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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Accomodation, Student, Student Housing, Time Management, Uni Life

How To Pack Up/move out Your Dorm Room

So this is it the final week at University. Beside reminiscing all the memories and hours in the library studying there’s actually one more thing that I have to worry about: packing. Moving out is much more difficult when you don’t have your parents around to help you organise all the clothing, knick knacks which you’ve accumulated over the year! It can be overwhelming to think about leaving the place that you have called ‘home‘ for the past year. Here are some tips on how to pack up/move out:

 

1. First off, don’t leave all the packing on the last day, you can start packing small amounts at a time and set up some small goals each day to accomplish. If you’re coming back in the new term, you may consider renting a storage unit with a friend who also plans to return.

2. Start packing your clothes early. Pack away your winter clothing first that you definitely won’t wear now. Then move on to everything else.

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3. Throw out trash, clothes, wrappers, old papers or the things that you don’t need.Recycle the papers. Instead of discarding (and therefore wasting) the other items, give them to a friend or a dorm mate or leave it in a place for anyone to take.

4. Tidy up. Purge the fridge. Sweep and vacuum your dorm room, throw away any remaining garbage in the trash. Clean the bathroom and leave the room as the first time when you moved in.

5. Return the key to the hall reception and redirect your mail.

 

Comment below if you’ve any other tips on moving out/packing up. Good luck to everyone moving out!

 

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International, Portsmouth, Student, Study, Time Management, Uni Life, Uni services, Work experience

6 things International Student needs to know

For most international students, coming to study in the UK can be exciting, or intimidating. In order to enjoy both studying and living abroad, it is crucial to be fully prepared. After staying in Portsmouth for 8 months, I’ve spoken to a number of international students and marked down a few things that international students have to think about before arriving in the UK.

  1. Research

It would be good if you speak to anyone already in the UK or the alumni from your country. I’ve asked my friend who is a graduate from the University of Portsmouth and she helps me a lot in the process of applying the course. The next step is have a look on the University website for an idea of the things you might need to consider. Besides, don’t be afraid to contact the university directly to ask about the course details or other arrangements. Besides, there are always local advisers or agencies that provide details on studying in Portsmouth. Learn about the clubs and societies here at the University of Portsmouth.

2. Be academically prepared

If English is not your mother tongue, try to improve it to a level where you can feel confident about using it both academically and socially. Check out Global café in Park Building on every Wednesday, you will be able to meet friends from all over the world.

3. Working in the UK 

International Students usually pay a higher tuition fees than domestic students. Luckily, the Purple Door supports students to find jobs or career planning. Getting a part-time job not only provides some extra money, but also an opportunity to extend your networks and improve your language skills.

4. Student accommodation
Accommodation is one of the most important things that you’ve to concern about because this is where you’ll spend most of your time, meet your first friends and where you have to sleep! Normally you will get into student halls as an international student, here are some advice on choosing student accommodation.

5. Freshers’ Fayre

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This is a week held at the start of the academic year which involves all the way from induction to huge bar crawls, find your way around your campus, clubs and societies and start to get used to living in the UK. As an international student, you’ll find some particular events that are designed for international students such as coach trip to Brighton or Oxford.

6. Finally, the Weather

The weather in UK is unpredictable. Even if the sun is shining, rain clouds can quickly appear and result in short, heavy downpours. Make sure you bring appropriate clothing and always carry an umbrella (even though sometimes it’s too windy to use an umbrella).

 

 

As always, feel free to ask questions or add anything else in the comments below. 🙂

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Exams, Time Management

A Few Study Tips to Achieve your Goals in Exam

I would have assumed that the end of term is supposed to be dull and exhausting, and course, the FINAL EXAM. Most of us know the basics like make a clear plan, find a distraction-free study corner, get plenty of sleep , etc. Here are some other study tips, try any of these..

      1. Form a study group

        Why not form a study group with friends? Sometimes it would be better not to study solo, it’ll provide you with moral support, and also motivate you to achieve good grades.

