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.

Keeping healthy at university

Pizza for tea, lunch and even for breakfast. The daily intake of a student. Ok, maybe not for breakfast, but the point is that students are notorious for loving cheap and cheerful meals, regardless of their nutritional value. It’s hard not to love tucking into a good kebab from time to time but eat out every day and you may find your student loan diminishing quite quickly, and perhaps gaining pounds elsewhere. Fortunately, it is in fact possible to maintain a well-balanced diet on a low budget, without opting for the fast-food and ready meal options! I’m going to share with you some of my tips on how you can maintain a healthy and enjoyable diet whilst at university.

My first piece of advice, which has already been touched upon, is to limit take outs to once or twice a week. Right from your first week, Dominoes will try to hook you in through free pizza and some attractive exclusive student offers. It’s very easy to make it a habit of getting a delivery order a few times a week, and not only is this not the healthiest approach but it is also far from the most cost effective either. This is not to say never eat out however, Lancaster has a range of fantastic restaurants and takeaways that are definitely worth trying out.

There are a tonne of low cost and healthy meals that you can make yourself whilst at university. The best thing is that you don’t have to be a fantastic cook to do so either. I know some students who are put off from cooking and trying new dishes at university as they doubt their own skills in the kitchen. However, the truth of the matter is that even if you have done very little cooking prior to university, there are some things that are still very simple to make.

I’d recommend a well-balanced range of food, so make sure you aren’t just piling on the carbs, but you have a mix of protein, fats, and vitamins. Pasta is a very straightforward, enjoyable, cheap, and potentially nutritious meal that many students opt for. Make sure to throw in some veg (onions, garlic and pepper tend to go quite well together). You will most likely be using a ready-made sauce from the jar, but maybe even try making the sauce yourself after a few goes. Using chopped tomatoes can often be a much healthier alternative to ready-made sauce.

Other healthy and uncomplicated options include stir-fries, Caesar salads, and sweet potato wedges. For you vegetarians and vegans, lentil soup and chickpea curry are two very easy dishes that have a load of health benefits, and they provide a good source of protein. If you don’t fancy cooking, instead of heading straight for the fast-food outlets, give some of the University’s healthier outlets a go. You will find that they will tend to use locally-sourced ingredients, and offer plenty of vegan choices.

Living in Halls

Students with offers from Lancaster University for next year will inevitably be wondering what living in halls is going to be like when most of them move onto campus in October. Here are some things I have learnt from living in university-managed accommodation for the past six months:

  1. Fire drills will happen at the most inconvenient time. Just as you’ve gotten into the shower or at 9 am on a Saturday. But fire safety is an important part of living in halls and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, if you’ve ever wondered what your housemate looks like with no make-up – now is your chance to find out.
  2. You will eventually have a cleaning-related flat argument over the fact that the bins haven’t been taken out in weeks and you’re about to get a fine. Or about the fact that one person has been buying the washing up liquid these past few months and no one has bothered to replace it. The best way to deal with this is to have a calm flat meeting in the kitchen and come up with a cleaning rota, where everyone is involved (probably should have done that during Freshers Week, but better late than never).
  3. You will have a flat WhatsApp group which is both a blessing and a curse. Everyone will get a weird nickname and spam the chat at 3am, when they have forgotten their keys. Embrace it (and maybe mute the chat when you go to bed).
  4. You won’t be best friends with every member of the flat (unless you’re extremely lucky) – and that is okay. When 7-10 strangers suddenly move in together, it’s very probable that there will be some personality clash. Deal with this situation in the same way as you should deal with conflicts over cleaning – have a civil conversation. A lot of the time people won’t know they are upsetting you and won’t be doing it on purpose. Holding passive-aggressive grudges will only make the atmosphere in the flat uncomfortable and part of going to university is learning to deal with problems in an adult way.
  5. Weekends can be a bit quiet on campus. Use this time to catch up on some work, that has definitely piled up during the week. Or binge watch Netflix. Either is fine.

Improving my Confidence at LUMS

Before I started at LUMS, my self-confidence was pretty much non-existent.

A combination of bullying whilst at school, a struggle with anorexia and one aborted attempt at a Midlands university left me timid and doubting in my abilities. During time spent in the workplace, I was barely able to converse with colleagues – let alone offer my opinions or ideas in meetings – convinced that I was dull, incapable and pretty much worthless.

One boss, however, saw some potential in me. Impressed by content I’d written for the workplace website, newsletter and social media, she suggested that I should consider a career in marketing. I tentatively picked up a textbook – and loved what I found there.

To this day, though, I’m still not sure what inspired me with the confidence to turn this blossoming interest into a UCAS application to study at one of the top management schools in the country… but I’m very glad I did.

Deciding to study at LUMS was one of the best decisions I have ever made – and right from the beginning, my confidence improved and has continued to grow daily.

