In study

My Advice to New A Level Students

I am about to go into my second year of A Levels, having struggled my way through the first year. I hope I can help any of you who are starting sixth form this September. Good luck to you all!

Use your frees wisely

At the beginning of the year, even at the end of the year now that I think about it, many people in my year spent their free periods socialising then having to do their work at the last minute. I then watched as they stressed out later on and panicked. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet or anything but I’m quite happy with the way I’ve used my frees this year. I tried to do all the work I had whilst I was in college so I could have the evening to relax. This stopped later on as revision started, but I think it really helped me keep calm at the beginning. Obviously, there’ll be days when you want to go outside and socialise and you should – just make sure you get your work done as well as taking breaks and being mindful of your mental health.

Get a planner

My planner is my lifeline. I honestly don’t know how I would last more than a day without it. I get it out at the beginning of every lesson and I have my life in there. I use it for planning blog posts, homework, coursework, monthly goals, making notes of events in my personal/social life, my D of E (when I did it) as well as paid work and the day to day to-do lists I use to keep myself productive. Time management is a key skill you will learn when you start your A Levels and a planner is something that helped me (and my friends) a lot with keeping on top of everything. It doesn’t have to be expensive or even a physical object, some people prefer to use apps like Reminders or Calendar to help them manage their workload, you just have to figure what suits you.

Speak to your teachers

They’re there to help. Ask the question you think is stupid, it might help in your exam. Give them practice answers you’ve written and make sure you have something to work on. Ask them for help on any areas that you’re stuck on, They’re there to help. They’re literally getting paid to help you. Obviously, don’t go to them constantly. You are meant to be more independent at A Level but your teachers will still help you when you need it.

Do some sort of wider reading

A Level requires a lot more than GCSE did. Read around your subject in any way possible to give your background information which will improve your understanding, your coursework (if you have it in your subject) and your exam answers. For example, in A Level Government & Politics, a lot of examples are required and wider reading provides the examples that are needed. In English, reading lots of texts in relation to the texts you actually study helps you understand those curriculum texts better and develop your interpretations of them.

Wider reading doesn’t have to be daunting or stressful. It could be in the form of documentaries (for politics, documentaries such as Meet the Commons and Meet the Lords), TV shows (e.g. Question Time or the News), the newspapers, apps (for languages etc.), books (both fiction and non-fiction), films, podcasts, YouTube videos. The list is endless. Don’t take on too much at the beginning, you can build it up and change the amount you’re doing to suit your workload. Keep a note of what you’re reading, you could mention it in your personal statement.

Secure work experience early

Believe me, you’ll need some sort of work experience before you finish sixth form. Get as much as you can (obviously within reason, don’t spend your whole time doing work experience and manage your A Level work, that’s your priority) in the relevant field. You can use it, and what you’ve learned from it in your personal statement if you want to go to university. If you don’t want to go to university, it will still be useful as experience when applying for jobs or apprenticeships. Any experience in the right area will do you a lot of good in the long run. Get it organized early on then you won’t have the extra stress of finding a position late along with everyone else who didn’t think about it earlier.

Take your learning into your own hands

You are given a lot less support by your teachers at A Level – it’s a fact no matter what school or college you attend. You become a lot more independent and whilst your teachers should provide you help when you need it, you shouldn’t be relying on them. Look up the mark schemes and extra details for yourself. Look ahead at what you’re going to be studying. Revise the content without being prompted by your teacher in homework. Once you take proper control of your studies and learning, you will benefit most from your own individualized approach.

I wish you the best of luck if you are starting A Levels – they’re going to be very hard, stressful and you’ll probably have a few breakdowns at the least, but you can pull through it still. Support your friends, help your classmates and talk to your family.  Remember: your mental health is priority – it’s okay to take the odd day off here and there to help you cope with the stress you’re under.

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In feminism films

Why We Need to Stop Making Women-Only Reboots

Women in film has been a huge discussion lately, particularly in the last few years. Films such as Ghostbusters and Ocean’s Eleven (not yet released) having reboots with all-female casts, with a pressures for a future female James Bond being applied from lots different areas (including actors who want to take on the iconic role), has put the issue into the spotlight and have been named as huge steps forward for feminism. Really?

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I personally am not a big fan of the idea of women-only reboots, particularly that of films that are already iconic and adored by millions of loyal fans – women most definitely included within that fan base! The characters that these women are taking on are already well established, setting them up for failure in the audiences’ mind as they have pre-built expectations of what the character should be, leaving the actor little room to interpret a character they may want to experiment with. There will inevitably be some disappointment. And fingers will point at the fact that that character is now a woman, not the way she is written or the plot of the actual film or the direction. If there’s a woman involved, that’s seen as the only problem.

I enjoy the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters. I find it fun to watch, have seen it a few times and no doubt that I’ll see it many more times in the future. It’s a family favourite now. My dad, a huge fan of the original, even said to me that he likes it as much as the original. You can imagine how much I was impressed by that statement. But I enjoy the original as well. And I don’t necessarily feel like the reboot really brought anything to the story overall. For a discussion on this film, in particular, I would definitely recommend watching Hazel Hayes’ video on it.

I’m fed up with all-female casted reboots of films that don’t need it. For some reason that is viewed by a lot of the media as a breakthrough in the name of feminism, when it really isn’t. We need to first ask ourselves how diverse these apparently progressive films are, and the way they present women of all backgrounds as well as the reception they receive. Suddenly switching male characters to female ones doesn’t do much in reality – in fact, it seems lazy. Why implant femininity on characters that have been pre-made in a more masculine way when you could just make a brand new, well developed and interesting female character? An original that has no pre-conceived perceptions attached to her.

