Long distance friendships and relationships

Coming to university, moving away from your loved ones, and starting this whole scary ‘long distance’ thing might be the worst nightmare for many students. It was scary for me too, but now I actually think it’s a blessing.

I left my home country a while ago, leaving all my friends behind. For the past seven years I lived in quite a few countries and, as a fairly sociable human being, I found a lovely bunch of friends in each of them and fell in love a few times. And just at the moment I would start to call that place ‘home’, it was time to make a move again… even though it was always painful (actually I don’t think I ever managed to leave without crying a river!) I learned to appreciate every different place for their own special reasons.

When I was moving around, for the first few times I was convinced I would keep in touch with all my friends and only a thought of a different scenario would make my eyes water. The truth is that it’s not always like that. You will have your life here and they will have their life there. You can drop a message sometimes, but it’s difficult to be present in everybody’s life constantly, unless you want to spend your life on Skype. The good thing about it is that it will let you identify people who really care about how you’re doing and who always will be there for you, in spite of the distance and the time passing by.

Even if it sounds harsh, I believe the same goes for amorous relationships. Sometimes being around one another constantly doesn’t give you any space to reflect upon your relationship. After moving away for a while, you will be able to look at everything from a distance and decide if it’s really right for you.

A while ago I moved to another country (again), and my boyfriend-at-the-time stayed in the country I left. We were both so in love, so of course we tried to keep it going. After I moved away, I realised that I was actually happier by myself, doing what was making ME happy and that this relationship was keeping me in stagnation, without me even realising it. I didn’t just give up, I tried to find a solution, but after a while I came to the conclusion that this was an ultimatum: my personal growth or that relationship. It sounds like the worst scenario, and I don’t wish it to happen to any of you, but I think for me I made the best decision. I looked at my relationship from a different perspective and I noticed that it just wasn’t what I wanted.

I don’t mean to scare you. It doesn’t mean that after coming to uni your relationships will fall apart. Actually, I’ve been in (another) long distance relationship for a while now and seriously, I couldn’t be happier. Ironically, the distance makes us feel even closer because now we make time for good conversations. I don’t want to sound like a relationship pro either, of course everyone is different, but just know that it doesn’t have to be a bad thing to be away from one another and if it doesn’t work, it’s for a reason.

It’s a win-win situation!

Long distance friendships and relationships at uni might be the first ‘trial’ for you and I think it will benefit you either way. If things don’t go so well and you happen to break up or stop being friends – that’s ok, honestly! It might be difficult to accept at the time, but maybe there’s some truth in the saying that everything happens for a reason. My very wise friend used to say: ”It’s always good when it’s good”. It’s so true. It’s only when obstacles such as being long distance appear that you find out if you really are meant to bein each other’s lives. And  if it does work out, that’s amazing! You guys will have a solid base to build something very valuable.

Good luck to all those who are about to embark on a new adventure, moving cities or even countries, I hope you to keep your precious friendships and establish new ones! For those who come in a ‘relationship status’, stay positive! There are so many ways to pamper your Very Special Person from far away, but that’s a topic for another post. 🙂

What to expect from the Welcome Week

I am sure you are very excited about coming here to our amazing uni…and possibly a little nervous too! So I am now going to be the helpful chap I always am and brief you about the Welcome Week!

Moving In

Ufff…this part is…I am not even going to lie to you, it was tiring! I had a lot of luggage with me, so just bringing it with me everywhere was a pain. My hands hurt, my feet hurt, I was tired from the flight. Fortunately, the University is trying to make this as easy for us as possible, by placing ambassadors and Resident Assistants everywhere, so they can direct you to the right place if you are lost.

Introductions

The number one thing to expect from the Welcome Week is…well, welcomes. From your department, your personal tutor, peer mentor, to your RA, all will be welcoming you to our university and making sure you are doing ok. They will be explaining to you what help they can offer, should the need arise and you can always turn to them for advice

Fresher’s Fair

The most anticipated event of the Welcome Week is the Fresher’s Fair. It is always held on the Squares…yes, squares…like all the 5 squares because it is a huge event! There, you will get to know a lot of people, all the societies will have stalls, and all the sports teams too, you will find everyone there, from the VTeam to Nightline – LITERALLY everyone. The whole event is just so much fun and you get to sign up to any societies or sports club that you are interested in.

