Positive 2020 reflections

Welcome back ! I’ve been mostly absent on here this week, as final exams are fast approaching and I needed a lot of time to focus on studying and try to get my grades as high as I can before the end of the semester.

Still, I wanted to do a little more blog-hopping lately – something that’s been difficult to do this weekend as I got a quadruple tooth extraction on Friday (wisdom teeth, how I hate you…) that left me drowsy on painkillers for most of the weekend. I’ll try to catch up after finals, though, so I’ll do my best to go read all the amazing blog posts published while I was recovering from my operation!

Bookending Winter is a book blogging event run by Clo and Sam, in which different bloggers host a couple of prompts each during the month of December. Anyone who wants to participate can register on the announcement post, make 3 (or more) posts during the event, and link them up on the challenge spreadsheet so others can find them easily!

Today’s prompt is absolutely lovely, and comes from Sumedha @ the wordy habitat :

Prompt Explanation : 2020 has not been easy but we should take some time to find positives everywhere because it helps us move on easily. Take today to talk about the highlights that made this year bearable.

This year has been extremely difficult, and I appreciate a lot that this prompt takes the focus back to the good things instead of the endless stream of difficulties that we’ve probably all experienced during this trying time! I talked a bit about two big things that helped me a lot this year in another blog post this month, so reflecting on the small positives and highlights of the year seems like a good plan!

Related post : Warming your winter : the things that made this year better

This year, I….

Rediscovered photography

Photo by @rumandraisin on Unsplash

I have a pretty good camera, and I’ve always been interested in learning how to use it better, so this year, whenever I could, I took it out of the bag and tried taking pictures in different styles, figuring out what I do and don’t like, etc.

Some of the results were bad, some were good, and most of them helped me understand more how my camera works and improve my technique.

One of my friends also got me into a photoshoot with her and another friend in November, and the photographer that was there took some time to teach me how to take better portraits, which was super nice of him!

Read a ton of good books

I’m so grateful for my local library and the bookstore a couple of streets from my apartment. I’ve been reading a lot more this year, especially since we moved to a new part of the city where we’re much closer to those two places, and it’s been such a help in feeling better about confinement, and adjusting better to this new way of life!

Got some plants

Now, I’m not saying they’re all still alive, but I’m trying. So far, only two out of 5 have died ! (So far…). They’re adding so much joy to my living room, and they make my mornings happier and more tolerable, even when all I have to look forward to is a day inside, working until night falls, so I’m counting these as an important highlight. Even if they’re hard to keep alive.

Got a bike

Photo by @markusspiske on Unsplash

The highlight of my entire summer.

Biking almost every day made my days so much more bearable, especially when I had a job as an essential worker and was constantly under the stress of risking getting sick every day when I went to work. It’s also a super safe mean of transportation, covid-wise, since you’re not getting close to anybody!

Now that winter is here, I’m mostly just walking everywhere, but I’m taking the bike out as soon as the snow clears out in March!

Did sports semi-regularly

This was one of my resolutions for 2020, and one that I tried my best to maintain – and it did wonders for my mental health! I would definitely have fared much worse for the past 9 months if I hadn’t had the option and equipment necessary at home to do some form of physical exercise at lest 5 times a week. I’m not much of a spiritual or religious person, my family isn’t very supportive and I don’t really meditate, but doing sports helped me be calmer and center myself more on the things that matter, and decreased my anxiety by a lot.

The fact that I had a fitbit bracelet also helped achieve this goal, as it served as positive reinforcement most of the time, making me acknowledge – even on days when I felt like the human equivalent of a potato – that I was doing something good, and that taking care of myself was important.

Loved my classes and my program

It seems to me that the more I advance in my studies, the more I love psychology! I’ve been taking a lot of classes this year, and I’ve loved every single one of them so far. It’s an amazing feeling, being able to study what you love and do something that interests you that much!

Got nice clothes

I usually only buy clothing when the pieces I currently have are falling to pieces. About 90% of the stuff that I own is at least 3 to 4 years-old, or hand-me-downs from someone else in my family or friend circle. But this year, as I started to figure out more who I want to be as an adult, and what I like – as opposed to what other people want me to be / like – I did buy a little more than usual.

