5 More Things No One Tells You About Going To University

30 January 2019

As I write this post I am currently in my last ever semester of university. Just 12 more weeks of lectures, a few exams and a dissertation to go and I will be out of education forever. Madness. Having spent the last two and a half years doing the whole uni thing myself it's fair to say I've learnt a lot, in more ways than I can even begin to explain. I wrote a post back in June last year titled 7 Things No One Tells You About Going To University and for today's post I thought we'd add another five to that list.

5 More Things No One Tells You About Going To University


1. Third year is actually the best year
Whilst the workload is by far the biggest of all of the years and it also counts the most, it's 60-70% of your degree, it is also the most fun. First year is fun because it's all new and exciting and there are so many cool new things to do and experience. Second year is fun because you move out of halls and into your first proper student house. But, third year is great because you've made all these great friendships, you've done all of the growing as a person/finding yourself etc, you have a lot more free reign of what you want to study and you're just well and truly into the swing of things. Whenever you hear about university it's always people saying how great freshers etc is, but no, third year is where the real fun is.

2. Student houses are worse than you think
I know that student houses are known for being bad, but it's never quite portrayed just how bad they are. I've written an entire blog post on the realities of student housing and spoiler: a lot of it is pretty gross. That being said, my student house this year is like the Ritz in comparison to the dive we lived in last year, so it's not all bad.

I've written an entire post on how to choose the perfect student house, so, if you're currently first or second year - check it out! You're welcome. Also, if you're nosy and  want to see the glow up between second and third year, you can see what my uni room looked like in second year here and compare it to now, here.

So, moving out of halls and into a house might seem like the coolest thing ever, but, be warned, a lot of the houses are actually pretty rank. Oh, and what comes to mind when you think of a student house, make it three times worse and add a few more rats.

3. You actually have to go out of your way to make friends
There's this whole perception that everyone makes all of their best friends for life at uni, and whilst I definitely have met a few, they don't just fall into your lap. I was very lucky with my flat in first year and we all got on really well and have lived together ever since. For other people, however, this is not the case, and making a good set of friends requires a bit more effort.

Make conversations with people in your lectures, join a society, go on nights out, get to know other peoples' flatmates. Going to uni doesn't immediately mean a huge circle of friends at your beck and call - you've got to go out of your way to meet people. My coursemates now I didn't really know for the first 6 months of uni... If I'd have just stuck with the people I'd met in the first few weeks I wouldn't know any of them now. But, going to socials, parties, doing things has meant that I've got to know a wide variety of people that I wouldn't have from halls/lectures alone.

4. Textbooks need a student loan of their own 
At school, if your teacher wanted you to read a textbook they'd give you a copy of said textbook to read. At uni, however, this is not the case. Lecturers will set required readings from textbooks and you need to go out and buy them. Yes, there's a couple of copies in the library but when in a cohort of 250 the chances of having it are slim.

So, you go onto amazon, search for the books and your jaw drops. How much for a textbook?! I have friends that have spent over £100 on a textbook that they needed to read for their exams... £100!! They don't mention that on the open days do they...

Thankfully, our course run a book sale whereby people sell their old textbooks to the new cohorts for waaaay less than the RRP. That being said, this doesn't work so well when you're in your final year and all of the year above - along with their textbooks - have left the university and are out in the big wide world. So, advice for any first or second years; get in touch with people in the years above and ask if they're selling their old textbooks.

Also, if your uni provides you with textbooks, I'm very jealous.

5. The halls you're in say a lot about you
I'm not sure if this just applies to my uni, but you definitely get very different types of people in each of the halls. Our uni has a catered halls, which is predominantly inhabited my boys, and not just any boys; mummy's boys who are part of the football/rugby/hockey teams. The halls actually in the town centre house those who go out a lot/feel the need to be close to West Quay. My halls was en-suite and really really nice, so you could say we were all the wrapped-up-in-cotton-wool kind of freshers who had to wait until second year to experience true dirt and grime. Sort of like the mummy's boys, but not quite so bad. One of the other halls is renowned for being the party halls and in first year that was where all the big pres/parties were held. Again, none of this is actually said during the open days/on the brochures but somehow everyone just falls into 'their' halls.



Are there any more points that I've missed?

Sick Tings 036

27 January 2019

I'm freeee! Having spent the entirety of January thus far reading and revising, I am so so so glad that it's all over and done with for now. No more revising! Just to clarify, because I know it caused some confusion, my uni run exams at the end of each semester so we have two exam seasons a year - I'm not done with studying just yet. That being said, this weekend has been the first weekend since the summer I've had no work to do and it has been marvellous.

A lifestyle roundup of my week at university featuring all I've bought, watched, eaten, seen and been up to. Featuring revision, my last exam and a whole lot of celebratingNow, whilst I should have spent the week working hard, it's fair to say I managed to squeeze in a few doses of fun, here and there. Monday saw Toria and I head to the New Forest for a wander and a cream tea, again. It's becoming a habit and I LOVE it. This week we headed to Brockenhurst, and whilst the walk itself was nothing special (there are much better parts of the New Forest, for sure) the scones were amazing.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all sort of blended into one and there's nothing much to report. I did, however, make a delicious mushroom and bacon risotto. It was incredible. Maybe I'll write a post on it? Or is that really really dull? Let me know.

I also baked another batch of banana bread this week and it was just as good as the previous ones. I can't believe I've only discovered banana bread so recently, I've got a lot of catching up to do, 20 years worth in fact.

Okay, so shall we just talk about Fyre Festival for a second. Oh my gosh. I watched the Netflix documentary on it this week and I cannot believe that it happened and I never heard about it?! Essentially, if you have no idea what I'm on about, two men created a new luxury music festival in the Bahamas, got a load of celebrities and influencers to promote it, and it was essentially a massive sh*t show. I won't spoil it too much, but it's really really interesting and definitely worth a watch. The Bahamas have now sky rocketed to the top fraction of my travel bucket list, oh my. (Maybe not for a festival though, all things considered).

My last exam finished at 5pm on Friday and my pals and I headed straight to the pub to celebrate. My friend Lucie then came round and we ordered a domino's and drank pink gin to celebrate being free. We then decided to have a spontaneous night at another pub, and had a really fun, chilled night.

