Food Shopping in Lancaster

As a student, food shopping can be an event much like laundry: an annoying but necessary task that we often try do as quickly and with as little thought as possible. However, by taking stock of the various shopping options available in Lancaster, planning ahead a bit, and being a savvy consumer, you can save a considerable amount of money and improve the quality of the food you eat.

In this piece I’ll lay out the main food shopping options you’ll have as a Lancaster student, and their respective pros and cons. Hopefully, having read it, you will avoid the fate of living solely off Pot Noodles and Greggs pasties.

Campus Convenience Stores

As a first-year student, you’re likely staying in accommodation on campus, so your first ports of call will be Spar and Central. Spar is centrally located nearby to Alexandra Square, whilst Central is on the other side of campus near Pendle and Grizedale colleges. These are relatively small stores that provide convenient access to basic cooking ingredients, drinks, and lunch foods. Though they are useful for bits and pieces, you’re probably best off not making these shops your go-to for a weekly shop: prices are higher than supermarkets and the selection is limited.

The Farmers Market

Every Thursday, in Alexandra Square on campus, there’s a farmers market which sells all manner of local produce, handmade and homegrown foods, and lunches ranging from sushi to hot dogs. It’s a good way of getting hold of local ingredients as well as local delicacies – such as ‘lemon cheese’. Yes, really (its less weird than it sounds).

Sainsbury’s

Going to Lancaster’s largest supermarket on a Wednesday became something of a ritual for me during my first year at the university. Why, you ask? Well, like a more wholesome version of the free bus trips to the Sugarhouse on a Friday night, on Wednesday there are free buses from the university to Sainsbury’s – and back. Sainsbury’s has by far the largest selection of food on offer of Lancaster’s food shops. There are all the staples you’d expect: meat, vegetables, ready meals, alcohol, frozen foods, world foods; as well as a butcher’s counter, delicatessen, and bakery. Sainsbury’s strikes a good balance between value and quality – their own-brand goods are generally of a high quality compared to other major supermarkets. Furthermore, much of their food is ethically sourced or locally grown – for example, all of their own-brand fresh meat is British. There’s also a selection of non-food items, such as homeware and toiletries. The bus takes you to and from the carpark, meaning its easy to buy and transport large quantities of food. This is your best bet if you want to do a week’s worth of shopping at once and save on money.

Lancaster City Centre

Beyond Sainsbury’s – but, handily, only a short walk away – are the shops of Lancaster’s city centre. There’s Marks & Spencer if you’re looking for something more upmarket, but on a student budget there are some cheaper stores that will probably be of more use to you. Home Bargains and Poundland can be very useful for toiletries, tinned foods, and essentials like tea and coffee. There’s also Iceland, which specialises in frozen foods, has some nicely priced fresh fruit and vegetables, and is also handy for those summer barbecues you’ll no doubt be having. Lancaster is a fairly compact place, so its easy to drop into all of these stores in one trip – or have a quick look through before you do a big shop at Sainsbury’s.

Morecambe

Just outside of Lancaster is Morecambe, which has some great budget options for food shopping. There’s Asda, which is a similar size to Sainsbury’s and has a huge selection of food at low prices; and Aldi, one of the ‘German discounters’, with very cheap prices but a comparatively limited selection. Although both of these options are cheaper than anything available in Lancaster, they’re also further away, so you’ll need to take some time and money out to reach them on the bus. Fortunately, buses to Morecambe can be taken straight from the university underpass.

Online Shopping

Of course, if you don’t fancy venturing out on the bus for your shopping, there’s always the option of home delivery. Both Asda and Sainsbury’s offer this service, and it has been extremely useful to me in saving both time and money. I often find that being able to sort products by price, and being able to see all of the special offers together in one place, leads to me spending much less money on food than I otherwise would have. Additionally, once you’ve done a few online shops, the websites will remember which products you buy frequently and suggest them to you, making shopping even more convenient. The downside of this option is that there is a minimum spend of £25, and you’ll also have to pay a small fee for the delivery. This can be alleviated by ordering a few days ahead of the delivery date, or by spreading the cost amongst a few people by ordering a shop with a few of your flatmates or friends. The latter option is especially useful as you can buy products in bulk amounts, saving even more money.

That just about covers all of the main options for food shopping in Lancaster. With a bit of knowledge of the choices available, its easy to find the sort of food that you’re after. Plan ahead, save money where possible, and use all of the resources at your fingertips.

