Tuesday, 30 September 2014

September Check-In

Hello lovelies!

I know. It's been awhile...school and other unexpected responsibilities took over my life so I've been super busy, with very little time to blog (or engage in other forms of social media). Anyhoo, how did everyone get on with their September goals? Here's how I got on with mine.

(Haven't a clue what I'm talking about? Check out this post!)

#1 Train for a 5K race
Surprisingly, I kept up with this. I got into into a routine of running 3 mornings a week before class. Unfortunately I won't be able to compete in the race as I had hoped :( but I am going to continue with the training and try run the 5K distance by myself. I quite enjoy running in the morning. I have so much energy and better concentration during class, it's incredible!

#2 Read two books this month
I only read one this month - The Thing Around Your Neck - a collection of short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I really liked this book, it's so simply written with enjoyable story lines.

#3 Two blog posts and comment on 5+ blogs a week
This was such a FAIL. Ha. (I need to sort out a posting schedule...and my life!) I did actually interact very well on a few blogs in the first couple of weeks, so that was good. :D

#4 Consistency
I did very well on this on the aspect of running and fitness, so I'm glad about that. I still need to keep at it though!

Overall, it's not so bad. There are areas I definitely need to work on. My plans for October are to:

- Continue with the 5K training
- Try out a new exercise activity
- Blog more often - once a week seems more reasonable

With all that said....October come at me brah!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

College Series #3: How NOT to go broke while in university

Learning how to manage our finances is one of the life lessons that we as students must learn. College education is costly and if we aren't careful, we can incur a serious amount of debt. From the moment I began university, I was bombarded with various financial advice from different sources (I'm sure it's the same thing in most universities). I've whittled down all the information that I've gathered in my own experience into 10 essential tips on how NOT to go broke while in university.

  1. Find out about all the financial aid available in your college that you can apply for, such as grants, scholarships, bursaries etc
  2. Start budgeting. It doesn't have to be fancy. Calculate your available income and from that deduct the cost of items that must be paid for such as bills, rent, travel etc. The amount left over is your dispensable income i.e how much you can spend on yourself for entertainment, clothes etc
  3. Begin the habit of SAVING. Avoid splurging and save towards a particular item. Is there a new handbag you have your eye on? Use that as your motivation to save instead of splurging on the item and feeling guilty about it afterwards.
  4. Shop around for the best deals. Here in Ireland, sites like GroupOn have great deals on various things.
  5. Always ask if shops do student discounts. Shops such as New Look and TopShop in Ireland give 10% student discount - always ask at the checkout!
  6. Don't hang with big spenders. Some students have parents with deep pockets. If you know you aren't able to keep up with their kind of spending, stay in your own lane. Don't live outside of your means to keep up appearances. It isn't worth it.
  7. Get real with your expenses. Figure out the areas where you are spending unnecessarily and break those habits. Is it buying bottled water? Buy yourself a water bottle and refill as you need. Is it on food? Bring in your own lunch/food - spending €5 a day on food certainly adds up!
  8. Cheap entertainment is always good. We all want to have fun without breaking the bank. Want to catch a movie? Find out the student deals available in the cinema. Going on a night out? Put yourself on the cheaplists/gueslists. A lot of clubs do free entry before a certain time. Never bring your debit/credit card out on a night-out - very bad idea. Your transport money and the amount you want to spend on the night is all you need.
  9. Buy used textbooks. University books cost a fortune, one can easily spend €500 buying new textbooks! Ask around in your college/university for a second hand bookshop. Amazon is also amazing for second hand books. Before you buy, make sure the book is an absolute requirement!
  10. Look for ways to earn money. Dont have a job? Start your own business. Offering lessons in musical instruments, secondary school subjects are great ways to earn cash. Find a particular service that you can offer and charge people for it! I used to tutor secondary school kids in certain subjects and I earned good money that way. Keep your eyes open for once-off jobs on campus. There's always money lurking about to be earned!
I hope this helps someone. Don't fret too much about money. There's much more to life than that. 

