September Begins

September has arrived, all the younger kids are preparing to go back for another year at school, and you’re sitting there at home twiddling your thumbs because you’ve still got a couple of weeks until you can start your uni adventure! The wait is absolutely agonising, but here is a small list of things to do in the meantime to get yourself in top shape for starting uni:

 

The Not-Quite-So-Definitive List of University Preparations:

 

  • Find your friends

This is useful for everyone – if you’re living away from home or not. Social media is a great way of connecting with people you know, and in this case – finding people who could potentially be your future best friend. Aston creates a Facebook group each year for the upcoming freshers to join, interact with, and find people who are in the same boat as you – so you’ll be able to meet people before you arrive. Post your halls address or course (or anything for that matter! Like “I like skiing, who else is going to join Aston Snow society?”), and people will find you easily. For me, it was the best thing to get myself hyped up for uni, because I already knew all of my flatmates before I moved in! It took a lot of the emotional stress away about moving away from home for the first time and living with strangers, as I already knew who they were and a little bit about them.

 

  • Make a list of what you want to take

This is good for remembering to get those things you wouldn’t have otherwise thought about, like your own cleaning supplies or a baking tray, but also crucial to remember all those things that are blatantly obvious! You don’t want to get out your front door on moving in day to find out you’ve left behind your favourite picture that’s sitting on your desk, or your best fluffy slippers sitting in your wardrobe because you simply forgot that you’d need to get them. As well as this, it also helps for you to work out what you will be able to get when you move in, like cotton wool or toothpaste; although it’s good to be completely prepared, you also have a limited amount of room to fit all your stuff in to move! As I’ve said – there will be plenty of places to get essentials like toothpaste and shower gel, so maybe leaving that for when you move in will make moving in a lot easier.

 

  • Make a list of what you’re going to pack on the day

These are the everyday essentials that you need, like your hairbrush, toothbrush, deodorant, make-up, phone and chargers etc. that you can slip into a bag ready for when you leave. Something that I did a few months into the year was have a toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant etc. at my home, and also one of each in my halls, so when I visited home for the weekend I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting to bring any of them or leaving them behind.

 

  • Prepare, but don’t over prepare!

When you start uni, you’re bound to take everything with you except the kitchen sink… literally! A lot of universities are right in the city – or are relatively nearby to good shopping places – so don’t worry if you haven’t got 5 million ringbinders and 8 whisks, as there will be plenty of opportunity to buy more stuff when you’re there (as I’ve said above!). Stationary and food though I think are different. There will be a lot of offers on at the beginning of September, so you might be better to seek out the best deals while you can. Food-wise, I’d recommend not buying anything until you get there, simply because of space and having to carry it! If you did want to though, my ideal buys when I’m at home are cup-a-soup boxes from pound shops (Tesco is usually two for £2; sometimes you can get them 2 for £1 in a pound shop!), tea and coffee (so you can make a brew when you move in), and also biscuits!

 

  • Have a look at places to go, so you can explore a day or two after you’ve moved in

It’s always great to get to know your surroundings, so finding a key place to visit or just taking a walk off campus/halls will be a good experience. In my fresher’s week, myself and my flatmates took a trip off campus and had a wander round Birmingham, finding the nearest supermarket, some good places to eat, and the local cinema. It’s good to get your bearings, and make you feel like home.

 

  • Think about meeting your new flatmates

This is always a daunting time – whether you’re the most outgoing person on the planet, or really really shy. The most important thing to remember, is that everyone is in the same position! The best thing you can do for yourself, is to pluck up enough courage to say “Hi” to people you see around; I even said hello to people in the lift on fresher’s week, simply because I wanted to make some friends and to boost my confidence. Think about ways to make meeting your flatmates easier. Maybe buy a box of Celebrations or bake some cupcakes – something that you can all get together in the kitchen when all your parents are gone and have a nice chat and to break the ice.   These are just a few pointers to help make things easier! The important thing to remember that once the initial fright of being on your own is overridden by the amount of fun you’re having with all the new people you’ve met, you’ll wonder why you were so worried in the first place! 🙂

Summer of Study

A Level results day has now been and gone; students who have just finished sixth form or college up and down the country are making their final arrangements to secure their place at university, get accommodation if needs be, and get over all the emotion and nerves of getting results.

A very belated good luck, and congratulations are in order as well to everyone!

 

Clearing 2014

Whether you exceeded your expectations and got into your firm choice university, accepted your insurance choice, found a university through clearing or giving final year another go, a very well done for coping throughout this hectic time! It is very emotional for everyone involved, because it is such a big milestone in your life.

I had the chance to help out this year for a few days for the clearing help that Aston offers, where I got to meet a lot of new people with all kinds of stories, coming to Aston to see if this was the university for them. Unfortunately, not everyone I met was offered a place through clearing as there were so many applications, but we as a university were able to advise them of what their options could be. For some, resitting their final year of college or sixth form was the best route, but for others, looking for a different university to apply to was a possibility as well. No matter what the situation though – there’s always someone to speak to, to discuss your situation with and to help you decide what to do.

