Staying Fit and Healthy – Lockdown Edition!

Hey everyone! We all know how important it is to look after our mental health during times like these but it is equally as important to look after the physical side of your health which will impact positively on your mental health. Here are some of my tips on how I am keeping healthy over lockdown!

1. Walking

I feel like this first tip does not need much explaining. Walking (within the limit) can be just as good of exercise as going to the gym or doing a really long run. I just realised how much I sound like my dad by saying that…isolation has damaged me, let’s move on.

2. Resistance Bands

As the gym has sadly been closed for the seeable, I have had to rely on my trusty resistance bands for working out at home. I mainly use them for leg days or when I need a stretch as they add a little bit more resistance (surprisingly) to squats, lunges etc. 

I also am really lucky that my family has kept some old workout equipment such as dumbbells and bars over the years which have come in handy during this period.

3. Zoom Classes

I am sure that most people are quite familiar with Zoom for pub quizzes and family calls etc. As I have not been able to train with my Gaelic football team, one of the girls set up two exercise classes a week for us all to join and workout together. It is a great way to stay connected to the team and to continue with keeping fit. Why not try it with your friends?

I hope that some of you found this helpful during this time and are keeping safe at home! Keeping fit and healthy does not have to be hard and can easily be done without a gym or loads of equipment.

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear.”

-Buddha-

What I Love About My Primary Education Course!

Hey everyone, in the spirit of Thank a Teacher Day, I thought I would share what I love most about my Primary Education course at Edge Hill University!

When I first started my degree at Edge Hill University in September 2018, like a lot of people I didn’t really know anyone in my course which is daunting for any student. My first couple of classes really made the difference for me as they provided a lot of opportunity for me to talk to other students in my seminar classes which was nerve wracking at the start but I soon began to get to know everyone’s names and what interests they had. 

Throughout the whole year seminar classes and lectures were kept very interactive with loads of opportunities to talk to the people around you and discuss experiences you have had in terms of teaching. My favourite classes were, and still are, science as there was always a practical element to it and you were guaranteed a good, fulfilling lesson. I loved how all my seminars followed the same structure!

I am really grateful for the opportunities that my course offers in terms of professional practice and how supportive the staff are when organising placements. In my first year, I was placed in a really lovely school about 45 minutes from the campus and a taxi was provided for me and the other trainees throughout the duration of the placement. In my second year, I thought I was going to be staying in England for my placement but when I felt it would be better for me to go home to Northern Ireland, I spoke to my year lead and she helped me so much to get something organised so that I could complete my second placement at home which I will be forever grateful for!

I hope that you enjoyed this brief post about what I love about my Primary Education course at Edge Hill University and I hope that you have the same amazing experiences on this course as I have!

“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.”

-Author Unknown-

Why I Chose Primary Education!

Hey everyone, as Thank a Teacher Day is fast approaching and with everything that teachers are doing for their students during this time I thought I would talk a little about why I chose to train to be a part of this amazing community of people.

When I was very young I had thought about how cool it would be to be a teacher who wouldn’t give their students homework and let them play all day instead of work because I can only imagine that was every child’s ideal teacher. It wasn’t until I was a little older did I start to see how much of an impact my teachers had on my everyday life and how much they cared for my achievement.

I started to forget about the idea of not giving my class homework and letting them play all day because I saw how much respect my classmates and I had for all my teachers throughout the years despite homework and mental mathematics books…I will never forget the mental maths…

Tes Maths: Maths4Everyone collection | Tes

Maths was always a huge struggle for me throughout my whole education but, I will always remember the immense amount of support I received from my teachers that really helped me cope with the difficulties. This is probably one of the biggest reasons why I want to be a primary educator because I want to be able to do the same for other children that come across struggles in their life whether it be academic or not. 

9,266 Super Woman Stock Vector Illustration And Royalty Free Super ...

Another huge reason why I chose the career path of being a teacher is because my mum has always been a primary teacher and I always loved hearing the stories she would tell me after school about what her students learnt that day. Seeing how much she loved it really inspired me to be just like her and start my own journey to be a teacher.

I hope that you enjoyed this! Teachers have always been important to me because of what they do for their students and I am very grateful that I have had the most amazing experiences with teachers and that I have chosen Edge Hill to complete my training!

“Not all superheroes have capes, some have Teaching Degrees.” 

-Unknown-

Tips For a Healthy Mind – Lockdown Edition!

