Live Country Music

Back in Canada my friends and I all listen to country music, but here in England not many people appreciate Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton as much as they should. I was super surprised when I saw one of my favourite Canadian country bands was going to be playing in Birmingham and I knew I had to get at least one of my friends on the country music bandwagon. After our lectures were finished during the day (since I am here for school after all) my friend and I set off to Birmingham to see High Valley at the O2 institute. The band was doing a European tour with stops in London, Amsterdam, and Glasgow as well. At first when I checked the ticket prices I was a bit confused because they were only 11 pounds, but my inner student kicked in and realized that was more money I could save for next weeks grocery shop, since there was no way I was missing this show!

We ended up getting to take pictures with the band in a before show meet and greet, which was basically us standing in a room with 5 other people from North America. It was definitely a different vibe than I was expecting, but after getting photos, autographs, and snapchats I wasn’t complaining. It was cool to see how far everyone had traveled from just to see this show, and it made me realize there are lots of other students out there in the exact same boat as I am. We shared stories about what we were doing in England, how long we were staying for, and how we all managed to see High Valley for less than 20 bucks.

This week marks 6 months that I’ve been living in England and before seeing the concert I was definitely feeling a little bit disconnected from home. Standing in the concert hall belting out the words to the songs I knew all too well though, was the exact reminder that I needed. Yes I am about 4000 miles away from home, but I run into things everyday that bring me right back. So I can tell you that after that weekend I was able to successfully convert my friend Louise into a country fan so now when we both think of home, maybe our idea of it wont feel so different!

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Not TOO MUCH!!

Being away from home means no one to tell you what time you should be home by or how you should be studying instead of partying. So, studying abroad gives you a lot of freedom and it is all about being independently making decisions and growing to be an independent person. However, as a student, you might face so many temptations around you, your friends’ undeniable invitations for parties and drinking, or procrastinating to study until deadlines because your mom is not there to push you. As much as it is very free, you also have the duty to take responsibility for the consequences of your choices. Surely you don’t want to fail at the end of the academic year, and pay one more thousand pounds and study one more year.

It is normal that students are to not only study, but also have fun with friends and enjoy life. At this age, we all want to try new things and take risks for everything we do. However, we should always be aware of taking control and stop ourselves not to have TOO MUCH in everything. Too much study can limit you to have a good social life and at the same time, too many social events cannot be good for your results and goals. So, why not having a good balance between study and fun so that we can enjoy our student life and still achieve our goals?

Work Hard and Play Hard because you are being a responsible person and at the same time, enjoying the life to the maximum!!!

 

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Photo: Google

 

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.

Receive an MA with our School of Art & Design

The University of Gloucestershire offers students from around the globe to study with our School of Art & Design, based in Cheltenham. There are a number of subjects to take from Landscape Architecture to Fine Art, the choice is yours! Depending on the course you have chosen you will be either at our beautiful, lakeside Park Campus or our historical, Harry Potter like Francis Close Hall Campus or our modern studio filled Hardwick Campus.

An unconventional Christmas

Does your family have Christmas traditions? Mine does. Most Christmas eves were spent watching the Polar Express, even though we knew the girl was going to lose her ticket, and the golden bell was going to be the first present given on Christmas day. Well this year, unless we all pointed our iPhones at the TV while simultaneously on FaceTime with each other, we will not be continuing that tradition. When my parents first asked if I was coming home for Christmas I was excited to tell them that I would be spending it with some of my best friends that I’ve made here at the University. I honestly think they were a little bit caught off guard, but when they looked into things a bit more and realized a round trip back home to Canada cost about as much as a 2008 Ford Fiesta, their expressions soon turned from surprised to grateful.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am saving my parents a lot of coin by not deciding to fly home (you’re welcome mom and dad), but spending Christmas in England is so much more than just saving money, it’s about the experience I know I won’t get the chance to have again. My first stop is Cornwall where I’m sure I’ll have enough traditional Cornish pasties to last me the next 3 weeks, and my second stop is Oxford, a place my Grampie actually used to call home. As I’m writing, I’m about 20 minutes away from the beach in St. Ives, Cornwall, and it makes me think that this Christmas may not be that different than at my home back on Vancouver Island. Sure, the faces are different, there’s no snow on the ground, it’s a completely different ocean, and I’m pretty much butting into two different families Christmas traditions, but I couldn’t be happier, and that’s what Christmas is all about!

I like to think that my parents and I love the Polar Express so much because it’s a fun cartoon about Christmas, but once you’ve watched it a good 8 times you start to realize the message. While taking you on a fun adventure, the film makes Christmas about spirit, about family, and about believing in something a little bit more than that new iPad you hope is wrapped somewhere under the tree. The next time someone asks me about my family’s traditions, I won’t forget to include the Christmas of 2016 that I spent in England. Maybe I’ll tell them that our new tradition will be making the most of wherever we are in the world, whoever we’re with.

This year I’ve traded in pumpkin pie for Christmas pudding, and although I had to get used to the acquired taste, it’s something that I know I’ll never forget.

Merry Christmas y’all!

Emi

The Room with the Blue Window

Christmas has always spun the same humdrum images of families in tacky Christmas sweaters and Instagram-worthy dinners with hashtags that are optimised for maximum amount of ‘likes’. More or less, we’ve reached peak commercialisation for Christmas — tell me which major religious holiday isn’t (yes I know, there’s a bunch holidays you could name). Still we’ve had the glamorisation of togetherness and world peace plastered on the billboards, television screens and social media feeds since mid-October. However I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to be limited to those three months.

