I Am Worried About the Future

I just got a very sudden urge to write a blog post, so HERE I AM.

I’m just going to jump right in and say — if I’m honest, this blog has not been the place where I truly write about all my feelings for some time.

I always feel like there’s a strange tension (for me at least) between trying to put your blog out there as a ~brand~ and between using it as a diary to discuss your innermost feelings. As my blog expanded and I’ve shown it to be more people, it has become less of a diary. I think part of this is down to me; I’m not very good at discussing my feelings with people in real life, and when I write them down I feel worried about what people I know IRL who could read this blog might think of them. (I’m kind of doing it now.) I’m not sure why that scares me so much, but there it is.

I think it’s also due to fear that whatever I publish on the internet is permanent, in some way. I shy away from posting precise details about my life because a) I don’t want people to be able to find me and b) it just freaks me out that this might all be…there for people to find. I want to keep something for myself.

Anyway. I’ve recently got a couple of things on my mind, and I wanted to talk about them a little bit (mainly to get them off my chest because, lol, this blog barely gets traffic anymore). Mainly, I am worried about the future: specifically, about climate change and university/post-school plans. It feels trivial to worry about university in comparison to climate change, which is obviously a WAY bigger issue, but I guess uni is something that I have more control over, so there we are. I can’t change my brain.

If you’ve been reading the UK news lately, you might be familiar with the Extinction Rebellion and Youth Strike for Climate Change protests, both of which call on the government for far quicker action. I’ve always cared about the environment, but the recent protests (partly inspired by Greta Thunberg) has really brought it more to my daily agenda of thoughts. I’m so stressed, folks! The IPCC report says we have to achieve net zero emissions by 2050! We’re already seeing the devastating impact of climate change across the world, particularly where people are already the most vulnerable. If we don’t take direct action to keep global warming below 1 degrees Celsius then this will only worsen, as will the loss of biodiversity — I mean, if we reach a warming of 2 degrees then 99% of coral is going to die out. NINETY NINE PERCENT.

It makes me so worried for the future. It feels hard to have hope and enjoy my life when I know that everything I do is damaging the planet, and that before I’m 50 years old the world and society could be irreparably damaged. This is only added to by the absolutely inconceivable lack of political will to DO ANYTHING. I know some politicians are trying to be good but honestly can some people just stop trying to further their own ambition and actually do something good for the country and the world! The point of being a politician shouldn’t be the power itself! (Basically, the Tory leadership contest is absolutely dismal. And I continue to be frustrated that Labour still think they will win an election by not really changing any of their policies. Argh.)

We have declared a climate emergency, but if concrete policy that strengthens and increases current measures aren’t carried out, then what’s the point? We’re not just going to get to zero emissions by recycling now and then. And we need to do BIG things that limit companies rather than just pointlessly targeting vulnerable individuals (like with the plastic straws).

I feel very hopeless around the whole thing. I’ve written to my MP and downloaded the search engine Ecosia which uses the revenue from its advertising to plant trees (which can absorb carbon dioxide), as well as trying to be more active about recycling and plastic use, but it doesn’t feel like enough. Several of my friends have gone on the Youth Strike for Climate Change which I really admire. I wish I could do that, but every time it comes around I feel so worried because I know I’m missing work that will be in our exam.

Which brings me onto my next topic…this might be a bit of a strange transition, because it’s going from a huge issue that affects all of us and needs global action to an extremely personal one. And I do feel bad worrying about university when it’s not actually important in the grand scheme of things. But as I said, it is something I have more control over and, you know, if society is going to disintegrate then I want to make the most of the time that I have.

Before I started Year 12 I thought that I’d want to study something like Spanish, History, or Politics after leaving school. (I take Spanish, History, Maths and Latin.) However, as the year has progressed I’ve realised that a) one of my Spanish teachers is really not great and b) whilst History is extremely interesting and useful, it requires so much work and it’s not the work that I really look forward to. It feels like it takes so much time  from my other subjects. I’m just sort of…meh. I don’t know. And whilst I still care about politics in general, I’m just not really finding myself motivated to do extra work around it? Especially in comparison to other things I’ve been drawn into like ancient history.

Yeah. So, now I have ended up trying to decide which of these  two subjects — that I was most enthusiastic about at the start of the year — to drop, which is strange. I’ve got mock exams next week so I’m going to see how I do in those… I’ll be honest, they’re quite stressful because they’re giving me my predicted grades, but at least I don’t have to go through the whole shebang of public exams.

