Revisiting My Packing List.

A few weeks ago my blog post talked about moving out of university accommodation, now as I sit here a few weeks later, it’s time to begin thinking about my packing list for second-year. This blog will hopefully serve to inform upcoming first-years of what I took to university, and also an inspiration for any other readers to consider what their lists might look like for when we go back to university in October.

First and foremost, my packing list for first-year featured a lot of leisure reading books, which on paper is great, but in practice, I probably only needed one book, not my entire Gillian Flynn collection and my entire Vogue collection (My reading is very diverse as you can see). Pick a book you know is easy to read or one you’ve been dying to read and add that to your packing list, at Christmas, you can swap it out, or if you haven’t touched it at all, there’s no harm in taking it home and not replacing it. For myself, I barely touched my books, but read a lot of my Vogue magazines, so for second-year, I’m most likely going to pack those again.

My excessive bookshelf.

Another thing I took too much of was kitchenware. Having doubles of your plates, and cutlery is a good idea, but you don’t need three, or even four, of each like I did. The cupboards in the kitchens are generously sized, but you will fill them up quickly. In place of excessive kitchenware, I recommend Tupperware or other plastic boxes to store excess food, it’ll help you portion control, but also means you don’t need to cook daily. For second-year, I’m planning to only take doubles of my basic kitchenware items to free up space.

In a previous blog I’ve discussed video game consoles, but to add onto that I strongly also recommend a firestick or other streaming device in your packing list, I bought one during my second week of uni, though if you take a PS4 or Xbox One, both those consoles have the streaming capabilities of a firestick so you may find you’re better picking one or the other. I plan to take my PS4 to uni’ in October, so may end up leaving my firestick at home.

Beyond those suggestions, the basics still apply. You’ll want to make sure you pack toiletries, stationery, a few notepads, very basic items you would’ve used at home daily or in your studies at college or sixth form. Your packing list will look very different to other’s in some areas, and that’s ok. The point of a packing list for university is to ensure you take items you need, but also take items that provide your comforts. Your new friends might be avid readers, while you only took one book, so its wise to never use one list you see online as gospel. For second, or even third-years, it’s important to reflect on what you took the year prior and realise what you didn’t use a lot, you’ll thank me for that suggestion when you need to move out again at the end of the academic year.

Alice.

A Business Student’s Guide To The Catalyst.

The Catalyst will be the second or third most important building on campus for yourself most likely. The toss-up between the two comes down to how much you love your bed or not, or perhaps how much time you spend at the Student Union bar. Those two locations are blogs for another time. Today, this blog will be about the Catalyst building and how I used it as a student of the Business School. Each course will use the building differently, for example, I didn’t have to use the computer systems as I have a laptop, and did not need bespoke software.

The Catalyst.

Aside from the coffee shop, I used the group workspace areas downstairs in the Catalyst the most out of the whole building within my first year. Some modules in my course were comprised of a lot of group tasks, assignments, activities that had to be done in a group to succeed. Using our accommodation, which would’ve been more homely, was not an option most of the time, so often my groups and I found ourselves in a pod or at a table in the Catalyst. It can be a loud environment so if you’re getting on with some work down there, I recommend earphones. I think every new student reading my blog should consider using the Catalyst to write one assignment in its entirety once over your time at Edge Hill, it’s usually open all hours as long as you have your student card.

Moving on from workspaces, the Catalyst will be where you need to get books from if you are not purchasing them yourself. Whenever you go to take a book out ensure you have your student card handy, or else you won’t be able to take it back to your accommodation or home that day. Blackboard will allow you to check the code and floor of the book you’re looking for which makes locating texts infinitely easier. For example, a lot of my books, for my course, live on the second floor.

An example of Blackboard’s book location capabilities, taken from one of my module reading lists.

Many different students are going to have many different uses for the Catalyst, but the two I have discussed are the two most prominent for myself as a Business School student, but also myself in terms of what resources are on offer. An important thing to add about the Catalyst is that you can loan out laptops, allowing you to work anywhere. I hope if you are a new student, attending this coming October, this blog has excited you about the Catalyst building and what it may offer yourself as a student at Edge Hill University.

Alice.

Managing Money – Food Shopping.

Managing Money is an essential part of university life. Whether you’re living off savings, making income through a part-time job, or you’re one of the lucky ones with a rather hefty student loan, you will have to manage this money accordingly to ‘survive’. My blog this week is going to focus in on food shopping at Edge Hill, something you can keep quite cheap if you’re intelligent.

