Blogmas 2018 Day Eleven: Tips for Exam Prep During the Holidays

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I think perhaps one of the cruellest things that they do in uni is scheduling the final exam period during the Christmas holidays. How am I supposed to focus on studying when I’ve got Christmas goodies to bake and things to decorate and presents to buy?! It’s really been a challenge during my couple years of uni thus far. Like most people, I already find it difficult enough to study for exams in the first place. I have a really tough time getting myself to hunker down and focus when I could be doing so many other things!! But in the December exam period, it’s nearly downright impossible for me to be motivated to study.

This year, exams are particularly stressful as my only two formal exams are scheduled for the 19th and 20th of December… Literally the last two days of the exam period. W H Y. How is anyone meant to focus on Jane Austen when it’s so close to Christmas?!

Fortunately, I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks for getting myself motivated whilst all the Christmas excitement and I thought I’d share them all with you, so you guys don’t have to suffer either!

~PLAN AHEAD~

There’s nothing worse than getting caught a couple of days before your exam with nothing prepared and no sense of what you’re getting yourself into to. A few weeks before your exam, start to mentally set out a schedule or a plan for what you what you’d like to accomplish, and on what timeline. This way, you can hold yourself to studying better and not get as easily distracted from your goal.

~SET ASIDE TIME EVERY DAY~

I know how easy it is to say “it’s cool, I’ll just do some studying later this week” and how quickly that turns into “oh shit, my exam is in two days and I haven’t even looked at my notes.” Trust me. We’ve all been there. And with all the Christmas festivities to get wrapped up into at this time of the year, it’s even easier to procrastinate studying. Getting an hour or two in of studying for each subject every day is a really easy way to stay up-to-date with your revision while still getting time to do all the fun stuff. And as you get closer to your exam, start increasing your daily studying by an hour. It does wonders, honestly.

~FESTIVE ENCOURAGEMENT~

Yeah, that’s right. I’m about to tell you to bribe yourself to do work. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, am I right? If the only way that you can get yourself to revise your History notes is by tempting yourself with a Christmas film once you’ve finished, then do it. No judgment here. Once you’ve done your studying, does it really matter how you got there? Not really. Just matters that you’ve done it. Sometimes I’ll tell myself that if I finish my revision, I’ll treat myself to a Starbucks Holiday drink. And guess what? It motivates the hell outta me.

~DAMAGE CONTROL~

If you’ve just spent the past two days decorating your house or going out to do some Christmas shopping, and you know that you’ve neglected your school work, then you’ve gotta go right back to studying. Immediately. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in constantly having fun during the holidays. I know how tempting it can be, but honestly, Christmas will still be there when you’ve finished your exams.

~DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP~

This was a lesson that took me years to learn on my own so here I am, passing this onto you now: please ask for help if you need it. I always use to think that I had to figure things out on my own and suffer in silence. But taking a year off of school made me realize that that’s absolutely not the case whatsoever. There are so many people out there who are more than happy to lend a hand if you need it. If you’re feeling stressed during the holidays, talk to a friend, or a family member, or a counsellor at your school. And if you need help studying, reach out to a classmate or a friend. I’m the kind of person who usually needs to be tested on the information in order to fully understand it. If you’re that kind of person as well, don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you! Honestly, you’ll feel so much better getting that assistance that you need and it’ll drastically improve your grade overall.

What really helps you focus during the holidays?

Felicia x

To view a list of my other Blogmas posts, click here.


Blogmas 2018 Day Four: Tips for Christmas Shopping

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Hello darlings!

Today I thought I’d do a bit of an advice post about one of the season’s most dreaded events: Christmas shopping. I’m the kind of person who loves buying gifts for people. I love finding the perfect present for a loved one, wrapping it up, writing the card, and placing it beneath the tree until I finally get to share it with them. But the whole process of actually buying the gifts can be extremely stressful especially if you suffer from anxiety, like me. So I thought I’d share a few of my favourite tips for making the most of the Christmas shopping experience.