The idea of leaving school is stressful. I have decided that I want to go to uni but obviously I don’t know where or studying exactly what yet. My life has changed quite a bit in the last year and I feel like it’s only going to change so much more after sixth form ends. I’ll have to make new friends! I’ll probably have to discover a new place to live! I’ll have to learn about organising my own time! I really hope that I’ll be able to come out and get people to use the right pronouns for me but I know that there’ll probably be a lot of explaining to do. But it’s a nice thought.

It’s all just exciting but also terrifying. At the same time, I feel bad for getting excited because the world is also collapsing around me and I KNOW that I can’t function on worry all the time but my brain still does that I guess. I’m not exactly sure how to move forwards. At least writing this post helped; I’ve actually written a lot here, which is kind of wow. If any of you are going through or have gone through similar things — let’s share our thoughts?

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GCSE Spanish and Modern Language Revision Guide

The text '#evestudies modern languages gcse revision tips' over a photo of a notebook strewn with coloured pens.

¡Hola! Bonjour! As GCSE season approaches, I’d like to share another revision tips post. I am, in fact, currently revising Spanish so this is very relevant to my daily life.

I know many people take modern foreign languages for GCSE, whether that be Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, or anything else. Revising for languages can seem intimidating, and so I’m here to provide you with some starting points. I also want to reassure that you do not have to be completely fluent to achieve the grades you want at GCSE, or to communicate with people from another country. It’s all a matter of taking small steps to get there, wherever ‘there’ might be for you.

So, for some context I took Spanish GCSE and am now taking it at A-Level. Although this will be based on my experience revising for Spanish, I also believe that many of the strategies can be applied to other modern languages too. These are the strategies that work best for me, but as always keep in mind that all our brains work differently so if a certain method doesn’t work for you then it’s not a problem! You can try another!

The GCSE exam is split into four parts, so it makes sense to split your practice into four broad categories: reading, writing, listening, and oral. 

However, before it comes to practising these skills, it’s important to revise the foundations of the language — grammar, vocab, and subject content. I prioritise basic grammar (such as being able to use verbs in different tenses) and vocabulary over everything. Both of these central pillars are important in EVERY aspect of the exam.

But how exactly can you revise these elements of the language? My favourite resource for studying up on grammar is languagesonline.org.uk. (They also have French, German and Italian) Before doing anything else I like to go through the most important tenses to refresh my memory. If you struggle with figuring out how to form a tense I would definitely recommend spending some time looking at the present, preterite and future. You can do a few exercises each day and then come back to them later. With languages, I find that spreading out your practice often helps it stick in your memory more than trying to cram everything in during one concentrated session. I also used the Viva Edexcel grammar and translation workbook for Spanish which is excellent.

There’s just too much vocab to learn — how can you make a meaningful start on it?  Of course, learning vocab throughout your course will prove very useful. But it’s OK, there’s still time! Instead of attempting to work from the whole 1,500 word vocab list for the entire GCSE (or whatever it is), I went through the textbook and created a Quizlet set for all the words that I didn’t know and thought were the most important. This left me with three sets of 100-200 words which grouped the modules together. I love Quizlet because whenever I’m on the train, waiting in the lunch queue etc I can revise a little bit of vocab and get just that little bit further.

I know that many people (myself included) find language orals very nerve-wracking. The degree to which you prepare your oral answers is up to you — in the new exam board we did, they penalised us for sounding too prepared which I absolutely understand. However, if you’re not confident I’d advise doing at least a little practise of some questions, especially for the roleplay, even if that’s practising improvisation. (Which in the end is better for learning to speak the language!)

I did prepare some answers, but tried to focus on learning content I might have to bring up, like where I did my work experience, rather than on the language. I do think it’s a decision you have to make based on your experiences and fluency in the language though.

I would absolutely recommend trying to listen to some non-exam-based Spanish because I found that it really helped not only my listening but my speaking. By forcing me to ‘think’ more in Spanish rather than constantly translating and thus not speaking so well. In particular, I like the Notes in Spanish podcast and News in Slow Spanish. This could also include TV shows or Youtube videos — hopefully there’s something you’ll find interesting.

Finally, speaking in the language with your friends is a fun way to not only be building up your language skills but also having fun! Even if it’s not the most beautiful complex language, I find that talking to my friends is a very relaxed atmosphere where I can build up my confidence.

So, to recap some concrete strategies you might use whilst revising, you could be:

  • Going through the textbook, noting down important content and unknown words
  • Going through grammar on languages online or in a grammar workbook
  • Revising vocab on Quizlet
  • Doing a mock oral card, recording yourself and listening back
  • Going through the oral answers and speaking them to yourself or someone else
  • Doing practise listening/reading exercises from the textbook
  • Building up listening skills by watching TV, listening to podcasts etc.

I hope you find this post useful, and good luck with both your exams and language learning. 🙂 You can also check out my other revision tips posts for GCSE Music and GCSE Science.

are there any languages you’d like to learn? I have SO MANY! do you have any tips for revision for language gcses, or learning languages in general?

