No need to suffer: the help and support available to you at university

University is a place for you to grow. A place where you can become the person you want to be. People say that at university you can be independent but it can seem daunting at first, especially if you are living away from home for the first time. All those things that other people may have done for you in the past will now become your responsibility.

There is cooking to do, shopping, washing, studying, socialising and relaxing: in truth it does feel like you are at the deep end when it comes to being independent and looking after yourself.

But that doesn’t mean that you should face it alone. Never suffer in silence if the whole university experience or even your personal life becomes too much. There are so many services and people who can help with a wide range of issues- while this may not be representative of all universities, the information below is certainly true of Essex.

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Nightline: a confidential listening, emotional support, information and supplies service, run for students by students at the University of Essex.

It runs every night during term time from 10pm until 8am. Students can either visit in person where you can enter the Nightline flat at the back of Keynes Tower (North Towers), or you can email or give them a call.

Student Support Hub: The Silberrad Student Centre is the one-stop shop for the majority of student concerns.

Whether it is do with living in university residences; changing your course; replacement registration cards; disability support; exam extenuating circumstances; coping with stress and anxiety; counselling; immigration advice; or funding advice (phew!) the “Hub” will be able to help you.24477446640_ac9b4c7ac7_k

Personal Tutor: All students will be assigned a personal tutor within their department for the duration of their study. These are the people that you can go to with course specific questions, additionally they are also able to signpost you to other services if they feel that they cannot help you personally.

Peer Mentor: Most departments will assign first year students a peer mentor, a student normally in their second or third year. The peer mentor is able to give you honest advice and help from the student prospective. They can also direct you to the specific people or services which can help your position.

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Multi-Faith Chaplaincy: a welcoming place for staff, students and the wider community to meet, interact and engage in a positive and peaceful manner. It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, the Chaplaincy and its staff are a friendly group and an oasis of calm.

Student Union: As a member of the university you are automatically a member of the student union. This is a service which runs some of the venues on campus as well as being an organisation that is centred wholly around supporting students. There are representatives who handle educational concerns, concerns with welfare and also people who help and represent groups such as BAME students, LGBT+ students, postgraduate and mature students. Their job is to listen and react to your issues.

uni-essex-student-union-ambassador-logo-400x400Health Centre: Hopefully you will never need to use it whilst you are here, but it is important to register with the on-campus health centre in case you do need it. Located behind Rayleigh Tower (North Towers) they provide NHS services from GP appointments to nurse clinics and provide help and assistance for asthma, diabetes, sexual health and contraception.

Talent Development Centre Helpdesk: Located on the ground floor of the Student Centre they offer a number of services including: 1:1 academic advising; Maths support; English language support; and advice on PhD thesis writing.

Whilst your family and friends can be the perfect shoulder to cry on if you need one, there is other help available if you need it. With so much available, never feel embarrassed to ask for more support should you ever need it.

Dealing with pre-exam nerves

Exam season can be a pretty nerve wracking time. It doesn’t help by the fact you’re probably spending late nights in the library, only having an energy drink to keep you awake. Last year, I got so worked up about my exams I ended up having a panic attack in one of them. I’ve since then learned from my mistakes and I am writing this blog to give you tips on how to deal with pre-exam nerves and anxiety.

Have a good mindset: exams are important but not more important than you

Stress in small amounts is good for you. It shows you that you may need to be working harder or that you need to change your revision plan. But a lot of stress…that can really affect your mental health, as I found out last year. If you can’t control something and you are doing the best that you can, then accept it and just do your best!

Last year I had 7 exams in 12 days. I was so stressed about it all and felt so anxious. I was working 9am till 9pm, only taking breaks to eat because I really wanted that 2:1! This isn’t healthy. In my 4th exam I had a panic attack with an exam the next morning too. It was a horrible feeling. But I realise now that I shouldn’t have put so much pressure on myself. I was doing the best I could and that was what mattered. I couldn’t change the situation, so should have not got so anxious about achieving the grades I wanted. Keep a good mindset and just try your best!

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Take breaks

Everyone has there preferred time of day that they work better. I like to get up early and revise until tea time then have the evening off to chill and have a break from revision.  You might rather sleep in and get up and start doing work about 2 and then do work till later in the evening. You might prefer to do a couple of hours, have a couple hours break, then do some more. But it is important to fit in breaks. You will be far less productive if you don’t! And it is also not good for your mind set if all you’re thinking of all day everyday is revision.

