“She’s Good, But Not Much to Look At”

The above quote is not really anything I’ve heard someone say. I just wanted to talk about how famous people, especially women, are always expected to be extremely beautiful, so what happens when someone stands out as being a considered bit fat or ugly in the showbiz industry? I’m talking about both actresses and singers. Because whenever someone stands out like a sore thumb as being seemingly unattractive compared to the usual ‘Hollywood’ standard, they get some interesting reactions.

Take Rumer Willis. Go on her Imdb message board, or a comments section on an article about her on the Daily Fail’s website, and I’m sure you will find someone calling her ugly. Now I don’t like to be nasty about people’s appearances, but unfortunately for Rumer she has inherited her dad Bruce Willis’ jawline. But she is not ugly. No one is ugly. Another reason she gets criticised is because she’s famous for having famous parents – there’s the argument that she wouldn’t have got these opportunities to act or model if she didn’t have famous parents. I’ve never seen Rumer act, so I can’t comment on whether she has any talent in that field or not – but I think it’s kind of sad that being a successful actress apparently is synonymous with being beautiful. And it’s also quite unfair to judge someone on things they can’t control. Rumer couldn’t control her parents or her appearance.

Also take Sarah Jessica Parker. Now, before I go on – I admit it, I have had a laugh at http://sarahjessicaparkerlookslikeahorse.com/. Even though it’s not very nice…because once again, the message behind this is that Sarah stands out for the wrong reasons by being seen as ‘horselike’ especially when compared to the usual standard of Hollywood beauty. Again, I haven’t really seen any of Sarah’s acting to comment on whether she’s talented or not (that’s right, I’ve never watched Sex in the City.) but, once again, does it really matter if an actress is unattractive? I feel like this seems more prevalent in the Film industry than it is with Television or Music. I guess it’s understandable to some extent – if you’re going to have this actress in a leading role, and therefore in a good proportion of the film and its promotion, you’re not going to be happy if the viewers and reviewers are apparently too distracted by how ‘ugly’ the actress is to enjoy the film fully. (Probably an extreme idea, but still.) Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight was referred to as beautiful by The Joker in the film but viewers commenting on the Imdb boards mostly didn’t seem to agree. 

And then there’s Jennifer Lawrence – she has a beautiful face, but apparently she thinks she’s a ‘fat actress’. She’s well known for having a hilariously relatable personality – she talks about how much she loves pizza and food in general, but come on, she is not fat! I’ve never heard anyone call her that. She is *at a push* maybe a UK 10, while other actresses are probably around a UK 6-8. So I guess that’s where she’s coming from. Anyway, some writers have expressed issues with Jennifer’s comments, and I sort of agree with Jenny Trout when she says:

When Jennifer Lawrence makes these comments, it’s acceptable, because her body is still pleasing to our cultural expectation of voluptuous, slim-waisted, long-necked female beauty.

That said, I still really like Jennifer for just how funny and outgoing she seems to be. I think it’s refreshing to hear these kind of comments from someone who is aware of her impressionable young audience:

“I’m never going to starve myself for a part. I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner!’ […]I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed.” 

jennifer_lawrence_pizza

Moving on to singers – I think I’ve heard some comments now and then about Ellie Goulding or Jessie J being plain or possibly even unattractive. They both have amazing voices, so why should their appearance matter? How many times do the British Public need to have a ‘Susan Boyle’ moment wherein they realise not to judge people by their appearance? It already happened, on the same program (Britain’s Got Talent) with Paul Potts – Amanda Holden sitting there with her jaw to the floor because she had not expected such talent from someone that unattractive.

And finally, sticking with the singers theme – at least there has been some change  lately with Megan Trainor’s song All About That Bass. I don’t actually like this song very much, I think it’s quite annoying. I’m also not keen on the slight aspect of ‘skinny shaming’ that you get from it, but I’m sure that was unintentional.

Meghan-Trainor_All-About-That-Bass_video-snap

Even so, it’s still good that songs like this exist, because a lot of women can look at pictures of ‘perfect’ people in magazines, compare themselves to them, and think “I’m so fat” even though they may or may not actually be overweight. But any song with lyrics like “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top” is a good idea if you ask me.

