How about a mini-trip to Wivenhoe?

A few weeks ago I realised that it’s been a while since I last went to see Wivenhoe. It may be that deadlines kept getting the best of me, but that is no excuse. So, a few days ago I decided to go on a mini-trip and see once again what the town has to offer. Wivenhoe is gorgeous and that is why I decided to share some of my love for it with you. Here are some of my favourite things about the town!

A 15-minute bus ride will take you straight to the heart of Wivenhoe, but if you really want to get the feel of the town, I highly recommend walking. There is a route you can take that just follows the river all the way to town which is absolutely beautiful! Once you get there, go for a stroll along the pier and enjoy the scenery. What I always do is stop by at one of the local cafes to grab something hot and then enjoy it near the docks. And, since the town itself is quite small, it’s always peaceful and quiet no matter when you visit it, which makes me love it even more.

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After you are done looking around the docks, I recommend heading towards the heart of the town. The streets themselves are small and quaint, leading into each other which may feel a bit a bit confusing, but don’t worry, after the first 30-minutes, you will definitely get used to it! Near the train station, an art gallery has opened less than 2 years ago. The building caused much stir for being strictly modern and their exhibitions reflected the same attitude. Their exhibitions consist of a wide range of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and pottery of East Anglian and nationally famed artists. So, if you have an interest in art, this is the right place for you!

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And if all that travelling made you hungry, I highly recommend trying out Valentino’s restaurant. This one is a family business and its main focus is Italian food. It has a very traditional look to it and the staff are very friendly. Bonus points: they also make the best lasagna I have ever tried in my life!

 

Obviously, this is just a small part of the town, but hopefully, as you explore, you will also find places that will make you fall in love with Wivenhoe! 🙂

Colchester’s hidden gems

I can’t believe it’s already been over a year since I first stepped foot in Colchester. I remember my first few days at uni, excited to explore every bit of the town. I don’t know about you, but I have always been the kind of person that loves to explore. So today I decided to give you a glimpse of the lesser-known things that I discovered and love about Colchester!

Aburi Japanese Restaurant

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This hidden gem is definitely my favourite place to eat in Colchester. If you are into sushi, ramen or anything in between then this is the perfect place for you! I am usually very picky when it comes to sushi, but this place has never disappointed me. The atmosphere is also a very relaxing one. They usually have slow paced music playing in the background and the design of the place is simply stunning. That and the friendly members of staff make this place my ‘go to’ every time I feel the need to spoil myself a bit. My recommendation for you would be the ‘teriyaki bento box’ ( which has salmon and chicken). It is a very decent price and it tastes amazing!

Layer Marney Tower

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I could bet money that most of you have never heard of this place! Although not very known to the public, I feel like this place is immensely superior to the Castle Park castle. Built around 500 years ago, this place is the tallest Tudor Gatehouse in England. The 80ft tower is well worth the climb as it offers a spectacular view of the Essex countryside. Also, the gardens around the castle are superb, which is why I think this is such a great place to visit in the company of a loved one. So if you feel like escaping from the daily routine, go ahead and try a spontaneous afternoon visit to the Tower. You will not regret it!

Hollytrees Museum

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If you are a person who loves art, the museum is one of the perfect places for this! This Georgian townhouse features over 300 years of history through hands-on exhibits and displays. Most of the displays are in regards to what family life was like for the wealthy and the penniless in Georgian and Victorian Colchester. The thing that I enjoyed the most, though, was the fact that they offer costumes to the visitors and anyone can dress up as a servant. Just imagine seeing a museum filled with people roaming around in Victorian clothes talking in a very posh British accent. And if that wasn’t enough, they offer free entry to pretty much everything – so I highly recommend giving this place a go!

 

Essex summed up in 3 photos

There are so many note-worthy places on our lovely Colchester campus that are particularly good for Instagram (I’m looking at you, No.64 bus with lakeside view), but to really sum up the Essex experience, I’ve picked these three:

The Towers

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I think that the first thing I have to mention is our Towers. Looking at the campus map, the high grey buildings are surely among the first things that you notice.

Did you know that the Towers were the highest brick buildings in the UK during the time they were constructed? How cool is that?! There are 6 towers in total, 4 North Towers and 2 South Towers. Housing 16 students per floor in South Towers and 13 students per floor in North Towers, they are definitely the most social and fun places to live at on campus! They are the most special as well, since you get 13-16 instant friends when you move in, and since 40% of our campus is international, you are bound to end up in a flat with people from all over the world!

It is true that our Towers might look a little rough around the edges, but they are so prominent at our university that it is impossible not to mention them.

