Essay writing tips from a uni student

Essay writing is a huge part of university life and no one enjoys doing them. This blog is going to give you tips on how to write a good essay and avoid more stress!

Make sure you keep your work organised

Throughout the year you should create a folder for each module, so that all of your work is in one place. Lecture notes are usually really useful for writing essays, as they sometimes give you hints and tips throughout the lectures. The lecturer is likely to give extra information that you can write down, instead of just reading the lecture slides.

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Plan your essay

You can do this by first destructing the question. After this, read the recommended reading that is usually found on Moodle and pick out any key and information and quotes that are relevant to the essay question.

You can then write bullet point notes under headings. The essay should start with an introduction, outlining what the essay will be about and how it will be structured. This will be followed by the main part of the essay with your arguments. Finally, a conclusion should be made at the end, summarising your assignment and what your final answer is. However, this structure can change between departments, so make sure you double check with yours!

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Presentation

The presentation of your assignment can actually sometimes gain you marks. In your module outline it should mention how they expect you to format your essay. For example, this could include font, font size, line spacing and whether to include page numbers. Also make sure that your paragraphs make sense and always check your spelling and grammar.

References

The way you reference depends on your department, so you should check your module outline for this. Many students use Harvard referencing style, which involves in-text referencing, using the surname of the author/s, date it was published and sometimes the page number in brackets. There is also a reference list needed at the end, which includes all of your references in full. There are many website online that show you how to do this, or some even do it for you!

Time management

Many students cram writing an essay in the night before it’s due. However, this is not the best idea because if you need to find references in the library or you need to ask your lecturer or teacher a question, then it is too late! Also it is best to have time to plan your essay and have time to thoroughly look for good and valid references. By giving yourself time, you can still socialise without worrying about the 3000 word essay you have to write.

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I hope that this has helped you to understand a bit more about essay writing at Uni standard!

Making Big Life Choices: Getting Past the Fear

Leaving uni is another big step and new chapter of your life. It is moving out of your comfort zone and starting something new. Are you worried about getting a job after uni? Or wondering whether you want to do a Masters? There are many options out there for you to choose from, so it can be a bit daunting, but this blog is here to help you get over that!

Fear of losing fun.

University is possibly one of the most fun times of your life and you may feel that once you leave uni you will miss out and no longer have any fun. However, having a job means that you will have a regular income and you can save up to do fun things with your friends, such as go on exciting, exotic holidays which you may not be able to afford to do at uni!

Increase your savings

Fear of getting a job that you’re unhappy with.

This is why it is good to get an internship, frontrunner placement or part-time job whilst at uni. This way you can filter out what you like and dislike within a working environment. For example, you can find out if you hate working in an office environment, or you may love it!

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What if I don’t get a job at all?

You should start looking in to jobs at the beginning of your final year at uni. Many graduate schemes open around this time and the job usually starts in the September after you graduate. If you get a graduate scheme then this will take the pressure off you throughout the year, knowing that you have a job once you finish uni. It is also good to get an internship over the summer months. This way if employees like you they may offer you a job for when you graduate. You should sign up to job sites online and filter in your job preferences. This way they can email you any jobs that come up that they think will suit your job preferences.

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Should I do a masters?

This completely depends on what you want to do when you finish uni. For some jobs a Masters is needed, so you should look in to this. If you enjoy education and want to stay at uni longer then this could be for you. It is always worth looking in to, but you also have to consider the cost and another year or so where you won’t be in full-time work.

Your life after uni isn’t as scary as you think! Your friends around you are all in the same situation. It’s good to ask people on your course what they are thinking of doing to get some ideas on what’s out there and what might suit you.

BUCS Wednesdays!

You’ve probably heard about the Essex Blades, but have you heard of BUCS Wednesdays? BUCS stands for British Universities and Colleges Sport. This blog is going to include 5 points about what goes on on and off campus every Wednesday and how you can get involved!