We need to get across a message that you should love yourself for who you are, but ideally *without* putting others down in the process, without resorting to skinny shaming, or making statements like ‘real women have curves’ – No. Every woman is a ‘real woman’ no matter what their shape or size. I know it might be easy to have a ‘you don’t have anything to complain about, you’re so skinny’ attitude but thin women have as much of a right as overweight women to not be shamed or ridiculed.

Can’t we just be nice? And not judge people? I know that sounds cheesy and kind of implausible, but even so…obviously it’s natural to judge on appearances, we all do it. Apparently, ‘it takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make a first impression’ (Wikpedia) But is there really any need to be nasty when we judge people? 

Personally I’m glad I’m not famous because I can’t imagine anything worse than being constantly judged by everything you do and how you look. I already feel the same pressure as all other women my age do to be ‘perfect’. I think being famous must make that pressure ten times worse.


If you’ve read all of this rather long post, then thank you very much! Please feel free to leave a comment on what you thought of it 🙂 

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The Newsreader

Hi everyone, I have some more creative writing to share! This a continuation of my work in progress in the form of an introduction to one of the main characters in what could be a zombie novel or novella. I’m quite keen on his story though, so who knows, it may end up just following him. It’s a bit unusual for me to focus on an unlikeable character as the main narrator – not that he’s a villain, but you’ll see what I mean. 😉

Tom killed just one zombie when his workplace was attacked – his colleague Joanna. Another colleague, Simon killed two zombies before he died. His workplace is now relatively safe, although Tom has no idea that there are still zombies in the TV network building…

Taking refuge in his workplace, Tom Knight records a message, transmitted on repeat to the nation.

Tom had cheated on his wife with a colleague in the months before the zombie outbreak. Just before the outbreak, his wife Alice took their child Sophie and left without telling him where they were going. He already tried to ring his In-laws, but had no answer both before and after the outbreak. Now he holds out hope that his wife and daughter are still alive, but he has been too scared to attempt to look for them so far. Will he find the courage to sacrifice his own safety to try and find his family?

As always, comments are very welcome. Hope you enjoy it!

———————————————–

Tom Knight – The Newsreader

Alice Knight, please, if you’re listening – come back to me. I can’t keep you safe if I don’t know where you are. I just want – no – I *need* to know that you and Sophie are alright. I understand why you left, but things are different now. I promise I will never hurt you again. Just come back to me. Please. Please be okay. I love you both.

He stops and gets up, not wanting to cry on camera to the nation. Then a while later he is back. He takes a deep breath before speaking.

To anyone else – you might just be watching this out of curiosity, to see if there’s still TV out there. Well, there sort of is. I’ll play this message on a loop so maybe everyone will see it. Actually, probably not everyone, because most of my audience is dead…

Anyway, I’ll be honest, I don’t actually really have anything to tell you that you don’t already know.

I mean basically we’re fucked. Eventually one of those things will find its way in here and kill me but until then, what am I living on? Snacks from the Green Room.

I hope wherever you are is safe and has food. I don’t think going to a supermarket would be the best idea but if you’re brave or stupid enough to risk your life for food then go for it champ. But seriously, you do have to think about food. Those bastards clearly do. You have to find a shelter that has food.

I should tell you as well, if you don’t know already, that it seems like the only way to kill these fuckers seems to be by getting them in the head. I don’t know why, okay? I don’t understand any of this. If you’re turning on the news hoping for an explanation then I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. We certainly had no warning.

And there will likely be no messages from any government figure unless they are somehow alive and willing to wake their way through the dead infested London to come to the studio. Wipe your fucking feet when you come in, won’t you?! Yeah, this place is safe because I managed to make it safe.

Oh fuck, how is Alice meant to get here? And I can’t get to her. Shit!

He takes a long gulp of vodka, scrunching up his face at the taste. He then stops to look down the left side of his desk for a few seconds.

