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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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!

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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.

 

Choosing Modules Wisely

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The beauty of uni is the amount of choice and flexibility you have with your degree, ability to pick and choose what you want to focus on is one of the best things about the transition from sixth form to uni. However, being wise about your choice of modules will also help you structure your time and not end up with a mountain of work all at once.

Check when in the year the module is

On the Essex Module Directory you can see whether a course is full year, autumn term or spring term, it’s indicated in the module code by FY-Full Year, AU Autumn, SP Spring. In my first year I made the mistake of choosing two Autumn term modules alongside the core modules I took, meaning I had loads of coursework all at the same time, and more lectures and classes too. It was definitely still doable, but when I was new to the university and time management deal, it did become a bit much on the run up to christmas when all of the coursework started to rack up. On the other side of that though, taking my optionals in the autumn meant that my spring term was the nice and relaxed, I only had three modules in comparison to the five that I had in first term, meaning I could give more time to coursework and start revision early.

Check what the assessment style is

Some people simply suck at exams, it just isn’t their forte, alternatively, some are terrible at organising their time around coursework, taking a good amount of time to check how modules are assessed means you can potentially avoid doing too much of whatever you struggle with (this obviously depends on department.)

Don’t be afraid to go outside your department

A lot of degrees will allow you to study modules outside of your department, this can seem intimidating as it isn’t in your area, but they offer you these modules for a reason. Having interdisciplinary knowledge can be so useful in the rest of your studies. I took a psychoanalysis module in first year, despite being a lit and film student and it was so useful, I was shoving Freud in any essay I could after taking it. You can apply knowledge from those modules to coursework and your independent research project. Everyone’s degree is different, shape it around what you find interesting.

Most importantly, go for your passion

You took this degree for a reason, take a good amount of time reading over the module outline, have a look at the bibliography, if necessary contact the module leader or your department for some more info. A lot of departments have their own facebook pages, you could even post on there to see if any other students could advise you on their thoughts about the module. Think about what really peaks your interest, a boring module is the worst.

 

10 Mistakes You’ll Make as a Fresher

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Coming to uni is full of new and exciting experiences, and you’re having to navigate a load of new things, so you’re bound to make a few mistakes, here’s ten things you might want to avoid, from ‘meh, you can get away with that’ to ‘for the love of all that is holy don’t do that.’ 

1.Not exploring the local area before studying starts

This isn’t essential but it’s A) useful to know the place you’ll be living in for three years and B) a nice thing to do to get to know your new friends and flatmates. It also means you can suss out local chippys for late night sesh food and where you can go for some retail therapy when things get a little too stressful.

2.Not getting familiar with how to find references before your first coursework is due

Again, this isn’t a massive mistake, but it’s just a useful thing to do before you’re bogged down with deadlines. Get yourself familiar with how to navigate the library and ways to find research material, for a lot of departments the library will give a talk on how to use the available resources, and there is loads of useful info on the library website too.

3.Buying every course book brand new

Unless you’re on a very specific course that needs particular editions etc, don’t be a wally and go forking out all your money on brand new books, go to charity shops, Ebay, Amazon marketplace and buy them second hand, or you may be able to find them online, some older books can actually be found free on apple store and kindle. A lot of lecturers will also upload the relevant reading material on ORB or moodle, so you won’t need to have the entire book, it’s best to get in touch with your department and ask beforehand

4.Joining every society under the sun

And how do you suppose you’re going to fit in Rowing, Archery, Sci-fi, Harry Potter, Pole, and Cheese and Wine society (yes that’s a real thing) into your week? Societies are great ways of meeting people but the truth is, signing up at every stall at freshers fair, you’re never going to be able to get to all of them, and you’ll be inundated with sign up emails. The best shout is to have a think what you really fancy and sign up to a select few.

5.Ruining at least one item of clothing in the wash

I did it, despite the fact that I thought I was an adulting boss before I came to uni, and not much self-sufficiency could phase me, I still managed to forget about a delicate kimono in my first wash and turn it into a pile of threads in the machine.

6.Worrying about what people think of your parents on move in day

You’re not going to be seeing them for a really long time, give your mum a break if she’s being a little clingy, everyone will understand. There’s no rush to be hurrying your folks out of the door. If there’s no welcome event in the evening of move in day, why not have a final meal with them before they head off. Emotions will be high on your first day, consider how weird it must feel for your parents now you’re flying the nest.

