50 Things I Learned At University

1. Locating your on campus secret take-away after a night out is a must. Mine was known as “The Hatch”!

2. Cooking dinners in batches and freezing leftovers is such a time-saver.

3. Do not skip your turn taking out the bin. There will 100% be maggots if you do.

4. Going back home in the Winter you realise just how warm your actual house was, and you will never complain about the heating at home ever again!

5. If you decide to go back home when you are feeling ill, it will soothe the soul and get you back onto the road of recovery!

6. Pay the delivery charge and order your food shopping online.

7. Find a local Costco or Bookers if you can. You will save your wonga on bulk buys!

8. Student discount shopping nights are fun, but then you realise as a student you’re kind of poor so can’t afford as much as you think.

9. Every night of the week can easily become a “Student” night out.

10. Every year I returned back to university for Fresher’s Week, only to realise I can’t attend any of the events and just spent it going to the local pub instead.

11. You do not need to start finding a house for 2nd or 3rd year until after Christmas. There will always be enough housing!

12. When you do start to look for a house, either pick to be close to campus or close to town. Don’t go really far away just to save money.

13. Do a lucky dip to decide who gets what room.

14. Whoever had the smallest room the year before, gets the biggest room the year after!

15. Put yourself in charge of the utility accounts and bills. It’s a pain to make sure everyone pays, but at least that way you can avoid fines.

16. Make sure you enjoy your new town/ city! Go out to eat, see a show in the local theatre, go to gigs etc.! You are only there for a short period of time.

17. Don’t dip into your overdraft if you don’t have to! It’s a slippery slope.

16. Prepare food to have at home after a night out in advance. Or just get cheesy chips. Cheesy chips are life.

19. Make time to see your school friends at their university.

20. Check in on your home friends even if they go off the radar. Leaving home is hard. Check in.

21. Make the effort to call your family.

22. Missing your 9am lecture isn’t the biggest deal.

23. Make sure you do try throughout your whole degree. Although 40% may only be required to “pass” first year in the U.K., it will make second year a lot easier.

24. Not doing well in a subject? It’s time to grow up, admit it and do the work. Find a buddy to help tutor you, go to the library or stay at home more. Wherever it is that helps you focus the best, make sure you study!

25. You don’t need to buy every text book.

26. If you do buy every textbook, you don’t need to buy it first hand.

27. Have a think of what you actually want to do after your degree in advance, rather than hoping for the best.

28. Put yourself out there and join societies.

29. Not everyone will like you and that’s fine. You will not like everyone either.

30. Stand up for yourself and find your crowd. You are awesome – remember that.

31. Not everyone finds a big group who will be their “friends for life” at uni. Remember, it’s better to have a few good ones than a whole bunch of fake ones.

32. Club nights can be lethal and somewhat overpriced.

33. Take photos. Even if you don’t want to. It’s fun to look back on.

34. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

35. You don’t have to be best friends with the people you live with.

36. It’s okay (ish) to skip some lectures but not seminars – that is way too obvious!

37. If you drink the supermarket’s cheapest wine for long enough, you will not realise just how bad it is. Until the next morning…

38. You can wear whatever the heck you want on campus.

39. It is perfectly acceptable to stay in your dressing gown all day at home.

40. Pre-drinks always beats going out.

41. For your own sake don’t plagarize.

42. A set of speakers and a deck of cards is all you need for a good night.

43. Free pizza and Krispy Kreme sales on campus may come at a price of charity donations or local campus elections.

44. Always back up your work.

45. “Spotted At [insert your town] University” was like a discount gossip girl.

46. Napping is a part of university culture – I think I missed out here!

47. Group assignments will still be a pain just like when you were 14 years old.

48. Never compare or look up the answers after an exam. File them away into a little box away in your mind and crack open a cider instead.

49. The weekly fire alarm drill test will give you a mini heart attack every week!

50. University will go by really quickly. Before you know it it’s 4 years since graduated …

There are still so many things I could have added to this list! I hope you enjoyed this post and will subscribe, like and comment if so!

