Top Tips on Settling into University

Third Year Theatre Arts Education and Deaf Studies student, Alexander shares his top tips on Settling into University.

Welcome to Reading! Settling into university can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time living and studying away from home. It can take time, but here are some top tips to help you out.

· Make your room look and feel ‘homely’. Put up posters and pictures on your noticeboards, bring your bedding from home. It may sound like a small thing but having things you recognise from home help you to feel more settled and relaxed.

· Go out to social events, even if this seems daunting to you or you are exhausted from travelling and unpacking. You don’t have to go out drinking, there is something for everyone at uni!

· Join a society, club or sport – Reading has many different options, from Arts and Crafts to Qudditich! The best way to meet people who share the same or similar interests to you is to join something to attend on a regular basis. It’s a chance to switch off from study and even try something new.

· Check out where your nearest shops are and how to get to them. Look up the different walking, cycling and bus routes you think you may need to use. When travelling by bus in Reading you need to have the correct change as the drivers on Reading buses can’t give change. You can also use the ‘SimplyUni’ card that you top up online and scan when you board the buses.

· Agree with your new flatmates how you want to organise items such us washing up liquid, cleaning materials etc. It sounds like a small thing, but sometimes people assume an item left on the side is for communal use. Discuss with them to see if people would be happy to buy their own, take it in turns to buy or share the cost between you.

· Register with a GP – even if you’re one of those lucky people who never gets ill, it’s still worth registering!

· Look into extra-curricular things, for example volunteering and the Reading Experience and Development (RED) Award. These can help you gain new skills, meet people and looks great on your CV.

· Explore Reading. It’s always good to break out of the student bubble.

All the best with your course!

There’s always room for a little more drama in your life…

Third Year History and English Literature Student, Ciara tells us “There’s always room for a little more drama in your life…”

Reading University Drama Society (RUDS) is the first society I joined. Being a lover of performing and singing, and a theatre enthusiast in general I was incredibly eager to join and I have never looked back. Whilst it seems like everyone is so much more confident than you are, the important thing to realise is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is just as nervous. One social in and I was chatting to everyone there as if I’d known them for years! This society has something for everyone – it doesn’t matter if you have never acted before, you can join and try out something new – the society prides itself on being fair to its members and ensures that everyone who wants to can be involved with every production!

Every year we put on numerous shows, and you will have the chance to suggest what the society performs – overall we do 6 shows throughout the year, including a Shakespeare, a musical and the charity 24 hour musical. Every production is so much fun and brings the whole society closer together, and as expected, when a group of excitable dramatic students get together it’s never boring, to say the least…

Get involved!

There are so many different ways to get involved with RUDS! I personally have never acted in a play or musical since joining the society, but that is obviously the most popular choice. After joining you will be able to find out about when and where the different auditions will be taking place and how you have to prepare for them! But if you don’t think acting is for you then don’t worry – there are so many more opportunities!

Hair and Make Up 

I have done the hair and makeup for around five different productions, and have loved it so much! It requires little commitment to the show so if you’re a busy person but still want to get involved then this is the perfect role. It’s so much fun, especially when the characters

have interesting or more challenging make up, such as making them look old or ill or even suffering from a vampire bite!

Tech 

If you’re a tech wizard then the society needs you – all the lighting and sound queues mean a lot of work for the tech crew, so there are many ways to get involved with that aspect!

Producing or Directing 

This last year I was able to produce A Midsummer Night’s Dream which was the most exciting and fun experience of university so far! It’s a commitment but you’re able to really integrate into the society and make strong friendships with the cast and crew. I had never produced a play before but I was able to learn so many new skills and it sparked a real love of production for me! You will also have the opportunity to direct shows – for the large autumn, Shakespeare and the musical you can present your idea to the society and everyone will vote for which idea they like the best – giving you the chance to direct a show!

Choreography 

If dancing is your calling then we always need people to come up with routines for our different shows – there is a lot of dancing in this society!!!

There are so many different ways to get involved in RUDS – it is such a welcoming society, and because of how busy and sometimes stressful being in a play can be, our welfare officers are dedicated to making sure you will fit in and are coping well within the society and within general university life. I have had the best two years in RUDS and made friends for life! It’s a society where I can have fun with other drama lovers and enjoy contributing to each new play. Make sure to head to the societies fair in Welcome Week and pick up a RUDS leaflet and talk to the committee about the society!

