Work vs Life Over the Holidays

It’s no secret that in university you get a lot of work, even over the holidays – especially over the holidays. It can become really stressful, you want to spend time with your family and friends, and make sure you get enough time to revitalise before your next semester, but you have that inevitable cloud of work looming over you. The key is to keep balanced, I’ve picked up some tips over my time at uni that have really helped me to keep calm and enjoy the holidays whilst also getting everything that needs to be done, done.

Make Lists

My trusty whiteboard at home

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I swear by lists, they help me keep my life together and keep me from getting so stressed that I end up exploding into a mushroom cloud of unfinished work documents. So, naturally my first tip is to keep a to do list, I find keeping one in the notes section of my phone is helpful, then I have it with me constantly. Lists also help you plan your weeks in advance so you don’t end up double booking plans or making so many plans that you have no time left to do work. I tend to make a written list, as well as the one on my phone so I have it up on my wall and I can take the immense satisfaction in ticking off the things I’ve done. It’s an added bonus that you get to feel less and less stressed as you watch the work physically decline.

Take time out to chill

Right. I can’t stress this enough, take time to enjoy yourself. I’m the kind of person who over works themselves, whereas there are some people who do the complete opposite. The point is you need to strike a balance between your work and your social life, by all means make plans with friends and family but make sure you have designated study times (the lists will help with this) that you can fit them around. Most of all, when you are out enjoying yourself, try not to think about work – that’s for later, you have this under control!

Motivate yourself with frequent breaks

If you struggle with procrastinating, like most students do, you can combat this by taking short, frequent breaks. If you are writing an essay split it up into thirds or quarters – for example for a 3000 word essay every 500 words you get a break and can do something you want to do. This will keep you going as it gives you targets to hit and the promise of a reward at the end. If you break your work up into small, manageable chunks you’ll feel less inclined to procrastinate. Don’t take on too much or you will lose willpower and motivation, even if you have to do it over a few days, it’ll be better for you in the long run.

Find somewhere quiet to study

My current less-than-ideal workspace

My home-home is always hectic as I have such a big family and my brother’s kids are often round when their parents are in work so it’s never easy to get work done. I find myself stuck in my bedroom with my earphones in trying to drown out the sound of Peppa Pig coming from downstairs – it’s not ideal! If you have the same problem I suggest, whilst at home you travel to your local library and do work there, it will give you a lot more peace and if you’re anything like me, if you’re in a library you’ll be less likely to get distracted. Perhaps even meet up with friends who also have work to do, you can form a study group which may keep you going when you start to feel like a work-orientated recluse. One thing I find very useful is going back to Ormskirk a week or so early so you can get time to go to Edge Hill’s library and get a silent study room so you can cram in a bit more studying before semester two begins.

Ashley Tuffin also brought up some great tips in this recent post.

Have a wonderful new year! 🙂

Essay Tips!

Yes, sadly Christmas is over. The turkey has been eaten, all the presents have been opened and the reality of all those essays you need to have completed for January has started to set in. But fear not as I have gathered plenty of tips to help you out!  

Readings. This is vital to your essays, hence why it’s at the top of the lists. Two sources I suggest are Google scholar and Edge Hill library.
Google scholar is a free search engine catered for academic texts and is a great source for texts that can be used in your academic assessments. This is extremely usefully especially if you’re far away from a library.
Of course, the Edge Hill Library is a brilliant source for readings and is made easier with the online catalogue. With the online catalogue you can look up books using keywords or authors, reserve books and in some cases find online copies, so overall it’s pretty great.


Now you have your readings it’s time to plan an outline. This is just simple notes that’ll really help you out in the long run. This is simply laying the foundations for your essay, so when you come to writing it you know what you’re doing and don’t go off topic for an example for introduction you can note down the topic/subject you’re writing about and texts you’ve used.