Check out the below posts too:

This Week’s Blogging Challenge! | June 22 – 28th

Summer Body Skincare

Short Story

5 Smoothie Recipes To Try Now

Opening Up| How I Began Exercising Consistently – 6 Month Fitness Update!

Sarah’s Day Fitness E-Books | Review

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What I Wish I Knew Before Graduating

Currently at this time of year mid February has a completely different meaning to me than what it did when I was student. Right now I think about how it’s still light when I go to and come home from work. When I was a student mid-Feb meant reading week, finishing my dissertation and preparing for exams. It also meant preparing for adulthood as I would soon enter the working world. Here’s all the things you should know before you finish university.

1. Make the most of no responsibilities.

2. When you’re a student enjoy your money. You don’t have to save right now. It sure does help but you have your whole life to save.

3. Do not get into debt.

4. If you do get into debt, do not lie about it. Tell your family and your friends and your housemates. This will make a huge difference. The quicker you deal with it, the quicker you get out of it.

5. Do not freak out if you don’t get into the graduate scheme you wanted or don’t have a job lined up.

6. Enjoy your holidays. From here on out it’s all about booking annual leave on an allotted leave calendar and getting it approved by your manager.

7. The friends you make at uni or didn’t make, isn’t the be all and end all. You will continue to meet people and make friends.

8. Really you should just continue to study and not grow up.

9. Prepare yourself for what you’re going to do next. Okay you may not have a job, but know where you will be living at least!

10. Chances are you most likely will have to move back home.

12. If you do move back home, start making a plan when you do go back. Are you going to save as much as you can until you can move out? Rent with friends? Save for a gap year travelling? If you get on with your family and are living rent free it’s great, but if you’re living in the cupboard under the stairs like Harry Potter without a semblance of an idea what job to do, or what you want to achieve in the next year, you may feel a bit depressed.

13. Have realistic expectations and do take it a year at a time. You may get a job straight away or you may not. Decide if you’re gonna temp for a bit or hold out for your dream job (if you can afford it). Either way, do not stop dreaming and hoping!

14. Yes adulthood really does become so money oriented.

15. Do not overwhelm yourself. The positives about being money orientated means that you are one step closer to moving out, buying your own car, starting your dream business- your life is just beginning. It’s quite exciting.

16. Get the help from your University that you need or could need in the future. Go to the Careers Centre and the CV clinic, get a second opinion. Ask your mentor to be a referee on your CV too. Keep good ties and end on a high note with them, just in case you want to return to do a Postgrad.

17. Moving back home doesn’t have to be how it was when you were 18. As hard as it is, try to break bad habits. You’ve just had three years cooking, cleaning and taking care of yourself. Even if your beloved mother wants to continue doing your laundry, helping out from time to time with the household chores goes a long way.

18. This is the next phase of your life and maybe you aren’t moving home but instead staying in your Uni town, moving away to Australia or going to Mars. Whatever it is you decide to do, enjoy it. You’ve worked hard and deserve a break at least until Graduation!

19. The modules you took and the difficult people you came across at Uni are relevant examples for interviews. You may not have as much life experience as some candidates but you do have experience.

20. University really is a great time, go out and discover your city, celebrate and make the most of it before you join the big boys and girls! Celebrate this chapter and welcome in the new one!

What other things would you tell people about the transition between University to employment life? Good luck to all of you students and happy studying, and for all you graduates – happy Tuesday!

Best and Worst Things About Uni

Oh University, the place where many go to study, to grow up, to “find” themselves, to party. University sure is an experience, a taste into adulthood or for some it’s just another playground, stay with me on this one as I weigh up the pros and cons of uni life in no particular order.

1.  The chance to learn about something actually worthwhile and interesting

Pro: You get to study a subject you chose for three years, taught by people who may be the best in the field, learn about cutting edge research.

Con: Its hard work. You may have once been top of your class but that ego will be taken down a peg or two, when you have to work hard just to get a 60 (2:1).

