Long distance friendships and relationships

Coming to university, moving away from your loved ones, and starting this whole scary ‘long distance’ thing might be the worst nightmare for many students. It was scary for me too, but now I actually think it’s a blessing.

I left my home country a while ago, leaving all my friends behind. For the past seven years I lived in quite a few countries and, as a fairly sociable human being, I found a lovely bunch of friends in each of them and fell in love a few times. And just at the moment I would start to call that place ‘home’, it was time to make a move again… even though it was always painful (actually I don’t think I ever managed to leave without crying a river!) I learned to appreciate every different place for their own special reasons.

When I was moving around, for the first few times I was convinced I would keep in touch with all my friends and only a thought of a different scenario would make my eyes water. The truth is that it’s not always like that. You will have your life here and they will have their life there. You can drop a message sometimes, but it’s difficult to be present in everybody’s life constantly, unless you want to spend your life on Skype. The good thing about it is that it will let you identify people who really care about how you’re doing and who always will be there for you, in spite of the distance and the time passing by.

Even if it sounds harsh, I believe the same goes for amorous relationships. Sometimes being around one another constantly doesn’t give you any space to reflect upon your relationship. After moving away for a while, you will be able to look at everything from a distance and decide if it’s really right for you.

A while ago I moved to another country (again), and my boyfriend-at-the-time stayed in the country I left. We were both so in love, so of course we tried to keep it going. After I moved away, I realised that I was actually happier by myself, doing what was making ME happy and that this relationship was keeping me in stagnation, without me even realising it. I didn’t just give up, I tried to find a solution, but after a while I came to the conclusion that this was an ultimatum: my personal growth or that relationship. It sounds like the worst scenario, and I don’t wish it to happen to any of you, but I think for me I made the best decision. I looked at my relationship from a different perspective and I noticed that it just wasn’t what I wanted.

I don’t mean to scare you. It doesn’t mean that after coming to uni your relationships will fall apart. Actually, I’ve been in (another) long distance relationship for a while now and seriously, I couldn’t be happier. Ironically, the distance makes us feel even closer because now we make time for good conversations. I don’t want to sound like a relationship pro either, of course everyone is different, but just know that it doesn’t have to be a bad thing to be away from one another and if it doesn’t work, it’s for a reason.

It’s a win-win situation!

Long distance friendships and relationships at uni might be the first ‘trial’ for you and I think it will benefit you either way. If things don’t go so well and you happen to break up or stop being friends – that’s ok, honestly! It might be difficult to accept at the time, but maybe there’s some truth in the saying that everything happens for a reason. My very wise friend used to say: ”It’s always good when it’s good”. It’s so true. It’s only when obstacles such as being long distance appear that you find out if you really are meant to bein each other’s lives. And  if it does work out, that’s amazing! You guys will have a solid base to build something very valuable.

Good luck to all those who are about to embark on a new adventure, moving cities or even countries, I hope you to keep your precious friendships and establish new ones! For those who come in a ‘relationship status’, stay positive! There are so many ways to pamper your Very Special Person from far away, but that’s a topic for another post. 🙂

Your first instalment of student loan: what to do and what not to do

There are numerous exciting moments when starting university: moving in day, first classes, and meeting new people. But perhaps receiving that first instalment of your student loan (and arguably every subsequent instalment) is THE most exciting moment there is.

However with the great first instalment comes great responsibilities, so here are the essential do’s and don’ts that you should know:

piggy_grad1

(c) thebackbencher.co.uk

DO budget: as boring as it sounds you need to make your money last for the entire term and if you don’t have a part-time job then this is probably the source of funds to pay for those important things. Remember this money is going towards your accommodation, food, books, stationery and socialising- so take that into account.

DON’T spend it all in the first week: Rule number one! Never, ever, ever spend the entire instalment in the first week, not matter how tempting it may be.

DO consider part-time work if you think you need more money: Sometimes the student loan just isn’t going to reach the entire term, so consider supplementing it with part-time work- you’ll find tons of opportunities both on campus and in nearby Colchester.

DON’T worry about tuition fees: The whole tuition fee thing can seem daunting, but don’t worry your first instalment of your student loan does not go towards it- this is handled separately between the university and the student loans company.

DO learn about food: Gone are the days of eating nothing but baked beans and pot noodle as a student. You can now buy good food quick cheaply, so you can eat and live well on a budget. Try shopping around and don’t rely too must on takeaways.

