TORRENTIAL RAIN AND A FEMINIST CAKE

Let's have a look at what's happened lately:

▸ I've been wearing all black (almost) every day for two weeks now. It's just so comforting in a way? Plus, I feel more coherent, not just outfit wise, but mentally too? 

▸ I've been studying. A lot. Right now I'm working on the assessments that are due 16 January, as well as trying to keep up on in class course work = shit loads of work to do. But I'm enjoying it (okay, maybe not the quants, but oh well), so it doesn't matter.

For anyone who wants to know what the British weather is like in November. 🙃

Ett filmklipp publicerat av Jennifer Stroud ♀ (@jennif.stroud)

▸ I got soaked in the rain from hell that enfolded the city last Monday. I walked the 15 minutes to Morrisons to buy food, and when I got home my coat was literally DRIPPING of water.

▸ the notorious flood surprised me on Wednesday morning when I wanted to go for a run along the river. Hopefully this winter won't be as bad as the last one... 

▸ my skin has started breaking out in rashes again :(( My eczema always gets so much worse in the winter, and I guess the uni workload + stress isn't helping.

▸ I've attended a conference that CWS organised in celebration of Stevi Jackson's amazing work. They had invited so many cool speakers, and I got a little starstruck (forever fangirling academics). Afterwards THIS CAKE HAPPENED. Most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

▸ I've procrastinated a lot by hanging out in the CWS common room, eating leftover cake, chatting about important things (e.g. epistemology, and dogs with short legs), and not felt bad about the work I'm not doing - which makes me kind of proud, since I'm the worst for beating myself up when I'm not working "hard enough" (like, what does that even mean?).

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▸ the sky has gone through the whole spectrum of colours every night as the sun sets. I find the view from my kitchen window very dystopian, in a good way. 

▸ I've been catching up on Planet Earth II, all wrapped up in my feather duvet and sipping on glögg. 

▸ I've spent several hours browsing second hand bookshops, and came home with these little treasures for only £6! 

▸ and on Saturday I went to a Christmas/Birthday/Housewarming party that Josie, a girl in my class, threw. We ate saffron buns (!!) and crisps with edible glitter, admired their pretty Christmas tree, talked about feminism and planned the revolution. <3 

THE EDINBURGH ESCAPE

Last week was very weird. With anxiety pounding against my ribcage, panic flushing under my skin, a muddled mind, and a slowness that screams of sadness. Luckily, Otto was in Edinburgh to cover for his mum's café + shop last week. So last Friday I jumped on the CrossCountry train to hang out with my favourite person, and escape adulting and all the responsibilities that it entails, if only for a few days.

Hottest barista I’ve ever seen. And turns out he makes a smashing flat white!

And look look look how NICE the café in Nordic Affär is!! I left for Sweden before it was finished and I was blown away when I stepped into the shop, it's so pretty. If you're in Edinburgh and fancy some (proper, strong) Swedish coffee and home baked cinnamon buns, you know where to go. 

It was so, so surreal to be back in Edinburgh. In many ways it felt like coming home, but at the same time, it became so clear that I’m not part of the city anymore. So many things had changed, so many things felt new and unfamiliar. At first it made me sad(der), but then I realised that it only means that I'm still moving forward, that I'm not stuck, and, right now, that's something that I really value. 

Otto held me hard while I cried, and Edinburgh gave me much needed space to catch my breath again. After 4 days together, studying side by side, drinking cup after cup of coffee, ordering half the menu from the indian around the corner, walking hand in hand down familiar streets, I was more than ready to take on life again. Oh, and I got to see the Goldfinch at the Scottish National Gallery, just a couple of weeks after I finished the book! It's only on display for 1,5 month?! Such a lucky coincidence.

Since I’ve been back in York I’ve had a copper IUD fitted, which left me feeling very fragile for a few hours. I've attended a “Life after Women’s Studies”-conference that CWS put on with so many inspiring speakers, among others a couple of academics who I've fangirled for years now - and now I'm even more excited for the future. And yesterday I had a full on study day (from 8.30 to 17.00) with SPSS and multiple regression. I'm back on my feet again, ready to punch the sun.

GRIEF AND POLITICS//HOW TRUMP MAKES ME FEEL

I woke up at 3.30am and horrified at the news notifications on my iPhone screen, I was suddenly wide awake. For the rest of the night I was staring at The Guardian's graphic over the US election and hoping, begging, that it was a joke. That Hillary would catch up, and that Trump wouldn't be elected the president of USA. But he was. He is. The American people elected a racist, homophobic, misogynistic asshole who doesn't believe in climate change, for president. 

