A Day in My Life

There’s often a kind of misconception of students that we tend to sleep all day and go out partying all night. And yeah, we might do those things sometimes, but we don’t only do those things. There is so much more to student life! My friends are always telling me I’m the busiest person they know because I get up to so much. To show you just how many opportunities there are to take advantage of at Essex, I’m going to run you through a day in my life. I’m going to give you a sneak peek into my Tuesdays. Tuesday sounds like a pretty random day, but it’s probably one of my favourites!

7:30 a.m. Wake Up

giphy

On Tuesdays I wake up quite early because I usually have to go to work in the morning. I’ll grab myself a bit of breakfast and make lunch (if I haven’t made it the night before) to save some money because I’m out all day.

9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Go to Work

I work part time in the admissions office at the University. I did my Frontrunner’s placement in the office before I went on my year abroad and I’m now back there doing some admin work. If you’re wondering what Frontrunners is, it’s the university’s on campus internship scheme. There are placements in loads of departments in the uni and in the students’ union. They’re a great way to earn a little pocket money and get some experience. The team I work with are great and are really flexible when it comes to needing to do my uni work.

12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Lecture

notes-macbook-study-conference.jpg

Let’s not forget about the degree here! I have a British Politics lecture which I really enjoy. I’ve found that as I’ve progressed through uni I’ve become more confident in talking in class discussions and I get so much more out of them when I take part. Usually the first hour is a lecture and then the second is getting together in small groups to discuss what we’ve learnt.

3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Volunteering

For the past few weeks I’ve been volunteering in a school helping kids learn about politics. This is something I’m really passionate about (especially because I’m a politics student)! We get given a topic each week to teach along with some activities for the kids. It’s up to us how we organise those activities though. I’ve come to realise that teaching  can definitely be a pretty tough job, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. If you want to get involved in volunteering the Essex vTeam has plenty of activities, from recurring opportunities to one off events.

7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sports

27356022_10216010587040937_796284244679394280_oThe rest of my evening is taken up by training. I am a member of both the hockey and ultimate frisbee clubs at Essex. After a busy day I love having a chance to get competitive and have a run around outside. Before uni, I was never really a sporty person which sounds a bit weird seeing as now I play two sports! I decided in my second year I’d give something new a go, so I started hockey and this year I’ve started playing frisbee too. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s definitely room for you in any of the sports clubs at Essex.

So, there you have it, a day in my life! I’ve managed to take advantage of so many of the opportunities at Essex which is one of the reasons I’m a pretty busy person. It’s up to you how much you get involved with all the activities outside of your degree but I definitely recommended trying stuff and getting stuck in!

Put Your Wellies On!

One of the things that I haven’t done in my almost four years (eek!) as an Essex student was volunteer with vTeam. The great people over at vTeam organise loads of volunteering opportunities for students to get involved with. There are regular projects and one off events. The other week myself and some of my pals from the hockey club went to go and volunteer on a farm. We were mainly excited to see some little baby goats but also to give something back to the community.

The day began pretty early with us heading to Wellies On. Wellies On is a care farm around a 15 minute drive from the uni. We were welcomed to the farm by Warren, the operations manager who told us what Wellies On was all about. It is a farm that combines the care of animals with the care of people. They work with people from various backgrounds, of different needs and abilities. Warren told us our first job for the day was to plant some sticks that would later grow into some beautiful hedges. It sounds like a pretty simple job right? Wrong! Well, at least for me because I forgot to actually plant my stick in the hole I’d just dug and filled in. I managed to fix it though and was told I had excellent stick planting skills. Not bad for a city girl!

27787407_1633701220040268_939230374_oVery proud of my planting skills

After planting our sticks we got to see some of the animals. Wellies On has goats, pigs, sheep, ponies and more. The cutest moment had to be watching the little pygmy goats bounce around after they had been fed. We were then able to have a look at all the others animals and were introduced to the farms oldest sheep at 17 years old! When I’m at uni I really miss my dogs at home so this was a great chance to fill the animal shaped hole in my life. We then had some lovely homemade soup for lunch and were told about our next job, and it was a smelly one!

27846314_1633701140040276_295095941_oSo cute!

