Life at university

New environment

Coming from a big city like London, adjusting to Lancaster was definitely a challenge. Being from London, it’s easy to think everywhere else in the United Kingdom is just like London, but this is not at all the case. A word a lot of people associate with London is diversity. Around 300 different languages are spoken in London and there are at least 14 different faiths practised there. Lancaster is not quite like London, although the university itself is quite diverse with almost 3000 international students.

London being the capital of England and the United Kingdom, it is expected that it would have certain features that other cities in the UK don’t. Apart from the obvious differences between London and Lancaster (population size etc.) there are subtle things I find myself noticing. Small things like the different transport system, for example all the main roads through Central Lancaster are one way. In London public transport is operated by Transport for London (TFL) and uses the oyster system.  However in Lancaster the cash system is still being used on buses, but there definitely is easy access to cash machines on campus with various ATM machines around Alexandra Square.

However, there are also good points to living in Lancaster, one being the beautiful scenery. For instance, living in Furness college I am able to enjoy amazing views and take great snapchat pictures through my window of the sunset and sunrise. In first year, around freshers week I had the opportunity to go on a trip to the world-famous Lake District National Park. Part of the trip was a boat ride on the actual lake, I really enjoyed this trip because it was a great way to bond more with my flatmates and discover the beauty of Nature from the boat. Unlike London, Lancaster provides the opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of the countryside.

Friendships

I think most people form friendship groups with people they gel with during fresher’s week, their flatmates in first year or people on their course. Once these friendship groups are formed, they basically stick together for the remaining duration of their degrees.

One of the common things people say about university is that you will make lifelong friends and make useful connections for your future career.  However,  at university people are still developing and finding out who they are so are. Also, most people only do a 3 year degree and 3 years go by so quickly, especially because it’s 3 academic years rather than 3 actual years.

I have met a lot of interesting people, studying a variety of degrees. I was surprised to find so many people from London as well, but I have also met people from all over the world which has been very educational for me. I met most of my friends through my course and joining societies like the African Caribbean society and the Pentecostal Gospel Choir.

In first year my flatmates and I would usual gather in the communal kitchen and use this time to learn about each others cultures and backgrounds.  I really appreciated that everyone I came across were very welcoming, especially the Freshers Representatives that we were had who were very helpful. Each flat were assigned student representatives, (who were usually 2nd year students) to help freshers settle in well.

Social life

There are so many events happening all over campus. Make the most of these even if it means going by yourself. A good way to improve your social life at university is by joining societies. Joining clubs and societies will give you lots of chances to meet other like-minded people, make friends and have fun. Social media is also a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on, for instance, Facebook is still used to invite people to events.

Last but not least, as simple as it may sound, just talk to people. Get to know your flatmates, people in your lectures, tutorials, seminars etc. because you never know what you could have in common. You could be in the same tutorial as someone and not know anything about them, this is why I like it when we have group or pair work during tutorials.

The simple fact that you study the same degree or study at the same university already creates so many things for you to talk about. I recently had an enlightening conversation with an international student in one of my tutorials, I learnt that we both share similar views and opinions on our modules. Also, these people can be very useful in terms of if you need help with assignments or revision.

‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ Video Interview tips

Week 5 already finished, this whole year is flying by. It’s my birthday next week so I am looking forward to celebrating being 20. I feel so old, but before the celebrating begins, I have a test and yes you guessed it…. it’s on the morning of my birthday so I have to put all the celebrations on hold till the exam is over. It is a multiple choice question paper for my module MSCI224 Techniques for Management Decision Making. I’m really enjoying this module. The first few lectures were all about project planning and deciphering the minimum duration of the project and the best ways in which to reduce it using the lowest cost. This is called Network analysis. As I didn’t do Management Science 103 in first year, I am required to do this module so not all Accounting and Finance students partake in it. It was compulsory for me as I did mathematics as a minor last year. There is so much support with this module during tutorials and there is a drop in session every week. This support is what’s great about Lancaster, they want to ensure that you fully understand the topic in order to excel. They provide a perfect environment to learn and develop whilst supporting you if required along the way.
I have actually applied to Grant Thornton for an internship in audit this week too. I really enjoyed my ACF 211 module Accounting Information Systems and Auditing last term; this made me change my mind from going into tax to trying out audit so I applied for an audit intern role. I had to fill in an application and was then invited to partake in a video interview. It was unusual doing a video interview as I have never done one before. I had to look into the camera to simulate eye contact and avoid looking at myself on the screen (which is harder than it sounds, I wouldn’t describe myself as vain, you just want to check that you look alright). A video was played in which an employee of Grant Thornton asked a question. I was then given a minute to prepare and then recorded my answer. I wasn’t talking to someone ‘face to face’ or in this case ‘screen to screen’ just recording myself for them to review later.
I felt more of a personal aspect with Grant Thornton when going through their application process. It is still early days in my application but I already get a sense of their values and it makes me really want to work for them. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t get anywhere with them as I didn’t get the PwC internship. But don’t let setbacks knock you down, keep trying! I am so glad that I have applied for Grant Thornton though as I didn’t know that much about them but they are so friendly through their emails and their values show how much they care about their staff. It is a great attitude for a firm to have, I guess that’s what makes them unique. Even if I don’t get through the intern stage, I’m going to try and apply for a graduate role with them as I have fallen in love with their firm.

