Moving into Uni for the very first time

Imagine your first day of school, or your first time riding a bike. Whilst you were likely to have been excited, you probably also had nerves about it. The first day of moving uni, a place where you will spend the whole upcoming year, is equally important and probably even more nerve-wracking.

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It’s a new beginning in your life and the place you are going to live will likely decide your rhythm and routine for the next year. Living off-campus sets extra priorities, such as waking up earlier for lectures than students living on campus. Living on campus means you’ll have to think about spending money on a bus pass in order to get into town, so you might have a little less to spend on other things. Moving in is a particularly special moment for someone living away from home for the first time, with people from different backgrounds in a totally new environment, and it’s a moment we should treasure.

On my first day moving into my new home for the year, I remember just being surprised that it was sunny, rather than raining!  I was among the first ones to arrive. My luggage was heavier than me, but my enthusiasm exceeded both. As soon as I got my key from a nice lady with a very welcoming smile, I headed to my room. It was quiet and warm and when I entered my room the curtains were closed; they filtered the light with pink and orange refractions of colours. It immediately felt like home. Soon after I met all my flatmates and we honestly had fun together from that day until the day we had to move out. The memories we have are amazing: we learnt to cook together (and luckily nobody set the kitchen on fire),  we went to study in the library and student centre together (or at least we tried), we went to parties together and walked back to our flat together (and at times we had to look for those who got lost). These moments are priceless and for that reason I think one of the best bits of student life is at the beginning when everything that happens to you feels so new and exciting.

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The room I moved into at the beginning of my first year was completely empty, and I filled it up with books, clothes, coffee, posters and, the most important, friends. Living without your parents might seem scary now: no one is going to be cooking for you anymore, no one is going to be cleaning up after you, and you’re actually going to have to learn how to use a washing machine. You’re starting to be a grown up, but that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s amazing to experience total freedom and to be able to set your own priorities, surround yourself with kind and intelligent people, and embrace the memories you’ve made together. So, after being here for more than a year now I can tell you, being a student is not about wearing that graduation robe (well…it’s cool to take pictures of it and post them on facebook with #thanksmom or #notastudentanymore) but it’s about being actively engaged in what student life has to offer. And it offers you a lot.

Your First Food Shopping List

I’m sure that on your first food shop a lot of you will buy every single food that you like and everything on offer. However, this is not always the best way to go. You need to think how often you are going to do a shop and plan for the week or so what you’re going to eat. You have to remember you are only buying for 1 person!

This blog is going to give you a basic shopping list of what I would recommend you buy on your first food shopping trip and give you some top tips on how to use and make your food last!

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Here goes the shopping list…

  • Porridge/cereal
  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Your favourite spread for toast
  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Chicken
  • Mince
  • Fish
  • Pasta sauce
  • Curry sauce
  • Your favourite fruit
  • Your favourite vegetables
  • Cheese
  • Ham
  • Pitta bread
  • Potatoes (you can make jackets, mash, roast potatoes or chips to go with a meal)
  • Baked beans
  • Soup
  • Salt, pepper and dried herbs (always useful)
  • Some sort of Pot or Super noodles (of course you need an emergency stash!)
  • Frozen pizza (always comes in handy)
  • Something sweet of your choice!

This shopping list would last me over a week, but there are a lot of the basic foods there that you can either freeze or re-heat, so they’ll last. You have to remember some foods can be kept a while, such as rice, pasta, tins and jarred foods, so you do not have to eat them so soon. Whereas, things like fruit and vegetables and particularly meat will go out of date a lot more quickly.

From this shopping list a variety of meals can be made. For example, just for breakfast you could have, porridge/cereal, toast and your favourite spread, beans on toast, cheese on toast or eggs on toast. For dinner you could use mince to have a Chilli Con Carne dish or Spaghetti Bolognaise and with the chicken and fish you could have pasta, rice or some type of potato. It is good to vary your meals throughout the week, so you don’t get bored of eating the same thing!