Three new pairs of pants, one comfortable knitted dress for the winter, and two knitted turtleneck cropped tops have been added to my closet, and I’m really happy with them! They make me feel more confident in myself, and in what I’m doing, and I like my image much more in this style. I’m still trying to figure out what style, exactly, I like the most, but this is a good start!

Started cooking more

Photo by @ellaolsson on Unsplash

Being in a bigger apartment came with having a bigger kitchen area – not a really large one, but enough space to prepare food, have the instant pot sitting on the countertop, and have a full-sized oven! I had never gotten a full-sized oven before, not since I moved out of my parents’ house… seven or so years ago?

So I’ve been cooking a lot more this year, and rediscovering the pleasure of making tasty meals at home, and spending time on a recipe to learn a new technique or perfect something I really liked!

Got a makeup subscription

This is honestly the most self-indulgent this I did this year, and it made me so happy that I can’t regret it at all! I got a monthly subscription to a makeup bag, Ipsy, priced at 12$USD per month – with tax and delivery, it comes up to around 20$CAD. I’ve saved a bit of money on other things to be able to afford it, and getting that monthly package in the mail has been a highlight of many months this year!

I’ve been experimenting more with makeup as a consequence of this, and I probably won’t keep the subscription forever as I don’t want to hoard a ton of makeup either, but it’s been really fun to discover these surprise packages at the end of every month.

That’s all for me for today – see you tomorrow and the next three days for my hosting days for Bookending Winter!

My 2021 plans, goals and dreams

Hi ! For those of you who haven’t heard of Bookending Winter yet, you can check out the announcement post on Clo’s blog – there’s a ton of blogging prompts for you to try during December, so come have fun with us and check out everyone’s posts!

Today’s prompt is hosted by Clo – you can see her post here!

Prompt Explanation : Share your plans, goals and dreams for next year! I always find December to be the month steeped in self reflection, planning for the months ahead and reassessing my situation. What you share is entirely choice, keep it to just blogs and books, or branch out!

I fully agree with the sentiment expressed in this prompt : December, and the end of the year as a whole, is an excellent time for self-reflection and thinking about one’s situation, whether you are where you want to be, or not yet.

For me, it’s going to be a month divided into two parts : the first one, from December 1st to December 16th, will be the most stressful part of the semester, as the final exams are approaching and final papers are due on the 16th. But from December 17th to December 31th, I’m officially on holiday (and, sadly, my workplace is still closed due to covid until at least January 11th) – my first real one since January 2020! I’ll finally have some good time on my hands to relax, lay down on the couch with my electric blanket and read a good book while the snow falls in the courtyard outside. Living my wildest holiday dreams!

So here’s a quick look at my plans, goals and dreams for 2021 :

Blog and books-related

Assessing my situation

This year has been super helpful for me to figure out what I wanted to do with this blog, where I wanted to go and what kind of aesthetic I wanted to have (I did a full redesign during the first lockdown, when classes were suspended, and I’ve been really happy with it so far!). I was way happier with my blog than I was before, and that had repercussions on my enjoyment of the books I read and the connections I made with other bloggers.

Posting regularly

I’ve been improving my posting schedule over the last six months, and I think I’ve finally found a rhythm I like, so I’m going to try to maintain it! I feel like getting back into a normal rhythm in my life in general, in November, has helped a lot with this, and given me back my motivation to do things in my free time, including reading and blogging.

Get better with social media

I’ve dusted off the cobwebs on my old Pinterest account, and began making new pins for my old blog posts, and I find it a lot of fun ! My bookstagram account, however, isn’t as nice as I’d like it to be. For 2021, I’d like to make it more personal and coherent for me, so I’ll try to work on that! Looking at other people’s bookstagrams really helps, and there’s so many good ones out there that I’ve been bookmarking a ton of posts for inspiration!

