//Royal Holloway uni open day; thoughts//

Hello! Hope you’re all loving the heat right now!!! This weekend has been so summer-y, it’s gret (although it’s hard to get in the mindset of doing school work when it just feels like the summer holidays).

Anyway, yesterday I went to my second university open day: Royal Holloway. Now, not many people have actually heard of Royal Holloway – in fact I only found it by chance because the course I’m looking into studying is very niche and not many unis actually do it – so I’ll give you a brief overview. Royal Holloway is one of the 19 (?) colleges (well…really universities) of the University of London. The main bulding – Founder’s – (a.k.a the orange castle) was built in the 1800s and is based on a French chateaux (is this fate??? I mean FRENCH). 

The building is so huge…my photography isn’t great – if you want to see better photos of this stunning building, google Royal Holloway!

It was actually one of the first univerisites in the UK to provide higher education to women (yay!!) and has notable alumni including Emily Wilding Davison, the pioneering suffragette, herself. Whilst most of the colleges of the University of London are located within (you guessed it) London, this is not true of Royal Holloway. When I was originally searching for universities, I dissmissed Royal Holloway because I thought it was in London But when all the other universities that did my course appeared to be located at the other end of the country, I decided to look into it a bit more (what can I say the orange castle is just irresistable!) and discovered that it’s actually located near to a small town called Egham in Surrey.
So, a few months later (i.e. yesterday) I embarked with my family on the two and a half hour drive down the M4 to visit Royal Holloway. The journey there was actually lovely as once we’d exited the motorway we drove through Old and New Windsor past Great Windsor Park and Windsor Castle. The local area already felt so different to where I currently live – Surrey is a suprisingly green county for somewhere so close to London, and their are woddlands everywhere! What I also loved was how close the Thames was to the uni – whilst we were driving through window we followed right by the Thames with it’s beautiful narrow boats and it looked like such a beautiful place to go for a stroll on a summers day. Also the little village of Englefield Green which we passed through just before reaching the uni was lovely. It’s mostly a student village, but all of the houses are quaint and historic – which I loved – and then there was the green itself which had a small pavillion and the local cricket team could be seen practicing on.

Our first sight of the uni itself was the stunning Founder’s building that we glimpsed through the grand gates of the uni. It was honestly overwhelming to see the building in real life after months of gazing at pictures in prospectuses. We got to drive right past Founder’s on our way to the car park. After parking we headed straight over to registration where we were greeted by friednly students who booked me in and gave me my welcome pack (seriously they gave away so many freebies?? Like I ended up with a canvas bag, jelly beans, a pen, lanyard, water bottle, four pairs of sunglasses and a polaroid photo of my family and me inforont of the staute of Jane and William Holloway by the end of the day!).

The first talk we attended was the introduction to the uni which was lead by the Principal, who seemed really appraochable and the presntation itself was really informative and encouraging, considering I hadn’t done much reading into statistics and ranking about the uni because numbers confuse me greatly. The building we were in for this talk was the really modenr Windsor Building, which looked right out onto Founder’s and was right next to the new Emily Wilding Davison building which will house a new library, study spaces, shop and bank when it opens in a few months. The new building is very modern but it doesn’t look at all out of place next to Founder’s. Plus the whole front side will be glass, so you can sit in the library studying with the amzing view of Founder’s surrounded by woodland.

The next thing we went to was a modern languages talk which was really interesting and informative and I’m so hyped about studying languages in general at uni now.  The course I’m actually looking at is called European and International Studies (French) which is essentially the same as French and Politics (the course I’m looking at elsewhere) except you just study European politics, which is pretty cool! This course is part of the School of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, so it wasn’t included on the modern languages talk I attended, but as half the course will be taught by the languages department and I’d be taking the same modules as people doing just French, I wanted to get a feel for the too.

After the talk, the temperature had reach about 27 degrees – in other words: HOT. We decided we couldn’t face sitting in another lecture theatre so we headed off to the bottom of the campus to view the accommodation. I actually fell in love with the accommodation – I’m looking for self-catered en suite accommodation, and I was really pleased with the size of the rooms and bathrooms! The accommodation was really modern and spacious with loads of big windows to let in light in the bedrooms and the hallway (there’s nothing I hate more than artificial lighting). The rooms also had massive desks and lots of storage space, as well as huge notice boards which is great because I could bring my world map poster and pretend I’m a geography student!