A large portion of the students and parents I met over the three days I helped out with had accepted a place in one form or another, and wanted to see the campus and accommodation. So, myself and a group of other ambassadors ran some campus tours throughout the day, answering questions and trying to make the idea of coming to university a lot less daunting! Needless to say I love Aston so showing people round was, as always, a pleasure. The weather for most of it was pleasant (and by that I mean that it wasn’t raining!), which was always good as even though we are a small campus, if it’s raining on a campus tour you’re going to get soaked…

 

     Revising for Exams 🙁 

Revision materials

One thing that is completely new to me is having to revise through the summer break… Unfortunately for me, I was ill during the exam period and I was unable to sit three out of my four exams. I have been given an amazing second chance though by my school of
study to be able to resit them, which I am making every effort to do the best I can in. The weird thing to get used to is that I’m revising right now… during summer!

It feels very peculiar sitting at the desk in my room surrounded by all my lecture notes, lab sheets and laptop when the sun is shining outside (well, it should be!).

I’ve whittled down and reworded my original lecture notes, going over everything that I possibly can. But, in less than two weeks my exams will be over, and just less than a month away I’ll be moving back to Birmingham to my new flat! I just have to keep my head down for a couple more weeks, and not procrastinate…

 

My advice to anyone who is now looking forward to university: take a well earned break over August! Obviously don’t not prepare yourself for university, otherwise you’ll find yourself on your first day in halls (if you’re living there) without a plate to eat your dinner off of, or only one shoe, or something along those lines! Don’t worry yourself right away, and take some time to recover from the emotion and stress! Then, once you’re all chilled out and looking forward to starting your uni life, you can worry about organising yourself and making sure you’ve got all paired socks, 500 pads of paper, a pastry brush (seriously… WHAT STUDENT USES A PASTRY BRUSH?!), a washing basket, your favourite jumper… you get the idea. Write a list – lists are the best!

Have a lovely summer (what’s left of it)!

A Holiday High Up

Continuous 30°+ and a whole lot of sun cream later, I’m back home in Essex after a two week family holiday in the sunny, mountainous area of Casares, Spain. We stayed in a plush house on the side of a mountain, overlooking the sea. On a clear day, we could see Gibraltar in the distance, with Morocco and the coast of Africa past that. We were looking at one continent from another – which is pretty cool when you think about it.

 

Gibraltar Monkeys

We actually visited Gibraltar on one of the cooler days whilst we were out there; we got through the border so quickly, and even quicker than that we were latched onto by a tour guide named Robert. Robert, it seemed, had a very good way with words, and quicker than we could say “Gibraltar monkeys” we were in his tour van (which I am SO thankful was sturdy… and was actually pretty comfy) and speeding up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar. The actual tip of the Rock is 426m (1,398 ft) high, and it’ll surprise you to know (as it did me), that the house we were staying in in the mountains of Casares was actually up HIGHER than the tip of Gibraltar…

 

I said that I was thankful that Robert’s van was sturdy, as going up those windy, narrow roads right on the edge of the Rock was very scary to say the least. However, the trip back to the house we were staying at was even worse! This was partly because our rental car was a battered, old, lucky-it-was-road-worthy Fiat with air-con that didn’t work (imagine that in 38° heat on the motorway…) and no spare wheel. The main reason was that the actual road (if it can pass as that!) on the way back to the house was one car width wide, with very narrow bends and no fence lining the side of the road – so if you misjudged your distance from the edge… I’m just thankful I’m still here!!

 

St. Michael's Cave

Anyway, we stopped at various points up the Rock to get out and explore. We saw St. Michael’s Cave, which is actually pretty cool as it has different coloured lights lighting up the inside of it; all of the stalagmites and stalactites (I learnt what these are when I went to Kent’s Cavern in Torquay when I went there with my parents about a decade ago – but they’re the pillars of deposited material either clinging to the ceiling of the cave or the floor). There was also the Great Siege Tunnels, the Moorish Castle, and my favourite stop of all – the infamous Barbary Macaques of Gibraltar. Right at the top of the rock is the home of the monkeys, and they were so used to humans being around them I was able to get up close and take some lovely pictures!

 

image (8)

The actual house we stayed in was lovely though, despite the downside of it being half way to the moon… We didn’ t go out very much, for the simple fact that we were all too scared to drive all the way back up the mountain road to get back! The pool overlooked the sea and the mountains, and the whole upstairs just had glass windows facing that way to make the most of the view. You could even have a bath looking out onto it!

 

For the length of time we were out there, and from the times that we did go out and about, I picked up a few random Spanish words (I don’t speak Spanish!); I can tell you now that “inmimage (7)obilarias” means “real estate”, as the house owner is an estate agent, “ahorra” means “save”, “rebajado” means “reduced” and “chiringuito” means “beach bar” (Google Translate actually says this means “open air restaurant/snack bar”, but it was used everywhere we went along side the English translation of “beach bar”, so you learn something new every day!). Random, I know, but if you ever find yourself in a situation with a bit of real estate that happens to be a reduced beach bar, you’ll have me to thank that you know you can save yourself a few Euros on it…

 

~Chloe 🙂

 

Hello!

Hi there!

My name is Chloe, and I’m now a second year Computer Science student at Aston University. Welcome to my blog! Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the exciting things that I will be getting up to this year, as well as an insight into university life, what it’s like to be a student, and other things could be thrown in the mix as well!

 

So that’s it for the moment, but I’ll post soon. Thanks for visiting! 🙂

~Chloe