Architecture, Clubs and societies, Course, Coursework, Free time, Home, Portsmouth

New Term

It takes a little while after summer to get back into the swing of things at Uni. Getting up at a reasonable time, going to bed at a reasonable time and sticking to a routine is not necessarily something that happens during the summer months. Luckily I was really looking forward to getting started again, dare I say it but our break was almost a bit too long, I wanted to see my Uni friends again and actually have a purpose to my life! The novelty of summer wears off pretty quickly when you realise you haven’t actually got many plans. That being said, I went away with friends to Wales and Turkey, went to Cornwall with my boyfriend and family, as well as going to Victorious Festival here in Portsmouth! I also did some part-time work and had plenty of pyjama days.

Starting back with our course was as busy as we anticipated; as per usual our tutors had no delays in dishing out the work. Our first project was set during induction week, though we’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that induction week just doesn’t exist in architecture, there was no plan to coax us back in slowly. It was inevitable from the start that this year is going to be tougher. Our current design project is twice the size of our last and worth half the credits, plus we have half the time! Just a small challenge! However I’m really happy with my tutor this year, he’s been one of my favourite lecturers throughout my first two years and is really constructive when we’re talking about our designs.

One of the most exciting things about this year is that I’ve made it onto teams for the University of Portsmouth Equestrian Club. I was part of the club last year but I can’t wait to get into it a bit more and ride on a regular basis. It’s so nice to still be able to carry on with a sport I really enjoy, even when I’m away from home and my pony!

I’ll be going home for the first time this term next weekend, which is a record for me! I’m still a home girl at heart but I am finding it easier to spend longer periods of time away from my family. That being said, I’m really looking forward to going home and seeing everyone, mostly for going to my brother’s tennis club on Saturday morning where they make the yummiest cakes ever! It’ll be lovely to have one of Mum’s roasts too…

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Architecture, Course, Reflection, Study

Third Year is Approaching. Fast.

I’m finding it very hard to digest the thought that I am now what is known as a ‘third year.’ The fact that I have completed two years of my degree already is so scary, and actually really sad. It feels like only yesterday that I was moving into A-1-1 of James Watson and meeting my flat mates for the first time. Despite the fact I lived with the most amazing bunch and complete mix of people in my first year, I never really knew my place, within my course or my accommodation. I always felt as if I was just ‘bumbling along’ but I never felt entirely comfortable. This year however, has been a difficult year for many personal reasons but on the whole I feel like at the end of Year Two I’ve finally found my place. I know this time next year I am going to be absolutely devastated to be leaving.

I’m not quite sure what it is that has made this year so fulfilling. I think perhaps moving into the new wing of Eldon Building, which had been specifically designed for my course, has been a factor. It really feels like a second home in there now, we have our studios with cupboards to store belongings and work, we have sofas and tea and coffee making facilities’, a fridge and a microwave. You literally could live there if they allowed it! When we moved in after Christmas it became a lot easier to get coursework done and I really felt like I got into a good, productive routine.

Architecture is unlike a lot of courses because we spend an awful lot more time in university than others. We have a ‘studio day’ where we’ll be in uni for the whole day, working in groups of around 20 people. A lot of people choose to work in studio at other times of the week as well, which means you end up getting to know people a lot more than just the odd ‘hello’ when you see them in a lecture twice a week. We’re a pretty sociable bunch, and I’m really lucky to have such a close friendship group within my course. We all tend to help each other out as well, particularly as it nears hand-ins and everyone is getting stressed and tuning into panic mode, it really helps having someone to reassure you who actually understands what you’re going through. I have relied on my course friends a lot this year, it seems like there is someone in the group to fit any purpose, someone for advice, others to make you laugh and cheer you up and others you can sit and chat for hours about absolutely everything with. In all honesty, if it hadn’t been for my incredible friends there is every chance I wouldn’t have completed this year. I’ve had such an astonishing turnaround since Christmas, I now don’t want to leave!

I’m currently trying not to think about the fact I only have one year left at University. All I can say to any fresher’s, or even second years, is to make the most of your time at Portsmouth. Take any opportunities you are given, the time you spend here will go so quickly, and they are years you will remember for the rest of your life.

