What I Take to My Lectures…

Starting seminars and lectures can feel super daunting, especially when you have no idea what to expect! I remember when I was first starting out, and I was frantically scouring through YouTube in hope of finding helpful videos, advising me on what to take with me! It’s safe to say, this is no ‘first day of high school’ scenario – no need for multiple useless folders and wallets to be stuffed into your oversized backpack. So I truly hope this post puts your mind at rest a little bit, and reassures you!

Backpack/handbag – There’s really no right or wrong answer with this one. You’ll definitely need one either way, but this is completely dependent on your personal preference. Firstly, consider the amount of unnecessary luggage you carry around with you on top of those supplies deemed slightly more vital. Just as long as your bag is durable and comfortable, choose what takes your fancy!

Notebook/laptop – For me, this was biggest concern. I feel it’s a common myth to assume all students attending university use laptops in seminars, but this is super untrue! This is totally down to you and your personal preference of how note taking, takes your fancy. For me, I just prefer collating written notes, whilst others prefer access to power points in which they can quickly ‘copy & paste’ information straight over onto their notes. Research how your course assess you, that’s my best advice!

Diary – I super recommend picking one of these up before starting university. It’s been my number one life saver. I write down everything in there. So much information is thrown at me each day, so if you get into the habit of writing them down now, you should never get caught behind schedule.

Pencil Case – Do I really need to state the obvious here?

Hair Brush – Hey, I’m a girl! What do you expect?

Mobile Phone – This is super handy for pulling up power-points already posted onto ‘Blackboard’ – helpful if you’re a little behind on note taking.

Purse – There are plenty of cafes around campus, so if you’re fortunate to receive a break between seminars and don’t fancy walking two minutes back to your accommodation, grab a bite to eat with your friends!

Keys – Kinda important don’t you think…

AND THAT’S IT? Nothing too unusual to what you would usually take out with you really, is it? I told you there was nothing to worry about!

 

House Hunting (Part 2)

Hello! So I promised you all the second half to this blog post on Thursday, so here it is!

4. Viewing Houses

So now it’s time to actually view some houses. Hopefully, your estate agent will be able to take you to a few in one go. Definitely make a list of things to look out for before you go!

Look out for the following:

* Excessive mould
* Damp (feel the furniture, and use your nose!)
* The area and location – is it a nice area to live?
* Safety equipment (fire blanket/smoke alarms etc)
* How well kept the house is (can you tell if the landlord/lady looks after it?)
* Cleanliness (although you may have to try and look past the current tenants’ dirty dishes strewn around the kitchen)
* The fridge – is it big enough for you all?
* Appliances – does the cooker look fairly new?
* Radiators – are there radiators in all the rooms, and the hallway?
* Parking – is there any parking if any of you have cars
* Is the house on the bus route (to uni, town, shopping centres?) How frequent are the buses? Which bus company (you may want to use your existing bus pass?)
* Phone reception – have a look at your phone when you’re viewing houses and see how many bars of signal you have!
* Floor space
* Storage space – wardrobes, drawers, room to put extra storage space if neccessary
* Number of showers

Questions to ask…

(Yourselves):
* Do we want to live in a student area? Or somewhere more residential?
* How far away is the house from uni? Can we walk or do you have to take a bus?
* Do we want a dishwasher? Does this house have one?
* Is there a washing machine and tumble dryer?
* Is there a table/somewhere we can all eat together?
* Is there a late-night corner shop nearby for emergency supplies (namely, chocolate)?
*Are the rooms light? Or are they dark and dingy?
*Are there double beds? (A very important matter for most of us!)

(The Estate Agent):
* How much is the rent?
* How long is the lease?
*Are bills included in the rent?

(Current Tenants (if you meet them)):
* Have you had any problems with the house?
* What’s your experience been like living here?
* What’s the broadband connection like?
* What’s the water pressure like?

