No, the title of this article is not a joke.
Animal Crossing is a video game franchise published by Nintendo, and you basically play as the mayor/leader of a small town. You get to develop the town, sell fruit and shells to some small racoons called Timmy and Tommy, improve your house (and decorate it) and the best part? You get to invite some cool animal villagers to live with you!
It’s a kids game. Through and through. But my God, is it therapeutic.
The best thing about Animal Crossing for me is the routine. I wake up every morning during this seemingly endless quarantine period, turn on my Nintendo Switch and start my “chores”. I shake trees for money, fruit and furniture, check the shops, speak to all my villager friends and tidy up my island. I get to plan for the day too. Maybe today I’ll decorate and make a little gym or playground? Or I’ll spend the day fishing, or diving for sea creatures? The possibilities seem endless.
When you suffer from depression, daily tasks can feel like a nightmare. Showers turn into Everest, making food feels like swimming through a stormy sea. Everything is exhausting. Talking to friends feels like a chore, social media is mostly negative news, and the thought of work can make you cry. Pair that with the crushing anxiety that comes from not being productive and you have a fun but sad little cocktail of mental illness. Animal Crossing changed that for me.
I could still feel productive even though I’ve sat in bed until 3pm and haven’t texted any of my friends. Yeah, maybe I haven’t done anything in real life, but in Animal Crossing, I made a cute little Zen area for Zucker the octopus and I’m really proud of it! Maybe I couldn’t muster up the energy to shower today, but I fished up a bunch of sharks and sold them for lots of Bells (currency in the game) and I’m happy with it!
Animal Crossing has also helped my social life! I joined a number of online groups on Facebook and Discord which are all centered around visiting each other, trading items and selling things in the game. I visit my friends on their islands, and it feels like we’re together again, even though in real life I haven’t seen them in months. The game offers a life-like experience sometimes, without the social pressures and exhaustion of real life interaction.
Video games, along with other forms of entertainment like films, have always been about escapism. Most people want to get immersed into a video game for a few hours to escape from and ignore what’s going on in the real world. Want to get away? You can be an ancient Greek mercenary in Assassin’s Creed, a human who fell down into the world of monsters in Undertale, or a young girl with her pseudo dad in a zombie apocalypse in The Last of Us. And you can be the Resident Representative of a small island you get to look after in Animal Crossing. Some people may think it’s ‘sad’ or harmful to escape into a video game for a few hours, but I think there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s no shame in finding solace in a video game! -Kaitlyn
So, you’re getting ready to go off to university. You got your grades (despite the government doing their best to stop you), you’ve accepted your offer: you’re in. You have a flat, your mum has bought you your pots and pans and you feel well equipped to go.
I thought that too! Physically I was ready to start this next chapter in my life. Armed with scented candles and a pair of silicone tongs, I moved into a new city thinking I could take on the world. I could not.
My experience comes from both my time as a first year first generation university student (first generation means I am the first in my family to study a degree), and talking with my friends about their time volunteering with what’s known as ‘Freshers Crew’, which is basically the student volunteers who are peppered around the city to help new students, organise events and help them settle in.
My first piece of advice is to try to avoid older students in freshers week. I get it, you’ve just moved out, you’re drunk in a club on a student night and an older student is trying to convince you to go back to their flat and hook up. Try to avoid this, especially during that first week. Many groups of people in older years will go out on Freshers Week to specifically try and attract vulnerable new students. This is sometimes called ‘sharking’. Try to avoid this situation, particularly if you are on the lookout for a more long term relationship or something serious. People who go out ‘sharking’ don’t want this, they want a one night stand.
My next piece of advice is to GET INVOLVED. I know that you’re probably sick of hearing about societies and events and socials and nights out but seriously, there is something for everyone at university. Take me for example, I don’t drink. I hate nightclubs and would much prefer to stay at home playing video games or watching a new TV show. I thought for the whole of first year that nights out and drinking were the only ways to go out and socialise outside of my course, and I was so wrong!
There were a lot of activities for an introvert like me, such as writing for my university newspaper online, or joining a gaming society where we talked and played games together from the comfort (or discomfort) of our uni bedrooms. You just have to look for these things. If I can promise you anything in this article, it’s that you will regret not getting involved in some way. Plus, joining a society in your first year gives you time to decide whether you want to run for an executive position (helping to run the society).
My next piece of advice/myth busting is that reading lists are a lie. Whoever told students that they need to buy every book on a reading list for each module on their course is a liar and a cheat. Some books, particularly for STEM students and humanities students, can reach heights of hundreds of pounds, only for you to use them once or twice for a couple quotes?