Packing for university

With the summer months coming to an end the countdown to the start of university is finally upon us!

At this point you might be starting to wonder what exactly you should pack, for your first week, and the year that lies ahead of you. This makes it the perfect chance for me to share some packing tips, and advice, for your first week at Lancaster University.

Bedroom decorations: When I first arrived at university and waved goodbye to my family, I admit, it did feel a little strange starting my degree in a new and unfamiliar place. However, I recommend packing some homely items such as photos, bunting and cushions as these will give you a chance to spend some time decorating your room, and will really make your room feel like home quicker!

Freshers Week: In your first week at Lancaster University, you will be welcomed into university life with the Fresher’s Week. Throughout this week there will be various welcome events, activities and freshers fairs to attend, whilst also being a time to get to know your flatmates and make friends throughout your college. To prepare you for the freshers week, bringing along playing cards and board games to use with your flatmates during the evenings are a great way to get to know each other! It’s also a great idea to pack fancy dress items, as you never know when you might need these for a college or society event.

Stationary: In freshers week you may also need to attend some lectures which will introduce and welcome you to your course. I recommend packing some stationary and a notebook for these, and also bringing along a planner, so that you can make a plan of the lectures and events to attend in the first week – This will mean that you won’t end up forgetting or missing out on an event!

Food basics: During your first week at Lancaster University you can spend some time exploring the campus, and head in to town to get some food shopping, plus any items you may have forgotten to pack. As you may find yourself busy with freshers events and activities, it is a good idea to pack a few basic food items such as tinned food and pasta so that you have some food to eat before you get to the shops.

Freshers flu: You may be lucky enough to avoid the freshers flu but by packing a basic medical kit including lemsips, paracetamol and throat lozenges you can remain prepared for if you feel ill during your first weeks at university!

When packing your kitchen and bedroom items, don’t forget to make sure that they aren’t already provided by your accommodation. If you’re not sure you will use something, you can always buy things in Lancaster, If you need them.

Travel List

I remember finally booking my flight tickets, after reviewing every travel website in existence this time last year, and immediately thought of a million things I wanted to take to university (my new home :D). But the flight tickets came with baggage regulations and thus of those million things, I could only get the most essential ones. I am an international student who was travelling abroad for the first time. I know many of you can relate to me. Thus, I am making a list of the most essential things to bring to Lancaster University.

Waterproof Jacket

Lancaster is a small town in the North of England and, it rains here quite often. So I would suggest everyone carry a warm waterproof jacket. Also, I would not suggest carrying an umbrella as it gets very windy and most of the umbrellas break within the first few weeks (personal experience!!!!).

Woollens and Thermals

By mid-September, the weather will be ambient. However, you should carry a few warm clothes as it can get chilly at times. Although, do not buy loads of woollen clothes because it will not be sufficient for the winters here and most importantly you will miss the opportunity to buy amazing coats and jackets from the UK.

Regional Spices

Nobody can recreate the taste of the traditional regional food without the regional spices. I brought dozens of packets of Indian spices because I am a big foodie and I cook daily. Finally, I am on the verge of finishing the spices after an entire year. The nearest place to get Indian spices would be Preston. Although Oriental spices are available easily in Lancaster. However, I would still suggest getting at least a few month’s quotas.

Travel adaptor

Travel adapters are very essential and I would suggest carrying at least two adapters to charge laptops and mobile phones.

Photographs

The accommodation room will be your own personal space for the next year. It will be an empty canvas, and you will have the opportunity to create a beautiful room.  I did not bring photographs with me. However, I pasted colourful sticky notes on my wall with encouraging quotes and lyrics to my favourite songs to motivate myself. So think of something that would make you feel at home and bring it to decorate your room. You can also get beautiful posters from the University, during the welcome week.

Lastly, do not forget to get xerox copies of important documents and a list of all the items in your travel bag. ( these are helpful in case the luggage gets misplaced. This, usually doesn’t happen but it’s better to be safe!!)

Walking in Lancaster and Beyond

While its true that Lancaster is a city, it is undoubtedly on the smaller side compared to many of its peers. The same goes for its collection of shops, and its nightlife – although any true Lancaster student will proudly vouch for The Sugarhouse when it comes to that. For the full city experience, Manchester is just an easy train-ride away. But being one of the more rurally located UK universities, one of the great things Lancaster has to offer is its close proximity to some stunning scenery and beautiful natural environments.

