GREAT APPS FOR STUDENTS

30 Aug 2018

Over the past year at university I've discovered some great apps that I want to recommend to any of you that are students and also any of you that are the super organised types; I think you'll all really appreciate these free apps I've found. 

MINIMALIST

I for one am not a fan of the in-built notes and reminders apps on iPhones. Minimalist is the best app I've found to do the job of allowing my to create daily to-do lists and have the satisfaction of crossing them off as I go. One of the features I really like is that you can set both deadlines for tasks as well as timers.  This is a great feature for if you just want to do an hour of studying a night, or making sure you stick to a certain time for breaks in between studying.
As the name suggests, it's a super minimal design and easy to get the hang of. It's one I know will be very handy for the rest of my time at uni. 

GOOGLE CALENDER

I don't know about other universities but, when we get our timetable for the year, we are able to download it to our phones and I get mine sent to my google calendar. What I like about this over other calendar apps is that I can colour code different calendars while having them all in one place. For example, last year I had my personal timetable, my university college's activity calendar as well scheduling my part-time job shifts and also any other appointments I might forget.
Having everything all in one place makes like all that easier and really helps me organise my free time in between activities. 

QUIZLET

This is one suitable for when exams come around.  Originally, I found the website Quizlet but soon found they had an app which essentially lets you create virtual flashcards which makes it easier to have revision with you on the go. You can also set reminders to get a notification to test yourself daily which I think is really good; you could add the flashcards as you go throughout the year and just take 5 minutes a day to go over those notes- if you do this you'll thank yourself when it comes to exam season! 
Another nice bonus is you can create different sets which means you can separate your flashcards by units or question focus which is super useful and can help you revise in smaller chunks. You can also quiz yourself in different ways; there's the simple flashcards but also match up tasks where it times how long it takes you.I think this is a revision app that I think students will love.

SCANNER APP

This is a newer app find and does what it says in the name; you can take pictures of your notes and it uploads them to the app. It will help lighten the weight of your bag during the day if you want to have some notes with you but you don't want to lug around a heavy folder.
Near exams last year, my phone was just full of pictures of notes and so I wish I knew about this app sooner. You can read the notes a lot more clearer from the scanned images than if I just took a picture on my camera roll. It saves you having to scroll through all you other photos trying to find the one needed. I know this will definitely be one I will use a lot this coming uni year. 

HUJI

This last one's more of a fun one that you may have already heard of. It's an app that takes your photo as if it was on a disposable camera. It manages to make any night-out photo look better than if it was taken on your usual phone camera. It's good for getting that polaroid effect on your photos which you'll want to print out and pin on your walls at uni.

Hope these app recommendations were helpful to any of you! Do you have any other great app recommendations? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x


A SUMMER SPENT AT HOME

27 Aug 2018


Planning my summer can be really exciting. Booking holidays abroad or trips to see friends always fills me with excitement. However, sadly this summer this hasn't happened. I decided to spend some time working in order to save some money for my final year and, sadly any plans to travel fell through.  But, surprisingly, it hasn't turned out all that bad.

I've had time to reconnect with friends. In between them going on holiday, it's been nice to be back and being able to see people I've not seen for ages. From going on walks, nights out, shopping and eating out, I've actually really enjoyed being around fab people and being able to forget about uni for a little while.

It's also given me chance to have some real me time. I've actually been able to sit down and write blog posts and not feel like I'm rushing them. I've been able to pick up a pencil and draw for the first time forever; I've finally had chance to use my sewing machine that I haven't really used since I got it two years ago; I've been able to read books that aren't for my course and not feeling guilty when I am reading. 

You've got to admit that the UK has had some amazing weather and I've been able to sit outside in my garden, soak up the sun and just relax. Along with the relaxing, the weather has allowed me to go on walks both around my hometown but also go with friends and my family to nearby places to enjoy getting some fresh air while getting some fabulous instagrams.



