Your First University Essay

3093588562_b255f9a2fb_zWhen I got to the end of primary school, I remember a teacher telling me that soon I’d be at big school writing these things called ‘essays’ I remember they sounded really difficult and terrifying to a 12 year old brain. When I got to secondary school, fastforwarding about 3 years, writing a two page English essay and getting A’s based on the argument that red curtains signify anger, felt really legit. Oh my sweet summer child, if only I knew…

When I came to university, I had obviously come a long way since my first essay in year 7/8 and had written loads throughout school and sixth form. But what I didn’t know is that a university essay is most definitely not the same as anything I had done before, and just like that little 12 year old  felt the fear rush over me once again, not of essays this time, but of having to think about referencing. So here’s a few things to keep in mind when you write your first university essay (note not everything applies to all degrees and some styles may vary, but you get the gist.)

Reading Around Before You Start

I can’t stress this enough, don’t just start your essay blindly without thinking about which citations you’re going to use. I made this mistake with my first essay and it’s a real struggle making a point and then trying to find a perfect supporting quote to back up your argument. You will also run the risk of making your point seem really tenuous if you do it in this order.

Don’t underestimate how long this will take! For a whole essay, during a busy term time, I usually allocate about 3 weeks per deadline, the first week and a half of that, maybe even two weeks, is reading and researching for me.

The best thing to do is to get your subject matter first, and a rough idea of your opinion on the argument and then go straight to reading up on it. I personally prefer books over the internet, probably because it makes me feel more studious sitting in the library with a big stack of books. Go for stuff that is roughly linked to the subject and then the index is king, find quotations that may be useful or connected and note them down in full, making sure you have the page number, author, chapter title, publication house, date and location. I like to do this on a word document, making sure it stays nice and organised with little line breaks as I do it.

Use Your Reading to Inform Your Argument

The reality is, you probably can never do enough reading on the subject you are writing on, but there will come a point when you’ve got to get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) usually because the deadline is only a few days away and you’re starting to sweat over your empty word document. Depending on the department or task, you may need more or less, but four strong references are probably a good starting point. From these you can formulate your plan (this is where it varies from student to student, while some will plan very heavily, others -myself included- will do a rough plan knowing that eventually that will go entirely out of the window. I quite like this method because it means your essay can flow organically and your opinion can adjust as you write but you still have a framework behind it.)

Think on what the author is saying, you don’t necessarily have to agree with them, you may disagree wholeheartedly, but that can make for an even stronger argument. Then you can shape paragraphs around their point in relation to your own, either the point can heighten your argument or be used as a point of discussion.

Watch your Language

When writing your first university essay, the likelihood is you will be tempted to use all of the complexity that your capability allows. Avoid this. Just because you know the word ‘verisimilitudinous’ doesn’t necessarily mean you need to use it 12 times (although it is a great word.) Of course using the odd term, complex word, or sentence structure may benefit you occasionally, but writing like this all the time can read as confusing and may sometimes make you seem like you’re trying to hide the fact you haven’t got a clue what you are talking about behind big words. Try write clearly and fairly simplistically, essays aren’t a vocabulary test.

Taking a Step Back and Simplifying When Your Brain Feels Mushy

I’m going into my third year now, and with every essay, I still without fail, hit the wall at some point during every essay. There’s a few things you can do when this happens to keep yourself on course. First of all, if you haven’t already, write yourself a little mini thesis, this can even become a part of your introduction or conclusion, write down an extremely succinct version of what your argument is, your essay concentrated. This really helps if you are getting lost or veering off on a tangent, use it to remind yourself what your essay is about. Secondly, if you can’t quite word what you’re trying to say, I find it really useful to try and orally explain the point I am trying to make to a friend. It makes you clarify what you are trying to say and bring it back to basics away from a tangle of words.

The Dreaded Footnote

Ugggggghhhhhhhhh referencing why?! You will have heard of plagiarism and how much of a big deal it is. Plagiarism is important to be aware of, you may think that just not being an idiot and avoiding copying people is enough, but plagiarism covers incorrect referencing too. Depending on your department the referencing style you use may vary, you can easily find guides of each style on the internet, i.e. Harvard, APA, Chicago etc. However a lot of departments will have a style handbook too to help you with that. Referencing isn’t hard once you’re in the swing, but getting it in the right order and correct can be a struggle, but after a few essay’s practice, it is sort of second nature. Be aware too that footnotes and bibliographies go in different orders depending on the style.