Hey everyone, I hope that you all are staying safe during this lockdown and enjoying the time to settle down and chill with loved ones. I also know that the lockdown can be a little stressful especially if you are trying to complete a degree and write assignments etc so, I thought I would share with you some of the things that I have started to do to look after my mind during lockdown.

Scrapbooking!

Before I start, anyone who knows me will know that I am not artistically inclined in the slightest and is why I was so apprehensive about starting a scrapbook in the first place because I knew it would not turn out like the ones I see on Pinterest! However, when lockdown started I wanted to have something to work on that was not related to my degree or academia at all and so that’s when I decided to order myself some scrapbooking essentials such as markers, washi tape and fun stickers.

I had ordered loads of photos over the 2 years of being in university and so I decided to base the scrapbook on my memories from university. I will admit that it does get a little sad looking back at photos but it is also a great reminder that if we all stay home that we can go back to being with friends and making loads of new memories. My only problem now is that I want to make a scrapbook on every aspect of my life…it’s addictive.

Music and podcasts

I have never been more grateful for Spotify and podcasts in my life! I love putting my headphones on and walking around my garden/fields or even just laying still and soaking up all the lyrics and making my family rethink ever letting me come home for lockdown when I laugh out loud at a podcast in the middle of the garden (Table Manners is a must for everyone).

Table Manners with Jessie Ware on acast
My favourite Podcast!

Again, music and podcasts help me relax and detach myself from the assignments and uni work so that I can come back to work with a fresh and calm mind ready for more Harvard referencing!

Yoga/Exercise!

I think one of the hardest parts about leaving university to come back home for lockdown was not being able to go to yoga on a Sunday morning with my friends. However, YouTube has been my saviour the past couple of weeks and also doing my own yoga sessions has really helped keep my practice up.

Also, having the time to do some home workouts has really helped me to de-stress from assignment writing and release some worry about the current situation. I always tell myself that even going for a walk once a day and being outside in the fresh air can be all I need to do for my exercise as it is just as beneficial as going to the gym.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and that some of you start scrapbooking because trust me, you will not want to stop. Stay safe and stay home and if you need anymore support on covid-19 please use the link and scroll down the page https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/students/

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

-Plutarch-

Support at Home

Hey everyone, as I, and a lot of people have had to complete assignments at home and not had the opportunity to access books from your local library I thought I would share a few of my favourite websites with you that really helped me with my assignments.

  1. Discover More

This is a website by Edge Hill University that has thousands of books and articles and loads of different types of references you could use for your assignments. I would use this platform to look for reading material for assignments before any other websites as I know I will get a better range of online materials that I can access from home. I usually make my reading list using this website even before the global pandemic so that I have a good starting point for my assignment.

There is an option when searching for materials to ‘advance’ your search. This lets you refine your search a little more and add keywords that you want to look for in a journal or book specifically. It makes the searching and sifting process a lot easier.

2. Google Scholar

This is something I would use after I have searched all I can on Discover More to see if I can find any extra journal articles. I often find that it is easier to keep your search as simple as possible and then sift through the results carefully as they can often be wordy titles but are exactly what you are looking for.

You may not have access to all of the articles (and it always seems to be the ones that sound perfect) but I often find that the abstracts have enough in them to just get one point to back up what you want to say in your assignment!

3. YouTube

I know a lot of people may not think that you can reference things on a YouTube video but I have found that if you find the right videos and channels they can be really insightful and useful for something you are writing. But I would not overly use them as they are not academic resources. I like watching the Ted Talks videos as there is a lot of education related content on there that I can choose quotes from! Watching Youtube videos also is a nice way to take a break from reading, you just need to be careful not to get sucked into the YouTube blackhole…

I hope that some of you found this useful for when you are writing assignments from home. I know it can be frustrating when looking for materials to read for assignments but just take your time to sift through everything and read in small chunks instead of bingeing 20+.

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

“There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.”


Cesar Chavez

Finding your own Catalyst building.

Hey everyone, I hope that you are all staying safe at home and coping with everything. I dedicated this month of blogs to talking about studying at home, working from home and writing assignments at home and to finish it off I will be talking about finding the perfect place for you to study in the comfort of your own home while we wait to go back to normal.

The first piece of advice I would give you is to try and not use your room. When writing assignments and studying for exams, we tend to get stressed and a little overwhelmed (if you don’t please tell me your secrets) and all that energy is being released into your room where you are supposed to relax and sleep. I know that if I ever use my room for studying my sleep would not be very restful and so it is why I really try to avoid using my room for assignments and studying.

