Mini Mood Boosters

The world is in a time of real crisis and it has been a tough, confusing week in the UK. I have been sharing some mini mood boosters on my personal social media channels and in various WhatsApp conversations with friends in order to help us all through this. This weekend, it dawned on me that these would be perfect for overwhelmed students at exam/assignment submission time! Take the phrase ‘Exam Season’ out of each one and replace it with whatever tough, overwhelming situation you find yourself in.

Write an ‘Exam Season Bucket List’

It’s a tough and stressful time but you can still find some joy in it and ensure you stay organised. For example, you may now be sat down indoors a lot to study and read. Why not vow to take your skincare more seriously by doing regular face masks and forgoing makeup? Other things could be: creating a brilliant playlist, gathering some good reading on XYZ topic as you study, making a list of XYZ resources for future assignments, getting into the habit of drinking more water, finally mastering Harvard referencing…

Write an ‘I can’t wait to…’ list

I have done this since I did my A-Levels 7 years ago! You know the scene, you are sat revising or typing an essay and you notice it is a gorgeous day. Your mind fills with all of the things you would rather be doing. You think about how much you miss going out for cocktails or having lazy days on the grass with a picnic. How much you miss reading for pleasure and not for research. Write all of these things down! Having a list of things I am going to do when I come out of assignment season makes all of the difference to my motivation.

Find your Small Joys

Have a little collection of small things that bring you joy at these times. This could be photos, quotes and poems that inspire or motivate you or it could be websites or social media accounts that you can always go back to for a pick-me-up. For example, I love watching the 24 hour live streams that zoos like Chester, Edinburgh and Melbourne broadcast for free online. Instant mood boosts that are tailored to you!

Sam xo

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

Spring in Chicago

 

The new logo and slogan on the north facing entrance of The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois.

Whilst I spend most of my time in the city now, since I work in the Pritzker Lab at the Field Museum labs instead of at the Arboretum, I do work at the Arb on Thursdays. During this time I’ve been analysing the data gathered from biomass and vegetation indices in R, working on a potential paper. I’m quite proud of the various graphs I’ve made, utilising the “ggplot” package. Since this is a group effort, we’ve taken to using GitHub to streamline our workflow. Although I’ve used GitHub to access other people’s data before, I’ve never used it to upload my own data and collaborate with others. The process has been largely straightforward and we’re making good use of the system.

I made an exception to my usual schedule the other week when I worked at the arboretum on Monday. This was because there wasn’t just any Tree Talk happening, there was a Super Tree Talk. Presented by Nathan Swenson from the University of Maryland, this talk was on the structure and dynamics of tree assemblages, from traits and phylogenies to transcriptomes and functional phylogenomics. Back at the Field Museum, I’ve recently also attended talks on indigenous archaeology and the root microbiome.

Just down the road from the Field Museum is Adler Planetarium. I’d never been to a planetarium before until a few weeks ago when I went to “Adler After Dark” with Diana. As you might suspect, the event was in the evening, at a time when the planetarium would usually be closed. Although there was a theme (game-night), we’d never been to the standard exhibits or shows, so those were the priorities of the evening. The two shows we saw were on the “Cosmic Wonders” of the observable universe and of the sky as seen from Chicago on that night. The first showed the many deep sky objects humanity has observed, including the incredible photo of 5,550 galaxies from Hubble’s eXtreme Deep Field, featuring galaxies formed just 450 million years after the big bang, and a photo of gravitational lensing on a galactic scale. The second pointed out the many asterisms and constellations visible in the night sky. We also were given a tour of the telescope and got to turn the roof – very fun. That night also marked the second time I’ve held a piece of the moon and Mars!

Back on Earth, I had a Skype meeting with the Tree Charter’s Student Council – a group I was chosen and have been volunteering for since early 2016. The organisation, which is affiliated with the Woodland Trust, are partnering with NUS to engage Students’ Unions around the country. I’m very excited to continue working with them in the future.

Three New Years Resolutions as a Student

With the first semester over and assignments all submitted I found myself thinking about what New Years Resolutions would be good to have over the next year as a student. So here’s 3 resolutions that you could try, all of which would be great for any student and are easy to complete here at Edge Hill.

1. Look after your mental health
Keeping healthy extends further than your physical health. There are so many ways to look after your mental health here at Edge Hill and it is so important to find ways that work for you to keep you as happy, calm and as stress free as possible. Over the next few weeks there are loads of Give it a Go sessions which can help you do just that. From a visit from the Guide dogs to an afternoon of crafts. Check out the full list of activities here. If you feel like you would like some support then the team in Student Services would be more than happy to help too.

2. Be prepared for the semester ahead
Getting organised can save you lots of time throughout the semester. I find it helpful to keep my diary up to date and to have a folder for each of my modules. I use a laptop to type up my notes after each lecture and seminar so that all of my notes are in the same place when it comes to completing assignments. There are many ways to get organised, from checking that you know when your lectures start again and which room they are in to doing some reading to get yourself back into the routine of studying after a long Christmas break. If you would like any advice about becoming more organised why not arrange a meeting with your personal tutor or speak to someone in Student Services. The team are very friendly and approachable and will help with any questions or queries you may have.

