Keeping Your Plates Spinning: Help @ Edge Hill University

During university, you will be spinning a number of different plates: studies, work, family, friends, money, to name a few. Now and again, one may look like it’s about to fall off. Or two. Maybe even three. You have to work harder to keep these plates from falling, but sometimes, no matter how hard you tried, it will fall off. What then? Do you risk the others from falling by trying to pick the other one up? Is it worth the risk of everything else falling?

In my first year, I managed to keep all my plates up. Some of them got a little shaky at times, but I have a great support system underneath me and they helped me to keep balanced. This year, a couple of my plates have fallen off. This is nobody’s fault. Sometimes life throws curveballs at us and they knock our plates off and we have no other choice but to deal with it. Although this year is harder than the last, I am more thankful than ever for choosing Edge Hill Univerity as they have provided me with more support than I could have wished for. Asking for help is really hard, but they made it so easy.

Edge Hill University has a vast range of support systems to help you.

The first person who helped me was one of my tutors, who had noticed that I needed someone. She sat with me for an hour and we talked basics of what was happening – she referred me to speak with a team member in the Catalyst. They spoke to me briefly and made an initial appointment with the wellbeing team, which was only a few days away. They gave me a few websites and apps to engage with for the time being. As a student, you are entitled to 6 fifty-minute counselling sessions, which can be daunting if you have never experienced it before – but they make the whole process very easy.

With the help of Edge Hill, I have managed to stay on top of my work, visit my family more and learned that it’s okay to let some plates slip. My tutor sends me weekly emails to check how things are and if I need anything. I know if things get too much, I can speak to someone almost immediately. It is incredibly comforting knowing that I am supported by the university.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below. Thank you for reading.

Amy

Paper-less Notes

Let’s just start by saying that I am a huge stationery nerd. New notebooks, more pens, cute rubbers and pom-pom pencils. I live for it. When I first found out I was going to university, I raided my favourite stationery shops to make sure I had the cutest notebooks with matching folders and brand new pens. However, by the end of my first year, I hadn’t used half of it.

Since starting university, I have become really interested in sustainability and making better choices as a consumer. I’m not here to shove climate change down your throat. All I ask is that you take what I say on board and maybe think about it when it comes to buying another notebook.

When it came to packing up my room, I had bin bags full of paper and it was all useless. I made a pledge to myself that during my second year, I would aim to only fill a shoebox. So far, I am proud to say, I have only used one notebook and haven’t printed out anything for my lectures/seminars. I’m going to go through below what I’ve been using this year to remain paper-less.

Google Drive / Google Docs / Google Slides

Before this year, I had never used anything to do with Google. I was happy with my Microsoft Word and pen drive. However, after nearly losing ALL my work from the first year, I decided to ditch the pen drive and go Google. I use Google Docs for my lecture and seminar notes, reading and planning my assignments. I’ve started downloading journal articles onto my Google Drive, meaning I can highlight and make notes straight on to it.

Google Drive means you can keep a live version of everything in one place. Instead of having to put things on and off your USB all the time. It also means you can collaborate with a study group and all work together on something. I have a couple of these collabs on the go right now and it’s great being able to share ideas, work together in a live document.

I still use a notebook from time-to-time to keep to-do lists or important dates. Sustainability isn’t about ditching everything that’s bad for the world, it’s about making better choices. In this instance, it’s also a more effective and efficient tool for university. I hope you enjoyed this and try it out!

Thank you for reading!

Amy

Managing Your Workload

Your workload can differ depending on your course. I always remember being told ‘your course sounds easy‘ at the start of the year, followed by ‘I’m so sorry for what I said‘ towards the end. University is funny. One day you can wake up and be on top of everything, but by the end of the day, you have another eight things to add to your to-do list. That’s just how it is, and being able to manage your workload effectively is important.

Set yourself realistic targets

Mindset is everything. If your to-do list is booming, don’t overwork yourself trying to get it all done at once. Set yourself two or three things you would like to achieve in a certain time period (preferably those of top priority), but be strict with these so that if for some reason you don’t manage to get them done, you still have time to spare.

Work together

The first assessment of this year was a really nice presentation that we all, of course, made much harder for ourselves! For this, myself and two other girls sat in a study room at the university and bounced ideas off each other, leaving with a solid plan to work on. I cannot recommend this enough. It’s really nice working in study groups, so if you have the opportunity to do, definitely do it.

The Five Ps

My friend has always said to me: ‘Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance’. In terms of assignments, I’ve realised that getting my reading done as quickly and efficiently as possible has really helped my workload. Reading usually takes up most of my time. I would also recommend getting a weekly planner and set yourself your own study timetable around your lectures and seminars. By doing this, you can plan in some time for yourself too.

