Endings and Beginnings: Starting University

Three fingers as friends

So, first of all, before you move into Edge Hill halls, you need to know what to bring! Here’s a short guide on “What To Bring To Halls”. After moving in it’s time to be “Starting University and Making Friends”, so here is a piece on doing just that! Since I was in first-year, the Facebook groups for halls have changed slightly – now, there is a group for the whole cluster of halls you’re in eg. Back Halls, Palatine Court, not for the single building. Also, instead of it being managed by Student Advisors, they’re managed by a Campus Communicator – which for half the halls groups, is me! Of course, your old friends don’t just disappear after starting and moving to university so here’s my take on “Maintaining Old Friendships in New Places”.

Three fingers as friends

If you’re not someone who enjoys the packed atmosphere of going out, then you might prefer “A Night In On Campus”, board games, movie drinking games, or perhaps an Open Mic Night! During the first few days on campus, you might notice our the lovely “Birds On Campus” – I’m pretty sure there’s now the occasional heron by the North-West lake too! (Don’t forget to say hi to the cats and corvids as well, those witch-y familiars deserve love too).

After settling in during Welcome Week, the biology students amongst you might be wondering what’s next in store. Well, the “First Year Biology Modules” are the same across all biological sciences courses… or were a couple of years ago at least! Plus, the “Biosciences Cyprus Residential” field trip should be just around the corner, with fun and science aplenty.

Additionally, it’s never too early to start thinking about extracurricular activities you could get involved with that will help you develop your CV and yourself as you prepare for postgraduate life. So have a go at “Improving Your CV at EHU” and take a look at the “Fund for Student Opportunities” to see what you could get stuck into. Don’t let this all freak you out though, I know that adjusting to university can be a big step and know you’re not alone in “Coping With University Stress”. Take a breather; watch the birds. 😉

Changes: First to Second Year

End the end of second year, a number of things had changed since the end of first year – surprisingly, time does that. Over the course of the year, many opportunities presented themselves to me. First of all was this, the position as a student blogger! It’s been a worthwhile endeavour not only to contribute to my university but also to diversify my skills. Being in a STEM field, I don’t do this kind of writing all that often, so this was definitely beneficial for me.


My course, in fact, also changed. At the end of first year, I decided to switch from straight Biology to Ecology and Conservation, however, not even a week later, I made up my mind and chose to specialise into Genetics instead. Ultimately, it all came down to module choices and which course allowed me to take my preferred selection of modules. You may come to the end of your first year and realise that another field entirely is calling to you, in which case you may be able to make an interdisciplinary transfer. I have two friends who have transferred from Creative Writing to Human Biology and from Games Programming to Music Production!

As for my societies, I remained in the LGBT society, but I became less active in the volleyball club and more active in the historical reenactment society. Towards the end of the year however, my dedication was primarily with the newly minted sustainability society, and mainly on the allotment that we have given new life. Next year I may join the climbing society, who knows what’ll happen!

Another change from first to second year is accommodation, since I lived in halls for my first year (the lovely chancellor’s court), and had moved into a rented student house for my second year, sharing with one former hallmate, one coursemate, and two others from the year above who my hallmate knew well from societies.

Now, two years after first attending Fresher’s Week on campus, I am in Illinois, USA, acting as a research affiliate for the Morton Arboretum during my sandwich year. Not only that but I completed an Erasmus internship over the summer in Sweden. There are many opportunities for engagement, change, and evolution at Edge Hill University. I’ve been lucky enough to experience quite a few of them and you may too!

Teaching ESOL

On Monday it was a trip to the Central Library in Liverpool (it’s quite the sight) for my first day as a classroom assistant for an English for Speakers of Other Languages session (now that uni year 2 has finished, I have more time to do some employability development). I have ambitions of becoming an employability tutor, of which there are many many routes into, and one of the routes is of course an ESOL tutor. I was interested in how it works considering ESOL tutors don’t necessarily need to know a language other than English, and of course the learners don’t necessarily know English that well…

Liverpool Central Library where the ESOL sessions take place. Photo – John Bradley for Wikipedia.org .

Along with the session leader, I was also joined by another one off volunteer who was preparing for an upcoming job interview as an English teacher in Japan so I wasn’t alone. It was the talk between us two volunteers and the leader before the session starting that got me slightly worried about what was about to happen, as she talked about how the complexities of teaching ESOL because there are so many ways to teach so many differently skilled students, with no clear answers. It struck me that this is the real deal in terms of Education.

Because it’s impossible to do one to one sessions in a classroom setting, I was asked to help two students complete a task separate from the others where they write down the different sentences depending on whom is being addressed (like “I wake up”, “He wakes up” etc.). It did get slightly more complicated when it came to words that simply can’t just have an S tacked on the end such as “I have” to “He has” and so on. I must say, it was great. I never knew teaching English was such an interesting thing to do – who knew English was such a valuable skill to pass on. In the end the students thanked me for helping them understand the differences in words as apparently they didn’t understand beforehand 🙂

After bank holiday I am definitely going to continue volunteering for the ESOL sessions, and hopefully the students learning the English Language more and more will increase their quality of life here.