Life, Student Life

I’m a Graduate (time to begin adulting)

I did write this last week but, I’ve only just gotten round to getting the pictures off my camera.

So the blog post begins here:

We’ve all seen the memes on social media sites wherein university students or people moving out for the first time have to ‘adult’. And by adulting, we mean it has come to the time when our safety net (parents) have disappeared except for a phone call or text away and we have to begin figuring life out for ourselves. If you have not seen the meme, I suggest you look for one because they can be quite amusing! Well, I technically graduated in June when my certificate arrived reading ‘First Class Degree’- I had one hell of a successful final year whilst battling illness all year round. So, it is possible for all the panicked students out there! But this week I officially graduated, had photos took and wore a cap, gown and hood alongside my parents, and grandparents appearing for the occasion. It was a family day out, and a first for all of them to see someone graduate.

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The Full Outfit

I posed for the pictures on cameras and phones, I saw my friends and had a few pictures with them but, I did not feel different after graduating? Maybe it is because I am not done with education yet. However, some of my other friends mentioned feeling like it was the end of something, they did feel different and so, I attribute it to the fact I want to gain a Master’s degree in HR. For the time being, I work and earn money and I’m looking for something a bit more permanent, so ADULTHOOD begins here! Whilst I picked up some tricks before moving out for university, adulting became a lot harder when it was just me and now I’m back at home yet, still becoming more adult-y by the day. I have known how to cook for years, my slight OCD tendencies come in handy for switching off all electrics at night- plugs to and I like to keep my room clean and have everything organised and as a result, I think these make myself a functioning young adult? But you’d have to ask my parents for clarification.

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The Parents and Me

I’m still stubborn and I refuse to be ill, so I definitely have stuff to learn too. This tends to mean I do not complain unless there is a real issue, which is why my parents knew something was wrong before my week long stay in hospital. Then again it seems to be a family trait…apparently, I did not just inherit the red hair or the ability to hold my alcohol or the quiet stubbornness my mum has which she thinks we do not all know about so SHHH it’s a secret. I feel that no one really knows how to truly adult and maybe my parents don’t have it figured out either? I know I question whether my dad ever grew up sometimes… Or maybe you need to be our grandparents age? They seem to have it figured out. It is an odd thing life. It comes at you so quickly that it is hard to take a breath at times.

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Grandparents!

So even though I’ve graduated, and you would think I have my life together it is not the case, no one does. We all just amble along hoping we make the right decisions with our friends and family by our sides. But, it is a good start to be able to look after yourself and take it from there! No one has their lives together right after graduation. The lucky few have an inkling of what they want to do in life but some of us others take a bit longer to decide. So, don’t worry if you haven’t a clue because it took me a while to make a decision of where I want to be in life. In some respects, a blog like this helps because you can talk to the world even if no one pays attention and make those decisions.

I have a couple tips to begin with though:

  • Learn to cook the basics early- I started when I was around 12? Anyway, if you like cooking then it is a great stress reliever and it is a skill we need to succeed in life. Takeaway and lots of processed food is not the answer. Plus, you want to be able to do more than just make pasta or toast. The only thing I don’t know how to cook is an egg but, I also don’t like them and won’t use that skill in my life unless I meet someone and in that case, they better be able to cook their own. Follow recipe books, ask your family they’ll help if you ask and books have instructions in!
  • Start your kids early, and make them clean their own room- There is nothing worse than someone who can’t make a bed, regularly change their sheets and keep a tidy room. Plus, if you can’t maintain a single task such as this regularly then how do you expect to succeed in work and life when difficulty heads your way? I have cleaned my side, and then my own room for as long as I can remember and that is because my parents instilled that into me. If you can’t keep one room clean how do you expect to keep a flat or a house clean?

It is simple really, learn early or you’ll have to sink or swim when it comes to moving out and figuring out life choices. I’m happy, I have graduated and I’m looking to future able to look after myself with relative ease. That credit goes to my parents, as well as myself. I’m a graduate, a graduate…Nope still don’t feel different yet? It seems like it is time to adult. Oh, I thought you’d want to see the meme so here is an example:

CC: https://pics.me.me/you-is-tired-you-is-broke-you-is-adulting-14526940.png
CC: https://pics.me.me/you-is-tired-you-is-broke-you-is-adulting-14526940.png

 

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Life, Student Life

Hey! You…I Never Said It Would be An Easy Decision-Dilemma

We all face dilemmas…day in, day out and its making those difficult choices that allow us to grow and succeed as a person, and in life. Whether it’s a personal dilemma, a moral one, a friendship one or a life dilemma we all have to make the difficult decisions.

For example, I looked at today’s daily prompt Strut and had no idea what to write. I was in a dilemma between that and choosing a different topic to ruminate upon. As you can see, I’ve made my decision and faced the dilemma at hand- choosing a different topic although, in the grand scheme of things you can say it relates to the daily prompt in an off-topic kind of way. I wanted to create my own prompt almost, and dilemma is the first word that came to mind. We’ve all faced horrible decisions wherein one person may be affected in some way that is so hard you just don’t know what to do…well that is a DILEMMA!

Dilemma can be defined as…

“…a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially ones that are equally undesirable.”

