The Golden Age of Budget Tourism

If you have ever used Tinder and/or Instagram, you know what I mean by saying that our generation is obsessed with travelling. On almost every profile you find something along the lines of ‘travel-lover’, ‘hobbies: travelling’, or ‘citizen of the world’. Posts on social media are dominated by pictures of romantic beaches, beautiful sceneries, or exciting adventures that our friends have decided to share with us. Travelling can be an incredible experience and I believe it is very understandable that the people I know like to embark on journeys to different countries or even continents. While I am also guilty of describing myself as a travel-junkie and I like to post pictures about my little adventures as well, I have been reflecting on the concept of travelling lately.

teal Instax Mini 8 instant camera near decor

The way tourism works nowadays is extremely novel. Tourism itself has increased immensely since the Second World War. Before that, travelling was either too expensive or too dangerous. Besides, many people simply didn’t have the time or money to go to other places for fun. In addition, transportation was a lot more complicated and the variety of methods was much more limited since infrastructures weren’t near as well developed in the majority of countries as they are now. When you did go somewhere, it was usually close to your home country and activities were mostly restricted to guided tours and city strolls. For most people, travelling was a luxury and without the internet and tourism-oriented hotspots the travelling experience differed vastly from what we have now.

Considering the abundance of cheap airlines, buses, hostels, Airbnb, travel apps, recommendation sites, travel guides, etc, it seems appropriate to say that we currently live in the Golden Age of Budget Travel. Particularly popular among young adults (but also frequently enjoyed by older generations), this type of travel has the goal of minimising cost but maximising experience. We don’t want a fancy, all-inclusive vacation on a dirty beach somewhere in a tourist-flooded town in Spain, where you find more tourists than Spaniards. My generation wants the candid, real experience. We want to get to know the culture, the people and the real food. We reject the idea that tourists should do touristy things; we want to get to know the native customs and have a real adventure.

person pointing map

This sentiment seems sensible. The motive for vacation has shifted from ‘luxury, simple’ to ‘I want to see the whole world.’ We have access to these amazing tools and companies that make travelling so easy and cheap – who wouldn’t want to take advantage of that? If the world is an open book, why stay on the same page? Especially with the exposure to other cultures we have through the internet, it is only natural to be curious about all these other places and customs. Travelling has the amazing potential of unlocking new experiences and mindsets – and we want it all.

However, we want it all to ourselves. Crowded cities and beaches, touristy tours, meeting other Brits EVERYWHERE don’t fit within our ideal concept of a vacation. We want the real experience – not the same package everyone else gets. Finding this one secluded spot on a beach in Costa Rica is ten times better than staying on the same beach with all the other guests from your hotel that won’t stop putting out towels on the sun beds in the morning to ‘reserve’ it for later. Tourism nowadays means coming as close to not being a tourist as possible. It is infuriating when the taxi driver charges us more than the locals. Eating chips and burgers is dull, we demand local food! After all, we want the real experience.

One of the problems this leads to is that small villages get overrun by tourists. Despite wanting the ‘local’ experience, if tourists visit an area, it becomes a tourist spot. That one secluded beach turns into an insider’s location and eventually into the same overrun beach we were all trying to avoid. That one cute little town that made us feel like a native and seemed so welcoming now sells post cards everywhere and you need to watch out for tourist scammers. The curse of real-experience-tourism is that we all want it, have the capacity to do it, and ultimately ruin it.

moving train near trees

I am not trying to badmouth adventure tourism or people who do value the candid experience when travelling. I do, however, try to reflect on the mentality that a lot of people have adopted around me. Tourism is an important source of income for many countries and in my opinion, crucial to one’s personal development. Yet, we need to step back from the idea that being a tourist is something bad; why do we want to separate ourselves so badly from the crowd? Avoiding tourist spots doesn’t make us a local; it simply makes us a tourist that avoids tourist spots.

Why ​attend an Essex Open Day

Here at the University of Essex, we host regular open days for incoming and prospective students. These Open Days are the perfect opportunity to get to know the campus, meet staff and current students and learn more about the courses offered and university in general.

bus

A typical open day involves arriving in the morning to our Colchester campus to check in. Once you’ve checked in there is a welcome cafe where you’ll find snacks as well as tea and coffee and a variety of juices in case you had an early morning and didn’t get to grab something on your way out.