There were between 6-8 rooms per flat, and the shared kitchen was also huge with loads of cupboards, a large table and huge windows at either end. There was only one hob and oven though, so I’m not sure if that would be an issue between 8 people?? Can I just say though, the views from the rooms and kitchens were stunning. Not only did you get an amazing view of the beautiful campus, but of the surrounding Surrey countryside, Thorpe Park could be viewed in the distance as well as Windsor if you’re facing the right way and ofcourse you could spend hours watching planes taking off from Heathrow which – despite being very close by and all the low-flying planes – wasn’t too noisy from the rooms which is great.

I love the sort of student-village lay out of the accommodation, it felt really sociable and relaxing because you had the woodlands right on your doorstep, along with the sporting facilities and various places to eat. I was kind of sad that all the accommodation in Founder’s Building is catered – I mean who wouldn’t want to live in a castle?? But I did really, really love the self-catered flats that were on offer. 

After viewing a few different flats, we decided to head of to Founder’s Field for lunch. We took the scenic route wandering through the woods and passing my a little river then sat under the trees at the edge of the field with Founder’s in front of us in all it’s glory. The whole atmosphere of the campus felt relaxed and peaceful, although it is about half the size of Exeter Uni so I wasn’t sure if it felt a little too claustrophobic, as the academic buildings were quite tightly packed in.

At about 2pm we went into Founder’smain lecture theatre for the politics talk. The politics department is actually based in Founder’s building, so I’d have my lectures in there which is pretty cool! By this point it had reached about 31 degrees andit was stifling, so it was hard to pay complete attention during the lecture but I still took everything in that I needed to and got a good impression of the politics side of the course I’d be doing.

I must add that before we actually got the lecture, we got lost in the south and north quads in the middle of Founder’s and the many.corridors leading off of them. We ended up in the old library at one point which looked like Hogwarts library so that was pretty cool! 

The final talk we went to was last minute decision as we were hot and tired and about go home, but I thought​ it would be a good idea to go to the student life talk in the Windsor Building. This actually turned out to be the best decision ever as we’d found (probably) the only air condition room on site!

Sadly after that it was time to go as the open day was coming to an end. I have to say I was pretty sad to see Founder’s building getting smaller and smaller as we drove away from it. We did have a quick drive around Egham, the nearest town, and it looked pretty nice! It was also pretty cool because yesterday the town was celebrating Magna Carta Day as it was signed at nearby Runnymede.

So, that concludes the run down of the day. I’m still trying to price together what I thought of the uni as a whole, be wise open days are so intense they can often be overwhelming! I know I definitely liked the uni and the surrounding area has so many sites and places I want to explore. I also like it’s proximity to London, as currently I live about 4 hours drive away, so the prospect of taking a 40 minutes train journey into the city is quite exciting, as I feel like I haven’t spent enough time in London to appreciate it fully. My only worry would be that the campus would feel too claustrophobic, which I know is stupid because it is surrounded by green space and woodland. It could be just because the open day was so hectic with people milling everywhere, or maybe because I’m comparing it to Exeter too much, which felt a lot more spacious. I really loved the course though and all other aspects, so I definitely want to visit it again and see what I think in a couple of months time. Having said that, the first time I visited Exeter with my sister a few years ago I didn’t like it at all, but this time I loved it, so Royal Holloway will probably grow on me over time too!

I feel like the main differences between Exeter and Royal Holloway is that Exeter sort of feels like where I live now. I mean, it’s in the neighbouring county and I’ve spent a lot of time in Devon, so the area surrounding the uni and the city itself didn’t really stand out to me. Whilst at Royal Holloway, Egham and Engelfield Green felt completely different, even the trees and countryside and nature were different to home. I can’t work out whether I’d prefer to live somewhere completely new, or somewhere that feels like where I live now. Also, the sizes of the campuses. I think I felt more relaxed at Exeter because it was more spacious, however yesterday was extremely hot so that probably affected how claustrophobic I felt as well. I think I’m definitely going to have to visit both again next year and think carefully about what each can offer me. And of course, the grade requirements will come into it. I’ll just have to wait and see!

//A not-so-happy ending?//

I really, really wanted to write a “its-the-end-of-the-acedemic-year-let’s-look-back-on-all-the-positive-things-that-have-happened” post, considering next Thursday I will receive my mock A Level exam results and it’ll be the end of term – aside from a few days of UCAS/univeristy application stuff, but the truth is I don’t feel happy, or relieved, or stress-free. If anything, I sort of feel kind of numb. I think with the hustle and bustle of the exam period, it’s easy to get caught up in things and distract yourself from how your emotions with the insurmountable workload that A Level revision encompasses, however since the exam week (a.k.a. last week), I’ve had more time to pay attention to my emotions and I guess you could say they’ve hit me in a sort of “wave”.

