Course, Uni Life

Don’t Panic!

Work, a word that strikes fear into the very soul of many students (including myself). However, no matter how much we want to deny it (and believe me, I’ve tried), Work is a big part of University. On a course such as mine, that work comes in the form of large coursework projects stretched out across the year, but it can take other forms as well. Essays, exams and more obscure things, which at first don’t look like work but when you set off to do them, you suddenly realise that it is in fact a lot harder than you originally anticipated and will take a lot of, you guessed it, work.

So when the Dragon that is work rises up out of the mist and all you have to battle it with is your trusty pen and a collection of high sugar content foods, how do you avoid insane levels of stress when trying to meet those terrifying deadlines?

Now, I’m no master sage or wise man (although feel free to tell people I am), but here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years to keep the ol’ stress levels down:

  1. Don’t Panic! The downfall of many a project is caused by panicking, rushing to finish, cutting corners and then the whole thing falling in on itself. Stay calm and have a cup of tea.
  2. Take it one step at a time. Scary 10,000 word dissertation to hand in? Wouldn’t it be easier to split that into smaller 500 word chunks and do one or two a day? Why yes it would! You’ll finish it in plenty of time.
  3. Know the Deadline! Not sure when your deadline is? Find out! Know when it is? Plan to finish a few days earlier. Those days could be life-saving if something goes horrifically wrong.
  4. The Power of Planning. I probably should have put this first and am now noticing the extreme irony in that. Plan your time. Even if it’s a rough plan. “Today I’m going to complete a section”, “This week I want to have this done”. Visible achievements are good for staying positive.
  5. Take a break. Yeah I know, this is very counter-productive, but your brain can only take so much. Every hour or so give work a rest. Listen to a song. Go have a drink. Breathe some fresh air. Try to resist the urge to make your breaks longer than your working sessions though (a common problem with me!)

I’ve been told I’m a pretty laid back person (Shout out to my housemate Orla!) and I pride myself on that fact. One thing I know that can ruin the Uni experience is stress over a ‘heavy workload’. Sure you are here to work and get your degree, but it shouldn’t be a back-breaking, soul wrenching experience. You should enjoy yourself.

Don’t Panic!

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Course

New Project

There’s always a mixture of feelings that comes with a ‘New Project’. There’s the excitement of not knowing what its about and what you’re going to be asked to design, hoping that its something you can relate to, or something you know you’ll have plenty of ideas for, but that is always coupled with a certain fear, as you’re undoubtedly going to be expected to complete it to a higher standard than your previous work. Depending on how the last project went, for example if I didn’t enjoy it, I always look forward to starting afresh and not having to worry about previous work that I maybe wasn’t happy with, being able to put that away to worry about at a different time, however there is also the slight apprehension that this project might be just-as-bad-if-not-a-bit-worse than the last, in which case you know you’re in for another six weeks of trying to find inspiration to complete something which you just don’t find inspiring!

Your true feelings are confirmed as the brief is flung onto the desk in front of you. What’s the title? Is there a picture on the front? This brief uses a lot more paper than the last, it feels heavier, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Sometimes it takes a few goes at reading it through and highlighting bits to truly understand what they’re asking for, each page is feeding you more and more information and its hard to tell if this is complicating matters or clarifying your thoughts in your head. The brief is discussed in peer and studio groups, what does everyone else think of the New Project?  Usually the general feelings are the same, but a mixture of emotions is always inevitable because of the ways people react to them and the ways in which they proceed. There’s also one person who sits quietly panicking to themselves  the one who is excited and already has ideas flowing, the one whose getting angry and complaining that ‘we can’t possibly complete something like this!’

Of course this varies with each project. We’ve had a mixture this year, some have been short, maybe one or two weeks. The length of time always reflects the depth and detail of work the tutors expect. Some projects are completed in groups – something I’ve had mixed feelings about. As a rule I find it quite difficult to work in a group, but this is a skill I have developed over this year and now have a more mature attitude towards – so at least a positive has come out of it!

My New Project (and final project of the year – scary!) is still being processed in my head. I’m feeling excited, as I know this project is more like ones that you would get in ‘real life’ and its also something that you could envisage happening in the future. However it’s also a lot bigger and a lot more complicated that any of the projects we’ve completed in the past. The requirements are larger and more detailed than before, and although we have more time to complete it in, I know already that it’s going to be more intense and compact than than any other work I’ve done this year.

Scared yet excited are definitely my emotions at this moment in time. In the past two days I’ve also experienced panic and hysterical panic, so I think for now we are moving in the right direction.

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Course, Free time, Island Experience, Study, The city

A Blogger’s Life

Seeing as we have some new bloggers who have recently joined us, I thought I would take a moment to consider my own blogging experience so far.

I had considered starting my own blog for a while before I came to University (though of course I never got round to it), so being a part of the blogging team has been a great pleasure. I’ve very much enjoyed expressing my own opinions and feelings about University.

It’s not always easy to find real opinions about University if you don’t know anyone who’s gone before. This was the case for me. Many of the concerns and misconceptions I had about uni stemmed from the fact that I had no-one to ask. It was this which made me want to become a blogger – I wanted to give others an honest impression of my experiences at University.

I’ve also found that blogging has provided a great way for me to record my own journey. Looking back at my previous posts, I can see how my own experience has developed.

More bloggers means more things to read about, which gives an even broader overview of life at University. Which is of course an excellent thing. I certainly look forward to learning more about my blogging comrades.

