Coursework, Future, Student, Study, Time Management, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Tackling the Dreaded Dissertation

I shall begin by letting you know my dissertation is almost definitely different to yours. Mine is split into two halves, both worth 50% of my final grade. My first half, a 10,000 word creative piece, was due in December. The final half is my essay, due at the end of April, like most other courses. Luckily this submission is only 5,000 words!

Having already done the bulk of it in December and receiving a good mark in January I feel I am in a good position to discuss how to tackle them! I am well on my way to finishing my first draft of April’s submission now and am finding myself with even more tips for the essay.

1. Start early!

You will hear stories about the girl who did it in 16 hours and still managed a 2:1. Okay, maybe that girl was super-woman and managed it but chances are she’s lying. Start reading and making odd notes over the summer between second and third year. Buy a journal/notebook and start noting things down – potential questions, interesting points on the subject area, a little reading list, the occasional quote you’ve found, chapters of particularly useful books (ANYTHING).

2. Read! Read! Read!

You cannot write if you do not read. Start collecting some useful books or at least titles you can look up. Use the library website to search for books, journals and articles which may be of use and write them down in your notebook. Print articles off and get highlighting! Once you’ve done the reading you can start the writing. Little and often, little and often.

3. Pick something you’re genuinely interested in.

This is so so important. How on earth are you going to write 10,000+ words on something you don’t care about?! Don’t dread writing your dissertation because you aren’t interested in what you’re writing about – that’s no fun! Pick a topic which you can’t wait to find out more about, pick something you are motivated to research and make your essay something you’d want to read. Don’t see it as a chore but as something you actually want to do. I am excited to learn more about my subject. The beauty of dissertations is that you can pretty much do whatever you want, within reason. You can tailor your research and question to a topic which you are enthused by.

4. Do the bibliography as you go along. 

DO NOT leave the bibliography until the end. It will seem like such a chore! Portsmouth has an absolutely incredible referencing tool – so good that other Universities use it! So make the most of it! If you haven’t got to grips with it yet this tool is sure to help you – it’s a real life saver. You can compile your bibliography before even writing your essay. Every time you read something put it in your bibliography, fully referenced. That way, when you are writing in your essay, it’s already there ready and done. You can always keep adding to it and if you find you don’t read a source you thought you would then just take it out.

5. Make a note of where you found quotes.

This is crucial and I, along with many others, have fallen into this trap too many times. I was determined not to make life difficult for myself with this ever-so-important assignment. When you find a quote and copy it into your journal or word document ensure that you know the author, date and page number for citing. There is nothing more frustrating than having a perfect quote but no idea where you found it, or knowing it’s somewhere in a 500+ page book with no hope of tracking it down again without reading the entire thing cover to cover. If you don’t make note of where you got it, that quote will then be unusable and wasted.

6. Book as many tutorials as you possibly can.

All courses are different. With some you may only be able to show one draft, but with others there may be a lot more flexibility. I was able to book pretty much unlimited tutorial slots and took full advantage of this. The more feedback you have before the final submission, the more likely you are to do well.

7. Create a document or page in your journal with loads of useful quotes divided into sections/topics to use at ease when you are writing.

I have found this to be so immensely helpful. Whilst writing now if I need a quote I just consult my document with all my useful sources in. I simply copy and paste the most relevant one out of my already carefully selected quotes. Making this document is a good place to start before you actually begin writing because that way you have everything already ready and set out for you.

8. Take breaks!

The beauty of starting early means you have lots and lots of time. It is so important to take regular breaks away from you work so you can come back to it with fresh eyes and a clear mind. It will be much easier to proofread and to improve it if you’ve taken a step back. Work on it solidly for a week then leave it be for a week and come back to it. Breaks are incredibly healthy and will make the process feel a lot more natural and easy.

Good luck everyone, if you’re halfway through yours now or you’re just looking to get an early start on next years!

It is with a heavy heart that I remind you this is likely to be the last thing you will ever write for submission at the University of Portsmouth. Enjoy it!

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Future, Job hunting, Student, Uni services

Purple Door Are So Underrated

If you are a student at the University of Portsmouth there is no way you’ve got this far and not heard about Purple Door. Just in case you have managed to miss their existence altogether (really where have you been?) Purple Door offer support to students, and even graduates, on career planning, work experience, volunteering, part-time jobs, placements, business startup and graduate jobs. They will do anything from helping you find a little job for a few hours a week, to just chatting about what you think you might want to do, to helping you write or polish up a CV, to working towards that all-important application to your dream graduate job.

