Things to consider before studying in the UK: an EU student’s perspective

There are certain moments in your life where you’re quite clueless when it comes to making big decisions. You don’t really know what the outcome will turn out to be. When you’re a teenager, even though you’re not allowed to go to the toilet without asking the teacher, you are put in a position where you need to decide the path of your entire life; you have to ask yourself, should I go to university or not? Then, more difficult questions start coming; what kind of university should I choose? Should I base my decision on university rankings, or will that confuse me more? What kind of degree should I study? And, in my case, I had to answer another difficult question: do I stay in Romania, or apply to the UK? Ultimately I chose to study in the UK, but there were a lot of things I needed to think about before I made my choice.

Fees

I’d heard stories about the cost of studying in the UK being expensive, or it not being within reach for me, but I’m here in my final year and I could afford it! The tuition fees when I enrolled were £ 9,000 per year, and the average cost of accommodation here is between £3,000- £7,000 per year. Ideally, after that you’d be able to live on around £4,000 for things like food, going out, clothes etc. I know that’s a lot of numbers and you might be thinking, how could I possibly afford that? Don’t worry! I  went through that as well, but it is possible.

The most expensive thing to pay for are the tuition fees, which could be either paid in 3 instalments, or, the choice I opted for, the UK government tuition fee loan, which I will need to give back after I graduate and once I’m earning over a certain amount. If you haven’t been able to earn more than that per year within 30 years, your loan will be erased. If you decide that you don’t want to continue to live in the UK after you graduate, the loan will vary  based on the salary in the country in which you are planning to live.

Luckily for me, my rent was  covered by my parents in my first year and they contributed to my spending habits, as well. I would certainly advise you to take in account every penny you spend and before arriving here. You can’t presume that you’ll get a part time job right away and get enough money to sustain your living. Take every aspect into account and that way there’ll be no nasty surprises. I got my first proper job in my second year and therefore had a little extra spending money for food and going out. It is quite tricky combining working with studying, but it has offered me a new outlook and opportunities to look forward to.

Homesickness

I have battled feeling homesick just like everyone else I know. Regardless of being an EU, UK or International student, everyone has it at some point. It’s normal. But it will pass, trust me. In fact, you’ll get to a stage where you’ll wish you could stay at uni forever!

Extra-Curricular opportunities

In UK universities, there is a lot of independent study, rather than being spoon-fed by your teachers. This means that you get to spend more time doing extra curricular things, as well as just studying! But, if you do need or want a bit more time with your academics, they have on-to-one office hours available to book.

The one extra-curricular activity that everyone should get involved in are the SOCIETIES! Yes! How else could you spend your free time if not being part of a society or being a volunteer?! Here at Essex, I have found that there seems to be a society for everything! Imagine the most obscure, unknown thing on the planet and there probably is a society for it here, but even if there isn’t you can set your own up. Just think about all the possibilities! They are unlimited!

Plus there are Sports clubs and teams, exercise classes, on-campus jobs and volunteering opportunities to get involved in.

Life after graduation

Wouldn’t it be great if your uni could offer you life time support when it comes to finding a career, or perfecting your cv and job applications? Well guess what…it exists! Essex has a Careers Centre to help you find a job, tailor your CV and help you with mock interviews! And it truly helps you feel prepared and prepare yourself for any kind of challenge. On top of that, you’ll receive emails with job opportunities, as well as a portal through which you can check job offers, which can be aimed specifically at students at a certain University.

All in all, there is one thing that you should be certain about: here, in the UK everything, and I mean everything, has been thought through to help students evolve and learn in a setting which tries to go beyond comfortable, something that will enhance your experiences and aims to get you that career that you always wanted!

Until the next time,

Mimi.

 

How to actually get work done: tips from a master procrastinator

I’m a huge procrastinator. I love to procrastinate. I’m procrastinating writing this article right now, in fact. Here are some tips I use to make myself have more Willpower (Haha, because my name is Will).

Eat before, not during.

For me, eating is a full time activity. I can’t forego the pleasure of my meal deal just so I can half-heartedly write an essay plan at the same time. If you’re eating, you shouldn’t be working. Eating is fun and triggers the reward centres in your brain or whatever. Save it for the break. Speaking of which…

Don’t work for too long in one go. Cup of tea breaks are very important.

