I?

I’ve had a few people comment lately on how I can possibly manage to fit everything I do into each week. One woman that I work with was astonished that I manage to work full time, write and edit a festival website, run a blog, go to the gym several times a week and get on with my NCTJ training as well as having a busy social life. Well, I can’t be the only person out there burning the candle at both ends to fit everything in, especially if you’re having to follow your passion outside of a job that is not quite as fulfilling as they might like. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I manage to do it and keep it going, but here are some of my top tips for keeping track of everything and managing your time well:

  1. Most importantly, buy a diary. Make sure it has plenty of space to write your jobs for each day and USE it. Don’t just stick to it for a week. If you tend to flit from job to job without finishing things then make sure you tick something off before you move onto the next thing. Set yourself the task of writing all your jobs for the day in each morning and then work your way through them – it might be hard at first, but after a while you’ll wonder how you ever managed without a diary for your appointments. It’s also great for keeping track of all your nights out, meals with friends, work do’s etc so that you don’t end up getting double-booked.
  2. The to-do list is very important when it comes to time management -you need to go into each day with a list of everything you must achieve in order to have any concept of how much you have achieved by the end of the day. Each morning when I arrive at work, I set myself a list of targets and jobs that need doing – no matter how small it is important to list them so you get the pleasure of a job well done when you tick it off your list. I then make sure any social engagements are listed and training time, then after this I list time for blogging/editing/writing. By setting it out into a new timetable each day, it is easy to change according to how demanding your work/social schedule happens to be that week – a steady timetable is hard to keep with if, like me, you are quite a spontaneous person.
  3. Refuse to give up your social life and the things you enjoy. It is important to stay balanced and spend time doing the things you enjoy as well as grafting, otherwise you lose your motivation and rewards system. The way to use this is to use the naughty step/Pavlov’s dogs theory of good behaviour = reward, while lack of work = punishment. Train yourself to understand that by putting the work in, you deserve your time to kick back and relax. I tend to spend three nights a week working on coursework, with the other two week nights spent at the gym and writing for my blog – these are my treat nights.
  4. Prioritise – you must always realise that the work you are being paid for and that which will pay off more in the long run (i.e. training) are more important – even if they are more boring or less satisfying. You are lucky to have a job in the current climate and must not let your work suffer because you want to stay up all night blogging. Be responsible and it will pay off.
  5. Use your lunch breaks wisely. I work in the town centre so it is bloody tempting to go out every lunchtime and spend my hard earned wages on useless crap or clothes I don’t need. I went through several months of this when I started, but now I am trying to make the most of the hour by using it to study my law books and shorthand, and blogging/editing the website. It means that spending an hour doing the website at work gives me an extra hour free when I am home in the evening to be spent at the gym or doing something else.
  6. Don’t feel bad for saying no. This is the hardest one for me, which I really struggle with even now. I hate disappointing people or letting them down by saying no to a social engagement – even if I really cannot afford it/have the time to do it. I always feel bad for letting people down, but when you have a lot of friends in different social groups, it is difficult to share out your limited social time between them. Let them know that they mean a lot to you and that you are sorry, then make plans to spend time with them in the coming weeks when you are a bit freer. Again, you could use the lunch breaks or gym time wisely by combining gossip catch up with a bite to eat or a workout. Look for ways to combine jobs and duties.
  7. No matter how much you love your blogging/writing/editing/creative activities, remember that they are solo activities. We humans are social creatures and you must remember to put the people in your life above all else every now and again – don’t miss out on social occasions because of a blog post that could have waited – you’ll regret it in the long run.
  8. Create a network of useful friends in similar fields – for example, I run the entertainment section of the newspaper and have worked hard to build a packed little black book of contacts in theatre, music, dance, arts etc – not only have I made the contacts, but I have maintained them by making the odd phone call to catch up, meeting for a quick coffee and so on, to make these contacts feel valued and to make sure that I am the first on their list when it comes to latest news and updates. By doing small and steady amounts to maintain these friendships, they pay off a lot by providing me with plenty of material for each week’s paper without my hours of searching for stories.
  9. Put yourself first every once in a while. It is easy to get swept up in keeping all these jobs going and making sure you are up to speed with everything. It’s bloody exhausting. Give yourself a little time off every now and again. A few days away from all work, no checking emails, stay off social networks and keep your mind on other things. Relax and forget it all.
  10. The second most important thing – you must want to do it. So many people fail to fit everything in because they lack the motivation and can’t really be bothered. You have to really want to do everything and to want to do it well – otherwise you will end up doing an average job at everything rather than impressing in all areas. And no-one wants to be average!

