Things I Couldn’t or Wouldn’t Have Done If I Hadn’t Gone to Uni

When I was back in college, deciding whether or not to go to uni was a decision a lot of people I knew were having trouble making. Although I knew I’d always wanted to go to uni, it was pretty tough for me to decide where to go and what to study. If you’re having a difficult time choosing what to do after you finish school, you’ll know that the decision is a tough one. Going to uni definitely turned out to be the right choice for me, as there are so many things that I’ve done that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. So if you’re stuck about what to do, hopefully this will show you why going to university can be a great experience!

26783552036_1261e5c830_z Government Conference 2016

Learnt what I am passionate about

This might seem really obvious, I mean you do go to uni to learn! I decided to study Politics because it was my favourite subject at A Level. I liked the subject but I never really took part in politics outside of the classroom. Coming to uni changed that. I was able to choose classes that appealed to my interests which meant that I didn’t get bored and instead I got involved. At Essex, politics isn’t just my degree, I’ve taken part in so many activities in my department such as talking to prospective students at open days, going to talks from guest lecturers and even presenting at the Government Student Conference.

12748043_10153444276971517_4988004449559743022_o.jpg The best pals!

Met some of the most amazing people

One of the reasons I love university and Essex is that our campus is a community of people of all backgrounds from all over the world. Whether they’re your flatmates, course mates or people you meet on a night out at Sub Zero, it’s so interesting to talk to people who have different perspectives on things. It also makes for great debates in class –  it’s always good to have your opinion challenged! I have made some of my best friends at uni and they’re people I would have never met if I hadn’t come here.

Work, work, work!

Now I know that you can experience the world of work without actually attending university, but for me there’s something about the employment opportunities I’ve had at Essex that I don’t think I would have got anywhere else. First off, there’s so many different types of jobs that you can do both on and off campus. I’ve had the chance to work in a variety of jobs that are really understanding of my studies. I’ve worked for both the Students’ Union and the university. The job I had in the SU store was a great opportunity to make some extra cash, whereas my Frontrunner placement in the Admissions Office gave me the chance to work in an office environment, which is something I’ve never done before. Many departments also ask current students to work at visit days where potential students will come and check out the university once they have an offer. It’s really easy to find employment at Essex and if you don’t want a job on campus then the careers centre is always ready to help you find work around Colchester.


Bonus: The Paternoster!

This one is definitely unique to Essex. The lift in the Albert Sloman library makes even the most boring study sessions that bit more fun. Will you dare to ride the lift over the top or under the bottom?

If you’re struggling to decide whether uni is right for you or are just having trouble deciding where to go then I hope this has helped to show you why uni can be amazing!

Best places to travel to as an Essex student

We are officially into the new term and deadlines are looming. In this kind of situation, coming back to uni does not seem very appealing, and since I had an exam on one of my first few days back, I thought, what better way to cope with this than to plan a trip? So I decided to make a list of the best places that you can visit during a weekend, taking into account the distance from uni and money you’d have to spend!


I remember going on a trip for a day to this place last winter. My RA organised this and, although the transport was quite cheap (£10 return), residence life offered to pay for it anyway. We spent the whole day running from one place to another, visiting the shopping centre and getting loads of souvenirs. We also went to see the Norwich cathedral which is absolutely gorgeous. At the end of the day, we also (somehow) ended up in a mustard shop that apparently is a popular attraction in Norwich. Tasting mustard with chocolate flavour was probably one the weirdest things I had to go through, but surprisingly, it was really nice (too bad the prices were as spicy as the mustard). They also have a big castle close to the centre of the city, where lots people seem to host weddings. As we were passing it, a bride was preparing for the ceremony and one my flatmates decided to wave at her (…I know).

So, would I recommend Norwich? Hell yeah! It’s only one hour journey by train and it has enough things in it to keep you busy for more than one day.img_20160227_120003995_hdr


This is one of those trips that I have always wanted to do but somehow never got around it. Thus, I currently have it as number 1 on my priority list. I have a lot of friends that have visited it and all came back saying the city is amazing. The one thing that I heard, again and again, is that the architecture is breath-taking. Just walking the streets and admiring the buildings is more than enough to make you adore the place. Besides that, the people are very warm and welcoming, and the colleges are all open to tourists, so you can always ask for a campus tour.  Additionally, if you like art, there’s the free-to-enter University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum, which houses collections of art and antiquities spanning centuries, and Kettle’s Yard, one of the country’s finest galleries and contemporary art. Here you can find a wide range of artworks, sculpture trail walks and galleries.

