Top 10 things to do in your first five weeks

Student Hannah shares her thoughts on how to make the most of your first 5 weeks…

  1. Go to the library…    

I figured I should begin with something academic as you have chosen to come to University! No, but seriously, even if you just walk into the library and have a wander, it’s good to just get your bearings

  1. Join a society/Go to a taster session…

A great way to make friends and do something you love to go alongside your studies!

  1. Cook a proper meal (with your flatmates?)…

Trust me, I know its tempting yo just eat Pot Noodles and pizza, we’ve all been there (especially me), but there’s nothing better than a proper home-cooked meal, especially if you’ve had help from your flatmates.

  1. Go into town… 

Self-explanatory really, Reading is your home for the next 3 / 4 years – go and explore! On the 2nd October, The Oracle holds ‘Student Sessions’, where retailers give students exclusive discounts – definitely worth checking out!

  1. Register with a doctor

Seems like a pain, but fresher’s flu is real and so is illness, better to know there’s always somewhere you can go!

  1. Get a TOTUM card

The new NUS card, its gets you discounts at loads of retailers and cheaper entry into Union – what more could you want!?

  1. Explore our campus(‘s)…  

I mean, it’s literally award-winning… The Harris Garden is one of it’s best kept, not so secret, secrets! Oh and we have amazing bars on all of our campus’ if you fancy a tipple…

  1. Go to Café Yolk

Are you a breakfast/brunch/lunch kind of person? Love good food or a good Instagram? Look no further than Cafe Yolk!

Why you should attend welcome week

Welcome Week is still well underway! Student Melissa shares her reasons for making the most of this week…

Welcome week is finally here and although you may have a mix of emotions about starting a new course and routine, it promises to be an exciting experience.  Here are some top tips for attending the week’s events

1 Meet new people – For many new students, the prospect of meeting a sea of new faces can be overwhelming but everyone is in the same boat. Join in with what welcome week has to offer and you’re sure to meet the people that will be your friends for life.

2 Freshers and societies Fayre-with over 100 societies, sports and clubs to choose from, you’re sure to find a society where you can meet like minded people. From the jiu jitsu and rugby society to the Rock soc, Video Games and circus socimketies, you’’ll be spoilt for choice. Don’t forget the freebies!

3 Meeting your academic tutors – This a valuable way for you to get to meet the academic tutors who will be teaching you and providing you with support on the road to getting your degree- speaking to them face to face about any queries is a good way to prepare for day 1.

4 Go on a campus tour- You’ll be spending at least the next year around the campus, so be productive and get to know the surroundings, the library, support centres, services and buildings. Go and see where your classes will be and don’t forget to check out Harris gardens!

5 Enjoy the free events- Did someone say board games night? Free breakfast and soup lunch? Martial arts?! These activities are unmissable and free-why not join in?

6 Walking tour to reading town centre (Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th Sept)- Reading is a friendly student town that offers history and shopping-  find out where the 21 bus stop between town and campus is, visit The Oracle and the train station and enjoy the sights that Reading has to offer.

 

7 Ikea Shuttle Bus (Thursday 27th)- Whether you’re living on or off campus, you’re bound to want to make your new room feel homely and add some personal touches; the FREE shuttle to Ikea gives you a convenient way to get lots of new furnishings and accessories to make your new home..home!

8- RUSU nights (all week, click here)- Karaoke, quiz night and networking night at RUSU shows you a taster of what the bar has to offer. With its various themed nights catering to all ages, you’ll meet others and have a fun filled evening at RUSU.

9 School team building (Friday 28th Sept)-Meet your course mates and take part in some fun team building and ice breaking activities that will help you get to know those who will be studying similar subjects to you.

10-Finally – Enjoy the week and the activities on offer- join in and settle in!

 

How to integrate into university life

Third year English Literature student, Grace, shares some thoughts about how to settle into university life…

University can seem like a scary prospect – it certainly was for me. Mainly this was because of the element of the unknown. When I started University, admittedly I made a lot of mistakes when it came to trying to integrate into University life. There are things that I would go back and change which is why I wanted to write this article.

Societies

I let nerves get the better of me and I did not join any societies – not even the English Society! Although, in hindsight, there is no difference between turning up to a taster session for a society on your own than there is going to a lecture on your own, in my brain they were different. As lectures and seminars are things you have to do in order to complete your degree, joining a society was not. I don’t want to give the impression that if you don’t join a society you will not be able to integrate into and embrace university life – plenty of people don’t and I have still managed to establish a wonderful group of friends. However, I do believe joining a society would have made my first few weeks at university a lot easier and allowed me to try something new.