GCSE Music Revision Tips

The text '#evestudies gcse music revision tips' over a photo of a notebook strewn with coloured pens.

Hi there! Do you take Music GCSE? Then this post is for YOU! Please imagine me pointing at you like in one of those posters. Okay, no, for real — I’m currently in Year 12, having taken my GCSEs last year, and one of the most frustrating things was being the first group to take the course in almost all my subjects. There were very few resources or guides available, and even the teachers didn’t really know what to expect from marking.

Unfortunately I don’t know exactly how they marked my exam, but I was really happy with my music result as I got a 9 (A* equivalent). I thought it would be useful for me to share some of the resources, methods and ti[s that worked for me. This post is going to be focusing on the written exam — I took Edexcel GCSE, which is the one where you have 8 set pieces and the exam is worth 40% of the total mark. But if you’re taking another exam board then the techniques will be similar. Do feel free to check out the other posts in my #evestudies series too.

It’s really important that you figure out what works best for you, though — I know you’re probably sick of people saying it but all of us work in different ways and what works for me might not work for you.

The three main areas that I would focus on for the written exam are learning the features of the set pieces, developing musical theory/analysis skills and practicing exam technique. I’ll be going through them one by one.

#1: features of set the set pieces

Firstly, learning the features of the set pieces. Although this does tie into developing your analysis skills, since you have to be able to write about the features, a lot of it really is just getting familiar with the pieces and memorising features. The amount of memorising versus being able to analyse music on the spot will vary on the piece; for example, there’s a lot more to remember about the classical pieces in terms of the names of forms, particular techniques and genres, whereas for a work like Release (a fusion) it’s more about being able to talk about the changing dynamics and texture from the extract that they give you.

For every set work I created a grid of features with the headings Structure, Tonality & Harmony, Instrumentation, Texture, Melody, Tempo, Rhythm and metre, and Other. I filled them in with all my notes from lessons, then the features from the textbook, answers to practice questions we did in class and from any other sources I could find. This was my main source of note-taking.

The ‘Other’ section usually covered things particular to that section of study; eg in the Bach and Beethoven context about the development of the harpsichord to the piano and how that affected Romanticism, or the significance in the plot of Defying Gravity. I’ve put all my typed notes up on a Google Drive if you want to take a look or use them for your own revision.

It’s really important that you know the difference between these elements because in the exam the question will usually ask you to talk about one or a few of them. Even if you say something valid, if it’s about a musical element they didn’t ask for then you won’t get a mark. There’s a good BBC Bitesize Guide on it here. Really get used to the kinds of features and words that you see coming under each musical element.

For this section I would VERY strongly recommend using the Edexcel GCSE Music Student Book. We got given it as our textbook for the course and it was so useful — it goes in depth into the features of each set work and also has a bit about composition and performance at the start. I also found annotating the anthology with the blank scores in is extremely useful. That’s is where I wrote all of my notes from class. At the start of my revision session, I would follow the score as I listened to the piece. You can also listen to all the pieces with the scores at the same time on Youtube.

Additionally, Edexcel actually have a support guide for each set work which covers the musical features in detail. I only discovered this like a day before the exam and I got really stressed out about the amount I didn’t recognise — so remember that these are probably more in detail than you’ll be asked for!

#2: musical theory and analysis

Secondly, developing musical theory and analysis skills. This definitely does overlap with the previous section. However, it will also help you with the unheard piece you have to answer questions on. As I said, it’s extremely important you become familiar with the different musical elements you might be asked to talk about and what kind of things you can say for each one. In class we made a mindmap of what you can talk about with each heading and it was great

For example, for rhythm you could think about: does this have lots of fast rhythms? dotted notes? triplets? is there a repeated rhythm? is it syncopated?

If you’re talking about texture, there are some great words you can use: monophonic (only one line of music, there’s only moments of these in the pieces), polyphonic (lots of different equally important lines of music) or homophonic (everything else). You might also say it has a fugal texture (the Bach), or a thin or thick texture.

You might have to go into further detail and talk about the effect this has, for example the triplet rhythms at the start of Star Wars give it a military and heroic feel, or a thinner texture might feel more intimate. It doesn’t have to be a whole English essay though.

Honestly, I found the unprepared listening section pretty difficult, especially if it asks you to give a chord or something. But you can sometimes use your powers of deduction to figure it out. The best way to develop your musical theory technique is to practice…which brings me nicely on to my final point.

#3: exam practice

Finally, practicing your exam technique is key. You can know a million musical features and still be stumped about how to answer a question in the exam. I know there aren’t that many past papers online which sucks. At school we used selections from this and this set of papers which seemed to work OK. Use the official Edexcel sample paper well.

