How to Avoid the Competitive Side of University

Hey everyone! the topic for today’s post is something that I haven’t seen much about or talked about that often and so it is why I want to talk about it today. For me, university can seem like one big academic competition within your course group or even sometimes among your peer group which can then lead to comparing your own success against someone else. Since beginning my second year of university, this has become less of a struggle because I now know what to do to try and avoid catching these feelings.

Social Media

I know that this is not news for people but as we all know social media can be detrimental to the way in which we think of ourselves. Seeing people post stories or tweet things about your course or how much work they’re doing on a Friday night can start to make you feel guilty about how much work you have been doing.

I had a professional twitter account for my course but I had to delete it because of the stress and guilt it caused me anytime I saw something relating to my course assignments or people working. Since deleting my account I am much more relaxed about my own work ethic as I am no longer comparing myself to the people I followed. I have also made sure to lessen my usage of other social media apps by deleting the apps during the week and then if I want to, re-downloading them at the weekend.

Image result for no social media

Working Alone

I have found that when I work alone on assignments I am a lot happier with the work I have done because there is no one around me to compare myself to. I can often work with some people but at times, I like my own space to work hard and concentrate on my own success.

For this, I like to use the silent study on the Catalyst building on the Edge Hill campus. I know that I mention this space quite a lot on my blogs but it just goes to show how much I love it up there. There is no way that I can get distracted as you can literally hear a pin drop and that’s why I never fail to get work done.

Surround yourself with Positivity

My best piece of advice for this topic is to do things that make you happy. This can be anything from the people in your life, hobbies that you enjoy, food (my personal favourite) or simply just getting sucked into the TikTok hole until three in the morning…

Do whatever it takes to take your mind off all the comparisons that we are finding hard to escape from these days and know that how much work you have done that day is good for YOU and should not be dampened by the feelings of not doing enough.

Image result for positivity gif

I really hope that people found this post a little helpful or if you just needed this reminder to JUST DO YOU!

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

“Have more than you show, and speak less than you know.”

-William Shakespeare-

My Assignment Writing Routine feat the Catalyst

Hey everyone, as I have a quite a few assignments due in in these last two months, I thought I would share with you the process that I go through whilst writing an assignment for my course. The catalyst building at Edge Hill University is also a big part of my assignment writing routine so I will be sharing how I use it.

Step 1 – the title

The first step in my assignment routine is reading and understanding the title of the assignment so that I know what it is that I need to do and what books I will need to read in order to make sure that I am going to be hitting all the points.

Step 2 – reading

This is the part that I find the hardest as you need to make sure that you are reading enough but not reading too much that you get overwhelmed and then confused as to what the assignment is actually about.

When I am looking for things to read, I start with books as it means I can read them in the library (as much as I can) so that I don’t have to carry them all the way back to the house and break my back! For reading, I like to go up to the silent study because I know that I won’t get distracted and get a lot of reading done.

Once I have finished reading books I move on to journal articles and online resources as I know I don’t have to physically take something out of the catalyst. I still like to do this reading in the silent study just because I tend to get distracted easily and I like keeping my house, where I relax, separate from where I work as a way to keep my stress levels down.

I use discover more and google scholar to find my articles;

Step 3 – notes

Once I have read everything that I possibly could, it is time gather all those highlighted words and sentences and put them down on the one page so that they are easily accessed. Everyone is different when it comes to writing down their notes but, the way I like to do it is open a Google Docs page, write the reference (in Harvard style) for whatever book or journal I have read and then start writing my notes underneath that.

I like using google docs for this part of the assignment because I can easily attach a comment to the quote I have written down so that I can remember what I want to write about this quote or how I would incorporate it into my assignment. Google docs is also very safe to use in terms of saving your work as it does it automatically. I cannot tell you how many times I have lost internet connection or my laptop has died and I panic about losing all my work but it never has because the google docs saves it automatically.

Step 4 – Plan

After I have made sure that I have recorded all my notes on to the one document I can then start to break my assignment down into points and then add in the quotes that would be suitable for that point.

Step 5 – write!

Once I have the plan done and dusted, I feel that I am ready to start the writing process. I find that having a solid plan to base my assignment on makes this part so much easier because all I need to do is transfer the information I have on my plan into an academic piece of writing.

I hope that you enjoyed this and hopefully found it useful. I know that everyone has a different way that they like to write assignments and that is completely fine, you do you x

Thanks for reading, Lauren.

“It is nobody’s responsibility but yours to discover your assignment and to execute that very assignment.”

D.S. Mashego-

My 5 Favourite Things About Edge Hill

Spring is upon us and in three short months, my second year at Edge Hill will draw to a close, leaving me facing my third year and final year as an undergraduate. So, I’m feeling quite reflective. List time? List time.

