Bizarre Happenings That You May Hear About At Essex

 For the most part, our beloved University of Essex can be considered pretty ready for any weird and wonderful goings on,  there still have been some… let’s say, “incidents” that have reportedly happened over the years – mostly due to the students being … creative. Here are some examples, some rumoured, some true, of the shenanigans that have taken place on our Colchester campus.

*Disclaimer, just to repeat some of these are just rumours so don’t get too worried, no ducks were harmed in the writing of this blog post.*

*Rumour* Ducking Around

Here at Essex we love the ducks, whether they’re roaming the greenery around the lakes, or on Square 3 or 4 quacking at you for food scraps, listening in to your conversation while you chat with your friends. Alongside Pebbles, we couldn’t ask for better animal ambassadors. They’re super cute seeing them waddling around and for the most part live in a happy coexistence with campus life, so it’s best to just leave them be and let them get on with their important ducky business.

BUT!

There was a rumour going around that…oh God. I can’t even write it. There was a rumour going around that one student caught a duck and then cooked it in their kitchen. Now, the validity of this story is doubtful, and our ducks are pretty feisty, so I’m unsure as to how easy a feat this would be, and besides,  look at those innocent little faces!

ducks

*True!* Square 4 Fountain disaster

As inscribed on the plaque which can be found on the fountain base (now filled with shrubbery) reportedly, one of the students liked the fountain that was located on Square 4 SO MUCH, that he drove his Fiat 500 into it.

So now there’s this garden thing in the fountain and we have trees there that have lights on them. It’s still pretty…just in a non-fountain way. And what is best is this actually happened! As part of the revolutionary movements that famously took place in Essex in the swinging sixties, one student did in fact park his car in the fountain and if you click here you can read a little bit more about it and the revolutionary festival that took place.

dav

 

*Rumour* “Find Your Way” faux-pas

So, to give everyone a bit of context, Find Your Way is an official app of the University of Essex, that lets you input your starting point and destination and finds the best route for you. It’s like a little google maps for the Uni. It’s very handy, especially in the first few weeks when you just see the class number 5A.300 and you’re just like “What?.” To be honest, although it’s my second year here, I still use it on a weekly basis.

But getting back to what happened! Reportedly, a student was coming from the Constable Building, which is next Wivenhoe House, and they wanted to know how to get to a certain classroom. They put it in the app and it showed a straight like from their point, THROUGH THE LAKES, to the classroom. Fun stuff. Reportedly it was just a glitch and it was fixed immediately. The story remained a funny one and people still talk about it from time to time.

*True* There was one student however, who did manage to go straight through the lake (in a manner of speaking) during welcome week 2016. One student managed to bring and inflate a rubber dingy to the lake by the Silberrad centre, successfully rafting  towards the fountain before being politely asked to vacate by security!

lakes

So I hope these stories made you laugh (or at least chuckle), because even though we seem perfect (and we actually are), we are not (that’s a lie). If you guys have any funny moments to share, leave them down below in the comment section and share them with us. I mean, what is life without a little fun 🙂

Let’s get social: what to do and where to go!

SU Bar

The SU Bar is the Holy Grail of student life here. I feel like, in some way, it is the heart of the uni. There are times where after a lecture or an exam you just need to relax, and the SU Bar is perfect for that. It’s always nice to get a pint after a hard day of work. The comfy couches are definitely a plus! If you need something a bit more lively, you can always go to Milk It and sing karaoke with people – it is literally the most fun ever!

Sub Zero/Base

If you are a dancer or a clubber, you will love Sub Z and Base. The music is always on point and you can dance the night away. There is also an area to sit down and to have a chat, or you can even go outside and get some fresh air after dancing all night. People are very friendly here and it is easy to strike up a conversation and make new friends.

Happy Days/Frango’s/Fusion/Canteen

I literally cannot tell you how many times I have made new friends just while waiting for my food! I think I get most talkative when I am hungry and I think this is proven by the fact that I met 2 of my closest friends while waiting for food in Happy Days 😀 It was a match made in heaven (heaven = Happy Days)!

