Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

May 30, 2016

Burnt Orange Suede

Surprise surprise, another pinafore set up! This dress is getting some wear out of it before it gets too hot to wear it - I love layering a top underneath it to give it a more 60s vibe and the colour and material definitely scream autumn, so I really need to let it retire until September. It matches my summery clogs and my fave tan saddle bag well though so I couldn't say goodbye to it just yet!

New Look Crop Top | Suede Shift Dress | Primark Saddle Bag (similar) | Office Platform Sandals (similar)

- A.
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May 27, 2016

Me & My Other Interests: Music

Here on Northern Blood, you've probably noticed by now that I'm a big lover of makeup, I'm into personal style (particularly if it has something to do with denim and clogs), and I like to go out exploring and photograph the lovely countryside and architecture various spots of England has to offer. Although they are some of my big interests, I seem to have failed to mention other big parts of me and my personality on this blog and for the longest time, I've managed to convince myself that it was for good reasons: my content will be too varied and not have any constant "themes", people won't be interested, wondering if I should share a particular interest with the great worldwide web... But I've now realised, all those reasons are null and void - after talking about it a little on my Twitter and getting positive feedback from some lovely people, I've decided I needed to include these parts of me on NB. Sure, it is wonderful that you fantastic individuals take the time out to read my 3 times a week rambles, but ultimately? I made this blog for me. I made it so I could document my interests, I could share my thoughts, feelings, and wishes. I need to keep me in mind. So with a combination of self-power and love and all that jazz, and the fact that you guys expressed an interest in to the other sides of my hobbies and personality, I'm going to drop in some posts about these other aspects of Amyleigh and I hope you will enjoy them.

So, where should I start? There's so many things I would say are so important to me, but one thing seemed to stick out more than the others - and that is music. It will come as no surprise that I love music like every other Tom, Dick, or Harry, but I'm always intrigued to find out other people's tastes in different genres and bands and I love that so many people who I speak to can sometimes be surprised by my own tastes, so it seemed like a great idea to share.

As someone who grew up with a rock n' roll loving mother, I was exposed to the likes of Bon Jovi, Meatloaf, Alice Cooper, and Sisters of Mercy and as a result, became the movie Wayne's World's biggest fan at around aged 4. Alice Cooper and Aerosmith became firm favourites and still have a place in my heart and whilst I did listen to the likes of Steps, S Club 7, and Gareth Gates (remember him?! That hedgehog haired guy was on the "boys to marry" list for Amyleigh aged 11), I always remember getting my first Linkin' Park hoodie at around the age of 10 and wearing it to school and from that moment on, I was dubbed as one of the goths/emos until I left secondary school. Being a MySpace generation teenager, I listened to the usual suspects such as My Chemical Romance, Fallout Boy, Panic! At the Disco, The Used, Metro Station (awful, I know, I know) to name but a few, but this was also the age I really fell in love with the 80's. The Smiths, The Cure, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Joy Divison, David Bowie, Prince... they were all regulars on my old iPod shuffle alongside all the screaming hardcore-ness of The Devil Wears Prada, Alexisonfire, Heavy Heavy Low Low, letlive., Dance Gavin Dance, and also some of my super faves - Slipknot, Oceana, and Deftones.

Heading into my twenties, I fell head over heels time and time again with Frank Sinatra and Seasick Steve in particular. I love jazz. I love the blues. My mam loved her soul music and rat-pack tunes just as much as her classic rock, so maybe this is where her influence took hold of my tastes again. Seasick Steve is one of my all-time favourite artists because if a dude can wear a string vest, play guitar that has only 3 strings at best and still sound effing amazing, he is a musician who is definitely worth my time.

Other genres also came into my life at this age. I started to fall more in love with the likes of Cult of Luna, Russian Circles, King Dude, and discovered my all-time favourite artist, Chelsea Wolfe. Chelsea Wolfe has a sound of her own that I can't even begin to describe, but drone, doom metal, instrumental music has taken a huge hold of me and I'm super pleased about it. Whilst I love bands that fit the "heavier" genres, I also love the likes of The Gaslight Anthem, The 1975, Busted, Purity Ring, Spookyland, Modest Mouse, and City and Colour to name but a few other very varied favourites. I've also recently realised I have a major soft spot for hard-hitting, powerful female singers - Lana Del Rey, Amy Winehouse, Alanis Morissette, and the 4 Non Blondes are some killer ladies who I can and will listen to on repeat for days and weeks at a time.