Which leads me onto my next tip: Peel. Okay, so for most of you who don’t know what I mean that must have sounded a bit weird but fear not I have not gone crazy as it’s an abbreviation which means:
Point – your main idea/concept.
Evidence and explanation – add quotes to support your point.
Evaluation – evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence.
Link – link back to your point.
This is just an example of how to form a paragraph if you’re struggling, can be added to your essay outline.  


So at this point you’re probably starting to write your essay and form sentences which is great, however, you’ve got to be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole of incorrect grammar and limited vocabulary. Don’t worry though, as someone who commonly does this I have found ways to combat this first being Thesaurus.
This should be familiar to you as it’s basically how most people got through GCSE, but if this has somehow fallen off your radar I just want to remind you how useful it can be, namely the website. The website works wonderfully if there is a word you feel you overuse and want to find a replacement and give you a richer vocabulary.

And my other tool is Grammarly. Grammarly is a google extension which can be downloaded for free and is a:
contextual spelling checker – can detect correctly spelt words used in the wrong context and correct misspelt words.
Grammar checker – can fix grammatical errors.
This can be switched on and off all your websites such as Facebook, Celtx, Gmail, etc. Additionally, Google Docs is a good place to write your essay on as it automatically saves and can be backed up!


And finally, some quick fire tips!

Stay motivated! Use sticky notes to stick around the place to remind you of topics and keep you engaged or if you feel like you need a greater understanding of a topic watch a relevant video.

Regular breaks have been proven the best way to write an essay as it gives you time to write the essay without being stressed out.

Which leads onto my next tip nicely: Give yourself enough time to write the essay. Start as early as you can getting readings and understanding the topic you’ve chosen or been given.  

Drink plenty of water. Writing and being dehydrated is not a good mix, it’s best to drink up as it helps your mind work better. 

And my last tip: Get someone to proofread. Which I know can be embarrassing, but honestly, it works magic, all you need is a trusted friend who you know won’t lie to you if you’ve gone off on a tangent, as a fresh pair of eyes can pick up mistakes you didn’t even notice! Even this blog post has been proofread. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to have a second opinion on your work!

Overall these are just suggestions, you don’t have to do anything I wrote above as everyone is different and different methods work for different people. However, I hope you learnt/got something from this post.

I had a pretty good Christmas season, saw my family, and dogs, plus got free food. So successful overall! And if anything I’m now recharged for the next year ahead. Speaking of new year, that’s the theme of my next post, as generic as that is, however, I hope to be able to add my own take on in which will hopefully help you out!

Until next time!

Film/Show of the day: Scream Queens (2015-)

Making the Most of Christmas at Uni

Being away from home during the festive period can be hard, for many first years this will be first time they have been away from home for most of Christmas. At this point many people haven’t been home for an extended period of time since September, I totally get you, it can make the weeks before you go home really drag. But I have some tips to make the most of Christmas whilst at uni.

Start early

The Christmas decoration team 2016.
My majestic decorations in first year.

My friends and I often use the excuse of “we won’t be here for Christmas” to put up our decorations in late November. Starting early can ensure that you have plenty of time to enjoy the masses of tinsel and fairy lights you used ten packets of blu-tack sticking up. Perhaps you could arrange a day with your friends or flatmates to help decorate each other’s rooms, I’ve done this every year without fail and it really gets us ready for Christmas. Bonus points are awarded if you do it in Christmas jumpers with Band Aid
playing in the background!

Christmas retail therapy

Christmas Shopping is a great way to get in the spirit of things. Why not get a group together and organise a trip to one of the many Christmas markets around the area? There are a lot of places that put on Christmas markets during December, such as Manchester, Liverpool and Chester. This year Edge Hill even did their own Christmas Market in The Hub. My friends and I managed to get some really adorable gifts for each other and our families.