The classic phrase I seem to come back to time and time again is I am a worrier by nature. I am a worrier by nature and so the idea of graduating in a few short months is just terrifying! I am so scared of ending up with no job or, perhaps even worse, a job I absolutely can’t stand and feel trapped in. I don’t want to be living off my parents in my childhood bedroom for the next 10 years. I am determined to succeed!

So, last week I went to Purple Door. I had been once before to discuss part-time work but it had only been rather brief. You can book in-depth 40 minute meetings for careers advice and the like but also it is probably easier to just walk in. On both occasions I have just walked in. They’ll ask for your student number and name and then you’ll sit and wait for a couple of minutes whilst someone becomes available.

The man I spoke to was incredibly patient and listened to me babble about my uncertain future. I had brought in a recent CV which I knew needed a little makeover. I thought this would help him to assess where I needed to go from here before applying for jobs, in terms of experience. He went through it thoroughly, bit by bit and we redrafted a new one.

He told me that the nature of my field means I can’t start applying yet. Employers who are recruiting now for my industry will need someone who cans start pretty much immediately. Jobs in other fields like law or engineering have graduate schemes and will begin scouting and interviewing around this time, and even earlier! As a writer and aspiring editor/publisher there is little I can do in terms of graduate jobs right now. In a few months I was advised back to Purple Door with my newly formatted CV and I can begin the job hunt!

For now, I just need to keep on doing what I’m doing. I need to keep my eye on job websites to help me see what is out there and the kind of things I would like to be applying for. The Guardian Jobs is a great one, as well as using the Purple Door search itself. I need to calm down and remember I still have time to get my life all figured out. I’m only 20! It is comforting to know that Purple Door will be there for me for the next 5 and a half years if I need help. Going there restored a confidence in myself and my achievements. It made me excited to start the next chapter of my life as a graduate. I can’t wait to see what the future will hold.

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Uncategorized

Work and Play and Play and Work

I’ve often struggled with balance. I am a worrier by nature and the idea that I am graduating in a few short months has sent me into a blind panic. The Autumn term was one of the most wonderful but also most stressful I have had to handle so far.

I have a tendency to say yes to anything I can physically fit into my schedule. I’ve been so scared to turn down all the fantastic opportunities offered to me at university that I overloaded myself. This past term I have worked 20 hours a week at my part-time job at Waterstones which I adore. I have worked freelance as a check listener for Red Apple Audiobooks, listening to audiobooks and checking they match the text. I have become a student ambassador for the university, promoting higher education and talking to young people about university life. I released an EP which means I am finally making some money from my art. I started learning to drive. I became deputy opinion editor of the Galleon (the student newspaper). I finally wrote an 11,000 word novella I have been wanting to write for 5 years and handed it in as 50% of my dissertation. I have been published by Trash Arts, The Tab, Pugwash and The Galleon. I played many many successful gigs including a 50-minute set at the Student Union. I volunteered teaching children creative writing. I volunteered working at a creative organisation which puts on gigs, film and poetry nights as well as making films themselves. I help with their promotion, marketing, as well as performing live music and poetry, booking acts and planning events. All whilst writing for this blog and maintaining my own one. And did I mention attending university and handing in six pieces of coursework?

And sleep? I did manage to sleep sometimes!

By the end of the term I was, unsurprisingly, absolutely drained. I was running on empty. It wasn’t healthy. My New Year’s Resolution was, ironically, to simply do less. I need to learn to say no and make more time for myself. I am living an absolute dream at university, studying something I adore, surrounded by wonderful people I love and with every opportunity at my fingertips. Coming to university has opened an unlimited number of doors for me, even more than I could possibly imagine. I just need to start picking my door more carefully or I won’t have the energy to even get to the handle of the next one.

So I have said no, granted not to much, but I have done it and that’s progress. I am taking on less and allowing myself time to breathe and it’s doing the world of good. The Christmas break was needed so unbelievably bad but I took most of the break to just calm down, relax and spend time with family and friends. I am now feeling so replenished, ready to tackle whatever this term throws at me.

Uni has given me so much and it is the best thing I have ever ever done. I doubt I will ever have so many opportunities presented to me. I want to take them all with everything I have, but I am learning the importance of balance. It can’t all be work!

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Uncategorized

Picking Portsmouth

With the recent and upcoming open days here I felt it would be apt to write a post about my memories of my very first open day at The University of Portsmouth.