Get an Essex Blades membership on the Essex SU website and become part of a sports club

Both of these have no membership fee and are completely FREE! From then on you can go to club training sessions. Whether you are new to the sport or experienced, it doesn’t matter! With some practice you could get on to one of the sports teams. For most clubs there are more than one team depending on your ability, so there is likely to be something for you.bladesroundred.png

Once you’ve done this you can start participating in BUCS Wednesdays

Here, you will play teams from other universities all around the UK. There is a BUCS league where you can earn points depending on the overall score. Obviously Essex’s aim is to get to the top! There are both home and away matches. Travel expenses to away matches are paid for by the SU, therefore you can even see other parts of the country and other universities for free!

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Don’t want to join a sports club? Then you can still get involved!

Spectators are more than welcome!

Every game on Wednesdays are free to watch. The ones on campus are easy to get to and the Essex Blades sports teams all love your support! Every game is free to watch, so if you have nothing to do then it is a fun way to do something with your friends.

So, how do you know what’s on and where?

Every week the SU updates this website https://www.essexstudent.com/ents/event/12241/ so you can see exactly what sports are playing, what time and where around campus. Also you can check out their social media pages.

How can you keep up to date with BUCS scores and news?

Essex Blades have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and now they have a brand new Snapchat. All of them come under the name ‘EssexBladesSU’. Every Wednesday these are updated with what is going on in the game and scores, so make sure you give them a follow!

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I hope this encourages you to get involved with BUCS Wednesdays, as it can make your university experience even more enjoyable! Whether you want to play a sport or not, it is something fun to get involved with around campus 🙂

Derby Day is approaching! How to prepare.

Derby Day is soon approaching on Saturday 11th March! This blog is going to explain what it is all about and how to prepare. It is a really fun day out and I would recommend going if you can!

So what exactly is Derby Day?

It is a sporting event against UEA (our main rival university). Each year our university and UEA take turns to host, this year it is at UEA. If you want to spectate the day then you can purchase a ticket from the Essex SU Derby Day website for £15. This will give you a return coach trip. All sports that can take place on their campus will and a few will take place off campus, such as Water Polo or Equestrian.

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How can I prepare? 

  • Get yourself a Derby Day t-shirt

These are available in red or black and cost £6. They have now stopped selling them online, but if there’s any spares made then they will be selling them closer to the time, so keep an eye out!

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  • Get a coach ticket

These are now available from this website https://www.essexstudent.com/derbyday/ for £15 return. You can go with your friends and they will drop you off at UEA and then back at uni once the day is over. It is cheaper than getting the train and less hassle than driving, so it’s worth it!

  • Some face paint would be good

To support the Blades some people bring red and black face paint along to draw red and black stripes on their cheeks, or anything else red and black that you wish. It is important that we have as much support for the Blades as possible!

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  • Sub Zero tickets for after Derby Day are available now

Also on the website above are the Sub Zero tickets for the Saturday night. Once the coach drops you off back at uni, there will be a night out in Sub Zero. Charlie Hedges from Kiss FM and YouTube star Jack Maynard will make an appearance. Tickets are available now, so get yours quick before they sell out!

 

Follow Essex Blades SU on Twitter and Snapchat for updates throughout the day. Also there’s usually a lot of banter going on between Essex and UEA, so keep retweeting Essex and backing the Blades! We hope to see you there on Derby Day 🙂

Winter Recipes

Here are some cheap and easy winter recipes for you to try over the Christmas holidays with your family. If they turn out well then you can even show your flatmates when you get back to uni!

Lasagne 

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  • Olive oil
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g pack of lasagne sheets
  • 175g cheddar cheese
  • 400 ml creme fraiche

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and carrot. Fry until soft.
  2. Add in the garlic and fry for an extra 1 minute and then add in the mince whilst breaking it up. Cook until the mince is brown.
  3. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree.
  4. Mix the creme fraiche and cheddar cheese in a bowl with 2 tbsp of water to make a cheese sauce.
  5. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Spread the mince and sauce in the bottom of a roasting tin, followed by layers of lasagne sheets to fit across the whole of the tin and then the cheese sauce. Repeat this sequence until the tin is full, making sure that the last layer on the top is cheese sauce. Sprinkle the top with more cheese if you wish.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Serve.