Hey, you know what just crossed my mind as I was just looking down at the body of my colleague Joanna which I haven’t moved yet? – What if we could eat them? I don’t want to eat her, obviously, but I have only so much food left, that’s it like, what else am I supposed to fucking do? But I just wonder if eating her would infect me with whatever fucking thing it is she had that caused her to bite Simon and then try to bite me.

I can’t help but think though, haven’t we all wondered what human flesh tasted like at some point? I heard it’s like Pork.

Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe I’m off my head. It is nice talking to a camera again, though. I guess it’s what I was born to do.

Sorry, that’s also ridiculous. I can feel myself sounding even crazier. No, hear myself…Ah fucking hell.

He has another drink of vodka.

Anyway, I probably won’t have a bite of Joanna until I’m really desperate. Although Simon or someone would probably be fresher. God, what am I saying?!

You know what, to everyone out there: I’m sorry this broadcast was useless and confusing and unhinged. But I am not a hero, okay? I cheated on my wife. I let down my little girl. And now I’m sitting here contemplating eating someone I used to work with.

So yes…I’m very sorry. We will probably never meet, but I hope you can forgive me. And the best of fucking luck to you all. Try not to fucking die.

On Breast Cancer

Hi Everyone, as some of you may know it is Breast Cancer Awareness month this month, and it’s ‘Wear it Pink’ day today, so I thought today was a good day to write a post about breast cancer – it’s definitely quite a personal post for me to write.

I think the issue of raising awareness of breast cancer should be partly with being aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer so that you know what to look for when you check your breasts.

I also wanted to write this post about my own experience – I just hope people don’t think I’m seeking pity, because I’m not.

beautiful mum

My beautiful and brave mum

I remember that in maybe early 2010 I was in a nurse’s office having a cervical cancer jab and I decided to take the opportunity to ask her how I’m supposed to check my breasts, since I knew that you’re supposed check them every now and then.

She told me what to do and I then told my mum, who a while later (in June 2010) found a lump, went to the Doctors, and a while after that found out it was Breast Cancer. I remember feeling overwhelmed – I thought cancer happened to other people, that it’s one of those things you hear about happening to other people but that just don’t happen to us. That first day she came back from the Doctors and told me she’d found a lump I remember hugging her tight and praying it would turn out to be harmless. But I’m glad I had told her what the nurse had told me about checking, or else maybe she might not have noticed it as soon.

In September 2011 I went off to University and Mum was doing alright at the time. Throughout my first year we spoke often on MSN and she’d insist that I’d get in touch after safely arriving back in Aberystwyth from visiting at home (with that in mind, I wonder how she would have felt about me doing a Skydive?!) She had a period of feeling much better after her Chemo and Radiotherapy treatments were both finished and she decided to buy a car. She was probably sick of her frequent visits to hospital. Unfortunately she never really got to drive it much, but she would be pleased that it’s getting a lot of use these days because both me and my brother Alex have since passed our driving tests.

Summer 2012 was not good though. (In fact, 2012 was a pretty shit year for me all round.) In February that year she’d found out that it was terminal, (I don’t think I’ll ever forget the phone call where my mum was told that it’s spread to her bones) and was told she had 3-5 years. She underwent more chemo to buy her more time. She was understandably devastated and wrote an email draft detailing things we should do after she’s gone, what she’d like for her funeral etc. I gently told her not to be silly as she had plenty of time left. She even said my dad can find someone else (if he can find anyone to put up with him!)

But as well as feeling down, my Mum was also determined to stay alive for as long as possible. Once again Chemo made her feel awful, but I supported her as best as I could, and she had several stays in Hospital, including one where she had to miss Alex’s Graduation. I now don’t really like to go down the hospital road in Stafford because we visited so many times that it just brings back bad memories. Often they’d keep her in for ages even though she felt fine, but then when she’d come home she’d have problems with her temperature and feeling sick.

In August we finally managed to have our usual family holiday at our caravan in Mid Wales. Mum enjoyed herself on our days out such as when we went to the beach at Borth but would become exhausted and at one point she became ill and bedridden again.

