Just a quick hello!

Hi Student blog followers! My name is James and I hope to be posting as regularly as possible with, well, whatever I think seems interesting at the time! As this is my first post, I thought I’d give an introduction to me and give you all a feel for what I’m about!

This is my fourth year in Portsmouth having completed my undergraduate degree in Biology. I’m currently enrolled onto a research programme investigating plant reproduction (it is genuinely great- don’t doubt it!). I’ve a great love and passion for science in general so look forward to any thoughts I have about particularly awesome space stuff or other great stuff worth talking about.

Something else I feel very strongly about is the city of Portsmouth. Staying in the city for my MPhil was a double whammy opportunity because I get to stay here! There are some fantastic places to explore, things to see and do and great independent shops and things/ memorabilia. I’m going to do my best to pass on some of the awesome things I’ve learned about the city so you can get to grips with how cool this place is!

By way of hobbies- I’ve been playing tennis for years and years: coaching, going to Wimbledon and all the fun stuff- big love of the sport with an unnatural soft spot for Federer. I spend a lot of my spare time reading- I’ll do my best to pass along info about ones I’ve been particularly caught up in or which, in my opinion are really worth a read!

I hope to be bringing plenty of interesting posts to the internet as and when I have something to share,

Feel free to get in touch,



Job S.O.S Mini Series | Part 1: THE CV

I decided to write a mini series on finding a part-time job. I know when I was in first year I wanted a job/a little extra cash to support myself so worked as a student mentor for the University for 10 weeks. In my second year I then became a Student Marketing Assistant, a Student Housing Assistant and filmed graduations – as well as keeping my part-time job at Waitrose at home! Rather than fit the process into one post I thought I’d turn this into a handy mini series.
Part 1: The CV, Part 2: The Hunt and Part 3: The Interview! ūüôā


It’s always good to have a ‘simple CV’ handy for if you’re handing CVs out or found a job that you want to apply for. For graduate jobs or more specified areas you’ll want to create a CV that is catered to those areas.
Remember: purple door can always help check over CVs with their walk in workshops!


In a lot of situations we’re not taught that image is¬†not important but for CVs – image is everything! The first thing a potential employer will see is the layout. Before they read any information they’ll see the header, the footer, the font, the length and the general layout. If it looks crowded or messy then effectively they’ll base that as a reflection on you. Some employers may also even toss it to one side if they have a lot of CVs to read through. Keep it neat¬†and organised to give a good impression. If you wouldn’t want to read your own CV because it’s crammed or unpleasant to read, then why would a potential employer?


The second thing the person reading your CV will see is the spelling and grammar. If they see words spelt incorrectly or unappealing grammar they may put it to one side and move a more efficient looking CV to the top. This is the same with online CV applications (where sometimes you may have to type your qualifications and experience in online) – it’s so easy to misspell something and have it corrected automatically – ensure you continually check over your CV and ask a friend to help too!


If you’ve seen The Apprentice you know the final job interview round includes a CV check where invariably at least one of the candidates has told a lie. This lie, which may have seemed harmless at the time of writing their CV, escalates into a ‘make or break’ career move. It’s always best to tell the truth. But ensure you do this appropriately. If you’ve been fired from a job or left early, it may not be best to write that in your CV. If you’ve had a very limited amount of previous work experience you can ‘play up’ the importance of it but be¬†very careful because there’s a fine line. Anything on your CV could come up during an interview so be aware of this.


This is crucial – especially for those who may be pulling their hair out at their limited amount of experience. There are key skills you’ve picked up from past experiences that can be relevant in virtually every field of work. Remember to include these, particularly if you’re searching to pad out your CV a little.
For example, you may think a paper round is irrelevant but consider the skills you need for that; time-keeping, organisation, liasing with your employer, a high level of responsibility and customer service, loyalty and trust… the list is endless..


Of course, we all want to ensure we have lots of experience but a long list of roles and responsibilities can become irrelevant. Stick to simple bullet points which is easy for your potential employer to read. It keeps the information concise and informative. Also, you don’t need to list every GCSE grade or include your National Insurance number or age on your CV. Especially the latter as this could lead to accidental/indirect age discrimination.


Update, update, update! This is so important – especially at University – if you’re sending off bulk CVs to companies make sure it’s all up to date and check over for any mistakes, such as your address! If you’re sending off CVs with an address in Wales but are applying for a job in Portsmouth (where you’re living at University) you may encounter issues!


Catch up for Part 2: The Hunt coming shortly!

Free time

A belated birthday!

So at the end of September I turned the grand old age of 23! I’d spent my last two birthdays pretty disastrously by trying to organise a big event and it failed miserably so I attempted to keep it low key this year but in fact celebrated in three different ways! Hopefully this brings you some ideas as to what you could do for your birthday – if not, it’s just an excuse to have a nosy at what I got up to!