Take time to de-stress

I know, I know, a lot of assignments are due in around Christmas time, which can kind of dampen the festivities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Ensure that you have an appropriate amount of time to de-stress and enjoy yourself. Perhaps arrange a cute Christmas movie night with your flatmates, it’s only a couple of hours in the evening and won’t interfere too much with your studying. Or you

could even celebrate at the end of term by hosting a Christmas party or arranging a Christmas dinner where you and your flatmates can get together and cook a meal (or at least attempt to if cooking isn’t your forte).

Last, but not least, have a very merry Christmas! 🙂

This Christmas…

Christmas is just around the fairy light lit corner so you know what that means: it’s finally time to go home again. For many people this wouldn’t be a very big deal, however, I live over 4 hours away,  so it’ll be a miracle if my family recognise me!
But joking aside before you head off home there are a few things you might wanna consider doing before you head on back home.

Throw away food you’re not gonna eat. This is something everyone forgets, which is understandable.  You’re rushing around, cramming everything into a small suitcase, and thinking of whether you’ve left your charger or not. Remembering to throw away that chicken you had a couple days ago isn’t your number one priority. However, if you do it the night before, it’s one less thing to think about and doesn’t leave an unwanted present in your fridge for you to come back to.

Legit this.

Speaking of leaving packing to the last minute: don’t do it. Not worth the stress just so you can watch another episode of a series on Netflix (been there done that, unfortunately ). The way forward I found is lists, yes, it’s as simple and straightforward as that. As boring as it may seem, this will save your sanity, an idea of the size of suitcase you’ll need and gives you time to gather everything together in time. This is especially important if you’re from a big family (like me), as you’ll know about it later if you forget someone’s gift!

Now onto something you might think is a bit weird: clean your room before you go. This may seem a bit weird,  as there’s a student mindset, of rushing around, grabbing everything and leaving your flat as soon as you can, leaving your room messy for you to clean when you get back. But that means when you come back over Christmas, you’re not going to be greeted to a nice warm room, instead, you’re gonna come home to more work to do. Be kind to your future self, do it now, as it’s exciting to go home, but you’ve got to remember that you’ve got to come back at some point. Additionally, if you’re running out of shampoo and conditioner, buy it now, as then you don’t have to go straight to the shops when you get back. Make life easier for future you.

The library itself.     

Self Explanatory but make sure you take your books back to the library. As the library tries to renew them, but they can’t if someone requests them. So save yourself the hassle by dropping them off beforehand. Additionally, if you’re doing an essay over the Christmas season, get the books out beforehand, find the quotes you want, then give them back in time, simple.  

 

Finally and most importantly, Travel. Unless you’re driving home for Christmas, or being picked up by your parents, you’ll be left with two options bus or train. I for one take trains frequently, so have plenty of advice on the matter and how to get cheaper tickets, as well as other handy tips and tricks.

  1. Always try to get your tickets in advance, months in advance if you can, as the further away the date is, the cheaper the ticket usually is, which can save you up to £40, and even more in some cases! It may be too late now for this Christmas trip, however, there’s always next time.
  2. There are different ways of having your tickets if you pay in advance, which for some may seem obvious, but honestly, I never knew of these until I started travelling. The first opinion is having your tickets posted to you. The second is paying online and collecting them at your local train station. And finally with certain ticket providers such as The Trainline you can have your ticket digitally using their app.   
  3. Plan, plan, plan. This is very important if you live four train journeys away, such as myself.  I would highly recommend writing a schedule of all your train times, what stations you’ll be coming and going to, platform numbers (and where they are in the station), and finally how long you’ll be waiting for your next train (sometimes every second counts!) This means you can plan your time at the stations as well e.g bathroom breaks, popping to the shop, etc . Which makes the trip a whole less stressful than it needs to be.
  4. Lastly, think of what you can realistically carry with you, you might have to leave the kitchen sink behind if you have too much luggage already.

I hope you found this blog post at least a little bit helpful and that you all have an amazing festive season. As for me I recently went to see Moana, which I highly recommend!