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Make a plan

The more organised and prepared you are, the the less nervous you are going to feel about your exams. Make a revision plan. Plan each day with what revision you are going to do. Spread time wisely across each exam. Don’t leave the exam you hate till the week before.. you’ll feel worse and more stressed for it!

Eat healthily and exercise regularly

I find that exercise is a nice break from studying. Not only does it help me think I’m staying in shape (with all the extra stress food I’m eating), but it also is good for studying because of the hormones it releases. There are certain foods that are meant to help with stress. The one that I always rely on is dark chocolate. I’ll have a couple of squares a day as a treat. Unfortunately, some of the other foods don’t sound so appealing, but they include leafy vegetables, salmon, blueberries, avocados and seeds.

Try relaxation techniques such as meditation

It is important during exam season to relax. Meditation is a great way to do this. It has many benefits such as reducing stress, improves concentration, increases self-awareness and practice benefits cardiovascular and immune health. There are apps you can download that can help you and Youtube videos too.

Over the Easter break I went to a yoga retreat in Portugal. It was my friends idea and after my panic attack last year I thought it would be a great way to de-stress. Here is a picture before a mediation, me standing closest to the camera.

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Exam season can be a scary time, even if you prefer exams over coursework (like me). Remember they will come to a end and the horrible exam zombie you have become will go away. And once they are over, you have a 3 month summer to look forward to! Good luck with your exams 🙂

 

Top 10 places to visit in Essex

Being born and bred in the county, I am proud to say that I’m an Essex lad through and through. In fact up until this year, I have always lived in Essex!

From growing up around beautiful countryside and exciting towns, I can tell you first hand that there are loads of wonderful places to see in Essex.

So let me show you my top 10 Essex highlights, which you should definitely visit, if you haven’t already. (A.K.A. the places where I was dragged along to for days out as a kid, but have grown to love over the years!)

1) Finchingfield

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This adorable little place has often been described as “a chocolate box village”. It’s a great example of a traditional English village with a backdrop to match. The peaceful lake and green fields in the centre of the village makes this the perfect spot for afternoon tea in the Summer!

 

2) Hedingham Castle

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This traditional Norman keep is just down the road from where I grew up and I have lots of fond memories of going to its regular jousting days and exploring the different floors of the castle.

However, one of my favourite things about the castle is that the Globe Theatre visits the attraction each year. The company puts on a production of a different Shakespeare play each summer with the Castle acting as a stunning backdrop!

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3) Lakeside Shopping Centre and Retail Park

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Being the biggest shopping centre in the Essex, Lakeside is the perfect place for your inner shopaholic! There are countless shops and restaurants here to enjoy, with a wide choice to choose from.

 

4) Southend-on-Sea 

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Home to the University of Essex’s second biggest campus, Southend-on-Sea is the perfect place for a trip to the seaside.

It’s also home to the longest pleasure pier in the world. It’s so long in fact that there is actually a purpose-built railway which takes people to the pier head and back. However, there is also the option to walk the 1.34 miles if you prefer!

 

5) Walton-on-the-Naze

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Speaking of Essex’s beautiful coastline, Walton-on-the-Naze is another pristine example! In particular, the coastal walk from the Naze Tower to the town itself is well worth a wander.

Don’t forget to treat yourself to the seaside tradition of a 99 flake from the ice cream van when you’ve finished the walk!

 

6) Olympic Mountain Biking Track

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When London hosted the Summer Olympics in 2012, Essex played its part by hosting the Mountain biking event. Based in Hadleigh, the track is still there for the public to visit and try for themselves on the same track where Olympians pushed for glory a few years previous.

 

7) Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker

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Despite the place being not so secret these days, the bunker was originally designed during the cold war when the threat of nuclear war was high. Now open as a museum, you can now explore the whole bunker where the government planned to be based in the Southeast in the event of an attack.

This attraction is also quite interesting in getting an insight into what life looked like 20/30 years ago. This is due to the bunker’s appearance not changing since it being decommissioned in the early 1990’s.

 

8) Tiptree Jam Factory

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Home to the famous English jam, the Tiptree Jam Factory is the perfect place to see how this famous English staple is created!

The museum, based in the original factory where the jam is still made to this day, shows you how its popular preserves have been made since 1865.

However, no visit is complete without a trip to the factory’s tearooms and trying out the jam for yourself!

