Mini Mood Boosters

The world is in a time of real crisis and it has been a tough, confusing week in the UK. I have been sharing some mini mood boosters on my personal social media channels and in various WhatsApp conversations with friends in order to help us all through this. This weekend, it dawned on me that these would be perfect for overwhelmed students at exam/assignment submission time! Take the phrase ‘Exam Season’ out of each one and replace it with whatever tough, overwhelming situation you find yourself in.

Write an ‘Exam Season Bucket List’

It’s a tough and stressful time but you can still find some joy in it and ensure you stay organised. For example, you may now be sat down indoors a lot to study and read. Why not vow to take your skincare more seriously by doing regular face masks and forgoing makeup? Other things could be: creating a brilliant playlist, gathering some good reading on XYZ topic as you study, making a list of XYZ resources for future assignments, getting into the habit of drinking more water, finally mastering Harvard referencing…

Write an ‘I can’t wait to…’ list

I have done this since I did my A-Levels 7 years ago! You know the scene, you are sat revising or typing an essay and you notice it is a gorgeous day. Your mind fills with all of the things you would rather be doing. You think about how much you miss going out for cocktails or having lazy days on the grass with a picnic. How much you miss reading for pleasure and not for research. Write all of these things down! Having a list of things I am going to do when I come out of assignment season makes all of the difference to my motivation.

Find your Small Joys

Have a little collection of small things that bring you joy at these times. This could be photos, quotes and poems that inspire or motivate you or it could be websites or social media accounts that you can always go back to for a pick-me-up. For example, I love watching the 24 hour live streams that zoos like Chester, Edinburgh and Melbourne broadcast for free online. Instant mood boosts that are tailored to you!

Sam xo

Productivity for Procrastinators

I have several part-time jobs outside of my full-time degree so I often have a lot going on. My grades are good and my performance at work doesn’t slip, so people assume I must be really organised and productive. I am not.

Naturally, I am infuriatingly prone to procrastination and have a horrible habit of leaving things until time is running out as a result of this. So, in today’s post, I will let you in on my secrets to getting stuff done and looking productive when really you are a procrastinator.

  1. Pomodoro Technique

In this technique, you choose a task you are going to focus on, set a timer for 25 minutes and then solidly work on that task and nothing else. After 25 minutes, you stop and take a five-minute break before setting the timer again. After four blocks of 25 minutes, you take a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes. Then you start again. The permission to get distracted in small bursts and the promise of a decent break gets you right into ‘the zone’! Just make sure you stick to the timings no matter what.

If you type ‘pomodoro’ into your app store, you will find lots of apps that will do the timings for you.

2. Get specific

I’m not going to tell you that writing lists is helpful because we all know that by now, but HOW we write these lists can be the difference between making progress and giving up and watching TV all day. Break big tasks into small, specific parts e.g. instead of ‘write research module essay’ you would have ‘read research module handbook, decide on points to make in research essay, write essay plan and send to tutor’ or perhaps even more specific tasks.

3. Star Tasks

You’ve got your specific list with really clear achievable tasks, so now pick your star tasks. Being really specific will actually make your to-do lists LONGER, so picking three to five star tasks per day to highlight or have on a separate list. These should be the things you need to get done as a priority. Get them crossed off first and you will often feel spurred on to crack on with the rest of the list. If you don’t feel that way? That’s fine, the most important stuff is done for the day! Take a break and see how you feel after.

Sam xo

Staying Mentally Healthy!

Hey everyone! I hope you are all well during this time. As we go through this difficult period in the UK and all over the world, I want to share some advice that I have learnt over the years about staying mentally healthy at university and at home from university.

I know I may sound like a broken record at this stage but by biggest piece of advice for staying mentally healthy is to GO OUTSIDE! Having a separation from the place you feel stressed or overwhelmed is so important for your well-being.

My house-mates know that when I say I am going for a walk that it is code for “time for me time,” and I let them know when I will be back and keep my phone on me at all times. I find that when I am outside, I can try and forget about how I felt within the four walls of the house and let my mind relax. Honestly, try it next time you get stressed over an assignment and come back to it with a fresher mind.

