All posts by laursenavfc

Five unskippable albums

I spend a lot of time listening to music but I do not like to change the album all that often. Because of this I try to listen to albums that I know I will never get sick of as every single track is great. There are so many out there but here are just five of my favourites. I can easily listen to these once every 24-48 hours!

1. Lewis Capaldi – Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.
This is the debut album by Scottish singer song writer Lewis Capaldi. If there is a song you know off of it, it is probably Hold me while you wait, Someone you loved or Bruises. There are many more singles on this album unsurprisingly, but also some other songs that could easily feature as singles.

My favourites: Maybe, Forever and One.

2. Busted – A Present For Everyone 
To be honest, I could have named any of Busted’s four studio albums. This is their second effort and was released all the way back in 2003, in their youthful pop punk sound. This one is also packed full of singles which includes the fan favourite ‘thunderbirds are go’ and ‘crashed the wedding’.

My favourites: Fake, Nerdy and She Wants To Be Me.

3. Dean Lewis – A Place We Knew.

I am sure you have heard me talk about this Australian singer song writer before on my blog! This a much newer album and was released last year as his first. This is another one packed full of amazing unskippable tracks, which is important due to his limited back catalogue. I hope its not too long we have to wait for his second album!

My favourites: Waves, Chemicals and Don’t Hold Me.

4. Blink-182 – Enema Of The State

The famous line “nobody likes you when you’re 23” from hit single What’s my age again. I recently turned 23 so it seemed very fitting to include this album today. That and all the small things will be the most popular songs of this album but there are plenty of great songs that I know Blink fans still love, even 21 years after this albums release. A timeless classic in my opinion!

My favourites: Dumpweed, Don’t Leave Me and Dysentery Gary.

5. Dermot Kennedy – Without Fear.

As you can tell by now, I love my singer song-writers and Dermot Kennedy is no exception. His debut studio album released last year is the fifth and final unskippable album that I am writing about today. Despite its release as an album last year, its five singles spans over almost two years with the first ‘Moments Passed’ released in September 2017 and the latest ‘Outnumbered released in June 2019.

My favourites: What Have I Done, Outnumbered and Rome.

These are just three of my favourite songs from each of the five albums, but I could list so many more. I highly recommend that you listen to at least one if not all five of these, and find yourselves some great albums to listen to thoughout.

Please share if you know these albums already as well as any albums you find unskippable!

5 Tips to stop procrastinating at uni

Bored formal man watching laptop at desk

University for many is a constant struggle between finding the balance of having fun and motivating yourself to study. If we are constantly studying, we are never having fun. But if we are never studying, we are not having any fun either when it comes to our grades. Here I share with you some tips I use to try and help me survive a little better.

To not procrastinate, you may have to procrastinate a little! 

This may sound a little strange off the bat but I cannot even begin to describe the importance of it. What I mean here is do not work yourself too hard and allow yourself to have a healthy amount of breaks that do not interfere with your productivity. I am guilty of trying to work through the stress and I can assure you that the quality is not merely as good as it would be if I took some time off. I feel that if you try to work through stress like this it is demotivating and make me less likely to study or get anything meaningful done.

Switch off from the world!

Switch off from as much social media applications and stuff that can wait until you’re done studying. The constant desire to check your phone is incredibly distracting. Ever since I muted notifications for quite a few of my apps, I noticed that I started to check my phone less. There’s no distractions or noises which means you can fully focus and try to get into the zone for your studies!

Organising and to-do lists!

Notebook

This one is incredibly important to me. You can use a diary or whatever works for you, but just write down the things you want to achieve in a day and work through it as a checklist. Make it realistic and achievable so you do not get too disappointed if you do not achieve everything. Be kind to yourself but also have some kind of goal or achievement that you are working towards. Do not forget to have breaks too and allow for recovery days which may not be so productive for your studies, but productive and kind for your soul.

Intense periods without distractions.

