Preparing to move from halls to a house

As I have mentioned before halls are very spacious and in your first year of university you can often end up bringing way more than you’ll ever need. Moving from campus to a house can be seen as downsizing so it’s important to consider this when packing for your move. 
Often when moving into a house it is a strong possibility that you may have only seen your new house once. You can arrange with some estate agents to view the property a second time just so you have a better idea of how many things to bring. You will also need to discuss with your estate agent what additional items you will need to bring most student accommodation does come fully furnished however there are some items you may be required to purchase such as a toaster, kettle and microwave. These things may seem expensive initially but when the costs are split between 2/3 people it doesn’t seem so bad. When you move out you can re-sell these items in selling groups or even to other students and reclaim your costs back making it a small investment.
You also need to check whether or not you are paying your bills separately or as part of a bills included package. If you are paying as part of a package you have probably already set up your payment method but if you have decided to pay them separately you may need to set up a new account for everyone to pay into and for the bills to come out of. If you are paying the bills in this way you need to ensure that you are all responsible for the bills and are paying in fairly. The landlord or letting agent should help you organise this. As well as organising your bills you need to make sure that you have secured student finance for the next academic year and that the account your finance is being paid into is the same account as your bills are coming out from. If you update your card details at any time you need to let the estate agents know to save you any hassle in the future.
Lastly as long and as boring as it may be you need to familiarise yourself with your new rental agreement. You may have gotten used to the way things are in halls or at home but the rules for a rental property can offer differ and be a lot less lenient. You need to make sure that you are following these rules as any deviance from them could be seen as a breach of contract and leave you with fines or charges at the end of your tenancy. 

My five favourite things about Edge Hill

As I am coming towards the end of my second year I have had plenty of time to embrace and enjoy everything that Edge Hill has to offer. I’ve decided to share with you my five favourite things about Edge Hill and Ormskirk in general and why they have contributed to me having such a wonderful experience during my time at university so far.

1) Campus

It’s no surprise to me that Edge Hill has won awards for its accommodation and campus as it literally is one of the most beautiful I have seen. With lakes and nature and everything you could need in one campus it is ideal for both working and living. Just recently I discovered that there are nature walks towards the back of the university that are beautiful on a sunny day and it just goes to show that no matter how long you have been here there are always areas that are yet to be discovered and enjoyed.

2) Ormskirk Markets

Ormskirk markets are a wonderful way to get involved with the local community. They take place twice a week and give you the opportunity to buy local produce fairly cheaply. There are a range of things from fruit and veg, flowers and sweets to clothes and appliances. It’s always worth having a visit as us students especially are always on the look out for bargains and it’s good to save money where you can whilst also putting money back into local growers and producers rather than always visiting the big supermarkets.

3) Local Attractions

There are so many quaint and wonderful shops in Ormskirk that you would never find anywhere else. From coffee shops like Cobble to cocktail bars such as Lime Tyger and Mimi and Gin, there’s something for everyone. It’s always nice to just have a wander and see what you come across as many of the places in Ormskirk  are truly hidden gems and hidden away for you to discover. Many of these places have a great feel and it’s always nice to have something nearby that you want to introduce to everyone back home and take everyone to when they come to visit.

4) Transport Links

Even though Edge Hill can be said to be quite a rural university the transport links are amazing. The free Edge Hill bus is a godsend for bringing shopping and suitcases back to campus and is so convenient. Once you are in Ormskirk the train to Liverpool or Preston is literally a 5 minute walk and there are a range of bus services taking you anywhere from Wigan to Crosby or Southport if you fancying venturing out for the day. It’s nice to know that once you are in Ormskirk getting out or getting home is easy with all the options that are available to you I’m sure they’ll be an option to get where you need to go.

5) Location

Edge Hill is very lucky as it is situated close to both cities and beaches meaning it has everything you could need at just a stones throw away. Crosby and Formby beaches are only around 30 minutes away by car and Liverpool city centre is also only around a 40 minute drive. As I mentioned before the transport links that Ormskirk has to offer means that getting to these places is quick and easy and means that you can explore as much or as little of Lancashire as you wish.

Away From Keyboard 

For many this is a stressful and testing time what with deadlines, exams and placements. When people think about where they are going to study there is often a misconception that you need to be tucked up behind a desk in the dark and silence with no distractions. Although this may work for some people I think that branching out and finding new places to study can bring not only a sense of well-being but really boost what you can achieve. 