Squares

The squares are literally always buzzing with life – day and night. During the day you might join an African bongo band and play away, or at night you might join a group of people and enjoy the night with them – university makes it strangely easy to interact with people. There were numerous times when I had no plan for the night, I went to the store to get something and I ended up sitting in Square 3 with a group of people that are still, to this day, my friends!

A letter to EU and International students: leaving home and arriving in Colchester

Dear EU and International students,

I am sure you are very excited to join our international family of students and staff, but there may also be some nerves kicking in at the thought of leaving your home and the country you have grown up in. It wasn’t long ago that I was getting ready to leave my home to start University here. I remember I was so scared – all the way from applying for the course to taking the bus to the University in October was terrifying. But when I actually arrived and saw all the freshers and all the people that greeted us and helped us, I felt so relieved. It may sound strange to you, but seeing all those people, all the nationalities and cultures, and all the chaos that goes along with the first day, I just felt this sense of belonging because I knew that everyone felt that the same way as I did; the university was here to help us in any way they could, so that we all felt as at home here as possible. In just the first week, we had like three international student socials! It was held in The Hex and you could meet fellow students from all over the world.

During Welcome Week, there are loads of events put on, everything from disco nights and introductory lectures to people putting stalls up in the squares to get to know the freshers.

freshersfair

But the most famous of all events during Welcome Week is the Fresher’s Fair. It is THE event of the week. You go to the squares, or should I say squeeze yourself to the fresher’s fair, because there are so many people it’s unbelievable. Across the 5 squares, you will see nothing else than stalls everywhere and just loads…like LOADS of people. Each stall represents a different organisation, society or sports club. That includes stalls from, for example, the Red Cross, the Rugby Team all the way to the Romanian Society. Meaning if by any chance you are struggling to find friends, just join a society, team or organisation and there you go! 20 to 50 instant friends! Also, if you are not into any sport or activity society, you can join societies of your own nationality! And if by any chance (a very small chance I might add) there is not a society for yours, you can always create one.

If you have doubts even after all I have told you, don’t worry. I have the ultimate ace up my sleeve…we are the 15th most international university in the WORLD. Not even in England, in the whole wide WORLD!

Lastly and most importantly, please remember that if you feel anxious or even scared, there are thousands of people feeling just like you and they are heading to Essex just like you. We are here for you and ready to help you in any way, shape or form. We are all one family.

Yours truly,

Dragos

Best places to study on campus

Ah yes, the student life. Studying day and night. And since you can’t be locked up in your room all the time, you need a good place to study!

Of course, there is the Library, where you might spend most of your time. I sure do – all day, every day. Don’t get me wrong, our library is great – 5 floors of pure goodness + undergraduate and postgraduate reading rooms; but it does get boring and repetitive sometimes. So here are a few alternative places where you might enjoy studying instead

Student Centre

silberrad

Our new Student Centre is amazing. Truly. It is open 24/7 and there for the taking. That means that you can go there at 4 am like it’s no big deal (not that you would…).

On the ground floor, it’s full of computers and study pods with projectors, where you might enjoy studying with friends. The pods are also separated by plastic walls you can draw on! How cool is that?! On the second floor there are loads of computers, but also individual study spaces for you to use and enjoy. If you do not like sitting at a desk, don’t worry; there are a bunch of sofas there as well for us lazy ones.

Zest/Orangery

zest

Located on Square 3, Zest is a vibrant and stylish café and is a great place to visit during the day with your friends. They offer breakfast, cakes, Costa coffee (the best), tea and loads of other drinks ranging from presses to bottled drinks.

Adjoining Zest is the very-helpful Orangery, which features study pods just like in the Student Centre. What is different about these pods, though, is the fact that you can enjoy all the beverages and food that you buy at Zest, right in your pod! So if you fancy a coffee or tea, want to study but you’re not really feeling the SC or the Library – pop in here and enjoy the café vibes while you study. You won’t regret it!

North Teaching Centre

Our new North Teaching Centre is located right in between the North Towers, therefore it is very easily accessible by people who live in the North Towers or Houses. There are a bunch of classrooms there and while you might not be able to access them while there is a lecture, you can always be in the hallway. Yep. You read that right. Right as you go up the stairs, on whichever floor, there are big tables next to the wall with screens mounted on the wall so you may use them as you wish. They are great for a group study session or if you just need more space for your materials. And as I mentioned, they are located right in BETWEEN North Towers, so if you are going to live there next year, you can just pop down there in your pyjamas and study (we don’t judge).