Stickler on the Proof

Just for the love of all that is holy, proof your work. Proof read it alot, proof read it until you’re sick and tired of reading it, then, read it again. It may be a struggle for your first essay as you may still feel a little too shy to share your work, but reading and proofing each other’s work is so so useful as well in making sure your argument is clear and cogent.

People work in different ways, all of these tips may prove completely useless to you, but I hope it has dispelled just a couple of those first essay fears!

My Essex Highlights

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My time at Essex has been amazing and I’ve had some great experiences, here’s a few of the little moments that have made Essex special.

Meerkats

At the end of second year, the SU held a petting zoo, bringing a menagerie of animals onto campus to ease the exam stress. There were bunnies, dogs, fancy mice, and the coolest of all, meerkats! We were aloud to get in and hang out with the meerkats for a while, and it was amazing and a great stress reliever!

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They’re literally on me! Amazing!

Hodor

If you don’t watch Game of Thrones, then this will mean nothing to you, but also you should watch it, come on where have you been? Anyway, even if  you haven’t seen it, you will probably have heard of Hodor, AKA Kristian Nairn. Turns out Hodor is also an amazing dance DJ and before Game of Thrones season 6 came out, Kristian Nairn came and DJ’d at Essex and gave away a load of GoT goodies during the night, I got a ‘You Know Nothing Jon Snow’ mug, I was very excited. But best of all was afterwards we got to meet Hodor after his set, he was super nice! My photo is far too shaky because…reasons,  but here’s my housemate with the man himself!

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Sorry Vilde, I hope you don’t mind me stealing your picture!

Milk It Halloween

Milk It is for me by far the most fun night out at Essex, mainly because my music taste is mainly guilty pleasures and cheese, so it’s perfect. This year, Milk It held a Halloween special and needless to say, karaoke, plus costumes, plus beverages, is always a winning combination!

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I am aware that a pumpkin, Maverick from Top Gun, a Hogwarts student and a banana are an unlikely combination.

Think Talks

I love the Think Series, they open up super interesting topics for debate and really open your mind to things you’ve never considered before. At the beginning of second year I attended one on the porn industry and it was absolutely fascinating, they even give you free sweets and drink as you go in! Definitely a highlight of the things I’ve done at uni!

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These are just a handful of amazing things that I have experienced during my time at Essex and I’m sure there will be many more, Comment below what your Essex highlights have been!

University and Long Distance Relationships

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This isn’t an original student blog subject, I know when I was just about to come to uni, I read copious blogs and articles of tips about how to deal with going to uni and having a long distance relationship and a lot of them were absolutely useless. This one probably is too in truth because you can’t make life choices based on what strangers from the internet say, trust me. 

Long Distance

I was very hesitant to come to uni, and although I’d have never admitted it at the time, a large feature was how little I would be able to see my then boyfriend. Of course now that ship has sailed, it is easy, as it is with other singles and people that are less experienced in relationships, to say how ridiculous that is. A lot of the blogs I was reading and the thoughts in my head, along with friends and family were telling me how stupid I was to let a boyfriend stop me from achieving my goals. Perhaps rationally, yes it is, but guess what? We aren’t robots, we’re emotional beings and sometimes being rational isn’t always what feels right.

I have read many blogs that have just flat out told people to break up with their significant other before they go to uni, just because they personally found it hard to be apart and had a bad experience. I’m not going to do that, because if you really care about someone that much, your relationship will prevail over distance, and why not try it rather than just binning them off before you go. Of course this differs, perhaps if you’ve known them a fortnight, the reality is the commitment isn’t there for long distance, because that is the essential part, commitment. The second thing is trust, you have to trust each other, especially if one partner is remaining at home, remember they’re not at uni, and during freshers week, all that partying and meeting new people can be very difficult for them to deal with when they’re sat at home worrying about you. The long and short of it is you must trust each other, and appreciate what is going on in each other’s lives.

Try as hard as you can to talk and see each other as regularly as possible. Depending on how far you have roamed for university, seeing each other may be more of a challenge, but try to skype each other as much as possible, it’s also really nice to have that point of contact to remind you of home and the support they can provide you.