You should probably aim for around half an hour before having a ten minute break to go and get a cup of tea or coffee or budget energy drink (if the situation is really that dire) so you don’t get overwhelmed or frazzled. Obviously if you’re really getting into it, you should ride the wave until it crashes. But don’t stress yourself out. That’ll just make you want to work less next time.

Use the day! You will never get anything done at night.

You should wake up early! Easier said than done, I know, but if you get into the habit of going to the library by, like, 10am on your off days, you can stay till 4pm and have done six hours of work! That’s a full day! You can go home after that and just watch Narcos or whatever until someone texts you about going to the SU bar. Next thing you know you’re belting out Shania at Milk It and you don’t even feel guilty because you did a full day’s work. Lovely.

Stick on some ambient noise instead of playing bangers.

The temptation when you’re working is to make it way more palatable by loading up the Teen 00s Party playlist on Spotify and getting lost in S Club. But before you know it, it’s midnight and you’ve accidentally transcribed the lyrics to Reach For The Stars into your essay on Nietzsche. My advice is to stay away from the fun stuff, and reach for some ambient tunes. My personal favourite is Rain Sounds For Babies on Apple Music.

Literally, just put your phone down.

The most basic one, but the hardest to do! We’re millennials (I think?) so obviously we find it impossible to put our phones down. This may be to do with our shortening attention spans, but is definitely to do with the fact we have supercomputers in our pockets capable of reaching the entire world at the push of a button. However, since your phone contains all of your interests in one neat package, it’s literally the worst thing to have in your hand when you’re working. So, turn it entirely off and bury it at the bottom of your bag! If it’s all the way off, the effort to switch it back on will be too great to bother with. You’ll be surprised at how much you get done.

Why Last Minute Decisions are the Best Decisions

This time two years ago, I was in my second year of university and I was in two minds about whether I wanted to do a year abroad or not. My friends had just received their year abroad university placements, and I also wanted to be that excited, and wondered about the adventures I would get up to in September.

I was in two minds about it, because I was worried about things such as: could I afford it? (Yes), where would I live? (in student accommodation that I found myself), it’s the second round of applications, will I be able to go where I want to go? (Again, yes). But in the end, it all came down to one question: did I want to go? And that answer was also a big yes. So, I went to campus, I changed my university course from a three year one to four year course at the student centre, and then I went to the year abroad office and submitted my application. It was honestly that simple. I later found out that I applied on one of the last few days applicable to apply, and I am so happy now that I took the courage to do so.

Initially, it was a lot of worrying about where I would apply to, and if I could afford it. Even though I had applied in the second round of applications, I still had loads of options to choose from, including places in America and New Zealand. Eventually, I chose to go to Ireland, more specifically Maynooth university which is forty minutes away from Dublin, and looks like this:

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Image: Domagoj Trsan: https://www.flickr.com/photos/domagojtrsan/37515914472/in/photolist-Za9SkA-efK8kD-XfG8x7-X3cAM7-SqnQGL-Tq7pEL-nuosJM-U9oL31-XjySDP-W3t71d-pmJhQS-8tos4B-RWLz3p-Umd8Xf-8An9FY-pmJk7L-225Jg5m-p2B7fX-TiYkrY-Umd8Hs-WJyaY1-p7fZyi-ncHkey-rhH496-TSGykf-Uv8o9B-7u3t6G-8H3UWw-ZM4fAM-QRq8Ks-VL1BsP-7U8S77-zUZWM3-7TRiji-TmNr8Z-8G1xNc-oAy7ia-Wp2ZJ5-WJygo9-WXE1mz-dL4nmH-Sz7D7E-zhSt4E-z6ndEK-6sgK2E-drPRRK-ban3qM-9onWbg-213944h-TiYk6s 

Some people may consider it a weird place to do my year abroad, considering it’s only an hour away by plane, and it’s next to us. A lot of people when I told them in the summer that I was going to do a year abroad in Ireland seemed almost disappointed that I wasn’t going to someplace like China or Australia. But I can honestly say that I don’t regret choosing Ireland, or not going to somewhere else in Europe, and it was probably one of the best decisions in my life.

First and foremost, I got to meet so many amazing people that I know I’m going to keep in touch with for a very long time. I also met my boyfriend in Maynooth, and we’ve been together for nearly a year now. Because of the people I’ve met, I was able to stay in New York last summer with one of my friends who lives in Long Island and she graciously let me stay in her house for two weeks. This summer I’ve been invited to Spain and Italy to catch up with my other year abroad friends too.