What I'm trying to say with this post is that I've managed to get all the best bits of going abroad without leaving home. I've spent quality time with friends, enjoyed amazing hot weather while relaxing and being able to enjoy the scenes around me. It's also allowed me to be more eager to travel next summer and has given me chance to already plan for some trips this next year. 

How has your summer been? 
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x 

RECENTLY READ

22 Aug 2018

follow me on goodreads for more recommendations and reviews! 

FOR ONE MORE DAY // MITCH ALBOM

★★☆☆☆


This was one of few Mitch Albom books that I didn't already own or have read. So, after seeing it in the charity shop I thought it'd be worth a quick read. It centres around a man named Charley who has hit rock bottom and decides to take his own life. However, after the attempt, he wakes up where he lived as a child and his mother is there; what's confusing is she's been dead 8 years. For the rest of the day he spends time with his mum as well as people she introduces him to along the way. We see him reconnect with his mother and also understand his childhood a lot better.

Like Tuesday's with Morrie, it's a quick read but can still pack an emotional punch into just 200 pages. It's a book that looks closely into the naivety of childhood and times when you may dislike your parents because of decisions that you may not realise actually benefit you. From the Mitch Albom I've already read,  time, death and afterlife are big themes he continuously explores and these are, again, strong themes throughout this book. However, compared to his other books such as Five People You Meet in Heaven and The Time Keeper, this book didn't have the same effect on me as those. It may be that I'm getting bored of the themes that run throughout and it seems like the same ideas are just being exhausted. However, I didn't hate it. While I would recommend other Mitch Albom books before this one, if you've read his others I'm sure you'll enjoy this one. 

LORD OF THE FLIES // WILLIAM GOLDING

★★★☆☆


In my student house, we had lots of conversations about books and we spoke about one's we studied at both GCSE and A Level. One that two of the girls had read was Lord of The Flies and both had differing opinions, especially about the ending. However, both said it was one of their favourite books they had to read at school so I thought I'd see what I made of it and gave it a go.

I could tell from the start that, if I was reading this at GCSE, it would have been a long read. But, now being 20 and having more of an understanding of the way these books are purposefully written, I was able to get through it quickly. On the whole I enjoyed it; it was fast paced and was a really interesting concept. Throughout, I could see similarities to some Dystopian books such as The Hunger Games and Maze Runner in terms of the survival aspects of the book so I wondered if this was a little inspiration for those books. I understood what the different characters symbolised and I enjoyed seeing their different perspectives on decisions which the narrative allowed. I also did enjoy the writing style but at points I did lose my way. I would get caught up in some of the more wordy paragraphs and miss a big event and would have to go back and reread; it was a point of the book I both liked and disliked.

As for the controversial ending, I could see where both my friends came from. Without spoiling anything, it really highlighted the themes of the book but at the same time I thought it was a little rushed and would have liked a bit more from it.

If you're someone who likes books that need a little more thought into the underlying meanings then this one is for you. While I've only given it 3 stars, I'd say it's more of a 3.5 especially after reading more into the plot which definitely allowed me to appreciate it that little bit more. 

THE HATE U GIVE // ANGIE THOMAS

★★★★★


I'm so annoyed I left this book so long to read. After getting it last year I never found a good time to sit down and read it but, finally, I did. This book follows 16 year old Starr as she navigates through a white high school in the suburbs while living in a poor neighbourhood. After witnessing the shooting of her friend Khalil, Starr's story unfolds.

I was shocked to see this contemporary book being more than 400 pages but oh was it worth it and more. Every chapter I enjoyed; the writing style flowed and especially loved the dialogue between the different characters.  There's nothing about this book that I would really change; the story was an impactful and educational one as it focusses on police violence as well as the marginalisation of poor, black communities in America. It looked at the faults in the justice system and also the failure of governments in helping these communities while still being a book that got me hooked throughout.

I thought I was well educated with movements such as black lives matter but, from this, I realised you can never understand enough about oppression and the angle that this book takes really helps readers, who may be a little naive, understand what is happening and how nothing is being done. While this book is based on characters, I found it hard not to think of them as real people because the events in this book have happened to many across American and across the world. 

