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Life, University

I did it; my dissertation has been handed in!

April 6, 2017


Any third year / former university student will know how good it feels to say “I handed my dissertation in.” To paraphrase about 80% of young adult books released a few years back, “when I handed it in, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding in.” (Why did anyone thing that was a good phrase, seriously?!)

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the challenge; I reveled in it. I actually looked forward to writing my dissertation because if there is one thing I enjoy doing, it’s research and then writing 10,000 words about it. And also analysing where I messed up because I am always analysing where I messed up. Heck, I have had 24 years practice at consistently analysing everything I do, so I figured writing a dissertation would be pretty fun. And it was. I truly enjoyed it. I’m hoping all my hard work paid off because I honestly did my best. If there was something else I should have done I do not know what it was, so here’s hoping.

Also, if anyone wants to know anything about nitrogen and pH of gravesoil, I am a walking-talking bank of knowledge about that stuff. I want to see it come up as a question on Pointless.

Writing my dissertation has taken up the majority of my time since the end of January really so it is nice to relieve the pressure a little and not feel guilty about having a day off and doing nothing. Hopefully, I will get that duvet day I was longing for a few weeks ago, but I doubt it will happen before May.

It’s not like I have nothing to do; I’ve got a couple of presentations to do, an exam to revise for, emails to check 300 times a day hoping a university has made a decision about my masters, and just be.

This week has been pretty relaxed so far. I have done a bit of university work but there’s not rush so I’m not putting pressure on myself and that’s pretty much how I want to rest of the semester to go. I’ve done a bit of reading too (hallelujah!); I’m currently reading Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret to Saving the World by Kevin Bales; it is pretty horrifying and eye-opening, and I will definitely be doing a review or roundup of horrible facts I have learned as a result of reading it.

How has life been for you recently?




Life, University

University: The Home Stretch

January 17, 2017

Reading Harry Potter with coffee

Hello, from the final semester of my undergraduate degree! Oh, that feels pretty good to say / type.

Exam season is over, and I feel very unnerved because I felt my exams went well. I did actually start revising early / when I should have / not three days before like last year, and I went into the exams feeling fairly confident. I am concerned that I finished an exam that was three hours long in just over and hour, but what’s done is done.

Why is it that whenever we feel we’ve done something well, we feel so unsure of ourselves? Like we’ve done something horrendously wrong, and slipped into an alternate universe where we actually know nothing and our brain tricks us? Thanks, brain.

For some reason, my university have given us this week off lectures. Maybe it’s to give people time to recover from exam stress? So I’m enjoying a week of not having a huge amount to do. I am going to do some project work though, prepare for semester two, write my personal statement and apply for some masters courses, marathon some more Game of Thrones with Daz, and read. Oh, to be able to read without feeling guilty about it! I cannot wait.

What have you been up to lately?





Life, University

Going back to university: ALL the enthusiasm

October 13, 2016

Third year of university

It’s here; my third year of university and right now I am filled with all the enthusiasm. (Though I have zero enthusiasm for all the COSHH forms…)

When I started back to university last year, after taking a 3 year break, my third year seemed so far away. I was so preoccupied with how much I might have forgotten during those three years, or that I might have no idea how to write a decent essay, or pass an exam, that all I could think about was completing my second year.

Second year completed with flying colours and I’m two weeks into my third year. I know this year is going to be a lot of hard work, and feels like it has been already, but the end is in sight.

Over the summer we were assigned our third year projects and I ended up with my fourth choice. I wasn’t overly impressed with it, but it wasn’t the worst project on the list. Happily, I’ve managed to change it to something that really excites me (which is half the battle, right?) so I’m now doing my final project on soil analysis of decomposing pigs trotters.

I’m sure that before I know it, the Christmas break will be here and I’ll be thinking about writing up my project, while attending postgrad open days and putting together applications.

I know this year is going to fly by and I’m really proud of myself. It’s not often anyone says they’re proud of themselves, but I’m proud of myself for having the courage to do something that seemed so scary, and give up a full-time job and return to university. I’m also proud of how hard I worked last year, and I know I could do better to be honest (damn you, Pinterest!). I’m not going to lie, I have had nightmares about sitting down in an exam room and having no clue how to answer questions already, which is probably a good push to begin revising now.