I passed the video interview stage and now have a telephone interview. In a previous blog, I gave hints and tips about how to do well in a phone interview as I have already done a few before. I would greet the interviewer stating my name ‘Good evening, Jade Street speaking’. This gives more of a professional aspect and just sounds smoother than hello. If you feel you are struggling to come up with an answer for a question maybe say ‘that’s quite a difficult question, please give me a moment to reflect on that’, this is a good filler and hopefully, give you enough time to construct an answer. I will give some more hints and tips next week when I have completed the Grant Thornton phone interview.
With a video interview, make sure you dress as you would for a face to face interview. DRESS SMART. It will make you look more professional and show that you are a serious candidate for the job. Before the interview make sure you are relaxed and your background is tidy. I did it in my room and made sure that the background was tidy; if you have a messy room they may not take you seriously and it reflects badly on you. Try to ensure there isn’t a mass amount of light behind you otherwise you will become a shadow and it makes it hard to see your face. This isn’t good in an interview as they will want to see your facial expressions and just put a face to a voice. This makes it more personal. Remember to tell your housemates/ flatmates that you are doing an interview so they don’t disturb you. My housemate last year did a video interview and we didn’t realise and she said we were noisy and the interviewer wasn’t impressed with this. Also, tell your family or boyfriend or anyone who may call you, my family tried face timing me in the middle of my interview luckily it wasn’t at a crucial point, I wasn’t being recorded.

Top tip: Dress smartly and let people know you are doing an interview

The most important thing for an interview is preparation! Make sure you do loads! There is no such thing as too much preparation and it just shows how good a candidate you are. There is a famous quote ‘failing to prepare, is preparing to fail’. Don’t let this be you. Preparation gives you a great shot at your dream role, don’t lose it due to laziness. Make sure you know the company inside and out. The company will love it.

Top tip: Prepare; do your research.

Take deep breaths before your video interview, maybe practice using your video camera on your phone to help stop habits such as looking at yourself and ensuring you look directly into the camera. Have a glass of water next to you if you feel you may need it and make sure you’re comfortable as you don’t want to fidget about when it’s recording.

Good luck in your video interviews!!
Thanks for reading.

Things To Do in Lancaster

Have you ever felt tired of all routines, assignments, never ending classes or group work? You feel like you need fresh air, yet you’re too lazy to go outside the city or do not want to spend too much money going out? Then… why don’t you explore our own city, Lancaster! Some of you might not realise that there are so many beautiful places that you can visit only 15 minutes from campus in 1 day!

Before you visit places around Lancaster, it might be good for you to know few facts about Lancaster. Some of you might probably know that Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England surrounding the River Lune. Lancaster, is a historic city in England with numerous buildings in Georgian architecture. You might realise when you’re going to the city center that there are many old buildings that you’ll never get tired of seeing!