Just some of my favourites (in no particular order): The Smiths, Chelsea Wolfe, Purity Ring, Lana Del Rey, Frank Sinatra, The Cure, Morrissey, Joy Division, David Bowie, Dance Gavin Dance, Saosin, Townes Van Zandt, Chvrches, King Dude, Amy Winehouse, Seasick Steve, The 1975, Prince, 4 Non Blondes, The Gaslight Anthem, Alanis Morrisette, Twin Shadow, Haim, Spookyland, Letlive., Brand New, The Chariot, Pixies, Mastodon, The Old Wind, Dead Man's Bones, Slipknot, Cult of Luna, Electric Wizard, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Earth, Arab Strap, City and Colour, Oceana, Alexisonfire, Modest Mouse, HIM, Deftones, Klaxons, Twin Atlantic, Jake Bugg, Frank Turner, Funeral For a Friend, Mumford & Sons, Architects, Elvis Presley, Band of Horses, Placebo, Cosmo Sheldrake, Jimi Hendrix, Norma Jean, William Fitzsimmons, New Order, Adam and The Ants, Bon Iver, Kavinsky, Nirvana, Luke Pickett, Little Comets, †††, Vance Joy, Glassjaw, Caribou, Taking Back Sunday, Future Islands, Fuck Buttons, Fever Ray, Alice in Chains, Deafheaven, Thursday, Stone Temple Pilots, Zola Jesus, Circa Survive, HORSE the Band, Nicole Dollanganger, Sigur Rós, Sun O))), Boris, Converge, and Gothic Tropic.

I guess what I'm really saying in this post is that I think it is great to have a rich and varied music taste. I will happily listen to woeful country cowboy tones of Townes Van Zandt one day, then shout along to Black Sabbath the next. I wouldn't say I have any guilty pleasures because every band and artist I listen to, I'm happy to shout to the world about how much I love them and I think everyone should do the same. Yes, Bieber has had some absolute bangers out relatively recently and 14 year old Amy would shudder to know I declared such a thing, but the likes of Blink 182 and Bring Me The Horizon have also pleased my ears in the last couple of months, so I'd say everything is a positive.

- A.
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May 25, 2016

New-In from The Body Shop

The Body Shop has been a store I've went back to time and time again from being a young age when they had pencils, rubbers etc. with their slogans about looking after the animals and our natural world (remember those?) to enjoying the makeup and skincare in my ripe old age now. I always forget about it though. I overlook the store if I'm shopping or I just simply forget to check out new products but as I've developed an insatiable love for their primers and as they recently had a 40% off sale site wide, I couldn't resist picking up some products I've been desperate to try.

I tried to not go overboard and stuck to just skincare items for my purchases as I really need to take a break from buying makeup (its not that I want I'm just genuinely running out of storage space), so I picked up a variety of skin care things that I wanted to test. I picked up these items around a month ago now, so I have had ample time to trial and test them to give you my honest opinion - so here we go!

First up: face masks. Face masks are something I love to use regularly but I'm not particularly loyal to any certain ones so I'm still trying as many as I can in the hopes that I find *the one*. After much deliberation, I settled on the Blue Corn 3in1 Deep Purifying Scrub Mask and the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Mask. Both masks are some of The Body Shop's best sellers and both are great for anyone with oily skin that needs a little help with balancing out its condition. The Blue Corn mask first grabbed my attention as it is designed to help with excess oils but also that it is a 3in1 product. It promises to cleanse, moisturise, and exfoliate the skin so I was intrigued. The mas comes in a 100ml tub retailing at £11.oo and is a exactly what you'd expect consistency wise: thick, creamy, and full of "bits" as it is an exfoliant. I tend to steer clear of exfoliants like this usually as they can damage the skin if overused, but sometimes you just really want to scrub your skin clean right? So, my verdict? I love this mask. You can feel it working, its very cooling and also comfortably heating when drying on the skin and the exfoliating "bits" make its removal really feel like its buffing away those dead skin cells. It leaves my skin looking instantly more radiant and 100% softer. As for the excess oil tackling, I'll have to get back to you on that as I think I need to test it a little while longer to know for sure, but either way, it's a lovely mask to use.