3. Try out a new sport/exercise or society
The Sports Centre at Edge Hill has so many amazing opportunities for both students and members of the community. There are membership options to suit all budgets and why not take advantage of the latest offer from the Students’ Union too. If you’d like to try something new why not join a new club or society, many can be found here on the Students’ Union website.

Please do share any resolutions you have in the comments below, would be great to hear your ideas of what you are doing over the next Semester too.

Edge Hill Is Chill

Most people experience pre-uni jitters, I know I did – a new place where I didn’t know anyone, living on my own and being the sole person responsible for myself. A step in the direction of adulthood! Something I know about myself is that I like feeling safe, and Edge Hill (and Ormskirk in general) definitely provide that feeling. The campus is a wonderful place with lights all around to keep the darkness at bay at night, as well as security that patrols and are reachable by phone as well.

In addition to actually being very safe, it feels safe too. Safe and comfortable. Once you get to know the campus, it’s small enough for you to be very familiar with the whole place. If you are a member of societies and clubs, you have a good chance of running into people from them or from your course when you pop down to McColl’s or SU Bar.

Living in halls may also bring about a sense of solidarity – almost like a second family. This becomes particularly apparent in second year, after you’ve chosen who to live with. The people who I’ve lived with throughout second year were a mixture of course mates, previous flatmates, and society members from the year above. Not everyone always saw eye to eye, but that’s to be expected when living with numerous people in close proximity. We always managed to resolve issues, however, and I think living in a student house is a very valuable experience.

In regards to the actual learning part of university (an important part), I can only speak of my experience with the biology department. All the lecturers are very approachable and provide an excellent environment to learn in – one that is very comfortable. We are treated as adults and as such are on first name basis, something I feel makes it a lot easier to speak to them when you have an issue or require assistance. Having a personal tutor who you can go to for support is also a wonderful thing that eases anxiety.

On the note of anxiety, the university provides excellent student support for numerous issues from anxiety to bereavement. All counselling services are provided at Milton House. I have used the services myself and can confirm how the staff make you feel at ease, despite it being a daunting experience for me.

I chose Edge Hill University as my first choice because it felt right. It felt comfortable and safe (as well as providing the course and teaching I required), and it has lived up to those feelings.

Our First Pride Week! 🌈

As you may or may not have known, last week was Edge Hill’s first ever Pride week! I mentioned this last Wednesday on my previous post, but since then, the whole week has been and gone. The LGBT officer of the Edge Hill Student’s Union, Molly Houghton, has done a great job sorting out Pride week, and the SU have backed it up.

The rainbow on the Pride flag has a lot of symbolism behind it – each colour stripe has a different meaning. Each weekday was attributed a different colour, with Friday taking both indigo and violet.

Monday was Red, representing Life. To start off the week, the Bye Bye Bi-Erasure stall was run in the Hub to reduce the stigma surrounding bisexuality – which has long been subject to erasure and myths that bisexual people are “just greedy.” The stall featured a board dealing with what bi-erasure is, and a little game that asked you to guess famous celebrities sexualities, revealing that many who people assume are gay or straight are bisexual! (For example, Freddie Mercury, Drew Barrymore, Billie Joe Armstrong).

Tuesday was Orange, representing Healing. Another stall in the Hub was run, for LGBT+ Mental Health. As well as a Pronoun Workshop, run by the LGBT+ Society itself. The Mental Health Stall had a fun game to test your flag knowledge, to test if you know the most common LGBT+ flags and what gender identity/sexuality they represent (these were also the flags hanging from the stairs by the Student’s Union in the Hub). It also had a fact/myth board full of statements regarding mental health in LGBT+ individuals.  Later that day, in the lecture theatre in the tech hub, the LGBT+ Society ran a pronoun workshop that explained the relationship between gender and pronouns. The most common of which being he, she, and they.

Yellow was attributed to Wednesday, to represent Sunlight. On this day, Molly hosted sunflower planting outside the Hub! Anyone could come along and test out their green-fingers and try out some therapeutic gardening. Of course Wednesday is also the night of Social, which the SU made Pride-themed also.

On Thursday, the theme was Nature – owing itself to the colour Green. On the evening of this day, a sexual health workshop was run by Action For Trans Health. This workshop was run by trans people themselves, and really provided some key knowledge that isn’t taught in standard Sex Ed.

As mentioned earlier, Friday was host to two colours, indigo and violet – meaning it hosted the themes of Harmony and Spirit. This day hosted the first ever Pride March! A sense of solidarity was had by all as we marched with flags and chants around the university campus, finishing at the SU Bar, where some of us stayed for food and drinks. Later on that evening, Free Film Friday also presented a film relevant to the LGBT+ community – Rent. Although I had seen the recorded stage production before, I had never seen the film version, and it is both a heart-wrenching and heart-warming experience. Overall, the week was a successful first time for the university, and I hope to see the week expanding and improving as time goes by.