The hopelessness that I feel, that was blurted out in the early morning texts from my close ones, that fills social media, and that tint the news today, is agonising - the mere thought of Trump's victory speech makes my stomach turn. But I also find the hopelessness very reassuring. Reassuring that so many are experiencing the same revolting grief as I am about the right-wing (Brexit, UKIP, Trump, etc.), racist, sexist, horrible world we live in. A grief, an anger, that I believe can fuel political mobilisation, make change happen. Let's turn to the words of Judith Butler (<3), and her essay Violence, Mourning, Politics

Many people think that grief is privatizing, that it returns us to a solitary situation and is, in that sense, depoliticizing. But I think it furnishes a sense of political community of a complex order, and it does this first of all by bringing to the fore the relational ties that have implications for theorizing fundamental dependency and ethical responsibility. If my fate is not originally or finally separable from yours, then the “we” is traversed by a relationality that we cannot easily argue against; or, rather, we can argue against it, but we would be denying something fundamental about the social conditions of our very formation.
To grieve, and to make grief itself into a resource for politics, is not to be resigned to inaction, but it may be understood as the slow process by which we develop a point of identification with suffering itself. The disorientation of grief-“Who have I become?” or, indeed, “What is left of me?” “What is it in the Other that I have lost?”- posits the “I” in the mode of unknowingness. But this can be a point of departure for a new understanding if the narcissistic preoccupation of melancholia can be moved into a consideration of the vulnerability of others. Then we might critically evaluate and oppose the conditions under which certain human lives are more vulnerable than others, and thus certain human lives are more grievable than others. From where might a principle emerge by which we vow to protect others from the kinds of violence we have suffered, if not from an apprehension of a common human vulnerability?

So grieve, be angry, and feel hopeless - closely, collectively, unitedly. Give yourself some breathing space, time to find strength (I'm planning on retreating to the warm, safe space of CWS and rant about how horrible the world is) and tomorrow we'll start again, to analyse, mobilise, and politicise. And remember that this is how the millennials voted: 

Change will come. 

FALLING IN LOVE

Yesterday I went for a walk in the morning before heading to uni. Since I was going to spend 4 hours in a classroom staring into a screen while trying to learn ATLAS.ti it felt like a good thing to catch some daylight before. I walked through the Museum Gardens, along the river, through Dean's Park by the minster, on streets heavy with autumn. The sun warming my cheeks, and the air filled with the smell of sweet, melted chocolate (much better than the brewery smell in Edinburgh if you ask me) - and my body buzzing with the familiar feeling of falling in love with a place.

ON ESSAY WRITING AND FEELING LONELY

Our first essay is due tomorrow. It’s only a ‘test essay’, so it won’t be assessed or marked, but it's just so that we can get feedback on a piece of writing. Although, since I don’t know how to half-ass something, I’ve gone all in. Like I always do, for better or worse. 

I always find that the first piece of writing after summer is the hardest one. Before I find my words again. Soon enough writing will be something that I do automatically, without thinking almost. But the first essay, good God, it’s always a struggle. After the second draft I was ready to pack my bags and quit uni, I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever written, an absolute disaster. Luckily, I know that the only way to get through writer's block is to continue writing; to write write write until I don’t feel like crying every time I scroll through the document. To write and re-write until I feel happy about what I’ve created. Thankfully I reached that point today, and I'm happy with my essay. A little proud almost, because to discuss Butler, Grosz, and de Beauvoir in ≈2000 words is freaking hard, next to impossible, but I think I did okay. 

Although the past week has been devoted to essay writing, I’ve also gone for fika with a girl in my class, a fika that accidentally lasted for over 5 hours!? We talked so much and had so much fun that it wasn’t until we noticed that it was getting dark that we realised how late it was. I’ve also been to the light festival here in York with another girl in my class, and then the night after that I went to a night market where I bought liquorice (why is that so hard to spell?) fudge. So all in all, a very good week. 

Moving to a new city, where you don't know a soul, can really make you feel quite lonely. It was easier in Edinburgh when I had the unbelievable luck to live with with 5 amazing girls in halls during first year, out of which 3 became my best friends. Now that I live on my own, it’s different. I’m so grateful and happy that I can have my own flat, it gives me well needed head space after being out and about, after being social and working in uni all day. Room to think, to recover, to rest, to become a person again. But all that alone time can also be very overwhelming, especially since I haven’t had this much me-time since forever. So I'm very happy that I'm making friends with kind, funny, cool people, that I can talk about feminism with, and who love avocado as much as I do. 

Can't you tell me something nice/weird/awkward that is happening in your life right now? Update me! 

RIGHT NOW

It seems like I'm currently unable to blog in any other format that in lists, but it's so hard to document anything without a structured everyday life. So until I've found a rhythm and a routine, lists will have to do.

Look how long my hair has grown? 

Look how long my hair has grown? 

THINKING OF:
Performativity, the material body within post-structuralist feminism, emotional reflexivity, what haircut to get next, and how to best make my bed/fort into the cosiest place on Earth.

