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thewritingfinch

    feature, life, lifestyle, personal, student, travel

    Life Update

    life update.pngHello, lovely people! How are we all?

    It has been quite a while since I last posted anything – since April, I believe – so I thought it might be nice to get back into the swing of things by way of a little life update since it is all go go go right now.

    These past couple of months have been VERY BUSY INDEED. I have finished up my degree and am now just waiting on results which should be with me any day now (I have been refreshing the page roughly every five minutes all week), and just have my grad ball next weekend and graduation at the end of the month to go. Crazy.

    These past four years have absolutely flown by, and I know that I made the right decision with my choice of course and university. It has been stressful, of course, and there has been many a tear shed, but I am so grateful for all the things it has allowed me to experience and achieve, and feeling eternally lucky for the people that I have met along the way.

    Also…I GOT ACCEPTED INTO MY MASTERS.

    Ok, I have been telling everyone I have been accepted, and then I remember that I need to actually pass this current degree first and meet the condition of a 2:1 which is definitely doable (famous last words). I have even been conditionally accepted into not one but all three of the universities I applied for which is such a reassuring feeling since it was very heavily weighted on portfolio work. Everything going to plan, I will be heading back to university in September to study an MLitt in Creative Writing. Yep, more words. Can’t get enough of ’em.

    But, after graduation, and before I start my masters, I have another exciting project up my sleeve (apparently there is a lot of room up there, eh) – I am spending my summer in Fiji!

    On the 1st of July I will be flying out to the tiny South Pacific to live in a rural village and teach English, Maths and sports in a school. I will be working with a group of other UK university students so I won’t be alone out there, and it is being organised through an ethical volunteer charity called Think Pacific. I know there is the whole debate over white saviourism with this type of expedition, but Think Pacific are quite unique in their outlook by only going where they have been asked to, rather than just turning up and declaring that they are ‘here to help’. They also work in conjunction with the Fijian government to ensure the work that we are carrying out is the work that is actually needed, in order to ensure a better start to life for the kids in these rural areas who are at a disadvantage to those in cities where there are far more opportunities available and much higher quality schooling.

    Since I was going all that way, I also figured that it would be a shame not to do a bit of travelling afterwards, especially since the flights were so expensive! So, when the month in Fiji is complete, I will then be flying to Brisbane in Australia with a couple of other people from the project and travelling down the coast to Sydney over the course of two weeks. I am SO excited for this. Mind you, I haven’t met these people yet so I hope I like them considering I’m now going to be stuck with them for an entire six weeks…

    In other news, I also recently visited my best friend who is on a year abroad in Spain. We met up in Barcelona and the most fun weekend I have had in a very long time. It has been months since I last seen her, which has been quite the adjustment considering we have lived together for the first three years of university after being randomly placed together in student accommodation in first year and moving into our private rented flat the next year. I am not going to go into too much detail about this trip though because I am planning on doing a travel photo diary like I did for Hamburg in January. Stay tuned!

    And I think I will leave it there for now. I’m looking forward to being able to read for fun for a couple of months rather than constantly sticking to class reading lists, so I feel like I have got a bit of my old mojo back. Exams and dissertation writing was an incredibly stressful time, even more so than I could have imagined, but now I have finally reached a point of recovery that it isn’t too painful a topic to speak about.

    In typical me fashion, I also have a good bit of motivation suddenly (now that exams and my entire degree is finished, OF COURSE) so I am hoping to channel that into getting back to blogging and preparing for my impending trip.

    Hope you didn’t miss me too much!!

     

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    AD, books, quotes

    9 Of My Favourite Shakespeare Quotes *

    shakespeare day 1.jpgHappy Shakespeare Day!

    When I was still in school, the thought of reading and studying Shakespeare frightened the life out of me. I mean, it still kinda does even after four years of an English literature degree (that is a scary sentence to write when I have my first exam of the semester tomorrow, which also happens to be my second last exam of my WHOLE ENTIRE DEGREE. Touchy subject ok).

