Top 10 places to visit in Essex

Being born and bred in the county, I am proud to say that I’m an Essex lad through and through. In fact up until this year, I have always lived in Essex!

From growing up around beautiful countryside and exciting towns, I can tell you first hand that there are loads of wonderful places to see in Essex.

So let me show you my top 10 Essex highlights, which you should definitely visit, if you haven’t already. (A.K.A. the places where I was dragged along to for days out as a kid, but have grown to love over the years!)

1) Finchingfield

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This adorable little place has often been described as “a chocolate box village”. It’s a great example of a traditional English village with a backdrop to match. The peaceful lake and green fields in the centre of the village makes this the perfect spot for afternoon tea in the Summer!

 

2) Hedingham Castle

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This traditional Norman keep is just down the road from where I grew up and I have lots of fond memories of going to its regular jousting days and exploring the different floors of the castle.

However, one of my favourite things about the castle is that the Globe Theatre visits the attraction each year. The company puts on a production of a different Shakespeare play each summer with the Castle acting as a stunning backdrop!

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3) Lakeside Shopping Centre and Retail Park

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Being the biggest shopping centre in the Essex, Lakeside is the perfect place for your inner shopaholic! There are countless shops and restaurants here to enjoy, with a wide choice to choose from.

 

4) Southend-on-Sea 

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Home to the University of Essex’s second biggest campus, Southend-on-Sea is the perfect place for a trip to the seaside.

It’s also home to the longest pleasure pier in the world. It’s so long in fact that there is actually a purpose-built railway which takes people to the pier head and back. However, there is also the option to walk the 1.34 miles if you prefer!

 

5) Walton-on-the-Naze

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Speaking of Essex’s beautiful coastline, Walton-on-the-Naze is another pristine example! In particular, the coastal walk from the Naze Tower to the town itself is well worth a wander.

Don’t forget to treat yourself to the seaside tradition of a 99 flake from the ice cream van when you’ve finished the walk!

 

6) Olympic Mountain Biking Track

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When London hosted the Summer Olympics in 2012, Essex played its part by hosting the Mountain biking event. Based in Hadleigh, the track is still there for the public to visit and try for themselves on the same track where Olympians pushed for glory a few years previous.

 

7) Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker

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Despite the place being not so secret these days, the bunker was originally designed during the cold war when the threat of nuclear war was high. Now open as a museum, you can now explore the whole bunker where the government planned to be based in the Southeast in the event of an attack.

This attraction is also quite interesting in getting an insight into what life looked like 20/30 years ago. This is due to the bunker’s appearance not changing since it being decommissioned in the early 1990’s.

 

8) Tiptree Jam Factory

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Home to the famous English jam, the Tiptree Jam Factory is the perfect place to see how this famous English staple is created!

The museum, based in the original factory where the jam is still made to this day, shows you how its popular preserves have been made since 1865.

However, no visit is complete without a trip to the factory’s tearooms and trying out the jam for yourself!

 

9) Colchester Zoo

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Specialising in endangered animals, Colchester Zoo is ranked as one of the best Zoo’s in the country. With the opportunity to see some of the animals up close and feed them, the short trip from the Colchester campus is most definitely worth it!

 

10) Mercury Theatre

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One of my personal Essex favourites is Colchester’s Mercury Theatre. The venue puts on several of its own shoes each year whilst also regularly attracting visiting professional companies as well. There’s always something different on, whether it be theatre, dance or stand up comedy, there’s bound to be something on that’s worth seeing!

So…

if you feel inspired to visit the places I’ve recommended (and fancy winning up to £500 of summer days out), make sure you take some photos of your visit. Essex Business School is giving you the chance to bag entry to top London and Essex attractions for you and a friend in their Instagram competition to find Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction.

To enter, post a pic of your favourite place to visit in Essex on your Instagram, name the attraction in your comment and use #essexyouthtourism for your chance to win. Make sure you tag @essexebs and follow them to find out the winner. You must be aged 16 to 25 to enter and you have until 18 May to post your pic.