And the synonyms suggested such as problem, predicament and my favourite PUZZLE go on forever. But, do we always have to feel guilty about making a decision when a dilemma is involved?! I think not. Sometimes you can be faced with a difficult decision and choosing to move away from the problem is the best answer but, that does not mean you should feel guilt or bad in whatever way. Sometimes you just have to STRUT your stuff, stand proud and make the best decision for you. I’ve never been faced with a moral dilemma personally…well I don’t think so but, when the time comes I will weigh up both sides and choose what is best for myself. You see dilemmas include an emotional component as well as a logical component so, you have to make the decision which balances these two components best for you!

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Strut Your Stuff Honey!

It’s dissertation season for third years and if you haven’t already thought about that final project it may be time. This includes making decisions between a variety of issues and you better believe the dissertation is emotional as well as logical.

Do you choose:

  1. Written Piece V Practical Project?- If you are better at writing it would be logical for you to choose a written piece but, would you be able to cope with the research, the schedule and the stress that comes with it. In that case, you better choose a practical project but how good is it going to be? Can you guarantee a good outcome, a good grade? Is it worth the risk? And how will it help or hinder in the future? But, still there needs to be time made and it could cause more stress.
  2. All Year Assignment V Second Semester Assignment?- Similarly, stress and time is a big factor within this. However, it isn’t like your other assignments wherein you can complete it the night before. That guarantees you fail. But, is there time to start this semester or have you got outside factors affecting you time limit. It’s serious and you need to make a decision.
  3. Go Out or Stay in?- It is hard and you should make time to go out and enjoy yourselves but, then there is a dilemma of whether you are going out to unwind or is it because you are avoiding something. If it is the second statement then you certainly need to stay in. I managed to balance friends, life and illness with my dissertation and Yes, I wrote it in a week but that was after months of research.

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Go ahead, makes those decisions whatever they may be because I can guarantee that some of your issues, some of the stress of life or university is because you aren’t facing those difficult decisions. The best decisions I’ve ever made have been when I am faced with a dilemma, and backed into a corner! Once that weight has been lifted…then you can STRUT your stuff.

Strut

Black and White Photo of Laptop
Student Life

University Survival Guide: Living Away and Starting University

We have finally reached it! The big day is upon you…are you prepared?

For first years, second years or anyone choosing to move away for university it is a daunting experience. You may not think so at first but the feeling sneaks up on you especially after Freshers. Freshers is a new experience for you, you are buzzed about being away from parents and having your freedom however, this is where your journey begins.

“Freshers Flu- a sickly feeling including symptoms such as a cough, sore throats, sickness etc. A general feeling of illness.”

Freshers Flu gets us all. Whether you are a partier, a quiet night inner or a mixture of the two. No matter what you will catch something because there are so many germs floating around based on the increasing amount of people surrounding you. I have a theory that lecturers either catch it and get on with their days or over the years have managed to build an immunity. Either way, they never really seem to be affected by it. As a recent graduate and someone who chose to move out I thought I would write a little blog post about tips I picked up whilst living away and attending university. So here goes…

Colour Co-Ordinate Your Things

Buy your cutlery, plates, and other crockery in specific colours. You will come with that silver cutlery, talk to your flatmates, and decide to mix up all your stuff in one draw which is all well and good till you move out at the end of the year because if you are not living with those people again how will you know which is yours? Also, if you are the type of person who prefers to keep their belonging to themselves then it will help a lot because your flatmates cannot claim to have used the stuff accidently. Finally, your parents will thank you at the end of the year instead of having to buy another load of stuff for you to move into your next place.

Stock Up on Medicines

We all get ill, it is a fact of life! So, if your family asking if there is anything left you need before you move out then ask for them to put a first aid/medicine kit together with the basics. You will need things such as plasters, antiseptic cream, paracetamols, blister plasters (girls your heels will take a toll), cold and flu calpols etc. but it’ll save you spending a fortune buying them when freshers flu hits if you already have them to hand. All you have to do is remember to stock up your kit when needed on a weekly shop or if you’ve popped into the city for a spot of shopping.

Keep them handy! #medicinekit #funktrunk

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Little Sowing Kit

Do you know how much of a pain it is if you get a hole in your favourite trousers, or if the underwire is popping out of your bra (girls)? Well, its handy if you learn how to sow and perform small fixes to your clothes where possible. Already you have rent, food, and leisure activities to pay for already it is not always ideal to buy new clothes every time there is an issue or waiting until you go home next to dump it all on your parents. You are going home to see them because they miss you…not to dump all your stuff on them whilst you just go out with friends. Also, these little skills will help you later on in life because you’ll have to learn one day. If you are not sure how to sow then ask your family, I am sure they will be delighted to teach you something and if not, there is google.

First Year Does Count

And for some courses it might. But, there are other courses where they do not count the first year towards your final grade. Yet, this does not mean you should slack off and try and pass on the bare minimum. First year serves to raise everyone to the same level in terms of academic writing, teaching basic theories and completing assignments etc and it is true that only 40% is needed to pass into second year but that does not mean you should run off out every night, miss all your classes and then ask for someone to help you pass with the bare minimum. You did not work your butt off to get into university to blow it off. It does count…this is the year teachers assess how you write, research, work and complete assignments which allows them to understand where support is needed but if you are just scraping through so you can go out every night then you should give your place up for someone who really wanted to come and do the work.