Friends

‘Remember your friends’ says everyone ever when you get a new partner, and it’s so boring to hear, it is true, keeping the balance of your partner and friends social schedule is tough, what is great, is if you can encourage your mates to get on with your partner, then you can all do stuff together and you don’t have to feel guilty! Saying that though, you need to make sure that each party feel appreciated enough, like the other isn’t a priority over them. As long as you don’t cancel plans with your friends to blatantly just hang out with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you should be ok.

You may have found this before going off to uni, but it seems like everyone’s got an opinion about your relationship! Your friends obviously want to see you happy, but they aren’t in the relationship, so don’t feel too anxious if their advice and opinions on your relationship don’t seem to be helpful to you. This is really hard, because you don’t want to fall out with your buddies over your relationship, and it can be frustrating to them if they have strong opinions and you aren’t following their advice. It’s all about letting them know you respect and appreciate the fact that they have your best interests at heart, but also politely telling them that it’s your life and they have to respect your life choices. I still haven’t mastered this, so good luck with that one!

Ignore Me Completely

I mean it! Ignore this blog! So why read it? Because a large part of what I am trying to say is follow what FEELS right not what friends or family or bloggers are telling you to do! Following your heart is never anything to be ashamed of, even if things go wrong, and university is all about making your own choices, so you do you! Do what you feel is right with your relationship. Most importantly, when you do see each other don’t PDA all over the SU bar, no one wants to see that.

 

Ways TV and Movies Lied To You About University

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You’ve seen them, the crazy frat parties, the library romances, the hippies playing guitars under trees. Here’s a list of things you see in tv and movie universities, that are pretty rare in real life. 

Frat parties

Fraternities and Sororities are definitely more of an American thing, coming to uni in the UK, don’t expect crazy hazing or Animal House activities, I’ve never seen a keg in my life! If you’re lucky, the closest you might get is a red plastic cup! Of course there are parties, and they’re great, but they definitely don’t occur in houses like this:

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Meeting The Love of Your Life in the Library

I personally don’t want disturbing whatsoever while I’ve got my study on, let alone meeting my soulmate in the poetry section. You know how it goes, she goes to pull out a book, he goes for the same one, they both giggle from either side of the bookshelf and then you throw up because it’s so soppy and gross. If that happened in real life the most you’d get is an awkward apology.

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Or another old favourite is the running into the geeky girl, causing her to drop all of her books, they then touch hands and smile over their mutual admiration for The Catcher in The Rye and the rest is history. I mean come on really?
Halls Rooms Like Harry Potter

Uni rooms are purposefully basic, and when you watch a movie or show where the characters go back to their enormous flat with a big beautiful fireplace and whatever other ridiculous furnishings ( there’s probably a massive wing chair somewhere) it just seems completely untruthful. In reality, University rooms are a nice and average size and plain for you to decorate.

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Spring Break

Here in the UK, we’ve of course got beaches, but you’re not going to go party it up in Clacton for a week as if it were Miami. In the UK, spring break is most usually spent at home revising. Of course just like movie spring break, there will be regrettable decisions made, but they’re more likely to be eating too many snacks and wondering why you didn’t do the reading when you were supposed to.

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These are just a few things, and don’t get me wrong you will still see some wild things go on during your time at uni, but don’t believe everything you see on TV kids!

 

How to survive your dissertation!

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Most of us eventually have to face it once we reach our final year of study – “The Dissertation”! The final year project is more than the multiplicity of your usual essays; it requires creativity and critical thinking. Let me tell you about my journey of writing an undergraduate dissertation!

Finding a Topic

Deciding on the topic of your dissertation might be the most important step of the whole process since it sets the overall framework of your research. Some departments will provided you with a list of topics to choose from, while others such as the Sociology Department will expect you to think about your own topic.

The first aspect you should think about is picking a topic you’re genuinely interested in, since your dissertation will accompany you throughout your final year.

As a starting point I reviewed the course material we covered in the previous years and browsed journals relevant to my subject, noting down any keywords which caught my attention.

Check if your department archived samples of previous dissertations submitted, those not only allow you to see what kind of topics have been researched by former students, but also help you to get an idea about the general structure of a dissertation in your subject. For instance the Student Resource Centre stores dissertations ranging from undergraduate to doctoral level within the field of sociology and criminology.

I considered what field I am interested to work in my future career and selected my topic accordingly. Writing a 10,000 word dissertation about a topic relevant to your future job, demonstrates interest and determination which might be an advantage for your application.

