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!

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!

 

 

“Major” and “Minor” Decisions

Okay, I’ll admit it… I’m a bit of a nerd. I’m also horribly indecisive. And a chronic worrier. That combination of traits meant that for me, personally, it was very difficult to decide what I wanted to study post A-level.  I enjoyed all of my subjects and simply wasn’t sure which one to choose.  I couldn’t imagine abandoning any of them. Equally, the thought of a future career seemed to loom large – how could I make sure that I gained all the necessary “employability” skills? What if I picked the wrong course and spent three years regretting it?

£9,250 a year sure feels like a lot of money if you don’t get it right.

Eventually, I decided to take some time out and worked for a while at a school, where my former boss noted my enthusiasm during the school’s academy re-branding, as well as my aptitude for updating the school’s social media and blog – and suggested I study Marketing. Nonetheless, even this decision still felt pretty terrifying. I hadn’t studied business at Sixth Form. What if I found it too challenging? What if it was too dry? Or exponentially worse… what if there was too much maths? It felt like such a gamble…

Luckily, Lancaster offers the perfect solution for those as risk-averse as me.

In your first year, in most degree programmes, you’re not restricted to studying just one subject, you can pick three! Yes, you heard right… three! But hang on, before you start panicking about having to re-write your entire personal statement – the process is really simple. Although you apply for your “major” subject during the UCAS process, once you arrive at Lancaster, you are then able to choose modules from two additional subjects – known as your “minors”.  This allows you to keep your options open. As well as studying your major subject, you can opt to try something new, to pick something that complements it… or merely to continue with a subject that you enjoyed at A Level. If you find that you prefer your minor subject, you then have the option to swap courses at the end of the year.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about struggling with my Marketing course: I’m really enjoying it. However, I’ve found the topics that I’ve studied in my minor subjects – Sociology and Media and Cultural Studies – to have been incredibly relevant; really enhancing my understanding of Marketing.

For example, in MCS, we’ve recently been exploring the theme of power in the media; looking at the dominance of corporations such as Google and Facebook and Viacom, thinking about the influence that they have over the content that we see. For example, did you know Google is used for 95.3% of search on mobile in the UK, whilst Google and Facebook between them owned 9 of the top 10 most used Apps in the UK in 2015? Although not blindingly obvious at first, this has big implications for the world of marketing. When these organisations have such a wide potential-consumer reach and high revenue, it can perhaps make it more difficult for companies to demand change regarding issues such as brand safety and inappropriate content. Will Google really notice if M&S withdraw their adverts from YouTube?

Studying the representation of minority groups in a previous block also made me think about how well companies are representing and meeting the specific needs of those such as the disabled, those from a BME background or elderly people in their offerings.

In Sociology meanwhile, we’ve been looking at how human behaviour has changed and evolved over time. Observations such as an increased focus on individual responsibility for health in society, or a change towards a faster, more individualistic pace of lifestyle are definitely relevant to marketing – just look at how well McDonald’s has adapted to these developments. Marketers constantly need to consider how consumer needs and lifestyles may change in the future.

But it’s not just from an academic perspective that I feel studying minor subjects has enriched my university experience – it’s also allowed me to develop a brilliantly diverse range of friends. It means I can go from geeking-out about Nike’s latest communications campaign with one group of mates, to debating the effects of neo-liberalism with another. It means I’m in classes with people studying English and Economics and Computing and French and Politics. Luckily, it also means I’ve been able to make friends with some wonderfully kind people who study Maths as well as Marketing…

Ultimately, the minor system allows you to explore your options. You can pick a subject because you think it will enhance your employability skills, because you were strong at it at A Level or because you’ve always fancied trying it and never had the chance. Whatever you pick though, you can guarantee it will make your first year at Lancaster just that little bit more enjoyable. You can always change your mind next year…

Is Being Catered Worth It? Or Am I Just Lazy?

I hope your week has been as exciting as mine! Although it feels as if we, freshers, have been thrown into a whirlwind of work, at the end of the day, it’s comforting to know that you can head back to your flat, relax and share a laugh with your flatmates. Or, for those who consistently apply their studies to every aspect of their life, argue about whether some corporations’ treatment of workers is justifiable, or if catered accommodation is a sunk cost… (Maybe? Maybe not? I wish I knew).

Speaking of catered accommodation, it’s awesome! No one can cook as well as my mother (shout out to the best mother!!), however being catered gives you the liberty to forget about planning meals, shopping for groceries, and if you’re like me, avoid sulking over the fact that the only food you can cook (properly) are eggs and pasta. Nevertheless, if you’re a true “Masterchef” or simply feeling adventurous, living in non-catered accommodation will improve your culinary skills while consolidating your time-management and organisational skills and prepare you to be a versatile, adept human being (which is why we’re at university- am I right?).