I spent my first 5A2lot of celebrations at University where my best friend decided to plonk two pages on me that said “I am 2 3 today” – these fitted nicely on my collar! Between lectures I’d preplanned to go to the pub (we had 3 hours to kill) and was expecting a turn out of about 5 or so people. In actual fact around 20/25 people turned up and this made me so happy! I bought several birthday drinks and had several lovely pictures with wonderful people.. after my later lecture (note that I don’t encourage anyone to go to the pub before a lecture, birthday or no birthday) I went home for a well-earned nap. IT was then that I was made a 2 course meal (mozerella and tomato salad and chicken and veg which I’ll be posting a recipe of soon) and opened my presents. I also took part in a mini adventure whereby I had to answer clues and complete challenges to receive my presents.
All in all I had the best day and am so grateful for the company, the wonderful surprises and the fun and laughter that was had!

5B2I then took my birthday back to my hometown of Southend in Essex where I celebrated with 3 of my closest friends by heading .. once again to the pub! (I’m a pub-goer, what can I say?) I had a lovely night catching up with old friends and spent the remainder of the evening tucked up with an old fashioned sleepover.. with copious amounts of sweets, crisps and chocolate. If I could encourage anyone to visit their friends at home around their birthday time it really is a lovely way to celebrate and reminisce over however long you’ve known each other (12 years in my case)!

5C2The final way I spent my birthday was my popping to Brighton for a few days with one of my closest friends. We spent the first day shopping in the main shops and then went for dinner at the Harvester (I got a free birthday sundae!) followed by drinks and a stroll through the Laines. Where we stayed had no wifi or TV so we decided to make up our own old fashioned game of Mastermind which was nice to revert back into when we’re not all sucked up into the world of tweeting about how much fun we’re having.. rather than just having fun! The next day was spent in the Laines where I spent some of my birthday money and then we went to the beach and arcades for a bit before stopping off at the Harvester again (it really is a great food outlet) and then getting the train back.

Overall I had an amazing 23rd birthday – probably the best birthday I’ve had so far!
Hopefully this has given you an idea of things you can do for your birthday with friends old and new!


Making first year count!

So Fresher’s week is well and truly over, as is Halloween and now we’re fast approaching the next semester of the year. You may have heard people say that “You only need to get 40 in first year” and you might have heard that first year allows everyone to be up to date with each other. At this stage you may start wondering – what’s the relevance of first year?
Well I’m here to tell you about the crucialities of first year (both course-wise and personality-wise) and how to make it count…

  • You build foundations
    In my first year I learnt about areas of Television that I thought may have been less relevant and was quite confused at when I would use it in the future. Low and behold those basics I learnt in my first year are skills I’ve also built upon in second and third year! So whilst it may not seem it now – it’s all important.
  • It gets you into the swing of deadlines
    Depending on your degree you may be handing in coursework quite regularly so it’s best to get into the swing of it in your first year. Plus it gives you an idea of your learning style – maybe you get more work completed in the library, or maybe you’re better working in a room with your friends; first year gives you the opportunity to discover what style you prefer without as much pressure.
  • It gives you an idea of what grades you might be getting
    If you commit to your workload (whilst still having fun, of course) first year gives you an idea of what grades you’re looking at. If you want a 1st but are continually achieving 2:1s or 2:2s now is the time to look into ways of getting higher grades for future reference. This is the perfect time to learn how to reference properly and speak to your lecturers and personal tutor about what grade you want to attain and how to get there!

Not only this but first year gives you more independence and allows you to explore what sort of person you are. Before I came to Portsmouth I had never seen beyond Essex and London whereas now I’ve visited Worthing, Isle of Wight, Chichester, Brighton and Oxford. You also get a chance to see a little bit of Portsmouth; you’ll start learning your shortcuts to and from lecture rooms and by the end of the year you’ll know your favourite places to stop for lunch and nights out. And of course, you get to choose your next house (and housemates) for second year!
First year really is important; it builds the foundations for years onwards and I know I certainly learnt a lot in first year!
Here’s a few snaps of my Fresher’s year at University ūüôā

2 2b 2c 2d 2e 2f 2g 2h 2i 2j

Free time, Island Experience, Nightlife, Portsmouth

Fireworks at Gunwharf Quays

As my friends already know, I love photography and they will always see me with my Nikon walking around the city. When I came here in Portsmouth one of the first things that I did was look up the Photography Society (http://www.filmandphoto.org/).

So, on October 31 the Gunwharf Quays were doing a Fireworks show with some promotions and I went to Gosport with the Photography Society. I can say the show was really amazing! I took some pictures. I just started with this new hobby, it is not so easy as you need to study and read a lot if you want to have good shoots!

We caught the ferry which was just £3.10 return, leaving Portsmouth between 6pm arriving by 6h10pm and waited until 7h20pm when the Fireworks started. Between the arrival point and the place on the pier which is where our leader chose for us to be, we saw a lot of photographers waiting for the show.

The main intention of this post is show the pictures of the Fireworks, if you missed this spectacle here is a little bit of it. If you are interested in seeing more of my photos follow the links below:



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