    But, there is really no denying that the big man himself has written some pretty great words to live by. I haven’t read a whole lot of William Shakespeare, if I am being entirely honest with you all, but Shakespeare quotes are pretty much a staple in any book lover’s life. They are timeless.

    shakespeare day 2.jpgWhen Viking reached out and offered to send me a box of goodies to get creative to celebrate Shakespeare Day, this year marking 403 years since his death on 23rd April 1616, I instantly knew that I wanted to incorporate some of my favourite lines of his into the blog post.

    I have to say, it was one of the most exciting boxes I have ever received. I didn’t expect to get so much! It contained everything I would need to write my own love letter, right down to the stamps, as well as beautifully packaged tea and a gold frame for hanging prints. Now just to find someone to actually write a love letter to

    The colourful Staedtler pens have come in so handy for studying these past couple of weeks and highlighting important quotes in texts, and don’t even get me started on how giddy I was to discover that inside that black box was an actual fountain pen complete with a feather. Childhood dream come true. I can rest assure you that the quality of everything is fantastic, and I will definitely be looking to them in the future for all my stationery needs (and I have a lot of them).

    shakespeare day 4shakespeare day 5I tried my best to make something that looked sort of *almost* good but, quite clearly, there is a reason why I am not known for my artistic ability. That said, I had a ridiculous amount of fun procrastinating from my studying at the weekend putting this together and admiring my slightly shaky handiwork.

    Without further ado, here are some of my favourite Shakespeare quotes of all time.

    shakespeare day 3

    “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” – As You Like It

    “Conscience doth make cowards of us all.” – Hamlet

    “What’s past is prologue” – The Tempest

    “It is not in the star’s to hold our destiny but in ourselves” – Julius Caesar

    “The course of true love never did run smooth” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” – Twelfth Night

    “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    “Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Hamlet

    “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” – Romeo and Juliet

    shakespeare day 6.jpg

    A huge thank you to Viking (and Jennie) for this opportunity – this is the most fun I have had with a blog post in a long time!

    *This post contains gifted items.
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    books, currently reading, WWW Wednesday

    WWW Wednesday #4

    WWW WEDNESDAY graphicWWW WEDNESDAY GRAPHIC 1.png

    WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Taking on a World of Words.

    CURRENTLY READING

    The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Blythell / Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan / You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

    As usual, I’m reading far too many things at one time. The Diary of a Bookseller is excellent for this though, because it is one of those books that you can dip in and out of and never feel lost. I am making the slowest possible progress through it, but I actually don’t mind.  It is written by the owner of The Book Shop in Wigtown, Scotland, which isn’t too far away from my hometown but I have never visited, and this book is making me really want to take the drive down.

    I’m also alternating between reading and listening to Hold Back the Stars on my kindle and on Audible. I’ve never really gave audiobooks a shot before, if I am honest, but Jenn from Jenniely gifted me this one so that I could try it! Easing myself in by trying it with a book I also had the e-book version of so I can swap between them if I fancy. So far so good!

    And finally, You’d Be Mine is an ARC set to be released in April which I am working with St Martin’s Press and Erin Hahn on, so although the review will be a little while away, keep an eye out for that! LOVING it so far.

    RECENTLY READ

    Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu / The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells

    I’ve really just been doing university required reading recently, including these two texts for my Victorian Gothic literature class, both of which I really enjoyed. Carmilla is a lesbian vampire tale, and I’m sure you will heard at least something about Dr Moreau before and his experiments on animals on the mysterious island.

    READING NEXT

    Mrs Miniver by Jan Struther / Dracula by Bram Stoker

    Again, more university reading to do! I have to read Mrs Miniver for my 1930s lit class as I have to do a presentation on it next week (ugh) and then Dracula is also for next week, for Vic Gothic. I’ve read the Liz Lochhead play version of this before, but never the original, so I am so excited to see if it is how I expect it to be!

    What have you been reading? 

    *This blog post contains affiliate links for Book Depository.

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    book review, books, feature, how to

    How to write the perfect book review (by ignoring all the “rules”)

    photo-1527530527470-c55f85665e89.jpgSource: Unsplash

    I have seen quite a lot of blog posts recently detailing the “Seven Steps to Writing the Best Book Review Ever!!!” They tell you how to lay it all out and what should and shouldn’t be included, which sounds like a pretty good idea at first.