Which brings me to my next point about being a student, which is having the ability to choose. I know that sounds rather simple and obvious, but university makes you conscious of this power to decide for yourself and take control of most, if not all, aspects of your life. It may seem like a daunting task, but with the support of your friends and the University it isn’t difficult at all. And of course, this capability or power can only be of good use if you take every opportunity available that will help you grow and enrich your life immensely. And Lancaster University offers you plenty of such opportunities. From fostering your passions within your academic field to helping you venture into new areas and develop skills from there. Remember, university is the ideal place for growth, so don’t hesitate to keep learning; because one day, after all your enriching experiences, you’ll realize how far you’ve come and feel like you’re flying high above the clouds -equipped with the wings of knowledge and experiences that will carry you throughout the rest of your life.

And during this journey, you’ll never be alone. I am very grateful for the people I’ve met here-especially my wonderful friends (I might change my mind after I spend a year living with them, but hopefully not. Just kidding, friends). But don’t worry. Even if you don’t find the right friends in the first few weeks, there will come a time when you come across someone who is just as into music, film or chocolate cake as you are (feel free to send me a message and we can talk about the sublimity of chocolate!!) and then feel more connected to the wonderful community in the University. If you ask for my opinion, I would say that I couldn’t ask for more.

Beginning My First Year at Lancaster University (Again)

My first year at Lancaster University was one of the most exciting and challenging experiences of my life. From beginning my first term making new friends, starting modules, and learning how to do laundry (easier than it seems; still no fun); to ending my final term performing real-life consultancy work for a large company, participating in debates and campaigning for the General Election, and writing analyses of organisational theories. It’s a hectic, packed, brilliant time; and a journey on which I picked up a huge range of skills and experiences, and made friends for life from all kinds of backgrounds.

Despite the great time I had, I knew my course wasn’t quite for me. I was a BBA Management student, and while I thoroughly enjoyed learning management theories and applying them in incredibly fun and challenging group projects; I could never quite hack the more numbers-based side of the course – Maths and Statistics isn’t my forte, and while my grades hovered around firsts and two-ones for the more qualitative modules, I could never quite match that in, for example, the Accounting module I participated in.

Fortunately, the university couldn’t have been more helpful in aiding my transition onto a new course. After shooting an email to my academic adviser stressing my concerns, a meeting was quickly arranged, and we promptly sat down to talk through my thoughts. He was able to offer me a list of courses that would suit my needs and interests and the means by which I could transfer to them. I settled on Management, Politics & International Relations (MPIR), and now on my twelfth week of that course, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

So, what is it like being a first-year again? Well, I didn’t need to waste any time trying to learn how to operate a washing machine for a start (NB: laundry still isn’t fun). Already knowing my way around the campus and the city, having an established group of friends and experience of living independently; a lot of the challenges that come with being a fresher didn’t present themselves this time round. However, being a second-time fresher presents challenges of its own: living off-campus with an established friend group (as most second-years at Lancaster do) does estrange you somewhat from your new coursemates who are mostly new freshers and living on campus. So making friends with people on my course has been somewhat more difficult – although thanks to regular meetings between us and our course director and departmental socials such as the Politics 100 quiz night, I have been able to get to know many of my fellow ‘MPIR’-ers.

Had I not come to the university doing BBA Management, I would have never known that MPIR was right for me – only through engaging in campus politics and making new friends doing other courses did I discover this. Additionally, although I’m no longer doing BBA Management, the experiences I had, the knowledge I gained, and the friends and contacts I made have been of huge value and will stay with me forever.

At the end of the day, you have to do what you’re passionate about doing – and LUMS is an excellent environment for guiding you towards what that is.

Adjusting to degree-level study

As both a mature student and somebody who’d never studied business before, I was naturally more than just slightly apprehensive about starting a Marketing degree at a university as prestigious and well regarded as Lancaster.  What if I failed to understand any of the lecture content? What if I found the work too challenging? What if everyone else was 1000 times more knowledgeable than me?

I’m relieved to say – up to now at least! – that my fears have gone completely unfounded. Although the Marketing course is indeed challenging, it’s challenging in a good way. I’m really enjoying the fact that it gives me the opportunity to think critically and broaden my horizons.

Right from the very first assignment, we’re encouraged to challenge the formulaic approach to Marketing that is often presented at A Level – or in my case, in traditional Marketing textbooks. Instead, we’re encouraged to see Marketing as a continually evolving process, where creativity, flexibility and innovation are key. In my view, this is something that is becoming increasingly important in today’s corporate environment, where both consumer tastes and technology are changing rapidly.

As well as questioning traditional schools of thought, the degree is also allowing me to challenge my own beliefs. As part of a recent topic on marketing regulation, in our seminars, we’ve been preparing for a debate around the introduction of the sugar tax.

Now, as someone who identifies very much on the left side of the political spectrum, I’d expected to be very much in favour of the sugar tax – after all, anything that encourages people to live healthily can only be a good thing, right? However, after my group were assigned the role of Coca Cola in the debate, I’ve found my views continuously evolving. I’ve been able to appreciate not only the idea of consumer choice and the efforts made by corporations to increase the variety of sugar-free options available, but also to see the limitations of the policy in regards to consumer education.