TOP TIP: Make a list of things to check before you view a house and always go back for a second (or even a third) viewing to make sure you’re entirely happy with it!

5. Choosing the house

I suppose that the best way to choose which house to take is to pick the best all-rounder. Talk a lot between yourselves – what did you like and dislike? Talk to your parents too (they know more about all this adult stuff than we do).

Once you’ve decided on a house, ring the estate agent. Perhaps even go and have a meeting with them (actually I highly recommend this) just to ask any further questions and make sure nobody nabs it before you do!

Make sure you’re 100% clear about the next steps. What do you have to pay and when? Something super important for Guernsey students to enquire is whether you have to have a UK-based guarantor (that’s someone you have to choose who’s legally responsible to pay your rent if you fail to). When I was house hunting with a fellow Guern last week, she realised she didn’t have any family in the UK to be her guarantor, so that was a bit complicated.

TOP TIP: Write things down! The payments, when they’re due, any questions to be asked or answers that you’re given. Just make a note of as much as you can, so you’re fully informed and you don’t get taken advantage of (us students tend to be quite naïve, or hopefully not now you’ve read this blog post!).

I hope this guide was helpful to you and if you have any further questions or tips for other students, please comment below and share this post!

Good luck!

House Hunting (Part 1)

1. Finding housemates

If you’re a lucky one, you’ll have been put in halls with people that you genuinely get on with, people that you call your friends. You love living together – you have so much fun cooking, having movie nights, going out together… your tight-knit group in Flat 12 is perfect and you decide to live together again for second year without even having to question it.

If you weren’t so blessed with your fellow first-year flatmates, the prospect of choosing people to live with in second year can be a bit daunting. Here are your options:

* Live with Coursemates – maybe you have a group of great friends on your course who you’d have a great time living with

* Live with other friends – do you have friends on other courses? Or perhaps friends you know from home?

* Mix it up – you might have one first-year flatmate that you get along really well with, even though the others are utter plonkers. Join forces, and scout out some others (perhaps one of their course friends, and one of yours?)

* Facebook – post on all the freshers and university Facebook discussing your criteria for housemates. You may feel embarrassed doing this but, trust me when I say this, you are not alone in this situation! Within a few days, you’ll be sure to find others in the same position.

TOP TIP: Try to work it so that you live with friends with similar interests/routines as you. For example, if you’re not one for clubbing, avoid the party girls. There’d be nothing worse than being woken up at 4am from them coming in, or being unable to sleep because they invited the whole of their course over for a house party – something that doesn’t take your fancy.

2. House Hunting

Once you’ve gathered together a group of people to live with, the next step is of course to start house hunting. The best way to do this is most probably online. Websites like www.rightmove.co.uk are fab. Alternatively, just google ‘student houses (+ name of your location)’. If you’ve had no luck looking online, Edge Hill release a recommended tenant and house list that have been approved around November time so be sure to head down to that fair!

It’s probably a good idea to be open-minded at first about price and area etc, and just see what’s out there first. Once you’ve had a good look through, then decide amongst you on a maximum price and which area you’d prefer, have a good look at the photos and read the information provided. Then shortlist them and book viewings.

3. Booking Viewings

Before you start booking viewings for your shortlists houses, it’s a good idea to all get your heads together and work out exactly when you’re all free. Perhaps go through your timetable of a particular week and note down when you’re free and then identify slots to go for viewings. It saves precious time when the estate agent asks when you want the viewing to be!

I’ll be posting part two Thursday this week, so be sure to check it out when it’s posted! (This blog is a little bit of a long one). In the meantime, if you have any questions be sure to comment them down below!

The Laundrette

We can’t help but deny that at least once, we’ve all let our washing baskets overflow, convincing ourselves that those jeans we threw in there over a week ago doesn’t actually smell all that bad and not even considering to wash our clothes until we are 100% certain that we have ran out of all underwear options.