For me, the green sight of the university campus, surrounded by trees, was a welcoming sight on moving-in day, having come from a small rural town. The freedom to be able to walk for five minutes from my flat and reach the campus’ woodland trail was something I took full advantage of whilst living on campus. I can recall one particularly tranquil morning, when, following a night out, I walked around the campus’ green space as the sun came up, and saved a tired bee with a buttercup. Quite a contrasting follow-up to the bright lights and thumping music of The Sugarhouse…

This year, I’ve lived off-campus, and – fortunately, given my love of walking – right next to the canal. Walking up the canal, out of the city, and into the countryside was a great tool for maintaining sanity during those more gruelling revision periods. I’ve been pleased to see that the brothers and sisters of Lancaster’s iconic campus ducks inhabit the canal, and watching ducklings paddling side-by-side with canal boats has been a consistently enjoyable sight. One of the canal’s other great features is that its flanked by pubs and chip shops. Of course, no British walk is complete without a trip to one or the other (or both).

Further afield from Lancaster is the Yorkshire Dales, which my Lancaster college (Bowland til I die) offered a free coach trip to the other week. Armed with Greggs pasties and raincoats, we headed out to the Ingleton waterfalls trail. The foggy weather was a little disappointing at first – not that it’s wise to expect sunny days in the north of England, but ended up only adding to the stunning sights of the area: jagged cliffs flanked with dramatic waterfalls, crashing streams, cobbled walls dotting the hills. There was a café midway through the walk, and a pub at the end. Not bad for somewhere on the doorstep of university.

Lancaster’s own bus station is a surprising gateway to many more green walks. The city’s small size means no one’s far away from the bus station, and the bus station means no one’s far away from the Lake District. Tomorrow, I’ll be going there with some friends to enjoy a rare week of northern sun. Alongside the regular supplies of pasties and sun cream, I’ll be bringing some insect repellent – countless gnat bites being one of the less exciting takeaways from the trip to Ingleton. Of course, there are still many parts of the city and beyond that I’m yet to explore, but it’s been a joy to be able to incorporate walking and nature into student life.

Ways to make the most of summer

Last week I completed the final exam of my degree and so for me that means that my summer break is finally here! At Lancaster University we get around three months off for summer and whilst this provides the perfect chance to take a break and recharge I have also found that the summer break is a time which can also be utilised for personal development and growth. There are a variety of ways that you could use your summer so I hope I can inspire you all by sharing how I have utilised past summers.

Travel: One way to use your summer is to travel to new countries to gain global perspectives and gain exposure to new languages and cultures. Last summer I used my summer break to travel to Hong Kong, Japan and Australia for the first time. Travelling to new countries enabled me to learn more about the world and learn about different cultures and experience some of the business practices of countries. In addition, travelling enabled me to develop a variety of soft skills including planning skills, time management and adaptability. This is because when travelling to a number of countries it required the time to be effectively utilised and agility to deal with any issues which may occur.

Volunteer: Another way to use your summer is to get involved with volunteering opportunities. In the summer break after my first year I volunteered at a Foodies Festival which was being held in my local area. By volunteering at the event it enabled me to expand my work experience and understand more about the events industry. In addition, I was able to gain employability skills including teamwork, communication and confidence working in a varied work environment. Particularly, this is because the event required me to take on different roles across the event days and liaise effectively with other volunteers.

Learn something new: I have also found that summer can be the perfect time to focus on learning something new, such as a new hobby or skill. During my summer last year I took on the challenge of self-teaching myself Cantonese and then I attempted to apply my new language skills when I travelled to Hong Kong. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to learn everything during the summer break but it definitely felt rewarding to be able to gain basic Cantonese language skills and to be understood by Hong Kong locals.

Work Placements and Internships: I have also previously used my summer break to gain work experience by completing a work placement at a marketing agency. Although my work placement was only one week, I found that completing a work placement was a great way to gain industry relevant experience and learn more about possible career routes and opportunities. In addition, the work placement allowed me to recognise the skills that I need to develop and the experience I need to gain to improve my employability when I enter the graduate market.

Whether it be learning a new skill or gaining work experience, there are lots of ways that you can make the most of your summer! I hope that by sharing with you how I have used my previous summer breaks I have inspired you with ways that you could use your summer. For everyone that has started their summer, enjoy the break and good luck for results day!

