Lifestyle: What’s It Really Like to be in an LDR?

Over four years of (term-time) long distance has meant we were well practiced in the Sunday-goodbyes, late-night phonecalls and Skype dates. It’s not the easiest situation to be in, though thankfully we managed to squeeze in plenty of visits and weren’t *too* far from each other. And, as regular readers will know, it came to a permanent end this summer, culminating in us moving into a flat in London right at the end of August. For now though, here’s a bit of an insight into what it’s really like going through university in a long distance relationship…

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Fear Of Missing Out

This is a big one for me, I suffer from FOMO dreadfully! Whether it’s something going on up at Will’s (I was gutted I missed going to see the Bond film with him last year), or if there’s a night out planned at mine when I’m away on a visit, it’s always difficult to accept missing out on things. Realistically though, it’s inevitable with an LDR.

Hatred & Love for Train Stations

I used to get dreadful motion-sickness on trains, but definitely not anymore! It’s also definitely induced both a love and hatred of train stations. I love them on Friday nights; getting to wait until you see that face in the crowd, then Sundays are spent hiding my face in his chest pretending I don’t need to leave. I do now have a love for St Pancras/Kings Cross though, after his nearby proposal! Oh, and I also knew the Southeastern timetable off by heart…

Visit Spreadsheets

Both being a bit of a geek means that spreadsheets are the easiest way of keeping track of visits. We try to plan them at least four weeks in advance, so we can take advantage of cheaper train tickets and try and plan social bits and bobs (see FOMO!) around them.

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Delay Repay

Relying on trains means delays happen. Annoying but true! Very often a tiny delay on one line will lead to us missing connections, I feel like I spend a good chunk of my time applying for compensation. The best one is still in our first year, when I got to St Pancras on my way back to university only to find heavy snowfall had cancelled all trains…the thought of being stranded overnight was terrifying!

Phone Permanently in Hand

Being apart meant it quite often feels like I’m in a relationship with my phone. I tended to carry it from room to room, and in some ways it still felt like a new relationship – every text will make me smile. Even now my first thought when something exciting happens will be to text W. Yep, even when he is sat next to me…

 photo 2016-02-14 15.21.08_zpswfg3l2wt.jpgSo yeah, it wasn’t easy, but at the same time I wouldn’t have had it any other way! I know this is a bit of a cliche, but I truly believe that if it is meant to be, things will work out. Sure, you’ll have to work at it, there were so many times I cried and said I’d had enough, but we fought through it and four years later he gets to see all my bad hair days, my spotty days, my hormonal days…there’s definitely bonuses to LDRs too!

Have you ever been in an LDR? How did you find it?

University: Is A Degree Worth The Cost

This is something I’ve been pondering lately. Whether my degree, my single A4 certificate, is worth the approximately £38k worth of debt it’s cost me. Whether it was worth the tears and stress it caused. Whether, if I had the choice, I’d go back and do it all again.

 photo Is Uni Worth It4_zpsyehyblru.pngIn short, I’m not sure I would.

My Voucher Codes has been looking into whether a degree is worth it, with some quite interesting results! With nearly 425,000 students having started university this year, it’s clear it’s still very much the popular option for post-18 education. They’ve had a look at what are students are getting for this money and how best to approach University so a student can achieve maximum return on their investments – have a read here.

 photo 12565358_10153494959529541_4248232404245365900_n_zpszpriqbcz.jpgI did love my university experience, I made friends I know I’ll be forever close to, I gained a First in a subject I did (and indeed do) love. My degree is as relevant to my career as it can get, my placement year was a blast. But there’s still a little niggle at the back of my mind that wonders whether it was really worth paying 9,000 pounds a year for.

Back when I applied and began university, a degree was the only way to get into the career I wanted, the career I have finally just begun. The year after they started taking on apprentices, and that’s continued. Typical – I know for definite had that option been available I’d have taken it.

