The Gap Year Diary: Aug/Sep 2016

Well, for one, I admit that this series is just going to be my regular life, but with a bit more focus on what I’m doing education wise extra things this year. Oh wait, that’s what I normally do anyway, isn’t it? Well, it got a fancier title!

In this post (I ramble a lot these days):

  • Special Summer Segment: I spent my summer working it off… Again. But this time, I’m keeping the job!
  • The Study Segment: Parental pressure, UCAS and help.
  • The Sanity Segment: Waterstones is my new favourite place, NaNoWriMo, Inktober, Bake Off.

The Summer Job
Summer work has been quite busy. I work at a factory/outlet Clarks shoe store where the shoes sold are discounted compared to the regular stores  – so parents have been dropping in from all over the city and even further afield sometimes just to get a good deal on school shoes.

Understandably, it’s been utter chaos.

It’s not something you believe, really, until you’re either a parent who couldn’t help it or someone working it off! As I type I have recently finished a two-week-and-a-half streak of 4-5.5 hour shifts every day, and now that it’s over, I can consider my bank account blessed at the end of the month… even if a sixth of it is reserved for exam scripts and resit costs. Last year, I was upset to give up the permanent part-time position for my studies, but this year I am free to keep it – I’ll only be working weekends anyway, and have gotten way more efficient with doing my weekend house chores to fit that time in.

If anybody needs a tip for getting school shoes, I’d say go about three weeks before start of school, when it’s fairly busy but there are actually shoes to buy, and it’s not too early in the summer and hopefully the kids don’t have a growth spurt in three weeks. Go early – like when the store opens, early, to miss the busy hours. Sometimes it can stay busy all the way til closing time. Don’t come in the day before school starts, no matter what. We had nothing on the shelves as it was… Bank holidays are also difficult because our normal delivery is obviously not happening that day and we might still be suffering from a busy weekend.

The Study Segment
I’ve been under pressure from my parents complete my resit year at a school. I have technically learned all this stuff already and have the materials I need, now I just need to re-cement it in my mind. It’s resulted in uncomfortable conflict and Mom’s declaration that all her kids must do Nail Tech if they fail at education (and by extension, life). My dad, on my first day off after the consecutive streak of days of work, audibly expressed his shock that I hadn’t volunteered to go to work with my mom (he’s less hassling about it now, though). They’re starting to emphasise the need for work or business skills more and more, although I am not really interested.

Honestly, my positivity is a miracle considering the circumstances. Each word can be a hammer to the head from them.

I’ve emailed some old teachers who have agreed to the occasional help email as the year goes on, so I won’t be completely without help from people who know their stuff. Some have even offered to go through my exam scripts and mark essays and things and I’m incredibly grateful that they’d even consider that as, technically, that’s their free time.

I pulled myself together and started my UCAS application again. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m not quite sure about anything. But my old school are processing my application and have recommended that I get it in as early as this week or else risk having to wait until December – which I don’t actually mind. I need to think carefully about this year’s plans before I rush into completing the exact same application I did last year – that wouldn’t help me much, would it? I don’t even know. There doesn’t seem to be as much useful, specific help out there for reapplicants like myself.

As always, send a bunch of emails to find out what your options are. My school don’t offer lesson time for resitters, only the option of resitting the exams there, and being able to apply with UCAS through the school system again. There’s also the option of finding and talking things over with a college that offers resit help, but you have to consider the exams boards used for your subjects and the fact that most places are now teaching new specifications.

The Sanity Segment
I joined the local monthly writing group at Waterstones in the city centre. #BookityBooks are a small but very cool group of people – I mean, book people have never been bad people in my experience. I then promptly dethroned the guy with the coolest name, as you do. The plan for the session was to discuss the structure of a novel, but we mostly ended up chatting, and I think that’s a great way to get to know everyone first time round, so I couldn’t complain! It all ends up as writing inspiration.

On that note, I’m pretty excited about NaNoWriMo this November. My project this year will be a revamp of last year’s, once again. I do feel that every year I get ever closer to solid characters and plot, and last year’s success is making me anticipate this one very much.

I love absolutely every awkward bit about this photo. Glad nobody noticed I wore my favourite nightie. The group was as cosy as my outfit. My first session was also Paige’s last – she’s wonderful and I’ll miss her a lot anyways!

Before that, there’s Inktober. Y’all may know that I did this last year too – it’s a challenge of doing an ink drawing every day for October. I want to spend more time on my drawings this year so, instead of spending the whole day deciding what to do, I am going to pre-write some prompts and ideas. Inevitably they’ll be NaNoWriMo related, and hopefully they’ll link to my novel planning which is running at the same time.
The challenge is for ink, but I’m extending it to include watercolour. My new favourite combo recently is watercolour with fineliner for details, and I treated myself to a new student-grade Windsor and Newton studio palette. I’m not quite confident enough to use the artist-grade stuff, and I’m hoping to get a lot of use out of this to learn about colour properties and which colours I am likely to use more in my own personal palette (also, I’ve never taken my art travelling much, so at this point I wouldn’t go for a travel-sized palette). The other idea is to upgrade as I run out if I feel like it.

You see that? I got a signed copy of Nadiya’s Kitchen! I love Nadiya Hussain – as the lady from Waterstones tells me, ‘she can do no wrong in my eyes’. Learning to cook is one of my iffy goals of the year, and Nadiya has a great selection of her personal favourite family meals (I’ll be trying out the stew, fried fish, and all the curries!) as well as some great bakes to try. My parents can’t complain much, can they?

The great charm of the BBC is the ad-free viewing, yet great quality programming they offer. As I type, it’s breaking news that The Great British Bake Off, the show that Nadiya won last year, is moving to Channel 4 next year.

It just won’t be the same.

Until next time,

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