The interactive nature of the Marketing seminars is something that I’m really enjoying too. Although the idea of sharing your thoughts with the group can be a daunting prospect at first, I’m finding that listening to the ideas of other students is really helping to consolidate my learning. Taking part in group projects – such as the Coca Cola debate – not only helps us to develop skills relevant to the workplace, but also allows us to get to better get to know our coursemates.   Sometimes, seminars can even be, dare I say it, fun!

I’m really looking forward to finding out what the next term has in store – and seeing which of my pre-conceived ideas will be challenged next!

How to beat the blues at Lancaster during the weekends?

Sarada Stratford-upon-Avon

Lancaster is an amazing place yet it can also be a bit quiet, especially when you want to party or chill out. This does not mean that you completely ignore the social life and only focus on academic life. It just means that you study hard while studying as no other activities at Lancaster can prevent you from doing that. And you take time out during the weekends to socialise more.

My one year at Lancaster has been brilliant, I got to meet more people at the Day trips organised by the different colleges here at Campus. These trips take us to all sorts of places, including Stratford-upon-Avon (the home of Shakespeare) and Llandudno! I also got to travel a lot cheaper with the rail card that I bought from the Uni Travel at the Alexandra Square. Manchester, one of the grand places to party near Lancaster, is quicker to reach with the number of train services that we have from Lancaster.

In addition to the travelling, I also met a lot many people at Wibbly Wobbly(burger joint at campus), Go Burrito and at Café 21.

One of the very frequent places that I hung out with my friends was Café Nero at the City Centre, which has one of the best mocha and hot chocolate in the town!

Most often, it is such places as mentioned above where you get to have meaningful conversations and which helps in beating the blues.

A few of the facilities the students are entitled at Lancaster University during their Masters

One of the best things I really like about the University is, there are many things one can try over their study here-especially when one is doing his or her Masters. There are two places in particular which I think is really important for a student doing a one-year course.

 

My academic writing was never that good because I was never used to writing in this style. The mentors at Academic writing zone (AWZ) guided me with my essays. Now, I can confidently say that I write much better than what I used to write. AWZ also has drop in sessions twice a week, where you can take your written piece of work to get opinions on how you should present your work better. One of the must know places at Lancaster University is the Academic Writing Zone.

 

Yet another place that is worth knowing at LUMS is the Career zone which consists of a dedicated team to help you with your CV, covering letter and interviews. They have drop in sessions to help with the aforementioned activities. Career Zone was one of the places I frequently visited places. They also have a huge database of videos to help in attending interviews.

The other places to keep a note are the PC labs for the Post Graduate students opposite the Graduate college’s Porters and Social hub opposite to the Grad Bar.

These are a few facilities out of the many that the Post Graduate students especially the Masters students are entitled to. See you at the AWZ!

How to settle in Lancaster University – join clubs and societies

What makes you different than your peers? Do you want to gain additional experience in addition to your academics? Do you want to have fun?Sarada Dragon Boat

If you have answers to all the above three questions read further else, read the article anyway! University is an amazing place to be where you can do new things without having to worry about how ‘uncool’ you might look or how costly it would be to take try a new activity. There are countless clubs and activities that you can be a part of. Click the link http://bit.ly/29idccq that can navigate you to your specific requirement of ‘Life at Lancaster’.

 

Joining clubs and societies is also a way of meeting new people with diverse interests. I have had many special moments after joining the clubs and societies but there is one such event that was the best. I had the opportunity to take part in the Dragon Boat Race and represent at the University at Liverpool. We won the third place. This was an amazing experience as I had never rowed before and most of my team mates did not have prior experience as well! You could meet your next best friend at one of these socials. What are you waiting for? Go and have that fun!

Baby steps after reaching Lancaster- What, where and how to shop on student budgets?

Welcome to Lancaster, a city that guarantees new experiences to your one or many years of academic life! I am Sarada, an MSc Management student of the 2015-2016 batch. Life at Lancaster for me was an amazing experience. To start with, it is not difficult to travel in this small town with a population of around 50,000 and the people are really friendly here. The city centre is the best shopping place to buy things.

City2

Landing at your accommodation, you realize that you need to shop to settle in. Though the options of shopping at amazon and online shopping for groceries exist, it is a ritual undertaken by students to do their first shopping at the town. Travelling to the city by bus is one of the most convenient and cheap method of transportation. It takes about 2.50 to travel to the town and back to the University. The few places that are frequented by students to economically shop are:

  1. Wilko- bedding pack, detergents, stationary, cutlery, utensils, bathing products
  2. Poundland- everything is for a pound, but do not expect to see a wide variety of products
  3. Sainsbury- monthly groceries
  4. Mountain Warehouse- one stop destination to stock up on Winter wear
  5. Iceland- exclusive store to buy frozen products

Happy Shopping and do not forget to explore the other shops in the town!