UCAS Competition Application

For the majority of my years at school, I wanted to pursue music as a career. I began musical tuition when I was eight, took grade exams, joined choirs, played in concerts and went on tours. I studied Music GCSE, and went on to take both Music and Music Technology at A Level. After discovering that I had more of an interest in Music Tech, I applied to study Music Production at Leeds Beckett University. My love for music was so overwhelming that I never cared that it wasn’t my strongest subject. In my eyes, the passion was enough and I took English Literature at A Level as a safe subject in order to fill the spare slot. I loved my English lessons and did well in them but I was so absorbed in the world of music that I never even considered it as a alternative choice for university.

Upon arriving in Leeds, I soon became unhappy. For the first time in my life, music was all I had to worry about, and that scared me. Before, music had been my escape; an opportunity for expression and relief from reality. It was my happy place where I was comfortable and found refuge. As soon as it became the basis upon which my learning and potentially my career depended, I felt very afraid. I felt vulnerable. Music as a safe haven was being replaced with something that was no longer fun or enjoyable, but instead made me nervous. Every time I listened to a piece of music, I would be judging it against my own work and beating myself up for not being good enough.

Six months after starting uni, I dropped out. There were both financial and emotional costs, but I did it. I visited home in January and told my parents that I didn’t think music production was right for me. Straight away, my mum suggested I study English. Of course, she was right. That had been my subject all along, the subject I was good at and willing to work hard for, the place where I could truly push myself and take my learning further. I applied to several universities, received four unconditional offers and am now studying English Literature at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Studying English Literature allows me to experience life through the eyes of people who lived hundreds of years before I was born. Literature not only gives us an insight into how society functioned through history, but also stands as a creative device for expressing thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires. There is truly nothing that cannot be represented and discussed through literature.

My new course has changed the way I consider the world around me. It has given me a more analytical thought process and helps me to approach situations in every day life with greater delicacy. But most importantly, changing course has helped me to realise that sometimes the best path for you may not always be the first path you chose.

My Thoughts on Buses

There have been plentiful articles written over the years about the problems we as privileged first-world humans face with public transport. So, you may be thinking, will this be a refreshing new outlook on public transport and all it has to offer us as a population, full of quirky anecdotes and affectionate memories, giving us all a refreshing thankfulness for this service? Well, no. It won’t. Because public transport is gross.

I used to have to get a bus every morning to school, waking up at the painful hour of 6:30 to catch a bus an hour later. Hence, I have plentiful experience with the tragic affair that is the public bus. An empty bus would quite literally turn my day around. I could have had the worst day at school in my living memory, yet getting on an empty bus would lift my spirits and make me thankful to be alive. My favourite place to sit was at the back of the lower deck. I was always afraid to dare to climb the stairs incase there weren’t any empty seats and I had to do the walk of shame back down. Not only do you have to face the passengers on the top deck who all simultaneously give you the death stare to make you feel as vermin-like as possible, but you also have to face the passengers below who knew all too well that you’ve made a mistake. If by chance there was a seat at the back of the bottom deck, there’s always that one cretin who sits facing the back of the bus, with one space between them and the window. So you have to decide whether or not you want to squeeze into the window seat, meaning you have to delicately climb over them, guaranteeing humiliation for both parties, and also making you look very sad and desperate for putting that much effort in just to get a seat. The other option is to ask them politely to move over. Haha.

Once you’ve got the seating issues out of the way, it’s time to survey your surroundings. Take a look at the people sitting around you. You get all sorts on the public buses, weird and wonderful human beings from all walks of life. There’s that girl who listens to the High School Musical soundtracks through her poor quality headphones, on full volume, allowing all the nearby passengers to enjoy the music along with her. There’s that woman who is always on the phone, and when she hangs up on one, pulls another out of her pocket and starts talking on it instead. And LOUDLY. There’s the man who always has a full bottle of milk with him and consumes it during the journey. There’s the dreamy boy who broke your heart when he got on the bus with another girl from your school. There’s the annoying woman who always runs for the bus in stiletto heels and always insists on finding a seat so she can read her glossy magazines. There’s the man who always gets on at the chip shop after buying a bag of something which smelled strong. Not good strong; fishy stank strong. Then there’s the little boy with the foul language. And the dad and his two kids who always insist on sharing their family dramas with the rest of the people onboard. And that’s just to name a few. When you get the same bus every morning, you start to recognise your crowd. You notice the new Year 7 kids starting school with their huge backpacks, and watch their slow disintegration as the year goes on. You know when the next load of people are going to be getting off, and you position yourself in the optimum place to grab the free seats. If someone who usually gets on at the same stop each morning fails to do so, you begin to worry about their welfare. As a lower-deck dweller, I would recognise people who I knew would go upstairs and know they weren’t coming near the seat where my bag was perfectly comfortable.