The most photographed attraction will be crowned Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction 2017. The most creative, inspirational or just plain pretty photo will win the summer prize package.

The competition celebrates the launch of the new BSc Tourism Management degree at the Southend Campus, which is open for 2017 entries.

Why Summer Term at Essex is the best time of the year!

Despite the constant dread of exams, summer term is probably the best time of the year! Gone is the threat of frost and freezing winds as Essex welcomes in sunshine and longer nights.

Here are a few things which make Summer term at Essex special…

Chilling by the lakes

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One of my favourite places on campus during the summer months is the lakes! This probably has something to do with memories of post exam chills by the lakes. Something which kind of became a tradition with my friends on my course. There’s nothing better than relaxing with your mates in the sun congratulating yourselves on an exam well done or getting your spirits back up after getting some bad questions!

 

Awards season

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Whether you’re part of sports, societies, volunteering, the ISA or work for the SU, the summer term has a host of different awards evenings. These are all held to celebrate the hard work and achievements of the past year and are a really nice way to finish the year in style.

Last year, I went to the Society awards and the SU staff awards and I had a really good time!

Eurovision

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One of my guilty pleasures is watching the Eurovision Song Contest every year. Its combination of catchy songs, witty commentary and nail biting voting make it something to look forward to when revising!

Each year, a hoard of students pile into the SU bar for the show. The bar also makes a real effort in decorating the everywhere with flags, free face painting and special drinks from each of the participating countries. Combined with students from all over the world rooting for their home countries, it’s always a night to remember (even if the UK’s entry flops every year!)

You tend to make the most of things!

If you’ve been itching to go to have a go at Frisbee golf or make an effort for the weekly SU quiz, then Summer term is the time to do so! Before all your friends either go home for the summer or graduate, this term is your opportunity to make the most of things! So, go for it!

Essex’s Got Talent

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Ran every year by the Theatre Arts Society, Essex’s Got Talent is pretty much everything that you expect! Not too dissimilar to its national counterpart, whether you’re a stand-up comedian or a street dancer, the competition is the chance for anyone to show off their talents. This is all set  in front of dozens of people on the squares on a summer’s day. The top 3 entries also win prizes, so it’s well worth having a go! Keep an eye out for dates soon!

End of the year celebrations

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Some of the major highlights of the Essex academic year are right at the end of the year; The End and Summer Ball. Both are strong Essex traditions and are well worth the wait! The relaxed nature of The End, quickly followed by the sophistication of Summer Ball, make for the perfect send off before the reality of normal life outside of University hits!

I hope this has got you excited to come back to Essex and has inspired you to make the most of some of the best weeks of the University calendar!

Why Essex was my first choice

If you’re familiar to the Harry Potter film series, then I liken finding the right University to finding the right wand for yourself. You may think that you know what you want but ultimately “the wand chooses the wizard”.

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I’ve got to be honest, Essex was not initially my first choice when I was looking at Universities. In fact, it was not even on my radar as somewhere where I wanted to study. It was too close to home and I was dead set on studying Drama somewhere like London, where there are countless theatres and loads of things to do.

However, I went on a day trip with my Sixth Form to the Colchester campus and it was surprisingly good. Me and my mates had a really cool day looking around the place, seeing what University life had to offer.

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So, when it came to organising Open Days, I just put Essex on the to visit list on a whim. It was quite a cool campus and I thought that it would be a decent benchmark to compare other universities to.

It ended up not only setting the benchmark for me but actually setting it so damn high that I couldn’t top it. No matter how hard I tried to find faults in the University….

However, despite my reluctance, my little brother always knew where I should go. He always loves coming to visit me at Uni because he got given a free bag of popcorn from the SU on the open day. I often remind him that it was only for the open day and we don’t get free popcorn all the time at Uni!