So, if you are into pretty things, Cambridge is the best place for you. The price is around £11 (for a return), and the journey shouldn’t take more 2-3 hours.



Oh, Paris! This one is for those that are really up for a journey and willing to spend a little bit more money. Until I got in the UK I never actually realised how easy it is to get to France. The cheapest way is to get a national express coach and pay around £50 for a return ticket. If you don’t want to stay overnight in Paris because it’s too expensive you can always get there in the morning, spend the whole day by going on a walk on Champs-Élysées and admiring the Eiffel Tower. From personal experience, I definitely recommend seeing the Arc De Triomphe. It might take you 30 minutes to get to the top, but the view is comparable to the one you get from the Eiffel tower (and it’s free!).

Also, if you are lucky enough to be from the European Union (and under 26), you get free entry to all museums and major tourist attractions on the first Sunday of each month. So, if you ever decide to go on a trip to Paris, that might be worth knowing 🙂

There you go! Three places to visit when you aren’t revising! Paris could wait a bit, but I definitely recommend you to try out Norwich and Cambridge. I’m hoping to visit Cambridge as soon as I possibly can!

Why it’s great to go to University!

Going to university can seem like a pretty daunting idea, but by the time graduation comes around you’ll want to do it all again…


‘What if no one likes me? What I don’t make any friends?’ My nervous thoughts driving to Essex on arrivals day. Moving into your flat can be scary, but arm yourself with tea and biscuits and embrace the awkward hello’s. Everyone is in the same boat (I know you’ve been told this 100 times but it’s true!) You WILL make friends and you WILL have someone to hang out with. Whether you live in a flat of 4, 5, 6 or 16 people like I did, that’s a whole new group of friends you’ve made on the very first day, and that’s just the start! University gives you the chance to meet hundreds of new people from across the world and make lifetime friends. By the time Christmas rolls around (trust me it will come quicker than you think) having to spend a month apart from your new friends will seem impossible, I cried when I had to go home! So don’t worry about whether you’ll make friends, before long your flatmates will feel like family and you’ll be calling your flat home (although this will probably upset your mum).

A new flat brings new independence. Yes, it means you have to cook your own dinner, remember to buy toilet roll and wash your own socks but it’s not all boring. No longer do you have to ask your dad if your friend can come over for dinner, or let your parents know that you’ll be out past 11pm. You might feel like you’re not ready to fly the nest and leave your mums Sunday roast behind, but don’t worry, you’ve got this! Once you have that independence you’ll never want to lose it. Being independent and able to organise your own time feels great, especially when there’s so much on offer…


With over 165 sports clubs & societies at Essex you’re sure to find something you love. This year I joined the Pole Dancing club, something I’d never thought I’d do but I can’t get enough! Being a member of a sports team means you’ll have the chance to compete against our rivals UEA on Derby Day each year. Even non-members can join in on the action and cheer us on! If you’re not the sporty type then don’t worry, there’s plenty of societies to keep you entertained. From Harry Potter to Meditation there’s something for everyone. Can’t find anything to take your fancy? Why not start your own society? There’s always room for something new at Essex.

Being a stereotypical student, I spent 50% of my first year in our on-campus club Subzero. Loads of great acts; such as DJ Fresh, Lethal Bizzle and even the Chuckle Brothers! Come to Essex for really cheap prices. Base Bar host a variety of alternative nights and the SU Bar is always great for a quick drink… or 9! If you’re after something a bit quieter or more relaxed then the Lakeside Theatre is always packed with a range of events, from Comedy Central to Shakespeare.


The SU organised a whole load of events all year round, incorporating hundreds of different cultures (the colour dash and Holi festival are my favourites). Students from over 140 countries study at Essex meaning multicultural music, dancing and foods can regularly be found in squares; which is an exciting way of learning about new cultures.