Top tips:

  • When you buy something, such as chicken, mince or fish, leave 1 or 2 portions in the fridge that you will eat within the next couple of days. You can put the rest in the freezer wrapped up in a freezer bag. This way the food will not go off in the fridge and will not go to waste!
  • Another option is to buy frozen meats, fruits and vegetables. This way they last a lot longer and are usually quite a bit cheaper!
  • Typically you would not eat a whole loaf of bread to yourself before it goes out of date, so what I tend to do is freeze it. I would then take a couple of slices out whenever I wanted toast and put it straight in the toaster from frozen, so the loaf does not go to waste!
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For your time at uni this will become your best friend!

Good luck!

How I Made the Most of my Essex Experience

Okay, so you’re about to start at Essex and you’re pretty excited (and just a little bit nervous!) to begin the next chapter in your life…even if it does mean doing your own laundry. Two years ago I was in the same position and it’s safe to say Essex has not only lived up to my expectations but exceeded them. However, you get out of university life what you put into it. You’ve got to get out there and look for things that interest you even if it means leaving your comfort zone. I’m going to share with you a few things that I’ve done and taken part in throughout my time at Essex that have really made it amazing!

Playing hockey

12573089_10208194951062307_6458267663564310674_n My hockey team after winning yet another match!

In my second year of Essex I decided that I wanted to try something I’d never done before. After going to some”come and try” sessions of different sports in freshers’ week, such as ultimate frisbee, rounders and tennis, it turned out hockey was the one for me. I’ve had so much fun with the club both on and off the pitch. Our socials have a different theme each week (including the ever popular tight ‘n’ bright) which makes us very recognisable at Sports Fed in Sub Zero! Being so close to London also means that we’ve played a few of our games on the Olympic pitch used in London 2012. It really made me think about the players who have been there before me and particularly with Team GB’s gold medal win in Rio, I’m so proud to be part of such a welcoming and friendly club.

Getting a job

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If you think getting a job at uni can’t possibly be as much fun as staying in your flat and watching Netflix all day then you’d be very wrong! Not only does the extra cash help with nights out and treating yourself to some Ben and Jerry’s, the experience itself is invaluable. I love working at open days and visit days where I get to meet potential students and tell them all about life at Essex, they can be very hectic but a lot of fun. I’ve also worked in the SU Store on campus, it’s always great to see familiar faces coming and having a chat whilst they buy their lunch. I think my favourite job has to have been working in the Undergraduate Admissions Office as part of my Frontrunners placement. It really provided me with some great experience of what my working life could be like after university and there was never a dull moment in the office!

Being involved with my department

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Whilst coming to university and experiencing the social side of things is great, we all wouldn’t be here if we didn’t actually want a degree! The Department of Government at Essex is one of the best in the country and I’m lucky enough to be a part of it. With staff who are experts in their field it would be a shame not the use them! If ever I’ve needed help with an essay or wasn’t sure about something mentioned in a lecture, I would always contact my lecturers or visit their office hours. Getting to know your lecturers can really help with asking them for a reference if needed in the future as they’ll be familiar with you. I also took part in the annual Government Student Conference where students are given a chance to present some of their work. Presenting one of my essays really helped with my confidence when speaking to a group of people and I thoroughly enjoyed it too!

So, there you have it, a few ways that I’ve made the most of my time at Essex. Now it’s almost time for you begin your own Essex experience; jump in at the deep end and most of all enjoy yourself!

32 things you’ll hear uni students say

Being a community focused campus University, there’s always people around. Whether you’re on your way to a lecture or having a drink with some friends in the SU bar, you soon begin to hear the same things around and about!

Here are a few of my favourite, relatable things which you generally hear students saying…

  1. “It’s so cold”

Thoughts of studying in the sun in England are distant memories far too often… Get ready to freeze as you walk through the wind tunnel which runs through the Towers during the winter months …

  1. “First year doesn’t even count anyway”

It does technically but you can’t just ignore it: you do actually have to pass the year to progress! Also, the stuff you learn in your first year is expanded on further in the following years so it’s a good idea to get ahead of everything!