The following day, I headed into town with Toria for a Nando's and a wander around the shops. Now, you can call me boring and lame, but, I always have the same thing when I go to Nando's; a double chicken mango and lime burger, no tomato, with peri chips. But, this time I actually opted for a completely rogue choice and went for the Fino Pitta. Now, it was really tasty but I'm not sure it quite competes with my usual classic... There's just something about the burgers that is 10/10. I bought a few bits in town, which I'm sure you'll see on my Instagram over the next few weeks, but they were pretty much all leopard print and I am here for it.

Saturday night saw us go out out, finally. Shy FX was playing at switch and being a massive drum and bass fan it would've been rude not to go. When I woke up this morning I had more money in my bag than I went out with, and I didn't take any money out of a cashpoint...Yep, I'm just as clueless as you are. Not that I'm complaining in the slightest, hellooooo free tenner. I'm going to cook a roast for dinner tonight and spend the rest of my Sunday lounging in bed, what a gooooood day.


What have you been up to this week?

An Open Letter to Instagram

25 January 2019

To whom it may concern,

Hey, hi, hello!

My name is Becca and I am a beauty, fashion, travel and lifestyle blogger from the UK. (Yes, I know that’s a bit of a mouthful, but I really can’t niche it down. I like to have a bit of everything available, a Becc4 finger food beige buffet if you will). Anyway, I’ve been doing this whole Instagram thing for many a year now, including, back in the day, when all photos had to be square, we were wearing ‘Geek’ tshirts and 3D glasses with the lenses popped out, and the logo was that beautiful brown and beige number.  

But, I’m gonna be honest, I’ve not been backing a lot of your recent escapades.

I just wanted to write this letter to discuss a few things that have been playing on my mind recently. Okay, that sounds a little deep. They’ve not been keeping me awake at night, nor are they ruining my life but I thought it’d be nice to get them out in the open. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that.

So, firstly, why do some of the most random of posts blow up? I mean, I spend a good while shooting new content, all themed and lovely for the crappest of photos to be my most popular? Last year it was a photo of a hot cross bun and recently it was this picture of my bed. My new bedding is nice, yes – but why did half of Instagram suddenly love it too? To quote Becky:

                ‘Instagram is a magical fairy tale land where any one unimportant post can explode and any one post you worked on FOREVER will get seen by literally not even your own mother’

Why is this?! Is it a lucky dip, is there a magic posting time or do people just genuinely like the most random of posts? Any explanations would be greatly appreciated. Answers on a postcard please.

Now, I didn’t want to start with the obvious because that would be oh so predictable. But, where is the chronological order that we’re all missing dearly and are waiting to come home, like a Mum who’s just let her son out clubbing on his eighteenth birthday. We miss u chronological feed. There’s no such thing, really, as a good time to post anymore and I’m seeing content from daaaays ago at the top of my feed. What has happened?

Probably linked to the chronological feed (or lack thereof) but I’m no longer seeing any of the posts I want to. I follow nearly 500 accounts yet I always see the same few on my feed time and time again. Why is this? I have blogger babes that I want to support but I’m just not seeing any of their content. I don’t really fancy searching each account everyday to see if they’ve posted, I’d much rather see a variety of posts from all of the accounts I follow on my feed.

Something I, and other hardworking creators, are fed up of is bots. Not only is it all fake and just lying, but the people using them are being invited on swanky press trips, gifted luxurious products and paid for sponsored posts. Now, I know this may sound as if I’m coming across a bit bitter and that’s because I am. THESE PEOPLE HAVE PAID AND FAKED THEIR WAY TO THE TOP. Very little hard work goes into putting your bank details into a follower buying website and having 10k followers fall in your lap. Some of us are working hard, growing our following and engagement to be slapped in the face by individuals paying their way to success. Whilst this directly isn’t your fault, brands could run better background checks and look at engagement etc, but if you help stop this that would be grand. How often do accounts grow by 10k overnight? Especially when the accounts that suddently follow them have a few posts all totally unrelated to the Instagram in question’s niche. It’s just a bit fishy, isn’t it.  

While on the subject of followers, please could we have some sort of technology to block follow/unfollow gremlins. Is gremlins a bit harsh? Hmmm, maybe, ah well. But yes, back to those wonderful follow/unfollowers. Why have you not managed to penalize them yet? I always get a bit of a buzz when I see my follower count jump quite substantially over a series of days, but, when I see it decrease by the same amount a few days later, yeah, that’s not so cool. Now, if it were different people every time I’d 100% cut you some slack and not even mention it, but it’s not. It’s the same few people doing it every few days and I’ve now got into the habit of blocking any frequent perpetrators. There should be a limit to the number of times an account can follow and refollow the same account within a period of time because it really is getting annoying.

I appreciate that we all need to make money, and you guys over at Instagram HQ are no different, but every three photos on my feed is an advert and it’s not ideal. I wouldn’t normally mind but the majority of them aren’t particularly well targeted. I mean, the ad from the Fiji tourism board?! Yes, it’s stunning, it’s on my bucket list and I’d love to visit – but I have about enough money for half a flight there, so yeah, it’s a no from me at this time. A bottle of Fiji water is more likely to happen, and even that requires a small bank loan to purchase.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I’m hoping that you could take a few of these comments on board and potentially forward them to the corresponding departments? I know this is all very whiney and negative but it’s only because I LOVE Instagram. I've even written blog posts on how to create an Instagram theme and how I edit my Instagram photos, for goodness sake! I love shooting, editing, posting and sharing content, and am hence keen for the ideal platform for doing such. 

I know I'm not alone with my opinions here so any improvements to any of the above would be greatly appreciated by the majority of us social media fanatics!

Many thanks,
Becca Martin, otherwise known as @becc4_blog

Kuala Lumpur - Tips, Tricks and Things To Do

23 January 2019

Becc4 Kuala Lumpur - Tips, Tricks and Things To Do
When we booked and organised our trip to Vietnam, Laos and Thailand we hadn't planned on spending a few days in Malaysia. But, after a couple of very rainy days in Laos, stuck in the hostel, we decided to head somewhere with a bit more sun, enter Kuala Lumpur. We flew from Luang Prabang to Bangkok, and then from Bangkok onto KL.