I love that this is YA and that it's speaking out to thousands of young people about something I wish I read more about when I was younger. I'd love to see more books like this on the shelves. What's also worth mentioning is that, unlike all other books, I actually read the "Author's Note" at the end and I recommend you do too. I'd be interested to see a sequel of sorts to this book; whether that be of a similar story or about one of the side characters. 

Also, if anyone has any recommendations similar to this I would love to hear them! I'd be interested in reading more about race in education because I did enjoy that element of this book. 

Have you any of the books I mentioned? What are you currently Reading?

Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x 




UNDERSTANDING AN INTROVERT

16 Aug 2018

While that title may make it seem like we are a rare, dangerous breed, that's far from the truth. This post I want to address some misconceptions of introverts. 

1. We don't hate social situations. 
There may be times when we would rather stay at home in our own company than being at a party, but that's not necessarily all the time. I, for one, do enjoy social situations I just may be a little nervous at first or I may want to leave earlier than others. It doesn't mean I'm socially awkward. I can hold a conversation. It doesn't mean I'm boring either.  I read somewhere a little metaphor that went along the lines of: if we were batteries, extroverts feel charged by human interaction where as it tends to drain introverts more and their time alone is how they recharge. I can feel pretty drained if I've had too much human contact in a week and sometimes need the day off from interacting with anyone but it doesn't mean I didn't like being around people for the time I was. 

2. We can be extroverted. 
In more recent years I've realised that categorising yourself as an introvert based on certain characteristics isn't exactly right. There are times where I surprise myself and display characteristics that are more extroverted. Maybe it comes with growing up but I find that, sometimes, I can be more open to new experiences and spontaneous which didn't used to be something that would come naturally to me. 

3. We're not lazy.
I feel like this is quite a common misconception; that because we're not out in the world, talking to people and being social butterflies that we just sit on our arses and do nothing. Personally, I actually quite like being out and about just, sometimes, I like to do that on my own. 

4. We do have friends. 
When you watch a cliche, high school film, the "loner" is usually seen as an introverted character but this isn't reality. I've actually always been someone who's been quite good at making friends; I find I can easily find common ground with someone and, soon enough, we acting like we've known each other for years. I may not have a huge group of friends but who needs that? All you need is your close unit; just because I'm more introverted does not mean I cant make friends in any capacity. 

5. It doesn't mean we're shy.
As I say, especially in more recent years, I've found that I can quite easily make friends and starting a conversation with strangers isn't hard. While I may fluster if I get a question from a random person I'm not expecting, I'm not afraid to talk to them. While we may seem to an outsider as someone who is timid and doesn't like talking, if you get to know me you'll have trouble trying to shut me up!


What do you think about some of these misconceptions; have you had any similar experiences?
Are you more extroverted or introverted?
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

WHAT UNIVERSITY HAS TAUGHT ME SO FAR

11 Aug 2018

As I head into my third year, I thought I'd share with you what, non-academically, university has taught me...

There's life after high school.

It sounds silly that I didn't realise this earlier. Even through college I thought nothing would get better than high school and it wasn't like that was great. I left high school with friends but I wouldn't say a solid friendship group. I thought that would just be how it would stay. But, that wasn't the case. I've realised that, wherever you go, there's always people willing to listen and have fun with that are even better than the people you meet at high school. 

You aren't always stuck in education and your grades don't necessarily define you or limit you to what you want to achieve.

A lot of people say the time at high school will be some of the best years of your life. I now highly dispute that claim. 

Nothing really changes.

I thought I'd go away and everything would just drastically change. Not only my home life where I expected I'd walk back in to my family home and no longer have a bedroom or the parents have decided to invest their life savings in a caravan etc. In fact, everything's stayed relatively the same. The same can be said for myself, I thought you go away, move out and you, yourself, change and,  while I think I have made some small changes, they've been nothing I've had to say to myself "woah,  I've changed". It's been inevitable steps that are just part of growing up but nothing like what I expected to happen. On that subject...

