Top tips for new students

Welcome to the Department of History at Essex! We hope you enjoy welcome week, and that you’re excited about joining the vibrant community here. We know from personal experience that it can be daunting embarking on a new stage in life, so here are our top tips for new undergraduates to help you settle in and make the most of your time here right from the start.

  1. Don’t worry if everything seems confusing at first

It’s widely acknowledged that moving is one of the most stressful events in life. Even if you haven’t moved house, you’re still moving from one way of life to another – from college, school, or a previous career to university. There’s a lot of practical things to do, from getting a library card to finding your way to lecture theatres, and it’s not surprising if you feel overwhelmed at first. You will survive! In only a few weeks’ time, the building blocks of your new life will be in place. There will be new challenges in the years ahead – after all, that is the point of university – but the bewilderment of your first few days will soon be gone.

  1. Get organised straight away

Even if you have never owned one before, buy an academic diary. Write in the times, topics and locations of your lectures and seminars, as well as any welcome events, and when you receive your essay deadlines, put those in too. It’s much better to do this in a physical diary than on a calendar on your phone. As the semester goes on, you will quickly realise that it really helps when you can see at a glance what’s happening over the week ahead. Writing in this information also has a great psychological benefit in making you feel organised – which is half of the battle.

  1. Be prepared for new learning experiences

Most academic modules are taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. Different tutors approach lectures and seminars differently, but most often lectures provide a broad overview of a topic, while seminars provide an opportunity to discuss a particular topic in more depth. Both formats are typically more open-ended than the kind of teaching you were accustomed to at college or school. It might take some time to get used to this style of teaching, and to ensure that you are preparing and taking notes in the most effective way. There are lots of study guides that can help, and it is definitely worth reading at least one.

  1. Be open-minded

By the time most students arrive at university, they have usually spent at least seven years formally studying History. Although this is a long time, History is an enormous topic – it covers the entire human past, from the dawn of time to the present, in every region of the globe. No matter how much you learn, you will never get to grips with all of it – but what a great challenge it is to try! When selecting modules, it can be tempting to fall back on the topics that you have studied before and that you know will interest you. There is a place in any History degree for deepening your knowledge, but you should also try to extend it – take a risk on topics and modules that you have not encountered before, and that you might not have another chance to study.

  1. Ask questions, lots and often

Historians, whether undergraduates or professors, need to ask questions all the time – who, what, when, where, and, perhaps most importantly, why? Of course, part of what we do as historians is try to find answers to those questions – but most often, those attempts at answers just generate more questions. Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions, and don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t have all the answers. The really good historical work, whether that’s a 2,000 word essay or a 600-page scholarly monograph, won’t have all the answers, but it will ask the right questions. If your History degree at Essex teaches you anything, it should be that curiosity is one of the best attributes you can take through life, because it will always reward you – often in quite unexpected ways.

 

Dr Tracey Loughran is a historian of twentieth-century Britain. She is the editor of A Practical Guide to Studying History: Skills and Approaches (Bloomsbury, 2017), a book aimed at helping students make the transition to degree-level study. You can read an extract from it here.

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You asked, we answered

If you didn’t manage to make it to our Open Day on Saturday, never fear! Our academics have put together a list of some of the most frequently asked questions by students, along with the answers.

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How do joint programmes work in practice?

Our joint programmes are very popular because they offer students a chance to study two different subjects in-depth. Two Departments coordinate with each other to put together a programme tailored for students with particular interests in their areas of study. In practice, this means that students spend about half their time in one department and half in another.

How does Study Abroad work in practice? (How do you choose the institution, do the marks count toward degree, fees, etc).

All our undergraduate students have a fantastic opportunity to study abroad, for either a term or a year. We have exchanges with about 150 institutions all over the world from Canada and the United States to East Asia, Europe to Australia and New Zealand. For students beginning their studies in 2018/19, fees for the year abroad are 15 % of the standard tuition fees. These students take a four-year degree with their third year spent at a university in another country. They go through an application process in their second year with help from the Study Abroad Office.

How many contact hours will I get with lecturers?

Most of our students spend about 8-10 hours a week in the classroom, but they also spend much of their week reading and preparing for classes. This can be on their own or in groups – perhaps in one of the many informal learning spaces we have at the University or off campus. Students are also encouraged to see their tutors on a regular basis in their Academic Support Hours, two hour-long slots are held every week when students can seek guidance and feedback on work and any other matters they want to discuss.