HOWEVER

It also counts to have some fun, to let go and be a little crazy. You have moved away, you are independent and you only attend university some of the time so go and have that extra drink, get that tattoo you have always wanted and make friends with a variety of people! First year counts in multiple ways. You have to learn to juggle the fun with work and well because second and third year do count and you cannot rely on just one year to get that 1.1 (first) if you do not have any other grades to fall back on. Everyone is different and I actually managed to get a 1.1 out of my last year but that is not always the case for everyone no matter how hard they try.

Quote saying Here at uni, we have two types of first year: 1-Always goes out barely passing with 40%. 2-Stays in, passing to a high standard but still failing. Open door number three. Have a social life but don't forget to do the work. (door)(heart)(baloons)

Don’t Lock Yourself Away

It is a temptation. You have finally settled in, you are all talked out and you have gotten through the first week of living away from your parents. Now, you may want to fall back into old patterns and locking yourself away from everyone to sit in your room. And that is your prerogative but it is a new place so go and explore, grab some food, and make a few friends. Have them over once you get to know them. Experience university to the fullest!

Boundaries

It sounds odd, I know! But if you like privacy and boundaries then let your flatmates know. They are not mind readers and you cannot expect them to either. If you do not tell people your boundaries they will not understand if they have done something wrong and it is not fair for you to take it out on them either. So, establish a few ground rules to make you feel comfortable and if they are ignored after people are aware, then it becomes an issue you can approach them about. For example, not touching certain foods or if someone uses your stuff but never replaces or washes them after. It is a stressful time to live away and so, you should try and make it as easy as possible for you.

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Have a Good Relationship with Your Proprietor/University Accommodation

Whether you live in a privately rented student house or one of the university accommodations it is good to have a friendly relationship with your proprietor or staff at the university accommodation. This is because your life will become much easier if there is a problem such as a bulb out, plumbing issues, WIFI etc. It is as easy as paying rent on time, reporting issues as soon as they occur and keeping your accommodations clean especially if you would like your deposits back. Also, this links back to boundaries in that not all places will consider you separately from other flatmates so if they break something you may all have to pay. In that case, setting up boundaries that deal with this in some way may help.

A Cook Book

You may have heard the rumours that as students we all live on pasta, noodles and take out. I am here to tell you that is not the case completely. While it is handy to have these cooking short cooks in the cupboard for those days you are in a hurry or heading to the library, a lot of students actually prefer to cook. So, it might be worth finding a little cook book suitable for students to gain ideas or putting one together based on your favourite recipes at home. Parents/Other family and the internet will provide you with great examples. Plus, the freezer is your best friend! You could make a spag bol or chilli and freeze everything else. That will be at least three or four more meals. Or cook as a group in your flat to make huge meals as long as you all split the cost. You could even take it as far as a slow cooker. One of my close friends had one with her for university and she was always using it.

Do Your Assignments

You may want to be out all the time, seeing friends and having fun but there is time to do this and complete your assignments- especially if your housemates all take different subjects. Sometimes you will have to stay in and do your assignments or suffer the consequences. Personally, I found that getting up and heading to the library even if everyone else is in bed or going straight after class and staying till work is complete was the best thing for me. It was hard to concentrate at times where I was living and in the library, I could get into my own world, write my assignments, and do the research particularly if I produced very detailed plans. It does not work for everyone but in my case, I was successful. But do not let anyone else make you feel bad for doing your work because they have not started theirs and want you to fall behind with them. We all work differently and as first years some of you may struggle to find the balance initially but, this comes with time, confidence and setting boundaries!

Make Your Room Your Own

We all walk into bare rooms, remnants of blue tack from the previous tenant mark the wall, cork boards still have tiny bits of paper stuck to them but this is now your room for the foreseeable future. So, make it your own! Buy a few posters to decorate the walls, have a Harry Potter bed spread but make it somewhere you will feel comfortable to live in. After all, it is your space and you have to look at these four walls over the next year. Also, making it your own tends to make it feel less like halls and more homey which is something you’ll need for those wet days, sad days or lazy days.

I would like to end this piece by wishing you all good luck at university and with moving in this weekend or whenever you do. It will be a challenge at first but trust me it is a great experience that you have to immerse yourselves in to get everything out of it. You may have issues with flatmates or university as a whole but, it is how you deal with them that shows your true nature. Whether it is having roommates that annoy you, ignore everyone or feeling like university is getting too hard there are people to talk too. If you have an issue speak to your students’ union, people on your course, or the accommodation staff because they cannot deal with something if it is not happening. Here is an adage that seems appropriate…KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

 

Student Life

Tips and Tricks: How I Dealt With My Dissertation- A Personal Experience

Recently, my university released our provisional marks for our final year dissertation projects. I’m very pleased with my mark, and fingers crossed this is confirmed when our official grades are released. This sparked an idea for a blog post- this blog post further inspired by the fact I’ve seen a few statuses on social media from people discussing their choice of topics. Now, this is in no way a guide to picking a dissertation topic as each piece of work is individual to the person however, I thought a blog post discussing my process would be useful.

First a little context:

My dissertation focuses on the representation of female detectives in two British crime dramas; New Tricks and Vera. It specifically analyses DCI Vera Stanhope and DCI Sasha Miller, from their respective shows.

From my own Instagram profile! This is going to sound so cliche but bear with me, and maybe you’ll think some of these points are common sense but everyone is difference. And as I have previously stated this is my personal experience.

Choose a Topic You Are Interested In!