2. FREEDOM!!!

Pro:  You can finally go out without anyone asking “Are you home for dinner?” Not sure why this is such a relief, maybe it’s just the first taste of independence. You can eat pizza for breakfast, have whoever you want over at 1am without worrying about waking up or asking permission from anyone else. It may even be the first time you have your own room. You have 3 whole years to figure out how you like to cook, your living habits and even have as much peace and quiet as you want.

Con: Ran out of clean underwear? Bread gone mouldy? Living at home doesn’t seem so bad when you forget the small things that get done for you, are actually quite the big essential adult things. Maybe less freedom isn’t so bad?

3.  Living with friends

Pro: Late night talks, sleepovers, house parties, friends living minutes away, pre drinks, game nights and always having someone to binge watch netflix with. It’s one big party!

Con: It can be pretty difficult living with people. Maybe you don’t live with friends and it’s pretty lonely or you don’t share the same interests so your ideas get overlooked. E.g. maybe you don’t like being kept up until 2 or 3am by people you don’t know, let’s say by your housemates boyfriend’s friends, who are playing loud music in your living room. Also people are messy and somehow you look like the rude one when you ask them to clean up their dinner from 4 days ago.

4.  You get to know yourself!

Pro: Cliché but true. You get to know your likes and dislikes. That’s one more piece to the puzzle of life that is put into place.

Con: Getting to know yourself still may not help you make better life choices, like what modules to choose, future career paths, which friends to hang out with, Dominoes or Pizza Hut???

5. Challenges

Pro: You get tested quite often at University. Why are there so many tests and assignments?! However working hard and getting good marks is so satsfying.

Con: It can be very stressful in regular term time let alone during exam season. You also get challenged by difficult people, have to learn cope under pressure of deadlines and group work, by difficult people (I say it twice as it’s really that annoying) oh and exams on Saturday’s are a thing people!

6. Money

Pro: You finally have money! You can go on nights out, eat at the pub and maybe even have some left over for a holiday in the Summer!

Con: It’s not monopoly money! You have to split it wisely between bills, rent and then the shiny new things you would like. I also learned some people can’t save and lie about it, which can leave you in a difficult spot when bills are due.

7. Leisure

Pro: So much free time! You can join societies, go on trips, day drinking in the Sun, learn a new skill or hobby, binge watch series, exercise more, go home more often and appreciate it!

Day pints never get boring

Con: It can get boring and in hindsight you may think why didn’t I study more? Why didn’t I start up my own little business? Or take afternoon naps, just ’cause?

8. Breaks

Pro: As a student you get very long holidays. 1 month off for Christmas, a reading week here and there, 3 month Summer holidays, say what?! You feel like you’re living the dream.

Con: Chances are you probably have to work during the holidays, but at least you get some money. Also if you work during term time, working in the Summer when there is no Uni is actually a lot less stressful. (Whoops made that into a pro!) Otherwise if you don’t have to work, the long breaks aren’t even a con. Only if you have to do resits whilst your friends are in Barcelona, that is!

9. Travel

Pro: You get to discover a city or 2. Maybe you are doing a year abroad or you have friends in near cities, or you get to take some trips with your friends. Living somewhere new you get to explore and find some hidden gems.

Con: It can be scary, difficult and intimidating when adjusting to living somewhere new. Don’t worry though you are not alone, everyone goes through this at some point to some degree (pun, sorry) I definitely did. I loved the city, the course, the campus where I studied, but I still had times when it was difficult trying to fit in.

10. In my opinion this one is only a positive…

Pro: You gain something out of it. Not just debt for you pessimists out there! You may want to pursue your degree as a career, study more, you gain valuable skills and knowledge, even if it’s just knowing that Uni isn’t for you and you leave or switch courses. You don’t have that “what if” feeling. It is an experience and like life it is tough but it won’t all be bad. You learn how to write critically and how to challenge ideas, and if anything you know what you don’t want to do or aren’t as good at for the future. Really it’s just the beginning chapter and can lead onto so much.

People don’t say they miss University life for nothing. Maybe it’s just the whole memory of being younger, more relaxed, maybe no real responsibilities and the bubble of everyone going through the same kind of thing in a carefree kind of way. Although it’s not quite how 90210 or the O.C. said student life would be (not just because I studied in South East of England!) there are so many perks to outweigh the stresses, the student discount for one!