  1. “Can’t I just go back to first year?”

Third years everywhere desperately trying to make the most of the few University days that they have left… Just don’t say the “g word” (graduation) around them…

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  1. “Do you think this is cooked?”

The consultation of a flatmate is a must when cooking food for both taste, health and most importantly liability.

  1. “Right what time are we leaving then?”

Organising plans with groups is painful. You’ll say that you’re going out to the SU at 7 pm but everyone knows that you won’t leave until at least ten past…

  1. “I think I deserve a break”

Yes I’ve written 20 words in an hour. Yes two of them are my name. But I deserve a break none the less…

  1. “That exam went okay”

Inside I’m really panicking but there’s nothing on my face to show that it went badly…

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8. “Mum… could you transfer me some money for rent*?”

*money to go out…

  1. “I’m going to the library to be productive!”

This statement is 50% true.

  1. “We’re out of washing up liquid”

Also applies to toilet roll, salt or anything mildly essential that seems to disappear in a student house.

  1. “How do I reference this?”

Because if books aren’t hard enough to reference, you’ve got to do something completely different for websites…

  1. “How am I ill again?”

Mild illness is often a permanent state of being when you’re a student. And yes Fresher’s Flu is real…

  1. “I pay 9 grand a year for this?”

Or more if you’re an international student… The only thing anyone ever says to complain about stuff!

  1. “Mum and Dad are picking me up tomorrow and I haven’t even started packing yet!”

You think that you’ve only got a few bits of clothes and books? It won’t take long? How wrong you are…

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Source: https://66.media.tumblr.com/2945e614e08bac759164162d3fe8742c/tumblr_inline_octr1lpPHH1sq3bg9_500.gif

  1. “I can eat this, even though it has past the best before date right?”

Does it smell good? Does it look good? Yeah you’ll probably be fine…

  1. “I’m aiming for a first this year”

First week of term

  1. “A 2:1 is fine”

Every other week of term

  1. “Why are the walls in halls so paper thin?”

If only I shared my neighbour’s desires to play R n B music at 3:30 am… Don’t be “that guy”…

  1. “Don’t look at my Student ID!”

That rushed picture taken during Fresher’s week is going to haunt you for years to come…

  1. “I don’t need to write that down I’ll remember it”

Who needs to write notes in lectures?

  1. “What did my lecturer say that I needed to do for this essay?”

I didn’t remember it.

  1. “Who’s this I got a friend request from?”

You probably had a 30-minute conversation with them the night before. You probably have tons of mutual friends. Do you recognise them? Nope…

  1. “What’s your name?”

Just so you know, I’m probably going to have to ask this again two or three more times to remember it. Each time will be more awkward than the last don’t worry!

  1. “Where’s my bowl gone?”

Probably by the sink waiting to be washed.

  1. “Right who set the fire alarm off at 3 am?”

Oh… it was someone blow drying a sock (true story)

  1. “I should probably go to bed soon”

Still awake 2 hours and a few episodes later…

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  1. “I should have started to revise earlier…”

Because modules are not designed to be learnt and memorised in a few days…

  1. I’m pretty sure this was never taught to us. *friend explains* Oh yeah…

No matter how hard you study, there’s always stuff you won’t get…

  1. “Did everyone just get this text from student finance saying that our money’s gone through?”

The only good piece of communication you’ll ever receive from student finance.

  1. “They took money out of our deposit for that?”

Our house had hardwood floors. How did they manage to charge us for carpet cleaning?

  1. “Why is there a person at the door asking about our TV license?”

Yes, they do actually chase you up to pay it…

  1. “I don’t want to graduate”

Because you wouldn’t switch university life for anything in the world.

 

The 5 things no one will tell you about life at Uni

As a fresher, you might not know yet just how amazing student life is, especially because of the amount of things you do during one single year at uni. But there are things people won’t tell you about; those things you usually have to discover by yourself. So, in order to help you expect the inevitable, I have created a list of facts about student life that no one will tell you.