Participate in a blog tour

This one is in the dreams category, as I have a relatively small blog – in part due to the small number of free hours I have available to work on it, compared to a lot of bigger book bloggers – but it’s still something I sometimes think about, and go “huh, that’s be nice”, so. In the dreams category it goes!

Finish my pile of shame

Image by @daanouthere on Unsplash

I wrote a post in November about this – the pile of physical books that I bought / someone gifted me with, and haven’t read yet. I don’t own that many books, which means that each one I haven’t read yet takes a lot of place in my small bookshelf in comparison to the others.

I’ve been trying to alternate between reading one of these books, reading an ARC and reading a library book, to get through the pile without giving up halfway through – hopefully, that’ll be done in 2021!

Related posts : Tackling the pile of shame : my physical TBR

Personal goals, plans and dreams

Assessing my situation

2020 was bad for everyone, but I’m still in one piece, as well as the ones I love, and I know I’m very lucky for that. Still, it hasn’t been easy, and I’m more than ready for this horrible year to end.

My university grades have suffered a bit, but not too much, so I’m still okay on that – and, if everything goes well, on track to graduate in May 2021 with a Bsc in Psychology. On the work side, I was an essential worker for some time, then switched jobs to work in a restaurant – which ended up closing indoor dining in September, so I haven’t gotten a salary since. My partner got a full-time job in November, though, which helped a lot with the stress of our situation.

We haven’t been able to see our families for more than a year now, but we’re okay. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, though, which I why I have a ton of goals for the upcoming year!

Graduate and study more

I want to get into a selective program in my university – putting it out there, universe, please help me. I’m working hard for this degree, and I just want to get into the program of my dreams.

Still, I know that once I’ve applied to the program, asked for reference letters and given everything I have to have a good application, there’s nothing more I can do. The deadline to apply is February 1st, so after that date, I’ll just… try to not think about it until I get an answer, whatever it may be.

Take care of myself

Image by @contentpixie on Unsplash

All that studying and stress hasn’t resulted in excellent mental health for me, and I’ve had to ask for help a few times this year because I was struggling too much to be able to get back up by myself. And that’s okay, that’s a good thing to do – asking for help. It was the best thing I could do at the time, and it improved my situation by a lot.

Still, I know I haven’t been taking care of my mental well-being as much as I wanted to, and I’m planning on getting better with this for 2021.

Protecting my mental health and improving my quality of life are two goals I want to make priorities next year – because no matter what, at the end of the day, they’re both essential to my well-being, and I know the consequences of neglecting them are definitely not things I want to have in 2021.

Do more sports

I’ve been doing kickboxing for a year and a half now, after doing karate for about 8 years when I was younger. University, work, and my boyfriend working full-time have prevented me from doing a lot of that lately, and I don’t want to lose all the progress I made over all those months. The plan here would be to do at least one 1-hour session every week, and maybe a short 20-minutes session whenever we’re both not too tired in the evening.

If the gyms reopen, I’m hoping I can have enough money from my part-time job (if indoor dining is allowed again) to pay for a gym membership, so we can have access to equipment and a better space than our 30 square meters apartment!

Win NaNoWriMo

Image by @craftedbygc on Unsplash

This one is a dream turned goal/plan. I want to write, but haven’t been able to take the time to do so. I think it’s time for me to try and put myself out of my comfort zone, and try NaNoWriMo seriously, to see what I can do and try to gain some confidence to write a little bit all year round.

I’m taking my time to plan this out – I’m definitely not a pantser (my partner lies to say I’m an Amy from his current favorite show, Brooklyn Nine Nine) so if I’m doing this, I’m going to be well prepared for it. We’ll see how that goes!

Save money to get my driving license

In my province, the process to get a driving license takes more than a year and a half, so I’m hoping to have the money to get started on this process in January 2022, and have it by the end of 2023. My partner has one, which means if we ever really need to go somewhere with a car, we still can, but Canada is a very large country compared to France, where we both used to live. At some point, I know I’m going to need to know how to drive and be able to. It’d be better if I had a license when that time comes!

What are your plans and goals for 2021?