In September she kept getting worse, but I did not think she would die that month. Even when she went to the hospice, I thought it was to make her comfortable for a while, and then she’d get better again, like all the other times, and come home. I hoped that eventually that cycle of being in and out of hospital would end with her feeling permanently better, but instead…yeah.

Obviously I knew what a hospice was so I was worried, but I still did not expect it. It’s now been over two years since my mum passed away (24th September 2012, just under a month before her 53rd birthday and three weeks before my 20th) and I have since set up two Justgiving pages in memory of my mother, one which is a general one that was set up after the funeral, and one that was especially for sponsoring me for my Skydive: https://www.justgiving.com/remember/39054/Sheridan-Collier

I survived my sponsored skydive

I survived my sponsored skydive

In the second semester of my second year at Uni I joined Tickled Pink and became involved with the fundraising and socials. In May 2013 I ran the Race for Life and in April this year I skydived, which was quite an experience since I hadn’t stepped foot on a plane before jumping out of one.

I was incredibly touched when the Tickled Pink girls gave me a ‘most inspirational person’ award at the end of year meal. I wouldn’t call myself inspirational at all – when I returned to Uni for my second year despite my mum’s death, people were calling me brave, but I think my mum was a far braver person.

Overall…cancer is a nob. But I have been changed from the person I was before June 2010. The emotional pain of losing your mum is, I think, not something you ever truly ‘get over’ – no one will love you quite like your mother does – but the experience does put things in perspective. Now look back on my problems and worries before June 2010 and think “Bloody hell, what did I have to complain about? Yes, as a teenager I mostly hated school, but I didn’t have any real problems.”

Nothing can bring my mum back, but I’d like to think that the money I’ve raised is helping women out there like her, so that they can survive and beat Breast Cancer for as long as possible, seeing their daughters get married or graduate – the things that mum will never see me do..

My mum said she was told that thankfully there is no sign of it being hereditary, but I continue to check every month (I even have a free reminder text each month from ‘Boob HQ’ and it’s a great idea to subscribe to that yourself!) I really support ideas like ‘#whatnormalfeelslike’ and ‘Coppafeel!’ as many of us might not know what we’re looking for (apart from a lump) or how to check. As a side note, I know it’s extremely rare in men, but they should still check too! I also really support Channel 4’s recent ‘Stand up to Cancer’ campaign.

Finally, as this post would be a bit counterproductive otherwise, here are some useful related links: http://coppafeel.org/what-we-do/whatnormalfeelslike/ http://www.breastcancercampaign.org/about-breast-cancer/breast-cancer-symptoms

Thanks for reading, and best wishes,

Sabrina xx

Should 16-18 Year Olds Be Given the Right to Vote?

Hello, so the other day a petition popped up on my news feed about giving the right to vote to 16-18 year olds everywhere in the UK (since they already can in Scotland) I haven’t signed it though because I’m just not sure. This is probably not even a top priority what with everything else that’s going on lately – but it is relevant with the fact that we have another General Election coming up next year. Here is an interesting article for the ‘yes vote’ to this question – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/25/16-vote-scotland-independence-referendum-general-elections

This made me think back to the last General Election in 2010. I was 17 so couldn’t vote, but I remember talking to different people who were trying to make their mind up as to who to vote for. I remember hearing about how it would likely turn out to be a hung parliament (and it was) because of no overall majority, and I was slightly relieved that I didn’t have to decide (I’m notably indecisive) There was one particular occasion where I was buying something from River Island and the woman serving me had been talking to her colleague about who they were going to vote for and then she casually asked me who I was voting for. I said I can’t vote as I’m 17, to which I think she and her colleague said “Aw” or something similar. (I guess that means they thought I looked 18, which doesn’t bode well for a 21-nearly-22-year-old who’s worried about getting old.)

The thing is, I’m not even sure I was very much less mature when I was 17 than I am now. I know I said I’m indecisive but that’s a personality trait which has nothing to do with my age. I’m probably still as indecisive as I was four years ago.