1. Time

Time flies when you’re a student. At the end of your first year, you will be shocked by the fact that it has passed so quickly, but you’ll be even more shocked at the fact that you actually survived! I’m not just talking about the late nights and parties, I’m talking about just living off your own cooking for a year! Your first year is built out of amazing moments such as staying up late to finish your deadlines, the trio Monday-Wednesday-Friday when you simply decide to change your name in Napoleon Born-to-party – followed by volunteering activities and society events, which most of the time lead to having the time of your life. It might not feel like it now, but treasure every minute of this year, because you’ll never experience it again and it’ll be over in a flash.

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2. Procrastination

You’ll watch films you don’t even like, you’ll go for walks, you might even clean your room just to avoid writing coursework! Procrastination is the reason you finish your work  ten seconds before a deadline. But don’t worry, we all do it and eventually, you will get your work done (you kind of have to!). To be honest, I’ve heard people saying there are some out there that submit their coursework a few days before the deadline, but myths are to be told for the sake of storytelling (and making us procrastinators feel bad).

3. It’s not as easy as it seems

Everyone says that the first year of uni is easy. Well, compared to the next ones it is. But isolated in time, this year you’ll test your limits. You’ll party a lot, study a lot, you’ll cook for yourself, you’ll shop for yourself, you’ll meet new people constantly, trying new things all the time, and you’ll never ever sleep as much as you’d like.  Living on campus only amplifies all the stress and fantastic moments spent with people. You’re likely to have never lived this way before and with it all going so fast, everything can feel pretty extreme at times. You’ll have a great time, but you will get tired and you will wonder where the time is going, so my advice is to take some time out, go for a walk, listen to some music, whatever you need to do just to let your body catch up with your mind and to relax for a bit!

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4. Sleep is for the weak

Sleep is a luxury that you might not see a lot of if you’re big on parties or work late into the night. As a  first-year student, the need to sleep will feel secondary to all the other cool stuff you want to do. When it comes to getting work done, though, it is necessary!

5. Oh,  the freedom!

No one tells you what to do and they aren’t going to. If you want to go out all night, then you can. If you want to have a takeaway every night, then you can. No one will tell you to do otherwise. At first, you fall in love with your Freedom, but once you get into such a relationship you realise that ‘bae’ is pretty hard to please. You still love her, but then you see that Freedom has changed and she brought some friends one by one such as Decision, Responsibility and, the most annoying one, Confusion. The fact that no one tells you what to do is a great new phase of life, but then you don’t always know what to do with your life and you wish that somebody (usually mum) would save you. Don’t worry. No one knows how to handle their new found freedom straight away, but by the end of the year,you will learn to love it and believe it or not, you’ll be able to take care of yourself (with maybe just a bit of help from mum)!

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So there you go, 5 things about student life that no one tells you about. It’s weird, it’s wonderful, and it’s wacky. But I promise you this: you’ll have the time of your life!

The last minute shoppers guide: everything you need to bring to uni

Ok, so move in day is right around the corner and I’m guessing some of you are a little last minute in buying anything but new clothes for uni! In my time at university, I have lived on and off campus, so I’m going to try and help you out with a list of things to bring before you turn up empty handed!

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1. Your important documents

Passport/ID – it is always useful to have some form of ID on you, especially when registering at uni.

Your university admissions letter – as proof of what uni you are at, what course you are studying and for how long.

Accommodation documents – for when you pick up your key and for information about payments.

Student Finance documents – so you can easily check what dates and how much you are expecting to go into your bank account.

Bankcard – for making payments. You may want to think about opening a Student Bank Account. There are banks on campus too, so if you want to know about registering with them, either ask during welcome week or you can speak to student services beforehand (askthehub@essex.ac.uk)

National Insurance Number – if you are thinking about getting a job on campus or in the surrounding area then this is essential. You are able to apply for one once you are at uni if you do not yet have one.

 2. Electrical items

Laptop/computer and charger – really useful for doing your uni work and for getting in contact with your friends and family. Some people bring a printer too, but they do have them on campus as well.