The afternoon involved mucking out the barn. Not the best job but definitely more fun than you’d imagine! It was great working as a team because between us we got it done pretty quickly.

27836035_1633701256706931_1489079225_oGoat Selfie!

After some more time with the animals and taking lots of pictures it was time for us to head back to uni. We had such a fun time at Wellies On. Also it’s nice, as a student, to give back to the community. All of us make Colchester our home for the few years that we are here and vTeam is a great way to go out into the community that we are apart of and get stuck in. If you’re thinking of volunteering, or even if you’ve never thought about it, I’d definitely recommended giving it ago!

27946872_1853683351317501_1480602187_o They were friendlier than they look!

My Uni Journey

I’d be lying if I said university life was a walk in the park. I started at Essex in 2014 and since then there have been plenty of ups and downs, although I’m pleased to say that the ups definitely outweigh the downs! Every year that I’ve been here (and on my year abroad) has brought new friends, experiences and memories. Some of it has been difficult and some of it has made me feel incredibly grateful to be surrounded by such amazing people.

First Year

10347567_10206572375538981_4696727872925879174_n

I think this was probably the most scared I had ever been in my life at that point. Moving to a completely different  place where I new nobody was very daunting, even though everybody was in the same boat and the fresher’s excitement meant there wasn’t really much time to be homesick. I went from being quite shy to becoming much more confident in myself and loving my uni life. Of course there were the scary first uni essays and all nighters but I wouldn’t change a thing about my first year at Essex. My flatmates became some of my best friends.

Second Year

12748043_10153444276971517_4988004449559743022_o

As a second year uni student, I thought I had it down. I’d survived first year, so second year shouldn’t be that much harder right? Well, it was. I learnt I couldn’t get by as easily with the first year habits of doing everything last minute. I think the turning point for me was crying about an essay over chicken nuggets at midnight the day it was due. I know that sounds pretty funny and, in hindsight, it is. At the time though I felt like things couldn’t get worse, but I got through it and managed to finish second year with a place on the Dean’s List! For me, second year was definitely a bit of a roller coaster. I made more friends, drifted apart from others. I fell in and out of love for the first time. I tried new sports and got a placement that I loved where I still work now. I think this was the year that I felt like a proper adult, when I realised that sometimes things might not work out the way you want them to but that’s the way that they’re meant to be.

Year Abroad

IMG_20160903_144730804 croppedSo after successfully getting through second year I jetted off to spend my third year in Arizona. I was pretty nervous but completely by chance I was going with one of my best friends so we were in it together. Moving abroad was an absolutely amazing experience and I learnt a lot about myself, as cheesy as that sounds! Whilst America is an English speaking country, there definitely were some cultural quirks that took a while to get used to. I got to travel to places I’d always wanted to go, I even spent my 21st birthday in Las Vegas! One of my favourite moments was driving down Route 66 sat in the back of a truck and I just realised how lucky I was. Of course there was homesickness here and there, but the fun I had on my year abroad completely outweighed any of this. If you are thinking of doing a year abroad though, keep in mind that you are actually there to study and 8 am classes are a thing, but that’s no reason to not enjoy yourself as much as possible!

Final year

giphy7

Now I’m back at Essex and really loving my final year. It has been stressful, especially just before Christmas when I had four deadlines in two weeks. I’m pretty lucky though, in that I’ve managed to escape doing a dissertation. That does not mean I’m not working hard! I’m making sure that I put a lot of effort into this year so I can graduate with the degree I want. I’m still not sure of what I want to do and seeing people applying for graduate schemes sometimes makes me think I should be doing that too. For me though, I don’t want to rush into anything. After I finish uni, it’ll be the first time in my life that I don’t know what I’m going to be doing. That does scare me a little (maybe a lot!) but I am really excited!

A Student’s Guide to Being Productive

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love a little longer in bed every morning? The answer to this is pretty much everyone, unless you’re that rare unicorn breed of student who has never even heard of the snooze button. I am the type of person who will get out of bed at the very last possible minute. I might be making myself sound a little lazy here – and yes some days I do eat breakfast in the afternoon – but I prefer to think of myself as just saving energy and time for stuff I really want to do. Because of this, throughout my time at uni, I’ve discovered a few little shortcuts to being a more productive person whilst also still allowing myself plenty of time to eat ice cream whilst watching too many YouTube videos. So, I’m going to share with you the tips and tricks that have helped me make it through the last couple of years.

