What University Has Taught Me

It’s weird to think that I’m less than 6 weeks away from finishing my masters now. It feels like I’ve got so much left to do still though! :O Since my time at university is coming to an end and I don’t plan on taking my university education further I think now is a good time to share some of the things that university has taught me 🙂

How to save money and budget 

At some point as a student you’ll be poor, it’s a well known fact that students are poor. Plus you’ll have some ridiculous amount of student debt to your name. But you’ll quickly learn how to save money and what value/own brand food is actually OK.thumb_IMG_1585_1024

Be yourself

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you don’t want to do the whole freshers thing, don’t! There will be other people like you who also don’t want to do the whole drinking/partying thing!IMG_3296_1024

Don’t be afraid to try new things 

I don’t mean pushing yourself totally outside of your comfort zone, but occasionally it may be good for you.IMG_0407_1024

You’ll probably change 

You’ll probably become a different person in some ways having been to university. I know I’ve definitely changed since going to uni!IMG_1137_1024

It is OK to get homesick

You’ll probably miss your parents/friends/dog at some point and that is OK. There will be others feeling the same way too. Homesickness didn’t really hit me properly until December of first year, but it hit me alright!

You’ll probably feel like you’re dying at some point 

You’ll probably get really ill at some point during your time at university and it will feel like you’re dying. You have to hope it’s in your second or third year when you can text your housemate and ask them to bring you hot chocolate or a hot water bottle! Or if its not dying because you’re ill, you’ll probably feel like you’re dying with the amount of work you have to do at some point. But it happens to everyone!

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When Laura bought me this! ❤

You’ll learn how you work

It wasn’t until I came to university that I began to learn and appreciate how I learn best. I’d be surprised if you came out of uni still not knowing how you work and learn.Photo 25-04-2017, 20 09 59

You’ll learn how to do your washing 

You’ll probably have at least one disaster working out how to do your washing during your time at university, but if you’ve never done your washing before, you’ll definitely learn!IMG_2179_1024

You’ll learn how to clean something or the other

I never knew how to clean a toilet with bleach until 2nd year of uni! :O You’ll probably learn how you clean something else random like how to get those blu-tac marks off the wall or how to clean food/drink stains off the carpet.Photo 04-05-2017, 11 32 29

You’ll probably hate the people you live with at times 

So you can’t really do much about the gross kitchen, hearing every word of your neighbour’s conversation, your neighbour singing or you neighbour and their boyfriend/girlfriend’s late night shenanigans in first year. But in second and third year when you’re living with your friends you’ll still probably find something to hate someone for, be it their sloppyness in the kitchen, not taking the bins out on their turn, hogging the washing machine, or not taking their turn on the cleaning rota. You will hate them at least once …. But you still love them dearly! Photo 07-03-2017, 15 26 19

You’ll make some of the best friends 

You’re all thrown together in this new situation. Everyone wants to make friends, and I know I have made some of the best friends through my time at uni. I may not talk to them every day now, but I know I can text them whenever and still pick up any conversation with them! Miss you Penny, Becky, Laura, Reg and Sara! ❤IMG_9126

 

 

My A-Level Story

I’ve never really spoken about this and it is only really my closest friends and family who know my little story about how I got in to uni. So I decided that with A level results day today I would share my story in this one off post.

I’d done great at GCSE, I had 11 GCSEs, 4 A*s and 7 As. I picked my AS Levels, biology, chemistry, physics, German and maths (although I dropped maths about a month in to year 12). I was so excited to finally be studying what I wanted to and be on my way to becoming a marine biologist (although I think at the start of year 12 I wanted to be a doctor but I soon changed my mind back to a marine biologist).

thumb_IMG_1792_1024I really enjoyed my AS levels… Up until March of year 12 that is when I found out my first set of grades. I can’t remember my chemistry grade but I got a D in my first biology exam of my AS levels. It wasn’t great! Especially as I had my mind set on biology in some form!

So I retook that biology exam in the summer of 2011 along with all my other exams. I’d started looking at universities. I was still predicted As and Bs so I was still looking at the “better” universities. Then AS results day came… I’d got a D in biology, and Cs in physics (I was so flipping proud of that C in AS physics), German and chemistry. I was so disheartened by the D and suddenly my hopes of getting in to the unis I’d already looked at all but disappeared.Photo 01-07-2017, 12 55 03

So I had to start looking at other universities, those who would take me with lower grades and my predicted grades for A2 suddenly dropped to Cs. I sought help from teachers, one of my chemistry teachers patronised me, but the other one (who was only part time) went out of her way to help me. I’ll forever thank her for that! And biology… We went through the process of entering me for again another re-sit (so I would be taking 3 biology exams in January of year 13) and getting my papers back. I remember sitting through them with my biology teacher and we were so frustrated. My teacher could see I knew what I was talking about I’d just keep missing one key word in my answers which meant I wasn’t getting the marks that I should! So frustrating!