University makes you a part of a whole new family. It offers the chance for you to grow as an individual and succeed at things you never thought you could. I won’t lie to you, it is a nerve-racking process… but with so many exciting new opportunities and things to love how can you really say no?

By Abby Futter

The 5 things you need to know about mastering open days

Open days are both enjoyable and intimidating, but they are the best way to get a feel of a particular university. Sure many people apply to university without actually visiting it in person, but you will be better prepared and understand things a lot more by making a personal appearance. You have five choices to make on UCAS, so it is a good idea to have at least visited all your UCAS options at some point.

The truth is you often get a gut feeling about a university the minute you get off the bus or out of the car (or demount from your unicycle)! It is very unscientific but sometimes “you know when you know” if you like a particular place. I remember one university (which will remain nameless) gave me chills the minute I arrived and the Open Day did not improve my feelings towards it. On paper this uni seemed really good but on visiting I hated it!

Here is what you need to know to become a master at open days safe in the knowledge that you’ll make the right choice:

23104179002_dc45e2b77a_z1. Know what is going on and when.

Most universities will provide you with a programme of events either before you arrive or on the actual day. It is best to know what is going on and where because your journey will seem wasted if you miss a talk that you are interested in. So plan. Find a map and make sure you see all that you want to see before leaving.

2. Talk to current students and staff

Open days will be awash with current students (often in brightly coloured shirts so that they are easily noticeable), if you have a question ask them. They are the only people who can give you an honest answer as to what it is like to be a student… also they know the campus quite well so they can help if you are lost.

Academic staff should be about as well. They are the people who can tell you more about your course, module choices, what you need to do to get on the course and how you can make your application stand out. They’re not scary people and can often make you feel more at ease.20491298349_cac25b9529_o

3. Sounds silly, but ask questions

Open days are your chance to ask all those questions that are burning inside of you. Never walk away from a university with questions still lingering and never assume that all universities are the same – they are all unique and therefore they all do things differently.

You could ask questions about the course, nightlife, accommodation, campus facilities, the local area, public transport, laundry… the list is endless.

4. Go on tours

Most universities will run tours throughout the day and this is the perfect opportunity to explore the uni in more depth, see the main sites and facilities and hopefully see the accommodation.

You’ll want to know what is about as this could be your home for the next three or four years!open day

5. Enjoy yourself

Don’t take it too seriously. You’ll want to enjoy the day as well so set aside time to explore and have fun- most universities put on entertainment or interesting events during open days so seize them and have fun!

At Essex you can get free hot drinks and 10% off food and in the past they’ve had aqua zorbing and trampoline bungee jumping…not that I’m not biased about which university you should choose!

How British are you?

Whether you’ve lived in Britain all your life or you’ve moved here for Uni, you must have noticed little traits the British have. I used to watch all of those American films with British stereotypes and think ‘they have got us all wrong!’ but as I get older I am becoming a walking stereotype of a British person; I drink at least 3 cups of tea a day, I say sorry 20 times a day (even to inanimate objects) and I love a Sunday roast. So how British are you?

We love tea:  I love tea. Tea and a biscuit, there is nothing like it. I went on holiday to Spain and they had no normal tea bags! I had to go 10 days without tea and I was definitely getting withdrawal symptoms. I know I am not alone in this! Come on all you tea addicts, hands up!

Your score:

At least 5 cups per day – 15 points

The odd one or two – 10 points

Only if it’s really cold outside – 5 points

NEVER! Water and milk together?! Eww! – 0 points

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Source: Giphy

We love to talk about the weather: Have you ever heard a British person talk about the weather? Because we do. A lot. I didn’t realise how true this was until I started working in a shop. The amount of times a customer will try to talk about the weather and, no matter whether it’s sunny or cold, no one is ever happy! When we get that week heat wave that everyone’s been waiting for everyone is moaning that it’s too hot! When it rains it’s too wet and when it snows?! Well the whole country shuts down!