After you’ve had a bite to eat and a drink you can look around the hall to check out our departments. Staff from each of the departments are stationed around the hall and ready to answer any questions you have about potential courses.

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Throughout the day there will be a general welcome talk followed by more talks on specific topics ranging from student finance to accommodation and study abroad. You will also have a chance to see a taster lecture of a course you’re interested in, or several if you are still deciding on what you want to study.

lake

After you’ve gotten a taste for the academic part, you can have take tours of our accommodation and campus to get a feel for the rest of student life. The campus tours leave from our beautiful student centre next to the lakes and one of our student ambassadors shows you around campus and answers any questions you might have. You will also get a chance to look at our accommodation and visit inside the various types of rooms we have here on campus, from communal ones like the towers where you share a flat with 14 other students, to the ensuite rooms in South Courts where you just share a kitchen with a few other students.

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We also have activities set up across campus to fill your day in between classes and tours. Various stalls dot the centre of campus ranging from foods such as The Vegan Greek to pizza stands, a mocktail bar, and BBQ. There is also a great showing of some of the 150 societies we have here at Essex as well as fun activities like mug painting, a ball pit, and henna tattooing.

ball pit

 

To top it off, we even have a shuttle service to the train station to take the stress out of your journey! We have upcoming open days on 14 September at our Southend Campus as well as 21 September and 26 October at our Colchester Campus. So book your place here and enjoy our beautiful campus!

No matter if you’re considering Essex, or just want to get a taste of university life, a visit to one of our open days is the perfect way to have a blast and expand your horizons.

mocktails

 

Aladdin- A Follow Up review

For any regular readers of the Essex blogs, you may remember my review of the Aladdin trailer that dropped a while ago (if not, check it out here! #CheekyPromo) A Disney fanatic review: Aladdin Trailer

But now the movie has been released, I can finally give a film student’s opinion on it! (just to clarify, it’s me. Not like, every film student’s opinion… just my own)

You get it.

Aladdin!

Admittedly, the second musical number, One Jump Ahead, didn’t knock my socks off. Was the set good? Considering they shot on location, I can confirm the cinematography was stunning. Did Mena Massoud do Aladdin’s voice justice? …

Don’t get me wrong, his voice was incredible, it just didn’t feel very… Disney?

I’m unsure if it was a fault with the projector or a very big editing blunder, but a noticeable length of said musical number is sped up on screen. The tempo of the music itself doesn’t change, but visually, it looked as though someone had leaned on the fast forward button, then scrambled to hit play. 

However, a few oddly focussed frames and speed issues aside, things soon picked up when Will Smith came on screen.

Remember my doubts about his casting? All gone. When I say that man carried the movie on his back, I mean he carried it. If you’re not wanting to see the movie, at least check out ‘Friend Like Me’ on YouTube. It has it all; humour, bursts of colours, uplifting music, and just that overall feel-good vibe that Disney always delivers.

The choreography, the colours, the music; ah! Just watch it!

 

Jafar, however…

Disappointed doesn’t cover it. His voice, his face shape, his overall demeanour. It was all just wrong (and with the majority of twitter agreeing, it seems that Disney made a big mistake).

To be entirely fair, I haven’t seen Marwan Kenzari (Jafar) in other roles, so whether this was due to his acting style not fitting the role or a lack of direction, I can’t say. However, it really took away from the film for me.

For those who have seen the movie, you’ll know that they’ve created an entirely new character; Dalia (better known as Jasmine’s best friend). Other than attempting to balance out the heavily male-populated movie, I feel she didn’t contribute much to the film other than making me wrack my brain to remember where I had seen her before (I believe she was in New Girl, but she also plays Jake Peralta’s sister in Brooklyn Nine Nine, for anyone struggling to place her)

I seem to have complained a fair bit, but honestly? 2019’s Aladdin was one of my favourite Disney live-action movie’s to date. It was fun, energetic, musically wonderful, and very nostalgic. 

8.5/10, definitely worth a watch, no matter your film taste

How to speak Essex

As an Austrian studying in the UK, English is not my native language. Before coming to England, I felt pretty confident in my English abilities; my grades were always very good, I was able to understand films and song lyrics and I was reading English books without any issues. Then I came to Essex.