WATCHING:
Nothing atm, mostly because I don’t have time, but also because I can’t watch series or films on my own — I get way too restless and lose focus after like 3 seconds? Instead I’m reading, and spending too much time spying on the nuns living across the road, it feels like I’m living in a (less decadent) UK version of The Great Beauty

READING:
Apart from uni stuff, I’m also reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt! It’s amazing. It’s that kind of book that stays with you throughout the day, that makes you long until the next time you have 5 minutes to spare so that you can continue reading. Read it if you haven’t! And a couple of days ago I spent the last £20 of the £100 amazon voucher that I won at QMU on Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf; so I have a lot of (hopefully) good reading ahead of me!

PLANNING:
It feels like I’m constantly planning the best way to approach my workload — but so far it’s going very well, so I guess it’s paying off! I’m also trying to plan the Future. Which is scary and confusing at times, but also very, very exciting. 

WEARING:
Earlier today: a black dress, my softest roll neck jumper, and black tights. 
Now: my grey checkered pyjamas, a blanket, and a hot water bottle to keep me company.

LISTENING TO:
The buzz of the fridge, my neighbours talking loudly, and the noise of passing cars. 

FEELING:
I’ve been really tired the past couple of days. It’s probably the increasingly dark days and the many hours spent studying. But I’m getting better at taking care of myself, with a lot of rest and food, so I’m sure my body will catch up in due course. 

EATING:
Right now I'm eating okonomiyaki with kale and loads of hot sauce. It's heavenly and super easy to make. Although, in general, my sandwiches:cooked food ratio is way out of hand, but it’s just so boring to cook?? I’ve started listening to podcasts while cooking, which definitely helps, but it’s still more of a chore than anything else. 

WANTING:
A backpack. I’m currently carrying everything around in a tote bag, which is slowly destroying my back. 

LOOKING FORWARD TO:
So many things. the Christmas market here in York, Halloween, when the air turns crisp (if that happens here in York, who knows, it might be super humid all year round? classic UK), to start working on my dissertation (I know, who am I?), etc. But most of all the 19th of November when I get to see Otto (aka the love of my life) again.

 

List stolen from Karin (who's an awesome person with an equally awesome blog).

PICK N MIX FROM THE PAST TWO WEEKS

Hello from a grainy webcam, I just wanted to check in on you and say hi, I'm alive! Right now ↑ I'm working on the outline of an essay while drinking coffee and eating chocolate, all wrapped up in my new sweater that is soft as a kitten. I've been so busy with life (studying, attending seminars, using SPSS for the first time in years, trying to not get lost on campus, buying chairs + eating veggie balls with Fatou at IKEA, spending time with Otto, reading, eating, sleeping, etc.) that there hasn't been any time left for internet at all. But let's fast forward through the past two weeks:

Having gone through various bedroom facing North throughout my life, it really feels like such a luxury to have the sun filling my bed/my fort in the mornings.

A little piece of the CWS common room, with a smiling Èlia in the background. 

A cute and troubled little friend I met in town one day. 

One day when I was walking back from uni and this cherry tree was a red cloud. 

A walk along the river in the golden October sun. 

And some Scandi study fuel that Otto's mum sent me - so cute. 

I've lived in York for almost a month now, I've survived the first weeks of uni, and started to piece together the chaos of newness to a coherent everyday life. My brain is constantly buzzing of ideas, thoughts, and inspiration - I feel so intellectually stimulated, and so privileged to be able to fully immerse myself in the world of academia. Even if that means that I'm completely exhausted 9/10 times that I get home from uni, and need 30 mins of recovery time in bed to feel like a human again.

My favourite person was in York Wednesday-Monday!! Cutest tourist I've ever seen.

It rained most of the time he was here (I thought Edinburgh was rainy, but nope, York is even rainier...) but the rain emptied the streets and we got to experience York without tourists, so it was okay anyway. We also:  

Ate breakfast in bed (one day we also ate a whole cheese board in bed while watching House of Cards, hehe). 

Studied in various places, here in a trendy café with amazing coffee. 

And walked along the City Walls in the evening sun. Look at the view over York Minster, how is that even real? York is such a magical (and very, very English) place. Anyway, hope you enjoyed that little pick n mix of life the past two weeks, and that October is treating you well. I really hope I can find more time to spend in here, but now: back to essay writing! 

THE WEEK IN A LIST

This week has been fantastic and super busy, so to summarise it in a simple and concise manner I borrowed a list from Vicky’s blog! :) 

From a run on Friday morning: the horses that live next to my uni (!) and the unreal mist on the fields along the river.

Happiness of the week: Ah, everything uni related!! Monday was induction day, and stepping out of the elevator on the Centre for Women's Studies floor was like entering the academic version of Narnia. We have a common room (with walls full of feminist embroidery!) where everyone hang out, drink tea and talk about feminism. Everyone is super friendly and funny, and I’ve never felt so relaxed in a new environment before. And on Wednesday we had the first CWS social of the year (even the teachers were there!): a feminist and food themed quiz (which must be the best combination, right?), and even though I barely knew any answers I had so, so much fun.

