Friday, 22 January 2016

Friends From Home, Friends From Uni

A lot of people will tell you that going to uni is the best years of your life - that you have the best times and make the best friends and it's the best few years to have before you really hit the working world.

Having just started the second half of my first year and seeing it beginning to conclude and map itself out, I start thinking back to secondary school.

Whilst a lot of people (particularly at my university) went to college and did a variety of courses that weren't at all available to me, I stayed on at my school's sixth form and did A Levels in English Language, English Literature and Maths (I sucked at maths - my maths teacher still tells his current classes how bad I was at maths, very unprofessional). So I was in the same school, the same environment, doing three of the same subjects, surrounded by the same people for about seven years.

In those seven years (and, in some cases, more before that!) I made some amazing friends, some of which I'm lucky to still be in contact with now but many of which I talked to last before I even moved to uni. Sometimes, friendships fizzle away and whilst that isn't always a bad thing (in fact, I quite enjoyed clearing out my Facebook friends list when I left school!), sometimes you lose people that were really special to you and had a very important place in your heart.

Sometimes I wonder whether those people think the same about me - that they used to have this friend that they thought would be in their lives forever but they changed and now they don't talk anymore and it's sad but probably for the best.

And it probably is for the best - people come and go from our lives and the people that stay are the ones that deserve to stay or the ones that fight to stay, but sometimes you wonder why some didn't fight to stay.

The advice I would give for trying to cope with this (as I feel I should try to end this post on an uplifting note!) is to try and dissociate yourself with the people you're not in contact with anymore - unfollow them on Facebook and Snapchat and whatever other social media. If you're trying to move on to a life that they're not in, then seeing them appear on your timeline is going to make it difficult to forget.

Don't get me wrong - university is amazing and I've met so many incredible people that I have are going to be in my life for a long time. I just had a reflective, nostalgic moment.

Good luck to everyone still applying and going to university in this coming September - you're about to start the biggest adventure of your life so far!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

5 tips to meet a deadline!

Hello! It's been a little while since I blogged but from mid-December through to mid-January I was neck deep in assignment work so whilst I really wanted to keep this blog updated, I had to prioritise uni! 

But over the New Year and in these first weeks of January I've really realised how much I love blogging so I'm back!

That's not why we're here though - I want to give you some tips on how best to finish your assignment when you're lacking in motivation, time management and the ability to care about what you have to do! This isn't exclusive to university assignments - if you've got coursework deadlines looming or a big essay due, this might help!

1) Make a list of everything you need to do!
The assignments I've had required a lot of planning - I had to find a feature and interview someone for that, I had to get people's opinions on a topic for audio and I had so many different things for photography that I got my coloured pens and my highlighters out and I wrote out each assignment title, when the deadline was and what I had to do. I find seeing everything written out on the page and being able to tick it off or cross it out is the most satisfying thing!

2) Give yourself rewards!
Whether it's food, going out to meet your friends or letting yourself have a break to watch YouTube or Netflix (provided you don't get sucked in and stop working completely!), incentives can be a good way to get work done. Either set a timer or alarm for however long you work best (some people can do an hour, whilst others prefer 15-20 minute bursts!) and after that amount of time, put down your pen and give yourself a reward. If it helps, set another alarm for when you'll go back to work. Alternatively, let yourself stop working when you hit a certain word count or you finish a section of your work - set yourself a goal and when you've achieved it, reward yourself! You deserve it.

3) Turn off distractions!
Whilst it can be difficult to tear yourself away from beloved Netflix or turn the music off, if you found yourself getting too absorbed in watching something or singing along and not concentrating properly on your work, it's probably best to turn it off. By the end of my A Level revision, I realised that my passion for music had in no way diminished but my productivity had - I focused too much on it and I found working in silence, I could really concentrate and absorb the knowledge I was trying to revise or finish the essay I needed to write!

4) Start early!
For some, it may be too late and this is something I only ever remember in hindsight that I never remember to do for my next assignment. Starting early and doing small bits every few days is so much easier than doing it all in the three days before. I always have a friend that manages to be motivated enough to do their work weeks before it's due in but I find I need more pressure that a looming deadline gives me. This is a bad thing though! One thing I'm definitely going to work on this year is being more efficient with my assignment deadlines!

5) Do as much as you can to make yourself interested in your work!
I know it's hard, particularly in school, to be given work that you care about - writing about books in English or plays in Drama can be awful if you don't like what you're working with. But if you can do everything you can to talk about things that interest you within your subject then it'll make it that slight bit more bearable. For example, my English Language coursework last year was really broad - we just had to explore an aspect of language so I chose music magazines aimed at different audiences and I got a B because I was interested (there was a pie chart and everything). It's tricky, but there are ways to bend it to suit you - particularly as you progress through school, you get more freedom in A Level than you do at GCSE and way more freedom at uni than in A Levels!

Now obviously these tips are somewhat biased, as I can only give you advise based on what I've seen work or what I find works best for me - having been through two years of GCSEs, two years of A Level and just starting university, it took me a long time to understand what I needed and what kind of work environment works for me. I don't think I've completely found it yet, but finding out what doesn't work is as crucial as figuring out what does! 

Good luck!