My time as an English Language Assistant

By Kathryn Tomlinson (MA History) Four students in a discussion group

I come from 30 minutes down the road. I could get the bus from the underpass and be home in about an hour. I didn’t have to worry about living in a different country, getting to grips with a different culture, or speaking a different language. But, of course, that’s not the case for hundreds of students at Lancaster. The discussion groups offered by the Learning Development Team in the Library help bridge this gap and are a great thing to get involved in. For an hour once or twice a week, we all come together and discuss a predetermined topic like travel, music, the local area, or – everyone’s favourite – food! (Although showing pictures of everyone’s favourite foods from their country was a bit of a struggle at lunchtime!) The discussion groups are casual and relaxed, there’s no academic knowledge required before coming and no exam at the end of the term. As one of a handful of English Language Assistants, my job was to be a peer facilitator, helping with any questions about vocabulary, idioms or British culture and slang. We were not teachers there to test and correct but fellow students there to help and encourage.


I particularly enjoyed thinking of British idioms and hearing the equivalent in different languages. And it’s always fun explaining about different accents and weird celebrations we have, like egg rolling at Easter! Getting to know both my fellow assistants and the students who came regularly was a pleasure. It was also a joy to see the students’ already great standard of English get better and better each week. I loved being able to talk to everyone, hear their opinions and just have a good social time after the isolation of the pandemic. For those who perhaps weren’t as confident, part of my job was also to try and encourage them to contribute, however much or little, and make sure everyone felt included without feeling singled out. Learning how to do so was a delicate balance but one which you learn to tread more easily as the sessions go by. After a few discussion groups I actually learnt I was more extroverted than I thought – I loved talking to other students and really looked forward to each session.


Having taken some extracurricular German classes too, I was really struck by what a skill it is to speak another language. The students would come to sessions where they didn’t know the topic, the questions, or where exactly the discussion was naturally going to flow, but still understood and contributed. Something I don’t think I could ever do! Learning about other people’s cultures too helped make me a more well-rounded person. Being an English Language Assistant is not only a great opportunity for paid work, it also greatly adds to your student experience. It’s a job I would recommend to anyone and one I’m definitely going to miss.

My first essay at Lancaster University

By Sagarika (Student Blogger: MSc Human Resource Management)

Student typing on a laptop








Do the words ‘ESSAY’, ‘SUBMISSIONS’ and ‘GRADES’ scare you? Some might say ‘Oh no!’ but for some it might be ‘Ah, a piece of cake’.

For the first essay I had to submit, I honestly had mixed feelings. I think I was well versed with what the question was asking me to do and how I was going to structure my essay. I was confident on what I wanted to put forth and how I would convey my analysis on it. In my opinion, the essay turned out well and I was happy that I gave it my best.


Of course, I had after thoughts and dilemmas once I’d submitted the essay. I’m sure you guys have also gone through such a phase at some point in your life. But I was trying to calm down and compose myself thinking – “it was fine, you did what you had to do to the best of your ability and now all you can hope for is the result to be positive”.


And just like that time passed by keeping my thoughts engaged in other classes and modules. But Ta Da! Our professor told us that the results would be out next week, which resumed my stress.


We had our class feedback one day before our results came-up. And this scared all of us a bit more than we already were. Have you ever experienced this feeling when people were talking in general, but it felt like everything was being pointed at you? Ah yes! That’s what I felt sitting in the class with my classmates hearing the general feedback. Every flaw seemed like it was mine, everything that could go wrong sounded like my essay.


Oh, but wait, the result hasn’t even come yet

. So I had to put my stress and tension aside. I was trying to hope for the best result and hoping tomorrow would be a good day.


Finally, the RESULTS DAY had arrived. And BOOM! The result was in no comparison to my expectation. Oh wait, you must be thinking it was something more than what I was expecting, right? Naah. I wish it was that. But NO, it was completely disappointing to me. I have always been a A/B slider in all my academic life and now I was nowhere compared to it. Stress, anxiety, depression, tension, frustration, irritation was all that I was feeling.

It took me to time to accept that this is my score, and it is not where I wanted it to be. I needed to work hard to make sure I improved for next time. I tried to reach out to few of my class mates for help and I also accessed the Learning Development team for more insights on how I could make my essay writing bett



Things change, life changes. It is not what you always expect. For a high flying student like me, it was a shock. But what really matters, is how you overcome the challenging times. How you try to improve yourself to get back to being your best. And right now, that is what I’m working on.