York Minster is being restored and the stonemasons are working next to the cathedral, but since they weren't there when we walked by Fatou decided to try touch the stones through the fence. She had no idea about the CCTV sign and I was laughing so much when I took this photo. It's Fatou in a nutshell. 

Mood of the week: Everything on the spectrum! I was so excited, hysterically happy and hyper the first few days, then the pms from hell hit me and just wanted to sleep all day (Fatou and I had a Narcos marathon with a bag of crisps each, it helped), and now I’m back to my normal, happy self again.

Just a cute dog I saw. 

Meal of the week: I made this vegan curry with coconut milk, spinach and potatoes - try it!! It's so easy to make, and so, so tasty!

Surprise of the week: that these guys live next to my uni together with like 5 other horses?! I giggle like a little child every time I see them.

Adventure of the week: Today, when I helped Fatou move to Leeds because she found a flat!! Yay!! When we had left all the bags at her new place, we explored Leeds - she showed me her campus, we had coffee and cake, treated ourselves to some new stuff (slippers for Fatou and a scarf for me), oh, and a bird shat on my head, heh.

All in all, a very good week. Next week is the first week of proper classes, we're kicking it off with a seminar tomorrow morning so I really should go to bed now. Talk to you soon, and hope October is kind to you so far! <3

35mm: Macedonia

I FINALLY developed some 35mm photos from our two weeks in Macedonia!

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Three frames from Skopje. 

When we stayed in Leunovo and drove around the Mavrovo Lake, saw the sunken church of St Nicholas, had lunch in a tiny village called Jance, and every meal was a picnic on the balcony. 

Matka Canyon and a hot boyfriend with some irresistible bokeh in the background. 

A handful of photos from that day when I drove us through Macedonia and into the Bulgarian sunset. 

And one from Sofia with a cute little tram and streets wet from the heavy rain. 

THE FIRST WEEK

I’ve survived my first week in York, and thereby officially made it through the hardest time of moving abroad/to a new city. Yay!! I’m starting to feel at home in my flat and to find my way around town.

With the help of google maps I found a potential running route and went out at dawn on Friday morning to escape the worst traffic. I got lost once or twice, but I also saw a hot air balloon fly into the horizon, met a flock of sheep grazing an endless field, and ran along the quiet river in the crisp morning air. 

On Friday night I skipped the pub quiz for postgraduates and embraced my solitude with cheese and a good book instead. That's what has been the biggest difference so far compared to when I moved to Edinburgh; back then I was so afraid that I'd be alone for the rest of my life, and therefore desperately took every opportunity there was to meet new people. This time I allow myself to take it slow and stay in if I don't have the energy to socialise. I'm constantly trying to lower the expectations and pressures that I put on myself, to be my own best friend - and to be able to be this comfortable in my own company feels like a very big step in the right direction.

But I didn't have to be alone for very long, because look who's here!! Fatou is going to do a MA in Religion and Public life at the University of Leeds, and since she hasn’t found a place to live yet, and Leeds is only 20 mins away by train (!!!), she’s staying with me until she finds somewhere to live. AAH LIFE. You can’t imagine how nice it feels to have her here, and knowing that she’ll be so close for the year ahead. <3 

Today we studied + looked for flats in a café for a few hours, hung out by the river in the sun, explored the food festival that's on this week in York, managed to grab some heavenly brownies for 50p just as the market was closing, and had a floor picknick (as I don't have any chairs yet...) when we got back home. By far the best Sunday activities. 

Tomorrow is my first day of uni!!! We have induction between 10-16, and I'm so, so, so excited (and also a bit nervous) to meet everyone! Wish me luck!!!

A WALK THROUGH YORK

On Wednesday I went for a walk through York and brought my camera, yay! Here are some snippets from my new hometown: 

Have you ever seen anything more British? No? I didn't think so. It's like stepping into a Harry Potter world - especially the Shambles, it’s literally Diagon Alley, albeit full of tourists.

The whole city centre smells of sweet chocolate, and as you make your way through the center you catch glimpses of York Minster between the buildings. York Minster is the biggest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe (I learned that during a History of York talk for all the International Postgraduates at Uni of York, hehe) and so, so beautiful! Also, it's so hard to photograph cities and buildings? There are so many lines and angles! I felt a bit rusty after spending 2 months in the forest photographing soft things like trees and animals. 

The last few days I have, apart from taking walks through the city, explored the campus, found the building for Women's Studies, and attended some Postgraduate Induction talks. Done pre-course reading in the library, been to a Postgraduate BBQ that my college (yes! they have a collegiate system at Uni of York, very British) arranged, and met so many nice and friendly people. 

So far I really, really like it here. I have a feeling that this is going to be a good year. 