My 5 Favourite Things About Edge Hill

1. The beach!

Studying full time and working in a demanding job, like I do, can get really overwhelming. So, I often take myself off for walks on campus on my breaks or choose the ‘scenic route’ back to my car to try and find some peace. Nestled by the water in Eastern Campus, ‘La Plage’ is a little slice of heaven that gives you the chance to sunbathe or feel sand under your feet and then be back inside for your 2pm lecture.

2. The Arts Centre

I’m a Counselling and Psychotherapy student and I have never lived on campus or even near campus, so I initially dismissed The Arts Centre as a place where art degrees must be taught and where students who lived on campus could watch films at night. Oh, how wrong I was! Everything from theatre to music can be found in The Arts Centre and there are regular live shows from comedians at bargain prices which would ordinarily cost £20-£70 per ticket on their arena tours.

3. Ormskirk

On my course we sometimes have gaps of up to three hours between sessions so, rather than commuting home to turn around and come back, my coursemates and I like to head into Ormskirk and grab brunch. Hopping on the free bus with our Unicards and heading to Wetherspoons if the student finance has run out or getting a delicious brunch and a milkshake at Cobble if we’re feeling a little more ‘flush’ is a great way to catch up and relax.

4. Catalyst

More than just a library, Edge Hill’s Catalyst is open 24/7 and boasts millions of pounds worth of books, computers and digital resources. However, for me, it’s the additional student support you can access via the helpdesk that makes the difference. Money advice clinics, study skills sessions, 1:1 advice on everything from debt and weight loss to essay writing and housing…I could go on.

5. 53.3 Degrees

We’re blessed with an abundance of restaurants, cafes and coffee spots at Edge Hill, including our very own Starbucks, but my favourite is 53.3 Degrees in the Catalyst building. Delicious, fresh coffee with natural light flowing through and gorgeous views of campus…this little coffee shop has everything I need to gather my thoughts and find some headspace.

Have you visited campus yet? Or maybe you’re a current student? What would be on your list?

Sam xo

Making the Most of Your Foundation Year in Medicine Part 2: Social Aspects

Continuing from the last blog, I’ll be discussing just a few of the things I’ve done in my first year. Although this blog is targeted towards future Foundation Year medical students, this blog’s applicable for anyone!

Go to as Many Events as Possible
Give it a Go Banner

Do you have a generous student loan? Then go on an organised shopping trip! (we’ve had trips to Chesire Oaks and the Trafford Centre this year) Do you want freebies? Check out some events in the “Give it a Go” booklet you’ll get before University. You could go to a Crafternoon, make something unique (like a dream-catcher), while enjoying free snacks. If you want to pursue an interest, then you should check out the societies available at the Welcome week fair! There were some giveaways when I went. Therefore, I left with a £5 gift voucher (as well as free noodles and toiletries!)

Go to the Pub Quiz

The Pub Quiz takes place in the SU Bar on Monday nights. There’s a £1 entry fee, and a cash prize up for grabs. As it is in the bar, you can get refreshments to soften the blow for when you incorrectly answer. However, the sweet waffles from the SU’s kitchen can’t get the bitter taste of defeat out your mouth.

Go to the Arts Centre

Through a free Arts Centre membership, you can watch musicals, dance, and comedy nights for free or a discounted price. However, if you prefer the big screen, you’re able to go to ‘Free Film Fridays’ in the Studio Theatre. I’ve enjoyed many nights here and I didn’t have to spend a single penny!

Closing Words

That’s just three parts of Uni life, and there’s so much more to do on campus and outside of it. If you’re curious, I recommend you check out the termly “Give it a Go” booklets to get an idea. Alternatively, ask what I get up to in the comments below!

Return to University – Post Placement

Hey everyone, as I have been at home for the past 8 weeks completing my second professional practice, I thought I would share with you how I am preparing to return to university after being away for so long.

After being away from university life for so long, I feel that it will be strange to adapt to living away from home again but, luckily I will be going back to some great friends and is the first step to help me prepare to go back to university.

I have already arranged to meet up with friends as soon as I get off the plane which I know will really help me calm the nerves. I always make sure that there is someone in the house or in the flat so that I am not coming back to an empty space. Having friends or someone to meet you when you come back from being away for so long can be calming and help you get right back on track again!

I know that last year when I was at home for Christmas, I left all my packing very last minute before I came back to university which led to even more stress and did not help the nerves of leaving home. I always found the packing element stressful anyway because I am a neat freak and NEED everything to fit into the case and when I left it all to last minute…well, you can imagine how that went…

Image result for packing struggles gifs

This time, I am packing little by little until I leave so that I don’t get overwhelmed and make the process harder and more stressful. It also allows me more time to pack everything nice and neatly and calm my frantic mind.

To soften the blow of going back to university, I have decided to get a start on some assignments I have due in a few weeks and so, I have started to read articles and make rough plans for my next, looming assignment. 