Then there’s the experience, the qualifications. I went for a very applied course, which hopefully has cut my time to being fully qualified in half. I also did a placement year in the exact field I wanted. All things I hoped would help me get a job. I actually heard “you’re too experienced” and “you have too many exemptions” after final-stage rejections more times than I care to remember last year. Turns out you can be (and I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet here!) “too good” for graduate roles…

 photo University Goals2_zpsrujei6ip.jpgIn terms of my actual degree, I enjoyed it. I felt like I got a good amount of teaching – 20+ hours pretty much every week in all three years. I did extremely well, with the exception of two modules. The majority of my lecturers were hugely intelligent, approachable and generally willing to help. I got exposed to specialist computer software that even most recent graduates don’t get near once on the job.

The university experience? Well as someone who doesn’t particularly like a lot of alcohol (more than one glass of wine sends me to sleep), I was never going to love it. I like my sleep, going out at 11pm isn’t really for me – that’s bedtime! Don’t get me wrong, I had some great nights in with friends, I don’t feel like I ‘missed out’ but I certainly wouldn’t have said the experience was worth it.

So yep, I have a piece of paper worth £38,000. I’ve gained two best friends, strengthened my relationship and learnt an awful lot of maths. At the end of the day I got my dream job, which of course makes it all worthwhile. But if you’re umming and ahhing about going? I’d strongly recommend looking into all other alternatives first!
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*Collaborative post.

Do you think university was worth it? I love reading about other’s university experiences (check out Amy’s experience here – it’s quite similar to my own!) so I’d love to know if you think it was worth the money/debt!

University: Simple Student Meals with McCain

It’s finally here, the time everyone has been waiting for – the start of the university year. Whether you’re coming to uni for the first time or just moving out of halls and into your first student flat with all your mates, chances are there are going to be some quite important ice-breaker meals just around the corner. Whether you’re swapping stories of crazy summer holidays, soul-finding treks in Vietnam or long work-days saving up for Freshers Week, it’s important to have some serious nosh to keep the energy up.

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Remember, student life is all about working out your own way of doing things, and finding little life hacks that make your experience all the more smooth. The first tip for you: impressive food doesn’t have to have a hefty price tag or overly complicated preparation.

Avocado Fries – avocado is all the rage, and you’ll find tonnes of your fellow students are buying up all the stocks in the local supermarkets, but there’s more than one way to enjoy this versatile little fruit. Click here to discover the secret to avocado perfection – the humble McCain oven chip. Coat them in avocado blend and cover with breadcrumbs. Fry them up and you’ve got a delicious avocado-based snack food, with a zing of spice at its core.

 photo potato-wedges-843311_1920_zpsi2uqqlqi.jpgGarlic & Herb Wedges – probably the simplest dish on this list. Start by slicing up some potato into wedges and spreading on a baking tray, then finely chop garlic and mix with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Sprinkle this generously over your chips before seasoning with thyme and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes and you’ll have the perfect starter sorted.

Poutine – if you really want to impress your housemates, why not embrace the Canadian way of life by cooking up some Poutine. Poutine is essentially cheese curd melted over fries then soaked in gravy – Bisto Granules are a great way to make delicious gravy in a flash. It’s a taste sensation, and you’ll be able to introduce it to all your friends too.

Nacho Chips – a great party food that’s easy to make, this dish is basically the same concept as cheese and salsa nachos but with chips instead. Simply melt grated cheese over a plate of wedges before covering in a home-made salsa of chopped tomatoes, chillies, red onion, garlic and lime juice. The result: a more filling alternative to nachos that’ll tide you over during even the heaviest Freshers night out.

 photo fried-eggs-456351_1920_zpsxum3qrrj.jpgBreakfast Fry Up – there’s nothing quite like a fry-up to get you over the long nights out. Everyone will have their own way of doing it, but yours will truly stick in their memories. This fry-up begins with a bed of hot, buttered toast which is then followed by two fried eggs. Sprinkle with crumbled feta, chili flakes and fresh basil and you’ve got yourself the ultimate hangover breakfast. A pot of beans on the side for dipping wouldn’t go amiss, either.

Some of this food sounds delicious – I’m so intrigued by the Avocado Fries, and of course you can’t beat a good fry-up (minus the beans of course, damn you allergy!). I have to admit that as a MASSIVE lover of chips’n’gravy, poutine is something I’ve always been meaning to make. I guess I’ve got no excuse now!

*Collaborative post. All opinions my own as always!