Deciding on a broad area of research will make it much easier to narrow down potential topics, aim to do it by the end of your second year – however you’re usually still able to change your topic after the summer vacations, so no worries!

Start planning

Your research question might change, your motivation is likely to fluctuate, thus your supervisor should provide a constant you can always refer to. Meet up with your supervisor at the beginning of your final year and discuss your ideas with them. Even if they are not experts in your particular topic, they are still able to provide you with helpful feedback and point out how to find relevant resources.

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Keep reading and reading materials relevant to your topic! Make notes and don’t forget to keep track of your references; I started a table on Excel where I initially added the reference and some key words, and later on evolved it to a comprehensive overview of the literature, including used methodology, comparisons to other literature and evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each source.

Most of us are guilty of procrastinating and finishing some coursework last minute – however be aware of the scope of your dissertation! Many departments require about 10,000 words and weight your dissertation as a full year module, making it impossible to complete it within only a few days but it is necessary to begin well in advance and work on it continuously. Bear in mind that if you carry out empirical research, the process might be less predictable and you should plan some extra time in case anything unexpected happens. Write an outline for your research, setting out what you need to do and set yourself personal deadlines.

Don’t think of your dissertation as one large bulk of work, but plan each chapter individually, roughly outline the key points for each chapter and how many words you approximately plan to write for each section, which will help you enormously to avoid excessive word cutting later on when you need to ensure your work stays within the set word limit.

The writing process

Find your own working style and don’t compare yourself with others, some might have finished the vast majority of their research by Christmas, while you have been working on other assignments, as long as you made a realistic schedule and stay determined you will be fine.

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Create an environment where you can thrive, some of us can only focus in a quiet corner in the library; others get inspired when sitting with their laptop in one of the cafes on campus. Whenever I felt stuck with a paragraph I would leave my work place for some time, and get a coffee from the Starbucks on campus, or take a stroll around the lake to collect my thoughts.

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Always make sure you get sufficient sleep! When being drowsy I felt that my productivity suffered, especially when trying to demonstrate creativity within my arguments. If you are more of a night owl, like me, being more efficient in the late evening, be aware of other commitments such as classes you have for the next day. Doing an all-nighter on a regular basis might disturb your biological clock, so it is best to avoid those nights until the final period if necessary.

Before submitting

Once you finished the writing process, you need to edit your work. Make sure it complies to the guidelines provided by your department, check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and whether you titled all of your tables and graphs. If possible try to finish early and submit a draft to your supervisor who can provide you with some final comments.

Also ask your friends to read your dissertation (or parts of it if there is not sufficient time), ask them to be critical and mark any sections they feel are unclear.

You can print and bind your dissertation on campus in the Copy Centre (though I would recommend to print it yourself in the library or in a lab to save a bit money), but be aware that there will be a long queue on the final day, so plan to be there at least a few hours before your deadline!

Last but not least, don’t forget to take the obligatory selfie with your dissertation 😉

Books, reading lists and everything in-between

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I “ummed” and “ahhed” for ages whilst deciding what I should write about this week, then a friend sent me a Snapchat picture (yeah thats right, I have Snapchat- I don’t really know how to use it but I have it!)

My friend had just been to Wivenhoe and discovered not one but two bookshops. To be fair, it is our own ignorance that we never ventured far into Wivenhoe to have a good look around- which is highly recommended by the way. As a result, for the past three years knowledge of these bookshops had completely escaped me and looking back I wish I had know about them. It would have saved me a considerable amount of time and money in getting books for my course.

And these are the questions that I have been asked on numerous occasions: What books do I need? Where can I find them?

Whilst I only really know about this from a literature student perspective, most of the information I provide about reading lists and book hunting is still relevant to most subjects.

Reading Lists

Every module will have a reading list of some sort. These will be the books that you require for that particular module and are often split into primary reading lists (texts you must read) and secondary reading lists (texts which you might find helpful).

Reading lists can normally be found on the module directory pages: https://www.essex.ac.uk/modules/ or on Moodle. If you can’t find any sort of reading list contact the module director or your departmental office.

New Books

Nothing beats a new book and these are often very easy to find. Of course you have suppliers such as Waterstones (our on campus bookshop, who stock most of the stuff that can be found on the primary lists- though books can also be ordered in); Wivenhoe Bookshop is an independent shop a short distance from campus which provides a friendly service. Of course you also have other options such as online retailers like Amazon.