This doesn’t just need to be actually doing exam questions; it might be thinking what questions they could ask you whilst revising and the analysis you might do. For the fusion they do enjoy asking about what genres the works ‘fuse’ so that’s always a good one. I personally like playing the pieces to someone else, and stopping it as we go through so I can explain what effect a particular feature has.

Also, this might sound simple but remember to read the question! I’ve been told that a thousand times but I misread the 12-marker at the end and had to frantically change my answer which I do not recommend. To practise for the 12-marker, you can go through the wider listening in the textbook, you can pick a piece in the same genre as one of the set works to get more practise.

PHEW! This really was a long post! I hope these tips help you and good luck with your exam and all your coursework. Remember to take breaks from work and take care of yourself as well. 🙂

2018: Year in Review

2018 year in review.jpg

Image description: The text ‘2018 year in review’ over a firework.

We’ve almost made it through 2018! Hurrah! Let’s DO THIS THING. This year feels like it’s been one of the longest years of my life. The other day I genuinely thought that something I did over summer happened in February, so I guess it’s like 2 years have passed instead of 1? Like, what even. Anyway, I’m here with a good old yearly recap post, because I do like to be able to have this as a point of reference and it’s fun to see everything I’ve done over this year. (If I can even remember them.)

Looking back at 2018

  • Firstly, let’s recap my 2018 goals. Doing things with love? I mean, KIND OF. I do think that I’ve spent more time on friendships and on making new friends which is great! And I’ve also met some wonderful internet friends in real life! (This ties in with my other goal about meeting friends.) I’m getting better at looking critically at the things I love but I definitely have a long way to go with that process.
  • Caring for myself… Well, GCSEs sucked a LOT, I have to say. That whole experience and the culture of public examinations is still negatively affecting my mental health now. The first half of the year was really difficult for that reason and I haven’t always been amazing at taking care of myself, but part of that includes letting myself off for that, too? I’ve literally tried to block out all of that because it was just grim, tbh.
  • However, I can say with certainty that have enjoyed so much amazing art this year! From excellent books to theatre to new TV shows I’ve started… it’s been a great one. A big part of this has been helping out with the sixth form musical at my school, where I worked as the sound operator. I was so proud of that production, and although it was stressful, I had an amazing time and I know that it’ll stay with me forever.
  • I have also for sure experienced new things: I got my first job! I travelled to South America with Guides! I went to prom! I did make it through my first public exams! I started sixth form! I got my nose pierced! I DMed for the first time!
  • I want to expand on starting sixth form because Year 12 has been FULL. ON. I’m studying Maths, Spanish, History & Latin and I’m really glad that I picked those subjects. (Especially Latin because I’m maybe enjoying it the most and it was a last minute switch from Chemistry.)
  • I blogged much less in the second half of this year. My stats are NOT thanking me, lol, but sometimes that’s the way life goes. I do have a whole bunch of post ideas so I REALLY hope I can get some more posts up.
  • One thing that I actually was good at keeping up was my bullet journal. I’m so glad I put in pictures of what I was up to from throughout the year because it was really nice to remind me when I looked through.
  • Also, I took my last ever clarinet exam which was kind of trash but THANK GOD IT’S OVER. Now I just have to spend another 6 months re-learning to love the clarinet after that deeply stressful experience, I guess.

Looking ahead to 2019

  • I’m going to turn 18!! WHAT! I’m just going to make that its own bullet point in itself because I don’t feel like I’m ready to be a legal adult at all.
  • I want to do some preparation for my future: learning to drive, improving at cooking, maybe applying for uni/deciding what I’m going to do keeping on with my job.
  • More blogging! I miss it a lot! I’d like to blog at least once a month.
  • In addition to blogging, I want to continue with theatre tech, because that was really fun and fulfilling this year. In summer I’m going to be helping on a production at the Edinburgh Fringe which I’m super excited about! I hope to make the most of that experience!
  • Again, I want to better take care of myself. Some concrete ways I’m going to do this are making sure I exercise, getting back into meditation, keeping a regular sleeping schedule and allowing myself to sometimes just hand in work that’s good enough, if not perfect.
  • I want to use my time on the internet and my phone in better ways. Spending a lot of time mindlessly scrolling social media has been REALLY bad for my brain. Instead, I want to spend more time interacting with people and building relationships.
  • I would like to come out as non-binary to more people? Maybe? And also to just tell people when they misgender me because people still do that a lot but I feel awkward correcting them (even though it’s not my mistake). Also, to just not read the transphobic articles that cross my path because they do not exactly help.
  • I’d like to listen to more new music, since I love finding new bops and I didn’t get that much opportunity to do so in 2018.