 

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People

As mentioned before, you will meet a lot of people. LIKE A LOT OF THEM. Your flatmates and course mates. Also, if you decide to step out and have yourself a club night, Sub 0 and Base are always full, so be prepared for instant besties (who are actually the best), because that is what is going to happen. And if you are not the kind to go clubbing, no worries! Going to SU Bar, or just sitting on one of the squares during fresher’s week kind of guarantees you friends, since everyone is very talkative and open to meet new people.

I hope I eased your anxiety about the Fresher’s week because even though it starts out kind of rough with the moving in, it is the most amazing thing ever that you will probably never forget. If you are still nervous about it just remember that probably all the other freshers are in the same boat as you. See you all there!

Your first instalment of student loan: what to do and what not to do

There are numerous exciting moments when starting university: moving in day, first classes, and meeting new people. But perhaps receiving that first instalment of your student loan (and arguably every subsequent instalment) is THE most exciting moment there is.

However with the great first instalment comes great responsibilities, so here are the essential do’s and don’ts that you should know:

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(c) thebackbencher.co.uk

DO budget: as boring as it sounds you need to make your money last for the entire term and if you don’t have a part-time job then this is probably the source of funds to pay for those important things. Remember this money is going towards your accommodation, food, books, stationery and socialising- so take that into account.

DON’T spend it all in the first week: Rule number one! Never, ever, ever spend the entire instalment in the first week, not matter how tempting it may be.

DO consider part-time work if you think you need more money: Sometimes the student loan just isn’t going to reach the entire term, so consider supplementing it with part-time work- you’ll find tons of opportunities both on campus and in nearby Colchester.

DON’T worry about tuition fees: The whole tuition fee thing can seem daunting, but don’t worry your first instalment of your student loan does not go towards it- this is handled separately between the university and the student loans company.

DO learn about food: Gone are the days of eating nothing but baked beans and pot noodle as a student. You can now buy good food quick cheaply, so you can eat and live well on a budget. Try shopping around and don’t rely too must on takeaways.

DON’T give into temptation: With the prospect of thousands of pounds at your disposal it is easy to get tempted by pricey clothes, jewellery, technology and the rest- but don’t do it at the risk of leaving yourself short at the end of term.

 

Good luck and happy spending (or saving!)

Last Minute Shoppers Guide To Make University Feel Like Home

polaroids_550x822When I turned up at university that sunny Sunday morning in late September I’d came prepared. I had new bed sheets, all the cooking utensils anyone could want and a Tesco food shop to last me a good 2 weeks. But there was one major thing I had missed of my shopping list.. things to make my university room feel like home.

The accommodation rooms are pretty plain. But that’s a good thing because you’d never suit everyone’s taste. This gives you the perfect opportunity to make your room yours. Consider all them finishing touches that make your university feel homely.

Photos 

Photos are the most important thing to make your room feel homely. Surrounded by your friends and family from back home that lonely room can suddenly feel a lot more like home. There are several ways you can put pictures around your room.

  • Photo frames– Choose some nice photo frames and pick your favourite photos of your loved ones. I think using a photo frame for a picture makes it really personal.
  • Photo wall– I quickly learnt that a photo wall was the thing for uni rooms! This is a great way to make them white walls seem less bland. It means you can put a lot more photos up and you’re not having to choose which photos miss out on the frames.
  • Photo lines– I think these are a great DIY way to decorate your room! Easy to make. All you’ll need is string, pegs, blue tac and some photos! Cheap but effective!

Posters & calendars

A way to take up some wall space is by getting posters! But don’t worry the university has a poster fair where you can get your posters from! A calendar is also a nice touch. It is also practical, you can write upcoming events and deadline so you never miss out! I have a pug calendar and it really comes in handy!

Cushions

 I think I have a cushion obsession. I have 7. And they all end up on the floor half way through the night. But I just love the way they make my bed look homely and also add the extra comfort.

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Bed throw/blanket

Adding a blanket or bed throw is another way to make your bed a bit more homely. It has a practical use for when its cold or you’ve got fresher’s flu to wrap up in and feel sorry for yourself.

Rug 

The carpet in the university reminds me of carpet you had in primary school. There is not a lot you can do about the carpet.. but you can add a rug!

