What is Summer Ball?

If you’re in your first year, you may have started to hear talks about an event called summer ball. Or are you a regretting not going last year and wondering if its worth it this year? Well I am here to tell you the basics.

So what is summer ball? It is the biggest event of the year at the uni! It is like the university’s answer to prom combined with a mini festival! I was very lucky that Summer Ball last year was on birthday so I had the most amazing birthday!

39

When, where and how?

summerball

When: Saturday 10th June. Summer ball starts in the evening and goes on until the early hours of the morning.

Where: On Colchester campus fields

How: Tickets go on sale on Friday 31st March. Any leftover tickets will go on sale after this. Tickets are usually around £50. They WILL sale out so don’t miss out!

What to expect

Summer ball is jam packed with lots of activities to keep you busy! There will be many different types of music acts to suit everyone’s music taste. Last year acts included headliner DJ Fresh, Hoosiers (you know the band that sang Good Bye Mr A), majestic, coffee house sessions and a steel drum band. The great thing about summer ball is you end up in a tent listening and dancing to something you never expected! This year’s acts will be announced around April!

There also lots of other entertainment. This includes a ferris wheel, dodgems, inflatables, waltzers and fireworks display. If you’re on the priority list, then this is perfect because it means you can get in early and  get on the rides before the queues start!

summerball-wheel

There are also a lot of food stalls and bars. My favourite was the bbq chicken wraps and Nutella waffles. I am still dreaming on getting my hands of summer balls food again! Summer ball is a no cash event though, so you need to buy tokens that you pick up to exchange for drinks and food.

summer-ball-waffle

5 reasons why you should get a ticket

So you know a bit more about what summer ball is why should you buy a ticket? Here is my 5 reasons why!

  1. It’s the last night out of the university year! It’s a great way to celebrate the end of the year with all your uni mates!

2. It is not like any other night out on campus. In no other night out will you get the            chance to see a variety of different music acts, entertainment and rides all at your fingertips.

3. The variety of music acts. Often sub-zero will have a DJ come and play on a Saturday night. But at summer ball you will get to see a number of DJ’s, bands and other music acts all in one place. Just like a mini festival!

4. An excuse to go all out! Everyone gets a little bit more dressed up for summer ball. It’s a great excuse to buy that new dress or the dust off the suit you never wear!

5. You get the opportunity to be a summer ball survivor. It is a sort of achievement to last right till the end of summer ball. The sun has risen, your tired, and dreaming of your bed…but who cares?! You survived summer ball!

summerball-survival

My verdict, don’t miss out on the biggest night on campus! Like the Summer Ball Facebook page for more updates!

How about a mini-trip to Wivenhoe?

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

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

wiven

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

the_sentinel_gallery_wivenhoe

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

 

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

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!

16700459_10154268869836517_5153875331420026669_o.jpg

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!

image.png

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 🙂

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!

pool-bomb

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

travel.jpg

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.

berlin

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.

 

beach

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

incognito

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

come fly with me.jpg

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!

 airbnb.png

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!

travelling.gif

The Essex Road Trip: the best places to go around Essex

Campus is great and all but sometimes it is nice to escape and explore. Now I am not going to deny that Essex (as in the county of Essex) has a reputation, but who would have thought that there is more to Essex than fake tan and the Sugar Hut? In fact Essex is a hugely diverse place in which 90% of its residents do not conform to the typical stereotypes.

So I recommend that you get exploring this fine county to see what it really has to offer:

21fb6186bf80f8128dc67d16d7709e49-jpg

So much to see in this huge county

 

History lovers- Satisfy those cravings with castles, stately homes and old buildings!

Layer Marney Tower– A short distance from Colchester, Layer Marney is the tallest gatehouse in Britain and is part of a building that was meant to rival the famous Hampton Court Palace. King Henry the 8th once stayed here.

Audley End House– On the outskirts of the historic town of Saffron Walden, this Jacobean stately home is one of the grandest in the area.

Hedingham Castle– This wonderful castle is still owned by the descendants of the original owners and is over 900 years old!

layer-marney-tower-004

The beautiful Layer Marney Tower

Coastal lovers- Over 350 miles of Coastline leaves you spoilt for choice

Clacton– only a short bus or train ride from campus, Clacton boasts all the things that you would associated with a typical coastal town- it even has a really cheap cinema. The nearby towns of Walton and Frinton are a short walk up the coast.

