Easter

With Easter approaching most courses will have a couple of assignments to hand in and quite a bit of coursework to do. After race week, mentioned in my previous post, things in Cheltenham go back to normal. You’ll start seeing Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs everywhere because these are part of the Easter tradition in the UK.

Before the Easter break, especially for those, who like me, are living abroad, I recommend having sorted out housing for the next academic year. The reason for this is because after the break there’s only a couple of months left and if anything does go wrong or needs sorting out it’s better to have time left over than rushing it. Another benefit of getting it sorted out is after Easter most courses will be preparing for exams, with accommodation sorted it’s one less thing to stress about.

In March at uni you’ll also have to choose your module choices for the following year, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your personal tutor, again sooner rather than later, to discuss your career path and what subjects to take in order to get there.

It’s also a good time to start organising and thinking about internships and/or placements if this is applicable to you. Some courses they are obligatory in others they are optional.

March is also the month where most students should re-apply for their tuition loan through the British Government.

With any of the above the best place to ask for help again is your student Helpzone, with one based at each campus they are easily approached and very helpful.

Carla.

March in Cheltenham

On the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th Cheltenham hosts the biggest horse racing event in the UK. During race week, there are about 50,000 people on average over the four-day period. For students, it’s a good time to look for part time work opportunities as many companies employ students for a variety of jobs. The main place students apply is at the racecourse itself but, it’s important to apply a couple of months in advance as you do need to go through training and a practice period. The racecourse is about a 20-minute walk from the town centre or a 7 to 10-minute bus journey, if organising bus journeys, it’s good to keep in mind that during these dates the timetable and bus stops change due to traffic overflow.

Most pubs and restaurants do offers on food and drinks to attract more customers, but the prices do go up during the evening in most places. Another good idea is if you know you’re going out ring to check if you can reserve or get there as soon as possible as many places will be heaving with people.

For the races, most people dress up smart, the boys normally wear suits and tuxedos while the girls tend to wear dresses and heals. Even though it’s good fun it’s very important to remember safety as there are so many people about.

Good nights out for students during the rest of the year are mainly Mondays and Wednesdays, Wednesdays tend to be when all the sports societies group up for socials. Fridays and Saturdays tend to be more expensive.

The main two clubs in Cheltenham for students are: Fever which is open most days except Tuesdays and is free entry, and Moo – Moos which have different companies run it on different nights such as Glamourpuss, Propaganda and Blue&Blue. It’s also a five-pound entry but it’s where most students go.

Coping with change

As my last post was on friends I thought it would be a good idea to talk about change. Coming to uni can be very hard and if, like I said before, you still haven’t quite got the hang of things yet it can be hard.

Dealing with anxiety, homesickness, stress… are all natural when encountering new stages, and/or situations in your life. So again, here a few tips that may help:

  1. Accept that change will affect you, your emotions might be unstable and it might take a while to settle down. The sooner you’ve accepted this the easier it is to get back on your feet.
  2. Good and bad changes affect us in a way that we may grieve in both situations as we are losing an old way of being or a set of circumstances.
  3. Don’t resist the change that you’re facing, go with the flow, this may help you adapt more easily.
  4. Try and keep a routine, at uni this sentence is heard and said nearly 4 times a day and it is very difficult as each day of every week is different. Also being independent means you have to make time for washing, cooking, eating, cleaning… but, it’s still a good idea to try and have a routine and stick to it as much as possible. This will allow you to have a sense of daily purpose and of knowing what you’re doing when.
  5. One of the key factors is to share, don’t suffer alone or in silence. There is always someone there for you. But, don’t make it all about how upset or anxious you are try having a laugh or a good time. That will also help with the making friends part.
  6. Break it down, tackle the bigger changes in small steps. Bit by bit and eventually you’ll get there.
  7. Every cloud has a silver lining, some changes can leave you feeling desperate, lost, worried… but each change brings new opportunities. Try and think about the future and stay focused on the positives rather than the negatives.

It won’t last forever, this last one is mostly for those who suffer a bit more. Those feeling of anxiety won’t last forever and you will adapt, probably without even realising it.

Making friends

First semester gone and back to uni. Leaving home after what potentially would be your first visit back can resurface some of the feelings experienced during the first weeks at uni.

If you find that you still haven’t adapted there are loads of people that can help from tutors to lecturers and of course the help zone. But personally, I would make sure that you make the most of the first few weeks to emerge yourself into the social life at uni, I didn’t and now I’m finding it hard. I’ve even considered leaving but I’m going to stick it out for now…

So, to make new friends I suggest:

  • Join a club or society, become a volunteer. You’ll meet a lot of new people and have a lot of fun.
  • Be a good listener, show interest in other people. Smile and relax.
  • Don’t hide away, by doing this it’ll only get worse as the weeks go by and you’ll feel even more alone.
  • Be prepared to try new things, see what happens and enjoy yourself.
  • Don’t be scared to be you, we all have our good things and our bad ones but being at uni gives you the opportunity to meet people with similar likes and interests as you.
  • Keep in touch, something that thanks to technology is pretty simple.
  • Be patient, it won’t happen straight away but you’ll get there eventually.

January – New Year, New Start

So, Christmas came and so did a new year. I was able to come home for that period of time but I do recommend for new students international or not, to return in January as it’s normally future conference week, I missed it this year and I won’t be missing it next year.

