A couple of weeks ago I talked about some of the places and services on campus that are important and handy to know about when you get to Uni. This time I’m going to talk about the things the Uni has online to give you a hand.

You’ll use your University logins for all of these sites. Your username will be a combination of three letters and two numbers – you01 – which also forms your email address – you01(at)aber.ac.uk. You’ll choose a password, which can be something of a challenge – for security purposes, it must be a random assortment of letters and numbers. My tactic has always been writing a sentence I’ll remember and using the initials – for example, Pass Words Must Be Memorable01 = PWMBM01 or whatever.

BlackBoard

AberLearn BlackBoard is sort of student-central. What’s on there for you will differ depending on your department, your course, your modules, and your tutors.

It’s important to check BlackBoard regularly as announcements do go up there from time to time. In essence it is a resource for course materials. Each module you take will have a folder where your tutors can upload content for you – things like reading lists, lecture slides, seminar handouts and sources. It depends a lot on what you’re studying and who teaches you – but nevertheless, it’s an important resource! Information about essay deadlines and guidelines are usually all on BlackBoard. My course (English and Creative Writing) required me to hand in two versions of every assignment – hard copies and an electronic copy, which is submitted via SafeAssign on BlackBoard. There will probably be talks at the beginning of your first year about using BlackBoard to its full advantage. The best way to figure out how useful BlackBoard can be is to have a good poke around during Fresher’s Week – before the work kicks in and you need it, spend half an hour figuring it out.

Primo

Basically – the library catalogue. You can search books in any specific library or all of the Uni libraries, and if you pick ‘Aber+’ it’ll include online sources – peer reviewed journals and magazine articles. When you find a book you want to get out you get a reference code of letters and numbers which you use to find the book on the library shelves. It’s a system that most people aren’t totally used to when they get to Uni, but easy enough to figure out. Generally if you’re looking for something on a particular topic you’ll find a lot of the books have similar codes, which give you a general area to search in.

When you log in to Primo you get better search results, and you can look at your account. This lists what books you’ve taken out, and allows you to renew loans or pay fines. Primo also shows whether copies of a book are available or not to take out – if all the copies are gone and you need the book, you can recall a copy. If a book you need is on a different campus, you can request that it be available at a chosen location for you to pick up.

Student Record

This is where you find things like your timetable and academic record. This is where your results are listed when they come out, you can check and edit your personal information (phone numbers and addresses) and enter reasons for unexplained absences. Tasks will pop up on your Student Record – for example in first year you’ll fill out an inventory, where you list any electrical items you’ve brought into halls. When it comes time, this is where your graduation information is listed.

Webmail

Fairly self-explanatory – your university email account. It uses Office 365, so it’s a web-based version of Outlook, making it pretty easy to get to grips with. If you have a smartphone it’s worth setting up your Uni emails to go straight to it – you’ll be a lot more likely to check it that way. In any case, always check your email at least once a day – preferably more. There’s no good reading about an important course meeting an hour after it starts! Make sure you have a list of all the important email addresses – your personal tutor, and tutors for each module you’re taking. In the event of stormy weather – which does crop up in Aberystwyth! – emergency information will come via your email.

Facebook etc.

Social media is a brilliant thing for students right now – as well as keeping you in touch with friends and family, it’s a great lifeline to the Uni as well. Uni accounts and pages are on Facebook (Entry 2014/Entry 2015) and Twitter and are well worth following. Search Facebook for groups you can join – for your course, societies, etc. There are groups for things like housing where people advertise available places – it’s worth having a peek through the pages connected to the University to see what will be useful for you.
If you set up a study group with friends Facebook groups or group messages can be a great way to keep things together. If your seminars involve sharing work and you think it’d be useful, ask tutors about the possibility of setting up a Facebook group for the seminar where you can all discuss your work and share things. There are loads of possibilities for how useful you can make social media throughout your time at Uni!