 

9) Colchester Zoo

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Specialising in endangered animals, Colchester Zoo is ranked as one of the best Zoo’s in the country. With the opportunity to see some of the animals up close and feed them, the short trip from the Colchester campus is most definitely worth it!

 

10) Mercury Theatre

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One of my personal Essex favourites is Colchester’s Mercury Theatre. The venue puts on several of its own shoes each year whilst also regularly attracting visiting professional companies as well. There’s always something different on, whether it be theatre, dance or stand up comedy, there’s bound to be something on that’s worth seeing!

So…

if you feel inspired to visit the places I’ve recommended (and fancy winning up to £500 of summer days out), make sure you take some photos of your visit. Essex Business School is giving you the chance to bag entry to top London and Essex attractions for you and a friend in their Instagram competition to find Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction.

To enter, post a pic of your favourite place to visit in Essex on your Instagram, name the attraction in your comment and use #essexyouthtourism for your chance to win. Make sure you tag @essexebs and follow them to find out the winner. You must be aged 16 to 25 to enter and you have until 18 May to post your pic.

The most photographed attraction will be crowned Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction 2017. The most creative, inspirational or just plain pretty photo will win the summer prize package.

The competition celebrates the launch of the new BSc Tourism Management degree at the Southend Campus, which is open for 2017 entries.

Why Summer Term at Essex is the best time of the year!

Despite the constant dread of exams, summer term is probably the best time of the year! Gone is the threat of frost and freezing winds as Essex welcomes in sunshine and longer nights.

Here are a few things which make Summer term at Essex special…

Chilling by the lakes

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One of my favourite places on campus during the summer months is the lakes! This probably has something to do with memories of post exam chills by the lakes. Something which kind of became a tradition with my friends on my course. There’s nothing better than relaxing with your mates in the sun congratulating yourselves on an exam well done or getting your spirits back up after getting some bad questions!

 

Awards season

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Whether you’re part of sports, societies, volunteering, the ISA or work for the SU, the summer term has a host of different awards evenings. These are all held to celebrate the hard work and achievements of the past year and are a really nice way to finish the year in style.

Last year, I went to the Society awards and the SU staff awards and I had a really good time!

Eurovision

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One of my guilty pleasures is watching the Eurovision Song Contest every year. Its combination of catchy songs, witty commentary and nail biting voting make it something to look forward to when revising!

Each year, a hoard of students pile into the SU bar for the show. The bar also makes a real effort in decorating the everywhere with flags, free face painting and special drinks from each of the participating countries. Combined with students from all over the world rooting for their home countries, it’s always a night to remember (even if the UK’s entry flops every year!)

You tend to make the most of things!

If you’ve been itching to go to have a go at Frisbee golf or make an effort for the weekly SU quiz, then Summer term is the time to do so! Before all your friends either go home for the summer or graduate, this term is your opportunity to make the most of things! So, go for it!

Essex’s Got Talent

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Ran every year by the Theatre Arts Society, Essex’s Got Talent is pretty much everything that you expect! Not too dissimilar to its national counterpart, whether you’re a stand-up comedian or a street dancer, the competition is the chance for anyone to show off their talents. This is all set  in front of dozens of people on the squares on a summer’s day. The top 3 entries also win prizes, so it’s well worth having a go! Keep an eye out for dates soon!

End of the year celebrations

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Some of the major highlights of the Essex academic year are right at the end of the year; The End and Summer Ball. Both are strong Essex traditions and are well worth the wait! The relaxed nature of The End, quickly followed by the sophistication of Summer Ball, make for the perfect send off before the reality of normal life outside of University hits!

I hope this has got you excited to come back to Essex and has inspired you to make the most of some of the best weeks of the University calendar!

Brain Snacks: the best food and drinks to have when you’re revising

When revising it is important to keep your brain active and yourself motivated to work. This blog is going to give you some ideas of food and drink that you can have either as a snack or as part of a meal to get you through those tough days.

  • Fruit and Vegetables

There are many vitamins, minerals, and ions in fruit and vegetables; therefore they will give you an energy boost. The fructose and healthy sugar in them coverts into energy. Some of the best fruits to have are apples, bananas, berries and avocados.

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• Peanut butter

Peanut butter is not necessarily unhealthy in small portions. It contains healthy fats, similar to avocados, and it has lots of protein. Peanut butter can be put on toast, crackers or even in porridge and it also can store for a long time in your cupboard before expiring. An essential student food!