Hope these tips help you – this was all I could think of. But I really think it is down to the individual as we all have our own ways of working efficiently. What works for me might not suit you, and vice versa. What is your top tip for managing your time well?


(And the answer to the riddle is the letter E)



Age is just a number – and you better believe it!

I, as I’m sure many university graduates and young people, am getting rather frustrated with being patronised.

It is incredibly disrespectful, and seems to be a growing problem as I enter the working world. They always said while I was growing up, “respect your elders”, but respect works both ways and is necessary if anything productive is going to be achieved.

I understand fully that as a recent entrant into the world of journalism I am very naive and lacking knowledge of many aspects of the journalistic world, such as law and public affairs, and will remain so until I have completed my diploma. But it would be nice to be given credit for what I do know rather than being patronised and questioned at length.

I think that graduates who are entering the working world need to remember their worth – while I understand that each and every one of us must be prepared to start at the bottom of the ladder and pay our dues – we also have to remember not to give everything away at once, not to work beyond our means just to satisfy a new boss when they are expecting us to do far beyond our expected workload.

It is so easy to get stuck into a routine of working up to an extra three hours a day now that we are in a recession and companies are short staffed. If you arrive early to work and start immediately, work through your lunch and stay late at the end of the day, you are essentially giving up your life for a job that – at the end of the day – might just make you redundant or the company may go under at any time with such an unpredictable economy.

I have done this cycle and received no thanks for all my extra efforts – always claim your time back – and now I choose not to do this. I will work extra, but always take the time back. Just because people are older and more experienced in whatever your field, it doesn’t mean they know more than you – they just know different stuff! You are coming into the industry with a more modern and younger viewpoint, you have a fresh take on old ideas, you have new knowledge of the digital world we now live in whereas the older generation in your office – or those more set in their ways – might struggle.

I actually run the website in my office and am the go-to person for all things digital. It is important to make yourself indispensable (even the editor comes to ask me questions) but don’t give them lots of extra because they will come to expect it – and trust me you will get no thanks!

The problem is that now I am finding, and friends of mine, that the reaction to this attitude and knowledge is sometimes that other members of the office become patronising towards me. They pass it off as a joke, but their comments are out of order and certainly not funny. To any other graduates out there experiencing the same thing – don’t put up with it, but certainly don’t cause a problem about it. Just continue being endlessly helpful and proving them wrong by showing them how they are failing at certain things you know more about.

Never doubt your abilities because you have as much knowledge and as many ideas as any other member of the office. It is easy to let things like this get to you, heaven knows I do, but hey, look at me – I’ve just been made an editor at 23-years-old! Look at your qualities and assess their worth before you let anyone else beat you down – your age doesn’t mean you are worth any less!

Challenging myself to workout harder with a treat of new gym clothes – with your help!

Can anyone suggest where I should head to buy some fabulous, but reasonably priced, workout clothes? I’ve been wearing the same ones for years and think it’s about time to treat myself to some new ones as an early Christmas present considering how much time I spend there. Am hoping that the clothes will help inspire me to be more adventurous with my workouts and they will also be helpful for when I start these new bootcamp and yoga classes with my friends. If anyone has any suggestions, I would be really grateful! Love the stuff on Sweaty Betty, but much too expensive now that my sister isn’t working there and can’t get me discount now! Hope you can help me, fellow bloggers!