Headphones – useful if you are thinking about joining the university gym and also so you don’t annoy your flatmates by playing music too loud! I like listening to music when I walk to an early morning lecture – it motivates me to not just turn back around and go back to bed!

Extension leads – sometimes you may find that there are not enough plug sockets in your room, so an extension lead always comes in useful so you can use all of the electrical items that you wish.

Phone and charger – to keep in contact with friends, family and possibly work colleagues. It’ll be really handy to get numbers from people on your course too if you have any group work, or if you want to double check where a lecture is!

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3. Stationery

Notepads, pens and pencils – really useful for writing notes in lectures and also to write revision notes. However, some people prefer to type these up on their laptop.

Highlighters – useful for studying and highlighting key points and things to remember.

Post-it notes – useful to jot anything useful down, either as a reminder or to help with revision.

Diary – extremely useful, especially if you are planning on taking part in lots of extra curricular activities e.g. a part time job, socialising with friends, volunteering with the vTeam and being part of a club or society. With a diary, you can easily just organise your days and you don’t have to try and remember everything!

Hole punch – useful if you like to organise your work into ring-binder folders.

Stapler – to help keep your work together and organised.

Calculator – if you study a course that requires calculations then a calculator is most likely to be essential. However, it can also help you to manage your money and budget if you need to (as this does not always go to plan…trust me!).

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4. Household essentials

Bedroom – duvet, pillows, bedsheets, duvet cover and pillowcases, coat hangers, laundry bag (better than using the floor). Some none essential but handy things to have are; a doorstop – it helps to be sociable and have your door open for socialising with flat mates, a clotheshorse – using dryers all the time can get pricey, so it’s good to have one of these on hand to dry your clothes.

Bathroom – towels, toothbrush, medication, First Aid kit, soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner.

Kitchen – saucepans (always useful for your instant noodles), kitchen utensils, cutlery, mugs, glasses, bowls, plates, baking tray, tea towels, cheese grater, vegetable peeler, colander (as you will be cooking pasta a lot!), tin opener, oven gloves, dish cloths or sponges (as I’m sure you’ll never be leaving dirty dishes on the side…).

And of course cleaning products! (I know right now you think you won’t be doing any cleaning, but trust me, you’ll miss being at home if you let everywhere get dirty.)

5. Bedroom decoration (optional but makes your room feel more homely)

Plant

Photos

Posters

Cushions

Bed throw

Ornaments/dressing table mirror

So there you have your definitive list! I hope you manage to find everything you need and that they haven’t sold out by the time you get around to doing your shopping!

Good luck with moving into your new place, you will have an experience that you will never forget!

The book that changed my mind about university

In the words of Monty Python: “And now for something completely different!”

This blog has been filled with loads of helpful advice and tips but I thought it would be nice to include something a little different.

When I started sixth form I had no idea what I wanted to do in the future and thought that university was only for the privileged and the wealthy- looking back now I realise how wrong I was.

So one day towards the end of year 12, my English teacher recommended a book to me- as she often did. She was an inspiration to me and part of the reason that I went on to pursue English Literature at university. Oh, and the book she recommended was Starter For Ten by David Nicholls.

Books shelfThis wonderful novel is set in the 1980s and follows Brian Jackson, a working class lad who is a little obsessed with general knowledge. The novel charts his misadventures as a first year literature student as he navigates the strange world of student life, falling in love for the first time and desperately trying to gain a place on the University Challenge team (hence the title). The novel was also adapted into quite a good film in 2006 starring James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch and James Corden,  however it was the language and style of the book that I found mesmorising- in fact I read the book in just two days.

As much as I hate to admit it, I saw myself as someone who was similar to Brain Jackson. We both had a love of books and general knowledge, we both had a tendency to use words that we did not understand and both of us were certainly not the coolest or dare I say “trendiest” of people. Perhaps it was this reason alone that made me think: “If Brian can do this, then so can I.” Of course you will have to read the novel to find out exactly how Brian’s misadventures come to an end, but I certainly hope that my time at university ends in a more positive light (which will mark the end of our “similar” adventures.)