So now for the Tea Tree mask. This mask also comes in a 100ml tub for £11.oo and is again perfect for those with combination to oily skin and especially go for those prone to blemishes due to its tea tree ingredients. This mask is very cooling on the skin so it's been a lovely one to apply on those muggy days we've had when it has been a little too humid during this month of May. Whilst this mask not give you the instant radiance the Blue Corn one can, it is more gentle on the skin as it isn't an exfoliant and it does a brilliant job at drawing out the impurities in the skin and drying up any spots you may have on the surface. This is a great one to use if you are planning to go to an important event or a wedding etc. soon and you need to try and get your skin prime conditiona before hand as it brings all the *bad stuff* to the surface and tries to dry it all up. Excellent.

Sticking with the tea tree products, I also picked up a 20ml bottle of the Tea Tree Oil. This product comes in 10ml or 20ml options and ranges in price from £8-11.oo. I'm so pleased I picked this up. I add a generous amount of drops to the palms of my hands every night and smooth the oil over my whole face and down my neck. It is paraben free, soothing, and antibacterial so it is naturally good for any sensitive blemish skin sufferers. I've noticed a difference in the few weeks I have been using this as my skin feels so much happier. The healthier, non-blemished areas of my face feel softer and plumper and the areas where my acne has broken out have been successfully tackled using this as it does a great job at soothing the soreness and drying up open spots. It might not be as potent and hard-hitting as some other acne treatments, but it feels a lot more natural and gentle for the skin and I really thing that is what my routine has been lacking.

Another product I have really been loving to use most nights is the Vitamin E Face Mist. There is a whole range of Vitamin E products available at The Body Shop, but I have always overlooked them as I've always thought "I'm already an oily motherf*cker, why would I want to add more moisture to *this*?!" but this mist has changed everything. It includes rosewater, vitamin E, and wheatgerm oil which helps to moisturise the skin and give you that instant hydration if your skin needs it. I have enjoyed using this some evenings as an extra step in my skincare routine as a lot of my moisturisers, toners etc. are quite harsh and can be quite stripping of the skin as they're designed to fight my oils and acne. This helps level everything out and replace any hydration my skin may have lost in my overnight acne battle. This is also a beautiful product to use as a setting spray for makeup. It is in no way a heavy product, but it does leave a soft velvety veil on the skin so it is nice to use if you're having a busy day and need to freshen your makeup up midday but don't want to pack on extra products. It is also a lovely spray to use on brushes or beautyblenders/sponges as part of your base application as I've found it blends and works beautifully with all of the foundations I have tested it with. Another winner winner product from my mini-haul.

The last product I need to mention is the All-in-One BB Cream. Okay okay, so this is technically a makeup product but I think it doubles up as skincare as it is more nourishing for the skin than foundation is so hear me out... I initially ordered this as the Tea Tree BB Cream was sold out in the lightest shade. I picked up the All-in-One in 00 for Fair Skin Tones and hoped it would be a good match and well, it terrified me at first. When it arrived in the post, I quickly swatched it on the back of my hand and genuinely thought I must have accidentally order a liquid highlighter. It was almost white in its pigment and seemed incredibly dewy/shimmery once it had been blended into the skin. As an oily girl, the last thing I want is a dewy complexion. Now I know what you're thinking - what were you expecting from a BB Cream Amyleigh? Of course it's going to be dewy? - and yeah I know, but I guess I was just a bit overwhelmed with the initial swatch.

However, I finally plucked up the courage to apply to my whole face to use as my base product one day when I needed to pop to the supermarket and I've got to be honest, I actually kind of like it. It melts beautifully into the skin and despite the scary white shade on first applying it, it sets and dries down to match my pale yellow tone skin really well. It is quite illuminating but not overpowering but I do like to set it as it's still a little too dewy for my tastes. I think this would be a gorgeous product to use on holiday in those warmer climates as its a light coverage but it is definitely buildable as it doesn't set or turn cakey after a few hours. My only gripe with it? Areas that I applied my concealer to (my concealer I use to cover spots/redness) went reeeally patchy over the top of it and sat on the skin so it was obvious those areas of my face were a different colour/coverage to rest of my face. This is a shame because the product was so light and comfortable to wear, I thought I might have a new base to wear on good skin days. I think this one needs a little bit more testing before I fall in love with it.

What are some of your fave The Body Shop products?