It is often suggested that studying where you sleep is not the best for your progression (as well as the fact that the temption to crawl back into bed can sometimes be just too much). At uni though this can be difficult as your bedroom is self contained. To begin with maybe try moving into the kitchen I find that dedicating an area away from your bedroom to working helps put you in the right frame of mind and can help me to achieve more.

At the this time of year I would highly suggest making the most of your outdoor surroundings. The university is blessed with acres of green space so you’d likely be able to get on with your work without being disturbed. A benefit to this is that on campus the wifi generally covers the whole area so you can stay connected whilst you are outside. Some people however may choose to get outside to get away from technology, staring at a screen whilst working can become tedious so taking some physical books or articles outside with you can give your eyes a rest and expand your sources.

It might sound ridiculous but many people put off social events whilst studying but I don’t see why the two can’t be combined. Rather than staying away from the pub or not going to a meal you could use it as an opportunity to get together with others to study and do something you enjoy at the same time. There are many pubs in Ormskirk that have beer gardens with large tables where you could join together to work and socialise simultaneously. Another good place that this can be done are local coffee shops such as Starbucks or Costa they have free Wifi and sockets so you can stay online.

Finally don’t be afraid to take work out and about with you. There have often been times when I wished that I had something with me as I have had an idea or an unexpected window of time. Obviously this is not appropriate if something is urgent but if you have an ongoing project you should find a way to keep it with you at all times and that way you can build on it and turn wherever you are into a working area or a working moment to save you forgetting and having to clear a space at a later date.

What are professional accounts?

Social media is something that nearly everyone has and it can also be a really useful tool whilst you’re at University. 

Many courses have specific policies about what they deem to be acceptable for social media and it would be a good idea to check these before starting your course. For some courses such as primary education when looking for a job employers can often check your social media and this can have an impact on your career prospects. Some advice would be:

1) ensure you have maximum security settings, on sites such as Facebook can do a check and show you how your profile would look to others

2) be careful who you accept as a friend, remember that once you post it can be seen by everyone and therefore shared 

3) lastly a piece of advice that was shared with me was to not post anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable discussing with your Grandma 

As well as using your social media for its usual purposes such as keeping up with friends and sharing photos it can also be used to help you link with other professionals. 

On Facebook you can often join groups of people who are already in your chosen career. These groups often share jobs, tips from inside and can give you an idea of what to expect from the people who are really in the role. As well as this it can often be a great platform to ask questions as you will get a range of viewpoints and avoid bias allowing you to make your own decision.

Some people may choose to make a professional twitter account. For teachers in particular this is an amazing tool to share resources and see other teacher’s ideas. It also allows you to show off what you have done and can increase your chances of a job if an employer sees what you have done and is impressed. The way twitter displays can also allow you to view your posts in chronological order meaning that over time you can look back and see your progress. You will find that many other professionals are also using  twitter and it’s an easy way to connect to those people who are higher up getting a quick response and making connections.

Some people may choose to combine their professional and social accounts, for me I prefer to keep them separate. I do this as then it keeps the distinction between professional and private life and it also acts as a record of what you have done that can be shown at interviews or used to get your name known. 

Some people also choose to write a blog, much like this one to share their experiences and use it to act as a sort of reflection on their progress. Blogs are a great form of expression but I would warn that sometimes you can get opinionated on a blog especially if you are talking about something that you are passionate about. Sometimes the written word can be interpreted in different ways by different people so I would always suggest keeping this in mind or writing a blog anonymously depending on what you wish to share. 

Professional accounts are a great way to share your ideas and meet other people, but there are a lot of things to consider to make sure you are making the most of our your accounts and portraying yourself in the best light possible.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

As I am preparing myself to go on phase 1B of my placement in Primary Education, I thought that I’d share some of the things that I have done to get myself ready and make sure that I get the most from this opportunity.

The first thing is to research the school and find out what the children are learning. Luckily for me, my school has an amazing website full of information about the school, curriculum and ethos. Understanding this before going into school can make you feel more at ease and help the transition into school life. If your school does not have this I would recommend contacting the school to try to find out as much information as you can, this also gives you the chance to introduce yourself. It’s normal to feel nervous about placement and going into school, the best bit of advice I have heard is that the hardest thing to do is walk through the doors on your first day and once you have conquered that you can achieve anything. As I’m sure I have mentioned before ‘magpie-ing’ ideas is a big part of primary education and understanding what the children are learning can allow you to gather some resources, books or lesson ideas before you even enter the classroom saving you precious time.