UPPSALA IN BLACK AND WHITE (+SOME COLOUR TOO)

I made it safely to York, got the keys to my flat (it's so nice!) and have spent the last 36 hours unpacking my stuff and trying to figure out the basics of life (i.e. where to buy food). I've gone through every emotion in the spectrum (from euphoric to uncontrollably sad), like you do when you move to a new place, a new country, where you know nothing or no one. Luckily Otto pieced me back together last night over the phone, and I feel like a person again.

Anyway, everything feels so new and foreign (and amazing too!!) that I haven't really got the words to describe it all right now. Let's look at my 6 days in Uppsala instead:

After 3 weeks apart the adrenaline was rushing through my body as I stepped of the train, seeing each other again was even more amazing than I imagined. Otto showed me the ecosystem that he has built during these weeks, the main components of his new life. We went to the library to study, we discussed ideas for one of his essays (it was so fun, I can't wait until I get to study again), and ate lunch at the konditori he usually goes to. We explored the city, were amazed by the art gallery (like we tend to be), walked through the gardens, and went to a short film screening. We biked to Gamla Uppsala, climbed the hills and ate brownies in the shade, and later the same day we made our own party hats and threw a kräftskiva together with Otto's friends. Did everyday things like eating breakfast, falling asleep/waking up next to each other, buying food together, walking hand in hand in silence, watching movies in bed - all the little things that you value 1000 times more when you're apart.

p.s. till dig som kom fram till mig på lördagsnatten och sa att du gillar min blogg; tack tack tack igen! Jag blev så himla, himla överrumplad att jag inte riktigt vet om jag fick fram det jag ville säga, men tack! Du gjorde mig så fnissigt glad. <3

THE WEEKEND OF WALKING

This weekend was a very sad one here in Piggaboda, as we had to say goodbye to our little dog Bamse. </3 He jumped down from the bed on Thursday morning and when he landed he started screaming in pain (it was the most heartbreaking thing ever) and he wouldn't move. We drove him to the vet who thought that he had an internal bleeding, but as Bamse also had a heart murmur his heart wouldn't make it through surgery - and we had to put him down. It was the saddest day ever and we cried our hearts out. Now he's resting next to his dad Snobben, and our other dog Plum, under the Hawthorn tree. At least he got 13 years of the best life a dog could wish for. <3 

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So this weekend we've been out for a lot of long walks since walking in quiet forests is the best thing to do when you're sad. Our farm borders the grounds of a Baron; thousands of hectors of forest upon forest, walking there is like walking through no man's land = best thing ever when you don't want to see people. Johanna and I picked a basket full of the biggest chanterelles we've ever seen and listened to the silence. 

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On Friday morning the forest was wrapped in a thick fog, and with the sun shining through everything was covered in a peculiar white light. We walked down to the lake first thing in the morning and sat down on the deck, talked about everything that came to mind while looking out on the still water. 

Saturday and another walk. We had no luck in picking chanterelles, but the forest was ever so autumnal. We also drove 26 km (one way) just to buy sweets for our movie night. Very reasonable if you live out in the middle of nowhere like we do.

Yesterday we (Johanna, Pär and I) walked along the old railway track down to the lake and swam in the dark waters. It was much warmer than I expected? So weird but nice to be able to go for a swim in September. 

Tomorrow I'm leaving Piggaboda for a week(ish) in Uppsala, and then I'm heading to York!! And even if I'm beyond excited to see Otto, to see my new home town for the first time, and start uni again (!!) - I know I'll miss the forest, all the animals, my family, and the slow-paced way of life here in Piggaboda. It's been a good summer. 

SEPTEMBER

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The ground is sprinkled with leaves in every colour of autumn; first birch, then oak, now aspen, and soon maple. The swallows have left for the south, so have the cranes. The rowan berries glow bright red in the evening sun, and we take turns in saying "it's going to be a cold winter". The apple trees bend under the weight of the fruit, and every minute you hear a dull thud as yet another apple hits the ground. The house constantly smells of apples; apple pie, apple crisps, apple sauce, apple everything. Apples and chanterelles (we've lost count of how many litres we've picked this year). 

September, I like you. A lot. 

MY FACE + LIFE UPDATE

Photo by Johanna (of course <3). 

Okay, so this whole moving-to-york-business is starting to feel real. I’ve enrolled online, been given a student number and have access to our student portal. I’ve signed a contract for a studio flat, I’ve booked my plane tickets, and I’ve introduced myself to the rest of my class in our student blog (everyone seems so nice!!). Now I just need to wait. 

Seeing everyone else going back to work and uni after summer while I’m still in some kind of holiday mode has made me feel like I’m in a time vortex where nothing makes sense. The sun just goes up and down, endlessly. I’m restless, and even if I try to enjoy the utter privilege of being able to spend the summers in an Astrid Lindgren-saga, my whole being is itching for a purpose and a context again. For studying. For learning. Although, I have to admit that I'm a tiny bit worried that my brain will have turned to absolute mush during these 4 months of summer holiday.