So, that’s a brief run-through of the online things you’ll use during your time at Uni. I hope you’re all well and I’ll be back next week!

My most prominent memory of my first open day at Aberystwyth was the fact that I wanted to be anywhere except the actual open day. It was my first visit to a university and I was not prepared for the year ahead of me (emotionally, that is); leaving home, leaving my friends and school etc etc but worse than this was the prospect of having to pack up my belongings- of which there are a lot of- and fit them into a box that I would then move to another box in which I would live and work for a whole year. The open day wasn’t as exciting for me as it was nerve wrecking- I had to pick the right box!

My second memory of the open day was that I didn’t want to leave my hotel. Ironically before visiting the university I was not a fan of the seaside, but my stay at the Glen Gower hotel on the front soothed my worries. Our view was amazing and the food was great but clouding this was the fact that I would soon be closer to this hotel than I would be my parents, and as adult as you feel entering college or sixth form the fear of change and longing for home never really leaves you.

It was a pain trying to get into the university- we had never driven up Penglais Hill and the road was heaving with parents and student alike trying to enter the turning for Aberystwyth University and not accidentally turning into the National Library or Pantycelyn. It was our fault (or my fault) for leaving it too late in the day to attend introductory lectures and tour the campus, so my first tip for anyone attending their first open day would be that the early bird gets the worm! The earlier you are the better seats you get, the longer you have to explore the university and talk to the current students.

When we eventually nabbed one of the students in yellow t shirts to give us directions my parents and I arrived at A12 in the Hugh Owen Building for the introductory English Literature lecture with Mike Smith. My second tip would be to not compare yourself to other students!  I learnt this this hard way in that lecture; a boy in front of me was explaining to his mother that he had basically read every book on the modules and had met most of the lecturers that day. It was very difficult focusing on the lecture when all I could think was how I would be completely unprepared academically for university and that everyone else would outshine me (the truth of the matter is that in a lecture hall filled with hundreds of students, no one can stand out. University is the most independent and individually focused place that you could find yourself- no one is comparing you to anyone else, so there’s no point in you comparing yourself to strangers. Everyone is in the same boat.)  At the same time a boy behind me had to leave halfway through the lecture because, as I believe he tried whispering to his mother ‘I can’t even stick this lecture, how can I stick three years of this’. Although honest (and a tiny bit rude) the boys departure made me reconsider my position in that room amongst all of the other prospective students. I had managed to find one of the only courses in Britain that tailored to my every need. I may not have been previously acquainted with the books prior to starting the course, but to me the whole point of further education was to introduce me to subjects that I hadn’t yet explored. It also offered a joint honours programme that combined English Literature and Film Studies, which I was desperate to pursue.  In that sense I was very lucky. Unlike the boy who left the lecture hall early, I would advise you to attend and sit through as many introductory lectures as you can because they may present you with opportunities that you hadn’t come across in the prospectus or on the university website. It also gives you a glimpse of how you will be taught over the next three years. Luckily for me I could listen to Mike Smith’s lectures all day, particularly his ones on Shakespeare. He is a very good lecturer!

When we left the lecture hall my parents insisted that we visit the university accommodation. Aberystwyth University allows students to take you around the accommodation so that you can listen to the opinions of people who had actually lived there. I can’t remember the reason why we didn’t attend any of these tours but in a way I am grateful that I hadn’t. I was eventually placed in Pantycelyn Halls of Residence, which is primarily the Welsh Speakers Halls of Residence.  A friend of mine had been on the tour and had expressed his dislike for Pantycelyn when we discussed the possibility of my living there. Although if I’m honest none of my friends had any real liking towards Aberystwyth, which made me question whether it was the place for me or if I should aim for the universities at the top of the league tables. This brings me on to my third tip: go with your gut! I cannot imagine what my life would have been like had I buckled under the pressure of other peoples opinions and attended a different university.  I can’t imagine not knowing any of the friends I had made in Pantycelyn, I can’t imagine not having worked in Siop y Pethe or catching a glimpse of the coast walking to my lectures.  Looking back, the best thing I did on my open day was to forgot to attend the accommodation tour. If I had I probably would have declined my offer to live in Pantycelyn  and chosen accommodation that  looked a bit fancier or was the most popular among students.  I have another blog planned where I discuss Pantycelyn but for now all I will say is that I was placed in a perfectly situated box.