I realised that my thoughts of university had been determined by outdated stereotypes and Oxbridge set novels such as Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh that were full of show-offs and people who acted as if they had a sense of entitlement . Starter For Ten, however, presented a university experience that is rarely shown in fiction or film, one that is the exact opposite of the typical stereotypes and, as a result, is significantly more down to Earth. Now I realised that university was a place for all sorts of people. It is a place to reinvent yourself, experience new things and study the topics that you have always wanted to study.

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My incredibly dog-eared and worn copy of Starter For Ten

Somehow this book made an deep impression on my 15 year old self and six years later it is still one of my favourite books- and one of only a few that I have read multiple times since. Each reread re-enforces why I wanted to go to university in the first place: a passion for the subject (thanks to Mrs Yates!), a passion to learn and the realisation that university is place for all types of people, even me.

 

The low down on Lectures and Seminars: what they are and how to prepare

Today I am going to be talking about lectures and seminars, as I know that if you have just come from school or college then you may not have not experienced them. I believe that you would have received your timetable now for the upcoming academic year and I’m sure many of you have thought… what does this mean?!

We’ll start off with Lectures

A lecture is when your lecturer (similar to a teacher) stands at the front of a lecture hall (as shown in the picture below) and speaks to you for an hour or longer about a certain topic, depending on your module. The lecturer will bring a slideshow presentation with them, which is usually available on Moodle before,  so you can access it ahead of the lecture.

Your job is to listen and write notes, or you can type notes on what they are saying. It is important to attend because the lecturer is likely to expand on the notes from the slides, so you can get more in depth information.

There can sometimes be hundreds of people in your lecture and yes, some people do get distracted and fall asleep, or start eating, or the person sitting from of you might be watching X Factor on catch up on their laptop. However, it is important that you pay attention, as it will only help you to improve your marks 🙂

Top Tip:

I find it really useful to print out the slides before the lecture and bring them with me, so that I can just add and write notes on what the lecturer is saying to the slides. This is especially useful if you feel like you are a slow writer!

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Now lets move on to Seminars

Seminars are similar to a class that you might have at school or college. They take place in a classroom or lab (computer room). There is a lot more interaction between you, your class mates and tutor (unlike lectures where there is very little). These are usually some time during the week after your lecture and generally have the same topic as your last lecture. Therefore, it is a great opportunity to ask any questions that you have on that topic.

Your class is likely to be smaller than they are at school or college, which gives you more opportunity to ask questions and get to know your fellow course mates. Sometimes group work takes place, this is where a task is given to you for discussion and you share you ideas as a group at the end of the class. This is a really good way to get you thinking!

Top Tip:

Do some reading before your seminar, so you know what your tutor is talking about, also if your tutor asks a question you can answer it and have knowledge on the topic. If you turn up to a seminar and you have no idea what the tutor is talking about, you are more likely to become uninterested and switch off, so it’s worth it to do your reading beforehand!

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I hope that this has given you a bit more information that you did not know before about Lectures and Seminars. Good luck with your first week! 🙂

A message to parents: why not to worry

So, your son or daughter is going to arrive at The University of Essex in early October and let’s be honest, you’re worried. It’s natural to be, you’ve had them around you for the last 18 years or so, but this is a positive step – I promise! The University of Essex is an amazing, safe and life-changing place to study, so your child is in good hands. If you don’t believe me yet, then here are my reasons why you really don’t need to worry…

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Making friends

From the moment your son or daughter arrives at The University of Essex they will be surrounded by thousands of other students who are in the same position. Whether they’re flatmates, or students they bump into in the campus shop, everyone is just hoping to make some friends and settle in well. It’s more than likely that a few of their flatmates will end up being their best friends whilst they are at university and probably even beyond! So see this as the opportunity for your son/daughter to make some friends for life from all over the world.