I think we have all been a stage where we are struggling to work whether it is because we are demotivated or struggling to find the information we want to include in our work. We end up checking Facebook every twenty minutes or so and we do not seem to get anywhere with our work. If it has got to this stage then maybe you would benefit from an intense period such as an hour, where you try to do as much quality work as you can. Or at least stay off social media. I like to give myself breaks when I can so this does not always work for me, but I appreciate that everyone works differently. Find the best study skills that work for you and that are healthy!

Set up your work station!

Laptop on Table Beside Mug

You are going to want to take breaks of course regularly, to go the toilet and stretch so make sure you are not in your seat for too long. Do not let your eyes stare at the computer too! But what is beneficial is to have your work set up to a state of comfort that helps you study, but does not hinder your performance. I like to have a full water bottle nearby with a snack just to help me power through. You can also have all your pens and paper nearby so you have no excuses not to be studying!

I hope you find these tips useful and enjoyed reading this entry. Please use the comment section to share some of your own tips!

Life is moving on quick…

Too quick. Now in my third year of university and back in England, the life I once created for myself earlier this year seems like a distant memory. As much as I hold onto the memories, I am excited for the future. But for now, adjusting to (what feels like a whole new life… ‘back to reality’ and all that) life again is pretty dismal if I must say so.

Its strange though, I am not sure if the final year of my studies is the busiest, but it certainly is the most difficult. For a bunch of reasons too. It is not just the big step up in work, but it is the energy that I am severely lacking to finish something I was so excited about a few years ago. It seems that everyone talks about how university will be the best years of your life (and damn, my semester abroad may well be) but they rarely if ever talk about the detail of the stress and anxiety it causes.

I’m not just talking about the little stress over leaving your work to the last minute, or anxiety about a singular grade. I’m talking the kind that slowly eats away at you until you have nothing left. Somehow though I am still fighting, but fit and fight… I am not so sure? I am ‘COPING’, I guess. I am like that hamster who keeps running around his stupid cage, or that boxer who keeps getting up after each knockout. I do not seem to know when to quit.

University is probably not the best thing for me now and I honestly cannot tell you how excited I am to finish right now. It is ironic really, as I think it has been a journey that I needed, but now I really could do without. The day I finally graduate will be a milestone, for a range of reasons. But mostly for the mental strength that has got me this far.

Stay strong and stay positive 🙂

Five of my pet peeves

Mad formal executive man yelling at camera

I have so many to name, I can already a sense a part two coming. 😛 But for now, let us get started on five of my pet peeves (in no particular order). You know, the things that you absolutely cannot stand that other people do. The things that are testing your patience and even though you are dying to warn your friend or acquaintance about, you save them from the potential embarrassment.

1) Old fashioned views / narrow-minded people

I think that these two generally go hand in hand, so I have included them as one whole pet peeve. I like to have an open mind and surround myself with like-minded people for the good of my mental health. But it is so easy to come across narrow-minded people. It can be the older generation who are stubborn and refuse to listen to new music or it can be the younger generation refusing to try new food and culture. Narrow-minded people exist at all ages and it drives me crazy. These people will dismiss things before they have given them a fair chance. It is isn’t rock science to give things time and a fair opportunity in my opinion.

2) Obstructed sight

This is perhaps a particularly unique one that I do not hear people discussing often and I wonder how many people it does annoy. I am generally referring to when I am a football match and I have to watch it through the netting, or a fence, or if there are poles in the stand that spoil my view. I cannot relax that well in these situations as I find it so obstructive and distracting. Another time I noticed this quite recently was when I was at the beach and I wanted to look out and appreciate the wide strand without distractions.

3) Selfish/Inconsiderate people

This one is pretty clear and obvious. It must affect a lot of people. Those that play music too loud or smoke in bus shelters are just some things that selfish and inconsiderate people do. I think most of the time people are just too selfish to think about if the shoe was on the other foot… They need to think about how it would feel if they had to put up with their annoying behaviour.

4) Incorrect mask-wearing

This one is especially relevant right now and it goes out to those wearing a mask around their neck, or not covering their nose. Or even worse, not wearing one at all. If they are exempt then this is okay but I feel that too many people are abusing these rules. I mean I have autism and I am asthmatic, so I could have reasons not to wear one. Yes, it is uncomfortable and not ideal but if its something that can save me or others then it has to be done. Don’t be difficult… If you can then wear your mask and wear it right!