Essays

giphy1 Don’t be this cat

No matter how much you love your degree, I’m sure we all have times where we’d rather not be doing that essay and be doing something much more fun instead. When I was a first year, I made the mistake of having my fun and then doing my essay the night before it was due. I have learnt from my mistakes and hopefully you can also learn from them. Now I make sure to start my research about a week or two in advance. Once I’ve done all my reading and a little plan, I can whip up an essay in a couple of hours. This might not work for you, depending on how you prefer to work, but for me it means I can get things done quickly. I’ve also learnt that Ctrl+F is my best friend when it comes to searching really long articles for key information. I also do my bibliography as I read so I no longer have the horrible feeling of completing an essay, but still having to reference. I guess the key here is to just plan slightly further in advance. Whilst doing your whole essay in one night might take less time, it definitely makes things a lot more stressful and you’re most likely sacrificing quality too!

Food

giphy I can’t lie, I am partial to a midnight Babybel

I love food. Like really love food. I will eat to procrastinate because yes I do need to a bowl of cereal an hour after eating my dinner. Whilst trying to stop myself doing this takes a bit of willpower, I do try and reward myself. After I’ve finished my reading I’ll have a snack. This gets me to do my work fairly quickly, purely because I’d rather eat delicious food than spend more time staring at a screen. I’m also not a huge fan of cooking, well more so the washing up that comes with the cooking. To minimise the amount of washing up I have to do, I tend to cook things in bulk. It’s a student cliche but pasta dishes are probably the easiest to cook and there’s so much variety. I can cook myself a bolognese that gives me four portions, eat one and then pop the others in the freezer, sorted! Plus there’s an added bonus, whilst you’re cooking your lovely meal you can make a quick sandwich for lunch for the next day. There’s no better way than getting all your food preparation out of the way at once!

Make time for yourself

giphy2 Me on a Sunday

If you’re a busy person like me, you’re going to need some time to relax and just be… well…lazy. The way I try and do this is to keep weekdays for working and studying and then give myself at least a day at the weekend to just do whatever I want. It’s a great way to just forget about uni work for a bit and just enjoy myself. Sometimes I’ll go shopping or I will just have a lie in. No matter how hard you feel like you have to work, taking some time out away from that will allow you to come back with fresh eyes.

I hope you’ve managed to get a bit of advice from how I live my crazy lazy life but for now I have to go and do my washing up (sorry housemates)!

Going home for Christmas: the good bits, the bad bits, and the downright ugly bits

First term of uni is finally over! We can all finally get into the Christmas spirit without pretending we don’t have deadlines to work on and tests to study for. It’s time for some guilt free relaxation where you can go home and be treated like royalty by your parents, fight with your siblings and eat food that isn’t cooked in the microwave. Whether you’re a fresher or a final year there are both good and bad things about going home for the holidays that we probably all experience so here they are!

Good

nintchdbpict000285818935 Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/nintchdbpict000285818935.jpg?w=960

Okay, so of course it’s great to see your family at Christmas, especially if you haven’t been home during term time, but you know what else is also pretty great: food. After weeks and months of different variations of pasta dishes, Christmas brings a welcome break from student cuisine. I know that when I go home for the holidays, I’m always asked how well I’ve been eating and whatever the answer my family feed up! Now, I’m not complaining, in fact, I love it. There’s the pigs in blankets, the fancy desserts, roast potatoes and copious amounts of gravy. After the big day itself, you’ve even got the boxing day leftovers; turkey sandwich anyone?

Bad

Of course, going home for Christmas isn’t all fun and games. You find yourself having just settled into uni life, having to go home again. It feels a little bit weird leaving your uni bubble and going back into the “real world”. You miss your flatmates and your friends, even the routine of going to lectures. It’s not all bad though, you get to have a long awaited catch up with your friends from home. Sometimes it can be just as fun to reminisce about those sixth form memories as it is to have a night out in Sub Zero with your uni friends.

