I had never imagined that I would run in elections even if it's for something very small but I did and I won!
It all started off with the thought of wanting to give it try, the Student Media Officer post was empty and I thought maybe I should just give it a shot and see if I can manage to get about 50 something votes and decided to nominate myself. As elections were coming closer I was constantly questioning my decision when something strange or maybe I should say miraculous happened and I heard that our Women's Officer has resigned, I was lucky because I wasn't very passionate about the Student Media Officer role and as a feminist/committee member of the feminist society I clearly wanted to run for the Women's Officer role instead. Students Union CEO, Mark Horne sent all the candidates an email asking if anyone is interested in running for the Women's Officer role and my answer was a YES obviously, even KUSU President, Denza Gonsalves sent me a message saying: "The role you were after is available now!" and there I was running for the Women's Officer role against two other talented women. Campaign week had begun; going around all the campuses, preaching on the University buses, distributing flyers etc etc, we did it all and it worked! To be very honest, I wasn't really expecting it to work and that's why I didn't go in when they were announcing the result. I was kind of shocked to find out that I was elected and the best part was that I had won with 100s of votes, it wasn't even a close win!
I started my role as the new Women's Officer about a month ago and I am glad I made the decision of running in the by-elections because there is nothing better than working for something you are passionate about. It's been only over a month and I have made some great networks with other Women's Officers and feminist activists across the UK including Kelley Temple, who is the NUS Women's Officer & after attending the NUS Women in Leadership conference in Birmingham, my perspective about women in leadership roles has changed for good. I would most likely be running for the president role because I enjoy working with the Student Union to make life better for our students.
Money, one of the main things that a student's life revolves around... Can I afford to buy this; is everything going to be too expensive, how can I cope?! When you are first thinking about or first join University it can be vastly overwhelming, however with my (hopefully) acquired experience and tips from reaching the grand heights of my final year, I'll tell you some of the things that got me through!
I have heard this time and time again, but EVERYONE can afford to go to university, and it's worth it! Even in a lower income family, you can get student loans to cover tuition fees and living costs, and you can also get a part time job to help tide you over and treat yourself to little luxuries! Also, when paying the money back it's done at such a reasonable rate, and done automatically so no hassle for you!
Come September, January and April, you will receive more money than you may have ever got at once, so the temptation to go shopping and go crazy is easy! However, the most important priority is Accommodation, so open a separate account to transfer the rent money across to as soon as you get your student loan so that is sorted! And even if you live at home, money such as transport cost is vital, so put this in a separate account as well!
As well as tuition fees, there is also the cost of books for your course, and depending on what you study trips etc. The crucial thing here is to search around and not go straight to Waterstones, as online sites such as Amazon and Ebay can often provide you with a much cheaper deals! However, make sure you buy the materials fairly quickly, as otherwise the money will disappear!
This is always one of the most costly payments.. You need to look at allocating £20-25 a week on your basics, and don't forget those stressful times around exam time where you will be forced to order a takeaway! However, if you go to supermarkets late at night there is always some decent items reduced which you can freeze for later, to save yourself a lot of money!
Especially in first year, this is one of the most costly expenses! Even if going out clubbing is not your idea of a good time, there will be after exam celebrations, friend's birthdays, Christmas celebrations, meals out etc which quickly adds up! So add on the cost of fresher's week alone where you'll want to get involved in lots of activities and it becomes very expensive! An easy way to save money is to look for discounts, such as Slug and Lettuce which offer 50% off food and drinks on a Monday, and most places offer some sort of student discount if you ask!
So there it is, a few tips to help you through your decision of whether you can afford university, or to get you through first year!
If you're a second or third year, you'll know that the structure of the course has changed this year, from eight short modules a year to four long ones - and this time last year we would have been finishing a module and preparing for exams and essay deadlines.
This year, exams are nowhere to be seen in January! The new structure has left me feeling a little lost, and not knowing what to do with myself - I feel as though I should be preparing for exams even though my exams haven't even been scheduled yet!
Although some essays are due in at this time of year - which you'll have to do regardless - I think it's a good time to start looking ahead and seeing what you have to come in April/May next year? What your exams are going to be like, whether they are essays of MCQ... A good tip from an old third year like myself is to look at all the essay questions you may have been given now, because it's unlikely that the tutors are going to put the same questions on the exam - so you can see which topics you can put behind you and forget about! (Saves revising loads of things when the exam time comes and lets you be more specific in what you actually look at!).
Talking of deadlines... it's dissertation time for me, and I can honestly say that when people told me that in my third year I would be living in the library I didn't believe them - how wrong I was! I'm doing a psychology dissertation, which means essentially that I have to conduct my own study and write a giant lab report of my findings and previous research. I'm constantly swimming in books and articles, (although I got to choose my topic so I'm quite enjoying it!). Even though spending so much time in the library can be mind-numbing, I have found a huge positive from it - HEATING! Us poor students can't afford to have the heating on much at home, so going to the library is amazing!! The heating is on full blast - you don't even need to wear a jumper! Every cloud eh!
Good luck with deadlines and essays and have a great Christmas and New year all!