I know many of you might have faced this or may panic after reading my story. But hey! It’s me not you! You may be totally shocked by your result in a positive way, but if you are facing what I am, let me tell you there’s always help and scope for improvement. I know you might be disheartened like I am. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Work on it and you will achieve it.

Let’s get talking…

By James (Student blogger: BA Politics and International Relations)

Mental health has been the shadow in the dark this term, something that it would be safe to say that more and more people are struggling with. I have struggled with it, and so have many people I know. Although there are some simple things can help with mental health as we go into Christmas and the new term that have helped me personally.

  1. Self Care

Although something we hear about and see loads of, its important to make sure you give yourself some time to refresh. Whether that be a simple shower, walk, exercise, each one helps you to feel a bit more refreshed and ready to fight the day as it comes. Even doing something basic to make sure you’re prepared for the day gets you into the right mind state.

  1. Looking Yourself in the mirror

For me, a simple looking at myself in the mirror can help me build up my confidence for the day. For me I struggle with self-esteem so waking up and looking myself in the mirror and telling myself I’m good enough can help me again start the day right rather than in the wrong way and in the wrong mood.

  1. Don’t hold yourself to strict rules

For me, I know I beat myself up for not meeting a target of the day, or not upholding my strict rules I put on myself. It’s important to remember everyone needs breaks, and everyone needs to make sure they give themselves sometime between everything. Instead of cramming and not giving yourself time, make sure you get that cup of tea, or chocolate and make sure you look after yourself and don’t overwork yourself, or put too much pressure on yourself.

  1. Give yourself some time to reflect

Make sure when you’re working you give yourself time to look at what you’re doing and allow yourself to be proud of that. Make sure you don’t get caught up in the nitty-gritty things in life and work and make sure you can look at the overall picture and allow yourself to be happy with what you’ve achieved.

  1. Most importantly, speak out

This is always the step that got me, I could do all the previous areas, but I could never speak out. Trust me when I say speaking out is the most important thing that you can do; this means it does not bubble over the top. My favourite thing I got told was ‘pretend you’re a bottle of coke, and each thing that upsets you shakes you a little. Once you speak and let it out, you are a lot calmer and are not holding the pressure of the things that upset you’. This to me shows the importance of talking. Sometimes we can’t hold the pressure of the things getting on top of us and this makes us feel like we’re going to explode. It is important to let it out and speak up and take that pressure away.

The struggle is real

By Manuella (Student blogger: Economics and International Relations)

I have often heard the saying the struggle is real, then I begin to wonder; “the struggle is real, so what?” “What are you going to do about the struggle?” “How are you adapting to the struggle?” “Is it making you stronger?” “Or have you given up?” I guess these questions overwhelm us all, especially in this recent pandemic. As human beings, we evolve best by adapting to situations- so it’s no surprise that online learning has become the next best thing for us students. Nevertheless, I hope I can confidently say that, it has been a struggle for us all. It is quite intriguing to know that, this is not only the case for us students but for all stakeholders in our Universities. That being said, I am going to write five simple ways in which the struggle has been real for most, if not all of us.

  1. The Struggle to learn

Let’s cast our minds to a time before COVID-19, we all miss that period, but we could all agree that sometimes learning was a struggle then. It was the time we had to choose between social gatherings and staying in to burn the midnight candle. Now, so far gone, we are in a time when staying in is the best option. Yet, we can all admit that doing other things before study time has become the new dilemma. How do you pick an hour of full time learning over a new Netflix release? Or would you prefer a TikTok video to research work? All the same, it has been a struggle, and trust me, you’re not the only one going through it. I guess this is where discipline overrides being reluctant. You may not be alone, but you definitely could find other ways to make it work. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are able.

  1. The struggle to stay motivated

Motivation is another thing I do not frankly understand, especially motivational speakers. How can they be so sure that what they did will work for everyone? It is not a one-size-fits-all life, because we are all different in our own way and we see and react to things quite differently too. So the subject of motivation is a personal one, however, you have to (MUST) figure out what keeps you going. Obviously it ranges from a variety of things so I cannot tell you what they are specifically. I will however give you this thought; for a second, imagine having all your goals accomplished, the joy and satisfaction of it all- and simply run with that feeling all year round. Trust me, it works. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are stronger.