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• Eggs

These are very filling and a great food for breakfast to start off your day. There are many different ways to cook them; such as boiled, scrambled, poached and fried, therefore they are hard to get bored of! Start your day right with a filling breakfast and you’ll find yourself being more productive!

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• Pumpkin seeds and Walnuts

These have omega-3 and zinc in them, which helps to stimulate your memory. They are a great snack, or something you can add to your main meal, such as a salad.

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• Coffee

This is a great drink to keep you awake! This is sometimes a necessity to get through your studying. Just make sure you don’t over do it!

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• Squash

We all know that water is the best drink to drink to stay hydrated and studies have shown that it can actually help you to perform better in tests. However, it can sometimes get boring, so why not change it up a bit by adding some squash!

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Also, as well as drinking and eating the right things, remember to stay hydrated with water and get enough sleep! These will keep your brain awake and more motivated, so you don’t fall asleep whilst studying!

Easter Revision Tips

As a Psychology student, I know that research has shown that the longer the period of time you try to remember a piece of information the more you will remember. So that means the earlier you start your revision the better! If you spread 20 hours of revision over 3 weeks it is a lot better for your memory than 2 days of cramming! So basically, if you’re reading this and haven’t started revising yet… open your first revision book and crack on!

Make a plan

Start to plan on what days you are going to get some revision done . There is no way you should be revising every single day.. I mean it is called a holiday for a reason! But you want to make sure on the days you are revising you are putting your time to use. If you wake up at 11 thinking “yeah might finally crack on with some revision today” spend another 2 hours lounging around and figuring out what revision you could do and you’ll probably just end up crying because you realise how much revision you have.  Stop the waterworks. It’s time to make a plan.

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Tips on how to make a good plan

Spread your time wisely

Think about how much each exam is worth. Full year modules will be worth 30 credits while half year will be worth 15 credits. You want to try and spread your time equally if each exam is worth the same amount or spend a bit more time on those full year module exams. Also each module’s exam may be worth different percentage of the module grade. So for example I have exams that are 75% of my module grade and 50% of module grade.

Look at past papers

Look at what type of exams it is. It could be essay based, short questions, multiple choice or a mix. You need a make a plan around what type of revision you need to do. For essay exams you may not need to learn every lecture but learn a few more in-depth. For example one of my exams is 1 essay out of 6. So if I learn 5 lectures 1 will defiantly come up. While if you have a multiple choice exam you will need to learn each lecture but not so in depth. So plan your revision according.

Plan what days you are going to revise

Plan a reasonable amount of time in your week to revise! Also make sure you are having days off too! Easter is also about chilling (and eating chocolate!).

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Try and stick to the plan but don’t pressure yourself!

When creating a plan you may have missed judged it. Realising actually you can’t get through as many lecture notes as you thought in a day. Don’t be dishearten just alter the plan to suit your own revision plan. That’s of course if you’re not having facebook breaks every 10 minutes!

Other revision advice: Try and find quiet and non distracting place to revise

If you have gone home for easter finding somewhere appropriate to revise may be hard. My dad likes to put his bass speakers up loud (yes my 50 year old dad!) so I know how hard it can be to get some peace at home. How tempting it can be to revise in bed.. that’s probably no good too! Find somewhere you can set up all your work and is quiet. Maybe a kitchen table if you don’t have a desk in your room! If the place you could revise is usually loud, you could always ask you family to be quiet for a couple hours. Or most places often have library you could go study in too!

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I hope your easter holidays are going well and you’re also having a well deserved break! Eat some chocolate and do some revision 🙂

Exploring the East of England: beyond the Essex border

I have lived in the East of England all my life, either in Ipswich or in Colchester. And I love it here. 15 minute drive out and you’re in the countryside, 20 minute drive and you’re at the beach, and it’s not too fair from London either! In this blog I am going to tell you about the gems of the East of England, in Suffolk and Norfolk. Lets go beyond the Essex border!

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 The Farm

Suffolk is the neighbouring county to Essex and it has a reputation for being very country. So what is more country than a trip to the farm?  Suffolk was a lot of farms to explore including Easton Farm Park, Jimmy’s farm and Baylham House Rare Breed Farm. Depending on the farm, you might get to feed the animals, hold lambs and see a range of different farm yard animals! Check them out to find out what each farm has to offer and how much entry is! Here’s a picture of me loving life with a sheep last weekend at Easton Farm Park!