- A.
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May 23, 2016

Mustard Bardot

Mustard yellow is by far the best colour out there. Okay, so as my favourite colour is yellow, I'm being kind of biased, but I just love mustard yellow for clothing. I think it matches my pale skin and dark hair pretty well and it always looks great with every single wash of blue or black denim. This bardot off-the-shoulder number is just one of many recent purchases I made at New Look. I went a little bardot-crazy and picked up 5 in one transaction... I know I know, I have a problem, but they're just my favourite sort of top to wear for summer as they can make you look so put together and girly. Naturally I couldn't look *too* girly though (especially since my last two posts have been pretty pink numbers *vomit*), so I paired it with a tatted-up pair of denim flares and a favourite pair of high clogs.

New Look Bardot Top | Asos Denim Flares (similar and similar) | Primark Saddle Bag (similar) | Topshop Clogs (similar)

- A.
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May 20, 2016

Romsey Road Catholic Cemetery

One day during April, I had finished work, got home, and realised I needed to head to university. I wasn't pleased about this after being up since 5:30am and dealing with teenagers all day, but the sun was shining so things could have been worse. As I began to reach university, I suddenly remembered the graveyard close by and decided to take some snaps in it whilst the skies were clear. This cemetery is pretty small and is situated in a really odd place. If you were to walk up or down the main street, you wouldn't notice it is there as it is built higher up than street level. There's a big red brick wall running down the street and the cemetery is nestled not just behind this wall, but at the top of it. Surreal huh? I've been meaning to take some photos in there for months and months, so I finally tried to get some quick pics. I'll be honest, I really wanted to get in there to look at the mausoleums but was disappointed to see they were now being used as storage cupboards for gardening tools.

Some of the photos didn't come out as nicely as planned because it was so sunny, it was too bright for photos, but as I was running on a tight time schedule, I couldn't spend too long in there! Despite this, I did get some photos I'm rather happy with and I'm pleased to say I've now had a good look around in there. There were some flowers in bloom in there too which just made the whole area look really pretty. Despite being right beside one of the busiest roads in Winchester, it was so peacefully quiet walking around; it was a really nice escape from my busy and stressful day. The cemetery has been in use since 1847 so it has some good history to it. I'd like to take another look around sometime soon as I didn't spend a long time actually *looking* at the graves in there (this was down to time constraints and the fact that some men were doing building work overlooking the graveyard and I don't know, I'm still not 100% confident with taking photos in public and certainly not in cemeteries because I'm convinced people will think I'm bizarre). Enjoy!

DaffodilsTree in the CemeterySunny CemeteryJesusGraveyardCemeteryMausoleum and GravesGravestonesMausoleumGravestoneShaded GravesLife n' DeathSun Beams

- A.
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May 18, 2016

Mini Topshop Beauty Haul

Topshop's makeup range is a one that is loved by many and as a fan of their nail varnishes and their blushers, I thought it was high-time I gave some of their other offerings a go too. Topshop lipsticks are definitely something I see people rave about the most so surprise surprise, when I was recently making an online order (that should have been just to purchase a single, solitary skirt) I decided to add a few lippies to the basket too. And a bronzer which lemme tell you, is pretty damn great. So let me give you the low-down on what I got.

I picked up two shades from the normal, bog-standard lipstick range: Nevada and Mink. Nevada seems to be a favourite with a lot of people on the blogosphere, but I've got to be honest, I think it'll take me a little getting used to. Don't get me wrong, the peachy nude/desert sand sort of shade is lovely and very different to a lot of other lipstick ranges of similar price, but it looks super pale on me. Although I'm quite pale, my natural lip colour is quite deep, making Nevada a real stark contrast in colour compared to what I'm used to. I think paired with the right makeup and the right hair/outfit though, this would be a lovely colour for both casual days and for nights out; I just need to experiment with it a little more. The other shade I pink up - Mink - is a typical browny nude. I'm a huge fan of a brown lip, it always reminds me of one of my Auntys and her statement lip colour in the 1990's, but I just never find any that suit me. Being pale with black hair can be a curse with lippie choices as browns just make me look gaunt and drained. This one was a complete gamble but I'm in love - its not too harshly brown and pigmented on the lips so it gives the lips a more natural brown finish than a milk chocolate shade disaster. I would say it looks darker in the bullet so don't let that put you off or fool you - it's definitely worth a swatch test.