Ugly

giphy7 Source: https://media.giphy.com/media/AFZNNVHpQRico/giphy.gif

We’ve had the good and the bad, so it’s time to get to the ugly. The questions. What are you going to do when you graduate? Have you found a boyfriend/girlfriend yet? I get these pretty much every time I go home and I know my family mean well and they’re just taking an interest in my life. The only problem is that it really does get quite annoying when you have to answer the same questions over and over again with the same answers. Sometimes I long for the day when my answers to those questions sound almost as if I have I know what I’m doing with my life! But you know what, whatever I end up doing, my family will always be there to support me.

Even with the bad and the ugly, all the good of Christmas really outweighs those things. It’s been a long first term and I can’t wait to just have a break and enjoy making the most of being home. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

A ‘Pointless’ Trip to London

I don’t think many people would disagree with me when I say that students love a good TV quiz show; The Chase, University Challenge, Tipping Point, and even Only Connect for the real boffins out there. And then there’s Pointless. If you haven’t seen Pointless here’s a quick rundown of what it’s all about: the goal is for contestants to score no points at all by giving really obscure answers to questions like “countries beginning with E”. The contestants with the lowest scores progress to the next round and to win the jackpot they must give a pointless answer (an answer that no one in the audience had already guessed). It’s hosted by comedian Alexander Armstrong and TV presenter Richard Osman.

1484235519494-screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-152906

Photography credit: Hannah Ewens sourced via https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/aev55z/id-never-watched-the-tv-show-pointless-went-on-it-and-won

If you’re wondering why I’m telling you about this, here’s why! One of my friends recently applied for tickets to go and see Pointless being filmed live and was lucky enough to be chosen. Myself and four of my friends took advantage of this to take a trip down to London for the day. As a side note, one of the best things about Essex is how easy it is to get out of it – I mean that in the nicest way possible of course! The tickets to the filming were free, so it’s a pretty cheap day out if you only buy a train ticket and some food!

Snapchat-1026635255

Filming was taking place at the famous BBC Television Centre. We made our way there in good time to make sure that we’d definitely get seats, as even though we’d been given tickets you aren’t guaranteed to get in. The queue was pretty small when we arrived so we headed over to the nearby shopping centre to grab some food before the show. Five Guys was calling our name, their burgers and chips (or fries as they call them) are delicious. There’s a Five Guys opening in Colchester soon which is v.exciting!

Snapchat-1986881344

Group photo in Five Guys ft. two guys from Five Guys

Anyway, we went back to queue and soon after we headed straight into the studio. Unfortunately, you weren’t allowed to take pictures and even my sneaky attempt to do so got caught out! We had a great time playing along amongst ourselves in the audience, turns out if we actually were contestants we would have won! We saw two tapings of Pointless being filmed and although there was some waiting around in between it didn’t ruin the fun of the day at all!

Going to watch TV shows being filmed is a really great day out and I’d definitely recommend it. I’ve also been to see the Top of the Pops Christmas special being filmed and got to see some great artists, it’s also where I was within a metre of Nick Jonas! If you fancy applying for some TV tickets then all it takes is a google search and there’s plenty of shows you can apply for. London is so easy to get from here it’s definitely worth doing!

How to Make Friends Before You Even Get to Uni

A lot of people worry about making friends at uni. Most of the time you’re moving away to a place where you know nobody and you’ll be living with people you’ve never even met before. This can seem quite scary, but there are ways to meet and chat to people before you even get to uni.

People from your sixth form

When I put Essex as my firm choice on UCAS no one else at my sixth form I knew had put it as a choice. I asked around to see if anyone I knew, knew someone that had. Eventually I found out that someone in my history class had also applied to Essex! Previously I had never even spoken to this person, but we had a chat about all things uni and Essex and now when I run into them on campus, I always make sure I say hi! It might seem like a bit of a cop out to make friends going to your uni at your sixth form, but it’s nice to know someone in a similar situation to you and of course, there are the other ways to make friends too.

The Student Room

tsrlogo_wherestudentsconnect_rgb_screen1

If you have never heard of The Student Room, it can be an extremely helpful website for all things, well, student! The University of Essex has its own forum page here. Loads of people will be posting the unis that they’re going to and asking people what courses they’re doing. The Essex forum page has threads with people asking who else will be on their course or if they’re living in the same accommodation. It’s a great place to find lots of other people going to Essex, doing your course, or living near you. It’s also very helpful for info about the social life at Essex, and things like what to bring to uni. Whilst you don’t need an account to read the forums, you do if you want to contribute to the chat.

