Welcome Back!

Hi everyone,

Welcome back after the Easter break, I hope you have had a good Easter break and managed to have some well deserved time off from your studies.

My Easter has been quite eventful, I went home for a few days to catch up with family and friends as I had not been home in quite a while! But, as I am in my third year I have had a lot to do and it has included quite a few late nights in the library! The weather has been so nice as well so it was lovely to be able to spend some time in our garden doing work.

This week is actually the last week of semester two and then we move on to the joys of exams and assignment deadlines, it is such a strange feeling for me as I only have three more deadlines and then I will have completed my degree. I can’t believe that three years have gone so quickly and I only have a few months before I move home and released into the real world!

I would love to know what you all got up to over Easter! and good luck to everyone handing in their dissertations over the next week as well as to everyone with deadlines, summer is fast approaching!

See you soon!

Ellie 🙂

Winter Holidays

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas break. I have completed 5 weeks of my final professional practice with another 5 weeks to go! My school is absolutely fantastic, with lovely staff and even lovelier children! I am yet to come across a child who doesn’t go out of their way to assist me or hold doors open for others. It’s the little things that go a long way!

Although I have had a brilliant few weeks, there has been a lot of planning, evaluating and resource-making involved. I am very much in need of a relax… and I am sure you are too! What are your Christmas plans?

  1. Catch up with family and friends 

Make the most of your time out of sixth form / college and make plans with your nearest and dearest!

  1. Get up to date with work

Christmas holidays are a good chance to get yourself organised and get that to-do list checked off! Make a timetable / calendar and make a rough note of what you’ll do each day. This always helps me to organise my time.

  1. Explore your home town

Get Christmassy! You may celebrate Christmas or you may not… but it is always fun to get into the festive spirit! Take a trip into town and visit your local Christmas markets or have a go at ice-skating if you’re feeling brave.

  1. Relax

Wind down with a hot chocolate and watch your favourite Christmas movie (Elf is the best one OBVIOUSLY). You might be working over the Christmas holidays but make sure you get some ‘me time’ after a long day’s work.

I hope your course work / revision is going well. This time 3 years ago I was preparing for my Primary Education interview at Edge Hill. Let me know if you would like to hear about my experience!

In our last week of school (the Friday just gone), we took part in Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day by donating £1 and wearing a festive jumper. You can make a donation of £2 by texting JINGLE to 70050.

Have a brilliant Christmas with your loved ones and remember what Christmas is all about.

Happy Easter!

Hi everyone 🙂

I’m pretty sure all students at Edge Hill are super happy that it is now the Easter holidays, we were all in need of a rest, especially to our third year students who recently handed in their dissertations, and looking forward to spend some time at home to catch up with family and friends! I am definitely grateful for a few weeks off to chill and hopefully get a good amount of work done too!

This term has definitely been an eventful one, including the entire shut down of the university thanks the beast from the east! But it has also been a great couple of months for the university as we announced that very soon we will be offering degree courses in medicine which is incredible!

Also, now that Easter is finally here it means we only have two weeks left of the semester which means it is nearly summer!

I hope you all have a great Easter

Ellie 🙂

Winter Holidays Away From Home

Although most students go home for the holidays in winter, some don’t! For whatever reason, be it preference or necessity, it can be a little odd to experience. The campus empties out dramatically towards the end of December in preparation for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and you may find yourself a bit lonely, especially if you are living in halls where most if not all of your cluster has migrated away for the short holiday season.
This year, since I was on placement in the USA, I couldn’t return home for the holidays, as the flight would cost too much money. It was a strange feeling to be in a different country around this time of year, as usually I would be with my parents and family for Christmas and usually with old secondary school or sixth form friends for New Year’s Eve (for the past few years, we’ve even held a pre-Christmas dinner party, lovingly dubbed “Mockmas”). There are a few ways to alleviate the weird feeling this time of year that may help as much at Edge Hill University as they did for me in Chicago.

