Music

Like the Legend of the Phoenix

While I’m still procrastinating about sitting down and actually thinking about writing an essay and starting my proper revision, I thought I’d share with you my current favourite songs to listen to on YouTube. I know, it’s important stuff!

Last week on Later Live With Jools Holland (who I saw live in December and reviewed for the Galleon), I was struck by the band Pheonix and their catchily powerful song ‘Entertainment’. The video is excellent and features a dramatic Korean storyline (though I’m not quite sure why). I also really like their song ‘Consolation Prizes’.

I’m also eagerly awaiting the release of Daft Punk’s new album, Random Access Memories, in late May. The current single from the album ‘Get Lucky’ is a real disco treat and will definitely be my soundtrack to the summer. What strangely links both Daft Punk and Phoenix is that they are French groups, and also that ‘Get Lucky’ starts with the line “like the legend of the phoenix”.

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Clubs and societies, Course, Exams, Free time, Future, Nightlife, Travels

“The last week back…”

So here it is. The last week back to University for this year, or for life for some. Coming back to University after Easter means no more lectures; it means a lot of free time, where we have hardly any responsibilities, apart from paying bills and revision (duh!), but students are experts at working around these 😉 I was looking forward to my week back, but it proved to be very busy and EXTREMELY stressful!

This week was the week when I had two interviews to attend. On Thursday I had my dissertation interview, which is similar to vivas the PhD students need to do. Everyone was really nervous about them, as our year group was the first one to do them in our department. What definitely didn’t help the stress levels were the people on facebook who complained about how badly their interviews went.

I personally think my interview went really well. As soon as they called me into the interview room, I felt calmer. I think it’s the wait that made me anxious more than the actual interview. It is also worth mentioning here that I’ve now learnt not to listen to other people when it comes to individual assessments like this one. If their interview didn’t go well, why should it mean that mine will be a flop as well? I left the interview relaxed, but unfortunately this was not the end of stressful events for me…

Friday was the day I had my postgraduate interview with King’s College. I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed about anything before. Not even that one exam last year when I was convinced I was going to fail it (I got 40 so I was so close!). In the interview, I had to present a research proposal, which unfortunately was a total flop. I was losing all my hope until we got to the more practical questions. These went okay, so I’m hoping I at least got an average number of points. But trust me, words cannot describe how happy and relieved I was after I left the Institute of Psychiatry.

To release all the stress and frustration, as well as to forget about my questionable performance at the interview, I spent the rest of the day in London. In the evening I went to see one of my favourite bands at the O2 Academy Islington! This was exactly what I needed! Jumping, dancing and singing along to your favourite songs is by far the best way to get rid of negative energy! To add to that experience, I was lucky enough to meet the band after the show. We had our photo taken, and they signed my poster, which already hangs on my wall in a special place 🙂 I don’t think I need to say how knackered I was at the end of the day!

Saturday was the first day during the week when I could actually sleep in for a little bit longer. It was also a good time to finally get together with my friends, who I haven’t seen since before Easter! We ended up going to the Union for Psychology Society’s Summer Blowout event, with the summer being in the name only. For the end of April it was quite cold… But as long as you have your friends around you, nothing else matters. These get togethers will be one of the things I will miss next year. But for now, we need to make the most of the time we’ve got left.

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Course

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since I posted as I’ve been off doing exciting things during the easter break, working hard on coursework and preparing for presentations and hand-ins since I got back. It is that time of year when stress levels are high and students are usually found fast asleep in the library, nose deep in thick books on complex topics which happen to also act surprisingly well as a pillow.

Luckily for me, I have a bit of a break now until my next hand in so I can go back to doing the things I enjoy doing: Eating, watching TV, pretending I understand what my housemates are talking about when they discuss their dissertations, sleeping and of course an all-time favourite of everyone I know, complaining!

I can hear you now. “Oh no.” you say “Richard is going to write a blog post on why we should all be happy and shouldn’t complain about things.” Ah ha! You are wrong! (assuming you said that) Because I am going to make this post about why you SHOULD complain about things! (crazy right?)

Complaining is great, it helps you to vent your frustrations and maybe even helps you come to terms and solve problems that you might be facing.  Some of my closest friends at Uni have been made because we have had similar topics to complain about and that gave us something to talk about late into the night! In fact, that help makes my point further because what I want to talk about really is about complaining to the right people. Life is, as they say, what you make it and this applies to Uni as well. If there is something about your course which you don’t like and think can be improved, tell your course representatives, tell you lecturers, tell someone with some authority! So many times I have been sat with someone who has been complaining about an aspect of their course (sometimes that person has been me) and one question appears in my head, “Well why don’t you do anything about it then?”

The Student voice is a powerful thing. The University wants to hear your concerns and worries because most of the time, you are not the only one feeling them. If no one tells the University anything, how can it improve as a place of learning?

So you got a complaint? You got a worry? You feeling stressed and the pressure feels too much? Don’t keep it to yourself! Tell someone! Tell someone who can do something about it, because then something can be done about it. So my moral of my story today is: Everyone should be happy and complain about everything they can. Makes complete sense right?

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Course, Coursework, Future

DOs and DON’Ts of coursework.

It took me over two weeks of doing nothing to recover from the not-sleeping-till-i-finish-this-coursework phase I was in at the end of term. Luckily, after spending another sleepless night with my theories of self, I managed to complete, print off and hand in two 4000 word pieces of coursework by Wednesday morning – a day before the final deadline. Then I hopped on the train home.