Squares

squares

Ah yes, the ever-so-busy squares. There have been multiple times where I have seen people sitting on the benches on Square 3, or sitting on the ex-fountain-garden top on Square 4 and studied, especially when it’s very sunny outside. Truth to be told, I would not be able to study there since it very busy and I can’t even hear a fly when I am studying, but hey – different strokes for different folks, as they say.

SU Bar

sy

Our beloved SU Bar is always full on action. Whether it’s a lazy Saturday morning and they have live music sessions, or if it is a wild karaoke night, you can always count on the SU Bar. Some people, after they are done with their classes, go to the Bar, get a coffee and work on their writing while watching a football match on TV or something of that sort. I have to say, it is quite calming to know that coffee is literally five steps away from where you work.

Now that I have mentioned just a few places to study at our University, I hope all of you will be motivated to work even more and make your uni family proud! Now go and get those firsts!

Living in halls after your first year

Oh, our lovely campus!

Our uni offers a wide range of accommodation, aiming to match any taste. It is common knowledge that all first-year undergraduates get campus accommodation and following that most just choose to move off campus. But what happens with those that wish to stay?

Under specific circumstances, the uni still offers priority to you. Are you an international student? You are in luck! You will get priority and will have high chances of staying on campus for your second/final year. Additionally, if you are coming back from a year abroad, you still benefit from this priority.

Don’t seem to have any of the above traits? Have no fear, there is still a chance for you! Although first years have absolute priority, the uni holds a certain number of rooms for second/final year students and postgraduates. Sadly, the applications for next year have closed, but, for future reference, it is a very good idea to sign up as soon as the applications start. The system works on a first come first serve basis, so don’t wait for too long if you wish to secure your room!

Essex_Colchester-Campus

Phew! We got that one covered. What’s left now is, well, what to expect. I know most of you are thinking: “Ugh, am I gonna have to live with freshers again?” Thankfully, no! The uni does everything possible so that freshers and ‘non-freshers’ do not share the same flat.

“Ok, well what about the atmosphere?”

I happen to know a lot of second and third years that still stay on campus, and it is always fun to hear their stories. Most say that the flats are very quiet as most give up the nightlife for extra study time, or extra sleep (yes, I am talking about you postgraduates). Likewise, many others say they love it because it is ridiculously close to everything on campus.

For me, this is the second year I’ve spent in Towers, and so far, it has been a unique experience! It has had its ups and downs for sure, but looking back on it, I don’t regret a thing.  What do you think? Would you consider staying on campus for another year? Let me know in the comments below!

 

What to look forward to this Summer Term

I know what all of you are probably thinking right now: “What could we possibly look forward to during summer term? There’s too many exams!” And you would be right…partially. For many, the summer term is quite stressful because of all the exams that are coming. However, our amazing university is trying every year to make this time as easy  as possible. In what follows, I created a list of the things that our uni organises yearly, to make the exam experience feel less stressful, and also some activities that you can do by yourself.

Exam Angels

I do not know who they are, I do not know where they come from, but these people are heroes. HEROES I SAY.

Since everyone knows a hungry student is a sad and stressed student, they are trying to help us by giving us stuff. Free stuff. Exam Angels are people who go around campus and give out water, food and fruit, because they are that cool and loving and caring. You can catch them during exam time around the squares. During previous years, they also brought puppies around because well…we need a cuddle or two during exam time, let’s be honest. Truth to be told, if that is going to be happening this year, I am just going to be creepily following them everywhere. #noshame

angels

The Lakes

And I hear you ask: “But Dragos? What about the lake? I can’t swim in it, so what good is it going to be?” I hear you my friend, trust me, so let me tell you a secret (which is not even a secret but I wanted to sound cool): every year around finals time there is a bridge built on the surface of the lake so you can walk on it and everything. BUT NOT JUST THAT…there’s a castle on it too. Yup. You read that right. A freaking bouncy castle because we are 12. I dare say it is the MOST FUN I have had in years. Just going there after revision to destress and jump around with your friends – it’s the best feeling ever.