Film/Show of the day: Moana (2016)

My Edge Hill Experience So Far…

 

Hi, I’m Victoria Loftus – though I tend to go by Vicky most of the time. I’m currently in my third year at Edge Hill studying English literature and creative writing. Being in third year you’d think I’ve had a good couple of years to get used to the whole independent adult thing, but I’m still learning new things every day. That’s the great thing about uni, it gives you a safe, supportive place to learn how to adult, without being thrown into the deep end and ultimately being left to drown in all the crazy responsibilities. I thought for my first blog post I’d share with you the highlights of my Edge Hill experience so far…

I’ve become more independent.

Of course one the most important (non-academic) lessons I’ve learnt during my time at university came at the beginning of first year, and that was how to fend for myself; including getting over my fear of using an oven after living off pasta and takeaways for the first few months. I also learnt that bathrooms don’t clean themselves (sorry mum!) and often need cleaning a couple of times a week, typical.

As well as the obvious domestic things, I also learnt a lot about dealing with things like bills and finances. I can now confidently budget and organise bill payments with my flatmates, as well as being able to actually talk on the phone with internet and electricity companies without turning into a babbling mess. In terms of organisation, I have finally got my head around how to arrange my timetable and social life so I can enjoy myself without my work getting on top of me – if that’s not a win I don’t know what is!

I’ve made loads of friends from different backgrounds.

Edge Hill is such a diverse university and is so different to the small town I come from. Since I’ve started uni I’ve made so many friends from so many different backgrounds. Not only have I made friends from different regions of the UK, I’ve also met people from places such as China, America and France. I’ve learnt so many things from my friends, from slang (‘boss’ and ‘chunder’) to recipes – would you believe me if I said I’d never tried sprinkling crisps on top of a pasta bake until my flatmate showed me in first year? Meeting such a diverse group of people has really helped open my eyes to everything I’ve been missing in my little corner of Wales.

I’ve gotten involved in societies/student projects

Lastly, I’ve had so many chances to develop new skills and take part in loads of fun projects. I’ve been a part of Hillstart Dance Society and Edge Hill Musical Theatre Society during my time here and I enjoyed every minute of it. In my first year I even got to perform in a production of my all-time favourite musical (Rent) which of course I jumped at the chance to be a part of! I’ve even tried out a few new hobbies, including pole fitness – I recommend it, though it’s very hard work.

In my second year I performed in a student production called ‘Grim Repercussions’ organised by a group of creative writing students and I am now the production manager for their second production ‘Meat and Greet.’ It just goes to show how supportive Edge Hill is with fostering creativity. Seriously, if you have any good ideas speak to one of your tutors or another relevant staff member about it, they could point you in the right direction. University is probably the best place to begin making big ideas into something more, you have great facilities and tonnes of support to make it happen!

Until next time. 🙂

Hi Edge Hill!

Hey there, welcome to my first official Edge Hill blog post!
I’m so excited to start blogging here and giving you an insight of what my student experience is like here. A good idea however before I start would be an introduction, so here I go.
Hi, I’m Charley, a second year Film and Television Production Student who lives in a student home in Ormskirk. (Phew, that’s out of the way.)  

Edge Hill hosts a variety of courses and has the facilities to prove it. However, you’ll usually find me in Creative Edge (as that’s where my course is based), in one of the editing suites as I’m an aspiring editor.

The Hub on the other hand, is one of my favourite spots to go on campus, mostly because of the shop and the mini market they usually have on. But most importantly when events are held there such as freshers fair, the hub comes alive and there’s a buzzing atmosphere in the air, and a chance to grab freebies always helps.    

Speaking of freshers fair, that’s where you can sign up for a variety of societies, which Edge Hill has a lot of. I myself am President of Disney society, editor for Vibe Media, editor/ runner for the Label Recordings and part of the Raising and Giving society. However there’s a massive range of societies to choose from if those don’t take your fancy, from Anime to Rock Climbing, there’s a lot on offer. As well as having the ability to create a society, if acceptable, from one of your hobbies or interest, but that’s a blog post for a different time.