What’s your favourite super-simple meal? I have to admit I’m a fan of a crisp sandwich (smoky bacon, or salt’n’vinegar on buttered white bread) when I’m really craving quick comfort food!

University: Suriving on a Student Budget

Over the last month or so I’ve been talking to a few younger people, a few people who are just off to university. First off, I genuinely can’t believe it is over four years since I moved away for the first time; it still feels like yesterday. University definitely flew by in no time at all! Secondly, it was so, so clear that the fears I had are still the biggest worries today; how will they cope on a student budget.

 photo Student Budget_zpss6by45ja.pngNow, I definitely have my own tips – cook fresh, choose shorter washing cycles, use low-energy bulbs, shop around for deals on bills – but retailer B&M are offering students their best tips on how to survive on a student budget with an infographic.

I thought it gave some excellent advice. Having a clear-out to raise extra cash is something that I did between my first and second year and I raised a lot of money, just from clothes and ‘junk’ I had lying around. I even got £80 for a old phone with a completely smashed screen! However my biggest tip is to utilise a piggy bank – throw any loose change into a jar at the end of the week and leave it there. It’s an easy way to save the pennies you would otherwise spend without thinking!

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*Post sponsored by B&M, all opinions are my own.

What are your top tips for living on a budget?

University: Student Kitchen Essentials

I think sorting out all my kitchen stuff for university was the most difficult part. I was already a pretty keen cook back then, and knew I really wanted to keep both baking and experimenting with dinners right the way through university – and not deal with non-non-stick pans and replacing things after every year. I know I spent quite a bit more than the average student on my bits and bobs, but at the same time the vast majority made it through my four years away and will be used more over the next few years.

 photo Kitchen Essentials_zpss8sq0dms.pngMost annoyingly, the flat I’ve just moved into has an induction hob. The pans I’ve kept nice throughout university, carted up and down the country and made W carry up four flights of stairs? Yep, they weren’t induction suitable. But hello new shiny pans! #everysilverlining

Over the last few weeks I’ve worked alongside the Steamer Trading Cookshop to put together a list of student essentials, a Back to Uni bundle if you wish! It includes some pieces I’d definitely recommend to all new students, and some things I really wish I’d had…

Crockery and Cutlery. This is where I kept things simple and saved money. You don’t need a set, you don’t need a fancy pattern. I went for a plain white set and it’s lasted me well (plus it’s far easier to photograph new recipes on white crockery!). You’ll need a big plate*, a small plate*, a large bowl* and a mug*. I’d suggest grabbing a small bowl too – and possibly pick up a few duplicates as you will most likely break something.

 photo Steamer Trading Cookshop University Bundle 7_zpsbyfv9fo0.jpg photo 2015-03-17 20.45.54_zpsnykmcwu1.jpgSpiraliser. These have become SO popular in the last four years, I picked up a julienne peeler just before the craze really kicked off but am loving have a ‘proper’ spiraliser* with varying blades. It makes the perfect courgetti for my low-carb-onara.

Pots and Pans. This is definitely where I spent most of my kitchen budget, I was SO hoping these would do me through university and beyond – and they would have done had I not been moving into a flat with an induction hob. At absolute minimum I reckon a student would need a small saucepan, a large saucepan/casserole dish and a wok*. The wok can double up as a frying pan, and also as an extra saucepan if it’s deep enough – definitely worth picking one up.

 photo Steamer Trading Cookshop University Bundle 10_zpsrqfqk9dv.jpgMicrowave Gadgets. My kitchen in halls was disgusting. Our white chopping board was black by the November, we had ants in the fridge, the floor was permanently sticky and I wanted to spend as little time in there as possible. I did a lot of cooking prep in my room (I genuinely mixed up cake batters in there, carrying the filled tin straight to the oven). During that year, little gadgets to help me cook using the microwave (as I could clean it quickly before each use!) were lifesavers. Egg poachers, steamers, soup pots, popcorn makers* – I loved them!

 photo The Diet Reboot 3_zpswjavghiy.jpgWater Bottle. When I moved to uni, the one thing I noticed was I didn’t drink enough. At home someone always had the kettle on, was always making a pot of tea. Left to my own devices, I didn’t make myself drink and I quickly found myself getting dehydrated. A good water bottle definitely helped me combat this, I’ve talked about my love of Infruition bottles* before and it’s still strong!