While abroad, I was able to travel around Ireland and Europe, including the Netherlands and Germany, and I’m going to continue travelling this year as well. Your year abroad isn’t just about learning, although obviously that’s a big part of it, it’s more about the culture, and the people you meet.

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Me in Ireland and other Erasmus students

A lot of people ask ‘how did you afford it?’ which I know is a big worry for a lot of students. It was a big worry for my parents when I eventually told them what I was doing. But you’re given so much funding from the government because they recognise that it’s such a great opportunity to learn abroad and they see it as a great investment for your future. Plus, if you go to a university in Europe (and some select universities in America), they offer you the Erasmus+ grant which you don’t have to pay back.

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Me and some friends enjoying the first sunny day of Spring

The reason I’m writing this blog post is just so that if anybody is on the fence about doing a year abroad, they should do it! Be sensible about your choice, and know that you’re going to have a wonderful time. I know I did, and I haven’t met anyone yet who has had a negative experience with their year. And for those who are already doing a year abroad, just know that you’re already made the right decision and you should look forward to August and September when you start. The world is an amazing place, go explore, the university will always be there when you get back!

 

 

Metamorphosis of an Undergraduate to a Postgraduate

After three years studying Biomedical Sciences at this university, I reached a fork in the road, so to speak. I could either apply for a Masters, or get experience working in research. Honestly, I felt scared to move to the next stage of adulthood, working a full-time job for the rest of my life and leaving my friends to focus on my future. Doing a Masters seemed like a better use of my time because I’d be spending one year getting a newer and better qualification that, in the long run, would help me get a better job.

I started applying to universities a bit late, because (A) I procrastinate and (B) I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I compiled a list of universities that had interesting Masters programs and decided to apply for ones in or close to London, just because London has everything in terms of services and resources. I kept Essex as my backup, as I’d promised myself I wanted to experience somewhere different. In the end though, I concluded that the University of Essex was more valuable to me than London universities. It was way cheaper in terms of accommodation and tuition fees. Additionally, the uni has a loyalty discount for its alumni, which cuts a maximum of  30% off your tuition* based on your final grade and as an international student, this mattered a lot because I have to pay almost double what a British or EU citizen pays.

*From 2018, this will be up to 25% off your tuition, based on your final grade.

I also have lots of contacts and friends in this uni that I didn’t want to let go of. I know this uni inside and out and staying here would make a stressful and hard Masters become a little easier. I would also get to stay in the same place as friends I’d made from younger years and get to see friends who’d been away on their year abroad and placements again. Moving to London meant that I would be emptying my bank account way faster, I would have to sort out accommodation which would be even more of a burden on my bank account, and I would have to start everything fresh. Its too much to put on someone’s plate and its much harder when you’re an international student. I consider my friends at uni to be family because of the support and safety that they provide me.

Now that I’ve made Essex my home, I feel comfortable doing my postgraduate study here.

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A Masters runs for an entire year, from the start of October till the end of September the following year and you graduate the consequent summer. The program is very similar to an undergraduate degree, except its more condensed as it only runs for one year. There are still exams that occur during January and the summer term, and coursework is spread throughout the whole year. Essays are way longer and there are (too many) oral presentations that we have to give!

In conjunction with studying for your Masters, you’re encouraged to start looking for prospective jobs or programs that you want to pursue. If you’d like to continue studying, I’d recommend that you begin applying for PhD’s in research facilities, hospitals or universities as soon as you can, because some provide spaces on a first come first served basis. On the other hand, if you’re sick of studying, you need to start looking for full-time jobs. Make sure to update your CV as you gain experience so that you can make time for finding jobs, obtaining references.

Unfortunately, we don’t get summer holidays and instead we have to prepare and complete our research projects. On my course, this is compiled of a 10,000 word SPF report (some courses have to write a whopping 20,000 words), project proposal, risk assessment (for those who are doing a laboratory-based project), oral and poster presentation, and a conference. While this sounds hard, you have to think about the benefits and whether or not, for you, these outweigh the sacrifices.

