Return to London

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little apprehensive about moving back to London to start my second year of university. The comforts of home are hard to leave, especially when you’ve been enjoying them for almost four months. I didn’t expect to be renting out a little room in a flat in Tower Bridge – my original plans were to share a house with friends, but my semester in New Zealand next year would have caused to much problems with that. But my room is light and airy – a welcome change from the blue floors and bright yellow walls of last year’s student accommodation – and the location I’m in is amazing. Over the last couple of days, I’ve had a chance to explore some of the local sights, and any apprehension about living here has dissipated. London is amazing.

 

I invited some of my family up to visit me and see my new place today, and we had a really good time exploring the local area. I’ve pretty much fallen in love with the exhibition at The Tower of London remembering the fallen soldiers from the war. They’re in the process of “planting” 888,246 hand made ceramic poppies in the moat, each commemorating a British fatality. After the installation ends in November, each of the poppies will be sold for £25 each, and all of the proceeds will be split equally amongst six different charities helping soldiers and their families. By my calculations, they’ll raise over £22 million in doing so, which is incredible. The poppies at the Tower of LondonI also had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Natural History for the first time, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I was really looking forward to seeing the dinosaur exhibition, but unfortunately it was incredibly busy… Which is the problem with visiting on a Sunday during the school holidays. But it won’t be difficult for me to visit again on a quieter day. I did get to go into their current butterfly exhibition, which is a temporary greenhouse filled with hundreds of butterflies of different species. They didn’t appear to be afraid of us humans at all, and often flew straight past my head or even landed on other people. I managed to get a photo of a really beautiful looking one.

Butterfly @ Museum of Natural HistoryI suppose it’s just easy to forget how amazing it is to be so close to so many interesting places.

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Confession: I Miss My Mum

I confess: I miss my mum.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love university. I feel like I’ve spent the past five years of my like working hard at things I didn’t necessarily enjoy in the hopes that it would pay off when it came to university. I’ve wanted so desperately to get into a top university all my life, and, now I’m here, it feels like everything is sliding into place. I’m studying at one of the world’s top twenty universities, and, despite having moved here over a month ago, I still want to yell “I got in! I got in” from the rooftops.

But there’s one side effect to getting my dream that I didn’t quite anticipate: missing my mum. I came down with the freshers flu (which, if you were wondering, is really just a nasty cold) pretty quickly. I felt so run down that I went to see my GP, only to be told to get some rest and boost up on my vitamin C – stuff I was already doing. Right then, all I wanted was to go complain to my mum. I wanted a hug and a blanket and a hot cup of tea and, I’ll admit it, I wanted some sympathy. It sucked. At home, I’d taken all of these things for granted. I might have had to make the cup of tea myself, but it was still there.

Since then, I’ve begun to appreciate (even more than I did before, which was a lot) how much my mum has done for me. Who knew cooking for yourself every night was so hard? And cleaning up after yourself when you’re done? It’s a nightmare. I thought I couldn’t possibly dislike washing up any more than I did before – but, alas, I was wrong. There are all sorts of things that a household needs to stay functional, boring things that I never remember to put on my shopping list. I am astounded by the amount of toilet roll I go through by myself, having been used to a stocked up bathroom my whole life. There are all of these tiny little things that my mum did that made a difference to me – things I never even thought about.

So, whilst I was already very thankful for my mum – who has been there for me through everything I can possibly remember – I feel like I appreciate her a little more now. And it makes me miss her, because, whilst she is only a phone call away if I need some moral support, I no longer have her around to help with those really little things in life.

The Social Mechanics of Freshers’ Week

Starting university is something that nobody can truly tell you about. It’s an entirely different experience for everyone: some will travel across the world to attend their dream school, whereas some will pick one that’s closer to home. Regardless of whether you’re starting anew or not, beginning university is most likely one of the strangest things that you’ll ever do – purely because it is so exciting and scary at the same time.

Moving away from home is an incredibly big step to take. It’s not something that you’ll ever forget, and, for the lucky ones, it’s an amazing experience. Luckily, there’s something there for you move in to distract you from any worries or fears you might have: freshers’ week. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? A week designed specifically so that you can meet as many people and have as much fun as is humanly possible in a very short space of time. Surely it’s the perfect way to begin a venture that requires you to leave everything you know and love behind.

But it is so, so much more than that. It is indeed an experience like no other – but it’s perhaps not as perfect as it is made out to be. Whilst meeting new people, going to new places and trying new things certainly play a massive part in freshers’ week – there’s also far more going on behind the scenes.

