Thank you for returning back to my blog after such a long hiatus, it’s good to be back and writing again.
So why such a long break? Well the main reason is the stress and pressures of university and personal problems have caused some health issues for me recently. Alongside other projects I’ve been doing, this has left very little time to maintain my blog so, thanks to a kind notification from WordPress the other week celebrating my blog’s first anniversary, I’m now using The English Teacup as a hobby to help with recovery and as a way to kick my ass back into writing more.
To give this a boost, I’d like to introduce you to my new project, Photos and Words. This project is the simple idea of using photos I’ve taken to accompany flash fiction (something I’m very new to!). This project is in its very early stages and is basically one big experiment so please take a gander and leave me some feedback and thoughts on what you think – suggestions would also be appreciated! You can find out more about it by visiting this page: https://theenglishteacup.com/photosandwords/
You will also notice a few more changes that have appeared on my blog: a more streamlined banner, a couple of new pages and link to a PayPal donation button on my sidebar. Now, this last one I’d like to talk about in a little more detail. It costs me £22 per year to keep my domain name. Though this isn’t a huge expense, it mounts up quite rapidly when added onto my initial start-up cost. On top of this, there’s the time aspect – maintaining my blog involves hours of work and can be very time-consuming. This is the main reason it’s been at a standstill for so long, I simply don’t have the funds to do this in my leisure time at the expense of other (paid) projects. For this reason, I’ve decided to include the option of readers donating via PayPal to help go towards blog maintenance costs. Please don’t think this is going to my own purse – all donations will be kept aside to go towards the blog maintenance costs and to help reimburse the initial start-up costs. For this reason, if you enjoy reading my work and would like to see more of my content in the future, please consider donating if you are able to. Even donations the price of a coffee or a tabloid newspaper can go a long way in contributing to a much larger project. If you want any more information about this, please get in touch via my contact form page or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks again for coming back to my dear little blog, I hope you enjoy having a browse around my latest posts.
– The English Teacup
Volunteering at Newcastle’s Unity Festival
Summer becomes a glorious beacon of free time where we students dream of reinventing ourselves, travelling the world, writing books and doing everything that we don’t have the time to do when we’re studying. Within a few weeks of freedom however, we will most likely find ourselves binge-watching Netflix (need I mention how excited I am for season three of Orange Is the New Black?) while it rains outside and staying up until 4am taking Buzzfeed quizzes named ‘Can We Guess Your Favourite Colour?” to compare results with your equally disillusioned pal.
The four months leading up to September that once felt full of opportunity and freedom have suddenly turned into a frequent dilemma over whether it’s worth putting on makeup that day and a newly found passion for watching Eastenders rather than reading Weber.
So how do we get out of this comfortable yet miserable rut and motivate ourselves to make this summer recognisable to the one we spent long hours stuffed in the library daydreaming about?
- Plan, Plan, Plan
The more realistically you plan your summer out, the more likely you are to actually go through with it. Try doing a week by week set of objectives to keep yourself on track – just make sure you treat yourself kindly, it is summer after all!
We’ve heard this time and time again about the benefits of volunteering: helping out your community, meeting new people, looks awesome on your CV, allows you to brag about what a giving person you are etc. etc. but guys, it is worth doing whatever your reasons and though you get some volunteering duds, you get a lot more that will give you brilliant experiences. Try it out!
Okay, this isn’t the most exciting prospect but it will lead you to better things and part-time or full-time work can be an eye-opening break from the world of study. Just be sure to keep in mind that you have your entire life to work after university and this time is probably your best shot to branch out and focus your energies elsewhere.
- That thing you’ve always said you were going to do? Do it!
Come up with an action plan to keep you on track and focused. It might feel daunting at the beginning but there’s always a way to make something happen.
- Broaden Your Mind
Get a good understanding of something different or deepen what you already know by reading books, watching documentaries, attending classes, talking to other people etc. Not being bound by academia means you have no framework so you’ll have to come up with your own but the flipside of that is that you can take your learning in whatever direction you fancy.
“It’s too expensive” is the reason a lot of people give for putting off travelling but that’s only a limitation as much as you let it be and by no means am I saying that’s easy but it is possible to overcome. Whether you’re backpacking around Europe with a tent on your back or staying with your Aunt in Dorset for a few days, getting out in a different environment has great benefits.
- Explore New Hobbies
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at pottery or judo, now is the perfect time when you can really focus on learning the basics, plus, it means it’ll be far easier to keep up with in September when you’re back in education.
Okay, so maybe summer isn’t the best time to ditch drinking if that’s your thing but it might be easier to do it in June than during Fresher’s week. It’ll give your body a health boost and it might just change your perspective on your usual habits (a 6 month break from drinking did this to me and I’ve never looked back!).
- Visit Friends and Family
Uni life can disconnect you from your family and friends quite easily, especially if you don’t live at home. Though you can’t remedy this entirely, you can make the most of your summer days by making up for lost time and catching up on what you’ve missed out on.
- Go on a Health Kick
Whether you’re a dedicated gym-goer or you’re looking to escape a student-esque diet of leftover takeaways and flat beer, boosting the attention you pay to your health up a notch will make you feel better and fitter.
Chances are, being at uni has made you realise how little material possessions you actually need, or at least, it’s made you realise that the DVD collection you had when you were 13 no longer has a place in your life. Go through your old belongings and streamline what you own by handing them down to younger family members, selling them on or donating them to charity.
- Make a Five Year Plan
Okay, these are normally reserved for ‘national economic programs’, remember Stalin’s? Didn’t go so well. Anyway, spend some time figuring out where you want to be and how you plan on getting there, have back-up options in case something goes askew. Have a bit of fun with it and don’t limit yourself. Keeping the bigger picture in perspective really helps for motivation!
You don’t have to be able to write or know some topic through and through in order to share your thoughts/opinions/daily lifestyle with the world. You can start your own podcast, video blog or a more traditional blog – whatever format you prefer. It’ll help you develop your own style and can be a great portfolio to have handy.
- Explore Your City
Explore your city and go somewhere new
Go on a wander, go on a few, take a friend, a book, bottles of wine or a picnic. Whatever you choose, exploring the city you’re in can give you a whole new appreciation for it plus it means when term-time comes back around, you’ll be in the know of the lesser-explored spots and can use them to your advantage!
Perhaps the most important thing you will do your entire summer is relax. This is your opportunity to take a break from the stresses of life, something you may not be able to do so easily in the future. Make the most of it and enjoy yourself!