Swimming in the Deep End

Sometimes being thrown into the deep end isn’t a bad thing, although if you’re like me you won’t like it!

I am currently on my third and final placement at a high school. Looking back to year one I was very shy and dreaded speaking up… whether that was in a presentation, putting my hand up or just anytime really! Ironically now this is what I want my pupils NOT to be! Promoting and encouraging them to be confident in a way that I never was!

So this brings me to year one, the first term, when we wee told we had to present a starter to the whole course (just under 30 people… but still!). I was dreading it, despite actually training to be a teacher I don’t think I realised how hard standing up and presenting something would be… never mind actually getting the class to do it! BUT I did it, despite being extremely anxious, and it wasn’t even a disaster!

What I am getting at is sometimes even if there’s an aspect of something that you’re dreading… maybe your upcoming modules at uni or moving away from home, you will be ok! It is good to know that you can tap into certain aspects of people or departments that are willing to help you if you begin to struggle. At Edge Hill you can speak to numerous people… your friends, tutors, heads of courses, Student Services, the SU…. (to name a few!) A handy link can be found here, enabling you to choose the right service you require, should you need it!

Even if you know that you’ll be fine, be safe in the knowledge that I have found, sometimes I thrive in a situation when it is forced upon me and it makes me a better more rounded person! I will never look back and now, if I had to just present a starter, I would love it and I’d have so many innovative ideas that I lacked two years ago! So it just shows what hard work and determination can do! So to that, I thank Uni for helping me develop and learn!

What is Chancellors Court?

As mentioned in a previous blog, one of my favourite places on campus is Chancellors Court. This, Meadon 103 to be exact, was my home in first year and I’d like to tell you a bit about it in this post.

Information

Look how pretty it is!

Chancellors court is a relatively new set of accommodation with the most recent building being completed in 2013 (with Chancellors south added for the September 2014 intake). Chancellors court has 508 rooms and Chancellors south has 248, sounds a lot doesn’t it? But it’s still a very close community and it’s very easy to make friends. It will cost £119 a week next academic year with bills included and the buildings are all named after past Chancellors of the university: Blake, Bradshaw, Byron, Booth, Fulton, Millner, Pinfold, Tomkins, Wilson and Williams in Chancellors Court and Aitken, Jenkins, Laverty, Millins and Welch in Chancellors South.

General feelings

I Loved living on campus, Edge Hill has an ever-extending campus full of lovely student accommodation and has actually been awarded the best student accommodation in the UK by the National Student Housing Survey Awards in 2016. I was amazed at how comfortable and modern it all was, especially in comparison to my friends in other universities who were paying far more. My room was always so well insulated and the kitchen was huge and well-equipped, there was even enough room for me to practise dancing – which I definitely didn’t do (I did). Campus security always made the place safe and FM were always there to help with any technical problems – like that time I was stupid and broke my keycard AND left my phone in my room…

Location

Me and My friends chilling during the summer back in 2015

Chancellors court is located by the Edge Hill Sport building and Creative Edge. It is also just a short walk from the hub and other main buildings on campus. It has a massive lake and the beach, which makes for lovely views, especially from the window of my old room, I miss that view! It’s also a great place to hang out, it’s aesthetically pleasing and has a lot of places to sit down around the lake. The beach is especially lovely in the summer, me and my friends made frequent use of the beach whilst studying for our final assignments in first year.

Facilities

My room in first year

The bedrooms come with a tv/computer, en suite bathroom, mini fridge and lots of shelves/storage, They really have everything you could possibly need, I even had enough room to fit all my books and DVDs (I have A LOT of them). The kitchens have a lot of room and come with all the amenities you could need; toaster, fridge, freezer, cooker, kettle etc, also have a large tv so you can watch something whilst you eat. Chancellor’s south buildings have sofas and beanbags around the TV so you can be extra comfy.

Until next time! 🙂

Pro’s of Living Away for Three Years!

So living away from home is a big deal when choosing which University to go to! You have to make sure you choose a University where you will enjoy the course and every other aspect of the Uni! One of the most important things is the accommodation if you have chosen to move away from home! This isn’t a decision you need to commit to for the full three years (if you live close enough to commute that is!), so don’t worry if you think you may change your mind for years 2 and 3!

So what are the pro’s of moving into halls in first year?!

  • Halls is sooo convenient for uni! Sometimes you don’t really value this until you move off campus- so enjoy it!
  • You can wake up later than you would it you decide to commute (you will be thankful on those frosty mornings!)
  • The cost for accommodation includes bills (something you might not get if you move into private accommodation).
  • This is one of the places where you’re likely to make some good friends for life!

And, is there any reason to move into a house in your second or third year? Here are the pro’s I found moving into private accommodation!