Now that the exams are over and I don’t have to worry about revising countless lists of French vocabulary or learning the order of British 20th Century Prime Ministers, my mind has found the time to start fretting over other things. One thing I’m really worried about is going on a college tip to France in two weeks. Although I am very excited, I’m also so worried that I’ll end up not enjoying the trip because I a) won’t be able to cope with the heat in Marseille, b) will panic when trying to speak French to native speakers and c) will be left out because there are only five other people going on the trip – collectively a trio and pair of best friends. I feel like I’ll just be left out of the group and be that person that no one really talks to and just tolerates because they have to, and honestly I’m becoming so irrationally paranoid about how hot it’s going to be that it’s driving me mad.

Secondly, I’m actually really not looking forward to breaking up for summer. I’ve already drifted apart from loads of my friends this year, and I feel like because they aren’t forced to put up with my on a daily basis at college, they’ll all just forget about me and I won’t see any of them throughout the summer. I do have a group of friends that I am closer with and meet up with every now and then, but they’ve all recently got into relationships and even now I hardly see them or talk to them because they’re preoccupied with their boyfriends/girlfriends, so who knows what it’ll be like over summer. I keep having those days lately where I feel like my friends don’t actually care about me and would much rather that I wasn’t part of the “group” (or rather my brain keeps telling me to feel this way). I’m sort of fed up of every time when someone says hi to me or talks to me my brain telling me “oh they don’t like you really they’re just doing that so as not to seem rude” or “everyone talks about you behind your back” etc. I guess I’m just feeling kinda lonely as even my closest friends don’t spend as much time with me or talking to me as they used to as they’d rather send their time with other people. I’m just worried that I’ll become isolated over the summer which will NOT be fun.

Then recently I keep being really hard on myself, like today in French I kept thinking “there’s no way you’ll be able to do French at uni if you can’t even say a few words in class” and I’ve just become really doubtful of my ability to do anything. It’s not that I don’t want to speak up in class more – and not just in French – it’s just my brain is kind of “bullying” me in the sense that everything I want to do or say, it mocks and puts me down to the point that I just don’t bother because I’m scared that everyone else will judge me the way I judge myself. ARGHHH CONFUSION.

Finally, I’ve been very sad and emotional over the past week because last Friday, my good friend returned home to Italy after completing her year of studying abroad at my college. I’m so, so sad that I might not be able to see her again, or at least for a long time, and I miss her terribly already. College isn’t the same without her around – she is such a lovely, funny, caring person – something that is rare nowadays. I know we can keep in touch over the internet, but it’s just not the same. 😦

So yeah, although I should be really excited that my first year of A Levels is over, and I can spend the summer having a well-deserved break, I’m just not. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll feel better, but right now I’m just so exhausted and not going through a great mental health stage, which isn’t really how I wanted to end the year.

I hope next week I’ll be back with a more positive post, or maybe before then, but until then have a lovely weekend guys. 🙂

 

//Exeter Uni open day; thoughts//

Hi guys! As you may know from my countless posts rambling on about the woes of A Levels, I am currently a Year 12 students, which means that next September I will be (hopefully!) heading off to uni. As I have to apply to universities by Januray, this summer I’ll be travelling aorund the UK to look at different unis and see what they can offer me.

You may have read my rambles a while ago about me not knowing what I wanted to actually study at uni. Until a few months ago, I had my heart set on studying history and geography, but a couple of days after going to a UCAS event and speaker to some current students and uni respresentitives, I realsied that my heart wasn’t really in it. I was never really able to picture myself studying history and geography – I just had this vague wishy-washy image of myself at uni, put it was as if it would never come in to focus. Perhaps that’s because everything was put into sharp persepective and whilst I thought I was loving history and geography at A Level, I realised that I’m the sort of person who can put up with studying just about anything, because I’ll work hard at everything I do even if deep down I hate it. Hence, I discovered that my actual passion and (almost) life-long passion has been, and still is, languages. Therefore I’m know heading off down a different path, turning a different corner and opening a different set of doors.

As well as knowing I wated to carry on with my language-learning at degree level, I realised that ever since I did Government and Politics AS Level last year, my love for everything political has been growing. Alongside the imaginative, curious and creative side of my brain, I also have a really logical, analytical mind which wants to know all the intricate little details about how everything works and came to be, hence I loved the insisght into the working of govenrment and political systems that the AS Level granted me, much the same way as I find French grammar – the inner workings of the language – truly fascinating. Therefore, I hope to embark on – what I’m sure will be  – the enthralling journey of a Politics and French combined honours degree.