As I said ‘cliche’, and you have probably heard it a million times before but there is always someone who believes they’ll get an even better grade by choosing something interesting and innovative. However, while this has worked for some people it does not work for others. You should pick a topic you’re interested in, something you’ll work hard on to achieve a good grade. I chose to write about crime television specifically the female detective of British Crime Drama. This is something I have had an interest in since I was a child, and because there was little written on my particular topic it made for an interesting research project.

Start Your Research Early

At my university, on this media course we had a second year module which prepared us for dissertation writing and research. However, I understand not all universities offer this experience but the majority usually ask for you to fill in an proposal form before or over the summer. This is there way of asking you to begin your dissertation early because you’ll still have five other modules to pass alongside this. The dissertation is only a second semester module for my course, but we were informed that if we still wanted to treat it as a full year module we could! And that is the best advice you can get. I understand there are other tasks you need to complete whether it is working, completing assignments but setting aside a few hours each week or even every two weeks means you’ll be able to collect your research and have a less stressful second semester because you don’t have three months to collect and write the dissertation to a standard you are happy with.

I chose to utilise this piece of advice, and after completely finishing my research with one month till submission I was happy to write my dissertation. Now, it took me four days to write it, and that is my process and I have always been able to do it but, if you need more time then start earlier. My point is if you have all your research-academic or primary which entails you to gather the data completed then the only thing left to do is write it out.

Laptop, books, water bottle-research necessities
It is important to understand the topic you are working on

Back Everything Up…

I’m sure you’ve heard this about every assignment you have ever written but, if there is anytime to take this advice it is now. Normally, we write 2000 word assignments and after a while you get into a rhythm that allows you to bang 2000 words out quickly but, do not think for one second that 6000+ word assignment will be just as easy. If you are a student who reads and then types then this is particularly important. What if you lose your work and cannot remember all the articles you use. Because you are going to have to remember, find and reread them as you begin typing all over again. Luckily, I did not lose any work and so I did not need to use any of my back-ups but, I had them none the less. And I believe this is common sense yet I’ll say it anyway. Please have more than one back-up because there are a variety of scenarios in which you could lose a memory stick or smash your hard drive or your computer could crash. I had two memory sticks, a hard drive and two sets of files on my computer of the sections I had written plus, I emailed everything to another email address so I could access it anywhere as well as saving it to my Cloud drive.

Make A Plan!

I have always planned and then written an assignment. It may feel like an assignment is taking longer but, by planning out the dissertation I was able to achieve my grade and be sure I was placing in the correct quotations, and academic sources alongside my textual analysis research. However, ridiculous this may sound I had a plan to finish my research by a certain date and I did, I had a basic structure on a white board in my room of each heading and section and I then had a detailed plan of my actual dissertation. It worked, I simply had to follow it. Alongside that, I focused on each section as an essay entirely in itself which meant I never lost momentum and each section was treated with the same amount of detail and dedication.

Dissertation Plan: All 15 Pages...
Dissertation Plan: All 15 Pages…

 

Use Your Tutor…

We are all assigned a tutor throughout the dissertation for a reason, they are there to help you through discussing your work and provide deadlines. I work to deadlines, its easier for me so, I asked my tutor to set my a deadline for each piece of research I did and that kept me on track. There are no stupid requests. If that helps you, then set individual deadlines. If you are struggling to narrow down your topic, speak to the tutor:

Originally, I had three female detectives due to the two programmes I had chosen; New Tricks and Vera however, we quickly realised this would increase my workload when I could use two detectives in a case study.

Within reason, they are a source to be used in assisting with your dissertation so use them. You are adults and given the sole responsibility to contact them once you discover who they are and they shouldn’t have to chase you around. So, contact them and use them but, if you aren’t in contact with them or do not try then it is on your shoulders the dissertation stands.

Stay Organised

Invest in a folder and keep your books in order. Bookmark every article and remember to reference correctly throughout the assignment. I work best in a state of ‘organised chaos’ so, while I have a system someone else may be confused. But, I found with this piece of work buying a folder and keeping all my work inside meant I never lost anything, and creating a folder solely for my dissertation on google meant my articles were there to be accessed when needed. If you take one piece of advice away from this post, take this one and stay organised. Make sure your books are easily accessible, and if they are not available re-request them as soon as possible to get them back. If you are organised, it dials back the stress you feel and keeps all of your work in one place.

Dissertation Work in a plastic wallet
All in One Place

 

Try to Stay Calm (ommmm)

I understand that this one module has so much pressure placed onto it, that you may feel overwhelmed which leads to stress, illness, more stress and a few breakdowns. And it may sound like an impossible task but, working yourself up is not going to help. I can give this advice now, but it would have been hypocritical before as I had a few stressful days which led to tears and anger and feeling useless. However, not about my dissertation…I had stress about other assignments. I’ve always found a cry is good because you bottle the emotions for so long, the stress needs a release. So, try to stay calm (if possible) while writing your dissertation try! Take up an activity, something away from assignments- exercise, read, write a diary just release the emotions somehow and you’ll feel calmer and able to write you dissertation.

