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.
PAL is a student-to-student support network for both academic and personal development. Volunteer second-year students are trained and paid to help students on the same course in the following year. These trained student PAL leaders meet regularly with small groups of students in the year below to help them improve their understanding of the subject matter, work through common problems and further develop their learning strategies. It can also help first year students to settle into university life.
Through Peer assisted learning lecturers can improve the enthusiasm and leadership skills of students to help develop more independent learning through the PAL (peer assisted learning) scheme.
This scheme helps the students as well as the lecturer. The students get the most help out of this as they get help from someone of their own age range with whom they feel comfortable and friendly. The lecturer gets an extra hand and doesn't have to handle the whole class on their own.
This scheme was started in February in Kingston University for a Business module called ‘Project Management' for which they held weekly workshops for students, where they can come to get extra help for their assignments. I have always been passionate about supporting students and be a source of help for them. As I received a 1st in that module, I decided to apply for this scheme and luckily got selected. Weekly workshops were held to help students in their assignment. As I am more experienced in that field and have already been through the learning stage of this module, I have helped students with their queries and applied my past experience. I get Fridays off from my timetable and the workshops were held every Friday for 2 hours. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to spend my free time in something which would benefit me as well as the students.
Project 2010 was part of the assignment which the students had to use and create an event. This was the part where students encountered most problems as Project 2010 is not like standard Microsoft Office software like Word and Excel which are straight forward to use. It was a good chance for me to help them and get them familiarise with the software. The students were very happy with the help they got and gave very positive feedback.
Working as a peer assisted leader, I have enhanced my skills even further and gained more confidence. I would encourage everyone reading this blog to get involved in extra activities during your time at Kingston University which will help you bring a positive change in you. If you ever find yourself in any difficulty do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of staff or student ambassadors who are always there to help you and guide you towards the right path.
Enjoy your time at Kingston!!!