I’ve also been to Uni and done lots of other new things since I was 17 which would arguably make me more grown up, and more able to think about political issues sensibly than I was when I was 17. And I would say it’s true that I do think about political issues more than I used to back then, but I think that’s at least partly because I just had so much on my mind in 2010 and politics was the last thing on my mind. Obviously I was concerned about who would be running the country, but otherwise I thought politics was pretty dull, and when I did vote (I think in a local election a while after I turned 18) I still wasn’t that interested, although I did think it was nice to be able to vote now.

So my question is, did the fact I was just over five months too young to vote really mean I was actually too immature, or did it not make a difference?

After all, it’s not like once you turn 18 you suddenly magically become completely mature and grown up. It’s just that at 18, you’ve completely left school now, so you know your childhood and adolescence are behind you – however most 17 year olds turning 18 are probably more excited by the fact they can legally drink at 18!

But on the other hand you could argue that ‘children are the future’ and so 16-18 year olds should be allowed to make their mind up about their future, even if they are still considered ‘minors’ before the age of 18.

So I don’t know on this one – on the one hand, loads of 16-18 year olds probably are mature enough to make their mind up. After all, it’s at this age range that you’re expected to start making decisions about what you want to do with your life. Most of us went down the further education route, but we could just have easily have gone straight into full time work when we were 16 (I could not imagine 16 year old me doing that… I would say I changed/matured a fair amount from how I was at 16 by the time I turned 18.) I’m not saying that 16-18 year olds in further education are going to be any less mature than those in full time work, though. I really think it depends on the person. It’s quite a strange time, because at 16 you can join the army but you can’t drive or drink alcohol.

I think maybe 17 year olds should be able to vote, but I’m not so sure about 16 year olds. I know it probably doesn’t make much difference but I just feel like a lot of 16 year olds might be confused, still in that awkward stage between childhood and adulthood, whereas at 17 that awkwardness is at least beginning to go away. After all, if you can be trusted with a car at 17, you should probably be trusted to make an informed, mature choice when you vote.

On a sort of unrelated matter I would like to say that I’m not really sure why Simon Cowell lowered the age limit for contestants on The X Factor to 14 again. I don’t want to sound patronising but I just don’t think 14-16 year olds should be in the competition. This is a competition in which the producers will happily pick out really awful singers just to get some entertainment out of them when they get rejected and humiliated. I think 14/15 year olds can wait a few years, or better still go on The Voice (it just seems like a better idea if you want to be a singer, even though personally I prefer watching X Factor – despite my complaints.)

What do you think? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

The Package

Hello all, so I have another piece of prose to share – although I don’t really think this one is all that good. I’m not sure, so let me know in the comments if you like it! 🙂

The Package

It was tipping it down at four in the afternoon in December, and Margaret was alone, watching television even though there was nothing on, when the doorbell rang.

She lifted herself up from her seat, grimacing as her back ached. She didn’t really feel like walking to the door, but she thought she should see who it is, she wasn’t expecting company.

The doorbell kept ringing, and Margaret called out “On my way!” trying to disguise her frustration that whoever it was was being so impatient. She was a seventy-four year old woman and she didn’t like to rush herself.

When she reached the door and opened it, there was no one there, but whoever it was had left a package. Margaret looked down at it, confused. She had not ordered anything. She didn’t even use the Internet. Surely this must have been delivered in error? And why did the postman not wait for her to sign it or do whatever she needed to do? She felt slightly annoyed that they’d gone, as the confusion could have been resolved quickly if they’d stayed.

Suddenly a door banged from inside the house, startling Margaret. She wouldn’t have thought there was enough breeze to cause a door to bang.

She leant down and focussed on picking up the parcel with the least amount of nerves or shaking. She rested one hand on the door frame for support and bent down slowly. The package was heavier than it looked so her other hand struggled slightly to lift it. When she’d lifted it, she noticed the address, and the package was definitely for her.

She went back inside and put it down, taking a moment to rest before attempting to open it.

There was a great deal of tape and cardboard to get through but eventually she found a large photo album inside, simply titled on the front – ‘Memories’.

There was also a letter.

