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, Travels

the excitement of planning your next break!

Today’s post will be on planning a Break.

Yes, I’ve always been of the opinion that having good, quality time off work/studies increase your capability of retaining more information, boosting not only your mood but your creativity as well. And we all know that creativity is key in every single area. And, I can add, if you have breaks now and then, you will be much more sociable and understanding to others. I also believe that most discussions and upsetting situations are born from people being tired. And being tired is not always evident. You might be sleeping 9 hours a day and still be tired.

Planning a trip is exciting. The thrill of preparing and booking places to visit, to eat or to sleep is unique. And then, when you get to experience everything you put together, learning with the less positive and enjoying the great chances you allowed yourself, is just a blast!

I have the distinct idea people believe that planning a trip might be too expensive. It will all come down to what are you up for?

I can give you some tips of how I do my planning and some rules I tend to preserve while I hope you too are willing to share yours; improving our skills as travellers is always worthwhile.

1. Decide where you want to go and with who; 

Believe it or not, this is crucial. You might be BFF with someone, but in the end, you don’t share the same way of travelling. If you are travelling with people that are going for clubbing and you want to do sightseeing and a cultural programme you might have a problem! Either you adjust to each other and plan how both are going to make  good company for each other, or in the end, neither will be happy. Or enjoy as much as you can.  Choosing the location where you want to go should depend more on your interests and curiosity. But, if you just want to explore Europe or the wildlife, then you can jump to step 2.

2. Book your flights and accommodation previously;

I have a rule concerning planning my breaks. I always divide the month expenses. What do I mean? Well, if I’m going to Italy in March, I will try to pay my hotel in February and my flights in January. I know that planning too ahead is complicated, and obviously not always you can book flights months prior to your break. And plus, I’m referring to breaks, during work/classes. Holidays can follow some of these tips, but if you want to go to Australia, managing that should follow other timings. So, if you feel you can manage travel expenses (museum and other attraction tickets; food; transportation) plus accommodation, then you should only worry first about the flight tickets. Because I love to find deals, I tend to book my rooms in advance. You can find good bargains.

FLIGHT SEARCH: You probably know this one already: Skyscanner. This search engine really gives you the best deals. But, obviously, the best user you are, the most of it, you will get. For instance, sometimes you might struggle with flight’s timetable. If you are departing from Portsmouth, the closest you get from one of London’s airports is Gatwick. You can also find good deals from the Southhampton one. But, departing from Gatwick Airport you need to think when is the earliest train that can take you there and the last one, on the return. This will already limit your flight search. Usually its less expensive to book the flights combined, because of booking fees, but don’t be strained by it.

Because a break usually is short, you can also combine your options. For instance, you can combine London airports, and then you might find more interesting flights. In March, I’m planning an escape to Lisbon and because usually the more economic return flight is at 6.30am, I selected the return to Heathrow and then I was able to pick an equal-priced flight at 10.30am. This will make my return flight management easier.

ACCOMMODATION SEARCH: I am, without any doubt, a Booking.com user. I think that making an account is quite easy and it is worth it. With time, you will become a .genius member, and some promotions will be available only to you. For instance, I booked a hotel room in a fancy place in Portugal for 35 euros, when, for someone else, would cost 40 euros. You need to be patient and not rush for the first option. I usually tend to use the map to explore accommodation options in respect to the city. The map will appear in the left sidebar after you’ve put your search details. But you have other options. I’ve used Tripadvisor as well, but only once. My experience was great. I think it is more limited, with fewer options. But, you might find different ones. So, just check with the same search details. For the past two years, I have also used Airbnb. I do like this website, because not only is its structure very secure, but you can also find apartment/house deals. This is interesting if you are planning a more cozy escape, with friends or boyfriend, and you want to cook and spend some indoors time. This will decrease your food costs and probably it will be a cheaper alternative to accommodation as well.  You have rooms as well, so you can have fun exploring it. The downside of this one is that you need to pay right away whilst with Booking.com you might find some options where you can just make the reservation and pay once you get there. Plan ahead your intentions so your search can be more effective.

TIP: take your time searching. You don’t need to book right away, just because you’ve started. Do it now and then, so maybe you can find the best deal. Finding flight bargains is much like gambling, you never know.