How much teaching is by GTAs?

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) teach some seminars, mainly at First Year level. The vast majority of our teaching, however, is done by full-time academic staff. All of our staff – from lecturers to professors – are engaged in lecture and seminar teaching at all levels, from first to final year.

What are the most common graduate job destinations?

Essex History graduates go into a wide variety of different careers in the public and private sectors. These include careers in the Civil Service, in museums and archives, in journalism and human resources management. Of course, some of graduates also go into teaching and some continue with their studies, going on to do graduate work in a variety of fields. Further information about what some of our graduates have gone on to do can be found here.

If there’s another question not listed which you’d like answering, feel free to email us at history@essex.ac.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

You can also check when our next Open Day is on our website.

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Reflections on the Centenary: Professor Lucy Noakes on the inaugural ‘Reflections on the Centenary’ workshop

As we move towards the final year of the Centenary, we are beginning to look back on not only the First World War, but the ways in which the centenary of this global conflict has been marked, both in Britain and across the world.

On the 13 September 2017 Gateways to the First World War hosted the ‘Reflections on the Centenary Workshop’ at the University of Kent. The workshop was led by Dr Emma Hanna (University of Kent), Professor Lucy Noakes (University of Essex), Dr Catriona Pennell (University of Exeter) and Dr James Wallis (University of Essex). Together with Professor Lorna Hughes (University of Glasgow), they have been awarded three years of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to explore the multiple experiences, projects and legacies of the First World War Centenary.

The workshop was attended by a range of centenary project participants, together with students and historians of the First World War. In the morning we heard fascinating presentations from two projects that have received funding from the Heritage and Lottery Fund:

100 Miles for 100 Years: Kent in World War One and

Theatre of War, the King’s Theatre Heritage Project, Portsmouth.

Both projects have been supported by Gateways, and the presentations illustrated just two of the range of imaginative and informative ways in which community led projects are contributing to and shaping our knowledge of the war in Britain. Local histories, such as these, provide us with a means of linking the often individual and local experiences of the conflict with the war on a global scale. For example, the 100 Miles for 100 Years walking tour of Southborough and High Brooms highlights the tragedy that was the sinking of HMS Hythe off the coast of Gallipoli in 1915. On board were many of the men of the Third Kent Fortress Royal Engineers, formed of volunteers from the area. Of the 154 who died, 129 were from these small communities, devastated by losses on the border between Europe and Asia. The Kings Theatre meanwhile gained funding from the Arts Council to stage some of the ‘lost plays of World War One’, rediscovered by volunteers working with Gateways historian Dr Helen Brooks in the archives of the British Library, and with the support of Gateways Co-Investigator Professor Brad Beaven, and Gateways Network member Dr Melanie Bassett, both of the University of Portsmouth.

Professor Sarah Lloyd, the Principal Investigator of the Everyday Lives in War AHRC First World War Engagement Centre at the University of Hertfordshire gave the workshop’s keynote lecture, in which she discussed the relationship between the changes of the war, so often seen as a ‘watershed’ or seminal break with the past when examined on a global scale, with the continuities of daily life for many of those who lived through it. These intimate, local histories – the ‘voices less heard’ – provide both a means of complicating our understandings of the war, and act as a way for us to engage more fully with the people of the war years. Stories, she argued, help us to understand the complexities of the past.

This point certainly proved true in the reflective workshops with which we ended the day. Members of community groups came together with historians and students to discuss and reflect upon our experiences of the centenary. Amid discussion of a wide ranging and impressive series of centenary projects, two features really stood out: the empathetic connection that many felt with those who lived through the war, and the multiple meanings of the war in the early 21st century. One participant reflected on her pride at seeing the Belgian national flag fly over her local town hall to mark the refugees from that country that the town had hosted during the war, an important reminder of our shared past in the age of Brexit and anti-refugee sentiment in much of the popular press. Others discussed the ways that researching local history had helped them to more fully understand their contemporary community, and being deeply moved when they met descendants of those who had previously been a name, or a photo, in an archive.