Dearest Margaret,

I am sorry it took me all these years to get back in touch. One can only hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me. Your mother may not have wanted anything to do with me but I have a right to see you, and she can no longer hinder that.

Please do not take that to mean that I’m glad she has passed – I loved your mother very much.

Please accept my apologies for all I have missed in your life.

I am with you now – and always.

All my love,

Your father, Albert.

Margaret stared at it, astounded. This letter could even not be possible – it had to be someone’s idea of a joke.

When Margaret was ten, her mother had told her that her father died in the war only two months after Margaret was born.

 

—————-

 

 

(So basically, the father could now be a g-g-ghost, or the mother was lying. The first option might make the story a bit silly and especially made me very tempted to put “I am with you now – just look behind you” in the father’s letter, which would be ridiculous. Anyway, I’ll leave it up to readers to interpret! Also, I was wondering if this story is better suited how it is at the moment or whether it needs to be continued? As the ending to me feels a bit sudden/rushed and I hope that doesn’t make it disappointing for readers.)

 

My Advice for Freshers

Hi everyone, so this is something a bit different for this blog. Another University academic year has begun and I thought I’d offer some guidance to Freshers about to undertake the scary yet exciting new experience that is Uni. I graduated in July so Uni is still very fresh in my mind (pun unintended.) I hope the following advice is helpful to any Freshers, and if anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂

– Firstly – socialise!

This is an obvious one, but very important. Obviously in Freshers week you will have no lectures so you can get drunk every night if you want to and it won’t matter, so get out there and meet people! I was very shy at first in my flat – there were about 20 other people because of the bunk rooms, and I was feeling quite daunted by it all. I also wasn’t very into boozing when I first started Uni, and I actually forgot my I.D and didn’t have it until near the end of Fresher’s week, so I didn’t actually go out to the Student Union until the last Friday of Fresher’s week. What a difference two years make because in my third year I went out loads in Fresher’s week.

It’s particularly crucial to socialise with the people in your flat, after all you will be living with them for the next 9 months. Some people form their closest friendships at Uni with people from their first year flat. Keep your door open with a door stop and don’t be shy! I remember feeling so shy about talking to the people in my first year flat who were going out that first night, that I didn’t come out of my room until they’d gone! I then went to the kitchen, made tea and got chatting to another girl who was feeling the same way.

On boozing – If you’re not able to down your drink now, you probably will be before long! Without meaning to sound like a buzzkill, I actually sometimes found the whole downing thing a bit annoying sometimes because 1. It puts pressure on you as people watch you and sing ‘We like to drink with…’ and I wasn’t actually very good at downing my drink! 2. If you’re skint and are trying to spend less money on your nights out then it means you have to buy another drink sooner. However, it is a big part of the drinking culture especially in first year, and for now you should have plenty of money with your student loan, so the second gripe will hopefully not be relevant for a while. There will probably be drinking games aplenty, especially at socials, so you’ll soon be *ahem*, ‘getting to know’ your friends a bit more from games like ‘Never Have I Ever’. 😉

What if?

What if I’m not into boozing?

This doesn’t mean you can’t socialise. Obviously boozing is a big part of fresher’s week but you can still go out with your flatmates (and laugh when they get drunk) If you’re not into nightclubs, this also doesn’t mean your social life will suffer. You can still do things together as a flat – cook, go shopping, go to Fresher’s events.

What if I don’t get on with my flatmates?

How you can deal with this I think depends on how badly you’re getting on with them. If it’s so bad that it’s making you miserable and antisocial then you could go to the Accommodation Office and ask about moving rooms. But if it’s only minor stuff, then you could stick it out – maybe that flatmate who always makes a mess when they cook is actually a really nice person, or maybe that person who seems moody and always complains is actually just stressed because of starting Uni. Try and avoid getting involved in arguments. And don’t do anything annoying yourself that causes tension in Uni flats – stealing food, being untidy, leaving passive aggressive notes for example. You want to avoid that sort of ugly behaviour in student flats as much as possible, and life will be easier for everyone. When your flat inspection dates come round, try and work together to make sure you pass – you don’t want to get fined.

What if I’m shy/lacking in confidence?

