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.

I’ve finished my 24-hour online exams. Here’s the tea…

By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

I am done with my degree.

It feels surreal to say that, and I’m only able to because the Computer Science exams were held earlier than seemingly the rest of the university’s! Nevertheless, I’ve been there – sat for all 6 of my final, 3rd year Computer Science papers in a 24-hour, online, open-book exam format over the course of 3 weeks, and I’m here to tell you the things that stood out from my experience.

  1. The change of setting is your best friend.

You know that sinking anxiety you get when everyone’s huddling around the door to the exam hall, waiting to be let in? Those 2 tense minutes when the papers have been handed out but it isn’t 11:00AM sharp so everyone has to keep quiet and wait until they say you can flip over your sheets? That intense panic you get when they say “30 minutes left” and you’re still on question 2?

From my experience, these anxieties are all either greatly reduced or completely absent when taking an online exam. You might get the nerves during the buildup, but after the first 30 minutes you realize… you’re in the comfort of your own room (or the library, if that’s your thing). You know this place, unlike the cold, cruel exam hall. You don’t have 8 equally anxious people spaced 2 meters away from you in every direction, and you certainly don’t have hawk-eyed invigilators watching your every move.

To me, the fact that I didn’t feel like I was being forced to do everything a certain way gave me a great deal of privacy, and I was able to focus all that worrying energy into my actual paper. I could get a yummy snack or put on some music any time I wanted, so I felt very much in control. The amount of freedom, flexibility and confidence that gives you works wonders for your mental health and as a result, helps you when you’re answering those mind-boggling exam questions.


  1. You can pace yourself!

When I’m in a normal exam, I find I always have to save a portion of my brain cells for monitoring the clock. “Drat, it’s already 30 minutes, I have to move on to question 4, but I still have like 40% of question 3 to go… I guess I’ll have to skip a few points and come back to this later” … sound familiar?

Having my time limit be a whole day really made me realize how much stress a 3-hour window puts on your mind, and how well you can pace yourself when you don’t have that clock breathing down your neck. You have time to answer the questions to the best of your ability, and make sure that you get those points across clearly. Oh, you’re not in the mood for doing the exam right now? Take a walk and come back in an hour or two! It also helps eliminate situations where you might miss a question or two (speaking from personal experience…) because you have time to double-check your work. Having such a long time period was, to me, truly a godsend.


  1. Surprisingly, they feel more realistic

This last point is a bit unexpected, and honestly might not apply to every course (especially the more practical ones). However, I personally found that online exams feel more like what I would expect in a real-world setting over the carefully orchestrated and contained in-person written exams. In real life, you’re going to have access to your books, your computer and the internet. Recall questions don’t really take that into account and rely on you regurgitating information instead of understanding it. However, because these exams are open-book, and you have your resources ready, the questions are able to focus on your understanding of the material instead and provide a more helpful and realistic experience.

Honestly? I liked the online exams. Gasp, yes, but I felt these were a more effective way to evaluate students’ abilities than traditional exams. I’m glad I got to finish off my academic studies like this, because I don’t think there will come another opportunity like this one for a long while. Best of luck with your exams if you have any papers soon! They might still seem terrifying, but remember that at the end of the day, exams don’t and will never define who you are, so just go with the flow and give them your best shot.

Dealing with setbacks

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

I sit here writing this blog on receipt of one of my more favourable grades from a module I simply adore. The story just a week ago however was very different, with one of my most trusted suppliers to one of the enterprises I set up during my university studies expressing their desire to terminate our contract. Setbacks come in all shapes and sizes, however our approach to them should be steadfast in every situation and involve encountering them with pragmaticism and unquenchable optimism.

Sometimes it seems unfair that we receive a certain underwhelming grade on work that we were only co contributor to, or oppositely sole contributor to while following all the advice provided. From the wise words of a fourth year who has seen his fair share of As and Es respectively, I can guarantee you that the perfect streak of 100% on your interactive script does not exist. For that I am glad, as an education with no hiccups or revelations of incorrect practises is no education at all.