Mersea Island– Cut off from the mainland at high tide, Mersea is certainly a gem in Essex’s crown. The area is famous for its oyster fishing and restaurants with fantastic walks and beaches on the Blackwater Estuary.

Maldon– The 75 bus will take you from campus to the historic market town of Maldon filled with a great variety of shops and history, but the Promenade Park on the banks of the Blackwater Estuary is a great location for a day trip.

Southend– Any visit to Essex should include a visit to Southend. A huge amounts of shops, arcades, a planetarium, the UK’s longest pier as well as the rides and rollercoasters of Adventure Island often means that a day in Southend is not enough.

Harwich– Easily accessible by bus or train, this North Essex coastal town is probably best known for the busy international port, but is also where the pilgrims built the Mayflower in order to set sail to America. It also has one of the oldest cinemas in the UK and the famous diary writer, Samuel Pepys, was the Member of Parliament for the town.

harwich-008

Coastal views at Harwich- (c) The Guardian

Countryside lovers – Over 3,500 square kilometres for you to explore!

The Essex Way– an 82 mile footpath from Epping to Harwich via the rest of the county. I’m not for a minute suggesting you should walk the whole thing, but you could do parts of it!

Hylands Park– Located on the outskirts of Chelmsford, the park is most famous for hosting the annual V-Festival. It is also a 574 acre parkland with a Neo-Classical villa in the middle (which looks a bit like the White House)

Epping Forest– the size of over 3,300 football pitches, this ancient forest covers parts of Essex and North East London and is a former royal forest before being “given” to the people by Queen Victoria. Now the largest open space in London, the forest is filled with fantastic walks and stories.

Tiptree Jam Factory– Tiptree is famous for potentially being the biggest village in the UK as well as the jam factory. The factory are the provider of jam and conserves for Her Majesty the Queen. You can visit the factory and look around the gift shop and museum before enjoying a well deserved cream scone in the tea rooms.

epping-1-1200x480

Explore the depths of Epping Forest

Quirky lovers- For something a little different to the norm

Greensted Church– Not the Greensted in Colchester, but the one near the town of Ongar which is the oldest and perhaps only church in England built out of wood.

Great Dunmow– This town is home to a strange competition called the Flitch Trials. The mock trials aim to find a married couple who have not quarrelled or repented their marriage over the last year with the winners receiving a flitch of bacon!

Maldon Mud Race– Begun as pub bet in 1973, the mud race has become a huge event in which competitors must race through the muddy River Blackwater at low tide… it is very messy stuff!

To be honest what I have written does not even begin to scratch the surface of things to see and do in Essex, but it is a good place to start!

maldon-mud-race

Maldon Mud Race- (c) The Mirror News Group

Colchester’s hidden gems

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

Aburi Japanese Restaurant

aburi

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

Layer Marney Tower

layer-marney-tower-004

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

Hollytrees Museum

museum

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

 

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.

c5hndpew8aewjmr-jpg-large

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!

c4to1i2wyaadb4l-jpg-large

  • 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!

perry-up-and-coming-4

  • 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 🙂

The Only Way Is Essex: Why I Didn’t Choose Another Uni

only-way-is-essex-logo

Oh Essex, the land of fake tans and stilettos, or so The Only Way is Essex would have you think. When I told people I was applying to the University of Essex, people would automatically think of the stereotypical Essex resident. I found myself explaining that Essex was much more than what a reality TV show would have you believe. Along with the four other universities I applied to through UCAS, I researched Essex in great detail. It just really stood out to me as a university and a place that was unique and somewhere I could imagine spending three years of my life.

The Course

Out of all the unis I visited and applied to, I found the politics course at Essex to be the best for me. The content sounded really interesting and introduced me to new concepts. The wide variety of things covered in first year helped me to work out what I was most interested in, allowing me to choose more concentrated modules in second year. When I visited the Department of Government on an applicant day, the staff made me feel so welcome and that I could ask them anything. After starting at Essex it turned out I was right! The Government Department also has a great reputation for it’s research, which is great when those researchers are your lecturers and you’re learning about cutting edge research as it happens!