Another piece of advice that I would give you is to TALK to someone. This could be anyone from your friends, family, personal tutor or even your dog. Just as long as you are communicating your thoughts and feelings to someone who will know how to help, give advice or provide some form of comfort.

Last year when I got overwhelmed I went to talk to someone at the Catalyst help-desk and they were able to set up an appointment with a member of the team who had a chat with me and was able to set me up with an online help-course. This really helped but mostly because I had the chance to talk to someone about my feelings at the time.

I know that university can get lonely at times especially when self-isolation and social distancing is a must at the minute. Edge Hill University really helped me last year when I was feeling overwhelmed and lonely and so, do not hesitate to reach out to them and ask for help because at the end of the day, that is all we need to do to get to the next step in being mentally healthy.

look here for more information. https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/location/catalyst/

I hope that this is useful for people who may be struggling around these times. Just know that Edge Hill always has the means to help you if you reach out and ask for help, I am really glad I did.

Thanks for reading, Lauren Fitzsimons.

“The more you talk about them, the more important they will feel. The more you listen to them, the more important you will make them feel.”

Roy T. Bennett

Preparing for an Academic Assignment

The Catalyst, where the Ormskirk campus' library is located

Before University, you’ve probably never wrote an academic assignment. When I wrote essays in secondary school, I never had to reference the sources I used; but in University, you will need to so that you can prove you’re not using made-up facts or copying someone else’s work.

This blog will share my approach to academic writing, which should hopefully be useful when you start writing your assignments.

Referencing Systems

Different courses ask you to use different referencing systems; my course uses the Vancouver system. To help, Blackboard has a concise Vancouver referencing guide for all the different types of media we can reference. If you struggle to reference, there are teams, lecturers, and classes which can teach you referencing until you understand

 Websites can generate references based on the link or journal titles. However, they aren’t always reliable. Therefore, it’s encouraged to use these to get an idea of what a reference looks like, and build your confidence. 

But what will you need to reference? Anything from academic books, articles, to credible websites. The more recent the publication is, the better, especially for research. 

Finding Sources

Google Scholar is a great resource, but I find that the University’s online library is more useful. You can limit source by their type (journal, book, etc.) or publication year, and find key terms to quickly find appropriate resources. The online library allows access to resources you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access due to licensing/memberships to journals.

Most of the University’s sources have electronic copies available, so accessing them is instantaneous. However, some resources are not available online. Luckily, our Ormskirk campus’ library is open 24/7, and books can be checked out anytime. You can also reserve them online; even from another University Library (in Aintree or Manchester) to be delivered to another University library, which can be helpful if you study at home and live near those areas.

There are thousands of resources available at the University but if there’s a book that’d be very helpful but the University doesn’t have access to it, you can request that the University gets it in stock.

Closing Words

While referencing is difficult, the University supports us to develop the skills. In addition to this, we’re not limited to what we can cite. The University and internet includes so many resources to support our assignments.

-Tony

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-

What University Has Taught Me…So Far…

Hey everyone! My friends and I were talking about what we were like before starting university and I was really surprised to find how much I have learned since starting university in 2018. I thought I would write a few things that I have picked up over the year to show you how much I didn’t know before starting…

1. Separating your colour wash and white wash is not a myth…

I may be the only one that thought this was never true because at home, I never did this nor did my mum and so, I was led to believe that this was just a marketing technique to get people to buy colour catchers and colour separators etc. I laugh at my old, naïve self.

The myth was busted when I went to collect my washing and found that I had a new pair of bright pink socks, but my white socks had went missing. Luckily it was only my socks that had been ruined but I have definitely learnt from my mistakes. Always separate your washing kids!

2. How to portion size pasta…

Gone are the days when my mum would make spaghetti bolognaise and magically be able to plate the perfect portion size of pasta and have non left over for seconds. Everyone would get their pasta and be fulfilled after dinner. Good job mum, why didn’t you pass this skill on to me?

