Welcome back to Drifting Around Campus where I feature different bloggers and college students from all around the globe and share their experiences, stories, and tips to help you conquer college! If you would love to join this series and be a guest on My Drifting Desk you can click here!
I’m Katy, the girl behind CounterCultural. CounterCouture. When I’m not busy typing away, I’m currently a Masters student at the University of Sheffield, UK. I’m a British girl who also happens to be a Christian and spends her time sharing outfits, recipes, bible studies and anything else she fancies on her blog. If you catch me on the rare moments when I’m not studying or blogging, I’ll be enjoying a cup of tea with a book or chilling with my friends.
M: What inspired you to chose your major/minor at your university?
K: So most British universities don’t have a programme that involves majors and minors. Instead you’re encouraged to pick on subject, or maybe a joint honours if you really want to pick two, and specialise in it. For my undergraduate, I studied history and specialised in the reign of Henry VIII and the Reformation. Now I’m studying for a Masters in Public Humanities, which allows me to apply my first degree to new areas incorporating different ways of engaging with the public. I chose to study Public Humanities as it combined my previous history degree with working in information management and the experiences I’d gain from blogging. So far, that seems to have been the case as everything from metadata to graphic design has proven useful.
M: Can you name any differences you know of between college in Britain vs. college in America?
K: I’ve never been to a US college but I do have a flatmate from the USA who’s doing her MSc here in Sheffield. She was so happy with having her own room and bathroom (all our flat have ensuite shower rooms), in contrast to having to share. Looking at TV depictions of college life across the pond, I think the biggest differences are whether or not rooms are shared and how many subjects you study. I loved the fact that when I went to university, I was able to fully focus on the history I loved. I think I would have gone mad if they had expected me to continue a science beyond my A Levels (our last exams before leaving school).
M: What is your favorite part about conducting research in your field?
K: My favourite part of studying and research? I think it’s the research. About six months after graduating the first time (I ended up having three years out of university), I was really missing the process of researching and exploring a topic. I’ve loved being able to get to grips with different topics and exploring them, from how food forms part of my identities through to what digital stylistics can reveal about books in the Bible. I think it’s the same reason I like murder mysteries. The excitement that comes from uncovering, interpreting and solving the clues. Plus, this degree has encouraged us to work with other disciplines and external partners so I’ve been able to expand my skills and tools beyond history and the university. I love how much Sheffield really encourages this approach to using whatever you need in your research, even if it is outside of your discipline.
M: What advice can you give to undergraduate students who are looking into graduate school or continuing their studies?
K: I’ve chatted about this with my friend, Lucy, a lot as we both took time out to work between our degrees. Both of us would advise anyone considering postgraduate studies to take at least a year to really think over what they want to do. It might seem a bit crazy but it allows you to save up some money and to make sure you choose the right course. If I had continued straight from my undergraduate degree I’d have continued with history, which wouldn’t have led me to any specific career choice that I was interested in at the time. Having taken time out, I was able to pick the right course, save up money and make sure I had some idea about where I would like my life to go. I’m pretty sure Lucy would say the same.
M: What are some ways you are involved on your campus?
K: I’ve tried to get involved with the media team on campus but it hasn’t succeeded very well. So my main involvement on campus is taking advantage of the various coffee shops, cafes and bars around. This might sound boring but it’s quite normal for postgraduate students to focus on their studies more than campus life. There is a postgraduate society that organises social events but once I had a group of friends I found myself not going along so much. I’m more likely to be found enjoying drinks with my coursemates or eating pakoray and curries with the Pakistanis that have adopted me into their flat.
M: How do you balance school work with running your own blog?
K: I struggle with finding the right balance between studying and blogging. Plus I also try to find time to rest on my own and socialise. The main thing I’ve had to learn to do is say ‘No’ and plan my week ahead with a degree of flexibility. My friend Noor is incredibly spontaneous but has learnt that she needs to plan which evening during the week I can come over on a Sunday night. Otherwise I’ll probably forget to pop over for dinner because I’ve been sidetracked by studying or blogging. In terms of balancing blogging with studying, I plan ahead which evenings I want to dedicate to blogging. Depending on how big or detailed my post is going to be, I will set aside a certain number of evenings to write it and edit photos. I also set aside 10-15 minutes Monday-Thursday each week for interacting on my four main social media channels alongside using Buffer to schedule for each of them. They help me to keep on track though I still have to put in a fair bit of time when it comes to creating tweets, pins and images to schedule so I do those in job lots once a month.
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M: When did you come to the realization of your faith and what piece of advice would you give to those who are struggling with theirs?