23863522969_40f183ff41_o

The Campus

Essex has a campus that really is one of a kind. Now it might not look as grand as some other universities but it had a vibe that I didn’t get when I visited the other unis I applied to. I loved that everything was so close together and it wouldn’t take ages to go between my lectures. It’s big enough not to feel claustrophobic but also small enough that you rarely make it to a lecture without running into someone you now. I was also attracted to the location of the campus. Colchester is a town with all the shops that you would need and it’s only an hour from London if you fancy a day out. The train is pretty cheap too. I thought it was great that Stansted airport was nearby too. Me and my flatmates made the most of it when we decided to go a spontaneous trip to Dublin to get away from exams!

img_20160903_144730804-cropped

The Year Abroad

I’d always known I wanted to do a year abroad so that was a major part for me in choosing which university to go to. After looking at all the other universities I applied to, Essex had the best opportunities for me when it came to study abroad options. I don’t pay any tuition fees to Essex or my exchange university for my year abroad. There was also so many options of countries I could go to. Being the political nerd that I am, when I worked out the US presidential election was happening during my study abroad year I was set on going to America, but there were so many other options too. I have friends all over the world in Australia, Canada, Europe and Asia. Being on my year abroad at the moment too I have also been experiencing the great support that Essex offers to its students who are away.

If you’re thinking about where to go to uni then the best advice I can offer is think about what the most important things to you are about where you’re going to spend the next few years of your life. I know that I made the right decision. Essex is perfect for me and everything that I could want from my university experience!

If I could Start over my Essex Experience: What I would and wouldn’t change

I have spent a lot of time recently reflecting on my time at Essex. I keep looking back to first year and thinking “wow that was 2 years ago?!”. I have no regrets coming to Essex and doing a degree in Psychology. However, if I could do it again, there are some things I might change and some that I wouldn’t change for the world!

What I would change

Join a sports club

sports

One thing I do regret is that I never joined a sports club. I assumed that if I joined a team I would have to give up my Wednesdays and weekends for it and with working that was something I couldn’t do. Now I’ve found out that this isn’t the case for some sports clubs, so wish I had done more looking into it! I would have loved to go and meet new people and go to sports fed with a team!

My advice to any first years is look into different sports clubs. Go to the just play sessions and the try outs! Get out of that comfort zone!

Getting more involved at Essex

Even with working weekends, I think I could have got more involved in my time at Essexs! There are society’s I wish I had got involved with in first year such as the Psychology society. I don’t speak to many people on my course and I think this could have been a way to talk to more people and make more friends!

I also wish I had got more involved in volunteering. I tried the teaching assistant volunteering, but since I couldn’t volunteer in a psychology class I tried my hands at maths. However, I was a bit rustier than I thought and had the slowest 1 and a half hour of my life! I wish I hadn’t let that stop me from doing other volunteering activities!

youthvolunteering_articleonpage

What I wouldn’t change

Living in towers

 I loved living in Towers! Because of the fact you’re living with 16 people, you are bound to find someone you have something in common with! It was such a mix of people and nationalities and it was a real learning curve. From what I’ve heard from other people it was a lot more social than other accommodations. We had such great time as a group and I am so glad I got to spend first year in towers!

img_5706

Not doing a year abroad

There is a massive part of me that would have loved to do the year abroad! I am a traveller at heart and really want to spend some time of my life going to different countries and experiencing different cultures! I would have loved to go to Australia because 1. Who doesn’t love a bit of sun? and 2. To go and travel around the other countries around there!

However, there is a but. There was no way I could go away for a whole year, to the other side of the world! I got home sick living in Colchester let alone Australia! I couldn’t have gone alone! I am planning in June to take some time out after exams and hopefully go to Thailand, so watch this space!

All the work experience I gained while at Essex

 When I comes to jobs I definitely got involved in Essex! In my 2nd year I was a Frontrunner for Residence life. 8 hours a week suited around my timetable. It was so different to what I was used to, working on tills, filling shelves etc. I am so glad that I have Frontrunners to put on my CV. It gave me so many transferable skills and opportunities that I can talk about in job interviews!

I also worked at graduation in the summer. I was a robing assistant and had such a fun four days working with the gowning company. Everyone was so happy and the atmosphere was great!I loved being able to see what everyone was wearing and how excited they all were. It was also nice to watch some of my friends get ready to go to their graduation! I would love to do it again this year!

8356503647_547430a504

Essex; it has been a ball. I have grown as a person here and I can’t wait to go on to my next adventure!

 

Sports opportunities to take on this term

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

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

Ice Skating

ice-skating

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

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

Swimming

swimming-pool-img-5

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

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

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

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