I’m in a soft mood today; a mood that calls for soft October sun through the window and old forgotten loves on Spotify. I’m in the mood for hot chocolate breakfasts and hoodies that can hide all the stress of the week in oversized pocket. I’m in the mood for Sunday newspapers, sharpening pencils, and the smell of laundry detergent. A soft mood calls for Trygve Skaug’s beautiful lyrics and playful guitar, and picking old book acquaintances off of the shelves again; those I said hi to a while ago but never remembered to call back. I’m in the mood for handicrafts, for braiding and crocheting.
Uni in Norway starts up in early August, and so we’re about halfway through the semester now. This semester has gotten to me more than semesters prior. I’m one of those people who constantly overfill their calendars; who always tries to borrow golden seconds of nighttime to make the day longer. With multiple assignments every week, sometimes more than one in a day, lectures four days a week, two jobs, one volunteering job and a lot of uni reading I have definitely overfilled my plate. There have been moments these past couple of weeks where I’ve been so tempted to get on the train and go home. Just take off, hide under the duvet in my family home-bedroom and make a cup of tea big enough to last me a lifetime so I won’t ever have to leave the sanctuary of my bed.
But I won’t do that. Because even though these last few months haven’t been particularly great, they’re something I’ve started and they’re something I’m gonna finish, and when you strip off the stress, this degree is something I thoroughly enjoy. And sometimes life’s just like that, right? I’m gonna give it my all, maybe even more “all” than I’m already doing if I can find it in me, and steer myself safely through these last few months of first semester. And when Christmas comes around, I’m gonna go home with my first semester exam marks neatly wrapped in my bag (content no matter how they turned out) and when I melt into my parents’ first “it’s Christmas, welcome home”-hug, I can sink into it, knowing I gave this semester my best.
So yes, I’m in a soft mood today, and I think I’ll cherish that. I’ll get the work I need to get done done in my own time, I’ll make sure to look plenty out the window and if I want to listen to soft Christmas music a little bit too early, I think I’ll let myself do that too. I’ll let that October sun peek in through the windows and I’ll revisit all those old favorites, and maybe even pick up where I left off with a book started but never finished. I’m in a soft mood, soft moods are necessary to get through this semester, cause I’m doing my best, and reveling in this feeling of soft is a way of being kind to myself. I can be productive in the morning.
Nope, it’s most definitely not January, but January might as well have been yesterday. This year is flying by, and I’m both here for it and a little bit worried about it. June’s brought music, it’s brought people, sunny weather and moments I’ve never experienced before. I spent the beginning of June working at the cathedral, the middle of June “holidaying” at home with cups of tea and read-for-joy books, and on the last day of June, my sister had her baby boy and I got to say hello to my little nephew. He was born at 04:35 am, and we got to come meet him at 2 pm. I’ve never seen so small and “new” a baby before, but he was absolutely wonderful. June was also the month I registered my little business, and now I’m officially self-employed in my own one-woman-company that deals with text production, copywriting and translation. What a crazy month.
So, in bullet points, June has consisted of:
Getting all my exam marks back
Having my last day before summer at the cathedral-job
Having my first day of summer at the library-job
Starting up my own little company
Sleepovers and lazy breakfasts with friends
Saying goodbye to a lot of wonderful study friends that are going away on uni exchanges next year
Setting up a summer reading list
Sending 13 postcards through PostCrossing
Making a lot of tea
Getting completely and utterly obsessed with the new Good Omens mini series
Meeting my nephew for the first time
I hope June’s been kind to you, and I’m excited to see what July brings! It’s going to be a good one this year, I can feel it.
I swim through quiet waves of evening, enveloped by lazy currents. I am not afraid of the water.
As a swallow graces the surface, droplets falling from its wing, I think of all the lives lived by this fjord before me. Women wrapping their shawls tighter around themselves, waiting for sails on the horizon, for fathers, for brothers, for husbands to come home.
Young boys who went to sea, much like I went to university, clenched fists and starry night-eyes, who learnt that nothing can quell an unforgiving ocean, not even the children who challenged the shallow shores, those who never returned to their mothers’ lullabies.
Their stories are in every rock, in every seashell. in every tide that swallows the docks. Stories of islanders who read tomorrow in the skies, who knew that red clouds predicted weary storms the type that could orphan their children and starve their homes.