Find a place that is quiet (as quiet as you can get anyway) so that there is less chance of getting distracted. I know it is hard to find somewhere as quiet as the silent study in the catalyst but in times like these we have to compromise, the catalyst will still be there when all goes back to normal! Good things come to those who wait…

Make your study space your own. By this I mean adding a calendar with your deadlines on it or little post it notes for writing your notes. Even if your study space is your kitchen table and you can’t really turn it into a full blown working desk because people have to eat and play monopoly (duh), take things that you can move around so that it feels more like a desk and I promise you it will make such a difference!

I hope that you found this useful! I know it can be hard for some people to find a place to work from home that ticks all of these boxes but we can only do our best during times like this and your absolute best is always good enough! 

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Vince Lombardi

Fuelling for a day of assignment writing or studying!

Hey everyone, as we know it’s important that when doing a long day of studying for a test or writing an assignment we know not take our phones out for distraction and to find a quiet place to complete your studying but it is equally as important to fuel for your day ahead!

I like to start this the night before. Making sure that I have got a full night of rest before a long day of assignment writing is crucial for me as I tend to concentrate a lot better than when I have gone to bed quite late due to watching Tik Toks with my housemate…

However, everyone is different and you may thrive off a couple hours sleep and a lot of caffeine but rest is crucial in order to get the most out of your day. 

Sleeping GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

BREAKFAST! Literally my favourite meal of the day, ask anyone. I don’t really like starting my day with an empty stomach so I make sure that I have a good, wholesome bowl of porridge with some banana and peanut butter or switch the porridge for a bagel so that I am fuelled for the next few hours and to help keep me powering through the journal articles. I may also treat myself to a coffee half way through the morning…just as an energy boost.

I always make sure that I bring snacks anywhere that I am studying or writing assignments. This is usually a cereal bar, oat bar or some fruit and nut mix. In my opinion, staying away from highly processed snacks improves concentration as once a sugar rush crashes it can be quite hard to get back into the swing of things. Again, everyone is different and so whatever works for you is fine.

Another important tip for ensuring that you are fuelling your day well is to keep hydrated. I cannot go anywhere without a water bottle so that I can keep refilling it throughout the day or else and try and avoid a headache which always happens when you are dehydrating. 

This is just a small idea of how I like to fuel a day of assignment writing to ensure that I get the best out of my day. Making sure that you are eating the right foods and are drinking water every so often is important for any person and anyone studying or writing assignments.

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading and stay safe, Lauren x

“Food is your body’s fuel. Without fuel, your body wants to shut down.”

-Ken Hill-

Tips for Concentration!

Hey everyone, as a lot of people are working from home, studying from home and writing assignments from home I thought I would share some of my tips that I follow in order to help with my concentration. Enjoy!

First and foremost you need to get rid of all distractions! These can be things such as your phone, TV, radio or your pet. This is just to make sure that the space that you are working in is free from anything that may break your concentration. 

Who gets most distracted by cell phones?

I know that I am very sensitive to noise so I need complete silence when I am writing assignments so it is important for me to ensure that anything that may cause a noise or a simple distraction needs to be out of the room. You may work differently and that is fine but I think it is still important to ensure distractions are kept to a minimum. 

However, when I feel like I need to take a ‘semi-break’ from reading or when I am sorting out my notes, I like to listen to some calming, relaxing music. I find that when there is a really soft beat in the background it just calms me down and reduces any stress that wants to bubble up.Some of my favourite playlists are linked below:

This is my favourite playlist at the moment;

Before I start any kind of work whether that be reading for an assignment or writing an assignment it’s important for me to get into the right mindset because usually I just end up sitting thinking about what I will make for lunch. I take 5 minutes before I begin work to do some guided meditation (which can also be found on Spotify or YouTube) to ensure that I have switched my brain off from whatever I was doing prior.

I highly recommend doing this every hour or so when working from home even trying some yoga stretching or going for a walk around the house. I always find that my concentration is better when I take small breaks every, one to two hours.

I hope that found this useful! I know that working from home in any situation can be hard and finding the concentration is even harder but find some ways that you can focus and it won’y seem all that hard anymore.

Thanks for reading, Lauren x 

“When every physical and mental resources is focused, one’s power to solve a problem multiplies tremendously.”