Now, I will try to give you some ideas on what to do in Lancaster over the weekend. All you need to do is just to take a bus from campus and you’re good to go! 🙂

Lune Millennium Bridge

The first place that I would recommend is Lune Millennium Bridge. It is located near the Bus Station right behind Sainsbury’s. It spans the River Lune, Lancaster. The history of this bridge is that it was built to commemorate the millennium of 2000. It forms a “Y” shape and it is suitable for cyclists and pedestrians. Be ready for a surprise from this bridge as sometimes it will shake a bit when you’re walking on it 😀

Lancaster Castle

After you spend some time on Lune Millennium Bridge, you can take a walk to a hill right next to the bridge. 5-minutes-walk will bring you to one of the icons of our city, Lancaster Castle. You can see the stunning views of Lancaster from above. This castle may have been founded around the 11th century and it used to be a prison! Owned by The Duchy of Lancaster (Her Majesty the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster), the castle has witnessed significant historical and political impact in the thousand years of its existence. Until 2001 it was still functioning as prison, but now it is open for public and tourist activity. If you want to learn more about its history, you can join the guided tour that is available inside the castle. You can also enjoy a cup of tea in the café inside the castle.

Lancaster Canal

Another attraction that you can visit in Lancaster is the peaceful Lancaster Canal. You can walk 10 minutes from Lancaster Castle to this place. You can also grab your lunch in at the White Cross Restaurant by the river. You can enjoy a nice lunch with river and bridge view as well as seeing some cute ducks along the river 🙂

Ashton Memorial Park

This place might be my favorite place in Lancaster! It is reaaaalllllyyyyyyyy beautiful especially on a sunny day. You can take a walk here but it’s quite a distance from the canal or you can just take a bus whereas you still need to climb a bit to reach this place. Many people called Ashton Memorial Park “England’s grandest folly” and the “Taj Mahal of the North” because this iconic building was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife.

You will first be welcomed by Williamson Park, a pretty park with some small ponds and various kind of plants. After that, you will get this view.

When you are walking up to the building, you can see the city of Lancaster from above. It is breathtaking! This spot is also the highest point in Lancaster where you can see the whole city. There is a pretty dome that is also open to the public. Please note that the interior will be on renovation from November 21 2016 to April 2017 so you might not be able to go inside. But do not worry because the outdoor view of Ashton Memorial is already amazing!

So yeah, there are many things that we can do in Lancaster right? An important thing that you should note before going around the city is: CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST! It won’t be as fun if the rain is pouring hard. In my case, I tend to go out when the sun is up with a clear and bright sky.

Now… Are you ready to go? 🙂

P.S photos are from writer’s personal collection

Useful Apps for an Accounting and Finance student

Commercial awareness is very important especially for university students. Commercial awareness usually refers to a candidate’s general knowledge of business and their understanding of the industry which they are applying to join. To compete in any sector of the graduate job market, you need to demonstrate commercial awareness when you make online applications, go to interviews and attend assessment centres. Commercial awareness can be gained through work experience, or completing an internship in your chosen industry.

Keeping up with current affairs in the news is a really good way to develop your commercial awareness. There are many ways to receive news nowadays, for example: reading newspapers, watching news channels on TV, listening to the radio, surfing the internet and using mobile applications (apps). Simply by watching a 15-minute news update, you can get the break down of business and economic news for that day.

Below, I will explore useful apps to build your commercial awareness as a university student and also useful apps for everyday university life.

Reuters

Most mobile phones come with their own news app, but if you’re looking for a little something more then why not try Reuters. Reuters is an international news agency and is a division of Thomson Reuters. Since the acquisition of Reuters Group by the Thomson Corporation in 2008, the Reuters news agency has been a part of Thomson Reuters, making up the media division. The Reuters app delivers breaking news, analysis and market data from the world’s most trusted news organization. The app makes it easy to explore a seamless stream of articles, pictures, and videos on your phone or tablet.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented social networking service, it is mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CVs. The LinkedIn mobile App compared to the website can be a faster way to tap into your account, get news and information that interest you, get a daily brief on what’s happening in your network, and it’s a quick way to respond to the latest activities on your account. The app is great for job seeking and skill building. The app is free and can be downloaded on Google play and the Apple store.

Debut

Debut is a careers app for students and graduates looking for internship or graduate scheme opportunities at the UK’s best employers. The app is developed exclusively for students, it is relatively quick to complete a Debut profile, and employers will find you. A unique feature of the app is the games that are available to be played, where the students and graduates can engage in employer mobile games, competitions and challenges in order to win amazing prizes including internships, new technology equipment and trips abroad.

Monefy

Monefy is a money management app, it has a simple layout that is easy to understand. It features tools for budgeting, balancing, and transaction tracking. It also has a built-in calculator, and can be converted to various currencies. Logging your expenses allows you to become more conscious of your spending habits, hence enabling you to figure out where the problem areas are so you can start working on how to improve. For a university student this can be a great start to your money budgeting journey. There is a free and paid version, neither of which have adverts.