  • You can walk to and from uni, meaning your getting your steps in, keeping healthy when you might not be cooking (or ordering!) the ‘right’ things!
  • You can choose who you live with, if that’s friends from your course or halls from first year!
  • You might even be lucky enough to have a washing machine in your house (posh!), instead of going to the launderette!
  • You can still have that independent lifestyle away from home.
  • If you move into Ormskirk you’re near to the night life! (No more three pound taxi fares!).

Either way, whatever you choose, make sure it’s the right decision for you!

My Studying Essentials

It’s very easy to get distracted whilst trying to get your uni work done. Procrastination is one of the most tempting forces in the universe and we all fall victim to it from time to time and find ourselves watching irrelevant Youtube videos with hours-worth of work still left to do. But I have some tactics essential to my studying routine to help me from getting distracted.

Music

Some people have to work in complete silence. Me, however, I find that I need music to concentrate on my work. It’s best to find a playlist of relaxing music, perhaps without lyrics, that won’t distract you too much. Spotify has some great pre-made playlists or you can make your own. You’ll find it will drown out any background sound and keep you focused for longer.

Hydration

I’m a big advocate for staying hydrated lately, I always drink loads whilst studying. I drink endless cups of tea and glasses of water when I have big essays. This keeps me from getting headaches and I don’t have to keep getting up for drinks if I have them there and prepared. I recommend either sorting yourself a pot of tea so you can just pour it at your desk or have a few bottles of water ready so you don’t ruin your work flow.

Comfort

Being comfortable whilst working is really important, but don’t be so comfortable that you end you falling asleep. You have to be able to find the balance where you can sit for hours but won’t become preoccupied with how cosy you are. I recommend sitting at a desk but wearing comfy clothes and maybe a few cushions to pad out the chair if it’s usually uncomfortable. I’d avoid working on your bed as, if you’re anything like me you’ll be far too tempted to sleep!

Peace

Having peace and quiet whilst working is essential for me. The best way to do this is to block out all distractions. Shut your door or ask your flatmates to keep the noise down, politely of course. Or if that isn’t possible – you have to be considerate of the people you live with too – alternatively you can go to the silent area of the library or book a study room which is brilliant for getting your work done!

Until Next time! 🙂

Money Makes the World Go ‘Round: Budgeting for Students

Financial troubles are one of the biggest causes of stress for students and it’s not surprising. Since a lot of students go from living with their parents, not having to pay for much, to fending for themselves and probably having a lot less money than they are used to, they find it a struggle to stick to a budget. I thought I’d share with you a few tips that I’ve found useful in saving and managing money during my time at uni.

Draw up a budget and stick to it

The best way to keep track of how much money you have is to create a budgeting document. This highlights all the ingoing and outgoing money and from that you can work out how much you have spare to spend each week. I find that the most effective way of doing this on a word document but if you’re feeling it you can transfer it to an excel spreadsheet that you can colour code to easily refer back to. I get very excited over spreadsheets…

After you have drawn up a budget the biggest challenge is sticking to it! What I find helps to combat that is to keep track of everything you spend – I do this on the notes app of my phone – and then you won’t have any nasty surprises next time you check your bank balance. It will also prompt you to make smarter choices if you see what you are actually spending all your money on.

Shop smarter

A great way to save money is to try and go for cheaper shops such as Aldi or B&M. Finding cheaper alternatives to things you can afford to scrimp on will save you a lot of money. I tend to do my weekly shop in Aldi for around £15, whereas in first year I was spending nearly £30 a week in Morrisons! It also helps if you plan out your meals for the week and draw up a shopping list from there so you know exactly what you are getting, rather than aimlessly browsing the aisles.

Be harsh

To save money you have to be super harsh with yourself. If money is tight begin to really question whether you need something before spending the money on it – if you get into the habit of assessing the worth of what you buy you will begin to realise what you actually use and what is a waste of money.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you find yourself knee deep in your over-draft don’t just suffer in silence, speak to someone who may help you lift yourself out of it. Asking your friends and family for financial help may seem daunting and I don’t entirely recommend it but of you are in a really sticky situation the best thing to do is tell someone and they may be able to give you the help you need, whether that is a loan or some advice. Never go to loans companies above people you trust, it won’t end well!

A day in the life of a creative writing and English lit student – sort of

Different university courses have different timetables, unlike school the subject you choose can drastically change the amount of contact hours you have. With creative writing and English literature, I tend to have two to three contact hours per module (six modules in total) which is not a lot in comparison to perhaps a nursing student. However, I have a lot of coursework that is required to be completed in my own time. It’s important to know what is expected of you on your chosen course and to make sure you are prepared to put in the necessary hours. To give you a bit of insight I’ve decided to give you a bit of a ‘day in the life’ post to give you an idea of how I spend my time.

