How to get through the exam period

I know that for most of us, no matter what school curriculum we’re in, it has got to that point in the year when summer is so close… but we have to get through exams first! I’m a high school junior, so this is the biggest and most stressful year for me, and I’m sure that a lot of you guys are also taking big exams and are under a lot of pressure at the moment. This blogging family we have created is always so supportive of each other, and I think we really do a good job at sharing and receiving advice, so today I wanted to share some of my own tips on how to survive the exam period; hopefully, these are useful to you, and if you have any tips you would like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

Do not cram

Cramming is not an effective way of studying! Not only does trying to learn everything in a few days stress you out completely, but your brain can’t handle it. It’s better to have paid attention in class all year and been learning as you go, rather than try and learn everything the night before a test.

The night before a test, sleep is more important

Staying up all night to do that extra bit of studying instead of getting a good nights sleep before an important test is not worth it. Even though you may have studied a lot, if you come into the exam room tired and unfocused, all your hard work will not pay off. Obviously, don’t use sleeping as an excuse not to study in the weeks before an exam, but the night before, I think sleeping a decent amount is more valuable.

Make a list

Some times when you look at a whole course syllabus, it’s a little overwhelming; there’s so much to go over, and it often feels impossible that you will get through it all. One way that I deal with this is by making a list of all the specific things that I need to do, for example, I write out the pages I need to take notes on, the worksheets I’m going to do etc.. and I write out the specific time that I’ll do it out, so that I know that I can fit it into my day. Not only does this help you stay organized, but it’s really satisfying to cross things off a to-do list.

Just before an exam, get in the zone

Before an exam I always ensure that I go into the room with a clear mind; I don’t want to be stressed, tired, or thinking about something else during the test. This means that while other people are doing last minute studying and checking problems before going into the test room, I keep to myself and focus on what I’m going to do. I think that talking to people about content just before a test can really stress you out, and sometimes ruin your confidence, so it’s better to focus on yourself.

Keep a level head

One thing that I always find hard is keeping a level head during a test. If I come across a question which I don’t know how to answer, I let it get to me and get very stressed out and agitated. It’s much better to leave this question and come back to it at the end, rather than spending lots of time and letting it get to you.

Use all your time

Use your time! Don’t just sit there doing nothing if you have extra time; make sure you check your answers instead of just closing your test booklet and taking a nap! You may pick up on something really important by going over your work again.

I hope that some of these exam and testing tips are useful to you, and help you get through this busy period. Let me know if you use any of these, or if you have any you would like to share in the comments below!

See you next week and best of luck with exams!

Little Miss Expat

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How to make plane rides more comfortable

If you’re traveling anywhere for spring break hopefully this advice is coming just in time! Today I want to share some of my top tips for making your plane rides as comfortable as possible. I live in Dubai, which is a global melting pot, so I’m lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel quite a bit. Through my experience, I’ve managed to come up with a list of things that I always do to make my travel time fun and enjoyable.

Do something active before your flight

Personally, if I know that I’m going to be on a plane ride which is more than 5 hours, I like to do something active the morning of my flight in order to tire out my body. I usually have trouble sleeping on flights, and I get really restless if I’m not moving around for a long time. By exercising in the morning, I feel accomplished (as I know I haven’t just sat down all day on a plane), my body is more tired so I fall asleep easier, and I am less restless when I’m sitting down for a long period of time.

Have water available 

Staying hydrated on a flight is super important! It’s very easy to dehydrate without even knowing. Always make sure to have a water bottle and to fill it up in the airport before your flight, and don’t be scared to ask for extra water on the plane! I’ve even been on some planes recently where there is a small station to fill up your water bottle. Staying hydrated on a flight will make it easier to adjust when you land and will make you feel a lot less tired when you reach your destination.

Dress in layers

Is it just me, but when I’m on a flight I either seem to be really hot or really cold? This sometimes makes me super uncomfortable, and I’ll be sweating a lot or shivering in my seat. The temperature on a flight is unpredictable, so ensure that you dress in layers that are easy to put on and take off to make sure you’re not sweating or shivering.

Do your research

Flights are long periods of time where you don’t really have much to do; take advantage of this! Sometimes I just need to catch up on sleep, but other times I like to use this time productively. I would hate to be sitting on a flight bored, with nothing to do! So I usually look at what movies are offered on the plane, and if there’s something that isn’t on there I’ll download it on my phone. I also take some work with me if I feel like I could get something done on a flight. Whatever it means to you, just make sure you have enough to do on a plane.