The best thing about these lipsticks is their formula. I mean, the packaging is pretty aesthetically pleasing, the price is pretty great (£8.oo), but the formula is the thing that seals the deal for me. They're really pigmented, creamy and moisturising yet despite their creaminess, they don't slip off completely as soon as you come into contact with food or drink. They do need to be patched up after such activities, but the pigment definitely holds on as much as it can, meaning you don't get the dreaded halo around the inner part of your lips. The only downside to them being so creamy and soft? Nevada has already snapped as in, the bullet snapped in two. I had to do a quick sticking it back together and putting it in the fridge for a couple of hours job to try and rectify the situation, so just a warning: if you have a warm house or are going to use these lippies over summer, they might just melt.

From L to R: Bronzer in Salute, Lipstick Bullet in Motel, Lipstick in Nevada, and Lipstick in Mink

The other lip product I picked up was one of the Topshop Bullets. These appealed to me as I thought they'd be more matte and therefore, more my thang. I picked out the shade Motel which looked like a lovely deep dusty pink/brown shade. It is a lovely shade but do you notice something about the picture above? Yup, it looks just like Mink on my skin. In the bullet, both products look different shades, but upon application, they're pretty much identical. This is fine as I do like the colour, but it was disappointing for me when I realised I technically paid for the same shade twice when I could have picked out a new red or something. It's worth saying though that this might not be the case for everyone - a lot of lip products go a different colour on people depending on their skin tone, their natural lip shade etc. The one thing I do like about this product more that the lipsticks though is that it does eventually dry down quite matte - now when I say eventually, it did take a good 3 hours for me to notice it looking more matte and less satiny/creamy. It still transfers, but again the pigmentation is great so you don't notice the loss of product from any transfers. I prefer the packaging of the lipsticks, but the bullets do have some great shades too.

Now let's talk about this bronzer. Bronzers are so hit and miss for me because I'm a Pale Penelope. I had read a review a while ago talking about *a Topshop bronzer* which was great for pale skin. After much deliberation and searching, I figured the shade I needed was Salute and I'm so. goddamn. happy. with. this. purchase. This bronzer albeit it being a powder, is very buttery soft to apply. You only need a little product and it is easily buildable, it glides onto the skin beautifully, and it doesn't go muddy or patchy. It is a wonderful sandy shade for us paler ladies as it is not too warm or orangey and it's not a dark shade of brown. This does an excellent job of both warming up the face and giving your face a bit of dimension, whilst also doubling up amazingly as a contour shade (if you're a lazy lady like me and want a product to do both jobs in one). I've only used this product 3 times but I'm honestly that impressed with it, its what I instantly grab for when I'm doing my makeup everyday. I'm also going to take a look at their other bronzer shade, Mohawke, in store because I'm pretty sure THAT one is actually the paler shade of the two... But either way, Salute works super well with my pasty skin tone.

- A.
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May 16, 2016

Pretty in Pink

No, your eyes don't deceive you, I am indeed wearing pink again. I know, it's shocking, but I just can't resist all this blush pink that's around this spring. It's such a lovely colour that I think compliments every skin tone and personal style and I've tried my best to stay away from it because I'm *not a pink kinda girl*, but it's just so lovely. I also absolutely love pinafores. I had been fighting the urge to get that lovely pink corduroy pinny number from Topshop (yeah you know the one), but on a recent trip to primark, I found this baby which was preeetty similar and for a third of the price - how could I say no?

New Look Stripe Top (similar) | Primark Pinafore (similar) | Primark Saddle Bag (similar) |
Asos Socks | Lotta From Stockholm Clogs

- A.
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May 13, 2016

Is University Really Worth It?

Now that it is May, I've just realised it has almost been a full year since I finished my undergraduate degree and was no longer a student, needing to quickly work out what I wanted to do with my future. Since May 2015, I have started and almost finished my Post Graduate Certificate in Education to teaching Religious Education to 11-18 year olds and that, alongside my undergraduate degree, has certainly been a whirlwind of emotions for me. So now that it is exam season, its the time when some of you may be considering your next steps in education or you may even be reflecting on your own choices to go to university and whether or not it was right for you, I thought I'd sit down and join the worldwide web discussion and give you my honest thoughts about university.