So today, I woke up at 7:30 am to drive down to Exeter for their university open day. Exeter is the first uni I’ll be looking at this year, and it definitely did not disappoint! I feel as if now the whole university process is beginning, I have been thrust into a whirlwind of adreniline and excitement as the next daunting chapter of my life begins to unfold.

Once we’d arrived on campus after taking the park and ride service the university had put on, we started our day with a tour of the accommodation. I have to say, I am rerally impressed. Having visted various other unis two years ago when my sister was in the same position I am in now, I have seen my fair share of good and bad accommodation. But, I found Exeter’s to be really nice and spacious, and in a prime location on campus (even if I would have to walk up a hill to get to my language lectures).

After that, we headed back up the hill (where I bumped into a friend from my geography class, then shortly after my friend from history who seemed really surprised yet happy to see me there and welcomed me with a hug) and commenced a campus tour. The student ambassador who was leading the tour was really friendly and helpful, and I had a few conversations with her as we were going around which was really useful to see things from a current students prospective. In fact, all of the student ambassadors who I encountered during the day were so freidnly and helpful, and really made the day! The campus itself is beautiful – there are so many green spaces, tress, wildlife, plants – not to mention the views over Exeter and the countryside! I also loved how the campus had a contrast between older buildings and more modern spaces, which really helped it to come together and give it more of a community feel.

Aother thing thart I really liked about the open day was the acedemic fair, which we attended after having some lunch. You could basically go around to different stalls and talk to students and faculty members for the subjects you’re interested in, as well as pick up handy booklets which broke down all the modulkes and gave you all the information you need for each degree. Again everyone was really friendly and it was a great opportunity to ask questions.

The final part of the day was based on attending subject presentations, which lasted around 45 minutes. They had subject presentations at different times throughout the day, but when I booked my ticket they only had available slots in the afternoon, and I had to pick particular times so they didn’t class as I wanted to attend both the modern languages presentation and the politics and international relations presentation. All of the staff did a really good job of explaining their course structure etc and they were clearly passionate about their subjects, which I found really encouraging. Both subject talks I went to really made me fall in love with the courses, and helped me confirm that I was making the right decision about what I wanted to do. What I loved about both courses was the fact that you have a lot of flexibility over which modules you take, and with both there is the possibility to explore a wide range of topics within the subjects themselves. Also, the variety of wayts in which the subjects are examined. Instead of just doing exam papers, you can do oral discussions, group presentations, coursework, role plays – even writing draft policies and writing texts to advise world politicians (well, not actually but you get what I mean…hopefully). Especially with the French side of the degree, the university appears to have a wealth of foreign language resources, and the prospect of spending a year in a French speaking country studying, working or teaching sounds so exciting!

Overall, I had a really enjoyable time, and Exeter uni has definitely made an impression on me! However I want to try to keep an open mind when I visit other unis over the next few months and try to form an impression of them in their own right, but I thought it would be a good idea to write down my thoughts on each uni on here so I can read back on these posts when it comes to choosing which uni to put as my firm and insurance choices.

Are you agoing to any uni open days? Or starting university soon like me? Let me know below. 🙂

//What I’m wearing in Marseille//

So a few posts ago, I mentioned I’ll be heading off to the Côte d’Azur in a few weeks (eek!), more specifically to Marseille. Since it’s going to be between 25-30°C – temperatures that we never really get in British summers (apart from last week when it was 28°C for two days then we had a huge thunder storm) – I found myself in need of lightweight, summer-y clothes to wear and hence went on a little shopping sprees! 

Disclaimer: I’m not great at photographing clothing and only had a small desk to use as a white background, hence why I couldn’t fit the whole items of clothing in the pictures, so do bear with!

Tops:

Stripey and plain white t-shirts with lace detail

I actually bought these t-shirts last year from Primark for £4 each, but they’re fairly thin and light-coloured so they look more summery than the majority of my t-shirts. I also bought another white t-shirt similar to the one pictured above from Sainsbury’s, but this one is made of cotton so hopefully will be cooler on the hotter days. 

Pale blue tunic top with white embroidery

This blue tunic-type top also came from Sainsbury’s. I fell in love with it when I first saw it, and it’s the perfect top to take with me as it’s soooo lightweight but because it’s blue, it’s can’t see through it either. Also I love how it’s a bit different from the generic t-shirts that I usually wear. It did cost me £13, but it was reduced from £18, and it’s something I could wear all year round.