I hope that some of these tips are helpful in making your flights as comfortable as possible! Let me know in the comments section if you use any of these tips and if you have any that you would add to this list? (I also wrote a blog post about my in-flight essentials you can click here if you would like to read it)

See you next week,

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4 tips to fix any bad day

Have you ever had one of those days where it just feels like everything is going wrong? Or where all you want to do is go home and curl up in your bed? Yup, we’ve all had those days. It sometimes comes from stress, fatigue, or just certain circumstances. I’ve recently been having some of those days, where one thing goes wrong and then everything else just cascades into a downward, stressful, overwhelming spiral, and it’s so hard to pull yourself out of it. For me, it’s because of stress, it’s a really busy time of year for me at the moment, but I’ve managed to come up with four tips that can fix any bad day for me.

Number one: Schedule in an ‘away time’

This is something that I do a lot if I’m having a day where I just know that I need a break. Sometimes when you’re having one of those days you know you just need to stop, because if you try and do more or carry on at this point you’re not going to gain anything from it. When I’m super stressed out, I always ask myself: am I really going to get anything done in the next 20 mins, or would I be better off giving my brain a break? If the answer is the latter I stop what I’m doing. Sometimes you reach that wall where doing more of something is actually detrimental. So I’ll take 20 mins and talk to a friend, watch a youtube video, or go for a walk or a run. Getting away from the thing that is stressing you out or upsetting you allows you to come back with a fresh and clear mindset which is so much more effective than struggling through it.

Number two: Treat yourself

I know you hear this phrase a lot, but it is really useful! If you’re having one of those bad days do something that you know will instantly put you in a good mood. For me, that will sometimes mean eating a specific food, listening to music, or going to a specific place, whatever it is, schedule in something that will make you happy and cheer you up. Once you’ve done that one thing, your mood will hopefully rise, and you’ll be able to carry on your day in a happier way.

Number three: Gratitude

This one might not be very obvious, and sometimes when you’re having a bad day this is the last thing that you want to do. Taking a few seconds to be grateful for what you have and where you are, actually grounds you and brings you back to the present. It can stop you from falling into the overwhelming spiral.

Number four: People

The people that you surround yourself with are one of those things that can instantly lift your mood. My family and I eat dinner together every night and sometimes when I’ve had a really stressful day, that time spent laughing and talking with them instantly changes my mood. Surround yourself with people who will make you happier instead of bringing you down.

I hope that some of these tips can help turn your day around, or make it that little bit better! Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of them, or if you have any you think should be added to this list.

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat

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The photography tip that will ‘Christmasify’ any photo!

As we get closer to Christmas, each day is becoming more and more festive. I’ve grown up spending most of my Christmases in London, and for anyone who has visited London during December you will know that the festive atmosphere is contagious. The glowing Christmas lights on every street have this effect which makes everything warm and bright, and I love to capture this in photos. In this post I’m going to share my top tip for ‘Christmasifying’ any photo you take during this season, and using the lights to your advantage.

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You’ve probably seen loads of photos like this on your Instagram feed or all over the internet this time of year, but for me, it took me a while to actually perfect this style of photo. There’s something about using this style which always reminds me of a festive time of year. The whole gist of the ‘Christmasified’ photo is focusing on a subject in the foreground which has a background of lights behind it, but by blurring the background and only focusing on the foreground, the background turns into balls of glowing light which radiate festivity.

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Here’s an example of what the blurred light effect looks like

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And here’s an example of focusing on the foreground and blurring out the background

Once you know what you’re doing, it’s pretty simple to achieve this style. However, it’s hard to only focus on one point using your phone camera, so I would suggest using an actual camera where you can adjust your settings to achieve this effect. I usually shoot manual on my camera, but if this is something you’re not used to, then feel free to just adjust some of the settings I mention in this post. If you’re shooting on manual like me, be sure to shift your focus to one singular point, or when you push down the button to take the photo, make sure in your viewfinder you see that you’re focusing on one singular point in the foreground (otherwise, you will be taking in the whole landscape and not focusing on anything specific).

Step one for achieving this effect is NOT using flash. Personally, I don’t think using flash with these kinds of photos is a good idea, as the light from a cameras flash is too harsh and I hardly ever use it when taking photos. Instead, opt for a more natural light source, while it’s winter and there are lots of festive lights, it’s probably still going to be a little dark around you. But as long as you have enough light to be able to see what you’re doing, your camera should be able to pick up on your subject.

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The most important part of achieving this effect is adjusting your aperture. Your camera’s aperture is basically, how much light is let into your camera when you take a photo. By adjusting your camera to a higher ‘F’ number you’re letting in less light. So not only is your photo darker but also your photo now has a depth of field, because your camera only has enough light to focus on a subject in the foreground.