NOTE: Some modules for departments such as law will recommend particular editions of texts and it is important to get these editions so that your book corresponds with everyone else. So it is in your best interest to buy the edition they ask for.

Second Hand Books

This is the best way to get books on a budget and there are plenty of options available to you. As part of the weekly Thursday Market in square 3 there is a second hand book stall which often has relevant books for different courses.

In addition you have the Colne Bookshop on the High Street in Wivenhoe and numerous charity shops in Colchester- perhaps the ones of note are the row of shops opposite Wilko (the number 61 and 62 bus will take you there from campus). In these cases you’ll find it quite common that past students on different modules will off-load their old books at these second hand stores. If you are lucky you may be able to pick up the entire terms books in one shop!

Online sites such as AbeBooks are also really useful.

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Library Books

An even more thrifty way to get books is to get them from the library. The on campus Albert Sloman Library will stock the majority of books on reading lists as well as extra and supplementary reading.

HOWEVER be careful as the number of texts available can vary greatly and if demand is high you’ll find it difficult to get hold of certain texts. People can also recall books which means that you will have one week in which to return it, so it is best to avoid getting out popular books if you can. This is not a good option if you like to write in your books!

Additionally there are also the libraries in Wivenhoe, Greenstead and Colchester Town which are run by Essex County Council and are a free to sign up to.

Online and e-books

Depending on your department/ module you may be able to access what is known as a “reader”- which is an online document that has been created by module director and often contains all the reading you need.

Otherwise there is also the option to use the library catalogue to find out if there are any e-books or online journals available- and at least with an ebook you won’t have other students desperate to recall it!

A Day In The Life of a Second Year

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If you’re applying to uni, you may be wondering what day to day life looks like for a student, it most definitely differs from the set structure of school and sixth form that you’re probably used to. It’s kind of hard to write what a general day is for students, because of the amount of choice, it varies greatly depending on department, subject choice, and who you are as a person. However here’s an example of a regular day of this particular student in the LiFTs department!

 

7am – (hopeful) Waking up for 9ams is the worst, especially when you moan about it to someone with an adult life and job and they’re all ‘you wait till you’re in the real world and you have to do that everyday.’ ugh save it Mum.

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9am- As a Film Studies and Literature student it’s a hard life, most film modules have a weekly screening so my 9am class this year entailed going to LTB10 (the on campus cinema) and watching a movie. The quality of said movie being questionable, sometimes it’s soviet propaganda films, sometimes it’s Alien or Batman Begins! I also bring snacks in and have a munch on a breakfast pastry or have a thermos of coffee to kick me into gear.

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11:30am(ish)– obviously dependent on movie length, I would then stumble back out all disoriented as you do after you’ve been sat in a cinema for 2 hours and then make the choice between productivity or what I actually do, which is get food or a coffee at the Lakeside cafe and sit on facebook in the student centre with every intention of doing work.giphy (12)

1pm- Lecture time! Meeting up with the gals from my course and settling in to get our learn on.

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2pm- To the SU bar for lunch. After lecture, most weeks this time would be spent with course friends, them getting something delicious-looking like pizza or lasagne and me crying into a sadly packed salad or some bruised fruit.

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3pm- Time to be a good person and go to volunteering.Meeting at the North Towers car park it’s time for V-Team, so we’d get a taxi to a local primary school where we would teach kids about film studies (or at least try to!) and freak out at the ratio of how much they loved me to how much I feared them.

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4:30pm- Back home for a quick bite and a chill.

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7pm- Off to yoga society to stretch out the stresses of uni. My favourite part is at the end when they get you to lay down on the floor and they turn off the lights, it gives you the illusion of being healthy, because you’re at yoga, but in reality you’re just laying down, trying not to drift off.

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8:30pm- Get home and crash for the rest of the evening! (Totally the best part!) Maybe reading something for my course, if I’m feeling particularly productive, but more than likely, I’m watching Netflix and falling asleep with my Ipad on my face by 9:30pm.

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Organisational Tips for a Tidy Student Mind

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At university, you’re going to be overloaded with information and stuff to do, both fun and not-so fun, staying organised for some is natural, for others it’s a complete uphill struggle. Here’s a few tips that have proven useful to me during my first and second years at Essex.
Deadlines

Using a program like One Note or Evernote to organize all of your core uni details, you can use it as a sort of online pin board on which you can attach pictures, to do lists, links etc all in one place. I have a little picture of Campus Cat on mine to boost morale when my deadline list gets a little terrifying. I also have login details and useful notes that I may need like my weekly budget so I don’t spend all that sweet sweet student loan all at once, but more on that later!