DON’T give into temptation: With the prospect of thousands of pounds at your disposal it is easy to get tempted by pricey clothes, jewellery, technology and the rest- but don’t do it at the risk of leaving yourself short at the end of term.

 

Good luck and happy spending (or saving!)

Last Minute Shoppers Guide To Make University Feel Like Home

polaroids_550x822When I turned up at university that sunny Sunday morning in late September I’d came prepared. I had new bed sheets, all the cooking utensils anyone could want and a Tesco food shop to last me a good 2 weeks. But there was one major thing I had missed of my shopping list.. things to make my university room feel like home.

The accommodation rooms are pretty plain. But that’s a good thing because you’d never suit everyone’s taste. This gives you the perfect opportunity to make your room yours. Consider all them finishing touches that make your university feel homely.

Photos 

Photos are the most important thing to make your room feel homely. Surrounded by your friends and family from back home that lonely room can suddenly feel a lot more like home. There are several ways you can put pictures around your room.

  • Photo frames– Choose some nice photo frames and pick your favourite photos of your loved ones. I think using a photo frame for a picture makes it really personal.
  • Photo wall– I quickly learnt that a photo wall was the thing for uni rooms! This is a great way to make them white walls seem less bland. It means you can put a lot more photos up and you’re not having to choose which photos miss out on the frames.
  • Photo lines– I think these are a great DIY way to decorate your room! Easy to make. All you’ll need is string, pegs, blue tac and some photos! Cheap but effective!

Posters & calendars

A way to take up some wall space is by getting posters! But don’t worry the university has a poster fair where you can get your posters from! A calendar is also a nice touch. It is also practical, you can write upcoming events and deadline so you never miss out! I have a pug calendar and it really comes in handy!

Cushions

 I think I have a cushion obsession. I have 7. And they all end up on the floor half way through the night. But I just love the way they make my bed look homely and also add the extra comfort.

cushion

Bed throw/blanket

Adding a blanket or bed throw is another way to make your bed a bit more homely. It has a practical use for when its cold or you’ve got fresher’s flu to wrap up in and feel sorry for yourself.

Rug 

The carpet in the university reminds me of carpet you had in primary school. There is not a lot you can do about the carpet.. but you can add a rug!

Extras- Blackboard, whiteboard, dream catcher 

Have you thought about the little extra bits you could buy to make your university room look quirky? Try visiting shops such as B&M, Wilkinson’s and the range to find these little gems. For example, I had a moustache blackboard which also came in handy to write notes on, a white board and a sign with a quote of some sort.

sign

Storage boxes

Firstly, storage boxes are really handy to store paperwork and stationary in. Let’s not pretend that you haven’t already brought enough stationary to give WHSmiths a run for their money! They make your room look a lot tidier and they can also give that plain shelf a bit of life. I got mine from B&M and Argos.

Make cute jars 

There are many things you could do with a jar. From the picture below you can see this glitter jars. You could make these by getting glitter glue or adding glitter to PVA glue and painting the jar. It would take quite a few layers to get the effects of the picture below, but if you’re in to arts and crafts and have a bit of time on your hands, then these jars are a great idea!

jars.jpg

Jars could also be used for storage. Write labels on the side of the jars and keep loose bits and pieces in them!

jars2

Extra seating such as beanbags

While there is only so much you can fit in your university room; an idea is adding some extra seating such as a beanbag. I know that squeezing a group of people in your room for a movie night or gossip can be hard, but having extra seating like a beanbag prevents at least one person from sitting on the floor!

beanbag

There’s a few ideas about how you can decorate your room. Do your room to suit your tastes because everyone is different and when you’re away from home, you need to feel like you have a little piece of it at uni.

 

Thrifty Studenting AKA Improvising Plates Out of Cardboard Because You’re a Terrible Person

6355840185_8e1c4d8f11_b

Let’s set the scene, you’re a month deep into your student loan, and after buying a fresh pair of creps, an entire new wardrobe and all of the pretentious coffees ever, you’re broke. Student life can be pricey, especially when the nights out get heavier and the desire to order takeaway in place of real food gets stronger. Here’s some ways to save that dollar.

All the discounts.

There’s a huge amount of shops that offer student discount, and you don’t necessarily have to have an NUS extra card, a lot of places will take your university card, or for online, Unidays is a life saver. Everywhere I go, whenever I am spending money, I always ask if there’s student discount, even if it feels silly, sometimes you are pleasantly surprised and get a little bit off.

Shared Netflix/ whatever you watch on. 