Edge Hill is the most supportive university and this year I have struggled with the workload, mental health and accommodation. Every tutor, advisor or support assistant has listened to me and done their best to help – and I feel much better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s everywhere!

Thanks for reading.

Amy

Second-Year Accommodation

As Housing Week as recently passed, I thought I would talk about my housing experience during my second year of university.

Who?

This year I am living with three other girls from my course. Two of them are in classes at university and we looked for a 4-bed house. House sizes can go up to 12, although I feel that somebody told me about a 16-bed house but I could have just been very sleepy that day. I wanted to stay small, and luckily these girls felt the same. You may also find that you want to live with the same people you did in halls, and that’s also fine. My advice would be to get a plan together and stick to it. Otherwise, it might end a little messy.

When?

We started looking very early, I think around November time. I wouldn’t recommend this, but if you want to get it sorted sooner rather than later than you can look around and get it sorted before Christmas. It’s doable. A slight caution to look out for is that some lettings agency can be pushy and a little pressuring on you to sign contracts. Don’t sign anything until you have read the contract, looked at the payments, seen the house and talked to someone knowledgable about the contract. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, check over everything.

Where?

The house we are in is just lush. I’m really happy we managed to get this one and I don’t regret it. The only downside is that it’s a little too far from university for my liking. It’s not too far, a 25-minute walk -which is fine, it’s just rough when it’s cold/rainy/windy. Apart from that, the house is great.

How?

We went through a lettings agency in Ormskirk that has student houses. We viewed a few houses but none were as good as the one we are in now. Once we were set on that we emailed to say that we would like to live there. They operate on a first-come service and we were told another group had asked before us. We waited to hear and they never turned up to sign the contracts so the house was ours if we wanted it. Hoorah.

Anything else:

Just don’t rush. I know in my experience, we did rush and we ended up with a nice house – but if I could do it again, I’d have liked to be closer.

As always, if you have any questions please drop them below.

Amy

Tips for Productivity

Procrastination is easy to slip into and hard to get out of. A lack of motivation is the main cause, which we have all fallen victim to, made especially worse with looming deadlines and challenging studies. In this post, I’m going to give you my three top tips for beating the procrastination monster.

To-Do Lists

A to-do list? How cliché. Hear me out. It may feel like taking time on a to-do list is, in fact, procrastination, but it can boost your motivation – which is what we’re after. I like to colour-code mine so I can visually see which areas of study I need to be focusing on, organising it in terms of priority, to make sure I know what’s coming and when. However, I read somewhere that the best way to be productive with your to-do list is to do your 2-minute activities first. If you have something that will take under an hour to do, get it done. Even better, if it will take you 5-10 minutes, do that first. There is nothing better than ticks on a to-do list.

Breaks

I am prone to an occasional burnout, this is usually when I have a monster assignment due and there just isn’t time to take breaks. I’m being realistic, sometimes you need to just graft. However, breaks are vitally important and your work will benefit from giving your brain regular rests. I like to set myself a goal to achieve by a certain time. For example, if I get to the library for 9am, I’d like to think I’ve got 5-7 journals read by lunchtime, this is, of course, dependent on the article but setting myself that goal means I have something to work to and I know a break is coming. On a break I will check my phone and reply to any messages, I’ll go to the toilet or get a drink/food. I usually give myself 10-20 minutes, and then get back to it.

If I’m working from home, I’ll add rewards to this. If I can work for 4 hours, I’ll watch an episode of whatever I’m watching or I’ll have a nap or practice the piano. I’ll then set myself off for another 4 hours with another reward. It just breaks it up a bit better.

Making the best use of your time

I’m not a morning person. I can be, but not often. I don’t like getting up early, however, I feel better when I do. This week, I have been waking up an hour/two hours earlier and going straight to the library. Whilst there I am tackling the small jobs on my to-do list and it’s amazing how productive I have been/felt this week. It’s only an extra couple hours but I feel so much better. Your future self will thank you for this.

What are your tips for productivity?

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment with any questions/ideas and I’ll get back to you.

Amy

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

How to stay motivated

We are all prone to procrastination. Finding motivation can be really difficult when you have a lot on your plate, especially if deadlines are looming. I definitely fall into Netflix trap now and again but I have my strategies to get back on track with my work and studies.

Take away the distractions
Personally, my phone is the biggest hindrance to my concentration. If I get a notification, I’ll check it but then end up aimlessly scrolling through social media. At the start of this year, I downloaded an app called ‘Hold’. There are so many different study apps but this one is by far my favourite. When you press the Hold button, you earn points for every 20 minutes you stay off your phone and with the points you get you can claim different rewards, these are usually beauty, lifestyle, music travel offers and many more. Give it a try. The other big distraction I have is my surroundings, I either need a silent environment or a cosy environment. I love working in the library when nobody is there, but when it’s busy I just end up getting irritated – luckily the library at Edge Hill has little pods you can book so you can work in a quiet room on your own in a nice, productive environment.