As the day drew to a close it was clear that the experience and legacies of the centenary are numerous; shaped as much by the experience of living in the early 21st century as they are by the histories of the First World War being explored and shared. It is these experiences, and their legacies, that that Reflections on the Centenary team are keen to explore between 2017 and 2020. On November 11, 2017 we will launch an online survey asking participants to consider their both their experiences of the centenary, and their understandings of the First World War, and are also keen to interview centenary project participants alongside heritage professionals, students and educators. If you would like to know more about our project and to get involved by recording your centenary reflections, please email Lucy Noakes at l.noakes@essex.ac.uk.

Of dirty books and bread: a guest post from The Recipes Project

Dr Lisa Smith is a founding co-editor of The Recipes Project, a blog on the history of recipes in science, medicine, art, magic and cooking. She brought this archive post to the attention of History at Essex, which reveals a most unusual use for bread.

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There are certain things that even the most innocent manuscript scholar cannot avoid, among them dirty books. This post will discuss the traces that careless readers have left on manuscript pages since they were first filled with writing: smudges and splodges created through physical contact between books and readers. Blemishes and damaged manuscripts have occurred to me recently in different guises as I was tracing alchemy across Cambridge manuscript collections. The following three observations may amuse and inspire the current audience – not least because they connect codices with bread, cheese and other foodstuffs.

Bad And Good Dirt

Failed attempt at book conservation in the 19th century: the opposite of cleaning (Wikimedia Commons) Failed attempt at book conservation in the 19th century: the opposite of cleaning (Wikimedia Commons)

Richard de Bury, cleric, bibliophile of the early fourteenth century and author of a book-lover’s guide to books, wrote passionately about the correct handling of codices. Books were meant to be seen but not touched. In the appropriately entitled Philobiblon, de Bury exemplifies readers’ common if damaging behaviour in the figure of ‘some headstrong youth’:

He does not fear to eat fruit or cheese over an open book, or carelessly to carry a cup to and from his mouth; and because he has no wallet at hand he drops into books the fragments that are left.

Many modern users of libraries observing fellow-readers will find this scenario familiar.

But in recent years scholarship has made visible previously hidden signs of historical book usage. An excellent article of 2010 demonstrates the use of a densitometer, ‘a machine that measures the darkness of a reflecting surface’, e.g. for revealing traces of medieval readers’ kisses of saints’ images.[1] One can only imagine, and deduce from obvious stains, what a similar analysis of recipe books would uncover.

Medieval Bread and Books

Image of a man feeding a dog with bread (according to the library catalogue), with unidentified stains. French manuscript of Christmas carols, early sixteenth century. Free Library of Philadelphia, MS Lewis E 211, f. 8r. Image of a man feeding a dog with bread (according to the library catalogue), with unidentified stains. French manuscript of Christmas carols, early sixteenth century. Free Library of Philadelphia, MS Lewis E 211, f. 8r.

Dirt on book pages did not need to wait for modern technology to be noted. Late medieval book owners remarked upon and tried to find solutions for the appearance of unwanted substances on their manuscript pages. Recently discovered examples include paw prints and bodily fluids left by cats in manuscripts, but after the fact, at a stage when these manuscripts were beyond hope of cleaning.[2]

I was, therefore, delighted to find the following instruction for cleaning books in a manuscript at Cambridge University Library (CUL MS Ee.1.13, f. 141r).

ffor to make clene thy boke yf yt be defouled or squaged[3]

Take a schevyr of old broun bred of þe crummys and rub thy boke þerwith sore vp and downe and yt shal clense yt

Formally a recipe text, this advice relies on just a single ‘ingredient’: bread. And while bread features widely in culinary and religious texts, in the proverbial diet of prisons (bread and water) and the pairing of ‘bread and salt’, this early mention of bread in cleaning instructions deserves more consideration. It bridges the recipe genre, bread as a culinary product of the kitchens and its alienated, secondary use that relies on its texture and other material qualities. Moreover, this text draws silent parallels with contemporary instructions for the cleaning of pots and pans, tools and instruments. I wonder whether the abovementioned technology might discover trails of bread across manuscript pages?