My first few weeks at uni I did a weekly food shop, which wasn’t very smart. I was spending £10-£20 a week on food which majorly ate into my savings. If you set a budget for food before you go, and only go once every, maybe two weeks, like I did in the second semester, you save yourself a lot of money. Another thing I did wrong, I was buying a lot of snacks during my food shops, rather than actual food like bags of Pasta, Rice, stuff to go with those. I strongly recommend not buying snacks during your weekly food shop, and instead of saving that money for McColls’ £1 item aisle which longterm will be more financially manageable. Around Christmas, I was silly with my money and bought lots of chocolate, my diet and bank account were both very unhappy with me for those purchases.

Your essential map to supermarkets in Ormskirk.

I’ve spoke about tips regarding your actual shopping list, but where can you buy food in Ormskirk? You’ve got three main options! The largest supermarket is the Morrisons, I often used it to buy treat items like syrups for my coffee, or nice cheeses. Aldi is another option that most people tend to use, I know I certainly did. I used Aldi for stuff like breakfast items, pasta, rice, general things you need in your food cupboard to put together a satisfying meal that doesn’t break the bank. If you want to treat yourself, beyond what Morrisons can offer, there’s an M&S in Ormskirk. I often bought cookies from M&S during heavy coursework periods to get me through.

My snack draw for coursework survival.

Of course, I will always prefer the method of getting my parents to do my food shop for me when they come to visit, or I go home for a weekend.

Alice.

Moving out of Campus Accommodation.

I’m writing this on Sunday 7th June 2020, and yesterday I moved out of my university accommodation, it was a lot easier than I expected.

So, background before I retell this story. I am a first-year student and I spent my first year in Chancellors Court accommodation, on campus. I took home my essentials (Which equated for about a half of my stuff) when my lectures were switched to online in light of the current pandemic in March. A week or so ago the university invited me to book a slot to collect the rest of my items, and my timeslot was this Saturday at 9 AM, exhausted was an understatement by the time I was done.

The view from my room on campus

I realise I jumped ahead of myself there, so in an effort to ensure whole experience it recapped for yourself, let’s go from the top. My quarantine sleep schedule is 2/3 AM to 11 AM, sometimes 12 PM.. I had to wake up at 7 AM for my car journey back up to uni. That car journey truly makes me wish I lived close to Edge Hill, every time I take it. My parents and I arrived at the university just before 9, but seemingly since no one else from my building was moving out, we could start early. It was only two people at a time in the building, so we created the system where one of my parents waited outside and took bags, boxes, anything we could put stuff into, to the car, and my other parent and myself packed my belongings. Like I said before, having packed up half my room in March, it was a lot easier of a process.

A candid shot of my desk just before I moved out in March.

In all it took about an hour to pack my remaining clothes, my kitchen stuff, all the things you wouldn’t really think you’d need back home. When all was packed into our car, I had to do the sombre walk of handing my keys in. It felt odd to be wandering through a very quiet campus, I wasn’t going to be staying in the room again and this would be the last time I saw Edge Hill until October, however it was good for me, I’ve gotten one of the last pieces of closure I needed for my first year.

Much like most things at the moment, I can’t say you’ll experience the same as myself, given the circumstances my move out took place in. If you’re a current student still waiting to do this task, maybe this will help. If you’re a prospective student reading this, I hope my recollection of how the university is handling things serves as interesting reading.

Alice.

Learning New Skills: Summer Edition.

At university, you learn many new skills. From cooking, to socialising, and then more academic skills like how to reference, cite, quote, work your way around different platforms like Blackboard. I know I certainly learnt lots of new skills in my first year. However, now as I’ve been relaxing for exactly a month since I finished my final assignment, my passion to learn something new had arisen, so in this blog post, I’m going to discuss exactly what I’m teaching myself at the moment, and provide some idea for yourself.

Photo editing is an important skill related to my chosen area, marketing, and therefore when I saw all my friends with great capability to do so, then looked at my skills, I did often feel like this was an area I was lacking in. Therefore over this summer, I’m going to self-teaching myself how to use a photo editing software called Affinity. Affinity is a cheaper alternative to higher-priced software on the market, and only charges you once, so it’s perfect for students. Affinity offers in house tutorials developed by themselves, and then beyond that, there are a plethora of YouTube offerings on how to get started. If you decide to give their free trial a whirl, I suggest this video as a good starting point on how to use their exciting editing tools.