Edge Hill has it’s very own laundrette facility near enough central of campus – directly next to The Hub and the Student Union. So if you live a mooch across campus and don’t want to head back to your flat to finish that all important assignment (you know, the one that you haven’t actually even started), then why not grab yourself a meal deal from McColls, a Starbucks Frappe or a pizza with a side of chips from the SU?

“I need to do my washing, but there are probably no machines available” – no, no. There are no excuses. You can view the laundrette online! This is a total time saver, seriously. It tells you when a machine is either waiting to be emptied, is vacant, or how long a machine has left to run before you can either go and nab it or better yet, stand by it, starting at the machine waiting for a good while before the owner comes to collect their sobbing  wet clothes after having sent that anonymous yak “Washer number 34, please come and empty the machine”. We all encounter desperate times requiring desperate measures. This is available for you to check out here.

Each wash costs £2.20 and each dry costs £1. How to go about paying for this you ask? Well it’s simple! When you first arrive at the university, near the entrance to the laundrette is a card vending machine. You simply choose between 3 priced cards (£5, £10, £20). Simply put the correct amount of cash in the vending machine and select which one you want. Then this card stays yours! To use it, you pop it in the machine and press the easily understandable buttons for us naive and non-capable children. To top your card up, it’s done easily enough online by following some easy online steps before paying and being provided with a code. Take note of this code, slot your card in the ‘top-up’ machine inside the laundrette, enter the code and the amount you paid prior is transferred onto your card directly- ready to use instantly!

 

Which Accommodation is Right for Me?

I’m back again with another accommodation post as a sequel to my previous post which gave you an insight into my university bedroom! However, while my accommodation is ideal for myself, it may not be for you! So explore your options shall we?

Edge Hill currently has over 2,000 single study bedrooms available located across campus. While some are catered, others are self-catered! (But lets face it, we all just want to live in a block that’s less than a 30 second walk from your faculty building – shhh, I know your secrets okay).

Students living in catered halls of residence will be issued with a unicard which is automatically loaded with a cash value which will then be used instead of money when purchasing food from various on-campus, including Starbucks!

Self-catered offers students a fully equipped kitchen which includes a cooker, microwave and freezer (there’s enough drawers and cupboards scattered around for both yourself and your flatmates to stash away your chocolate bars and multiple tins of ravioli). You are also provided with a kettle, toaster, iron and ironing board!

All rooms are furnished with  bed, wardrobe, desk, chair and you can personalise your space with posters, photos and other items of your choice! You will need to bring your own bed linen, towels, crockery, cutlery, glassware, pots and pans (although flats with induction hobs include a small selection of pans already). Your communal kitchen also includes a TV which includes a TV license, which unfortunately the TV in your bedroom doesn’t include.

Those blocks of a newer build come equipped with a flatscreen computer which duplicates as a TV screen (excellent for watching Netflix on), a mini fridge and heated towel rails!

All halls of residence are based on a 40 week contract, running from September to late June. Prices for 2016 will range from £68-£115 per week which includes all of your utility bills (excluding your damage deposit fee of £150). Payment schedules will be arranged before you move in with details sent to your e-mail closer to the date.

If on-campus accommodation doesn’t suit your fancy, there is always off-campus accommodation available. Edge Hill’s accommodation team will be more than happy to help, providing you with advice and guidance when choosing private housing in the local areas surrounding the university.

But most importantly of all, let’s cut to the chase and discuss what you actually and probably only care about; wireless enabled internet access is readily available, free of charge and in all halls of residence! Yay!

Library Facilities

The library will become your second home. It’s a sad concept, but non the less, a very real one. Especially if you actually want to get some work done. And no, don’t go trying to convince me that you ‘work better in your bedroom’, because let’s face it, you don’t and you won’t. But it’s fine, because if you’re not entirely a lazy potato, your second home will have an awful lot to offer! So it’s not all too bad I guess.