  1. The Struggle to be efficient

Efficiency could mean anything from organization, productivity, to just mastering a skill. Honestly, it is okay to just stay alive and have some form of routine. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As far as uni work goes, just divide the work load into mini tasks, so you can accomplish them slowly. Little drops of water do make a mighty ocean. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are trying

  1. The struggle for a functional environment

A functional environment is simply a good vibes only environment, one in which you can actively function for being human. It is an environment in which you can have good and bad days. Lazy days and productive ones. And frankly, they seem like bare necessities (jungle book song in mind), but it is sometimes a struggle to find. So in all you do make sure you find good vibes; it makes this whole “new normal” thing easy going. So yes, the struggle is real, but your vibes are good.

  1. The struggle to be supported

A support system is healthy for us all, and could take any shape or form. Personally, I have found that having friends or acquaintances who can relate to you is a perfect balance especially for academic work. What this does is that in the end, these people in your support bubble are there for you, and as humans that is essentially what we need. So strive to have a support group. I have a group of people I go to, from goal setting, and for laughs and it is the best combination of accountability and a social life. So yes, the struggle is real but so are the people around you.


All in all, this Uni thing is hard, and adulting is no joke too. So cut yourself some slack. You are trying to survive a pandemic and gain an education. You are doing just fine. Take a break when you have to, and keep your goals in that same mind space. You will be just fine. So yes, the struggle is real, but so are you.

Studying Online Efficiently (My Style)

By Azizan Anas (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)

The rapid progression of technology can be beneficial, while also be disastrous depending on how you use it. As a result of the current Covid-19 Pandemic that’s happening worldwide, it can be seen that technology has played a huge role in students’ learning. More and more schools, institutions and universities are offering online-based materials which are accessible from the comfort of our home. However, this serves as a challenge for some students as being at home means that they are more susceptible to nearby distractions thus maybe more susceptible to distractions. I would like to share my ways of studying online effectively that I have been doing for the past few months.

Building Up Momentum

When you’re in the zone (of momentum), you will find it much easier to focus on the task you’re doing. This means you are able to do you tasks while being ‘in the flow’. From what I’ve noticed to achieve this state its better to do simple tasks such as making your bed or cleaning up and removing any possible sources of distraction before engaging in any online learning.

Preparing A Dedicated Workspace

By having our own dedicated workspace area to do our tasks, we can be far more productive (assuming that you’re not distracted). So, whenever you are in your workspace, your brain will recognize and remember that you will be doing work turning on your ‘working’ mode. This is much better than doing our work in different parts of the house where there could be other distractions such as people watching TV or talking with each other.

Have A Rest

It is essential to give yourself some rest, for both your body and your brain. The reason is that if we go on for a 2hours straight studying, our brain may feel overwhelmed and may not process some of the information while our body may feel tired and our eyes may struggle due to looking to the screen to watch lectures for 2 hours straight. I would suggest giving yourself a 4-5minutes break for every 40-45mins, where you can stretch your body or make yourself a cup of tea!

Why studying from home is actually decent…

By Safiya (Student blogger: BA English Literature)

‘Studying from home’ initially seemed so off-putting: from connectivity issues to lack of motivation due to being in your environment of leisure, virtual learning was not at all appealing. But sometimes you don’t need to think positively about something in order to enjoy it – you just need to experience it. And, after several weeks of studying online, I think many of us can say that this is actually not that bad.


Why studying from home is actually decent:

  1. There’s so much more time!

If anyone is a (now former) commuting student, you’ll have quickly realised how much time we now have! Balancing work and play was madness, and winging it was all I really did. But due to the lack of extra stress and super early get ups that often came with travelling, studying has never been more enjoyable.

  1. You can attend lectures/seminars from the comfort of your bed

Although it is advised to have a dedicated space for studying, especially whilst being at home, it wouldn’t be terrible to watch a lecture or two from your bed once in a while. You’re comfy, and you’re learning. Win-win.

  1. You can plan (most) of your studying around your own schedule

While seminars may have an allocated time, you can access the recorded lectures and reading materials at your own convenience. Early bird? Night owl? Schedule the lectures for whenever you want! If you want to minimise the number of ‘uni days’ you have, watch the lectures on the same day that you have the corresponding seminar. In this way, not only will the information remain fresh for discussion, but you will have more ‘free’ days for which you can dedicate other things! (P.S – if you’re in a hurry, you can speed your lectures up!)

  1. I’m…getting the reading done?!

Still can’t believe it. But, like aforementioned, due to the lack of travelling and extra stress, there is so much more time for work.

  1. Sleep schedule is now actually a schedule

Again, still can’t believe it. I used to be able to relate to every lack-of-sleep meme there was, but now they all seem like a distant memory.

Although online learning may still seem inconvenient and strange to some, it’s important to remember that this is new for almost everyone! And access to education, especially during a global pandemic, is definitely something we should truly appreciate.