My fourth tip would be… DON’T PANIC! All of the decisions you’ve made in the months leading up to the start of the academic year aren’t necessarily permanent. If you are uncomfortable in your accommodation there is always the option to move residency; if you aren’t enjoying your course there is a period of time where you can discuss the option of changing modules or courses; if you really dislike the university and it turned out to be nothing like you thought it would be on the open day then you can always try again next year. But my fifth and final piece of advise is that you give it a chance. On my open day I was walking around with the opinions of other people weighing me down and even when I was making the long drive with my family on the day I moved here, I still had those voiced in my head telling me that I was unprepared and that my accommodation would be terrible and I promised myself that if I wasn’t 100% happy in the first two weeks of living in Aberystwyth I would drop out and try again next year. Two years later I am embarking on my third and final year at what everyone else told me would be the worst choice I had made, when actually it was the best place for me to be. All I had to do was filter all of the voices in my head until it was just mine left, because it is your opinion that matters at the end of the day.

So if anyone is reading this and planning to visit any open days just remember to be as selfish as you possibly can, because you are the one who will have to walk the university halls and streets of this new town and if your gut is telling you that the place is alright and the course is interesting, don’t let anyone else spoil what could be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Earlier this week I had a conversation with my family via WhatsApp about my week (entirely devoted to Writing-Project-Polishing), in which I indicated I was buried under work and my mother told me to remember to come up for air occasionally. I responded – air and tea.

It’s almost over. So. So. So. Strange.

But I am very deep in work. So for this week I have a quick list of my Top Studying Tips for you. I hope they’re in some way helpful!

  1. Build your concentration – if you have trouble, work for ten minutes, then take a ten minute break. Work for twenty minutes, take a ten minute break. Work for thirty minutes, take a ten minute break. And so on. You’ll build your attention span up nicely and have a clearer mind.
  2. Keep boundaries – meaning that your work stays in your work time, but more importantly your chilling out stays in breaks. If you’re starting to find yourself scrolling though tumblr/twitter/reddit/facebook when you’re meant to be working, revisit one to build your attention span again. Also if you can, try to separate your work space and relaxing space, and if it’s going wrong move – if you associate your workplace with procrastinating, you’ll find concentrating harder. If you associate say your bed with working, you might have trouble shifting the stress when it’s time to get much-needed rest.
  3. Sleep – There’s nothing like it for brainpower. I don’t mean all the time, mind. Just get a good 8 hours a night, and start winding down at least an hour before bed so you’re ready. The sleepytime bedtime calculator can help you plan your bedtimes to help you get enough sleep and wake up easier based on natural sleep cycles. Try not to eat too close to bedtime as well, as an active digestive system isn’t conducive to snoozin’.
  4. Reward yourself – e.g. for every 100 words I write, I can have a chocolate button; for every question I get right when I test myself, I get an extra minute time off at the end of the day, if I finish this section in the next hour I get to watch my favourite TV program tonight etc. Figure out what motivates you and use it. Yes, chocolate is perfectly adequate motivation.
  5. Eliminate distractions – so put your phone on silent, turn off the notification noise for your emails, if you can while still studying effectively (sometimes hard these days) turn off your internet. Do not have the telly on, at all costs.
  6. Don’t oversnack –  which is really tempting when you sit still all day, but you will end up feeling bloaty. Healthy eating helps you feel positive (so long as you pick healthy stuff you like!) and boosts your brain power.
  7. Sometimes, time off is the answer – Occasionally in an essay, you will not be able to make sense of the words anymore because you’ve been reading them over for five hours and by now it doesn’t matter what it says, you will read what is supposed to be on the page. At this point I would recommend a break – whether that’s ten minutes playing a game, staring at the ceiling instead, or half an hour over a hot drink with an episode of FRIENDS. You’ll be clearer when you come back to it, but it takes willpower not to lose your motivation in the space between. If you’re worried about that, perhaps try doing some other, less important or easier work for a while, to clear your head.