Why is it that we care so much about the opinions of the people whose paths we briefly cross on the bus? I would panic over whether or not they could hear my music playing through my headphones (the High School Musical event taught me not to be a fool). If I was reading, I would hold the book flat across my knees so people couldn’t see the front cover (unless it was a super intelligent book in which case I held it up in front of my face). If I got a haircut, I was more worried about the looks I would get from the regulars on the bus that what my friends at school thought. Who cares if they didn’t notice it? In my mind, my haircut was fresh news and everyone would be talking about it. If anyone started laughing, I automatically assumed it was at something I’d done – was it my face? My shoes? Give me a break! Furthermore, if I was sitting in the back corner seat, I would be consumed with thoughts about how I would make an elegant exit. Do I get up before the bus arrives at the stop and hope it didn’t make any sudden movements and cause me to be hurled forwards to my death? Or do I wait until it stops and make a break for it, sacrificing people’s feet and probably taking a few bags and coats with me as I went? Usually, I took this second option, muttering ‘thank you, sorry, thank you, cheers, thanks’ as I pushed my way out. Why did I feel the need to apologise that I lived nearby to this particular stop and that it was most convenient for me to exit the bus here? Then, before I could be free, I had one final bridge to cross. Do I thank the driver? If it was a busy bus, would he even hear me? If it was quiet, he would hear me, but so would everyone else. What if they think I’m showing off and being a prat? But I don’t want to seem ungrateful… Maybe the bus driver’s been having a shitty day and it would cheer him up?

Whenever the first transport coordinators created the first public bus, I doubt they thought that there would be so many issues. They thought it would be a way of improving our lifestyles and making it easier to get around. And yes, it does – when you have an under 18s Oyster card and get to use them for free. But as soon as you become an adult, you need to start paying – and now that it’s 2015, ‘cash is no longer accepted on buses.’ What about people who don’t have Oyster cards or haven’t been able to buy a ticket somewhere? What if they’re foreign? Aren’t we supposed to be a welcoming, diverse and accepting country? Yet we force people to buy a ticket just so that bus drivers no longer need a Maths degree in order to apply for the job and be able to count out the correct change. So it’s a corrupt system really. I’ll just walk.

10 Things I’ve Learnt From Creative Writing

1. Your story doesn’t have to be like any other story. You don’t have to do the things that other authors do – it’s your call. If you want to switch between a stream of consciousness to three pages of dialogue to a description of someone’s dress, that’s fine. You do you.

2. It’s okay to change your mind. Chances are, you will change your mind. You don’t have to set the story line in stone when you first begin to write. The story can evolve and change just as your imagination does.

3. It’s not easy. You won’t be able to write the whole story in one go. You will need to take breaks, to step away from the page and live your own life sometimes. Often, you’ll find that taking a break will give you inspiration which you can use to add to your story later.

4. You don’t have to make everything up. You can use your own life experiences or tales that you’ve been told by friends and family in your story. It’s alright not to create everything from scratch.

5. You shouldn’t feel as though you have to create some deep inner meaning from what you are writing. There is a good chance that whoever reads your book will take advice, comfort, lessons, help, whatever it may be, from it without you spelling it out for them. We all learn in different ways.

6. If you struggle with describing your characters or your settings or your atmospheres in real depth, that’s okay. Often, people will be able to relate more with characters who are more vaguely described, or places that don’t have names.. It can help them put themselves and their lives into the story and connect with it personally.

7. Creating mystery is difficult. It’s so tempting to want to spell everything out for the reader and tell them how everything is unwinding as they read – but try to resist. It keeps them on their toes and builds the suspense, and will create a more exciting read.

8. Give yourself time. Especially if you’re writing for pleasure, don’t rush anything. Enjoy writing, enjoy getting to know your characters and planning where the plot is going to take them. If you take a month to write half a chapter, that’s not a problem. It’ll be a bloody good chapter.

9. A thesaurus is your friend. Don’t be afraid of it. Use it more frequently than you would like to admit. Your vocabulary will develop and expand faster than you could imagine.

10. And finally… They are YOUR characters. Not somebody else’s. You made them, and you can do whatever the fuck you like with them.

Dress Code

excuse me, Miss, he said
I’ve had a request from Mr Smart
he told me to tell you
to cover your work for
another pupil may see and want to copy
keep your hands in your lap
others won’t think straight
if they know you’re thinking too
please don’t ask questions
it’s not fair on those
who wanted to ask them first
don’t share your thoughts
they’re yours, not ours
we promote individuality here,
you know that
don’t bother giving in your homework
so long as you know you’ve done it
that’s enough
i’ve got plenty on my plate
poor me
if anything is bothering you
keep it to yourself
it will help you grow
working on your own problems
don’t use coloured pens,
it’ll only make a mess
keep it black or blue
we’ve decided to scrap capital letters
they’re only a distracting detail
from the real quality of your work
don’t use quotations
we don’t want people thinking
you actually read the books
that’s a waste of time
isn’t it
especially at your age
when you’re learning how the world works
ensure that you’re not
spending too long on anything
we wouldn’t want to put
the teachers through the effort of
giving you a good grade
then you might think you’re worth something
when we all know you’re only here
to fill the seats
to keep the boys interested
to give them excitement
extra entertainment, i suppose
everyone knows that they’d never come
if you weren’t here
and next time, Miss
wear a shorter skirt