UNiDAYS

UNiDAYS is a free student discount App which helps students to save both online and in-store, it is now available in over 7 countries. Becoming a member of UNiDAYS is free, you just need to proof that you’re a student and you will be able to access a world of discounts from various brands. Having UNiDAYS as an app on your phone can be very useful for checking the most recent offers and saving money. The app is also very easy to use, you can find discounts for all sorts of things: clothing, technology, music, stationery, food and more. UNiDAYS is partnered with the biggest brands including the likes of ASOS, Apple, Spotify, Paperchase and McDonald’s.

iLancaster

iLancaster is a free mobile app delivering Lancaster University services, resources and information. It’s available for you to download on both iOS and on Android.  iLancaster is also available from any web browser. The app can be used by students, members of staff and even undergraduate applicants. There are many different features that both students and staff can enjoy. The timetable section is very useful to check your personal course and exam timetables. The bus timetable feature especially helps off-campus students to locate the nearest bus stop, and see when the next bus is due. There are many other features within the app and there is also access to Moodle through the app.

Overall, apps are becoming more and more useful as technology is advancing. Most young people have their phones with them at all times, you can literally find an app for almost anything making life easier and more convenient.

A Weekend in Sheffield

At the beginning of the term, assignments that I (and we?) have might not be as much as when the end of the term is coming. For me, when I have some spare time to travel during the weekend to refresh my mind, I sometimes  travel to cities around Lancaster. Last week (1st week of February), I went to Sheffield! This city can be reached in 2 hours by train and you only need to pay around 20 pounds for return tickets if you buy it in advance. You need to change in Manchester as there is no direct train from Lancaster to Sheffield.

I have been wanting to visit this city since last term and my goal is to visit 2 places: Bamford Edge and Edensor! They are sooo beautiful and I didn’t regret my decision to visit them during my weekend.

Saturday – 4 February 2017

I arrived in Sheffield on Friday night and I started my trip on Saturday around 10 am because I have to wait for the bus which directly goes to Bamford Edge. I took Bus No. 273 from University of Sheffield Bus Stop and I alighted at Lydgate Lane. The journey took around 40 minutes and you can also take bus No. 272, 274 and 275. After I arrived, I followed the maps which directed me to Bamford Edge.

The sky was soooo bright and the weather was perfect. From the bus stop to the hill, I need 60 minutes to walk.  After that I have to walk to reach the Edge for another 30 minutes. It was quite tiring! I got exhausted but it was all gone when I see this magnificent view!

It was soooooo beautiful that I feel like crying! It was colorful eventhough it was windy up there. I can’t stop taking pictures from one side to another. I spent around 1.5 hour there and finished my trip with a delish sandwich at the restaurant near the bus stop.

Please note that you should be really aware of bus schedule as they don’t come that often 🙂

Sunday – 5 February 2017

I started my journey early in the morning this day. I went from my friend’s house at 8 am and took bus No. 251 to Edensor for about 1 hour. Some of you might wonder, what is Edensor?

Actually, Edensor is a small village from my favorite book. It is a book from an Indonesian writer, Andrea Hirata, titled “Edensor”. The book taught me about the meaning of family, friendship and dream.  One of my favorite part of the book is: “I wanted to go to faraway places and meet with endless varieties of foreign languages and peoples. I wished to rove, finding my direction through reading the stars of constellations. I wanted to cross fields and deserts, to be burned by the sun until I blistered, to be shook by the assaulting wind, and shrink from being gripped by cold. I wanted a life that was thrilling, filled with conquest. I wanted to live! To feel the essence of being!”. I can say that Edensor from Andrea Hirata is one of the reason why I chose to study in UK, to experience the world and be a better person.

In his book, Andrea Hirate described Edensor beautifully. It is a quite, peaceful and breathtaking small village… And I can be more agree to this. Edensor is a very small village with only 1 church and some little houses, yet you will find some peacefulness here as everyone is super friendly and always greet and smile to each other. After spent around 1.5 hours walking around the village (and took many pictures of course :p), I visited Edensor Tea Cottage with warm and homey feels.

For me, Edensor has special meaning but for those of you who haven’t read the book; I would still recommend Edensor for you! It is a beautiful village with beautiful and you won’t regret your decision to visit this tiny village.