Is 24/7 the new norm?

By Will (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Entrepreneurship and Management)

Wow, what a last few month’s hey? Feels like it’s been years, and that’s the problem for many of us. Time is molding into one undistinctive thing and our work lives are becoming ever interlinked with our personal space and activities. Our workspace is now our leisure space for most of the time, though this may seem efficient to some it presents a problem for many of us that it’s hard to differentiate when we should and shouldn’t be working. One of the great things about Lancaster University is the breadth of study spaces it has, from Cartmel study rooms on one side of campus to the health innovation campus on the other. In normal circumstances many of us relish the opportunity to rotate around campus and study under these different locations, constantly keeping the brain refreshed and environment exciting. However, circumstances are anything but normal now unfortunately, and for many of us these spaces are not longer accessible with our bedroom’s and houses the only places we can take refuge to both study and unwind. This is unfortunately not going to change for the foreseeable future, so how do we ensure we can still instigate a clear separation between our down time and work commitments?

My main recommendation is to work within clear and ‘normal’ defined hours. Most working people work between 9am and 5pm, and this is with good reason as it promotes a healthy sleep pattern and if followed through the week allows both Saturday and Sunday free for leisure. I write this blog for you now at 16:18pm on a Friday having started this morning at 9:12am, with a strict limit on myself to cease work at 17:00pm tonight and not resume until Monday 9am. This work schedule ensures I have adequate downtime at night to allow a restful sleep and early enough rising time to ensure that the workday is not wasted, and I have ample time to complete any work. Linked to this, is how it’s so easy to overlook the importance of the weekend and days off. This statement may initially seem novel, a university student that doesn’t have enough time off, is there such a thing? Well I would argue yes, however I do argue that we are poor at making our time off valuable and effective and resetting ourselves as it should be. Allowing the brain to relax, focusing on those interests we have and making time for others are all things we deserve to be doing every weekend. Whatever year or course we are studying, the amount of content is designed that we have free time, so if you feel that your weekends are too short or downtime not long enough. Ask yourself these questions; did I really start early enough today? Did I really finish early enough last night? Is my sleeping schedule that of a normal professional?

On the face of it, having a defined schedule and time limits on most aspects of our living may seem boring and frankly unnecessary. Take it from me however, this is the key to a much more successful university experience. Gone will be the days of all-nighters on assignments, hello to the time of unguilted leisure for the next 48 hours. University is a unique time when we both have the best times of our lives and experience some of the hardest work we must conquer. Allowing one’s self, the right mindset and time allocation is the best starting step we can all have to making the most of each and every day.

Managing your time and essentially your (uni) life!

By Lucy (Student blogger: MSc Management)

As someone who finds myself more on the extraverted side of the scale in terms of my personality I was absolutely dreading the whole idea of online learning. I get my energy and motivation from the human interaction with people around me and I thought the whole process of online learning was going to be a barrier in terms of my motivation to study and ability to meet new people. The endless zoom quizzes, virtual hugs and tiny squares with familiar faces really had left me in a bit of a slump with the idea of this being the new normal for a while. So, when the first academic week rolled around and notifications for online lectures started firing up I didn’t really know where to begin.

Trying to remember all the online lectures, deadlines and reading preparation can be quite overwhelming and it can leave you thinking that you have such little time to get through the workload. Without the ‘normal’ routine of face-to-face teaching it can be easy to lose track and forget that there’s 24 hours in a day. A lovely lecturer called Poppy once gave me the best advice when it comes to managing your time, deadlines and essentially your life!

  • Using the 8/8/8 system to schedule your day – Its very easy to get overwhelmed with juggling university work, seeing friends and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But its easy to forget that you can achieve a lot in 24 hours. The 8/8/8 system is a framework for splitting up your day into 8 hours sleep, 8 hours of work (including lectures and timetabled sessions) and 8 hours of time to relax, exercise, eat, socialise or whatever you please. Obviously it is not always achievable but it’s a good target to aim for!
  • Have some form of a planner – whether this is a diary or a calendar being able to physically see lectures, events and deadlines helps to organise your time. You can set yourself mini deadlines in relation to assessments so that everything is not last minute.
  • Make sure you have breaks from the screen – this could be going for a 5 minute walk, doing 10 squats or having a quick chat with a friend. Having little breaks away from the screen helps with your concentration and general well-being.

Whatever your opinion on the online learning situation, I feel it is always important to try and take the positives from new situations – even if it means doing lectures in your pjs!