Number one, in the lead-up to Christmas, my Dad visited me over here in the States. If you can’t be with your family on Christmas, bring your family to you instead! The same principle applies with friends if you’re going to miss seeing them over Winter Break, see if any of them can come to Edge Hill University beforehand and have a catch-up or mini Christmas dinner. Maybe exchange gifts!

My very own Christmas Trash Tree

Number two. One of the highlights of Christmas for me as a child (and a teenager, let’s be honest) was the presents, the gift giving and receiving always felt like the core event, since I was never big on roast dinner, or food in general. Perhaps you’ll be sent gifts in the mail, or maybe some money. You might feel silly, but if you buy yourself gifts beforehand and set them aside until Christmas, you’ll have something to look forward to!

Number three, call people! In the glorious age of modern technology, you can hear the voices of nearly anyone you know in an instant, and maybe even see their faces too. It’s one thing to greet family one by one as your family arrive at your gran’s house, but something else entirely to suddenly have them all there on your phone’s tiny screen as the camera is moved from person to person – quite overwhelming! Still, a lovely substitute.

Lastly, is spending it with friends. Hopefully, you’ve made some friends either through your halls, societies, or course – and some of them might be local, or staying over the holidays too! You never know until you ask, so find out who will be on campus, or in the relatively close area, and arrange a meet-up. They might invite you over for Christmas or New Year’s, or you could just hang out in between, and easy the Winter Blues.
Happy Holidays!

What to do with your time off

For many of us we are now in our Easter break and at university this can be anything from 2 weeks to 4 weeks, and for some term may have already ended for the year leaving you with a new chunk of free time to occupy.

One of the first things I’d suggest to do is take some time to focus on your well being. This can be anything from just lighting a candle, spending a day looking after yourself or watching your film. Whilst at university you can often forget to indulge in the things that make you feel good. When you have time off its okay to be a little selfish and take time out just for yourself. Whilst its good to see friends and family, try not to fill your schedule completely. It can be easy to organise a host of activities going here, there and everywhere and before you know it the break is over.  Take time to rest and relax.

Don’t feel pressure to go home either, for some people staying at University can be more beneficial as they feel that they can work better or just enjoy spending some time alone. This can often be difficult for parents to understand so try to explain your reasons and hopefully they will understand. As well as this for some people who suffer from homesickness it can be easier to stay rather going backwards and forwards.

If you plan to do university work over your Easter break try and organise times to fit this in. There’s nothing worse than sitting everyday saying you’re going to start something and just sitting, waiting, procrastinating and putting it off and wasting a day that could have been spent doing something else. Make sure if you are taking books home from the library you reserve them to avoid getting fines whilst you’re away from university. As well as university work some people may choose to go home to a job. This is a great opportunity to earn money ready for the summer or for the next term of university.

As well as working, the Easter break is also a great time to travel. At University the longer break puts you at an advantage as you can book flights or breaks out of the ‘school holidays’ and benefit from cheaper travel especially if you’re booking in advance. Depending on what you are studying you may be given a yearly overview during your first week, with dates of holidays included, this can help you organise an appropriate time to travel and book as early as possible to make the most of deals.

Basically you need to take the time to do whatever it is that you want to do, whether that be staying at university working or going home and doing nothing, it is your break and you should make the most of it however you choose to spend it.

Home Sweet Home

As Easter is quickly approaching many people may be considering going home for a while. I travelled home this weekend for the first time since Christmas and I had forgotten how much you need to remember and how many things you need to do before you leave.

My first piece of advice for anyone thinking of going home is to book any travel as far in advance as you can. This often means you can get it a lot cheaper than you would on the day and also means you can organise and plan your trips within plenty of time. For rail travel the cheapest tickets are available 12 weeks prior to the date of travel, a benefit of booking tickets in this way means that even if something comes up meaning you can no longer travel the tickets are that cheap you won’t be too much out of pocket. As well as booking tickets in advance if you are frequently planning to travel by rail, a railcard is an excellent investment. With a 16-25 railcard you can save 1/3 on train journeys. This combined with booking in advance can equal massive savings over time. Last year I travelled home around once or twice a month and using my rail card and advance booking I saved over £500. Apps such as Trainline are also a valuable tool as they find you the cheapest ticket for your journey and work out which trains you need to get, where you need to change and which would be the fastest route.