5) People who watch videos in public spaces without headphones

Woman Placing Her Finger Between Her Lips

Oh gosh, I cannot believe that I did not think of this one sooner. First of all, it is selfish and inconsiderate to everyone around you. Second of all, headphones are portable and cheap so there is no excuse. Nobody wants to hear your tinny music or annoying mobile phone sounds. What I loved about Sweden was they had a properly designated quiet zone that people took seriously. I think Swedes are perhaps more reserved than other people but they are not afraid to speak up when someone is spoiling their quiet zone. That I can respect and it made for some peaceful journeys.

Do any of my pet peeves also bother or annoy you? What are your pet peeves? Please do share in the comments.

being too hard on yourself

Brown eyes of scared young person

I think we are all guilty of being too hard on ourselves at some point in our lives. For some like me, it is a constant struggle that can go unnoticed or forgotten as we are so consumed by live moving by awfully quickly. The stress of everyday life or important tasks can build up and there is also a lot of social pressure and competition that many people of all ages face. This means we can form such high expectations and eventually exhaust ourselves with the constant thinking and worrying if we will meet these expectations.

Depending on the context or circumstances there are a range of ways to handle yourself so that you are not too hard on yourself. I think what is most important for me and possibly a lot of other people is AWARENESS. I am referring to the ability to recognise the problem at hand, but also to acknowledge where we are at currently in our lives in comparison to where we have been. When you have been at rock bottom you know just how bad it can be. I have tried to use similiar negative experiences to this as a means of pushing myself forward. It makes me want to work hard so that I can grow and not be in bad places. If you are able to acknowledge the past like this but not dwell on it, then I think it is of incredible value to your self-growth.

I would like to think that the majority of people are striving for the best versions of themselves, but any kind of progress is progress really. If you are moving forward at your own pace then you are doing something right in my opinion. Make realistic goals for yourself so that you have an idea of what you are working towards but do not get too upset if things do not work out the way you had planned. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. There is time to adapt and change, there is time to grow.

Don’t think that you have to do EVERYTHING the ‘right way’. Be realistic and stay true to yourself. There are likely to be setbacks but you are incredibly strong and can do this in your own time. Focus on the most important things that will bring you immediate happiness so that you can get started on the right foot.

Premier league 20/21 season starts tomorrow!

Flat Screen Television
Sadly we are going to have to get used to this view in order to get our fix of Premier League football.

Sometimes it feels like just the other day when the final ball was kicked of the 19-20 season. It was a beautiful day when Jack Grealish scored the important goal to keep my favourite team Aston Villa in the Premier League. But as we know life moves on very quickly and new challenges and adventures are always forming around us. Tomorrow is just that, with the start of the new Premier League season kicking off at 12:30 pm with a match between Fulham and Arsenal.

Right now there will be no fans inside stadiums at this elite level and I can see it being like this for a while. I think it is safe to say that football (at any level really) is simply not the same without its fans. This is a topic I feel strongly about and have mentioned previously on my blog. But I also believe that the true die-hard fans of football will be grateful that we can pull together any kind of football in these difficult times. It is not the way we would like it, but it is the way it has to be for now. What we MUST appreciate is the effort that has gone into making the return of football feasible, such as the extensive cleaning measures and safety precautions that are occurring.

I for one am incredibly grateful that football is back, in any kind of capacity. It is possible to enjoy non-league football around England which is great, but it also feels great to have another Premier League season kicking off. I will be watching closely and hoping that my team Aston Villa can continue to stay in the Premier League after our first campaign back there last season. We have made two positive signings I feel and I am excited to see who else we can add before the transfer window shuts.

Seeing all of these signings and more occur, I have become even more excited for the season opener tomorrow. I wanted to take things into my own hands and act as the manager for these exciting athletes. So for the first time in many many years, I have decided to register a team for Fantasy Football. For those that you do not know what it is, you basically pick a team of 15 players for a combined price of £100m. You then earn points for how well a player performs in real life. It is a great way to connect with the game whilst competing against friends and family!