    But, the more of them I see and the more I think about it, they are really starting to get on my last nerve.

    Blogging is all about expressing yourself, right? So how can you do that when you have to abide by a specified set of rules?

    I don’t know how other people do it, but no extensive planning goes into any of my blog posts. I know roughly what I want to say, and so I sit down at my desk (or in my bed, more like) and start typing. Sometimes this means that it turns out as the biggest load of crap you would ever read in your life, but that is what editing as for. I am a big believer in just getting it all down and then sorting it after. I write all my essays and stories this way, and it has been working pretty well so far for me. I do a giant brain dump onto the page/screen, and then sort through it all to find what I was really trying to say in there. You don’t have to do it this way, of course, but this is the method that works for me.

    So how can I then work through a set of rules? That would be changing my writing process entirely.

    This is why I am here to tell you – in an equally unplanned ramble – that I don’t think there can or should be a step by step guide to writing a book review, or any kind of blog post. Sure, it might be helpful if you are starting out and need a helping hand. If using these guides works for you, then great! I don’t want to stop you or tell you you are wrong for doing so.

    What I am trying to say is that things like this feel to me like they are taking the creativity and spontaneity out of blogging, which is part and parcel of the fun. If I don’t want to list the five million places you can buy a book, then fine! If I want to say that I can’t decide whether or not I like a book, cool. If I do or don’t want to use some sort of star rating system, great.

    We all have our style of writing and our own process for getting our thoughts out there, which is why no two blogs are the same. It would be pretty boring if we were all regurgitating the same few things on every blog you clicked onto.

    I, for one, am going to continue abiding by own blog “rules” – and that is that there are none.

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    lifestyle, personal, recommendations, travel

    TRAVEL DIARY: 21 hours in Hamburg

    hamburg.jpgHello! Do you still remember who I am?

    I haven’t been blogging much the past month or so, while I got back into the swing of things with uni after the long Christmas break. I am now halfway through my final semester of classes in my four-year-long degree which I CANNOT BELIEVE I am even saying right now. I really love my classes this semester actually, especially my one on Victorian Gothic literature (Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, The Island of Dr Moreau, some Sherlock Holmes, SO MUCH GOOD STUFF) so it hasn’t even been much of a task making myself sit down at my desk and crack on with it. It makes such a difference to your productivity levels when you really love what you are doing, doesn’t it.

    Anyway, now that I truly have the hang of it again and am back into a good routine, my blog can return from its place on the back burner. I have missed writing on here!! I have a couple of blog posts planned for the next couple of weeks, including a book review on The Wicked King, if you aren’t sick of those already from every other book blog under the sun (although I could read people’s thoughts on Jude and Cardan all day long).

    Today though, I wanted to tell you about a very exciting and last minute trip I took a couple of weeks ago with my flatmate courtesy of Ryanair flight sales.

    Yep, I went to Germany for the day for the same price as it would cost to get the train home for the weekend.

    Warning: long post ahead.

    hamburg 1hamburg 2The week before we went, or even knew we were going, my flatmate got an email through advertising cheap Ryanair flights as part of their January sale. It started off as sort of a joke, wondering where we could jet off to, and we started looking at flight times without really caring about the destination. Most of them didn’t suit because they didn’t fit around our university classes, and since we are semi-responsible adults now we didn’t want to miss anything so close to graduation. Then we spotted one to Hamburg in Germany that meant we would only be away for a day in total, and a few minutes later we were booked. Read more

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    books, cover reveal, excerpt, giveaway

    Excerpt: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

    OnlyABreathApart_Tour_Banner.jpgKatie McGarry has been one of my favourite YA authors for quite a while now, which makes me even more excited to be a part of her blog tour for her latest release, Only a Breath Apart!

    You may remember when I was involved in the cover reveal for this book back in June last year, which I was absolutely thrilled about, especially when I saw how stunning the cover actually was.