The water still cradles me, there is salt in my ears, my hair flows like jelly fish tendrils around my shoulders. I have no doubt that all the souls lost at sea, the stories and the children and the ocean are resting in these waters.
I am not a song writer, but I appreciate the ease with which well-written lyrics can fall off your tongue. During the second year of my creative writing degree, I got to experiment with a module that focused on song writing, and while not strictly my “thing”, I did really enjoy it.
This song was written in 2017, as part of that module, to the melody of First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes. It is supposed to illustrate all the small things that make up your perception of someone you love, all the small things you never thought of as special until you started associating them with your person. It is also about how even though a relationship may start off all exciting, like “fireworks and circus nights”, the safety and the comfort of the years may shape it into “October stars and Saturdays, and peppermint and quiet snow”, a quiet sort of every-day love.
Verse: This is a story about a boy, Who wished on cardamom and tea cups. He wondered the world without a map smelled like the city, danced like rain.
I got to hold him for one night, Strawberry breath and chilli chocolate. Thought I knew how to give him everything, Now I know I don’t know what that is.
Chorus: But I have learnt that I was wrong. You’re not the fireworks and circus shows I made you up as, no. You are October stars and Saturdays And peppermint And quiet snow oh oh.
Verse: If I could hold you one more time, I want to hear all of your stories. About rhubarb and sugar and blueberry jam And how it came to become you.
Talk about silver in your hair, And promises both held and broken. about choices and beauty and bitterness, and how we will grow old one day.
Chorus 2: I don’t want fireworks and circus nights, But blankets, slippers, plastic glasses, pillow forts and snowball fights. You are October stars and Saturdays and knowing it will be alright.
Oh oh oh.
A fun little experiment, where I tried my hands at something I very rarely do. I hope you’re having a wonderful day! -Andrea
It’s a Sunday morning, and I’m in bed with a cup of tea.
My Norwegian Language and Text book is laying discarded on the floor. I’ll pick it up in a moment, I think, I just need to sit here a little longer. Slowly, tired hands reach for all the notions I take for granted when I speak, notions I’ve now worked to put names and categories and theories to.
Learning the in depth grammar of your own language is a strange experience. Suddenly you start to question the syntactic structure of every sentence before it leaves your lips. No words are uttered without scrutinising and analysing their semantic meaning, and you start to think about the oddities of the language you grew up with.
One part of me isn’t too sure about all this “thinking”. It wants to keep the intuition of language alive, wants me to not think too hard about anything, really. Another part of me loves it. It feels like mindfullness, like I don’t take any words for granted any more, like I’m actively appreciating every sentence.
Cliched and a little pompous, I know. But for the last 5 years, I’ve been so caught up in “perfecting” my English, so adamant to drop my accent, to never have to stop to look for the right words, that I feel like I’ve neglected Norwegian a bit. Like I’ve shoved her to the back of my mind, given her a ragged blanket and said “I’ll be back for you in a second,” only to forget about her as her tea has gone cold. But now, as I’m revising for this last exam of this degree’s first year, I’m gently untangling the cobwebs from her hair. I’m taking the cup from her hands, refilling it with piping hot tea, and giving her blanket a good airing out.
Norwegian is the language in which my grandmothers sang me lullabies, and my parents wished me luck before every first day of school. I wrote my first stories in her, and read my first books. When something shiny and new came along, I neglected her for a while, thinking this new language was so much prettier, much more interesting and useful, but studying the science behind how she works as a language, has really made me appreciate her again.
The last couple of weeks have been intense, stressful and honestly really nice. The study group have gotten together to exam-revise, and we’ve made sense of a lot of confusion. We’ve read, we’ve asked questions, we’ve done our best. Copious amounts of tea have been consumed, we’ve bickered and gotten frustrated, but we’ve also left with more questions answered than asked. Throughout this year together, we’ve taken on British and American politics, international communication, English language history, a lot of in depth grammar and linguistics; all things we knew embarrassingly little about before starting this course. Now we know a lot and I’m proud of us.
And so when I take my Norwegian exam tomorrow, I may stumble over some questions, because Norwegian is a stubborn language, and with her tongue stuck out, I think she wants to get back at me for leaving her in her corner for so long. I may mess up some verb forms, some tempus and modus-conjugation, maybe confuse “konjunktiv” for “indikativ” or something else with a complicated name. But that’s okay, cause I’ve finally caught up with my language again, and from now on, I’ll make sure we won’t grow apart.