When I relaunched Girl In Awe I said that I wanted to post twice a week, and I have failed to post anything at all for the past couple of weeks. I do still want to try and maintain two posts a week but I’m not sure how realistic that is yet, so I’m just going to play it by ear and see what time I have left.

Now you know what I’ve been up to, how are things with you folks?




Life, University

University as an adult | Year 2, Semester 1

February 22, 2016


Since so many of you lovely people were interested in how I’m getting on at university, I thought it would be good to reflect on completing my first semester back at university.

In case you have no idea: I began a Forensic Science degree five years ago and left university after completing a year and a half because I had no idea if it was what I actually wanted to do – instead of doing it because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. For three and a half years, I worked at a small marketing company (yep, completely different) I went back to university (a different one) to finish my degree because I missed science so much.

A few weeks ago, we switched to our semester two timetable, but I wanted to wait until I had all my exam results in to reflect on how the first semester had gone.

I’ve found it both easier than expected and harder than I expected.

The easiest part has actually been living on a part-time wage. I was very worried about this, but it just turns out that I was clearly very wasteful before. By actually monitoring what I spend money on, I’ve not had an issue with money at all. (So far.)

The hardest part has been getting back into the swing of learning, which I thought would be the easiest part. The course I’m currently on is a little different to the first one, and I’m glad because this one contains more of the things I was interested in. For example, we had about six lectures on fire investigation, which I don’t think was even timetabled on my old course. We’ve also had lectures on the more environmental side of forensic science, which is what I want to go into.

I was pretty stressed in the run up to exams, and I know that I’ll definitely do revision a little different for my May exams. That said, I did really well in my exams and got firsts in all three – so that makes me so happy.

On top of that, we had practical reports to write-up, which I was so worried about when I was writing them. They felt like huge, insurmountable tasks at the time and I was convinced that I was going to fail – to my delight, I just missed out on a first for those, which made me happy.

We’re now a few weeks into semester 2 and I’m just so happy.

My Dad tells me that he wishes I’d not left in the first place, but I’m glad that I did.

To start with, I didn’t know if university or forensic science was what I wanted the first time around. I went because that’s what everyone else was doing, it’s what I thought I should do, and I didn’t really know what to do instead. I’m glad that I did leave, because this course is much more suited to my interests in forensic science, and I think I needed the perspective and time to realise that it was what I wanted.

If you’re thinking about going back to university, don’t ever think you’re too old or it’s too late. If you don’t take the leap (and I know it’s scary), you’ll always find excuses as to why you can’t do it yet.

How’s life with you at the moment?

Life, University

University as an adult & blog update

November 13, 2015

University books and notepads

I’ve been back at university for a month now, and it simultaneously feels like it’s been more and less time than that. It’s funny how fast you slip into a routine and how easily you forget that your life was ever any different.

As you were so supportive when I said I was going back to university, I wanted to share an update, plus get this stuff out of my head. There’s also a blog update, related to being back at university too.

What’s university like as an adult?

That was the main question I had when I made the decision to go back. I’d done a year and a half at the age you’re “supposed” to go to university at, but I was really curious at how it might feel as an adult. Especially, when you’re going into the second year and people have already made friends.

I was also worried about how I would feel taking the leap from a full-time job, to a part-time job and how that would leave me financially.

Since I still live at home, and don’t have huge outgoings, financially things are pretty much the same. The only real difference is I’m much more careful and don’t waste as much money as I used to.

In terms of going back to university as a “mature” student, it doesn’t really feel any different for being an “immature” (Is that the right word? It’s definitely the opposite of mature) student.

The biggest difference I’ve noticed are the difference between the two universities I’ve been to. The one I’m at now has a lot of required / assigned reading, which I didn’t have at my first university. So in that respect, I feel like that’s a lot more support and encouragement to do your own guided learning. I think I could probably count on one hand the amount of times we had to do reading for the next class at my first university. I’m happy with that change, but boy does it take up a lot of time.

Honestly, the photo at the top of this blog post pretty much represents my life at the moment; caffeine, text books, notepads, and pens.

A month in, and I’m still trying to get to grips with how best to manage my time so that I don’t always feel like I’m chasing my own tail.

Which brings me to the blog update. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting less frequently, and ultimately that’s because other things have to take priority, whether I like it or not. Which means that, realistically, I’m going to be planning to post 3 or 4 times a week now, instead of 5.