Waking up

Like any self-respecting student, I hate leaving the warm cocoon that is my bed, on Mondays and Tuesdays especially (my dreaded 9am days), I have to set a number of alarms to coax myself out. I’m one of those high-maintenance people who need at least two hours to get ready in the morning, half an hour of which is spent waking up. When I do eventually emerge I zoom through breakfast, shower, general hair and facial improvement and leave the house half an hour before my class starts (at least in an ideal world I do).

Classes

After getting to uni – at a leisurely pace, usually accompanied by a podcast or some music – of course I have to go to class. My timetable is as follows:

  • Monday – 9 – 11
  • Tuesday – 9 – 1
  • Wednesday – 11 – 1
  • Thursday – free day (yas!)
  • Friday – 2 – 4

It may seem far less packed in comparison than someone at school or on a course that required more contact time but it’s still hard work! After class I tended to meet up with my friends, have lunch and just generally unwind for a couple of hours in The Hub.

Homework & errands

Once I get home it’s time for me to begin to mark stuff off my to-do list. I tend to spend a few hours every day doing the uni work that needs to be done, but on some days I also do house work or nip out to the shops or do other general adulty things like that.

Extra-curricular and social activities

I always make sure I have time to do something socially stimulating – or else I’d go insane! On a Wednesday night I go to dance classes, I find that’s a great way for me to relax and forget about work for an hour or so. I also enjoy meeting up with friends in town or just dropping by each other’s houses for a cuppa. It’s important to spend some time being social because if you get so absorbed in work that you don’t leave the house you will soon burn out and that’s not good!

Bedtime and chill

The last thing I do in a day is have a bit of chill time before I go to bed. I try to make a habit of winding down with a film or a book or else I tend to struggle getting to sleep.

Until next time! 🙂

Carpe Opportunities

University is not just useful for gaining a degree, it offers you support and opportunities to really make your CV stand out and give you a real edge when you graduate. However, it is up to you to take advantage of these opportunities and go out and find them. This can prove a bit difficult to get your head around, believe me, I’ve only just figured out how to make the most of the support I have at uni! So I thought for this week’s post I’d give you some tips on how to look for and take advantage of the wonderful prospects available to you.

Ask your personal tutor

Although universities have a wealth of opportunities you won’t just be handed them on a plate, you often have to express interest. Ask your personal tutor if they know of any work experience or other opportunities that are available for someone studying your degree or your particular area of interest. Once you express an interest in these activities your tutor will be in more of a position to help you.

Visit the careers centre

One of the best ways to find out about what experience you can gain is by visiting the careers centre. Edge Hill’s careers centre is located in the Student Information Centre (SIC). You can book an appointment with one of the career advisers using the careers centre link on the Edge Hill website. They can talk you through what you can do to gain experience and knowledge in your field. They can also help you optimise your CV and answer any other career-based questions you have.

Create your own opportunities

However, there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own opportunities. Want to be a writer? Start a literary magazine. Want to be an entrepreneur? Design a product to sell. Want to work in theatre? Do what my friends and I did and create your own theatre company. Your tutors are there for advice and support so you speak to them about your ideas and perhaps it’s easier than you think it is to do what you want to do.

Until next time! 🙂

Keep Calm and Carry On

It may only be February but the summer will soon be here and with it will come the stress of exams and deadlines. University and school life can be difficult, you could be under a lot of stress and it may become a bit overwhelming at times. There’s no shame in admitting that you let work get on top of you sometimes, we all have those moments. So here are a few tips of how to keep calm during those stressful work periods and they will hopefully have a positive effect on your mental health and performance level.

Do something you enjoy

You may struggle to relax when you have a lot of stressful things to think about but it is important to take time out of your day to do something you really enjoy and find relaxing.
This can be anything from taking a relaxing bath, reading, watching a film or playing video games. Taking a break from your stressful routine to chill out is incredibly important and will help your mind de-fog and restore your motivation so you get more done.

Meditate

I find that using apps like Headspace can help calm you if you’ve had a particularly stressful day. If you take out 10 minutes of your day to meditate it can help improve your mood and performance whilst also helping you stay a lot calmer. I have used this app quite often to help me take back a bit of control and keep myself nice and relaxed. Whether you use it as a one-off or even make a routine of it meditation will help you concentrate when you aren’t feeling your best.

Candles & Scents

It has been scientifically proven that scents can help to improve your mood, perhaps lighting a candle – or using a scent diffuser as a lot of student accommodation forbids the use of candles – will make you feel a lot calmer and will fill the room with your favourite smells making you feel happier whilst you do your work.

 

Go out

If things are starting to become more and more stressful and you’ve been stuck in a stuff room for hours on end take a break – go for a walk or meet up with some friends for an hour or two just to clear your head and then you will be much better. I find this a really effective strategy as when I return I have a renewed motivation and feel ready to tackle the workload.