I’ve completed about half of this degree and am looking forward to making my way to the finish line in style! I’ve got a few pieces of coursework left, I’ve found a research project supervisor and am in the process of gathering and understanding resources. Luckily, I don’t have any exams during the summer term so I will be using this free time to search for full-time job opportunities, as I’d like to take a break from studying before doing my PhD. I’m looking forward to finishing, but doing my Masters will be so valuable for my future.

Relatable Advice on Revising for Exams and Finishing up Coursework

Holidays are meant to be period of relaxation and fun after surviving an entire term of stress and chaos. Lecturers try to space out the work over the term but for the last 2 weeks, they seem to realise that they miscalculated how much work they’ve given out and have to pile it up which results in mass panics and all-nighters in the library. You finally complete all your assignments and the holidays are here, but if like me, you were unlucky, you were given more coursework to finish in addition to January exams. I told myself I had plenty of time to study. I was right except my brain fed into my confidence and lured me into a false sense of security. Two weeks later, BAM, it hit me that I’d been procrastinating for too long and I had not even looked at the work I had. At least I was all caught up on Agents of SHIELD and the Flash series!

study gone

Here are some good, and hopefully easy tips to creating work-play balanced, stress-free environments:

  1. Sort out the technicalities of your work

By technicalities, I mean workload, all the information that is essential or helpful for your coursework/exams. Gather all the books, lecture notes and resources for the topics you’re using and place them in front of you. Let out a sigh of disbelief then proceed to separating your workload into lectures or chapters etc and calculate, reasonably, how much you can study in one day with regard to how many days you have left.

Businessman Drowning in Paperwork Whirlpool

2. Designate a study area appropriate to your atmospheric preferences

If you like peace and quiet, study in your room. If you like background noise, study on campus. If you don’t like studying then same buddy, but we have to anyways. Find somewhere that you can concentrate on actually doing work, so that you don’t procrastinate. Personally, I cannot study in my room because I find that I have too many distractions around me. I like studying in the Silberrad Student Centre because of background noise. People are probably doing the same thing as me, which motivates me to finish my work.

3. Give yourself generous breaks

During those long periods of revising, you’re bound to naturally get bored or tired and you’ll lose concentration. Take regular breaks in between and if you feel like you’re needing breaks too often, treat yourself to maybe an hour break. Perhaps watch an episode of your favourite show while having a small meal. That way you’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable and able to dive back into your revision. You’ll feel more determined to study harder and finish more work so you can have your well-earned break.

4. Set up a good sleep schedule

As everyone knows, sleep is important, especially during times like these. Your body only requires around 8 hours of sleep, so try to go to bed at around 11pm-12am at the latest and wake up at 8am. Science provides evidence that you have the most energy and concentration early in the morning, after a good night’s rest. Additionally, it means you’ll have more time to study during the day and therefore get more work done. If you continue on this schedule, your body and brain will get used to it and help you in the long run when you need to wake up early for exams or lectures.

5. Find a few friends or colleagues to work with

Revising on your own is a good way to stay concentrated on the work you’re doing. However, when you think you’ve got all the information down in your head, it would be beneficial to get in contact with your coursemates and form a study group. That way you can ask and answer questions and develop your analytical skills that are necessary for tests and coursework. Also, if your friends are motivated to study, you’ll be motivated too and in unison, you can get work done much faster.

study friends

In the end, it all comes down to you. You know better than anyone else what you’re capable of, your study methods, pace and concentration. However, these pieces of advice should push you in the right direction and get you the grades you need and deserve.

My Uni Journey

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

First Year

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

Second Year

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

Year Abroad

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

Final year

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

A Student’s Guide to Being Productive

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

Essays

giphy1 Don’t be this cat

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

Food

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

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

Make time for yourself

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

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

Top 5 Underappreciated Spots on Campus

If you’re applying to Essex, you may have already heard about about the campus social spaces. Sub-Zero, Top Bar and the SU Bar are all great, but what about the places you haven’t heard of? Essex has a multitude of cultural hot-spots just waiting to be taken advantage of, where you can open your mind and create freely. That, to me, is what university is about.

#1: Gigs in Base

Here is the place to go if you want to see live music for cheap right on your doorstep. From lively cover bands, university alumni, all the way to touring bands who have played Reading and Leeds. If you love live music in any capacity, Base has you covered. Also, if you form a band on campus, chances are you’ll get to play in Base pretty frequently…just ask Sonic Hangover! The gigs in Base are organised by the Alternative Music Society (Altsoc), a great group of people united by a love of all kinds of music.