Once you have your main method of transport secured it is also important to consider how long it will take you to get home and if other methods of transport are required. For me when travelling home I need to get the university free bus into Ormskirk, the train from Ormskirk to Liverpool and then another train from Lime Street to Nottingham. I would suggest that if you are travelling home for the first time using new methods of transport that you leave extra time for your journey or even have a practise run to see how long it actually takes. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic or missing a train that means you miss the train on the final leg of your journey. Ormskirk has plenty of travel options for students and using a combination of bus or train you can generally end up getting wherever you need to be.

Before travelling you need to think about what you’re taking home. From experience on your first few trips home you’ll try to pack your entire wardrobe, five pairs of shoes and a month’s worth of washing into a carry on size suitcase for three nights at home. This will soon fade away when you realise lifting a heavy suitcase on a train is what nightmares are made of. Try to pack the bare essentials and if possible have duplicates at home to save in what you need to carry. When I’m packing I like to make a list as I’m guaranteed to forget something essential. As long as you have your keys to get back in, money and tickets for where you’re going you’re basically set, I’d consider these things to be my essentials. As well as this make sure you have something to do on the journey. Trains can be the most boring of places especially if it is dark and you cannot see anything out of the window. I like to have something to watch on my iPad, something to read or some work to finish off to make the journey that bit quicker.

When leaving Uni there’s also a few things to think about. Consider what you have in the fridge before coming home. No one wants to come back to lumpy milk and green cheese. A quick check of dates in your fridge and cupboard before you leave should prevent this. As well as checking what you have that might go off make sure you have something in for when you come back, depending when you travel you may not be feeling like doing a full shop and an empty fridge is not what you want after a long journey back.

Last of all enjoy your time at home, the journey can be stressful and you’ll have checked and double checked that you’ve got everything and still forgotten something but it is all worthwhile. The more you travel the better you will get and you’ll become accustomed to the little tricks that make every journey easier.

Studying over Christmas

Creative Edge in the snow

Whether you’re a student at university, or a student in sixth form or college, you most likely have some work you should be doing right now: essays, assignments, coursework, reports, or the dreaded revision. But let’s be honest, with Christmas fast approaching and winter beginning in earnest on the 21st (the winter solstice), work is probably the last thing you want to be doing.

Now don’t fret, I’m not going to tell you that you’ve got to forgo the festivities to stay on top of your work load. My main piece of advice is to plan your distractions. What I mean is that you’re going to to be busy over the holidays with things unrelated to your studies: quality time with friends from home, family, last minute shopping, and possibly eating copious amounts of food. What I find helpful is to take note of when you think you’ll be likely to be doing all this socialising and plan your work around it. Slot in little revision sessions, or dedicated working periods, every other day when you know you’ll be relatively free from distractions. This will help you stay on track for January exams or deadlines without missing out on any of the fun.

Sometimes you need to be a bit selfish in that your work comes first. If you have work you know needs doing, you may have to turn down social activities to get it all done, even if it is your family – you’re allowed to say no! Ideally, you won’t have to, as long as you plan ahead. If you’re having trouble pinning down the exact timings of your social events, then scheduling a short half an hour study session on an uncertain day will guarantee you get something done. If even that is too much and you feel you need to revise, then carrying around flashcards on a busy day will ensure you’ll have something to feast your brain on. Otherwise, set time aside when you know you won’t be busy, and get working.

I myself have a written report due in January for Molecular Biology, and a closed book exam for both Molecular Biology and Life On The Edge. So I’m going to have to follow my own advice this holiday season!