This could be hard now Netflix are limiting the amount of people that can watch at one time, but if you live in a house with your mates, and you all watch TV together, maybe consider all going in on a collective streaming account, save paying for an individual one each.

Do you actually need that Starbucks though?

I’m totally guilty of this, you get into your routine, lecture then Starbucks, day in day out. Granted, few can resist the pull of a  pumpkin spice latte, topped with whipped cream, but yikes, how much is that costing you?! Coffee isn’t cheap when you buy it everyday, if you need your fix, go for a flask, which holds more coffee, which is a total bonus.  It may seem like a tiny amount of money to grab a cappuccino at a coffee shop, but add that up, it soon starts to mount.  

Supermarket Sweep

Those little yellow stickers are like a glowing beacon of cheap brilliance as you walk down the aisle, the supermarket reduced counter is a great source for food, the reductions are great especially for things like meat and fish, I tend to stock up on seafood and freeze it.

For food in your fridge, I’ll leave this to your judgement, but for me, sell by dates are for the weak, nose test it and you’re good to go. (I am partially joking about this!) However, if you’ve got a bag of spinach which is still perfectly crisp and fresh that went out yesterday, you’re not gonna die if you use it in your dinner.

What are you doing buying name brand anything you lunatic!?! Supermarket own brand isn’t as bad as you think (maybe not the vodka.) Seriously, name brand food is for Oxbridge students and when you go home to your parent’s house for the weekend. I’m like an own brand bloodhound, that’s how you get when you’re a thrifty student, the packaging may not be as pretty but I promise, the majority of stuff tastes the exact same! In the case of instant noodles, Tesco’s ones are actually better, I swear!

Make gifts, don’t buy them

Christmas and birthdays are so damn pricey, my personal method of avoiding this cost is by hating everyone which makes my birthday list substantially lower, but for those of you that insist on being decent human beings and upkeeping friendships, while you’re at uni, making gifts in the form of food is always a winner. This is a great way to charm elderly relatives, especially my very old-fashioned nan, who up until this point was probably losing hope in her unhomely, terrible at cookery, no desire to get married and have children granddaughter, I made her fudge, and a little piece of her faith in me as a ‘proper woman’ was restored (let’s ignore how ridiculously 1950’s and outdated that sounds.) Plus you can totally eat some as you make it. Fudge is great and really really easy, I used old coffee jars, ribbon and pieces off of Christmas cards to package and managed to make it look like it was from some fancy artisanal farm shop. For friends, who should appreciate you for your ‘quirky’ flair, wrap their gifts up in tin foil, who buys wrapping paper? I’m not in my 40’s yet, that’s far too responsible.

Being Super Tight/ I’m The Worst 

Save water and washing up time and energy

Ok get ready, because this blew my tiny mind, when you buy crisps, push the bottom of the bag up inside itself, it makes a freakin’ bowl… wuuuut?! My housemate changed my life with that, not even exaggerating.

Also, if you’re making food for yourself, why use a plate when you can just eat from the saucepan, it tastes like decadence, just put a mat down and eat that pasta straight out of the pan, like a maverick. Same applies for baking trays, chips and chicken nuggets for a naughty tea? Go on, eat it off the tray, you’re a student, you have no shame.

Re-purposed cardboard is life 

Why would you do that? How many pizzas have you had? I use a lot of cardboard because I paint a lot, rip up that pizza box, boom! You’ve got yourself a palette.

Old cereal boxes double up as plates when washing up just feels a little bit beyond your skill set (for flat, dry food like toast, nothing rolly or runny like peas or ice cream obviously, but if you can’t work that out, you probably shouldn’t be at uni.)

If you’re even more of a money scavenger and you ebay like me, buying packaging for your sells can be expensive, I once sent an order off to a buyer in a re-purposed quavers box which had blown into my garden, that’s thrift right there, I’m not paying money for cardboard!

These are just a few things that you can consider doing, if you’re willing to stoop as low as me to save a penny.

 

 

Books, reading lists and everything in-between

Books shelf

I “ummed” and “ahhed” for ages whilst deciding what I should write about this week, then a friend sent me a Snapchat picture (yeah thats right, I have Snapchat- I don’t really know how to use it but I have it!)

My friend had just been to Wivenhoe and discovered not one but two bookshops. To be fair, it is our own ignorance that we never ventured far into Wivenhoe to have a good look around- which is highly recommended by the way. As a result, for the past three years knowledge of these bookshops had completely escaped me and looking back I wish I had know about them. It would have saved me a considerable amount of time and money in getting books for my course.