A screenshot of my Affinity workspace

Beyond what I’m doing with photo editing, there are several other things you can do over stuff to either prepare to come to university, or strengthen your CV if your placement has been cancelled due to ongoing world events. Simply taking sometime a week to read relevant and up to date journal articles will bulk up your academic knowledge. Or perhaps you can take time to go through old pieces of work, and refine your reference style.

Learning Edge has the capability to easily find mountains of Journal Articles for yourself to read.

Ultimately as students, we have to identify our areas of weakness and improve upon them, beyond what a tutor may find in your coursework. I hope my account of what I’m doing over this summer to better my skillset has inspired you to consider doing something similar.

Alice

Business School Freshers Week 2019

I’ve spoken a fair bit about Freshers week in my blogs, but never intensely on the activities my department (The Business School) put on for my cohort. If you’re a new student reading this blog, beware everyone’s Freshers is different, and the next cohort’s Freshers week activities for the Business School may be very different. Disclaimers out the way, time to get into my first week at Edge Hill.

Day one of the week was arguably the most jam-packed. The entire Business School cohort converged on the Wilson lecture theatre for an introduction to the school, key members of the department, and other important things tied to being a Business School student at Edge Hill. From the introduction lecture, I had a smaller lecture focused on my specific degree in one of the rooms of the Business School. The smaller lecture had activities for people to mix and begin to create friendships. Yes there were icebreakers but they were enjoyable ones, well, as enjoyable as an icebreaker can be.

Introductions over with, the whole cohort came together again for the delivery of the week’s task. The entire cohort was split up into groups. Each team had the same task, create a new business for the Ormskirk area. Groups could talk, throw ideas around, get a basis on everything, before heading home for the night. It was a good way to meet new people, and I know several people who formed lasting friendships through the task.

Tuesday to Thursday was centred around working on our businesses, my group came up with an escape room. On the Thursday we presented the ideas to a panel of judges, this took place in the Business School foyer for about an hour, followed by a lunch break and big awards ceremony in the Wilson building one last time as a whole cohort. My team did not win any awards, but several of my friends I made prior to starting university did, so there were celebrations to be had following the ceremony.

The poster for my team’s business.

Finally, a big barbecue outside the Business School to commemorate the end of Freshers Week!

Like I said at the start of this blog, your activities may be different come Freshers week 2020, or beyond if you’re reading this much further down the line. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have as much fun as I did!

Alice.

Post and parcels – Wrapping your head around getting your Amazon delivery.

Getting my deliveries was something I was confused by when getting ready to go to Edge Hill. As an avid Amazon orderer I usually had some kind of delivery every week back home, but prior to starting in September I wasn’t sure how that was going to work. If you’re in the same position however, worry not, I’m going to break it all down in this blog.

Let me paint the picture; you’ve moved into campus, you’ve been here a few days, you’ve been taking part in your Freshers week activities. Perhaps your room in the morning while getting ready is a little too warm, or you need to buy some academic textbooks so you bookmark important sections and keep one for your entire academic studies. What you will want to do is head to the Edge Hill Website and find your unique postcode first!

Screenshot from the Edge Hill website.

Once you’ve formatted your address as Edge Hill request it, you’re good to go to input the address into Amazon and begin shopping.

Now let us paint a new picture; a day or so has passed and you’ve received an email from titled “Post Received at Durning Centre”, you will learn to love this email. Whenever you receive this email it’s a call to arms to head to the Durning Centre and collect your mail. Where is the Durning Centre? Just behind the Catalyst, near the sports fields, it’s pretty hard to miss.

The Durning Centre, situated behind the Catalyst.

As of writing this blog, the Durning Centre is open only during weekdays, 7AM to 7PM, so if you’re using this blog for guidance in September, remember those are your holy hours for collecting the tat you order online.

Of course you’re not limited to just Amazon deliveries, in my first year I ordered clothes, makeup, many more things and had them delivered to the Durning Centre. Another great thing about Edge Hill’s mail system is as long as you give your family back home the correct address, they can send you things if coming to give them to you yourself is a little tough due to work schedule. I got my family to send me my PS4 at one point, and it arrived perfectly with no damage, and was handled well by the Durning Centre staff.

Getting used to the post system can be a bit confusing, but after your first time it becomes second nature. Just make sure you always remember your Unicard when collecting something!

Alice

My mission to read over the summer.

First year is well and truly over for me now, last assignments are in, grades are coming back, I haven’t opened Blackboard for a little while now for anything other than checking said grades. I’m in my summer, whatever summer social distancing can offer, and have begun to think about goals, what do I want to achieve?