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Uni Life

Change is Good

I feel old, but in a good way.  I can now start sentences with ‘back in my day…’ and ‘I remember when…’ In fact I may be over using them, much to the annoyance of my friends but I’m going to keep doing it anyway! Coming from a city in the countryside where the biggest changes happened every decade or so, adjusting to city life, a constantly changing and growing environment has been an interesting experience. For the 2 and a half years I have been here, I have pretty much discovered something new every month, or something has changed.

I suppose one of the biggest examples would be the new wing being built onto the side of the Eldon building. I remember when (here I go again) I came to Portsmouth for an open day all those years ago and was taken into the building that USED to be there before it was knocked down. My dad and my now course leader had a long chat about important topics such as what was on the course, what were the employment prospects after the course, what kind of experience would I gain from the course? Meanwhile, I was marvelling at the hundreds of gaming magazines that were stacked on the shelves next to me along with a complete collection of Farscape dvds. I don’t remember much of that conversation, but I think I had made up my mind that this was the course for me when I left that office. My dad seemed pretty impressed too!

Change, of course, doesn’t always feel like a good thing but it has kept me on my toes and I don’t think I would be as confident in myself or be able to cope as well in stressful situations if I hadn’t been exposed to it. One sad change that has happened is the removal of a drinks dispenser in the Arts Café. I used to enjoy a small cup of hot chocolate from that machine after a long days programming. As that sweet liquid with the same composition of soil after a long period of rain went down my throat, I felt all the stresses of the day get washed away (and a few chocolatey pieces get stuck in my teeth). Now, however, it is gone. A change from which I thought I would never recover. As it turns out, it actually helped me overcome my nerves when it came to facing other people. When it comes to talking to strangers, I’ve always been uncomfortable, so approaching the counter in the café and purchasing something was generally out of the question.  Without my chocolatey goodness distributor, I had to face my fear and do the whole human interaction thing. Obviously, it turned out to be fine, now I can take advantage of their cup of tea for 70p which is a bargain and is the perfect thing after or during a lengthy period of work.

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Course, Free time, Relationships, The city, The Galleon

Time is running out.

I’m at home in Oxford for the weekend, and I’ve been thinking about my family a lot, and my sister’s currently in her first year of university elsewhere in the country and I am so jealous of all the time she has ahead of her, the opportunities coming her way, and the fact she doesn’t have a dissertation to finish or the real world to face any time soon!

I can’t believe how quickly my time in Portsmouth has flown by and, when I’m not in the library finishing all my coursework, I intend on making the most of the months I’ve got left with the amazing friends I’ve made (that I hope I keep in touch with for the rest of my life).

Knowing that in under five months time I’ll be back in Oxfordshire with the rest of my life ahead of me and no more essays to hand in (ever!) is pretty exciting but it’s also pretty terrifying too, which I can’t deny. I just hope the work I’ve done whilst at Portsmouth will stand me in a good position for everything that’s about to come.

There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, bad grades, good grades, last minute revision sessions, long bouts of procrastination, and some of the best times I will ever have, and, honestly, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

For now, I better get on with sorting out content for the next issue of The Galleon (I have nothing so far!) and crack on with my dissertation.

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Clubs and societies, Free time, Music, Nightlife, Travels

Day Tripper

Saturday morning arrived, and I found myself on the train to London to meet with friends. An exciting, Japanese-themed day out lay ahead of us.  Once I had met my comrades, we were straight on the Underground to see a LOLcats art exhibition (take a look at this link to get an impression of what we went to see! http://www.lolcats.com/).

We then browsed a few shops, before descending once again for a Tube ride to Piccadilly Circus to find Japan Centre. After scoffing a hot and spicy Japanese chicken dish, there wasn’t much time to take a look because we were once again navigating the Underground system to make it to the Saddler’s Wells theatre. We arrived with little time to spare, and caught a performance of “The Shogun and the English Samurai” at 7.30pm.

The theatre was packed out, and being sat right at the very back we still had an excellent view of the production – though it was unbelievable how high above the stage we were! The play was mostly in Japanese (with English titles), and there were moments of hilarity and sadness, as well as samurai battles and great oriental music. It was definitely worth it.

By the time this had finished at 10.45pm, it was a mad dash back to Victoria to nab the last National Express coach back to Porty.

Even arriving home in the early hours of the morning, I was still buzzing. I had a great time! You can’t beat an excellent day out with a group of friends.

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Course, Coursework

Fifth of March.

Yes. That’s my dissertation deadline and it’s approaching a little too fast if you ask me. But in reality, I have to hand in a draft in 10 days, which means I have even less time to do it. Strangely enough, I feel quite calm about it and I will not analyse it further because I like this state of denial.

I wish I have started the write up earlier… It’s ironic because I just remembered coming to uni in the first year and getting all sorts of “tips” from graduating students and the majority of them said “start early, don’t leave things till the last minute” or something along those lines… I guess it was to prevent us from making the same mistakes they did. But guess what, I did exactly what they did…

And having said that, I would like to take this opportunity to tell all current first and second years, as well as all the prospective students: DO YOUR WORK EARLY. Don’t make the same mistake every other student makes 😉

And to all third years: Best of luck! We can do this!

 

Here’s something I found the other day and it made me laugh. Mainly because it’s so true! I think I’m currently at Stage 4.

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