Your score:

Find yourself talking about the weather every time you have a conversation – 10 points

Only really talk about it if there’s nothing else to chat about and it’s got awkward – 5 points

Is it raining outside? I hadn’t noticed – 0 points


Source: memegenerator

We love to queue: I think the whole country would go to pot if we didn’t have queues. I’m not even sure I understand this stereotype. Do other countries not queue? How do you decide who is going to be served next at the shop or who is first in line to get on the bus?! Maybe I am being completely British here, but I like a bit of order and a nice formally line to a till!

You score:

If strong tutting and scowling at the back of a push-in’s head doesn’t work, you’re fully prepared to give a lecture on the politeness of getting in line – 15 points

You’re not prepared to give a speech, but you will glare at anyone who ruins the queue (only when they’re not looking at you, of course) – 10 points

You get pretty irritated if a queue turns into chaos, but you also really just want to get to the front, so you’ll go with it – 5 points

Life isn’t about queues or forming a line. Someone pushed in? So what! I’ll get there in the end – 0 points

We love sarcasm: Sarcasm is what us British tend to see as humour. The definition is ‘the use of irony to mock or convey contempt’. So, for example, you might say something obvious and someone might reply ‘really Sherlock?’ (Sherlock is a British detective icon). I love a bit of sarcasm. But my real question is why hasn’t apple created an emoji with a a face holding up a sarcasm sign?! Some people interpret our sarcasm as rudeness when they don’t get it, but trust me…us Brits are actually just totally hilarious (and we never mean any harm with it)!

Your score:

Is the Pope Catholic? Every other sentence I say is a sarcastic remark! – 10 points

I’ve definitely caused offence by being sarcastic before (so I apologised profusely for approximately 3 hours of course) – 5 points

I don’t really get sarcasm. Are you serious or kidding? I can’t tell? – 0 points

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We love to apologise: I would walk into a door and then apologies to it! We just have this need to say sorry for everything. When we give someone a £20 note for a 50p item, if we don’t have the lighter the random person has asked you for (even if we don’t smoke), or wanting the attention of a waiter because we need another drink. You’ll hear a lot of ‘Sorry, can I just…’, or ‘Sorry’ *nervous laughter* ‘thank you.’ We don’t understand it, so there’s no point trying to make sense of it.

Your score:

Whether you’re a chair, a waiter, a dog, or someone who’s held a door open for me, chances are I’m apologising to you for some unknown reason. Sometimes the word just slips out without explanation – 15 points

I feel bad for calling a waiter over when they’re busy, so I might say sorry and thank you a bit too often. Not when I bump into a table though! – 10 points

If I’ve done something wrong or not quite caught what you said, I’ll say sorry, like any normal person! – 5 points

Who apologises these days?! – 0 points

We are very polite:  It comes along with the apologising. Once I was in staying in a hotel and the hot water wasn’t working so I had to have a cold shower, but I couldn’t bring myself to complain about it because I felt too impolite. I also, on many occasions, have had issues with my food at a restaurant and when the waitress comes over to ask if everything is OK I will nod politely. I am mortified when my mum decides to tell the waitress that everything is in fact not OK..! It can be a bit of a weakness, but I like to think that at least it means British people are, for the most part, a pretty nice bunch!

Your score:

I end every sentence with a ‘thanks’, ‘thank you’, ‘cheers’ etc. – 10 points

I average about 40 thank you’s a day – 5 points

Unless you handed me a million pounds, I’m probably not saying thank you to you – 0 points


So how British are you? You could have scored a total of 50 points. How’d you do?

0-25 = Not all British – You probably find our sarcasm bizarre and can’t understand our passionate love of tea. But don’t worry, spend enough time with us and you too will be complaining about the weather, tea in hand, apologising to the chair you just bumped in to.

30 – 55 = Pretty British – You probably stick to just apologising to people, rather than inanimate things, but you also find yourself tutting when people don’t form and orderly queue in shops and want to curl up in a ball of shame when you make a sarcastic comment and people take it seriously. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.

60-75 = Very British – You’re probably putting the kettle on as you read this, hiding away from whatever the weather is like outside, and perhaps even laughing at how true this all is (the kind of laugh where you don’t actually laugh, you just exhale a bit of air). You my friend are a proper Brit, even if you don’t know the words to the National Anthem (I don’t think many people do). Congratulations!