Your university shouldn’t recommend you anything that isn’t in the library, so as soon as you get your reading lists, get to the library, borrow those books and take photographs of the chapters you need for each seminar, or scan them if you have access to a scanner. That way, you have the chapters for each seminar, and you don’t have to be ‘that guy’ who hoards all of the essential texts for months on end.
If texts aren’t in the library, visit your library anyway and talk to the librarians. More often than not, another university will have the book or journal, and they can get hold of it for you. Some libraries will even buy the text for the library at request, so make sure you try every avenue. Also, make sure you do your seminar readings! They’ll help you not feel so lost in seminars and lectures, and you’ll feel great when you’re the only one who read the text and can answer the questions.
I hope these nuggets of advice help, and I wish you the best of luck in your university journey!
I’m now in my second year at university, and budgeting is still a pain. I’ve ran out of money a few times, over-spent, done my budget wrong or forgot to include things. It can be a rough ride but, I am here to hopefully help some of your budgeting woes!
First things first - write out your ‘INCOME’. This is what goes in to your bank account. So, this could be your maintenance loan/scholarship money, your weekly or monthly wages or support from your family. It’s important that you remember to include any regular money coming into your bank account, as if you forget something you’ll have to start again, which is always the worst.
Next, make a list of all of your ‘OUTGOINGS’. This is everything that comes out of your account. For example, rent (important!), travel expenses and a weekly food shop. I found that I set myself an extra £20-£30 for if I got lunch out, any outings, takeaways or nights out I went on (however I don’t drink so you may want to set yourself more money if you do drink because alcohol prices can be pretty high). This is also super super important as if you forget an outgoing then you can go over budget and leave yourself short!
Some examples of outgoings to help you remember include;
Now all you need to do is subtract outgoings from your income!
Hopefully that will leave you with some money per month left over. Personally, I like to use this money for things like Christmas presents, clothes for myself, dates with my partner and my friends and other luxuries like games or a new laptop.
If you are left with no money, unfortunately you’ll have to increase your hours at work, use your overdraft (not recommended), or start to take away unnecessary luxuries.
Some of these include sharing a Netflix subscription with a friend, going out less (or pre-drinking before going out) and not spending as much on clothes and food.
I hope this little list of how to sort a budget is helpful! Good luck! - Kaitlyn
Coronavirus has taken the whole world by storm. After originating in China a few months ago, I feel like everyone’s world has been taken over and shook upside down since.
A little context first, I already have anxiety and I have done for a few years now. I’ve spent most of that time on various waiting lists, but I have perfected the old reliable breathing techniques and I have an impressive collection of fidget cubes, stress balls and elastic bands that I fiddle with all the time.
My university closed (after a lot of protest from us students when they said they were ‘business as usual’) which has decimated my routine and day to day life. I no longer get to walk to university, grab a coffee on the way, see my friends and then sit through learning. My day now consists of waking up at around half 10-11, and doing precisely nothing until midnight, when I collapse into bed, which isn’t really that ideal.
Social media is pretty much a no-go right now. My entire timeline has been Animal Crossing, Animal Crossing, Coronavirus, pandemic, Animal Crossing, death, bad government decisions, Animal Crossing. Which is more than stressful. At least I have Animal Crossing to disappear into for a few hours every day and pretend this isn’t happening! Every post about the illness flares up my anxiety, sometimes to the point of panic attacks. I don’t even really know what I’m anxious about really. I’m healthy, I’m not alone, I can manage to get shopping in and I have an abundance of entertainment to keep me busy during the social isolation period.
If you’re anxious about this pandemic, I firstly want to say you’re not alone. The loss of routine, the constant changing circumstances, the lack of going outside, all of it can really get to you and make you feel a lot of different emotions.
My next piece of advice is to reach out to someone. Text a friend, or one of your family members, or even message us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook! We’re always happy to chat to our lovely readers, and even more so during a time of crisis. Talking to someone will remind you that you aren’t alone, the world hasn’t ended and everything will get back to normal one day.
If you’re worrying about your exams being cancelled, uni sending you home, travelling, staying with parents, talk to someone! Send an email to a teacher, message your uni, get in touch with the travel company, call your parents, everyone will be happy to help you and reassure you. Having anxiety can be incredibly tough, and situations like this can make it feel so much worse, but you're not alone. Check out some of our other articles in the anxiety section and see if anything there might help you cope!