Extras- Blackboard, whiteboard, dream catcher 

Have you thought about the little extra bits you could buy to make your university room look quirky? Try visiting shops such as B&M, Wilkinson’s and the range to find these little gems. For example, I had a moustache blackboard which also came in handy to write notes on, a white board and a sign with a quote of some sort.

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Storage boxes

Firstly, storage boxes are really handy to store paperwork and stationary in. Let’s not pretend that you haven’t already brought enough stationary to give WHSmiths a run for their money! They make your room look a lot tidier and they can also give that plain shelf a bit of life. I got mine from B&M and Argos.

Make cute jars 

There are many things you could do with a jar. From the picture below you can see this glitter jars. You could make these by getting glitter glue or adding glitter to PVA glue and painting the jar. It would take quite a few layers to get the effects of the picture below, but if you’re in to arts and crafts and have a bit of time on your hands, then these jars are a great idea!

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Jars could also be used for storage. Write labels on the side of the jars and keep loose bits and pieces in them!

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Extra seating such as beanbags

While there is only so much you can fit in your university room; an idea is adding some extra seating such as a beanbag. I know that squeezing a group of people in your room for a movie night or gossip can be hard, but having extra seating like a beanbag prevents at least one person from sitting on the floor!

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There’s a few ideas about how you can decorate your room. Do your room to suit your tastes because everyone is different and when you’re away from home, you need to feel like you have a little piece of it at uni.

 

My Frontrunners Experience

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So it’s coming to the end of my Frontrunners summer position in the marketing and student recruitment department. So this will be my very last post for the I AM ESSEX blog, I’m sure you’re absolutely distraught. So here’s a little rundown of my Frontrunners position, what I’ve gained from doing it and why being a frontrunner is a brilliant choice for furthering your career.

First of all, what is Frontrunners?

Frontrunners is a really great scheme at Essex, that essentially takes on students in various roles to give them an opportunity to work in a professional environment. There’s loads of useful training to be had, and a huge span of sectors to work in. For me, Frontrunners was perfect because it meant I could get some invaluable work experience in the marketing sector while still being on campus, so I could stay at our uni house, do some dissertation work in my free time (AKA dossing off and playing Xbox), and continue to go to the uni gym.

What I got up to:

Blogs

I’d say the most consistent thing I’ve done  is write these blogs, as someone who wants to follow a career in creative copywriting, it’s been super useful for coming up with content and writing for a specific audience. Actually being paid to rant about my opinion on things on the internet, that’s the dream!

Instagram

Who knew you could get paid to muck around on Instagram? Ok, it’s not just scrolling avocado toast photos but in my time as a frontrunner, I’ve been given the opportunity to contribute to the Essex Instagram, in the form of new campaigns, posts and Instagram stories. I even got to spend the day getting my face glitter painted and drinking mocktails in the name of work for an open day Insta story.

Photography

As a creative person, I was really excited to get stuck in with any kind of artistic things I could. I have been able to photograph a couple of events including a PhD conference and the 2017 graduation.

So Much More

I’m so glad I applied to Frontrunners, it has given me the opportunity to give so many different things a go, from proof reading, to learning more about social media, to capturing the perfect boomerang on insta. The work is nice and varied and I have come away with a lot more understanding of the sector I want to go into. Plus (I’m not sure if this is actually a good thing) there are always great snacks in the office.

Anyway, signing out, thanks for reading!

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Xoxoxo

Choosing Modules Wisely

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The beauty of uni is the amount of choice and flexibility you have with your degree, ability to pick and choose what you want to focus on is one of the best things about the transition from sixth form to uni. However, being wise about your choice of modules will also help you structure your time and not end up with a mountain of work all at once.

Check when in the year the module is

On the Essex Module Directory you can see whether a course is full year, autumn term or spring term, it’s indicated in the module code by FY-Full Year, AU Autumn, SP Spring. In my first year I made the mistake of choosing two Autumn term modules alongside the core modules I took, meaning I had loads of coursework all at the same time, and more lectures and classes too. It was definitely still doable, but when I was new to the university and time management deal, it did become a bit much on the run up to christmas when all of the coursework started to rack up. On the other side of that though, taking my optionals in the autumn meant that my spring term was the nice and relaxed, I only had three modules in comparison to the five that I had in first term, meaning I could give more time to coursework and start revision early.