Study Abroad: What I’ve Been up to

My first semester as an exchange student in America is officially over! I’m now on my Christmas break which is great after having two weeks of essays and final exams to do. Although I went back home to the UK for Christmas, I’ve actually spent most of my holidays travelling on the East Coast of the US, in fact I’m writing this post in Boston, Massachusetts!

DSCN2341.JPG The Library of Congress has nothing on the Albert Sloman Library!

A few hours after my last exam ended I was on a flight to Washington DC to explore the Capitol (nerdy political pun intended!). One of the great things about DC is that pretty much every attraction and museum is free. I went to the zoo and got to see some giant pandas which was pretty cool, although they were very lazy! Now being the politics student that I am, a trip to Washington wouldn’t be complete without seeing the places where the US is governed from. I visited the White House, which is much smaller than I expected, and had a tour of the US Capitol building which was really interesting. The building itself is huge and really beautiful.

dscn2406 Sunset over New York City

After a few days being in DC, I headed up to New York City. New York is a place I’ve always wanted to go to and I wasn’t disappointed! It is possibly one of the busiest places I’ve ever been to, but that’s sort of what gives the city its character. I explored Times Square and saw the School of Rock on Broadway which was amazing! I also went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner where you’re served by show tune singing waiters and waitresses, something that I very much enjoyed, especially when we were given a performance of some Les Miserables. After seeing the bright lights of Broadway I headed down to the 9/11 museum which was extremely touching and a very appropriate way to end my time in New York.

img_20170107_1047204742 It might look pretty but it was also about -6!

I went back to the UK from New York for Christmas, but time flew by until I was back in the US. I visited Philadelphia in the state of Pennsylvania. I had returned to temperatures below freezing and some pretty heavy snow! Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States and is the city where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed, so it’s full of history. It’s also a very pretty city and it made for some great photos. I also made sure to try an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich. It’s basically what it sounds like and it is delicious!

received_102028450956458571 Being a terrible British person and throwing tea away!

After Philadelphia, I headed up to Boston. Boston is another city that’s very significant historically and politically. My first day here I went to a really cool museum where I got to throw some tea in Boston harbour in homage to the Boston Tea Party. I also made time for some shopping, particularly because Boston has one of the very few Primarks in America and it was just as cheap! It was just like being back home!

It’s now time for me to head back to Flagstaff to begin my second semester at NAU. I can’t believe I’m already halfway through my year abroad! It’s gone so quickly but I’m looking forward to making the most of the time I have left here. Speak to you soon!

How to conquer your degree in 2017

New year, new you…right? This also means a brand new university term. More lectures to go to, more coursework to do and… the dreaded exams in May. Talk about the fun being over! But, if you follow these suggestions, I reckon 2017 will be your year and that you will ace your degree!

Studying Tips


University of Essex Flickr

Get a diary: The best way to get organised for the new term is to get a diary or some sort of planner. This way you can plan your week to get all the work you need to get done!

Check your module outline: The module outline will explain how you are being assessed for that module. It will tell you when your coursework or coursework test is and how much % it is worth. Having this information is really essential for you to be able to plan.

Start coursework early: With the diary to write your coursework down and the dates from the module outline, you can start planning! Start coursework with plenty of time. Your best work is not going to be done in one all-nighter with a red bull in one hand and a pot noodle in the other!

Go over lecture notes:  The best way I have personally found to revise for exams is every week to re-write my lecture notes into some form of revision materials. It helps you go over the lecture content, get it into your head and then you’re already one step ahead of your exam revision!


Start revision early: I do a psychology degree and lots of research has shown that it is better to revise over a longer period of time than cramming it in the night before. So, if you do 20 hours revision in a 6 week period this is better for you than doing 20 hours in 2 days!

It’s a good idea to start thinking about revision at the end of 2nd term. You’ll have a whole month off at Easter and that is a great opportunity to start some revision. You’ll thank yourself when the exams get closer!

Keep healthy and happy

Take breaks: The whole idea of starting coursework early and keeping up to date with lectures is so that you have time to take breaks and spread out your work load. You are allowed a night off! Make sure university doesn’t become your life and you give yourself plenty of breaks! Do a favourite hobby such as watching a film, playing a sport or going and socialising with friends!



