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Ok, I have speech to make - remember in LOTR* when Bilbo has his 111th birthday party with the most amazing/perilous fireworks ever? Remember how he gets everyone together, tells them "I don't know half of you as well as I should like, and like less than half of you half as well as you deserve," before promptly disappearing? Well, this is my birthday speech (don't panic I have no plans to disappear at the end of it...yet).

"Today is my twenty-fourth birthday - one year till I hit the big Two Five. So long early-twenties, it was Fun! Hello mid-twenty something. I have things to do. Most of which I have put off for far too long. And so this year is a 25 for 25 year - twenty-five tasks to complete before I reach 25.

Boring tasks I should do to actual deal with my life (sort out finances), useful tasks (learn how to use chopsticks), fun tasks (who wants to come paragliding?) and anything else that sounds interesting. 

Here's where I need your help -

What should I include as one of the 25?

Best ideas on a postcard/comment at the end of the post/email/carrier pigeon please.

Of course, all 25 tasks will be chronicled and placed on the world wide web for your amusement. In one week I will post the list - and then let the tasks begin. 

Thank's team."




*that's Lord of The Rings for those of you who have been under a rock for the last decade.

1. Don't cry down the phone to your mother - she will worry.
2. Don't just go to Tesco and buy more Nutella.  

2. Do form a club with friends who are also mid-crisis. Give it a catchy name, The Quarter Century Crisis Crew, for example.

3. Do work out what it is that is troubling you most. Share it with your club/support group. Come up with some easy steps to help you resolve the issue.

4. Actually do them. Check that the rest of the crew are doing their's aswell

5. Enjoy life

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So, this week I went back to school. But instead of having to remember my homework and P.E. kit I had to remember the names of 30 kids and the names of 2D shapes (how many sides does a hexagon have again?). Welcome to the life of a teaching assistant.
So how has my first week been?
Educational.
I have learned that my reception teacher’s catch phrase of “Don’t knock me I’m not a door” is a completely valid phrase to use when working with children.
I have learned that despite being relatively well educated (or atleast I made it through The System with no major problems) I don’t actually know the basic rules of grammar. I can use (most of) them and I choose to ignore several, but I don’t actually know the rules – this is kind of a problem when you’re expected to help others learn them.
I have learned that I need to listen when the teacher gives instructions.
I have learned race is something 6 and 7 years old discuss, and one of the first questions they’ll ask you (just because one is not white does not mean that one is not English yeah).
I have learned that I need to seperate my wardrobe into clothes that are nice but not too nice for school (just incase some kid throws up on me – paranoid much? Not me)
I have learned that male primary school teachers are human too (who ever would have thought).
I have learned that teaching would be much easier with less children or more adults.
I have learned that I am in danger of turning into my mother sooner than I thought – my mother has been a teaching assistant for over ten years and I'm finding myself using some of her favourite phrases.
I have learned that you should never judge a job by your first day.
I have learned that I need to find where I left my angry voice (somewhere in 2008 I think).
I have learned that I never want to be a teacher. If I ever tell you I want to be a teacher please ask for the real Rachel to please stand up because I have clearly been abducted and replaced by my stepford wife replacement.
As you can see – it’s been educational.
Am I looking forward to next week? I’ll let you know Sunday evening.

So you’re about to depart the comfy confines of your mother’s house (with the never empty fridge and the Laundry Fairy that cleans your clothes for you) to fend for yourself in the strange world of university life. Here are my words of wisdom for those of you embarking on this historic journey:

1. Be  Social. Do you want to have no friends? Do you want to spend all your free time sitting in your room by yourself staring at a wall? I’m hoping the answer is no – so get out and meet people. Sure, you’re bound to meet some people you never want to hang out with again (always make sure you have a tenner and number for a local registered cab firm in case you want to make an early exit). But you’re also bound to meet some friends for life – shout out to my uni homegirls!  

2. Get used to answering the following questions: name, home town, course, halls. The proactive among you may want to get this printed on a business card to avoid having to repeat it a hundred times a day.

3. Find other people who love Jesus. When university life tests your faith and your boundaries it’s good to have other people facing the same pressures alongside you. Your Christian Union will most likely have a few events during freshers week – so go to them. University is often a make or break point for many. Find your CU here.

4. Find a church. So important I should have put it first. The first few weeks of term churches quite often put on a student lunch – meet with other Christians and free food - ForTheWin!

5. Get to know the people you live with.

6. Work out a budget and stick to it. No-one wants to eat nothing but beans and toast for the last few weeks of term because you bought a new pair of boots or a couple of computer games when your loan came it. Check out this articlefor some budgeting advice.

7. Be generous – share without expecting anything in return.

8. Join a few random clubs and societies. They often have free trials the first week. Pick a couple of things you’re interested in and something random that you’ve always wanted to try but never have. Join the first week is often free so take the opportunity to try out something different.

9. Decorate your room. At least stick a couple of posters up. Makes it much more homely and less clinical.

10. Eat properly. Laziness is not an excuse for eating pasta and pizza everyday. Add a few vegetables to your meals. Eat some fruit. You’ll feel physically better for it. Buy a student cook-book or check here for some easy recipes. Can't decide what to cook? Check this website for help deciding. 

11.   Contact your parents every once in a while – they want to know if you’re still alive.

12.  Study. Believe it or not you are primarily there to study. Don’t fall for the lie that university is all about staying up late, drinking too much, getting up late and missing lectures. You are there to study. Make it a priority.

13. Don't forget that through all the ups and downs of uni life God is with you.  He will never leave you.