Many of us lose sight that University is specifically designed for mistakes to be discovered and imperfect methods practised, without worry of their effect on the ‘real world’. Mess-ups will happen to us all, that I will happily bet my life on. How we individually choose to handle them and utilise the experience sets innovative ground breakers apart from static onlookers.

My first point of advice is to remain humble, this is a necessity that many of us lose sight of due to our advantageous position at a top university. Setbacks happen to all of us. As an entrepreneur they happen almost hourly to myself. My academia and privileges do not and will never stop this happening. The same is true for all of us, no matter how big, how successful or how established. An appreciation that setbacks could be around the corner and your openness in accepting that is key. It allows you a stable head to deal with the eventual hiccup, whatever it happens to be.

Having recognised the inevitability of setbacks and accepted that they will regularly occur to each of us, the question remains of what to do next. My second piece of advice is to use setbacks as a learning opportunity. There is no benefit in repeating the same mistakes, so ensure that any new setback is the only time it happens. As we all appreciate, learning is best done on our own terms, with some of us preferring to relive the actions as interactively as possible, with others mind mapping from ideation to execution. Whatever way works best for you is the way I would promote, but remember this, life is not fair and never will be. What I mean by this is that there is no benefit in blaming the situation for your setbacks, passing the learning from this event off as unnecessary due to ‘external’ factors. You will never find a completely harmonious situation in which all the stars align, it is foolish therefore to believe that your performance is never in need of improvement.

It is important to appraise your performance realistically, appreciating that 100% effort was not perhaps afforded to a certain piece work, or recognising that you maybe did not have enough references. It may be frustrating to initially admit, but true reflection on one’s actions is an essential step in mitigating their reoccurrence. The only person who benefits from setback remediation is the person who is undertaking it, you will only get out what you put in. Sitting and complaining of life’s infinite unfairness will not benefit anyone, the proactiveness to act on your weaknesses will allow for setbacks to become strengths.

Four tips for motivation in lockdown

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

Motivation has become an increasingly prevalent issue that I think all students and staff are struggling with at this time of year. When the dark clouds roll in at 4 pm, it seems to be permanently raining, and we are all feeling drowsy and tired with lockdown, of course our motivation will be affected. I know I have struggled with motivation this term. However, I have found a few things that have made me more productive, and maybe they can help you too.

  1. Sleep. Are you tired of hearing about the benefits of sleep? I know I am, but the importance cannot be understated. With the nights drawing in and all of us already feeling tired with lockdown, insufficient sleep will affect our motivation. Who can work when they have no energy?! So, making sure we get a good night’s sleep and getting up at a reasonable time can only help our energy levels and motivate us.
  2. Exercise. Yet again, this is something we all get told to do. Honestly, when I hear the word exercise, I roll my eyes. I do not enjoy it. But, with that being said, exercise has helped me feel more awake through the day and more energised to do work. Even just starting to go for a short 20 minute run a day has helped clear my mind and get in the right mindset for a good few hours of work.
  3. Do not overwork yourself. I know that me and many others are guilty of trying to make up for feeling unproductive by cramming as much as humanly possible into the day. However, I have found out through experience that this only causes tiredness and a lack of motivation over the next few days. So, make sure you don’t cram and wear yourself down all in one day!
  4. Finally, don’t put off work! Honestly, at the start of term, I was very much guilty of this. I would continuously put off work till tomorrow, then the day after, then the day later. This only causes issues as you end up feeling like you are being crushed by the amount of work you must do, which, in turn, affects your mood and motivation to do work. Not putting off work can massively help your mood as you don’t feel behind and this can help you in general with motivation in the future!

I have found that these four key things helped me with mood and productivity during this term; I hope they prove useful!

