Course, Portsmouth, Student, Study, The city, Uni Life

First Year in a Nutshell

Exactly 419 days ago I travelled a fair few miles down to the South coast of England to embark on a new chapter of my life. I waved Goodbye to my family, Goodbye to my friends, Goodbye to food, Goodbye to sleep, Goodbye to all sense of sanity and settled into a new city that would be my home for the next three years.

20150913_123544I had soo much stuff!  It was a struggle to get it all in the car #throwback

This was the first time I had ever really been away from home by myself so I was a little out of my comfort zone. Although I was well-equipped with how to look after myself I had never cooked a proper meal in my life nor had I ever had to do everything for myself, so it took a bit of getting used to.

I must point out that I was also one of the few that unfortunately didn’t get a place in the university halls so I was even more nervous as I was quite a walk from the University and had no idea where anything was. Google Maps definitely helped me through my first few weeks and by then I had scoped out the area, found my University buildings and the local shops.

The city itself was a little different to what I was used to, it was a lot smaller and I soon noticed that aside from the mass of students it was very quiet. I rather enjoyed this though, it made life seem more calm and relaxed.

Freshers week was a real laugh. I didn’t go overboard but I still had tons of fun. I loved the fact that everyone was so open and talkative, happy and enjoying themselves, living in the moment. I met a lot of people from different parts of the UK which was quite nice and some of whom I’m still friends with now. I would encourage everyone to go and have fun, that’s what freshers is all about! And if the freshers parties and club events are really not your thing, you can still go the freshers fayre and attend the variety of society tasters they have going on.

After a couple weeks I had settled into a whole new routine, met some wonderful new people and got stuck into my course. At first, I admit I found my course rather challenging. It is quite a difference to Sixth form or College but more in terms of teaching than content in my opinion. A lot of my first year units built on what I had already learnt so having that foundation made it a lot easier. I’d say the step up from College to University was fitting in terms of my course, especially having done such relevant A-levels (Biology, Chemistry, Maths). The assignments were quite time-consuming but I found them rather enjoyable. I loved doing more research and learning more about different areas of my course. If anyone is debating University because of the work load the only thing I’d mention is that you do have a lot of time. By far a lot more than I had at College. It does depend on the course, but most of the time university hours are equivalent to only 3 days a week.

Although I spent a lot of my free time going out and having fun with my friends I was often found in the library hard at work, especially close to exam time. I managed to finish with the equivalent to a 2:1 which is pretty good.

A year and a half later and here I am. In contrast, I can now successfully cook myself dinner (and I promise it’s not just pasta everyday), I’m managing my schedule pretty well, aiming for a first class grade and almost half way through my degree which I must stay is pretty scary. It’s definitely gone by quick. I’d stay that the first year was quite a learning curve for me and so i’ll leave you with the three most important lessons I learnt…

1. Stay true to yourself

You’ll meet tons of different people, from different upbringings and with different morals. Some people think that they have to change to fit in but University gives you the platform to express yourself, and be you. There is something for everybody. You can still be you and do your own things, just in a different surrounding with lots of opportunities to do things you’ve always wanted to do.

2. Make the most of it

You’re not going to be at University all your life (unless you decide to study forever and become a lecturer) so make the most of the time you have there. Try different things, go out, explore, maybe even join a club or society. One day you’ll look back at your University days, so make it something to remember.

3. Don’t forget what you’re there for

Coming from experience it’s important to keep the right balance between work and play.

“Work hard, play harder”

There is nothing better than celebrating success. Having a good night out after finishing exams or finally handing in that assignment. But don’t be that person with nothing to celebrate.

Hope you enjoyed my post, See you soon 🙂

Antonette

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Course, Coursework, Exams, Free time, Future, Island Experience, Portsmouth, Reflection, The city, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Two Years Down, One To Go

I feel like I should be feeling a lot more relieved right now than I actually do. I HAVE FINISHED MY SECOND YEAR AT UNIVERSITY. Wow.

There are so many mixed emotions which come with finishing a year of study. On one hand I feel immensely proud of everything I have done. I have achieved so so much and come so far in the last year. Yet also I feel quite sad. The looming reality of life after uni is starting to really dawn on me. One. More. Year.

It’s insane how quickly the time seems to be going; it feels like mere months ago I was a fresh-faced first year, battling my way up the stairs in Bateson Halls armed with a load of cooking utensils I would never take out of the packaging but needed ‘just in case’, ready to meet my new housemates. It feels like weeks ago I moved into my house I have now been living in for 8 months. I feel a little scared if I’m honest.