Facebook

12728811_10153476195696819_3837236173507837372_n

The University of Essex is all over Facebook! There is the general freshers’ page which is run by the Students’ Union, there’s individual pages for each accommodation and there’s departmental pages too. The freshers page has thousands of members as most new students, as well as existing students will join it. It’s a great place to ask general questions about life at Essex, especially as you know you’ll be answered by students who have been in your position. It’s also great for meeting students who might be commuters, mature students or postgraduates.

Open days and Visit days

20684655891_c548ab25d8_z

When you come to our Essex open days, it’s not only useful to learn about the basics of uni life, it’s also a great opportunity to get to know some other potential students. Strike up a conversation on a tour – you might just end up going to uni with that person! Applicant days, once you have an offer from Essex, are also an excellent way to meet people who are on your course. Your future lecturers will also be giving taster sessions which will give you a chance to get a real feel for the academic side of university.

With all these ways to make friends before uni, keep in my mind that you’ll still meet plenty more people once you actually move in and start lectures, so go forth and make friends!

Brexit: What I Think About It and What It Means for Students at Essex

Brexit.jpg

Brexit, it’s the Marmite of the politics world. You either love it or hate it, there’s no in between. Unlike Marmite, however, you can’t just decide not to buy it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Brexit is happening whether we like it or not. First things first, I think it’s only right to to tell you that I voted remain. Regardless of how you voted I think it’s safe to say that no one wants Brexit to be a disaster. The only problem is that no one really knows what’s going to happen when Britain leaves the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May set out her Brexit plan in January. It emphasised regaining control of the UK’s borders and getting a good deal for British Businesses. The EU though has to agree to this plan, and that’s where things get a bit iffy. Many European countries want Britain to have a swift exit from the EU, in other words, a hard Brexit. A hard Brexit is one in which Britain severs all ties with the EU and has no special treatment. Theresa May has committed to a hard Brexit but we still don’t know exactly what that means and we probably won’t until Britain officially leaves in 2019.

gaz essex uni visa protest.jpg.gallery

What I can say though, is that regardless of the relationship Britain ends up having with the EU, European and international students will undoubtedly always be welcome at Essex. Essex would not be same without its amazing international students. They bring so much variety and fun to our campus. Having lived in the UK all my life, I love learning about other countries and their unique cultures and customs. Without our international community, Essex would not be the same place I have made my home. For me and many of my friends, Brexit hurt. It hurt because we love Europe, we love the people and we love the opportunities that being part of the EU gives us. We are part of a community at Essex that embraces every single person, no matter where they are from. Even those I know who voted for Brexit at Essex are great people who just happen to differ from me politically.

Our Vice-Chancellor, Anthony Forster, has reaffirmed Essex’s commitment to our European and international students. He has spoken of how we will remain an inclusive, internationally oriented university and a university where you can find the world in one place. You can read more about what Brexit means for students here.

Brexit means change, that is inevitable. What remains the same, however, is that our international and EU students here at Essex will always be welcomed with open arms.

 

What I’m Looking Forward to After My Year Abroad

I can’t believe how quick time has passed whilst I’ve been on my year abroad. I have next to no time left before my summer holiday starts! I have loved my time here in America but I really can’t wait to get back to Essex. There’s so many things I’m looking forward to, but here a few things I’m looking forward to most.

1. The Essex campus

IMG_20160831_175718385_HDR I’ll miss this view on my walk to class

My university campus in Arizona is tiny by American standards, but huge in comparison to Essex. I have to get a bus from one end of it to the other. Whilst it is a really beautiful campus surrounded by amazing views, it can be a bit of a pain walking up loads of hills and taking a bus to get to class or go to the union. At Essex, I know where I’m going, I always end up bumping into people I know, and you don’t have to do a full trek just to get to a lecture!

2. Seeing my friends!

DSCN1720 Summer Ball was probably the last time we were all in the same country!