Dealing with procrastination and avoidance

Procrastination isn’t good for you, and neither is avoiding the things you need to do. I know that. I know that for a fact.

Yet, the other day, I realized in a flash of panic that I had three extremely important things to do that I had just been passively avoiding for weeks – some for months, actually – and just had to muster the courage to face before it got too late. I needed to :

  • send a tax adjustment to the government (I made a small-ish mistake in my tax declaration and it’s been haunting me since I realized it)
  • send an email to my university’s administration to get my previous diploma’s classes credited so I can graduate this year (which. I’d like to be able to do. Tuition isn’t cheap.)
  • renew my medical insurance and my address on my social security card (it expires in a month and I have medical appointments I need to have that card / insurance for!)

Those three are, taken separately, pretty simple things that might take some time but aren’t necessarily complicated to do, and they’re clearly important enough that I should have come around to doing them a while ago. So how did it get to this point ?

It’s overwhelming

Sometimes, when something generates a lot of anxiety or overwhelms you, the unconscious reaction is to avoid it, as a coping mechanism : if you don’t think about that thing, then it can’t cause you any distress.

The problem with avoidance as a coping mechanism is that it teaches your brain that you aren’t capable of facing what causes you this type of anxiety, that it’s just so overwhelming that the only solution is to push it as much away from your conscious mind as possible.

Photo by @stilclassics on Unsplash

In essence, it’s the difference between stress management – the good thing, the one where you confront what’s stressing you out and deal with it in a way that makes you less stressed – and stress avoidance – where you ignore the stressors and hope they go away on their own (which they don’t.).

In the short run, sure, not thinking about it will make you feel better, help you not get overwhelmed by what you’re trying to avoid. But in the long run, it’s likely to turn your initial reaction to this stressor into an even bigger one – making it worse and worse until you either have to deal with the cause of your stress (in my case : those 3 administrative tasks that really really need to be done) or with the consequences of not doing it (here : losing my insurance so I can’t go see the dentist, or not being able to graduate this year because my classes haven’t been credited on time).

How to stop doing it

At the time I’m typing this, my papers for the class credit have been sent and half the classes have been approved, and my medical insurance has been renewed – I still have to take care of the social security and the tax returns, but it’s a work in progress. I’m getting there.

So how do you deal with avoidance as a coping mechanism?

I don’t have a universal method for this, but the thing that works for me – that actually works and forces me to confront what’s causing that behavior while not provoking even more distress – is to:

1 . Tackle one thing at a time.

Here, I’ve got three separate problems I’ve been avoiding unsuccessfully. I’m not going to try to solve all of these in the same day : that’s more likely to make me panic and quit / have a panic attack than succeed, and we’re trying to find a better solution than that. So I’m focusing on solving one after the other, step by step.

2 . Divide them into easily manageable chunks

Just like studying for midterms, if you try to do it all in one go, it’s going to be much more difficult than if you take the time to separate it into more manageable tasks that you can take care of efficiently and without too much stress.

For the class credits, I divided it like this : check out necessary papers / fill out class credit form / retreive official grades from my previous university / write email to the person in charge of class credits / add papers to the email and send.

While that may look like a lot of extra steps if you’re someone who’s not bothered with anxiety at the idea of doing important administrative papers, this was the right way to do it for me : it helped me stay focused on the small tasks I was doing, instead of thinking about the issue as a whole and getting overwhelmed by what was at stake here (and panicking. A lot.)

3 . Don’t hesitate to ask for help

Photo by @nate_dumlao on Unsplash

It’s easy to drown in something like this if you’re alone and have to do all of it on your own. But if you have anyone you can count on, someone you can ask some help from, then don’t hesitate to do so. My partner helped a lot, actually – not in actually doing the tasks that generated all that anxiety, but in making myself confident enough that I could handle them on my own.

Be it someone who can re-read your email before you send it for that internship you really want, someone who’s there to help you figure out which papers go where, or even just a friend to stay with you at that party where you’re so anxious to go because you won’t know anyone else… A little support can go a long way.