We landed at about 12am and went down to the ticket office to buy tickets for the KLIA2 Sleeper bus. With our tickets bought we waited on the ground floor for our bus to arrive, which, can I just say, was very nice indeed. By far the best bus we'd taken the entire trip. Anyway, when we arrived we booked a Grab and headed to our hostel in Chinatown. When we arrived to check in, the lady on the desk could not have been more rude and unhelpful. She spent 40 minutes faffing around and telling us we'd made the wrong booking when we very much hadn't and then finally checked us in at about 3am. She took us into our communal room, turned all the lights on, showed us to our beds - waking up all the other people in the room. What a way to make friends on your first night, huh? Sorry fellow hostel dwellers.

The following morning we woke up very leisurely and went for a wander around Chinatown. I had sizzling pork and mushroom noodles for lunch and they were delicious. From there, we walked to the Butterfly Park, had a wander around, and then walked to the Orchid Park - which was kinda disappointing - definitely not a must do! After that, we continued our impromptu walking tour and headed to the National Mosque. After wandering around we then headed to the Jamek Mosque. From there, we took the train to the Petronas Towers. Wow. What a sight. They really really really are impressive. There's even a mall inside one of them which is equally as impressive. It's full of all sorts of shops from Chanel to Gucci and even an M&S! That evening we headed back to Chinatown for dinner before jumping into bed after a very busy day indeed.

After a very uncomfortable night's sleep, we walked to the nearest 7-eleven to grab croissants before catching a train to the Batu Caves. There are lots of stalls on the way to the caves, many of which offer henna. We had ours done for about £3 and then climbed the stairs to the top! The views etc were a little disappointing, but the entrance was free and it was a very very nice escape from the bustling city.

We then went back to the mall and actually had a Nandos for lunch. When in Malaysia, hey? It worked out as about a fiver for a pitta, drink and 2 sides - amazing. After lunch, and another wander of the mall, we went back to the hostel, got all dressed up and headed to the Petronas Towers. But, they were shut. So, we had dinner at the food court in the mall before heading to a skybar for drinks. It was ladies night, which is essentially just free drinks for girls night... Hellooo 7 free tequila cocktails. After an eventful night - more on that another time, maybe - we headed back to the hostel.

For breakfast, we treated ourselves to another 7-eleven croissant and then got a taxi to Sunway Lagoon: a waterpark come theme park. It had a very Disney/Universal feel about it with all the rides and theming and I loved it. We did the 360 degree pirate ship before spending the rest of the day in the waterpark. After an afternoon doing the slides and swimming in the wave pool, we jumped in a taxi back to the hostel. We grabbed our bags and then got back into the taxi and headed to our next hostel - Sky Society. A girl we'd met in Laos had told us all about this hostel and told us that we HAD to visit and she was right.

The hostel itself was within a load of really nice apartments and had an infinity pool on the roof - it was incredible. A little pricier than our other hostels but worth every single penny for those views. We had a swim in the pool on the 37th floor, took some photos, and then got ready for the evening. We attempted to go up the towers once again but, unfortunately, they were sold out... Just our luck. So, out of convenience, we headed back to the food court for dinner and then went to the Helipad Bar for their ladies night. Which, as the name suggests, has a helipad on the roof. We drank free wine and free pineapple and lychee cocktails to our heart's content before heading back to our hostel that didn't look or feel anything like a hostel.

We slept like absolute babies, the beds were AMAZING. If you're ever in KL I'd highly recommend staying at Sky Society, it was fab. We then took the bus back to the airport to continue with our travel plans after an impromptu few days in Kuala Lumpur... Bangkok, you're next.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Incredible modern city with lots to eat, see and do

THINGS TO DO 
- Butterfly Park
- National Mosque
- Petronas Towers
- Wander the mall
- Batu Caves 

- Skybar/Helipad Bar
- Sunway Lagoon (if you fancy a day of slides and swimming)

TIPS AND ADVICE 
- KL was far cheaper than we were expecting - a very nice surprise
- Lot's of the locals kept filming us and trying to take selfies with us... Yeah...
- Take the trains, they're so quick, cheap and go everywhere!

WHERE I STAYED & REVIEW
The Bed Station 
As you can probably already guess, I don't recommend staying here. Even without the checking in palava, the beds were really uncomfortable and you had to walk through the lobby to get to the toilets/shower... 
 
Sky Society
I highly recommend, not only for the incredible pool and views, but the cleanliness, friendly staff and amazing beds. Can you tell we loved it? 

HOW LONG TO STAY?
3/4 days. There's plenty of things to see and do

Sick Tings 035

20 January 2019

A lifestyle roundup of my week at university featuring all I've bought, watched, eaten, seen and been up to. Featuring my tiger dream days haul, another sprinkles and heading back to the gym

If there's one things these Sick Tings post do, it's point out how quickly the weeks are flying past. As if it's already been a whole 7 days since the last time I sat here and wrote one of these posts. How has this happened? This week has been fairly uneventful as it's been the first week of the exam season here at uni, so, unsurprisingly, everyone's been a bit distracted and there isn't an awful lot going on. 

Speaking of exams, my first one is done and out of the way! I had my Psychological Approaches to Sexual Health exam this week and I have genuinely loooved this module. If you're reading this and you go to Soton, pick this module as an optional if you can - the lectures don't even feel like lectures and the content is really really interesting! The exam is handwritten though, and after writing 12 pages in 2 hours it's fair to say my wrist was a little worse for wear.

To commemorate my first exam being over I had a sprinkles with my housemates and it was incredible. I have a white chocolate sensation crepe EVERYTIME I go and I've never been let down by one. If you go back and read through all of the other 34 Sick Tings posts I've written I'm sure you'll see my love for Sprinkles mentioned at least 10 times. Any Sprinkles regulars, what's your go-to order and is it in the same league as my WCS?

I hadn't seen one of my besties since way before Christmas so we finally got ourselves organised this week and found a day we could meet up. We made the best nachos (topped with an entire ball of mozzarella), ate alllll the pizza and had ice cream and chocolate for dessert. Now, this sounds like a really chilled, fun cosy evening in, which is what we had planned, but, once our food was ready we started scrolling Netflix looking for something to watch. We settled for Birdbox, both very clueless as to what it was but having seen all the hype/memes decided it was probably worth watching... Well, let me tell you, it was NOTHING like we'd expected. It was terrifying. Unsurprisingly, it kinda put us off our pizza and we spent the majority of the time hanging off the end of the sofa. For those of you who have seen it, what was that ending??? I don't understand? Where's the explanation, the follow up? I feel like I have so many questions left unanswered, Netflix. (Does this mean there's going to be a sequel?)