Modern Books and Wonder Bread

An early advertisement for Wonder Bread. Found on the Blog of the Tenement MuseumAn early advertisement for Wonder Bread. Found on the Blog of the Tenement Museum

Bread as a cleaning device for books continues until today, and may be familiar to some readers of this blog, especially those dealing with books or paintings in a professional or otherwise intense capacity. The American loaf known by the modest name of Wonder Bread is said to have particularly good cleansing power. Pertinently, the V&A, however, includes this practice in its category ‘What not to do…’:

Don’t use old fashioned cleaning remedies

Bread is a traditional dry cleaning material used to remove dirt from paper. If you rub a piece of fresh white bread between your fingers, you will see that it is quite effective in picking up dirt. The slight stickiness of bread is the reason why it works and also why it can be a problem. It can leave a sticky residue behind that will attract more dirt. Oily residues or small crumbs trapped in the paper fibres will support mould growth and encourage pest attack.[4]

This piece of advice forms the antidote to the abovementioned instruction for cleaning books: conflicting advice across the centuries.

Undecided on the issue I will, however, continue to make sure my hands are clean as I continue through manuscripts with recipes, especially the alchemical ones. You never know what may have left that stain in the margin.

By Anke Timmermann

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I would like to extend my thanks to the Free Library of Philadelphia for the kind permission to use an image from their collections in this blog post.

The Tenement Museum’s blog post on the history of bread (whence the second image above originates) is not directly connected to this particular post’s themes but an interesting read for different reasons: Judy Levin, ‘From the Staff of Life to the Fluffy White Wonder: A Short History of Bread’ (19 Jan 2012).

 


[1] Kathryn M. Rudy, ‘Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer’, Journal of Historians of Netherlendish Art 2:1-2 (2010).

[2] See this guest post by Thijs Porck at medievalfragments: ‘Paws, Pee and Mice: Cats among Medieval Manuscripts’.

[3] ‘squagen (v.) [Origin unknown; ?= squachen v.] To make a stain, smudge; also, dirty (sth.), smudge, stain.’ MED.

[4] V&A, ‘Caring for Your Books & Papers’ (accessed 25/11/2013).

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Anke Timmermann is a former academic, is an antiquarian book specialist and historian of science, with a scholarly focus on the history of alchemy and medicine. She recently set up as an independent bookseller as A T Scriptorium in London, and is an Associate Member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association as well as a Fellow of the Linnaean Society.

 

Tackling Gender Inequality in the History Department

Before Christmas, the History Department here at the University of Essex submitted an application for a Bronze Award from the Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena SWAN programme. We’ll find out at the end of April if we are successful, but I thought I’d provide some thoughts as to why we applied and give some background to the award we are applying for.

Athena SWAN began a programme to increase women’s participation in the STEMM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine. These subjects were traditionally male dominated at every level, but research showed that women were less likely than men to reach to the level of academic members of staff and even less likely to get to the top of their profession and become a Professor. The Athena SWAN programme was designed to help those subjects overcome such gender inequality. Since its launch in 2005, academic Departments in STEMM subjects have been able to apply for an award that proves their commitment to ensuring women have an equal chance of succeeding as men. Athena SWAN is not concerned with favouring women over men, but rather understanding the cultural and workplace factors that have traditionally benefited men and discriminated against women. You can read more about the principles behind Athena Swan here. Since 2013, Athena SWAN has been expanded to cover the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Law (AHSSBL) disciplines, and in 2014 the University of Essex was one of only five Universities to receive an award for work expanding the aims of Athena SWAN into all subject areas. Two staff members from the History Department were involved in the Self-Assessment Process.

At first glance, the History Department might not seem to have the same issues as STEMM areas. After all, there are many more women working in history than in the sciences. In fact, History here at Essex has had three female Heads of Department since 1993 – very few Departments across the country could equal that figure. There are also a lot more female history students than in many of the STEMM subjects. Yet many workplace cultures have the same problems: structures that seem to benefit those with characteristics usually associated with men (such as ‘self-assertiveness’ and ‘confidence’).

So for gender equality to come in the workplace we need a system which encourages and rewards all the activities of all staff and which seeks to both eliminate the barriers to women’s careers and provides a supportive atmosphere that allows people to flourish. This is where Athena SWAN comes in. Since 2014, the University of Essex has worked hard as part of its Institutional Bronze Award to change the structures and practices that entrench gender bias. For example, an analysis of the pay of Professorial staff led the University to announce in 2015-16 that it would remove the gender pay gap at Professorial level by raising female professors’ pay rise – the first University to do this.  These actions can be attributed directly to the University’s desire to tackle inequality on campus and outside it: and it is these values that underpin the University’s support for Departments applying for Athena SWAN recognition.