Britain is known for its linguistic diversity. If you think you know all the different British accents, take a 20-minute drive to the next town and you’ll hear an entirely new selection of sounds that might resemble the English language you know, but leave you doubting your language skills. While the Essex accent is not the most ‘exotic’ one, it can be challenging when all you are used to are posh Cockney speakers who are usually used for listening exercises in school. After almost two years in Colchester, I have gained a wide range of new words that are extremely useful in my daily whereabouts in England. To make other international students’ transition into speaking full Essex easier, I decided to share my wisdom with you.

In the University of Essex area, you are usually greeted with a nonchalant ‘you alright?’ (pronounced [you’o’ride]) which supposedly has its roots in the phrase ‘Are you alright?’ and is expected to be met with a concise ‘yea’ (‘yea, u?’ if you want to be extra polite). Initially, I mistook this expression as a genuine interest in my well-being, making me wonder whether I appeared ill to everyone around me, as they seemed concerned about me. Once someone explained to me that this is simply a standard greeting (similar to the US-American ‘how are you’, which anticipates a similar level of honesty when responding), I was relieved to know that people didn’t constantly worry about me.

maggie smith GIF

Similarly, Essex natives like to say ‘see you later’ when saying goodbye. This certainly doesn’t imply that the two involved people will indeed see each other at a later point in the day. At the beginning, I thought that everyone was expecting to meet me again (which I actually found quite nice). It got particularly confusing when a person I would certainly not see again ever in my life said this to me, which left me wondering about maybe having misunderstood the intention behind this phrase. Sure enough, ‘see you later’ doesn’t necessarily guarantee a reunion in the near future.

Even if a re-union did take place at a later point, there has been confusion about telling the time as well. You see, in my native language, when we say ‘half-something’ it means half an hour before the full hour (e.g. half-4 means 3.30). Here, the opposite is the case (half-4 = 4.30). Although this is only a minor difference, it can cause disorientation. It took me a while to realise that the meaning is different, and at this point I had been early to a LOT of meetings.

As far as Britishness goes, tea is probably the pinnacle of what one can imagine in this category. Moving to England, I was prepared to deal with the British obsession with drinking tea (which is not an exaggeration, believe me). When I was asked by my English friend what I was having for tea and I obliviously responded, ‘some kind of herbal, preferably mint’, I learned that ‘tea’ also means ‘dinner’. ‘Having tea’ therefore can mean either drinking the typically British cuppa, or sitting down at the dinner table and having an actual meal.

blue, red, and white mug filled with coffee
Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

One phrase that I have no direct translation to is ‘innit’. I wildly assume that it comes from ‘isn’t it’, as it is sort of used in the same way, but this is just a guess. For example, one might overhear a conversation where an Essex lad states ‘we could go to Nando’s, innit’. There is no specific purpose to it, but it practically serves as a verbal full stop to a sentence. It’s also kind of fun to use, innit.

These are only a handful of the different words and phrases that you will hear very frequently when living in Colchester. While sometimes being slightly confusing, they all contribute to the charm and atmosphere of being in the UK. So picking up new vocabulary is always pleasant and can be amusing, so pay attention to what new expressions you hear while in Essex!

The Summer School in Sustainable Practice

Sustainability is definitely a hot potato in our today’s world –and this potato is getting even hotter due to temperature rise. From sea level rise and the loss of natural resources to increased conflict, poverty, and inequality, the ecological crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today. There are many initiatives at the University of Essex, and today I’ll focus on the fantastic Summer School in Sustainable Practice.

35265250_10102519946149879_7964227796220248064_n (1) Photography credit: Helle Abelvik-Lawson

  • What is the Summer School in Sustainable Practice?

The Summer School in Sustainable Practice is an intensive, two-week interdisciplinary programme held at our Colchester campus in June each year after the exams, and it is open to students from all departments. It has been running for two years, so this year will celebrate its third anniversary.  This extra-curricular programme introduces students to the theory and practice of environmental sustainability. By doing so, it prepares them to face the challenges posed by climate change and to become change-makers in their everyday lives, studies and future careers.

this Photography credit: Helle Abelvik-Lawson

  • My experience – June 2018

Perhaps one of the major successes of this initiative is that it is open to all students, and no background concerning sustainability is required. The problems raised by climate change are interdisciplinary problems by nature, and the programme of the summer school reflects this approach. From the science of climate patterns to the logics of sustainable architecture, getting through the study of circular economies, geo-engineering and bio-art, this project provides a wide framework of this topic from different perspectives.