Anyway… My marks for my January exams and resits of year 13 were mixed. I remember getting a U in one of my chemistry exams and a C in the other, an A in my German resit, and bad grades again in biology!

Anyway, by now I’d selected my university offers and was still holding out any chance of getting in to one of my universities. Especially after my A in my German resit! Anyway, I took my A levels and I was done… Then came the nervous wait for exam results.DSCF1968

Let’s just say this, A levels and me didn’t go well. It wasn’t that I didn’t work hard for them, I just struggled more than anyone should at A-level!

So at 6am on 16th August 2012 I had an email with my A level results and I was so shocked, I’d managed to get a B in biology and a C in German and chemistry. I had a B in biology!!!! Anyway, UCAS went live early and my UCAS didn’t say anything. When you log in that morning it tells you straight away where you’ve been accepted, your first choice or your insurance choice. I fully expected to log in to see it saying Portsmouth (my insurance). But it didn’t! Uh oh!

Soon after 8am when UCAS was supposed to go live I had a phone call from Newcastle University (my first choice) saying that although they couldn’t give me a place on Marine Biology they could offer me a place on their zoology course instead. They kindly gave me some time to think and investigate their course and after finding out I wasn’t going to be able to get accommodation at Portsmouth I decided to take up the offer to study Zoology at Newcastle.DSCF1988

I was happy, I was going to a good university. I remember going in to school to collect my paper copy of my results to be met by teachers who assumed I was going to Portsmouth. But no! I had great delight in telling them I’d got in to Newcastle!

Anyway, when I accepted that place on Zoology I was told I wouldn’t be able to transfer to marine biology but I was going to study somewhere I knew I liked, and study something I was interested in.

So basically I was lucky, A-levels didn’t go my way but somehow Newcastle liked me and took me on. I also think that applications were lower than normal as I was going to be the first year group to pay £9000, which probably helped get me in.IMG_3539_1024

I expected to struggle at uni after struggling in A-levels as much as I did. But weirdly I was doing well. I was getting pretty decent marks. Anyway, fast forward to Easter 2013 I decided to approach the school of marine science at Newcastle and asked them if there was any chance at all of me transferring. I was shocked when they said I could transfer on to their marine zoology course in second year if I passed first year with a first.

And guess what I did? I passed first year with a first and I became a marine zoology student. It was so crazy the journey I’d been on to get there… But I got there.

Moral of the story? A levels aren’t the end of the world! You can still do it and you can still get there. Yes maybe I was lucky, but I really wouldn’t change that journey I’ve been on for a thing. I’ve met some of my best friends on both of the two courses I was on and looking back now I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved. Every A level results day I am so thankful that Newcastle took me on, and I think to myself I wouldn’t change anything. What I’ve achieved at uni I’ve worked hard for, and I know I wouldn’t have achieved it without that hard work. I always wish I could go back and show my school teachers where I am now too, show them what I’ve achieved and that my “failure” at A level (they made me believe that Bs and Cs were fails because they were expecting us to get As and A*s) has really been the making of me and since then I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I could academically.

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My Tips for Success at University

I’ve been struggling a little bit to think of ideas for blogging at the moment. Also I’m busy trying to work on my dissertation that blogging has kind of taken a back seat. I asked my friend what I could blog about today and we picked “study tips”. I suppose it makes sense with the new university term coming up soonish, so today I’m going to share with you some of my tips for staying on track at university! 🙂

1. Stay on Top of Lecture Notes

Trust me, this will make it so much easier when it comes to exams. I know it can be tempting not to write up lectures straight away but actually it really helps. You’re more likely to remember what has been said in the lectures the sooner you write up your notes. It’ll also save you a lot of time and panic when it comes to exams!

2. Make Good use of Stationery

We’re talking project books, highlighters, coloured pens, files etc. whatever takes your fancy. Having nice stationery may motivate you to stay on task 🙂 Also, using coloured pens and highlighters can really enhance your notes!