So, I may have only been going to the gym properly for a few months myself but one of my gals wanted me to go with her and show her the ropes.. Look at me go. Personal training account coming to an insta near you soon xox. No, but seriously, it was really good fun. That being said, we didn't have the most productive of times, we spent a good 15 minutes just sat on the mats pretending to do sit ups whilst we discussed what we were having for dinner... Maybe that insta account doesn't need making after all.

Flying Tiger have been running a promotion whereby all of their products in store have been priced at £2. Two British Pounds (!!). It would have been a ridiculous move to have not gone into town to check it out and I'm very glad I did. I've posted a haul of all of the things I bought and not to sound too keen, but I saved myself £29... Whatta deal. 

One of my goals for 2019 is to hit 10K on Instagram and guess who hit another milestone today? Yep, that's me. I'm now officially a quarter of the way there, sitting at a chunky 2.5K. Thank you, pals!


What have you been up to this week?

Flying Tiger Dream Days Haul - What I Bought and How Much I Saved

18 January 2019

If you hadn't already heard, Flying Tiger are currently running a promotion called Dream Days whereby all items in store are £2 or less. Yep, you read that right, £2 or less. That shop filled with little bits of toot you can't help but leave the store with are having a massive sale. And yes, it's just as dangerous for ones' bank balance as you an imagine. Having seen a few ads for it online I decided to head into town myself today for a wander around to see what I could find. 

So, I figured I'd show you all that I picked up including how much I saved as you still have all weekend to grab some of the action for yourself! (This is not sponsored in any way at all, I just love Flying Tiger, a bargain and sharing everything I do on the internet).

Flying Tiger Dream Days Haul - What I Bought and How Much I Saved
Flying Tiger Dream Days Haul - What I Bought and How Much I Saved
Flying Tiger Dream Days Haul - What I Bought and How Much I Saved
Flying Tiger Dream Days Haul - What I Bought and How Much I Saved
I picked up five things for the grand total of £10 and left the shop feeling like the cat who got the cream. I mean, I didn't need anything, my room if overflowing with bits and bobs, but when I saw these items I just neeeeded them, yanno?!

The blue bullet journal comes in a variety of colours and I cannot wait to have a go at this whole BuJo thing! If anyone has any tips/ideas please do let me know, I'm a total newbie to this whole thing. It was originally £7 so I saved a fiver on this bad boy.

On the topic of notebooks, I also bought a five year diary. It's just got a few lines for each day and I have no idea what I want to write in it yet... Do I just summarise everything I've done that day or something I'm grateful for? I need to decide because the sooner I figure it out the sooner I can get started. This is normally £4 so was half price.

I bought some proper chunky coral headphones and I love love love the colour. They're not wireless but I think they're going to be really handy for running on the treadmill with at the gym. Oh, and to prevent random people from talking to me on the bus. These were £7 down to £2.

Also in my loot are two storage items. I bought a grey felt basket (originally £6) and a black mesh wall unit (originally £15). I'm not going to hang the latter on the wall but instead am going to use it as under the bed storage for alllll of my toiletries. I have so many products laying around that I figured having them sorted into compartments and tidied away under the bed was the perfect solution.

Overall, I had a total saving of £29, which, if you ask me, is an absolute steal! They had all sorts of things in store from art supplies to pet toys, to children's games to kitchenware. If you're out and about this weekend defo head in store for a browse. (If you pick anything up, please do let me know, I'm super nosey!)

5 Tips To Be More Productive

16 January 2019

Ahh January, the month we all set ourselves lots of goals and try to throw ourselves into the New Year with only the best of intentions. I mean, having spent the festive period gorging on beige food and laying around in an assortment of different Christmas themed clothing items, it's fair to say January has been a bit of a shock to the ol' system. I'm currently in my final year of uni, so am writing my diss and preparing for what could be the penultimate set of formal exams in my life, ever. So, yeah, I've needed to whip my finger out pronto and get straight back into a routine and actually spend my days being productive. In other words, I just need to get sh*t done, and lot's of it.

I like to think that I'm fairly organised and good at getting things done, but of late, I've been finding it a bit more difficult than usual. I'm not entirely sure why but I think it's because the end of uni is in sight and is hence acting as a bit of a distraction. I have 184729 things I'd rather be doing and career/travel/life plans that I'd rather be making than sitting at my desk slogging away at my keyboard typing up revision notes on the pharmacological treatments for ADHD.

But, I've managed to snap myself out of this rut of late and have discovered a few tips that really have been helping me get things done and stay on track. So, rather than just save them for myself I thought I'd throw a post together in the hope that some of these might help you out this year!

Becc4 5 tips to be more productive

01 - DELETE / BLOCK SOCIAL MEDIA APPS

Haha, wow Becca, this is some really innovative stuff. But seriously, I hadn't realised quite how much time I was spending on my phone until Apple updated and started telling us how disgusting our social media browsing habits were. I, for one, had no idea that I was spending that long on the internet. So, I've been making a conscious effort to block social media apps during the hours I'm trying to get work done, in a bid to be more productive. And oh wow, is it working. For one, by the time the evening rolls around my phone still has far more battery than it's ever had at 6pm before. But two, I've been getting far more work done than usual! Oh, and three, the world doesn't revolve around being on social media, all those pics will still be there when you pick your phone up a few hours later.

02 - CREATE TO DO LISTS IN THE MORNING FOR THE DAY / WEEK

I've always found creating to do lists really helpful but I've only just discovered how much more beneficial they are (to me) if I make them in the morning. It's really useful having everything you need to do written down, but when I used to write them the night before I found myself getting way too into it and wanting to make a start on everything there and then. Which, when it's 11pm, and way past your 10pm bedtime, isn't very helpful. I find making them in the morning really sets out my day and I can chill in the evening knowing that I've done today's list and don't need to think about tomorrow's until I wake up!


03 - ADD FUN THINGS TO YOUR TO DO LIST

In an attempt to get more of my to do list done I started adding fun things to the list and it's worked marvelously. Now, when I say fun, I don't mean anything exciting, just things other than work. For example, painting my nails, watching an episode of a series. Whilst they're not the most productive of activities, everybody needs a break and being able to tick them off the list is oh so satisfying. 