Hi guys,

Hope you have all had a good week!

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This week has been really strange because it really does seem to be the end of university. I find myself saying ‘that is the last time we will be able to do that’ and ‘let’s go here because we won’t be able to in a couple of weeks’. It also seems to be the time when everyone wants to go out for different meal to celebrate the end of uni, so I find myself eating masses of food, three course meals, puddings, and drinking plenty of wine. Needless to say the diet is out of the window this week!

My final essay ever in my university career was handed in yesterday, and I very nearly forgot to hand in an online version as well as a paper copy! Silly Megan! That would have been a bit of a disaster, especially as it is my last chance to get some extra marks. When you get to third year the uni the university allow you to use something called a cascade calculator which means, based on your previous marks, you are able to enter marks that you could get and work out what you can achieve as a final result in your degree. This tool is brilliant, as it has allowed me to work out the minimum grades I need to get in order to achieve the university degree I want, however it does put the pressure on a bit! I am lucky that this term quite a lot of my work has been essay and presentation based, so hopefully I will get most of my results back before I sit my last ever exam on the 20th of May, meaning I can work out what I need to get! Anyway, no need to babble on about this because it doesn’t interest you until you reach the end of third year!!won’t be able to in a couple of weeks’. It also seems to be the time when everyone wants to go out for different meal to celebrate the end of uni, so I find myself eating masses of food, three course meals, puddings, and drinking plenty of wine. Needless to say the diet is out of the window this week!

It’s strange how when you reach the end of an era you start reflecting on the beginning, so next week I will take you on a journey through my university life all the way to where is am now. It is just never going to sink in that we are all leaving, as I am staying in Aberystwyth I think during the summer I won’t miss uni, because you never go to uni in the summer anyway, but it will be when everybody comes back for freshers week in September that it will sink in! I cannot imagine what next January and May will be like without revision for exams. I came straight from college to uni, so I haven’t gone once without exams since I was 4! Very strange!

Anyway, I look forward to researching and looking through old photos next week to share my university experiences with you lovely people!

Until next week

X

Hey guys,

So as I am coming to the end of my journey at Aberystwyth Uni I thought I would look back and highlight my top ten things about being at Aberystwyth University, so that hopefully when you lovely people start your journey’s at university you will know exactly what to look forward to!

So, in no particular order…

  1. The people. Everybody in Aberystwyth is so friendly and I have made some of the best friends whilst being at University.  I cannot describe how lucky I feel to have come to Aberystwyth University and met the people who have become my friends from all different walks of life. I know that many of the friends I have made will continue to be my friends for many years to come.
  2. 1395355_10151593149967574_2096834308_nThe nights out. Aberystwyth is one of the best nights out, and because it is such a small place you always bump into people you know and have some of the most unexpected and brilliant nights out. I have always seen Aberystwyth as one of the safest places, and therefore I have always felt completely comfortable being out and walking home on my own and things like that, meaning nights out are always great!
  3. The university course. I consider myself very lucky to have chosen my course first time and love every minute of it. For some people it may take a change in course or university to find something they really enjoy doing, but I have loved my course. Of course, there are some down sides, as there are to most things I life, however it has been a thoroughly positive experience and if I were to choose again I would choose exactly the same course at exactly the same university.534330_458702964170497_1590402868_n
  4. The social life. Besides the nights out, the social life at Aberystwyth has been one of the main positives at being at the university. The pub quizzes, bbq’s down the beach and popping round friends’ houses really make the university experience great.
  5. The sunsets. Aberystwyth has some of the most fabulous sunsets and it is great to just wander down to the sea front or up constitution hill and watch the sun go down (in a coat most of the year!).
  6. The beach. We are very lucky to have the beach in Aber and popping down there for a beach bbq with friends, bonfire, 0r just lying on

