Wednesday, 20 April 2016

10 things to celebrate the end of exams

The final lectures, the handing in of my dissertation, the almost completion of my final essays was starting to feel like the end. After sleep, celebrations, and a wonderful trip away, I am finding myself being dragged back into reality, reminded of the four exams I still have left to do before I can say goodbye to UCL, the library and days spent trying to cram my brain with facts and quotes I'm already forgetting as quickly as I'm learning. Exam time for everyone is really, really rubbish and always feels like it lasts a lifetime. It makes me stressed, spotty, tired, chubby, frustrated and so so bored. Right now, what's getting me through it all is the knowledge that I NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN, and this very comprehensive list of treats I'm planning for my post-exam life. 

1. Eat, drink, celebrate
I'm going out for breakfast, I'm going out for dinner - hell, I may even get breakfast for dinner - and I'm drinking cocktails for breakfast, or juice, or cocktails made from juice. As much as I'm enjoying this revision routine (I'm not) I can't wait for a totally guilt-free days, nights and morning afters, to do whatever I want to do. The great thing about getting degree results just a few weeks after the end of exams is that as soon as you are all celebrated out of one thing, it's basically time for the next one! 

2. Get a massage
There was a time when my shoulders didn't ache from sitting at a desk, stressed and tense, leaning over a laptop. But that was a very long time ago, and I miss it. I currently spend my days trying to find the best way to attach a hot water bottle to my shoulders, and how best to position myself in the bath to get maximum shoulder ache relief. I feel like I'm about 50 years too young for this to be a legitimate pastime. So one of my top priorities is to sort this out: have my back slathered in oil, in a room full of scented candles, and live the dream of pain-free shoulders. 

3. Read the books that aren't good train reads
Some books deserve more attention than you could possibly give them on the train. They need concentration free from screaming children and passenger announcements, and these are the books that have remained on my bookshelf for far too long, until a time when I knew I had the time and space to read them. My most eagerly anticipated are Toni Morrison's God Help the Child, Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed and, I suppose, I should finally get round to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Any recommendations or reviews would be much appreciated!

4. Sort of this gap year of dreams
After all that time wishing it would be time for gap year of dreams, it's almost here and largely unplanned. But that is ok, because I've got a huge list of ideas that I just need to decide on and book and then it's going to be fine...and dreamy. I've already got a few trips planned: Greece with my top gal in June, the whole of July in South Africa, and a birthday trip to a surprise destination with Simon in September - so I'm not doing too badly, and I've got plenty of travelling to look forward to! If all goes to plan, there'll also be a trip to trip to the Battlefields in the Autumn, Germany in the Winter, and a USA tour in the Spring.  I'M SO EXCITED. 

5. Get my nails done
I could count the number of times I've had my nails done on one unmanicured hand. Every time I contemplate it I realise that I've left it too late, there's something more worthwhile to spend my money on, and that I already own a lot of nail varnish. But after months of handwriting revision notes and filing my nails so short that they don't dig into my hand when I'm writing exam essays, I'm ready for them to look fab and colourful and summery. 

6. Not-a-summer-bod-but-not-an-exams-bod
I am a self-confessed bored eater, and this is never more problematic than during revision time. Despite endless attempts to fill the fridge with healthy snacks so I don't enter the exam period sad and fat, there's always chocolate and there's always biscuits, and you always want them more than carrot sticks. Whilst I think the notion of a 'summer body' is quite frankly ridiculous, non-descriptive and seemingly relies upon starvation or laxatives, I do think it's time to rediscover a healthier, more toned and, soon to be, more tanned body. If there's one thing I've learned from my brother it's that the key to life is losing more chub than you actually want to, and then you can eat yourself back up again. 

7. Go outside 
The revision period is marginally less tragic when you can revise outside. I have semi-fond memories of revising for my A Levels in beautiful sunshine, sitting in the garden for 12 hours a day. By the time they finished, I had got loads of fresh air, learned all my notes without becoming too tragically bored, and also had a killer tan. Unfortunately, since Easter is so early this year, and exams are early too - the sunny revision dream has not been realised. Instead I've opened all the windows and put on all my jumpers. I can't wait to properly go outside and be outside all day and not have to worry that I won't be able to see my laptop screen, because I don't have to look at it all day any more. I'm going to walk everywhere (unless we have a hopeless summer and it rains all the time, then I'll drive with the windows open). 

8. Go to roller disco, damn it

When I was a kid, my brother, mum and I, along with some family friends, used to go to the roller disco at the leisure centre on a Saturday evening. It was so fun. I can't have been since I was about 11, and I am dying to go again. I wasn't very good at roller blading aged 10, and I don't anticipate to be very good at it now...but I am convinced it's going to be SO FUN. A night of drinks, debauchery and rollerblading in Vauxhall? Yes please. Who's with me? 

9. Get busy in the kitchen
Ok, so this one might not be wholly conducive to no. 5 but it was one of my new year's resolutions, and since returning from Copenhagen I've been inspired to learn to cook Vietnamese food and vegan pastries. I can't wait to have all the time to experiment with different recipes, make up my own, and make a really nice recipe book full of all my favourites. Last year I'd planned to organise a Macmillan coffee morning, but then spending 12 weeks with my fingers in bandages somewhat compromised my baking ability and I never quite got round to it. So that's what I'm hoping to do this year - combine my love of cooking with doing something worthwhile for charity. Keep your eyes peeled, because I'm relying on all you lot to come and eat some cake and help me raise some money. 

10. Scrapbook & crafting 
I started a scrapbook during the summer after my first year of uni, entitled 'Summers of fun', in an attempt to document all the things I did during my uni summer holidays. With 3-4 months to yourself every single summer at uni, I wanted to be able to look back on them and felt like I'd spent them wisely, remembering the things I did and the places I went during them. I half-heartedly carried it on last number, before running out of money I could justify spending on ordering photo prints, stencils, ribbons, and pretty stickers - all of which are absolutely necessary for a good scrapbook. However, I did keep all the bits and pieces I collected from different trips, so I've got them ready for when I start up again this year. Another thing I'm desperate to make is a mobile - you know those ones you can hang above your bed. In the Airbnb we stayed at in Copenhagen, the host had a really cool Moomin mobile, and it's inspired me to make my own. All I need to do is decide on a theme! 

What are your celebratory post-uni, pre-adult plans? 


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