04 - TIDY AND DECLUTTER

There's nothing more demotivating than going to sit at your desk and seeing the piles of crap sprawled all over it. Fact. So, before starting any work put all that stuff away rather than make a pile of it on your bed to then be moved back to the desk once you've finished working for the day... Is it just me that does that?! Getting rid of everything I don't need and decluttering my workspace has been a massive saviour this month, plus my room just looks better too! 


05 - TURN YOUR PHONE OFF AND READ BEFORE BED

I might just be talking out of my arse, but, reading before bed has made a great difference to my overall productivity. Let me explain... Yes, I know that we all know that the blue lights from screens etc are bad before bed, but, I don't think that's why I'm finding this tip so beneficial. Reading always makes me feel so sleepy, so, when I put the book down and actually go to sleep, I fall asleep waaaay quicker than usual. I also don't get distracted before bed replying to group chats or Instagram comments, that's a job for future Becca. 

And there we have it, a few of the things I've been doing of late to be more productive. Take it from me, they actually are helping, I'm up to my ears in mindmaps, revision cards, and essay questions... 


What's your top tip for being more productive?

Sick Tings 034

13 January 2019

Hello and welcome to the first Sick Tings post of 2019, long time no speak and all of that. What with all of my 2018 round ups and other posts that have gone up recently, my Sick Tings posts felt a little redundant. But, we're back, and with a new look. I was debating leaving these posts in 2018, but, after a quick twitter poll it became obvious that people wanted them to stick around a little longer... 

(What do we think of the new collage style? Do we like it or shall we go back to the photo grid we all know and love? Do let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear your thoughts!)


A lifestyle roundup of my week at university featuring all I've bought, watched, eaten, seen and been up to. Featuring killing eve, new gym gear and booking a trip to Budapest


Now, it's currently exam season and things are oh so quiet in the life of Becc4. I handed in my first of two dissertations this week and have been preparing for my two exams over the next fortnight. I can't believe that this could be my penultimate exam season EVER?! How crazy is that. 

Revision is going fairly well but I just cannot wait for it all to be over, and for normal uni life to recommence. I can count the number of times I've been out recently on one hand, and for someone that used to go out multiple times a week, it's fair to say life is very quiet at the moment. 

Amongst revision, I've spent a lot of time this week watching TV. Anyone who knows me in person will know that I'm not a massive TV person and am rarely one to get hooked on any sort of series. But, at long last, I finally got around to watching Killing Eve. 

Everyone and their brother's hamster has already seen it, and I know I am very late to the party, but I loved it. My Mum and I watched it all over one weekend and we were hooked. Binge watching a series is not something either of us ever do, so, yeah, it's clear that Killing Eve is something special. If you haven't already seen it, it's on iPlayer, go and binge watch it now and let me know your thoughts.

Whilst on the topic of TV, my favourite programme came back with a new series this week: Silent Witness. I absolutely love love love this show. I love the characters, the storylines, the set up of it, everything. There are 2 episodes a week on consecutive days focussed on one particular plot. Again, if you haven't seen it, do go and get stuck in. There are 20 seasons, however, so you might be there a while. Any fellow Silent Witness lovers slide in my DMs - let's discuss.

I've recently been reading the Tattooist of Auschwitz and this week I finally finished it! It's been a long time coming but it was an amazing read. I only ever read before bed and unsurprisingly a lot of the content of this book didn't make for particularly comforting bedtime reading, so it took a lot longer to finish that anticipated. That being said, the story itself is incredible. I say incredible, the love story is incredible, the horrors of the rest of the book are far from incredible. If you haven't already read it, I highly recommend you do. It really is eye opening. 

Before heading back to uni this week I managed to schedule in another hair appointment with my free, unqualified but amazing hairdresser; my sister. I've been dying my hair darker recently, but only ever with semi-permanent dyes and they just don't seem to last very long before my gingery undertones return with a vengeance.  So, this time I decided to opt for a permanent dye. I absolutely love it. It's really dark - which does make me look more pale than usual - but I'm really liking it. For someone who used to have bleach blonde hair as a child, it's fair to say this black hair is a bit of a contrast.

This week I received my first parcel as one of Dermalogica's Skinfluencers, yay! I received an email over Christmas asking if I wanted to work with them in the new year and considering one of my goals for 2019 was to sort my skin out, you'll be unsurprised to hear that I snapped their hand off at the opportunity! Essentially, they've sent me a whole load of their most popular products to try out and I'm going to report back on here and on my Instagram what I think of them. Pretty cool, huh?

On my first night back at uni, my gals and I booked a trip to Budapest for our 21st's! My birthday is in March and two of theirs' are in April, so it seemed like the perfect excuse to spend 4 days exploring a new city. We're going at the end of March/early April so if anyone has any recommendations of things to do/see/eat please do let me know!

After about 5 weeks off (I don't have a membership at a gym at home home) I finally went back to the gym this week. It's fair to say I feel like I'm back at square one, but, considering I'm hoping to plan a 10k this year, I better get back to it!


What have you been up to this week?

Becc4 Turns One

11 January 2019

Woop woop, I hope you've all got your fanciest clothes on, are ready to do the Macarena at least seventeen times and have room for a slab of cake because this is a first birthday party. Yep, that's right Becc4 is a whole year old! (Well, the blog itself is, I didn't buy my domain until March but yanno, same difference huh?) I've been regularly posting content over on this chunk of the internet for 12 months and I am so so proud of everything that I've achieved in that time!
Becc4 turns one. A look back at all I've achieved during my first year of blogging including my current stats and my goals for the future
Firstly, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who follows my blog, those who read my ramblings, and those who take the time to comment, it means a lot. Whilst I do enjoy just sitting here tapping away at my keyboard to myself, it's nice to know that there are other people out there who are enjoying the content that I am creating. I'm not a narcissist (or at least too much of a narcissist) but I love that you all love what I do, it means a lot. 

I created my Instagram about a week after creating my blog and I am so proud of how far it's come in such a short amount of time. For one, the pictures I take, edit and upload now are quite frankly unrecognisable compared to those I posted in the beginning. Not only that, but I've managed to amass over 2.2k of you, create my own hashtag (#ahomelychristmas) which has over 550 posts and posted every day for the vast majority of 2018. Pretty cool, huh?