K: My journey as a Christian has been a really challenging one. I can’t say when I became a Christian as I always went to church but by the time I was 9 I wanted to be baptized, which happened two years later. Skip forward 10 years and I was suffering from mental health problems including mild self harm and depression. If you want to read more, I wrote a post about it on my blog. I can remember walking up the stairs after moving at home swearing at God (I never swear) for not making me a youth worker, having to move home and feeling like my life sucked. It was during that time that I started blogging, reconnected with my parents and best friends, started a new church, and started to think outside the box about my life. So I guess my piece of advice for people is that you need to be 100% open with God. If you’re angry at Him, tell Him in whatever words you have to use. The likelihood is that He has something even better in store for us but He won’t tell us until we’re honest with Him.
M: How do you practice self-care after a stressful day or week?
K: As I probably suggested above, my self-care can get thrust to the side easily. I’m a big believer in holistic self-care so looking after myself physically, mentally and emotionally. Physically this involves working out at the gym, running once or more a week, stretching every morning and finding ways to keep moving throughout my day. I also try and eat healthily most of the time, aiming for moderation most of the time. Mentally, I allow myself to switch off in different ways, from enjoying either one of series I’m watching or binging on Netflix through to reading something totally unrelated to my course. This might be a Christian or history book if I want to stretch myself or YA fantasy like Harry Potter or House of Night (new one coming out, I’m so excited!). Emotionally, I aim to read a devotional of some kind each morning and to spend a longer time reading my Bible on a Sunday. I’m a big fan of bible journalling so will often spend time illustrating the passage I’m reading on a Sunday. I’ll also take long walks round parts of Sheffield I haven’t visited yet or have a coffee at my favourite coffee shop when visiting my parents. It’s pretty much whatever is good for my soul, both according to my instinct and the Bible. Each day looks different for self-care but if I can sneak in a little at the start and end, it’s been a success.
M: What are your favorite meals to cook in college?
K: I love cooking so question is almost impossible to answer. In my first undergrad year, I ate a lot of cheat’s calzones and mug cakes. A cheat’s calzone consists of spreading pesto or tomato puree on a tortilla, covering it with spinach, ham, cheese, basil in whatever combination you like, and frying it on the hob. Quick and easy but once a medic flatmate pointed out how unhealthy it was, I stopped eating them so much. Mug cakes are still one of my favourites as its brilliant for those late night sweet cravings where a one-person sized cake is ideal. Nowadays I’m trying to sync cycle my diet according to the principles from floliving.com so lots of green veg and sweet potatoes. I like to roast sweet potatoes and cauliflower together in coconut oil with cinnamon, paprika, thyme, oregano or whatever takes my fancy. If I’m in the mood for a treat, I might have a dollop of mayo or sweet chilli sauce on the side. Maybe even a fried egg with runny yolk on top.
M: What one piece of advice would you give to an incoming freshman about college?
K: I would tell any first years/freshmen not to believe the stereotypes or myths about going to university. I believed that my closest friends would be my flatmates but I ended up in a flat full of people I didn’t get on with. Instead, I befriend other history students, joined the Christian Union and went along to Trampoline Club. As a result, my closest friends were more interested in their degree than drinking, shared my beliefs and supported each other as a team. If I hadn’t taken the risks to step outside the box and “do different” (the UEA motto) then I would have missed out on some of the greatest people and experiences of my life. So think outside the box, step out of your comfort zone and choose to live the life you want, not what other people want.
Learn More About Our Guest Katy!
I enjoy running, working out, cooking, reading and writing. I also watch way too much Netflix. My music tastes range from Taylor Swift to Skillet. I even have the Rolling Stones on my iPod. Currently I’m obsessing over the Folk mix on YouTube, which I discovered via Jess and the Beatles and The Shires. I think there’s a Country Girl inside me somewhere. I’m currently obsessed with the Full House at the moment (major cursh on Jesse) having watched the Fuller House last year. My other favourite TV Shows include Once Upon A Time, Shield, NCIS (all the women in my family fancy Gibbs), and Smallvile. I’m a big superhero fan too. MCU is definitely my preferred choice over DCEU but my favourite cartoon as a child was Batman the Animated Series.
I want to shout out my favorite bloggers and blogging pals Hannah (TransquaredYouthMinistries.com), Jackie (jackiegiles.com), and Jasilyn (coffeeandcleveland.com)! I also love following Grit+Virtue, Breakfast with Tiffani, Ned in the Clouds, and Liberty London Girl. My bloglovin feed features loads more but I can’t remember them all.
I don’t have any pets but we used to have cats. I would love to have another cat, preferably a tabby one. I have 1 sibling, Steph. She’s crazy and the only things we have in common are loving wearing the colour black and our faith. Despite all that, she’s my best friend and knows me the best even when we send each other crazy. I’ve just converted to iPhone but I’ve been using Apple Macs since I could type. My dad is a computer scientist and refused to have Microsoft in the house until I was 8 and my mum insisted.
Stay tuned for our next guest on Drifting Around Campus!