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Keep a planner and a calendar! Keeping a little calendar on your desk, crossing off each day just to know where you are when it comes to deadlines, you will know exactly where you are in the month in accordance to when the abundance of coursework needs to be handed in.

Note Taking

Keep little project books or separate sections for every module. For me, I have to keep each module separate when i’m note-taking. I buy several A5 project books, just like the ones you used to get at secondary school, and decorate them accordingly so I know exactly which is which, my film module had a large clapper board, US lit had a star spangled banner, you get the picture. It also gives you a great excuse to get a bit crafty.

 

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Code your note taking to make it easy to quickly reference things. Do this to fit your best learning methods, I came up with a little key at the beginning of my note pad, with different emojis and symbols that I would draw in the margins for myself to be able to go back quickly when looking over my notes.

Make sure everything is clearly titled and subtitled so you can find it quickly for reference.

Illustrate your notes, this is especially good for visual learners, I personally learn so much more when I can remember a picture that relates to it, even a simple diagram can make something resonate so much more .

Money Money Money Money

Ok I know you’re gonna be all ‘but Chloe I’m not an idiot I know how money works.’ but coming to uni for many can be a completely new experience in independence, you have all this responsibility, rent to pay, laundry, monthly bills, the lovely list goes on! A lot of people get to uni and have had the pleasure of having never had to do any of that stuff, they get in that bountiful student loan, and within two weeks they’re into their overdraft and down to dried pasta and cereal for every meal. If like me, money seems to disappear from your bank account (not so) mysteriously, working out a strict weekly budget can really help you when it gets to the last bit of term and you’re crying to your mum on the phone because you can’t even look at another pot noodle.

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First of all rent, obviously, the best thing to do is pay that rent straight away, as soon as you have your loan, just pay it, it will hurt to see a thousand odd pounds go out of your bank but then at least you’ve paid for somewhere to live. Then all of those direct debits, Netflix, Spotify, whatever else has to come out, and an average for laundry spending. Then with all of that left over, divide it by the number of weeks till the next loan drops and hey presto! You’ve got a weekly budget that you can throw away on all the trash food and midnight amazon orders your heart desires!

Reading

You’re a student, no matter what you do, you’re going to be reading for the majority of your life now so get used to it. However for most, the reading list is so substantial and daunting, (and trust me, I’m a Lit student, I’ve been there) that they just give up and don’t read anything. They’re then faced with two terms of catch up reading to do when it comes to the revision period.

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Of course you can’t always control when you get your reading list so my next advice may be completely useless if you have a disorganised lecturer, but try as hard as you can to read ahead, only if just a few days before the lecture, it’s so useful. For literature students, there will be modules with a novel a week, take two of those at the same time, and you’ve got The Odyssey and Huckelberry Finn to read within the next three days on top of additional course reading and deadlines too, good luck with that one.

These are just a few ideas, and people’s brains work in entirely different ways! Experiment with your studying, you may find something really creative that works especially well for you. Let’s be real though, we all front like we’re totally on top of things and then around week five we go back to being the terrible, disorganized monsters that we are. Most importantly though, buy cute stationary!

A Film Icon at Essex

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Much has been written on the spirit of revolution at Essex, and if you’re a current student, or someone joining us who has done their research, you’re probably aware of the history of rebellion and revolution that has gone on around our Colchester campus, that really earns us the tagline, ‘Rebels With A Cause’. What is lesser known is a pretty cool claim to fame in filmic history…

If like me, you’re a bit of a cinema snob, the likelihood is that you’ve probably heard of Jean Luc Godard. The extremely cool filmmaker worked predominantly in the 50’s and 60’s creating movies that trail blazed the French new wave movement such as Breathless and Masculin Féminin. His movies were rebellious, counter-cinematic and subversive of the conventions of mainstream film.

In 1968 Essex had its famous revolutionary festival, where students held protests, overtook the chancellor’s office, and drove a Fiat 500 into a fountain. Alongside all of this, we were also host to Godard during this time, for his shooting of British Sounds, a revolutionary television documentary which was banned from London Weekend TV for its controversial topics. It features Essex students creating protest banners during the festival along with other footage such as workers speaking about poor employment conditions.