You're still young! 

It was as if I thought that as you hit 20 there's this automatic switch that's hit and BAM you're a fully-fledge adult. It was just the other day that I was thinking how, in some ways, I still feel 16. I know I definitely still look it from the comments I get in shops and the amount of times I am ID'd for razors in Superdrug, but I also don't feel like the way I act has really changed and sometimes I still act as if I was 16.

I've realised that I've got all the time in the world to make decisions about my life and no decision I make has to be set in stone; things can change later down the line because I've got plenty time to do that; I'm still young. 

It's OK to be yourself.


I never have truly felt like I could be myself around people but university has allowed me to present to people the closest thing to me and I'm honestly proud of myself for managing to do this. It sounds like a strange, silly thing to self-celebrate but to me it's a big thing. I've finally found people who accept me in all my weirdness and all my annoyingness. 

I'm less afraid to speak to new people, have conversations and have an opinion that's not always the most agreed one. It's OK for me to speak out about my views and put ideas forward. It's OK for me to be happy about who I am. 

I'm capable of more than I think.

As many are, I'm self-critical and even my successes I tend to put down to luck or not give myself the credit I should give myself. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself and, even when I get great grades, I still look at the negative. Since coming to uni, I've found a lot of people are the same but I think slowly we are all accepting how lucky we are to be at the uni we are and that getting here has taken a lot of work and we deserve it just as much as anyone else. Without making this sound like a job application, my volunteering and time working part time, it's been nice to see people appreciate the work I do and it's confirmed in me that, sometimes, I need to be a little less harsh on myself. I should be proud of what I've accomplished so far even if it's only small things so far. 

A lot of people are in the same boat.

Whether it be family issues, friendship dramas or personal feelings I've realised how alike I am to a lot of people. It's a tired phrase but "you are not alone" springs to mind and is definitely fitting here. There's always someone who can relate to a problem you're having and vice versa. It's nice to know that we are all having similar struggles and that, from this, you can be there to support each other.


So these are just a few of the little life lessons that my first two years at uni have taught me and there's definitely more where this came from (potentially enough for a part 2?).
Do you go to university? Any life lessons you want to share I'd love to read!
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x 

JULY FAVOURITES

7 Aug 2018


With the weather being super warm, make up has been a rarity so discovering new products has been put on the back burner. But, while I haven't discovered or been particularly loving any beauty products this month, there have been a lot of other bits I've been loving that I'd thought I'd share with you. 

TOM GRENNAN

Right at the start of this month, I headed to Community Festival in Finsbury Park. If you follow me on Instagram (@distortings) you may have seen my stories of some fabulous artists and bands. If you saw those you may have seen one of those was Tom Grennan. I'd been loving his music before seeing him live but my love for his music grew even more after seeing him live and I haven't stopped listening to him since. My favourites are "Something in the Water" and "Barbed Wire". If you're fans of people like George Ezra you might this him. 

Side note, I'd say Community Festival is probably a favourite of mine as well for this month. If you get the opportunity to go, it's a great festival that always has some fabulous people. If you are interested in seeing who was playing this year, the snapchat stories are added to my JULY '18 highlights if you want a peak. 

Shop his music here: Tom Grennan Music Store

ACCESSORIZE MUSTARD COIN PURSE

I've downsized my everyday bag to a small cross body. From doing this, it's also meant I've had to downsize my purse as my former purse no longer fits. I've been a little obsessed with mustard this year and so seeing this cute little purse in Accessorize, I couldn't help myself. It's the perfect size to throw my cards into as well as a section for coins in the middle. I have quite a lot of loyalty cards and even though this doesn't have specific slots for cards, I can still fit them all into and get to them easily as well. I think I've been converted to the small purse life now. 