Stay safe - Kaitlyn
Exams are rubbish. Exams are hard. They’re stressful, annoying, inconvenient, boring and ridiculous at times. They’re often just a memory test - how many bullet points about Shakespeare or how many theories about the family can you remember? Can you do long division? Do you remember the one specific scientific term for some obscure process that you were taught briefly 2 years ago? No? Then you fail, you won’t get a job, you’ll end up homeless and you’ll disappoint everyone.
Except that’s not true. Exams aren’t a good measure of your intelligence, in fact they’re an awful measure. You could be the fastest thinker, or really passionate about a topic, and most of the time you can’t show that in an exam. All of the ways that you are worth it can’t be shown in an exam. Whether you volunteer, whether you’ve overcome a huge mental health or personal struggle, or even whether you’re bullied, they don’t count in an exam. And I, for one, think that is ridiculous.
I’m in my second year of university and no one has even looked at my GCSE grades. My A-Level grades were looked at to get me into university yes, but that’s really it. I applied for a job recently and they didn’t want my CV, just to answer a behaviour quiz! I spent all that time working hard for no one to look at them? What?! Even my university application, my personal statement where I talked about volunteering and my hobbies seemed to have had more of an impact than my actual results. Things like volunteering with a local charity/organisation, helping out at school open days and even writing for TWE seem to matter more! Havi a part time job/volunteering show dedication and time management, as well as a good personality. All good exam results show is that you’re good at remembering things, or good at wording essays. These skills are incredibly important, especially at higher education, but not so much in the practical world.
I’m not saying grades don’t matter - they do. You should try your best for your exams no matter what. However, I will say that grades don’t matter as much as everyone says they do. The world won’t end if you drop a grade. The Earth won’t implode if you forget something on your exam. You won’t end up homeless if you don’t make the grades to get into your dream university. Many of my friends had to go through clearing because they missed their grades, and ended up happier for it!
If you’re worrying about how important grades seem, talk to someone! If you have an older friend or family member, they’ll be able to tell you all about their own experience and hopefully make you feel better. Don’t put yourself down or work yourself into a panic over results because they don’t matter as much as everyone says they do. Relax. Breathe. It’ll all work out in the end.
Feminism is something that comes up in the news and pop culture a lot and it can seem incredibly confusing. Where do we start? Why are there so many different types? What do they all believe? Hopefully, I can shed some light on some of the different branches of feminism and what they typically believe, as well as some of the more confusing words used when talking about feminism.
Patriarchy: patriarchy is the idea that society is dominated by men. In a patriarchal society, the government and businesses are completely controlled and dominated by men. Feminists believe that the patriarchy hurts women because the men in powerful positions want to keep women down and ensure women aren’t in power.
Oppression: oppression is a severe form of discrimination where a minority group or person will be treated cruelly by the majority group.
Mainstream feminism: this is the most common and widely followed branch of feminism. Mainstream feminists believe in workplace equality, pay equality, the same rights for both men and women and are against the patriarchy (male-dominated society). However many people call this type of feminism “white feminism” or “pocket feminism”, implying that mainstream feminists don’t fight for women of colour, queer women or other minorities (however many mainstream feminists do fight for women of colour and queer women etc).
Ecofeminism: ecofeminists believe that both women and the environment are oppressed (beaten down) by the patriarchy. Ecofeminists will typically fight against anything that could hurt the environment, as they believe that women and the environment are linked together. Ecofeminism is a much more spiritual type of feminism in the belief that women and nature are connected through their oppression.
Radical feminism: radical feminism thinks of men as the “enemy”, and thinks that women can only truly be free from oppression if men are removed from powerful positions and replaced with women. Radical feminists are often called “feminazis” in the media, and are also sometimes known as “radfems”. A branch of radical feminism is “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”, or TERFs. TERFs don’t believe that trans women are ‘real women’ and that trans women have no place in feminism. This is a harmful belief, which is why many TERFs are unwelcome in all safe spaces in the LGBT+ community.
So, now that you know some of the more popular branches of feminism and some of the vocabulary associated with the topic, you may want to know how you can be more involved with feminism!
If you are at university, most places will have societies representing different branches and different aims of feminism. They will be filled with like-minded people who you can learn from and have important discussions and debates with. Some societies will head up community projects, work directly with the university to help women and hold events to promote feminism.
Go to pride! If you feel safe, march with the LGBT+ community. As some women can make trans people and sapphic women feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, it is important to show your support to the community if that is what you feel. Trans people need our support now more than ever, and showing up at pride with a banner/placard stating your support can mean a lot.