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Little by little, as I came for my interview for Essex, my dream of studying in London started to crumble as I fell in love with the idea of campus life at Essex. Suddenly, it’s distance from home and the fact that it was a train ride to London didn’t matter anymore.

Essex had the right course for me, good theatres on its doorstep and an irresistibly good feel to the place. In better words, it felt like somewhere where I could actually imagine spending the next few years of my life.

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While Essex may not be everybody’s first choice, there’s one thing which remains the same: choosing your first-choice University is always a big commitment and a big decision to make. It will most likely take a lot of time, thought and effort. But in the end, the choice will be obvious once you realise that your first choice is somewhere where you will be happy.

That’s when, like the wands, the “University chooses the student”.

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Perry’s Essex Abroad travelling experience

So for the past few months, some could say that I was living the dream. If studying abroad in Brisbane wasn’t enough, a three month University summer break from November to February meant that I could travel across Oceania and Asia.

It was kind of like a mini-gap year experience as I visited 7 countries and spent 79 days on the road.

And if you’re wondering what that would look like, well it looks a little like this…

Now if that was all a bit quick then let me tell you about each stop of my journey…

Sydney

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The first stop on my journey was a hop down the coast to Sydney. Here me and my friends did the obvious tourist attractions, went to Bondi Beach and hung out in cool secret bars.

Fun fact: I have now been to the Sydney Opera House more times than the man who designed it. Jørn Utzon, the designer of the Sydney Opera House, never actually visited the finished building after falling out with the government at the time over escalating costs.

South East Coast Road Trip!

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Instead of flying straight down to Melbourne, we took the long way down taking the time to over 1,000 km in the space of just over a week.

So we hired cars and camped along the way as we saw the Blue Mountains, Wilson’s Prom and The Great Ocean Road. We also conquered (the almost impossible to pronounce) Mount Kosciuszko, the tallest mountain in Australia.

Fun Fact: Wilson’s Prom, a beautiful national park on a peninsula is the southernmost point of mainland Australia. It was here where we bumped into a womenswear photo shoot on a deserted beach and unintentionally got used for a few practice shots!

Melbourne

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Melbourne is probably one of my favourite cities in Australia. Although this time around we were only there for a few days, its street art and alleyways were enchanting!

Here we stayed in an apartment in the city centre for a few days which was perfect! One day we even had a mini Christmas day where we cooked a roast dinner, played games and watched movies. It may have been 6th December but we had to make use of having a place to ourselves in the festive period!

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Fun Fact: We were lucky enough to have our apartment overlooking one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, Hosier Lane. Whilst we were there, we saw a new piece of art being created in the pouring rain. This may be Banksy or some other big name street artist but we’ll never know!

Tasmania

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I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Tasmania before I went. I wasn’t that fussed about going but my friends dragged me along and I was so glad that I went!

This Australian state isn’t massive compared to its mainland counterparts but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up in terms of beauty!

We took a week to explore this marvellous landscape in two groovy camper vans…

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Fun Fact: Whilst in Tasmania, we spent the day scaling Cradle Mountain, ranked as one of Australia’s most beautiful places by Lonely Planet.

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This was an exciting stop on our trip as it was the first time that we had left Australia!

Here we spent 3 weeks exploring the whole country on the Kiwi experience tour bus, spending a day or two in each town along the way.

It was a jam packed few weeks full of bungee jumping, street luging, lakes, mountains, Lord of the Rings, Maori Culture, hiking… I could go on!

This was also our destination for the festive season including Christmas Day and New Years which was exciting and very different to back home! I don’t think Christmas day barbecues on the beach will be much of a feature in many more Christmases to come!

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Fun Fact: One of the last attractions that we visited in New Zealand was the Hobbiton movie sets which were used in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. There are 44 hobbit holes dug into the side of the hill and you walk exactly the same steps that the characters made in the film. Even though I have yet to see any of the films it was used for (pathetic really I know), it’s amazing to see the lengths movies go to to create their sets.