Campus cat

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If there is anything ever more ICONIC to our beloved University than our Campus Cat, name it, I’ll wait. He has been roaming our campus for about 3 years now, and in 2014 we discovered that he has an owner in Greenstead and that his name is Pebbles! Fortunately, Pebbles is still blessing us with his presence and we are more than happy with that. Pebbles, being the icon that he is, is able to go anywhere in the university and none can stop him. In other words – he is our king and we serve him, because he is too cute not to be served. You are able to see him strut peacefully throughout the squares, getting all the attention like the true star that he is. I dare say Pebbles is the most loved member of staff and student body alike and I am sure many would agree with me, too. If you are lucky and fast enough, you can catch him on one of the sofas in the Tony Rich Teaching Centre and pet him or give him the occasional belly rub – he really likes those.

Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall

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Ah yes, our beautiful mirror-like Ivor Crewe Lecture Theatre. Or as Prince Charles once called it, our “dustbin” building. I know what you are thinking now – how cool is it that our Lecture Building was royally nicknamed! During your time at our lovely university, you are probably going to see a lot of this building. And not just because of its “LOOK AT ME I’M HERE” kind of appearance, but also of all the 9 am and 5 pm lectures you are going to have there. It surely is a special and nostalgic place for an Essex student. Your first time at the Ivor Crewe will be during Fresher’s week, at the Fresher’s Welcome Speech with all the first years in the same room, knowing hardly anyone, and your last time there will be during your Graduation, among all your university friends that will be more like a family by then, than just friends. That’s why the Ivor Crewe is so special, it’s your starting point, but also your finish line.

 

Sports opportunities to take on this term

I can’t believe we’re already in to our second term; this academic year has certainly been a hell of a ride for me, but looking back now, it all went by so quick! When it first started I wanted to try out so many things, I wanted to join a society and a sports club and to go travelling and so much more, but no matter how good my time management was, I couldn’t really do all of them. But what I did manage to do is have an in-depth look at the sports club that the uni offers. The number of sports clubs available right now is amazing, with over 50 categories to choose from.

Today I want to talk about some certain opportunities organised by the Just Play team, that are either around just a short while each year or they just happen to be very low key. They don’t require any sort of commitment, so I highly recommend trying at least one of them!

Ice Skating

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The SU organises sessions every year for anyone interested in Ice Skating! They will take you to Chelmsford with a minibus (so you don’t need to worry about transport!) and the sessions usually last for approximately an hour. The tickets are very cheap and it’s a lot of fun, especially if you go with a bunch of your friends. If you have never skated before, don’t be scared! I went there in December for the very first time, and although I struggled to stay on my feet for a good 10 minutes, (and fell on my booty a few times) I shortly got the hang of it and it was a lot of fun!

Tickets usually sell out a few days before the event, so if you are interested, make sure to book those tickets on SU’s website as soon as possible!

Swimming

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I don’t know about you, but swimming is my favourite sport of all time! To be honest, I can barely stay afloat, and sometimes I almost drown, but I enjoy every piece of it (ok, maybe not the drowning part). The SU currently has a partnership with Colchester Leisure World, which means you can go and swim for free between certain hours just by booking your place online. I have already gone there 4 times and the pools are amazing. I would recommend anyone to give it a go if they love water at least half as much as I do!

Have a look at SU’s website for details on how to book your ticket.

Oh, I almost forgot! If you don’t know to swim at all and you would be interested in taking some swimming lessons, the SU has you covered as well. You can sign up for a 9 week long swimming course for beginners, for only £30 ( which is just over £3 per session).

I hope this post helped and I wish you all best of luck this term!

Best places to travel to as an Essex student

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

Norwich

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

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

Cambridge

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

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

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Paris

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

Also, if you are lucky enough to be from the European Union (and under 26), you get free entry to all museums and major tourist attractions on the first Sunday of each month. So, if you ever decide to go on a trip to Paris, that might be worth knowing 🙂
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There you go! Three places to visit when you aren’t revising! Paris could wait a bit, but I definitely recommend you to try out Norwich and Cambridge. I’m hoping to visit Cambridge as soon as I possibly can!

Is there life after the Christmas break?

Christmas is over and the start of term is nearly here, so I bet there are lots of us out there wondering: is there life after Christmas?

We sadly have to wake up and smell the early mornings:  the winter break is gone and now, the next term is soon to start. Time may start to go a little slower as lectures and seminars recommence and Christmas will start to become a distant memory. But are things really that bad?  For the start of a new year, I think it’s important to remember that every day can be a pleasant time if you fully concentrate on the moment making each of those moments important in our life. In the end, this is what life is about: to live and appreciate the world.

