I hope you are all finished with school/college for this year and have started to enjoy the Christmas spirit (even though I think we're lacking snow to make the atmosphere more festive)!
I had my last day at university for this year on Friday and although second year has started off really well and I am enjoying my course (Business and Law) even more than last year, I am honestly quite happy to be able to have a break and relax.:) I would usually be going home to Germany to visit my family, but I decided that at least one time during my stay in the UK, I wanted to spend Christmas and New Year here with friends. Also, the idea of being stranded at Heathrow airport again, which happened twice last year due to "extreme weather conditions", was enough to keep me in my warm flat in Kingston. So now, my daily schedule consists of sleeping in, visiting central London (be sure to check out the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park or the Christmas decorations on Oxford Street if you're anywhere near our capital city) and baking large amounts of cookies for me and my flatmates. However, someone recently told me "as a student, you never really seem to be working but in reality you're never really not working"... I guess what that means is that although we may sometimes get a little bit carried away with extra curricular activities, our course continues to be an eager companion even throughout the holidays. So - apart from all the fun activities - I get to sit down every day to start revising for my exams in January...
In addition to uni, I've been working as a student ambassador in some new roles recently, which has been great fun. As student ambassadors, part of our job is to promote Kingston University and higher education at local schools. So lately, I have taken part in a study skills session, an ambassadors in schools session about the path from GCSEs to a university degree and an Ask Me booth event at a local school. Going back to schools and talking to younger students brings back so many great memories for me and it's always amazing to see how interested students are about your personal experience at university. Hopefully next term, I can take part in even more of these events as they are really inspiring and interesting!
So for now, I'll wish you a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year's celebration (let's hope the world doesn't end...) :) See you in 2013!
I love this time of year. Well, not completely; there are winter illnesses, impending assignments and revising for exams. And if I am honest, I don't particularly enjoy the mad rush to write Christmas cards and send gifts off in time to family and friends who live in distant lands in order to meet the postal deadlines. But I do love Christmas. I love University at Christmas time too. Why, you might ask?
Well, Kingston as a town does Christmas superbly. As other students have already commented the German Market is excellent, the Bentall Centre (shops galore!) is always decked out beautifully and really does provide a winter wonderland experience to visitors of all ages. There are the ever popular ‘singing bears' and the imaginative overhead decorations (see http://www.thebentallcentre-shopping.com/gallery/christmas-gallery/) which still provide a sense of awe to many shoppers and visitors, young and old. And the town itself looks pretty at this time of year. But there is something about being at University before the holidays start that for me is special.
KU staff put an enormous amount of effort into bringing some festive cheer to our lives - without going over the top. I love the Christmas tree in the PR reception that always looks so pretty with its twinkling lights. It always brings a smile to my face as I rush past it to the LRC or to a lecture. I thoroughly enjoy the Christmas lunch (when I can attend); it's reasonably priced and you can book a table decked with crackers and decorations. It reminds me of the fabulous office Christmas lunches I used to be able to afford!
It is easy to take for granted the dedication of our catering staff. We are very lucky at Kingston as we have a wide choice of food in the cafés throughout the year, which on the whole satisfies all tastes and eating habits. My son told me he thought the pizza was excellent, made fresh to order by the American chef. When I was in my first year and couldn't find alternative child care for him during an hour-long seminar, he would happily come with me to Kingston on the promise of some of that pizza made for an easy bribe. There are often themed days too or special menus to tickle the taste buds.
The catering staff provide an efficient and courteous service, which at times cannot be easy when they are dealing with harassed students (and staff!) who are starving and rushed. In fact the continued courtesy of staff and their unending patience make for me a difference to the eating experience and it saddens me when people fail to recognise this. During the recent Open Days several parents asked me if the food was any good. I had no qualms in saying yes. I have always found the food to be of an excellent standard; the coffee is pretty good and as an avid tea-drinker I have no complaints either (except that I just wish I could enjoy it sitting down rather than on the hoof so to speak!). The undergraduate café looks even more impressive now, with its new wooden tables and benches.
Having eaten in several other student cafés when we were looking at universities with our daughter, I feel Kingston does have a trump card here. But enough about food and cafés. My taste buds are tingling in anticipation of a KU Christmas lunch!
Finally I just want to add the following. In a recent article in The Times (29/11/2012, p.16) there was mention of a Christmas fanatic who has decorated his house in Somerset with over 60,000 lights. Now I wouldn't expect KU to go to such extremes but I do want to share this for those of you that enjoy Christmas as much as me. See http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/life/property/article3615870.ece
I have promised my husband I will stick to a few twinkly white lights outside the house but the temptation is always there to go that much further...
A Merry Christmas to all!
I'm writing this after spending 10 hours in the library. My eyes feel a bit square. It's the start of my reading week and I have to hand my international assignment in at the end of this week. I had good intentions to be organised and get the work done before the reading week, but I work better under pressure so it's going to be a bit of a mad rush this week. I've done the first part of it, which is a leaflet. The second part is a rationale, justifying the choice of topic. I'm doing mine on childbirth in Afghanistan, which is proving more and more interesting the more I research. I break up on the 24th for Christmas and I can't wait - the assignment will be done!
I did my neonatal unit placement last week, which was a bit boring, I'm not going to lie! The babies were all super tiny and very cute and it was interesting chatting to their parents about their experiences. Some of the bubs had been born at just 25 weeks so had been in hospital for months, which was quite hard on their parents who were still waiting to take them home. Otherwise there wasn't really much for a student midwife to do there, so the 12 hours shifts seemed to go on for an eternity. It is amazing what they can do there for really premature babies - life is very precious.
I also started my shifts on the antenatal ward and had a bit of a surprise on the second day when I caught a baby! It was the woman's second baby and second babies are very good at coming very fast! Catching a baby always gets your adrenalin running. Enjoying the antenatal ward, there are lots of inductions of labour to do and women come in with potential complications so it's a bit like a puzzle trying to figure out what the problem is. I'm also working with a really lovely and knowledgeable midwife, so feel like I am learning lots! Eight months until I qualify!
I've had a couple of responses from French midwives about doing a placement in Paris next year which is cool. I've been writing in French so it's been really good practice. Nothing has been set in stone yet though so my fingers are still crossed! Will be amazing if I get a definite yes!
I haven't been solidly working for the last few weeks and have had some time off! Went to the Natural History museum last week too to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 exhibition - only a fiver if you're a student! It's brilliant. Some of the photographs are so beautiful. And saw Silver Linings Playbook at the cinema, which has just solidified my affection for Bradley Cooper. It's a cute film. Had to make some time to do all the Christmas shopping too! The shopping for and then wrapping of presents acted as great procrastination from doing the assignment...
Hope you all enjoy your time off!