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The beach

The best thing about living in the east of England is you’re never too far from the coast! There are so many good beaches to go to in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk! Felixstowe is my local beach and you can get a train there via Ipswich. It is quite a stoney beach and maybe not as much there as Clacton, but who doesn’t love an ice-cream by the sea?!

Bored of the beaches in Essex? How about Great Yarmouth in Norfolk? Great Yarmouth is basically the childhood holiday of everyone who lives in the East of England! I’d go on holiday to Great Yarmouth and see the whole of my high school while I was there! Great Yarmouth has a pier, arcades, rides, seaside shops, sealife aquarium and of course the beach! You can get there by getting the train from Colchester to Norwich and then Norwich to Great Yarmouth.

Norfolk beaches are also known for being home to seals. You tend to be able to find them at Horsey beach. You can also take a boat trip to go and see them too!

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Flatford Mill

Another gem of Suffolk is Flatford Mill. It is great for a walk or a picnic but the best part about Flatford Mill is that you can higher rowing boats and row down the River Stour. This is one of my favourite things to do in the summer and it is so relaxing! Perfect way to de-stress from the thought of revision!

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Framlingham Castle

 Are you any chance an Ed Sheeran fan? Do you know his song castle on the hill? Well it is about Framlingham castle! This is proper getting into Suffolk countryside. You can walk along the castle grounds and take a picnic! If you love a bit of country side and want to see where Ed Sheeran spent his teenage years tend this is the place to go!

Norwich Shopping

 Because who doesn’t love a bit of retail therapy? Norwich is the place to go if you want a city with a decent shopping centre. It is the best place to go for shopping in the east of England. With plenty of variety of shops and places to eat! There is also a castle and a cathedral  if you want some culture too.

Ipswich Waterfront

 So Ipswich is my hometown. Although it doesn’t have the biggest town of shops it’s still nice if you like to go somewhere different to shop! But the best bit of Ipswich is the waterfront. It is near the university and not a long walk from the train station. It has restaurants, a pub and hotels. If you do go to the Ipswich waterfront I would suggest going for a drink or meal in the pub Isaac’s. My cousin had his wedding their last year and it’s a lovely little pub! It is the beer garden to be when we get that 2 day heatwave!

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So that’s pretty much everywhere I have spent my childhood summed up. The great thing about living in Essex is that you can easily get to places in Suffolk and Essex by trains and bus!

 

Revision tips depending on your personality

Revision is a bore! Long and tedious. Boring and dull. Did I mention it was boring? It is hard to get motivated for revising and essay writing but your success in an exam or essay could rest on how well you revise.

a14cab5a3f5402daa8014fe1340f3cb0So depending on who you are a person I have prepared some tips which might help you:

improve-memory-1-1The Meticulous planner

  • Create a Revision Timetable: Start revising several weeks before your exams are due to start. Exam timetables are normally released well in advance. Be realistic with the time you have and remember to factor in a fair amount of rest time.
  • Identify key topics: For each course, identify what you need to revise. Look back at past papers and the course content in order to work out what you should revise. An old teacher of mine used to say “Revise the trees, not the forest”- basically don’t try and revise everything as you won’t have time and you’ll start to panic.

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The Memory reviser 

Ok, so you have a great memory. You make people jealous with how well and quick you remember things. Or perhaps you struggle to remember things?

  • Don’t leave things until the last minute! Never a good idea, give yourself plenty of time to look over things.
  • Good notes taken in classes mean you can spend more time revising and less time researching.
  • If you’re struggling to remember words or terms try to associate it with an image or song to see if it makes it easier to remember.

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The Procrastinator 

“I’ll do it later” but later never comes. Those texts need checking every 10 minutes and that new series isn’t going to watch itself!

Procrastinators what you need is time. Time to revise and time to relax.

  • Set yourself small, achievable targets each day. This could be a minimum number of words to write or even how long you work. Perhaps work for 20 minutes and have a 10 minute break (just be strict with yourself)
  • Remove distractions- yes that series is good but perhaps wait until the evening before you binge. Whilst trying to revise turn off your phone/ TV/ music if they are a distraction. Additionally while you can’t simply remove that one distracting flatmate, you can find a space that you can work easily in.
  • Reward yourself- need encouragement to write? Try: http://writtenkitten.net which rewards you every 100 words with a picture of a cute cat!