Becc4 turns one. A look back at all I've achieved during my first year of blogging including my current stats and my goals for the future
So, onto a brief look at some of my Becc4 firsts...
First Post: Things To Do in Edinburgh, 13/01/18
First Blogger Event: Supermarine in Woolston, 15/03/18
First Sponsored Post: Blog Photography 101 with Panasonic, 19/05/18
First Blogger Friend: Fran
First Sick Tings Post: Sick Tings 001, 11/02/18

Over the last year, I've met some incredible people through my blog, some of whom I would very much consider to be real-life friends. I feel like I've known Fran forever and I genuinely cannot remember how we first met? She might know, Fran if you're reading this - do you remember?? I went to London to meet her in the summer and then in November, she came to stay with me at uni for a weekend of all things festive. I attended Blogcon in the summer with Lucy and we had such a nice day - I definitely think we should go again this year if you're reading this Lucy! And finally, Nina, who I haven't actually met in person yet which needs to change asap. An utter babe who just gets me, yanno?

Becc4 turns one. A look back at all I've achieved during my first year of blogging including my current stats and my goals for the future

I thought I'd also include a few of the other things I've done during my time writing over here on Becc4;
- I've been fortunate enough to take both my Mum and my sister as plus ones to events - how cool is that? Dad, if you're reading this - hopefully 2019 will be your turn.
- I completed all 25 days of Blogmas with posts that I genuinely love.
- As part of Blogmas, Nina and I created our own tag; The Cracking Christmas Tag which lots of other bloggers participated in!
- I had my first blogger's outfit photoshoot and it was a really cool experience
- Back in April, I wrote a piece for Blogging Breakthrough Magazine all about getting out of a blogging slump
- Over Christmas, I hit 3 million Monthly Unique Viewers on Pinterest, woweeee. It's currently sitting at 2.6m and I still can't believe it!

Aaaaand, to finish this post I thought it might be quite nice to include some of my current stats to look back on this time next year... Will my following have grown? Will I have improved my domain authority? I've got my fingers, toes, legs, and arms crossed that both happen but we will have to wait and see...
Twitter - 1.1k
Instagram - 2.3k
Bloglovin - 1.5k
DA - 15
Page Views - 32k


Thank you for supporting Becc4 over the last year!

Laos - Tips, Tricks and Things To Do

9 January 2019







After about three weeks in Vietnam we flew to our next destination: Vientiane, Laos. Now, we hadn't heard too much about Laos but considering we were in the area and the photos we'd seen were gorgeous we decided that we couldn't not make a stop there. So, we flew from Hanoi to the capital.

We took the public bus from the airport to the city and thankfully our hostel was very near a bus stop. It was, however, incredibly hard to spot so we did walk up and down the same road multiple times cursing at google maps for not being much help. (Note to self; have a proper look on street view at where your accommodation is before you arrive. It's always hard to navigate a new place, but it's even harder when it's dark.)

We checked into our hostel, which was the most basic of our trip thus far - mattresses on the floor - and headed out for dinner. I had a pork and vegetable stirfry and it was delicious.

The following day we took the public bus to Buddha Park. It took about an hour to get there but was definitely worth it. We spent a while wandering around the park and then climbed up inside the huge Buddha which provided a great view of the entire park.

We then got back on the bus and headed to the mall/market. Here, we had lunch and a bit of a wander before heading to the Patuxai Monument. We paid our entrance fee and then climbed to the top, and oh my, it was a great view of the city.

Following this, we took our first tuk-tuk of the whole trip to That Luang Stupa, where there is a huge gold sleeping Buddha. We then took our tuk-tuk back to the hostel to have a quick nap before heading for dinner at Tyson Kitchen. Here, the food was delicious and the cocktails even better! After dinner, we headed down to the riverside where we came across a huge night market and each bought a few absolute bargains.

Once we'd woken up the following morning, we took a tuk-tuk to the COPE visitor centre. There is still lots of unexploded ordnance in Laos, which, unfortunately, still goes off and injuries many people every year. COPE custom makes (for free) prosthetics for individuals affected by this unexploded ordnance. Wandering around their visitor centre was both a humbling and upsetting experience. We then headed back to the hostel, had some lunch, checked out, and boarded our minibus to the next stop: Vang Vieng. The journey to Vang Vieng was the worst drive of the whole trip. I have never been on roads like it... One girl on our minibus was vomitting out of the window and those sat in the back seats were being absolutely thrown around. But, after four hours we'd made it to our next destination.

We checked into our hostel, and then headed for dinner. In a weird turn of events, we ended up going out clubbing in a club called Sakura. Vang Vieng is a very popular holiday destination with South Koreans, and so all of the clubs play K-Pop. So, we ended up dancing to K-Pop (neither Toria nor I know any songs), drank the worst tasting vodka of our lives and stumbled home at 2am with a souvenir Sakura vest in hand... Not quite the night we had imagined for our third night in sleepy Laos.

The following day we woke up to rain that was NOTHING like we had ever seen before. I know our summertime in the UK is the rainy season in Southeast Asia, but, oh my, does it rain and then some in Laos. We spent the morning chilling before braving the weather for some lunch. We spotted a really cute looking restaurant that ended up being a stoner's paradise - there was a 'happy menu' featuring opium shakes and weed fries. It's safe to say we stayed very clear of allllll of that and opted for some pasta - the ultimate hangover cure.

The rain didn't ease the entire day, and nor was it due to on the forecast for the week, so, after a quick google of the places with the best weather in Southeast Asia we booked some very spontaneous, last minute flights to Malaysia. We figured that we'd rather spend a bit more money and go somewhere that we could properly explore rather than waste the next week or so sheltering from the rain in our hostels... For dinner that evening, we had the most delicious Thai food at Happy Mango, it was incredible! If you're ever in Vang Vieng I would highly recommend paying a visit.

Once we'd woken up, we headed to buy snacks for our upcoming 5 hour bus ride to Luang Prabang. Thankfully, this one wasn't a school minibus and the journey was far more smooth. We did, however, drive through a quarry, a landslide, fog, sun, rain - the lot. We checked into our hostel before heading for dinner at one of the local restaurants. We then headed for drinks at Utopia having heard so much about it both online, in guidebooks and from other people we'd met on our travels. Now, it was nice but it certainly wasn't life-changing...