I just want people to stop recycling male characters and start creating believable, representative and interesting fictional women that audiences can get invested in. That’s all I want. Plleeasssee...

If you liked this post you might like: 'Women's Fiction'

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In books brand review

The Metropolis of Glass by Chloe Lee | Review

A while ago, I was sent The Metropolis of Glass by Chloe Lee from the lovely people at Troubador Publishing. I have to admit that I only actually read it last week as my reading for A Levels kind of got in the way. The life of a student blogger, right?

The Metropolis of Glass is a poetry book written by Chloe Lee, a young poet I’d never heard of before. It was an easy read, there’s no doubt about that. I read it in about 3 days, although in actual time it was more like less than two hours. If you’re just getting into poetry, this may be a good place to start; it’s someone unknown (relatively, obviously now you know her name) with easy messages and relatively short (I mean, in comparison to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, for example). I personally found Lee’s poetry a bit frustrating due to those reasons, however.

I found this poetry collection to be, I hate to say it, average at best. Nothing shocked me, no lines struck me at my core, made me think about something I’d never thought to think about before or brought me back to a certain point in my life. I found it annoying that the meanings were so blatant and didn’t initially spark much further thought. The meanings of the poems I found quite annoying as well, I mean there’s nothing necessarily better about a non-digitalised world, just saying. Many of the poems had a similar tone. This becomes increasingly obvious with each listed triad of either nouns, adjectives, verbs or adverbs (only one type of word at a time) in practically every poem. This just gets boring after a while. I can cope with that kind of listing in one poem but when it becomes the poet’s trademark I just start rolling my eyes each time I see one list.

Okay, rant over.

It was a fairly easy read so I would recommend it if you’re looking for some easy to understand poetry. If you’re looking for something more advanced and well crafted, then maybe look somewhere else. I will continue to look out for Lee’s work, probably more in the hope that I can read something that is an improvement on this (sorry Chloe Lee if you’re reading this).

If you liked this post you might like: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote | Review

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In 5 Fridays travel

5 Tips for When Your Flight is Cancelled

A few weeks ago, after a lovely holiday in Berlin, my flight back was cancelled and rescheduled to the next day. I think it’s fair to say I learned from that experience. If you’re reading this you may be in the same situation, so here are some tips that should be useful - they helped me at least.

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1. Know what you’re entitled to

My mum sent me this link almost as soon as I told her I was stranded for 24 hours. Citizens’ Advice sets out everything you’re legally entitled to varying by how long your delay is. It’s so useful, especially when you're badgering the airport staff to ensure you get everything you should. That includes food, drink, a hotel for the night and taxis to get there and back.

2. Do something you know calms you down

This is such a personal thing. One of my friends had a breakdown, yelled some Bible verses and was okay after a few minutes. Another one read us her favourite poem, which seemed oddly fitting to the situation. I’m not quite sure what I did. I probably made some jokes that weren’t funny, let’s be honest. The first thing I did was FaceTime my family, to let them know what was going on. Do whatever suits you but make sure you keep an eye on what others may be feeling, particularly people you may know to have mental health problems. Do something that will make it easier for them.

3. Keep all your receipts

You shouldn’t have to be buying the things you are. Make sure you keep any receipts so that you can claim the money back afterwards. Obviously, this doesn’t count for luxury items like alcohol or electronics, despite how much we may want it to. Keep track of everything, no matter how big or small.

4. Eat something

Particularly if you have a long delay. Make sure you eat like you normally would and don’t let the sudden change affect your physical health. In fact, eating will help you stay calm, meaning you can handle the situation in a much better way.

5. Make the most of your hotel!

You’re there for free, make use of everything you can. You’ll probably need to check out by their normal time, but that shouldn’t stop you. Have as big a breakfast as possible and stock up. When I was stuck in Berlin I took everything I could, right down to the box of tissues I the bathroom (which I have next to me on my desk) and a box of shoe cleaner which I’ll probably never use.

If you liked this post you might like: 5 (1/2) Days in Berlin

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In politics

Why You Should Support the Greens

If anyone ever asks me what the hell the Greens are even meant to be about, I always have the same response: they’re Labour, but better. Sorry to any Labour devotees out there, but I prefer my socialism with a hint of breathable oxygen, thank you very much.

The Greens are perhaps the smallest of the well-known parties, if you don’t count UKIP, but are rarely given much attention by the media – definitely when in comparison to UKIP, who seem to be featured almost constantly (but no bitterness) despite their lack of MP, which I think is not what they deserve.

The Greens are often stereotyped as a bunch of tree-hugging hippies, and I’m not going to lie, that is the kind of aesthetic that I love and my outfits reflect at times, and that means that the party isn’t really taken seriously a lot of the time. I just want to say, most Green party supports don’t fit that description and there’s a whole lot more to the Green party than the stereotypes that surround it.

The party (not in the 1984 sense, I and the Greens are not about all that government totalitarian control) are advocates for free movement and acceptance, and how an open and progressive society can have a close relationship with the environment that its people live in. They push for ways to make the UK a democracy that’s, well, more democratic. To me, giving power to the people (yes I just sang that as I wrote it) is one of the most important things there is. What’s the use of having a government if it doesn’t do as their electorate wishes?

But what is the point in a government, in the end, if it has no state to govern? That’s why we need a green approach to politics, so we have a thriving environment and living through a sustainable means, which would allow us to have a happier, healthier society – one that accepts and embraces each other’s differences and builds each other up.

But I’m just a tree-hugging hippy, so maybe that’s all tosh.

If you liked this post you might like: My Thoughts on the General Election

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