Each floor has something entirely new to offer you! So whatever you’re studying or whatever works best for you, the Edge Hill University Library will be sure to make you feel welcome and comfortable. Here are just a few of the awesome things our library has to offer to aid you with your probably not so, but somewhat studious lifestyle;

  • Staff: They’re all over the place! You can ask them just about nearly anything and they’ll be sure to try their best to assist you. If they can’t? They’ll head you in the right direction.
  • Opening EHU254 Library LearnServ095-LHours: These vary throughout the academic year. It’ll happen at least once I can assure you; you’ll finally feel as though you’ve finished that all important assignment when one of your horrendously annoying flat-mates will politely inform you that you’re missing a large chunk. In a panic you aimlessly search for any information that could help you, when you discover that the library has a book in stock that would be oh so perfect! But it’s 1:00am. Oh dear. What are you going to do? Why you’d head down the library of course to book it out with a large grin on your face because yes, you can do this during particular times of the year. Happy days!
  • Resources: Anything from DVDs to hand puppets. Yes you heard mEHU254 Library LearnServ082-Le right, hand puppets. Prospectus trainee teacher but don’t have the cash to splash out on resources? The library is here to help. It’s like the Willy Wonka Factory in there is swear.
  • Self Issue & Return: It’s never been made easier! There’s no faff. All you need is your student ID, yourself and some books and away you go! What’s better yet is that the book is yours for 2 whole weeks. After this period, if no one has requested it, it remains all yours for another 2 weeks (probably sat gaining dust on your bookshelf). If you, request a book, an e-mail will be sent to inform you when it is available for collection.
  • Books: You’ll have access to over 200,000 items. Don’t know where to look? There are catalogue PCs lyEHU254 Library LearnServ078-Ling about throughout the university to help you pinpoint a book in no time.
  • E-books: Books deemed vital for your course will be readily available, multiple copies laying about the library. But if by some miracle you’ve managed to escape the walls of your newly found second home, and oh dear, once having been told you need a specific book for that assignment that you’d forgotten about and is due in the next few days.. all the copies of that book have been booked out? What are you going to do? Track them down around campus and steal them? Pay £30 odd and hope next day delivery doesn’t come at a similar cost? No of course not. Because you go to Edge Hill University, you can just log in online, find the e-book and download it. Yes, it’s that simple! Edge Hill wins once again.
  • Photocopying, Printing & Topping Up: Like everything else, they’re scattered about throughout the library. Printing is affordable and can be topped up from yoEHU254 Library LearnServ110-Lur own bedroom!
  • Group Rooms: Wish to study in a group with your friends? There are rooms available to be booked out for this. It’s kinda helpful because otherwise, meeting up in your bedroom to study often ends up in someone collapsing on your bed and falling asleep – productivity at it’s best.
  • Silent Rooms: Available if you study best listening to absolutely nothing – absolutely nothing. And hey, you’ll have this in common with the people surrounding you in these areas so you never know, the library may also be able to supply you with books and love ay?
  • Individual Study Rooms: Study in private on your own for maximum productivity! Reading back your assignments aloud has never been made easier.
  • PCs: There are a tonne around every corner!
  • Bookends Cafe: Now there’s really no excuse! Did someone say food?
  • Stationery DispEHU027 BuildingFacilities045-Lenser: Yes. You heard me. I’d thought you could only find crazy things like this in America – apparently not.
  • Quiet Study: Areas for those that don’t like hearing only the sound of dust particles floating by, but don’t enjoy the sound of annoying humans either.

 

So next time your course insists you purchase multiple books for the beginning of term. Thing again, seriously. If by some 0.01% chance a book you feel you need isn’t actually available, you can request it! And the university will try their best to get it in stock and ready for you – free of charge! This is super unlikely though as all ‘compulsory’ and recommended books by your tutors will be readily available.

If this library doesn’t take your fancy or supply you with what you need, get back to me when you find one that does (hint: you wont be able to).