While obviously as a university we don’t hold any particular political views, we do pride ourselves on being challenging and rebellious, it is for this reason that Godard’s historic presence here kind of makes sense and to me as a film student, the thought of such a cinematic god being historically present on our campus is one of my fave geeky facts about Essex.

 

The Wonders of the Uni Flat

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This is it! The key is in your hand, your mum is loaded down with bags and stacker boxes, and if you’re anything like I was, you feel like your heart is about to come out of your chest. It’s move in day. So, I’m here to settle some of those worries, with 8 reasons why living in campus accommodation can be an amazing way to spend your first year.

1. RA’s Are Wonderful!

Living in Uni accommodation, you will have a fellow student living in your building who is your RA (residence assistant). This means if you’re feeling unhappy and need someone to talk to, have any concerns, or if your housemate is refusing to wash up a bowl that is starting to grow its own species, they are there to help. In my first year I lived in Quays and our RA was amazing. She organised countless things to help us to get social; from a treasure hunt, to a trip to the cinema, to a gingerbread house decorating competition – which we totally won,  and were awarded Domino’s! Here’s our winning masterpiece:

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2.Not feeling the shame from your parents when you come in drunk and want to feast at 3am

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Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there before and we’re all likely to be there again. But when you come crawling home at 3 in the morning with pizza topping stuck to your cheek and you’re just craving some cheesy chips, it’s nice to be able to do it without eye rolls and tuts from your parents. Peace at last!

3.We’re all in the same boat *groan*

It is so annoyingly cliche, and when people try to reassure you about your uni fears by telling you that ‘all students are in the same boat’, you want to scream. Mainly because before you start uni, that boat for many, feels more like the ‘The Orca’ in Jaws, with a big old anxiety shark going at it hard. But there is something in the cliche! The best way to embrace the fear of isolation at uni is to realise that literally everyone is the new kid! So don’t feel like you’re a weirdo by being pally with your new flatmates, they’ll be just as relieved as you are to be talking and getting to know people. So it ends up Less:

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And More:

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4.Find Your People

Of course I can’t guarantee you’re going to always be skipping in circles holding hands with your fellow uni flatmates, but if like me you are lucky enough to end up with great people in your flat, uni accommodation can feel like an endless sleepover. A lot of time was spent in our pyjamas, watching Undateables and laughing at cringey guys on each other’s Tinders. (There was also a hair dying incident but let’s not talk about that.)

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5. The Kitchen Time Sinkhole

Sometimes you just need a good chin wag. In our flat there was some kind of time anomaly, you’d go in there to make yourself a quick dinner at 5pm, get talking nonsense with your flatmates and all of a sudden it’s midnight and you’re all sat around in a circle talking about whether you think ghosts are real…

Uni kitchens are such a social hub, and in them, the world has been put to rights in many ways shapes and forms, for instance, ranking the best outfits on Menswear Dog’s Facebook page, or deciding whether ostriches would make good mounts to ride into battle.

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6. OMG Uni is so close

Admittedly, for anyone living in the Quays at Essex, uni is still a fairly far walk away, BUT then you’ve got Subway and Domino’s right next door, so it softens the blow of that bridge. For the other accommodations, campus is on your doorstep! Living in the South Courts or Towers, you can roll out of bed and into a lecture in minutes! However you might not understand how great this is until you move off of campus and have the horrible realisation that having to walk places is a thing. 

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Legit me on the way to 9AMs now I live off campus

7. Independence/Security Balance

What is really nice about university accommodation is that for a lot of people this is their first taste of adulting and independence. That can be really daunting, but living in a uni flat, having an RA, an accommodation office, and for most of the accommodations, cleaners that do the hallway and kitchen, you don’t feel like you’re in at the deep end; there is support there, and it also feels super safe being surrounded by so many other people.

8. Inside Jokes That No One Else Finds Funny

Probably mainly caused out of coursework stress and delirium, the stupidest things become hilarious, including sneaking terrible crayon drawings of Shia Labeouf under someone’s door, or leaving lonely hearts adverts on the tortillas that need eating up, or changing your flatmates name to Dave and refusing to call her by anything else.

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You’re bound to feel nervous until you get here, but I hope this has at least helped turn some of the nerves into excitement! You’ll love it when you get here!