I hope you enjoyed the post and let me know what’s on your list of the best and worst parts of student life!

Is University worth it?

It seems everyone has an opinion on going to University and so they should. It’s expensive and three to four years is a long time to dedicate your time to. However some people may decide to have a gap year instead. I actually think a gap year is quite smart as you should not go if you do not feel ready. Alternatively you may be like me where you want to stay in education, move away from home but don’t totally know what you want to study, just that you do and have an interest a subject that you think can keep up with the next few years. Those who really don’t want to go but perhaps all of their friends are going or feel pressured to go because maybe your parents want you to, or your siblings went etc, my advice would be in this case- IT IS NOT WORTH IT. Go get a job, an apprenticeship, travel- whatever you do, do not waste the time and money of dropping out after Fresher’s week. You will only get yourself into debt, because guess what- you do not get your student loan until the actual term starts. That being said don’t just waste time sitting at home watching reruns of Friends all day (even though I love Friends ❤ )

On the other hand, some of you may fall into the following categories:

  • You are in the gap year period where you are unsure about  whether or not to go to University. You are stuck due to lack of savings, full of envy as your friends have swanned off around Thailand, Australia or New Zealand
  • You may be considering to go and get a degree after years of work and being out of education, but are worried whether Uni is the right thing for you
  • Or you may be are a graduate like me and reflecting about said question

“Is University Worth It?”

Social Life

I graduated in 2016 (which is mad to think that it is now 2018) with a 2:1 in Psychology and boy did I work for it. Considering that I was studying a degree about people, I did not expect to learned even more about people OUTSIDE of the lecture theatres. This is something I would consider as worthwhile in the whole University experience. A lot of people say that Uni was the best time of their lives, but few mention how the people you meet at Uni are as Forest Gump says, “a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”; this is something I will go into more detail about in a later post.

Regardless of whether your experiences are positive or negative, it is completely worth it to live away from home at University. You learn how to deal with contrasting characters (to put it lightly) and that’s something you will inevitably come across at some point in your life, Like I said, living with people really put my degree into perspective and all the crazy theories about human behaviour suddenly made sense. The social side to University is fun and challenging at the same time. You build so much character, independence and hopefully good memories along the way.


Another plus is that you have the opportunity to discover a city that you may never have lived in before, as well as your friends! You learn the best places to go out on campus (and the worst), the quirky restaurants in town and the hidden treasures. Maybe you even meet someone who changes your life; whether that is someone that you begin to date or a friend who may end up being Godparent to your future kids. Who knows?

Finances

So what about the actual studying that’s involved at Uni? You would be surprised just how many people forget about that. These people are a breed who go into hibernation after only attending the first couple of lectures of the semester. They are nocturnal animals only being sighted at 10:00pm at pre-drinks with a bottle of Sainsbury’s own Vodka to hand. They then only reappear in daylight during exam season where they camp out in the library, ‘revising’ as they Snapchat to fool the world that they have been a Uni student all along. These are the people in the last week before exams at the revision lectures, ask who is that person up there by the podium. That person of course is the lecturer you have had all year.

I really don’t know how they do it. I would be having heart palpitations if I tried to learn the whole syllabus in 48 hours. In my opinion, unless you are a genius and retain information easily or have the willpower to catch up at home on your own outside of lectures, then the aforementioned behaviour will  cause you to struggle. This will get annoying for your housemates and course friends who have to listen to you complain about your crap grades as a result of your ghostly presence in lectures. Ultimately, if you aren’t planning on doing any studying then what is the point of going? Surely clubbing nights and racking up a debt with no income isn’t worth it? With tuition fees being over £9000 a year on top of rent, lets say approx £400 monthly on a 9 month contract that’s already £12,600. That is without the maintenance loan you have to pay back, oh yeah and the fun thing called interest that totals up over the years. If that’s what you want to do, then no it really isn’t worth it in the long run. To be fair, I didn’t go to every single lecture but I did appreciate my degree. I also did not let the student loan put me off. I never went into my overdraft and did not add extra debt. There is a cap of  £21,000 you have to earn before you pay back your student loan, and even that is in monthly installments out of your wage, so I really wouldn’t worry too much. Just do yourself a favour and  don’t get yourself into further debt with rent, bills and going out.