Fiji

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Fiji was a welcome rest from the exhausting action packed New Zealand. Days generally consisted of exploring tiny little islands, laying in a hammock, going snorkelling in the reef and playing Beach Volleyball.

It was a struggle, it really was.

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Fun fact: The above picture was taken on the island where the Tom Hanks film Castaway was filmed. Despite it being another film which I have not yet seen (I should really watch some more films…), the ocean views more than made up for it!

Australian Open (Melbourne)

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With a few days before the Asia leg of my trip, I couldn’t resist going to back to Melbourne for a few days for the Australian Open whilst the others recuperated back in Brisbane!

If you haven’t heard of it, the Australian Open is one of the biggest and most important Tennis tournaments in the world! It’s basically Australia’s version of Wimbledon!

I had a ground pass for the first three days of the tournament, which allowed me to see players like Kei Nishikori, Gael Monflis and Alexander Zverv amongst others.

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Fun fact: The last match I saw, I had front row seats for the Brit Dan Evans and his win against world no.7 Marin Cilic. The win which was very unexpected for Evans and played a massive part in the player’s best ever run in a Grand Slam.

Vietnam

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Vietnam was definitely something else! It was my first time in Asia and it was probably unlike anywhere where I had been before with crazy moped drivers and a unrecognisable language to deal with!

We only had 10 days in the country, so we didn’t have much time to waste! We visited the two main cities; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and visited congested alleyways, beautiful bays, peaceful villages and some really interesting war museums!

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Fun fact: We were lucky enough for our visit to the country  to coincide with the Lunar New Year celebrations. When we explored Hanoi in particular, we witnessed a lot of traditions which take place at this time of year. One of which is burning fake money for good luck. Unfortunately some of these notes don’t get burnt and get taken by the wind, leaving them on the pavement somewhere! The amount of times I thought that I had found some money on the floor only for it to be fake was heartbreaking!

Cambodia

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If you thought that we rushing through Vietnam in 10 days was bad enough then we (somehow) managed to squeeze Cambodia into 4! It took a lot of precision and planning to get it right but we did it with time to spare!

We spent one day in the capital Phonm Penh learning about the country’s devastating recent history and the rest of the time at Siem Reap where the famous Angkor Wat Temple complex is located.

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(Not so) fun fact: During the genocides in the country throughout the 1970’s, it is estimated that around 2 million people died. That’s around a quarter of the country’s population. Seeing the prisons and the fields in Phonm Penh where these people were killed was incredibly powerful and touching.

Malaysia

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Malaysia was kind of an unintentional stop on our journey as we were only there for a few hours whilst waiting for our connecting flight. However, this didn’t stop us from getting out and about and exploring the wonderful city of Kuala Lumpur.

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Fun Fact: The Petronas towers are the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world and it was cool to see them right up close! Even if the observation deck was closed on the day that we visited!

And that’s it for the quick whistle stop tour of my travels!

It was a great experience and I would encourage everyone to take the time to do a trip like this if you can!

Thank you to all of the brilliant people that I travelled with and everyone who I met along the way 🙂

 

A student’s guide to uncovering cheap holidays!

Although deadlines and Uni life probably dominates your life at the moment (*sigh*), summer is now only a few months away!

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And if you’re anything like me then you wanna make use of the big break by going to somewhere new for a few days.

With cheap European flights and affordable accommodation aplenty, why not? It doesn’t even have to be that difficult or break the bank either…

Plan ahead!

Whilst last minute deals do exist, they’re often unreliable and very hard to come by. Therefore, book as soon as you can whilst most people haven’t even thought about booking theirs.

Having something booked now also gives you something to look forward to as well! Never underestimate the motivation that a holiday gives you to finish off your essay!

Finding a destination

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Personally, this can often be the most difficult decision! I have so many places on my “to see list” that I have trouble just picking one.