3. Visit the tourism websites and read blogs beforehand;

Having set up the time you have got for your break and the real time you have to visit your destination, then you should focus on a realistic plan. Don’t start putting all the attractions in your plan. This is a rookie mistake, I’m afraid. Depending on the distances and the time it takes to visit whatever you want, sometimes you can go to 1 to 2 attractions in the morning and the same amount in the afternoon. Obviously, this will depend on the time you need to see what you want. That’s why blogs are an effective way to help your planning. Others usually have good tips and they are willingly sharing their know-how. It is better to see less, but better. Just rushing all the way and only having a grasp of what you are visiting is not the proper way of getting to know your surroundings. If you want to taste food during your break then you should allow yourself a good two-hour lunch or dinner.

I do like starting from the tourism websites, because not only usually  do they have an English version, but they are very well organised. It is easy to get a good idea of what you can visit. And they are more up to date than Google is. You can easily get information on the attractions timetable and any last-minute news. Put everything into your tablet or, as me, an old-fashioned gal, write it on paper. This will be your route guide.  You can save it later with postcards you might buy. Memories can last, but some items usually help them crawl out of our head.

 4. Be responsible with money;

I don’t like that feeling of counting my money to make sure I can get back home. And not being able to enjoy where I am! That’s not a good way of ending your escape journey. Therefore, and though it might seem silly, I do like the idea of putting money in an envelope. So, if I want to go somewhere next month, I will put £40/50 (depending on what I want to do) there. This is like the life-jacket. I might use it or not. But is good to have a backup plan. If you can’t do it, then just make a Plan B during your stay, so you can still enjoy but not go overdrawn.

This weekend I had my Break. I went back home and I had a really enjoyable time though the weather was quite depressing. It was raining cats and dogs and the winds were crazy. We were in a red warning zone. Nonetheless, I planned on doing indoor activities that could fill our time and, unfortunately, we had to forget about most of the outdoor ones. We went to Sintra, one of my favourite places in the world, and we managed to visit two Palaces, one in each afternoon, do Geocaching (not as much as we wanted!) and just doing some sightseeing in the end.  Overall I spent more £30 than I was expecting, which for a 3-night accommodation and everything else included I thought was okay.

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The weather conditions made this visit even more mystical – welcome to the Pena Palace

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The fog and the cold made us think how living in the Palace in the old days could have been harsh

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The king that bought the Palace was of the romantic type

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And he was very inspired by Asian culture

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Because we were in the route of palaces – welcome to the National Queluz Palace

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This is called the music room, with an extension to the next one; imagine the balls…

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and the delight of musicians, playing for kings, princes and nobles of that time

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This palace is very well known because of its gardens

 

I feel like travelling connects me more with different cultures and situations, which makes me feel more alive and human.

Hope you find my tips useful and do let us know if you are planning a break.

Ciao

Inês

 

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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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Christmas, Free time, Travels

…so this is Christmas!

Oh Oh Oh…

It is already Christmas time! All the mince pies and warm mulled wine around. Yet, I would expect to be colder in December. Not yet, though! But still, no one can deny that Christmas spirit is now set up.

All around the UK, I’m finding lots of Christmas Markets. They are just lovely! I know that originally they are a German custom, but it feels like it is part of the UK now. I loved the Winchester one. It suited the town so well, it almost seemed that it was part of it all along. And it has an ice rink!!! No doubt that Winchester is a beautiful place to visit and hang out, better if you have lots of wood sheds with Christmas lights and sweet smells floating around. It is amazing the creativity these guys have. You can find lovely things in these markets. Just beware of your finances and don’t get crazy!

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we had some pizza and cider for lunch

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A nice place for those of you who would like to try the >60 varieties they have

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The Winchester Cathedral 

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Just right beside the Cathedral, people gathering in the Christmas Market

After Winchester, I had a small trip to Southampton. I really liked it there. And again, there was this massive Christmas Market, with loads of food and handy craft sheds. Lovely! I met a french woman selling family owls, made by her with tissue, and personalised for each customer. They were so, so cute!  But Southampton sure deserves the hour trip. With about £11 you buy a return train ticket from Portsmouth and then you can discover all the wonders the city has to offer, including the SeaCity Museum with an exhibition dedicated to Titanic’s story. It is a walled city and you can find several “bits” of it all the way through, if you allow yourself a good stroll until the sea front. There are, as well, excellent shops and even an Ikea! Handy for those of you who still need some pimping up their bedrooms/flat.