The 19th of September I’ll arrive in the city where I’ll spend the coming year, the place where I'll once again build a life from scratch; make new friends, learn new things, probably have a few mental breakdowns, discover new favourite places, laugh, cry, and let life happen. My new home. I can’t wait. 

GOOD GOLDEN MORNING

Good morning and happy Friday! Not that it makes any difference for me what day it is, it feels like my life has turned into a perpetual holiday. I started today with a morning run to the lake where I took a quick swim in the ice cold water before running back home again. It feels so amazing to be able to fully enjoy running. It has previously been filled with so much anxiety, so much pain, but now running fills the same function for me as I imagine meditation does for a lot of other people - it's my happy place. Anyway, I just wanted to say hi and show you these photos I took yesterday when the sunrise showered the forest in gold. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Now I'm off to prepare tomorrow's crayfish party! Speak soon!

SUMMER WITH HIM

last photo by Nastasja

last photo by Nastasja

Summer is over. I can feel it in the chilly morning air, in the scent of the forest (wet moss, decaying mushrooms, and drying leaves), and in how the wind stubbornly finds its way through my jacket. This summer has been filled with amazing, beautiful, blissful moments that may seem simple to the eye, but felt world-changing. Moments that I know I'll treasure the coming year when we're separated by the North Sea, so I'm saving them deep within, in wait for yet another summer and the rest of our lives. 

THE STUDY SURVIVAL GUIDE

Now that schools and universities are starting again it's high time for a little study survival guide! Yay! Although, as I'm starting my master in less than a month (!?!) I'm a bit scared that I'll jinx my study abilities too much by publishing this post, but (touch wood) hopefully it'll just serve as a reminder for myself as well. 

Before we start, I need to take a moment and emphasise how individual the learning process is. These are the things and methods that work for me, but they might be a total disaster for someone else. So the most important thing that I can say is: find your own way of studying. It takes time to get to know yourself and your workflow, so if you're in first year and feel super lost and have no clue what you're doing - don't panic. You'll be fine, I promise. 

Rule number one: stick to your deadlines. So boring, I know, but it is so important in order to manage your workload and to not put yourself in the stressful, painful, and completely unnecessary situation of having to do all-nighters at the library in order to get your stuff done on time (been there, done that, never doing it again, etc.).

I find that the best way of avoiding deadline stress is to look at how many assignments you have during the semester ahead of you; write them down in your calendar, estimate how much time you need to finish each assignment, and set dates when each assignment/step needs to be done, so you know you'll have enough time and don't get overwhelmed with work.

structure your day.

I try to treat studying as a normal job, with set times and tasks for each day. Therefore, my top tip is to make a schedule of your day - and stick to it. It doesn't have to be something advanced, and you don't even need to write it down (although, I'd advice you to, because writing it down makes it harder to cheat and trick yourself into not working), as long as you know what you need to do, when it needs to be done, and how you are going to do it.

With that said, breaks are as important as the actual work, because if you don't take breaks your brain will eventually shut down. I've noticed that it is easier for me to relax during my breaks if there's a clear divide between 'work time' and 'break time'. Therefore, if I'm studying at home, I go out in the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea/coffee, or if I'm in uni I go for a short walk around the campus, just to get away from the screen for a while. 

break it down. 

In order to get a better overview of my work and what needs to be done I break it down into smaller parts. If I'm writing an essay (or any other piece of work), these are usually the different steps I go through:

- Research: this is the phase which usually takes the longest, where I get an overview of the literature and slowly form an argument. I find it very beneficial to take notes while researching; I don't write down every useful thing I find (that would take way too long), but I jot down key words and especially good resources (the oldest trick in the book, but oh so good; if you find an article that fits your essay perfectly, look up the sources that the author refers to, and you might find that you can base your whole essay on those, hehe). 

- Structure: what do I want to say in my essay, and how am I going to say it? This will form the skeleton of the essay, and I usually give each paragraph a heading (e.g. for the last essay I wrote at QMU the structure was: introduction, feminism and the sex/gender dichotomy, essentialism within feminism, overview of Butler's argument, deconstructing sex/gender dichotomy, the normativity argument, conclusion) so that I don't get lost while writing. And another top tip: make a mind map out of your essay structure! It makes it so much easier to see how the key points connect and how they interact with each other. 

- Writing: then it's time for the actual writing. Use resources that make it easier (I'll get back to this later), and re-write over and over and over again until you're happy with your text. Don't be scared to use new words and 'imitate' academic writing to the point that it feels a bit cringe; that's how you learn how you're 'supposed to' write (+ fake it 'til you make it is a thing in academia too, that's how I got through the first half of my degree). It's also important to know, or at least have an idea of, what kind of writing that your field wants. For example, when writing psychology essays I had to restrain my language and adopt a very formal and objective tone, whilst I could experiment and be a bit more creative in sociology essays. 