Check what the assessment style is

Some people simply suck at exams, it just isn’t their forte, alternatively, some are terrible at organising their time around coursework, taking a good amount of time to check how modules are assessed means you can potentially avoid doing too much of whatever you struggle with (this obviously depends on department.)

Don’t be afraid to go outside your department

A lot of degrees will allow you to study modules outside of your department, this can seem intimidating as it isn’t in your area, but they offer you these modules for a reason. Having interdisciplinary knowledge can be so useful in the rest of your studies. I took a psychoanalysis module in first year, despite being a lit and film student and it was so useful, I was shoving Freud in any essay I could after taking it. You can apply knowledge from those modules to coursework and your independent research project. Everyone’s degree is different, shape it around what you find interesting.

Most importantly, go for your passion

You took this degree for a reason, take a good amount of time reading over the module outline, have a look at the bibliography, if necessary contact the module leader or your department for some more info. A lot of departments have their own facebook pages, you could even post on there to see if any other students could advise you on their thoughts about the module. Think about what really peaks your interest, a boring module is the worst.

 

10 Mistakes You’ll Make as a Fresher

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Coming to uni is full of new and exciting experiences, and you’re having to navigate a load of new things, so you’re bound to make a few mistakes, here’s ten things you might want to avoid, from ‘meh, you can get away with that’ to ‘for the love of all that is holy don’t do that.’ 

1.Not exploring the local area before studying starts

This isn’t essential but it’s A) useful to know the place you’ll be living in for three years and B) a nice thing to do to get to know your new friends and flatmates. It also means you can suss out local chippys for late night sesh food and where you can go for some retail therapy when things get a little too stressful.

2.Not getting familiar with how to find references before your first coursework is due

Again, this isn’t a massive mistake, but it’s just a useful thing to do before you’re bogged down with deadlines. Get yourself familiar with how to navigate the library and ways to find research material, for a lot of departments the library will give a talk on how to use the available resources, and there is loads of useful info on the library website too.

3.Buying every course book brand new

Unless you’re on a very specific course that needs particular editions etc, don’t be a wally and go forking out all your money on brand new books, go to charity shops, Ebay, Amazon marketplace and buy them second hand, or you may be able to find them online, some older books can actually be found free on apple store and kindle. A lot of lecturers will also upload the relevant reading material on ORB or moodle, so you won’t need to have the entire book, it’s best to get in touch with your department and ask beforehand

4.Joining every society under the sun

And how do you suppose you’re going to fit in Rowing, Archery, Sci-fi, Harry Potter, Pole, and Cheese and Wine society (yes that’s a real thing) into your week? Societies are great ways of meeting people but the truth is, signing up at every stall at freshers fair, you’re never going to be able to get to all of them, and you’ll be inundated with sign up emails. The best shout is to have a think what you really fancy and sign up to a select few.

5.Ruining at least one item of clothing in the wash

I did it, despite the fact that I thought I was an adulting boss before I came to uni, and not much self-sufficiency could phase me, I still managed to forget about a delicate kimono in my first wash and turn it into a pile of threads in the machine.

6.Worrying about what people think of your parents on move in day

You’re not going to be seeing them for a really long time, give your mum a break if she’s being a little clingy, everyone will understand. There’s no rush to be hurrying your folks out of the door. If there’s no welcome event in the evening of move in day, why not have a final meal with them before they head off. Emotions will be high on your first day, consider how weird it must feel for your parents now you’re flying the nest.

7.Getting caught up in all the fun and not doing the important stuff

Welcome week is predominantly  about enjoying yourself and getting familiar with your surroundings, but in between the partying and the fun stuff, there are a few admin things that are important to do. Make sure you go to the general welcome talk, registration, departmental talks and library tours, while they may seem boring and arduous, they’re important and useful in the long run. None of them take too long so you can get right back to enjoying yourself pretty quickly.

8.Panicking about not meeting your soulmate in the first week.

Likelihood is, in first week you’ll be finding your feet and meeting loads of different people, some might stick around, some might not. But really, don’t beat yourself up if the people you meet early in the term don’t seem like best mate material, good friendships take time, so don’t panic, you can still have loads of fun with first week randoms.