    I am currently reading this (along with a million other things as per) and I think I am about 40% of my way through so far on my Kindle and I can definitely say it is right up there with the best. Think childhood friendships coming back together, controlling parents, psychics with a touch of magic, and whatever comes after the 40% mark. Told through the alternating viewpoints of Jesse and Scarlett, this is written in my favourite style for YA contemporary romance. I’ll make sure to do a review when I finish because it is one I have a feeling I will just have to share.

    For now, though, I have a little excerpt and a bit about the book that I can share with you to hopefully tempt you into buying as well. There is also a link to a giveaway at the bottom of this post for the chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card – you could spend some of it on this book!

    McGarry_ONLY A BREATH APART_cover.jpgABOUT ONLY A BREATH APART:

    They say your destiny is carved in stone. But some destinies are meant to be broken.

    The only curse Jesse Lachlin believes in is his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year.

    A fortuneteller tells Scarlett she’s psychic, but what is real is Scarlett’s father’s controlling attitude and the dark secrets at home. She may be able to escape, but only if she can rely on the one boy who broke her heart.

    Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings, but as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

    OnlyaBreathApart_Tour_teaser1.jpgEXCERPT

    SCARLETT

    “I thought you said you were meeting Camilla.”

    I jump at the sound of Dad’s voice and spin in his direction. “I am.”

    Dad studies me, and I hide my hands behind my back to conceal the slight quiver that could announce my guilt. when I left him, he was in good spirits, but his mood can quickly shift. There are two patched up holes in my bedroom that can testify to this. Dad replaced the drywall, covered it with fresh pain, but the perfection can’t take away from the memory of the way my heart pounded through my chest as he drove his fist through the wall.

    He inclines his head towards the booth of balloon animals. “Camila appears to be working.”

    “She’s getting off soon,” I say too fast as I bite back the need to ask why he didn’t go home like he said he was.

    “Why did you leave us if she’s still working? You said Camila would be done by five-thirty.” Read more

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    ARC, book review, books, ebooks

    Book Review: The Fallback by Mariah Dietz

    The Fallback

    Ever since the start of this year, I have suddenly found myself out of the reading rut that I have been stuck in for the longest time. I had felt it slowly weaning off at the end of 2018, but something about the feeling of a fresh start that comes hand in hand with a new year has done wonders for ability to relax and peel myself away from simply binge-watching Netflix for an entire day and feeling so sluggish and disgusting by the end of it.

    I have no doubt that this will all change once my final semester at uni gets fully under way and I am up to my eyeballs with books to read and words to write, but for now, I am reaping the benefits. And that is why I am so glad that the second book I read this year was such a winner.

    About the bookThe Fallback

    By Mariah Dietz

    Publish date: 10 January 2019

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Page count: 465

    (ARC provided for review purposes)

    SynopsisBreaking up is hard to do.

    It’s even harder when you’re not expecting it.

    Brooke Jensen is a planner. Not only in her personal life but also professionally as one of the most sought after event planners in Chicago.

    But, when the ideal life she built for herself, complete with handsome, long-term boyfriend and perfect apartment crumbles, she realizes there are some things you just can’t plan for.

    While trying to start anew from her best friend’s guest room and discovering the best doughnuts in the city, an idea sparks to life when she meets Levi. He’s intriguing, funny, and shockingly good-looking, and what had been a few stray thoughts becomes a new passion for Brooke, a blog detailing learning how to be single. The project introduces Brooke to new people and experiences, and keeps returning her back to Levi.

    But, Brooke learns kismet may have been wrong when she learns Levi is the last person she should be interested in.

    Falling for the wrong guy once has Brooke hesitant to start a new relationship, but Levi is quickly proving that The Fallback might be even better.

    TheFallback_banner

    My thoughtsI want to start off by saying that Brooke is a truly wonderful character. I have started writing this review mere minutes after finishing the book, and so it is all so fresh in my mind. I found her strong-minded and motivated, caring and generous, and just an all round great gal, to be honest. I really loved her commitment to work. Sure, she worked herself into the absolute ground but I couldn’t help but admire her ability to juggle a million things at once and be so successful in her field. It is rare to read about a working woman who is doing so well, and it was pretty inspiring actually.