      2. Embrace New Technologies

        Imagine that a Facebook notification pops up when you’re revising, so you check it out and waste another few minutes. To avoid distractions like this, the SelfControl app helps you block websites for a certain amount of time. This allows you to concentrate on your studies as well as to avoid sporadically checking social networks or your email.

      3. Eat brain-boosting foods

        A typical mistake that students make throughout the exam periodis to eat poorly and unhealthily. Keep your brain well-functioned by choosing nutritious foods that help memory and concentration such as fish, nuts, yogurt and fruits. Avoid energy drinks, go for a cup of coffee instead – who doesn’t like the smell of coffee? Warning: Don’t overdose!

Finally, and I know this might sounds cheesy, but I have one last piece of advice for you all.

Trust yourself and Trust your abilities.

Good luck!

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Coursework, Exams, Free time, Home, Student, Time Management, Travels, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Busy Busy Busy Busy

I’m a little ashamed at how long it’s been since I’ve written a post (*cough*two months*cough). From September to February I can proudly say I wrote one roughly every two weeks but alas with the tightening grip of deadlines I have been somewhat absent from the blog.

I haven’t spent this time shying away from writing though! I have written a short story, a screenplay, twelve poems, two articles, a review and a lot a lot a lot of essays! It’s been rather hectic to say the least. I can imagine any of you reading this right now can sympathise.

Still, no excuse for how long I have been gone. I did also take a trip to Spain amongst all that so it hasn’t been all work-based! On Saturday I return to Portsmouth to finish off my second year here. It’s insane how quickly the time has gone. I remember returning after Easter last year and feeling a slight sadness that my first year at university was coming to a close. I had achieved so much in my short time and met some wonderful people who I can confidently say I will be close to for life, now. It’s jarring that I am now here again. Where does the time go? I imagine I will be writing a very similar post this time next year (apart from the not posting for two months part – let’s not do that again!). This time next year, when I am weeks away from being an actual graduate-cum-real-life-adult. I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. I’m not convinced I ever will be!

However, I am beginning to take some (sort of adult) steps towards my future. I am setting aside money for driving lessons/car/insurance when I graduate so I can get myself from A to B when I’m living God-knows-where. I am also going to move my life savings bit-by-bit, when my current ISA ends in August, into a home-savers ISA. As very kindly explained to me by my Auntie who works in a bank, you can put away a certain amount per month and when you go to put down a deposit on a house/mortgage the Government give you 25% of what you’ve saved for free! Wahoo! So, if you have a partner and you both save £12,000 each, the Government will give you £3,000 each so you have an extra £6,000 total to put down on a house. So maybe it’s not so much of a hopeless dream to get our feet on the housing ladder after all?

I have also applied to do work experience over summer with my favourite online magazine ever – The Debrief. So fingers crossed there! I feel like now that I’ve written it down I’ve jinxed it. I won’t even write it in my calendar because it’ll make me too sad to have to cross it out if I don’t get the placement.

I have one more final exam in about two weeks which makes me feel so scared I want to cry but I’m slowly getting there with my revision. I’m writing my lists and breaking it down so it seems more manageable.

I’m really starting to have to think about life after uni now, not that I want to! It’s ever so exciting but also absolutely terrifying. With how busy this academic year has been I can only imagine what I’m in for when my final year begins. Big things are coming up and I hope I manage to take the right steps to lead me to a happy future after this big university adventure draws to a close.

This blog post has been rather disjointed as it is really just an update – these are the many things I have been up to and here’s where I propose to go from here! I absolutely promise promise promise I will post within the next week. The deadline hell is over and I can get back to what I love most: writing.

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Free time, Student, Study, Time Management, Uncategorized, Uni Life

A Diary is the Key to Your Organisation

I am by nature the most disorganised person you will probably ever come across. Honestly, I’m a nightmare. I would probably forget my own birthday if it weren’t for my calendar and, most importantly, my diary.