Breakfast at the hostel the following morning was incredible. We had banana pancakes and they were the best I've ever had - 10/10. We'd booked to go to Kuang Si Waterfall through our hostel, and so after breakfast we were picked up in a minibus and taken there for a few hours. If you google Kuang Si it is absolutely stunning. The most gorgeous turquoise waters, it looks like heaven. What we saw when we arrived was definitely not that. Due to it being rainy season there was just brown water EVERYWHERE and I mean everywhere. The footpaths themselves were waterfalls whereby the water was kneedeep... It was hard to picture it as a calm, serene spot, but it was nice to get out and do something having been trapped in the hostel the previous few days.

That afternoon I took a solo mission to the Royal Palace whilst Toria napped. It was pretty and a good way to learn a lot more about Laos history and culture. That evening we had dinner - I had the best mushroom fried rice ever - and then wandered the night markets. The markets were huge and there were so many different things to look at. Whilst lots of the products were the same as the other markets we'd seen there were also so many other things too. We then headed back to the hostel for an early night ahead of our early rise the following morning.

We set an alarm for 4.50am to go and observe the monks receiving alms and to climb Mount Phousi in time for sunrise. Now, we were most definitely in the wrong place but we did still see a few monks and it was nothing like I'd ever seen before. It really was eye-opening. We then clambered the steps to the top of Mount Phousi but unfortunately, it was really overcast so we didn't really see much of a sunrise. A bit defeated, we headed back to the hostel to sleep some more before setting an alarm for breakfast; a second round of the delicious banana pancakes.

From our hostel, we walked to the UXO visitor centre - another on the unexploded ordnance - before having our last meal in Laos. I had sweet and sour pork and my first Beerlao of the trip - I couldn't leave the country without having one, could I? We then flew to Bangkok, switched planes, and flew onto Malaysia...

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Much much quieter than Vietnam and Thailand, and fewer things to see and do

THINGS TO DO 

Vientiane:- Buddha Park
- Patuxai Monument
- That Luang Stupa 

- COPE Visitor Centre
Vang Vieng: 
- Tubing (which we decided not to do because of the horrendous weather)

- Night Markets
Luang Prabang:
- Kuang Si Waterfall
- Royal Palace
- Mount Phousi
- Watch the Monks Receive Alms.
- UXO Visitor Centre


TIPS AND ADVICE 
- Avoid Kuang Si if it's the height of rainy season 

- Be more covered up, the dress sense is far more conservative in Laos 

- Budget a bit more money, it's more expensive than Vietnam, Thailand etc

WHERE I STAYED & REVIEW

Avalon residence, Vientiane
Very basic but there were cornflakes for breakfast, woop woop

Real Vang Vieng Backpackers Hostel
Good location, has a pool but not the cleanest of hostels

Sunrise Hotel, Luang Prabang
Really relaxed vibe, very popular with backpackers and INCREDIBLE banana pancakes

HOW LONG TO STAY?
A week or a week and a half. We saw the majority of the main sights and felt we'd had a good amount of time there to experience the country!

Ecobricks: How To Recycle Plastic

6 January 2019

We NEED to make more of an effort to look after our planet. Yes, I know that big change comes from higher levels and as 'laypeople' we can only make a limited contribution, but, as Tesco would say, every little helps. And it does. During blogmas, I wrote a post on more eco-friendly wrapping and have made being more eco-friendly one of my 9 goals for 2019, so yeah, you could say things are starting to get slightly more sustainable around these parts.

Also, I am so over those people that are saying it’s too late and we shouldn’t bother. Why wouldn’t you help prevent something from getting even worse if you could? 

I studied Biology at A Level Biology (and got an A, woop) and ever since have been very much more aware of the impact we as people are having on our planet thanks to the legend that was my biology teacher. I'm sure you've all seen those heartbreaking photos of Bali floating around Twitter at the moment, but, having been to Bali this summer, and seen it in all its beauty, those photos really did hit a nerve. Failing that, I’m sure we all saw Blue Planet 2 and heard the nation’s Grandad, Sir David Attenborough, voice over what can only be described as some devasting footage.

There are lots of little changes we can all make day to day to help reduce the impact we are continually having. So, for today's post, I thought we'd talk alllll about one that I've been doing for the last few months or so... 
Ecobricks: How To Recycle Plastic. Sustainable, ecofriendly
Ecobricks. I first came across the concept of Ecobricks whilst scrolling through Facebook and decided that I ought to give it a go. We throw so much unrecyclable plastic into landfill every day, so, a solution for what to do with it? Incredible. 

If you haven't heard of ecobricks before, let me explain... Essentially, you just cram a load of plastic into an old plastic bottle which can then be used in all sorts of construction projects around the world. Simple, huh? And that's exactly why I knew I had to give it a go. 

It really couldn't be easier. 

We have one at our student house sat on the windowsill, and two at my family home, and whenever there's any suitable plastic (more on that later) it just gets squished into the bottle and poked down with a stick. 

So, now you roughly know what they are I'm sure you're wondering what on earth they can be used for. Well, let me tell you. They're, as the name suggests: bricks, so can be used to make anything from buildings to benches to boats. 
Ecobricks: How To Recycle Plastic. Sustainable, ecofriendly

How to Make an Ecobrick

  1. Take a clean, empty plastic bottle
  2. Collect some plastic to go inside, anything from crisp packets to vegetable bags. (Note: it MUST be clean and dry! This is to prevent any microbial growth and nastiness going on inside the bottle. I repeat, it must be clean and dry!)
  3. If they're large pieces, cut them down. It makes it so much easier to get them in the bottle.
  4. Find some sort of poker. Some kind of implement to squish everything down with. The aim is to get everything as tight and compact as possible.
  5. Keep filling it and then fill it some more. Keep pushing it down with the stick.
  6. Avoid putting anything that's recyclable in your brick, just recycle it, duh.
  7. Weigh your brick. There are minimum weights for each sized brick to ensure they're the best quality for building with. For example, a 1.5L bottle has to weigh at least 500g.
  8. Add some more plastic. No matter how much you fit in your bottle, there is always room for more. They just seem to keep going and going and going- I’ve been adding to these for ages and we’re nowhere near the target yet.