Shop here: Coin Purse 

ZARA HEADBAND

So technically I bought this in August but I can't help be include this as a favourite straight away. I haven't worn a headband in years and I've fallen in love with it. I have a knack for picking up items and trying them on as a joke but then actually loving them so much I have to buy them and this was one of those. Since picking it up, it hasn't left my head. It makes a messy bun look a little more put together while keeping those strays out of my face. 

Similar here: Turban-Style headband

BLACK HIGH TOP CONVERSE

After deciding to finally buy these, they have become a very beloved pair of trainers. They go with so much and I love particularly pairing them with my mum jeans and a jumper; not the most summer-appropriate outfit but I can't help but wear that combo all summer round. I think I'll be wearing these all year round. 


ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Season 6 was released and I devoured all 13 episodes in just 2 days (I wouldn't say this is something to be proud of though). It was probably my favourite season so far so, if your a OITNB fan and still haven't got round to watching it, this is my public service announcement to tell you to get it watched. And, if you've never watched OITNB I highly recommend you do; it cover such relevant topics and tackling important subjects well in a prison setting while still being funny. I don't know how I'm going to survive without this for another year now. 

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE

If you read Saturday's post on the books I've RECENTLY READ, you will have seen me mention this book. If you want to know more about this book and it's plot, give that post a read. Here, I just one to sing its praises one last time. I loved how realistic it was and, while the pace was slow, the build up allowed me to really connect with the characters. It also made me laugh in parts which is always an added bonus. My first 5/5 stars on good reads in quite a while! 


So there's my favourites for July. While there was no beauty favourites, I really enjoyed sharing these bits with you and I hope you enjoyed reading about them. 
Did you do anything exciting in July?
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x


*Disclaimer: This post does contain some affiliate links*


RECENTLY READ

4 Aug 2018



follow me on goodreads for more recommendations and reviews! 


I'm embarrassed that I've only managed to read less than a handful so far this year and it's already August. Because of this and with finally some free time to catch up on the fab books I've missed this year, I've set myself the goal of reading a book a week until the end of summer. 
While to some serious readers this is hardly anything, I can be quite a slow reader and that's fine with me. If I manage to complete my own little challenge I'll be proud of myself. Having said that, here's what I've read so far this summer. 

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE // GAIL HONEYMAN

★★★★★

I'd heard my friend had decided to pick this one up to read and the premise was something that sounded like one I would enjoy. So, before heading to London, I picked this up and started to read this on the train. It's centred around called, surprisingly, Eleanor Oliphant and it gives a glimpse of her childhood which was an interesting one. It shows us how it's affected her in her adult years.  While I'd say it's definitely a slow burner, having nothing else to do on that train helped me power through. I actually for once  enjoyed the slow build up. The slower pace made it feel like more of a  realistic life with chapters that focussed on more normal day to day tasks which still revealed a lot about the character. It really allowed to build depth to the characters and helped me to connect with the story. 
I have been struggling to find books that bridge the gap between young adult books that I love but have started to outgrow and adult fiction that just don't capture my attention that YA does. This was the perfect hybrid and I have this to thank for getting me out of my 6-month reading slump. It was a book I highly enjoyed and would recommend to others. I could tell it's not everyone's cup of tea due to the slower pace but it's not incredibly long and I think it's worth it. That's why I'd give this a 5 stars. 


UNCONVENTIONAL // MAGGIE HARCOURT

★☆☆☆☆

I don't recall the last time I've given a book one star. After getting almost all the way to the end of this book I ended up giving up. I think the reason I didn't like this book was maybe more to do with me than the actual book. I think I'm starting to realise I'm outgrowing some branches of YA. Having said that, even a few years ago, I think I would have enjoyed it more than now but I still don't think it would be one I'd be quick to recommend to others. 
One of the appraisals on the front cover likened Harcourt's writing style to Rainbow Rowell and I totally agree with that. It's a very easy-going like premise with a simple tone throughout. It reminded me a lot of Rowell's short "Kindred Spirits". With that, I think this book would have made a great short story; I don't feel it needed the 314 pages it included. I think, if it was shorter, I may have enjoyed it more but, in this instance, I felt it dragged out the story unnecessarily. What I will give it is that, in some places, it did make me chuckle but overall I wasn't a fan. The relationship introduced in this book didn't feel genuine and had a very cliche feel to it that made it quite unbelievable and rushed. With a 3.6 average on Goodreads, other's obviously do like this book and so maybe don't just take my opinion on it. But, sadly, this one wasn't for me. 