I’ll probably think of something really good after I’ve posted this but, ah well. That’s how it goes. I hope you enjoyed this focus on my personal goals.

how was your 2018? do you have any goals or resolutions for 2019?

Blog Birthday! Life! Sixth Form!

Hello again! It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I’d update you all on what’s going on with my blog and life and all that.

First of all: Twist in the Taile turned 5! That’s right, I started my blog 5 years ago this month. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? Me neither: I always have to go back to my very first post to check that, yes, I was actually that young when I started it. I haven’t got my act together to do a giveaway right at this point (more on that later) but I’m thinking about perhaps doing a belated one. We shall see.

Anyway, the last year has been somewhat turbulent for Twist in the Taile as I took a couple of breaks, mainly due to schoolwork. I’m so grateful for all of you who continue to read my posts and brighten my day with your thoughts. Thank you ❤

Secondly: what’s happening with Sixth Form? Essentially, I’m very busy this term, and although I do have many ideas for posts I don’t really have the mental energy to do homework AND music practice AND my extracurricular commitments whilst not having a breakdown. So, there will probably be less posts. (I’m slightly wincing as I look at the dramatic drop in my stats over the last 2 months and think about the future. OH WELL.)

I’m enjoying Year 12 so far – I especially like that the classes are generally a bit smaller, teachers are more relaxed, I have free periods and such, although the workload is definitely more. Choosing clothes every day is kind of stressful but I’ve sort of ended up with a system where I wear the same trousers for the whole week and just swap the shirt because that’s easier. We have a ‘formal dress code’ which is like…interesting… I’d like to write another post on picking clothes because I find it kind of hard to both wear clothes I feel comfortable in whilst sticking to the expectations of formalwear which are kind of gendered but, eh.

Let me update you on how my subjects are going! I’m taking History, Maths, Spanish and Latin (at my school most people are advised to start with 4 and then drop 1; I don’t think they’ve quite got used to the linear system yet).

History is really interesting and I’m enjoying the Stuarts a lot more than I thought I might?? My GCSE was all based around the 20th century so it’s nice to do something else. Both my teachers are great as well (I have multiple teachers for every subject who teach different topics) although I am slightly terrified of them and my recent essay was…interesting. Also, there’s a lot of note-taking homework, which I’m still getting used to.

I’m so glad I took Maths since this time last year I was completely sure I wouldn’t be doing A-Level (lol) since it’s such a nice contrast to my other subjects. I mean, it’s also challenging but I do generally find it relaxing in comparison to, say History. I like that questions have an actual definitive answer, y’know?

I feel like Spanish has been the biggest step up from GCSE – I enjoy the subject but it does feel like suddenly we have to be a lot more fluent which is very much not me haha. There’s also been some issues with my class which makes it…interesting… I probably shouldn’t say too much about it on here though.

I’m liking Latin a lot! Again, I’m so glad I took it in the end since I was almost going to do Chemistry. Language is very fun, I’ve always found translation quite satisfying, and literature is interesting too. I even read some Extra Books so I feel like a moderately dedicated student. ALSO…the Latin verb drills website has finally come into immediate and practical use with prose composition ayy.

This half term is going to be pretty busy with my school musical that I’m helping and clarinet grade 8 in addition to schoolwork so I am essentially hoping to make it out alive?? Apologies for the lack of Monthly Mixtape; it has rather been put on hold and I feel that its future needs to be considered but that’s something I haven’t quite gotten round to.

Anyway! Please update me on what’s going on with you! I miss talking to you all. 🙂

Things Change, and That’s Okay?

I’ve been thinking about the past a lot this summer. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like even more than usual I’ve been reminded of memories, of how things used to be, of places I used to go. It’s very strange. And often it makes me wish that I could go back to then.

For example: it’s not that long ago, but I miss the time when I used to write a blog post every 4-5 days. I’m never going to get back to posting that often, I think.  I used to actually write stuff as well. The reality is that…school seems to take up so much of my time? And actually I like spending time on it? I mean, exams really sucked, but in general I enjoy learning.

I miss all that writing. But also I’m trying to accept that nothing is going to be the same forever, and actually a lot of stuff has changed in my life. That’s allowed to happen. I’m allowed to spend time on school or music or just hanging out. I still love this blog, and I’m still excited to write posts, but I don’t want it to become a chore — I want to feel excited about the prospect of writing a post instead of just tired. I don’t want to feel guilty about not posting as often as I used to or no getting as many views/followers/comments as I’d like. Because that’s not fun at all.