"The art is not in making money, but in keeping it"

Thursday, 4 September 2014

September - A Fresh Start!

It's the month of September already! Can you believe it? I feel like it was just two weeks ago that we celebrated New Years and now we're in to the "-ember" months. I'll be honest, I've been SLACKING on the health and fitness front, I haven't been as committed as much as I would like. September means back-to-school season and as a child I was always excited for back-to-school season - new clothes, new books, new things etc. So in the spirit of the season I decided to regroup, give myself a fresh start and set myself some goals!

1. Train for a 5K race
When I was trying to lose weight, it was easier to stay on top of exercising because I had a goal. But now that I achieved my goal, it's been hard to maintain the healthy lifestyle, I let myself go halfway through summer. To get back on track, I've decided to start outdoor running (I usually run on the treadmill). I've always liked running, it's an easy form of cardio so I'm hoping to compete in my very first race! It's a 5K race (Run in the Dark Dublin). My goal is to be able to run 5K by the 12th November (the day of the race). I'll be using the C25K app - an app which trains you to be able to run 5K over a period of 8 weeks.

2. Read two books a month
I loved to read when I was younger, but as I grew older my academics took up more and more of my time and I had less time to read. I recently rediscovered my love for books and actually I finished a novel last week - Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I have one word for this book - amaaaazing! I really can't get into it, it would require it's own blog post.

3. Write a minimum of two blog posts and comment on 5+ blogs a week 
I'm still a newbie to the blogosphere so I should post and interact with other bloggers more regularly to help increase my readership. But I haven't. I have no excuses really, just plain old laziness. That's going to change by the grace of God.

4. Be more consistent
Consistency is my major struggle at the moment. I've been on a plateau for some time when in fact, I should be making progress as regards fitness. This basically means I need to be more consistent with my  workouts...and stop having so many cheat days!

These goals are not just for the month of September, but for the next couple of months. I'll do a check in at the end of the month to see how I get on. Do you guys have any goals? Comment below and tell me what they are!

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
- Aristotle

Monday, 1 September 2014

College Series #2: Friendships

People say that university is the time to make lifelong friends. I don't know how true that is because I'm not yet out of university. What I do know is that the first steps in making those friends can be quite difficult. Coming from a background where my classmates from primary school were the same as in secondary school, I had never been in a situation where I was forced to make friends. So, the transition into a large university where I knew nobody was daunting and stressful. I'm going to be sharing a few things that I wish I had known going into uni.

Make the most of Orientation/Freshers week. It's an equal playing field for everyone. People don't know each other and are feeling just as nervous as you. Try to engage in conversation with as many people as you can. Sign up for clubs and societies where you'll meet people who have the same interests as you. Three conversation starters usually are: "What's your name? What course are you studying? Where are you from?" The flow of the conversation will determine the kind of relationship you develop with that person - you may end up never speaking to that person again or you may very well become best friends.

Be yourself and be comfortable in who you are. Don't try to force yourself to be a certain personality. Why? It's going to be darn well difficult to keep up appearances for your remaining college years. Don't compromise yourself and your standards to fit in with others. It's not worth it - something I learned the hard way.

Smile! :) Smiling creates an inviting and welcoming aura about you that people will want to be your friend. When speaking with people, don't forget to listen. People appreciate being made feel important. Nod your head along with the conversation if you have to - your body language speaks volumes!

Remember, finding  people you click with generally takes some time. Be patient - those lifelong friends aren't made within a week. It took me most of my first year to meet people that I would hang with most of the time.

Finally, choose your friends wisely! We all need people who we can hang out with, have a laugh with and share the college struggle with. Good friends are a support system away from home. A popular saying goes, "show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are." Experts say we become an average of the top five people closest to us. Friends influence us - for good or for bad - so choose wisely!