Day Trips in the Surrounding Area

At the moment, exam season is underway at Lancaster University so my days are currently filled with studying and preparing for my exams. Therefore, trying to maintain focus and motivation, this week I decided to book a day trip to Edinburgh to look forward to after my exams. One of my interests when I have spare time at university is to travel and explore the local and surrounding area. Studying in Lancaster for the past three years has meant that I have had a chance to visit a variety of places and therefore I thought that I would share with you all some places that are ideal for a day trip when at Lancaster University.

Blackpool: In my first year I discovered that Lancaster is on the doorstep to one of the North’s favourite seaside towns – Blackpool! With direct buses that can be taken from the university or town, I have found that Blackpool makes for the perfect day trip during the summer months. That so, it has become one of my annual day trip destinations to visit at the end of Summer term. As a beach town, I love to visit the sandy beach front for a perfect summer walk and to enjoy fresh fish and chips from the restaurants along the promenade. I have also learnt that Blackpool is a great place to visit in winter to see the famous illumination event which sees the night town lit up with a light show.

Manchester: Manchester has become a city that I am always keen to return to and is perfect for a day of retail therapy and city exploring. You can take the train from Lancaster Station and when you arrive you are welcomed by the city bustle and a large shopping high street. Whilst in Manchester, I always try to make a visit to one or two of the many attractions that are spread throughout the city. Having taken several trips to Manchester now I have enjoyed visiting the Hogwarts-like John Rylands Library, Manchester Science Museum and Manchester’s China Town.

Liverpool: Another city favourite of mine is the city of Liverpool. As a city that is famous for being the birthplace of The Beatles, there are many museums and monuments to visit throughout the city which celebrate the band. As well as doing some shopping, I also enjoy making a visit to the docks and the maritime museum.

Tatton Park: For an escape from city life, I enjoy a visit to the Cheshire town of Knutsford to visit Tatton Park. Tatton Park is a National Trust estate and I am always excited to make a visit to see the deer and sheep that roam freely across the acres of grounds that the public have access to. If you are looking for a quiet place to visit then I would recommend Tatton Park because it is always a calming escape to sit and watch the wildlife and sailors around the lake and moorland.

If you have a love for travelling or exploring new places like me, then I hope I have captured your interest to visit some of the places that I have had a chance to visit whilst studying at Lancaster University.

Deciding the next step after your degree

Some of you will come to university knowing exactly what it is you would like to do after you graduate. I suspect however that the majority of you will either have some vague ideas but are still unsure, or you may be someone who hasn’t a clue. I can safely say that I am somebody who fell into the latter category. Almost two years down the road however, I have a much clearer picture on the route I want to take after I graduate.

It really is common for students to begin university not knowing what they want to do after they complete their studies. After all, you probably found it hard enough picking what A-levels to study, and what university to firm, so picking something that you may do for a large chunk of your life is very difficult. I feel that it’s hard to expect students to be certain of what job they want, especially just after starting university life. Fortunately, no one at the university is expecting this from you, so do not feel rushed into making your career choice, something that is frankly a big decision.

What I have learnt is to not spend too much time thinking about what it is you want to do after your degree. Rather, focus on your studies and achieving the best degree classification possible. Even though it’s perhaps not wise to contemplate too heavily on your aspirations, this is not to say that you shouldn’t immerse yourself to gain as many valuable experiences as you can whilst at university. As I have mentioned, I did not know what I wanted to do after university, so I made a strong effort to attend a variety of careers-based events and talks which give me insights into different industries, and opportunities to ask questions to those in the world of work.

I would also recommend trying to gain some work experience in fields that you are even partially interested in working in as this will help you to learn more about what industries you may enjoy working in. I feel that the way that I have gained most knowledge regarding my future goals after university is through a combination of work experience and attending events at Lancaster University. I hope you recognise the importance of gaining these experiences in helping you decide what you would like to do after you graduate, as I think that my experiences over the last two years have in a way made my mind up for me, or at least have heavily contributed to my decisions.

I have learnt that employers are less concerned with your degree title, and more about what you can bring to the company. This has implications in two regards. Firstly, do not see your degree as a limitation or barrier. By this I mean, just because you have chosen a Marketing degree does not mean you can only go into marketing. Of course, some roles will require particular degrees such as Medicine to become a Doctor, but on the whole, you will have the opportunity to work in almost any sector. So, when you do come around to thinking about what you do after you graduate, be sure to consider opportunities beyond your degree scheme.