What I found particularly remarkable is the way that, as soon as the alcohol gets pumping through people’s veins, the social rules that govern normal, civilised society no longer seem to apply. Some of this adds to the overall experience: it’s overwhelmingly refreshing to be able to walk up to a stranger, introduce yourself and walk away having made a friend. There’s nothing quite like dancing with somebody you’ve just met or the joy of realising that that the person you’ve lived next door to for a day is probably going to be your friend for the rest of your life.

Apparently, though, this means it’s perfectly okay for us to treat each other like objects. Freshers’ week is hyped up to be filled with freebies, new places, new people, alcohol, and sex. And sex is something that seems to be on the back of everyone’s drunken minds at freshers’ week.

For the single girls and guys who are looking to have a little fun – it’s great. But for those who are already in a relationship or aren’t looking for anything, it’s entirely frustrating. Where student clubbing is involved, there seems to be a universal assumption that everybody is single, and that everybody is looking for the guy or girl of their dreams to whisk them away – if only for a night. Having somebody assume that you are single and interested could either be a lot of fun, or a recipe for disaster.

Consent is something that is discussed a lot where sex is involved – but what about what comes before? Because I am not okay with somebody grabbing my waist and assuming that I want to dance with them. I am not okay with somebody touching me intimately at all – whether it’s holding my hand or squeezing my bum. It is not okay for anybody to assume that touching a stranger like that is acceptable, whether you’re a guy or a girl.

And maybe I’m being a party pooper here – but really, am I asking for much if I expect somebody to ask before they take me for a dance?

One giant leap

A week or two ago, I finally moved to the city of my dreams: London. So far it has been rather like a whirlwind experience: I have met so many new people I am struggling to remember who is who within a minute of meeting them. Maybe that’s my memory, though. I’ve been to cheap student bars and clubs that you can see all the glory of the Thames from (including the London eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament). I’ve started a course that I am absolutely in love with and I am well on my way to becoming a fully fledged student.

I am now living with seven complete strangers, all from different parts of the world and studying different things. It’s an experience to say the least – we have not yet become accustomed to washing up everything after eating, and it seems as though our kitchen is perpetually covered with dirty dishes. My bedroom walls are yellow – a shade that almost looks green in bad light – which I am slowly growing to hate, and I live five floors up from a busy road. At the moment, I’m sealing my ears up with ear plugs every night to save me from being woken up by police sirens or drunken lunatics at the pub just over the road.

So, so far there are ups and downs to my London experience. I had my first bout of homesickness today. I’d been trying to start my first essay of the academic year all day (it’s surprisingly difficult to work out where to begin, let alone to actually write it) and I started to feel tired and a little sick. All I wanted in that moment was my nice, big, cosy bed back home to cuddle up in – preferably with my boyfriend there, too. Unfortunately going home wasn’t an option, so, instead, I had a little cry and took a nap. It worked like a charm. I’ll give my mum a ring tomorrow and catch up on the happenings of life without me, and hopefully I’ll nip the homesick thing in the bud.

I’m trying to get into the habit of writing more often, so (fingers crossed) I should be devoting a lot more time to this little blog. I apologise that there is a startling lack of anything beauty or book wise here – but I’ll try update again soon! So far, university life has not left me with much time to get dolled up or do some leisurely reading. But if anyone wants a review of a linguistics textbook, let me know and I’ll be happy to deliver!

I will leave you with one little nugget of joy I found in one such textbook:

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, lough and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead –
For goodness sake don’t call it “deed”!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt)
– T.S.W. quoted in Mackay (1970)

Today’s face #1

I figure I should introduce myself quickly rather than jumping straight into a blog post. I’m Olivia and I’m eighteen years old. Nice to meet you. I am three weeks away from moving to London – so, unfortunately, this blog isn’t quite about life with London just yet. It’s more like life waiting for London at the moment! I’ve just got a place at King’s College, London to study English Language, and I’m really excited about it. I’d love for you guys to stick around and follow me on my journey there.