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Cheese, leek and bacon pasta

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • Olive oil
  • 300g leek, finely sliced
  • 8 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
  • 400g pasta
  • 100g herb and garlic soft cheese

Method

  1. Heat the oil, add the leeks and 2 tbsp of water. Cook until the leeks are soft. Add the bacon and fry until cooked.
  2. Cook the pasta following the instructions on the pasta packet. When you drain the pasta keep some of the water aside in a mug.
  3. Add the cream cheese in to the leek and bacon mix, adding some of the saved pasta water.
  4. Over the heat stir in the cooked pasta and add more water if needed, until the pasta is covered.

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Sausages and mash

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 8 sausages
  • Bisto gravy granules
  • 900g potatoes
  • 50g butter
  • 100ml milk
  • Vegetables of your choice

Method

  1. Place the sausages in a roasting tin and cook to the temperature instructed to on the packaging. Keep turning them to make sure they are browning all around.
  2. Peel and then slice the potatoes. Put them in a pan of boiling water and boil until very soft, then drain.
  3. Put the butter and milk in a pan and heat until melted. Pour this over the potatoes and mash until smooth, using salt and pepper to season if you wish.
  4. Boil the vegetables of your choice until soft and then drain.
  5. Mix the gravy granules with boiling water and stir until smooth and to the consistency that you wish.
  6. Add everything to a plate, pour over the gravy and serve.

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Mince Pies

Ingredients (serves 18):

  • 225 diced cold butter
  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 280g mincemeat
  • 1 small egg
  • Icing sugar to dust

Method

  1. Mix the butter, flour and caster sugar together to make the pastry and add in a pinch of salt. Create a ball and then knead it without adding any liquid. This can be used straight away or it can be chilled and saved to use later.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C and line 18 holes of the tins with pastry. If you do not have cutters to cut the pastry in to circles, you can roll it in to walnut sized balls and spread it out across the base of the tin hole.
  3. Spoon the mincemeat equally across the pies.
  4. Next, either use a smaller circle cutter or take smaller balls of pastry than before and spread it out in to a circle, large enough to cover the top of the pies as a lid. Make sure that the lid is on securely and is attached to the base of the pie.
  5. Beat the egg and brush the top of the pies. Then bake for 20 minutes until golden.
  6. Once cooked and cooled, then place on a wire rack and sprinkle with icing sugar.

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Best Places to Eat in Colchester

Hello!

In this blog I am going to be writing about my top 3 places to eat in Colchester town. Sometimes it is nice to get off campus and have something different to Zest, The Kitchen, The Canteen or Happy Days! There is a wide variety of food in town and although it is a bit more expensive than on campus, I think the food is worth it!

Number 5 – Playhouse

This is a Wetherspoons and has a very large variety of food to choose from, from burgers, to curry, to pasta. They show their menu online, however they do not show prices, but I know that the food is cheap and they have some great deals! Inside they have it set out a bit like a theatre with characters from films set up as the audience, which makes it different and entertaining. It is on St. John’s Street, so it is easy to get to by bus or taxi.

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Number 4 – Rose and Crown

This is actually a pub situated in Wivenhoe. They serve things like burgers, burritos, baked potatoes, pies and even a roast dinner! They have something for everyone and it is in a great location on the river, so it’s a really pretty typical English pub.Even if you don’t want to go for food, it’s a nice place to go for drinks too.

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Number 3 – Middletons

This is located on North Hill and is one of the places I haven’t actually tried yet! However, I have heard really good reviews about it and would like to go soon. It specialises in burgers and steaks and it isn’t the cheapest restaurant in town, but I believe for the quality of food it is worth it! They also have a lunch specials menu, which is 1 Course £7.45 2 Courses £9.95 or 3 Courses £10.95 Monday-Saturday 12pm-3pm. It’s a great deal!