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Photography credit: University of Essex Alternative Music Society, sourced via Facebook  (https://www.facebook.com/AltSocEssex/)

If you want more info on upcoming live bands in Base, join “University Of Essex Alternative Music Society Forum” on Facebook.

#2: Lakeside Theatre

My fellow blogger Perry has no doubt covered this extensively during his time as a student blogger, but it bears repeating. The Lakeside theatre is an absolute gem. It boasts everything from a yearly panto, to physical theatre, to powerful discussions and spoken word performances. In my first year, I saw some brilliant stand up comedy from Nathan Caton and I’m a sucker for a panto, so I saw that in my first and second years. No matter what your taste, if you’re into theatre, Lakeside is the place for you. 

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Photography credit: University of Essex sourced via Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/universityofessex/12221362263/

You can find upcoming Lakeside performances at http://lakesidetheatre.org.uk/whats-on/listings/.

#3: Music Room B

In my first year at Essex, if you wanted to play in a band, you had to practice in a lecture theatre between 7 and 10pm. In my second year, I helped the music society clear out the old drama room, which happened to contain not one but two Steinway pianos, and convert it into a practice room for musicians. Two years down the line and it’s a fully functioning music room complete with a set of amps, a drum kit, a keyboard, PA, and a multitude of other equipment. All you have to do is join the music society and you’re free to book it whenever you like. A musician’s dream. I love it!

 

Photography credits: Matthew Thurlow-Fox via Facebook (top) (https://www.facebook.com/matthew.thurlowfox?ref=br_rs) , UoE Music Society via Facebook (bottom left) (https://www.facebook.com/uoemusicsociety/), Octavian Albu (bottom right)

If you’re a practising musician, or just fancy giving it a try, check out “UoE Music Society” on Facebook.

#4: Cine10

Cine10 is something that still blows my mind every time I think about it. A cinema on campus, with full Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound and a 2K projector, and tickets are half the price of the Odeon in town. Cine10 shows movies that are still in cinemas, as well as classics, such as Mean Girls on October 3rd (of course) and the obligatory showing of Love Actually at Christmas. I saw Gone Girl there in my second year, and I have screenings for my film class there once a week. This is how much I love Cine10: my screenings are voluntary and at 9am (9AM!) and I still make the effort to go every week. It’s the full cinema experience, for no money at all.

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Photography credit: Cine10 via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Cine10-986183034789708/)

See all upcoming films at https://www.essexstudent.com/cine10/.

#5: Art Exchange

The Art Exchange is an incredible, cutting edge art gallery which is always free and always home to some amazing art. The first time I went to the gallery I saw Faiza Butt’s Paracosm and was so deeply impressed I made my mind up to see as many exhibitions as I could. The gallery has been home to such exhibitions as 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen’s Queen and Country exhibit and Regina José Galindo’s incredible Tierra. If you’re looking for radical contemporary art, or exhibitions of seminal work, Art Exchange has you covered. 

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Photography credit: Art Exchange via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ArtExchangeUoE/)

To see what exhibitions are coming up at the Art Exchange, check out their website at http://www.artexchange.org.uk/.

Is it Possible to Study and Still Have a Social Life?

The answer is of course, yes.

We’re in the last three weeks of uni, there’s officially less than a month until Christmas and deadlines are looming…It’s now that part of university where you have to actually attend lectures and start writing essays instead of hitting the snooze button and hanging out with your friends. The first term of university always feels really odd, when term starts December seems far, far away. You want to get to know your new flatmates rather than sit down and work. Now, you might have had a few late nights this term and you’re thinking about how to avoid panicking next term when your next deadline comes. So, here’s a few tips on how to have both a social life and get good results.

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To Do List

Invest in post it notes! Honestly, these saved my life in third year. I have so many deadlines for all my different modules, and for my RA job that it can be a bit overwhelming until I write it down. Once I have a list written down rather than just an idea in my head then it feels manageable. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at university when you have something due every week. And even if I only manage to cross off only half of my list, I still feel really accomplished.

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Find Your Space

Everyone has a spot on campus where they can be super productive. Some need the total silence of the library, while others need some background noise to focus. Personally, I need some background noise so I always like going to the student centre. Some people I know can work in the SU bar and like being able to get food and drinks while they’re working, and others like to stay in their room. Everybody has a certain space on campus that works for them, you just have to find it.