I remember the first time I ever saw the uni website. I was sat in the silent study area of my sixth form desperately trying to find more unis I could research and maybe visit. I study Creative Writing and not many universities actually offer my course. Added to the fact I knew I wanted to be within a 2 and a half hour radius from home that left me with very limited choice. I didn’t look at Portsmouth because the course was entitled Creative & Media Writing and I was really put off by the Media aspects of this, having not studied it before. After an assembly from my head of year in which he said if the course has the same UCAS code it is very likely to be the same despite having a different name I decided to check out the website.

I was immediately drawn to the style of the website. I loved that it didn’t look like any other university website I’d looked at. I loved the quirky artsy style in wonky purple font. I was shown beautiful images of the sea and it excited me immediately. I knew before even reading about it that I was interested.

And so, not too long after my mum and I got up nice and early one morning to take the now ever-familiar trundle down to Portsmouth. It was sweltering hot and as we wound down the windows on the drive into the city I remember feeling this anticipation building. She pointed out the Spinnaker tower to me and I pictured doing this drive in a few months time as a fresher.

We parked up and wandered the streets. The sun was kissing our skin pink as we searched for the building I had my welcome talk in. Immediately I had fallen in love with the city. I don’t know whether it was the heat, the mood or, forgive the cliche but, fate.

We had lunch in The Fleet which was so cheap and cheerful. I remember chatting to a girl who was working behind the bar about uni life and feeling the excitement bubble up inside of me. She later served our food to us and she exclaimed what a lot of work my course was but it didn’t put me off one bit. No, it made me feel even more determined to get myself down there and prove myself. When the waitress left I told my mum this was where I wanted to be. ‘I can see myself living here’, I told her, beaming. I remember it so clearly, sat at that table which I sit at so often now. This feels right. It’s bizarre, like a sixth sense, finding the uni which is right for you. You just know. And I knew.

It was only cemented even further when I attended my course presentation. I listened to the lecturers talk about the course and for once I didn’t spend the duration playing with my hair and checking my watch and phone. I was fully engaged. I was excited. The head of my course encouraged us to speak and we even did some writing activities. Every lecturer seemed enthusiastic about what they were doing. I could see myself speaking to them about my work. I already wanted to pick their brains, as respected authors.

After, we drove to the seafront. We parked near Rees Halls and I stared up at the building, picturing myself sat in one of those bedrooms, staring out at the sea. That could be me in a year. This could be my home. 

We bought ice-creams at Clarence Pier and I was a little child again when I saw the Winnie-the-Pooh ride which was outside the arcade. Then, we wandered along the seafront. We were covered in sun-cream and I still worried about burning. I lay on the pebbles and closed my eyes, listening to the sea and soaking in the sun. I pictured myself here, doing just this in years to come. Nothing had ever felt so right.

Now here I am, not quite laying on the beach soaking in the sun in this cold weather, but here nonetheless! Portsmouth will always have a huge part in my heart. I have found home here, found family in my housemates, even found love. Picking Portsmouth was the best decision I ever made.

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Accomodation, Free time, Other University Factors, Student, Student Housing

Making Your Room Feel Like Home

I’d imagine everyone is settled in to their accommodation now whether you be a first, second or third year. However, you may be feeling a little home sick or just like you are not quite at home in your new place.

Here are a few little tips/ideas on how to make your room more homely.

My room is my absolute favourite place to be. There’s nothing like coming home to a room which makes you feel calm and happy. My room is very personal to me and I love decorating it!

The first thing to think about when decorating your room is your bed sheets. A nice duvet cover can completely transform a room. I believe it is the absolute key to a nice bedroom. The bed is the centre piece of the room and by making a statement with that, you set the tone for the entire room. The best places I have found to get bedding from are IKEA (you can get some absolute bargains without sacrificing comfort), Debenhams (where my one pictured is from) or John Lewis (bit pricier!).