If you’re stuck for ideas, then ask your friends for recommendations. Odds are that they’ve already been to some awesome places and can give you some great tips.

But if you’re thinking, “But Perry, won’t you share some pearls of destination wisdom?” then yes, yes I will! Take a look at European city breaks like Prague, Berlin or Budapest. You can probably cover the basics in a few days and depending where you go it can be very cheap.

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The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Or if relaxing with a drink by the beach is more your thing then check out Croatia, Bulgaria or Portugal.

 

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An awesome day on the beach in Portugal

Be flexible with your dates

In terms of flights and accommodation, depending on demand, prices go up and down and can multiply during peak times. These times are typically at the weekend and in the school holidays.

Easiest way around this is to be flexible if you can and look at the prices for a range of dates.

I did hear once that Tuesday is the cheapest day to travel as it avoids people going away for the weekend or on mid-week breaks. I don’t know how true that is in this day and age, but it might be worth considering!

When looking at prices, go undercover

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Now I’m not saying go into Thomas Cook wearing a balaclava demanding cheap flights to Benidorm, but if you’re researching online then it’s important that you remain unseen.

The reason for this is that as soon as booking sites see that you’re scouting around for holidays they know that you’re hooked. Their thinking is that you’re probably going to be booking what you’re looking at or something similar eventually. Therefore, sometimes they up the prices when you go to book later on.

A bit sneaky I know! But you can prevent this super easily!

Just use the internet in your browser’s InPrivate browsing mode and clear your browser’s cookies when you’ve finished looking.

Simple.

Skyscanner is your new BFF!

skyscanner.pngSkyscanner is an absolute godsend when booking your flights and I can’t recommend it enough!

If you haven’t heard of the website before, it checks a range of websites and airlines to find the cheapest flights based on your destination and dates.

A lot of the time, the best options it comes up with come from places you wouldn’t have even thought to have looked!

Look at accommodation carefully

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Although you’re probably not going to be spending that much time in there, a good place to stay can sometimes make or break a stay.

There’s no need to be overcautious but just be sure to have a look at a few TripAdvisor reviews before you book anything. This will give you a good unbiased overview of what the place is like and whether you should book or avoid.

Give Air BnB a shout!

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A recent phenomenon in travel is staying in a stranger’s house in an Air BnB property.

Just as if you’re booking a hotel, you can go on the website and book a room or even a whole property owned by a local.

Often the owners will meet you when you arrive and can give you a local’s view of the place and some killer tips too.

Definitely something to consider if you’re up for something a little bit different!

All that remains now is get booking, get excited and go out there exploring!

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Signs I’ve made the transition from student to traveller

Currently on my year abroad, I’ve been making the most of the Australian university summer holidays. In fact I’m coming to the end of a travelling trip lasting almost 2 and a half months!

During this once in a lifetime trip, I’ve noticed my slow transition from a student to a traveller.

Here are the signs that I’ve noticed that I’ve made the switch…

Making the most of samples at duty free.

Being low on space in my rucksack, I only have room for the essentials. This doesn’t include aftershave unfortunately… so a quick dash and a spray at duty free has been a must! In fact, if I had a pound for every time I sprayed myself with free samples from duty free, I might be close to actually affording a bottle! Actually probably not though on second thoughts…

Air conditioning is the one

Nobody likes a humid, hot room at night when it’s 30 degrees. Especially so in Fiji, we only had a small fan to cool 10 of us…Therefore, the sight of air conditioning now in a room is always a godsend!

The rush for a bottom bunk in a hostel is intense

Nobody likes top bunks. Fact. The ladders are annoying, it’s far away from all of your stuff and clamouring down for a wee in the night is a task in itself.  Therefore, the pursuit for a good bed in a room can be rife! The feeling of disappointment to find only top bunks left in a room is just heartbreaking it really is…

Free WiFi is your friend

Sitting in a cafe on the wifi with no intention of buying anything has suddenly become totally justified and normal. How else are you going to upload all your amazing new pictures to Instagram?!