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Number 2 – Prezzo

Prezzo is an Italian chain restaurant on Culver Street in town. They serve mainly pizza and pasta for mains but have a couple of other options too. They accept student discount but usually have some great other deals on too. For example, at the moment they are offering 40% off main meals, so it really is worth checking their website before you go! The restaurant interior is modern, so it has a good atmosphere and the food is good too.

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And finally…

Number 1 – North Hill Noodle Bar

This is definitely my favourite place to eat in Colchester! It is not a chain restaurant, therefore it is something different. It is an Asian cuisine serving noodles, rice and soup and they have great desserts too! The Noodle Bar is probably my favourite Asian restaurant that I have eaten at. It is on North Hill in town and I would recommend booking before you go, as it is relatively small and sometimes gets packed!

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Flat Christmas Dinner Tips

Everyone loves a Christmas dinner! Having one with your flat mates before you go home for the Christmas holidays is a great way to get together before you all leave. A lot of international students may not have tried a typical British Christmas dinner before, so it’s always nice to show them some typical traditions! Here are my top 5 Christmas dinner tips to make sure your Christmas dinner runs smoothly.

Tip 1: Make sure you know the number you are buying for

For example, if you are living in the towers you may have to feed up to 16 people. This would involve a lot more organising and there will be a lot more food to buy! Make sure to plan in advance so that you know exactly who can come and to make sure you buy the right amount of food.

Tip 2: Check that you have enough equipment

Making a Christmas dinner involves a lot of cooking equipment, so check that you have enough pans, roasting trays and utensils. Otherwise you may have to wait for something to finish cooking before using it and everything won’t be ready at once!51IF5CCLcNL._SL1023_.jpgTip 3:  Think about whether you have time to make things from scratch or if you are going to buy them already prepared

If your flat mates are up for getting involved with the cooking, then maybe making things like roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings and pigs in blankets from scratch will be fun. However, if there is only a couple of people cooking for a lot of people, then maybe buying these already prepared would be easier and quicker.

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Tip 4: Think about your budget

Check with your flat mates how much they are willing to put in to making the Christmas dinner. For example, Christmas crackers are always fun to have but are not an essential if it is not within your budget.

Tip 5: Make a shopping list

If you go to the supermarket without a list you generally end up buying a lot more than what you need! Here is an idea of a shopping list that you might want to use for your flat Christmas dinner:

  • Turkey
  • Roast potatoes
  • Yorkshire puddings
  • Stuffing
  • Pigs in blankets
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Brocolli
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mince pies
  • Christmas pudding
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Crackers
  • Ice cream
  • Drinks
  • Christmas crackers

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I hope this helps you to plan your Christmas meal!

How to make your own Christmas cards

I know that as a student you try to save as much money and time as possible, therefore this blog is going to be about how to make your own Christmas cards in under an hour! For the readers out there who don’t want to spend ages cutting and sticking, don’t worry! I’m going to tell you how to make some Santa Christmas cards that look great, but are super easy to make!

You will need:

  • Card (thick enough to be used as the main part of the card)
  • Red paper
  • White paper
  • Flesh coloured paper
  • Black marker pen
  • Pink crayon or pencil
  • Glue
  • Scissors

How to make the cards:

  1. Fold your card in half to make the main base for the cards.
  2. Cut a strip of the flesh coloured paper and place it in the middle of your card and trim the edges so that it fits, then glue it down.
  3. Cut a strip of red paper and stick it above the flesh coloured paper so that it covers the top of the card for Santa’s hat.
  4. Next, rip the white paper (don’t worry it doesn’t have to be neat) and glue it over where the red and flesh coloured paper meet. This is going to be the fur on Santa’s hat.
  5. Then rip another piece of white paper for his beard. You should try and make this arch at the top as shown in the picture below. Then stick this to the bottom of the card, below the flesh coloured paper.
  6. Take the black marker to draw eyes, nose and a mouth on Santa and use the pink crayon or pencil to draw on some rosey cheeks to the flesh coloured paper.

And you’re done!

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You can also use this exact design to make gift bags and tags!