 photo 2014-09-03 18.21.39_zpsdg8jsmbt.jpgKnives. These are definitely worth spending a bit more on, I’ve never enjoyed using a basic-level knife (something about the light-weight of them makings chopping seem like a lot more effort). A good knife set* will definitely last you through your time at university, mine certainly still looks as good as new.

 photo Steamer Trading Cookshop University Bundle 11_zps7i5ttx39.jpgToastie Maker. This is definitely something I wish I’d had in my first year. With my kitchen being as filthy as it was, I’d have loved the grill function of a 2-in-1 machine* to be able to cook myself meat/fish/veg/almost anything without having to clean the oven or hob first. Plus it makes gorgeous panninis. Need I say more?!

 photo Student Cookbooks 1_zpsw6vakr4z.jpgAlong with a stack of student cookbooks (though I’d also recommend grabbing a copy of Jack Monroe’s book to flick through), I reckon this lot would do even the most keen cooks through university. Yes, there’s some rather ‘extravagant’ bits there, but I know they’d have made some of my time away easier and a lot more enjoyable!

What are your kitchen essentials? 

University: 10 Things To Keep With You

I’ve done quite a few of the “What’s in my Bag” posts before; I love writing them, I love reading them (it’s my nosiness!), and in fact there will be another heading your way soon. However when Stagecoach offered to send me over their guest post listing “top 10 things every new student needs in their purse” I decided it would be a great way to show off what the essentials are, minus all the unnecessary rubbish I carted around…

 photo 10 Things To Carry_zps54hnoupw.jpgHeading off to uni? With the rush of socialising, studying and general shenanigans you’re about to undertake, it’s easy to forget the little essentials. From what you’ll need in your bag to what you should pack in your purse, this is a list of the top ten items to carry with you at all times.

Student Bus Pass – sure, you’ll probably walk around campus. But, unless you’ve paid extra for student accommodation right near your university, you’ll generally be placed in halls that are a few miles away. Grab a student bus pass from a company like Stagecoach – sure beats walking through the rain.

Cash – the universal way to engage in pint-drinking, snack-eating or stationary panic-buying. Make sure you’ve got some on you.

Bank Card – cash always runs out, so it’s handy to have a backup on you at all times. Debit cards are a great way to keep cash nearby – especially after loan day.

 photo Whats In My Handbag - Intern Edition - 6_zps8ky5beln.jpg photo Whats In My Handbag - Intern Edition - 4_zpsrtuffmze.jpgDriving Licence/ID – unless you’re (un)lucky enough to look 25+, you’ll need a valid form of ID to get into clubs. Nobody wants to be turned back at the door when you’re with a group. A driving licence is the best type of ID, as it fits into your purse.

NUS Card – you’ve heard about a student discount, hit the shops and then suddenly you’re out of luck. How do you get all these great deals? A NUS card! Despite the fact you’ve got to pay a fee, they’re great to have and the savings outweigh the price.

Student ID – if you need an ID card to get into the library or other campus facilities, you should carry it at all times. After all, you never know when the need to study will strike.

Pens – okay, so these won’t fit in your purse – but you will need them. Don’t be the girl in lectures who has to ask to borrow one.

 photo 2016-08-01 14.50.47_zpsmjw4h7ke.jpgChewing Gum – heading out after a day in class? You’ll need a way to perk yourself up. Chewing gum helps keep your breath fresh and it’s easy to carry with you.

Railcard – if you’re heading back home and need to hop on a train, a railcard is a great little extra to buy that helps you save. National Rail do lots of student discounts and you’d be mad not to cash in on them.

Condoms – nobody wants to be captain safety, but carrying some kind of protection on nights out is handy so you can avoid any potential disasters.

 photo 2016-08-01 14.51.47_zps29wwbwq9.jpgI have to admit, not too sure about the last one – carrying the same one around in a wallet feels a bit unsafe to me (surely the constant friction wouldn’t be good?!) but other than that, some pretty good advice from Stagecoach here. I always used to carry some sort of snack on me too, usually a Nakd bar or similar, just in case of any sudden hunger pains!

