The University Diaries: Welcome to 2nd year!

Welcome to 2nd year undergraduate study at the University of Sussex! Let's get right in to it because there is a lot to talk about; I'll try not to ramble on though!

It was only right I recycled this picture, now it's actually true!

Resits

I PASSED!! Due to my appeal being rejected, my results were capped to the bare pass mark of 40, but to my surprise I was able to see the actual grade which means my lecturers also know that I'm not a complete idiot and that's always reassuring. I almost trebled my Neuroscience score (23 to 62), almost doubled Biological Chemistry (30 to 55) and passed those god awful essays for Cell Biology (30 to 41). Overall, I passed two modules with a solid 2:1 which I am trying so hard to focus on and not get drawn into the fact that my grades are vastly below average compared to the vast majority of my cohort.

Something I'm really not too keen on is the 'yearly summaries'. We get given a lovely graph which shows your modules average grades, the range of lowest to highest and where you sit among all these. While I can see it being a useful tool, for those that have clawed their way though and had a very difficult time getting to grips with how Sussex University operates, it's like twisting a knife in an open wound and not terribly constructive.

Nevertheless... I made it through!



I'm spending a semester with BSMS!

This is so exciting and intimidating! We are sharing a module with the medical school and oh my word it is the strangest feeling ever. In a way, I think we are incredibly lucky as we get access to some amazing resources and lecturers, and can improve the quality of our work significantly. It's been a baptism of fire, but I think that's the nature of medicine to be honest! The lectures are so interesting, but move so fast I am unable to make notes and listen because I'll miss the next point or get confused. The workload is very, very hard and I'll freely admit to already feeling pressure and a pit at the bottom of my stomach. 

Getting an insight into what medical students have to do every day has given me a new-found respect for them and reaffirmed that doctors really are a different type of human! I also feel more settled in my decision to take a BSc before making that next leap; it certainly hasn't put me off wanting to study medicine at all. It's difficult not being with people I spent a lot of time with last year, instead I'm inflicting myself on people I recognize from previous modules just so I don't have to sit on my own surrounded by people that know I'm not supposed to be there... Probably not the most rational or logical of thought patterns but that's where my brain is.

I'm excited for all of my modules and really hope this will help boost my grades; especially as this year counts for 40% of my classification


Mature Student Ambassador!?

Once again I fell into a job! I went along to an interview on campus and somehow got offered a paid position as a mature student ambassador. In a nutshell, I will be showing prospective mature students around campus during open days and information sessions, taking part in presentations and question and answer panels with fellow ambassadors. My job is essentially verbalizing what I have been writing on this diary for the past year. I really hope that some Open University students come to see Sussex University! It's slightly surreal to think that last September I was talking to an ambassador during our inductions and now here I am about to do the very same thing. Life is really bizarre. 


That'll do for now I think! This year is going to be a good one. I can feel it! 

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Happy to be back

Hello!!!

I'm back after what has been one of the most hectic and stressful weeks ever, only the stress of moving to Brighton tops it to be honest! I said a little while ago that blogging had to take a back-seat while I figured out what I wanted to do and exactly how I was going to implement these changes/ideas/random ideas. Now I know what my timetable it - yes, I passed my resits - and have had a week to get a feel for whats required of me, I think I know how to make this work. I'll talk about university and the resits in my usual The University Diaries series so keep an eye out for that. 

I'll try and keep this brief as I know no-one really enjoys reading huge bulks of text! 

Here's what you can expect from ThatRedheadSaid:
  • Therapy Tuesday and Foodie Friday will remain, with The University Diaries or other features going up over the weekend. If you see any others going live between Monday and Friday it means I've been super productive and even scheduled some! ha...
  • I'm back on social media! 
  • Very soon there is an absolutely amazing giveaway launching! 
  • I'm looking for student bloggers to collaborate with as an extension of The University Diaries series, so please get in touch if you'd like to know more.
  • The blog will be getting a face-lift and HTML fixing from someone vastly more experienced than me very soon. 
So that's all for now! 

I'm so happy to be back! 

Lots of love, 
Sami x

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Marmalade and Toast: What does your breakfast say about you?

The good people from Robert's Bakery and Duerr's contacted me via twitter not too long ago about a quiz which claims to be able to analyse what your breakfast choices say about you and your love life! Marmalade and Toast is the product of research by Senior Lecturer of Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire, Dr Sandi Mann

MarmaladeAndToast: What does your breakfast say about you?
The psychology of toast?


Dr Sandi Mann said: “How we eat our toast and marmalade might seem intuitive but the fact is, we each individually make a series of choices at breakfast – based on learnt preferences, innate behaviour and conditioned learning – which could underscore the personality type of last night’s bed fellow.”

