Brace yourselves, winter is coming: what to expect as the British winter sets in

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December is literally one day away, so that means that one of the most beloved (or hateful?) seasons is practically here. Winter – the coldest period of the year, yet enjoyable and joyful as we celebrate Christmas and relax because we are finally on vacation! It’s not all miserable like the weather, I promise. But here is a list of things you want to watch out for throughout a British winter:

  1. Sub-zero temperatures

Forecasters have warned that after half-a-century of mild winters, this year will be the coldest of all, including blizzard conditions, heavy snowfall lasting for months, and strong winds. Everyone should prepare well and wrap up warm!

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  1. Slippery roads, bridges and pavements

Slippery surfaces can be very annoying and dangerous too (not to mention embarrassing if you fall over!) Usually, the solution to the problem is to throw thick salt on the street so there is friction while walking and the snow melts faster this way too. Don’t worry about walking around with salt in your pocket though, the roads and pavements are usually gritted for us! However, I would recommend that you avoid playing games on slippery areas, or running in areas that are likely to be dangerous.

 

  1. Cancellation of flights, train and bus routes

It’s so stressful if this happens, but at least it’s for our own safety. Imagine flying during a horrible weather, with strong winds and rainfall (happened to me, bad experience)! Cancellation of train journeys, bus routes and road closures are the most inconvenient things, especially for those who need to commute to get onto campus every day, or for getting home for the holidays. That’s why it’s always best to check for travel updates and have a plan B, just in case!

  1. Ice&Hail

If it’s really strong, ice and hail can cause damage. Unfortunately, there is not any particular way of protection from ice and hail, but on the plus side it doesn’t usually last for long. I just wouldn’t recommend going out in it, that hail can hurt!

 

  1. Sunset at 4pm

Fact. You know it’s nearly winter when the sun goes down at 4pm and it is dark everywhere! I don’t advise that you walk alone in the street when it’s dark and icy – sometimes your options to move to one place to the other on foot can be limited. The dark, long nights can make you feel a bit blue, but on the other hand, this can be a good opportunity for you to stay home and watch a movie with your flatmates, or get some studying done!

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Tips:   

  • If you own a slightly older car, make sure you’ve got a spare car battery with you if you’re travelling for long journeys and maybe keep a first aid kit in the boot as well.
  • Make sure you’re stocked up on warm clothes and blankets.
  • Boots and snow socks. There’s nothing worse than cold feet!
  • Carry a hand cream and a lip balm in your purse – ideal for dry skin and chapped lips.
  • You can buy snow chains to put on car tyres if it’s very snowy. Cars can lose their grip and skid if the road surface is slippery, so n extreme conditions it is better to put chains on the tyres to help avoid any accidents.
  • Purchase flu medicine, nasal spray for a blocked nose and vitamins. All this cold weather can run your immune system down a bit, so make sure you look after yourself!

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So, there are a few things to be aware of during the British winter. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, it can make for a pretty stunning view too.

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Not mention that it’s a great opportunity to grab your friends and go sledging!

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My top 5 inspirations

This post is a very personal post for me, and while writing it I learnt a lot about myself as a person and it also helped me appreciate the people in my life, who have helped and inspired me in my life. I am more of a family/ friend orientated person, so most of my inspirations come from my family and friends rather than public figures. So here is my post on my top 5 inspirations!

1. My Mother

mum

There is just no way I could have put anyone else first on this post! My mother has been an inspiration all throughout my life. Growing up, I never realised the impact my mother had on my life and how much I look to her as my inspiration. It was only when I came to university did I realise this and this realisation came immediately on my first night away from home. Even though this is my third year away from home, I never have to feel away from my mother, she is always just a phone call away and is constantly there as support and inspiration for the moments where I feel that I can’t do something, whether it be an exam or a job interview, she’s always there to lift my spirits and give me the confidence to go on.