Do Not Rush Your Work…Even If Your Friends Are Closer to Finishing

We all work at a different pace and in different ways. So, if your friends are closer to finishing than you it does not matter because rest assured you are on track and each person is different. And it may stress you out if the people further in front discuss their work but this does not apply to you, or your methods and you should focus on yourselves. I’m one of the few who had finished writing three weeks before and had it completely done ten days before the deadline. I also have a friend who was finished even before that, but I did not let that get in my way as I knew I would finish at my own pace. We spend so much time worrying about where everyone else is, that people forget it is about them and their process. So, yes your friends might be finished or close to finishing and you are not but, that does not matter. Instead focus on your own work (like I did) and get it done. Of course, if it is stressing you out that people are further into the writing process then you need to find a way to deal with it. But, the only way to stop that is to knuckle down with your work and finish it so you can be part of the conversation.

Hopefully, this post will be an interesting read and you may have a few tips and tricks of your own for people about to undertake a dissertation. So feel free to share them. This is based upon my own experience of dissertation writing, and as I did not create an applied project I cannot even begin to discuss how hard they were and the way you deal with them. However, I’m sure they went through similar experiences. Just remember each and everyone one of you is different and produces work in different ways.

 

 

Student Life

Students: What You Wish You’d Been Told About Third Year!!

As my final university year comes to a close, with the triumphs and breakdowns. I think it would be useful to think about what I wish I had been told before I begun my final undergraduate year at university. From triumph to breakdown, I’ve been through it all. Therefore, I feel more than qualified to pass on my wisdom.

Here is a list of things I wish I’d have been told before third year, on how to deal with third year:

Breakdowns are unavoidable, and they happen. You just have to let the emotions out and you’ll feel better.

I know if you are a second year you’ve probably heard the joke about the amount of breakdowns a third year student has, and I bet you think that it is a little extreme! Well, let me tell you I reached my limit, three-four times this year and I’ve heard about other students experiencing more. It happens, and when it does just accept it. You’ve bottled the stress up so much, you’ve built the pressure of the dissertation in your head and you’re attempting to have a life. You have to release it. It’s not conducive to a proper work environment. And I can personally tell you, the emotion may overcome you at a random time when work is not even in front of you. It could be the littlest thing to push you.

You cannot control everything, no matter how organised you are. 

It’s true. You might be the most organised student in the world but, you cannot control third year. The first two years you’ve developed a system, you know when you work best and how you work. But, with all the running around you are bound to get ill. The dissertation is at the back of your mind and it is a constant stresser. And stress is not good for your health-mentally or physically. Which leads me to my next point…

Make time for yourself!

girl runner in reflective jacket
My Running Time

I run. That is my me-time. You have to find an activity in third year solely for you. Something you like to do, that helps you because whilst friends are great. You need to have time to yourself as we all work differently so someone elses early finish, is another persons late start. But don’t place pressure on yourself because of this! You work out whats best for you.

Don’t place all your energy into producing a dissertation. It is just one module!

The dissertation is one module, and it is worth twenty credits. And I KNOW it has a huge build up to it but, there are other assignments who deserve as much attention, as the dissertation does. And each assignment is just as important as the dissertation. I worked one assignment at a time, and I achieved firsts in every module in the beginning of third year. 

But don’t forget the dissertation either…

Black Cover, Sheffield Hallam Logo Channel Bound Dissertation
My Bound Dissertation

While, you shouldn’t place all your energy into the dissertation, you shouldn’t forget about it either. It is a huge undertaking research and you need to work out what is best for you. Keep in contact with your tutors, they are there to help and guide you and the worst thing you could do is not utilise the resource that is available to you. The tutors want to see you succeed!

Make a schedule- and stick to it. 

You don’t want to be someone who does all the work in their final weeks for the dissertation. It is a year around module, and so use the year constructively. Set yourself tasks and complete them on schedule. And again, if you work well with deadlines then inform your tutor. They can set you deadlines for completing work, which keeps you on target. So, I found all my books and resources, and episodes within first semester for my dissertation. I completed notes on it by the end of January, due to a few hiccups I encountered- getting the flu for the first time in my life. And then my tutor set me a deadline for a completed draft, which I had to push by a week due to illness and injury. But, I still had three weeks till the deadline to do any alterations.

Use the university services available to you!

You may find yourself struggling and that is okay. There are university services available to you, through student support or the library. So, if you are unsure about referencing then sign up to a library session and grab the help you need. If you see a support tutor every week due to a learning issue, then make sure to show them your work. Sometimes, you look at something so much, the words begin to jumble and it just takes another set of eyes to pick up on good points or issues with your work. But, it is not just the people employed by university. Did you know that aside from you, the harshest critic of your work will most likely be a student so, tell your friends you would like them to read work and use them. For the most part, it is likely they are in the same position. But, remember to tell them to give you a truthful opinion, if it needs changing it needs changing.

It’s time to start thinking about the future…scary!

It may be a scary thought but, third year is about looking to the future and beginning to make life choices. Now, not everyone knows what they want to do and you know what that is okay. However, you need to have some plan so, you can begin planning your year around the next move in your life. I have decided I would like to work for the next year, before returning to gain a Masters degree. So, I have a plan. But, that won’t stop me from applying for jobs. Set up as many paths as possible and then you can choose which one you will take a journey down, as in the future you can always decide to change direction and jump onto another path.

Finally…Have Fun!!!