I spent 2 amazing days in Sheffield. It is a very nice city and bigger than Lancaster with lots of food options. Living cost is cheaper as accommodation, food and transportation costs are slightly cheaper than here in Lancaster. I highly recommend Sheffield for those who want to experience a bit of city and countryside experience at the same time.

May be I’ll be back there again, someday! 🙂

Applicant Day: A different perspective

Experiencing an Applicant day as a potential student is entirely different to actually being at an applicant day as a current student. It is an entirely different perspective and helps you to realise how far you have come yourself. It brings back memories to when you were in their position.

I am one of the very many Lancaster University Management School Student Ambassadors, wow that’s a long title to say but definitely not as long as the list of students that came to visit the University. We arrived early at 8:00 am (it’s early for a university student) to be briefed on our activities for the day. I was on the welcome desk first; I was required to register all of the fresh-faced applicants. I remember when I was in the exact same position. I remember being very shy and not sure what to do with myself. Yet just last week I went to an applicant day with my sister (she’s in that position now), she was very shy and not wanting to talk to anyone whereas I was there asking for booklets and numerous questions. I was a bit overenthusiastic but I was just so excited for her to start this incredible journey. It just shows how much university changes you, just witnessing this new found confidence in me! Seeing all of these shy and timid applicants made me realise how far I have come. Before university, I couldn’t even get a bus on my own and now I’m getting trains to London by myself, I couldn’t even talk to the takeaway employee on the phone, now I can spark up a conversation with someone who sits next to me on the bus.

At 11:30, I was scheduled to be in an Accounting and Finance information lecture. It is always daunting to be in an academic talk when you haven’t got anything prepared. I didn’t realise I was speaking in the talk but it was truly amazing giving my insight and experience of Lancaster to the worried parents and students. The fact that it wasn’t prepared made it less script like and parents could tell that I really believed in what I was saying. I was first asked why I chose Lancaster University and I explained that it’s such a safe campus and there are porters in every section of campus all the time so it is incredibly safe and secure. I liked this aspect as being in the first year and living away from home can be quite scary and knowing that there is always a point of contact a few minutes away puts your mind at ease. I also explained about the mass amount of support they will have if they decide to study here as there is the careers hub for constant support with interview techniques and there are constant workshops which range from improving your CV writing skills to mathematics classes to improve math ability.

One of the most relevant questions that were asked was “what differentiates Lancaster University’s Accounting and Finance course to other Universities?”. I think one of the biggest differences is the minor scheme. Lancaster University is one of the only universities to do the minor scheme. This means that you do Accounting and Finance but also an Economics minor and a free minor. For my free minor, I did Mathematics. This means that you have lectures in economics and maths as well as the Accounting and Finance ones. It allows for more flexibility; for example, I can now take modules in maths during the second and third year or modules in Economics in the second or third year as I get a few free choice modules. This allows you to gain a wide range of knowledge and learn things from other subjects, you aren’t limited to just Accounting and Finance. Another thing that differentiates the course is ACF 350. This is an extra module where they basically assess your employability. You get marked on your CV and you take part in a business game. This helps you develop upon skills such as teamwork, quick thinking, and creativity. You then needed to write an assessed report on the outcomes of the game.

Another question that was asked was “Should I take the placement year course or not?”. The placement degree isn’t for everyone; it depends on who you are as a person. Now I remember on my applicant day at Lancaster University, the lecturer giving the speech said that many students get absorbed in the working world so struggle to get back into studying when they have to come back to finish their degree. He said that many don’t want to come back and some students actually haven’t come back. Students may get offered a job at the company they work for, they then accept it and don’t come back to University. Now, this creates a problem as they haven’t actually got that degree, they can’t move to a different company as they haven’t finished the degree qualification. So they’re stuck in this company. Another factor was that it takes up a lot of time and it can be a lot of pressure actually trying to get a placement. This is what made me decide not to do the placement year as I felt studying would need to come first and as I have never done Accounting and Finance before, I would need that time for studying and wouldn’t be able to balance them.

There are advantages to the placement year though, it’s a great chance to earn money, learn new skills and get great connections with employers. They may even offer you a job after your degree. It also helps you to decide if that line of work for you or you may decide you want to work in a different sector. It helps you to decide whether that employer is for you. You could go and work in one of the big four and decide that you don’t like working in large companies and opt for a smaller company. There are advantages and disadvantages of the placement year as there with everything. If you think you can handle it, then definitely go for it as long as you come back! Don’t make that mistake.