lakes

Summer Ball

Ah yes, the Summer Ball. The only social event every student is truly looking forward to during the Summer Term. The Summer Ball is the time to relax, dress fancy and pamper yourself before going full-on party mode up in there. You go there, you get yourself a glass of champagne (because, yes, we are fancy), and you celebrate the year of constant battles of papers that you have been through and survived. It is an amazing opportunity to be with your friends and relax after the exams are officially over.

summerball

Warm weather

Mother nature is truly amazing. I have never seen as many people sunbathing, playing Frisbee, and just out and about, as I have seen during the summer term around the lakes. Some people just have a little picnic there, others have full on study sessions there with their friends – and not going to lie, it is kind of motivating to see that. I did it last year too and it felt so good to be out, laying in the sun and still being productive. As warm weather is sort of a rarity in UK, I highly recommend it!

warm

Here’s just a few things for you to enjoy. Good luck with your exams and enjoy the Summer Term!

Brain food: What you should eat to ace those exams

As the exam season is getting closer and closer I came to realise that one of the most important things that you need to take into consideration is what you’re eating. In the past, I used to eat quite a lot of unhealthy snacks like crisps and biscuits that I got from the Store, as they were a very easy (and tasty) alternative for a meal. This affected my productivity quite a lot as I felt tired most of the time, although generally, I would get more than enough sleep. So, I decided to share with you some healthy snacks that you can make to trick yourself into eating a bit healthier. They proved to be quite useful for me!

 

Chicken and Spinach Ciabatta Pizzas

spinach-chicken-pizza-2-700x450

A very simple and healthy recipe that has saved me so many times when I had to study. Feeling tired and do not want to do much cooking? Just stick some chicken (or you can just use some salami as well), cheese, pasta sauce and spinach/tomatoes in the oven, and in less than 15 mins you’ve got yourself a proper meal.

 

Fruit salad skewers

fruit-study-snack

Everyone knows fruits are a great study snack and making some fruit skewers, although it may seem like a tedious task, is a very good way to trick yourself to eat something healthy.

 

Nutella and banana sandwich

nutella-banana-1-700x450

Okay, maybe this one is not the healthiest of study snacks but it is definitely one that’s sure to give you a lot of energy for the day! Both the bananas and Nutella are a very good way to start off your day.

I hope this helps and you’re able to enjoy some tasty food during the long hours of revision!

5 tips to help you study for your exams

We’ve all been there! Three days before a deadline and you need to use all your energy to focus on your coursework. More often than not, in my case, procrastination kicks in, which leads to me doing everything the night before. Now, I like to think I got better at this thing called “university” and maybe became a bit more responsible, so in the hopes that you will not go through the same struggles I did, I made a list of the things that worked for me and improved my productivity this academic year!

1. Avoid any distraction

I don’t know about you, but I get so easily distracted. Once when I was doing my reading, I stopped and messaged a friend for an hour,  then went to take shower and after that I decided I was too sleepy to do anything else and ended up going to bed. So, it should not come a surprise that my first tip for you is to just turn off your phone (or at least the wi-fi) when you study. It helps so much!

2. Make sure you eat healthily

I know we are all students and eating healthy is not very realistic over long periods of time, but it would help immensely if you do it at least during the exam period. Eating fruits and making sure you get all the right vitamins in your body helps a lot! Food like walnuts, apples, blueberries and bananas improve your ability to focus, help you to retain information and remain mentally alert.

3. Get enough sleep

I know this may seem like common knowledge, but not many people seem to do this. It is more important to sleep properly the night before an exam rather than try to cram as much information as possible. I tried the cramming a few times and, although it worked the first two times, on the third test I just crashed. I could not remember anything of what I studied the night before and I almost failed. So make sure you are well-rested!

4. Use colours to help you study

One of the techniques that I found to be very helpful was just marking every one of my subjects with a different colour whenever I took notes. That way I could memorise them much faster. Simple things life markers and post-it notes can make a big difference if you actually take the time to use them.

