A few weeks ago was one of the major sporting events of the year, Varsity, as I explained in my last blog, this is where the Kingston Cougars play against the Surrey Stags in loads of different sports. The day is set out similarly to a music festival, you are given a programme with all the different times and places of the events. You can pick and choose where you want to go and which performances/matches you want to see. The final two performances of the day are always dance and cheerleading; which the Cougars won both of. Followed by the tug of war, which again we won, this gave a great end to the day, all pumped up on the amazing performances of the cheer squad and the dancers. Unfortunately overall we lost the competition, but we definitely won in quantity and volume. After the day of competition we all headed back to the Space Bar (our Student Union bar) where we claimed our free drink and started the night. Our tickets also got us entry to a local nightclub in Kingston where nearly all our Cougar Chaos events are held. Cougar Chaos is where all the sports clubs meet up and have a night out together. In contrast Cougar Calm events are also run throughout the year, these, as the name suggests have a very different atmosphere, for example it may be a pub quiz or a hypnotist, in comparison to a loud night on the town like Cougar Chaos.
Varsity is a day out at Surrey sports ground, you don't have to be part of any sport, you can come along as a supporter. All you have to do is buy a ticket this gets you a t-shirt, free drink, free burger and free entry to a nightclub and access to the student union.
Most universities participate in Varsity tournaments, but for those of you who have selected Kingston as your firm choice, I hope you look forward to this massive, amazing event next year.
My daughter returned from University yesterday shocked by the speed at which her studies are passing. "I've got so much work to get done these holidays, how am I going to get it all finished" she moaned this morning. She then added that she had no idea how I had managed to do a full-time degree, be a Mum, and run a house. There are times when I've thought that too; more recently when I look back, I have no idea how I did cope. Perhaps it is simply because you have no choice or that you want the end result so badly you will do anything to get it.
One thing I do know is that Hana and I have developed a new camaraderie since she embarked on her own studies. A mutual understanding and respect has developed regarding life as a student; after all there's no age barrier to stress. We've both experienced extreme levels of stress in our studies. This can be quite common, with emotions fluctuating from one period of panic to the next, from times when we feel there is less of our studies we don't know than we do know, to happier times that are just the opposite. In addition I've always thought that stress levels are much higher as examinations and assignments get closer. There's a sudden realisation for those in their last year that there are only a couple of months to go to your finals and the university journey comes to its end. It's always a good idea to speak to a personal tutor about best approaches to revision. If you don't deal with stressful situations early on then they get much harder to control.
And don't let sleep deprivation exacerbate your stress levels. I've always thought that loss of sleep plays absolute havoc with life in general but when you're undertaking studies it is, I think, far worse. I've always envied those students who can ‘burn the candle a both ends' so to speak; there are many, lucky things, who never get worked up by the prospect of imminent examinations and who have an ability to take it all in their stride. Others like me, can only dream of such luxury. My daughter has, it seems, unfortunately inherited this characteristic from me.
As you get older you realise stress isn't a personal experience to be coped with on your own. Yoga or other relaxation classes are beneficial, listening to music, going for a swim etc, the list is almost endless. I have to be honest here though I never found any relaxation method to be beneficial for long periods of time, but they certainly do help. As I reiterated to Hana this morning, you need to ensure you have a work/life balance, ensuring that you take time out of studies to also relax - not an easy achievement when deadlines loom and something that I've not always practised so probably have little right to preach! However, I do know from experience that suggestions given by one of my tutors regarding the importance of drawing up a revision timetable were of great benefit as it ensured that I had a workable revision plan that included regular breaks; the most difficult task was getting into the habit of sticking to it!
Find out your deadlines for assignments, presentations etc; allow ample time for research and plan your revision periods so they fit into your day/night, whichever suits your studying pattern best. As examinations get closer pace your revision so that you do take regular breaks. Use post-it notes with important prompts that will help you engage with your studies and stick these somewhere you will see them on a regular basis, such as on the wall where you stand to wash dishes. Meet up with friends for study sessions; I found this practice enormously helpful as it was both a time for some social chatting as well as regular brainstorming sessions.
Attend your lecturers' revision classes; make sure you know how to take useful revision notes, take on board any examination tips and recommendations that are suggested as these really can help you get the best out of your studies. Do use the many help guides that are in the LRC that teach good revision techniques. Do ensure you take care of your health, don't skip meals, and do take time out to recharge batteries, even if this is just a regular walk to clear a cluttered mind. Oh and one last thing -Good Luck!
Student life can be difficult. You have to write assignments, do readings, attend lectures in the middle of the night (read 9am) and get your head around so much stuff. For some students it is when they live for the first time without their parents and when they make big discoveries of the secrets of the way the washing machine or oven work.
I would like to give you some advice on how to discover the magic of cooking and secrets of smart shopping to still be able to live on a tight budget and enjoy yourself. I promise you that noodles will not give you as much joy as even the simplest things you can cook without much money, time and effort!
Not everyone likes cooking but certainly the simplest meals don't need much time and money to be thrown into. With thousands of various recipes online it still surprises me that someone can have a diet consisting of noodles because they think they can't afford anything else. Forget the ready sauces and other ready meals that are packed with preservatives. The simplest thing I could ever recommend to start with is pasta with tomato sauce. The only ingredients you need are fresh or tinned tomatoes, onion and garlic. All of it will cost you less than a jar of a ready sauce. Add fresh basil, which you can grow without much effort and you will have an impressively tasty dish. Add to it homemade garlic bread for which you will need a baguette, garlic, butter and cheese (optional) and you will impress your friends with the meal that will take you less than half an hour to prepare and cost less than £10. You can use rice instead of pasta and add any vegetables of choice to mix flavours and colours.
It happened to me that I bought asparagus on offer and I had no idea how to prepare it, so I googled it. I ended up with delicious and simple roasted asparagus, the side dish that I will surely prepare every time I can find cheap asparagus. Cooking is about discovering and finding the ways to prepare new vegetables, use new flavours or spices and it can be a very awarding experience. My discovery of Indian spices begun my fascination with Indian cuisine that allowed me learning about new dished and simple but impressive meals that I can easily prepare.
Use your imagination and enjoy healthy and delicious food! You can do it even on a student budget.