And if you feel like you don’t know where to even start, or that anxiety is significantly deteriorating your mental health, please consider speaking with a licensed therapist, who has the skills and knowledge needed to best assist you with these issues.

I hope this post was a little bit useful – if you have any tips on how to deal with avoidance as a coping mechanism, or with procrastination in general, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Jumping on the Notion bandwagon

It’s finally October!

As Zoom University is now back at full speed, I’ve been gradually shifting my interests in YouTube content from outfit and meme videos to studytube guides and tips for online school. I’m a very easily suggestible person, and I’d been hopping from studytube to studytube until I got to Mariana’s Study Corner‘s channel – which you can find here.

She makes a lot of excellent quality content, and has done a whole series of videos using everybody’s new favorite content manager – Notion. Being an aficionado of the bullet journal method, and loving writing stuff on paper all the time, I didn’t particularly care for it, but it still sounded interesting. It looked like something I might have wanted to check out if it fitted my style a bit better.

Then, CW from The Quiet Pond tweeted about book bloggers all making their personal Notion pages right now (and it was a really funny tweet, by the way), and that was it. I was interested.

So I went on the internet, hoping to discourage myself from trying yet one more thing just because I saw an ad for it, or heard people talking about it, and I googled “disadvantages to using Notion”.

The main one was it takes a long time to charge if you have bad internet. Wait. That’s not an inconvenient for me, I have good internet ! (I’m paying a lot for it, but with Zoom University, we couldn’t afford not to).

Aaaaand here I went, hopping on the Notion bandwagon just like everybody else. I’ve now spent a lot of hours on my homepage, set up a budget tracker, an internship hours tracker, a class tasks masterlist and a page to help me manage my late ARCs. And so far, it’s been great!

Image from @mikeyharris on Unsplash

I love how flexible Notion is, and how easy it is to use and adapt to your own methods. It lets you create tables, drop lists, checklists inside tables which you can filter according to due dates for your work, or different tags for your TBR books… the possibilities are endless and I’m enjoying it a lot.

So since I’m here and talking about Notion, I thought I’d share three of the videos that inspired me and helped me the most to understand all the different functionalities Notion has to offer :

And as an extra, if anyone’s interested, here are some pictures of my current Notion setup :

A day in my life during the summer

Continuing on with the personal posts, this one is more of an “about the blogger” type – I’ve been thinking about making a “day in the life” post for a while, so here’s a summer-themed one!

During the summer, my days are mostly split between rest days and work/study days. During the rest days, I mostly… do nothing, watch some TV, and maybe go out to do a short jogging. The work/study days are much more interesting.

Regardless of the day, I usually go to sleep pretty late, so I tend to wake up late in the morning too : it’s rare to see me emerge before 10 am on a day when I don’t have any video calls scheduled in the morning. Breakfast tends to be optional, depending on how close to 12pm I’m getting up : if it’s too close, I’ll just directly get lunch and get on with the rest of my day.

It’s taken me a while to go beyond the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mentality, and actually listen to what my body is telling me – if I’m hungry, I’ll eat something. If I’m not, and just want to eat for no apparent reason, I’ll think about it and try to figure out if the real reason might be boredom, sadness, anxiety, tiredness…

I use a bullet journal to keep track of my daily, weekly and monthly tasks, and I’ll usually check it in the morning after I wake up. If my laptop is on, I’ll also open feedly and check out what new blog posts have come out in the past day or so, and try to comment on a few of these.

Related posts : check out Kal’s post on @reader voraciousWhy I switched to Feedly for blogopping ! It’s an excellent guide on how to use Feedly to your advantage.

A part of my – relatively short – morning is spent studying : I’m taking two intensive classes this summer, and exams are fast approaching (in fact, I have one today!), which means I need to do my best to stay on top of the course work. I’ve been having some difficulties with one of those classes, as the teacher posts videos online and asks the students to watch them at home : the videos are longer and the content is more dense than in an in-person class, and it requires a lot much work to take notes on all of it.