And these are the questions that I have been asked on numerous occasions: What books do I need? Where can I find them?

Whilst I only really know about this from a literature student perspective, most of the information I provide about reading lists and book hunting is still relevant to most subjects.

Reading Lists

Every module will have a reading list of some sort. These will be the books that you require for that particular module and are often split into primary reading lists (texts you must read) and secondary reading lists (texts which you might find helpful).

Reading lists can normally be found on the module directory pages: https://www.essex.ac.uk/modules/ or on Moodle. If you can’t find any sort of reading list contact the module director or your departmental office.

New Books

Nothing beats a new book and these are often very easy to find. Of course you have suppliers such as Waterstones (our on campus bookshop, who stock most of the stuff that can be found on the primary lists- though books can also be ordered in); Wivenhoe Bookshop is an independent shop a short distance from campus which provides a friendly service. Of course you also have other options such as online retailers like Amazon.

NOTE: Some modules for departments such as law will recommend particular editions of texts and it is important to get these editions so that your book corresponds with everyone else. So it is in your best interest to buy the edition they ask for.

Second Hand Books

This is the best way to get books on a budget and there are plenty of options available to you. As part of the weekly Thursday Market in square 3 there is a second hand book stall which often has relevant books for different courses.

In addition you have the Colne Bookshop on the High Street in Wivenhoe and numerous charity shops in Colchester- perhaps the ones of note are the row of shops opposite Wilko (the number 61 and 62 bus will take you there from campus). In these cases you’ll find it quite common that past students on different modules will off-load their old books at these second hand stores. If you are lucky you may be able to pick up the entire terms books in one shop!

Online sites such as AbeBooks are also really useful.

25860772452_49d6d3f0f0_b

Library Books

An even more thrifty way to get books is to get them from the library. The on campus Albert Sloman Library will stock the majority of books on reading lists as well as extra and supplementary reading.

HOWEVER be careful as the number of texts available can vary greatly and if demand is high you’ll find it difficult to get hold of certain texts. People can also recall books which means that you will have one week in which to return it, so it is best to avoid getting out popular books if you can. This is not a good option if you like to write in your books!

Additionally there are also the libraries in Wivenhoe, Greenstead and Colchester Town which are run by Essex County Council and are a free to sign up to.

Online and e-books

Depending on your department/ module you may be able to access what is known as a “reader”- which is an online document that has been created by module director and often contains all the reading you need.

Otherwise there is also the option to use the library catalogue to find out if there are any e-books or online journals available- and at least with an ebook you won’t have other students desperate to recall it!

Organisational Tips for a Tidy Student Mind

to-do-list

At university, you’re going to be overloaded with information and stuff to do, both fun and not-so fun, staying organised for some is natural, for others it’s a complete uphill struggle. Here’s a few tips that have proven useful to me during my first and second years at Essex.
Deadlines

Using a program like One Note or Evernote to organize all of your core uni details, you can use it as a sort of online pin board on which you can attach pictures, to do lists, links etc all in one place. I have a little picture of Campus Cat on mine to boost morale when my deadline list gets a little terrifying. I also have login details and useful notes that I may need like my weekly budget so I don’t spend all that sweet sweet student loan all at once, but more on that later!

giphy (5)

 

Keep a planner and a calendar! Keeping a little calendar on your desk, crossing off each day just to know where you are when it comes to deadlines, you will know exactly where you are in the month in accordance to when the abundance of coursework needs to be handed in.

Note Taking

Keep little project books or separate sections for every module. For me, I have to keep each module separate when i’m note-taking. I buy several A5 project books, just like the ones you used to get at secondary school, and decorate them accordingly so I know exactly which is which, my film module had a large clapper board, US lit had a star spangled banner, you get the picture. It also gives you a great excuse to get a bit crafty.

 

giphy (6)

Code your note taking to make it easy to quickly reference things. Do this to fit your best learning methods, I came up with a little key at the beginning of my note pad, with different emojis and symbols that I would draw in the margins for myself to be able to go back quickly when looking over my notes.

Make sure everything is clearly titled and subtitled so you can find it quickly for reference.

Illustrate your notes, this is especially good for visual learners, I personally learn so much more when I can remember a picture that relates to it, even a simple diagram can make something resonate so much more .