I find myself mourning friends who aren’t as close anymore and honestly, you know what — people change! I’ve changed a lot. It’s alright for my friendships to shift. I’m particularly thinking about this as I start 6th form which feels like a BIG new thing in my life; it’s the biggest change in school I’ve had since starting secondary school. IT’S SO WEIRD. I miss my old teachers and classes! But also it’s exciting.

Also, I miss when I like…didn’t think about my gender all the time, I guess. And then it makes me wonder if I’m making it all up and gaslighting myself into thinking I’m not actually queer and I’m just a special snowflake. I hate feeling like that; I usually then go and remind myself of all the other LGBTQ+ out there who are real and do exist.

I DON’T KNOW. I feel like this is quite an uncharacteristic and rambly post, for me. I haven’t written one like this in a while and it’s quite cathartic. I don’t understand what this weird remembering thing is. I get it much more vividly from hearing or tasting things — playing my old clarinet pieces kind of feels like transporting myself back into the past. Maybe because clarinet is separate from everything else. The music just goes into a different part of my brain. Aaah you see what I mean?!?

Anyway, I don’t really have a conclusion planned out, except to say that: things change! It’s scary but I’m trying to accept it! I don’t want to pressure myself to blog! And I hope you have a wonderful day. 🙂

 

GCSE Results Day // #evestudies

Coloured pens strewn over a notebook, with the text 'GCSE results day #evestudies'.

Hi everyone! WOW it has been a long time since I sat down to write a post. Everything feels kind of surreal so I guess this just adds to it??

Anyway, if you didn’t know, yesterday was GCSE results day in England (GCSEs being the public exams that I’ve worked on for the last 2 years or so). These were my first set of public exams so it has been an…interesting time, let’s say. By which I mean they were rather scary and difficult. But I’m not actually here to talk about Year 11 or the exams themselves! You can go and read previous #evestudies posts including my experience of Year 11 and advice for those going into it, revision techniques, and a masterpost of GCSE science resources.

Over the summer holidays I didn’t have much opportunity to get stressed about results day and I am SO GLAD. I’d been away on a trip with Guides for most of August which took up all of my brain space! Obviously it was still lurking in the back of my thoughts, but I didn’t start thinking about it loads until I came back and started lying in bed at night stressing that I’d failed everything. Fun times, am I right?

Discussing my worries with friends made me feel less alone since I realised that actually everyone was freaking out, not just me. (Though I was still kind of stressed.) On the morning of results day I stayed in bed for ages hoping to distract myself with books and podcasts. I even ended up going in later than I’d planned haha despite waking up early.

ANYWAY. I’m, like, still really in shock at my results?? I did way better than I was expecting? I’d convinced myself that I’d failed additional maths and I actually got an A which I DO NOT UNDERSTAND AT ALL because the exam was ABSOLUTE HELL. (The answer is that the grade boundaries were extremely low.)

I’d prefer not to share all of my grades publicly on here, but since this blog series has covered a lot of my GCSEs I felt that I should do some kind of conclusion. So I just wanted to say that I’m really happy with my results! I got the top grades in the subjects I’m taking at A-Level which is awesome since a) obviously now I’m allowed to take those subjects next year and b) it makes me feel more confident that I actually have a chance at A-Levels. I’m planning to take Maths, Spanish, History & Latin, and I’m very excited?! Hopefully sixth form won’t be too scary haha.

It feels so strangely anti-climatic to see so many hours of schoolwork boiled down to one piece of paper… It still hasn’t quite sunk in for me that it’s, you know, over. But GCSEs have been hanging over me for so long, and it’s such a relief to finally close this chapter. These new exams have been confusing and stressful but WE MADE IT THROUGH, FOLKS.

If you were also getting results yesterday, I hope you’re happy and even if not I send you internet hugs. It might not feel like it sometimes (and this is certainly something that I need to remind myself of) but exam results are NOT the be all and end all, and you’re still awesome no matter what. ❤

As I said, I’m starting sixth form this year which is all very new for me, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more posts in this series. A-Levels! Way less subjects! I don’t have to wear uniform anymore! And also lots of other stuff that I’m sure I’ll discover when I get there. I can’t wait to update you all on it. 🙂

Year 11: My Experience & Advice // #evestudies

Coloured pens strewn over a notebook, with the words '#evestudies Year Eleven my experience and advice'.

Hi everyone! It’s that time of year where school is finishing up for most people here, and I realised that despite posting some general updates, I haven’t actually done another official post in my #evestudies series since before GCSEs. (My last one was in February, so practically AEONS ago.) Before I started Year 11 I was pretty nervous about my first set of public exams, GCSEs, so I thought it might be helpful for some people to give my own experience and advice for making it through. And hopefully it’ll still be interesting to read even if you’re not taking GCSEs haha.

