Accomodation, Free time, Other University Factors, Student, Student Housing

Making Your Room Feel Like Home

I’d imagine everyone is settled in to their accommodation now whether you be a first, second or third year. However, you may be feeling a little home sick or just like you are not quite at home in your new place.

Here are a few little tips/ideas on how to make your room more homely.

My room is my absolute favourite place to be. There’s nothing like coming home to a room which makes you feel calm and happy. My room is very personal to me and I love decorating it!

The first thing to think about when decorating your room is your bed sheets. A nice duvet cover can completely transform a room. I believe it is the absolute key to a nice bedroom. The bed is the centre piece of the room and by making a statement with that, you set the tone for the entire room. The best places I have found to get bedding from are IKEA (you can get some absolute bargains without sacrificing comfort), Debenhams (where my one pictured is from) or John Lewis (bit pricier!).

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As you can see from the photographs, I am also a sucker for photos. Firstly I think they automatically make you feel at home as you are surrounded by all your happy memories and loved ones. Secondly I hate blank walls! I think it makes a room look empty and unloved. I am the queen of clutter though so maybe don’t go as mad as I have! I prefer to get the photos printed properly so they are all the exact same size and all glossy and of good quality but you could easily print them off in the library or if you’re lucky enough to have a printer on that!14513649_10207689344004910_1380821220_oI also have a soft spot for fairy lights. I find soft lighting so relaxing in the evenings. If ever I am in my room in the evening I have the main light off and all my fairy lights and lamps on. I find the main light too harsh and bright for the evenings but it’s nice to still have a bit of light in the room. My favourites are the stars hanging above my bed. I have those, red flowers around some photos above my drawers, pink and grey elephants wrapped around my guitar stand (can’t see in the photos!) and multicoloured stars, moons and circles around my window. On top of this I also have a mini projector which puts stars on the ceiling, a little light up cat light and a paper lamp by my bedside table. Lights are great because they can be used for aesthetics as well as functionally. You can get fairy lights for a couple of quid on Amazon!

Plants are another brilliant thing to have in your room. For one, they act as mini air purifiers and omit oxygen for you! They are also super cute! I had two chilli plants which actually grew chilli peppers which I use in my cooking all the time. I have moved them along with my bonsai into the living room because sadly my room doesn’t get enough natural sunlight this year and it was causing them to get poorly. But if your room has good direct sunlight then definitely think about getting some potted plants. For those of you who want low maintenance plants or have poor sunlight in their rooms then cacti are happy with pretty much anything! The three on my windowsill were from IKEA and the one on my bedside table was a gift from my flatmate from Tesco. They’re cheap and easy and look adorable!

14536847_10207689344644926_770032304_oAs you can see I am not only a sucker for photos but also for posters/ANYTHING you can stick on your wall! I really love having a very personal room and friends always comment on it. It’s nice to express myself in my little space. If, like me, you’re very into music have a leaf through your records and CD’s and you might be surprised at what you can find. So many of my posters are from my records. On the wall by my bed I made a little collage with photos, postcards, notes, drawings, posters, cards and photographs. It has little messages from friends and family, a postcard from my best friend, some of my favourite birthday cards and holds a lot of memories! It makes my room very personalised and never gets boring to look at.

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I also love pillows and cushions. My boyfriend hates them because there is simply too many to sleep on. They mean, however, that in the daytime my bed can double up as a sofa and so whenever I have friends round it is easy to use my room as a living room and social space. My current favourite is the whale cushion pictured above. My mum got it for me for my birthday a few months back from John Lewis and I absolutely adore it!

(Yes, I am also still a massive kid and have a Simba, two Stitchs, three Moomins and a very worn, very well loved Winnie the Pooh.)

I feel like it is very important to bring things which make you feel comfortable and at home. If you had a rug in your room at home see if you can bring that with you, it will be familiar and make your room feel like your own instantly.

For any more tips on decorating your room just write in the comments!

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Free time, Other University Factors, Reflection, Student, Uncategorized, Uni Life, Work experience

Not-Quite ‘Bucket Lists’

Anyone who has read any of my posts before knows I am a list maker. I LOVE WRITING LISTS. They keep me feeling calm and organised (even when I’m not!).

In case anyone missed the post I wrote back in January, I have started a little tradition with myself at the New Year. Here‘s the link for anyone curious. I don’t quite think I can call my mini ‘bucket lists’ a tradition yet as I’ve only done one, but I wrote a ‘to do’ list for the academic year.