Education

When I began Uni at the tender age of 18, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life or what real career I wanted. I did know that I had the drive to push myself to study even when things were tough- statistics and biological science- you almost killed me. But I overcame these challenges and I knew that the degree would open me up to so many career paths. I for one think it’s absolutely fine and actually very common to admit that before starting your course, whilst studying at Uni or even after you have graduated that you don’t know what you want to do next. Choose a degree that you will enjoy, one that would have real value for you and that utilities your strengths. In a perfect world if you know that you want to be a doctor, a lawyer or an environmental psychologist then you will benefit even more from your degree, however the world’s not perfect not everyone has that clarity and affirmation of what they want to do. I certainly didn’t. As long as you have drive to complete your degree to your full potential, it will be worth it. However do not beat yourself up about it, perhaps you’re a perfectionist like me, or maybe it’s just human nature to think you could have done better. I was really pushing for a first on my dissertation and felt disappointment when I got a 2:1. Nonetheless, in hindsight I know I did my best.

Last but not least is…

Adulthood

After I graduated, I moved back home and I think that if I didn’t go to Uni I would be seriously lacking in street smarts about how to ‘adult’ and to cope with daily grown up responsibilities. This includes: money for rent, bills, shopping, what to do when the fuse trips, cooking for myself without burning the house down or what to do when the house nearly explodes because you have a gas leak… I told you that Uni could be challenging! But thank goodness I learned all of that NOW and not when I am in a position to move out when older and having never lived without the comfort of my parent’s security blanket and fully heated house. Although I dread to think that I may have to revisit one or two of those lessons.

SO IS IT WORTH IT? I would have to say yes- for me personally, it made me more mature, I learned how to deal with money, about living with others, dealing with difficult people in and out of lectures, I made good friends and have fond memories of a city I lived in for 3 years. Now nearly two years on, I can confidently talk about the value of my degree and life experience that going to University gave me in interviews, and for that I would say it’s definitely worth it.

ADVICE FOR GRADS: Interviews

When it comes to interviews, many people will agree that it can be pretty nerve wracking. The thought of having to sell yourself for an hour or sometimes more to complete strangers and convince them that you are the best person for the job, is indeed daunting. Trying to secure a job is so much more than just having a qualification or a certain skill and being available to fill a vacancy; a luxury that may once existed 15 or so years ago. In summary, the application process is long and stressful. However, there are so many things you can do to give yourself the best chance in progressing in the interview process. So just as it says on the tin, I am sharing with you some tips for interviews that I have gathered along the way of my (very) early career!

The application process:

This is by far the longest part as you have to fill out all the admin and ensure your CV is up to date and strong, and you may also be required to write a cover letter. Nonetheless this first step is crucial to hook a company in, so get a friend or a colleague to look at your CV and gain vital feedback. Make sure your name and contact details stand out, that any grammar mistakes are corrected and that each of the jobs or work experience you have had, demonstrate that you are a qualified candidate for the role. If you are applying for various different roles, do vary your CV accordingly to fit the position (and attach the correct one to the application… I once had an embarrassing conversation with a recruiter regarding a job I applied for, with my CV stating my passion for a completely different sector… awkward.) 

Do not wait until the end of closing date to apply for the job, it is not unusual for job adverts to close early if they have had a lot of interest from candidates. That being said, take your time with the application to not make silly mistakes such as saying that you’re conscientious but fail to spot your spelling mistakes (or sending in the wrong CV- oops). You may also have to answer some screening questions or take part in a test, ensure that you are in a quiet environment and are focused.