2. Riska

riska

It was the second term of my first year when I met this amazing person and although she was only with me for two terms, even now going into my final year I have always thought of her as a source of inspiration. The thing about Riska is that she is possibly the most positive and friendly person I have ever met. Now, I wouldn’t call myself negative and unfriendly, but I was always someone who let the little downs in life get to me. But Riska, with her warmth and happiness, taught me to not let those things get to me as much and she taught me to grab those happy moments I get in life and to hold on to them. It is because of Riska that I am a happier person and whenever I feel down I think about her and then I smile.

3. A quote by Winston Churchill

‘We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival’

Although the people in my life play a massive part in terms of inspiration, this quote has particularly helped me since I was around 15. It is the quote that I always have stuck up somewhere in my room, whether it’s in my bedroom at home, or in any of the rooms I’ve had at university. I’m not sure completely why it’s this particular quote that I have kept with me over these years, but I’ve always found it very powerful, and it’s something I always rely on whenever I  go through a difficult time.

4. Lewis

lewis

The bond I have with this guy is like no other bond I have with anyone else. He is one of my biggest inspirations and he is the person that has helped me develop the most over my uni years- not that he realises this! When I first met Lewis it was within the first couple of weeks of first year, he was incredibly awkward and came off as really shy. He never spoke much and he smiled even less. Amongst all the people I met, he was the one I could really relate to, because I was probably even more awkward and shy than he was. Now in our final year he is the President of the History Society and a Senior Student Ambassador and I could not be more proud or more inspired by him. It’s because of him that I have the confidence to go out there and talk to people first, rather than sit back and wait for someone else to make the first move and from this I have been able to make some amazing friends, because I was confident enough to go up to someone and say hi.

5. My Asian Soc

So when I first knew I was going to university, I promised myself that I was going to make friends. I’m a painfully shy person and I tend to  retreat when it comes to meeting new people, but I wanted that all to change and it did in my first year- I made some great friends! But after first year, I seemed to settle in that group of friends and never even try and meet new people. This carried on all throughout my second year, but it was at the start of my final year where I decided to make a change. I saw an opportunity to join the newly ratified Asian Society exec team and I took it. I will always be grateful to my amazing friend/flatmate Labeeba (the girl next to me in the picture) for helping me make that leap. These wonderful people have inspired me to meet new people and put myself out there and mingle at our social events. They have also given me some wonderful new experiences, like celebrating my first Diwali and learning how to dance for the event itself!

 

So there we go! That was my list of my top 5 inspirations, and I am grateful to each and every one of those inspirations for being in my life and helping me to become the person I am today. Now it’s your turn! I would love to know more about you so COMMENT BELOW WITH ONE OR MORE OF YOUR INSPIRATIONS! Tell me who or what the inspiration is and how they inspire you. Looking forward to reading about your inspirations!

 

Differences Between Campus and City Universities

Hi again!

This blog is going to be about how different campus universities are to city universities. My home uni is the University of Essex which is a campus uni, however I am currently on an exchange year in Melbourne, Australia, where I study at a city university called RMIT.

A campus university consists of everything being in one place. For example, the University of Essex is like a small village, which includes accommodation, shops, restaurants, bars, a night club, banks, a post office, sports fields, gym etc. Whereas, a city university has buildings all around the city, so not everything is in one place. For example, you may have to walk to a different street for class, or to go to the library.

People’s views on the two different types of universities differ, because some people prefer everything to be on their doorstep, as it is easier to navigate and the campus generally has a vibe to it. On the other hand, being at university in the middle of a city can be fun because you get to experience a whole new city. At home in Essex, I always tend to go to the SU Bar or Subzero to socialise with my friends, however at a city university there are many more different bars and clubs that you can experience. I feel that at campus universities, you tend to see more people you know around the campus, however at a city uni you are less likely to bump into someone you know as people are in different streets/locations at different times to you.