I guess this one sort of goes without saying! I left for my year abroad in August and whilst I saw a few of my friends from home over Christmas in Manchester, most of my friends are in various corners of the globe. I haven’t seen some of my friends in Australia since June and although we talk a lot and Skype pretty often, it’s definitely not the same as seeing them in person and I can’t wait to have a massive catch up.

3. Going out

12695038_10153345971436517_2657461725610478521_o Got to love dressing up for Fed!

Whilst there are parties and a fair few bars in downtown Flagstaff, there are no clubs and even to just go in a bar you have to be 21. A lot of my friends here aren’t old enough to go out and really miss a night out in Sub Zero or a bit of karaoke at Milk It. I can’t wait for freshers which is pretty much non existent in America!

4. The Food

English crumpets with butter close up You can’t beat a good crumpet

Whilst America is known for its huge portions and its fast food (which can be delicious) there are very few British foods available so I’ve had to learn to live without them. I’m lucky enough to have a family who understands my food needs and sends me some care packages including chocolate and gravy granules which, as a northerner, I cannot live without. However, I can’t wait until I can pick up some crumpets from Tesco or grab a sausage roll from Greggs.

5. Being a final year

the_end

This one I think I’m half looking forward to and half dreading! I can’t get my head around the fact that my time at uni is almost over but being a final year means that I’ll have to make the most of every minute of it and even more so because I don’t have a dissertation to do!

I’m going to miss Arizona but I know that I’ll always be able to take a break from England and hop back over to the other side of the pond and visit. For now though, I have a whole year at Essex to look forward to!

 

 

Getting Uni Ready

Getting ready to move out of home and into uni can be pretty daunting. I know for me moving out of the home I’d lived in for 18 years was pretty scary. I had never really cooked anything and left all the washing up to my mum. I pretty much had no idea how to fend for myself, but despite this I adapted really quickly to my new environment – though that’s not to say I ever became a Gordon Ramsay level chef (pasta was my speciality)! So to save you the pain of scrubbing burnt rice off the bottom of a pan, or accidentally dying your white clothes grey in the wash, here are  a few things you can do to help with the transition to uni before you even get there!

Learn to cook a few recipes

As easy as it is, you can’t live off chips and chicken nuggets forever (sadly). Making your own meals can be really satisfying; I felt quite proud of myself the first time I successfully made a roast dinner! Before you go to uni, it can be quite helpful to learn some cheap recipes and there’s loads of student cookbooks out there to help. My favourite meals to make have to be spaghetti bolognese and cottage pie. They can be pretty easy to make and if you cook them in bulk too then you can portion them out to save time and money later on. You might have a few mishaps on the way to becoming a culinary master, I dropped my delicious looking cottage pie on the floor the first time I made it, but don’t let that put you off from cooking from scratch! Take a look here for some recipe inspiration!

spaghetti-bolognese Easy and delicious

Think about budgeting

Odds are that if you’ve lived with your family all your life you’ve never really had to budget. It does seem quite nice at the beginning of term to have that student loan money appear in your bank account and often it can be hard to resist the temptation to treat yourself to those new shoes or clothes you wanted. By all means, treat yourself, but budget responsibly to make sure you have enough money for the essentials. There are a lot of expenses to think about such as your rent, food shopping, and let’s be realistic, the inevitable nights out. It can initially be quite difficult to balance the essential expenses with the things that you want. After a few food shops though, you’ll probably end up realising the things that you are spending on that you don’t really need. I couldn’t believe how expensive some foods were that I always just taken for granted (I’m looking at you, cheese!)

bank-15617_1280

Read clothes labels!

This one might seem a bit trivial but clothes labels are there for a reason. If you don’t wash your own clothes at home then you’re probably not familiar with what those weird little symbols mean. There were quite a few times in my first year that my flatmates would come back from the launderette with shrunken jeans and pink tops that used to be white. These mishaps can usually be avoided if you know how to wash your clothes. Take note of the  picture below. After shrinking some of my favourite clothes, I found out where I was going wrong!

4ef6edaa8f80c0625c80548de7b7eb9d

These tips aren’t the be all and end all of what you need to know for uni. You will find yourself learning from experience and work out what’s best to do once you get there, but hopefully this blog will just help you on your way! Good luck 🙂