1. Add a little bit of fun.

A lot of the time when we’re faced with stressful situations, it can be really easy to fall into the trap of telling ourselves it’s going to be an all around awful time. It can make a huge difference if you go into it thinking it won’t be so bad! If you’re going out to brave the pre-Christmas mall crowds, especially as it gets closer to the holidays, try to set up your trip with a few relaxing, fun things. Make a playlist of your favourite Christmas tunes and play it on the drive to the mall. Dress in layers (this is so important, malls get hot my friends). Bring a friend and grab a festive-flavoured coffee or tea that you can sip while you walk around the shops. Seriously, these might sound like such small things but they really do make a major impact on your overall stress level!!

2. Make a list.

There’s nothing worse than getting to the mall and falling into a panic because you have zero idea what you’re looking for or which shops to even go to. It makes you 100x more stressed out. Before you decide to head out, make a list of the things you’re considering for each person on your list. Even if you only have a vague idea of what you’re looking for, it will at least narrow down the shops you’ll have to go through and give you a better grasp on what you’re aiming to buy. There’s nothing worse than feeling completely overwhelmed by the chaos of the mall shoppers and the million shops with all of their displays. Make a list, put it on your phone, and look back at it whenever you’re feeling a little uneasy or lost.

3. Try online shopping.

This is my greatest Christmas shopping life-hack EVER. Online shopping has become my BFF over the last couple years, especially when my anxiety has been at it’s peak. You can basically buy anything online nowadays (thank god for that) and a lot of stores will offer online exclusive deals throughout the holiday season, like BOGO or free shipping - so definitely take advantage of that. There’s also a whole community out there of online independent shops! It’s always nice to buy from online shops (like from Etsy) because you know that the money is going to someone’s family, rather than just a corporation. Not to mention you’ll be gifting your friend or family something that is a lil more unique which is really special as well!

4. Shop on off-days.

Back to the in-store shopping… If you decide that online shopping isn’t for you or it’s not accessible, but you still hate those mall crowds, try to do your Christmas shopping on off-days, or even off-times. Shopping in the morning or afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday is going to bring you face-to-face with the roughest of shopping crowds. But if you go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, or even on your lunch breaks throughout the week, you’ll definitely face far less intimidating crowds than on the weekend rush. You’ll have more time and space to get your creative gears going!

5. Check online for coupons or sales.

There’s no shame in getting a good deal on a gift!!! Lots of us are on tight budgets and what’s wrong in needing a little bit of help in buying our loved ones the perf gift? These days, coupons and sales are everywhere you look. If you sign-up for newsletters of stores you’re planning on shopping at, they’ll send out weekly or even daily emails full of information about how to save a few pennies. And if you’re shopping online, you can download a money-saver program like Honey or Wikibuy, which can go right on your Internet to directly save you money on purchases while you’re checking out your order.

What are your top tips for Christmas shopping?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

5 Tips For Staying at a Disney Resort

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Staying at a Disney resort is an incredible experience. Everything from the resort grounds to the restaurants to the hotel rooms, there is magic sprinkled everywhere. But with so much ground to cover, staying there for the first time can be a bit daunting. So today I thought I'd give a few tips I've learned from staying on-property over the years! 

Use Disney Transport

One of the perks of staying on-property at Walt Disney World is that you have access to all Disney Transport. Believe it or not, there are a ton of different ways that you can get around the parks, be it by buses, ferry boats, monorails, or even Minnie Vans operated by Lyft. Using the buses to get from resort-to-park, or vice versa, is so simple. On our latest stay, we drove to the resort with our own car but opted against driving our car to and from the parks because the bus system was so much easier. The buses are quite efficient as they know the quickest routes around property and might even take lesser known or backstage routes to get you to the parks in good time. An added bonus of taking buses is that you get to bypass the Transportation and Ticket Centre which, if you’ve ever driven to the Magic Kingdom before, you’ll know is a nightmare.

The other options of Disney Transport are just as efficient! If you’re staying at the Port Orleans Resort, then you’ll be able to use one of my favourite transportation methods: the boat to Disney Springs! It’s a relaxing ride down the Sassagoula River that takes you right to the middle of the Disney Springs fun.

