Monday, 16 October 2017

My first few weeks at uni

Imagine this - someone turns to you and says ‘I can help make your dreams come true’.

‘Okay?’ You respond. Curious as to how this will work.

‘It’s simple.’ They begin to explain. ‘All you have to do is experience 2 years of stress to meet our standards, then be placed in a house with a group of strangers. You will then live with them, cook with them, clean with them and party with them for a year. I can guarantee this will be the best time of your life.’

Well that is pretty much the first few weeks of university. You have the opportunity to have your dream job by completing the degree you need but to do so, you move away from home, live with a group of strangers (who will become some of your closest friends) and party a lot. But yes, without a doubt, these have been two of the best weeks of my life.

At first it was very daunting, I came into my accommodation and the girl in the room opposite me was still unpacking with her mum. I said an awkward hello and introduced myself. This occurred every time I met a new flat mate but with each new flat mate, I got more and more excited because I realised I have the best people in my flat. What you have to remember in a time like this is that you are all in the same situation and you are most probably all just as nervous as each other.

One particularly odd bit of university for me during the first few weeks has definitely been the independence. How do I work this washing machine? How long does it take to cook this pasta? Since Ive started university I have successfully burnt toast, pasta, cookies, all sorts; I have put a load of washing on without the detergent in and I have locked myself out of my flat but hey, its all a learning curve! Its a fun experience really because I can guarantee that there are hundreds of Freshers who have done all of those things too!

Another amazing part of university for me has been the friends that I have already made. You are meeting so many new people all the time at university from people in your flat/block to those in your lectures or clubs. Make the most of meeting these new people and chat to as many people as you can because it is a great feeling.

Overall my first few weeks of university have been a bit of a rollercoaster. I have had some lower points where Ive found it fairly tough but the good points have completely and utterly outweighed these.

A x

How I've settled in to uni accommodation

Moving away from home was an extremely daunting thought for me because I have never been away from home for longer than 10 days. Therefore, a hugely important thing for me was to make myself feel as at home as possible and a key way of doing this was to make my bedroom feel like home.

To make my room feel as much like home as possible, I ensured that I bought enough things with me to make me feel comfortable. This includes a lot of photos; my favourite pillows; some psychology books; my jewellery stand and some dreamcatchers. What you have to remember is that, although your actual bedroom may be back home, this is your bedroom for a year and this has to be as homely as you want it to be, in order to help you with any of those homesick nights.

Dont be embarrassed by anything you want to bring with you. Its your room so make it your own.

Im in a flat with six other people, one shower, two toilets and a basin in my bedroom. At first I was absolutely terrified by the thought of sharing a shower with six people but not once have I had to wait for the shower and its stayed remarkably clean! Similarly, the thought of a university kitchen filled me with absolute dread but it has stayed clean and tidy (with the occasional washing up that we might leave for the next day) and weve not had any problems!

I found it difficult to settle in on the first night because I didnt like being away from home but after a while you get so used to your surroundings, so used to your friends and your neighbours and so used to your university campus, that it begins to feel like a home from home.

A key factor in settling in well, for me, was making friends in my accommodation you become like a little family. I absolutely adore my flat. We are all very different characters but we all get along so well; we have good old natters in the kitchen when cooking dinner and we look out for each other. Id also say to definitely bring a door stop because my friends and I leave our doors open very regularly in order to have a chat and if your door is open then people will frequently stick their heads in and say hello, offer you a cup of tea and so on. Door stops are a must!

Settling in to university accommodation is scary and yes it can be challenging but its such a great experience and I am having the time of my life. I love my accommodation. I love my flat. I love my new room. Youve just got to give yourself time to settle in properly.

A x

How to complete your personal statement

I can imagine that you are getting pretty fed up of the extremely long and boring talks you are getting from your teachers about how to write a good personal statement so I’ll summarise some key points for you in a short and snappy blog post.

Firstly I’m going to emphasise the name of this ‘personal statement’. Therefore make it completely and utterly personal and when doing so, make a statement - stand out!

You’ve got to show passion. You’ve got to show charisma. You’ve got to show love. You’re doing a subject that you love and/or find interesting (if you’re not then seriously consider spending the amount you are paying for something you don’t enjoy).

When I started mine, I thought about what led to my interest in the subject which, for me, was a TV program (it can literally be anything). I then opened my personal statement with a sentence along the lines of ‘For years now I’ve been hugely interested in shows such as Law and Order SVU and one character who particularly stood out to me was B.D.Wong’. This instantly sparked interest as the reader would question what the relevance is. Under no circumstances should you begin your personal statement with ‘I want to do this course because...’ or ‘I would be perfect for this course because...’.