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Having someone to talk to

If things aren’t going well, or your child just needs someone to talk to, then there is always Nightline. Nightline is a service run by students that looks out for the welfare of all students. The Nightline service is open every night during term-time from 10pm to 8am. It is an anonymous and confidential listening service and trained volunteers are available to discuss any problems students may have. It’s great to know that if your child ever needed someone to talk to they could do so in confidence. More information can be found here.

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Visiting home

With 3 train stations in Colchester and buses running from the campus close to each of them,  visiting home should be a piece of cake. From Colchester North Station you can reach London Liverpool Street in around 50 minutes, so there’s great travel links to get to wherever home is for you. In Southend the train station is directly opposite the campus and is also only around 50 minutes to central London. So there’s no excuse for them to not come and visit you on your birthday! And, if your child is an international student,  there is a bus that runs directly from the university to Stansted airport just in case.

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Studying their favourite topics

Being around other students that are interested in the same topics as you is one of my favourite aspects of university. Your son/daughter will be surrounded by other students that they can discuss or debate with and I know from experience just how much this will help them to grow in confidence throughout their degree. The wide range of modules will allow them to focus in on the topics they are most interested in, which in turn will hopefully enable them to love every minute of their degree (other than the late nights revising when we all leave it a little too late!)

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I hope this post has calmed your nerves and made you feel excited for what’s yet to come for your son/daughter. You’ll be amazed how quickly the time flies once they have started University!

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Arriving in Arizona

On the 20th August 2016 my moment was finally here; I was moving to America for my third year of university. After months of waiting (and plenty of paperwork), I was off to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff to study Political Science. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t even a little bit nervous, but I was mainly extremely excited to begin my once in a lifetime adventure!

After a 10 hour flight (which of course was delayed!) myself and a few other people from Essex, who I had met at Essex’s pre-departure conference, landed in Phoenix, Arizona. We were welcomed by dust storms and 40 degree heat – I definitely wasn’t in Essex anymore!

Snapchat-4424095324056399678Hello Phoenix!

To get to Flagstaff we had to get on a shuttle from the airport, where we met some other people heading to NAU, and after yet another 2 hours travelling I was finally at my new home for the next nine months. All I wanted to do was sleep but there was no time for a lie in as orientation was the next day at 7:30am!

At orientation we were given a tour around NAU’s campus. Compared to Essex it is huge; it’s over a mile long and we had to get buses from one end to the other. Our guides were current university students and they were strangely enthusiastic for such an early time of the day! I have now learnt though that this is the case with a lot of Americans, they are just naturally friendly and want to help out as much as they can, especially when they hear a British accent.

During our tour I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful scenery. NAU is located just below some amazing mountains, I don’t think it’s a view that I will ever tire of.

IMG_20160831_175718385_HDR I can’t believe I get to wake up to this view everyday!

After our compulsory orientation events we set out to explore campus and downtown Flagstaff a bit more. Flagstaff is a small tow,n but there’s some really cool independent shops and no shortage of food to eat. We’ve made sure to try somewhere different to eat everyday. So far, an Italian restaurant called Olive Garden has been my favourite, they give you unlimited free breadsticks!

Although during our first few days at NAU we were enjoying ourselves in the sunshine, it soon began to turn into thunderstorms and we later learnt that it was monsoon season, something our tour guides forgot to mention. But a bit of rain never stopped anyone and fortunately we were given some eye catching cagoules at orientation so we could continue exploring!

IMG_20160826_132506451_HDR Modelling NAU’s trendy cagoules

My first week at NAU was amazing and it was topped off with a free concert on campus by New Politics, a band who I’d never heard of before but I had such a fun time. Everyone here has been so welcoming and already I’ve met some great friends and people from all over the world. I may have eaten slightly too much food but hey, who doesn’t love an all you can eat free barbecue?!

14206093_1110392209037841_8014835810390187904_o At the New Politics concert with my new friends

I still can’t quite believe I’m lucky enough to be here, but I would definitely recommend any other Essex students to do the same with the Study Abroad opportunity. What’ve you got to lose?!