This openness makes a difference. Students from all areas of knowledge come together and learn from each other in a diverse and enriching environment. Not only this, but you can find like-minded peers with a keen interest in finding alternatives to the current ways of doing things. It is certainly an inspirational space for ideas to emerge.

In the second week of the summer school, students work in groups on small-scale projects, which may include a variety of subjects. Last year, my group focused on the impact of the fashion industry in terms of human and environmental costs and alternatives to this problem. We designed a leaflet and created an interactive map to trace the charity shops and repair shops in Colchester. Click here to see the map and find out more about sustainability in the local area.

dedeProject by Katerina Voudouri, Héloïse Kroband and Irene Gomez

Sustainability is uncomfortable because it holds a mirror up to humanity, and people do not want to recognise their reflection there. Initiatives such as the Summer School in Sustainable Practice challenge the status quo and put young generations as the active agents and change-makers in the dialogue between human wellbeing and planetary boundaries.

World Cup Fever 2019

With the exam season coming to a close and the weather slowly warming up, it is safe to say that summer is fast approaching. Summer 2019, however, has a lot to live up to. The summer of 2018 was one of a kind. The weather was sunny and dry for weeks on end, Love Island was on every night and the World Cup was surprisingly successful for England. So how could 2019 possibly top that?

Luckily for us all World Cup fever hasn’t ended just yet as this year we are being treated to not one, but two world cup competitions…

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be the eighth of its kind and will see women’s national teams from across the globe battle it out in France between the 7Th of June and the 7th of July. The competition will be hosted in nine cities and played in nine different venues. With a total of 24 countries qualified for the final tournament, with countries such as Jamaica, Scotland, South Africa and Chile will be making their Women’s world cup debuts, while the United States will be entering as defending champions.

Scotland will meet England in Nice on the 9th of June in what is the opening game for both countries and will be a battle of the British countries. Both the semi-finals and the final are being held in Lyon and will take place from the 2nd of July.

For those in the UK, BBC sports will have live coverage of every World Cup match across TV, the Red Button, radio and online and some key games, including the final, will be shown on BBC One. Fifa have revealed that ticket sales have already exceeded those sold for the World Cup in Canada in 2015 and the opening match, semi-finals and final, sold out completely within 48 hours of going on sale!

Whilst the defending champions, the United States, are ranked number 1 in the world and are seeking a fourth title win, key threats to them are hosts France, Olympic champions Germany, 205 runners-up Japan and European champions the Netherlands – all could also challenge for the title! But how will Phil Neville’s English side fare in all of this? Tune in from June 7th to find out…

From one female sport World Cup to another… 2019 also plays host of the Netball World Cup. The 15th staging of this premier competition in international netball takes place from the 12th to the 21st of July in Liverpool! 16 teams will contest the 2019 tournament!

With a similar set up to the football World Cup, teams are placed in groups with the top 3 teams from each group then forming secondary groups to battle it out once more. The teams finishing first and second in these new ultimate groups will then go through to the semi-finals and then to the grand final on the 21st of July. Luckily for us, all 60 games of the world cup are going to be shown on Sky with existing channel Sky Sports Mix becoming Sky Sports Netball for the occasion! If you don’t have access to sky, every game is also being streamed on YouTube.

It’s set to be a very close and exciting competition with key teams such as Australia and England shaking up their usual squads with new players entering the ranks. The bookies favourites are Australia who rank number one in the world, but England should not be underestimated! England are now ranked number two in the world and are definitely still on a high after beating Australia in a nail-biting Commonwealth Games final last summer and a well-deserved Team of the Year Award win at the BBC Sports Personality Awards. Tracey Neville’s side will be looking to take home the title on home turf! And yes, you did read the right, the England Women’s Football Manager Phil Neville is England Netball’s Manager Tracey Neville’s brother!