Below is a map of the University of Essex, as well as RMIT, which you can compare and see that the University of Essex is all situated in one place, whereas my university in Australia is located around different streets in the city.

colchester_outlet_mapUniversity of Essex (campus)

location-RMIToffice-MapRMIT (city)

I have not yet decided what type of university setting that I prefer. I feel that I like campus universities for their vibe and friendly village-like atmosphere, however with a city university, you are discovering and learning new things about the city everyday! I miss the greenery at the University of Essex, for example the sports fields, because at city universities it can sometimes be difficult to provide these close to the university buildings because of the built up area.

University VS. Sixthform/College

How is University different to going to college/sixthform?  Well, there are quite a lot of differences and I’m sure most university students will tell you that it’s 100x better.

I’m really glad that I made the decision to come to university, particularly because I wasn’t really a fan of A-Levels and I found it really hard to study.  But university is very different in a lot of ways which I’ve listed below:

  1. Exams & coursework: in A-level study, there is a lot more focus on exams (for 2 sciences and maths I had no coursework), which personally doesn’t suit me.  The difference at university is that it can vary a lot and you can choose your course accordingly i.e. some may be all exam, or all coursework.  Or, it may be a mixture of the two like with Biomedical Science at the University of Essex.  Also, there’s no set exam board like at A-Level, so the questions aren’t “random”; your lecturer writes the questions, so will ensure it’s on something you have been taught during lectures.
    Fears over GCSE exam shake up...File photo dated 10/6/2005 of school exams in progess. Teenagers will no longer be required to sit all their GCSEs after two years of study, under radical plans to break courses into 'bite sized' modules. PA wire
  2. Independence: This is perhaps the largest difference in comparison to A-levels. You have (almost) complete independence and it’s entirely up to you to hand in coursework on time and attend exams, as well as looking after yourself. I personally enjoy the independence of self study, as I can fit it around my life (if I want to study at 1 am in the library, I can!)meadows
  3. Classes: Instead of being trapped in a classroom, university study is varied.  There are various types of “class” such as: lectures (very large room where lecturer talks, with usually no student feedback/questions), seminars (more like a classroom, where students interact with lecturers), tutorials (where you meet with your academic tutor to discuss how things are going with the course) and laboratories (the type varies depending on your course).lecture
  4. Size: In comparison to college and sixthform, there are thousands more people at university, as well as lots more space around the campus. This gives a very different sense of community and atmosphere._44h2998__cr
  5. Extracurricular: At university, there are tonnes more things to do outside of studying, such as volunteering, working and joining various societies and sports clubs.lacross

So, those are just a few of the reasons why I prefer university to attending sixthform!  Oh and I forgot to mention…you get a degree at the end of it, making you much more employable and likely to get paid more over your working life!  Hope you found the post useful 🙂

7 amazing things about the Lakeside Theatre

Lakeside

You might not know that tucked away on square 5 of our Colchester campus, we have our very own theatre. The 200 seat venue offers a wide range of creative events throughout term time that come from both professional and student companies! Tickets to the majority of events are just £5 to University of Essex students. Here’s a snapshot of what the Lakeside theatre has to offer…

  1. Professional theatre productions

The Lakeside theatre welcomes a wide range of professional theatre productions on a regular basis (usually every week on a Thursday). It’s really inspiring to see professionals in vibrant and diverse productions! After seeing productions, I am regularly reminded why I study my course and gives me lots of ideas for the future. In the past year there have been shows about the holocaust, human rights in Palestine and web camming. You never know what show is going to come through the doors next!

SHOW COMING UP:

Thursday 26th -Friday 26th November: “The Privileged”

Jamal Harewood’s production has been described as ‘extraordinarily charged’ by Lyn Gardner from The Guardian. This is your chance to get up close and personal with the Arctic’s whitest apex predator, with black skin.