 

Video Killed the Radio Star?

Third Year Geography Student, Jack tells us more about Junction11 Radio…

Always the first to grab the AUX lead on a road trip? Friends fed up of hearing you bang on about new music and upcoming artists? Fancy yourself as the next Nick Grimshaw or Annie Mac? Whether you want to present a show on air or simply help behind the scenes with production, marketing, social media and more Junction11 Radio is for you!

Junction11 is the University of Reading’s student radio station, broadcasting across campus in University outlets and to the world on www.junction11radio.co.uk. The station boasts a fully functional radio studio based in the Stephen Lawrence media centre in the heart of campus, good links with local and national radio stations and is a member of the Student Radio Association.

Run by students for students all members of the committee are studying at the University of Reading and have been involved with the society – no scary executive or board of directors to pitch to, just a friendly community of likeminded, music loving individuals!

Music

Far from simply playing the charts on a loop of unparrelled despair Junction11 promotes the play of all genres of music, so, if like me, you have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of ‘Cheese Hits’ from across the decades (seriously, it’s worrying at times) then you can play them to your hearts content on one of Junction11’s ‘speciality’ shows. The station splits the day into distinct categories, each with their own style ranging from breakfast shows to the brand new Junction11 ‘After Dark’, no matter what you want to play on air, there will be a slot for you!

Events

Junction11 hosts a number of events throughout the year, these have included:

· Live Lounges – just like Radio1, Junction11 invites local bands to showcase their material

· Union Takeovers – presenters on Junction11 often get the chance to DJ at the Students Union on a Wednesday/Saturday night on union takeover nights

· Battle of the Bands – local bands compete to be awarded the ‘best band’ trophy

· Summer ball – presenters on Junction11 have the opportunity to DJ the annual summer ball to a crowd of over 4,000 students

Events are a great way to showcase the talent on campus and often attract a large volume of students and the general public.

Awards

The annual Society and Media Awards are a chance to celebrate the amazing work that has come from the University’s societies and media streams in the past year. From ‘Best Radio Show’ to ‘Best Media Newcomer’ there are a vast array of awards celebrating hard work, dedication and talent.

(Zack and I picking up the award for Best Radio Show)

Get involved!

If broadcasting to the world in a fully kitted out radio studio for only £10 a term or helping out with production and marketing behind the scenes of some of the biggest shows on campus sounds your thing (and let’s face you’d have started watching fail videos or something by now if it wasn’t…) then get down to Fresher’s Fayre during welcome week and make a beeline for the Junction11 stall (you’ll hear us before you see us!).

If you have any personal questions prior to Fresher’s Fayre then you can contact Junction11’s Studio Manager (which happens to be yours truly…) on studiomanager@junction11radio.co.uk or for anything about J11 and Freshers Fayre it’s getinvolved@junction11radio.co.uk

Yogalates Society

Third Year Geographer, Holly blogs about the Yogalates Society.

The Yogalates Society is currently the largest society on campus with over 500 Facebook group members. I have been a member of the Yogalates Society since it started in 2015. It is on once a week on Tuesday evenings in Wessex Hall on Campus. Yogalates is run by a fun and friendly committee of students, for students of all abilities. It is an exciting mix of yoga and pilates. Membership only costs £10 for the whole year and all you need is a yoga mat or towel and a bottle of water! The sessions are very relaxed so you can take them as slowly or intensely as you want. I find it an easy way to stay fit around lectures and assignments as well as a fun social society with regular socials to Q club and the Student Union. The sessions are usually to music and sometimes include paired exercises and competitions. The yogalates society won the most improved RUSUS sports club in 2016. If you are looking for a fun and affordable fitness society where you get to meet new people, then Yogalates is the place for you!

For up-to-date information or to get in contact with the committee, join their Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/948592071865436/ 

How to make the most of your Welcome Week

Third Year Biological Sciences Student, Chui-Yan shares her Top Tips on how to make the most of Welcome Week.

Find your way around

Firstly, I would recommend learning how to get to your lecture rooms, so you don’t get lost when they begin the following week. There are campus tours held during Welcome Week that will show you around the university. It can also be useful to learn where your local supermarkets are for groceries.