Some have exams after Christmas but I had them before so now I’m looking forward to starting two new subjects and finishing my first year at uni.

Coming home has been amazing and I don’t want to leave. Struggling with homesickness is common but not as common after three months. I don’t have the answer to how to deal with it as each person is different, but me? I write down each night 3 things I want to achieve the next day and stick to them. This gives me a short-term goal each day and helps me focus on where I am and where I want to be.

Weather in the UK this time of year is cold and if you’re lucky snowy. I’ve never seen snow so I’m also looking forward to going back.

So I’ll be packing my bags and flying back to uni soon but I’ve booked my April flights so at least I know when I’ll be coming back. I’ll write again after landing.

 

Home

Exams over, grades given and Christmas is here. As international students most of you will travel home to see your friends and family. That feeling of landing and arriving at the gates, waiting impatiently to see your loved ones.

For me it’s been amazing, I’ve not been home since leaving for university. And I’ve missed everyone so much. Seeing everyone was quite overwhelming.

My friends prepared a surprise party and it was incredible. And they’ve planned so much for this week.

The house has been decorated, the tree is up and everyone is in the Christmas spirit.

I only get to spend 10 days abroad with my family so my advice is to just make the most of being home. Leaving again is going to be hard and I’m already dreading it but I’ve already got my April flight tickets. By already having these tickets it gives me some sense of security in the fact that I know when I’ll next be back. Also by booking in advance you can get cheaper flights.

So not much more that I can say just I’m sooo happy to be back…

Happy Christmas everyone and enjoy the time you get with everyone from your home because time is the best gift of all.

December

So, it’s been a while now and here I am assignments done and exams coming up. It’s a stressful time but everyone goes through it. Here are some of my recommendations for getting through the winter months:

  1. It’s getting darker earlier and colder so not too good if you’re used to sunny weather. Just remember to plan ahead, because I didn’t and I’ve had to buy jumpers, scarfs, hats, gloves… so yes, even though September isn’t too cold once December hits it’s freezing.
  1. December here at university is also revision, revision, revision… The noise in halls is a bit unpleasant when trying to study but as a last resort there is a 24hr computer room that is available to all students. This is brilliant if you need one of those nights with no sleep and like 60 coffees
  1. People are still going out but if you’re like me and prefer to stay in don’t worry. The university has loads of different clubs and socials you can join One of the most common ones for international students is the International Café which takes place every Wednesday at the FCH chapel. It’s a great way to meet new people and make friends. While sipping a nice hot chocolate, and gives you plenty of time to study.
  1. If you’re an older student, from personal experience, I do recommend looking for a house if you can before coming to university instead of halls. I think it’s the one mistake I made because I’m now living with 18 year olds when I’m 22 so it isn’t what I expected and I would recommend attending a house-hunting event Especially because you can meet people before moving in.
  1. December is also a good time to get involved with UK Christmas culture and food as it may vary depending on where you’re from. For example, something new to me has been mince pies or mulled wine. A good place for this is the Cheltenham Christmas market, located on the promenade about 5 minutes from FCH.
  1. Another recommendation is to book your Christmas flights well in advance to be able to get the best rates but do remember to book these around you’re lectures, assignments, exams… if you’re not too sure you can always talk to your personal tutor beforehand. I’m really excited to go home as it’s only a week now until I get to see my family. The hardest thing for me has to be being separated from my loved ones.

Christmas is coming!

So, I v’e now been at Gloucestershire University for nine weeks and time has just flown by. I’m a Spanish undergraduate Psychology student.

So far, I v’e handed in two assignments and I’m currently working on my next two which are group projects. One of the things I was most worried about before starting was the fact that I’ve never written an essay in my life before but, my worries were put to rest with all the help I got from the Student Achievement team and my teachers.

The Student Achievement team are a great group at the university which helps you with any kind of academic problems such as writing assignments, understanding feedback…

Here is a link to their section of the website http://www.glos.ac.uk/life/support/pages/student-achievement.aspx

When I first arrived I was nervous, not going to lie, but not only because of the academic requirements but also because of moving to a new country with new people and different customs. However, everyone at the university made me feel very welcome. I attended International Week which I recommend if you are thinking of coming to this university it is a great way to get a head up on what the university is like and a great way to meet other international students from all over the world.

http://www.glos.ac.uk/study/international/pages/international-students.aspx This link provides all the information you need about international students. It s’very good as it has a broken down easy to follow structure of what paper work and documents you may need and where to get them from or how to provide them.

Any enquiries you may have the university is excellent in responding to emails and getting back to you as soon as possible also they r’e very helpful if your’e stuck and not sure what your’e doing as I was when applying for the first time.

Once you arrive, after induction week, you should feel more settled and comfortable but not all people do. I for instance found it very hard to adapt and have been very homesick but its’ OKAY your’e not alone. There is always someone to turn to and have a talk with. The Help Zone is amazing and they are “the mothers”of the university any problems you have remain confidential and they help you instantly. There is one help zone in each campus.

Another good thing about this university is the mental wellbeing and student support team. Which can also be found here http://www.glos.ac.uk/life/support/pages/mental-health-and-wellbeing.aspx

But after nine weeks you are just longing to go home. I v’e booked my Christmas flights and can’t wait to go and see my family.