Sober for October; the story so far

10 days in and it’s fair to say that my sober October has already come with its ups and downs. The support I’ve received from my friends and family is undeniably the thing that has kept me going and my motivation up. None of my friends have attempted to peer pressure me into drinking (not that I would budge) and my mum is singing my praises at home!

The combination of the local lockdown, closed nightclubs and an increased workload has also worked in my favour. My motivation has been so happy to see the back of binge drinking, getting home in the early hours of the morning and writing off whole days at a time! I’ve been able to get up early and straight to work on most days. The third-year workload, Quench magazine, my blog and new food Instagram account has demanded all my head space, so, the no drinking couldn’t have come at a better time. My life has been absolutely filled with reading and writing!

Another interesting turn of events which has added to my sober October is a round of antibiotics! For the first time in my life I have been forced into a 9-day dry spell due to medication and it couldn’t have coincided with a better month. It has only added to the motivation and reasons to stay sober, so I’m extremely grateful for my ailments!  

Bring on the next 20 days!

Sober for October; The first hurdle

“The university climate can be brutal and intense, but nothing I can’t rise above.”

My alcohol consumption may be deemed as marginally unhealthy by the average person (I go to University), and I’ve decided to make a change. On the 1st of October my co-editor, Indigo, from Quench magazine pitched her article idea of ‘Sober for October’ and her plans to write about her experience of a sober month. I thought it was a brilliant idea. That night as I was lying in bed my mind was consumed by this pitch.  Was this the inspiration I needed? Was this the perfect excuse to test myself? I am someone that lives for goals and I truly struggle to achieve without something to work towards. I sat upright in bed as it dawned on me. I needed to be a part of this. I text Indigo straight away to let her know that she had inspired me to follow suit. She immediately responded with the idea to co-write the article. I agreed. Suddenly, I was committed and had the ultimate goal to work towards.

It’s been three days and it’s safe to say that I have had no issues so far. The current social climate of Cardiff and the lockdown measures is definitely helping me due to the forced removal of all club suggestions. I watched my housemate enjoying a couple beers as we watched a film together last night, but, surprisingly, I found it to be light work. I am someone who thoroughly enjoys a casual drink as I genuinely love the taste of alcohol and the gentle buzz generated from that first drink. So, for me to have no inclination to participate in the beer drinking was my first win.

My boyfriend and my mum are my biggest supporters so far. They are both keen for me to cut back my drinking and put my physical and mental health first. This has added an enjoyable amount of pressure as I know that if I fail, I am not just letting myself down, but the people who care about me and I really don’t want that to happen!

I have never felt so inclined to achieve a goal, nor so at one with my decisions. Although many people would not believe a month sober is a big deal, it will be a big deal to me to know that I can do it. The university climate can be brutal and intense, but nothing I can’t rise above.

Stay tuned to find out how I get on!

Tips for cooking in a Uni/shared kitchen

Over my years of uni kitchen cooking I have continuously struggled with the entire experience. The surfaces are always dirty, you can never find the right equipment and there is always way too many people in the kitchen at once. Here is a few tips to help you stay level headed in a chaotic environment!

Plan your cooking time

If I’m cooking something a little more time consuming like a lentil dal or risotto, I like to cook it during the day at an odd time when no one else is in the kitchen. I can spread myself out and dominate the room for an hour and make as much mess and use as much cooking equipment as I possibly can with little complaint. This means when I go to eat at a regular dinner time and there’s multiple people crowding up the room, I can just heat up my pre-prepared food! Also, I would have been able to wash everything up and clean the surfaces beforehand! I can enjoy my food coma in peace without being nagged to clean up all my stuff.

Make sure you wash everything up on time

When you live with 6 people who are all cooking for themselves throughout the day, it doesn’t take long for the kitchen to become absolutely crammed with dirty dishes. This creates such a nasty environment to live in and really puts anyone off from entering the room and cooking in there. If you live with messy people, it’s a good idea to set the example of doing your washing up early and keeping a tidy space. This encourages people to follow suit and removes at least one lot of washing up from the kitchen sides.

Hide any special things you don’t want anyone to use

I can become particularly attached to certain items of kitchen equipment and easily irritated if they are left used and unwashed. A microplane is my favourite item of kitchen equipment ever. It is so versatile and grating garlic and ginger has become a daily activity for me, so I want it to be in perfect condition. As soon as I started storing it at the back of my cupboard, preventing anyone using it to grate cheese on their bolognese, I never had any issues with locating it ever again. All had been restored to natural order once again.

Keep the kitchen cupboards well organised

A lot of equipment can be accumulated in a shared kitchen of 6 and it can become overwhelming when rooting through a cupboard to locate a saucepan among multiple cheese graters and colanders. If you’ve made the decision to share culinary equipment with your housemates (like we did), it is important to get a good system together. Stack the plates and bowls together in the same cupboard. Group together all saucepans and frying pans in a way that feels natural. When you need a cheese grater you want to be confident that you’ll find it before your pasta gets cold! Most importantly – make your system make sense! We all know that a kitchen knife doesn’t belong anywhere near a baking tray.

Be easy going

It is nearly impossible to completely change someone to having the same clean mindset as you and the best you can do is just go along with it. If you are forced to live in a messy kitchen, you don’t want to fill it with animosity. There’s nothing worse than having to co-exist in such a small space with someone who you’ve had consistent arguments and issues with. Uni students are not the cleanest of people and that is something you have to get used to!

Transitioning from a fresher to a not-so-fresh-er

After a summer of fun, travel and ignoring my reading list, it was time to return to Cardiff. The arrival of the moving day generated emotions and questions from all sides of the spectrum. The joy at returning to one of my favourite cities, the sorrow of leaving my family and boyfriend and the anxiety of whether my friendships remained as strong as when I left. Would we all still get on? Would it be different this year? Would the change in dynamic destroy us? And most importantly of all, do I still like my course? I had enjoyed summer so much and even though moving into first year had been a much bigger change, for some reason, I wasn’t quite ready for second year. The idea of living in our own house, paying our own bills and remembering to take out the bins felt so much MORE than moving into halls (that just felt like an extended school trip). Similarly, it was dawning on me how much harder I would have to work this year… 40% of my entire degree was at stake and there were no second chances (August resits are not an option). If I wanted to do well and feel satisfied with myself, hard work was a neccesity. Of course, as soon as I had moved in, waved goodbye to my mum and got down to the pub with my friends, I felt settled. Even though we all hadn’t seen eachother in a very long time, it felt like no time at all, nothing had changed. We had a whole week to enjoy freshers and catch-up before timetabled lectures started. However, I couldn’t enjoy this guiltlessly… I had signed up to do the Cardiff half marathon on the 6th October to raise money for Alzhiemers society(!) I had told myself all summer that my training would continue smoothly throughout freshers and I would successfully refrain from drinking. I was so wrong. But, I succesfully completed the half in 02.02 hours and raised £630 for Alzhiemers society, so all was well. Since lectures began, my motivation has been increasing and will hopefully continue to do so until firsts come easy… My housemates all get along just as well as we did the year before and the dynamic within the house is perfect. The moral is, don’t stress too much about things that don’t deseve it. Most things will work out how you want it to, as long as you put in the ground work and time.