Meet other students

Take advantage of the many taster sessions by societies and sports. It gives you the chance to try out something new or find those with the same interests as you. They are a great start to build lasting memories and friends. You can also get to know people through night socials included in the Fresher’s wristband when you buy it but there are other socials available for students.

Check out the university

You should take a look inside the RUSU building as it provides many useful services and facilities such as the bookstore, Blackwell, where you can typically get new or second hand books that are used on your course. There’s also the Bagel man AKA Cerealworks, which is best known for its delicious bagels. And if you plan to use the university library, they usually have sessions that you can book around to learn how to use and borrow books from the library.

Be proactive

There will be many great opportunities during Welcome Week to prepare for the term ahead. So, be sure you attend the Academic Success Fair for information on academic support, course queries and module advice. Don’t miss out on the Fresher’s fayres too, where you can find out more about volunteering, societies & media and sports.

Look after yourself

Get the flu vaccination in advance to avoid the dreaded Freshers’ flu but do still take care of your health. This means staying hydrated, eating healthily and getting enough sleep. Also remember to wear warm clothes for the season or else you’ll become ill. It is recommended that you register at a local GP and ensure you have had the Meningitis AWCY vaccine as well.

Get help early

There will be many Freshers’ Angels and other student ambassadors around campus to help you. They are mainly only there during Welcome Week, so ask your questions now rather than later. You will have a STaR Mentor available throughout autumn term if you still need help or guidance though. There are also support centres now for assistance in academic and non-academic issues.

Preparing for your first or second year

Student Princeton is just going into his second year, and has some great tips on getting prepared for your year ahead – just before the Autumn term starts!

Preparing for your first or second year will give you an important advantage to ensure that the rest of your following academic year runs smoothly.  This short blog will cover some of the essential things you could be doing to have a smooth and efficient start to your year.

Write a C.V

Not only are C.Vs used for jobs, you may also need to provide a C.V for work experience or voluntary work. It is compulsory that you have a well-presented C.V which highlights your accomplishments and unique set of skills to allow you to stand out to your future employers.

Work experience

Taking part in work experience or voluntary work allows you to gain more knowledge and improve your skills which lets you build a stronger C.V. For example, I study a degree in biology so I decided to shadow doctors and work in labs.

University routine

Making a plan or routine for your week can be very important as it will help you save time in the long run and keep you organized.  Similarly, you should look at recommended reading lists for your modules to get ahead of your course. This will give you time to prepare and to ask questions about topics you are confused about.

Note taking and essay writing

If you are beginning first year looking at note taking methods such as the Cornell method will help you keep your notes more organized. The Cornell method is a technique many students find very useful. You can find tutorials on how to use the Cornell method on YouTube. Many modules also have coursework that is graded by essays, so refining your essay writing will help you get better grades. You can find many guides and tutorials for essay writing on the University of Reading library. The library provides many tutorial videos covering a range of topics which I’ve used during my first year.

Enjoy and Relax!

Lastly it is important that you relax and enjoy the last of the summer before the start of your academic year. Spending time with friends, trying out new hobbies and exploring new places will help take off any stress before the start of your year at university. My hobbies include photography and music. I recently started teaching myself the guitar at university and I will continue learning it during summer. I’m also going to be travelling to Italy this summer with my friends to spend time with them and to relax.

Mindful about money

Whether you’re a new student about to start studying with us, or returning and want to be savvy with your finances, student Nozomi shares some of her tips on saving. 

You wake up to the sound of your alarm on a Monday morning. After a weekend with friends and family, and perhaps even a holiday not long ago – you are struck by the realisation that it is August and you’ll be at university in a month or so and that means buying your own groceries, paying bills and that money matters.

But affording student life doesn’t need to mean two part-time jobs along with your studies and an anti-social life. There are loads of ways you can be saving money to make it easier for you to spend time with friends at university, go home for a weekend and most importantly, focus on your degree. Here are a few ways to save!

Student Bank Account

If you’re starting university this September, have a look at opening a student bank account. A student bank account gives you an overdraft (a money safety net, so to speak) with different branches offering students different benefits along with a student bank account. At the University of Reading, we have a Santander on campus which offers students a free 4-year 16-25 Railcard! Have a browse around to see what suits you best before settling on one bank.

16-25 Railcard

If you don’t choose to open an account with Santander or if you are not eligible for a student bank account as you may be an international student, you can still choose to purchase a 16-25 Railcard. This will save you 1/3 on train fares making journeys home and day outs much cheaper. Look out for student deals and Black Friday offers for an even cheaper price when buying a railcard!