I’ll also try to write some more on a future blog post during that time, as the building is calm and silent in the morning and I can focus much better than in the evening. I try to have a consistent lunch, but it depends on whether or not I have a lot of time before I have to go to work – for the moment, my work schedule is alternating between days when I start at 3:15pm, and days when I start at 4:15 – and it makes a huge difference in what I’m able to do at home before I have to leave.

Our apartment is located downtown, and there’s a big park nearby where me and my boyfriend sometimes go to play American football, or do some jogging – we’d like to do some boxing too, but so far haven’t found the time to do so. Often, after lunch (around 1pm), we’ll go out and spend some time outside before I have to go to work or get back home to attend my online classes.

On an average work day, it takes me about 40 minutes from the moment I leave my apartment to the moment I start working. I walk for about 10 of those, then take the metro, and get to work 5 minutes before my shift begins so I can put on my uniform shirt and grab my cashier bag to open a cash register. (And, if I’ve slept extra late the day before, I leave home 5 minutes earlier and grab a small coffee at Tim Hortons on the way to the metro station. The perks of living in a big city where you don’t have to walk half an hour to get to the nearest Tims…)

I have relatively short work days – the longest one lasts about 6 hours – since I’m not a full-time worker : my heaviest week so far is going to be this week, with a total of 27 hours planned. But I really like this job, and it helps me keep a somewhat good work-life balance : mornings are mine, afternoons and evenings are for work, and I’m home by 10pm every day so I can eat dinner, relax and spend time with my boyfriend.

In all of that, I usually manage to find some reading time during my breaks at work, and in public transport, as well as in my wake-up time before I try to do much of anything else. I’m currently trying my best to get through The way of kings by Brandon Sanderson – I liked his Skyward series so much that I decided to give a chance to his other writing too – and even if it is super interesting, it’s taking me a long time to read.

What does your day-to-day look like during the summer? Does it usually change a lot, or do you have a regular schedule you tend to follow? And how do you fit your favorite activities into your “work” days?

5 tips to study for your online exams

Unlike usual, this post isn’t about books – or rather, not about novels or recreational books. It does include textbooks, though.

Since we’re in self-quarantine here, all non-essential services are closed, which includes universities and schools all over the country. Many schools are now turning to the internet to maintain their classes online as much as possible, either having their classes live on platforms like zoom, or using panopto and other video conference software to record videos and power point presentations and make them available to their students whenever possible.

If you’re a full-time university student, like me, you’ve probably had to rethink your entire study methods over the past few weeks : online learning is, after all, very different from in-person classes. And with online classes, come… online finals !

So I thought I’d share some of the tips I found useful while preparing for my exams after switching all my classes to online learning.

1. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the exam

Many professors will assume that, since you’re doing the exam online, it makes it an open book exam – meaning, they’ll prepare their exam keeping in mind that you’ll have access to all of the course material when you take the test, and will be able to look for the answer to their questions relatively quickly.

Underestimating the difficulty of the exam is one of the most dangerous mistakes you could make : if you rely too much on having the material at hand when you take the test, and don’t put enough effort into understanding it and making sure you have a good enough comprehension of the class, you’re setting yourself up for failure. However, having the ability to look through your notes and textbooks while you’re writing your answers is an advantage that you should take advantage of !

2. Study guides are, in fact, useful

Making a study guide to keep track of all the course material you need to know to achieve the grade you’re aiming for is a lifesaver. You can use the syllabus your professor gives you at the beginning of the semester (sometimes put online so you can access it at any point during the semester) to give you an idea of the amount of work you’ll have to put in, and when you’ll need to start studying.

If you have textbooks or required reading, printing the documents and putting tabs on the side to note where the important concepts or chapters are will save you a lot of time !

3. Take advantage of your professor’s student hours

A lot of university professors still have their student hours, even while the university campuses are closed. They might answer your questions via email, or a video conference with other students, but this is an important resource you would do well not to neglect : studying on your own, at home, is difficult enough in itself.

Photo by @nickmorrison on Unsplash

If you have any questions about the material that your teacher could clarify for you, using the means at your disposition to contact them and ask for explanation could help you save your grade, and make sure you don’t lose precious knowledge that will be useful during the actual exam.