I imagine that will work out to be posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then either Tuesday or Thursday if I can fit an extra one in. How does that sound?

I feel like I’m out of the loop in the blogging world, so tell me; what’s going on with you at the moment?


The start of something new

October 12, 2015


Today is my first week back at university; I’m both excited and nervous. It’s been about four years since I was last at university, and I’m mostly worried that I’ll have forgotten how to to practicals, and practical related things.

Last week, I had induction where I met a few of my lecturers. They seem more helpful and approachable than the last university I went to. I know that a big part of university is doing it yourself and being an independent learner, but it’s also about learning from experts in the industry.

Something else I’m worried about is meeting new people. This is the second year of the course, so people will already have friends. Making friends as an adult sometimes feels much harder than when you were a kid, and I’m pretty shy, so we’ll see how that goes.

Mostly though, I’m excited for lectures and practicals to start. I’m one of those people who loves to learn, and I didn’t leave the first time around because I was bored by the course.

I don’t regret leaving the first time around, and I wonder if being older will help me in some way. Perhaps I’ll be more motivated now because this is something I want to do, rather than feeling it’s something I should do.


Blog update

You’ve probably noticed that things have been quite quiet around here for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been working my notice at my full-time job, while working a part-time job, and preparing for university, so that hasn’t left much free time at all.

I’m not going to quit blogging, but my blogging frequency may end up decreasing. At the moment, I’m going to try to get back into the swings of posting five times a week. However, I’m just going to have to play it by ear and see what happens when university kicks in properly.

If I do have to decrease my posting schedule, it will probably be to three times a week, and I will let you folks know.

As well as starting university, I’m looking forward to getting back into blogging because I’ve really missed it.

What have you been up to lately?


I’m going back to university!

September 4, 2015

I'm going back to university

I’m going back to university! Oh, you have no idea how good it feels to say / type that. 

I’ve spent the last few weeks only telling a select few people that I’d applied to return to university for fear of jinxing it. To finally be able to write about it on here, and tell people, is like a weight off my shoulders. Or to quote many books who use this awful phrase, “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding in.” Eww.

“What will you be studying?” You may ask. Excellent question. I’m going back to finish off my Forensic Science degree. 

I miss science. I really do. 

The first time around, I completed a year and a half of my degree before dropping out. I didn’t drop out because the subject wasn’t right for me; I thoroughly enjoyed it. I dropped out because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I was confused and unsure.

I’d blindly applied to university straight after college because that’s what you were supposed to do, apparently. I love learning, I would be a perpetual student if I could sustain it, so of course I wanted to go to university and learn more. But I didn’t ever stop to ask myself “what next?”

What did I want to do after graduation? Did I even want to work in science, or was it just that I was fascinated with it? Wanting to do a job and being fascinated with a subject are not the same thing. For example, I’m fascinated with snakes but I will run a mile if I see one. 

Shortly before the start of the second semester in year two, I dropped out and took an apprenticeship in something completely unrelated. And that was the point; I wanted to try something new to see how I felt about doing that for the rest of my life. 

To begin with I was engrossed in learning about something new, but as time passed I began to realise that I missed science. The most enjoyable parts of my job are analytical, and scientific things. 

I don’t regret leaving university at all. I needed to do that to find out what I wanted, and it would have been stupid of me to continue doing something I was unsure about and to use up all of my student finance if it had  turned out that I actually wanted to do something else. 

The decision to go back to university at 23 is not one I’ve taken lightly. It will mean I will take a pay cut of at least 50%, I will need to get a job that will probably include working weekends and evenings, I won’t be able to save much money, and Tom and I will not be getting a place of our own for at least two years now. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices. And if I don’t do it now, I never will because there will always be something to “stop” me. 

If I could give you one piece of advice about further education, whether it’s college, university, or something else, it would be “don’t rush”. 

Don’t feel that you have to go to university straight after college or your a-levels. It’s fine to wait if you’re unsure. There’s no harm in it. The course will still be there, and your student finance will still be there. (I say this as someone living in England because I have no idea how student finance works anywhere else.) 

Yes, you might graduate or finish a course a few years after your friends. You may find yourself living as a student when your friends are buying houses. But forget about that, because there’s no point rushing into something if you’re unsure. 

This is your life, not someone else’s. Ultimately, it’s you who has to live with the decisions you make.