The key is to stay modest but sell yourself. Big up your talents, your interests, show that you are an achieving and interesting person.

Online there are so many helpful guides on how to write the perfect personal statement. One I found particularly useful was on the UCAS website. However, mix it up a bit, make it your own, make it you. Avoid generic phrases, comments and so on. Be unique! ß this is a link to the UCAS sheet that I found very helpful when writing my personal statement.

A x

The importance of Freshers Week

Freshers is an exciting time for all university students whether you like partying or getting involved in the day time activities, there is something for everyone. Obviously the partying is a big part of Freshers week(s) but I won’t go into too much detail about that as that is pretty self-explanatory.

The weeks of Freshers is an amazing opportunity to meet new people, help your confidence grow and find out what the university has to offer. During these weeks there are often various bazaar’s ranging from a sports bazaar to a society bazaar to a RAG bazaar. Bazaars are a big must because they show you various clubs you have the opportunity to join from football, to choir, to the hot air balloon society. The variety of societies that are on offer at university is incredible. RAG is at a lot of universities and offer opportunities where you can do a residential to raise money for charity. Im currently looking into a cycle ride from London to Paris which will be amazing! I have also signed up to the lacrosse and singing society.

Getting involved in the activities that Freshers has to offer has been crucial in me making the friends that I have. You are put into situations where you are with a big group of strangers and starting up a conversation with anyone is a great feeling.

A personal favourite part of my Freshers experience has definitely been the Sing Off! This involved each accommodation hall learning various chants about the other halls and then battling it out to find out who the union team chose as the favourite. My accommodation managed to get second place which I’m super happy with but next year we have to win! Activities like this allow you to meet a whole load of people from your accommodation and have a chat, a laugh and a joke around with them. We all had lightening bolts painted on our faces, we all lost our voices and we all had the best night!

Another favourite part for me has been dressing up! Very often Freshers nights out will have a dress code. This year mine ranged from Hawaiian to Monopoly (yeah I struggled with that one…) and I had so much fun doing them! My favourite night of dress up was jungle when I went all out on the face paint and drew leopard spots. The dressing up is a great thing to get involved in, especially if you pally up with your new uni mates and have a laugh dressing up together.

Most universities have a Freshers Ball as well. These are often full of people looking absolutely amazing; lots of free food and headline acts! This year we had fireworks, fun fair rides and Pixie Lott – someone I have been a huge fan of since a young age. This is a really nice event to get all dressed up with your flat mates, have lots of photos together and have an evening to remember.

Finally, during Freshers you have your introductory lectures. A lot of people will tell you to not bother going to these however I found these particularly useful for the main reason that I met a lot of people doing my course and was able to feel a lot more comfortable about starting my degree knowing I would recognise some faces.

A x

My experiences of applying to uni last year

The thought of university is such a daunting and difficult process - you're making decisions that can affect the rest of your life and you're trying to balance what you enjoy and what you're good at. It’s a difficult process so working out the best way to handle to suit you is vital. I didn’t manage it in the most conventional way but it worked best for me so it worked out well.

At the start of year 13 I was convinced I wanted to study music but very rapidly discovered that my real passion lay with psychology. I began by looking at psychology degrees and the panic started to kick in as the grades were pretty much out of reach for me (or so I thought). My teacher advised me to look into joint degrees as they tend to lower the grade requirements and this led me to look into psychology with criminology which was a course I didn't even know existed and realised was perfect for me.

Then came deciding which 5 universities I'd choose. I began by making a list of each of the ones I liked and the requirements. Next, I picked my three favourites that had reasonable grade requirements for me which closely matched my targets. I then picked one of the lower requirement universities as a back-up and then I chose one higher university with hopes that I'd get an offer.

I was extremely fortunate to get offers from all five of my universities choices which then led to even more dilemmas as to whether I'd go with the 'reasonable' and 'lower' ones or push myself for my firm/insurance. I managed to make my decision going for a 'reasonable' one as my insurance and then decided I'd push myself with a higher one – which I managed to get in to!
Although universities don't like to shout about it, very regularly if they like you enough to give you an offer, they'll probably let you in with a grade lower than the requirements they gave you. I was actually 2 grades off what I needed but as I obtained an A* in psychology, they accepted me.

My best advice for anyone would be to definitely at least apply to university because having as many options as you can for the September after you finish A Levels is a great comfort to have. I am a prime example of that as I had a potential job lined up, possible work experience and a university offer.
I wasn't even going to apply, then I was sure I wanted a year out and yet now, here I am, sat at my desk at university, happy. Just keep your options open because being indecisive isn't necessarily a bad thing as it can lead you to exactly what you want to do. 

A x