Tim Wild, Commercial Director at Roberts Bakery, comments: “We’ve seen a huge rise in our sales of Roberts 50% White 50% Wholemeal which suggests – initially - we’re a nation of angels. Yet it’s the personal touches we each instinctively make from the moment we put a slice of bread in the toaster, that subconsciously reveals so much of the inner you – that this might be the fastest way to determine if your partner is a slice of alright – or should be toast.”

Dr. Sandi Mann of the University of Central Lancashire conducted the study, which reveals:
  • Spreading butter to the edge means you are a fussy perfectionist who likes things to be just so.
  • Cut the crusts off? You are intolerant of things going wrong and like everything to be just so.
  • If you like exotic flavours of jams you are an experimenter who craves new, fresh experiences.
  • Thick bread or thick layer of spread? You are self-indulgent – because you are worth it.
  • If you like 50/50 bread you are a compromiser who wants the best of both worlds.
  • Self-cut slices? You like to be in control!
  • If you like a different breakfast every day you crave variety and excitement in your life – and hate routine.

This is a fun little quiz that I have spent most of my summer trying to avoid! There are 15 questions, ranging from how you like your toast to whether or not you would dare to put a buttered knife into a jam jar... seriously, just no. It made my toes curl just reading that question! Another question that made me cross-eyed was the idea that some people have butter AND two spreads on their toast?! I just don't understand that. 

via marmaladeandtoast.co.uk

Apparently I'm playful! While I certainly don't see myself in this light, I can admit to being perhaps slightly childish at times; you should see my lecture slides and revision notes. As for the compatibility results, they describe the boyfriend as 'Rebellious' which is painfully accurate; what really made me laugh was: "As far as food goes, you hate being told what to eat and what not to eat and you cheerfully ignore the latest healthy eating guidelines (as far as you are concerned, they change all the time anyway, so why bother?)." He really, really does not listen to my concerns about his diet and the impact on his health! 

While I can't say I completely agree with the notion that what you have on your toast in any way relates to your choice of partner, it's an interesting concept. Toast is toast and I'm sure 95% of the time you only have two or three options available as your topping... It is what it is. Whatever psychology and computer-geekery went into this quiz was still time well spent in my opinion! 

Have a go on marmaladeandtoast.co.uk and share your results in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter! Do you agree with what your results were? Do you think what you put on your toast when you're half awake means anything beyond what you grabbed first? 

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Banana Moon: A study of the Student Species


It's a new school year! Whether you're starting college, embarking on your degree or lamenting the fact you've graduated, you're a species of the student variety according to Banana Moon!

Infographic via Banana Moon

I'm a second year undergraduate. I feel like that means I'm supposed to know something, but I am still getting to grips with this whole university lark and training my 27 year old brain to stay on 'student mode'. Having left education at 16 and returning at 23 to The Open University meant I'd forgotten how to study; there is a significant difference between being an 'at-home' student and attending a full-time institution. I love my university and still feel incredibly fortunate to have a place, every day is a different challenge. 

According to Banana Moon, there are eight species of student: The Procrastinator; The Geek; Teacher's Pet; The Hipster; The Student Activist; The Perfectionist; The Party Animal and The Non-Student. 

This was a difficult decision for me! I procrastinate an extreme amount when a deadline isn't a code red threat, I study Medical Neuroscience so that has geek covered pretty well, am a classic type-A personality so perfectionism is a given and rules my academic life and I have struggled to attend campus due to my problematic mental health which would definitely make me one of the invisible 'non-student's'. 

In the end, my student species fits The Perfectionist most.

Infographic from BananaMoon
via banana-moon-clothing.co.uk

"The neatest of all the student tribes, this well-kept creature is likely to be spotted lurking behind once all his peers have left the learning cave, placing papers into files and specially allocated plastic wallets. During feeding times, the Perfectionist may be spotted moving items of food around his or her plate into a particular formation – a far cry from the more unsophisticated members of the University social structure."


I cannot explain just how much I need to have files, plastic wallets and other stationary in my life. Those hours spent sorting, categorizing and colour-coding are very well spent! You won't really see me eat on campus unless it's a dire emergency. I am well aware of how odd this is but there are some battles that are easier to win than others. You'll generally find me surrounded by various bottles of juice, coffee and water in a quiet spot, generally the library. 

This is my entry for the Banana Moon competition. This a competition open to all bloggers – for more info go here - for the chance to win a tablet and T-shirts from Banana Moon! All you need to do is tweet a blog post with the related student category hashtag to @banana_moon , simples! 

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OM Yoga Magazine: Issue 44 Favourite

Hello Yogis!

ThatRedheadSaid: OM Yoga Magazine
How amazing are those leggings?! 
It's time to talk about the September 2014 issue of OM Yoga, and oh my word it's been an amazing read! September's OM Specials were pregnancy and meditation; while I cannot talk to you about the pregnancy side of this issue - other than to say it did absolutely nothing to settle the raging broodiness I've been experiencing for months now!! - I can talk about meditation. 