If you’re adjusting your aperture to let in less light, in order to achieve that depth of field effect which blurs out the lights in the background, you have to make up for this somewhere else in your settings, so that your camera still has enough light to actually take a photo. You can do this by adjusting your shutter speed. Your shutter speed is how long your camera shutter is open for when you take a photo. So by having a lower shutter speed, your photos will be brighter as more light is let in. So to achieve this effect you would need to choose a high aperture number, and a low shutter speed number.

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You may also want to change your cameras ISO, which is how sensitive your camera is to light. So if your camera is really insensitive to light, you probably won’t be able to pick up on all of the subject. By changing your cameras ISO number, to something higher your camera will be more sensitive to light. My last tip for capturing your subject in the best way is to ‘meter’ off your subject. So when you press down on your camera button to take the photo be sure that you’re focusing on a specific point on your subject, so that your camera picks up on it.

Remember:

Aperture – High ‘F’ number (your aperture is always 1/the ‘F’ number, so a higher number means a smaller fraction)

Shutterspeed – Low number

ISO – High number

I hope that you enjoyed this post! I usually don’t write posts this in-depth about one specific type of photo, but I thought that it might be useful to explain how to take this specific type of photo as it’s so festive. Let me know what you thought of this post by liking it or commenting, and if you try using these tips let me know, I would love to see what you come up with!

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat

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5 Ways To Deal With School Work

Hi Guys!

After what seems like the longest week ever, it is FINALLY the weekend. But, my weekends are now filled with homework and revision, as I’m sure most of yours are. So… as I do, I thought I would write a blog post about this.

Going into my Sophomore year has been a real shock, but I think I am getting into the routine now. When I first came back from summer I found that my brain was still on holiday, and I wasn’t as productive as I was last year. This really started to worry me, as I felt like I was losing it, and I was going to fall behind. I’m sure that I’m not the only one that has experienced this ‘back to school-itus’ so far, so I wanted to share a few of my tips with you guys on how to deal with homework and school work in general, and getting back into a routine:

  1. Go to sleep early – One of my favorite things about summer is sleeping as late as I want to, and not having to worry about early starts the next day. I found it really hard to adjust from that routine when I started school, as I was so used to it. But, I think it’s a really good place to start getting into the routine for school, and to ensure that you won’t be tired at school. (which, trust me is the worst)
  2. Focus in class – Really this sounds so simple, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years in school, is that by focusing and working hard in class, you’re really just helping yourself. By listening and doing what you’re meant to in class, you usually end up with less homework, or you find the homework easier to complete. And, when it comes to a summative assessment you are way more prepared because you have understood everything along the way, and don’t need to do a last-minute cram session.
  3. Utilize your time – This tip is really big for me, as I do like to make sure my schedule is completely full, and I take on as much as I can. So for others, this would result in them not having time to do everything. But, I have come up with a system for utilizing every single second of my time during the day. For example, I write down my blog post ideas on the way to school and plan my Instagram posts for this blogs Instagram. Any emails, that I need to send out, I send in the car. So that when I get home, I have finished everything that could be finished elsewhere, and I just have to complete the big tasks I have to do at home. Whatever you do to utilize your time, it’s a really good idea to finish tasks throughout the day, whenever you find that you have time.
  4. Make lists – This is so helpful for me. Wow. I always find that I have a never-ending list of things I need to do, and I like to keep a list on my desk, as well as on my phone, of the things I need to do next. There must be some scientific reason as to why lists are so effective, but for me, it just un-jumbles everything in my brain and gives me a step to step guide of what I’m doing next. I would really recommend this for any student.
  5. Go Running – This has really helped me get into my school routine again. Of course, it’s partly because I love running, but also because running gives me discipline. I know that as soon as I get home from school I need to get in my run for that day, and then I can eat and do my homework. Not only does it give my day structure, but it makes me feel better about what I’ve done that day, and more motivated and focused when I’m doing my homework. Also, on the note of utilizing my time, one thing that I have started doing, is listening to audiobooks while running, at first this was purely because I had heard so many people talking about this. But, I thought that I would find it too boring, however, it’s actually a good sound to run to, as it keeps your mind on something else. And it teaches you something, I think that I might start listening to a more educational audiobook, such as a textbook (as I’m now listening to Harry Potter) so that I can utilize my running time even more.

I hope you guys found my tips helpful! I mean, they’re just a few random thoughts I threw together that I thought you might find useful. What are your best study tips? And be sure to let me know what you think about mine!

Little Miss Expat

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