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Learn To Say No

Sometimes you just have to say no to your friends who are begging you to come out one last time before a deadline. You know and they know that you’re going to end up sleeping in the next day and not doing any work because you have a hangover (at least that’s what happens to me when I go out…) If you can work through your hangover, that’s great (also please let me know your secret?!), but some of us can’t and sometimes you need to say no to your friends and do the annoying thing of staying in and doing work. You’ll have serious FOMO but once you’ve finished it, you can go out as much as you like

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Alarms Are Your Friend (No, Really They Are)

Do you ever look back and wonder how you used to get at 7am for school when now it’s almost impossible to get up for your 9am lecture? I know I do. But if you find a time that feels like enough of a lie in, but still early during the day (personally, I like 9:30), then you’ll find your day is so much easier. If you find yourself waking up at noon everyday you’re going to find it much harder to fit in enough time for your uni life and your social life. Even if the idea of waking up at 9am is too much, set your alarm an hour earlier than normal and see how much work you get done and still get to hang out with your friends

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Speak Up

If you’re really struggling to balance your work and your social life and find yourself getting really overwhelmed at university, speak to someone. Even if it’s just a friend, they may be struggling in the same way. Your personal tutor is also there to give you advice and help you if you’re struggling, and Student Services are also on hand. You are not the first student to need help, and you won’t be the last. It’s very common for first years to end up at university and get really involved with things on campus and then forget that they actually have to study!

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Good luck!

 

Feeling overwhelmed?

Do you know the feeling of being stressed by essays, tests, presentations, work and volunteering commitments…You’re trying to pass everything well and still want to be involved in activities that matter to you, but it’s getting a bit too much. You just want to stop the time to get good sleep, watch all episodes of Friends, and then make the world spin round again. Sounds any familiar? If so, then you’re not alone in this. But there are a few ways to deal with it.

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Define the problem.

Do you have too many responsibilities? Is there any particular lecture that is difficult or any academic skill you need to improve? Do you struggle with managing your time or planning your work? Whatever it is, it has a solution, as long as you can define the problem. Just ask yourself a question what makes you feel like this and what can be done about it. If you think you can’t solve it yourself, maybe if would be easier after talking to your friend, lecturer, course director, Student Support or Talent Development Center. There are plenty of people willing to help you, but you need to let them know that you struggle.

 

See the good side.

Sometimes, it’s the attitude that’s the problem. Maybe it’s not meant to be easy – maybe that’s the whole point. When you work out to strengthen your muscles, run faster, climb higher… It requires effort and commitment, and your body is likely to be sore. This is how you know that it’s actually working and that you are improving.

It’s important to remember why you’re here. Most likely, you want to learn about something that interests you. You probably have a goal to achieve. To achieve this goal, you have to come out of your comfort zone. It might be hard sometimes, but that’s good, because this is how we learn.

It’s only up to you what you will make out of it. You can appreciate the amazing opportunity you have to learn and improve, or you can complain about it being difficult. The choice is yours.

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Look after your body.

Sometimes we think we’re some kind of super-humans who can survive on Red Bull, frozen pizzas and 4 hours of sleep. It’s strange that we understand that cars need the right petrol and certain maintenance to run properly, but we tend to forget that it applies to our bodies too. Drinking plenty of water, eating well, and getting enough sleep is so important, especially when you need to work at full speed. If you have heard it from your mom before, it’s because it’s true! 🙂

 

Prioritize ‘’ME TIME’’.

This is so crucial for everyone’s well-being. You are busy and you have the whole list of important things to do, but these things are not more important than YOU. Do something that makes you happy every day, even if it’s only a few minutes. Dance, sing, play an instrument, draw, go for a walk, meditate… Do whatever charges you with good energy.

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Don’t be harsh on yourself.

If something didn’t go as you planned, don’t punish yourself with negative thoughts. It’s OK. It’s just a part of the learning process. Just acknowledge it and move on. How many times did you fall off your bike before you’ve mastered riding it?

I hope you don’t get overwhelmed and that you stay faaaar away from the negative bubble! Life at Uni might become hard if you take up too much work and try to make everything perfect. I think the most important is to be kind to yourself and accept that you really don’t need to be perfect. Just love yourself, think positively and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if it’s needed! I’m sending you all a virtual hug and wish you a healthy end-of-term revision!