On my very first day in my new house in Portsmouth, 4th September 2015, I sat down and I wrote a list of everything I wanted to achieve this year. This included things like actually getting into the sea (still haven’t done it – it’s so cold!), pitching an article to The Debrief (I did it!), travelling to Budapest or Croatia (Budapest is booked for June), performing at an open mic poetry night (I now help to run one as well) and finally showing people my music (I have my fifth gig on Tuesday). So all-in-all seems successful. I feel like I may have forgotten some things I haven’t done so I am going to have another look over it and see what else I can tick off before September comes around again.

First year went so quickly for me and I felt, whilst I loved every second, I could have done more. I could have made the most of it more and pushed myself even further. I wanted to ensure that now I am settled in Portsmouth that I did more. My list has helped me to do that, to ensure I am achieving all the things I want to achieve. It helps me to push myself and focus on my goals.

Of course there is the argument that if I find, come September, that I have failed many of my goals I may feel unnecessarily sad despite what I may have achieved. I prefer to look at it like this: say I haven’t achieved half of my goals, that would be a shame, but I HAVE ACHIEVED THE OTHER HALF. Even if I only achieve one goal, that’s still one goal more than I had the previous year. Here’s a little advice on how to get started.

Advice

  1. Don’t set unreasonable goals – you’ll only be disappointed.
  2. Really think what it is what want to achieve. It’ll help motivate you.
  3. Don’t set too many! Pick your top five uni/career goals and your top five life/leisure goals. Do a few simply because they’re fun!
  4. Push yourself, but not too hard. Know your limits. Have you always been too scared to try out for a sports team or too shy to talk to that girl in your Monday afternoon class who seems great? Push yourself to do the things you want to do but don’t say you want to achieve a first in every single piece of work you hand in. That’s pushing yourself too far and setting unrealistic goals (unless you are a complete genius – but even genius’ mess up sometimes!).
  5. Don’t stress too much over it. I find mine helps me focus and subconciously makes me do things I perhaps would normally shy away from.
  6. Have fun!

If you give it a go, let me know. It’d be great to hear what some of you are putting on your lists. I’m off to begin writing mine for next year now!

 

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Clubs and societies, Free time, Home, Job hunting, Nightlife, Other University Factors

10 things year 1 has taught me…

Seeing as it is almost easter and almost the end of our teaching time for year 1 (how has that happened?!?!) I thought I would reflect on my time as a fresher and tell you 10 things year 1 has taught me….so far.

  1. To make gravy….you need HOT water….(yes I tried to add cold water to the granules and wondered why it wasn’t working….#fail)
  2. ALWAYS carry your key with you….like ALWAYS! There was a time where I got locked out and my key was in my room and I had to wait about 45 mins to be let in my room!
  3. Make good use of all the support you are offered the wellbeing service, student support managers…even the SABBS want to make sure you are doing okay!
  4. Make your room as homely as you can! I always feel so at home in my room thanks to the pictures an the little quotations and the fairy lights, it is a lot easier to settle at uni if you enjoy spending time in your room!
  5. Stay in touch with old school friends. Making new friends is great but I have had many a conversation with some old school friends. It helps if you or they are struggling as you are able to give them advice as you probably know them best.
  6. Buy food for lunch/dinner you enjoy making and eating, you are more likely to want to cook after a long day at university if this is the case. (see my last blog post; https://studentblog.port.ac.uk/2016/03/10/easy-meals-for-university/)
  7. Get involved! I was elected deputy faculty rep at the start of the year and I have made so many contacts through this. It has given me a great opportunity to meet some third years and masters students who are all lovely. I have also just been elected National events officer for RAG and Donor Recruitment officer for Portsmouth Marrow, I hope to be elected as  Faculty rep next year…..phew!
  8. Try new things! One thing I was adamant about when I came to uni was that I wasn’t going to go out. However supported by my UAB family I managed to stay out for almost 2 hours ….now I want to go out again!!
  9. Volunteer- but not just for your CV! I emailed a lot of performing arts schools to see if they would give me a job- I found a company looking for a volunteer and I took that on instead. It was honestly the best thing I have done. The director (Bekki) is so lovely and I really enjoy going there every Wednesday.
  10. Andddd 10. Get the balance of going home right. When I first started university I was told by my violin teacher not to go home for at least 3 weeks. It worked a treat as I was homesick but not too much. I kept myself busy and looked forward to going home. I have also made little surprises home as well this year which are a really nice thing to do and make you feel really good about yourself.
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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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Course, Graduation, Other University Factors, Uni services, Year Abroad

Options and other concerns; the final year

Howdy,

It’s funny how a new year has just begun, but important and endless things are worrying so many minds: the final year.