Whatever your style, I hope this helps!

Nights out in Essex: a guide to every night of the week

Being a student is tough; all those lectures, classes and essays we have to  do. Sometimes you just want to have break, go out and enjoy yourself. Well, the Essex campus has got you covered for a great night out. There’s something to do everyday of the week, so here’s a rundown of what’s on offer:

Monday – Milk It

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If there was ever a way to cure those Monday blues then Milk It is it. Karaoke and cheesy tunes all night long and it’s in the SU Bar, so it’s free! Take a trip to the SU, sign up for karaoke (all singing abilities welcome), then dance the night away to the tunes from your childhood and get all nostalgic. I miss S Club 7 so much.

Tuesday – Town

With no official night out on campus on a Tuesday, take a trip to Colchester town. Colchester has some great bars that you wouldn’t get to visit if you only stayed on campus. Of course there’s the old favourite; Wetherspoons, but bars like Twisters, V Bar and Three Wise Monkeys offer something a little different with more alternative music and live music nights. There’s also the new Atik club which you can head to if you fancy a change from Sub Zero.

Wednesday – Sports Fed

12695038_10153345971436517_2657461725610478521_o Dressing up as the girls from St. Trinians for our hockey social

Whilst Sports Fed is the night all the sports teams on campus have their socials and head out, anyone is welcome and it’s a great night out. If you’re on a sports team, expect to be all dressed up in costume. If you’re not on a sports team, why not dress up anyway?! Fed is a good laugh and it can be really funny seeing what themes the teams come up with every week. I have seen some very strange outfits down in Sub Zero

Thursday – Quiz

Thursday night is quiz night in the SU Bar. Head down with a team ready  to have your pointless knowledge put to the test. Every participant pays £1 to enter with the winning team sharing the prize money. 2nd and 3rd prize are free drinks from the bar. Don’t be thinking you can get away with looking up a sneaky few answers on your phone though, they’re very strict on that!

Friday – Friday Night Project

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The Friday Night Project offers all your favourite chart tunes with some others thrown in for good measure. Friday nights are often themed, in the past there’s been a pizza party where free pizza is given out, masquerade night and zoo nights so you can dress up as any kind of animal you fancy!

Saturday – Special events

Who doesn’t love a good Saturday night out? Saturdays at Essex often mean a special guest, in the past we’ve had Mistajam, Conor Maynard, Beat a Maxx, Tom Zanetti and Zane Lowe, among many others. Saturday can also bring some one off events like the Easter Ball (complete with chocolate fountain) and paint and foam parties.

Sunday – Night in?

Okay, hear me out. It’s pretty hard to go out every night of the week and still make to the Monday ready to begin lectures! So why not have a night in with flatmates instead?! Sometimes a night in can be even better than a night out. Squeeze into someone’s room and watch a film, play a few games or take part in Nerf gun wars. I can definitely vouch for how much fun the latter is!

So there you have it, something to do every night of the week! This list is by no means exhaustive so get out there and give it all a go!

5 ways to spot your perfect University

Choosing the right university is an important decision and you want to get it right! You go round to all the open days and talks and you can’t decide which one is the best option for you. I believe their are 6 factors when choosing the right university. And I will tell you why these 6 factors lead me to choosing Essex!

Your degree subject

By now you may  know what subject you want to do, so the first thing to ask yourself is does the university you’re looking at do your perfect degree? I don’t just mean ‘do they run the degree you want’ I mean, ‘does the course sound interesting and does it cover the aspects of the topic that you’re interested in?’

I found Essex when my local university didn’t do the Psychology degree I wanted. I was considering a few universities and then I saw the Psychology department at Essex and it just had everything I wanted! They have lots of computer labs, testing booths and equipment and the course itself sounded really interesting; that’s when I knew I had to come to Essex!

My tip: Go and look round departments, go to any talks they offer, read the prospectus or check them out on the web and see what they can offer you!

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Studying Facilities

Another important factor when choosing a university is the facilities they have for you to study. I know that you might be more excited for the social life uni will give you, but considering how and where you’re going to be sitting until 3am writing essays, or your dissertation, is a huge factor when it comes to deciding which University you think is the best for you. Surprisingly, not all Universities have many places that you can actually sit down and study that isn’t a silent library!