Referencing: often the references make up 10% of the mark, and since 10% definitely make the difference between an A and a B, I never leave it too late but put aside at least a day for referencing. The best thing is to reference continuously throughout the writing process so that you don't forget where you found what information, and then you'll also avoid the horribly boring and tedious task of writing out all the references in one go.

- Proof read: I read my stuff at least 5 times before I submit it. It's so important to proof read in order to get your essays flow, to make sure that everything makes sense, and to give you a chance to correct mistakes and improve the quality of your writing. Also, team up with a friend (preferably a native English speaker if you're a little foreigner like me) and proof read/discuss each other's essays! I usually get Otto to go over my essays and come with constructive criticism and correct stupid grammar mistakes = invaluable help. However, even if you're not writing essays in your second language, ask someone to read through your essays before you submit them! Others will always find mistakes that you miss just because you've been staring at your essay for too long.

The same goes for exam revision: breaking it down into sub-parts makes it much easier to get an overview of what needs to be done and makes it feel less daunting. I usually write down each step in my calendar (along with my overall plan of the semester) so that I know that I'll have enough time. 

reading.

Reading academic literature is not as easy as it can seem, and you save so much time and energy if you have a good way of 'dealing' with dense academic texts. This is what works best for me: 

- I read through the article/chapter from beginning to end, look up words and jargon that I don't understand, and try to form a general impression of the article; what is the author trying to say, and how? What theories are in use? Any research? What previous knowledge do I have about this topic? Do I agree/disagree, and why? 

- I go through the text again and highlight the important parts. 

- then I read through it one more time, but only the highlighted parts, and take notes of especially useful things. 

- I also jot down initial thoughts/reactions to what I've just read, everything from questions, to things I need to look up/read more about, and ideas of how I can use it in my essay.

It may seem like a tedious process, but it helps me understand what I'm actually reading, which is of course much better in the long run. Also, if you can, discuss what you've read with other people! Input from friends that do the same course/classes as you, and friends who have no clue what you're talking about, is so important! It'll give you other perspectives and, hence, add another layer of understanding to your readings. 

when and where? 

Where you study is super important. You need a place where you can work efficiently, with minimal distractions. Preferably with coffee within reach. Sometimes that's a quiet library, sometimes that a cosy café, and sometimes that's your desk at home - for me that's completely dependent on the assignment and mood of the day. But I'd advice you to scout out a handful of study spots where you know that you can work comfortably!

When you study is also super important. I personally get more work done between 8 am and noon than I get during the rest of the day, no joke, and therefore I always try to put aside those hours for work. But I also know that other people work best after midnight. So find out when you're the most productive and plan your schedule after that; there's no right and wrong, as long as you know that you'll be productive and get the work done on time (and preferably have some kind of functioning sleep+food routine).

webpages. 

In order to smoothen the writing process I always have two tabs open when I write essays; the first one is tyda.se where I translate from Swedish to English or vice versa; and the second one is thesaurus.com where I look up synonyms to words and phrases so that I don't repeat myself. 

apps.

Kill News Feed is my new best friend. It's an app for Google Chrome which does exactly what the name implies - kills your facebook feed (aka productivity's worst enemy). So when I log in to Facebook I see a blank page instead of the newsfeed. You still get notifications and you can still do and see everything else, it's just the newsfeed that's gone. You might miss out on photos of what your old high-school friends had for dinner yesterday or random videos of cats, but it will prevent you from falling into the black hole of aimlessly scrolling through your facebook feed.

SelfControl is an app for your laptop that allows you to create a blacklist with the webpages that you know will distract you (I have bloglovin, facebook, gmail, the guardian, etc. on mine) and block them for a set time of your choice, everything from 15mins to 24hrs. 

Noisli is a webpage where you can listen to sounds like rain, thunder, waves, etc. You can mix and match the sounds, and adjust the volume to your liking; perfect when you need to focus. 

And those days the library feels like a prison you can listen to these sounds and pretend that you're at Hogwarts instead. 

music.

I also have some go-to study music that I listen to whenever I'm tired of listening to rain. I have a meticulous system worked out for when I listen to what music, and therefore I need to squeeze in yet another disclaimer: this is the music that works for me, and it might be the worst possible study music for someone else (e.g. Fatou, who rather listens to Drake or old 90's music when she studies). So if this music doesn't work for you, find something that does!

Anyway, this is my most used study-playlist on Spotify. It's full of tried and tested classical tunes that I listen to while I write essays (and yes, it was playing non-stop while I was writing my dissertation). Some of it is a bit weird, but it always gives me energy to keep on going and puts me in a good mood. But beware, it's horrible to listen to while reading stuff that requires full attention, and you'll probably get an annoying earworm or two.

