Finding your feet

Most people are back to university and settling back in but this may not be true of everyone. Not everyone will find their feet as soon as they move to university; whether that’s settling in to first year or adjusting to the new year. Just remember these things take time and you don’t need to worry about accomplishing everything in your first day.

It can be important to just take your time to get used to the new surrounding especially as you would have most likely been stuck in one place for six months due to lockdown. Even if you are moving back to the same university you may be living somewhere else or you may be used to living at home making it just a little harder to get settled. My best advice would be to have things with you at university that make it feel more homely or remind you of home. Whether this is pictures, blankets or fairy lights it’s nice to surround yourself with cosy things.

Another issue you might have moving to university is making friends. Especially with the pandemic and limits on socialising it can be difficult to find new people. Even with this you can get to know the people in your flat or join a society to meet people. I know my university is not doing a fresher’s fair this year but all the information on joining societies should be online and easy to find. Not only will this allow you to meet new people but it can teach you a new skill or allow you to continue with something you love.

Just remember you have time to do things. You don’t need to do everything at once at university, just take you time and things will fall into place. Sometimes you just have to be a bit proactive to get what you want and university is the perfect place to get involved or discover something new.

Socialising in a pandemic

Social distancing and 10 pm curfews are becoming a big part of our lives. While it’s important to adhere to the government guidelines it can feel like they are getting in the way of you having fun at university. I’m here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be the case, there are so many things you can still do to enjoy your time at university and spend time with friends.

Go out for food – whether this is breakfast, lunch, dinner or even brunch there are so many places you can try. Me and my housemates have decided to go for dinner once a month. It gives you a great opportunity to sit down, catch up and have some great food. Maybe there’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to go or a cuisine you’ve always wanted to taste. Try it out, the best part is you don’t have to wash up afterwards.

Have a movie night – rather than going out why not have a cosy night in. Especially as it’s getting colder and the days shorter it can be so much nicer not to leave the house in the evening. Snuggle up with a hot drink and a movie. Maybe even bake some snacks to enjoy as a daytime activity.

Go for a drink or have some drinks at home – yes, if you go out for a drink your night will be cut short but you can still enjoy it. If you don’t fancy that you could just host drinks at home, sticking to the government guidelines of course. It’s a great way to make a night in just a bit more exciting.

Have a games night – get your housemates together for some fun. Whether you play board games or go for a drinking game, it’s a great way to spend an evening.

Bake or cook – make yourself a tasty treat or get your housemates together to make a house dinner. These are such fun activities and then at the end you get to eat what you have created which makes it even better. You could even learn to cook something new or try a friend’s favourite dish just to mix things up a bit.

Take a day trip – within reason of course but there are some great places you can still visit. I recently went to the Victoria and Albert museum and it was a great day out. You did have to book a time slot but it was still free, just means people could adhere to social distancing.

There are so many things that you can do to enjoy your university experience. Most of these things you can do in your own home with the people you live with which is a good option at times like this. Remember to stick to the restrictions put in place by the government but still try and make the most of your university experience.

My goals for third year

Today is my first day back to university, even if it is an online seminar. Luckily I do have half my seminars in person so I look forward to those as I feel they will really get me into the mood to start this year. As I look ahead I’ve decided to set myself a few goals to give me a sense of direction and if I feel lost I can look back at these.

Attend all my seminars: This is such an important thing, even just missing one you could miss something really important. Especially with lectures being online it is so much easier to attend the lectures. Now this does not mean turn the lecture on while you go on your phone, take notes and engage with the seminars.

Work in a work space: I often get tempted to get into bed to do some work but this really is a habit I need to break. I work so much more focused when I work at my desk and that is something I need to focus on. Even though its only the first day back I have made sure to do all my work at my desk today so hopefully this is something I can keep up with for the rest of the year.

Work hard and produce work I’m proud of: I want to come out of university with a good degree that I feel I have really worked for. I also don’t want to see my results and feel I could have done better because of this I hope to work to the best of my ability. Though of course a balance is important which brings me to my next goal.

Avoid burnout: Make sure I get the work life balance right. I feel if I work myself to death, in the long run it will have a negative effect on not only my mental and physical health but the quality of my work too. My goal is to get the balance as good as I can, I know its extremely difficult to find a perfect balance but I hope I can plan things so that it works well for me.

Enjoy the social side: With the freedom of university comes a great social life, which I want to take advantage of. It will most likely be a lot more difficult to arrange time to see friends once university is over so I want to make the most of the time I have. It may be a bit more difficult with the whole coronavirus going on but I hope I will still have a lot of fun and make some amazing memories.

Feel as sense of fulfilment at the end: The most important thing to me is really just to feel that sense of ‘I had an amazing university experience’ when I finish. That’s the big goal really to feel I made the most of it both academically and socially and not feel regrets that I didn’t try something I wanted to do.

Thinking about graduating

Now that its officially Autumn, it gives me a real sense that the new academic year is beginning and summer is over. Because of this, I’m starting to get into the mind set of third year and thinking about where I want to be this time next year.