University isn’t the only thing in your life, and whilst third year may be stressful and take over your life it shouldn’t. Go and have fun. You don’t have to work constantly to get good grades, so meet with friends, go out and have fun. Or use spare time to develop yourself, it is as simple as setting up a blog or learning a new language or planning to travel. There are a million options in life, and you can pick from them all. Just have fun. For most of you, it’ll be the last year and although university is where we make the friends we’ll probably keep for life, go and have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

Student Life

The Panic is Over

Oops!! It’s been an entire month since I have posted to my blog…not good. But, I have been busy! So, now its time to get back to creating content and officially setting up my portfolio. As I have said many times, I am a third-year media student and so I have been focusing on writing my dissertation, which will soon be available once I have graduated.

So, my first post…and I’m sorry you will be bombarded today will be about the PANICKED few months I have had. I am a person who has to sit with all the information in front of me thus, meaning all my research must be completed first before I can plan and then write an assignment out. I know it sounds like a lot but that’s how my brain works! So, as you can imagine during the week I sat and physically wrote my paper was everywhere, my white board was filled with notes, I had a huge ultra detailed plan and books lived all over my desk while I sat typing. And let me tell you as someone who is opposed to a lot of mess, these two traits in my personality clash a lot! The mess stresses me out, but so does not having my notes everywhere! I believe its called organised chaos…

Organised Chaos:

“a complex situation or process that appears chaotic while having enough order to achieve progress or goals”-Collins Dictionary

I don’t know how my parents put up with me, as the only place to do work is on the kitchen table and they have to use the table. It’s a system of moving my work around to do stuff and then remembering exactly where it went (on their behalf) otherwise, unfortunately it serves to stress myself out more.

Aside from my dissertation panic, I’ve also been ill, had a fall causing a soft tissue injury and trying to get other assignments started or finished. So life has been so busy lately, it feels like I haven’t stopped at all. However, while the panicky feeling has been very annoying it has been helpful. I always think if you are to calm while completing work then there is something wrong, you should be feeling nervous because those re-writes are what makes it better. If you feel like that, then you strive to do better!

So, I’ll now get around to updating more posts. You’ve been warned. Sorry about the lack of posts, I’ve been so busy. Third-year has been crazy. Time to adult.

Life, Student Life

Life Has a Way of Creeping Up on You


So, I’ve been sat doing work today, despite illness for an assignment that’s due in a few weeks time. And, as I packed up having written notes on the books I have and having found two more I want to look at before I find journal articles and write a plan this weekend for it. I found myself thinking about how fast final year has come around, it only seems like yesterday that I started first year after taking the decision in the summer to actually attend university. And so, this post is about reflecting on my growth and happiness and to encourage people to take chances. 

First Year: I was scared, wondering whether I’d made the right decision about Sheffield Hallam University and commuting from home, as it was the cheapest decision. But, as I started my assignments and managed to come out with a mid 2.1 overall for the entire year. I even managed to get my first, first which inspired me to carry on aiming for a good grade. Also, I made the decision to move out for second year which was huge because I’m so close to my family but, I wanted to experience university. The independence and the decision to go to university is one of the best decisions I made, it gave me perspective and I became happier and happier! 


Second Year: It was a little rocky at the beginning. I’d never lived on my own and it was hard to get into my own routine. But, after deciding to put myself first and learning how to budget-I’ve known how to look after myself for a while- I was happy. Happier than I’ve ever been which reflected in university with more firsts and leaving with a high 2.1 overall for my overall. I needed to learn to take breaks, and eat when I was doing work but, I did with the help of mum and dad. 

Third Year: So, semester one is over and although it was very stressful for me I have come out the other side. I got extremely good and consistent grades throughout and I’m hoping to carry that on in this semester. I’ve made a decision to come back and get a MASTERS after a year out, to get perspective ( I’ve been in education my entire life). But, I’m happy. I can sit back and be proud of everything I’ve achieved. 

But, now I’ll be in the real world and it has a funny way of creeping up on you. You don’t know how quickly it goes, university is only three years and I have to begin making decisions about what I want in life. I’m still close to my family, I have supportive friends and feel like I’m in the right place in life, that I need to be right now. 

So, all this from just doing some assignment work. I’ve made decisions today, that I need to have schedules sorted and make sure I have breaks so I don’t over stress. I’ll update my blog on my progress and my dissertation work over time. 

Student Life

A Round Up

So, on my blog I started talking about a module I’d been taking at University: Media Tech. I wrote about it for two reasons if I am honest. Firstly, it wasn’t like any other module I’d ever taken and so, as a way to understand what I was learning I thought blogging about it would help. It is like the saying you hear throughout education.

“If you want to understand, then teach it to someone else and you’ll see how easy it is to learn…”  

And secondly, it seemed interesting enough to add on my blog because, it is diary-like, I wanted to show my interest and my struggle. But, as assignments wore on I had less time to blog which led to me dropping the ball…sorry. So, I’ve decided to write a conclusion to the module to finish my little blogging post off which, with my nature, leaving something half-finished is annoying!

So, the last thing I wrote about was FRED week and I could summarize each class but, that will take ages but, if you want to see the assignments I completed then please click here  and you’ll be taken to my blog posts but, I will reflect on the assignments as well!

