Contacting Friends at University

It can be hard to keep in contact with friends whilst you are at university. Everyone has so much going on, so arranging time to see one another is near to impossible. Although distance is hard, your friends will understand you have a busy schedule because they are in exactly the same boat!

  1. Who ya gonna call?

When you do have a free moment, try to call a friend. This could be whilst your walking to your next lecture or tidying your flat.

  1. Facetime

Who still uses skype? Or remembers MSN? For some reason, seeing the person your speaking to on screen is something that still excites me – it’s like they’re with you in real life!

  1. The wonders of social media

One reason why I am glad that social media exists, is the chance for communication. I have a few friends currently all around the world for studies and work – America, New Zealand and Spain. By getting constant updates, whether its pictures on Facebook or videos on snapchat, it is nice to see what they’re up to.

  1. Arrange visits

Try to plan ahead and book train tickets in early…they can be quite pricey as you will know! Planning to meet up with a few friends in one place might help reduce costs. Not only do you get to see your friends, it’s the perfect chance to explore new cities! 

  1. The post

If you’re feeling nostalgic, letters through the mail adds a personal touch to your message and it can certainly make someone’s day!

You might get to speak to your friends once a week, or even once a year. Either way, it’s nice to know that they’re only a phone call away! How do you keep in touch with your friends? I hope you’ve had a good first week and enjoy your weekend!

Anna 🙂

Dealing with Homesickness

Although many people will try to tell you they don’t miss home, or that they were so busy with new things they didn’t even think about it, it’s very likely that it’s not true.

It’s completely normal to feel homesick at any stage of university life, whether you’ve moved across the country or just a few miles away. Here are a few tips to help overcome it.

1- Talk about it.

It’s very likely, especially in the first few weeks of a new term that you won’t be the only one missing home. Talking to your flatmates or coursemates about home can help you to remember the good things about home, but also help you remember why you’ve moved away and all the good things that will bring.

2- Home comforts.

No matter how old you are, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing things that remind you of home, even if that is a cuddly toy! Other items that work include blankets, posters, and fairy lights. Anything that makes your room feel like your space, rather than just an empty room.

3- Photos

On the subject of home comforts, I advise you to buy yourself a photo album or two and print out some of your favourite photos and memories from home. Although now a days we mostly store our photos on our phones, there’s something a little bit more special about a physical copy, and looking through them can really help if you’re having a hard time.

4- Call home.

Don’t be ashamed to excuse yourself from social areas in your flat to make a phone call to the family. It helps you to stay in touch with news from home, and to connect with the people who up until now, you’ve most likely been living with all your life. Using apps such as FaceTime and Skype can enhance this as you get to see faces and places, rather than just voices.

5. Make new friends.

Although you may at times feel like you’re betraying life long friendships by making new friends while you’re away, you’re not. Your home friends would want you to be making new friends and having new experiences, and although at times this may be hard to see, it’s important to remember you can always stay in touch with them in different ways, even if you’re not physically present. 

Keeping in touch at uni

I’ve got to be honest, I’m surprised how well I have kept in touch with my friends at home over the last three years. My friendship group has not only retained most of it’s members, its expanded as we have introduced each other to our uni friends/boyfriends/girlfriends etc. It’s really not all that difficult to keep your friends and family up to date with your new life, although it may seem really daunting at first! To help with this, I’ve compiled a few tips to help you get your head around juggling home and uni friendships.

Skype or Facetime

I never used facetime or Skype all that much before uni. I eventually discovered, however, that they are probably the best ways to communicated with your friends and family when you’re not around them very often. I recommend, at least in the first term of uni, you arrange specific times every week/couple of weeks to facetime or skype your friends and family. This means that you always know when you’re going to ‘see’ them and it gives you something to look forward to if you’ve had a long day. If you’re parents are technophobes like mine, maybe take some time to teach them how to use skype before you go off to uni. This could be a fun (or frustrating) bonding activity that you hopefully won’t regret!

Group Chats

I swear by group chats, it’s how I sort out my social life and keep up to date with everything going on with all my different friendship groups. Maybe sort out different group chats for different friends (school, dance class, uni etc) so you can figure out what they are all up to and arrange meet ups when you’re all in the same area. I find this is a great way to let all your friends know any big news and just generally chat with them. Group chats are the best.

Visits

Nothing will stop you friend visiting home, or even inviting your friends and family to come and stay with you one weekend. It’s so nice to have a break from everything and return home, though this could be quite costly for some people who live far away. I highly recommend that you get a rail card before you start uni, this will save you so much more money than you spend on it. I also love having my friends from home come and visit Ormskirk, some of my friends have even been adopted as honorary parts of our uni friendship group because they have visited so often. It’s so lovely to see your old and new friends getting along together.