It’s shaping up to be quite the exciting summer for women’s international sport and the reception these competitions get this summer could set the ball rolling for greater involvement, coverage and well deserved support for women’s sport in the future.

Saver Student Meals

Being on a student budget, I know that a lot of people end up living on the not-so-healthy diet of noodles and microwave meals. But there’s actually a lot of cheap and very simple meals you can make without having to worry about your bank account or that take a massive amount of effort. So, I’ve scrambled together some of my favourite, simple meals and gone into Tesco (the universities local superstore) and found out the cheapest ways to purchase the ingredients!

Jacket potato

Cost: from 2.56

This is one of my favourites because it is SO cheap and so tasty, not to mention it’s pretty filling. You can also vary what fillings you put with it depending on dietary preferences or whatever you’re feeling at the time.

What you will need:

  • A baking potato- 33p
  • Vegetable oil- 80p
  • Baked beans- 23p
  • Cheese(grated)- £1.20

Equipment:

  • Baking tray
  • Oven
  • Fork

Method:

  1. First you want to grab your potato and use the fork to pierce several holes around the whole of the potato.
  2. Then you want to place the potato on the baking tray and put a few drops of the Vegetable oil on it, making sure the entire outside has a thin layer of oil over it. I usually wash my hands and use them to spread the oil, but of course if you have a better utensil then go ahead and use!
  3. Place the Potato, that’s on the baking tray, into the oven. You want to let it cook for 20 minutes on 220C/200C (fan)/ gas mark 7.
  4. Once the 20 minutes is up, turn the oven down to 190C/170C (fan)/ gas mark 6 and leave for a further 45 minutes. ( some bigger potatoes may require to be left in slightly longer)
  5. When the potato is nearing the end of its cooking time, you can begin to prepare the filling. In this case all you need to do is heat them in the microwave for the time stated on the tin.
  6. Dish it up! Take your potato out of the microwave and place it onto a plate, cut it in half, the insides should be fluffy, and the outside should be lovely and crispy! Now pour on your baked beans and put your grated cheese on top. (or whatever your chosen filling is)

And Voila! There you have yourself cheeky meal for a small price.

Toad in The Hole

cost: from £4.30

I know, the name of this meal doesn’t make it sound all that appetising but, I promise it tastes so good. It’s simply just sausages baked in batter.

What will you need?

  • Plain flour(140g)- 45p
  • Eggs (2) – 85p
  • Vegetable oil- 80p
  • Semi skimmed milk (175ml) – 50p
  • Sausages- £1.70

Equipment:

  • mixing bowl
  • whisk
  • deep baking pan
  • frying pan
  • oven

method:

  1. first you’re going to want to grab your oil and your frying pan, heating it on a medium heat. Then place the sausages in the pan and fry them until they have browned and crisped on the outside. (they do not have to be cooked the whole way through)
  2. Grease the deep pan with a small amount of oil (unless its already non-stick) and place the half-cooked sausages into it. ensure that they are evenly spread out.
  3. Grab your mixing bowl, put 140g of plain flour and the two eggs into it. Use the whisk to mix it.
  4. Now add the 175ml of milk and continue to whisk until mixture is smooth. Then leave the batter to stand for around 10 minutes.
  5. Next you need to take the batter and pout it over the sausages in the deep pan, ensuring the entire bottom is covered.
  6. Place it in the oven for 25- 30 minutes at gas mark 7/220C/200C (fan)
  7. Take it out, serve it up. The batter should be nice and crispy, yet fluffy inside and the sausages should now be cooked all the way through!

Toad in the hole has always been one of my favourite meals, I really hope you guys enjoy it too!

Cheesy Pasta

Cost: from £2.45

This is honestly one of the most simple things to make and its crazy cheap!