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As you can see from the photographs, I am also a sucker for photos. Firstly I think they automatically make you feel at home as you are surrounded by all your happy memories and loved ones. Secondly I hate blank walls! I think it makes a room look empty and unloved. I am the queen of clutter though so maybe don’t go as mad as I have! I prefer to get the photos printed properly so they are all the exact same size and all glossy and of good quality but you could easily print them off in the library or if you’re lucky enough to have a printer on that!14513649_10207689344004910_1380821220_oI also have a soft spot for fairy lights. I find soft lighting so relaxing in the evenings. If ever I am in my room in the evening I have the main light off and all my fairy lights and lamps on. I find the main light too harsh and bright for the evenings but it’s nice to still have a bit of light in the room. My favourites are the stars hanging above my bed. I have those, red flowers around some photos above my drawers, pink and grey elephants wrapped around my guitar stand (can’t see in the photos!) and multicoloured stars, moons and circles around my window. On top of this I also have a mini projector which puts stars on the ceiling, a little light up cat light and a paper lamp by my bedside table. Lights are great because they can be used for aesthetics as well as functionally. You can get fairy lights for a couple of quid on Amazon!

Plants are another brilliant thing to have in your room. For one, they act as mini air purifiers and omit oxygen for you! They are also super cute! I had two chilli plants which actually grew chilli peppers which I use in my cooking all the time. I have moved them along with my bonsai into the living room because sadly my room doesn’t get enough natural sunlight this year and it was causing them to get poorly. But if your room has good direct sunlight then definitely think about getting some potted plants. For those of you who want low maintenance plants or have poor sunlight in their rooms then cacti are happy with pretty much anything! The three on my windowsill were from IKEA and the one on my bedside table was a gift from my flatmate from Tesco. They’re cheap and easy and look adorable!

14536847_10207689344644926_770032304_oAs you can see I am not only a sucker for photos but also for posters/ANYTHING you can stick on your wall! I really love having a very personal room and friends always comment on it. It’s nice to express myself in my little space. If, like me, you’re very into music have a leaf through your records and CD’s and you might be surprised at what you can find. So many of my posters are from my records. On the wall by my bed I made a little collage with photos, postcards, notes, drawings, posters, cards and photographs. It has little messages from friends and family, a postcard from my best friend, some of my favourite birthday cards and holds a lot of memories! It makes my room very personalised and never gets boring to look at.

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I also love pillows and cushions. My boyfriend hates them because there is simply too many to sleep on. They mean, however, that in the daytime my bed can double up as a sofa and so whenever I have friends round it is easy to use my room as a living room and social space. My current favourite is the whale cushion pictured above. My mum got it for me for my birthday a few months back from John Lewis and I absolutely adore it!

(Yes, I am also still a massive kid and have a Simba, two Stitchs, three Moomins and a very worn, very well loved Winnie the Pooh.)

I feel like it is very important to bring things which make you feel comfortable and at home. If you had a rug in your room at home see if you can bring that with you, it will be familiar and make your room feel like your own instantly.

For any more tips on decorating your room just write in the comments!

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Uncategorized

Welcome Back

It feels absolutely wonderful to be back in Portsmouth for my third and final year. It feels much less wonderful knowing this is the beginning of the end. Portsmouth has brought me some of the best friends I have ever had and endless opportunities and experiences. I have made it my home and the idea of leaving is heart-wrenching. Now I am determined to make the most of my remaining time here.

This is only a quick post to welcome everyone back and have a little reflect on my two years spent in this fantastic city! I hope it encourages first and second years alike to spend their time wisely here. Thank your lucky stars you are where you are now because this time will escape you quicker than you can even imagine right now.

Here’s to another wonderful year!

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Portsmouth is a Wonderful Ghost Town Now Summer’s Here

Now I understand almost all ‘freshers’ will have moved out by now. From what I remember the last day in May signalled the end of our contracts will halls and even if anyone was placed in a house instead you will more than likely be back home by now… But those of you in second and third year may still be here.

I’m still here! My tenancy doesn’t run out until 4th July but I’m planning on hanging around until next week.

It’s insane how quiet Portsmouth is without the hordes of students. It’s a bit of a ghost town but I must say I’m enjoying it. You can really see, in their absence, just how much the city thrives on students. It really is a different place in the holidays from term time.

To me, it didn’t make sense to go home just yet. I have two whole months (July and August) to spend a home and wanted to spend some time making the most of the luxury of little commitment in Portsmouth. I am loving guilt-free lie ins and walks to the beach, trying out new cafes and restaurants and spending time with my uni friends without the worry of deadlines.

I am working at my part-time job as much as possible to save some money to really have a relaxing summer and not have to worry about uni, work or money. Two (as of yesterday) out of my housemates have moved out which is sad to see. The empty rooms are horrible to walk past but we have all had such a fantastic year together that we aren’t moving for third year. It’s a pain having to move everything out only to move it all back in again in two months time but it’s got to be done!

So for now? Time to relax, enjoy and appreciate the wonderful city we live in!

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