I cannot tell you the amount of times that I have made pasta that could literally feed the 5,000 or not enough that it wouldn’t even fill a hole in my tooth. Luckily, my lovely flat mate came to the rescue and told me that if you measure out 100g of pasta before cooking it, it should be the perfect amount for one person.

3. How to socialise…

This is probably one of the biggest lessons that university has taught me. Before moving over to university, you would not see me talking to ANYONE outside of my friend group. I couldn’t even hold a conversation with the woman working on the till in Asda. However, now, let’s just say she probably wishes that I never came back from university…

On a serious note, university thrusts you into a world where you have to talk to people to get through it. This does mean getting pushed out of your comfort zone but, trust me this is for the better. I feel so much more comfortable talking to strangers, I can even ask the waiter for more ketchup! That’s a milestone for anyone.

You will also meet so many amazing people when you just relax yourself and talk to people you have never spoken to. I have an amazing group of friends that I wouldn’t be as close to if I hadn’t spoken to them and allow myself to engage in conversations.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! You will obviously learn so much more in university and it is the best experience of your life you just need to let it happen and don’t hold back.

“LEARNING IS NOT ATTAINED BY CHANCE, IT MUST BE SOUGHT FOR WITH ARDOR AND ATTENDED TO WITH DILIGENCE.”

-ABIGAIL ADAMS-

The Catalyst – a safe space

Hey everyone, as I am in the middle of writing an assignment for Academic Personal Development (a very long process), I have become even more attached to the Catalyst at Edge Hill University than I was last year.

Last year I wrote a blog post on why I love the catalyst and since then I have found more reasons to take full advantage of the Catalyst and thought that I would write a more updated post.

There are three floors to the Catalyst. The ground floor is the buzz of the place, you have the main reception desk, group pods, book collections and book returns station, computers and my personal favourite, the café. This comes in very handy when you rock up to the library at half 8 in the morning thinking you can start reading journal articles straight away without coffee and so, you pop down to the café for a little pick me up.

The first and second floor has computers, printers, books, reading sofas, independent desks and group study rooms. I found the group study rooms have come in very useful especially because in the Primary Education course, we have a few group activities and presentations to work on. This makes it easier to get everyone into one room outside of class, before people go home for the day and work on the group task. All you need to do is to ensure that you BOOK a room as you cannot use it if you haven’t booked it.

My favourite place in the entire catalyst hasn’t changed since last year. The third floor. I am the kind of the person who gets really distracted quite easily and this does not help when trying to write assignments. Trust me.

I go up the third floor, sit myself down in one of the single desks and work without any distractions. The third floor is called the silent study for a reason and I am really grateful for it because it means I can do work without getting distracted and feel very productive!

I really am thankful for the Catalyst because it has everything you need in the one building and even though I no longer live on campus, I still find myself trekking 20 minutes to get to it and use its resources no matter what the weather is.

I hope that you love the catalyst as much as I do, and always respect the staff and people that work there and that use it as I am sure I am not the only who depends on it to complete their work.

“Every time you enter a library you might say to yourself, ‘The world is quiet here,’ as a sort of pledge proclaiming reading to be the greater good.”

-Lemony Snicket-

Your First Assignment!

Hey everyone, welcome back to the blog and for all the first years, I hope you have enjoyed your first at Edge Hill and ready to start your course! When I first started university I was slightly confused as to how I write an academic assignment because of how different they were from my high school.

So here are a few tips from me to you on how to look for support on your first assignment.


Reading is such an important step to writing your first assignment. I know that sometimes you just want to get straight into writing the assignment but it makes the whole process a lot easier when you read, read, read all the information you can on the subject. Make sure you highlight all the quotes that could be useful for supporting any points you make and write down the references.

Support classes are also very useful when writing your first assignment especially when getting used to Harvard Referencing. We had people come in and talk us through how to use and where to find the Harvard Referencing Guide which I found really useful and informative.