What you need:

  • Penne Pasta (or an alternative)- 50p
  • pasta sauce (flavour of your choice)- 75p
  • cheese (grated)- £1.20

Equipment:

  • A saucepan
  • ladle
  • stove

Method:

  1. fill the saucepan with water. I usually fill it to just over half way but this mainly depends on the size of the sauce pan and the amount of pasta you’re using. You want there to be more water than pasta.
  2. Put the saucepan on the heated stove and keep it on medium heat until the water comes to a boil.
  3. place the desired amount of pasta in the water.
  4. wait for the pasta to be cooked. The time it takes varies but you can judge it by the fact that the pasta has absorbed the water, gone soft and larger. It doesn’t hurt to taste test a piece of pasta, just please be careful!
  5. Once it’s cooked, if there’s any left over water you will want to drain it by tipping it down the sink. (a colander would be useful for this- but not necessary)
  6. Next, leaving your pasta to the side, heat your pasta sauce, you can either do this in the saucepan or microwave. whichever way you choose, heat it until it is hot but not boiling. This only takes a few minutes.
  7. Put the pasta on the plate, put the sauce on top and finally, sprinkle your grated cheese on top!

And there we have another cheap meal!

There’s so many more things you can cook on a small student budget and they are all so much better than the classic bowl of super noodles, trust me!

If you guys try any of this stuff out, please send in pictures of what you created, I’m really interested to see how they all turn out. But for now, I’ve made myself hungry so I’m going to go cook myself a jacket potato!

Netflix and Chill?

Now that the end of term is upon us, hopefully, we’ve all handed in our assignments and have some time to breathe and relax before exam revisions. In celebration of that fact, I have compiled some of the best shows on Netflix UK to catch up on before diving into revisions.

The Umbrella Academy – For a good all-around show

umbrella-academy-wide-poster

For those of you who loved last year’s Netflix Original The Haunting of Hill House or Marvel’s Avengers series (I promise no spoilers for Avengers: Endgame), the new show The Umbrella Academy is just right. The show is centered on 6 unique children who were born under mysterious circumstances and brought into the fold of an eccentric benefactor all Professor X style. Each with unique powers of their own, the siblings are brought together after years on their own under dramatic and mysterious circumstances to ultimately save the world. A perfect mix of the superpowers of Avengers mixed with the tempestuous sibling dynamics of Hill House, this is a show you can’t switch off once you start.

Grace and Frankie – For a chilled laugh

grace-and-frankie-season-4-2

Starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin of 9 to 5 fame, and a plethora of guest stars from RuPaul to Nicole Ritchie; this hilarious show revolves around the unlikeliest of friends. Prim and proper Grace (Fonda) and laid back hippie Frankie (Tomlin) end up thrown together in their shared beach house when their law-partner husbands leave them for each other. The show follows their adventures as they learn to navigate everything from going out, to online dating all over again in their 70’s. It’s the perfect show to binge if you want to take your mind off things and just be happily distracted for a few hours!

 

Our Planet – To be amazed

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The breathtaking new 8 part docu-series Our Planet narrated by Sir David Attenborough (or Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz if you want to listen in Spanish), respectively one of the most incredible documentaries I have ever seen. Shot in over 50 countries, this enlightening series showcases some of the most beautiful sides of the earth and animal kingdom, while stilling being socially aware enough to remind us they are critically endangered. The captivating cinematography, combined with the eloquent narration, draw you into this inspiring show about the beauty and fragility of this incredible planet we call home.

P.S, In case that wasn’t enough, BBC’s Planet Earth I & II are both on Netflix as well!

 

All Images Courtesy of Netflix.Com

Steps to organise your student life

Student life can be stressful. University is full of deadlines, lectures and tests, and you are expected to stay on top of everything. We’ve all been there: you lose track of a few things, end up in a chaotic and stressful situation and regret not getting your life in order earlier in the term.

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Sourced via:
https://giphy.com/gifs/chicken-spinning-regret-kxyyy0l2phV4s

I have adopted a few habits that have helped me organise my uni life and have saved me from being overly stressed out on multiple occasions.

person holding notepad and pen flat lay photography
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Get a calendar and write down everything in it.
I don’t know about you, but my memory is terrible. I can’t keep track of when and where my lectures are, when I have my doctor’s appointments, the time I told a friend I’d be stopping by; it all slips my mind within minutes. That’s why I’ve started putting everything in my calendar: meetings, gym sessions, lectures and seminars, when I’m meeting friends, etc. Trust me, it takes off the pressure to remember everything and you can see immediately when you have to be where. I recommend using an online calendar like Google Calendar or Apple Calendar, so you have access to it on your phone too.