Sounds like first year me…I basically dealt with this by forcing myself to socialise, even when I felt a bit uncomfortable (in large groups for example). After that first night, it did gradually become easier. Your flatmates may well introduce themselves to you. (Speaking of introductions, in Fresher’s week you will be asked your name, your course, and where you’re from when you meet people. People who live in a village or little known place like me may find it easier to just say your nearest town or city. Of course even then some people didn’t know where Stafford is!). Conversation usually flows naturally as you get to know each other, but don’t talk less to people in your flat just because you think you don’t have anything in common with them. I remember being in the kitchen with just this guy who I thought I had absolutely nothing in common with, the conversation being a little awkward at first, but then we became really good friends and laughed when we looked back on that awkward first meeting!

– Join a Society. If you go to the Societies’ Fair you may find yourself expressing interest in several societies and signing up for them via your name and email. (But don’t sign up for too many, as the emails might get annoying) I would recommend properly joining at least one society and going out to their first social, which will probably be during Fresher’s week. You’ll meet loads of new people and see whether you’d like to come to more socials. I was a member of the English and Creative Writing society and the Tickled Pink society, but I was more involved with the latter. (As a side note – any Aber freshers reading this: join Tickled Pink! Everyone is lovely and you have a lot of fun fundraising as well as getting drunk at socials.) Freshers are always made to feel welcome and you will always be looked after by the Committee members, so there’s nothing to worry about! There are often themed socials so great if you enjoy fancy dress, if you’re a bit shyer about fancy dress (like me) don’t feel pressured or like you shouldn’t go if you don’t have something to wear – no one will mind 🙂

– Don’t forget to do *some* work

I know that (at least with my course) the first year marks did not count towards the final grade, so all I had to do was pass first year with at least 40% overall – but if it’s the same with you, it doesn’t mean you can slack off completely! By all means have lots of fun socialising but do remember that you’re at University for a reason. I would really recommend familiarising yourself with the Department Style Guide for how to format footnotes and references, etc. Always include a Bibliography (you instantly lose marks if you don’t) and work from any feedback you get from your first assignments. If you get confused about anything you can always go and see your personal tutor or one of your seminar tutors. Also familiarise yourself with how to use the Library; this is all best practised and learnt in your first year, while you have plenty of time to settle in and learn ‘How to Uni’. (I kind of sort of maybe didn’t start getting footnote formatting etc right until second year…)

If you’re an English student for example, please actually do your reading! You may find it a bit of a shock how you are kind of expected to read a whole book in a week, but that’s because you’re an English student, and you’re supposed to love reading, so it shouldn’t be too much of a chore, right? 😉 If you’re a creative writer and get some free time during the holidays where you don’t need to catch up on any work/reading for your course, then just read something anyway. A good writer is a good reader as well, and you may find it comes in handy when it comes to writing your portfolio. I won’t go into portfolio’s too much now but one thing I will say is that for me as well as a lot of my fellow students, writing a good commentary has sometimes been difficult – so again, use your first year to get to grips with this as much as possible. Ask your creative writing seminar tutor/s, look at advice on Blackboard, and try not to leave your assignments to the last minute! (Believe me I know, this is easier said than done.)

4. Learn to Cook

Going to Uni helps us to learn to live independently away from our parents for the first time – however some of you might have little experience of cooking their own food. You will probably already know how to make something basic like pasta, so try and expand on it and try cooking Spaghetti Bolognese for example. If someone in your flat seems to be great at cooking maybe they can teach you – I learnt how to do a Chicken Stir Fry from a housemate in second year. Or if opportunities come up to cook together, like doing a roast together, take advantage of it – in second year we occasionally did a roast together which is also good for bonding and getting to know each other.

5. Don’t forget to sort housing for next year

In Aberystwyth this is particularly important because there’s a lot of competition, and you really don’t want to be stuck somewhere grotty yet expensive. I would recommend looking into it in about November time and viewing houses and thinking about who you want to live with next year. It may well be people from your current flat, or possibly people you’ve met on your course. However also don’t feel pressured into rushing into securing a house because it might not turn out to be right for you. On viewings find out what the bills situation is like. You might be lucky enough to find a place where all or most of your bills are included in the rent. Also keep in mind what you can afford – houses that are £100+ a week are probably too expensive unless that includes bills.