Until next time! 🙂

Where can I find students in Ormskirk?

University students aren’t difficult to find, they’ll most likely congregate on campus, around the library or the SU bar. But, believe it or not, students do actually leave campus and can be found in various places around Ormskirk, so whip our your pokedex because we’re going to have a game of ‘Edge Hill go’ (yes, I know it’s not got much of a ring to it).

Aldi

It seems weirdly mundane but you can find a ridiculous amount of students in Aldi. It’s affordable selection of groceries means that students can spend less money on food and more on the things that really ma- actually no most of us spend our money on food! But nonetheless, if you want to catch a glimpse of the lesser spotted student, Aldi is a good place to start!

‘Spoons

Wherever you go, pretty much every student town has a Wetherspoons. So what’s so special about it? It’s cheap, friendly and they do the best cocktail pitchers! The Ormskirk branch of ‘spoons can be found at Wheatsheaf Walk (Turn right at the clock and you’re on your way). Also, in keeping with the legendary ‘Ormskirk gingerbread’ when you ascend the stairs you’ll notice an army of gingerbread men on the wall! It’s a great place to go for pre-drinks or for a quick, cheap lunch – Curry Club Thursdays are always the best. Not many people know why ‘Spoons has become such a popular place for students but I can guarantee you’ll go there at least once (fair do’s to you if you can avoid it for three years).

The Loft

As one of Ormskirk’s main nightclubs The Loft attracts a large number of students on a nightly basis. It is the newest club in Ormskirk, taking over the former building that housed Alpine. It hosts a number of events and themed nights that are posted in advance on their Facebook page. The Loft is especially popular during Edge Hill’s weekly social, every Wednesday Ormskirk is taken over by students in fancy dress, it’s hilarious to see all the different societies dressed up in their chosen ‘theme.’ The Loft is also a great and cheaper alternative to a night out in Liverpool, no need to pay extortionate amounts for taxis and you have a selection of different places to pre-drink – ‘Spoons (obviously), Junk, Styles etc – So it’s perfect for when you’re low on cash but need a good night out.

Cobble

An example of how photogenic the food is.

This is by far my favourite place in Ormskirk, my friends and I have become quite the regulars over the last few years. Cobble is a charming little café that specialises in smoothies, milkshakes, coffee and the most aesthetically pleasing food you can imagine (follow them on Instagram if you don’t believe me – @cobblecoffee). Located on Church Street, this adorable café was originally a cobbler’s – hence the name – and is now run by the grandson of the couple who owned the cobbler’s. Cobble is often very busy and is a popular meeting place for students, they even now have a ‘late night Thursday’ menu including ‘twisted smoothies’ which of course attracts even more students.

 

I hope this post gave you an idea of the kind of places that are available to and popular with students in the Ormskirk area. Until next time! 🙂

So You Want to be a Combined Honours Student?

Being a combined or joint honours student has a lot of advantages that may benefit you over being a single honours student. As a Creative writing and English literature student I have had a lot of experience in both subjects and that has really helped me so far in my degree. Having the option of a joint honours can be incredibly beneficial if you enjoy more than one subject or aren’t quite sure exactly what you want to specialise in. In this post I will explain a little bit about my experience as a joint student and bust a few of the myths you may have come across when researching courses.

Advantages

In my experience I have found that there are a lot of advantages to being a joint/combined honours student, such as;

  • You get to learn skills in two different subjects that often complement each other.
  • You will be able to bring new and different ideas to both subjects.
  • It’s a good way to develop your adjustment skills and work to being more flexible. with your work, as you will complete assignments for both subjects that have different requirements.

Myth Busting

Now, you may hear a lot about studying a joint/combined honours degree that may not necessarily be true;

  • It’s more work than a single honours degree – Actually, in my experience, the work load is very similar, if not the same as those of my friends who are just studying single creative writing or literature. The only difference is that you may have a few deadlines at same time and thus have an influx of different assignments, but if you handle your workload it will be no harder.
  • It’s less of a qualification – Nope. It is just as valid as a single honours.
  • You do more modules than a single honours student – At least In my degree I study three modules in creative writing and three in English literature, as opposed to all six in one subject. If you were studying major/minor you would have more modules in your major subject but they would always add up to the same amount of modules as a single student in your field.

Final Advice

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to research thoroughly into what you want to study and get as much information as possible before applying. A joint honours degree may not be for everyone, as a single honours degree may not be, it’s up to you to figure out which you’d enjoy most and which would benefit you most. For more information on different courses you can visit the UCAS website, the subject page of the Edge Hill website and The Complete University Guide’s page on choosing your course.

Good luck to all those who have applied and to those beginning to look for a university course 🙂