7.Getting caught up in all the fun and not doing the important stuff

Welcome week is predominantly  about enjoying yourself and getting familiar with your surroundings, but in between the partying and the fun stuff, there are a few admin things that are important to do. Make sure you go to the general welcome talk, registration, departmental talks and library tours, while they may seem boring and arduous, they’re important and useful in the long run. None of them take too long so you can get right back to enjoying yourself pretty quickly.

8.Panicking about not meeting your soulmate in the first week.

Likelihood is, in first week you’ll be finding your feet and meeting loads of different people, some might stick around, some might not. But really, don’t beat yourself up if the people you meet early in the term don’t seem like best mate material, good friendships take time, so don’t panic, you can still have loads of fun with first week randoms.

9.Hiding in your room

It’s very tempting, in the first few weeks, you have a new habitat and you want to burrow in it, only sneaking out to make food for yourself at strategic times when the kitchen might be empty. But making friends with your housemates, while it isn’t always the easiest, will prove useful when you’re midway into the year and fancy some company close to home.

10.Getting with someone in your flat

Just don’t.

And if you don’t know why, then maybe you deserve to learn from that mistake.

Staying Healthy While You’re at Uni

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When I started uni, I was horrendously unhealthy. Working in a pub meant I ate rubbish food at stupid hours, fruit and veg and daylight were a fairly foreign concept to me. For me, coming to uni gave me a better routine, and feeding and shopping for myself meant I had complete control over what I ate and have managed to lose 3 and a half stone since I started in my first year. A lot of people however find uni to be the opposite. You may have heard of the ‘Freshers 15’ the trend of people coming to uni, and with the booze and change in lifestyle, they put on an average of 15Ib. So here’s a little guide to staying healthy while you’re at uni.

Don’t Get Scurvy

You’re not a sailor, there’s no excuse to be getting scurvy. Relying on dried and processed frozen food, is convenient, but not necessarily good for you, whacking some fruit and veg into your meals is always a good shout… obviously. I’m not telling you to eat a kale salad everyday, because you’ll be miserable, but for example, if you’re making a pasta (which you will, you’re a student) chuck in some peas, a bit of spinach or some peppers to give your meal a bit more substance. At Essex, we have a Thursday market and almost every week, the fruit and veg stall is there, there’s loads of stuff and the prices are really reasonable, so you have no excuse!

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Regular Routine

Uni life can be hectic and unpredictable, but for the most part, you have a fairly set schedule, sticking to it, and not staying up until ridiculous o’clock at night, can really help you in terms of eating habits and mentally. I personally feel dreadful if I get into a bad pattern of sleeping late and waking up late, less daylight and weird meal times will drain you and throw your body out.

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Daylight

You may not be able to see the sun for piles of work/ because you’re hungover and you just can’t face it, but being indoors all the time can really affect you. Vitamin D levels will affect your mood and not being outside enough can make you feel really low. It doesn’t have to be for long, just a little ten minute walk around the park will do the trick, just get yourself outside for a little while.

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Mental Health

As much as your physical health is really important, arguably, your mental health is even more so. University can be an extremely stressful time for a lot of people and according to this survey done in 2015, eight out ten students surveyed reported having mental health issues. Taking care of yourself mentally is extremely important while at uni, and here at Essex we have access to great support and counselling at the student services hub and there’s also nightline if you need a chat. A little few things you can do to keep yourself balanced are, make sure you go outside, getting regular exercise, doing something for yourself everyday (even if it’s something small like painting your nails or taking a bath) and not being too hard on yourself for the things you do, uni’s hard you’re doing great. These aren’t going to cure all mental health issues… obviously, but they’re just some little tips to brighten your mood slightly. Never feel ashamed to seek support, there will always be someone who will listen.

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Exercise

It’s gross, trust me, I know. Take this from someone who despises running, being sweaty and out of breath is a disgusting concept to me. However at the beginning of the summer, I joined the university gym, to start with I was reluctant to fork out the money for it, because I thought I’d never go, I now go for an hour at least four times a week now, and I’m all about getting swole (that’s not true, I just like to watch daytime TV on the treadmill!) Working out is really effective for a lot of people in terms of mental health too, getting your head down, blood pumping, music on and focused can really help to clear your head, even if just for a little while.

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These are just a few things you can do to be a little bit more healthy during your time at uni, comment any other tips you might have on staying physically and mentally healthy at university.

A Level results day: how to handle it, what to do with your results and celebrating!