With changing times, changing living situations often follow – whether for uni or studies, for work or just to get a change of air. Since August 2015 I’ve lived in eight different homes and flats (two of them being family homes my family moved out of and into) and I’ve had to pretty quickly cosy up some very temporary spaces.
This is especially a student problem, isn’t it. You move to a completely new place, you’re assigned your little shoe box room in a shared flat, everything around you is new and scary and exciting, and you need to make your space feel as safe and homely, as quickly as possible! This has to happen on a student budget, of course, and also without knocking any nails into the walls, so you can (hopefully) get your deposit back at the end of the year.
As I’m pondering on past uni experiences, and also trying to figure out what’s lacking in this home of mine to make it as cosy as I want it to be, I figured we could have a little chat about stuff I rely on to make a temporary living space feel like home for however short a period of time you’ll be staying there.
Please excuse the quality of the pictures – some of these are taken on various phones throughout the last 4 years.
Also, this post is mainly focusing on people moving into halls or shared living spaces, who can’t really enjoy the luxury of a sitting room. We cram our studies, dinners and leisure time into our tiny bedrooms like warriors or not at all.
I love bedding and the feeling of fresh sheets. Soft duvet covers, pillow covers that smells of detergent, come on, what’s not to love? Finding some soft bed sheets to put on your bed is one of the most important ways of making a small living space feel homely. I’ve got this set that I really love, which was the first set I ever bought myself when I moved into my first uni flat. It proper transforms any space into Home with a capital H.
Bedding is key.
2. Light sources
Overhead lights in student accommodation or small flats are often very bright and white, and not really helpful when you want that soft, relaxing vibe. To combat this I’ve got the most cliched answer ever; fairy lights.
In all four of my uni flats I’ve filled my room with fairy lights, floor to ceiling, and used this as my only light source. They fit everywhere, around your bed, over the window, by the doors and around your desk, just to name a few places. It creates such a dreamlike atmosphere; you can lay in bed and watch all these “stars” light up your ceiling. Fairy lights are also great background lighting for tea and movie nights with your friends. Just be prepared for the hassle it is taking them down at the end of your tenancy.
Now that I’m living on my own I also light a lot of candles. If you do this too, please let’s all focus on fire safety; never leave candles burning without supervision and never leave anything flammable in close vicinity of your candles. Also, if you’re in student accommodation you’re most likely NOT allowed to light candles (and for good reason). Please adhere to these rules; you do not want to be the reason for that fire alarm evacuation of your entire building, just because you wanted to snuggle up with some candles. Student housing fire alarms are awfully sensitive(because safety), so just be careful.
3. Books and DVDs
I love the feeling a good bookshelf leaves on a room. All the backs of the books shroud the room in this instant feeling of comfort and reminds you to take a deep breath. Or, at least, that’s how bookshelves make me feel. If you want to have a lil nosy around my “home-bookshelf” you can click here. However, you don’t have to have a huge big bookshelf to let the books make your living space feel cosy; you just need your favourites. Moving out or moving to a new place is inevitable gonna leave you feeling a little bit small and a little bit lonely at some point, and having the familiar words of your favourite books to hide in for a little while is always a great comfort, that adds to a temporary home’s homeliness.
I’ve always struggled with keeping plants alive. A friend of mine, however, managed to keep an orchid alive on her window sill for an entire year, and at the end of the year she put it in a tea mug and brought it with her on the plane home. As she managed to fly from Heathrow to Oslo airport with an orchid on her lap, I feel like I need to up my game and keep some cacti alive this year.
(image from Pixabay)
Jokes aside, a bit of green works wonders for keeping your room feel fresh. Also, having some plants to take care of and remember to water (!!) is a great way of making yourself feel responsible for your room and your living space. Plus, plants look really cute and you can get lots of different colours and types!
5. Picture walls
Pictures are important. Pictures, posters, tickets, memories. I’ve always kept a pretty intense picture wall in all my uni flats, with lots of pictures of the people I love and miss from home, alongside the new friends I made while at uni. I plastered the wardrobe doors my last flat with pictures, poems, tickets and art works from some of my favourite books. Displaying stuff you appreciate and pictures of the people you love, is a great way of cosying up a space.