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I hope this is useful and happy card making 🙂

How to make your own flat Christmas decorations

As Christmas is getting closer I know that most students like to give their flat that homely Christmas feeling and decorate their kitchen, hallways or bedrooms with colourful decorations. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Tinsel and a Christmas tree always goes down a treat. You can buy these cheaply and they are easy to put up. You can make your own decorations as a flat to put on the tree. We’ll start with how to make a simple

Wreath decoration…

What you will need:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Buttons
  • Ribbon

Instructions:

  1. Thread the pipe cleaner through the holes of the buttons.
  2. Then bend the pipe cleaner in a circle so that it stays in place.
  3. Finally, add the ribbon to the top of the circle and tie it in a bow, so it looks like a wreath.
  4. Then it’s ready to hang on your tree or bedroom door!

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Baubles…

What you will need:

  • Different coloured card
  • Pencils/crayons/pens/glitter (or whatever you wish to decorate)
  • Ribbon
  • Hole puncher

Instructions:

  1. Cut the coloured card into circles, however small or large you wish your decorations to be.
  2. Punch a hole at the top of the card then decorate the card however you wish using your pencils/crayons/pens/glitter/shapes etc.
  3. Then cut the ribbon to whatever length you wish and thread the ribbon through the hole and tie at the top.Untitled.png

Here’s one last idea, which I’m sure you’ll all love…

Toilet roll reindeer decorations.

What you will need:

  • Toilet roll tubes
  • Brown wallpaper samples
  • Brown pipe cleaners
  • Red pom poms
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue

Instructions:

  1. Cut the toilet rolls in half and glue the brown wallpaper around them.
  2. Pierce a whole through each side of the top of the toilet roll and thread the brown pipe cleaners through. Then twist the ends so that they look like antlers.
  3. Glue the red pom pom to the toilet roll to create a nose and glue the google eyes in place.
  4. Next, attach a ribbon to the back of the reindeer, so that you can hang it on your Christmas tree.

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I hope that these ideas get you excited for Christmas and they come in useful for your flat! 🙂

The Differences Between College and Uni

Going from college to university can be quite a change! University is a complete different way of learning (which I actually prefer) to school or college. This blog is going to tell you about some of the differences, so you can be prepared for when you make the move.

Lectures

Lectures are where you sit and listen to your lecturer speak about a specific topic and you write notes on what they are saying. A presentation is usually shown, but there is very little interaction between the lecturer and the students.

In college you do not have lectures but only classes, so there is a lot more interaction with your teacher and you can speak to them one-to-one if you need to. Lectures give you an opportunity to write notes in a way that you can understand and remember them. A seminar will follow up the lecture, where you can ask any questions you may have.

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Assignments

At university you will learn how to write and structure your assignments in the way that your course guide asks you to. They are a lot more in depth than an essay you may write at college and a lot more research is needed, but don’t worry, you will get the hang of it and there is always help if you need it!

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Referencing

At college referencing is generally not needed, however at university it is essential so that you do not commit an academic offence. You will need to check your course guide for what referencing style you should use, as there are many different ones and you need to make sure you cite the information correctly so you don’t lose marks. A lot of information on how to reference can be found online. I know it looks scary at first, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s fine!

Living away from home

This is one of the biggest differences between college and university, as at college generally people still live at home with their family. However, at uni a lot of people choose to move out and live either on campus or off campus. It feels unusual at first to not see your family everyday and you realise how much you have to do for yourself (such as cooking and cleaning), but once you make friends you will love it and it really is a great experience!

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Contact hours

At college you are expected to attend your classes most days, if not every day. However, at university it is up to you how you organise your time to study, as there are less contact hours. For example, you could only have lectures and classes for 8 hours per week and in your spare hours it is up to you to organise your time. Make sure you manage your time wisely, because it’s easier than you’d think to get behind!

The social side

Aside from studying, there is a huge social side to university. For example, you can join sports clubs and societies, you can take part in volunteering, and you can go on days and nights out with your friends. There are many ways in which you can keep busy and meet new people! These activities take place around your studies, so it is useful to keep a diary, so you know what you have planned and when!

I hope that this gives you an insight of what university is like and helps you to prepare for your next step!