Keeping yourself marketable

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

Many of us come to university in the hope that it will be the stepping-stone we require in obtaining that ever-elusive job we so badly want. That degree at the end of years of study, however, is not the only tool in our arsenal of employability that has been building up throughout our time in further education. Societies, volunteering, sports, you name it, students do it in some capacity or another. However, with extra-curricular events largely embargoed due to COVID-19, we have all lost out on opportunities for skill development, experience and, most importantly, CV material. This is an issue because, although the world seems to have stopped in many aspects, employers haven’t, and their desire to see us students as well-rounded members of society is as rampant as ever.

So, what do we do? As an Entrepreneurship student I can only advocate what I know, and that is to improvise, adapt and overcome. We’ve all been forced online, so let’s make the most of those online demonstrations of our diverse expertise. These include online courses, webinars and interactive campaigns, just to name a few. The internet is an infinite place, all we need do is show the want to utilise it. I dare say we can channel some of that ‘spare’ time we have inherited by working exclusively online away from procrastination and into employability strengthening activities every few days or so. Grasp something you’re interested in. Still don’t fully understand Teams? I can personally vouch for the hundreds of courses, both at Lancaster and externally, that will set that straight in around fifteen minutes.

In an ever-complex economy, the adaptability and drive you will show by gaining online formal certification will go so far when it comes to applying for ever more competitive jobs. There is much to complain about in the current climate, but I can tell you from experience that those who whine remain behind, whilst those who act push the boundaries of possibility. Yes, our university experience is vastly different than that of anyone who has come before us, but who says it must be less valuable? If we value our time and efforts as much as we should do as students of such a prestigious university, then we should all be jumping at the chance to show the world our talents. For many of us, these talents are best demonstrated through undertaking online courses whilst keeping our end goals firmly in sight. If we allow time to pass us by, getting the minimum amount done in times when opportunities are quite literally at our fingertips, what chance will we have when things go ‘back to normal’ and competition is rife in every endeavour we undertake.

We cannot control the environment, we can only control how it affects us. Turn this largely perceived crisis into an opportunity, I have. It may seem crass to many reading this, but this pandemic has been my most fruitful period in years, with enterprises thriving, perspective gained and baggage removed. Now that hasn’t come by chance. Only by seizing the opportunity to slow down and reflect on my position in the world was I able to embark upon this success. Don’t let life pass you by, even though everyone else may be on the slow down. Be that spark, that flame, ready to burst onto the scene with all these online demonstrations of pragmatism and enthusiasm. Go and make ready to get what you deserve.

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.

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.

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!


Small Steps

By Jojo (Student blogger: BSc Hons Economics)

2020 isn’t a year that everyone was hoping for.

BUT, what can we do, and how do we prepare ourselves for the future?

Firstly, its ok to feel lost, and feel a lack of motivation. Since most of our upcoming plans are ruined, it is hard to figure out what the next steps are. And due to the uncertainties, the motivations are somewhat faded away.

Secondly, its also ok if you feel disconnected with everything and everybody around you and the only thing that we can rely on, is the internet. And I am sure that feels a little bit strange.

So how to overcome it? A good way to increase our motivation around studying is to establish a goal or a target. A good technique to get you started is to use the SMART principles:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Relevant

T = Time Bound

When you aim to accomplish something, it is crucial to have a plan, in fact, to have a detailed plan. The more detailed the plan is, the easier it is for you to execute it, because you know exactly what to do and when to do them. Furthermore, think about the motivation. That is, maybe try to reward yourself when you have completed something, so that you will be more willing to execute your plans. Having some incentives will help to drive you to accomplish tasks.

It is ok  if your plan is just to do something small, try to not get distracted by the people around you, and just believe in yourself, take small steps, and achieve your goals at your own pace.

And last but not least, adapting your lifestyle to deal with the situation. It is likely that the university won’t return to its normal state very soon, so it is important to adapt yourself for the future. Planning and time management skills are now more important than ever, so stay calm and be prepared foo whatever is coming.