Reading articles with some sweet help!

I find that it is better to ease yourself into uni life again after being away for so long. For me, starting early lessens the stress of all the work that is ahead of me. I often find that working in a group together to get started on something always helps me get motivated and back on track with uni life and work.

I hope that this helps or some find it relatable. If you are like me and struggle to return back to university after being at home for a long period of time, just know that all it takes is a couple of days before you are back into the swing of things again and that there is a load of help and support at Edge Hill University.

“My body needs laughter as much as it needs tears. Both are cleansers of stress.”

Mahogany SilverRain

Ways to Save Money on Campus (Part 2)

Welcome back to part 2 of this mini-series! In part 1 I gave you some tips for getting filling, affordable lunches that also earn you freebies and also explained how to make your coffee addiction work for you. This time, we’ll look at how you can eat and drink on campus when your finances are looking seriously frightful…without any lukewarm sandwiches being carted around in your rucksack!

Staying Hydrated

It’s easy to quickly rack up unnecessary spending at university by grabbing drinks from shops and vending machines, not to mention the excess plastic you can get through by doing this. Get yourself a water bottle and enjoy crisp, cool water from the filtered fountains all over campus!

Staying Full

Studying hard is hungry work and there’s nothing like a study session to get you craving snacks! So, having plenty of hearty food is key for a long day on campus. One way to do this on a tight budget is to cook warm, filling meals at home in bulk then bring a portion (or two, we don’t judge) to university with you. In the SU building, you will find some microwaves where you can heat up your pre-prepped meals to enjoy in between classes. This can save you £2-£6 a day minimum on-campus spending and potentially hundreds of pounds each month in groceries if you plan ahead and buy simple ingredients in bulk!

Cutting Costs on Caffeine

In part 1 I explained how to get discounts on coffee and how you can make the most of loyalty schemes, but I know that sometimes buying coffee on the go is just not an option. However, it’s an absolute staple drink in the average student’s day!

My advice is to grab a travel mug and keep plenty of your favourite tea bags or coffee sachets in your bag. Simply ask for hot water at one of the cafes or coffee shops on campus.

So, there we have it! A handful of ways to scrimp, save and spend wisely on campus. What advice would you add?

Sam xo

Ways to Save Money on Campus (Part 1)

The student budget is an old cliche for a reason – pretty much every student is on a tight budget! Even if you’re not on the classic student budget, you’re probably still up for a freebie or a bargain if there’s one going. Well, you’re in luck. Now that I’m in my second year and on a tighter budget than ever, I have gathered some excellent ways to save money and find freebies on campus.

In this two-part mini-series, I’ll begin with how to make your spending work hard for you before sharing some more extreme penny-pinching tips in part 2.

Subway Points

Nestled within the SU building is our very own Subway, serving delicious sandwiches, salads, and snacks all day every day. You’re probably thinking “That’s not necessarily a cheap lunch, Sam” but hear me out. If you scan your Subcard when you make a purchase, you earn points and activate a ‘double points for 7 days’ incentive. Return again within those 7 days for their budget meal deal and scan your card again. The cycle starts again. Very quickly, you have enough points for a free 6-inch sub or salad bowl – I regularly purchase their budget meal deals and have a few free lunches a month!

Most Subway receipts also have the option to get a free cookie when you review your experience online. It takes 2 minutes, maximum.

Loyalty Cards for Coffee Lovers

The coffee shop I visit most on campus is 53.3 degrees within the Catalyst. Handily, they offer a loyalty card that earns you a free coffee when you collect enough stamps. If you’re a coffee lover you very quickly fill a card and get your freebie. The cookies in there are also delicious – highly recommend! Anyone else spotting a cookie theme here?

Discounted Coffee

Whilst we’re on the subject, bringing a reusable coffee mug will get you 20p off your drink. This in itself very quickly adds up to the equivalent of an extra coffee and also eliminates the amount of waste. Who doesn’t love helping the planet?

Now that I’ve helped you to make your lunch and coffees work for you, don’t forget to check back for part 2 of this mini-series where I will be digging a little deeper for those occasions where your purse or wallet is really looking dire. We’ll be talking leftovers, emergency tea bags and staying hydrated.

Sam xo

Daily Essentials for the Commuting Student

The internet is packed with lists of student essentials and survival tips but here are the top 3 genuinely helpful items to pack each morning for students who commute to campus – from one bleary-eyed commuter to another.

1. Passes, permits and parking

If you’re driving in, apply for a permit straight away to avoid getting a fine. It’s worth finding local alternative parking in Ormskirk and getting the free bus to and from campus during busier periods as spaces are very limited. Don’t forget to check out the Car Share scheme to see if you could save money and guarantee a parking space.