So when the History Department thought about Athena SWAN we were aware that traditional working cultures have been inherently discriminatory against women. We also knew that of the senior Professors in the Department, nearly all of them are men. But we wanted to find out if there any barriers to women succeeding in our Department, and to tear them down if there were. Quite simply, we must be able to honestly state that men and women have genuinely equal chances of promotion, and that the excellent staff in the Department are properly rewarded for the work they did.

We also wanted to be absolutely confident that we were providing our students with a learning environment that was supportive of everyone. So the process of applying for our award involved us investigating if there were any barriers to the success of our students. This started with the realisation that of the students studying History at Essex, rather fewer of them were women than might be expected by looking at both the subject nationally and at other Departments in the University. Across the country, around 55% of History students are women. At Essex, that figure is around 45%. Not a vast difference perhaps, but one that made us think: was there more we could do to ensure women wanted to apply to study here?

So, we seemed to be confronted by some key facts, or rather one basic fact – we didn’t have as many women as men either teaching modules or taking them. So we thought we should try to understand why this was the case and to think about ways of dealing with it. For the historians here at Essex, it was an affront to our core values that inequality might exist in a Department that prides itself in researching the history of ‘ordinary’ people and their struggles in the world. In a future post, I’ll describe how we did this, but I’ll finish here at the point when we had taken the first and most important step: understanding that there was a problem and taking the responsibility both for the fact that the problem existed and for dealing with it – because nothing changes unless people are prepared to work together in order to bring that change about. As of March 2017, no History Department in England holds an Athena SWAN award. We hope that changes very soon.

Matthew Grant, convener of the History Department Athena SWAN self-assessment team.

Is University for Me?

Growin Up. A very lovely song by Bruce Springsteen, but also the thought we all have as first years once we arrive at University and realize that maybe this part of life may not be for us. It’s scary, isn’t it? Regretting your choice of course or picking that one optional with statistics thinking you can figure out what that’s all about.
How did we get here anyway? Oh. Yeah. We wanted to be here. Remember that on-going conversation with your parents and your teachers in your last year of high school.

  • What do you want to study at university?
  • History, I think. But I’m also torn between Modern History or just the usual degree. Or maybe adding Politics or International Relations in the mix and doing a joint degree? I just don’t know yet which of these, if any, are worth over 9,000 pounds a year.
  • And which universities have you looked at so far?
  • A lot really. But Essex is my top choice. It just has everything I need as far as I can tell. Once I will go to an Open Day I will be able to make a final decision. Although it’s got my full attention so far, you never know what else I can find out then.

A conversation all of us have at some point right? But how do we make sure it will lead us where we want to be at the end of 3 or 4 years of higher education?

  • Be at least 90% sure that university is for you!

If you start the application process, there is no going back really. But be certain when you start applying that university is for you! When you’re picking your course, when you’re writing down your 5 universities, when you’re applying for accommodation. And talk to people, to everyone really, your teachers, your parents, your siblings, current students, alumni, anyone you can think of. Ask them questions. Once you arrive here you can really start trusting the phrase “No questions is too stupid” The more you talk the more confident you’ll be about your choice of course and everything that comes along with it. Try to calm your anxiety the best you can and most importantly make sure that the final choice is your own!

  • Think of the course not the university!

Top universities are nice, sure, okay. But you’d be surprised at how many of them are rubbish at teaching certain subjects. Look into how good they are at your course not at how high they stand on the annual review. After all, you’ll be studying your subject not just walking about the university all day every day. I knew that Essex is one of few universities in the country who takes a unique approach to History and offers so many joint degrees with it, best known for their excellence in independent research projects. Don’t forget to also look up where they stand on the student satisfaction survey. Essex prides itself in this department, with 90% of students saying they are satisfied with their course – well above the national average of 86%.

  • A researcher or a lecturer?

Personally, this was the toughest. Most universities focus only on one between the two: research or teaching. Research universities tend to be better perceived because of the prestige that comes along with that title. They involve themselves in projects, activities, international conferences, and by association their students as well. But this way you will spend less time in lectures, seminars, classes and maybe that’s your best way of learning new information. If you don’t find yourself attracted by group projects, internships or different employment schemes opt for a teaching university. All in all, both types are hard to make a schedule around, but as long as you enjoy it, you’ll be graduating in no time!