Easter is here!

So this week is the first week of the Easter holidays, and for you lucky people probably the start of some serious revision! After a full term at uni, I think everybody looks forward to going home for the Christmas/Easter breaks. It is lovely to come home and enjoy home comforts also if you’re lucky enough you can save a bit of money!

You’ll enjoy the change of being home with a whole new routine, that unfortunately still includes revision and assignments – there’s no rest for the wicked! The best part about coming home if definitely seeing family and friends, this term of two months leaves a lot of things to catch up on!

However living back with parents can be a difficult one, obviously everyone’s relationship with their parents/guardians or household will be different. Going back home can be a strange one because you’ve not as much freedom as you have when at uni, making your own meals, shopping, going out!

Talking to my friends about their experiences of going back home varies a lot! I’d suggest that if you do struggle with the change of going back home that you talk to the people in your household and you establish some new ground rules that work for everyone!

Easter also means that the year is also over – so that’s a good and bad thing! This is because it means summer is nearly here (yay- holidays!) but it also means exams are soon!

QUICK update!

HELLO!

Hope you’re all well, just a quick one!

So what have I done this week. Assignments, assignments, assignments… and my dissertation of course. So the workload is heavy at the minute, but the more I get done now, the less I have to do later, right? Well positive thinking is the only thing keeping me going, so let’s keep it light and fluffy. So Christmas is right around the corner and then around that corner is probably exams, yes? Well here is what I’d do over the Christmas break… You need to be realistic. There is no point saying you’ll do work everyday when we all know that wont happen. You need time to relax, see your friends and family and actually enjoy Christmas. So make a timetable and stick to it. You don’t need to study solidly everyday 12 hours a day! It’s all about balance and when you can’t find motivation to carry on, remember why you’re doing it! Think of EHU and the course that you want! seriously, you need to think of your target and it’ll make you want to keep studying/revising/reading!

Anyway, what’s the best Christmas film? I mean I’ve tried working it out over and over again and I’ve come to a list with my friends:

It’s either:

A) Elf (nah)

B) Love Actually (100% YES)

C) The Grinch (possible but Love Actually is the one i think)

Anyway I’ll leave you with that debate and the thought of Christmas being right around the corner. Happy studying.

Until next time…

Going home for the summer

So now that I’ve finished my summer work, which was a great experience properly doing full time work (even if it was during hot days), as well as moved into my new room for the next year, I’m ready to go home for the summer. There’s a few visits to places other than home planned, but here I want to talk about the more serious aspects about making the most of my “home” time.

Me working at the 2014 graduations!
Me working at the 2014 graduations!

I’m going to continue learning a 2nd language. Bluntly, I have read stories of how a 2nd language isn’t always most sought after skill in the UK workplace if you already speak English, but I just want to expand my horizon in an exciting way, and I would feel more confident in myself if I learned another language. Also, there’s the whole learning to drive thing – I am starting to revise the theory here and there, so hopefully something will happen from there. I’m a little skeptical because of the stories I have heard of others taking three months to three years to get a driving licence, but at the end of the day I’m going to be positive and patient.

On the more serious (kind of) side, my dissertation is on my mind. Since I took a little break since my 2nd year finished, I totally forgot how great it is to do research. My record label is about to release a new album next month, so I’ll be sure to take some notes if something significant happens, as my dissertation is about cultural capital in record labels. I am also to prepare for my upcoming postgraduate study applications. I’m aware that there’s no guarantee that I’ll get accepted into anywhere, but that’s no reason why I shouldn’t try my best to apply. The requirement include 2 references (1 academic, and 1 professional in the education arena for me), a personal statement, and an interview – I already have an idea of who my references will be, but my focus is on getting the personal statement right well before applications open in November. Then I’ll worry about the interview.

I am going to find time to relax, and take a break from studies (and music making for that matter). But it’s good to know that the holidays won’t be boring and uneventful.