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Revision Revision Revision

Hello all. 

It’s coming up on exam time, and I am knee deep in some serious revision. As such, I thought it would make sense to share a few of my top tips to make it less stressful and as interesting as it can posssibly be. 

  1. Flash cards are your friend!Different colours and sizes can help visualisation as well as condensing your notes into more manageable chunks. 
  2. Lecture schedules. Ticking off a lecture schedule helps you ensure that there aren’t notes missing or areas you’ve forgotten to revise. 
  3. Past papers. Going through exam style questions can help you get in the mindset. Also, it helps cement knowledge to write down the answers to the areas you’ve been revising. 
  4. Keep a well organised folderDividers and typed up notes help keep things clear in your mind. It’s good to separate subjects in your folder and head. 
  5. Draw diagrams Drawing diagrams can help you visualise difficult areas. If there are things that you just have to learn (such as the arteries above) it’s good to cover the answers and check that you’re right. (Going back to the good old days of year 1 doing “look, cover, write, check”.)

I hope my whistle stop tour of what helps me get through exams helps you out too. 

All the best,

Felicity 

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Staying at home is great too!

Hello,

University has been busy, busy, busy recently. Deadlines keep approaching and everyone is hard at work. 

I’ve met many prospective students around the uni at open days, and many of them are dubious about living with their parents whilst at uni. 

For many people university is a chance to gain some independence. But I chose to stay at home, and it was certainly the best decision for me. I still have independence, I commute into the city, I’m in charge of my time and my finances. But when I get home I can cuddle my pets, there’s food in the fridge and I’m surrounded by countryside and peace and quiet. 

Staying at home isn’t for everyone, but moving out also isn’t for everyone. It’s good to weigh up the pros and cons and find what suits you. It’s not true that you don’t get ‘the university experience’ by living at home. Plus you can save money up for a home of your own, like I’m doing. 

I hope you make the right decision for you. 

Felicity

(I’d miss their cute little faces too much) 

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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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Doughnut Vs Dissertation

Hello all!

I’m back from placement and already well back into the swing of things. 

It’s February of my second year at university and already we are starting the formalities of 3rd year dissertation projects, and I am loving it so far. 

The best thing about your university dissertation is that it is YOUR project, it embodies your ideas and opinions. You can make it about whatever interests you. 

My lecturer gave me a top tip: buy a note book that is solely for your project. Everytime you make a search online or in a book, make a note of when, where and what you found. It makes it so much easier to compile everything at a later date. This can be applied to any essay or assignment (I certainly wish I’d known  it for my A-levels). Plus if you get yourself a new and smart looking, notebook, it encourages you to keep things neat and legible. 

I’d better get back to it!

Felicity 🙂 

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Year 2 Placement 2

Hello all,

It’s the start of the new year and I’m back on placement for the second time this academic year. 

I started my placement in CT planning, next week I’ll be in radiotherapy physics, and then I’ll finish my 4 weeks  on the Linac (radiotherapy treatment machine pictured below). 

I’ve spent a few hours on the linac in between CT patients and have had the honour to be involved with some ‘deep inspiration breath hold’ (pictured below) techniques. This is a new and up-and-coming technique which is improving the lives of breast cancer patients post treatment. It maximises the radiation dose to the tumour whilst minimising the dose to the heart. 

I’ve had a great time learning so far, and am looking forward to the next 2 weeks. There really is no better way to learn than being hands on! 

If you’re interested further in my placement experience, I’ve been posting on the University Instagram site: 

All the best with the new year! 

Felicity 

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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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The End of a Term and Year

It’s comforting to end the first term on a high, with coursework done early and feeling like you’ve understood most of what you’ve done so far in the year. Making just the smallest start on a piece of work long before the deadline helps massively I’ve found – later down the line, when considering what work you want to do you can refer back to what you’ve done and have a better idea of what needed to be added on, additional plans and content.

Something that’s been on my mind is to venture beyond my own subject area, for Computing learning a new programming language outside of my studies would be fun, a good use of time and look good on a CV, however many businesses consider applicants for multiple divisions (HR, Tech, Finance) and showing that you’ve decided to do something outside your ‘area of expertise’. Writing (for example, blogs) or really any type of volunteering would be looked favourably upon employers as being well-rounded and a mixture of skills.

If you have the opportunity to, I’d advise everyone to visit a convention/exhibition at some point, if you’re into gaming/anime/comics there’s multiple Comic Cons throughout the year as well as other conventions catering to specific interests. You could also meet famous people/groups you’ve watched/listened to, when I visited MCM Comic Con in London last October I had a great time and met many awesome people.

There’s been some great movies in the past few months, Doctor Strange was another great Marvel origins story, and a return to the Harry Potter Universe with Fantastic Beasts, of course it’s entirely subjective, with some people disliking Hollywood’s big budget films, that said, there’s plenty of independent film-makers creating some quality productions.

Regarding budgeting I think one of the biggest factors in people planning poorly is that if you don’t budget before the time period (e.g. start of term) then you usually slip into some bad buying habits you can’t keep up through the term. With myself, I find having a rough idea of bank balances, rent and expenses I’m going to encounter in the year… making sure I can be stable financially. There’s rarely any need for specialist budgeting software/tools and if you do decide to use something such as MS Excel be mindful of security with bank details and your own account.

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