Next make sure you’ve got some appropriate clothing. The general dress code in primary schools is smart casual but it is always best to check beforehand to save any embarrassment on your first day and to ensure you make the right impression. You don’t have to spend loads on an entire wardrobe and will often find there’s plenty of outfits you can put together from what you already own. Think about what you will be doing from day-to-day and don’t wear anything you don’t mind getting pen on or paint splashed across (this happens more frequently than you’d expect).

My main thing is organise, organise, organise. There’s no such thing as being too organised and you’ll thank yourself in the morning for doing things the night before. Make sure you plan your shopping to have enough in to make a packed lunch to take to school – this is something I have to remind myself of as being at University I can just pop back home for dinner. Also plan your outfit the night before, the outfit you think of in the morning is almost guaranteed to be buried somewhere out of sight and out of reach and create unnecessary stress for you.

Lastly enjoy the experience, make the most of every opportunity and don’t forget to enjoy your evenings and weekends just as much. Placement shouldn’t be a stressful time and there is support all around you for the process. Whether this be from tutors, friends or people you are on placement with don’t be afraid to share any concerns and don’t suffer in silence if you having a tough time.

Maintaining religion at University

For some people this will be an after thought when choosing a university, but for many religion is a key focus in their lives and maintaining this whilst at university can be a very influential factor in the decision making process.

At university there are many options for you to continue with your religion or start becoming part of a religion. If you are wanting to meet people with similar interests to yourself there are societies such as the Christian Union, the Islamic Society and the Pagan Society. Although if you feel these do not meet your needs there is always the option of setting up your own society. These societies not only allow you to meet other people but provide opportunities to attend events, get involved with the local community and share ideas.

For some people joining a club or society may be too much commitment and prefer to know what is available on an as when basis. I know that for myself in particular I like to be informed of local services such as christingle, Christmas and Easter despite not going to church or a attending a society on a regular basis. There are many churches in Ormskirk and information about services can be found on their website such as for Ormskirk Parish Church who have a brilliant website with information on services and how to get involved with what they do

http://www.ormskirkparishchurch.org.uk/information/

Although Ormskirk has a wide variety of Christian and Methodist churches it can be limited when it comes to other religions. For some places of worship you may have to venture into Liverpool where the choice is more diverse.

There is the Abdullah Quilliam heritage centre and mosque. This was recently reopened and is credited as being the birthplace of Islam in Britian. Information on prayer times can be found on their website

http://www.abdullahquilliam.org/

There is a Sikh Gurdwara on Wellington Avenue in Wavertree. The Gurdwara is a place of worship for people of Sikh religion but prides itself on welcoming those from all backgrounds and religions to use the Gurdwara as a place of worship.

The Princess Road Synagogue has been home to the Liverpool Old Hebrew congregation since 1874. The building is Grade 1 listed and beautiful both inside and out. Information on services at the Synagogue can be found at:

https://www.princesroad.org/

Finally the Dulzdin Buddhist Centre in Aigburth. This centre is dedicated to Kadampa Buddhism and meditation. The centre offers itself to those who wish to find out more about how to relax, up to those people who wish to find lasting inner peace.

http://meditationinliverpool.org.uk/ 

Although this list is not extensive I hope that it provides a place to start when looking at religion whilst at Edge Hill and shows you the number of options that are available to you during your time at University. It may also help you to explore other religions, find out more about your own religion or even just find out more about the architecture and purpose of buildings in both Ormskirk and Liverpool.

What to do with your time off

For many of us we are now in our Easter break and at university this can be anything from 2 weeks to 4 weeks, and for some term may have already ended for the year leaving you with a new chunk of free time to occupy.

One of the first things I’d suggest to do is take some time to focus on your well being. This can be anything from just lighting a candle, spending a day looking after yourself or watching your film. Whilst at university you can often forget to indulge in the things that make you feel good. When you have time off its okay to be a little selfish and take time out just for yourself. Whilst its good to see friends and family, try not to fill your schedule completely. It can be easy to organise a host of activities going here, there and everywhere and before you know it the break is over.  Take time to rest and relax.

Don’t feel pressure to go home either, for some people staying at University can be more beneficial as they feel that they can work better or just enjoy spending some time alone. This can often be difficult for parents to understand so try to explain your reasons and hopefully they will understand. As well as this for some people who suffer from homesickness it can be easier to stay rather going backwards and forwards.