To be honest, I was dreading my first seminar; my head full of visions of going through the usual agonising process of revealing an “interesting fact about myself” or justifying “what ice-cream flavour I’d be” in front of the entire class.
LUMS, however, took a different approach to icebreakers. Before the first session, we were given a business case study to read through and a set of questions to answer. Then, upon arrival, we were divided into small groups to discuss the pros and cons of M&S’s ethical approach to clothing. Although this might sound scary, for me, it was actually ideal. Having the case study and questions beforehand meant that I was able to plan what I could say in advance. Being in a small group, meanwhile, was much less daunting than divulging personal information about myself to the whole class or the pressure of chatting one-to-one. It also made it a darn sight easier to remember everyone’s names! As a result, I was able to get to know more about those I was talking to naturally over the course of the session, whilst the fact that everyone was starting at the same point and there were no right or wrong answers meant that I eventually felt comfortable – and brave enough! – to contribute. I left the first seminar not only feeling like I’d learnt a lot, but, for the first time in a long while, with a sense of achievement.

As the course has progressed, my passion for the subject and keen interest in what I’ve been learning, combined with the enthusiasm of lecturers and other students, has enabled me to gradually overcome my shyness and join in class discussions. After spending my school years being made to feel ashamed of my “nerdiness”, it’s been so lovely to be in an environment where intellectual curiosity and the sharing of ideas is not sneered at, but actively encouraged and celebrated. I’m not the only one who does the required homework or reading, or reads Marketing Week in their spare time! For me, this has been a revelation, and really helped with my self-acceptance.

LUMS has also improved my confidence by pushing me outside of my comfort zone, but in a supportive way.
In our seminars during the Lent term, we’ve been working in groups to deliver presentations each week about the topics we’ve covered in lectures. I’ll admit that during my first presentation, I was terrified. I shook like a leaf, I stuttered, my heart raced, my face was crimson. However, as the weeks have gone by, it’s slowly become much easier. Simply proving to myself that I can survive each one; that I won’t lose the ability to speak, that no one will laugh at me and the tutor won’t call me stupid if I get something wrong, has helped me to have greater faith in my abilities. Working consistently with the same people has been good for me too – I’ve been able to get to know my coursemates, to have a laugh, to make friends. When my group has eagerly seized upon an idea that I’ve suggested, or asked for my help in explaining a complicated concept from the reading, it’s helped me to finally be able to begin to let go of the notion that I am unintelligent and unlikeable.

I’m still not the world’s most confident person, nor the world’s greatest fan of presentations. I still have times when I feel out of my depth academically, or highly anxious in social situations. But when I look back at what I’ve achieved since September, I can see that I’ve come a long way. With the help of LUMS, I know that things can only get better.

You never know, by the end of the next two years at Lancaster, I could be chairing meetings in my workplace, or making public speeches about my favourite flavour of ice-cream. Somewhat anti-climactic I know, but I’d be vanilla, by the way. Not the bravest of choices, but dependable, sweet… and quietly confident.

On Campus Living and Off Campus Living

One of the distinctive qualities of Lancaster University is its campus. Located in Bailrigg, just outside of the city of Lancaster, it sits clustered atop a hill, the spire of its iconic Chaplaincy Centre peering down from above. Being located slightly outside of the city, the university ostensibly operates as its own little ecosystem – attached to Lancaster, yet distinct and separate: with shops, banks, eateries, parks and other facilities all of its own. This makes living on campus a very different experience to living off campus. I am in my second year of studying at Lancaster, and have experienced both – here I’ll go through the ups and downs of each and compare my experiences. Although most first-years choose to live on campus, as a student at Lancaster you’ll likely experience both in your time, and the choice to live off campus during the first year is there for those who wish.

Perhaps the most important thing to discuss is the accommodation. One of the great things to be offered by Lancaster’s campus accommodation is a huge degree of choice. There are a large range of accommodation types to select from, for all needs and budgets – some unique to certain colleges. These range from a standard room with a shared kitchen and bathroom, to en suite rooms, and even to townhouses – which operate more like a shared house than traditional university accommodation, with many people sharing the same large building and communal areas. When I lived on campus during my first year, I chose the Basic En Suite style accommodation – for me, this was what best balanced comfort and value for money. I lived at Bowland College, and had a room that was extremely spacious – especially compared to rooms of friends that I had seen at other universities – and shared a kitchen with three others.

Now I live in town, and my accommodation is very different. I share a four-storey house with seven other people. This is something I have greatly enjoyed. We are all friends, and having a house to yourself where you’re free to throw social events and do things together is very good. There’s always someone to chat to in the kitchen, people to study with, or someone to do something fun. However, the living situation in a such a large house working so well rests on us all knowing each other and getting along. This is one of the advantages of living on campus during your first year: you can get to know new people, and then, if you choose to live off campus in a much more communal environment, you can do so with people who you know and and get along with.