Dark green zip hoodie

I got this zip hoodie in New Look at Christmas in a sale for £7. I know it seems a bit odd to take a hoodie to the Mediterranean, but my teacher suggested it just incase it gets cold in the evening or the weather isn’t as nice as it usually is. I probably won’t wear it, but it’s best to be prepared!
Bottoms:

Monochrome shorts with lace hems

So I got these shorts a few months ago when I went up to Primark – for £4 I think – and thought they’d be perfect to wear on the beach. My teacher told us that it’s fine to wear more “revealing” clothing on the beach, but when walking around the city we need to cover up a bit, so I won’t be wearing these accept when we go to the beach in the evenings to cool off as they are quite short on me (struggles of being tall). I’m still on the look out for a suitable pair of shorts to wear that are knee-length and lightweight, so if you know anywhere I could look let me know! I am going down to Primark again next week so I can have e another look in there as well and see if I can find anything.

Dress:

White dress with orange, yellow and blue paisley pattern.

So I also bought this dress last year, from a shop called Store Twenty One which is a sort of budget clothing chain in the UK. The dress is fairly long – it comes down to just above my knees – but is the perfect length to wear in Marseille as it’s quite dignified. Also, it’s a very lightweight, floaty material again which helps to keep me cool. I think it probably cost me around £8-£10, but I can’t remember since it was a year ago!

Nightwear:

Green pyjama set with cacti print and

Okay so I didn’t *necessarily* need to get new pyjamas, as I already have a few sets of summer pyjamas, but when I saw this cute cacti vest and shorts set in Sainsbury’s, I couldn’t resist. Plus they had a pretty good sale on for bank holiday weekend, meaning I picked up this set for just £7.50 which I think is pretty good value!

Swimwear:

Black and white polkadot tankini

Due to the heat, we’ll be going down to the beach that’s 5 minutes walk from the youth hostel to see and cool off in the evenings. Therefore I dug out my black and white polkadot tankini (I’m not a bikini person) I bought a few years ago from Store Twenty One and luckily it still fits! 
Accessories:

Polyester fedora hat from Deichman

As it will be very hot and sunny in Marseille, I decided to invest in a new hat. Usually I wear baseball caps on holiday, but I find they make my head really hot, and I saw this in Deichmann for £7 and thought it was the perfect alternative! It’s a little bit big for my head, meaning that my head doesn’t overheat and it’s very comfortable. However I will have to make sure I hold onto it when we go on a boat trip to the Chateau d’If!

Tortoiseshell sunglasses

These sunglasses are prescription sunglasses from Specsavers which I got for free with a buy one get one free voucher last year (my m bought a normal pair of glasses for herself then gave me the voucher). They’re actually a really nice tortoiseshell pattern, but it’s hard to see in the photo! 

Navy kimono with pink and lilac floral pattern

(This was so hard to take a photo of as it kept sliding off the desk I was using as a background 😂 so here’s a better photo of me wearing the kimono + dress + hat)

I picked up this floral kimono from Store Twenty One as well for £4, and I’m really pleased with it! Again, it’s a very lightweight, sheer material and the pattern means it goes with just about any top. It’ll be great to throw on over my dress (so I don’t get burnt due to it’s thin straps) or a t-shirt in the event that I get a bit cold or just want something thin to take the sun off me. It’s very summery and I love it!

Pink and white floral canvas handbag

This handbag also came from Store Twenty One. I think it cost me £12, but there was a buy one get one half price offer, meaning I got the kimono for half price (it was originally £8). I got this because my current handbags would be too small to carry around the bottle of water, suncream, sunglasses, camera, phone and purse I’ll need to take around with me whilst I’m there, and again I find rucksacks can make you really hot and I’d prefer to have my valuables to hand for safety and practicality reasons. This bag has loads of sapce and pockets inside, which I’m really pleased about, and because it’s canvas I’ll be able to easily fit it in my suitcase to take on the plane (hooray for only being able to take hand luggage!).

Footwear:

Blue pineapple flip flops

These pineapple flip flops will be perfect for going down to the beach in the evenings, and will be easy to fit in the nooks and crannies of my suitcase. I got them from Store Twenty One a couple of years ago.