3. Don’t Scrimp!

When you’re a student it is easy enough to fall in to buying the cheapest things possible… Well for some people anyway! Money can be a concern when you’re a student but there are some things you just shouldn’t buy cheap. My biggest one is refill paper, it’s got to stand up to the wear and tear of flicking through your work, so try to go for 80gsm paper. Also, pens. You want pens that are comfortable to write with that you know you’ll be able to use for hours on end. Some people may be able to do this with your standard value biro, but I can’t!

4. Write

Yes, I mean get your pen out! So many people rely on technology and type notes these days. Do you really learn by writing your notes on the laptop? Do you really take it in? I know I don’t! Plus, you actually need to be able to write legibly, don’t forget you won’t be able to type your answers in exams (not in 2nd and 3rd year anyway). So could you really write for 3 hours if you never write anything by hand? No? I don’t think so.Photo 08-08-2017, 19 36 07

5.Don’t Fall in to the First Year Trap of “it doesn’t matter”

Actually, it really does matter. Sometimes decisions are made during second year about project supervisors or who gets first choice on field trips, and they’ll probably look at your first year performance. So your first year does count! Also, get in to the habit of working hard, it’ll help in the long run.

6. Don’t Throw Notes Away

So many people throw away and delete lectures. Don’t! You’re paying £9000 for them so why would you throw it all away! They’ll probably comes in useful again at some point. Like I’ve looked back at my old notes so many times this year while doing my masters!

7. Get on with Assignments 

So many people leave assignments to the last minute. Don’t! Get on with them as soon as you can, that way if you’re stuck or have problems you have time to ask for help. Also, if you’re unexpectedly ill the week before deadline you won’t be panicking about asking for an extension, because you’ll have got the majority of the work done.

8. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Your lecturers are there for you and want you to do well. If you’re stuck, let them know you’re stuck, don’t suffer in silence. They want to help. Also, when you leave uni and start looking for a job the chances are your tutor or other lecturers will be your reference. So it helps both you and them if you talk to them!

9. Plan and Organise 

Buy yourself a diary, or a wall planner or whatever it takes. But make sure you write down important deadlines and make plans to get your work done. It may also help you to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve for the day when you start studying!

10. Treat Yourself

So you’ve done all the above? You’re already way ahead of everyone else. Remember it is OK to have a day, or evening off. Treat yourself. Although going to uni is about getting your degree, it is also about learning about yourself. So don’t be afraid to have an evening off, go home or spend time with friends.

 

Why I Chose to go Back to University

Today’s post is all about university, so I’m sorry if it’s a bit boring! 😛 So I’m going to tell you today why I decided to go back to university to do a postgraduate degree.

When I graduated in 2015 I was foolish to believe that I’d fall in to a job in my field. So many of my friends were staying in Newcastle, some having found jobs and some going straight on to do a masters.

IMG_9158I didn’t have the luxury of being able to afford to go straight in to a masters, nor did I really want to. I’d had more than enough studying and doing exams. I also wanted to move home. I personally think that renting is dead money so I had to move home to find a job and be able to save up for things. Luckily my parents weren’t anti me moving home, and I did at least do 90% of the cooking and all of the food shopping for them during the year I was home!

Anyway, I was applying for jobs in the science sector, most of which were in London. I stood no chance. In fact, of the 14 jobs I applied for before even getting a job, I had an interview for one.

September came around and I was getting fed up of being at home, my parents were nagging me to find a job. I decided to start applying for teaching assistant positions at primary schools, and eventually I got one. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part I enjoyed my job, it was incredibly rewarding, but I didn’t want to get stuck in a job like that forever. I hadn’t done my degree for nothing.Photo 01-07-2017, 12 55 03

I worked out that through the year if I set aside 2/3 of my pay each month and took out the postgraduate student loan I could go back to university. So I started looking for a course that was relevant to what I wanted to do in the future.

My undergraduate degree in Marine Zoology was too specialised. I knew I didn’t stand much chance for any terrestrial based jobs, so I decided my best option was to take a degree which would broaden me out into the terrestrial environment too. I hope that by doing this course I’ll be able to enhance my prospects of finding a job at the end of this!

So that’s my little story about why I came back to uni! I do not regret having a year out between undergraduate and postgraduate and I really would encourage it for many people before falling straight in to a masters.

I hope today’s post wasn’t too boring! See you all again soon 🙂

I’m back! My post exam to do list!

So the day you read this is the day of my last exam. Which unless I fail everything dramatically, I’m hoping will be my last ever exam.