*Post in collaboration with Stagecoach.

What do you always carry with you?

University: Moving Into A New Student House

Moving into a new student house is such an exciting time – but it can also (I speak from experience!) be rather stressful There is a lot to do when you move into your student house – here’s this checklist to help you out!

 photo Moving into a new Student Let_zpsyxxm2pzd.jpgPlenty of things can go wrong when moving into a new student house, or indeed any house. Furniture promised may have disappeared, keys may be missing (it took several weeks to get all the keys for my final year property!), or the house may simply not be in a good state – my housemate was first to move into our second year place, and it was far from clean and tidy! This advice from Walton Robinson points out how you can make your life just that little bit easier when moving in.

1) Make a plan in advance -There is nothing worse than not having a plan for an event like this. When moving house, you want everything to be as stress free as possible. Maybe you can your family and friend if they can lend a hand? If there’s a few of you moving together, it could be worth hiring a van so you can do it all in one trip! I would also make a packing list; things you need, last minute ‘to dos’ etc – I love having it all written down.

2) Paperwork – Moving is stressful, before you move into your house it is vital you make sure that all paperwork is complete and all fee and rent payments have been made. If you’re in a group, make sure every single one of you have completed everything – if just one person is missing one payment or piece of paperwork we won’t give out any keys at all until everything is 100% complete!

 photo University Room Tour 10_zps3x44t9ce.jpg photo University Room Tour 8_zpsg9vm9b9h.jpg3) Collecting the keys – Check with your agent or landlord if there is a certain time you have to collect your keys. It is often after 3pm and you may need to call up and make an appointment in advance. Speak to your housemates about when they’re moving in, the first person may be able to come to the office and collect all the keys.

4) Know your point of contact – When you collect your keys make sure you are given the number and email address of the person you need to contact if there are any issues with the property, and if there is a separate number for out of hours’ emergencies. This will either be the landlord or, if your property is managed by an estate agent, your property supervisor. You should also appoint a lead tenant, someone who is the maid point of contact for informing you about viewings and inspections.

5) Inventory – You will be given an inventory when you move in, either from your estate agent or the landlord. Make sure you know the deadline for returning the completed inventory (often it is seven days) and that you pay close attention to every item and make any corrections that may be necessary. This will help when it comes to moving out and getting your deposit back at the end of the tenancy. My top tip is to also note on the inventory any marks, any damage and the general condition of everything listing. Take photographs if necessary!

 photo University Room Tour 15_zpswnprsa4v.jpg photo University Room Tour 3_zpsovbo3xie.jpg6) Utilities & Bills- You will be asked to record meter readings on your inventory form. Keep a note of them as you will need this information when creating new utilities accounts. If you need any help with this, call your property supervisor and they will be happy to help.

7) Council Tax –  Students are exempt from paying council tax but you will need to inform the council of your exemption status or you will be sent a bill.

8) Summer Arrangements – If you’re moving your things in but not actually living there over the summer, let your landlord or agent know. This bit’s obvious but remember to switch the heating and any plugs off before you leave and make sure you don’t leave any valuables on display! You never know who might be peaking in.

And if you aren’t living there over summer, if you’re leaving the property for good, read over top 10 tips for what to do before you move out to help avoid deposit charges!

 photo University Room Tour 11_zps5lkerh8w.jpgI hope this post from Walton Robinson will give you an idea of what to expect when moving into a new student house, and how to make the process a little smoother. Good luck with it all if you’re moving soon – I’m currently in a sea of bubble wrap and cardboard boxes myself!

*Post sponsored by Walton Robinson, as always all opinions are my own.

Are you moving soon? Do you have any tips for making a house move as stress-free as possible?

University: What I Took, and What I Needed

It’s really difficult to believe that it’s been four whole years since I was dashing round shops, spending a fortune, choosing bedding, grabbing every kitchen utensil Aldi had to offer and trying (and failing!) to fit it all in my parents car.

 photo What to Take to Uni_zpszfifcl2h.jpgFor me, I am an over-packer. I always have been, and I probably always will be. I like to be prepared for every possible scenario (that’s the girl guide in me), I like my home comforts. Other than take more stuff, there’s not a huge amount I would change about my packing approach towards university, and my advice would always be “if you’re thinking about it, take it” – after all, you can always store unwanted pieces.  The only headache will really be on moving day – will it fit in the car, where will it all go…I had a lot of stuff, and there’s definitely things I didn’t need, but equally there’s bits that I forgot and really missed. For a full ‘What Should I Take To University‘ packing list, see last year’s list. But for now…
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What I Bought & Wish I Hadn’t

Airer, textbooks, duvet sets, ironing stuff.