In secondary school you no doubt had a ‘student planner’ which, along with providing great entertainment with games of MASH and doodling, also would have had the scribblings of what you had to get done and on which days.

For Christmas this year I received this absolute beauty, which in many ways resembles our old student planners.

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It has honestly become my life in a book. I carry it everywhere. I haven’t forgotten about a single birthday, deadline, meeting or event this year.

It has a clear plastic cover which keeps it in pristine condition – no dog-eared pages for me! It also has a pocket at the back which I use to keep a few cute little notes, appointment cards and train tickets in. It has two little ribbon bookmarks attached which help me to keep my place. I always have one on the week we are on and one on where I have copied out my timetable in the back.

When you open it you have a 12 month-by-month calendar view, like you would on a wall calendar. This enables you to see the whole month at a glance and very quickly get an idea of what you have on.


Then there are weekly pages throughout. Monday to Sunday take up the left hand page, leaving the right page free for notes. On Sunday evening I write a list in the coming weeks ‘notes’ section of all the things I want to achieve that week and I am yet to fail to complete it. This helps to keep me focused and ensure that, especially with deadlines approaching, I am on top of all my work. I may have seven deadlines in the next few weeks but that doesn’t intimidate me any more because I can break it down bit by bit and I only have to focus on this weeks list. I don’t need to worry about next week. Each month also has its own colour scheme and design down the side and so I am using colour coordinated pens for the months (it’s very satisfying!).

Finally, the back is full of so many useful pages. This includes an address book, birthdays & important dates list, travel planning, space for planning museums, galleries & exhibition trips, films & books, to do lists, a further notes section and incredibly useful tear out shopping lists right next to a recipe ideas section. It’s just perfect and has everything you need!

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So, if you don’t have a diary I strongly suggest getting one. It has been absolute key to my organisation this term and I now couldn’t imagine where I’d be without it. You can almost definitely pick them up very cheap now that we’re half way through February!

 

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Future, Other University Factors, Student, Time Management, Travels, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Top Tips For University Open Days!

So seeing as I’m somewhat halfway through my first year at university, I still have the memories of UCAS, personal statements and open days all still fresh in my mind. So I thought I’d share my Five Tips for planning and having a great and informative time when attending open days!

  1. PLAN AHEAD

I can not stress enough how important it is to plan ahead in time! When I was planning my university open days I looked at all the ones which were coming up fairly soon, and I then decided to try and go to one a fortnight. I vigorously planned my travel, and sometimes accommodation if they were far, mainly so that I’d get the best deals. Planning about 3 weeks ahead means that train prices will be at an affordable rate – so PLAN AHEAD!

2. TAKE A FRIEND

Now this is something I neglected to do, so learn from my mistake! Many people you know will be going with their families but I say to take a friend with you. While going with parents might help make an informed choice it might not always be a critical choice – your parents will always support you with whatever you choose, so taking a friend who can be completely honest with you can help you make more of critical choice as they wouldn’t want you going to a university you won’t like!

3. EXPLORE THE CITY

Most of the time people, including myself, will move a far distance away from home to go to university (I moved 170 miles!). So making the most of your open day should include a few hours exploring some local sights and hotspots. Not only will you feel a bit more at ease if you do choose to attend that university as you will know some of the area, it is also a great excuse to go shopping – and who doesn’t love shopping?!

4. TALK TO CURRENT STUDENTS

When you go on your open day you’ll find people dressed in the university colours, usually holding a large ‘ASK ME’ sign. Talk. To. Them. These Student Ambassadors are able to give you information on everything from how easy is it to find all the university buildings, to what is the social life of the city like. During the day you might not get a lot of time to ask questions to students so when you do – make the most of it!

5. HAVE FUN

This is probably my favourite tip that somebody told me! While the day will be full of informative talks and tours you should always have fun! This goes back to having a friend with you, you both could make the whole day more enjoyable for each other!

I hope these 5 tips help when you’re going to your university open days. Remember to ask all the questions you can and make an informed choice about where you want to study for the next 3 years of your life!

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