One way to avoid the parking wars and look after our planet is to use public transport. Look out for ‘hacks’ – sometimes you can save money by splitting your journey into two passes or tickets. Student railcards and passes are also available in most districts. A free bus service runs from the centre of Ormskirk directly to campus (and back) too!

2. A travel mug and water bottle

The early starts and long lectures can take their toll, especially as dark mornings set in. Invest in a good travel mug so that you can get discounted hot drinks from campus coffee shops and a water bottle to stay hydrated. There are water fountains around campus. This isn’t the place to scrimp, invest in cups and bottles that won’t spill all over your books and notes when you’re on the go!

Top tip: if money is tight, pack sachets of coffee and tea bags then simply ask for hot water in The Hub.

3. Chargers and earphones

Always have a power bank or plug and cables for your phone or tablet with you so that you can charge up in the Catalyst on your breaks. Earphones will make study sessions and commutes much more enjoyable, too. If you want to use a laptop on campus but don’t want to lug yours around, your Unicard will give you access to ‘Laptop Loans’ so that you can borrow one on campus. There are also hundreds of computers in the Catalyst that you can use 24/7. Yes, literally!

You may be expecting to see stationery and textbooks on the list, but the Catalyst has several floors of books and your Edge Hill account will give you access to thousands more on any computer. You can also purchase uni essentials such as stationery and snacks from the Catalyst’s vending machines and the Student’s Union shop. So, if you forget any of those things, you’re covered. Winner.

Let me know in the comments if there is anything you would add!

Sam xo

Why Moving Out to Uni Helped Me

Hey everyone, I hope your February is going well. I thought that today I would write a blog on how moving out of home to go to university helped me in many different ways. I hope you enjoy!

  1. Independence

I know that this is a big one that everyone hears about moving to university but it is so true. I would say I am lucky enough to already have been quite independent before university in many things but, as I soon found out, there is more to doing your own washing and food shop in terms of being independent.

Knowing when to finally turn off Youtube after an hour or to lock the door on your way out can be just as crucial to independence as washing and shopping. Do not underestimate the power of being able enough to turn off the TV or laptop when it is time to do some actual work.

2. Gaining experience

I did not know that when you gain independence you also gain a lot of experiences. This one may be hard to explain and maybe a little silly but hear me out. I remember one Sunday morning I was in the flat, on campus, very bored and so I decided to go out into town and amuse myself when I walked past a coffee shop and decided I would go in and try something. Luckily I brought a book and so 3 hours later I found myself very much not bored and ready to go back to the flat to make dinner.

It may sound silly but, being able to make that decision and not have anyone say no or have nobody to go with me was an experience I had not had before and what I felt was important for me to be able to do.

3. Social aspects

Before moving out of my own home and to an extent, my own social comfort zone, my social skills were kept to a minimum as I was not one for going out and therefore not giving myself the opportunity to socialise properly. Being at university has taught me so much about socialising and the wonders of it. I now can say that I can go out on a night out and talk away to anyone I run in to and hold a decent conversation with the workers at Morrisons.

I really hope that you have enjoyed the blog today and found it helpful or even relatable.

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt –

Healthy and Happy

Hey everyone! I hope you’re January is going well. I thought I would do a little post on how you can stay healthy in university during the month of January both physically and mentally. 

January can leave some people feeling a little blue and so I hope that this helps even one person.

1. Get Outside!

I have lost count of the amount of times that I have praised the medicine of the outdoors on this blog. To me, going outside and being in nature is the best way to help me feel like myself again and I still to this day swear by it as an instant mood booster. 

Next time you are feeling blue or a little out of sorts with yourself, take yourself away from whatever you are doing and go for a walk outdoors and feel the benefits start. I often take assignment writing breaks every hour or two when I am in the library by walking around the sports track and sometimes through Ruff Woods. By the time I return, I am refreshed and ready to start my work again!

An early brain break!

2. Meal Plans

When I say meals plans, I don’t mean downloading some rip off one from the internet or instagram that will make your life even more miserable. Try making your own meals plans with the food that you enjoy and that you will actually want to eat. I create a new meal plan every week now that I am on professional practice so that I know what I am making that night for dinner and what I can make for the rest of the week. 

I look forward to my meals everyday and don’t stress cook something that may not be the most nutritious for me and therefore am happier because of the quality of my food and meals.

3. Friends

The people who have in your life will have a direct impact on your mood and how you feel. The biggest lesson I learnt in 2019 was to surround myself with people that make me happy and allow me to be happy as I knew that that they would make the sad days a little brighter.

My advice to everyone is to have people in your life that make you feel good about yourself who won’t impact your mental health or deteriorate it. Doing this will make your university experience so much better and your health so much better, trust me.

I hope that some people find this useful and that the advice here can help someone. Always remember that your emotional and mental health is just as important as your physical health.

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”

-Glenn Close-