When I need something less distracting but still upbeat (e.g. when I read articles or do research) I listen to Gidge. When I'm stressed and need to calm down (and later in the day so that I'm not too hyped when I go to bed), I listen to Grouper

other. 

Good, noise cancelling headphones, for obvious reasons. 

A calendar that gives you a good overview of the coming week/month, and that has enough space to write in. I've been using Moleskine's Weekly Diary Notebook for years now because it has everything I need, but find something that works for you! 

food.

To keep your brain happy, you need to keep your body happy. And how do you keep your body happy? With food, of course. You need to eat regularly and properly to keep your blood sugar levels even, because if your blood sugar drops it will be impossible to focus and get anything done. Apart from the regular meals I always make sure that I have some kind of snack ready if I feel that my attention span is getting shorter due to hunger; nuts, fruit, date balls, dark chocolate, etc. 

sleep. 

Another, very self evident thing, but yet so important: you need to sleep if you want your brain to work. I'm one of those people who stop sleeping as soon as I get a tiny bit stressed, which means that I need to actively work to keep a healthy sleep routine. This is what has worked for me: 

- Never, and I mean NEVER, study in your bed. It will be the end of your sleep.

- Implement an evening routine that helps your brain + body relax before it's time for bed. I have a 'sleep easy' herbal tea that I drink every night, I light candles, and read a chapter in a book. Very cliché and mindfulness-y, but it works.  

- Have at least 45 mins of screen-free time before going to bed. 

- Think about things that make you happy before you fall asleep, it will keep you from dreaming nightmares about your dissertation and prevent you from getting anxious over all the things you need to do. 

- Go to bed + wake up at roughly the same times every day to give your body a sleep-wake-routine. 

exercise & fresh air. 

I've noticed that it's so much easier to focus (and to relax, and to sleep well) if I get at least some fresh air and exercise everyday. Again, it doesn't need to be anything advanced or last for hours on end, but a 30 mins walk in a park makes all the difference in the world, trust me. 

take a break and do something fun. 

Okay, I admit that I'm the worst for taking proper breaks and 'allowing' myself to do something else than studying, but I'm trying to get better and I know that it makes such a big difference to my performance and wellbeing. Also, remember to write down the fun things that you have planned in your calendar, however small or insignificant they may seem, because it'll make it less stressful to look at the coming weeks. 

treat yo self.

Reward yourself when you've done something you're proud of, when you've finished an essay or just had a productive day. It can be anything from having dinner with your friends, buying a new notebook, binge watching your favourite series, or anything else that makes you happy. 

study anxiety. 

The fear of not being good enough, the fear of failing, is the most draining, horrible thing ever; making it impossible to get any work done. I feel it sometimes, luckily very rarely nowadays, and I've noticed that the best way to get through it is to take a deep breath and just do it. It doesn't matter if it doesn't turn out great, or if you don't get an A (or even pass), the most important thing is that you keep on trying.

ask for help. 

Ask for help if you need it, both with study related things and if you find it hard coping with the stress. You're not weak if you do, just human.

Pink waters and a dark forest

Look who took the train down from Borås to hang with me and Otto for a couple of days - Nastasja!! I hadn't seen her since November last year so I was over the moon. 

We did typical countryside things like fishing in the most incredible sunset! 

And look!!!

Nastasja caught her first pike, ever!! We threw it back in again, of course. But still! Since we're not very savvy fishers we were so excited and surprised.

And look at this amazing sunset?? Thank you, Piggaboda. 

IMG_6992min.jpg

To our left the moon climbed the sky and I got the chance to use one of my favourite Swedish words; mångata.  

We stayed until the daylight disappeared and the previous day was just an orange glow in the horizon.

We also picked bilberries! Another typical activity when you live in the middle of a forest. 

These two ♥ 

And filled another basket with edible gold. We also had a lot of fika, watched Lawless, talked talked talked, and just enjoyed being in the same place for once. Thank you internet and the blog world for this incredible person. ♥

A weekend in Gothenburg, seen through my phone

Min lilla sovkatt. ♥

Otto and I spent the weekend in Gothenburg, visiting my aunt and her partner at their beautiful summer house by the sea. We ate delicious food, did some sightseeing in the soaking wet weather, were so happy when the sun finally warmed our cheeks again, drank coffee and talked talked talked until late with the murmur of rain and wind as background noise. Spent the sunny Sunday afternoon at Marstrand with food, ice cream, angry sea gulls and the smell of salty waters, before we took the train back home to Småland. So happy and filled with energy after an amazing weekend.

Today I tried to go for a run in the morning, but 2k in I got the worst period cramps ever and decided to lie down in the middle of the forest to wait them out. It didn't succeed, instead I threw up, and walked/crawled home again. The contrasts of life, huh? So I've spent the day taking it easy in the sun, napping, and eating loads of chocolate. Which is not too bad, after all.