1. Treat yourself!

After taking an exam or just spending an entire night to finish a coursework, just take a breather! Meet one of your friends for coffee, go to the cinema, or just take a well-deserved break before studying for your next assignment. You deserve it 🙂

 

Our diversity celebrated: One World Essex

One World Essex, the week filled with our appreciation towards our varied student body and their culture. So what was it all about?

Our colourful “One World Essex” week kicked off on Monday the 27th of February, where, as most of you know, we had an amazing Parade of Flags and Carnival on Square 3 and 4 – and not just that! The Squares were filled with music and students dancing and talking and representing their nations. It was literally impossible to miss because when you heard all the music and laughter, you just had to join!

flag

The even-better stuff came on Tuesday, though. The International Food Festival. Let me repeat that. INTERNATIONAL. FOOD. FESTIVAL. There was food everywhere on Square 3! You didn’t even need to know that it was on Square 3, you could just navigate yourself to the food by the amazing aromas filling campus! Stepping into the Square, you could see nothing else but loads of different stalls, each of them showcasing a different type of food, culture and nation. Just walking even close to the Square made our mouths water and bellies grumble! You probably guessed by now that we visited every stall and ate until we couldn’t even stand anymore.

After the amazing food from the Festival, we needed some music of course. And that’s exactly what we got on Wednesday at the International Concert. Our wonderful ISA brought us music from around the world. It was a night filled with music and dances brought to us by none other than our amazing international students.

map

We then had the Cultural Gala, on Friday the 3rd of March at the Hex. There I was able to meet our international student body and not only talked to them but also learnt a bit about their culture. And that should always come in handy, since Essex is one of the most international universities in the UK!

Last but definitely not least, our annual Essex Olympics took place! Keeping healthy is crucial and here, at our university, with all of our sports societies and Just Play sessions, you can do just that! We have a Sports Centre on campus where you can enjoy any sports you wish, and a new and improved one currently being built!

During One World Essex, we had a look at some of the most talented students that our uni has and it was amazing! It was fantastic to see our diverse, multi-cultural student body come together and celebrate each others’ heritage. Hope to see you there next year!

 

How my life has changed from college to university

I am sure I’m not the only one that is utterly shocked at the speed this academic years has flown by. Despite this being my second year here, it still doesn’t seem that long ago since I was back in college, studying a handful of A-levels and wondering what direction I wanted my life to go in! The step up to uni is one of the biggest transitions we’ve all had to make, and there were a lot of differences to college life that I certainly didn’t expect.

My constant need for extra sleep

During my A-level years, I could get up at 7 am, do a morning paper round, before completing a full 9 am to 3 pm day of classes, and still have the energy to hang out with my friends all evening. Oh, how things have changed! I have now reached a point where one to two hours of lectures leaves me yearning for my bed and a chance to recover. With the regular availability of alcohol combined with the deadlines constantly looming over your head, spending the early hours of your day productively has become more of a pipe dream!

Independent Working

No matter what A-levels you took, the style of learning and working will feel very different after experiencing those first few lectures or seminars. I realised that much of my subject knowledge was no longer understood in a classroom-style environment, but instead in my hours outside of the lecture theatres. Whether your course is mainly exam-based or filled with regular assignments, your time management and organisational skills will, eventually, reach a whole new level of ‘On Point’, even if that means occasionally working until 3 am bashing out a 2000 word essay the night before it’s due (not that I would know about that….).

Difference in Lifestyle

A big change many of us were probably preparing ourselves for well in advance was living away from home, whether it be on or off campus. I imagine many students, myself included, thought that having 3 well-balanced meals a day would be a simple part of uni life on top of the workload. And yet, I write this while planning my typical dinner of a piece of chicken with some plain rice, so clearly, I was mistaken! Add to this the need to do washing and clean up after yourself, and at times it just seems all too much! But despite it all, living with people that are going through the exact same struggles just makes it that bit more tolerable, and we find a way to survive.

Although this is just scraping the barrel when it comes to the reality of university life, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Having the opportunity to study something I love and feel the freedom that independence comes with is an experience like no other. Far gone are the monotonous days of college classes, and I’ve never been happier about it! Many of you will agree it is certainly a rollercoaster, but despite the ups and downs, you often feel like you never want it to end.