Exercise: I know I dropped the E word, but actually it’s not about keeping fit this time. Exercise can actually help your studying. Cardio activity helps to brain produce chemicals that increase the functioning of learning and memory. So get those running shoes on because it will help your studying!


Think about your diet: There are a number of foods that are supposed to help you concentrate. These are green tea, water, fatty fish, blueberries, avocados, leafy greens, nuts, flax seeds and most surprisingly.. dark chocolate! Last exam season I got through 3 big bars of dark chocolate. I’m not sure if it helped with concentration, but having a couple pieces of chocolate kept me going!

And lastly.. get plenty of sleep!: Not only will getting the recommended 8 hours sleep a day make you feel ready for the day, it also has learning benefits too. During sleep our brain goes over information we have learnt over the day and that helps our memory. How can you expect to get that 2:1 when you show up to the exam on 2 hours sleep?!


Conquering your degree this year is all about planning your time wisely and looking after yourself.  I hope these tips have helped!


How to prepare for a university interview and what to expect

It’s enough to fill you with dread: the word “interview” can send shivers down even the most experienced of people’s spines.

When I applied for university I had to attend interviews at three different universities. I remember travelling to these unfamiliar places full of fear and nerves. I didn’t know what to do or even what to expect. After three interviews though, I like to think that I managed to get an insight into how interviews work.

There is truly nothing to worry about if you follow these easy steps:

What to expect:

This can vary from university to university and also different courses will have their own procedures.

An interview may include a short exam, but more often than not it will just involve a chat with one of the staff from the department. You may also be asked questions on an unseen item: for English this could be a story extract, while for Maths it could be an equation or statistics.

Normally at Essex, your interview and/or test will form part of a larger Applicant Day where you’ll be able to tour our campus, meet our students and get a feel for life at Essex.



Of course you won’t be able to tell what questions you’ll be asked, but it is worth thinking about “Why do you want to study this particular course?” and “Why have you applied to this university?” If you can answer these questions then you’re halfway there.

Remind yourself of what you put in your personal statement and don’t forget to be passionate. Speaking of which…


Basically you will have around 10-30 minutes to sell yourself. Your personal statement will have done some of the work for you, now you can do the rest in person.

Show that you’re passionate about your subject and feel free to talk about your interests in the subject and the areas that fascinate you about it.

category_banner_pl_reference_books_videosBe Yourself

Remember the interviewer is not there to catch you out. They want to get to know you and see what you are capable of. So relax and be yourself so that the interviewer can find out the real you.

Don’t be scared to ask questions

If you don’t understand what you’re being asked, then do not hesitate to ask a question or ask for some help. The interviewer doesn’t want you to sit and squirm in silence because that will waste time, however they will be more than happy to rephrase a question or clarify what they have said.

If in doubt, ask.


The best thing you can do is chat to your interviewer. Find common ground that you can build upon so that you can continue to contribute to the conversation.

Make sure you’re aware of the latest issues in current affairs relevant to your subject and prepare a question to ask the interviewer in return. They’ll love you for it.

Most importantly:

Take a deep breath.

Don’t panic.

Take a few seconds to compose yourself before answering the question.

And most importantly…enjoy yourself!

Choosing your year abroad location

If you’re planning to study abroad during the next academic year, you’ll probably already know that you won’t just have uni work to do over the Christmas break.

You’ll also have the tricky dilemma of shortlisting 3 choices to put on your study abroad application. It will likely take hours of scrawling through university websites and countless Google searches before the deadline at the end of January.

With hundreds of choices available, at first it can be a bit confusing on what to look out for.

As someone who went through the process last year, here are a few of my top tips for choosing a location for your year abroad!


1. Creating your own personal criteria: what do I want to get out of this?

Study abroad is an amazing opportunity. However in order to get the most from it, you need to know exactly what you want.

Depending on the location, partner university and personal preference, this will change.

For example, if you want to study abroad in order to practice your German, then you’re not exactly going to be keen on going to Mexico.

Personally, I wanted to go an English speaking area which had good travelling opportunities. This was so I could study Drama easily and also travel during my time off.