Navy blue lightweight trainers with white sole

Navy blue lightweight trainers with white sole

I got these lightweight trainers a few months ago in another sale from Sainsbury’s for £8. They’re really comfy and practical and I basically wear them all the time at the moment. I’m not sure if they’ll be too hot to take to Marseille, but we’re going to be doing a lot of walking so I’ll need comfy shoes even if it means having hot feet. 
So, that’s what I’ll be taking with me clothes/accessories-wise! I’m so excited about going, I may even do another post nearer the time of other things I’m taking. I don’t go abroad often, I’m fact this will only be the third time, so it’s all pretty exciting for me. The last time I went abroad was to Berlin in 2015, a couple of days after I started my previous (and first) blog, so it’ll be exciting to be able to write about my adventure when I get back, and show you all photos of the beautiful scenery of course! I’m a little nervous about having to speak French to ACTUAL French people whilst I’m over there, but I think it’ll be a really great experience for me and my class mates. 🙂 

I hope you enjoyed and good bye for now! I have four exams next week, and oke the week after, but then after that I am exam free and I’ll have much more time to blog again! See you on the other side amigos!

//How to keep up with language-learning over summer…//

For many students in the UK and across the world, the summer holidays are approaching quicker than ever. Many of you, like me, are probably studying a foreign language at school or college at the moment, and may be wondering how you will survive going back to school in September after 6+ weeks without having foreign language lessons (well I certainly am anyway, maybe I’m just weird haha).

So, as a year 12 student studying A Level French – and taking my exams next summer due to the linear A Levels – who needs to ensure I’m still practicing French over summer, I come bearing a list of ways to keep up language practice, so by the time it gets to September you (hopefully) haven’t forgotten it all! I’ve come up with a few ideas about how you can practice each aspect of language learning – reading, writing, listening and speaking – so hopefully they’ll be helpful to some of you.

1. Reading

Reading is a really, really great way to keep up language practice. I mean, if you’re a bookworm like me, then why not read books in your target language? Books are relaxing to read, and you can find a genre or author that interests you – there are so many foreign language book lists on Goodreads! Even just reading a couple of pages a day will help make sure you’re being exposed to the language and the more you read, the more vocab you’ll learn and the more you will see grammar rules in practice; basically, it will give you a better grasp of how the written language is formed!

It can be hard to find books that are the right level for your skills in your target language. If you’re just starting out, children’s books are a good idea as they’ll have more simple vocabulary and sentence structures. But if you’re at GCSE level or A Level, you could try reading version of books you’ve already read in English in your target language – for example last summer after I finished GCSE French, I read the first Harry Potter book in French. Often you’re local library will have at least some foreign language books, or you can use their online catalogue to reserve books and get them delivered to your library.

Also I think most A Level foreign language specifications will have a set book list, as you will usually have to study a book as part of the course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read the other books on the list too!

Another way of practicing your reading is by reading magazines. There’s a really good French magazine called “Ça m’intresse” which covers a load of current themes in society, and a lot of topics relevant to A Level. You’ll have to order them online unless your school or college has them in the library, but one copy would cost roughly £5 including delivery costs, or you can download the digital copy which is obviously cheaper. If not, you can always read articles in your target language on news websites (and Ça m’intresse even has a range of free articles on their website which you can read too).

2. Writing

Keeping up with writing practice can be quite time-consuming and tedious, but it will help you to recal all of the grammar rules and tenses you need to know, as well as practice vocab.

Some simple ways of practicing writing would be to write a few sentences at the end of each week, talking about what you’ve done that week and what you plan to next week. In the run up to my exams, I’ve been doing this by trying to write a sentence in each French tense at the end of each week in my diary.

You could also write some blog posts in your target language, which I will definitely be doing over the summer.

Or, if you do read some articles in your target language over the summer, you could practise summarising the foreign language articles using synonyms which will help both your writing and be good practice for exams (as certainly in French A Level exams we are required to read short passages and summarise them in our own words).

Another thing you could do is set up a Twitter account in your target language, and try tweeting in the language you are learning. You can also follow native speakers or newspaper/magazine accounts in your target language, which will help with your reading too.

3. Listening

Practicing your listening skills doesn’t have to mean sitting down and doing listening past papers and activities provided by your exam board – the internet offers a variety of ways to practice listening!

Firstly, you can listen to international radio stations on your phone or the internet, which is a great way to test your listening skills and discover artists who sing in your target language. Some French radio stations which I listen to include Radio Nostalgie (which you can listen to for free via their mobile app – they play a mixture of 70s/80s/90s music) but there is a huge list here that includes French radio stations that broadcast anything from news to pop to classical music.

Another way is by listening to music in your target language itself. This can sometimes be difficult to find, but there are some good Spotify foreign language playlists – and I’ve created my own French one which I may write a post about in the future!