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The original gate to Southampton

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During the World Wars, much of the city was destroyed

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parts of the wall that you can still see

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Santa’s sleigh making the wonders in another Christmas Market

I’m off now, heading to Portugal again, to meet my family, friends and boyfriend. It seems forever now that I had them just in front of me, and I’m missing them being around. I guess, even for those who don’t believe in the Christmas tradition, that it is kind of inevitable not to be filled with love feelings during this season. So I hope you have the opportunity to be with your loved ones. If not, try to be surrounded by friends, and allow yourself extra time to do some skyping with family.

Now that classes are over, it seems a long time until examinations and assessments during January. But beware! Time flies away when you are enjoying yourself, and sooner than later you will be returning to your routine, with the extra need to refocus quickly. This is dangerous and it is not a good feeling to be rushed back to study after a long pause. While I was an undergrad I always tried to study a couple days just before and after Christmas, so I wouldn’t leave everything to do after New Year’s Eve. It is complicated, yes! It doesn’t feel like it, yes! There are a bunch of better things to do, yes! But no one else is going to make you succeed in your upcoming tasks and it would be a bummer if you failed after so much effort. I advise you to keep up with your studies and don’t be amazed by the free time you have during this season.

 

Enjoy your sweets and your holidays, and see you soon,

 

Inês

 

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Travels

Still on my way to get to Portsmouth

Preparing to start your graduate studies? What would you say if not only that but moving away from your home country? Well… that’s me! I’m Inês – yes, with that awful ^ – coming from Portugal and hoping to stay for the next 3 years. It is not my first time moving while studying, but this is definitely more challenging. First of all I have to move much further away; having gone to Madrid due to ERASMUS was much easier. Portugal and Spain share almost the same language, life style and so on.  Starting in Portsmouth it will be just another level of life change. In second, I’m coming for my PhD in Geology. So much more responsibilities and research challenges as well. For that I’m truly excited. Third… packing! Yes… packing in such conditions must be the hardest thing. Because, and most definitely the most important, what kind of clothing will I need?!

Let me present the climate of Portugal… most precisely Lisbon, the capital, and usually where I live.  Average temperature is 21 ⁰C, reaching 42 ⁰C during summer months and 13 ⁰C in winter months. During a year it might rain something like 774mm, concentrated in about 3 to 4 months. So I could say Lisbon has mild to hot weather during most of the year. Dress code: thin jeans, skirts, dresses, blouses to thin sweaters. Most of the time there is no need for thick coats, though it is much more interesting to wear nice coats in winter time. Let me just compare with what we might find in Portsmouth. So average high temperature is about 14.5 ⁰C while the average low temperature goes for 8.2 ⁰C (is this true?! If so, not so bad). In a year it might rain around 700mm/year. So that’s really interesting, because usually we see the UK as a rainy-day country. I find this discover very refreshing (and dry!). I do not like rain very much. It keeps us out of the street. It keeps us off of the sky.

Several questions pop my mind. For instance, will I need to bring my bed clothing? Will I need to bring blankets? Will I have to use thick and really warm clothes? Will there be need to wear gloves all the time? Those questions come with… I do not have any more space on my luggage! Winter clothing takes lot of space and… there are some restrictions on my flight about number of bags. I can only bring 1 bag of about 23kg. Luckily for me, since I am a student I’m allowed to bring another bag (YES!) but only of 10kg. That’s life changing, really! Because while I was packing my first bag I saw my jeans, my sweaters and most of my underwear out of it… it was already full! So I was… “Good thing that I’m not going as a professional!”

Packing

There is no easy way while packing

Will it close?

Hopefully it closed

Coats

To go or not to go

The other interesting thing of packing your whole life for about 3 years (I know I’m being dramatic, because I can take more things later!) is that you find yourself looking at things and understanding their importance or relevance. There are so many things that we don’t really need! This takes me to other obvious ideas like how life turned out to be of consumption and the need for buying unnecessary things. There are otherwise things we really need. So I’m bringing my books. I cannot bring them all now, but I will bring my seventh book of The Wheel of Time saga. I’ve been reading this saga for the past 5 years now, and though I keep reading other things in the meanwhile, I am fond of this saga and of Robert Jordan’s literature.