I see how students are rushing with their projects/dissertations, trying their best to make a good impression, to be recognised by their efforts and getting the so valuable diploma. Nonetheless, their worries do not end there. Nor mine did.

As a student, especially as an undergrad student, most of the times we can live for a while without being concerned about the future. We are just enjoying life, discovering all the possibilities and thinking about the subjects we are being taught. But as the graduation reaches its end, other concerns start popping out of our minds “what’s next?”, “what should I do now?”, “Is this really what I want to do?”

Fascinating questions, I must say, but so terribly uncomfortable, most of the time, to answer. For some, following to the next level of education seems unavoidable: but exactly which one? For others, business or industry lie on the table: but am I ready? Do I have the right curriculum for that position?

Fortunately, our University offers great support in terms of careers advice and business startup. If you are starting to struggle with these questions, have a quick look on the Purple Door website. Even if you want to add some work experience, volunteering or find a part-time job, you’ll find plenty of information over there.

Nonetheless, my experience says you must be proactive when it comes to finding other options after your undergrad. Not all of us have the same expectation about the future. Some are keen on experiencing the job market, to experience some hands-on work and contribute with what they have learned. If you are one of those, you should seek some guidance from supervisors from each school in order to ask for some useful information. For instance, in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences a group of students applied for the Society of Economic Geology Student Chapter, which is a wider organisation, and now and then they invite people from the industry to come and have a say of what it is needed from young geologists or how the market has been for the past years. Following these initiatives, they organized a trip to the Imperial College of London for a General Meeting of the SEG. Loads of things were discussed over there, as the UK and EU strategy concerning vital metals and ore exploration, scholarships and jobs opportunities related with the H2020. Several employers from different companies came to have a say about their experience and how they got there. It was a good “wake-up call” for those students wanting to pursue a mining career but still had some doubts and concerns of ‘where’ and ‘what to do’.

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Since the Natural History Museum is so close to the Imperial College, we went there for a quick peek – Dodo, picturing as the extinct bird endemic from Madagascar.

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Not a Spacesuit.. no. This is a high-temperature enduring suit, made for surveillance and research on volcanoes

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The itinerary for our Students into Mining sessions

I’m positive several other initiatives like this one are and will happen around the UK and most certainly at the University as well. If not, do encourage your lecturers to do so.

As for those of you thinking on masters/PhD degree, the University of Portsmouth has a good range of courses, each year is improving its offer, and several students, after it, have been employed. You have MA/MSc and MRes, usually the first takes 2 years to complete while the later is a full-year only researching. You can book a place to be part of the open day, where clarifications of this sort and much thoroughly are given – Open Day Masters.

As my personal view, I do think going abroad should be on your to-consider-list.

It does look good on your CV, it is much more than just living by yourself (you might have already done that yet), and it is not only partying (if that passed through your mind!). Going abroad can also be less expensive. Considering the living costs of the UK and the fees of a postgraduate course, considering living in an EU country is not completely nuts. Even if the rank of the University is not as high as the University of Portsmouth or other institution in the UK, having a diploma from a different country (though do check its eligibility outside the country) means lots of things that the person who is checking your CV will perceive: means learning a new language, adapting and adjusting to a foreign culture, practising much more social and communication skills, enduring hard situations, experiencing different views and ways of work. You can have a quick look on the top European Universities here. You can search by country or by ranking.

You can still have this experience and be in a UK University. Just check the ERASMUS+ website and do a little research on the requirements and choices you may have. You can also apply to a fund, that can help you out during your ERASMUS.

With a quick search, you can have an idea of which countries in Europe have more attractive living costs, accessing Numbeo.  I would recommend (obviously!) Portugal, Spain or France as possible destinations. These are countries that speak the most spoken languages in the world (apart from English and Mandarin), with welcoming people (increasing towards the SW) and depending upon the subjects with recognized education systems and research. Just be aware that they don’t always have information written in English. That’s easily overcome by sending an email to one or more lecturers of the School you fancy. They can give you all the tips you need.

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In case you need some “motivation” to go abroad… (SW of Portugal)

Times are getting harder for everyone. The economy is not so good, the Market’s trust is not as good and therefore, job opportunities and vacancies in Academia are getting reduced. Of course, now and then, mostly due to EU funding, there is still some places and scholarships. If you don’t mind internationalization, some countries are developing and would appreciate young brilliant minds working for them. But don’t be surprised if you don’t find the perfect job right away or if it doesn’t match your expectations, seldom they don’t. With time, patience and dedication you will get there.

Ciao

Inês

 

 

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Other University Factors

What Would You Tell Your Fresher Self?