The there’s also the wealth of foreign language resources provided by YouTube. Sometimes it’s possible to watch old films and TV series in your target language on here for free. For example I watched a French  series called “Extra” which was made specifically for French language learners, so it uses fairly simple language and comedy to help you understand. Also there will be many YouTubers who are native speakers of your target language – one French YouTuber I’ve started watching recently is Anatastesia – she makes a wide variety of videos, many in French so hopefully there’ll be something you like!

Finally buying and watching DVDs in your target language – or films on Netflix – will be invaluable practice for your listening skills. You may have to watch the films with English subtitles or watch them multiple times to understand fully, but it will be great practice and it will also immerse you into the culture of your target language as well. I recently bought some second-hand French DVDs on Amazon for 10p with £1.20 delivery  – so they’re not always expensive! I may also do a separate post on French film recommendations at some point too as I’ve watched quite a few french films – some better than others haha.

4. Speaking

Speaking may seem to be one of the hardest things to practice, because often you don’t have someone to hand that can speak your target language and are willing to have a conversation with you. But, do not fear, because actually talking to yourself is also good practice. For example, you could just challenge yourself to talk for 60 seconds in your target language each day about what you’ve been doing or what the weather’s like etc. If you want, you can record yourself speaking and see your progress. Sometimes even just narrating what’s going on in the moment in your target language helps!

Speaking is actually a lot easier to practice than you might think – for example you don’t have to focus on reading a foreign language book, or remember spellings and accent placements as you do when you’re reading or writing. Speaking practice can be as quick and simple as you want it to be.

Another great resource for speaking practice I’ve found recently is the website and app “Forvo”. Within this app, you can practice your pronunciation. You chose a level to start at – I recommend choosing beginner whatever your level as it you’ll learn more vocab – and you’ll be shown a virtual flashcard with a word in your target language on it. Then you have to say that word, flip the card, hear how a native speaker pronounces it then you can rate whether you failed, were good or found it easy etc. Then the app will keep bringing up the words you struggle with until you’ve rated them easy, then you can move on and learn new words. I highly recommend it, as pronounciation is a large part of speaking a foreign language, and learning how to say things properly can really boost your confidence in speaking your target language.

Finally I want to talk about the app HelloTalk. This app fundamentally allows you to talk to native speakers over message or through voice recordings. At first I was a little skeptical about how safe the app would be, but generally my experience so far has been good! I think you have to be at least 13 to use the app, and after you’ve put in your age, it’ll only allow people within a 2-3 year age difference to you to be able to find your profile and contact you. It also has all the options for blocking people if needs be. So far, it’s been very useful to me. It’ll show you native speakers who are most suited to you based on age and competency level in their target language, and you can the see their profiles and see their interests to find a suitable language partner. Everyone I’ve talked to already seems really friendly, and I find their voice recording option really useful, as I’ve been able to send and receive voice messages from a native speaker in Algeria over the past few days. Also with the text messages, your language partner can correct your mistakes using their great correction feature, which has been really useful too! All I would say is to make sure you don’t put personal details on their, as with any platform that allows you to come into contact with strangers, and obviously if anyone is acting inappropriately towards you, block and report them.

So, that’s pretty much exhausted my tips for keeping up language practice over the summer holidays, but if you have any more to share, let me know below and best of luck to ayone taking exmas at the moment. 🙂

//Français – mon amour!//

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A French magazine I was given after going to a French conference in January (where I jhad to give a weather report in French in front of a group of strangers and direct and film a mini video in French)

Hello! Welcome back, sorry it’s been such a long time since I last posted on here, I’ve been terribly busy with revision for my exams (which are 10 days away eek!) but somehow I managed to find a bit of time today to sit down and write about my growing love of French.

I’ve been studying French since I was in year 5 – so since I was about 9/10. I mean, that 7-ish years of learning French sounds like such a long time (and I’m still not fluent haha) – it’s weird to think French has been part of my life for THAT long!

When I first started learning, I never imagined I’d fall in love with the language – or languages in general – but here I am, studying A Level French and falling helplessly inlove with the French language and culture.

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Throwback to when my French grammar was shocking (and fastforward to my awful photography skills).

In primary school, and the first two years of secondary school, French was compulsory for me, and as someone who always works hard, I put in just as much effort into French as my other subjects. So, whilst most of my friends and classmates weren’t enjoying the French lessons (I don’t get why so many don’t like learning languages??) I was loving them so much I chose to do French for my GCSEs.

I think by about year 10, when I was starting to think about what I wanted to do after school for my A Levels, I started to realise that I really wanted to carry on with French for as long as possible. My French teachers at secondary school were really supportive and encouraged me to do French A Level as well, so that’s what I did, and here I am now!