Money Money Money Money

Ok I know you’re gonna be all ‘but Chloe I’m not an idiot I know how money works.’ but coming to uni for many can be a completely new experience in independence, you have all this responsibility, rent to pay, laundry, monthly bills, the lovely list goes on! A lot of people get to uni and have had the pleasure of having never had to do any of that stuff, they get in that bountiful student loan, and within two weeks they’re into their overdraft and down to dried pasta and cereal for every meal. If like me, money seems to disappear from your bank account (not so) mysteriously, working out a strict weekly budget can really help you when it gets to the last bit of term and you’re crying to your mum on the phone because you can’t even look at another pot noodle.

giphy (7)

First of all rent, obviously, the best thing to do is pay that rent straight away, as soon as you have your loan, just pay it, it will hurt to see a thousand odd pounds go out of your bank but then at least you’ve paid for somewhere to live. Then all of those direct debits, Netflix, Spotify, whatever else has to come out, and an average for laundry spending. Then with all of that left over, divide it by the number of weeks till the next loan drops and hey presto! You’ve got a weekly budget that you can throw away on all the trash food and midnight amazon orders your heart desires!

Reading

You’re a student, no matter what you do, you’re going to be reading for the majority of your life now so get used to it. However for most, the reading list is so substantial and daunting, (and trust me, I’m a Lit student, I’ve been there) that they just give up and don’t read anything. They’re then faced with two terms of catch up reading to do when it comes to the revision period.

giphy (9)

Of course you can’t always control when you get your reading list so my next advice may be completely useless if you have a disorganised lecturer, but try as hard as you can to read ahead, only if just a few days before the lecture, it’s so useful. For literature students, there will be modules with a novel a week, take two of those at the same time, and you’ve got The Odyssey and Huckelberry Finn to read within the next three days on top of additional course reading and deadlines too, good luck with that one.

These are just a few ideas, and people’s brains work in entirely different ways! Experiment with your studying, you may find something really creative that works especially well for you. Let’s be real though, we all front like we’re totally on top of things and then around week five we go back to being the terrible, disorganized monsters that we are. Most importantly though, buy cute stationary!

Leaving home: coping with nerves and homesickness

Leaving home is never easy. You may have spent numerous waking hours hoping to get out of the family home and live independently but that doesn’t mean that homesickness or nerves can kick in.

Homesickness is hard to define but probably affects more people than you would think. We love our homes (even when we say we don’t) and to suddenly spend time away from your comforts and the routine that you’re used to can be difficult. In fact it is estimated that nearly half of students at university will suffer from homesickness and nerves.

It is not a sign of weakness. In fact it is hugely natural and is a feeling that will pass in time.

Child-drawing-of-home-on--010

(c) Alamy

Firstly if you are unsure what your accommodation will be like and that makes your nervous then take a look at the website and the 360 degree room tours: http://www.essex.ac.uk/accommodation/residences/default.aspx

Next, at Essex you are able to get in contact with your future flatmates in advance of moving in day. Once you’ve got your room details you can join the accommodation’s Facebook and announce who you are and where you’re staying and let your new flatmates get in touch and introduce themselves. Follow the website, click on the accommodation then scroll down to the Facebook groups: http://www.essex.ac.uk/accommodation/residences/default.aspx

Make your new room homely. When you move in it will be a blank canvas, so consider bringing or eventually buying things that will make it feel like home to you. Of course make sure you don’t break the rules as to what you can and can’t bring to the university, but certainly try and add a touch of your personality to your room. Remember you may potentially be spending a fair amount of time in your room so make sure it feels comfortable to you.

Additionally:

  • Try talking to others about your concerns- they may be able to offer help and advice.
  • Avoid “over-contacting” home. It may be tempting to contact home but during the first few weeks when homesickness kicks in contacting home can actual make you feel worse, so try not to do it too much at first.
et_phone_home_by_brandtk-d65asj0

Sometimes calling home is not the best option when you’re homesick (c) shmoop.com

  • Get a routine- having a new routine can help to quickly banish those nerves and feelings of homesickness.
  • Join a society- in addition to your routine, joining an on campus club or society will put you in the company of other students and is a great way to meet friends as well as taking part in the things you enjoy.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: remember it will eventually pass, so don’t let it ruin your experience. It is natural to be nervous of the new and the unknown but soon it will become familiar to you.

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

SU Bar

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

Sub Zero/Base

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

Happy Days/Frango’s/Fusion/Canteen

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

Squares

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

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!

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

Dear EU and International students,

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

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

freshersfair

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

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

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

Yours truly,

Dragos