4. Pay attention to the parameters of the test !

Online exams may be available for up to 24 hours, depending on your teacher’s wishes, but that doesn’t mean you have all this time to think about your answers ! Those hours are here so that all the students can start the test at a time that fits their schedule the most. Once you start the exam, the real countdown begins : that’s the amount of time you’re allotted to actually answer the questions.

If you’re in quarantine in an apartment with one or more other people, you might want to make sure to let them know that they are not to disturb you for the entirety of the time it will take you to pass the test – concerns for plagiarism aside, there is nothing more disheartening than realizing you won’t be able to finish in tie because someone interrupted you with something that could definitely have waited one more half-hour for your attention.

You also want to make sure there’s no ambiguity over how, exactly, you’re going to be evaluated. Is it a multiple choice questions type of test, or will you have to make developed, long thought-out answers ? Does it cover all of the material, or only half the semester ?

5. Make sure your material is working properly

This one may seem pretty self-explanatory, but it’s so frustrating to hit the “send” button, only to discover you didn’t have a properly working internet connection and all your answers have disappeared when you tried to transmit them…

Side-note : this isn’t a made-up scenario : it happened to me last semester, in a multiple choice question online exam with more than a hundred questions. Luckily, I had backed up my answers by writing my choices on a paper while I went through the exam the first time, so I didn’t lose everything. Still, it took me an additional 15 minutes to re-fill the entire form, and that prevented me from being able to double-check my answers before the time limit was up. So, essentially : don’t be like me. Make sure everything works before you start the exam.

Some universities here in Canada are putting everything in place to ensure the success of their students, as best as possible. Mine, for example, offers the option to only have the mention “Success” or “Failure” in your academic file for classes in which you don’t get the grade you hoped for. My brother’s university goes one step further, making the “Failed” mention an automatic “Abandon” mention, thus making sure the results of this crisis don’t alter your GPA in any way.

What measures are other universities putting in place to best help their students ? How do you prepare for your online exams ?

My favorite comfort foods for fall

I pushed myself far out of my comfort zone today, and went to a kick-boxing class ! I haven’t done any real sport in a little more than 3 years, so, as expected, my whole body feels like overcooked spaghetti right now and I have trouble lifting the smallest things.

So, in the spirit of Blogtober, I thought I’d talk a little about one of the things I love the most in my life – up in my top 5 with books and comfy sweaters in the winter – food.

I’m a big fan of food – whether it’s a simple recipe, or something that takes 3 full hours to cook, if it tastes good, I love it. So I thought I’d share my 5 favorite comfort foods for fall !

  • Tomates farcies (“stuffed tomatoes”)

Here is a recipe in English – tomates farcies are big tomatoes, stuffed with a mix of meat, tomato, rice, bread crumbs and wine (and other things if you want to make it a fancy meal), roasted in the oven and served with a good serving of rice. They taste heavenly, and they smell like fall and Halloween to me.

this photo comes from the FOOD52 website (link above)
  • Macaroni and cheese

I discovered mac and cheese during my first fall semester in Canada, at a time when I felt pretty alone and lost in the world, and it was such a good comfort food that I almost only eat it in those circumstances. (also, cheese is life)

  • Roasted chicken and potatoes

That’s the typical Sunday meal in my family, and it’s associated with so many good moments in my life that the simple smell of cooked chicken and potatoes suffices to put me in a good mood.

  • Pancakes (covered in Nutella and bananas)

I’m extra weak :when I want pancakes, either I have the courage and time to make some at home, or… I go to Cora and order a pile of strawberry banana pancakes with an extra of chocolate sauce on the side.

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  • Cereal and milk

Breakfast food = comfort food. In fact, I think that’s what I’m going to have to do tomorrow morning : try to get out of bed early enough to go to the grocery store a few blocks from my house and buy milk to go with my cereal.

Then I’ll stay in bed and read, wrapped in my comfy blankets, and ignore my very sore muscles while I convince myself to go back to the gym next week.