WE ALL LOOKED UP // TOMMY WALLACH

★★☆☆☆


I'd heard a lot of this in the blogging community so thought it was worth a go. It's been sat on my shelf for a while after getting it for my 19th birthday (I'm now 20 and a half...). It wasn't exactly as I expected. I was thinking it would be more Station Eleven meets Breakfast Club. And, I guess, it was a little like that but it still wasn't exactly what I expected or wanted from the book. The book centres around four high-school teenagers in America and it was set around the days leading up to the crash of a meteor and the potential end of the earth. I'm a sucker for dual or, in this case, quadruple perspectives but here I don't think it really added anything really necessary. This was another slow one going in to it but, unlike Eleanor Oliphant, it wasn't one that really allowed me to connect with the characters and the end left me disappointed as I felt nothing really came of the book. 
In some places I also found the writing a little pretentious; using big words where bigs words weren't needed. Having said this, I still made it to the end which is something. I have another book by Tommy Wallach called "Thanks For The Trouble" which I have given a go previously but, even after the slight disappointment of this book of his, I think I will still try and give it another crack this summer.

Do you have any book recommendations I should give ago this summer?
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x


LONG DISTANCE FRIENDSHIPS

1 Aug 2018

As you get older, it's not uncommon for you to move around. Whether that's moving around for a job or university, it's unlikely you'll stay in the same place forever. 
I've come across a number of posts from other writers discussing what it's like to be in a long-distance relationship and what it's like to leave your other half behind. However, less so mentioned is what about the friends you leave behind? Long-distance friendships are as much a hard thing as long-distance relationships. 

Over the years, I've discovered I'm very much someone who enjoys space. By that, I don't mean the scarily vast universe that lies outside Earth but the kind of space that gives me room to breath and enjoy my own company. It allows me to not feel overwhelmed by my surroundings. If I see the same person every day for a week, it's likely that, by the end of those seven days, I will start to withdraw and no longer feel the benefit of being around those people. I don't mean this to sound big headed either; I'm sure they would feel the same about seeing my face everyday. I feel this is a similar concept to friendships throughout school. You see the same friends everyday so you're bound to know them well but it's also normal for them to start grinding your gears and vice versa. 

Since going to university, it's true what people say about discovering who "your real friends are". The ones that, even if you don't speak for a while, you can still message when either one of you needs a some advice in a crisis or just a friend to listen. The one's you still look forward to speaking to, to update each other about the goings on in your life. And, inevitably, they are the one's you'll eventually miss. 

Even as someone, as I say, who likes their space, I still miss my friends. I think those closest to me understand that's how I am; if I'm on the other side of the country and haven't messaged them in a month, they still know that everything's fine between us and, whenever it is we do find time to speak, I will be excited to hear what they have to say as well as being excited to share anything that's been happening in my life with them. And, deep down, I'll be missing them. 

Just last week I headed home for Summer. I text my friend a few days before I was set to leave: "I hope you're ready to see me everyday for a month even when we get sick of the sight of each other"- because, I feel the distance has made my strongest friendships even stronger. It's allowed us to grow separately along our own paths but then still coming back together later down the line. The distance makes me want to cherish and appreciate the time I have with my friends more and I feel more inclined to  make great, long-lasting memories before we're back, caught up in our own separate lives. Even when we go back to our own lives a distance away from each other, we'll also know that the other is only a phone call away and that we know we'll see each other again soon. 

Tell me about some of your long-distance friendships! How do you stay in touch? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah X 


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