What are your favourite tips for making a small and temporary home feel comfortable and lived in? I’d love to hear what’ve gotten you through student halls and dorm rooms through the years!
On nights like this I press my back up against the wall. I let the edges of my bed indent my skin, the space is too small for my limbs and your nightmares.
If you’d let me, we’d stay up all night, and I’d paint galaxies on the back of your hands to remind you how inferior nightmares are. But I cannot wake you or make the swirls in your breath go away, so I shrink further back, I give you space. There is nothing I can do to make it better.
Instead, I place soft fingers on your back and write bright letters on the dark ceiling, for you to see in a dream. I turn to the moon for spelling and to the stars for punctuation, and wait for morning in silence.
Of course, I wouldn’t really call myself that, but with a book collection that just crossed the 600 book-mark (he he, see what I did there?) I can see why I maybe should. I think books make a room cosy, a living space warm, and a temporary small student flat a home. The reason why I hold on to a lot of these books are because I really like them, and keep coming back to them. There are books on my shelves with more notes scribbled in the margin than actual ink on the paper, and books so tattered that they’re bandaged with three years worth of tape. However, there are also books that never received the love and care they deserve, and I have no issue letting go of books I don’t enjoy or that I can’t see myself reading again in the nearest future.
The reason I’m going on about my book keeping habits is because one of the student organisations at my uni is doing a book swap day; you bring in 1 to 10 books you don’t enjoy anymore (but someone else might love), and get to swap them with the same amount of new (to you) books.
So I thought we could have a look at some of the books I’m letting go of this time. Mind you, these are picked from the small collection of books I keep on the shelves in my uni room, which is why there aren’t more.
I also really want to point out that I’m not giving any of these away because they’re bad books! Maybe the story or the voice just didn’t resonate with me, maybe I just can’t make the time to get into it, or maybe it’s just not my cup of tea anymore. No matter the reason, these are all good books that will get a second chance at spellbinding someone else.
Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst
This book just didn’t grab my attention the way I hoped a badass fantasy story about people who are able to turn into dragons would. I really liked the premise, but I just didn’t feel like it focused on the interesting parts of the story. I was also unsure about the tone of it, sometimes it felt like it played too much into humour and comedic timing, when the situation surrounding the dialogue or comment was quite serious. However, this story has a lot of potential of becoming someone else’s new favourite book, and so hopefully someone’ll pick it up on Monday!
Blurb: In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
I must admit that I haven’t really given this book as much of a chance as I should have. I often struggle with enjoying post-apocalyptic stories, and I must admit that the blurb beginning with words like “Defeated, crushed and driven almost to extinction” didn’t reel me in, it felt a bit too heavy, if that makes sense? But I’m sure most of this can also be accredited to me just not being that much into Sci-Fi. I’m sure someone who are is gonna love this, though.
Blurb: Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.
Wicca by Harmony Nice
I’ve always been really interested in nature religions and find Wicca intriguing to read about. I love the idea of whatever you put out into the world you’ll receive threefold and being in balance with oneself and with nature. I’m not a religious person though, and even though I’m really interested in Wicca as a concept, I’m not looking for a religion to practice. This book became a bit too handbook-y for me, which makes sense as the undertitle is A modern guide to witchcraft and magick. Still, a well written book that’s gonna bring someone else a lot of joy.
In the end I parted with six books for the exchange; the ones shown above, a collection of Norwegian essays, and a couple more novels. Books are a great and wonderful hobby, but always buying new ones is also a form of consumerism. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy new books or get a book you’ve been waiting for, as soon as it hit the shelves of your local bookstore, but it is worth it to maybe have a look in a charity shop or a second hand shop, or a book exchange like this one, – they may surprise you with wonderful new reads. The second part of the book exchange is on Monday, and I’m so excited to both get to see my old books get picked up by new, excited hands, and to maybe pick up some new favourites myself; favourites which someone else have decided deserve a second chance.
Now that we’re about a month and a half into the semester, our lecturers have given us a reading week for reading, revising and getting on top of the course. We’ve already handed in 8 assignments and gotten through quite a lot of set material, so this feels like a nice treat, a “go, focus on the parts of the curriculum you want to focus on.” However, with great freedom comes a completely unstructured week, with what could potentially be just 5 days of off-time. I don’t want this week to slip away like holidays often did when I was a child; one day you’re running home from school with 7 long days of fun ahead of you, and then suddenly you’re back at school feeling like the holiday hadn’t even been a thing in the first place.