I invite you all to join my free Premier League Fantasy Football league Just click this link and follow the steps https://fantasy.premierleague.com/leagues/auto-join/280yfc

Are you looking forward to the new Premier League season? What team do you support? Who is in your Fantasy Football team?



The next chapter (back in the UK).

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Flying during a pandemic is not fun.

It was almost 8 months ago now since I took that brave step onto the plane. COVID-19 would not be declared a pandemic for a while yet, so the only nerves around were if I was going to ‘fit in’ or enjoy myself. I had put a lot of work into getting this far that had exhausted me mentally and physically, so a lot of expectation obviously built in regards to wanting a fabulous lifetime experience. The thought of this filled me with excitement and nerves all at the same time for my months studying abroad in Sweden. I was there much longer than planned but I have been back in the UK for almost a week now and I wanted to update you with what is happening for me.

I am now self-isolating in my university accommodation because of travellers quarantine. It has been a strange week from having a fantastic summer filled with freedom in Sweden to being ‘locked inside’ for two weeks. I suppose it is not ideal but I guess that is the price I paid for not returning before stricter travel rules were applied. To be even more honest though and what may appear strange to many is, that I am pretty much fine with this isolation period.

YES! You must think I am extremely peculiar. But after such a busy and tiring yet enjoyable summer, even the best of us need a little time to recharge. This is just natural and healthy. I was flying from Denmark but of course, the majority of my time was spent in Sweden so that is the reason why I have to isolate. I had the most wonderful and unforgettable experience, but, now it is time to get back to and readjust to my life back home in England.

As you probably know already, I was living in Sweden to study abroad since I am a university student. I believe this is generally something that is offered in the second year of your studies, so now I have a busy third and final year ahead of me. I do not think studying in the middle of a pandemic is ideal. I am worried about readjusting to a greater workload and probably a lot more face-to-face interaction than I had in the spring. We are in a period of uncertainty and it seems like I continue to face struggles, but I am determined to persevere in the face of adversity and finish my degree.

If you could witness any event in history, what would it be?

Anonymous person with binoculars looking through stacked books

Although I am focused more on the present and future these days, there are still so many events in history I would have loved to have been at. Of course, most of them took place years before I was born, but, there are also some in my lifetime that I simply was not present for. I will be describing multiple events as it is so hard for me to pick just one.

A Green Day concert in the 90s / pre Dookie.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this band. They are by far my favourite band of all time and I love most of their music, but there is something special about their early releases. Back when their music was incredibly ‘punky’ and they were playing intimate shows at 924 Gilman Street… That forever remains an era I’d love to be in. I reckon a teenage me would be stage diving and moshing till I drop!

1982 European Cup Final

Since I was born in 1997, this was long before my time. For the non-football fans of my blog, this well-renowned competition is known now as the Champions League. Back in 1982, my team, Aston Villa were crowned champions after a 1-0 win against Bayern Munich. It is a huge event in the history of our club and is still sung about almost 40 years later. I know a few that were there and it sounds like an incredible day! Millions will have supported Aston Villa but only 12,000 were lucky enough to be there that day. I can only hope something as amazing as that happens for Villa in my lifetime.

Mob football

I am really fascinated by sports history. I would love to have been around the industrialisation period so I could see the sports available at the time and how they were changing towards what they are today. I am not really a fan of violent sports but I would love to have seen a game of Mob football – which appears to be a forerunner to what we now know as Association Football, or soccer depending on where you are from. It was essentially a football match between two villages of people, which allowed kicking and biting. The only rule seemed to be no murder… Crazy right?

Why I hate small talk (As an autistic person).

Man Wearing White Top in Front of Woman Wearing Blue Long-sleeved Top

As an introverted autistic person, I was bound to hate small talk. I do not think research is needed to show that many people like me hate to engage in it. Many people seem to have small talk regularly whilst others can just about manage it. Me though? I absolutely cannot stand it and here is why…

The main issue I have with small talk is that it feels incredibly forced. People seem like they are scared or at the very least feel awkward around there being silence, so they force out this generic small talk. But I believe if you are with the right person silence can be comforting. It does not have to be a bad thing. I have never been a fan of fake people or fake conversation and it is so easy to spot. The questions are so boring and they invite dull or blunt answers: this actually makes it worse for me as the conversation is not flowing naturally, nor are either party really that interested in it. It is like trying to fill a hole but the two of you are just digging even deeper.