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As a student, this can feel tricky. You probably have to hand in some assignments right on the first day of the term, the first 9 am of the week is a mission impossible and you’re no Tom Cruise, and rather than enjoying some tasty home-cooked food like you’ve had for the past few weeks, you now have to actually fend for yourself and no matter how hard you try, your cooking NEVER tastes as good as your mum’s!

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It’s true, it is tricky. But all you need to do is to look at things from a different perspective. It takes just a mental effort to wake up from your melancholy.

You have the chance to come back and start your year off right. Take care of yourself;  get up a little earlier, stroll on to campus and enjoy the beauty of a winter morning; treat yourself to tasty ingredients and try a new recipe; grab a friend and go for a jog (if nothing else, it makes for a good laugh!).

There is so much fun that’s waiting for you, new challenges and so many new things to discover.

And if by chance, none of these suggestions makes you feel better, just remember, Christmas is coming anyway in approximately 50 weeks 😉

How I have spent my Christmas at uni

Ahhh, I still remember the day I had to bid farewell my hallmates as they returned home for the Christmas holidays. Back then I was partly happy knowing that I would have the flat all to myself and have all the peace and quiet in the world, but at the same time I knew I would miss the busy atmosphere that once governed the flat. Weirdly enough, staying on campus over Christmas wasn’t as gloomy as I expected it to be. So here are some of the activities that kept me busy over the break and that I fully recommend if you are ever far away from home:

I visited the Colchester Christmas Market

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Since I have never been to a Christmas Market before, I was curious to find out what it was really like here in the UK and oh boy, the amount of people I found there was ridiculous. I don’t think I have ever seen Colchester that packed! Everyone seemed to be so warm and welcoming. Everywhere you looked, you could see children running around and couples holding hands. Besides that, the Christmas market was as magical as I had imagined: bright lights, great food and loud carols. All of these made the atmosphere unforgettable, and, although I went to it by myself, I can’t say there was a moment when I felt alone.

I attended a Christmas party

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Who says you need to be home to have a proper Christmas feast? I spent half of Christmas day cooking together with two of my best friends in one of the flats in South towers. The occasional mulled wine and Christmas playlist made us all forget, even though for a short time, how far we actually are from home. We laughed about all the dumb things we did this year and about how they brought us together, we watched cheesy movies and played computer games till the point we could barely stay awake.  I ate an insane amount of food and got the most random presents ever, but if I could go back and do it again I wouldn’t change a thing.

I had the library all to myself

Doing Psychology is not as easy as everyone thinks it is. With one test on the first Tuesday of second term and two more essays in the week that follows, you come to realise that the Christmas holiday is not all fun and games. With the library being pretty much empty for the entire Christmas break, I took advantage of this time to catch up with my notes and finish my assignments. The quiet and calm atmosphere, plus the amount of books available to me, led to me being more productive than I ever thought I’d be (I went through 670 pages of Stats in a week. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is!).

Remember everyone, Essex isn’t just for life…it’s for Christmas too!

New Year’s Resolutions

Despite what all the things that happened this year, we changed. We accessed knowledge throughout time and we continued a long process of growth. We gained experience and memories. Everyone complains about 2016. “It’s been a bad year! Everything Went wrong”. Not really. Just because we were witnesses to what happened that does not truly define us. We discovered powers and resources within us that cleared our path, and we fought, stubbornly focused on our cause.

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It’s true, some things went wrong. The journey was almost terrifying, but we almost made it. Right now our mission is to make sure those mistakes never happen again. Even though, ironically, we always seem to learn more from our mistakes than from our achievements.

As a student, I realised that hard work is paid in long run, and the results are not always that high as we expected. I learnt that asking for help in order to improve is alright. I learnt to work with others and to joke with people that have the same sense of humour that I have. This year I could experience both freedom and fear. The thrills are still running on my spine and make me smile because I know that this year I’m stronger and more prepared to work on my abilities. That’s what I learnt in 2016. To take full responsibility for my choices, to relax and think carefully, to spend time with my friends, to be hopeful.

However, the state in which the world left us is quite worrisome. Global warming, Syria conflicts, Trump, Brexit. We had everything. 2016 showed me that everything is possible, and everything is predictable if you open your eyes for a moment. As a second-year student, I feel more confident, but more cautious at the same time. I find it fascinating how the world is able to create such a nice composition of elements. It’s both a surprise and a moment to remember.

