I hope those of you who have started university have settled in well and are happy with the choice you made! I started university again two weeks ago and that means I am now in my final year. The last two years of my course were fairly easy so I was looking forward to a challenge but I was also a bit apprehensive. It turns out the final year really is another step up from what I have been doing before. So far I've been so busy with assignments, note-taking and reading, especially for my dissertation. However, if any of you (relax, you have time, but it makes sense to think about it sooner rather than later) are thinking about doing a dissertation than I really recommend taking that step! I'll explain what it is and why it's worth it.
A dissertation (or "disso", as lecturers and students like to call it) is basically a long, very specific essay. Researching and writing a dissertation (10,000-12,000 words in my case, other courses may have longer or shorter word count specifications) provides you with an opportunity to work independently on a topic that interests you and that you want to explore further. It is an effective way of learning how to research correctly, develop advanced intellectual skills such as evaluation, analysis and synthesis, as well as helping to improve your independence and time management skills. The question you choose to research can be very specific, as long as it deals with subject areas that you study, therefore it is a fantastic opportunity to write about something you love but haven't been able to cover in class in that detail. I am studying Business and Law, so I had to choose something that dealt with either one or the other. As I am aiming to study fashion strategy for my master's degree once I graduate, I decided to write my disso on branding strategy in the luxury fashion industry (basically finding out what makes people want to buy a Prada bag and what will make them want to buy it in future).
As you can see it is an opportunity to go crazy and pick something really unique. But don't worry, you are not completely on your own. For the first weeks of the module, you will have lectures that aim to help you learn or refresh basic skills such as critical reading, referencing and essay structuring. In addition, the university provides you with a supervisor, an expert in the field that you are writing about, whose knowledge and guidance will be available to you throughout the module. It is a large piece of work, but you have a quite a while to finish it (mine is due in March). Furthermore, it is a good way of showing employers your strengths and interest in a certain area. A well-written dissertation can be a great "foot in the door" for interviews to a job!
A lot of you have probably been drawn to your course at Kingston because of the fantastic study abroad opportunities it has. From America to Australia, Switzerland to Sweden, there are plenty of destinations to choose from so you should definitely take advantage of it.
Returning from my study abroad semester at Bond University in Australia, I definitely had more of a culture shock coming back to the UK than when I first arrived in the land of BBQ's and beaches. It was a foreign land and although I had travelled a lot before, nothing could prepare me for such a HUGE country where life ran so much slower than here in the UK. The buses were A LOT less frequent, I had a lot less time in lectures and seminars and everyone generally had a lot more down time to relax and chill out. This, of course, was AMAZING. I couldn't have asked for a better destination; who doesn't want to write their essays lying by the pool or having a BBQ a day during orientation week?
International students are always given really good orientations into University life, studying abroad, local culture etc so make sure you go to everything. You will be able to meet LOTS of new people and these are likely to be your bestest friends throughout your whole experience, and probably for the rest of your life. Make sure you also take advantage of travelling in your free time; although I should probably say to study your utmost hardest and read lots of books, I think it's just as important to get a social and cultural experience from it. Especially around Bond University in Australia, there is so much within easy travelling distance. It is a huge country, but intercity travel is great and you can make lots and lots of weekend trips like the great barrier reef, famous beaches, zoo's, theme parks, deserts, waterfalls and rainforests.
I won't lie but it's incredibly difficult coming back to the UK. You just need to get back into the routine you were used to, embrace your time at Kingston and save, save, save so you can book another trip away!
Are you are worried about living costs and everyday expenses while living just outside of central London? If you are keep reading, this might be just for you!
Besides having the fantastic opportunity to talk to people personally at the Student Life Centre at Penhryn Road about all the financial aid you can receive, you can also get hands on with the matter yourself.
I am talking about getting a job and improving your diet by having a little extra cash that goes on beyond investing in multiple packs of instant noodles. You heard me right, balancing university with a job and a great dinner is possible!
There are various ways you can find a job. Firstly, there is a JobCentre right in town. You can go in and there are machines that you can use, key in your preferences and browse through job offers. Finally, you can print off the ones that interest you.
Another way to find a job is through My Kingston- the main page you log onto with your KU ID number and password, once you have enrolled. On the right side, there is a tab called JobShop, which you can click on to find anything and everything from internships, through to part/full time job opportunities to graduate jobs. Easy!
Alternatively, you could also start off by printing 20 or so CVs, go around the area, into the shops that interest you, and ask to speak with the managers. You need to make sure you look presentable and have at least basic knowledge of the store/pub/industry. You also need to be enthusiastic and eager to work.
If you have absolutely no clue how to build up your CV or how to write a cover letter, fear not! There are people at Kingston University who can help you with that. In order to receive help with your CV, cover letter and general employability advice:
- You need to make sure that you have liked your faculties employability KU Talent page on Facebook (Business and Law, Arts and Social Sciences, Science, Engineering and Computing, Art, Architecture and Design ). Through their updates, you'll be able to see all the upcoming events for the year such as the next CV workshop or info on the next part-time jobs fair.
- It would be good if you give a little love to the Facebook page for Careers and Employability. No pressure, it's just that your odds at finding a job would be increased if you go along to the suggested events and workshops.
The more information you have about the job market, the better choice you'll be able to make. The more people from the KU Talent & Careers and Employability teams know your face, the better your odds are at being recommended for positions.
The university also works as a sort of a recruitment agency. Companies come to the university, or send e-mails, asking for students for various positions. Most students are recommended on the basis of being passionate, attending various events and through making connections at and with the people who attend them.
Finding a job is not an easy matter, so don't get discouraged. I've found almost all of the jobs that I've worked (some of which I am currently still doing) during my university career through Kingston's JobShop and I've been to CV & cover letter workshops and I can guarantee that they are very useful.
My point is.. help is there, if you need it, you just need to learn to ask and look for it. My other point is that you have to be patient. In the meantime, instant noodles will increasingly become more and more tasteless.
Christmas in Kingston
Uploaded 22 Nov 2013
Keeping organised at Uni
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Finding private accommodation and university support.
Uploaded 21 Oct 2013