 

The Faith Space at Park Campus is a special place. It’s where the religiously devoted and stress-prone come together to take refugee from the daily grind. Mind and spirit are encouraged to wander around, or if you’re shameless enough to do it: take a nap on one of the couches. There’s very little pretensions of it being religious — besides the sign. Everyone is welcome: free tea, coffee and biscuits are provided; board games; newspapers; lots of electrical plugs; a piano and guitar.

The main four highlights of Faith Space at Park — personally — that I believe makes it a wonderful place is:

 

  1. The ever so lovely Jo Parkin who runs the place: she’s a woman who spreads joy and happiness whenever you get the time to chat with her. She’s the soul and heart of the Park Faith Space as she brings a feeling of togetherness amongst groups of people. A patient listener, offering sage advice; Jo is a good person to see if personal difficulties are hard to overcome — and recommends the wellbeing team if you need more guided help.

 

  1. Atique Miah, the university’s Muslim Chaplain who’s usually at Park Campus on Wednesdays and Fridays: a cheerful fella who has a tendency to compliment things you hadn’t noticed about yourself. A firm believer of positive thinking; Atique — like Jo — is also a patient listener and advice giver, but usually says it from personal experience whilst growing up. He’s good to talk to.

 

  1. The Prayer Room: The main highlight of the Faith Space; the prayer room is extremely unorthodox in nature as it emphasises on multi-religious use. Modular in its design and aesthetically neutral — all faiths are welcome to use the room for prayers or meditations.

 

  1. Les pièces de résistance — the blue window in the prayer room. The glass came from the original chapel that stood at Park Campus. Found in a garage somewhere; it’s hard to describe the significance of this particular window, except the phrase: it’s very holy, indeed. More art installation than window. This particular glass embodies the peaceful nature that the Faith Space represents. Especially, at the right time of day, the sunlight hits the glass and casts a mesmerised sequence of blues and greens. Useful when you’re trying to have a deeper connection with god. Or to forget how broke I am and all the nice things I want to buy. Still the sense of inner-peace does help soothe my anxious soul.

 

If you need a break from reality, just stop by the Faith Space and chill for a bit. There’s an event everyday, if you want meet some new people. Mental and spiritual exhaustion can hinder your ability to go through life easily – Especially at times when deadlines are due — it helps for you to step back, reflect and understand that insignificance of each task that may seem over-whelming.

http://www.glos.ac.uk/life/support/Pages/faith-and-religion.aspx

Always, Always Say YES to chances for authentic Christmas meals!

So it is almost Christmas time already and I am so happy for all my friends and myself who completed another term of our course, this means one more step closer to our goals! But now is the time to enjoy our holiday break and refresh ourselves to face next term with full energy. Many international students go back to their mother countries at this time of the year to see their families and friends and celebrate Christmas holiday. However, there are also many other students who plan to stay in the UK for many reasons.

For those who have planned to stay for whatever reasons, I would like to share a tip what my other friends recommend me all the time. It is to always say Yes to invitations from your English friends or teachers to join their Christmas meals. It is always good to experience a traditional Christmas meal (roast turkey, vegetables, stuffing and gravy) with an English family which you cannot have outside of the England or after you finish your degree here. So while you are here, it is the best to join their special day and see how they celebrate this most beautiful time of the year.

I have already received an invitation from one of my teachers who also lives in Cheltenham and this year I am going to join his family Christmas meal with some of my classmates. I am so happy and excited about this and I also would like all my international friends to have this wonderful experience as well.

Wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Have an awesome holiday!!!

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.

“You’re American…right?”

I remember setting a goal for myself last year while I was still in Canada: “Travel to a new place while continuing my education.” At that point all my options were still open, but there was one place I was leaning towards, and that was the University of Gloucestershire. At first, moving to England for my final year of university seemed as daunting as getting to Tim Hortons and forgetting my punch card (for those of you that don’t know the iconic Canadian coffee shop, take it from me, you wouldn’t want to forget your Tim’s card) yet I’m the kind of person always up for a challenge, so I decided to apply. Months later when I received my acceptance letter in the mail, I decided to go. September came quickly, and suddenly I was no longer your run of the mill student, I was the international student from Canada who calls a bin “The Garbage Can”.

Now, being in a place where you know absolutely no one could seem a bit scary at first, but it’s one of the most exciting things I could’ve set myself up for. When I arrived in the UK we had an international welcome week where I was able to meet some people like myself, get all my paperwork sorted, and get tours of both the town I was going to be living in, and of course the university. The welcome week gave me the confidence that there are other people out there just as adventurous, spontaneous, and maybe a little bit insane, that would pack up and move continents for a final year of education, as I was.

As an international student blogger of course I am supposed to say that the UK is amazing, things are going well, and school is so easy and fun, but the reality is there are going to be some moments where you wish you could hug your best friend and say “screw the degree we’re going backpacking in Thailand.” Lucky for us though, there are so many resources at the University like the student help-zone, your personal tutor, and your international buddy, that will bring you back down to reality, and maybe help you cite that final source for your paper that got you all worked up in the first place. My point is, not every moment as an international student is going to be easy, but then again when is being a student ever easy? The important thing to remember is, your time studying abroad will be something you remember for the rest of your life. The all-nighters, group projects, essays, work placements, and of course the people you meet along the way, will all be worth it.

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.