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Architecture, Christmas, Course, Free time, Portsmouth

Update: Design Project and Christmas Spirit

Yesterday I had the final review for my first major project of this year. I’m sure I’ve explained what a review is before but basically we have to stand up in front of our studio groups and present our project, in the same way you would to a client. After the review we get feedback from peers and tutors to improve on our work for our final portfolio. As always the build up was STRESSFUL (notice the capitals) and it was in the last week that my housemates and I realised just how much more demanding second year is.  However, its all over now, and finally an opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep – not that we’re given long, with our next project being set tomorrow!

After review on Tuesday, one of my housemates Aimee and I went for a walk; just to clear our heads, get out of ‘work mode’ and a get a bit of fresh air. As the evening set in we took a stroll down Palmerston Road where sparkling Christmas lights greeted us along with market stalls selling cute gifts and delicious looking food, Christmas cupcakes decorated with miniature Christmas trees and Father Christmas’ though of course I gave into the warm mince pies with brandy cream. I was told that on Saturdays there is a much bigger market, so I’m heading down there again this weekend with some friends who are coming to visit from home. Going for a walk really got me into the Christmas/wintery mode, walking along the seafront as the sun was setting really made me appreciate how much I enjoy living in Portsmouth, and what a lovely city it is!

Tonight I’m going out on a social, at the beginning of this year I joined UPEC – University of Portsmouth Equestrian Club – and we’ve got a Harry Potter themed social tonight! As HP is one of my favourite things of all time its safe to say I’m just a little bit excited about it!

Just a short update for today, time for classic pesto pasta and dressing up as Ginny Weasley!

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Architecture, Course, Reflection, Time Management

Update: Half Way Point

Last week we shockingly reached the half way point of the first term and I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone already! The fact that it is now November and the countdown to Christmas is beginning is scary – I feel like I’ve only just started writing 2013 as the date instead of 2012!

The term so far has gone reasonably smoothly, Architecture is one of the courses that has a ‘research week’ in week 6 which means we have a week with no lectures – a perfect opportunity to catch up on overdue coursework! As always though, I planned to get loads done, and although I did do some work, being at home during my brothers half term was too much of a distraction and I ended up spending a lot of time with family and catching up with friends (which was lovely!) The date of our final review for our first major project is quickly approaching, and panic is just about to set in. I’m getting through this week trying to tie up loose ends and then knuckling down on Monday, as this weekend I’m taking my two lovely housemates home with me for the weekend so they can experience a traditional Sussex Bonfire night!

I’m feeling like this week hasn’t been terribly productive, but then again, I have had conjunctivitis so I have to cut myself a bit of slack! I’m always so hard on myself if I don’t spend my days constantly doing work, probably why this blog gets neglected some of the time. However I don’t think this is a bad thing, at least it shows I care about my work and want to do well!

Second year is already completely different from first year – in good ways and bad, there’s always that underlying thought of ‘this year actually counts’ which definitely adds a bit of pressure. Second year so far has been like the end of first year in terms of workload, but they seem to be expecting more work in a smaller time frame! There’s also more to think about in terms of our building design, everything just needs to be more detailed and refined, and we’ve also got the added pressure of trying to teach ourselves a gazillion different CAD software’s all at the same time!

One thing I’m definitely sure of, is I 100% chose to live with the right people, I know for sure I wouldn’t be able to get through Uni without them!

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Architecture, Course, Halls, Home, Reflection

New House

After nearly 3 weeks of living in a student house, I can’t decide if it’s what I expected or not. I was so, so excited to be living with my two best friends, and I can’t say that feeling has changed, although one thing that has surprised me is how long it took to settle in and get used to being away from home again. Considering how much I was looking forward to coming back, it took me a good week or so to feel happy here.

We all chose to move in a week before induction week started, so we could get things sorted in our house, buy any extra bits we needed and sort out our bills. However, this also meant we had a lot of time to kill, after going to Gunwharf, going to different parts of town and walking along the seafront, there was an awful lot of time left to sit in front of the TV watching films and eating ice cream.

I’ll be the first to admit that I wanted to go home nearly every day of our first week in our new house, but as soon as I saw some more people from our course and from my flat last year I was 100% happier, and now we’ve started lectures properly and got into more of a routine everything is pretty much perfect. There are still the obvious issues of when I’m going to do a load of washing, and what I’m going to have for dinner, but they’re the same kind of decisions I had to make last year, which is why I would urge anybody thinking of going to Uni or in the process of applying, to apply for halls as soon as they can, as it makes the process of moving away from home so much easier. I’ve found settling into a house this year difficult, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what a first year would feel like moving into a house miles away from home, living with people they’ve never met and having to organise rent, bills, budgeting and all the other extras that comes with a house as opposed to halls.