The second implication is use your time to build yourself up the best you can over the course of your degree, rather than using your time worrying about not knowing what to do. Your ambitions will come naturally to you, don’t feel obliged to go out of your way looking for them.

Do’s and Don’ts of Getting the Most Out of Lectures

Lectures are an entirely different format of learning than what you will be used to in college/sixth form and, with upwards of 10 hours of lectures a week, you will want to make sure you are getting the most out of this contact time.

DON’T try writing down everything the lecturer says. Not only is this pretty much impossible and exhausting – it’s also pretty useless. Instead jot down key points of the lecture and make notes about any information you want to follow up in your own time that might have interested you. That way you will actually engage with the lecture.

DO use a notepad instead of a laptop. Now I know this is a very personal opinion, but I truly believe that the physical act of handwriting lecture notes allows you to absorb more as you go along. Of course, for some people, using a laptop is necessary but I recommend at least giving handwritten notes a go.

DON’T get into the habit of skipping lectures. University culture is fundamentally different from school in that you are very much given a great amount of autonomy in how you want to approach your education. Unfortunately, this also means that it is very easy to “get away” with skipping lectures and once you’ve missed a couple of 9am’s it becomes very difficult to get back into the routine.

DO use colour in your notes. Whether you’re using a laptop or a notepad, it’s always a good idea to use colour in your notes – you could highlight key words, for example. This will make it a lot easier to find topics when you have to look back over your notes from months ago during exam revision.

DON’T worry if you feel like the lecturer went over a topic too quickly or if you got distracted. The majority of lectures at Lancaster University are video recorded so you can watch them again when you get home and add to your notes.

DO sit closer to the front of the lecture theatre. It has been scientifically proven that those who sit in the front and middle rows of lecture halls are more likely to achieve higher grades.

DON’T be afraid to ask questions. Lecturers will usually pause during the session and allow the audience to ask questions – if you didn’t understand something, there is a very high likelihood that there are at least 20 other people feeling the same way!

Walking on Sunshine

The sun has finally come to Lancaster and you can’t help but feel the newfound energy on campus.  Walking through Alexandra Square I noticed the air abuzz with laughter, excitement, and procrastination. But before you judge, it was rather a “fruitful” type of procrastination. One that ends in the sweet sweet taste of victory in our mouths. That’s right. Lancaster has another Roses trophy under its belt and after this spectacular weekend I feel like I can conquer the world (at least I hope so. Especially for exams…).

For those of you who don’t know, Roses is an annual sports tournament between the University of York and Lancaster University that started in the 1960s. The host university alternates every year and this year the tournament took place right at our doorstep. It’s the highlight of the year with all the university teams’ hard work accumulating towards this weekend-long event. It’s an event you can’t miss and undoubtedly an integral and memorable part of the Lancaster experience. Every moment spent cheering for my friends and other athletes of the university was worth it; and filled me with an ineffable sense of pride in being part of this university. And of course, besides the trophy, the sun had our back the whole way through and with sunny days ahead, we’ll all definitely be spending more time outside.

Besides watching and playing sports, now may also be the perfect time to take your studies outside! Around campus, you can see more and more students studying by the steps in Alexandra Square or even by the luscious green spaces by the Bonington Steps. If you’re lucky, there are also the occasional streams of ducklings that waddle behind their mother enjoying the carefree days of their youth (Ahhh how I miss those days. Not when I was a duck, but the days of my childhood devoid of deadlines, exams, job applications and more deadlines…). And in case you prefer studying in a shadier area, there are study pods right outside the LICA centre- a rather ideal spot if you’re keen to study among towering trees. I’d say that being there definitely helps you keep in touch with nature. All in all, the university’s large campus and vibrant green-fields offer plenty of space for you to study outside and enjoy bright sunny days.

And of course, besides study areas, the University has a lot of outdoor courts and fields for you to play sports with friends. The other week, my friends and I hit the courts for a quick game of basketball. We ended up playing against some students in sixth form who were more than happy to show us how “real” basketball looks like. Whether we played like basketball “pros” or (most likely) not, we ended up having a blast. As always, there’s no better feeling than getting a cold smoothie in Juicafe or some ice cream also in Alexandra Square. With the sun out from its hiding place, there’s no excuse to stay inside.

Here’s to more sunshine! Good luck with exams!!