  • Make sure that those 5 universities fit you!

I knew from the moment I started reading the prospectus that University of Essex was for me. The message they sent out to applicants: “rebels with a cause”, “challenge the status quo” and the international community they grow each year is what motivated me to have the best personal statement and best academic results possible. Although 50 years may not seem like much, it was enough for this university to make a name for itself which I am sure students, alumni and anyone who has ever had the opportunity to get to know this campus and our family along with it, will never forget. If you choose University of Essex you will be far from disappointed in your degree and experience here.

 

Why you should be a Frontrunner

While the Frontrunners initiative is a highly successful and beneficial programme that has been in place at the University of Essex for a number of years, few humanities students are reaping the benefits.  I’m going to tell you why you should consider going after a position.

  • Experience

The amount of training that is available to Frontrunners is  highly beneficial to anyone wanting to add a little more depth to their CV. The role you choose varies which training you get, however every Frontrunner attends workshops to improve their skills. These include social media workshops. Being proficient in social networking is becoming increasingly important for finding information/ advertisement/ and spreading messages and is an added bonus to any potential employer. Training also involves building on your communication skills and your confidence in a work environment, including how to showcase your values in interviews and job applications. Had it not been for my Frontrunners role, I would never have gained this experience.

  •  Getting involved with your University Community

A departmental Frontrunners position is a sure way to integrate yourself into your university. With this comes a better knowledge of all of the opportunities available to you to make the most of your time at university, and a greater sense of belonging in the University community. Furthermore, the staff become much more familiar and after realise they are actually very approachable people, talking to them will feel much less daunting. S1030007

  • Improving Yourself

Along with the skills you gain in this position through training are others you gain through practice. If you don’t feel too confident with public speaking, or wish you could manage your time a little better, this is the position for you. I myself have gained huge amounts of confidence with communication and public speaking through working on University open days where I speak to potential students and their families. This has given me skills that I can carry forward into any job role, (and life in general) and is my most valued achievement from my Frontrunners position.

  • Convenience

Every Frontrunners position is run by the University. That means the people who are in charge of what you do realise that your education is your first priority, and no job can get in the way of that. As a result, despite the position only being for a manageable 8 hours a week, should you need any time to study or if your deadlines are mounting up, a quick talk with your overseer will sort out your workload and allow you to work on your degree to the best of your ability. Furthermore you are not limited to a role in your department. Want to gain experience in advertising, organisation or communication outside your department? No problem. There are many different positions that you can apply for.

Frontrunners positions are a great opportunity for improving yourself and enjoying the experience in the meantime. My Frontrunners role has really made my year stand out, as well as being an addition to my work experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and believe that it is the best decision I have made involving my time at the University of Essex.

For more information about the Frontrunners positions available to you, visit the Frontrunners page on the University of Essex website.

Good Luck to all of you that apply for a position!

Stress Management

Exams are nearly upon us and everyone is feeling the pressure. Months of lessons, coursework and revision have built up and this is the final push before the summer. I’m going to provide you with a few ways to help you to retain your sanity.

If you are a student you are most likely familiar with all of the following worries, but if you’re not then before you read this post and get the impression that university is terrifying let me clarify; it isn’t. 99% of the time it is the most fun and enjoyable time of your life, but like anything worth doing, it isn’t always easy. So here’s how to make that other 1% a little easier.

Don’t Stress…

…Just kidding. It’s perfectly OK to be stressed out sometimes by coursework or exams. Just remember that even though at times it doesn’t seem like it, everyone is in the same boat. You should also keep in mind that people deal with their stress in different ways. Just because someones seems chilled to you, they could still be secretly terrified of their coming exams. But even though it’s alright to worry, it isn’t pleasant. So just remember that everyone at your university wants you to succeed and will help in any way they can, and try the following to help you keep calm and carry on revising.

S1030056Breathe 

Sounds pretty straightforward doesn’t it? But sometimes it’s not that easy. After spending six hours straight in the library and draining your fourth cup of coffee, things can start getting to you. Just stop, take a few deep breaths, and look away from the books. It’s no good trying to power through your nerves, you’re not concentrating and can’t take in any information. Give yourself some time. Take a five minute break every half hour or so to keep your composure, check facebook, grab some food… It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you give yourself a few minutes to wind down.