Making Your Decision…

If you haven’t already received feedback from the universities you have applied to, you’ll be hearing back very shortly I can assure you. But what happens when you’ve been given your offers? It’s time to make some very important decisions, that’s what! Here are my top 3 factors to consider when making your decision.

  1. The Programme You’ve Applied For: Do your research. For each individual university, pull the subject/profession apart, delving deep into module topics, forms of assessment, work experience opportunities, employability rates and facilities supporting this specific subject area etc. Just because a university is in the top 10 doesn’t mean that for the area you wish to study is rated just as proudly. If you’re certain on what you want to study, focus on the quality, ranking and feedback for that specific major rather than the university itself. You need to most importantly choose a course that best fits around you! Often, you may find a university of a less competitive nature may very well have a more suited programme for yourself, working in your favour!
  2. Location: You’re going to be living here for the next few years of your life. Moving to university is such a large and life changing step as you begin to explore the new and unknown. So you want to make sure that wherever you choose, you’re going to feel most comfortable and happy. At the end of the day, you’re going to be living here, not just visiting (unfortunately)! You need to ensure that the location benefits you, granting you access to facilities you ‘wont be able to live without’. If you’re not happy in your environment, you’re not going to study well. Edge Hill may not exactly be in a well-known location, but this wasn’t a problem as I’m only 30 minutes away by train to Liverpool or Manchester if I fancy a day out!
  3. Size & Type of University: For me, Edge Hill slaughtered all other chances opposing universities had at this one. Universities range from those sprawled  across vast cities, to those tucked away on one ground, all in close-knit. Social atmosphere can also conflict with this one. You’ll know what you will feel most comfortable with once having visited the university for yourself. You’ll know straight away if you’re apprehensive or ready to pack your bags and move in. But it’s certainly something to consider! I mean hey, look at me. I’m able to wake up 10 minutes before a lecture, make myself look presentable and still make it to my seminar a little early. Think of convenience and perhaps wasn’t doesn’t feel quite so daunting for yourself.

Trust me, when considering these important facts when comparing between your options, you’ll just know which university is right for you!

Interview Mayhem

There are so many deceiving misconceptions with regards to interviews. The general assumption and expectation is that you’ll arrive, check the clock every few seconds – counting down the moments until it’s your turn, breathe in, breathe out and then most likely have a panic attack, go home feeling doubtful and then possibly cry a little over your likely failure at such a large opportunity.

Wait… what? That’s not how it goes?

Of course not!

Firstly, understand that if the university wasn’t interested in you in the first place, you wouldn’t have even been called to interview! duh. You’re already a star in the sky, this is your opportunity to prove just how worthy you are, and just how great of a decision they’re going to make when they decide to take you on (which they obviously will because you’re clearly amazing). Numbers drop substantially when you consider all of those that firstly apply, get accepted for interviews, and then actually get a place. So if you’ve received invitation to an interview, stop reading for a moment and give yourself a pat on the back.

Next, seize this opportunity. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately and are organised. When considering the ‘grading criteria’ during an interview, both of these play a vital part and are nearly just as important as what you’re about to ramble on about to your interviewer.

The person interviewing you isn’t going to be half as critical as you think. They’re here to support and make sure they see the best within you. They understand and know you’re going to be nervous! It’s likely that more than half the applicants attending an interview day probably haven’t even endured an interview before in their lives – they know this! They’ll never base their assumption of you on your nerves. It’s normal, often uncontrollable and hey, quite frankly a natural occurrence considering the situation you’ve been put in. I promise they wont base their assumption of you on this.

It’s likely, like I did – you’ll receive an interview day guidance booklet (super helpful, make sure you give it a good read!). It will inform you of such things like the day’s general outlines, what to bring with you, when you’ll get your answer, what to do on arrival, how the interview will run and just generally really useful information.