Limited wardrobe

Like the aftershave, living out of a backpack means that space is always at a minimum. This means that the clothes you do have get used a lot and annoyingly they need washing a lot too…

Never being in the same place for very long.

The beauty of travelling is that if you don’t like one place then another is only a few days away at most.

Being in one place one day and another the next has become the norm.


Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my transition from student to traveller. Keep a look out for more posts about my travels soon!

Choosing your year abroad location

If you’re planning to study abroad during the next academic year, you’ll probably already know that you won’t just have uni work to do over the Christmas break.

You’ll also have the tricky dilemma of shortlisting 3 choices to put on your study abroad application. It will likely take hours of scrawling through university websites and countless Google searches before the deadline at the end of January.

With hundreds of choices available, at first it can be a bit confusing on what to look out for.

As someone who went through the process last year, here are a few of my top tips for choosing a location for your year abroad!

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1. Creating your own personal criteria: what do I want to get out of this?

Study abroad is an amazing opportunity. However in order to get the most from it, you need to know exactly what you want.

Depending on the location, partner university and personal preference, this will change.

For example, if you want to study abroad in order to practice your German, then you’re not exactly going to be keen on going to Mexico.

Personally, I wanted to go an English speaking area which had good travelling opportunities. This was so I could study Drama easily and also travel during my time off.

2. Going through all of your options

With hundreds of universities to choose from, it can be hard to shortlist them down to your top three.

What I did was to copy and paste all of Essex’s’ partner universities from the University website into a word document. Then, as I researched them one by one, I highlighted them either green, yellow or red…

Green: one of my top choices

Yellow: I’m not sure yet/possibly?

Red: Not suitable/I don’t want to go there

I personally trawled through all of the American, Canadian and Australian partners that Essex has, as well as a lot of others to find a Uni for me.

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3. Researching: What modules are available?

It’s worth having a look at what modules each university offers in terms of content when you’re researching.

Often a good point about studying abroad is the option to study topics that aren’t available at Essex.

For example, during my first term in Australia I studied modules in Entertainment and event/festival management.

3. Shortlisting: Is this actually somewhere where I want to live for a whole term/year?

Once you’ve discarded all of your irrelevant universities, you’ve now got to think about whether you would be happy going there or not.

It’s just like when you were picking universities for UCAS.

Can I imagine myself actually living there once the honeymoon period rubs off?

4. Remember: Don’t get your hopes up on a location until it is confirmed.

Things change and partners are removed and added all the time. So until it’s confirmed, don’t rest your hopes on one single place.

This happened to me, when I found out that a university in Lousiana was now unavailable for exchange. It’s the worst thing is to be let down by something that is out of your control, so always have a few options!

I won’t lie to you, it’s a difficult decision and it won’t happen overnight. However good decisions and some good picks now will make it all worthwhile!

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Undecided about studying abroad?

At the moment, my life consists of travelling across Oceania and Asia during the summer break on my year abroad.
In fact right now, I’m writing this blog post whilst waiting to fly to New Zealand!
It’s weird to think that this time last year I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do a year abroad or not.
I signed up to have a year abroad included with my course all the way back when I did my UCAS, and to be honest it just sounded like a cool idea.
I didn’t really think too much of it, I just thought I would add it onto my course because it sounded exciting. Going away and living somewhere completely new for a year sounded perfect after growing up in a sleepy English village.

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However around this time last year, I had to decide whether I was actually going to do this or not.
In making my decision, what frustrated me the most is that you mainly only hear about the good side about doing a year abroad. It’s the stuff people want to shout about. Everyone tells you the best things but it’s often difficult to get the full picture.
But it’s a daunting choice to make no matter what way you look at it. There’s so much uncertainty and deliberation involved: it shouldn’t be a decision that is made lightly…

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I for one wasn’t 100% sure about doing a year abroad until around December in my second year. I had to choose between staying in my student house for another year or taking the plunge and commit to a year away.
A good thing which helped me with my decision was a pro and con list about doing a year abroad.
One of the main things I found from this was the people that I would be leaving behind. Apart from saying goodbye to my family and friends, I thought that if I did a year abroad then I would be returning without all of my graduating friends. I felt as if I needed to complete my university journey with the people I started it with.
However, I looked at the pro side and it was just too tempting to resist. I would never have such an easy opportunity to drop everything and just experience something completely insane.