Exercise

Probably one you’ve heard before, but it works. Can’t be bothered to go to the gym or for a jog? That’s fine. A walk will do. Put your headphones in and drain out your fears with your favourite songs. Or visit the ducks, they’re always happy to see you (if you bring them food). Getting some fresh air is good for you and the little bit of exercise will help tire you out so you can get to sleep easier, however worried you are. S1030075

Plan

By planning out your time for revision you can know exactly where you are and how much work is ahead of you. That way you won’t end up in a panic a few days before the exam feeling totally unprepared. Also plan out some down time around your revision so you can relax.

Eat well

Think you don’t have time for good food? Think again. It’s important to keep your body working to the best of its ability. Any lack of decent food, water or sleep will affect you badly. Even more so when you’re worried. If you’re having some revision sessions, take some lunch, or schedule time to visit a restaurant.

Think Ahead 

It’s good to remember that this is only one step in getting your degree. You’re going to put in a lot of work to reach your end goal and every piece of work you do gets you one step closer. You will get there!

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Summer Time!

It’s coming towards the end of the academic year and if you really want to make your degree stand out, doing something during the summer is a must. Whether its paid work for a little more experience (and a little spending money for your summer) or volunteering. There are so many options available to you. But how do you get organised?

wp2First, you need to decide what you want to do, paid work, volunteer, apprenticeship?

Think about your priorities. If you are going to need money this summer, paid work is necessary, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else. Take a week out to do a placement that will add to your work experience in your future career. And volunteering is highly flexible, you may be able to work something into your busy schedule.

Find your placement.

Next you need to do some research. Have a look yourself for options that are available in the area you will be living in over the summer, or if you’re having trouble, visit the employability and careers centre. Alternatively, take a look at What’s On? There you can find employment opportunities and free workshops on how to make an impression on an employer.

Tips

Even though its good to get experience, don’t spread yourself too thinly. Allow yourself some time to do some Uni work, as well as relax and enjoy your summer!

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Spring Cleaning

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The sun is shining- sort of- and it’s feeling a little more like spring. So maybe now’s a good time to have a clear out. One of the major problems faced by students when it comes to organisation is a lack of space, so here’s a few tips to help you clean up and also to maximize the space in your room so you don’t end up living in a pile of laundry and books.

First, the clean-up.

-Clean together

If you and your housemates all do the cleaning at the same time it will go much quicker, and a little music on in the background will make it much less of a chore. Also it’s easy to see if someone’s slacking on their cleaning duties. You can try a cleaning rota but having learnt from experience, this doesn’t guarantee it will be followed, nevertheless it could work for you.

-Cleaning wet wipes

These are your new best friend. Instead of taking forever to clean up the surfaces, a quick wipe and you’re done; great for kitchen, bathroom and bedroom surfaces (just make sure you buy them when they’re on sale).

-preventing mess

Although it may not be top on your list of priorities when you’re at Uni, a laundry bag hung on the back of your door means your room won’t be covered in unwashed clothes and that you can easily take your stuff to be cleaned.

Collapsible boxes are also useful, not only for books but for electricals that would otherwise be laying around all tangled up. They’re easy to store when not in use and really helpful when you move too.

Organising

laundry-443505 (1).jpg-wardrobe space

Shoe organisers can be bought fairly cheaply and just hang in your wardrobe out of sight. They make it easier to find shoes and free up the space that would otherwise be used for them.

Roll instead of fold. If you roll your clothes into small bundles not only are they less likely to crease, but take up less space and can be arranged on shelf space so you can see all of your clothes.

-wall/door organisers

These are made to either hang from the wall or over the door (but could easily go over the edge of a shelf) and are particularly useful for books.

You can also get small jewelry organisers that attach to the wall on hooks with stickers that are strong but easily removed (don’t want to lose any of our deposits!) and available in most department stores and decorating shops.

-desk space

Small desk organisers to keep all of your materials together instead of scattered over your work space are useful to have.

No desk? No problem. Lap trays are cheap and great for doing your work in bed on those days when you don’t feel like moving, or for doing some late night revision. It also means desk space could have other uses (like for a place to put those used cups you really need to wash instead of ignoring).