9.Hiding in your room

It’s very tempting, in the first few weeks, you have a new habitat and you want to burrow in it, only sneaking out to make food for yourself at strategic times when the kitchen might be empty. But making friends with your housemates, while it isn’t always the easiest, will prove useful when you’re midway into the year and fancy some company close to home.

10.Getting with someone in your flat

Just don’t.

And if you don’t know why, then maybe you deserve to learn from that mistake.

5 Student Stereotypes You’ll Meet at Uni

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Uni is made up of a multitude of people, all different and individual…saying that you’ll definitely meet at least one of these irritating stereotypes.

Library Badger

This person basically exists to make you feel like a terrible person. They’ll constantly be on their way to the library. Spending evenings there to do some extra research, going there between lectures rather than procrastinating on social media and overspending on coffees like the rest of us normal people. They’ll probably have a spot that they regularly sit in and rant savagely about the annoying students who talk or make out between the books. This person is however a useful friend, when deadlines and exams are approaching, going to the library badger’s favorite haunt to get your study on can prove very helpful, because you know they are a pro at getting their head down and working.

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The Fluker

Opposite to the library badger, is the worst kind of person to ever exist, ever (totally not an exaggeration.) I have met so many versions of this student, and weirdly, they’ve all been guys. The Fluker is the person that always does super well, despite doing little to no work. They’re never in lectures, they leave their coursework to the day before, and can be regularly heard uttering the phrases ‘I only need 40% to pass’ or ‘lol mine was so bad I’m gonna fail’. They then proceed to get a first and a better grade than you leaving you wanting to throttle them. The fluker is the absolute worst and there is a special circle of hell reserved for them (again not overreacting.)

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The Mythical Creature

This person is amazing, slightly concerning and could well be half mythical creature. They’re a party animal, to such a degree that they have a Mick Jagger amount of ridiculous stories from their escapades. They are usually an absolute nightmare to get hold of and are definitely not the type of person you want to get stuck on a group project with, because in terms of uni, they’re probably useless and rarely sober, on the other hand, there is potential for a crossbreed of the fluker and the mythical creature, combined as one, frustrating and bewildering hybrid. They may have a tendency to be a little flakey and quite often tend to become a slight urban legend, but hold a fire enough house party, and you bet, like a bloodhound, they’ll sniff it out, making it ten times better when they arrive with their antics. 

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Mummy Daddy Privilege Kid

Depending on your uni, the concentration of these will vary. This person rocks up in daddy’s Range Rover, head to toe in Jack Wills (bonus for striped rugby style shirt with turned up collar), carrying in an entire kitchen of brand new John Lewis utensils and appliances. The irony is, they will never use any of these items as they have no idea how to cook, seeing as they have always had dinner served to them. Think JP from Fresh Meat, it’s literally him. Combine them with my gap yah student from my previous article and you have a deadly, upper middle class super power.

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LDR, Never Single Girl

Now, just because I have spent time mocking a load of other student tropes, I will bite the bullet and rip on myself as well, I am fully aware that I am this student and I’m super annoying. This person starts uni with a boyfriend at home, spends most evenings calling and pining, generally being a pain about it. They ultimately have relationship problems that they spend most nights in the kitchen whining about, and end up splitting up. Leaving them disoriented. After a while, and to your relief they resolve to have fun and be single. For a brief period, this person turns into a little party animal riot, and they prove for a lot of entertainment, especially to live vicariously through. Then, bam!  Before you can blink they have a new beau that they’re pining over and moaning about how awful and difficult relationships are, all over again. This cycle can happen anything between one and 4 times during your uni career and this person is a whiney, exasperating nightmare. The likelihood is they’re like me and are fully aware they are like this, but can’t resist being a terrible person and repeating the cycle, they are the living embodiment of this meme…

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Use this blog post like Pokemon cards, collect them all!  Learn each character’s powers and weaknesses and how to just about tolerate them.

Staying Healthy While You’re at Uni

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When I started uni, I was horrendously unhealthy. Working in a pub meant I ate rubbish food at stupid hours, fruit and veg and daylight were a fairly foreign concept to me. For me, coming to uni gave me a better routine, and feeding and shopping for myself meant I had complete control over what I ate and have managed to lose 3 and a half stone since I started in my first year. A lot of people however find uni to be the opposite. You may have heard of the ‘Freshers 15’ the trend of people coming to uni, and with the booze and change in lifestyle, they put on an average of 15Ib. So here’s a little guide to staying healthy while you’re at uni.