-Peale Quotes-

Working From Home: How to be the most productive

Hey everyone, I thought that since a lot of people will be working from home from now on that I would dedicate this month’s blogs to doing just that. I know that there are many reasons why people need to work from home due to sickness or perhaps not being able to get into university because of weather etc.

A Quiet Place

By this I don’t mean watch the movie. Now that I am working from home and continuing my course online due to recent events it is crucial for me to find a place that is silent because unfortunately, I do not have the pleasure of working in the silent study at the catalyst building. Luckily for me, I live in the quiet of the countryside so I don’t have to worry about loud neighbours but, I do like my own place to study and get in the zone as I find that I am more productive this way.

Study Cartoon clipart - Student, Education, School, transparent ...

I highly recommend finding a place where you live that is quiet and peaceful. However, I would try and separate your uni work from your bedroom as this can sometimes cause sleep issues due to stress being present in the environment.

Take Breaks

The biggest and most useful piece of advice I was given whilst studying at home for my A-Levels was to take breaks that are completely different from what I was doing which was mostly reading or writing. I would therefore go for a walk (big surprise), pet my dog or just talk to whoever is in my house. I would then go back to my work and be refreshed, ready to start again. I still use this tip today when I am writing or reading for a long assignment and it helps to keep my mind at ease.

Set Yourself Some Time

So, I think that we can all agree that you cannot work all day and if you can teach me your ways! That’s why I like to set myself time in the day to dedicate myself to university work and then plan out what I need to do in that time frame I have given myself. 

I usually give myself at least three hours in the morning before I do anything because that is when I am most productive and the rest of the day I have to do what I like. Before I start my work I always have a timetable next to me that is sectioned into hours of the day. For example, from 9am to 10:45am I read and plan for an assignment, tick that off and then I have a quick break until 11am when I usually have a lecture. I then plan for the next couple of hours and make sure that my day is broken down so that I don’t get too overwhelmed.

I hope that you found this useful and I hope that you are all keeping safe. I am really thankful that I can still continue my lectures online to keep from going insane, they really help all I need to do is perfect my working from home routine!

Thank you, Lauren x

“It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”

-John Steinbeck-

Student Finance – Northern Ireland.

Hey everyone, it is coming to that time in your university journey that you have to start thinking about your finances to support you throughout the academic year and beyond. Coming from Northern Ireland, my experience with student finance was slightly different but not that scary at all. 

Applying for your student finance well in advance before the closing date is so essential as sometimes, the application forms do not get approved straight away due to a small mistake or the incorrect information being given.

The first thing I did when applying to student finance was talk to someone who had already been through it. I spoke to my cousin who had been through it a couple of times and she was the one who told me to look online before I started. She also told me that it was easier if I applied for student finance online rather than through the document that was given to me at school. This was because if there was a mistake in the hard copy of the application it would take longer to send back and then have to post it away again once it was corrected. The student finance Northern Ireland website actually advises this as well.

As you probably already know, you need to be careful about what application form you download and so, there are a couple of things you need to check before you start to fill in the application form. Firstly make sure that you are applying for the correct academic year, that you chose the undergraduate or postgraduate form and if you are a full time or part time student. This information is essential to check before beginning the form.

The application form is quite long but as I said there is a lot of guidance on the website that you can download. I found these really helpful as the process can be quite overwhelming and some of the questions can be confusing. Just remember to keep checking over what you have done to minimise the chances of it being sent back again.

Also, when it comes to the part in the application that requires you to fill in household income, it might be useful to have your parents/guardians around you to ensure that you get the correct information as this will affect how much money you recieve. On the student finance NI website there is a guide that parents and guardians can read/download if they need any additional support or clarification about what information is needed.  

As I am in my second year of university, when I get my finance is different from my first year but they are usually around the same time. I get my first instalment of student finance in September (around the 15th/16th mark) just in time before I start classes (and freshers!). My second instalment usually drops right after Christmas time when school starts back again (mine came on the 6th of January 2020). My final instalment usually comes in after Easter just in time for the end of the academic year for me.

Like I said, the website is very useful and full of information if you need it but do not be afraid to give them a call for anything at all. I rang when I didn’t understand what I needed to do when applying for my second year student finance and the person on the phone was very calm and talked me through what I needed to do.

I hope that you found this useful and are excited to start your university journey, Lauren Fitzsimons.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

-Beverly Sills-