10 things I’d like to do in October

If there’s one thing I love and will always keep using in my day-to-day organization method, it’s to-do lists. There’s something very satisfying in writing out your goals, and how to reach them, and then crossing items off the list one by one.

A particular type of to-do list that I’ve been doing for a while now, is a monthly “10 things I’d like to do this month” page in my bullet journal. It usually includes some really important things – papers to sign, contracts, etc. – and then some more personal items, and a few vague ones (like “eat more cooked vegetables – it doesn’t specify how much, how often, just that… it would probably be good if I tried to do that).

So here’s my “10 things I’d like to do in October” goals list !

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1 . Fill out my student loans application

This is one of the serious ones. There’s a TON of papers I need for this, and I still don’t have all of them, but I just can’t afford to procrastinate on this any longer.

2 . Get more invested in the events that happen at my new university

The fun part ! I moved recently, and have been getting used to my new campus and all my classes in September. Now that October’s here, it’s time to go out of my way to meet people, make friends, go to events that may be interesting and get involved in the local student groups. This is something I know I love doing – I just need to push myself a little bit to get out of my comfort zone at the beginning, and I haven’t regretted it yet.

3 . Find a new therapist in my new city

Mental health is important to maintain, and a university student’s mental heath isn’t usually the best there is. I’m trying to know my limits and see if I can’t deal with something on my own, and ask for help when I need it.

N.B.: If you need any help, please don’t hesitate to go see a psychologist. They’re trained professionals who aren’t here to judge you – they’re here to help. (Depending on where you live, there might be programs that offer a few appointments for free, or for a very low price !)

4 . Get better at fashion

That’s a much lighter one, and somewhat inspired by my binge-watching of Ashley at bestdressed’s YouTube videos.

I recently realized that most of my wardrobe is made of : stuff people gave me for free when I had only really old clothing; the really old clothing; and stuff my mom bought me when I was 1 and that I never wore or got rid of. There’s probably some changes that could be made in there.

5 . Cook more meals at home instead of dining out too often

In September, I spent SO MUCH MONEY on buying food outside… I’m not doing a “no-spend-October”, but I probably should. Instead, I’ll be trying out a softer “try-to-spend-less-October”, and leaving my credit card at home every other day, just to be sure not to buy too much stuff. We have food at home. Let’s see how it goes !

6 . Get a library card form my new city’s library

I’ve been living here for more than a month now, and I still haven’t gotten a library card. At this point, I’m pretty sure it’s criminal. I really should get the necessary papers and just. Go out and do it. (But I’ve been procrastinating so much…)

7 . Apply to as many jobs as possible

I worked hard during the summer to put some money aside for my tuition, and 2 months worth of rent, but it’s getting more and more urgent for me to get a job now. University books aren’t cheap, and food is really expensive in a big city.

8 . Do some form of exercise every 1/2 days

I am SO BAD at exercising. I know it’s good for you and all, but… going outside ? In the cold ? To move ?

That probably means I should try to do more of it.

9 . Try to control a bit more my phone addiction

I’ve been spending a lot of time on my phone this past month – and I mean, a lot. It’s definitely time to monitor that a bit, and see just how bad it is. (And then maybe do something about it.)

10. Try to study well, not read my class notes for hours on end without understanding what’s going on.

This is something I’ve struggled with in the past. I’ve been too focused on the time I spent studying, that I didn’t actually focus on the material of the class I was studying for, and it never ended up getting me the grades I hoped for.

This past year, I’ve been trying out new methods, studying for shorter amounts of time but focusing more on how much I know, and how much I still have to learn, and it seems to be working pretty well !

Hopefully, I’ll be able to accomplish some – if not all – of those this month. It’s pretty ambitious, or at least it feels like it, but I’m positive that I can stay ahead of things and manage pretty well this semester. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes !

Do you have a monthly goals list, or something that you use in the same way ? I’m always looking for new bullet journal layouts to try out, so feel free to recommend your favourites in the comments !
N.B. : All the photos in this post are from Unsplash.