NUS Extra Card

An NUS Extra Card give you a variety of student discounts such as 10% off at ASOS, up to 40% off a meal out at Pizza Express and with a new Co-op on campus at Reading, we’re going to make full advantage of the NUS 10% off discount at the Co-op.

An NUS Extra Card also gives you free ISIC. The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is internationally accepted as certified proof of student status. Thus, giving you discounts when you go back home or if you go on holiday!

Student Discount Websites

If paying for an NUS Extra Card doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry – you can still get student deals online. By registering student status using your university email address, websites such as UNiDAYS and StudentBeans offer you lots of student discounts from food to tech and everything in between!

Trials and Freebies

Trials are often marketed towards students – giving us some freebies for a period of time. For instance, Amazon Prime offers students a 6-months free trail and also 50% off if you were to purchase. Students also get 50% off Spotify premium.

Here’s some free software that are useful to students:

  • Microsoft Office – Using your student email account, your university will be able to provide you with all the Microsoft Office software you could ever dream of. The link shows you how we get it at the University of Reading.
  • Avast – Avast is a free and fairly comprehensive antivirus software. Definitely worth having to protect your computer. Compatible with PC, Mac and Linux.
  • Google Drive – It’s super simple to use and lets you to create basic documents, spreadsheets and presentations online making group work much easier at University.

From Your University

Yes, I know this one sounds crazy – we pay to go to University, not the other way round! Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean the University doesn’t offer us any financial help. It’s worth checking whether you might be able to get a bursary, grant or even a scholarship from your University and/or Department at University.

 

Hopefully this article has helped you chill out and bit knowing that there are so many ways to cut down your costs when you’re a University student. So lay back, relax and enjoy the rest of your summer!

See the Money Matters pages on Essentials for more information.

To bring or not to bring: Being an international student in the UK

Greetings! This is Andy, second year History M.Phil Graduate Student. Like many of you I wanted to pack my house in my suitcase when I was preparing to study in the UK. For me packing for university was an experience I had already had but many years ago, back in my own country; when I did my undergraduate degree I was only two hours away from home. It was easy for my parents to bring forgotten items up to me. This time, I was traveling to a different country and on the other side of the world. I couldn’t just call home if I forgot anything.

First and foremost, make sure you have your passport, ID, CAS letter and any other information that is required by immigration neatly organized and ready to give to immigration once you get off the plane. It is not a good idea to place this in your checked baggage. You see your bags AFTER you have a nice visit with Border Control.

You know your favourite hair dryer? Shaver? Or other electrical items? Just leave them at home. Yes, you can buy a transformer or power converter, but from personal experience and a visit to a Travelodge, I do not recommend it. I blew the circuit breaker for my whole room with one I bought from Amazon. You can buy new hair dryers or shavers for a good price at Boots or Asda.

Your laptop and cell phone chargers are easy to get a different cord or transformer. There are a few stores on the high street that carry parts. Apple is there as well. So, if you are a Mac user all your bits and bobs can be taken care of by their fabulous helpers. Pens and pencils and desk supplies you can buy here for pennies, so you can leave those things at home if you want.

Clothing wise, try to pack light. Everyone says, ‘leave your sweaters at home’. They are right, you can buy them here and they take up space in the suit case. Bring an umbrella. This is England. It rains quite often.

If you are coming with your family to study, here are a few tips as a mature student with children. One piece of advice is to have your children pick their favourite toy and make a play sac for them for the plane and some things for them to have while they are here. If they have a tablet, bring it. It will save your sanity. Crayons and colouring books are also a great thing to pack as well. They even have them for adults!

Think you are going to miss your family? Pack some pictures without the frames. Wilko and Primark all have inexpensive frames and you can purchase them and place them in once you are settled.

Finally, if you have any medical conditions that need monitoring, make sure you get a current prescription for any medication and bring the necessary medical records with you. Keep these on you and give them to your new GP.

To second the above, if you wear glasses or contacts, bring them but don’t worry about packing a huge bottle of solution.  Having your prescription handy is also a good thing. If you must have solution for contacts; it needs to follow airline regulations. You can get new ones, and save space once you arrive at Boots.