    Now lets talk about Levi. If you read my feature last week on book boyfriends and how they give us an unrealistic outlook on love, but I adore them anyway – then Levi is exactly who I had in mind at the time, although I didn’t realise it yet. I only wish he was introduced slightly earlier in the book. It was around the 20% mark into the book that he first appeared, I think, so I felt like I was just kind of waiting for him to pop up before then. But, not to worry, because he more than made up for it.

    I also thoroughly enjoyed Mariah’s writing style. It was clean and easy to read, and not overrun with clichés (which is one of my absolute pet hates). It is a pretty long book at 465 pages, but I absolutely flew through it in no time at all. The characters were developed well, and I had such a clear image in my head of how I expected them to be. I really loved the dynamic between Brooke and her best friend Felicity. It reminds me of my own friendships and living with my best friend while being at university, which is the most fun. Admittedly, neither of us have young kids running around, but it is how I can imagine our friendship to be in ten years time.

    One other thing that I did pick up – as I am sure many of you would if you are like me – is how crazy it was that Brooke’s blog managed to get so popular so EASY. She doesn’t do anything in terms of promoting, she simply sits down and writes a post when she feels like it about whatever interesting thing she has done now. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely sounds like a blog I want to read. But, the way that she talks about it really just being for her and she doesn’t think she has much of an audience, and then all of a sudden she seems to be getting amazing recognition from it?! This is rather nit-picky of me though, and probably not something the majority of people would pick up on if they didn’t have a blog themselves and therefore didn’t realise just how much work goes on behind the scenes every day. And if that is the only real gripe I have, then that is not bad going.
    About the Author.pngMariah Dietz lives with her husband and three sons, who are the axis of her crazy and wonderful world in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Mariah grew up in a tiny town outside of Portland, Oregon, where she spent most of her time immersed in the pages of books that she both read and created.

    She has a love for all things that include her family, good coffee, books, travelling, and dark chocolate. She’s also obsessed with Christmas ornaments and all things Disney.

     

    Amazon US

    Amazon UK (available on Kindle Unlimited)

    Goodreads

    Author website

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    books, feature

    FEATURE | Are our book boyfriends giving us an unrealistic outlook on love?

    what makes a good book 1I have no shortage of so called “book boyfriends”.

    These are the boys – or men – that you read about in books and think ohhhh I’ll take three of those, please. They are ruggedly handsome, with messy hair and The Jaw (as my dad calls it – apparently the male lead in movies always have a prominent jaw line? I hate to admit it but I kind of see his point and it really does make me laugh).

    As someone who has been reading romance novels for a very long time now, starting off light and simple all those years ago with the classic Jacqueline Wilson novels and slowly progressing into the steamier alternatives of contemporary romance and the delightful fantasy romance of Sarah J. Maas, I am no stranger to this idea of the ~ultimate luuuurve story~.

    You know the one. There is either a ‘meet cute’ situation, or a hate-to-lovers epic story, or even a friends-to-lovers, but they all pan out the same way. They meet (or re-connect), get to know each other, their first impressions of each other were probably wrong, something comes along that derails it for a short time (an ex, a lie, a wrongful assumption) before they realise they are just right for each other and absolutely cannot live another day apart and off they prance into the sunset.

    So where is this in real life?

    The closest I get to a romantic story is a drunken snapchat from a boy with barely legible typing of words that I shall not even repeat.

    Where is my Rhysand, my Cardan, my Heathcliff, my Darcy, my Grey (lol), my big story? (Ok, maybe not Cardan. He’s a bit of a dick isn’t he. BUT, I haven’t read The Wicked King yet and I can’t wait to hate to love him more)

    I mean, I guess I am only twenty one years old. Maybe it just hasn’t come along yet. But I also think I am kidding myself on if I think it will ever be anything like I have read in any book.

    We have to remember that these men are fictional characters. As much as we really wish they did, they don’t exist in real life, and they never will.