Meditation has become a part of my day-to-day life and I can honestly say it came as a surprise. While I cannot sit in a silent room to practice just yet - the only exception to this is the "three minute meditation" we practice in group therapy, but that is a significant challenge for my noisy and easily distracted mind - using guided meditation tracks have become a life-line over the past few years and I would encourage everyone to start using them! The Honest Guys have some absolutely amazing tracks and most of the time I'm at home I have their extended tracks running on my chromecast. 

ThatRedheadSaid: OM Yoga Magazine

This first article opens with a powerful quote from the Dalai Lama: "If every eight -year-old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation." While this may or may not be completely true, there is no denying that learning the skills that meditation teaches us at a young age would have amazing implications for the future health and well-being of that child. We're too quick to look for external solutions when our brains and our minds are well equipped to help us. 

The article calls attention to the fact that the NHS is using mindfulness and meditation approaches for a wide range of conditions. During the 8 years I have been in and out of mental health services, I have seen an ever increasing presence of the use of mindfulness techniques and a gradual acceptance of it. I will freely admit to thinking it was, as this article put it: "a hippy or cult thing." 

The health benefits for meditation are almost endless, from managing depression and anxiety symptoms, to alleviating insomnia and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

There is no such thing is not having the time to practice meditation. How many minutes a day do you spend on twitter or facebook doing absolutely nothing productive? Those visits could be redirected to taking yourself to a more mentally healthy space. I'm a firm believer in the idea that you get out of something what you put into it so approach meditation like your yoga practice.  

One book I can wholeheartedly recommend to you is 'Full Catastrophe Living' by John Kabat Zinn. It took me a while to get into it, by that I mean accept that mindfulness and meditation wasn't a giant waste of time, but now I carry it's messages with me all the time. There's no doubt in my mind that mindfulness meditation has brought me to this place in my life.


The next article I absolutely loved and really related to was 'Type A meets yoga mat' by Stephanie Fitzgerald. If you don't know what a Type A personality is, in a nutshell we're competitive, perfectionistic, easy to irritate, workaholic time-lords. The Type B personality is the polar opposite and funnily enough happens to be my partners temperament, so it makes for an interesting dynamic!

ThatRedheadSaid: OM Yoga Magazine
"my physio asked me if I'd tried yoga. "Don't look at me like that!" she said.

What I loved about this article was not only her honesty, but the level at which I could relate to her and I'm sure others would agree too! Stephanie reminds me of myself back in 2009; living for those high-intensity workouts that leave you sweating out the stress and getting that endorphin release at the end. At the peak of my fitness, I was doing Body Pump, immediately followed by Body Combat and then finishing it off with a Body Balance class which to me was a guided cool-down. Sometimes I would hit the pool afterwards, never staying for the relaxation portion of the class.

I never really took any notice of Body Balance or any yoga method as more than just pointless stretching; as Stephanie hilariously points out: "I remember thinking that they should try a 'real' class..." until my GP started guiding me towards practicing mindfulness and suggesting that I try and stay that extra 10 minutes and see what happens. For the first time in what felt like my entire life, I felt pure silence. The eating disorder voice was silent and I had nothing to worry about. I'll never forget that day and how I had to fight back tears on my mat. From that day onwards, my workouts became about those peaceful 10 minutes and I've not looked back.

It came as no surprise to me that Stephanie opted for what I think is the most challenging form of yoga that exists, Ashtanga. One of these days I'll pluck up the courage to try a class but the weakness in my joints is just too much of an embarrassment - type A mentality right there!

Another giggle came when Stephanie talks about seeing a more experienced practitioner looking vastly too comfortable in downward dog while she felt forced into submission to child's pose by her hamstrings, and feeling more than slightly frustrated. But she kept returning. "Partly driven by an intention to improve and partly by a deeper pull to do something nice for myself..."

What really stuck out to me from this entire piece is: "This acceptance of my inability to do something was new for me but it was liberating.." Acceptance. This is so, so hard but once we stop fighting with it, everything else feels so much easier. I think it's something we all need to work on.

* Giveaway Alert *



The latest issue of OM Yoga Magazine was released today for digital subscriptions so give the link a click to grab yours before in-store release, 23rd September! This is a super exciting issue, we're talking about the OM Yoga Show which is being held at Olympia National from 24th to 26th October. What's EVEN MORE exciting is I have TWO SETS OF WEEKEND TICKETS to giveaway for this amazing event. You can grab your free programme here but I really, really think you should download the magazine too so you can get more of an introduction to the people and companies that will be exhibiting! Aaaaah I'm so excited! I will be attending on Saturday or Sunday, but you're under absolutely no obligation to wander around with me!

The giveaway will be up in a week or so, so make sure you're following me on Twitter and Instagram to find out exactly when it'll be live!

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts about mindfulness and meditation in the comments. Do you practice it? Do you think it's complete crap? What parts of meditation do you find difficult?

namaste.

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