Plan ahead.
It isn’t enough to simply put everything in your calendar, you should also have an overview of upcoming stressful weeks. In my experience, there is a point in the term at which all deadlines seem to happen at once and suddenly you’re stuck with writing 3 essays, doing 2 presentations and studying for 5 quizzes (or at least it sometimes feels that way). Usually this happens because I planned poorly and didn’t realise that my deadlines would be so close together. For this reason, I always take some time at the beginning of every term to organise all my deadlines, put them in my calendar and pay attention to the weeks that could get stressful. By doing that, I can start assignments early if I need to and prevent myself from having to do everything at once.

person writing bucket list on book
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Make a list and stick to it.
Whenever I start a new assignment, especially if it’s a large one, the different steps to do it can seem overwhelming. To make it seem more doable, I always break the assignment into little tasks and put them in a list. That way, I can clearly see my progress, make sure not to forget anything, and there is this great feeling of satisfaction when crossing off the last item on your list when you’re finally done.

Take useful notes.
In my first year at uni I had a small personal crisis during the summer exam season. A large portion of my notes I had taken throughout the year were pretty much useless and I needed to go through all of my professor’s notes again and essentially listen to all of the lectures once more to be able to study for my exams properly. To avoid this, I made a conscious effort to have organised, comprehensive and complete lectures notes that will actually help me study when I need it.

woman writing on notebook
Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

Turn off your phone while doing work.
Focusing on your assignments can be difficult. Depending on how interested I am in the particular topic, I very frequently end up scrolling through Instagram or sending my friends funny cat pics instead of working on my essay. As this wastes a lot of time and you end up doing 10 minutes of work while being at the library for 2 hours, so I have found that turning off my phone or activating airplane mode helps me focus a lot.

Quick and easy ways to de-stress during the exam season

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Exam time can be stressful and sometimes things get on top of you, no matter how hard you try to keep everything under your control. Managing unhealthy habits and taking steps to de-stress will actually increase your productivity and stop you from having potential breakdowns. Relax, slow down and try to find the balance between you and your work. Learn how to reduce stress with these simple tips –wins all round!

  • Exercise: Take a ten-minute walk. Without any doubt, exercise is one of the best stress relievers. Not everyone will have the motivation to commit to a strict workout, but you need to integrate at least ten minutes of exercise in your daily routine. The central key is to move your body, regardless of your fitness level. A short walk clears the head and reduces stress because it boosts endorphins. If possible, go for a walk anywhere where there is some greenery.

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  • Meditate: Breath deeply. Deep breathing slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure, countering the effects of stress. Sit up straight, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and ascending its way to the top of your head. Then, reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. Meditation can be an incredible way to relax both your mind and your body, and a few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. The point is staying focused and not letting any distractions or thoughts enter your mind. The Talent Development Centre is running a series of mindfulness workshops, so click here to secure your slot.

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  • Eat well: Cook a healthy meal. It is vital to make conscious eating choices, so avoid junk food and discover the tasty world of fruits and veggies. Eating healthily improves your energy, productivity, and physical skills, so you should nourish your body with the right food to tackle stress. Cooking forces you to get into a different mindset because it requires concentration. It is also a celebration of the senses because it involves a variety of textures, different smells, sounds, and flavours.

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  • Sleep: Help your brain. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, it is a good idea to take a power nap. Following good sleeping practices will give you a solid and energetic start to a new day – or perhaps a re-start. Stay consistent in your schedule, avoid electronic devices before going to bed, and do not engage your brain too much directly on tasks before visiting the Greek god of dreams Morpheus. You can read more about the impact of sleep deprivation on Ellie’s blog.

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  • Socialise: Talk to friends, family or colleagues. Sometimes you just need a helping hand, a human connection. Talk to those around you, meet a friend in person, or call your parents over the phone or Skype. Laugh and enjoy some conversation, this will put you in a better mood and energise you. You can also get help from others: speak to your department/personal tutor or contact the Student Services Hub, because there are support groups available as well as one-to-one support.

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  • Self-care: Take time for yourself. What are your interests? What makes you happy? Your hobbies induce a calm state of mind and take the focus off your stress. Try to find time to get crafty, listen to music, paint mandalas, play an instrument, or sing and dance in your dorm. No one will judge you, and you will feel a lot better afterwards.

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