I’m going home this weekend for the first time this term, as my cousins are coming to stay and I’m going back to see them, but for the first time I don’t feel like I need to go home (although I am looking forward to it!) I’m never going to say no to Mums cooking or a cup of tea in bed!

Despite the fact we’ve only had three official days of our course starting (two for me as I have Mondays off!) our tutors haven’t messed around with setting us work. We’ve got one design project due in less than two weeks, and I’ve got no doubt I’ll get set another tomorrow for my other units. It’s clear already that second year is going to be a lot more intense than first year, but one of the benefits of living with people doing the same course as me is that we’re always motivating each other to do work. We also have the same amount of work, so we’re not considered anti social if we are just sitting doing coursework 24/7.

I think it’s going to take a good month or so to truly settle in and get into a routine. There’s so much to get used to, for one I’m living a good 20/25 minute walk from Uni, so I’m definitely feeling more tired at the moment! It’s different as well in a house as although I lived in a flat with 5 others last year we had a space that was defined as ‘ours’ whereas this year everything is much more communal, which obviously has advantages and disadvantages. So far, second year has treated me well. We had fun going out last week and enjoying some of the Fresher’s events, and now we’re getting stuck into our work and focusing on our projects.

 

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Architecture, Course, Reflection

My New (Uni) Year Resolutions!

If you’re like me and struggle to ‘reinvent yourself’ each January, the time society has led us to believe is the best time to start something new, join the gym or simply be kinder to your peers, keep reading! In my opinion, January is a month where I desperately try to perfect my lifestyle, and end up feeling eternally guilty for not making the gym, or eating a fat slice of cake. So I figured, maybe I should make my resolutions now, at the beginning of a fresh academic year.

It’s perhaps not the most practiced of traditions – (in fact can it even be called a tradition?!) but maybe it’s something all returning students should consider, to benefit themselves and perhaps any lucky Fresher’s who happen to be reading this! Most students probably think of things in their heads that they want to improve on from last year, but I bet there aren’t as many who write them down, and I often find that this makes a big difference. When something is written down its more official, more real, and if you stick something on your wall and read it everyday, (or in a blog where other people might witness your failure) there’s no excuse not to act!

So here it goes, my New (Uni) Year Resolutions, some which only apply to me, some to others on my course and hopefully some for everyone!

1)   Blog more regularly

This obviously applies directly to me but it’s hopefully something that will benefit any readers I have hiding out there, offering advice, entertainment or a distraction from coursework.

2)   Start Coursework/Projects on the day it is set

I don’t mean start and finish the whole thing, just do something that’s even remotely related to the topic of the project, such as re-reading and highlighting relevant notes, doing a bit of research, taking a book out of the library. On the day the task is set I (usually) feel more excited or motivated about it, but then as the weeks go on it becomes a bigger task that I have to complete in a rapidly decreasing amount of time. If I’ve started something, or even have a vague idea, when I come to completing big chunks of it I’m hoping it will seem less daunting!

3)   Use more precedents in my work, and write why I have used them

Now I sense some of you wondering what on earth I’m talking about, but people on a design course will know all too well. Precedents is basically another word for ‘work of others’ or ‘inspiration’. This was the weakest part of all my projects last year, so in my up and coming projects I’m going to make a real effort to look at more examples and show how other architects work has influenced my own!

4)   Make better use of the facilities the University has to offer me

Towards the end of the year I started using the library a bit more, but I can put my hand on my heart and say the only time I stepped into the workshop was the day we did our induction. As the School of Architecture is moving to the new part of Eldon Building, I’m definitely going to make a conscious effort this year to make use of all the brand spanking new equipment they’ve got, and hopefully it will have a positive impact on my work.