Firstly, though, I would like to emphasise that this is only my experience. There are SO MANY reasons that it may not match yours, and the same is true for my advice; what works for me might not work for you. And that is completely valid.

But to get started with my own experience. Reading back through my posts over the last year is fascinating, and I’m glad that I have this blog as a digital record. As you can see from some of thos older posts, I started the year extremely keen to keep up extra work like doing online Physics lessons and constantly revising vocab. Honestly, I would not recommend that you start revising for GCSEs right from the start of the year. Although some of the languages vocab probably helped a little, by the time the exam season rolled around, I felt that a lot of what I’d revised earlier had faded from my brain and I was forced to return to it again anyway. Instead, I just felt guilty for not completing this ‘extra work’ I had set myself.

First and foremost, I would recommend that, if possible, you try to take care of yourself (whatever form that takes). The first term of Year 11 was pretty similar to Year 10 for me except for officially submitting my English coursework and doing stage management for a play at school. But I sort of had a breakdown towards the end of this term since I was trying to do so many things, and that was REALLY BAD. Probably the worst my mental health has ever been. So trying to keep a balance in your life is really important.

I also found creating good habits and routines really helped me during Year 111. And that refers not only to study habits like completing your homework on time, but also to self-care routines. Personally, I find routines very comforting, and I really enjoy having them. This might not be true for everyone, but I’ve found that sticking to my routines gave me something to anchor to during the stressful revision and exam period where all the days just kind of blended into one long stress. I can tell when my mental health is getting bad because when that happens I start to break my routines. (Not included missing them for special occasions and stuff.)

To give an example from my own life: every Tuesday afternoon, I spend an hour watching TV. Often I find it difficult to sit down and watch an episode of something because I feel like I should be doing something else ‘more productive’ (which is completely not a thing) but making that a routine has helped me a lot. Other little routines I have are reading for half an hour in the evening, going swimming on Sundays, and listening to podcasts as I go to bed. (Does that count as a routine? I don’t know haha. It’s just a nice thing that I like do to.)

I did put in work for my mock exams at school and I found this to be very useful. Particularly for more content-based subjects, I really did use the notes that I made for mock exams during actual GCSE revision, especially my Quizlets since those allowed me to test myself.) However, my revision style did actually change from mocks to later revision; before, I’d just spent all my time making notes, and then I already had them! So I tended to do more self-testing. But if you don’t revise loads for mocks then it’s not at all the end of the world! I just liked to feel prepared.

I’m not going to lie, Easter and the summer term were a frustrating time for me. I’ve previously been very enthusiastic about my school experience, saying that I love learning and each year has been better than the last. Frankly, Year 11 was not my best year yet. Towards the end of the year, I felt as though I wasn’t learning for educational benefit but rather to pass an exam. And I know that’s what I was supposed to be doing, but even as someone who really likes learning, it all feel rather pointless to me. We’d spent 2 years working for what felt like a very small number of exams. (But also, SO MANY EXAMS. SO. GODDAMN. MANY.)

For the actual exam period, timetables are AMAZING. As you can probably tell already, I like to have everything organised and prepared haha. I spent a lot of time figuring out my timetable. At the start of each week I would try to fill in which specific topics I would study during my subject periods. Also, I tried not to dwell on past exams. I thought I was going to enjoy all the hashtags, and I sort of did? But also, once the exam had finished I just wanted to completely erase it from my memory since there wasn’t anything I could do to change it.

Writing about school and exams comes SO easily to me now because I feel like that’s 90% of what I’ve been thinking about for the last 8 months. I don’t think I’ve yet recovered from exams; finishing them was just a bit of an anticlimax. And results day looms next month, which is…yikes. I’m not looking forward to getting my results, but I very much want to gain closure for this chapter of school.

Anyways! I hope you found this post enjoyable in some way. 🙂 I’m thinking about making some more revision posts later in the year — I feel like I should get my results first to see if my revision techniques actually worked haha — so let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in. I was thinking perhaps some subject-specific posts like for modern foreign languages, sciences, and possibly Latin?? (I have a lot of Latin resources, but I know not many people actually take it so.)

have you taken any public exams this year? what was your experience? how are you doing today?

Sad Feelings and Exam Stress

Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing okay. This is just a little update post to let you know what’s going on with me, because I’ve been rather sad recently and blogging hasn’t been quite the fun activity I want it to be.

These few weeks are very weird for me because I’m in a strange liminal space between ‘normal school’ and actual exams. I used to enjoy school a lot, especially in Year 10, but currently I just feel like I’m preparing to pass an exam. And I know that’s what I’m doing, but it still frustrates me. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is pointless. Yet the same time, I feel very very stressed about getting good grades and living up to people’s (and my own) expectations of me. And then I feel stressed about stressing when I should be revising, AAAAAH. IT IS TERRIBLE.

