Saturday, 20 September 2014

First Week Of Uni: A Preparation Guide ft. Shutterstock

Hello wonderful people who read this blog! How are you? I'm great thanks for asking, and I've just finished my first week back at university, yes, a whole week into third year, isn't that some terrifying stuff. Halfway through our (or mine anyway) degree! Two years away from being forced into the real world and harassed into becoming functional members of society. Ew. Anyway, I thought I'd put together a little preparation guide for going back to university since my uni starts somewhat earlier than other universities and this post may be of some help to you! So, whether you've already been doing this university thing for a few years, or this is your first year going in, here are some pieces of advice from someone who really doesn't have any authority, and these will all be things that you're either already doing, well aware of, of have tried and don't work. But on the off chance it might offer some help, I thought I'd give it a go anyway!

For some added watermarked fun, I've only used really bad sample photos I found on shutterstock, cause nothing shouts "classy blog" like pictures with a pale white cross and a company logo across them.

1. Taking Notes

Beautiful blonde girl stressed by the study - stock photo
Equations? Books? Glasses? Must intellectual. Disgusting.
Hopefully by second/third year you've found a note taking system that works for you. It's taken me two years to figure out that writing notes by hand doesn't work for me. My handwriting is an indecipherable mess, I can't write at the same rate that the lecturers speak and I end up with half finished sentences that go nowhere, which makes things pretty difficult when it comes to reviewing my notes. So, this year I've decided to take a different approach and I am mighty glad I have. Thanks to my exceedingly generous grandparents who wanted to get my a 'you made it to third year! Holy moly, well done' (because let's be honest, no-one thought I'd make it this far) present, I now have in my possession an iPad - look at me, being all technical and such!

What's so great about an iPad? It's good because there are a lot of apps that are useful to my specific course - storyboarding and lighting apps and stuffs. But another huge plus is that I can use it to take notes! So I swiftly invested in a keyboard for said iPad and have shifted from my cave woman ways of pen and paper to the sci-fi notions! The humanity! Of course one could easily take a laptop in place of these, but the sheer weight and portability of the iPad + keyboard combo put it way more in favour than shuffling my laptop from lecture to lecture. The keyboard I bought has a charge which lasts up to six months and the iPad makes it through a few days easily, so I don't need to worry about charging it during a lecture like I would with a laptop. You can also use Google Drive to store all your notes (if you have a Google account, you have a Google Drive, so, hurrah?), so everything is all in the one place and accessible through all of your devices. None of this emailing it to myself and downloading and so on.

So if you're in the right place financially, I'd highly recommend it; and if you break out in a rash when you touch Apple products, there are other tablets that do more or less the same thing. Obviously, this doesn't work for everybody, but if you're having trouble with notes, maybe try shaking it up a little with a shiny gadget or two.

2. Sleep

young man in bed with eyes opened suffering insomnia and sleep disorder thinking about his problem - stock photo
The aliens ... they're coming.
This sounds obvious and probably pretty patronising, but I cannot emphasise enough how much good sleep does for you. I just about killed myself in first year pulling all nighters every night and consuming an ungodly amount of coffee and although I only got a little bit better in second year, the improvement I felt was monumental. I didn't feel ill all the time, I didn't feel like murder was a option when someone was walking kind of slowly in front of me and I could concentrate more and for longer periods of time.

I fully intend to go into third year with a fairly regular sleep cycle. I would recommend setting an alarm on your phone for a certain time (I've gone for 11 o'clock), so when it gets to that time, this alarm goes off, and you feel guilty for not getting ready for bed; if you don't feel guilt, try hooking an orphan up to a paint mixer and awaken to the soothing sound of well shaken suffering. Plus I take forever to get ready for bed - I finish whatever I'm doing (e.g watching something on my laptop, playing a game, reading, etc.) then dither around my room for a bit and give it a tidy, I do my daily bathroom duties (e.g brushing my teeth, washing my face, cleaning my piercings, praying to the drowned god, etc.) and before I know it, I've managed to wither away a good hour or two with menial tasks. Get your beauty sleep and make sure you're going to bed early enough to get it!

3. Take Time for Yourself

Cheerful senior couple with bicycle in country path - stock photo
My capacity to write witty captions is deteriorating rapidly.
I know this one is easier said than done, especially if you have a particularly demanding workload or if you're like me and you're trying to juggle a part-time job (or two) alongside your course, but time permitting, do try and take some time to yourself. It doesn't have to be a whole day, just a couple of hours to do something that you enjoy, or to chill out, will do wonders for you.

Everyone needs time to themselves to recharge. Spending all of your time constantly doing uni work, or work-work, is very draining. Also, don't be afraid to say no to things! It took me a long time to figure this out, and maybe you've already figured this out, but don't feel guilty for saying you can't be arsed. If it's been a long week, you've worked yourself to death and all you've been thinking about is curling up in bed with a DVD and a whole pizza to yourself and then your mates suddenly turn round and invite you out for an intense night of shots, shots and more shots, don't feel like you have to go. I'm not saying turn into a hermit and isolate yourself from your friends, some of the best nights out I've ever had have been those spontaneous nights outs, but sometimes you just gotta do you and chill.

On the flip-side however ...

4. Don't Leave All Your Work to the Last Minute

Stressed businessman with smoke and flame in head - stock photo
And here we have a picture of Rhona, circa first year deadlines...
Some of you may not suffer from those troubles described in the above paragraph. You have this relaxation thing down to a fine art; you have more photos of you on Facebook in The Hive than just normal photos; taking time to yourself is not a difficult notion.

So to you, metaphorical social butterfly, don't leave everything to the last minute. I have been there (remember those all nighters I mentioned earlier? yeah...) and trust me, it's not fun. Now I'm not saying start assignments in the first week, have your essays written months in advance etc, I'm just saying that it's a good idea to keep track of your assignments and be aware of when they're due. I like to give myself a good two weeks to start and finish my work; the first week I spend doing research, like picking my essay topic, structuring my argument and so on and so forth, and the second week spent actually doing the damn thing. So, do your work! Stop playing those video games! Switch off the telly! And put down the pint!

Get to work!

And last but not least...

5. Enjoy Yourself!

education and technology - group of students making picture with tablet pc at school - stock photo
Oh Shutterstock, what would I do without you?
Be prepared for this getting incredibly cheesy, but university really is meant to be a great time! You're meeting new people all the time, you're learning new stuff, and generally revelling in young adulthood, without doing any of the important things adults do. Try not to get too bummed out with the workload, because in the end, it'll all pay off, so try and have some fun whilst you do it. Wait, this is just like entry number 3. The lesson here? Have fun times two!

Okay, that's all for this week, hopefully this post will serve as some kind of use to you but, if not, hopefully you've had a good time having a laugh at my expense for trying to help you. Assholes. Bye!

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