If you plan to do university work over your Easter break try and organise times to fit this in. There’s nothing worse than sitting everyday saying you’re going to start something and just sitting, waiting, procrastinating and putting it off and wasting a day that could have been spent doing something else. Make sure if you are taking books home from the library you reserve them to avoid getting fines whilst you’re away from university. As well as university work some people may choose to go home to a job. This is a great opportunity to earn money ready for the summer or for the next term of university.

As well as working, the Easter break is also a great time to travel. At University the longer break puts you at an advantage as you can book flights or breaks out of the ‘school holidays’ and benefit from cheaper travel especially if you’re booking in advance. Depending on what you are studying you may be given a yearly overview during your first week, with dates of holidays included, this can help you organise an appropriate time to travel and book as early as possible to make the most of deals.

Basically you need to take the time to do whatever it is that you want to do, whether that be staying at university working or going home and doing nothing, it is your break and you should make the most of it however you choose to spend it.

Moving on

It may seem far too early to be thinking out about moving back home for the summer, but I’ve found that moving out slowly but surely is one of the most efficient ways of doing so.

First things first have a good spring clean, it might sound boring but you accumulate a lot of stuff whist at uni. You’ll come across leaflets from fresher’s week that you’ve stuffed at the back of wardrobe and hundreds of water bottles that just seem to be stacking up. Once you have gotten rid of all your rubbish you’ll find that you already feel as though you have less stuff to think about taking home.

Next thing to do is think about what you haven’t used, haven’t worn or will no longer need. For me this includes things like winter shoes, scarves and books. I try to take home little bits at a time so as to not be weighed down on the journey home. If you do this frequently you will find it so much easier when it comes to the actual big move out day. You will also begin to realise how many things you’ve brought to uni that you have never used, write these things down and remember for next year as if you’ve managed for a year you probably don’t need to bring them back again. For me this included items such as

  • a colander
  • copious amounts of Tupperware
  • far too many decorative ornaments/picture frames
  • every piece of clothing I’ve ever worn ever, that I suddenly thought I would need whilst at university

By doing these things when it comes to moving out you should have a much easier time. On that day though it’s important to be just as organised. My advice would be to label and sort things into what you’ll need at home and what can stay packed until next year. This saves you the hassle of unpacking everything to find that one thing you realised you can’t manage without and also saves repacking everything again over the summer. Invest in some good storage boxes and they will hopefully see you through the three years of moving in and out.

Last but not least be prepared at home. Condensing two rooms back into one may not seem like a big deal but when you’ve got a room full of IKEA bags, storage boxes and suitcases your motivation to organise them may suddenly disappear and they will remain there until September rolls around. Try and make a space for the things that are labelled as what you will not need. I was lucky enough to have space in the garage, but even making space in your bedroom, wardrobe, shed or loft in order to keep these things out of your way. Just make sure that your possessions are tightly sealed and out of the damp as the last thing you want is to get back to uni start unpacking and realise that everything is ruined.

So overall preparation is key, and by doing little and often you are likely to avoid the stress of moving out. Be able to pack the car up with ease, and settle back in at home without being surrounded with tableware and folders.

Scholarships

Whilst applying to university and during your time of study there are a range of scholarships available to students. Some scholarships you will be automatically entered into depending on things such as your academic results and others you can apply for.

You can use the eligibility calculator to answer a few short questions to find out which scholarship may be suitable for you

Scholarships Calculator

 

For prospective undergraduate students there are many scholarships available, the first being an excellence scholarship. An excellence scholarship can offer up to £2000 and is available to students who show excellence in disciplines beyond the curriculum in areas such as the creative arts, IT, performing arts and volunteering and citizenship work although there can be other examples. Anyone can apply for this scholarship as long as you are applying to Edge Hill and are holding a firm offer.

The next scholarship available to students is the sports scholarship and this offers up to £1000 and other benefits depending on the level for which you may qualify. The sports scholarship has three tiers and consists of bronze, silver and gold. The bronze scholarship requires you to make a significant contribution to sport at Edge Hill and contribute to community sport in coaching, officiating, administration or sports development. If you are awarded a bronze scholarship you currently receive free annual Edge Hill Sport and Team Edge Hill membership as well as free access to the gym and a free sports scholarship hoodie. To be eligible for the silver level of scholarship you must have represented either regional or county at junior or senior level in the last 12 months, be a current professional club first team or academy player, have a sports administration at national or regional level or be coaching or officiating at a regional level. If you receive this level of scholarship you will receive the same benefits as bronze but additionally you will receive up to £500 towards training and expenses, free personal training and access to strength and conditioning sessions as well as nutritional advice. Finally the gold level of scholarship requires applicants to have international or national representation at junior or senior level within the last 12 months, be ranked in the top 10 nationally, be an athlete on a recognised National Governing Body or be coaching or officiating at a national level. As a result of this people who receive the scholarship at this level will receive all of the aforementioned benefits but the financial part of the award increases to up to £1000, and they will also have access to a sports science support package which is tailored to their personal needs. Who gets the awards and at what level is decided by a panel.