For me, the BA(Hons) Primary Education course with QTS consisted of knowledge tests (Maths, English & Science), and me having to bring in a child’s book, discussing it generally e.g positives/negatives, why I chose it, how I could incorporate it into my lessons and the children’s learning. Then followed by a few scenario based questions which they weren’t expecting perfect answers for. Like any human, I struggled with a lot of these! My interviewer was super helpful, he either knew where I was coming from and would use further questioning techniques to help me speak my ideas out a little better. Sometimes he’d even answer with me! Sharing his ideas to promote mine. This helped trigger in-depth discussions which I felt really helped him see where I was coming from of which perhaps the questions alone wouldn’t have allowed me to speak about. My interviewer felt like more of a newly found friend than someone testing me. And with there being multiple other applicants having their interviews spread around the room, there was no deadly silence, just a pleasant smile to greet me which never seemed to leave his face.

Long story short, if you’ve got an interview coming up, I’m almost certain you’ll do great! I wish you all the best of luck.

 

Tips for Starting at Edge Hill University

Somehow, crazily enough, I am already A WHOLE 6 MONTHS into university. Boy has it flown by swipes forehead. However, I can now say that I’m officially settled into my newfound routine and day-by-day learning that the daunting and chaotic journey I have decided to embark on is actually one of the most wonderfully exciting chapters of my life in which I am yet to experience. I want to try my best to pass forward this newly established knowledge onto yourselves and encourage you to feel enthusiastic about starting university too!

  • Don’t over-pack and over-buy! – There’s always this enormous rush from the word of “GO!” to buy everything each and every online list has to recommend for you. DON’T GO OVERBOARD. Otherwise, like me, you’ll find yourself over cumbered with items that are still hidden in the back of your cupboard while day-by-day you’re still using other people’s oven mittens, selecting from a range of colours and styles stacked up on the top of the microwave. Pack and buy less than what you think you’ll need, this way, you’ll be spot on. I know IKEA can be overwhelming with amazing household objects you never thought you’d crave to own so badly, but I promise you, you’ll be better off if you put the item back down and walk away.
  • Budget – It’s super difficult not to imagine all the glorious items you could spend your student finance on once it arrives in your vulnerable student account, but throw those ideas out of your head right now and try to think logically about this. Either purchase a notebook or even make a note on your phone and simply write down each weeks budget and take note of your spending’s to keep on track so you aren’t left weeping away your sorrows with the globe; making tweets about your newfound poverty.
  • Don’t spend all your money on alcohol – You’d think this would be obvious, but freshers’ week and upcoming student events at the SU bar will get the better of you! I don’t drink, so I’m winning on this one.
  • You don’t have to buy every textbook. When you arrive at uni, it is very likely that (like me) you’ll be given a reading list and told to buy every textbook on the list, or at least two or three, but don’t fall into the trap! You’ll end up spending a lot of money on something that you’re going to read once. I wound up ordering 3 books which came to a pricey total of almost £80! One of them is even still wrapped up in its packaging… shh. Edge Hill’s library has EVERY book you will ever possibly need! If by some small chance, you can’t find that all important book you need, you have the opportunity to request for it – it should be available to you in no time! Paperbacks, hardbacks and e-books are all readily available in vast quantities!
  • Get to know your way around. Getting to know your way around will make you feel a lot more at ease! Take a trip into town with some new friends, the Edge Hill bus comes every 15 minutes and is free to use to students! Or, you’re only a 10 minute walk from exciting Ormskirk. Walk to your lectures with your course-mates! You’ll probably still get lost, but hey, you’ll get used to it in no time!
  • Join clubs and societies. There are so many that Edge Hill has to offer! There’s even a Scooby-Doo society for crying out loud. Got an interest and there isn’t a society that takes your fancy? Start one up, it’s simple enough!
  • Buy an NUS card. NUS cards only cost £12 each (for 12 months). You can use them near enough everywhere, you’ll get your money back in savings within a few days, especially if like me you’re an avid shopper, I can assure you! They’re even available for immediate purchase in the SU shop on campus.

It’s all going to be okay.