But not this time! This time, I’ve made a plan, split my day up into “classes” and focused on different modules. This time I’ll get what I want done, done.
So, I figured, why not make a blog post about how I’m intending to structure and spend this week, and who knows, maybe it could help someone else too. I’d also like to post updates throughout the week, to see how successful this plan is, and how I have to adapt and change it to fit how the week is actually going.
So, let’s get into it!
Make a plan (and stick to it)
I’ve split my day up into hour-long chunks, from 10am-4pm. 2 and a half hour before a half hour break, with one module in focus before the break and another after it. At the end of every hour, I’ll give myself about 10 minutes if I feel like I need it, to go get some food or make another cup of tea.
This plan looks a bit intense, but everything I’ve put on it is stuff I already know but want to either just get further under my skin or want to better my overall understanding of. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get into a good workflow and get most of these things done. Tuesday and Wednesday are also study group days, meaning a change of air and work scenario.
2. Find a place to work
It’s important to find somewhere to work that is the right kind of quiet. I work best in areas where there is a little bit of background noise, but nothing actually loud. Home alone is almost too quiet for me, libraries are perfect, coffee shops are a bit too noisy. I find that if there are absolutely no sounds around me, I get distracted. If I’m home alone and the flat above me is (uncharacteristically) quiet, I start tapping my pencil, looking out the window and reaching for my phone. Libraries, however, have all the “good sounds” that keep you focused; tapping on laptop keyboards, chairs shuffling and bumping into the desks, book pages brushing against each other, and pencils scribbling on paper. Also the occasional heavy sigh from that one economy student in the corner poring over yet a larger book every day. However, this is highly individual, and you need to find out how much noise you’re comfortable with and that makes you the most productive.
I’m going to alternate between the study section of the library and my desk in the flat. For the Norwegian module-part of the plan I’ll be at home because I’ve got a lot of work resources in different books, folders and also taped to my walls, and so that would be easier to do at home. Heading to the library to then get started on the module after the break will provide a bit of fresh air on my way down + a change of scenery.
Note to self: Need to properly clean the desk before getting to work, to tidy away the worst distractions.
3. Make sure you’ve got everything you need!
Print powerpoint presentations, make sure your notes are tidy and organised, have all your books and stationery easily within reach. Have everything prepared so that you can just reach out a hand and grab that book you need with that great chapter, when you get into that work-flow it’s so easy to talk about but not as easy to attain. Also, take a lot of notes along the way, as notes are often easier to revise from than your textbooks when exam season comex around. Keep these readily available too.
4. Get enough food and enough sleep!
You can’t get any productive work done if you don’t eat well and get enough sleep. I’m very guilty of going to bed a bit late, but I am making a conscious effort to turn that bad habit around. Not getting enough sleep makes you drowsy and unproductive, and it’s also just bad for you and your health in general. So let’s get in some early nights, people!
5. DRINK TEA
Okay, this one might not be relevant for you, but I firmly believe that no work can be done without tea. Ever. Tea increases productivity by approximately 102% and those are completely and utterly true facts. Or maybe not. Or are they?
6. Take breaks and call it a day
Make sure that you’re working when you’re supposed to work, and that you give yourself a break during break time. Also, evening time where you don’t think about work at all, is also important. I often find that if I don’t have a plan to follow, everything I do end up taking a lot longer than it needs to, as I’m doing a lot of things at the same time, and not really devoting all my attention to one project. Because of this, I can be working on an assignment for an entire day, and then end up with that final “come on, just get this done with”-impulse late in the evening, meaning it has eaten up all my potential evening me-time. This rarely leads to results I’m happy with, and so that’s why this plan starts the day at 10 and ends it at 4 pm. After 4, I won’t even be thinking about uni, if I can get this right.
I’m excited for this week, and to try out this new system. I know this may seem super basic to a lot of people, but as the degree I did before this was a very creative one, I’m used to working whenever creativity hits, which is often at the most inopportune moments, and I may be a bit guilty of carrying that habit over into this new degree. I’m using this week, however, to get myself properly back on track and hopefully start the process of developing some good habits!