When I found that I was having a hard time with one of my assignments, I booked a one to one appointment through Uni Skills. I was able to meet someone and talk to them about what my assignment was about and they give me advice on how they think would be the best way to structure it. I found this really helpful and it gave me the motivation I needed to complete the work. Follow this link! https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/ls/uni-skills/

I hope that this helps someone starting their assignments and good luck in your first year!

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

D.S. Mashego

Making Friends 101

It’s getting closer to the day you all move in and start your university experience! i hope you are all enjoying binge watching what do bring with you to university videos on YouTube (please tell me I was not the only one!)

As a girl who moved from Ireland to Edge Hill University, I thought that making friends would be the hardest part about university but low and behold I was very surprised…doing your own washing is the hardest part. However, although it is not the hardest part about starting university and I had a very good friend that I knew from home, it can be quite nerve-wracking especially if you are introverted like I was so, here are some of my tips on how I managed to get people to be in my company voluntarily.

Image result for let's be friends gif

BE YOUR BEST SELF!

I’m sorry for how cliche this is but it is seriously so true. People have this weird ability to sense if people are being fake and this only heightens when you get to university. I will admit that I was very scared to be myself in front of my fellow classmates and flat mates but once I got comfortable, let’s just say that we are now very close and they know why I am not myself around everyone I meet…

Societies will be your first best friend!

I have heard that joining these at the very start of the year can be so useful when wanting to make friends in an environment that you are comfortable in. For example, there are musical theatre groups, dance groups, Doctor Who groups and many more that you would never think of. Don’t make the mistake I made and not join one of these!

Go on nights out!

This is another classic case of do as I say and not as I do. I made the mistake of not going out much with my flat mates and not being able to meet new people outside of my course. I now have learnt that while being an introvert is not a bad thing, it can be damaging when you want to meet new people. Take my advice and push yourself to socialise outside the confines of your flat because, while it might be hard and scary you won’t regret it!

Now that I read this blog again, I really should have titled it, ‘Mistakes I made whilst trying to make friends.’ I really hope that you find the friends you deserve because they really do make the difference to your university experience.

“Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you”

Rasheed Ogunlaru

Taking the pressure off…

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all getting excited about starting your course at Edge Hill University! Be sure to check out the social media sites so you can keep up to date on Q&A conversations, campus activities and fresher updates.

Take this blog as a piece of advice from a now second year university student where I talk about why it is important not to let your course dominate your whole university experience and why you should keep up with your hobbies and not abandon them to focus solely on your course.


When I first started university, I was so ready to dive straight in to work and be on top of my assignments, homework and reading. While I did do this through-out my first year, I now realised how much of the experience of university I missed out on. For example, having last minute, middle of the day movies with my flat, going shopping with my flat-mates, having dinner and lunch together and just missing out on moments because I was always in the library trying to be on top of everything.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing because you do end up being way ahead of everyone in terms of work and you should still try to do this but just remember that this can be done in a way that doesn’t mean you will miss out on a bunch of memories like I did. This is a classic case of do as I say and not as I do…

Image result for studying

My Advice for not letting your course consume you!

I don’t mean that you should completely abandon your lectures and never do your assignments just in case you thought that was what I was saying. If I were to give my first year self some advice I would tell her to go to lectures and do your assignments in a nice relaxed pace and don’t try and get things done and dusted as quickly as possible!

I would tell myself to hang out with my flat more rather than go to library for most of the day because you’re going to miss out on some really good times.

I would tell myself to put time and effort into my course and make sure that I am performing and achieving to the best of my ability but don’t let it take away from your overall experience.

I would finally tell myself to keep up with my hobbies! Luckily I still went to the gym and went for walks which was something I really loved but I also wished I kept doing photography and used my free time to play around with this hobby. This was the most important advice I could have given myself because I got a sense of freedom when I did take a break from my course and focused on my hobby.

My hobby, Photography!

I hope this helps someone who like me, likes to stay on top of work and feels the need to constantly work! Trust me, this quality is a great thing to have when work needs to be done but, when it doesn’t need to be done right away, live your university experience.

“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-