One of my blogging friends Cheila often posts her to-do lists which I enjoy reading, so today I thought I’d share with you my to-do list. 🙂

So what have I got to do? I’ve put a lot off during exam time, and my to do list has got quite long! :O

  • Clean my bathroom! I mean it isn’t gross, it’s just me who uses it, but the sink could do with a bit of a clean and the shower doors!
  • Hoover my floor (long hair problems = hair everywhere)
  • Dusting – a nice layer of dust has built up in several places in my room!
  • Change my bed sheets and do some washing
  • Filing! To be honest, this will be one of the first things I do after I get back from my exam, but I need to sort things out.
  • Empty my bins – I have so much paper from revision that I need to put in the recycling.
  • Back-up my laptop – I save important work directly to dropbox so it’s not like I’ll lose anything important, but it’s been a while since I backed up.
  • Download everything off the university system where lecturers upload work. I mean I’m paying for it, so I want to make sure I can keep it and have it for future reference.
  • Start my research project. I may have finished my exams but I’m only 50% of the way through my masters. I still have a 20,000 word dissertation to write (although it doesn’t actually have to be 20,000 words)
  • Think about going home and things I can take home for good. I’m hoping for a quick trip home at the weekend but we’ll see what happens!
  • Blog! I’ve neglected my blog (and everyone else’s) a bit the last few weeks so I need a bit of a catch up!
  • Sleep – I’m looking forward to a sleep in tomorrow morning and not having to get up to worry about revision!
  • Patch test my new shower gel – I’m one of those people who is sensitive and allergic to a lot of stuff so I need to check I’m not going to react badly to my new shower gel before I use it! I’ve held off doing this until exams are out the way.
  • Update and back-up my phone
  • Post my dad’s Father’s day card – just in case I don’t get home at the weekend.
  • Sort out my spending – I keep a spreadsheet of the money I spend so I know how much I’ve spent every month, but I’ve fallen behind on this.

I think that’s my to do list for now! I’m looking forward to being able to blog more again 😀

Stabilo Pastel Highlighters

I came across these a little while ago and I fancied trying them, but I didn’t know whether I could really justify another set of highlighters when my “normal” ones did the job. Anyway, I was struggling to motivate myself to revise so I decided to buy some as a little motivation tool and I thought I’d share what I think of them with you.

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Normal highlighters can sometimes be a little harsh on my eyes, especially if I’ve been revising all day, but these Stabilo Pastel highlighters are far more subtle. They still do the job of highlighting but in a much more eye friendly way.

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I was worried that the colours would look a bit similar as when you look at them the colours don’t stand out much, especially the purple and the pink. But actually when you use them there is enough distinction between the colours.

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I’m not so keen on the pink highlighter but the rest of them are pretty good. My only complaint is that they seem to be quite wet, meaning they bleed through the page! And because they’re wet enough just on normal paper, I’m not sure I’d like to risk using them in a textbook!

But anyway, these were a great little buy! Have you got any pastel highlighters? If so what do you think of them?

University Field Trips

One of the great things about studying an environmental science is that you get plenty of opportunities to get outside and see the world! It is great fun learning about nature, especially if it’s a lovely sunny day. The past 3 days I’ve been out on field trips, so I thought I’d share with you what was in my bag, as well as some photos about the sites! 🙂

Obviously the contents of my bag would be different had the weather been really bad, but we were lucky enough that the weather was great for us! 🙂

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What’s in my bag:

  • Extra jumper in case it gets cold
  • Waterproof trousers (just in case! This is Wales!)
  • Clipboard and pencils
  • Waterproof bag cover (again, just in case)
  • Water bottle (1L as we’re out all day)
  • Packed lunch (the most important part of the day)!
  • Suncream (I’ve only got a small bottle here as I’ve been putting on my thick 8h protection cream in the mornings, so this is just to top up if I need to)
  • Sun hat
  • Waterproof/Windproof coat
  • Tree/flower ID guides

So where did we go?

The first day we went to some woodland (Park Woods) on the Gower in Swansea.

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Day two, we went to what is known as Waterfall Country in Neath Valley. Where as the name suggests, we saw some waterfalls!

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And finally on the last day, we visited a conifer plantation in Neath Valley, which wasn’t anywhere near as pretty or picturesque as the first two days! But nevertheless it was lovely weather! 🙂

So there we have it, a quick insight into my uni field trips and field work!

I apologise that I’m a bit rubbish at reading posts at the moment too I’m in the middle of an incredibly busy time with my Masters with coursework and revision and prepping for my research project so I don’t know how much I’ll be around on here for the next month or so, but I’ll do what I can! 🙂

See you again soon! 🙂