I can’t believe my time at Portsmouth is slowly but surely drawing to an end. My heart is sinking as I am writing this just to think about the prospect of leaving. I am so blessed to have spent the time here that I have. A year seems so far away: so much will happen in that time… And yet I think back on the past two and fear that the third will disappear into memories just as quickly.

For now, I am going to enjoy the sea, take trips to my favourite little cafes, exploit the fact we have countless outlet stores at Gunwarf Quays, ride my bike around the most flat city ever and breathe in the sea air! I love Portsmouth so much. I am going to make the most of my remaining time here like I have tried to for the previous two years. I am lucky enough to have the advantage of my course finishing early, meaning I have free time to appreciate Portsmouth.

To all students here: enjoy your time here, do not take it for granted. To future students: coming to Portsmouth will almost certainly be the best three(+) years of your life. And to myself? Here’s to the next and final year!

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Other University Factors, Portsmouth, The city, Uni services

WHO WOULD SAY?

So this is my fifth day in the city and I must say I’m feeling somehow blessed. Seems like the good weather welcomed me to this beautiful city and so far so good.

I was worried about how friendly people were going to be and whether people would be distant towards me but it turned out I had nothing to worry about. I arrived Wednesday morning and my supervisor offered to come and get me at Gatwick and had lunch in Brighton until the other Brazilian PhD student would arrive. That was my first bump with hospitality. Incredible. Brighton is such a beautiful place! And the sun just spoiled me. Such a great welcoming. It took a while from Gatwick back to Portsmouth, but it was great to see some of the roads and landscapes heading towards the south.

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A view of the sea at Brighton’s seafront

It’s kind of tricky starting a life in the UK. Many things to deal with once you get here. So, the first one was getting somewhere to stay for a few days. That was not a problem because, and again as like a ritual amongst people of SEES, I had someone giving me a roof for the first days. Not only the roof, but every tip and help I could have wished for. Wow!

Next step? Paperwork.

I have a research council bursary so I just needed to give a few more steps to complete all the needed paperwork. Get a bank account, an address and a national insurance number. For those who are living for a long time or were born in the UK it might sound weird, but those are actually big issues for international people. It is not that easy to open a bank account or dealing with all the rest. So first of all, for anyone starting, go find your supervisor and people responsible for you in Uni! Things can be much easier. Luckily, since I’m Portuguese and there are such good and friendly people in Portsmouth, I didn’t have to ask for the Uni Letter for banking or else I would have to wait a while longer to get an appointment in Lloyds, which at this time of the year is quite booked.

I also found friendly and professional staff at the “Bursary Office” who just helped out with all the other requirements. They were helpful and thoughtful. I’m just amazed. And yes, everything can be solved or adjusted with this friendly team.

Back in SEES I had the chance to meet more staff, to get to know some other students and have a tour around the building. We even had a reception party Saturday at my supervisor’s home, to meet all the group researchers. A good chance to taste UK’s curry as well.

Since I’m staying in PO4 I had the chance to stroll to the centre of the city by the seafront promenade, during this fantastic sunny day. Though the beach is made of pebbles it actually made me wonder if I could skip my duties and have a sun bath instead.

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There are such interesting facts about Portsmouth, some you can catch up with by just having a walk in the seafront

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A proof that you can have a warm and sunny day, with flat sea, in the UK.

This week I’m headed to Bristol for a couple of days, an opportunity to get to know ‘rocky’ freshers and a bit of UK. I know that the good weather is now leaving and that rain will catch up, but is going to be great the same.

How was your first week at Uni?

Cheers,

Inês

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Portsmouth, The city, Uni Life

City Living!

Disclaimer: I have never been around this many people in my entire life!

I’m from a small town in the middle of the country (Yes, The Midlands, they are right between the north and the south!) which no one has heard of. Whenever I meet somebody new and they ask where I’m from I just generalise to Northampton. When really I’m from a small town called Corby in Northamptonshire. Now, I’ve already learned that nobody has heard of it but I had no idea that I would be labelled as ‘northern’. This happens nearly daily and now after a week I’ve come to the conclusion that I am nothern. Or at least northern to the people of the south.