The day was then finished with a few campus tours….It was amazing to see an applicant day from the other side. It was me a few years ago, a nervous sixth form student choosing my University sat in those lectures finding out all about Lancaster. Now I am a Lancaster University students talking to those in the position that I was in 2 years.

Top tip: Apply to be a Student ambassador, it can be a real eye opener and it’s a chance to get the word out about the University and express your positive views to parents and students who are in the same situation that you were a few years ago. It is a chance to give back to the University.

 

Why I chose to study Accounting and Finance

When I was choosing my A-level subjects like most students I wasn’t yet sure about what career I wanted to pursue, therefore didn’t know what degree I wanted to do or what university I wanted to go to. However, I was pretty sure that I wanted to go to university itself, I wanted to extend my knowledge, grow personally and improve my chances of having a better life overall. As I was unsure about the degree I wanted to do, my strategy towards picking my subjects was to not limit myself. I knew that certain subjects where compulsory prerequisites for certain courses, for example an A-level in Mathematics for a Mathematics degree.

I tried to reflect on the subjects that I both enjoyed and excelled at during my GCSE’s, I really enjoyed Mathematics, Religious Studies and English Literature. I considered doing a language because I did Spanish at GCSE and really enjoyed it, I was also told that doing a language at A – level would be great for university applications and that it could help me stand out.

At the end of the day the A-levels I took were Religious Studies, Mathematics and Economics. I decided not to go for English Literature because although I enjoyed it at GCSE, this might have greatly been down to the amazing teacher I had and I couldn’t see myself pursuing a career directly related to English Literature. I chose to study Economics because it was a fascinating new subject for me and it was well – respected. I actually also wanted to do Business Studies but I was warned against doing so because it was considered too similar to Economics and some universities openly discourage students from taking certain combinations of A-level subjects.
During the whole UCAS application process, I started to explore my degree options with the help of the career days my college would run and my own personal research. I quickly realised that there were many different degrees out there to choose from and also many different universities that had slightly different course structures for the same degree. I briefly entertained the idea of taking a degree in Mathematics but found that the requirements were very high and some universities even wanted me to have done Further Mathematics.

I eventually chose to go for an Accounting and Finance degree because it had excellent graduate prospects, from my research I found that Accounting and Finance graduates had a greater chance of being professionally employed within 6 months of leaving university. The degree also has a real-life application, I wanted to study something that could equip me with practical skills that I can then use to start my professional career. It was also very important for me to go for something that would enable me the chance to build a career rather than just get a job to pay the bills. For me a career is something long-term and that has the opportunity for progression.
There are also many Graduate schemes available for this degree, which I saw as a potential opportunity to work for an already established company with a structured training programme and clear career progression. I felt that it was a reliable degree option because there will always be demand for accountants as long as businesses exist and money is still a current medium of exchange. A degree in Accounting and Finance also opens the door to work in any industry, the skills acquired during the degree can be applied to any business. Likewise, there is the opportunity to work overseas, although there are some minute differences in accounting depending on the country, the general ideas are the same.

Overall, in a way Accounting and Finance is a joint honours degree and is treated as such at other universities. Finance is the science of planning the distribution of a business’ assets and Accounting is the art of the recording and reporting financial transactions. I believed studying an Accounting and Finance degree rather than simply an Accounting degree would widen my business knowledge and be useful in a global marketplace.

SURVIVING THE TERM

Sometimes, all you need to do is take a break and have fun!

My name is Richlove Ampofowaa Frimpong, from Ghana and currently studying MSc. Operational Research and Management Science. Well, it has been five months since I came to Lancaster University and I can confidently say these months have some of my favourite memories yet in life. I have learnt so much within this short period of time, met some of the most amazing people in the world, had some pretty bad days and some amazing good days and tried new things like standing in the snow (yeah, that’s a big deal for a young African lady!).

Well, Term 1 passed by like a whirlwind. I still remember how enthusiastic we all were on the first day of class and then by the time we realised, voila, it was Week 10 and we could take a break. As a student, I have realised that it is so easy to get stressed and lost especially during the mid of the term when you start getting courseworks and deadlines and then have to manage it with your class schedule. After careful thinking and conversations with my friends and some of my lecturers and academic supervisors, in this blogpost, I will like to share a few tips on how to survive the term.