The Assignments- the first assignment, I can admit was hard and stressful and with other personal issues-draining. But, I managed to complete the assignment which I was very happy with overall. Because if I’m honest I thought I’d fail this module after I sat through the first class. My brain was over-loaded. We had to create a working prototype, then a presentation to sell our working prototypes, and then two blog posts- one on reflection and the other on the product- again selling it to the world. Alongside, that we had other assignments for other modules which were equally as stressful as I had to work with new people, and write in ways I never had before. We created ShakeItUp with the idea that different cultures and countries could mix around the world, joining forces to play drinking games or create mocktails. There were times when I felt like giving up but, it made me believe in my ability to create something and see that I could do more than I thought I was capable of!

Now the second assignment was due after Christmas and we just received the marks for it. I was pleasantly surprised with what I achieved. But, I did really enjoy the assignment. I chose to write about Hybrid Cloud Computing for a couple of reasons- firstly as a self-admitted untechy person I wanted to learn about something I knew nothing of, but it had to be interesting and we all have cloud software. As I found a network of articles, I believed I could write this assignment. And I did. My parents read over most of my work- I hope they learnt something- to tell me if my work makes sense. My aim is if they can understand the idea, then it is something I will submit. It was the easier of the two assignments I attempted over Christmas and at times I struggled, and at one point I cried! (my computer stopped responding, closed everything down and I had to rewrite about 900 words as it went to the save where I had my introduction written and nothing else). Now, there is some irony-maybe I should have backed up to the cloud! Or on a memory stick. It taught me something new, it challenged me and that is why I enjoyed the assignment.

The Module- I’m going to be honest, it was not my favourite module-moral panics took that spot- and at times I felt like a breakdown was needed but, I stuck by the module and my guns-raising my issues- AND I’m happy I did. There were time I was lost, I had a week off due to illness and came back thinking I was in an alien world but, there were times where I was proud of myself because I had grasped a theory, or achieved something I didn’t think was possible. And I guess, that is what a module is supposed to do! It’s supposed to push you further, otherwise why am I paying this money. Would I have preferred this module in a less stressful year-not dissertation year? Yes, it wouldn’t have stressed me out as much. You see it is impossible to say this module was bad, it could have been better but, I can see the merit of learning about technology and how this applies to Media. Its an interesting perspective, and I’m glad I took it despite all the stress because it pushed me, it forced myself to learn in a new way-although I like my old way better- and although I dragged my feet, I enjoyed the second assignment immensely.

Here comes my funny little anecdote…

So, my dad was reading my Hybrid Cloud Computing work and I speak about the Panopticon- a symbolic representation of surveillance society…you’ll have to read my blog posts to understand it. Anyway, he read that part about a surveillance society and bluntly announced- and that’s why I don’t like Cloud technology, you don’t know who is looking and what they read. Let me make myself clear, despite this my dad is the person in my family who wants to understand how his tech works? Well, I find out and then write instructions but, then I also sit and explain to him how it works…

To read about hybrid cloud computing click here, here, and here!

Student Life

FRED Week

Well, last week at university we had something called a FRED week. I know what you are thinking…who is FRED and why does a university have a week based on a person well, we don’t. FRED was a professional development week in which we could sign up to sessions such as; Grad Talks aimed at a specific year, alternative media, blogging etc. It helps you to develop already growing skills, attend interesting talks and it gave you a relaxed week to get on top of those dreaded assignments.

I attended three classes overall, and spent other days getting assignments sorted….

So, the first class I attended was a little introduction that will help with my elective module next year; alternative media. It focused on alternative medias i.e. music etc and how there are so many different forms of media alternative to the mainstream forms we are used too. For example, the fanzine. It concluded with a documentary on The Ramones a punk band from the 80’s. Overall, I enjoyed the talk and found a new band to listen too so, I’d say its a pretty good experience and has given me some insider knowledge for next term.

Next, I went to a class on how to write a good blog post. Yes, I am now writing a blog post. But am I following what he said? Overall, I blog the way he was talking about anyway including pictures, breaking up text and adding sub-heading where appropriate. The only thing I slightly disagree with is the idea a blog post that will get the most hits has to be around 1500 words long. I get bored reading long ones sometimes, why would I subject someone else to that? I think posts should vary based on the topic, passion and if you can right 1500 words on a topic. How do you not run out of steam? I’m getting off topic here. In all honesty, there is no correct blog post length you either attract people to your blog or don’t it is the way it works.

Finally, I went to a graduate talk for Third Year students. I do fit into this category just so we are clear. I’m in my final year. I found it very rewarding. The lady went through assessment centres, graduate schemes etc and gave us a practical task. She constantly asked how confident we felt and then told us to book an appointment with her in order to get more advice. She was generally helpful and gave me much more confidence in myself to find a job.

Third Year Sneaks up on you and then boom… you’re out in the real world!

So, FRED week was good but getting my presentation sorted made me feel much better and clarifying essays. I feel much more on top of assignments which must mean I had a productive week overall. I think organisation is key in third year of risk being trampled by every event, assignment and meeting you need to attend.

Student Life

Hidden Treasures!

I have stumbled upon a hidden gem while, doing research for a university assignment. Imagine yourself sat down, getting ready to perform research into a topic you have no idea about. Where is the first place you go? Me, Wikipedia but only for the references. If you look in the references you’ll discover millions of academic articles that people may have used and/or find useful with the topic. I’m not saying that you should use the actual Wikipedia page, except maybe to get a slight overview but always look in the references. This is for two reasons; firstly, if you find something that states what is being said then use that as it’ll be a more legitimate source and secondly, you never know what you’ll find.