For my enitre 18 years of existence I’ve been used to recognising nearly every face that I pass by on the streets. But since moving to Portsmouth I feel like I am in a scene from Limitless with my brain travelling at tremendous speeds, trying to take in all possible information that I can. It’s only become more evident that I am not a city native when I’m trying to cross the road. I’ll be waiting patiently at the designated crossing, and from the corner of my eye I can see groups of people just crossing at any old section of the road, and quite frankly I do not have that much courage! To think, you are taking on a 2 tonne beast known as a car on it’s home turf with all the confidence of a Spanish matadore – while I’m shying away waiting for the green man to start flashing! I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be jaywalking anytime soon!

Fresher’s Fayre

Fresher’s Fayre. That time of year when every single company, take away, sports club/society all come in one place and try to coax you into joining by offering you free stuff. The amount of leaflets and lanyards I now have means I have a personal pile of free pizza waiting to be collected – which I can assure you it will! I was also featured in a university video all about Fresher’s Fayre which you can check out below:

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

Chaplaincy

Located on the ground floor of the Nuffield Centre there’s a space called the Chaplaincy, and in today’s blog I wanted to highlight this great place.

Chances are that many students are not aware of it. It’s a quiet, interfaith area, where students can relax on sofas and beanbags to chat or chill-out in a peaceful and civilised environment. Fairy lights strung up the walls and classical music playing gently in the background give the Chaplaincy a hospitable feeling. There are even free tea and coffee making facilities – useful to know when your wallet’s empty but you could do with a hot drink to help you recharge! If you ever have time in-between lectures and don’t have a place to turn, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the Chaplaincy. Just respect that it’s a quiet place, and it should stay that way.

Take a look here to find out more. The Chaplaincy is a place for people of any faith, or none at all. Although I’ve never met with a chaplain myself, they’re always around to speak to if you have any problems, and you don’t even need an appointment.

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Course, Free time, Nightlife, Study, The city

That Library Feeling

I must admit, I had never really used a library before I came to university. If I ever wanted to know about something when I was at school or college, I would always turn to the internet. I thought libraries were boring, stuffy places. Yet since I’ve been here at Portsmouth, I have started to enjoy my visits to the university library.

At first I was a bit intimidated; finding a single book in this gigantic place unnerved me. But it wasn’t long before I  had mastered the library’s e-catalogue, and now finding a relevant work is second nature. The more time you spend in the library, the more you realise what a wealth of knowledge is waiting to be uncovered. Sometimes it’s just fun to search the catalogue for a random word and see what comes up. There are books on everything! The new computerised system for withdrawing and returning books makes the process even easier, and is kind of futuristic!
You can easily lose track of time flicking through the daily newspapers on the ground floor, or observing the informative displays, which change regularly – a recent one about LGBT celebrities caught my attention. The library retains a powerful energy. Sound and time seem repressed and muted, yet the building is a meeting place for everyone in the university, and that vibrant aura permeates between the rows of tomes. It’s almost as if you can see the energy, like the dust particles sparkling in a ray of light on a sunny afternoon.

Now, when I want to find out more on a topic, I turn to the trusty library. Every time I leave that great building, my backpack laden with heavy books, I get a strange twinge that I’m a student. It’s a good sensation, scholarly and strangely optimistic. The library feeling strikes again!

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

Hello February!

I can’t believe it has been a whole month since Big Ben struck twelve and the date ticked over to 2014. It’s certainly been a very wet and windy start to the year!

Although my dissertation was looking quite pitiful at the beginning of this second term, somehow the word-count now reads nearly 7000, and I’ve finally emailed my work to my supervisor for review – I’m eagerly awaiting the feedback!

While I try to muster up my energy for the next bout of disso writing, the ebb and flow of life pushes me softly onwards, and time slips by like water through open hands. I took a few minutes to complete the Nation Student Survey and got a free lunch voucher. (The information from the NSS goes to Unistats, a great website for comparing University courses.) Then I went to see the powerful and emotional film ‘12 Years A Slave‘ with group of coursemates last week. You can’t look at slavery the same once you’ve seen such a movie, and it really does hammer home the learning from my current two units, ‘African American History and Culture’ and ‘Civil Rights in the USA’. Yes, watching a film really can count as studying.

On a lighter note, I also spent a weekend with my girlfriend cooking Japanese food and playing Pokémon Crystal on Gameboy, because it’s cool to be retro. Everyone deserves a break at the weekend, right?

So now February has arrived, and another month of universitying and dissertationing lies ahead. Bring it on!

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