But let us not worry, ahead awaits 2017, a promising year (hopefully!)  🙂

The best and the worst of 2016

It’s almost the end of the year, which means a whole year passed and we grew up but the speed and the intensity of some moments in 2016 have probably changed us for life. This  year has shaped our thinking, our environment and, in  our lives in the near future. I decided to create a list of good and bad moments in 2016 that I felt affected me the most.

I became a member of residence life

After one year spent at Essex I became really close to its sense of a family community, so I decided to get involved and help others. ResLife was a good start. I had the chance to develop my skills and make so many friends in such a warm environment. While I was a bit tense and pretty nervous at the beginning, I became friends with all my hall residents. We had lots of fun together and almost didn’t feel the past two months pass by.

Emotions

The most emotional moment and long awaited event in 2016, after “Me before you”, was Leonardo di Caprio winning the Oscar. To be honest, I think I would have given Leo the Oscar when he starred in Titanic. But I guess he realised that not even his death is enough to give him the prize! Eventually, he came back, as a revenant, and ‘of horse’ he had to win. Talent and hard work have been rewarded after such a long time when others would have lost their hope. This motivated me to work hard, despite any set backs.

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Politics

It’s terrible to bring up so many memories especially when they were not very pleasing. Politics disappointed us all. Whether we understand or not, this affected us. Two main events that not only made us concerned but also surprised us, were Brexit and Trump being elected president. Sounds and feels like a lot to take in. Some people were angry, some were pretending to be indifferent and, of course, some were pleased. Some say the end of the world is coming, others sit and like memes about it all. Brexit wasn’t serious until it happened, and Trump was funny until…well, until it wasn’t.

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Uni work.

The old saying ‘Deadlines are coming’ is used by a great deal of students.  Some students have 2 deadlines in a day and never enough time to finish. This is the time when Faser is not to be trusted for its speed, and the amount of unhealthy food, coffee and energy drinks are at dangerously high levels. But neither of these are your main problem. You calculated your study time to every second, including the time spent on toilet scrolling on 9gag.  If you study 10 days, 10 hours each day,  you could easily finish everything. Cut the sleep to get extra time. And guess what happens?! You start both of your assignments in sweat and tears, a day before the deadline. Guess what happens next? That morning you wake up with the worst flu you’ve had in 200 years. The pain is increasing and the struggle is real. You cry every time you look at your bed because you know you have to stay awake until you finish. Skipping this torture, you end up at 8 o’clock, two hours before deadline, with 2 masterpieces. Not really, but you still submit them. Now we are safe. The flu lasted for another 3 days. Luckily no upcoming deadlines. That was intense.

So here we are few weeks until Christmas and the term’s end is quickly approaching. Nothing to worry about. I mean…what other worse could happen in the remaining time of this year? Right?!

 

 

Best and worst presents you can get this Christmas

Prepare yourselves! Christmas is coming!

Remember why we used to love Santa so much? Yep. You got it right: presents. Christmas is all about showing your loved ones how much you care and how much you treasure them. And it’s also that time of the year when it doesn’t have to be your birthday to receive a kickass present from your family (hmm, not that I would know. I keep getting Amazon vouchers as a Christmas present for the past 3 years. Thanks mum).

Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to buy anything I want for myself, but I think the classics are still the best option. Everyone complains about the classic Christmas jumpers from relatives; it seems that when you don’t know what to offer as a present, a woollen jumper is the solution! I seem have a habit of either getting or buying a Christmas jumper every year. By now I already have 7. I even have one with a reindeer on it where if you touch its nose Christmas music starts playing! I will let you decide on this one. Worst present or best present? Honestly, I would count it as the best worst present you can get.

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Source:http://www.tesco.com/direct/ff-light-up-reindeer-christmas-jumper/783-7707.prd

If you decide to stay on campus over Christmas, you will come to realise that one of the best presents you can get is food. Good food. A lot of food. I can’t make a detailed description of the cuisine, because honestly, anything is good. And if it’s homemade… well, that’s even better!

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On the other hand, no matter how willingly you accept every present without making any mean judgment, there are few things you simply can’t accept.  I mean, I would be pretty confused to get a book on Chinese culture written in Chinese or some freaking dental floss ( I brush my teeth, okay?). Until now I thought I’m really unlucky when it comes to Christmas presents, so I amused myself finding out that other people were more disappointed than me:

‘I once received a toilet seat.’

‘A bar of soap.’

‘A book titled 101 Wines Under $5.’

‘I got my own Christmas gift back the next year.’

So, next time when you receive a present make sure you appreciate its value and use. And if you don’t like it, don’t worry, you have an entire year to prepare your revenge. 😉

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