Motivational playlist/music
I have a playlist on Spotify titled ‘Should be studying’ and it’s a nice mix of motivation and chill. Some songs give your brain a break and others get you focused and dialled in. You need balance when you’re working so taking timely, regular breaks are also very beneficial to your motivation. The other music that really gets me in a study mood is the ‘lofi hip hop radio’ on the ‘ChilledCow‘ Youtube account. It’s not lyrical, so it sets a very chilled, productive ambience.

Break down tasks
The first thing I do when I know I have a lot to do is make a to-do list and from this, make further to-do lists about how to achieve them. This helps to make them easier to tackle and achieve. With assignments, for example, I will start by evaluating the essay question, then get out the books I will need and read wider from those. Breaking it down into these segments helps to keep motivated as you are completing subtasks.

Thanks for reading. You can do it!

Amy

Expectations VS Reality – Part 2

Hey everyone, I hope you are all enjoying your December at Edge Hill University! I thought I would do a part 2 of expectations vs reality at university because I enjoy reading them and writing them. If you want to read the first part, follow the link; https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/insideedge/2019/07/07/university-expectation-vs-reality/

Dress Code: A constant catwalk

Expectation

I am going to show up to my lectures with my best clothes on everyday. I will have a fresh new look everyday and and get up a little early to do my hair/makeup.

Reality

You rock up to lectures in the same jeans you’ve worn the past three days and an oversized hoodie (I personally see nothing wrong with this) and it’s a good day if you even remember to brush your hair before putting it in a bun or throwing a hat on.

I fell victim to this expectation before I started uni and even went as far as to say that I wanted to change my entire wardrobe…all lies. I thought I cared about looking put together when going to lectures but in reality, I wanted to be comfortable. If you are one of them people who actually look nice and decent going to lectures everyday, please teach me your ways.

Motivation will be at it’s peak everyday!

Expectation

I will get up early everyday and have a perfect study timetable that will never be interrupted or changed.

Reality

Some days you literally cannot. You just simply cannot do today. You got out of bed and did the first paragraph of your assignment and that is okay.

Take it from someone who studied nearly every single hour of the day for her A Levels, that when it comes to university, you are going to have off days, you are going to have burn outs. If you can’t follow your study timetable some day, take the day off and do not force yourself, it won’t benefit you at all. The next day will be better after a well deserved rest.

Cooking

Expectation

You will have meals prepared every night, a meal plan ready for each week and maybe cook for the flat on a Sunday. Jamie Oliver would be proud

Reality

I had porridge for my dinner last night.

Again, this is from someone who loves cooking and often thinks of themselves as a culinary expert but sometimes the thought of boiling the water for pasta is just too much. Just like the studying, you will have your off days and this is okay too. You can be Jamie Oliver tomorrow.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, I had a lot of fun writing it and hope to do a few more in the future.

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

“Strive for progress, not perfection.”

-Unknown-

Flying Home for Christmas…

Hey everyone and Happy December! With the Christmas holidays coming up and people flying back home to Northern Ireland like me, the Isle of Man or other places, I thought I would give some advice on how I make the flying process much easier and stress free.

Image result for christmas page separators

My first piece of advice would be to BOOK EARLY! I cannot stress this enough. Booking your flights early will not only save you money but also save you from panicking about trying to get tickets for a flight that is fully booked. I try to book all my flights early so that I am saving money and am more relaxed knowing that I am going home.

My next point is also very pivotal to a stress free journey home and that is to ARRIVE EARLY! My family and friends always make fun of me for arriving far too early at the airport (5 hours early…) but I’ll be the one laughing when they show up to a flight and miss it because they get stuck in security. Arriving at least 3 hours before a flight cuts out so much stress because you can find somewhere comfortable to sit, grab a coffee and listen to Christmas music until you’re flight is called. 

Particularly at this time of the year, airports can be so so busy and so it is always better not to underestimate the craziness of them and show up to your flight early.


Image result for friends airport gif

My final piece of advice when flying home this Christmas is to try and find someone to travel with. The reason I say this is because, if you book a flight that is early in the morning or late in the night, taking public transport to the airport can be hard and you might have to take a taxi. My flight home for Christmas last year was very early because it was the cheapest but it meant that no trains or buses were running so I had to book a taxi which cost me around £33. Flying with someone that you could share a taxi with will make this cheaper and it is also a lot more fun travelling with a friend.

Image result for christmas page separators

I hope that you have found this advice useful for when you are travelling home for Christmas and I hope that you have safe travels wherever you are going!

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”

-Maya Angelou-

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-