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!

University for Introverts

enhanced-26078-1439315868-1Congrats! You’re a clever sausage and bagged yourself a place at University! Three years of partying lay ahead of you! Supposedly…

But what about the people that aren’t quite as confident in throwing  themselves into the party lifestyle? Being an introvert at university can be really nerve wracking. For me, before I came to Essex I was extremely shy, and the fact that I had no choice but to make friends worried me to the point of considering not going to university. But hey! Here I am, in my second year, with a small but wonderful group of friends and a whole lot more confidence, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Don’t panic or feel rushed!

When you arrive at uni, you may feel like it’s a rush to grab the nearest person and make them your new BFF. As great as that can be, for the introvert it may not be that easy. But there really is no need to panic, or feel like you have to force yourself into friendships. Good friendships happen organically, they can’t necessarily be forced. While you may make friends in the first couple of weeks and that’s great, the probability is they may not end up your best mate for your entire time at uni. I met one of my best friends at uni in a seminar in first term, but it wasn’t until after Christmas that we did anything beyond see each other in class; the point is, these things take time. So don’t feel like a failure if you haven’t made a soul connection by the second week of freshers!

Societies

The likelihood is that you’ll be told copious times when you arrive, how important joining a society is. While it definitely isn’t essential and you shouldn’t feel like you’re failing as a student if you don’t, if you’re nervous about meeting new people and establishing yourself socially, societies can be an invaluable way of meeting people.

You don’t necessarily need to look too far!

Don’t underestimate the importance of your housemates! At the beginning of university especially, going on little expeditions with the people you live with can be a great way of learning more about each other while learning more about the new place that you’re living in. The best thing is, open your bedroom door, and they’re right there! You don’t even have to leave the house and that’s always a bonus.

Embrace your own company

In the least lonely and sad possible way, uni can be a great time to learn more about yourself and truly enjoy your own company. While I am in no way suggesting that you should lock yourself in your room for three years straight, don’t underestimate the value of having time to yourself. You are at uni to improve yourself. There is no shame in doing stuff on your own and throughout your life learning to be happy with your own company can be really valuable; there is one person who you will spend your entire life with and that’s yourself.  You don’t have to rely on other people’s company for entertainment! While of course, you need buddies to keep you afloat, and meeting new people is one of the best parts of uni, you don’t need to beat yourself up if you don’t fancy surrounding yourself with people 24/7. Besides, sometimes you can’t beat a good blanket and Netflix binge watch sesh!

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The moral of the story is: go out partying, stay in by yourself – whatever you want to do at uni, as long as you’re happy, we’re happy!

Results Results Results

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Not to freak you out but:

First Year: Tuesday 11 July 2017

Second and Final Years: Wednesday 5 July 2017

It’s the final countdown! If you’re an undergrad, you probably have a strange feeling in your stomach right now, it’s probably nerves, or fear, or dread, or a nice cocktail of the three. For second and third years, exam results are a mere 2 days away! First years, you’ve got a few more days yet, whether that’s a blessing or curse I don’t know!

There is no right or wrong way to deal with getting exam results, although I’m sure you’ve smashed it! But if you are uncertain about receiving your results, here are some things that have proven useful to me and my friends over the years.

A Good Setting

You don’t have to take this to the extreme, but if you’re super nervous about your exam results, it can prove useful to make sure you’re in a nice familiar spot, and your choice of company can make a massive difference with how you handle your results, it depends on the kind of person you are. You might want to celebrate or cry among friends or family or you may be like me and want to hide in a locked room out of sight to open your results. I had a friend during A-levels who had taken this to the extreme and scouted out a specific bench at the botanic gardens beforehand and retreated there like a monk to open his results email. You perhaps don’t need to be that dramatic but find a good setting, grab yourself a cuppa, breath and open the damn email, you got this.

Be considerate

When you receive your results, it’s super tempting to message all of your friends asking how they did, especially if you did really well and want to tell the world, which I can’t blame you for wanting to do! It’s a tricky one, because they probably feel exactly the same, and want to ask you too, so if you think it’s OK to ask, then maybe take a bit of time considering your approach, so you don’t seem like you’re just asking them so you can brag about your own.

Next Steps

The likelihood is you’ve probably done great on your exams, so happy days, time to get krunk. However there is a possibility that you aren’t as happy with your results and you may have to consider a retake, you can find information about that here or you may be able to appeal your results but you’ll need to read carefully up on it first.

Most of all…GOOD LUCK!!

‘Gap Year’s and ‘Gap Yah’s The Pros and Cons

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It’s tempting, I know. You’ve just come back from an amazing time finding yourself in Thailand, and of course you want to tell everyone about it because ‘riding an elephant was, like, totally life changing man’.

Don’t get me wrong, as a gap year student myself,  taking a year between the end of A-Levels and starting your degree can be  invaluable. If you want to earn some cash, go on an amazing trip, or simply take some time away from education for a while, gap year-ing can really help you change your perspective and give you a well deserved break (and besides you will have been in education for a good 12/13 years non-stop!).

The Benefits of  a Gap Year

For myself, my gap year gave me a bit more time to think, I had gotten to the end of my a-levels, and as many do, freaked out because I had no idea whatsoever what I wanted to do with my life! I had already been on some open days but was still completely clueless. Taking my gap year helped me realise that I wanted to go to uni for myself and not because everyone else at sixth form was going too.

Although it is just  a year, taking that time away to gain some more experiences just living your life does make a difference and can really help you feel like you have grown up a little bit more before that scary transition to university. Even if you don’t take a spiritual trip, scootering through Vietnam, as cliche as it may seem, a gap year really can help you find yourself a little.

Making some cash before you ship off to uni can also prove to be really useful, although nowhere near as fun as my friends who went backpacking. I spent my gap year waitressing, it was kind of boring and a tad soul destroying but in terms of money, I came to university not having to rely entirely on my student loan, which was really useful when it came to boozing during freshers and making the most of the freedom of first year.

BUT

A ‘Gap year’ and a ‘Gap yah’ are two very different things.

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Perhaps I’m just envious, ( I most definitely am) of my peers who were lucky enough to experience an amazing trip, but the issue with the Gap Yah student is not the gap year, or the lengthy trip you choose to take, it’s the amount you annoy everyone else about it.  Spoiler alert: not everyone wants to hear you brag about your tales of how ‘Ollie from your hostel had the best banter’.

You know the type. You’ve just  moved into uni accommodation, you’re in the kitchen, brewing a nervous cuppa, and your new flatmate comes in, spotting the koala bear on your mug and before you know it,  they’re spouting off all about how amaaaazing Australia was before you can even tell them your name.

The issue is the pretension and the bragging when it comes to recounting your gap year odyssey. While without doubt, your gap year was probably epic, it’s the way you deliver it to other students. It’s definitely worth being aware that not everyone is able to afford a massively extravagant gap year and so hearing you bang on about it can become really grating, plus, being a fresher at uni, your new friends have probably heard 8 other stories of how wild the beach parties are in Cambodia in the past week!

And if you think it’s just me being a bitter old woman, here’s Frank Turner’s I Really Don’t Care What You Did On Your Gap Year, which isn’t really anything to do with this article in terms of lyrics, but it’s a good song with a relevant title!