  1. Plan each day of the week

Just a few days ago, I realised that I hardly got any work done when I left my activities for the day to chance. Being able to allocate time for the activities in a day helps you stay organised and also forces you to make sure you get those things done. Most of us use smartphones and hence can use the planners on our phones as a medium for planning our days. You must also make room for surprises that might spring up in the course of the day. I usually plan my week during Sundays and what I do is I use the ilancaster app to get my timetable for the week into my S-planner (Samsung is clearly the best phone!) and then decide on the times when I want to get some work done after class and add it to my schedule. The feeling of crossing out your planned activities after you have accomplished them can be likened to winning a gold medal during the Olympics. It’s definitely worth the try.

  1. Know what kind of student you are

A friend of mine told me during my undergrad that in uni, you must study smart not hard and I think I have come to agree with him. We just have 24 hours in a day, filled with classes, courseworks and also some personal activities and so in order to stay on top of our game as students, we need to figure out what works for us. Let’s see if my experiences can give you a clear idea of what I mean. I find it difficult studying for very long hours. So what I do is, I usually take walks when I get tired from studying or working on an assignment and then come back to it and get it done. I have a friend who works better at dawn and makes it a point to wake up very early to study. Another friend of mine happens to grasp things better when she makes her own notes in class. After all, “a short pencil is better than a long memory”. Being able to tell what works for you as a student will help you form the right strategy to handle your school work

  1. Ask for help if you are struggling

As I mentioned earlier on, I had some bad days and I was struggling with my schoolwork. There are so many wonderful people especially in LUMS that you can talk to if you are having a hard time. Being able to adjust to a new country, a different educational system or returning to school after working for a while can be challenging and demanding and sometimes advice from friends, colleagues, lecturers and the Effective Learning Team in LUMS could help save you a lot of trouble. If you do not understand a concept or topic from a class, ask your coursemate or go and see the lecturer for help. It is better to make an effort than to just give up.

  1. Be open-minded! Group work is not that bad.

The reaction we as students have when the lecturer tells us as part of our coursework, there will be a group work and the groups are not self-selected is always priceless: Students don’t like that at all. I must admit that groupwork can be challenging but also it’s a great avenue for learning from people. Being open-minded and willing to listen to other people’s opinions and finding a constructive way of having discussions could lessen the pain of group work. At the end of the day, all the members of the group want one thing: to get good grades in a course. Coming from different countries, with different mindsets and different ways of communicating, it is essential that you learn how to clearly communicate your thoughts and also try to understand people when they are communicating. However, if you do not find a structured ways of going about groupwork, you might end up using all the time discussing and arguing out points without necessarily achieving the objective of that particular assignment. That being said, as a group, you must find ways of making sure you do not spend all the hours you have arguing and discussing but try things like sharing the responsibilities of the work, identifying your strengths as members of a group and using these to help achieve the purpose of the assignment. I’ve made some very good friends through group works and it’s been amazing.

  1. Eat well, Rest well and HAVE FUN!!

In order to stay healthy for the term, we must make sure that we eat well and get enough rest. It is very easy for us to be caught up in our schoolwork such that we begin to neglect our bodies and forget to take good care of ourselves. Sometimes, all you need to do is take a break and have fun. Travel around, hang out with friends, play games, go for events. There are so many things you can do to help reduce the pressure from school and be re-energised and motivated to keep up with your schoolwork.

As Pele once said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”, I think we should find ways to enjoy our courses, relate to them, build more interests in them and these can help us get our work done.

Have a wonderful term!!

 

Student Social Life In Lancaster

Hello! I am Begaim Muratbekova, postgraduate student at Lancaster University Management School, MSc in Project Management. I came from the heart of the Central Asia – Kyrgyz Republic. We are a tiny country with rich culture and very beautiful nature. This is the first time for me to live far away from my home, however, I would like to share with you one fascinating fact that will definitely help you to deal with home-seek and experience all the advantages of being in UK and studying in one of the best universities.

Lancaster is full of diversity. The source of the diversity is people. Here you can meet students from all around the world with different education, experience, cultural background and hobbies. Surely, it fascinatingly influences the social life in the university and it is considered to be one of the best things during your studies.

In my blog I would like to make an overview of main features of the student life in Lancaster.