If I’m being honest, I’m not 100% sure what I want to do. I have many ideas floating round in my head but it can be difficult to know how to navigate all this. I felt by writing this, I would give others in the same situation the feeling that they are not alone. There are many resources you can access online which can help you find the graduate jobs or schemes that would suit you best. I am by no means an expert, in fact I’m almost the opposite of that.

I am beginning to realise how important it is to think about these things early which why I’ve decided to start looking now. It’s best to look into and get ideas about this before you get fully into the third year of university as that will become such a big focus. It’s very exciting to think about the future and to see where life takes me but at the moment I don’t yet know where that will be. Yes, there is the fear of no longer being in education but it’s a new chapter of life to look forward to and something new to navigate. But first before I graduate I have to get through my final year which I’m very much looking forward to, even though I know it will be difficult.

Getting ready for the start of term

I have just over a week before I start back at university so it’s time to do some last minute prep. The more you do before, the less you have to worry about once term begins.

Moving into accommodation and settling in: This is an important one, once you are used to where you live hopefully you’ll be more comfortable. Setting up a good space where you plan to work is essential especially as it may be harder to find a space in the library with social distancing. Making sure to separate where you work from where you sleep is vital so that you can have separate mind frames for these spaces. Even if it’s all the same room have specific areas for different things.

Ensure you have the stationary you need: You’ll want to be organised from when you start your course. Make sure you have everything you need to organise your work and write your notes when you begin. The more you organise as you go along the less of a task you will have when it comes to sorting your notes out for revision.

Get to know your way to uni: Even if you are a returning student, if you are living in a new area its a good idea to work out your route to university before your first lecture. You don’t want to be late to lectures because you don’t really know where you are going.

Familiarise yourself with your timetable: It’s important to know where you need to be and when so that you can organise your life around it. Having a sense of routine before you get back to uni can be very beneficial.

Do what you can to get ahead: The more do before uni starts the less you’ll have to worry about at a later date. If there’s nothing you can do at the moment don’t worry about it, enjoy the freedom while you can!

Getting involved and making the most of your studies

You’ve probably heard it many time that you should really try to get involved when you go to university. This is especially aimed at the social aspects but its also so important to get involved in your lectures, seminars and tutorials. This will help you so much more when it comes to exams and assignments as you’ll be confident in the material and comfortable asking lecturers and seminar tutors for help.

I’ll admit in my first year I was fairly quiet in class. It was daunting being at university with this new style of learning and surrounded by people I didn’t know. I just needed to get used to this and did slowly become more talkative.

By second year, I had decided the best way to make the most of university was just to contribute as much as I could. I did the reading, asked questions, contributed to class discussions and gave forward my ideas. I definitely did this more in the second term and I really saw the difference, I understood the material more and felt I could get in touch with the tutors on sections I was struggling with or for essay advice.

So my biggest piece of advice would be to just get involved as much as you can. It can make the work so much more enjoyable when you’re properly engaged. By asking questions you are able to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. It can be scary to put forward suggestions in a room full of silent students where no one wants to speak but once you do it, you’ll have that sense of achievement. The best thing is to not worry about judgement, if no one else is contributing, you saying something that’s not correct allows for you to learn from this mistake and at least you put yourself out there. Also the more you engage the better relationship you will build with your tutors which is useful for when you need help or are looking for advice. So give it a go, put yourself out there and get out of your degree what you are paying for.

Remember as much as you are going to uni to have fun, you’re going to get a degree so make the most of it and enjoy your successes.

Book review: Daisy Jones and the Six

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What is it about? Written as an oral history it tells the story of the fictional story of Daisy Jones and the Six. It follows the band from how they formed to their reasons for splitting. It incorporates all the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of the 70s music industry.

What did I think? At first I was sceptical of the writing style of this book as it is written in a script like fashion. As I kept reading however, I loved the interview style it meant all the characters perspectives were heard and you could see how they recounted the same events differently. I also felt it made it seem so much more real. The characters were crafted beautifully and even though they all had their issues and annoying moments, I wanted them to have a happy ending. The ending in my eyes was perfect, yes it was bitter sweet but it just worked so well. It dealt well with the issues the characters faced and really pained a picture of the 1970s rock n’ roll scene.

Would I recommend? Definitely, it was a lovely story and it left me with a good sense of fulfilment.

5 things I wish I knew before going to uni

As I am going into my third year of university, I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on what I wish I’d known before I headed off. I hope it can help you prepare to go to university and just give you a sense of knowing what you’re getting into.

You’ll meet a lot of people, don’t feel pressure to attach yourself to the first people you meet – There is so much going on in freshers that you can get caught up in meeting so many different people. Remember the first person you meet may not be the person you will form a friendship with and live with in second year. That’s not to say you won’t ever speak to them again but just see what happens. Find those people that things just click into place with and you can see yourselves being friends with for the rest of your life.

