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..:)
As university begins for most Kingston students in about week, it is important to stay connected with your family. No matter where you are in the world, no matter what time of the day it is...you can still see and speak to your loved ones or friends via Skype. It makes those times away from home seem not so lonely. It also connects us to our family when we are far away. This kind of communication is very important for those away from home for the first time. For example, it was a weekly routine for me to Skype my parents every weekend. Without seeing them and hearing their reassuring voices...I would have been very alone in London. As an overseas student, I highly recommend communicating with your family and friends via Skype as it is FREE and very easy to use. Even my parents who aren't very tech-savvy were able to maneuver this with ease. You can use a laptop or IPhone or and IPad...it is so simple and fun!
When I wasn't able to return home for holidays or summers, Skype calls offered me a window to see how my family were, what they were doing...and the lowdown on my three cats. Once I was able to speak to my grandmother via Skype while she was on my parents telephone...on loud speaker. It is possible! In the photo one can see how I was able to be part of the opening of Christmas gifts in 2012. My cats were all dolled up with pretty bows and able to acknowledge my presence even if they couldn't see me on screen. It was so wonderful to see my gifts via the camera and see my parents sitting around the fire place and beside the tree. My boyfriend and I were able to see my family and cats around the festive decorations. It made Christmas seem more exciting and refreshing. Not to mention my three cats made the funniest expressions while hearing my voice. Too funny!
International students will go through this 'missing home' period as well. No matter how self reliant we feel once we move away to university, we soon realize how quiet and busy our lives become. Suddenly we miss any connection we have to home and how this connection keeps us strong. For myself, I wanted to feel part of the family when I missed birthdays, Christmas or special occasions. Thankfully my parents created their own account so it was possible for us to keep each other informed. I always heard the latest news from both sides of the Atlantic.
Since returning to Pittsburgh I use it to keep in touch with my close friends in London. It is great to keep in touch with friends and still feel like your in London again, even if it is just via Skype. They keep me informed with all the latest things happening around Kingston and London in general.
Skype is also a great tool I use to interview people with, such as news articles. Even if I am based in the US, I can still get a great story just by conducting a Skype interview. It truly is a small world with this type of technology. My strong advice is for all university students to create a Skype account if they don't already have one. Please use it as it takes away the home sick feelings one may get when first settled in halls of residence or a shared house. I am glad that my family were able to view my time and life in London just as I was able to see and be a part of theirs. Stay connected!
The Kingston University Knights Park student union bar on a fundraiser night.
Uploaded 20 Dec 2013
Sport at Kingston
Uploaded 20 Dec 2013
My Hobby - Photography
Uploaded 20 Dec 2013