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My A Level text book.
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My A Level revision scrapbook that I’m actually quite proud of!

Honestly, I think doing French A Level as been the best decision I’ve ever made. Yes, it’s probably my hardest subject, but it’s also the most interesting by far! Luckily, the teachering at my college is just as good – if not better -than that at my secondary school, and my current teacher is alkso really supportive. I also love being in a small class – there’s just six of us – of people that are dedicated to learning French, and don’t judge you for liking languages, like some people did at secondary school.

Also, the A Level course is so interesting! I’m doing the new A Levels, so the expectations are higher than the older specifications, as we’re required to have an exstensive knowledge of French and Francophone culture on a range of topics, but I honestly love it so much. Learning about the French culture has made me love the language even more, as I quickly realised that a language only makes up a small part of a countries culture, and there is so much else to learn.

I also love how when I speak French, I feel like I have a much wider understanding of the world – or at least another part of it. There’s also a sense of pride for defying the stereotype that British people are “lazy and don’t learn languages”.

I have improved so much over the last year, and have gone from someone who would quite happily read and write in French, but couldn’t speak more than a badly-pronounced sentence, to someone who now can understand being taught each lesson in French by my teacher, repsond to her questions, understand French films and books, read French magazines and have a lengthy conversation with other people in French. Also, my pronounciation is really improving too!

The only thing my love of French is missing, is actually having visted France. The only time I (briefly) went to France was when I went to Austria back in 2011 and got the channel ferry from Dover to Calais. But then we only stayed in the ferry terminal for an hour or so at Calais so not really proper France. BUT I am venturing to Marseille at the beginning of July with my A Level French class, and I’m so excited! I can;t ait to experience the culture first hand and practice my speaking skills (hopefully I’ll be confident enough)!

So that just about brings us up-to-date with my French journey. However I will hopefully be posting a fashion-type post over the next week or so (which is new for me so I don’t know how that will go) as due to the hotness of being in the South of France on the French Riveria, I need to go out and buy some summery, lightweight clothing. So look out for that and until then, au revoir!

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A canvas I painted reading “La Vie”

//A wee lil update pour vous//

(What a mess of a title, je suis désolée 😂)

Hellooo! It feels like such a long time since I actually sat down and write a blog post. It’s not that I haven’t had any inspiration – I kept coming up with ideas, but by the time I’d actually have some free time, I’d forget what they were (oops) or watch a couple of epsiodes of Waterloo Road from 2010 (I just love it so much, don’t judge) 😂. But alas, here I am, back to give you a brief update of what I’ve been up to lately!

As you can imagine, my life hasn’t been very interesting over the past few weeks, as *SPOILERS* it’s exam season *sighs* so most of my time has been spent doing revision (or rather, figuring out how to revise effectively).

I have been rather stressed over the past two weeks, as I’ve had a French speaking mock (which was comme ci comme ça si vous comprenez moi) and my history teacher left, so we’ve had various replacements and are seriously behind schedule (eeek!). On top of that, I realised that my revision just wasn’t effective and I couldn’t recall much of what I’ve been revising since February (such a waste of time..ugh) so now I’m trying to pull myself together and use these last three weeks to revise everything….again.

So yeah, that’s basically how my college life has been going. I also received my exam timetable and discovered I have three exams on one day 😭 – 2 hour geography mock, then a 20 minute French speaking exam, then a 2 hour history mock (in which I have to write 3 essays). As I’m doing the linear a-levels, I don’t have any “real” exams this year, which you might think would reduce the pressure and stress a bit but nope! I think the fact that they aren’t “real” is making me more stressed, as for the past two years I’ve got used to taking external exams, and having only internal exams just feels wrong?? I’m still treating them like real exams, but because they are just mocks, my teachers aren’t. So therefore, we haven’t spent much time practicing for the exams so I don’t feel prepared at all, and we’re not doing revision in class because we’re so behind we probably won’t even finish the content before the mocks, which is FAB.

But anyway, I feel like this week I’m coping with the stress a bit better, and I’m just so ready for summer. 

Ooh and I watched Eurovision on Saturday (obvs) and had a sort-of-party thing with the fam like last year, where we had food from across Europe, and this year I spent a few hours painting flag bunting which was cool.

Aside from that, I haven’t really done much. I’ve been trying to put university out of my mind for now so I can focus on my a-levels, but I have managed to book three open days – the first of which is coming up in just over two weeks at Exeter, which I’m looking forward to! 

What have you guys been up to lately? I hope you’re lives have been more interesting then mine 😂