Educate yourself. Feminism isn’t just the gender pay gap and maternity rights. Feminism includes fighting against things like female genital mutilation (FGM), rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, abortion rights being taken away or any rights being taken away.
Feminism is important, and having feminism and being able to protest and fight for what we want is a privilege and we should remember that. Not all women have that privilege. Remember to challenge harmful views wherever you go, and protect women of colour, queer women and disabled women as much as you can where they need it. If you have any other questions about feminism or my own personal opinions about feminism, please feel free to message me!
Revision sucks. It feels like you’re going over and over the same content for an exam that you know will try to screw you over somehow. In my own experience, I’ve been asked questions about things that weren’t on the specification nearly every exam I’ve sat through, GCSE and A-Levels. Questions will trip you up, and you might blank out completely, but here are my tips for revision and pre-exam prep that should help you get through these trying times.
TRIGGER WARNING - Self harm mentioned
It has officially been one year since I last self harmed. Wow. That’s something I never thought I’d be able to say. I’d been doing that for about 6 years of my life, since I was 12-13 years old and I honestly didn’t think I’d make it to nearly 20. But I don’t want to dwell on that. I’d rather talk about what I learned about this elusive thing we call ‘recovery’ and hopefully help any of you.
The first thing I learned was to ask for help. And that this is easier said than done. Asking for proper, professional help was 10 times harder than asking a friend to listen to me ramble on for the night. It was scary, and daunting as hell but it ended up being the best thing for me. I did ask for NHS help, but the waiting lists are so long, and I was fortunate enough to get help from my school and a local charity that offered free counselling. Honestly, counselling changed my life around. I was coping better, I didn’t feel like a burden for telling my friends, and I learned ways to shut down negative and intrusive thoughts more effectively. There are so many places you can go to ask for support, but school or your GP should be the first place you go. If they can’t help, they can definitely point you in the right direction.
The second thing I learned was that relapse is okay. Relapse isn’t failing, relapse isn’t months of work down the drain. Relapse for me was something to learn from and to look back on and think ‘Okay, what were the events that led up to that? Were there any signs I was spiralling and how do I notice them next time?’. I try to think about relapse in a more productive way if that makes sense? Instead of taking bad thoughts and feelings from it, learn from it so you can get even better at coping every day.
The third thing I learned was to keep busy and don’t overthink the numbers. By ‘numbers’ I mean ‘it’s been x days since I last ---’, (this thought can apply to self harm, addiction, and a number of other issues). I found that by counting the days, it was having a negative effect on how I was feeling. The higher the number got, the more scared of ‘failing’ I felt, and all it did was push me to relapse more often so that the number didn’t get that high. Counting the days may work for some people and may encourage them to see that number go higher, and that's great! Do what works for you! But for me, that certainly wasn’t the case. Instead, I try to take each day as it comes and think that every day is a new day, a new beginning, whatever cliche little saying you want to use.
The last thing I learned that I have to share is to believe in yourself! Trust yourself! You know you can get through this, even though it may be the bumpiest road you’ve been on and probably will be on, recovery is possible, and you can get there!
Thank you for reading my most personal article yet, and if you have any questions or just fancy a chat about recovery (or anything please I’m so lonely) then feel free to get in touch!
Just a little note that if you need advice you can always message our Instagram and one of our lovely admins (maybe even me!) will chat with you @teenswithexperience
lease contact the Samaritans or call 999 if you feel in any immediate danger or need emergency help
So, here I am! Finishing my first year of university and about to enjoy a nice long summer. I have definitely learned a lot from living alone for the first time and studying a much harder course, and I want to share that with everyone.
University can be difficult, especially when you’re alone. We have a lot of articles about university life here on our site and we are always happy to help if you have any questions or concerns. Don’t suffer alone!
Body positivity in the summer can be very difficult for a lot of people, myself included. This could be for any number of reasons, such as stretch marks, tummy rolls, scars, acne, body hair and anything in between. The reality is everyone struggles with at least one of these things at least once. I personally struggle with all of the above! Because of that, I get super anxious going outside in the summer with any skin showing (even though I have to because, well, it’s hot!). But there are ways to overcome this.
And finally, practice self love. Self love is an ongoing process, that some people have to do every single day. Eat that chocolate bar, take a nice bubble bath, binge your favourite show and do what makes YOU feel good.
There are many more articles about body image from our amazing writers here and I highly recommend checking them out! https://teenagerswithexperience.weebly.com/body-image-articles.html