So, onto this hidden gem. It was near the top of the references but, as I’m looking into privacy on social networking sites and in the title it had Facebook, I thought it would be useful. It also caught my eye because of the end of the hyperlink .edu which means normally this is associated with education so, if an institution can have it on their site then it should be something you look at. In order, to make this post ‘easy reading’ I’m going to break the article down into sections and then I’ll provide the link-referenced of course if you find yourself wanting to have a look.

A tidbit that I just learned is that this article was this article is one of the first discussions upon Facebook and Privacy, as it was created in 2005 (this tidbit is thanks to my lecturer).  However, do not dismiss the article due to age. The older ones provide a framework for newer works but also, they breakdown the subjects a lot better as it was (when it was produced) a new subject academics were commentating upon.

Introduction

Back in 2005, we’d seen a boom in social networking, with thousands flooding to sign up. No longer were the days of MYSPACE and BEBO etc considered to be aimed at a niche market. This article comments upon “Online Privacy and Social Networking” using, Facebook within a study they conducted. But, firstly they breakdown social networking. Every social networking site has one basic, core feature in common- a user profile. It’s on every website, most dating apps and social networking sites in particular.

A Breakdown of Online Privacy and Social Networking 

As there are so many of these social networking sites, they can have different functions so, dependent upon that, we reveal a wide range of details about our personal life. Some networking sites allow you to use pseudonyms thus, maintaining some privacy but is this really true? We are creatures of habit and that means we will use the same pictures allowing people to create connections and find personal information out before you even talk. We all have a small circle of friends that we share our inner most personal details with, but this article asks how many strangers (the friends of friends, random people) we have accepted upon our social networking sites also know this personal information too. Social networks allow us to ‘air’ our personal problems, celebrations etc but who sees it? But, we are happy to display ourselves so happily to the world. Privacy is dependent upon the person, possible receivers and the millions of uses of the site. Most sites have a privacy policy, as you should all be aware which some experts believe to be enough to combat privacy issues as well as how we as users, use the sites themselves.

The Study

* CMU stands for Carnegie Mellon University.

*SO’s stands for Significant Others.

They took 4000 users of a site (Facebook) aimed at college students. If I haven’t mentioned it enough already its Facebook. The study shows how relaxed we are within the site, referring to online privacy. The demographic of most social network sites is college students thus, that is why they created a study using 4000 people from a college as their sample. Furthermore, when sign up to social networking sites there is a privacy policy, for which we must agree too which clearly states what they will do with your information, and how the you personally use the site in order to ‘cater’ to you better. The participants are all from “Carnegie Mellon University” (CMU).

Findings

They went online and searched for male and female students separately that attended CMU using the sites advanced search feature. On whole they downloaded 4500 profiles and the students ranged from under graduate students, graduate students, staff and faculty members. Here are some facts and figures for you;

  • 90.8% of profiles contained an image.
  • 87.8% of users had revealed their birth dates
  • 39.9% had revealed their phone number
  • 50.8% had revealed their current residence.
  • Also, the majority of users had revealed sexual orientation, relationship status, political views and their various interests.
  • And 62.9% had revealed who they were in a relationship with and a link to their SO’s profile.

They found that the usage of Facebook was relatively similar between males and females except with relationship status. Males shared their phone numbers more than women, in an attempt to attract someone.

Next they selected 100 out of the 4500 participants profiles at random to analyse the accuracy of information provided analysing profile names, identifiability of images on profile and friends networks discovering;

  • 89% of people used their real names, 8% used fake names and only 3% partially revealed their first names.
  • 61% of images identified the users clearly, 80% of images revealed some useful information to make an identification and 12% of images were clearly not related to the user.
  • 78.2% of people on the users friends list were attending CMU, 54.9% of people were friends at other schools. Also, 76.6% of users have 25 or more CMU friends whereas 68.6% of profiles show 25 or more non- CMU friends.

Findings surrounding privacy suggests only a minimal amount of people made use of the privacy setting around search-ability of the profile. Even more so, only 0.06% had taken advantage of the profile visibility privacy setting. They state that by simply searching on Facebook, it is possible to find a digital dossier of the participants within the study. Clearly, those within the study are simply not bothered about the information they put out there on the internet. Thus, with just the figures above it is clear to see how open many people are to a possible attack online or physically.

Conclusion

Why do we make ourselves such an open book? Are we so irresponsible with our privacy through creating social networking profiles? How can we control what information can be seen via the rest of the world? Are you now looking at your own profiles privacy settings? In today’s society, we are now using networking sites constantly and many employers search for you on google to make sure your ideals and views align with the image of their companies.We are so open in the information we give, it can be dangerous to an extent and open you up to dangers. But, privacy settings exist so you can limit those who see your profiles. We can choose what information is out in the universe of social networking. Maybe to attain anonymity people should use separate images so, to make yourself less identifiable. And who knows as you get older, and wiser maybe you’ll restrict your profiles and make them private.

This article raises a lot of questions surrounding social networks, online privacy and how we as users, use them. It’s useful in providing a beginning to the debate of online privacy as well as, helping you understand the views already out there.

References

GROSS, R. and ACQUISTI, A. (2005) Information Revelation and Privacy in Online Social Networks (The Facebook case). Available at: http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~acquisti/papers/privacy-facebook-gross-acquisti.pdf (Accessed: 22 October 2016).