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.

Things Magazines Say You Need for University…That You Definitely Do Not (Part 2)

  1. Fancy Extra Tech

Sure, it might be handy sometimes to have an iPad for in lectures or for quickly jumping online around campus. Maybe even for Netflix sessions with pals. But, it’s definitely not essential! Don’t buy into the clever marketing or feel pressured by the odd student you see in the lecture hall. It’s nothing your average smartphone can’t manage!

2. Excessive stationery

Think about what you will actually be doing on your course. For me, that’s a lot of talking and listening, a small amount of notetaking and then a lot of reading in the library. So – some pens, some paper and plenty of highlighters! Some kind of organiser for my to-do lists and deadlines. Things like rulers, pencils etc? Not so much. 1 pencil case of essentials, a notebook and a folder to organise your notes is likely all you will need. As it runs out you can purchase more in small, affordable chunks.

3. A whole new wardrobe

Sure, you will want some comfy, warm clothes for campus days that make you feel good about yourself and some comfy trainers for getting from A to B. That being said, don’t feel pressured to revamp your entire wardrobe and jump at every 10% student discount. By week 3, I had stopped wearing makeup and was hunting for the comfiest skinny jeans on the market. By December, I was simply after the warmest coat and hottest travel mug that money could buy!

That concludes the second and final part of this mini money-saving series, feel free to add your ideas below and potentially save a new student some serious cash!

Sam x

Staying Connected to your Subject over Summer

University summer breaks can be months long, a blessing in many ways but also a curse if you are studying something that you are passionate about or pursuing your dream career. Taking so long ‘out of the game’ if you are studying a subject where placements etc stop over summer can be incredibly difficult to deal with and can even leave you feeling like you have taken a step back when you return. This might also be true if you are about to start university in September and now have months of nothing after spending a year or maybe more applying and preparing.

So, how can you combat this and stay connected to your subject between years or before starting your course?

  1. Set a reading goal – whether it’s an hour a week or an hour a day, carve out some time to continue reading around your subject.
  2. Find a relevant volunteering role – this could even be online, perhaps a Facebook group linked to your subject requires new moderators?
  3. Start building your contacts – use this time to set up an excellent LinkedIn profile and reach out to some relevant industry professionals or research how people in aspirational positions within your industry got to where they are today.
  4. Research next steps – order some brochures for further postgraduate study, research potential future companies or job profiles, pick out some relevant CPD opportunities for the future…there are so many ways that you can be creating a plan for your future, even if that future is 3+ years away!

Don’t worry about disconnecting from your passion, use this time to explore all the other ways in which you can be growing and learning!

Sam x

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.

Moving from Campus Accommodation to Off-Campus Accommodation

Hey everyone, since people are thinking about accommodation for the next academic year I thought I would share with you some of my experiences going from living on campus to living off-campus during my second year!

What is so different?

With the on-campus accommodation, the halls of residence usually have a cleaner that comes in daily to clean the communal areas of the accommodation (not the bedroom etc) which was really nice and helpful especially when cleaning and mopping the floor was sometimes the most forgotten task.

Living off-campus this obviously does not happen as the houses for rent are not owned by the university. This means that (in my case anyway) a rota is usually created so that people living in that house each have the responsibility to keep the kitchen and the sitting areas clean.

Living on campus also means that you are MUCH closer to your lectures and can easily get to them if you are running a little late whereas, living off-campus depending where you are, the walk can seemingly take far too long. I lived about 20 minute walking distance from the university and sometimes the thought of having to walk in the rain to a lecture can be quite daunting but luckily the faculty of education keeps me warm!

However, living off-campus meant that I did not have to walk so far to get my weekly shopping. In first year, when I lived on campus I usually liked to walk to the shops and then get the free edge link bus that comes every 20 mins back up to my flat.

How to settle in

I found that it took a lot less time for me to settle in to living off-campus than it did when I first moved into the flat in first year. This was maybe due to the fact that I already knew the people I was living with but I think it was also because we made it comfortable and set up a rota to help us stay on track of cleaning and shopping etc.

I also found that spending loads of time in the house before university and lectures actually started helped me to get used to the new surroundings and set my things up.

I hope that you found this useful and are staying safe and well during this time. 

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort” 

-Jane Austen-

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.

What Am I Looking Forward Next Year?

I submitted my final assignment two days ago, so my Foundation Year is officially over! However, I can’t stop thinking about the next academic year. I figured this blog would be a great outlet for the thoughts I have right now. This blog should give insight on anyone going into first year Medicine, or how you may feel going into summer after your first year of studying!

Seeing Old Friends and Making New Ones

It will be at least six months since I have seen my friends when I see them next. To say I’m looking forward to see them again is an understatement. However, with fifteen students joining our class (and more students at societies, events, etc.) there’s more friends to make, too!

Placement

This is subject to lockdown, of course. A few weeks into my course, my Wednesday mornings are expected to be occupied with placements. Placements are a great way to contextualise learning and get a taste for what lies ahead for us when we graduate. I can’t wait to start them!

More Work

The Foundation Year is a full-time course, but there is a greater volume of work in the First Year of Medicine. I’m looking forward to having more to learn, especially since I feel more prepared thanks to the Foundation Year!

University Life

I love living at home and seeing my family (and dogs!), but I do miss University; I miss being able to go for a quiz on a Monday evening, or seeing my friends whenever I wanted. I’m certainly going to appreciate it more come next year.

The Facilities

At home, 98% of the coffee I drink is black. I love it, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want a caramel latte from the Hub’s Starbucks in my hand while catching up with old friends. I also miss sandwiches from Subway, too. With that said, I’m sure my bank account is appreciating the break…

Closing Words

I’m aware next year is going to bring a lot of challenges. However, I’m looking forward to them, and all of the great aspects it’ll come with! Sadly there is no telling when we’ll be back at University, but I’m looking forward to it starting again; whenever that may be.

-Tony

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

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-

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.