Now, there aren't that any official collection points but you can use this map to find local organisations/families/individuals that are collecting them. I've just had a look and at the time of writing this, there are 6 collection points within 10KM of Southampton!

Obviously, the numbers vary across the country, but there are lots of them about. Alternatively, why not try building something with them yourself? There are tonnes of ideas online, I've even seen photos of one lady using them as part of her exercise routine at home!? If I was less inept I’d definitely try and build a hot tub or something with them, how cool would that be? A hot tub made from old recycling? I’d be the talk of the town. (I’m not sure it’d logistically work, but a gal can dream). 
Ecobricks: How To Recycle Plastic. Sustainable, ecofriendly

Since doing some more research whilst writing this post I've realised I've made a couple of mistakes with mine so far. So let me let you learn from my mistakes...The Ecobrick website states to layer lots of the same colour plastic at the bottom of the bottle for aesthetic purposes, oops. I didn't realise this so none of mine have this, but I'm not sure how much of a detrimental effect this'll have? It's just a brick after all. 

Also, the website suggests starting with a smaller bottle to get the hang of it, but, here we are with a thicc 2L boy, powering through. So yeah, if/when you start making one, maybe start with a smaller bottle to get the hang of it. 

And there we have it. I urge you all to give it a go, honestly. There really is no argument not to? I mean, it takes a bit longer than just throwing all your rubbish in the bin but it's about the long-term isn't it really?

If this post inspires even one of you to give it a go then I'm going to award myself a Blue Peter badge and give myself a clap on the back. If you do get stuck in, keep me updated! I'd love to see how you're getting on!

2018 In Review - Part 2

3 January 2019

Hello, and welcome to the second part of my 2018 round up! if you haven't already seen the first part then defo go and give that one a read before you get stuck into this one - it's full of cool stuff, I promise! Having already covered January to June, it's now time to have a recap of July to December aka the far superior half of the year if you ask me. I mean, it contains both summer and Christmas, and none of those January blues... What more could you want?
Becc4s 2018 In Review - July

July

The month started with a house move, on the 1st to be exact, into my last ever student house. It's far far far nicer than my last student house as you can see from last year's room tour compared to this one. It's also significantly closer to uni, so it really is a win-win. I can't believe that this is my last ever student house and I only have another six months left in it... Where has time gone?!

Ahead of my travels, I decided to have the majority of my mop chopped off and let me tell you, it was such a good decision. For one, it's so soft and healthy now, but two, it was such a godsend to be able to wash it in a matter of seconds and not need to spend too long in those cramped hostel showers. Oh, and it takes literally a quarter of the time it used to take to dry. 

We also obviously had the world cup this summer and I got far more into it than I ever have before. I think I watched every single one of England's games including one from Waterloo Train Station via a random man's iPad. I was also violently sick in my back garden after goal celebrations went a little too far after one of the matches, classy.

Just before I went away some of my home pals and I went to a beach rave for a boogie on the sand. It was a really fun night and I will for sure be going to another one next summer if there is one... 

July/August/September

Aaaah, the pièce de résistance. I spent 6 weeks of my summer backpacking around Asia and I loved every minute (almost) of it. I visited Bali, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia and absolutely fell in love with both Bali and Vietnam. Whilst in Asia, I did all sorts of things from eating a scorpion to climbing a waterfall, and riding a motorbike to ziplining. It really was the best summer ever and I wish I could go back and do it allllll again.

Becc4s 2018 In Review - September

September

Aaaaand back to reality, and uni. My first night back at uni involved an ABBA-themed club night and yes, it was just as cheesy as expected. I mean, I'm sure I heard Dancing Queen at least 17 times that night. I spent most of the first week back catching up with uni friends, discussing our last few months and all the things we'd been up to. 

I also upgraded my phone in September, eeeeek. Guess who became the proud owner of an iPhone X... I LOVE IT. Portrait mode is my favourite thing ever, and if you follow me on Instagram I'm sure you'd have noticed that already, blurry backgrounds galore. 

Becc4s 2018 In Review - October

October

A very eclectic month and the start of my very seasonal Instagram theme. My housemates and I became a bit New Forest keen and spent multiple weekends in a row having a wander, out in the fresh air. It became a bit of a habit. 

I joined the uni gym in October, having not been to the gym in yeaaaars and I definitely started to love it. All of my friends go, so going to the gym, for me, is as much a social occasion as it is a workout. That being said, I'm not sure how long it'll be until the novelty of it all wears off as it's all still rather new to me. I'll keep you updated. 

My house and I are very fond of a roast dinner and it is only in third year do I think we've finally perfected the art of a good roast dinner... I mean, look at that beauty. New Forest walks and homemade roast potatoes - are we even real students anymore?!

My friends and I attended a pub quiz with all of our lecturers and we only went and won it! Woop woop - who'd have thought we'd be having jaegerbombs with our lecturer, hey? 

One of my friends dragged me to a pottery class in October, and let me tell you, pottery is not my forte. I also visited my first ever pumpkin patch in October and have a feeling that visiting one is going to become a yearly tradition from now on.

Becc4s 2018 In Review - November

November

My little sister bought a car. My LITTLE SISTER. Maaaad. I also took my Mum to her very first blogging event as my plus one and we had a really really good time. It was held at Beaulieu and was to showcase their brand new light trail around the grounds and we loved it. 

Then, that evening Fran came to stay with me in Southampton!! We had a really festive couple of days visiting Bath Christmas Market, shooting Christmassy content and chatting all things blogging. She also managed to get an eyelash out of my actual eyeball for me, so yeah, FrIenDsHip G0aLs and all that. 

Becc4s 2018 In Review - December

December

And finally, the best month of all; December. This year I was extra excited for Christmas, so much so that I created my own dedicated Instagram hashtag and completed all 25 days of blogmas. As well as that, my sister turned 18, I visited Iceland on a really last minute trip, and bought my Mum, sister and I matching onesies for Christmas morning. I spent Christmas Day in a food coma after eating two plates of Christmas dinner and received some really really lovely gifts.


So, that was my 2018, what was yours like? What did you get up to? What were the highs of the year for you? I decided to only include positive things in this post as yanno, I'm not sure anyone wants to spend their free time reading about an argument I had with a housemate or the time I had diarrhoea in Vietnam... Anyway, I cannot wait to see what 2019 has in store for me, gimme all you got!
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