522564_10151060456570864_1445599310_nthe beach in the sunshine is a great way to relax. Every revision period in April/May I have gone down to the beach in the sunshine and revised, and it is the best way to revise. You can hear the sea and feel the sun on you whilst revising away, and sometimes even pop for an ice cream!r just lying on

7. The cafes and restaurants. There are so many cafes and restaurants in Aber, and I have lost count how many times I have popped out for breakfast, lunch or dinner with friends! Especially after a night out, if a group of you pop out for the breakfast the next day it is brilliant to catch up on what happened to everybody the night before and begin to nurse those hangovers!

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8. The opportunities. I have had so many opportunities whilst I have been at uni, from national business competitions, to pitching in Cardiff to the chartered institute of marketers in the Senedd! Too many opportunities to mention, and I am sure it is these opportunities that have allowed me to gain a great degree and a full time job upon my completion at the university.

9. The scenery and location. Not only does Aber have the beach, constitution hill and just great coastline, but just a short distance outside of Aber there are so many things to do and places to go, that you have to explore and walk, walk, walk!

10. The university! Whatever department, and whatever I have been involved in I have felt comfortable and safe and enjoyed every second of it. I have worked for the university and attended the university and I have enjoyed every aspect , it is the employees and the people that really make the university.

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So there we go, a quick snapshot of my top ten things about Aber university! Hopefully if you guys come to Aber you’ll create your list of ten when your close to finishing!

I can’t believe my three years are nearly over at Aberystwyth university, it feels like I started yesterday! It has been the best three years of my life so far, and if I were to do everything over I would do it all exactly the same again! You can’t say that about many things!

Until next week

X

Hi there!

So I’ve had another work-filled week in the run up to deadlines and the Easter holidays. My work was a bit behind after so many weeks of twice-weekly trips for healthcare and surrounding health-stuff as well, and so I’ve been lucky enough to have a deadline extension for my essay.

Since I was pretty worried before I got to Uni about what I’d do if my health affected my work, I thought it might be helpful for you to know what the process of getting an extension involves. What I can tell you will be specific to my department (English and Creative Writing), but I believe the procedures are similar across the University.

So my first step was emailing my year tutor, with a brief explanation of the circumstances that meant I wanted to request an extension. I asked when I could go and see her to talk about it. Year tutors are (generally) really good at replying, and I had a response before 9am the next day with when was best for me to see her that day. I went along and explained myself the circumstances, and presented my supporting evidence (in this case a doctor’s note). I filled out a form with my name, student number, course, the relevant module and the circumstances that meant I required an extension. My year tutor then printed me a sheet that she signed which I’ll put on the front of my essay when I hand it in, which indicates to those marking that it isn’t late!

That’s all I had to do, and the tutors here are all so lovely – sympathetic, but fair.

I hope that’s a bit helpful for anyone worried about that sort of stuff. It can be daunting to go through Uni while dealing with health problems at the same time, but here at Aberystwyth I’ve always been supported by staff when I needed it.

It’s a bit of a shame to have to keep working through some of the Easter holidays, but far better than stressing out and handing in something awful. That said… I should probably get back to work! 😉

It is the last week of term!  How did that happen? (Wibbly-wobbly, timey wimey etc.) I had my last ever seminar as a Masters student at Aber on Friday. Bit emotional really. (Sobs)  I also got my some more marks back, a great improvement on the last mark and one of those times when even though it wasn’t a first, you’ll take a high two-one simply because the tutor who marked it is the leading expert in the field you were writing about and he’s quite a strict marker.