Firstly, as a postgraduate student you will immediately feel the spirit and atmosphere that unites people in Graduate college. It has its own little life within the university as a whole. We have different events hold on a regular basis giving you the chance to have a break from your studies.  There is a postgraduate social hub that let you meet other students and share your ideas and thoughts. This will definitely enlarge your horizons and bring you new ideas and insights in a certain spheres. It will allow you to look on things from different prospective, because everybody is a unique individual and sharing opinion will be favorable for all of us.

Secondly, social life in Lancaster could be devoted to participation in different societies and clubs. It is one of the very interesting and helpful things that will prove that you had made the right choice. There are more than 200 societies in our university. So, everybody will find his/her favorite activity. There are plenty of the professional societies that offer real world experience in a certain field. It maybe be beneficial for your future career opportunities and CV. For instance, we have societies related to spheres of consulting, project management, marketing, advertisement and others. Here you can practice all theory that you get during classes. This will add value to your skills and it will allow you to start your networking as it is one of the most important things in consideration of the professional and personal development.  Of course, there are clubs and societies that are aimed at fun and joy. You can watch films, cartoons, listen to music, or read books collectively. In this case, you will have an opportunity just to relax and spend some time in order to support your motivation and focus on studies.

Other than that, there are some sport clubs that will let you exercise and keep yourself fit. Even sport is different here, it is not only yoga, football, volleyball or some other traditional sports, but also it could be Latin dances, shaping, different kinds of fighting techniques ( aikido, karate). In overall, you will never get bored if you will choose one of the previously mentioned societies or clubs.

Moreover, being socially active you will be able to be develop some professional skills. One of them is time management. As studies will require you to spend on them the biggest amount of your time, you will definitely need to devote certain periods for activities other than studies. So, finding the right balance between the extracurricular activities and studies will require and stress your time management skills.

Remember, social life in Lancaster will definitely be one of the best memorable moments of your life!

MY DAY AT DELOITTE

I was recently contacted by the Windsor Fellowship to apply for the opportunity to attend an Insight day at Deloitte, their London office. The insight day was intended for undergraduate students in their first year/penultimate and final year interested in the professional services.

The Windsor Fellowship is a charitable organisation. They design and deliver innovative personal development and leadership programmes, which enable talent from diverse communities to be realised. Their work helps young people navigate pathways to educational and career success. At the same time, it helps employers’ access talent from within Britain’s diverse communities. Their objectives are to: Improve educational attainment levels, strengthen community cohesion and achieve a greater equality of employment outcomes.

Deloitte, is a UK-incorporated multinational professional services firm. Deloitte is one of the “Big Four” accounting firms and the largest professional services network in the world by revenue and number of professionals. Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax, and related services to select clients.

The insight day event was in partnership with the Deloitte Multicultural Network, who recently were awarded “Outstanding Employee Network Group of the Year” at the European Diversity Awards. The Deloitte Multicultural Network offer undergraduate students the opportunity to find out more about Deloitte and network with staff.

After completing a short application which included questions like; ‘What do you hope to gain by attending the event with Deloitte?’ and ‘What interests you about the professional services industry?’, I was told that I was selected to attend.

In order to prepare for the event, I made sure to research Deloitte’s business areas, especially the areas which interested me the most. I also looked into the types of opportunities Deloitte offers for students, such as their: Spring into Deloitte Scheme, Summer Vacation Scheme – Internships and Industrial placements.

It was also important for me to prepare in advance to create positive impressions about myself to staff and create new networks. For example, planning my transportation and ensuring I had the appropriate dress code for the event, which in this occasion was smart business.

The event ran from 8.30am to 5pm. The event was a relatively intimate one, with roughly 20 students in total. They provided us with breakfast and we had the opportunity of being joined by senior members of the Deloitte staff team (a Partner and Director) for breakfast. Both are in technology consulting at the firm with over 20 years’ experience.

There were many interactive sessions held throughout the day, including; the Partner-led breakfast meeting, an HR session about the various pathways into Deloitte and networking with current staff members.

Overall this was a great experience for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I am very grateful for having the opportunity to build my personal network. I believe this will support me during the internship and graduate recruitment cycles. I tried my best to make the most it by asking questions, taking notes and adding some of the employees on LinkedIn profile, so I could build my profile by having more connections. It was a very informative event and an invaluable opportunity to find out what working at Deloitte is like, to network and gain an insight from HR in how to apply for their programmes.