So first things first (I'm the realest. Sorry.), I went to university later than most. I didn't make the jump to go until I was 21 because I'd always struggled with education. I was bright, but I lost my drive and ambition with each passing year. I didn't do as well in my GCSEs as I should have, I was unsettled throughout my A-Levels and moved from school to college to college, and then I just thought I couldn't deal with doing any more of it. I love to learn, but I just didn't know what to do, where to go, or if studying anything any further would actually benefit me in any way. So, I finished college and worked for sometime but I was never truly happy. I wanted to carry on learning - I craved to improve my knowledge - but I just didn't know where to start when it came to choosing a degree. During my A-Levels, I realised I had a real knack for Sociology. Getting 98% in my exams meant it was certainly a subject I excelled in, and whilst I did find some aspects of it interesting, the subject as a whole didn't really float my boat. So in steps my mother. My mam has always been the best kind of supportive parent - she's always had high expectations for me but has never pushed me to do any better than my best. When I told her I was unhappy, I wanted to study but I didn't just want to study something because I was good at it, she told me to do something I liked, something for me. Coming from a working class family of which no one had been to university, my family really wanted me to go and "improve" and "better" myself. So after really looking at what I thought I would find interesting and worthwhile, I settled on studying Archaeology and moved to the other end of the country - down to Winchester.

I said goodbye to family in the north east, sat on a crammed coach with all my belongings in one suitcase for 12 hours, and eventually landed in Winchester at 8pm on a Sunday evening. As soon as I stepped off the coach I fell in love with the city. It felt like a home from home - the cobbled streets, the history you could see and feel from the architecture... It all just reminded me of Durham. I moved into university halls that night and that was that. So now, let's talk about whether or not it's all really worth it.

Choose a Degree for YOU
I'm going to be brutally honest with you now - most undergraduate degrees mean squat nowadays. Because university has become a more mainstream thing for our generation to be part of, there is a lot of university students across the country. This is fine, and this shouldn't be something to put you off, but if you have a specific career goal in mind, you need to be ready for potential competition and to push yourself to aim for the highest grades you can possibly get. You will come across a lot of people at uni who are there just because they can be - they will cruise through, make minimum effort to pass their assignments, and will really be there because its a great way to party for 3 or 4 years and put the adult responsibilities on hold for a little longer. I went to university just because I could. I went thinking "I may as well, I know if I try I am smart enough" but that quickly changed into me wanting to really do well and to excel once I saw how many people were using it just to coast through life. This isn't me having a go at those who do that though - I literally chose Archaeology as my degree subject because I've been interested in it from a young age. I had no, and still have no, true intention of becoming an archaeologist full-time as my career. I say pick something you're interested in. Pick a subject you are fascinated by, that you think you can study for 3 or 4 years and not grow bored of. Pick something for you. If you're not planning on being a doctor or a lawyer and you just want to go to uni because you have the opportunity, do it. All I suggest is don't take it for granted. Work hard and appreciate the opportunity you have because you'll only have that first undergraduate experience once - don't lose it all to drinking and going out every single evening.

If you're on the fence about it though, read around what it is you think you want to do. There's so many undergraduate degrees out there that promise you positions and roles in certain areas of work that you can actually get without a degree. For some roles its just a case of working your way up the career ladder. You could walk into a job and within the 3 years you would have been studying at uni, you could have moved above and beyond the position the end of university promises you just by gaining experience and building up your CV. A lot of it really comes down to whether or not you're academic. Do you like to write, to learn, and excel at that? Go to uni. If you don't? You can definitely get to where you want to go without uni.

The Pros and Cons: The Cons

It's a whole lot of money for a piece of paper. I've touched on this already, but it is seriously a lot of debt to get yourself into if you're just going "for a laff mate". I'm currently sitting on around 50,000+ debt if I include my Post Grad studies too and that is and effing should be, terrifying. Far too many people see uni as a free pass to be young and carefree for a bit longer, but you should always be aware of how much money you are putting on the line for it.

If you're not a social butterfly, you might struggle. This is a con and pro for me (I'll tell you how on earth it is a pro later). If you like your own space, your own company etc. oh my my, you will struggle. In my first year, I was living in student halls and let me tell you - you have no time to yourself. The only time I felt comfortably alone was when I was sleeping, in the shower, or on the fucking toilet. University living, especially in halls, is very insulated and your friends and fellow peers will be in each others pockets and in each others business 99.9% of the time. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore and love every single one of my close friends I made through uni, who I spent all of my time with, but if you are someone who likes time alone, be prepared to lose that for a while. I wasn't prepared and it completely drained me. During my second and third year, I managed to get things back on track for how I am as a person - seeing friends now and again and it being wonderful because you're constantly catching up. Just be strong enough to say no and to say you don't want to go out every evening if you don't want to and you will find the whole ordeal a lot easier than I did!