Also, keep an eye out for a new way to travel the World - the Disney Skyliner gondola system opens on September 29, 2019!

Download the My Disney Experience App

You may already have the My Disney Experience app downloaded to your phone if you’ve been to the parks recently but if you haven’t been in awhile, or ever, here’s the gist. The My Disney Experience app is your guide to the Walt Disney World Resort in your very own pocket. It allows you to look at maps, check wait times, book FastPasses, make dinner reservations, and more. It’s extremely useful. The fact that you can pull it up on your phone whenever you need to with the in-park WiFi is incredible. Sometimes I can’t even imagine how we used to do it in the “old days” with the paper FastPass system lol! Remember when you could only get a FastPass for some of the rides in Disney? Crazy stuff. Also, if you purchase Memory Maker, which allows you to own the pictures that you take with PhotoPass photographers in the parks, you can view all the pictures directly on the app. They’ll even notify you as soon as your picture is ready to download after you’ve taken the picture or gotten off a ride with an in-ride photo. Cool, right? Essentially, it’s a god send and you will thank me for it when you’ve got this handy tool on your next Disney trip.

Purchase a Refillable Mug

This is actually something that myself and my family have been doing since we first started visiting the Disney parks way back in the early 2000s. In fact, this might be a crucial tip, especially if you’re planning on spending a good amount of time at the resorts. The refillable mug currently costs $18.99 (without Disney Dining Plan) for the initial purchase and then you can use it however many times your little heart desires during your resort stay without an extra cost. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, the mug will be included in your plan. It’s perfect for grabbing a cup of coffee at breakfast or some Gatorade or pop when you’re going poolside. I filled mine up at least a dozen times during our six-day stay and it was well worth the cost. Definitely saves you from waiting in lines to purchase numerous drinks throughout the day!

Keep in mind though that the refillable mugs are part of the Rapid Fill program. What’s the Rapid Fill program you may ask? Well, that was my question too, to be honest! Back in my early trips, it didn’t exist. But starting a few years back, Disney created a program where they sold these refillable mugs which had RFID bar codes inside. This means that your mug becomes deactivated after your resort stay is complete. And you can’t reuse this mug on your next stay - you’ll have to purchase a brand new mug. Also: you can only refill the mug after about 2 minutes since your last refill. Not sure why, but thems the rules!

Take Advantage of AP, Tables in Wonderland, or Disney Dining Plan

Staying in the parks, it’s easy to rack up a pretty hefty bill from all the food and merchandise purchasing. Especially if you’re just charging everything blindly to your room via your MagicBand (those things are SO dangerous!). Using methods to get discounts on your meals and souvenirs makes a huge difference. As an Annual Passholder, I bring my AP cad with me wherever I go in case I plan on buying something. That card will get me a 10-20% discount!! Additionally, if you have a Tables in Wonderland card or a Disney Dining Plan, you’ll easily be able to save a buck or two throughout your trip on every meal, and as we all know, those extra bucks do matter!! If you’re worried about the additional costs of a Walt Disney World Resort stay, you should definitely look into these methods and see which ones, if any, suit your family the best. One thing I will say that I’ve heard people have done on their vacations is have one person in their travelling party purchase an Annual Pass - only one person needs to be an AP to get a discount on the entire meal/purchase. Just make sure that individual is paying for things and you’re good to go!

Bring Bug Spray

I literally cannot stress this one enough. And I tell you this because I have learned from my mistakes!! This one took me TOTALLY by surprise, I was dumb enough to think that this wouldn’t be a problem and paid for it lol. BRING BUG SPRAY!!! Take this from someone who did not bring bug spray and got eaten alive. Especially in heavily vegetated areas (which is 99% of Disney, it is Florida after all), evil hungry bugs like mosquitos are rampant. In just one late night walk around Port Orleans French Quarter with my mum by the river, I got at least six mosquitos bites. UGH. SO painful. Make sure to pack some bug spray in your luggage and also, pack some After Bite while you’re at it. Juuuuuust in case. Better safe than sorry, am I right?

What are your top Disney resort tips?