Studying Effectively and Efficiently

By Tsz Yan (Student blogger: MSc Business Analytics )

Study is important to our university life. However, as a university student, we always face challenges in our study. We may feel stress when we are studying a new module. We may want to relax due to fatigue after study. We may even struggle with what we need to do in a day. Therefore, I am here to share some tips and strategies for study.

Motivating yourself

Self-motivation is really an important tool for study. You should try to motivate yourself intrinsically and remain positive every day before you perform different tasks. From my own perspective, I will encourage myself by telling myself that “I can do it! I am the best!”. These kinds of motivational affirmations can help us to feel more energised so we are able to perform our work as best as possible, which is a good starting point.

As well as intrinsic motivation, you should also try to give yourself with an extrinsic motivation —something you enjoy and are interested in.  In my case, I enjoy watching movies so I allow myself to watch a movie if I successfully finish all the tasks I have set in the day. For me, this strategy is really effective and helps me to study efficiently.

Planning your time

Time management is also an essential method for effective study. For me setting a timetable really helps with my time management. I like to set the timetable per week and prioritize all the tasks I need to complete based on their importance. Then, I will specifically list out which module, chapter, coursework and/or assignments I will concentrate on and how much time I am willing to spend. I will also consider how many breaks and how long I can relax for during the day so I can ensure I don’t get too overloaded. For example, 15 minutes relaxation time between each task.

Of course, this is only my strategy for my studies. You can make any adjustment you want to produce the most suitable timetable for yourself to increase the efficiency of your study.

Studying in a suitable environment

The environment we study in is also an important issue that needs to be considered. Finding a suitable environment which is most favourable for your study is really important. “A suitable environment” is different for everyone. If you can only focus in a silent environment then your room may be the best place. Or maybe listening to music whilst you study can can help you to study more efficiently. We are all different so try to find the most appropriate environment that works for YOU.

Once you have found your own suitable environment, you should remember one important issue — keep your eye away from electronic devices. I believe that electronic devices will distract study for most of us. So, I suggest switching off or putting all of the electronic devices away when you are studying (unless there is a need to use it). This is really effective for my study.

Here are my study tips, I hope these will help you to study effectively and efficiently. Good Luck!

I Kind of Like Online Learning Now

By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

Coffe, muffin and laptop on bed

Not gonna lie, when I first heard that we would be switching to an all-online curriculum, I cringed. I’d heard stories from my friends studying in other universities about how mind-numbingly painful online lectures were as their lecturers droned on and how crickets chirped each time their seminar leaders asked if “anyone else knew the answer”. Here we go, I thought, I’m going to lose all my interest and spark in my degree, drop out of university and end up homeless from the thousands of pounds of debt I have on my shoulders…

Two weeks in, however, and I kind of… like online lectures now? Put your pitchforks down and let me explain! While I do miss seeing my friends, taking the bus, being on campus, and the overall buzz of in-person classes, there are a few things I’ve learned to appreciate about their virtual counterparts.

1. I can go at my own pace
With everything being online, I don’t feel as much pressure from being able to access my academics from the comfort of my home. Sometimes, having to hop from class to seminar to lab in the span of 3 hours can be very tiring, and studying tends to be the last thing on my mind after the long bus ride home! We’re having none of that this year- spaced out classes and comparatively mellower days are giving me the break I need, all while maintaining the momentum of being in education.

2. Asking Questions
I don’t know about you, but the Q&A sessions in my lectures tend to either be crickets or dominated by the same two people every single lecture. Just the thought of having the whole lecture hall of 150 students turn to hear you squeak out what you probably think is a stupid question is enough to put most people off.
However, things seem to be changing with the introduction of Q&A sessions over call or over chat. I’ve definitely seen an increase in eager queries- and I’m finding it a lot healthier and more helpful with my understanding of the course material.

3. They’re absolutely convenient
Not having to physically commute to class is one of the best things to come out of this once you look past the “I don’t really feel present” part. I can wake up and immediately zip over to my desk to sit in for my 9am (or even better- just attend it in bed!). I save hours not having to wait for and get the bus to and from campus, which can very often kill my “study” mood. Not to mention: I’ve saved over £250 from not having to buy the 3-term bus pass- absolutely amazing.

I know online learning is a big change, and definitely a very unfamiliar one. However, every cloud has a silver lining- even if it’s switching to online curriculum during a global pandemic. Sometimes, we get so distraught with all the negatives that we end up overlooking the small wins right in front of us.

Stay safe, guys, and work hard!