Some of the lectures aren't all they're cracked up to be. Overall I bloody loved my degree, but there were times I sat in a lecture and thought "in these next 2 hours, I have plummeted into an additonal £300 worth of debt for this shit slideshow". You can't obviously know what all of you classes/lectures/workshops etc. are going to be like before you attend, but if you've got your heart set on some unis/courses, try your best to check them out fully before you make a choice. Look on student forums, attend open days/evenings, ask students around the campus etc. - don't do what I did and just pick somewhere at random that you had never even visited. I got lucky, but not everyone will.

If you move away, you will miss your family. That sounds pretty obvious, but even for me as someone who is quite a secluded person who doesn't call family members regularly to check how they are etc., I found it tough that I was living so far away from home. Choosing to go to uni over 300 miles away is 100% my doing, but there would be some evenings or days all I wanted to do was talk to my mam, listen to how shit my brother thought his day at school was, and go to my grandma's for a cuppa and catch up. I spent most of my money going back home every other weekend during my first year (which in hindsight was ridiculous because it used to take me 10+ hours to get there and then 10+ hours to get back but the few hours I had at home were worth it). I did get used to it and as I still live in Winchester now, I obviously have acclimatised to the situation, but if you are thinking of moving away for uni, really think about it and consider how far you're willing to travel because there will be a time you will consider spending £200 on a train ticket, to travel 300 miles, at 5 am, all in aid of having a cup of tea with your mam and listen to her tell you your degree is worth it.

And now, for the positives.

The Pros and Cons: The Pros

I found my soulmate. I know that is sickeningly cheesy, but I did. I grew unhappy in a relationship I had outgrown and university gave me the opportunity to meet a whole range of new people - including my boyfriend. I never would have met him if I hadn't moved. I never would have met him if I hadn't chose the degree I chose. This obviously isn't a reason to attend uni - you can't think "omg I might meet the person of my dreams!" as you're filling out your UCAS application - but for me, that's got to be the biggest bonus university presented to me.

I made lifelong friends. The beauty about doing my degree meant I made more friends and most importantly, made more friends with similar interests. My best friends from home of course I have things in common with, but it was lovely to meet more people who I knew I would have a multitude of things to talk to about. The beauty of university is that it is social, even for shy retiring anti-social butterflies like me. I hate most social situations, they make me feel uncomfortable and send my anxiety rocketing, but uni was somehow different. You can join clubs. You can join sports teams. You will always find like minded individuals from so many different backgrounds, countries, and beliefs that it is truly humbling. Even if you struggle with social aspects of life, university can be such a benefit.

I realised I was actually quite bright. Okay, so I knew I kind of was at school, but learning about an area I was so interested in gave me the opportunity to really research and write about something I was passionate about. Every chance I got, I wrote about the Aztecs, Egyptians, and world religions. Every time I did and made the effort with my work, I got better and better feedback from my lecturers, I got better and better grades. For someone who is so full of self doubt, my assignments and in particular my dissertation gave me such a confident boost that if I put my mind to things, I can smash my goals out of the ball park.

I became more me. I honestly want to thank university for the fact I am now comfortable in my own skin. I now know it's okay to prefer to sit in your PJs most nights curled up with a good book or film to going out getting drunk every night. I now know it's okay to be interested in whatever you're interested in and if anyone finds that weird, you don't need to interact with them. It gave me the chance to realise I'm quite an introverted person. I discovered I enjoy my own company and like being independent and that that is okay. If I had of stayed at home and not moved, I always wonder if this would have happened but I honestly think I wouldn't have been such a self-assured person if I hadn't have left.

You will be so bloody proud of yourself and others. I could have cried all day at my graduation - no joke. I was in such an elated mood all day to see how proud my parents were, to receive the well-wishing texts and phone calls off my grandparents and extended family, to see my friends graduate alongside me and see their families cheer for them too - the whole experience is one big pat on the back I will never feel again. It made me realise the sleepless nights typing in the café, on my fifth cup of gross tea and on my seventh chocolate bar from the overpriced vending machines was all worth it. I will always remember hysterically crying and having my only positive panic attack (if those are even a thing?!) the day I opened my results email and saw that I had a First Class Honours in a subject that I love so much.

For me, the whole experience was a rollercoaster. It's something everyone says but that's because its true. I would recommend uni to anyone and everyone, but it will always have its positive and negative sides. It's all a matter of weighing them out and working out if it's right for you and if its not? Its not the end of the world. You can get to where you want to be in life without it.

- A.
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