I have one essay to hand in on Thursday, for which this blog forms part of a much larger web of procrastination. I had a meeting with my tutor about it last Thursday. It was one of those times when you sit in front of a grownup and say it out loud and they look at you strangely.  In this case though, it was because I’d come up with something so randomly interesting that they are going to let me submit it anyway, just because it has never been done before. We are all about innovation in TFTS!!

I have two assignments due after Easter and a screenplay. And that’s it. A whole year. A whole course. Done.

Because of this, it is now time to look to that very worrying and scary place referred to as “the future.” I have already started applying for jobs. I would love to stay in Aberystwyth forever, but as lovely as the bar staff in Wetherspoons are, that isn’t really practical. Not with bills and mortgages and the real world knocking on the door.

On Saturday, I was doing my ambassadorial thing for the University and welcoming the next intake of students. They all seem impossibly young. They are all in equal parts nervous and excited for the prospect of University and the unknown. And that is how it should be.  Saturday was a good day, in spite of the malfunction of the weather machine and we even got bought cake by a grateful parent! Lots of prospective students looking around and enjoying what the campus has to offer. Not everyone will choose Aber of course, but that is what it’s all about. It is essential to go and look at all your options before choosing .

This week sees me finishing my essay, tidying my room and sorting out stuff to go home for the holidays.  When I return to Aber, we will be going into the crazy few weeks of exams and end of term madness.  To quote from Corinthians “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”. Hopefully for the better.

Lazarus invades the Social Media Stand
Lazarus invades the Social Media Stand

Hello there!

I’ve had a pretty busy week, but it’s been a nice balance of work and play.

On Monday the week got off to a nice start, as my parents came up for a visit by the day, which was really nice.

I cooked lunch, and then we had a wander in town. It was a really lovely day in the morning – bright sunshine and I didn’t even have to take a jumper when I walked to the shop! But it didn’t last. By the time my mum and dad arrived, it was looking gloomy, and when we left for town it was trying really hard to rain. By the time we tried for a walk along the prom it got steadily heavier, until it really came down.

It’s lucky that the seafront is lined by hotels and pubs really, as there’s always somewhere nearby you can duck into for shelter! We nipped into a hotel , where my mum and I enjoyed a giant pot of tea, and my dad and fiancé each had a pint. Before long there was thunder and lightning outside the window – we were really glad that we had decided to shelter rather than start walking back! It blew itself out somewhat after an hour or so and so we made a dash for it, just in time really – by the time we got back it was spitting again!

Tuesday, I had a meeting with my writing project tutor (a writing project is the name of a creative writing dissertation at Aberystwyth), which went really, really well. The purpose of this meeting was basically for me to show her what I’ve got so far, and what my plan is for finishing it, so she could give me feedback and help me with any questions. At this late stage of the degree I don’t have many contact hours a week – really, it’s time for me just to be off writing the work myself. It’s really reassuring to have that support though, and after weeks of staring at your own work and wondering whether it’s actually as good as you think it is, it’s very helpful to get someone else’s perspective that knows what they’re talking about!

I came back from the meeting and made myself an indulgent lunch of macaroni cheese, which I ate while reading a non-Uni-related book.  While there’s always work to be doing, I’m trying to make sure I have breaks – it’s just the temptation to let a short break turn into marathoning shows on Netflix that is dangerous!

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Macaroni cheese for lunch and a non-Uni book – granted it was still a book about working!

 

Here I come to one big truth of University life – the rest of Tuesday, all of Wednesday and the majority of today I have once again been either working on my writing project, or reading for it. It’s enjoyable stuff though. I actually love writing my project because I got to choose exactly what I would be writing – what research is needed, what books to read, how to structure it. and so on. It’s the reason my biggest piece of advice for picking a degree and a Uni is to pick something you really love – when you get to writing a dissertation, it will be so much easier if you genuinely enjoy the thing you need six- or eight- or ten-thousand original words about.

Of course there are still times that I hate the whole damn thing and it just isn’t happening – but for those moments, I have an excellent supply of tea and brownies.

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Let tea and brownies be the warm light that guides you home.