Inside the Art Centre

And finally there is the Arts Centre if you like open mic nights, live performers and pizza, this is the place for you. The reason I go there though is for ‘Free Film Friday’. As you can guess by the title the Art Centre most weeks screen new releases of films in their cinema, which is free for all students, which is great for all you media buffs out there and perfect for a free night out of the flat.

Thank you for reading my first post, I can’t wait to tell you more about Edge Hill and what it has to offer in future posts!
Until next time!

Film/Show of the day: Black Mirror (2011-)

Watch the Time

Hey everyone!

Hope you are all having another good week, the sun has finally come out today so I’m enjoying the sunshine.

I know this week means Results Day for a lot of you, so again good luck!

Once you’ve got your results and your confirmed university place you’ll be eager to know what’s in-store for you once you start your degree.

One of the major differences between college and university will be the amount of time you spend being taught and the amount of independent study you’re expected to do.

The time you spend in lessons at college or sixth form can entirely depend on which college you attended. When I was at college I was in classes for 18 hours each week, and it was recommended that we did around 9 hours independent study per week.

In my first year of uni I took three modules, and had 4 hours contact time per module (that’s just a fancy way of saying the time you spend being taught.) That time was split up each week into a lecture, a lecture workshop and then a two hour seminar.

Although the contact time can vary between different courses and modules, it’s likely your timetable will consist of an equal balance between lectures and seminars. That means that each week you get given an opening lecture to introduce a  topic and later in the week will have a seminar to discuss ideas and delve a little deeper.

The main reason why a university timetable has so little contact time is to allow you to do the research you need for seminars and assignments. As there is a lot more freedom with university assignments than anything you’ve ever done before the library will probably become your best friend in the lead up to submission dates.

The main piece of advice I can give is to not waste the time you have outside of lectures and seminars.

The best way to do that is to maintain a balance between classes, your part-time job (if you have one), your social life, independent study and your free time.

Make sure to put in the time to get the best results you can, but don’t overwork yourself and make sure you go out and enjoy yourself every once in a while! You’ll have deserved it.

Quote for the day: “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” -Shelby Foote.

Hope you all have a fantastic week and to those awaiting results don’t worry, I am sure you will do amazingly!

-Becki 🙂

The Benefits of Volunteering

Hey everyone!

Hope you are all having another good week, and enjoying the break from college. As much as I’ve been missing uni lately it’s been nice to have a little time away to recharge and get ready for second year.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned some good ways of staying productive over the summer. One of those ways was volunteering. This week I’m going to focus on that a little bit more.

For the past few weeks I’ve been volunteering at the PDSA shop near where I live, which hasn’t only kept me from going insane with boredom but has helped me make new friends, make a positive difference and gain some new experience.

Thankfully my CV isn’t entirely blank, but having a few extra skills to put on there never does any harm.

According to some surveys 73% of employers would hire someone who has volunteering experience over an individual without.

That’s because volunteering shows you have motivation and determination to work for a cause that means a lot to you, and it’s surprising how many skills you can pick up along the way.

Volunteering with a local charity shop can give you retail experience, shows you are able to work in a team, gives you good cash handling skills and allows you to interact with a diverse range of customers. Who wouldn’t want to be able to gain all that experience for a few hours volunteering each week?
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And if volunteering in retail isn’t something that appeals to you there are a number of other ways you can get involved and help your community.

From spending a few hours each month with an elderly person and helping them with daily activities to volunteering to help out at festivals or races taking place near you, the opportunities are almost endless.

My favourite thing about volunteering though is the fact that you can fit it into your schedule, no matter what that schedule is.

Even during term time at uni you will probably have a few hours to spare, and volunteering during those few hours gives you the chance to do something you enjoy, gain valuable skills and stop mindlessly watching Netflix.

I’d really recommend volunteering to everyone, so if it’s not something you’ve looked into before then I suggest you give it a go!