6. Keep your future in mind

Obviously you don’t really need to worry too much about your career until you get to your third year, but I would still really recommend occasionally thinking about what you want from your degree and how you aim to achieve whatever your dream job is. University is not just one of the best times of your life, it’s also all about finding who you are and what you want. If you don’t know what your dream job is, you still have plenty of time to think it over.

If you realise you want to be a Journalist for example, get involved with the student newspaper; maybe even have a go at securing an internship with a magazine or newspaper in the summer holidays. You get about three months off in the summer so it’s also plenty of time to have a temporary/seasonal job (in the summer after my first year I worked as a waitress back home) Or, you might realise you want a job for while you’re at Uni (presumably to fund your spending habits or maybe save up for a holiday, since your student loan should cover your basic costs of living – if it doesn’t, you can always apply for a grant from the University) if that’s the case, look and apply for jobs the earlier the better – the vacancies of the usual student part time jobs will be advertised probably because of the fact that the third year students who had them last term have now left Uni.

And if you don’t like Uni at first, and consider dropping out, well, a lot of your friends and family will probably try and convince you not to. And whilst I would always encourage people to persevere in tough times (because it *will* get better!) I would also say that you shouldn’t stay at Uni if you’re only going to regret it and be unhappy for the next three years. So if you realise it’s definitely not for you, don’t worry – there are still plenty of other options and it’s never too late to rethink your career and go down a different path.

And finally – have fun!

Sabrina xxx

The Night I Died

Hi everyone, so I don’t have any more flash fiction for the moment – this is a piece of zombie fiction I wrote the other night. It’s basically a small part of what may become a zombie novella. I have written other parts already and the basic idea is it focusses on five very different characters who are all affected in different ways by a zombie apocalypse. Their stories then interweave because they meet each other to form a small group of survivors. Each character gets their own first-person chapter which outlines how the outbreak first affected them and how they’ve come to survive so far. I’ve already written a few of these so they may be published on here soon if I’m feeling brave enough.

(The character in this piece is obviously not going to become one of the main characters at any point – the title kind of gives away the reason for that, haha. Their story would probably be part of the introduction.)

Comments are very welcome, but please keep any criticism constructive, this is part of a work in progress 🙂


The Night I Died

The night I died everything that had once been calm and normal was gone. I remember feeling very claustrophobic, having a doctor or a nurse at every turn. I didn’t feel looked after. I felt imprisoned in my bed, never getting any better despite everything they tried. Early on they’d suggested I try an experimental drug, and thinking I might as well, I took it, but all that was noted was that it slightly slowed down my advancing symptoms.

Still, no one at the time really knew what symptoms to expect. I was one of the first, and very unlucky. One minute I lay there feeling confused and very feverish, and the next I closed my eyes, both exhausted and feeling awful, but I honestly didn’t feel like I was necessarily going to die.

No one knew that when I lost consciousness and seemed to be dead I would suddenly raise my head up but be…not myself.

I had died but not died. You’d think it was a medical miracle, but I had become what the surviving doctors in their notes called ‘aggressive’.

I was aggressively cannibalistic. I wasn’t me any more; I was acting like some wild animal who just wanted to bite anyone it could. I don’t think I even ate anyone. I just lashed out and bit for no reason except, I suppose, to spread the virus.

There was a violent struggle in which I snarled as I gladly tore flesh off people’s bones. Some of them tried to sedate me but I was not having any of it. I could not be restrained. Everyone in the room tried to stop me. Eventually they abandoned the private room, locked it, and moved some tables to form a barricade. I hammered at the door and growled at them.

They stood there, frozen, and watched me. I had become like an animal at a zoo. I found it very frustrating, all that food out there and I could not break out. It made no difference in the end. I was shut in there safely but I had already bitten eight people. Before long they too would be trying to bite their colleagues, friends, and family members.