5)   Budget, budget, budget

Current students will know this word far too much, and this year I have promised my Mother that I will budget, and I will budget properly. I will sit down and work how much money I can spend each week, taking into account what goes in and out of my bank each month. Finances can be so difficult to judge in your first year, you’ve never been out and completed a ‘weekly shop’! I was in the tricky situation last year where my loan didn’t even cover the cost of my University halls, and I know a lot of my friends were in a similar situation. My Mum made me sit down and estimate how much I was going to spend on things like food, toiletries, course materials, travel, going-out etc. So off I went, working out how I could fund fresher’s week with only £15 in the ‘going out’ section (not through choice!) Everything seemed to work out fine in the end though, I muddled through first year not really taking much notice of my bank statements, but this year I want to make more of an effort, so I can hopefully save a bit of money as well. One tip I would give to new students though would to have a bit of money spare at the beginning of the year, as with most courses you’ll find that you suddenly have to buy certain books or equipment (especially with Architecture, you have to get certain sketchbooks and model-making bits – I’d keep at least £100 aside if you can.) You may also decide you want to join the gym, a sports club or another student society, most of which will have a membership fee, plus there’s always the possible situation of moving into your new accommodation only to realise you don’t have a kettle/toaster/you left your duvet at home.

6)   Gym/Swim/Stop sitting down so much

At the beginning of my first year I thought there was no point in joining the gym, I hardly used my membership at home I thought, no point in wasting an extra £120 on a membership here. Then I started Uni, and ate pasta approximately 5 times a week, and a packet of biscuits every time I had a cup of tea. The months developed and I could no longer fit into a skirt I wore in Fresher’s week, and I knew the gym was calling me. By November I was a member of St. Paul’s Gym, and I began to get into a routine of going a few times a week, but towards the end of the year my routine slipped as the coursework increased. This year I’m going to join from the beginning of the year, it works out at £10 a month for a year, which isn’t a lot and includes hire of badminton courts and all exercise classes. I also found out recently that there is a swimming pool near Maggie Rule halls, which I had no idea about all of last year (very annoying as I love swimming!), if you want to look it up it’s a called Charter Community Sports Centre, so I’m definitely going to make use of that this year!

So these are my resolutions for my New Year at University, hopefully there is some useful information in this long rambling post! Let me know what your New Uni Year Resolutions are!

 

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Architecture, Course, Halls, Home, Reflection

Looking Back: First Year

Thinking back to this time last year, I was finishing off my A levels and awaiting results, working a bit and spending time with family and friends. I had no idea what my first year of University would be like, and to be honest I don’t think I could have predicted it. I had a year of ups and downs, at some points I was so happy and wouldn’t have changed anything, at other times I wanted nothing more than to be at home curled up in my own bed. Realistically I chose to come to Portsmouth for completely the wrong reasons, but now I’m looking back, I wouldn’t change anything.

The best thing about this year is the people I’ve met. Yes, you go to University to get a degree, but it’s a well known saying that the friends you make at Uni are friends for life. One of the things I loved about Halls was that I met people and became great friends with the type of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, due to having different interests and tastes, and living hundreds of miles apart! Despite all that, by the end of the year flat A.1.1 and A.1.2 of James Watson became like a family to me, probably because we are all completely individual, which meant we all had something special to add to the group. Saying that, I didn’t necessarily like living with them ALL the time, only because I have a slight OCD when it comes to kitchen cleanliness, and it turns out that most boys don’t really enjoy washing up! (or wiping surfaces, or the oven, or even moving their dirty plates from the side)

Aside from the friends I made in Halls, I also made some really great friends on my course (two of who I’m living with next year). I met loads of people from all over the world, which is great because you end up learning about different cultures and religions, and everyone has something different to add to one big idea.

After many ups and downs of this year – mainly doubting my own abilities and choices, seeing my results has made me realise that I CAN do it and I will do well. Not fulfilling my own potential has always been a fear of mine. However, I now know that all the effort and stress and tears that I put into my work has actually paid off. I went through the year not really knowing what kind of level I was working at, which I found incredibly frustrating as I had no idea whether what I was doing was enough. I’m hoping though that this year has built me a platform on which to raise during my second year. I think also that living in a house with two girls on my course will mean we are all there to support one another and make each other do our coursework! (or just distract each other even more)

In hindsight, I did choose Portsmouth for the wrong reasons, and there’s been times in the year where I have missed home, but luckily for me, I only live two hours away – possibly the only sensible reason I did choose Pompey. However, I’m happy it’s where I ended up. I’ve made friends for life and finished my first year with really good results. What’s not to be happy about?

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