Congratulations, you have been invited to a telephone interview:

You meet the relevant criteria and will be having a telephone interview with someone in HR or maybe a future colleague/manager. My best tip would be prepare how you would for a face to face interview, that means:

– Have some background information about the company
– Know a bit about the role
– Be clear about why you are applying for the role and why you should be hired

This sounds like a lot of information, but the length of a telephone interview is really determined by the extent of your knowledge and what you want to get out of it. Use this to your advantage and make notes! Prepare answers to questions beforehand and write them out just the way you would answer it- in a professional but conversational tone.
The most common telephone interview questions I have been asked include:

Q- So tell me about yourself?
A- Discuss your current role or maybe you have just graduated, in that case state your degree and aspects or topics that you enjoy about it. Whether it is a qualification or your current job, make this your link as to why you are applying for the role, and what you hope to achieve in the future.

Q- What do you know about the company?
A- Research current articles or new initiatives the company have implemented. Prepare as much as you can but make sure you understand what it is the company does. There isn’t much point regurgitating Wikipedia if it means nothing to you. Rewrite what it is the company aims to do/ who their audience or market are, in a way that makes sense to you. Also be honest. If you have gone blank or only know a little bit about the company, then that is fine. Keep your answers short and concise. Often you will receive a lot more information about the company during this conversation which you should note down throughout; this will be very useful for referal.

Q- How do you describe yourself?
A- What three skills do you have, that are important in this role. Say the skill, pick an example of when you demonstrated this, and relate the importance of this to the role. Make sure that the traits you list are positive and work in your favour. You are selling yourself!

My best tip for this part of the process would be to smile when you talk to the interviewer. This will put you at ease and will translate to the interviewer on the phone. General house rules would include that you hold the telephone interview in a quiet room where you won’t be disturbed and that you stick to your scheduled telephone appointment, i.e. make sure that you don’t book your interview when you know you will be busy!

Face to face interview!

You’ve made it to the face-to-face to interview. Prior to attending it, you can do the following things.

– To calm yourself down and to feel more confident, stand in a power pose (think superman pose, hands on hips, legs shoulder width a part, chin up and chest out) standing like this for two minutes. Studies have shown that power poses evoke feelings of power in an individual, and those who stand in these poses compared to those who don’t before the interview, are more likely to be successful in being  chosen for the role.
– Practice your responses in the mirror and read aloud your answers.
– Practice shaking hands; you want a firm handshake that shows you are strong and confident.
– Plan your travel route before you leave and factor in at least an extra 30 minutes for delays.
– Dress smart or accordingly to the role. You should be told (or you can ask) if it is smart business dress, or if it is smart casual. Always be certain that whatever the dress, that your shoes * are clean, your shirt is ironed and an umbrella is packed- we are in England, after all.
*This is a big must for me, presentation is unfortunately a big part in forming a good first impression, along with punctuality, preparation and understanding and fit of the role.
– Bring in your notes and anything else you have prepared and read over them beforehand.
– Arrive at least 10 minutes early to the interview location. This will help calm your nerves, show that you are timely, and give you a chance to examine the workplace as you take in the atmosphere.
– Do prepare questions to ask the interviewer. You want to show your enthusiasm and that you are interested in whether this place is the right company and environment for YOU. Ask about the office culture, how your boss likes to manage their staff, what they are looking for in the role, what their pain points are and anything else you feel would help to make your decision and determine your suitability for the organization, the team and ultimately the role. I also often ask a question about a current event relating to the company. Perhaps they were recently in the press celebrating an achievement or overcoming a challenge- engage in a conversation to show your interest and knowledge of the company. Lastly remember to ask about any final steps or second interviews you may be required to attend, along with a timescale.

After the interview:

Do send a thank you letter to the person you interviewed or the recruiter. This will reaffirm your interest in the role. Then all you have to do is sit and wait patiently for feedback. Whether this feedback is negative or positive, do try to take in as much as you can to better yourself and your interview skills for the future. If you are lucky enough to be offered the job, well done you! Take some time to make your decision, and think carefully about what you want to do. If you wish to accept the role, be clear about your expectations and negotiate where you see fit.  Once all is signed and sealed, pop the prosecco and celebrate!