It’s something I don’t talk about often but I’m very bad at reading, I’ll start a new book, get a quarter way in, maybe half if I’m lucky, then put it down, not to be touched again. While I write this I’m imagining the Woody’s nightmare Toy Story clip. Humour aside, I’m bad at reading. My last victim was a memoir by Carole Radziwill called What Remains, I was gripped by it but found myself just not having the willpower to finish it. As I write this it’s sat in my bedside table, taunting me.

Not my copy of What Remains, but it’s in a similar condition.

So, my goal this summer, getting back on topic. My goal without a doubt is to read more, to finish books I have purchase. To do this, I’m considering alternative methods, first one being that I’ve stolen the family iPad to turn it into my new kindle. Following my acquisition, I also bought an eBook from Amazon to get stuck into, and so far, I’m about 100 pages or so in. Theft of the iPad aside, I’m so far succeeding in reading this book.

A big part of what I need to figure out is, what I enjoy reading. So far, I’m loving The Gatekeeper by Kate Fall, it’s a political read so be warned. Next up I really want to read Dune before the movie releases this Christmas (The day before my birthday for anyone interested).

A fanmade Dune poster – Sadly the official one isn’t out yet.

However, I feel drawn back to asking a key question; why am I so interested in reading more? To simply put it, I really want to improve these skills, so they’ll assist me better in second year. My summer is set to be long, I don’t have much lined up, so I certainly have the time to complete this goal, hopefully also turning it into an aspect of my lifestyle.

I’m sure my summer goals will alter and expand more as time goes on, and I intend to document them as much as I can in my journey to prepare for second year.

Alice

Freshers Week – Reflecting back.

I have finished all my university work for my first year here at Edge Hill, and while that fact hasn’t completely dawned upon me yet, I’ve been doing some reflection on when I started Edge Hill, bringing me back to Freshers week.

I look back to Freshers week and wonder who that person was? I feel I have personally changed so much since that frantic week in September, to the point I felt empowered to write this blog today, to tell my past self some things she really should have known, or done.

First and foremost, please stop worrying about your finances, you have an interest free overdraft and plenty of security net! Every purchase I made in Freshers, I was extremely nervous about, from textbooks to cookies from M&S (Obviously I hadn’t relegated myself to just Aldi and Morrisons just yet). The reality of the situation was I had little reason to worry, I’ve been smart about money and undertaken the needed tasks to ensure that.

Another issue I faced quite often in Freshers week was spending time with my ‘course friends’, if you’re at Edge Hill now you’ll understand this, but for anyone reading this who isn’t yet, you will have two groups of friends. The people you live with in your halls or elsewhere will be ‘flat friends’ or something similar, the people on your degree and who you will spend more time with are your ‘course friends’. As of writing I am very close with my course friends so for me everything did turn out ok, but in Freshers week I should have been more flexible, spent time with more people, broadened my social circle in a sense. My key advice on this topic ultimately would be to accept every invitation to do something during Freshers week, but also create your own.

There’s so much more I could go on about for things I wish I had done differently or acted differently about during Freshers. These are my glaring two, however. Everyone’s takes on this will be different, as everyone experiences Freshers differently. For me, it was a good week that I should have done more with, for yourself it could be an amazing week that you should’ve really done less in.  

Alice.

My Module Choices – Preparing for 2nd year.

My first year is in full wrap up mode with only one assignment left to finish, which leaves me beginning to cast my mind towards year two. A few weeks ago, I made my module options, and today I plan to discuss them a little more to explain the process, but also give insight to what I’ll be studying.

In the Business School we received a handbook of sorts on all the different modules available to us, their codes (Bus2###) and a little summary. The handbook however was designed to be a teaser for us to then do our own research on Blackboard. Made available to us were the module handbooks for each module, detailing assessment briefs, delivery schedules, and other important pieces of information. Overall, the process utilised by the Business School left me feeling very prepared since my module choices this year are much more important than the ones, I did last year.

Once I decided with my modules I went over to the Edge Hill website using a link emailed to me to access the selection form. Inputting my choices took no more than five minutes and I got a confirmation email to assure me it had been sent off. It’s important to know what you want to study before you open the website, and that you have researched the modules as closely as you can.

Next year I’ll be studying Research Methods for Business, Retail Marketing Planning and, Branding: Integrated Digital Campaigns as my compulsory three modules that the Business School selected for me. The three I, myself, got to select are Employability, Social Media Monitoring & Analytics and, Services & Experiential Marketing. Having worked in a salon when I was younger I’m particularly excited to study the Services module since it will tie into that.

I’m amazed first year is coming to an end, but I’m very excited for my second year.

Alice