2. Student theatre productions

Lakeside students

Students are not only encouraged to be inspired by shows at the Lakeside but to also put on whatever show they choose. It’s really nice seeing people that you know on stage and it’s brilliant these people have the opportunity to create expressive and exciting shows. Since I have been at the University, I have been involved in 6 shows and it has been great fun to do something different! The Theatre Arts Society, SX Dance and the African Caribbean Society often showcase their work. Previous student productions include “Crave” by Sarah Kane, “Everyman” by Anon and “Oh What a Lovely war!” by Joan Littlewood.

SHOW COMING UP:

Wednesday 10th-Friday 12th December: “Jack and the Beanstalk” by Perry James

The annual Theatre Arts Society Pantomime this year is “Jack and the Beanstalk” and is like no pantomime you will have seen before. It will truly be a student pantomime full of crude humour, massive song and dance numbers along with all the pantomime traditions you expect.

I’m particularly looking forward to this one as I have spent the past few months working on the script for the show!

http://lakesidetheatre.org.uk/events/jack-the-beanstalk/

  1. Dance

It’s not just about Drama at the theatre; Dance shows are also a regular feature on the Lakeside stage. Recent performances include the show “A thread” by the company “Jean Abreu Dance” which explored balance and tension in physical movement. Although I don’t dance that often, it’s still really cool to see any creative performance regardless of what style it is in!

Previously Shown:

Thursday 22nd October: “A duet without you” by Chloé Déchery

A Duet Without You is a solo performance trying (and inevitably failing) to be a duet. Re-enacting a pas-de-deux without a partner, Chloé Déchery embarks on a series of fragmented conversations.

4. Music nights

A number of bands play at the Lakeside theatre each term, normally on a Friday evening. These can range in genre from soul and jazz to folk.

Previously shown:

Friday 13th November: 47SOUL

47SOUL are one of the hottest current bands on the international circuit and they came to the Lakeside after huge sets at Bestival, Glastonbury this summer. 47SOUL take dabke into the future, with analog synths, electronic beats, and hyped verses from the four singers. Their lyrics, mixing Arabic and English, call for celebration and freedom in the struggle for equality, inside the Middle East and around the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFkaTPFXgt4

  1. Open mic nights

Normally each Friday during term time from 9 pm until 11:30 pm, there is an open mic night at the Lakeside bar. Whether you want to play a tune or just watch, this is the perfect opportunity to see some local talent and enjoy a casual drink at the same time. These are really chilled out nights and provide a nice alternative to just going to a bar or a nightcub!

Lakeside open mic

  1. Lakeside Café by day, Lakeside bar by night.

The foyer of the Lakeside theatre is home to an intimate, chilled café during the day, serving hot drinks and food including breakfasts and lunches. However, when there is a show on, the café becomes a bar serving a number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages! I would definitely recommend their Hot Chocolate and selection of pastries!

Lakeside Cafe

TOP TIP- Take a chance to grab a drink after you see a show. The performers often come up to the bar shortly after their performance!

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  1. Everything else!

What I’ve talked about so far is just the start! There is also street theatre on the squares, workshops with professionals, a youth theatre and playwriting help sessions to get involved in at the theatre.

Whatever you’re into, there should be something creative available to you at the Lakeside Theatre! Just take a look at their website for more details and how to book tickets!

http://lakesidetheatre.org.uk/

The best places to study on campus

Finding the perfect place to study isn’t easy. Having 4 hour gaps between lectures and living off-campus means that I often stay on campus during my breaks. But don’t worry, there are lots of great places to study on campus and you might just catch me in one of them!

PC Labs

The PC Labs are great if you need to work on a computer. With over 500 computers spread across 15 labs there is always a computer available and a printer nearby.

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My favourite PC lab is Lab J. With 106 computers in it, I can always find enough computers free to be able to sit and work next to my friends.