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It’s a tough decision and it’s not something that you can just decide overnight. But consider the chances you’ll have to do something similar again.
If you can live with missing out on the chance, then go ahead and give it a miss.
But if you can’t resist a chance to see the world for yourself and take a risk then you better start researching!

Do’s and dont’s for when you go home this Christmas

After a few weeks of non stop assignments and long days in the library, the end of term is finally in sight!

4 weeks await of awkward family interaction and Christmas film watching! Sounds great right?! However it’ll all be over before you can finish the “falalala’s” in deck the halls.

So here are my do’s and don’ts to make the most of the Christmas break…

Do organise your work and don’t leave things to the last minute.

Whilst they officially call it a vacation, it’s extremely likely that you’ll have assignments to do and exams to revise for.

Therefore it’s a good idea to make a schedule before you do anything. If you’re not sure where to start then plan when you’re going to do all of your fun stuff and go from there!

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Do some paid work

Whilst ideally you actually do want some rest, see if you can get your old part time job back for a few weeks whilst you’re in the area. It might make next term’s budget a tad easier!

Don’t lock yourself in your room for a few weeks. Spend time with family and friends!

Probably the most important thing to do if you’re lucky enough to go home for the festive season is to see all of the people you don’t see at University. Whilst it may be annoying to be living under Mum’s rules again, having meals cooked for you and not paying bills is surely a massive plus!

Do the traditions you do every year

Whether it’s a Christmas day walk or a pre Christmas trip to town, make sure you do all of the traditions which make you feel Christmassy. If you don’t have any traditions then you could always start some this year!

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Do buy your presents early!

If you’re unorganised then you should really get this done soon. You’ve probably looked at gift ideas whilst procrastinating anyway, so it surely won’t take too long!

Do make some goals for the new year.

Although your resolutions from this year probably didn’t last beyond January 4th, try making some goals for the new year that you think you could actually achieve. Whether it’s joining a society, or going on holiday, it’s good to have an idea about what you want before the year begins.

Or if making goals isn’t your thing then make some predictions for 2017. Seal it in an envelope and put them in with your Christmas decorations so that this time next year, you can see how many of them you got right and how many you weren’t even close to achieving.

Have fun, do some studying and get in the festive spirit!

My Christmas Studying Abroad

Cold weather. Warming up with hot drinks by the fire place. Venturing out to pick a Christmas tree.

When you think of Christmas you often think of these seasonal traits.

But without the cold weather and excuse to wrap up warm, Christmas would be quite different.

Out here in Australia, the Christmas trees are now going up, shop windows are full of Christmas displays but it’s not “beginning to feel like Christmas” as per usual. With the 30 degree summer heat and different traditions, the festive season so far does seem a bit odd.

One of Brisbane’s attempts of “Christmas in the sun”: an oversized Christmas decoration
Normally in the UK, I would have already been playing Michael Bublé’s Christmas album on repeat for the past few weeks, but out here it just seems a bit odd… Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not enjoying being in Australia, it’s just interesting seeing how different Christmas is down under.
As its currently the Summer break in Australia, I’m  currently doing a bit of travelling over the Christmas break so for the big day itself, I’ll actually be in Queenstown, New Zealand this year.
I haven’t got anything planned for the big day in particular yet but from the looks of it, a BBQ by the lake in the summer heat seems likely!

Whilst I know this Christmas won’t be the same as usual this year, it’ll be exciting and definitely one to remember.