Enjoy yourself

You do need to keep in mind that you don’t have to constantly update the people at home, they’ll always be there. Try and take some time to spend with the people at uni and build upon those friendships too. Your friends and family will understand how busy uni is and shouldn’t expect you to have lengthy phone calls with them every night, you needn’t worry about keeping them up to date every day. So long as you don’t neglect them for months on end, your friendships will stay strong.

Until next time! 🙂

Preparing for Uni

As one person’s journey ends, another person’s begins… It won’t be long before I graduate (a month to be exact!) and with that comes another summer. For a lot of people this will be the last summer before they begin university, you don’t need me to tell you what a huge step that is! So, this week’s blog post is going to be dedicated to the ways in which you can prepare yourself for university.

Buy everything, but in moderation
There are a lot of things you’re going to have to buy before you start uni, pans, bleach, textbooks, you name it. This is can be quite the financial burden. I recommend starting to buy your stuff as early as possible, this gives you time to spread the cost and shop around to find the cheapest deals. Plus, it means you won’t be faffing about last minute and fighting other students in the isles of Asda for the last cheese grater.

Go to an open day/applicant visit day
I highly recommend attending an open day even before you apply for a uni. But it is also important to revisit the uni that you have chosen. This is important for a variety of reasons; for one it reminds you what the uni is like and gives you a chance to explore the surrounding area and secondly you can speak to tutors to get more information to prepare adequately for your degree. Edge Hill offers applicant visit days for those holding conditional and unconditional offers to study there. These visit days are often between February and April and give applicants a chance to really experience Edge Hill.

Make the most of the summer
Most important of all though, you should make the most of your time off. This is probably one of the longest summer holidays you’ve ever had and it is well needed after all those assignments and exams. I recommend you spend as much time as you can with your friends and family and make as many amazing memories as you can to carry without to university.

Until next time! 🙂

 

Moving Day

Hey everyone!

It’s come to the end of my second year of uni, which means it’s also time to move back home for the summer.

As much as I love coming back home, the stress of packing up all my belongings is always something I don’t particularly look forward to. . .

There are quite a few ways to make packing less stressful (and this will work whether you’re packing for holiday, moving into halls or coming back home for the summer!)

Don’t leave it until the last minute 

I know some people who will put off packing as long as possible, then hastily throw things into a suitcase/box within a few hours.

Although this does get the job done, I would recommend starting at least the day before you leave. If you have a lot to pack the sooner you start the easier it will all be!

 

Label Everything! 

I’m usually quite organised, and one thing I learned as I was unpacking the first day I moved into halls was labelling the boxes would have made the entire process easier and quicker.

It can be as simple as splitting your boxes between ‘bathroom’, ‘bedroom’ and ‘kitchen.’

When you’ve had a long day of travelling, searching for a plate to use at dinner time is easier when you only have one box to search.

 

Think carefully about what you pack

Sometimes it’s tempting to pack everything ‘just in case’ but that probably isn’t the best idea.

My main tips here would be to try and not bring any heavy objects. Not only will they be difficult to transport, it may be difficult to find room for it in your accommodation.

Honestly, do you really NEED that 32″ flatscreen tv?

My advice is that’s probably best left at home, conserve car space for practical things!

 

Quote for the day: ‘Happiness doesn’t have just one address.’ -Unknown

 

Hope you have another good week, I better go carry on with my packing.

Until next time!

Becki 🙂

Moving Out Tips

It’s that time of year, you’ve finished uni and everything is starting to wind down on campus. It’s time to think about moving out, whether you’re moving from halls to a house, back home or somewhere totally different, here are a few tips to make the process a little easier.

Multiple trips

I’m not the best authority on packing light, last year it took two trips to take all my stuff home at the end of the year and even then, there wasn’t any room for me in the car! However, had I not made multiple trips home to deposit my stuff in advance it’d be even more chaos. My first piece of advice is to, if you can, take multiple trips home or even start bringing things back with you during Christmas and Easter. The best thing to do is sort through your things and figure out what you definitely aren’t going to use again until the summer and take them back with you, it’s as simple as that! This then gets rid of the strain of trying to take back masses of stuff at the same time and finding you don’t have enough room for it. This also helps you keep organised as you aren’t just dumping all of your stuff in the house at once and having to swim through mounds of miscellanea figuring out where to put them.