To be honest, in comparison to a lot of students I don’t have too many regrets about the things I bought. I spent a lot of money and a lot of time getting decent kitchen bits, and I used every single bit. And spending that bit more on saucepans is, if you can, something I highly recommend. Mine were all Tefal ones, a Homesense bargain if I remember correctly, and they are still going strong. They’ve done four years, and will be moving down to London with myself and W – the plan is to hope someone buys a set off our eventual wedding list in two years to replace them!

I do regret taking a big airer to university – in first year I just chucked everything in the laundrette’s driers, and in other years there were so many airers cluttering up our house it made sense to share. I’ve not ironed a single thing since I was about 15 (and even then I think it was only two school polo shirts!) so I didn’t take any ironing stuff, and I’d definitely recommend the same. I just wouldn’t bother!

The biggest regret for me, particularly when I moved into halls, was the bedding stuff. I’d bought mine a while in advance, but it turned out I was allocated a room with a weird dimension of bed – it was 7ft long! It meant none of my sheets fitted – and then when I moved out for second year I had to upgrade from single to double pieces. I’d definitely stick to just one set if I did it again.

 photo 2015-07-07 19.34.13_zpscaichsk4.jpgWhat I Forgot & Wish I’d Bought

Casserole dish, potato masher, mirror, food tray, radio, flip flops for the shower.

It’s probably pretty obvious to regular readers, but I’m a huge fan of cooking, and my kitchen bits and bobs are really important to me – so it was pretty annoying when I realised I’d neglected to take a casserole dish and a potato masher to university in my first term. No stew and mash for me!

I’d highly recommend attempting to find a cheap floor length mirror as it was a nightmare having to jump up and down in front of a tiny face mirror to see an outfit. Oh, and a radio is something my fiance recomends – he found it made him feel a lot less lonely in the morning upon waking.

The flip-flops is something that makes showering in a shared halls bathroom just that bit nicer. Trust me.
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The Undecided Stuff

Printer, cushions.

Oh, cushions. Throughout my time at university I have not regretted buying and owning so many cushions for my bed at all. But now I’ve come to graduate and will (all being well) be moving into a sleek modern flat in London. And my girly cushions won’t be coming. For one, there’s no room. Then they will clash with the existing decor and furniture, and will only encourage the very adult pillow fights between me and my fiance…

The printer is the thing I’m really undecided about. On one hand, they aren’t the cheapest, I rarely had to print anything, and its an easy way to save yourself a bit of money. On the other hand, walking to the library to get some lecture notes isn’t fun. I definitely used my printer a lot more in first year than I did in any other – but if you can hold on, I’d recommend sharing with housemates.

*Post sponsored by Davpack, who sell a dedicated Student Moving Kit. Gain 10% discount using the code STUDENT10. All opinions, as ever, are my own.

What bits and bobs did you find you really needed at university? Which things were a waste of money?

University: I Graduated!

Just a quick post from me today – it seems that the past six months have finally caught up with me and I’ve now succumbed to the illness that’s been threatening for weeks. Yep, less than 48 hours after graduating my throat felt like I’d been swallowing razor blades, and I decided bed was the best option. Not great when I still had W’s graduation to get through, though I must admit it’s quite nice to be ill whilst at home with someone to look after me!

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On Monday I finally and officially ended four long years of hard work. I walked along a stage, shook a hand and collected my degree certificate. Perhaps a bit of an anticlimax, but I loved every minute and *waits for applause* I didn’t fall over! I loved seeing my friends and coursemates all dressed up, throwing our hats in the air, and giggling as the more difficult names were stumbled over during the ceremony. I loved chatting to my lecturers, informing them I finally had a job lined up, thanking them for all the advice they gave over the last few years. I loved making my parents, sister and fiance proud, seeing their faces as I walked by in the cathedral. I loved the Ed’s Diner pancakes I had for breakfast, and the Belgian Waffle I ate at 10pm instead of dinner. And of course, I loved my final Pork & Co roll the day after.

 photo IMG_2070_zpsslbvkq9c.jpgIt was such a lovely way to end my time at Kent University, and whilst I can’t quite believe it’s over, I’m now super excited for the next step!