There are some parts of living off campus that take some getting used to, though: visits from cleaners are far less frequent, so its up to you and your housemates to keep communal areas in a liveable condition – and to remember when the bi-weekly bin collections are (trust me: this is easier said than done). Also, given that the university is located just outside of the city, you’ll need to get the bus to lectures. This isn’t difficult – with plenty of bus routes making their way to campus and running at very regular times, but it does mean you’ll have to leave slightly ahead of time for classes. This can be a challenge if, like myself, you’re not a morning person – no more dragging yourself out of bed at 8:59 for that 9:00am lecture.

The next thing to talk about is facilities. Living on campus, you have constant easy access to all of the university’s educational facilities. The library – which is open 24/7 – is just a short walk away. This was massively helpful for me when I needed to print something out in a hurry, get some last-minute work in for an essay in one of the study spaces, or meet with fellow students from my course for a group project. Getting to class is also easy – campus is quite contained and compact, and the Spine system means you’re never more than a short walk from where you need to be. There are also plenty of other, non-educational facilities on campus: college bars at every corner, grocery shops, banks and ATM’s, regular buses into town, and, most importantly, a Greggs for that pre-lecture pasty and coffee combo.

Living off campus, you lose some of that easy access to facilities. Buses mean its never too hard to get to where you need to be, but losing the ability to walk to the library or the Learning Zone in a matter of minutes was a bit of a loss. However, you do gain easy access to all that Lancaster has to offer: from shops and the city centre, to pubs and clubs, to cultural highlights like the castle, and transport hubs like the bus and train stations. Like campus, Lancaster itself is a rather compact place. Living near the centre, I’m never more than fifteen minutes from wherever I want to go. Being able to simply walk to the shops for food, or walk back from the Sugarhouse after a night out rather than wait for a bus was quite revolutionary for me. So, its about weighing up your priorities and what’s more important to you: a bigger house off campus, or more accommodation choice on campus? Living in a busy town, or living amongst other students and academics? Working in the many on-campus study spaces, or working in your own room? Round-the-clock access to the library, or round-the-clock access to kebab shops?

Both choices have their upsides and downsides, but for me, campus was certainly the right place to start. Lancaster’s campus was a warm, friendly, vibrant, and safe place to live; and being around so many other students and facilities was good for finding my feet and getting settled in. Saying that, now I have settled in, living off campus is great. The choice is yours, and I would recommend trying both to see which you prefer. Either way, you’ll have lots to do, be around lots of good people, and you’ll never be far from places to go and things to see.

Managing time on and off campus

There truly is no place like home. We’ve all come across this phrase at some point and depending on how we view it we’ve all accepted or rejected it to varying degrees. Personally, I’ve embraced this sentiment (especially my mom’s food and my sibling’s banter!) more so after going to university, but I’ve learned that the concept of being home during the holidays is quite different when you’re a university student. Don’t get me wrong- I revel in all the joys and luxuries that come with being with my family, but obviously the phrase “There’s no place like home” wasn’t penned by someone with multiple deadlines looming large on the horizon.  So, this brings us to the question: is being well-balanced possible in university? And if so, what exactly does it mean?

After completing my final coursework of the term, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. But just like outdated fashion, deadlines keep coming back. And as I keep learning, one of the only ways to stay on top of them is by planning ahead. Being well-balanced isn’t an impossible feat- it just takes a bit of effort on your part to allot specific times for work and leisure.  To do this, I usually make a well-thought-out plan outlining my tasks for the week ahead.  And what’s great about this is that you can clearly see how missing work impacts subsequent tasks, therefore giving you the incentive to stick to your plans. Also, making a study schedule consolidates study techniques such as spaced repetition – reviewing course material over increasing intervals –  which has consistently worked for me this year. And if making a schedule for the week seems a bit tedious, you can always just jot a to-do-list before starting each day which I like to do with smaller tasks. Either way, by incorporating a schedule to guide you through your work, you’re able to clearly lay out your priorities and establish a more efficient and productive study routine. And don’t worry if you feel this doesn’t work for you! There’s no one-size-fits-all and once you come to university, just like everyone, you’ll take time to find your bearings and eventually discover what’s best for you.

The other (and/or the best) part that comes with being well-balanced is leisure. There’s nothing better than finding yourself with some extra time on your hands during the day. Whether you’re into sports, arts, or music there are always opportunities for you to engage in your passions on campus. Recently, I’ve started taking walks in the morning. The fields by the sports center boasts scenic views throughout the year and offers quiet spaces to relax and ruminate on what TV shows you should watch next. Jokes aside, you can always find solace in nature and if you prefer taking walks in groups, the university offers “well-being walks” once a week to those interested.  Whether it’s incorporated in your schedule or not, don’t forget to take time off for yourself! Learning a new skill or spending time with your friends are some ways to make your day and university experience as a whole infinitely better.

A Happy Easter Holidays to you all!