I intend to carry on my volunteering when I return to uni, and who knows, maybe I’ll see some of you then!

Quote for the day: “We help because that is who we truly are.” -Joseph Rain

Have another amazing week!

Until next time 🙂

Help Is All Around Us

Hi everyone!

Hope you’re all having a fantastic week (even if it may still be exam season for some of you!)

This week I’m going to be talking a little bit about Student Services, and the advice and support they offer to students.

If you’ve attended an Open Day, you’ve probably walked by the Student Services table or attended a talk that they’ve held on finance, accommodation or additional support throughout your degree. The truth is Student Services do this and so much more.

One of the great things about the Student Services team at Edge Hill is there is always a smiling, friendly face to help and advise you in any way they can. Every single time I’ve approached them with an issue or enquiry the staff have gone the extra mile to help out in any way possible, and the matter is always resolved efficiently, and confidentially if necessary.

One of my favourite things that the team at Edge Hill offer is the range of workshops they hold for students. Whether you want to beat your procrastination and make sure you finish all your essays with time to spare or feel the need to express your feelings through the medium of art then there is something on offer for you.

When I first came to Edge Hill there was a workshop on Overcoming Homesickness that I attended. Although I wasn’t living too far away from home moving away to uni was a huge lifestyle change, and it can be a bit scary. I was uncertain about a lot of things, but the workshop gave me a lot of great tips on how to deal with the change, and reminded me no matter where you come from home is only a phone call away!

There is so much on offer, and I would totally encourage you to give one of these workshops a try. They can help you in so many ways, and they could be that extra building block in developing a more confident, mindful and happy you.

If you want to see a full list of the workshops the Student Services team held this year then click here. Don’t hesitate to drop them an email if you have any questions/concerns, they will be more than happy to help out!

Quote for the day: Walked out this morning I don’t believe what I saw, a hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore. Seems I’m not alone in being alone” -The Police.

There’s help available everywhere, just don’t be too afraid to ask for it!

Hope you all have another fantastic week. Until next time 🙂

Open Days

Hi everyone!

It’s the middle of June, which means for a lot of people it is exam time. Some lucky people might already be finished with A Levels, and if you have then congratulations! If not then good luck with all your future exams and assignments 🙂

This week I’m going to talk to you a bit about Open Days and what you can expect to get out of them.

If you’ve applied for Edge Hill and are currently holding an offer then there’s a high chance you’ve already attended an Open Day or an Applicant Visit Day. But even if you haven’t there is still time to visit.

For everyone who is interested in applying to Edge Hill next year then there will be a number of Open Days throughout the academic year.

For dates and more information on how to book an Open Day click here.

I can’t stress how important attending an Open Day can be.

When you accept your university offer you’re committing three years of your life to that uni, so it’s important that it’s the right place for you.

Even if you live quite far away I would recommend trying to make it to an Open Day (some universities reimburse the travel costs – they know how important visiting the university is!)

Attending an Open Day at Edge Hill was one of the things that made me 100% certain I wanted to study there.

In the same way, I went to some Open Days that showed me that a particular university wasn’t quite right for me. Try before you commit. It’s a huge decision, and you don’t want to find yourself having made the wrong choice when you can easily prevent it!

So what can an Open Day do for you?

Here’s my list of everything it helped me with:

  • Learning about the different types of accommodation on campus and their costs
  • Meeting the tutors who would be teaching me throughout my degree
  • Learning about specific modules and assessments
  • Finding out more about Student Finance
  • Looking at all the facilities the university has to offer
  • Getting a feel for the campus and if it was the right place for me.

An Open Day visit is invaluable, so if you’re thinking of becoming an Edge Hillian book yourself on to one today!

Quote for the day: “I don’t even remember the season. I just remember walking between them and feeling for the first time that I belonged somewhere.” The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky.

Hope you all have another amazing week. Until next time!

-Becki 🙂