Other things have also been contributing to me sadness like my compulsion to read transphobic articles which make me feel bad, stressing about what to do in the future, friend group politics etc. etc. Just: a lot of things are happening right now.

I don’t know, the summer weather makes me feel better. But I’ve also been crying a lot. I’m not sure where this post is going, but the most important thing I’d like to say is that I need to take some time out. I still have some blog posts lined up, but I don’t want blogging to be a chore. I need to take care of myself, and I need to let myself not do stuff — and that includes not blogging as frequently.

But I’m still around! If you’d like to talk to me then you can of course still comment on my blog or tweet me @appletaile. Like I said, I still have some posts which will be going up soon.

 

BBC Les Mis: Opinions! Predictions! Old posts revisited!

All the way back in 2016, when the new TV adaptation of Les Mis was first announced, I wrote a post called 7 Things I Want to See in BBC Les Mis. It’s taken a LONG time, but finally we’re getting some more news about it, and it’s due to air at the start of 2019. And my Les Mis obsession seems to be rising from the dead, because now I check for the imdb page and talk to people about it all the time. SORRY.

Anyways. I thought it would be fun to revisit my old wishlist, see what’s changed, and add some of my current thoughts on information we had so far. (Because I can only jabber on at my IRL friends so much. They get a bit tired.) I hope that it’ll still be entertaining even if you’re not quite a Les Mis obsessive like me. Although it’s been like 3 years now since I read Les Mis itself so I have to admit, I don’t remember it as clearly as I could in 2016…

But before I look back through my list, I want to talk a bit about my thoughts so far!

Firstly, it’s written by Andrew Davies, who did War & Peace and Pride & Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth). In the interviews I’ve read with him, he seems to very vehemently hate the musical, describing it as a ‘shoddy farrago’. He seems to really want to show people that Les Miserables is a lot more than that, etc. etc. Personally I enjoy the musical and the book so, you know. We’ll see what comes of his desire to show the true character of Les Mis. I do hope that it means he’ll get some good stuff in there but who knows.

Next, the main cast — Dominic West as Valjean, David Oyolewo as Javert, Lily Collins as Fantine, Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar as the Thenardiers, Ellie Bamber as Cosette, Josh O’Connor as Marius,  Erin Kellyman as Eponine and Joseph Quinn as Enjolras.

Frankly, I barely know any actors, so I don’t have much to go on, but I’m super excited for David Oyolewo as Javert!  And I didn’t realise until just now that Dominic West played Jonathan in the movie Pride (it’s a great movie, you should go watch it) and now I feel more excited. I’ve written more in deetail about some of the castings below, in my response to what I wrote in 2016.

The cast list hasn’t been updated loads, but there are a few more characters lurking on the IMDb page if you care to look. We’ve also been seeing some pictures from filming, which I’m greatly enjoying  — you can see updates on this BBC Les Mis updates tumblr if you so wish.

Here’s some pictures of the set for the Barricade, with all the French flags out:

However, I was saddened by the announcement that it won’t be airing until 2019. PLEASE, I NEED THIS TO HEAL MY SOUL. Maybe to heal my soul through raging at it. Who knows.

1. Valjean’s James Bond convent escape
2. Nuanced Cosette
3. Non-hunky Enjolras
4. Les Amis de L’ABC
5. Thenardier’s botched robbery (starring Marius)
6. Marius being a nerd
7. The Thenardier family

I mean. I still agree with these. P L E A S E I crave Cosette content so badly! Ellie Bamber seemed cool in an interview I read so…? Who knows? In reference to Enjolras: I don’t know anything about this actor, but they should have cast a black actor. (Read this excellent thread by @JEHANCOURF on twitter and also check out their zine, The Case For Black Enjolras.) Archie Madekwe who plays Courfeyrac seems GREAT though, I’m so excited to see him.

For a while I was Very Stressed that they had cut out the Amis (since the IMDB cast list doesn’t have many of them on) but then we saw some set pictures and it looks like they’re at least present. Although there was also an interview with someone who said they were playing an unnamed student extra, so maybe not.

I mean, I have no idea whether they’ll put in any of the scenes I mentioned here. (And yes, I do know that there are many adaptations out there with various different scenes in! But, you know.) In addition, to this, I really would like to see this adaptation maintain the theme of social change and revolution. Yes, it’s an excellent story, but that message is also a key part of it!

I’ve just spent AGES doing practice Chemistry paper so excuse me if my brain is a little tired. Ah well. In the meantime, I desperately await more news and continue to check the IMDb page every day. Oops.

do you like les mis? what do you want to see in the adaptation? what’s your favourite tv adaptation?