One of the most exciting yet nerve-wracking things in life has to be A-level results day. You’ve made that wonderful step towards wanting to study those subjects that you love in more detail. Two years later and it is time to see how your hard work has paid off.

So here is what happens:

A-Level-results-day-collection-time-for-2015-pic-1The Build Up.

This year (2017) results are released on the 17th August. All universities, schools, colleges and sixth form centres will receive the results before the release date but annoyingly they are under a legal requirement not to announce until the specified date.

You’ll then go into your school, college or sixth form centre on the day to collect your results (check to see if there is a certain time in which you must collect them).

Remember your grades will NOT be displayed on UCAS Track which will only show if you have been accepted for your university application. UCAS Track will however update at around 8am on the day of result releases- so there is no point in staying up to look at midnight as nothing will change.

Didn’t go the way you’d hope?

Don’t be disappointed if you didn’t get the results you wanted or needed. Find out if there is the chance to retake you exam as this could easily rectify any issues you have.

If you don’t meet the grade criteria for your university it may be worth checking on UCAS track to see if they have still accepted your application, as is sometimes the case. If they haven’t accepted you then take a look at UCAS clearing to see if other universities will offer you place. Last year 33,000 students found a place at a university through clearing.

Better than expected?

Perhaps you didn’t consider university but are so chuffed with your results you now feel like it could be the place for you. In that case you can find a place through the UCAS adjustment system.

How to handle it

Whether you’ve applied for university or not, A-Level results day can feel terrifying. Remember to stay calm and that results are not always the beginning or end of everything. Most people find comfort in collecting their results with friends or family- in most cases they know what you are going through and are able to support you.

Your results can now be used towards your current or future university application and also for applying for jobs or apprenticeships/ internships. In some cases you will be handed a piece of paper with your grades on and will receive your certificates at a later date- either way keep anything with your grades on safe as you never know when you might need to refer to it.

Celebrate

There is no harm in celebrating a job well done. Be thankful that this is now the end of your a-levels- you’re free!

Grab a camera and take a picture of your chuffed self- if the local newspaper hasn’t got there before you.

Perhaps order a takeaway to celebrate but most importantly make sure that you tell your family and friends your results as they will be just as eager to hear them.

Colchester on the Cheap

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Spending money is lame and for people that have it. Here’s how to get the most out of Colchester without having to splash the cash.

Castle Park

On a nice day, Castle Park is a fab afternoon out. A good few hours can be spent, wandering around amongst the flowers, laying on the grass, hitting up the swan pedalos and admiring the roman castle walls and grounds, the castle itself costs money but for a nice lazy sunny stroll, the park itself is free and beautiful. Coming up in September, there’s also going to be outdoor movie screenings of Pulp Fiction, The Goonies and Grease.

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Walk Around the uni

While Castle Park is lovely, you really don’t have to look too far to find a lovely outdoors area to take a walk. Wivenhoe park is a beautiful area, we have the lake, the trees and the ducks to wander around, and on a nice day, the picnic tables and BBQ areas are perfect for a sunny afternoon.

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First Site

Feeling refined? Always daaarling! First Site is a really great artistic space in Colchester, housing galleries and performance and workshop space. Best of all, entry is free and there is some really great art on show there, definitely worth a trip if you feel like being cultured for an afternoon. Coming up there’s the Lubaina Himid and Ed Gold exhibitions, and a number of film screenings, which, although they aren’t free are a bit cheaper than cinema prices.

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The Minories Gallery

Another art gallery managed and run by Colchester School of Art, The Minories Gallery exhibits arts and culture artefacts, and the work and galleries of students of the school. It’s free and located right near Firstsite.

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Colchester Natural History Museum

Don’t go thinking London-scale animatronic dinosaurs, but the natural history museum provides a nice little collection of stuff to keep you entertained without having to spend any cash. It’s really easy to miss, being nestled inside a church just opposite the castle. It’s cute and free, and there’s a range of things to interact with and get nerdy over.

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HollyTrees Museum

Just near the castle, the Hollytrees museum gives a view of Colchester life from over the past 300 years, set in a beautiful Georgian house. Again, admission is free and it provides a bit of entertainment, you can even get dressed up as a servant if you fancy!

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Of course, there’s loads of other stuff in Colchester that you can get up to if you spend a bit of cash, but if you’re anything like me, there’s nothing like the triumph of a free day’s entertainment.

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

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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

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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.

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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!