Categorising

Keeping your belongings organised is a must if you want to have a stress free moving period. I find putting my things into categories (clothes, books, DVDs etc.) and packing them accordingly in labelled bags/boxes helps a great deal. This way you won’t have to go searching through a million unmarked bags to find that one small thing you are looking for. It may also help to make a list of everything you’re packing so you can make sure you have it all when you arrive at your destination.

Big bags and boxes

It is so much easier to use a small number of large bags and boxes than lots of little ones that hardly hold anything. Cardboard and plastic storage boxes are best for this as they have a definite shape, making it easier for them to be packed into a car boot. Boxes also help keep your things from being damaged as they might in a bin bag, they offer more protection and keeps everything in the right place.

 

I hope these tips helped you some and relieved some of the strain of moving out. Until next time! 🙂

Maintaining Old Friendships in New Places

If you decide to attend university quite far away from where you were previously based, you might be worried about how the distance will affect your current friendships. Even if you do stay “close to home,” your friends might be going off to uni and be the ones who are far away. But being physically distant does not have to distance your friendships. As important as it is to make friends at Edge Hill University on your course, in your halls, and in societies, it’s always nice to keep in touch with friends whom you may have spent a good few harrowing years of your life with.

Video calling

Whether over Facebook, FaceTime, or Skype, video calls can be a great way to keep up with your closest friends from home. I’ve found that organising an actual time to call is the best way to make sure these things actually happen – otherwise, life gets in the way and you may end up putting it off or inadvertently being busy.

Gaming

If you and your friends share an interest in video games, then it can be a wonderful way of spending time with them, whilst also relaxing after a day of work. Whatever your preferred platform, personally I’d say microphones are a must. Being able to chat about life whilst you play is pretty great. Minecraft, Destiny, and Borderlands have been some of the games I’ve played whilst catching up with friends.

Rabb.it

Video chat with people AND watch tv. With Rabbit, you can have a typical video call, but stream shows, movies or games at the same time, so you can experience them together. Something I used to do with friends back home all the time, I admittedly haven’t used it much since coming to uni, but it’s a great resource that people should know about!

Visiting

Although it can be a tad expensive, and requires a bit of planning, visiting your old friends (or having them visit you) is one of the best things you can do to keep your friendships alive. If you book trains in advance, you can get a huge discount – even more so if you have a railcard (Santander 16-25 Railcard anyone?).

New Groupchat

After people move off from sixth-form/college, you may experience the death of a groupchat. This may be a long and slow death, the chat lingering on, with fewer and fewer people messaging, or it may be a swift and painless death. Either way, once you realise who has decided to move on, why not make a new groupchat? One with people who are still committed to maintaining old friendships.

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.

Combating Homesickness

Moving away from home can be really difficult, especially if you’re moving far away. Homesickness can really affect you at any point of uni, or it may not affect you at all. But you’re not alone in this, everyone has been thrown into the same boat so there’s no need to suffer in silence. Here are a few tips to make those moments a little bit better.

Spend time with friends

Spending time with your friends can really help distract you from missing home. Perhaps you could arrange a night in watching films or go out take your mind off it. This really helped me in my first week of uni as I found I was so busy that I didn’t have time to dwell on what I was missing at home. Another thing that can help is to speak to your friends about the problem, maybe they can relate or make you feel better, no one will be able to help unless you let them know.

Memories

I’ve found one of the best ways to make you feel at home when you’re away from home is

to cover your room in photos of all your friends and family. The longer you’re in uni the bigger the photo wall will grow as you make more memories with more people. Decorating your room can be really fun and you can involve some of your new friends in it too, it can work as a distraction and a reminder of all the great times you’ve had so far!

Communicate

Pretty much everyone has phones these days, you can phone up your family and friends for a good chat or even better, skype or facetime them. Being able to hear their voices or see them can really make you feel better and realise that they aren’t too far away. It could even be possible to arrange for them to come and visit you at some point – it will give you something to look forward to! I’ve had a lot of my friends from home visit me and it’s been great fun introducing them to my uni friends and showing them what life at Edge Hill is like.

 

Get stuck in

Another way to distract yourself is by getting involved in uni life. There are so many societies you can join (as you can probably tell I’m a bit advocate of societies) or you can get together with a group of friends and explore places – there are some really lovely places to see both on campus and around Ormskirk. This will keep you active and give you less time to dwell on what you’re missing and you’ll soon be building up new memories and uni will begin to feel more like home.

Visit Student Services

Student services are always there if you have any problems with homesickness, they also run workshops that help students combat homesickness and other stresses. They can be found here.

The application process is well underway now and a lot of applicants have made or started making their choices so I wish you all good luck for the coming year! 🙂

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! 🙂