Essex stood out to me because it has a lot of different studying facilities. There are 23 different places around the university that have computers for your to use, including PC labs, the student centre and the library. There are 5 floors in the library filled with books to help you do your essays. There are plenty of quiet study spaces dotted around each floor, and don’t forget the reading room on the ground floor! Or, if you like a quiet but a little more social environment, the newly built student centre has a number of computers and study spaces perfect for this!

Essex is not short of places to study which was an important factor for me, especially now I commute so spend a lot of my day in the student centre!

My tip: If a University has got a particularly good facility for students, it will be showing it off! Look out for the Universities that promote their study spaces and have information about them. If a University isn’t saying much about it, you’ve got to ask why that might be.

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Location Location Location

The location of your uni is extremely important. Is your chosen uni a 4-hour drive away and you want to move as far away from home as possible? Or is it just down the road which is exactly what you want, when you want to pop back home for a Sunday roast? What drew me to Essex was that I lived far enough to be living in a different town, but I then had to option to commute too.

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It’s also really important to think about what you want to be near when you’re at Uni. Being in a city might seem like a great idea, but can you afford the prices around there, or could you be within commutable distance to a city, without the city prices?! Would you be happy to have to travel quite far on buses or trams to get to your lectures, or would you prefer everywhere to be nearby to each other and within greener surroundings? Access to the great outdoors might be especially important for those sporty people out there!

I love Essex because it has everything in one place with various restaurants, shops, bars and their own nightclub all a few minutes of each other!  I loved the idea of everything being in one place.  It often meant in first year when I lived on campus I didn’t need to leave campus very often, but if you did want to go in to town it’s just a cheap 20-minute bus ride and nearby train stations mean that it’s easy to get into London too! It’s the ideal location to get the best of both worlds: a green campus, but close to a bustling town and city.

My tip: Think about what you really couldn’t live without before you decide where you want to spend the next 3+ years of your life. Whilst university is the perfect time to live life completely differently, the novelty of living in a way you’re unused to can quickly wear off if you haven’t really thought it through. Take a look at student profiles or blogs on the web to see how they feel about living and studying at that particular university – genuine insights are the best way to figure out what might be right for you.

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Extra curricular activities

University is an experience and not just a degree. You will gain so many life skills and experiences – not just what your degree teaches you! Even if right now you think you wouldn’t want to get involved in any clubs or societies, you have to think down the line and what might look good on your CV too.

Perhaps at some point you’d like to learn a language, do a placement year, or do a year studying abroad? Find out what each university offers – even if you don’t think you’d be interested in those opportunities right now, you might be in three years. Some unis offer opportunities much cheaper than others, so it’s definitely worth bearing in mind.

Essex does has a lot to offer someone who wants to get fully involved in university life. There are over 40 different sports clubs for you to get involved in! There is also lots of different choice in society’s and volunteering opportunities, as well as the opportunity to learn languages in several different ways alongside your degree and a lot of courses also have the option to study abroad for a year in loads of different countries! I was drawn by the idea there was lots of opportunity to get involved during my time at Essex!

My tip: Check out stats to see how your university is rated for student satisfaction – this is a great indication of how many experiences and opportunities are available, as well as the overall happiness of the students that have already been there. A uni with a low rating probably doesn’t have much to offer and students probably didn’t have that good of an experience!

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Work opportunities

Although you go to university to get a degree, it is handy to get gain some experience along the way and money. If you know you’ll need a job while at university then make sure you look at the employability options at the universities! Another thing to consider is how can you make your CV look better for when you graduate?

Something Essex focuses on  is learning employability skills, so that once we finish our degrees, we are well equipped to go out in the big wide world!  Essex provides a lot of opportunity to gain them skills, from on campus jobs to earn a bit of extra money,  to the frontrunner scheme and volunteering opportunities. Essex was right for me because it helped me to build a CV and make me more prepared to leave university and find a job. I have participated in a number of job opportunities, including a frontrunner placement and advise anyone who comes here to get involved!

My tip: I know it seems like a way off now, but you really do have to think about what you’re going to do after University and what help you can get during your degree. These days, graduates have more than just a degree under their belt, so how is your university going to help you stand out from everyone else?

I hope these 5 factors will help you choose the university that is right for you! For me personally, Essex was the perfect choice! If you have any questions just comment below, or send your questions to the uni on Facebook or Twitter 🙂