If you are a current student at Portsmouth I’m sure this will resonate with you. If you will be starting university in this coming September, or even the following one, then congratulations! I am overly excited for you. It really is ridiculously exciting (and terrifying)!
These are, of course, only my experiences. Your first week may be entirely different. My advice to freshers:

  • The first night will probably be a let down, everyone is too overexcited so it’s likely to be not that great. Mine was such an anticlimax…
  • But that’s okay! It will get so much better! Just wait a while until you know people a little more and the fun will really start.
  • STUDENT LOANS ARE NOT A BOTTOMLESS PIT! I know it is so mad that you suddenly have all this money but remember you need to eat, you need to pay your rent and you need to buy books. It sounds so super boring but you will reach the end of it and overdraft is not a place you want to be.
  • So, look at budgeting, set a much higher amount of money you’re allowed to spend in Freshers and, after that, stick to a more realistic amount.There are websites like this which help you to do so. Boring, yes, but so valuable.
  • Getting a job is a really good idea. I didn’t want one as I’d worked two part time jobs whilst doing my A Levels full time and it was just too intense. I was looking forward to not having to do this at uni, however, instead of living off of last year’s earnings, I put them into an ISA. I will now have so much more money at the end of uni. I work, now, for treats and use my loan for food, rent and basic living only. It not only helps me manage my money but also I have met so many fantastic people there who I otherwise would never have encountered.
  • Make a huge effort with people on your course from the beginning. It’s very easy to get caught up in your flatmates as they are who you see most often and are going to be around a lot. I got on very well with mine and so didn’t panic about not having friends and barely spoke to people on my course. This made me feel quite excluded and not a part of the little groups which formed which made coming to seminars and lectures quite sad sometimes. Luckily I have now found many good friends on my course but it was a lot more difficult later on into the year to befriend people.
  • Don’t assume everyone you befriend in freshers is going to be your best friend forever. There’s just so many people and you probably won’t find your people for a little while – and that’s okay!
  • Get people’s numbers! This will probably mean that by the end of the first week you have 53 new contacts, most of whom you have no clue what their real name is as they are saved as ‘girl shorts blue’ or ‘curly hair’ or ‘tom maybe?’ but it will also mean for those, you do remember you can contact. Say, someone on your course, you can send them a message about a lecture and agree to meet beforehand. I found this so comforting in the first few weeks, being able to go into a lecture or seminar with someone else and sit with them.
  • BE BRAVE! As scary as it is, just go up to people and talk! Everyone is secretly begging for you to so that they don’t have to make the first move. ‘Fake it till you make it!’ Pretend you are super confident and people will be drawn to you. Say to a group at the end of a lecture “who fancies going for a coffee?” and I promise you people will want to come. Everyone wants to get to know people so be that person who enables them to do so. You’ll be glad (and it turns out people aren’t that scary)!

Good luck and enjoy. It’ll all be okay. If I could do it again, I would!

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Free time, Other University Factors, Portsmouth

A Reason To Say Yes… Opportunity!

When I was a humble 16 year old boy I took part in the National Citizen Service, which is an opportunity for 15-17 year olds to give back to their community which runs nationwide. It was from this moment that I knew I would definitely go to university. It was only when I got to university this year that I would be gaining more than just a degree.

I had heavily underestimated the amount of activities, societies and sports clubs there were. I chose to join the lacrosse club – which was completely new and foreign to me but I absolutely love it! I joined the karate club – which I had been doing for nearly 4 years and the club were so welcoming and friendly! Aside from these clubs and the societies I joined I really wanted to push myself and expand my skill set… So I did the completely natural thing and decided to start learning Mandarin.

I figured that if 850 million people could speak Mandarin, then what was stopping me from learning it?

I soon realised that this challenge I set myself was probably the epitome of the word challenge. Between remembering the simple phrases and written language that go with it, there really is a lot to learn! However even though I have only been doing it for around a month I feel so enriching knowing that I can have a basic conversation with someone who cannot speak English, not to mention the conversations I can have with myself!

你好。我叫 Kieran。我十八岁。我很好你呢?我的生日是一九九七年四月一七号。今天是二零一五年十月二十五号,星期天。

Translation:
Hello my name is Kieran. I am 18 years old and you? My birth date is 17th April 1997. Today is the year 2015, the month is October and it is the 25th day, a Sunday.

As you can see, in only 5 weeks you can learn a lot! And that’s not even all I’ve learnt there is a whole plethora of conversation to be had!

If you take away anything from reading please let it be to give everything a chance and say yes to opportunity!

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