Don’t Get Scurvy

You’re not a sailor, there’s no excuse to be getting scurvy. Relying on dried and processed frozen food, is convenient, but not necessarily good for you, whacking some fruit and veg into your meals is always a good shout… obviously. I’m not telling you to eat a kale salad everyday, because you’ll be miserable, but for example, if you’re making a pasta (which you will, you’re a student) chuck in some peas, a bit of spinach or some peppers to give your meal a bit more substance. At Essex, we have a Thursday market and almost every week, the fruit and veg stall is there, there’s loads of stuff and the prices are really reasonable, so you have no excuse!

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Regular Routine

Uni life can be hectic and unpredictable, but for the most part, you have a fairly set schedule, sticking to it, and not staying up until ridiculous o’clock at night, can really help you in terms of eating habits and mentally. I personally feel dreadful if I get into a bad pattern of sleeping late and waking up late, less daylight and weird meal times will drain you and throw your body out.

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Daylight

You may not be able to see the sun for piles of work/ because you’re hungover and you just can’t face it, but being indoors all the time can really affect you. Vitamin D levels will affect your mood and not being outside enough can make you feel really low. It doesn’t have to be for long, just a little ten minute walk around the park will do the trick, just get yourself outside for a little while.

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Mental Health

As much as your physical health is really important, arguably, your mental health is even more so. University can be an extremely stressful time for a lot of people and according to this survey done in 2015, eight out ten students surveyed reported having mental health issues. Taking care of yourself mentally is extremely important while at uni, and here at Essex we have access to great support and counselling at the student services hub and there’s also nightline if you need a chat. A little few things you can do to keep yourself balanced are, make sure you go outside, getting regular exercise, doing something for yourself everyday (even if it’s something small like painting your nails or taking a bath) and not being too hard on yourself for the things you do, uni’s hard you’re doing great. These aren’t going to cure all mental health issues… obviously, but they’re just some little tips to brighten your mood slightly. Never feel ashamed to seek support, there will always be someone who will listen.

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Exercise

It’s gross, trust me, I know. Take this from someone who despises running, being sweaty and out of breath is a disgusting concept to me. However at the beginning of the summer, I joined the university gym, to start with I was reluctant to fork out the money for it, because I thought I’d never go, I now go for an hour at least four times a week now, and I’m all about getting swole (that’s not true, I just like to watch daytime TV on the treadmill!) Working out is really effective for a lot of people in terms of mental health too, getting your head down, blood pumping, music on and focused can really help to clear your head, even if just for a little while.

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These are just a few things you can do to be a little bit more healthy during your time at uni, comment any other tips you might have on staying physically and mentally healthy at university.

How working as a Student Ambassador can enhance your university life

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Student Ambassadors are current students of the university who help  to promote the university to prospective students. It involves working at events such as campus tours, open days, visit days, and campus visits. This blog will give you some ideas as to why becoming a student ambassador can be a great idea alongside your studies!

It gives you an income

You get paid an hourly rate as a student ambassador and the money gets paid into your bank account on a monthly basis. It is a really handy job if you need some extra cash and want to work on a more flexible basis. However, working flexibly does not mean that you will earn money every month.

You can add it to your CV as experience

Working as a student ambassador helps to build your confidence, you are likely to have to speak about your life as a student at Essex. There are loads of other skills that you can develop like organisation, team work, time management and communication. These are all great to add to your CV and show employers that you have demonstrated them within a working environment.

You can decide which events you want to work at

There is an online system where you can apply for the events you want to work at and then the ambassadors are picked in a fair way to make sure that everyone gets an equal chance to work. This is useful because it fits around your timetable and studies. However, you have to remember that it is not a fixed pay and you only get paid for the work that you do!

It is a great way to show prospective students what a great time you are having at Essex

If you are enjoying your time at Essex, then it is a great way to share your experiences with others, and it could well sway their choices about going to uni. Younger people may not really understand the university format, therefore to hear about it from a current student is likely to inform them of what it is all about!

To get involved, student ambassadors are usually recruited in the autumn term and will be advertised on careers hub.