Finally there are the academic scholarships. The university offers the high achievers scholarship and the Liverpool scholarship both of which offer benefits based on academic excellence. The high achievers scholarship is available to students who achieve 144 or more UCAS points from A-Level or equivalent BTEC qualifications, and who meet the other criteria which can be found on the website. The scholarship offers £1000 paid in two instalments and you will automatically be entered for this scholarship based on your results. The Liverpool scholarship differs slightly in that it is for a person who is domiciled in the city of Liverpool and who receives the highest UCAS tariff score in one sitting (there are some additional criteria). The scholarship offers up to £3000 and can be received by one student or shared if multiple students receive the same UCAS tariff score. Again this is a scholarship that does not have to be applied for and successful students will be contacted via letter during their first semester.

An understanding of scholarships can allow you decide which ones are most appropriate and your eligibility to apply. It can also give you an extra push of motivation knowing that if you excel at A-Level or are particularly talented in your hobby or an activity you may get that extra commendation for it when you arrive at university. More information about the scholarships at Edge Hill can be found here:

Scholarships

 

 

How to get ahead in Primary Education

As I have spoken about previously, Primary Education is a course that can be seriously underestimated. It is one of the most popular courses at Edge Hill with a cohort of around 300 students per year, meaning that it is important to get ahead wherever possible. The course is demanding but there a few things you can do to help you reduce stress and get as much of your experience as possible.

Before you even consider choosing a Primary Education or Education based degree it is important to get as much experience as possible working or volunteering with children. Some people can volunteer in one class and absolutely love it and base their career on this experience and then find themselves shocked when faced with different circumstances in different schools. Having this range of experiences allows you to see teaching from all angles and make an informed decision. As well as this if you do decide to pursue teaching the experience is excellent to boost your CV as teaching jobs often prioritise teachers who have experience in different local authorities. The more experience you can gain the better, as being in school with children is the best place to learn. It is important to get experience before you begin a course but also to consider maintaining this experience during your course. Between your placements the time you spend out of school can be considerable and you can quickly find yourself feeling a little rusty when it comes to returning to the classroom.

Once you begin the course organisation is key. I would highly recommend investing in a good planner or diary. When you are at school and college you get used to teachers telling you things multiple times or having letters given out to remind you. Once you are at university a lecturer could say something once and you will be expected to remember this and action it. This is not the case for everything but I feel it is better to record dates, to do lists and important events in an organised manner to save a last minute panic when you realise that you may have forgotten. As well as a diary I would also suggest buying folders and wallets, as a teacher you can never have too many and knowing where exactly that one piece of paper you need is will save you time and stress in the future.

As part of your organisation an important thing to consider are the dates of your assignments and the time you have between hand-ins. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to get your library books well in advance even if you are not reading them at that moment in time. As the Primary Education cohort is so large the library can often be overwhelmed around assignment times. To overcome this plan out when assignments are due, look at the content and get your books as soon as possible. This saves you going to the library a week before the assignment and seeing a dreaded empty shelf. Once you have the books keep renewing them so you have them when you are ready to use them. Another thing to consider is that if you are living in halls or with other people who study Primary Education share books as much as possible, it means that you’re accessing two or three times as many books as you would be if you were sourcing on your own. As well as this I have wasted many hours walking up and down the library looking for books without really knowing what I am looking for. Using the library service online allows you to search for books based on release, content and type and shows you how many are available and where they are in the library. Through searching online you can spend a few minutes noting down the location and simply going to the library to pick them up saving you time.

Lastly take as many professional development opportunities as possible. As a trainee you are able to join as many unions as you wish in order to get a feel for what they offer and how they can support you as you begin your career. These unions often provide training days or lectures that are available for free to trainees. The content varies from subjects such as safeguarding to special educational needs. In addition to what the unions offer the university also has many opportunities for students to expand their experience through things such as TEL, science under the stars and volunteering to support clubs.

Overall as a Primary Education student one of the most important things to remember is to stay organised and stay calm. The sooner you can do something the better and I would recommend taking on what you can but never do more than you are capable, don’t let your academic side suffer as a result of trying to boost you experiences or CV.