    So are our book boyfriends giving us an unrealistic outlook on love?

    I would say they are. For years I have imagined this perfect love story that I am finally mature enough to know will never happen, but a girl can still dream, right?

    There lies the problem, though. I love reading them! I love pretending that this could happen to me or someone I know someday! I want to live in that fantasy world where men act like that! I want to end all my sentences in exclamation marks to express my pure and utter joy!

    (In fairness, if it happened in real life, I would probably be cringing and saying wondering if he was being serious.)

    But will I keep reading these books till the end of my days?

    Abso-freakin-lutely.

     

     

    Edit (14/1/19): Something occurred to me last night, after posting this blog post. I don’t know if it was something I read on Twitter and subconsciously took in as I scrolled mindlessly, but it popped into my head that this post isn’t the most inclusive. I think it is important to check ourselves and call ourselves out when we find ourselves wrongly missing out an important bracket, or there will be no real and positive change in the future. I talk about book boyfriends in this post, because that is how I see it in my head. But, this doesn’t apply to everyone reading this I am sure. I thought about going back through the post and changing the language to be inclusive of all sexual orientations, but decided that I wanted to write this instead after noticing my mistake. The feelings that I talk about throughout this post are universal, I’m sure, no matter whether it is your book boyfriends or book girlfriends that consume your thoughts. What’s important here is that we are all day-dreaming and enjoying reading and having our love/hate relationships with this fictional characters. Ok. That’s all. Make sure to check your writing too, and everything else you say online and in person.

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    feature, life, lifestyle, personal

    A 2018 Re-Cap

    photo-1482329833197-916d32bdae74Happy new year everyone! I know we all say it every year, but I really can’t believe 2018 has already been and gone. So much happened throughout the year, both for me personally and across the world, but at the same time, it also feels like it has absolutely flown in.

    2018 saw me start my fourth and final year at university. I definitely don’t feel ready to (hopefully) graduate in a few months time – I should still be that little fresh-faced eager first year who hasn’t a clue what is going on around me! My flatmate for the past three years also went off on her year abroad to Spain, so it has been a very different few months living with my school friend who took her place in the flat. I also started a new part-time job in September working behind the bar in my student Union, a job I absolutely adore. It is a surprising amount of fun working with only other students, serving students. Working nights doesn’t bother me in the slightest either, probably because I am a night owl anyway.

    My sister, her husband, and their three young children also visited in the summer. They live in America so it was an absolute delight to catch up with them properly and hear “Aunt Holly” coming out of their little mouths. At Easter, I spent two weeks on the east coast of Spain in a small town called Los Alcazares, which is the third time I have visited there now. I really love it there. It isn’t super busy, and everyone seems to know each other. Our favourite bar owner remembered us, and we would sit and drink the ridiculously large measures of gin into the small hours of the morning, chatting to the staff and the ex-pats who frequented it too.

    I also turned 21 just last week. I am officially an adult. To be honest, I was always kind of forgetting that I wasn’t already 21 because my friends’ birthdays are all earlier in the year so they have been that age for a little while. But still, it is pretty exciting, even if I do feel like I have to get my shit together now. And I can legally drink in America!! As if I haven’t been drinking in Scotland for years… Speaking of which, wow hangovers are a BITCH now that I am old.

    All in all, it was a pretty damn great year. There were many lows as well of course, many moments of self-doubt, lack of motivation, and generally feeling like shit. But, I am looking forward to 2019, and everything that it is set to bring. I hope to look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘actually, you’re not too bad.’ I hope to put in my best effort possible into my final semester, so I don’t come out the other end wishing I had done more, or tried just that little bit harder. I hope to graduate from university with a grade that I am proud of. I hope to plan what I am going to do next, which may include applying to study for my masters. I hope to do so some solo travelling, most likely to visit my best friend on her year abroad. I hope to be adventurous in the summer too, and maybe even work in that little part of Spain that I love so much. I hope to continue to write for fun, whether that is here on my blog, or articles for The National Student. I hope to read for fun, and not just because I have to attend a class on that book or topic.

    Here’s to all of us having another great year.

     

     

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