2. Going through all of your options

With hundreds of universities to choose from, it can be hard to shortlist them down to your top three.

What I did was to copy and paste all of Essex’s’ partner universities from the University website into a word document. Then, as I researched them one by one, I highlighted them either green, yellow or red…

Green: one of my top choices

Yellow: I’m not sure yet/possibly?

Red: Not suitable/I don’t want to go there

I personally trawled through all of the American, Canadian and Australian partners that Essex has, as well as a lot of others to find a Uni for me.


3. Researching: What modules are available?

It’s worth having a look at what modules each university offers in terms of content when you’re researching.

Often a good point about studying abroad is the option to study topics that aren’t available at Essex.

For example, during my first term in Australia I studied modules in Entertainment and event/festival management.

3. Shortlisting: Is this actually somewhere where I want to live for a whole term/year?

Once you’ve discarded all of your irrelevant universities, you’ve now got to think about whether you would be happy going there or not.

It’s just like when you were picking universities for UCAS.

Can I imagine myself actually living there once the honeymoon period rubs off?

4. Remember: Don’t get your hopes up on a location until it is confirmed.

Things change and partners are removed and added all the time. So until it’s confirmed, don’t rest your hopes on one single place.

This happened to me, when I found out that a university in Lousiana was now unavailable for exchange. It’s the worst thing is to be let down by something that is out of your control, so always have a few options!

I won’t lie to you, it’s a difficult decision and it won’t happen overnight. However good decisions and some good picks now will make it all worthwhile!


The perks of no longer being an Essex wallflower

We all make new years resolutions, or at least try to make one (and often, as is the case with me, fail at it within the first few weeks), but two years ago I set myself a resolution that I hoped would change my life forever.

Two years in the making and now I am here to tell you if I succeeded.



This time two years ago I was returning to Essex after the Christmas break. I was a first year literature student and was rather pleased that I had succeeded at reading all the texts on my course and had handed in my first essays on time, but I had one problem: nerves. Crippling nerves in fact and a huge amount of anxiety and fear of coming out of my comfort zone or engaging with new people or putting myself in unfamiliar situations.

You see, when I applied to the University of Essex I was so excited about the prospect of studying a subject that I loved and also all the things that university life could offer. You read in books, hear from friends and family and see on the T.V. a representation of what university life would be like and I was eager to experience it myself. However, the minute I unpacked my bags on arrivals day I built a defensive wall around me and failed to really interact with any of my flatmates and classmates.

My days consisted of going to classes, making the relevant comments and noises to get through them, then returning straight to my room in South Courts where I often remained for the rest of the day. As you can imagine it was extremely isolating, but I never knew how to start conversations with new people and always feared what people would think about me. The fear was so much that I become quite passive and distant, a shadow of who I used to be.



Over the Christmas break I had had serious doubts about my future at Essex and even at one point contemplated leaving university all together. Perhaps I wasn’t cut out for this malarkey. It was a difficult moment in my life, but I wanted to try to turn that around so that the rest of my time at university could be significantly more enjoyable.

I set myself a new years resolution to try and be more outgoing, to put myself into more social situations and to interact and get to know my classmates.

At first it was a struggle as most things often are, but now I am beginning to feel more like a member of the university community. I started to speak to people more, I tried to get involved more with various activities and, most importantly, I tried to make every opportunity count. I even became a Student Ambassador in order to try and boost my confidence and to meet more people. I soon learnt that my fear of being judged was misinformed, in fact most people were in the same position that I was.

Two years later I can say that I am more comfortable in social situations (though large groups or unfamiliar people can still unnerve me slightly). As a Student Ambassador people have often commented that I appear outgoing and very sociable, yet they are completely  unaware of how timid and nervous I was at the beginning of my first year.

Now this isn’t meant to be a blog in which I reveal my personal growth in the hope that you all applaud and praise me. Instead I have written this blog to try and show that you can make the most of your time at university and that you can reinvent yourself. Most people set themselves a new years resolution often knowing that they won’t stick it, for me this attempt to try and be more confident and sociable was a necessity if I was to do well in the future.

In the space of two years I cannot say that I am the most confident of people, but I have come a long way and have made tons of memories throughout this momentous journey.