Have you graduated recently? How was your day?

Beauty: Graduation Makeup

First confession: I’ve been slowly planning my graduation makeup look for a long time, well before I even faced up to the fact that I was actually finishing university. I think this is part of the reason I got into makeup, actually, as I wanted to ensure I’d look my very best on graduation day.

Second confession: I’m also treating this as a mini-trial run for wedding ideas. Obviously it’s WAY too early to actually be planning that, but at the same time it’s at the back of my mind. I’ve always wanted to do my makeup myself, and so slowly building up a collection of ‘perfect’ products seems the best way to go about it.

 photo Graduation Makeup 1_zpsfdwdlxeu.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 6_zpsyj7jk6xh.jpgIn the end, I’m really glad the planning paid off. I was super happy with my makeup yesterday, and I think it stayed in place pretty well. I went for a slightly amped-up version of my usual look. Nothing too out there, nothing too different, and I still felt like myself. I’d highly recommend doing this – I reckon it minimises looking back at the photos and regretting. If you usually rock a bold lip, go for it. If you usually wear very little makeup, now is not the time to start piling it on. The most important thing is to be comfortable and be yourself. And with that in mind, my go-to neutral eye and berry tones got another outing.

If I’m honest, I was really stuck at first, debating whether I was going for a bold red lip or not. I’m definitely not averse to wearing it on a casual day, quite often wearing one to lectures (perfect way to make the jeans-and-t-shirt look like a bit more effort has gone into it!). However when I found my graduation dress it went well with the berry colours I love so much – problem solved!

 photo Graduation Makeup 2_zpsnbvrcgmz.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 3_zps4unzvz98.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 9_zpszfejo6sb.jpgMy base was my new favourite – Max Factor Miracle Match (full review) is the only foundation I have regularly worn since I bought it at the beginning of the year. I was debating going a shade up as I still have an ever-so slightly tanned complexion, but decided against it in the end. Mainly because nowhere had that shade in stock. 17 Stay Time Concealer hid the blemish-marks leftover from exam season, and my new love hid (that’s right, completely hid) my under-eye circles. NYX Under-Eye Concealer is the only thing that has ever really worked on my dark circles, and I’ve been addicted since I picked it up a few weeks ago. I doubt the pot will last long, but I love how awake I’m looking! I topped up my base just before my ceremony, buffing on Bodyshop’s Mineral Foundation. At that point my foundation was a good 5+ hours old, but still holding strong.

 photo Graduation Makeup 7_zpsbpecmed9.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 8_zpsx1ozaaeu.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 10_zpskvfhxc1z.jpgTo add colour I went in with Nars Douceur. No amount of moaning will explain just how gutted I am that this is discontinued, though my Tarte Exposed blush is almost as good. A little Hourglass Powder as a highlight and my face is pretty much good to go!

Eyes relied on my Charlotte Tilbury Quad, something which gets a lot of use. I used the two lightest shades during the day (for my lunch and School Awards Ceremony), and then amped it up a little for the graduation ceremony by blending the grey around the outer crease and adding Rimmel’s Kajal Liner in grey. A good healthy dose of mascara (Max Factor False Lash Effect) and filling in my brows completed the look.

 photo Graduation Makeup 4_zpsorcpryt0.jpg photo Graduation Makeup 11_zpsay9ftkvz.jpgAnd then, of course, lipstick. I knew roughly the shade I wanted, having fallen in love with MAC Mehr on my trip to Switzerland. However I knew that I would sooner have a non-matte formula for the whole day, and so treated myself to Fast Play. A gorgeous shade, slightly plummier than Mehr, hydrating, and giving a natural sheen to the lips. I can see this becoming a favourite!

What makeup do you rely on for a special occasion? Good luck to all those graduating this month!