Today, though, I’m going to say goodbye to some of my closest friends. I’m going on a triple date with my two best friends and all of our boyfriends, which will be really lovely. We’re heading to Nando’s for some spicy chicken and a good catch up, and to finally introduce our three boyfriends to each other. Unfortunately, it’s quite likely to be the last time I get to see them all before I move. We’re all so busy we have trouble finding a time when we’re all free! I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow. But without further ado, here is my face for today.FACE1-2

The products I used were:

  1. Benefit boing concealer, shade 02
  2. Benefit PORE professional
  3. SUN SENSE daily face invisible tint finish moisturiser
  4. No. 7 beautiful eyebrow pencil in brown
  5. E.L.F eye primer and liner sealer
  6. E.L.F duo eyeshadow cream in mocha swirl
  7. E.L.F eyeliner and shadow stick in brown
  8. EMITE eyelash curler
  9. Jelly Pong Pong fairy lashes mascara
  10. E.L.F lipstick in fiery fuchsia
  11. Pout Paint lip stain in rosette
  12. E.L.F mineral blush in coral

Now, I really love all of these products. But I’d definitely recommend Pout Paint – I just love how bright it is! I love having bright lips, and Pout Paint will last for ages. It’s very highly pigmented, meaning that you only need a little of it to achieve good results. And, at £4.99, it’s pretty cheap for such a good product. I really love that you can mix it with other colours of Pout Paint and any other lipstick you want to spice up a little. I mixed mine with E.L.F’s lipstick in fiery fuchsia. It might be called fuchsia, but it’s not really a bright pink. I didn’t want the complete pop of the Pout Paint today, so I mixed this neutral pink with it.

What’s your favourite thing to do with your lipsticks?

The beginning of an era, and the end of another.

Today was my last shift ever at House of Cards, the card and gift shop I have worked at since I was fifteen years old. I feel like I’m leaving a second family behind me – all these years have given us plenty of time to bond and build some wonderful memories. Alas, it is time for me to move on – I can’t be tidying cards forever!

In just under four short weeks I will be moving to the bustling city that is London. It is home to thousands of people and stories, and I will be joining them. It’s truly a dream come true to be studying in a city that is so full of culture and life, and I’m delighted to be joining King’s College. I’ll be studying English Language and Communication at one of the best universities in the world, in one of the best cities in the world. What more can I ask for?

So, naturally, I’ve been stocking up on all of the necessities and luxuries I want to take with me, and my makeup collection got a lovely addition this week. I ordered a makeup bundle from Eye Lips Face for £28 (including postage) and got a selection of makeup worth over £100 – a total bargain, if you ask me! The bundle contained 30 different products which were mainly eyeshadows of different types – some were glitter, some were baked and some were mineral. I’m planning on testing out the products I got over the week and posting some reviews. But I tried out some of their gorgeous body shimmers today.

I received all four colours theelfy offer in my little package. The body shimmer seems like a strange thing to an amateur like myself – it almost looks like coloured solid deodorant – except it doesn’t go on your armpits. It doesn’t smell, either. It is literally a solid block of colour that you can carefully apply to your face. In fact, it could also work as an eyeshadow or lip colour if you used a brush with it. I used it as a blush by wiping a little onto my face and then blending it with my fingers. I adore the cosmic coral colour – it creates a gorgeous, subtle pink that lasts for hours. I’d definitely say that a little goes a long way, though. It’d be pretty easy to go overboard and start looking a little more like a clown than you expected.

The blazing bronze colour is definitely darker than it looks on the website. I’d say it’d be really good with darker skin tones that are complimented by a dark, rich bronzer. I have pretty fair skin, though, so I’ll be using it sparingly. If lightly applied and properly blended, it provides a deep summer glow. I’m not sure I’ll be using it as a lipstick, but it’ll be a perfect eyeshadow and bronzer. The golden glow colour has a similar effects, but it is lighter and golden rather than brown. It’s a little more subtle, but it’s also more sparkly – so perhaps suitable for a night out where have a sparkly face won’t look out of place. The bronze is also shimmery, but more subtly so.bodyshimmers

Finally, there’s mystic moonlight. This is a really, really light colour when it’s put on your skin. I wouldn’t recommend it for those with darker skins as it might make you look a little pasty if it’s too heavily applied. But it works perfectly as a highlighter or an eyeshadow. Again, I wouldn’t try it as a lipstick, but I tend to stray away from lighter lipsticks anyway. It’s nice and shimmery and will be perfect for highlighting the areas you want to draw attention to, and downplaying those you don’t.

All in all, I would say that my favourite colour is the cosmic coral. It’s pretty and will be suitable all year round, and you can use it in a variety of ways. I’ll be incorporating all four colours into my makeup repertoire, though. All four are only £3.75 at E.L.F, and, at that price, are an absolute bargain. A little goes a long way with these things so the 9.9g you’re buying are sure to last a while. I’d definitely recommend investing your money in them! And, if you’re interested in the bundle I got, you can find it here. There’s only 1000 of them available though, so get it quickly!

What’s your favourite beauty bargain?