Uni culture is very much tailored to those who drink but you can definitely have fun if you don’t– I’m sure you’ve heard by now that university culture is very much centred around alcohol and clubbing (It will be interesting to see what happens with this now that clubs cannot open). This is great for people who love a night out but for those who don’t there is hope. I never really thought about it as I am someone who does drink and go on these nights out but you will definitely still find people if you don’t. I know people who would just stay home when their friends went out or would go out sober but there were also those who surrounded themselves with people who didn’t drink like them. If this is something you are a bit worried about, don’t, there are so many ways to find people without drinking.

You get out what you put in – I’ll admit in first year I never really liked to contribute to lectures and seminars in first year. It seemed daunting and I wasn’t confident enough so I’d only very occasionally put my hand up. However, in second year I really got into discussions and I’m so glad I did, I really do believe the more you put into these sessions the more you will get out of them. Get in touch with lecturers if you have issues and questions, that’s what they are there for. Remember at the end of the day you want to do well in your degree, you might as well get the most out of the resources you have.

Be sure you want to live with the people you sign for a house with in second year– Now I was very happy with the people I moved into my house with in second year but it is a big step. You go from seeing these people around to being constantly on top of each other. It can be such an exciting idea to get a massive house with all your friends but just remember you have to live with these people for the next year. Be careful, you don’t want things to become awkward or like you don’t belong in your won home. Also be wary about where you live, we had such a nice house but it was so far away from the university, this year we’ve moved to somewhere a lot closer. Just think what you want from a house and be sure to ask questions when you go for viewings.

It may not be the perfect place you expect it to be, you’ll have ups and downs – I love university but going into it there are many unrealistic expectations. Teen movies tend to glamourise university/college to the extreme and it’s not necessarily always this amazing place. Things will take time, you probably won’t meet the love of your life as soon as you walk through the door, you most likely won’t get full marks on your first assignment, the first thing you try might not be your focus for the rest of the year. Don’t feel like you’ve failed the university experience because things don’t all fall into place in your first week. You have at least three years of uni and the rest of your life ahead of you.

How I use a planner

Using a planner can be so beneficial when you are trying to organise your life. Especially as a university student, it can be useful to make sure you meet all your deadlines and are able to keep to your commitments. I’m going to talk through how I use mine but just remember this may not work for you. Just experiment with it all until you find what works for you.

The first thing you need to do is purchase a planner. I got a Papier planner from my parent for Christmas so that is the one I use. It is on the pricey side, though I do see it as an investment as I use mine everyday. You can however get them a lot cheaper so look out for one at you local stationary store or super market.

Once I have my planner I go through and insert any solid plans or deadlines I have. These are things that can’t be changed and so I need to plan around those things. This could be lectures, assignment deadlines or meeting friends.

It is a good idea to put in reminders for upcoming deadlines a week or two in advance so if you haven’t looked ahead it doesn’t jump up on you if you’ve forgotten.

If I want to add anything to my to-do list at this point then I do. This would be things like a few days before a deadline I’ll add check it over and submit it to my list.

Otherwise, I plan each of my weeks on the Sunday before. I go through and write a to-do list for each day. For Sundays it’s always the same, I plan for the next week and do any tasks not done earlier in the week, this means if I need a rest day I can catch up on Sunday and if not I have Sunday off. Do be aware when making to-do lists not to over exert yourself, I’d rather add things later in the week than have incomplete tasks as this makes me feel unmotivated that I was unable to complete them.

I also put in my exercise days so I know when to have rest days and I can work this around my other commitments. At present I don’t plan my meals but this is something I might try when I’m back at uni.

Book Review: Women don’t owe you pretty by Florence Given

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What is it about? This is my first non-fiction book review. This is a book that focuses on feminism and gender studies. It educates the reader on the patriarchy, pretty privilege, knowing your worth and taking accountability among many other topics.

What did I think of the book? I was originally bought this book as a birthday present and was very excited to read it as I had seen it all over instagram. The pretty colours and illustrations really drew me in. I loved the book and all the contents. It taught me so much, made me question my own attitudes and actions and in some aspects solidified my beliefs in things. I ended up buying this book for a friend’s birthday who ended up reading it in a day and admitted she loved it as much as me. Given uses her own experiences to make the book more relatable but also to show how she has made mistakes in the past but she has learnt from them and grown so the reader can do the same. I liked this because there wasn’t that sense that she felt superior, it’s as though she has learnt these things and changed her ideas and you can too. Not only did it teach me things about myself it gave me a better insight into other groups. It educates the reader on different types of privilege like race and culture, cisgender, straight and non-disabled. It is an easy read with the chapters being split into topics so that you can easily dip in and out of the book though I would recommend reading the whole thing even if you feel you’re already educated on particular topics or that they don’t apply to you. You will most likely learn something. This book has definitely made me want to read more non-fiction so look out for some more reviews on that soon.

Would I recommend this? I think everyone should give this a book a read and I have already recommended it to people I know. It gives you an insight into the lives of other people but also makes you realise your own worth.

What will I be reviewing next? Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.