Lab J

Best for: Computer work, e.g. essays

Atmosphere: Fairly quiet

Silberrad Student Centre

If you need to do a mix of reading and essay writing, then the Silberrad Centre is your best bet. There are desks with and without computers, which is great if you’re planning a long studying session. Also, the lakeview room is very relaxing if you want to sit and read (I just tend to look at the ducks).

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Best for: Reading or computer work

Atmosphere: Usually quiet

The great outdoors

If you don’t mind the cold, then sitting on a bench by the lake is a great way to get your reading done, or even to just take a break from studying. I would recommend heading to the Kitchen beforehand and getting a white hot chocolate (tastes incredible and is a bargain at £1.35)!

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Best for: Reading

Atmosphere: Relaxing and peaceful

Orangery/Limehouse

If you need to do group work, then head to the Orangery or Limehouse. You can bring your own laptop and plug it in to the projector, or use the built in computer to practice those presentations. You can also write on the walls with whiteboard pens which is great for revising with friends.

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Best for: Group work

Atmosphere: Relatively loud – there are group discussions going on!

Good luck with your studying!

Why I love my course – Bio Sciences

Deciding what you want to study at university is a really difficult choice…which is why it’s important to make the right decision.  Personally I want to study Medicine, however due to a variety of factors this was not possible when I completed my A-Levels, which is why I needed to study a related course to ensure this would still be a possibility in the future, as well as choosing something I’m truly interested in.

Biomedical science sounds a lot more intimidating that what it actually is! The course itself is interesting as well as challenging, so it keeps you engaged.

So why Biomedical science?

  1. Interested in modern science – I genuinely find this subject interesting, which makes it far less of a chore when it comes to completing assignments and revising for exams.  Science is an ever-growing field and new discoveries are being made everyday, which is one of the many reasons I enjoy what I study.

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  2. Fascinating research – This is something I realised during my second year: the research taking place in our department is potentially life-changing.  For example, one of my lecturers is looking into creating an artificial blood substitute, which has the power to change millions of lives! Although this is only one example, there’s tonnes of research happening within our department and during our third year we get to complete our own research project!
  3. Excellent employment – Our course has one of the highest rates of employment in the whole university (this includes postgraduate study), which is something very appealing to me, as I know how difficult it can be to find graduate jobs.  It’s reassuring to know that I stand a good chance of finding work as soon as I graduate if I’m not able to study medicine.
    Graduation
  4. Great university life – As soon as I visited the University of Essex I knew that I would like it here.  There’s so much to do within the department (e.g. frontrunners work) as well as outside of the department (e.g. sports and societies).  I find there’s a really friendly atmosphere on campus and because the university is small, when compared to city universities, it seems a lot easier to find out about the array of opportunities available and to get involved with the university.
    BSS me
  5. Amazing teaching staff – During my interview for the course, I met a really nice lecturer (who is now my tutor) and she really made me feel welcomed before I’d even arrived.  The staff are really helpful – which is something you NEED at university, because it’s very different from school and college.  At university, students are expected to complete a lot of independent study aside from lectures, which some students can struggle with. Hence, that is why it’s important to have great teaching staff on hand to help you with anything your struggling with and to help you realise you’re not alone and that they have been through it themselves!

Dealing With Your Work Load

The transition from A Levels to University studying can be a bit daunting. The whole system of lectures and seminars can feel very unfamiliar and alien to you at first, but you’ll slowly ease into this new way of studying independently and you may even come to love it!

Library-Books

One of the most important things that you need to get used to very quickly is dealing with your own work load independently. There is no longer a teacher nagging at you constantly to get that piece of coursework in, it’s all down to you! So, here are a few top tips on how to manage your work load to make sure you don’t fall behind!

DEADLINES

These are so important. If you miss the deadline for any of your assignments, you’re going to get yourself in quite a sticky situation. Most pieces of coursework are to be submitted online through Faser (but check with your department). Make yourself familiar with this website because you will probably be using it quite a lot over the next few years and it’s going to make your life a lot easier if you know exactly how to use it when deadlines are looming! Departments are so strict on getting work submitted on time, so unless you have extenuating circumstances, make sure you’ve submitted your work in plenty of time. Don’t leave it to the last minute!

