A few times a year I like to invite my sister to see and do things in Kingston and London. She often jokes that I am more a tourist than her, despite the fact that I live here now, because I take so many photos. And in a way I am a tourist. When I am not studying, working or having fun in the town centre, you will find me snapping photos of London and landmarks and rifling through gallery and museum gift shops amongst the tourists.
How can any student get bored of London? You simply couldn't. The city and its many boroughs are so big you could visit a new place every day of the year. One thing I really want to do while I'm studying is visit every museum and gallery in London, and that is a lot to get through, it is going to be quite a challenge (and I suffer from museum fatigue too)!
Fortunately most of these places are free to visit so my student budget does not suffer. And nearly everywhere offers a discount on entry to places or exhibitions that do charge if you show your student card. A good top tip is always have your student card when you are out and don't lose it, because it is so useful in getting discounts whether you're eating out, shopping or going cinema.
Recently I made the most of a sunny day while my sister was visiting me. We went to Hampton Court Palace... by boat! Or of course we could have taken the equally pleasant route of crossing Kingston Bridge and straight into Hampton Court Park. I cannot believe it has taken me nearly a whole year to do these things that were on my doorstep. When you come to Kingston you have all these amazing parks surrounding you, so when the weather is good get out there and go see some deer.
While the weather is sunny the gardens at Hampton Court Palace are beautiful, and during winter you can go ice skating there too, the old palace surroundings and that extra winter wonder land magic to the experience and so does the ice rink outside the Natural History museum in South Kensington and the courtyard of Somerset House on the Strand. You will never be stuck for something to no matter what time of year it is... and when it rains good food and good company indoors is always a winner, so learn to cook.
Some of you may have read on my profile that I have Tourettes, and I just wanted to talk for a bit about what that means. Tourettes is a neurological disorder that causes me to sometimes make involuntary movements or sounds.
I try to be completely open about this illness, but it can be difficult for people to empathise or understand what it means to have Tourette's because many people that are accustomed with the syndrome, have learnt what they know off of TV. The British media has an annoying habbit of portraying Coprolalia (the name for the spectrum of Tourettes that causes the sufferer to swear or use profanities) as the sole symptom of Tourettes, which is simply not true. Tics (I call them twitches) can take almost any form, and for me personally include both vocal and physical tics, but not Coprolalia.
I have a mostly mild type of Tourettes, and if you spent time with me you might not notice my twitches because over time I have developed subtle ways of hiding my tics. For example, I can disguise a tic where I raise my hand by then running my hand through my hair. However, if you spent a lot of time with me, you would quickly become used to my twitches, for instance my housemates barely notice my twitches any more.
Obviously it can be uncomfortable to have Tourettes, because your body moves or you make sounds that are involuntary. I first noticed my symptoms when I was a teenager, I was shuddering a lot and it was quite scary. If you know the "somebody walked over my grave" feeling, then it was something like that. It would come from nowhere and it would be constantly everyday. My twitches develop and change all of the time and some are more noticeable than others.
Twitches are involuntary and sometimes cannot be repressed. It depends on many varying different things, but sometimes I can control my twitches (tics) and repress them, but it is uncomfortable. To describe it, it's a bit like needing to sneeze but trying not to. Say for example if I was at the cinema, I should be okay and only twitch physically, instead of making noises. Other times, I can be caught completely off guard by a twitch and am unable to repress it because by the time I know it's coming, I've already done it.
It can put me in difficult or uncomfortable situations sometimes, because technically I am attracting attention when I do not want it. If I twitch and people look over at me, I tend to just smile, shake my head dismissively and look away. This is because I felt shy and didn't want to tell strangers, but since being at uni I have become more confident.
I don't feel like my Tourettes has disadvantaged me at all and if any of you reading this have something similar or have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch. I would be happy to help or talk you through what support is available at KU for students with a disability.
Well it's almost time to head back to London, and what a great summer this has been!
I managed to get work back at the Eden Project in St. Austell where I worked last year and also managed to secure some weekend work at a bar in my city, where a lot of my friends work! I've had a great time seeing friends and family whilst I've been back but I also made it super important to keep up to date with work that I have been given to do before I start again.
This summer we have been assigned a live project, which involves creating storyboards and characters in preparation for creating a promotional video for a book.
I think its very important to keep in the know with what is going on around you whilst you have time off, and making sure, regardless of whether you have a project or not, that you are keeping yourself involved in your course- it's pretty easy to just sit back and relax all summer, but making sure you keep yourself updated is important. Even if I am not looking at my project or dissertation work, I like to spend parts of the day doing casual research or drawing just to make sure I don't get too lax!
Other than that, summer has been lovely. It's always nice to have a bit of time to do what you want, go to festivals or go on holiday.
When I get back I'll be heading into my third and final year and I couldn't be more excited. This year is the most important in terms of your marks and work so it's going to be important to focus! I'm going to continue with my volunteering at Wimbledon walking the greyhounds and have also looked into kickboxing to get me fit and healthy!
The summer has also been a time for me to reflect on what I have learned over the past couple of years and start to think about what I want to do after I complete the degree. At the moment I've got a couple of directions I think would be great, so I'm planning on talking to my tutors and researching my options! I can't wait to see where this year takes me..:)