There must be some kind of myth around introverted people being anti-social but a lot of the time, it can be the complete opposite. Many of us are comfortable with silence and enjoy our own company. This means that we can communicate on our own terms and with people, we can genuinely connect with. There is no urgent desire to go chasing people that we do not need or connect with. It is nice to keep our circles small. This for me is incredibly rewarding, as I know I do not have to go through that small talk stage with people. I know that there are others out there that think and feel the same way as me. That is most comforting.

The whole small talk stage of any kind of friendship or relationship – even meeting a colleague for the first time can be incredibly boring. The same generic questions you hear and have to repeat every time, for example, “Where are you from?”, “What is the weather like where you’re from?”, etc. How do I know you are truly interested? Truthfully it feels like being attacked with question after question, with no authenticity or meaning behind it. It is like getting a snapshot of somebodies life without any real connection. It is so fake.

Small talk can happen so fast and as an introvert, I like time to listen and process information before I give a response. This allows my answer to be more honest and well-thought-out. How can I tell you how I am feeling when I am not sure if you care? What would happen to the conversation if I told you I was feeling upset or stressed or confused? Would it continue? I think with many people it would not, but I am not sure as I do not open up too much to just anyone. I want to feel like I can trust the person I am speaking to and that they are likely to follow up on my answer, otherwise it is just wasted, meaningless conversation – just like small talk.

quarantine is looming

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I am into the last two weeks now of my adventure to Sweden. The place I have called home for the past 7 months will soon become countless memories. This upsets me enough as it is as I have grown so comfortable being here and I am enjoying the many sights, cities and towns I have visited. Summer is ending though (evidently so with the changing colours of the leaves) and soon it will be time to return and continue my studies back in England.

An issue I am really struggling to come to term with is a 14-day quarantine that is mandatory for returning to England from Sweden. The reckless approach to the Covid-19 pandemic from my host country has cost me this freedom. I suppose this can be rich to say, considering I have had a lot of freedom these past few months because of no lockdown… But my feelings still exist. It is difficult to go from living the time of my life, to being practically locked in my room for two weeks.

Woman in Green and White Stripe Shirt Covering Her Face With White Mask

I am an ‘outdoorsy’ person, especially in the summer and warmer months. I want to experience what I have been missing back home and to see friends and family. These are people I have not seen in the flesh for over 7 months now. To go that long is difficult enough but to be so close to them and to have to wait two weeks to see them is straining. I genuinely do not know how I will survive inside for so long without going a little crazy. I know for sure I have plenty I could be getting on with, but knowing there is no freedom and I am basically forced to do that is upsetting.

I think the most frustrating thing is reading about all this rule-breaking and bending back home. All of the mass gatherings happening and politicians breaking rules. I guess just about anything that has happened that does not respect the government guidelines. Even things like thousands going to beaches, or people going to the pubs. There are no doubt thousands and thousands of people who are not scared of or are taking the virus seriously in England (amongst other countries probably). Whereas I am someone who is not thinking of pub visits or visiting hotspot areas. I am simply a student wanting to see his friends & family and catch some easily socially distanced semi-professional football games.

ball, field, football

But no, I am just a person coming from ‘high risk’ country. Why is there no exemption for a student returning from his studies, who needs to be back for his next year of study? I am just being classed in the same group as holidaymakers, who are brave or stupid enough to go on holiday during a pandemic. Is this fair? Who even knows. I guess I had my chance back in June… June 8th I think was the deadline for no quarantine when returning to England. That was a long time ago though and I thought the situation would get better. I hate the thought of quarantine but I will never regret my decision to stay and experience Swedish summer. A truly unforgettable experience.

To those reading this: Have you had to experience quarantine, whether you were a returning traveller or because of a lockdown period in your country or area. Please share me with your thoughts and how you managed to survive.