If you asked me what is the most precious thing that I will bring with me… I could be divided! I think my coat will save from the harsh UK’s winter (and you know that “winter is coming!”)… but my laptop is of utter importance. Yes, I am that kind of person! But with my laptop I can connect with most of my memories and connect with my friends and family.

Are you moving or did you move from a far place outside the UK to study in Portsmouth? Could you share what was the most important thing you brought with you?

Belém 7

Lisbon is connected with Portsmouth by the sea 🙂

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Free time, Island Experience, Nightlife, The city, Travels

Let the (productive) Summer begin!

It’s nearly been one whole month since my last ever Second Year exam, and I still don’t feel I’ve fully recovered! Apart from spending some time with friends and family, I’ve mainly been composing myself, mentally and physically, from all the exciting (and sometimes stressful) events which have taken place in my Second Year. There always seemed to be so much happening all at once – but then, that’s life, I suppose!

As I do on any break, I’ve been enjoying a few lie-ins, and spending days with no particular goal in mind. If I’m honest, it’s the first time in a long while I’ve allowed myself to relax – probably because I’m feeling very happy and secure with my degree, and also that it has dawned on me how very little time there is before I must once again re-enter the scary world of work!

Last summer, I must admit I found myself a little bored at times. This year, however, I’m already feeling the time will go by quicker than I would like, which in a strange way is quite a nice thing. I know friends who are staying in Portsmouth, I have some great family holidays planned, I have an Xbox360 on which I can duel fearsome aliens in the distant future, and I have a feeling I should probably start looking into that dissertation thingy! So it’s fair to say I shouldn’t be bored over the next couple of months.

I’ve got my results back from this year, and I’m ecstatic that I am on my way to a First class degree. It’s been a very fun, and productive, Second Year. This should continue into a very fun summer break. And yeah, I’ll try and be a bit productive as well!

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Clubs and societies, Course, Exams, Free time, Future, Nightlife, Travels

“The last week back…”

So here it is. The last week back to University for this year, or for life for some. Coming back to University after Easter means no more lectures; it means a lot of free time, where we have hardly any responsibilities, apart from paying bills and revision (duh!), but students are experts at working around these 😉 I was looking forward to my week back, but it proved to be very busy and EXTREMELY stressful!

This week was the week when I had two interviews to attend. On Thursday I had my dissertation interview, which is similar to vivas the PhD students need to do. Everyone was really nervous about them, as our year group was the first one to do them in our department. What definitely didn’t help the stress levels were the people on facebook who complained about how badly their interviews went.

I personally think my interview went really well. As soon as they called me into the interview room, I felt calmer. I think it’s the wait that made me anxious more than the actual interview. It is also worth mentioning here that I’ve now learnt not to listen to other people when it comes to individual assessments like this one. If their interview didn’t go well, why should it mean that mine will be a flop as well? I left the interview relaxed, but unfortunately this was not the end of stressful events for me…

Friday was the day I had my postgraduate interview with King’s College. I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed about anything before. Not even that one exam last year when I was convinced I was going to fail it (I got 40 so I was so close!). In the interview, I had to present a research proposal, which unfortunately was a total flop. I was losing all my hope until we got to the more practical questions. These went okay, so I’m hoping I at least got an average number of points. But trust me, words cannot describe how happy and relieved I was after I left the Institute of Psychiatry.

To release all the stress and frustration, as well as to forget about my questionable performance at the interview, I spent the rest of the day in London. In the evening I went to see one of my favourite bands at the O2 Academy Islington! This was exactly what I needed! Jumping, dancing and singing along to your favourite songs is by far the best way to get rid of negative energy! To add to that experience, I was lucky enough to meet the band after the show. We had our photo taken, and they signed my poster, which already hangs on my wall in a special place 🙂 I don’t think I need to say how knackered I was at the end of the day!

Saturday was the first day during the week when I could actually sleep in for a little bit longer. It was also a good time to finally get together with my friends, who I haven’t seen since before Easter! We ended up going to the Union for Psychology Society’s Summer Blowout event, with the summer being in the name only. For the end of April it was quite cold… But as long as you have your friends around you, nothing else matters. These get togethers will be one of the things I will miss next year. But for now, we need to make the most of the time we’ve got left.

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