The next morning I received an email from King’s College inviting me for an interview! The fact they’re giving me an interview means a lot, and I now believe in my chances of actually getting in even more! Now I have to prepare a research proposal presentation, which isn’t going that great… But I still have time!

Anyway, back to the point. Now that I have officially finished all coursework I thought it was only fair to reflect on the entire experience over the last three years of my degree. Although the coursework pieces differed from each other, I found that there are some general rules that cover all of them. So I prepared a list of DOs and DON’Ts of coursework. Yes, I know you’ve heard it all before! I have too, but I never took it seriously enough. I guess you really have to experience something to be able to take it all on board. Anyway, here it is.

 

DO:

plan in advance! Seems obvious that you need to plan, right? Not necessarily. What I mean is plan what you’re going to write about weeks before the deadline, not right before you’re about to write it. Some essay questions are easy, and you know exactly what points you’d like to get across; however, often lecturers give topics that are very broad, so they can be answered in many ways, and that’s when it might get difficult to concentrate on a specific aspect. And it WILL give you a panic attack if you leave it too late.

–  research! Lecturers always give us core readings that can be used to answer the essay questions, but one book and lecture slides are not enough to write a strong 2:1 answer! Psychology department encourages its students to think critically about any given issue in psychology, and without evidencing further reading and independent research, you cannot show this ability. I am sure this is the case for any course out there; after all, University is meant to teach us to think for ourselves.

make notes! There is nothing more distracting than trying to navigate between numbers of papers, journals, websites and books all while trying to get your points across. What always worked for me was making notes on only the things I needed for the essay. It really does cut down on the time you spend on a piece of coursework, makes it easier to organise the facts and thoughts, and most importantly, helps you focus.

avoid all-nighters! Personally, I find that I work best at night, but staying up all night doing work really messes with your body clock. Especially if you do more than one in a row. You might think that by staying up you’re buying yourself more time, but the truth is that it makes you more tired and it is harder to concentrate. Instead, get a good night sleep and get up earlier than normally to get more time.

set yourself mini-deadlines! For example, if you have an essay due on a Friday, aim to have if finished by Monday so you have time to read through it a couple of times, and make changes where necessary. If you have to do a portfolio made up of sections or a dissertation, set yourself deadlines for specific sections, so you can do them throughout the year.

use formative assessment! If you have an opportunity to hand in a piece of work for a formative assessment, do it! It will make it so much easier to finish the whole thing and it will give you tips and some peace of mind when you come to writing the rest of it, as you will now know how to go about it.

 

DON’T:

leave things till the last minute! Some may find it more helpful to work under pressure (I was one of those), but you really don’t need all that stress! It only makes it worse, and panicking is quite common. Always leave yourself some extra time in case of any emergency changes you need to make.

procrastinate! Of course, scrubbing your bathroom floor is more important than your coursework at any given time, but let’s face it, you’re not getting anywhere with it. Have breaks, but don’t let them turn into movie marathons or 3-hour naps. Just get the coursework over with, and you’ll have all the time in the world to do whatever you want.

proof read when you’re tired! By tired I don’t mean after a long day of reading/notes making/writing. I mean tired after an all-nighter and a few (not enough) hours of sleep. Trust me when I say this, no matter how many times you try to proof read, there will always be something you missed! It wasn’t until recently that I realised that one of my pieces of coursework that I’ve handed in reads: “The effectiveness of goal setting on human performance has been established in many studies (Locke & Latham, cited by Cochran & Tesser, year)“. Yes, I said “year” instead of inserting an actual year of the publication. And I promise you, I proof read it many times!

compare yourself to your friends! Just because they finished sooner than you, doesn’t mean you’re behind. Just keep working at your own pace and make sure your coursework represents a high standard. Their work may not, especially if it was rushed.

 

I hope someone will find this useful. I wish I knew all these things earlier!

Good luck to everyone in their dissertations, dissertation interviews, courseworks and exams. We can do this!

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Clubs and societies, Course, Free time, Island Experience, Nightlife, The city

Rest and Reflection

After the rush, panic and stress of March, a week at home has been greatly enjoyed. My room is still a mess with draft essays, bits of speeches, bank statements and library books strew about the place. That tends to happen when I’m ultra-focussed on work (or should that be ultra-panicked by work)? I really need to give my room a good clean-out, but I decided that it was okay to leave it a few more days, just to relax a bit. After all, it’s my first week off since Christmas! Studying and socialising tends to sap my energy rather quickly, so this week I’ve been unashamedly lying in bed, watching TV and playing my Gameboy.

I also took a look at my blogs from last year, and I was hit by a sudden sense of maturity. Back then I was but a Fresher! How different it all seems being a Second Year student!

I really feel pleased that I lived up to my commitment this year to give new things a go: I hosted my own radio show on Pure FM, wrote a couple of articles for the student newspaper The Galleon, and I did a fair amount of socialising with my friends from the Japanese Society. I also worked for the University as a Student Mentor in a local school and was involved in another school-based project. And somehow I managed to fit in a lot of studying. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved.

It made me think of when I was at the pub quite a while ago, chatting with my Geology-studying friend. At the time, he was telling me about his own Second Year experience which seemed so distant to me at the time. And now I find myself having nearly completed my own Second Year (and my friend on his way to a PhD no less). Has the time really gone that quickly?

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