Felicia x


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How To Prepare For A New School Year

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Ahh, August. The bittersweet month. Those final hazy days of summer. Am I depressing you? Sorry! Although August is a great month - it is my birthday month, after all - it is also, unfortunately, the last portion of summer holiday. Which means school is right around the corner. And although a lot of us may be squeezing our eyes shut and plugging our ears and going "la-la-la-la-la" (I know I am), it's the truth.

With school coming up, it's time to start thinking about preparing for the start of term. Getting your ducks in a row before the first day of school does wonders for your productivity when classes actually start. I'm sure you'd rather not be racing around campus, trying to figure out where your classes are whilst also tracking down your textbooks and buying school supplies. The thought is cringe-worthy haha. So, here are my tips of things to do to prepare for a new term!

GET A BINDER

When I got into university, I had this preconceived notion that binders were a 'high school thing'. There was no use buying one for university because when would I use it? It's not like you cart around loose sheets of paper from lecture-to-lecture. But the fact is, binders are useful for far more than just transportation. I like to buy a binder that I leave at my desk for holding any paper I deem important that I can't bear to lose and any marked papers that are returned to me. Oh, and by the way, professors like to throw a curveball and hand out loose papers all the time. It's nice to have someplace for those papers to go once you get home.

PRINT OUT YOUR SYLLABI

This is something I've learned to do over the years. I'm so grateful that I learned this. Picture this. You're putting the final details on your paper, the night before it's due. You can't remember if your professor likes your citations in APA or MLA format. You go online to check your syllabus and - oh wait, the site is down. Having a physical copy of your syllabus can't hurt. Pop that bad boy into a plastic page protector and put it in your binder (ah, see, I told you a binder would come in handy!). Now you can refer to it whenever you need and even make notes on the page, if need be. 

BUY A PLANNER - AND USE IT

Yes, the dreaded planner. It seems these little books are cursed for uni students. You buy one with high expectations of keeping up-to-date with marking all your assignments and exams, and it all comes crashing down about a month or even a week into classes. But I'm here to tell you that, yes, the planner does wonders! It's not an evil burden! I promise you. If you already have your syllabus, go ahead and fill in all the important dates in your planner. That way, you won't have to worry about it later. Make a vow to yourself that you will keep up with your planner. Honestly, this did me a world of good when I started university and even helped my very reluctant boyfriend last year. 

WRITE OUT YOUR CLASS TIMETABLE

There's a bunch of different ways that you can do this, or you could even use a combo of a few methods. The point is that you have a layout of it somewhere in front of you. You could write it down in your bullet journal, or put it in your planner. You could use a calendar app, like Google Calendar, which lets you colour-code your different classes. Or go old-fashioned and write it down on paper - there are a bunch of weekly schedule templates you can print off the Internet that will spruce up your timetable. Having your timetable easily accessible is super important, especially at the beginning of the new term when you're still getting used to all your new classes. I like to write out my class, the room number, the time, and the name of the professor. 

GET YOURSELF ON A ROUTINE

Summer ruins routines for everyone. It's inevitable. If you're anything like me, you probably spent your summer going to sleep at 3am and waking up at 11am. Obviously, that isn't going to work during the school year. So the couple weeks before school starts, it's a good idea to start getting yourself onto a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every single day. This is so important. You don't want to keep your crappy sleep schedule right up until the day before term starts. Take my word for it. 

GO BUY YOUR SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Stationary shopping is my favourite part of the new school term. Nerd alert, right? I just find that note-making and studying is so much better if you have cute notebooks and pens to use! Honestly, I don't like to splurge too much on my school supplies, although I know a lot of people like to spend a pretty penny on their utensils and notebooks, etc. I find that I go through school supplies super fast so it's not totally worth it to spend $20+ on items that you can find for $5 elsewhere. Walmart has some incredible sales for school supplies in the weeks leading up to the school term. I always go on a huge school supply shopping spree about a month before term begins, as I'm in the US where they have really inexpensive school supplies in early August (as that's when students go back here). Maybe I'll post a school supply haul blog sometime?


That's about all for now! Hope you guys are enjoying your last bit of summer. 

What do you do to prepare for a new school year?

Felicia x