Reflections on Doing First-Year Exams – for the Second Time

My first LUMS blog post, written in January, was about the somewhat unusual experience of what it’s like to be a first-year at university – for a second time. It’s now April, and another familiar experience is rearing its head for a second time: exam season. Exam season was a stressful period for me as a first-time first-year. I’d like to think, however, having a crack at it again as a second-time first-year, that my experiences in 2016 equipped me with some valuable lessons to make it a smoother ride this time round. I won’t be so bold as to say ‘take my advice’ – you’ll have to check back in a few months to see what grades I get to know whether that’s a wise idea or not! Nonetheless, here are my reflections.

I suppose the first thing to mention is that, although I am a second-time first-year (those don’t sound like real words any more, do they?) I did pass the first year of my previous course, BBA Management, and my decision to switch to Management, Politics, and International Relations was made before taking my exams. I say this not as a matter of defending my own honour – well, not entirely, anyway – but to address the oft-touted notion of ‘first year exams don’t count!’. While it’s true that at British universities, your first-year exam grades do not contribute towards your final degree classification, they absolutely do count, and thinking otherwise does one no favours. Many LUMS students, myself included, take the opportunity of going on a year-long work placement as part of their degree. As the application process for placements takes place during your second year, your first-year exam results will be just about all your potential employers have to go off regarding your academic performance at university. Insisting that you’re intelligent and hardworking, but got middling grades because ‘it was only first year’ will surely not be an appealing notion to a FTSE 100 company looking for the best and brightest, and this thought has certainly kicked me from any lingering complacency I had regarding exams.

Furthermore, it is undoubtedly the case that you get as much out of university as you put in – and as stressful as exams can be, they are ultimately there to help you, not to punish you. I’m not going to pretend that I was experiencing meditative feelings of self-improvement and development whilst trying to memorise every last accounting formula over a third cup of coffee last year; but that I still remember many of those formulas today, despite doing a different degree and not being a natural ‘numbers man’, is testament to how valuable exams are as learning tools. The takeaway for me is to go into exam season with a positive mindset. If you’ve attended lectures and put your all into your course over the year, and you have the will to put in the necessary time and effort into revision, there’s nothing to fear, and everything to gain. A university education would be worthless if it was not challenging. Knowing you’ll come out on the other side of exams with much-improved knowledge and skills in your subject area is surely a motivating thought.

One big mistake I made last year in my exam revision was attempting to substitute sleep for caffeine. Sleep is often seen as an enemy in exam season. We try to ‘game the system’ – seeing each extra hour of sleep as a lost hour of revision in those crucial few days just before an exam. This is a totally flawed way of thinking. Four hours of revision on a good night’s sleep is infinitely more valuable than eight hours of revision on a short kip broken by fifteen alarms and gallons of energy drinks. Practice doing timed papers is essential, and it takes a lot of revision to get to the point where doing this kind of practice is feasible. I’ve found this year that spreading my workload in small, manageable chunks across a long time period is not only far less stressful but much more effective. To paraphrase Will from ‘The Inbetweeners’, on a tired brain, nothing goes in. What’s more, I found that doing some of my exams last year on very little sleep made for a much more anxious and nerve-wracking experience. Confidence in exams comes not just from knowing your stuff, but from being well-rested and able to approach the exam room with calmness rather than underslept agitation. After one particularly poor night of sleep, I ended up forgetting to bring both my pen and my student card to an exam, and then sitting in the wrong seat. The thought of ‘one day I’ll look back on this and laugh’ provided little consolation at the time, and the debacle added some much-unneeded extra stress to proceedings. Had I had a clear, well-rested head, I doubt I would have made the blunder, and I’m sure I would have done better had that stressful situation not occurred.

Of course, you can only treat yourself to those few hours of extra sleep if you actually start revising early enough that you don’t have to cram half of the course content on the night before the exam. And that’s really the key to everything: starting early. Revision, in my experience, always takes longer than anticipated. There will always be parts of the course you’re not so familiar with, or find particularly challenging, that will take you unawares. Discovered early on, you can tackle these bumps in the road. But discovered three hours before you need to be in the exam hall and they can deliver a wounding blow.

Although my exams are still a fair way away, my experiences last year have kicked me into gear and I am some way into my revision already. First year exams come quite a bit later and are ultimately less important than second-year exams – but they are important nonetheless and provide a key opportunity to develop good revision practice. I go into this year’s exam period viewing exams as friend rather than foe; and aiming to have more hours of sleep and fewer trips to Costa Coffee.