These tips are the most important ones and ones I remember using. Yes, I did forget a few things, but it wasn’t detrimental. But as always, the summer holiday is dwindling down and we’re getting closer to the start of the new academic year. Happy packing and safe travels!

Here comes the sun

The summer is still in full swing! Second year student Nozomi takes us through her top tips on making the most of the rest of the summer…

Summer Ball has come and gone and you’ve said your ‘see you laters’ to your flatmates and coursemates. You may have even already gone on holiday. Now you’re sat at home having a well-deserved break after another busy academic year. But now you’re thinking, well, what’s next?

In all honesty, I believe it can be anything. All of us at university now have an entire world ahead of us. We’re at a point in our lives where we can choose to do whatever we want – travel, learn a new skill, get a job in anything we want to do – we have it all ahead of us.

But we all have to start somewhere, and for me, I’ve decided to focus on me and gain more work experience to help me decide what exactly it is that I want to do next.
So here are some things you might want to do this summer before the stress of lectures, seminars, tutorials and coursework all kicks in.

Give that CV a boost

The University Careers Centre offers us advice on their website or you could pop into Carrington to speak to careers consultants one-to-one about it too.The internet can give you lots of CV help as well! There are lots of website like this that could help you get going.

 

Take a minute

But remember not to stress out and get overwhelmed thinking about CVs and the future. Go see a film, go to the beach with some friends, watch some Netflix.

 

Try something new

While you have the time and the sun is shining, try something new – join the gym, cook new recipes, pick up a book.

 

Work Experience

Depending on what you are interested in, you could browse these websites for some work experience. UoR Job Shop is the place to go for part-time work, graduate jobs & even available to us one year after graduation!

Some other resources that might be helpful…
Studentgems – freelance and part-time work
EventStaffing.co.uk – event and festival work
InRetail – retail work
Internwise – internships
RateMyPlacement – internships and placements
Milkround – graduate jobs
Save The Graduate – graduate jobs
TARGETjobs – graduate jobs
So why not? Summer can be relaxing and productive at the same time! Keep busy having fun and improving yourself.

What I’m doing this Summer to achieve my career goals

Our next blog comes from second year student Rikki, who tells us all about what she’s up to this summer to help her get a head start on her career!

Finding a career after University isn’t always easy, so I’ve really learnt the importance of work experience and paid jobs to help complement your final degree. During term time, it can be extremely difficult to balance lectures, coursework, social life and day to day duties along with outside work. This is why I particularly focus on building my CV and portfolio during the Summer holidays.

At uni

I study English Language here at the University of Reading, but hope to eventually pursue a career in either marketing or PR, which are both extremely competitive fields… I took an Introduction to Marketing module as part of my degree to provide me with a solid foundation, but the reality of working in a marketing firm is very different to learning the theory in a lecture. So, after achieving 82% in my final exam, I decided to get some practical experience by joining a local marketing company in my home town.

Getting work experience

The agency I worked for focused on a direct, face-to-face approach which involved both residential and events marketing. Although this was just a Summer job, the training was invaluable and enabled me to gain further confidence and enhance my verbal communication skills. I also learnt the importance of networking and building rapport.

Using my resources

Even though I sourced this opportunity myself, I have also used the University’s careers service to enable me to secure both paid and volunteering work. This all also contributes to the University’s employability award (the RED award), which I am hoping to have completed over the Summer- it looks great on your CV! I would highly recommend emailing the careers service at the University of Reading (careers@reading.ac.uk), giving them a call (0118 378 8359) or simply visiting their job shop in the Carrington building on campus- their friendly team are always more than happy to help.

My blog

Finally, during the Summer months, I have had more time to concentrate on my own beauty blog (www.lusciouslane.blogspot.com) which I created over 4 years ago. This has already given me a huge insight into digital marketing and PR, enabling me to further stand out against the majority whilst pursuing my hobbies of creative writing and photography.

In the future…

Going forward, it is my aim to secure a Summer internship with L’Oreal next year, which has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. The global cosmetics company own a huge range of makeup and skincare brands from luxury brands like YSL and Diesel to drugstore companies like Vichy and La Roche Posay. After initially discovering their Summer internships, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain some first-hand insight into what work would be like in one of the world’s leading beauty brands.

Ultimately, using your contacts and time efficiently during the Summer can mean making money, keeping busy and enhancing your future prospects. It really is a win-win situation!