Calendar with Deadline Circled

COURSE READING

For most courses, there will be reading or similar tasks for each of your lectures. Lecturers and class teachers will expect you to have these tasks done before your lecture, so you have a bit of background knowledge for the lecture topic. Make sure you try your best to get most of this done, as it will make things much easier when discussions start in classes. You don’t want to be the only one sitting in the class who has no idea what the teacher is talking about! Also, you’ll find yourself falling behind if you don’t keep on top of it.

INDEPENDENT STUDY

Even though you’ll have quite a small timetable, with not much set contact time with lectures and classes, you should still be doing your own studying outside of these timetabled hours. Make sure you set time aside for each module that you’re studying and do some reading or preparation for your lectures. This will help you out a lot when coursework deadlines come around, as you will already have quite a bit of work done instead of having to start from scratch.

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I hope these little tips will help you out throughout the next few years! 🙂

 

Big Essex Award

What is it?

It is an award open to any student at the University of Essex and is recognised by employers. It demonstrates your participation in extra-curricular activities and volunteering as well as your academic studies. It is put on your transcript once you finish your degree as a formal way to show employers that you have gained the award through the university.

How do I complete it?

There are three different levels of the award that are worth different amounts of credits:

  • Bronze (50 credits)
  • Silver (100 credits)
  • Gold (150 credits)

You can achieve these by volunteering with the V team, which is a great opportunity either on campus or off campus to regularly volunteer or volunteer as a one-off. If you have a part-time job alongside your studies either on or off campus then this can count toward your experience. There are many other ways just check out the Essex Careers Hub page, where you can log in with your student I.D.

What can I achieve with it in the future?

Can I find out more?

Check out this link below to find out more. There are contact details at the bottom of the page, so feel free to email them if you have any questions 🙂

https://www.essex.ac.uk/careers/bige/

Getting a part time job

Okay…so you’ve been at university for a few months now and the student loan may not be as large as you originally thought it was!  A great way to help your bank balance (and avoid the dreaded overdraft) is to get a part time job.


It’s really important to have a great CV and to update it regularly during your time at university (makes your life easier when it comes to making applications).Essex CV

Finding work on campus, or in general, is really straight forward thanks to the CareerHub and it’s easy to access (https://careerhub.essex.ac.uk/).  You can simply select “on campus jobs” from the drop down menu and voila…JOBS!Career hubIt’s important to know that on campus there are two major organisations you can work for: the students union, or the university, (or both if you’re me!).  Some examples of jobs within the student union are: bar work, front of house, or retail; where as,  the university offer other office based work and also various ambassador roles (plus lots of others, but it would be impossible to list!)Blues

So…why should you listen to me?  Since coming to university I have had 11 jobs, on and off campus and have listed them all briefly below. I think it’s important to know what types of opportunity are available to students.

My jobs: student ambassador (I since been promoted to senior!), Top Bar bartender, online brand ambassador, agency healthcare assistant, peer engagement ambassador, DLHE telephone survey assistant, care assistant, clearing temporary assistant, assistant team leader for NCS, Essex fund student caller and accommodation representative.

As you can see seven of these were working for the university, one was for the students union and three were with external companies.  The important thing to know is that I found out about ALL of them through the Employability and Careers centre – whether it was through emails, CareerHub or even events such as Employability week.

It’s also now easier than ever to get all of your hard work recognised with the Big Essex Award.  Any extra curricular activity you can get involved in will count towards the award and it will go on your transcript!  For more information about this log onto the CareerHub and register for a breifing session (don’t worry, it will be on your CareerHub home page!).BEA

I hope you find a job as easily and quickly as I did : ) Good luck!