 

Campus

Whether you’re living in halls or living off campus, I would highly recommend familiarising yourself with campus and what it has to offer. First of all, it will make finding rooms and lecture theatres a lot easier. Secondly, Reading campus really does have a lot to offer. For example, until May of first year I hadn’t walked round the beautiful Harris Garden’s as I did not even realise they were there. The main benefit of familiarising yourself with campus is that before you know it, it will feel like home.

 

If there is one piece of advice that I would give to you as a new student, then it would be to be brave. Try new things, talk to new people and put yourself out of your comfort zone. Try to remember that everyone is in the same position as you.

5 Top Tips for First Term at University

4th year Kate shares her key advice for your first term!

 

Here are my top 5 tips for the first term at university. Regardless of whether you are a first year, returner or a masters student these tips will help you greatly during the first term.

Use a planner

Planner, app or phone calendar… use it religiously. It is really useful to write down your timetable somewhere in case the timetable system goes down or you forget your phone. Put in any important date, due dates, semester breaks, exams and important life events. Top tip: don’t miss a birthday!  It is also a great way to get organise and manage your time.kr

Use your Course Handbook- Found on Blackboard

So many people don’t look at it but it is your guide to your course and department. When you’re panicking about how to format an essay look no further than the handbook!  It will include who to contact for particular scenarios, assignments, contact hours, submitting coursework, word counts, reading material and so so much more! Some departments will give you a printed hand book and others will ask you to download it. Download it regardless onto your computer for quick and easy information instantly.

Seriously. Use it.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Something important to learn in the first term of university is that there are always, always people to help you. You are assigned a personal tutor and they are a great port of call if you need help. You also have a STaR mentor who has gone through the first term so throw questions there way. Lecturers are always contactable by email so don’t hesitate- ask for help.  We also have a great support and wellbeing team in the Carrington building if you need someone to speak to– Support and Wellbeing

 

Make use of the opportunities

There is a lot available during the first term of university- there are 3 fairs and multiple events. Check out what’s on Essentials!

Learn how the Library works. It is better to do this sooner rather than later!
Get started at the Library

 

Relax

First term is crazy, no lie about it. No matter what year you are in you are starting a new year, meeting new people and getting used to living away from home. Keeping busy and taking all the opportunities University has to offer is fantastic but make sure you make a little time for yourself to catch up with your favourite tv show, text a friend or face time your family.

Francesca talks about her experience of THRIVE

Biological Sciences student Francesca shares her thoughts on the University’s THRIVE scheme…

Stop ignoring the emails and get involved with THRIVE. If you’re anything like me; your time is precious, deadlines are always chasing you and what I like to call the Francesca Maestrini picture“career fear”, is always in the back of your mind. So, you’ve skimmed the email, or buried the flyer under that ridiculously expensive textbook, because if you’re honest, the last thing you have time for, is signing up to a career scheme. Good news, this scheme is one step ahead, it allows you to choose how much time you allocate to addressing your “career fear”, with no deadlines or added stress. You will be paired up with a professional of your choice, who will have the career experience you need to guide you.

I couldn’t have been luckier with my mentor, Cerys. I look back on this experience having gained so much. I admire her direct approach; Cerys is my go-to for a professional opinion I can trust. Her advice is succinct, helpful and never “pink and fluffy”. I started this partnership with no clear direction; I knew I needed some experience but I wasn’t sure what exactly, whilst mindful of the heavy competition. After the initial introduction, I set small goals with Cerys to begin applying. The support was practical and ranged from advising on CVs, cover letters and interview skills to effective decision making and thinking smart. I improved my networking skills and gained confidence when speaking to professionals at an exclusive THRIVE networking event. Despite Cerys’ busy schedule, she always had the time and energy to discuss and guide me, which motivated me to achieve two industrial placement offers within the pharmaceutical industry.

So, whether you are lost and have the “career fear” or you practically have a job lined-up already, this scheme is for you and the Reading Mentoring Team are on-hand to help. There is always something to learn. If you are the most intelligent person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Sign-up to THRIVE, you can thank me later.thrive normal

 

10 things to do in your first 5 weeks

4th year BA Art and Film student, Erin, shares some ideas about what you should get up to during your first 5 weeks at university…

 

The first 5 weeks of university can pass by so quickly…but here are some key things to get done during that time!

 

 

  1. Familiarise yourself with Whiteknights Campus

Although you will discover more about campus as you are forced to frantically find your lecture rooms, Whiteknights Campus is famed for its natural beauty. There are many wooded areas with trails weaving through the wilderness, perfect for escaping the rush of welcome week. Also Reading’s lake hosts lots of wildlife and stunning views which are definitely worth snapping for your Instagram account.

 

  1. Sign up to a local medical centre

This is very easy to do and I recommend that you sign up before, or during the early days, of Welcome Week. Freshers flu is not a myth and we’re all prone to it, whether you’ve been partying or just going to your lectures. If you go to the health centre with a form of ID you can fill out a form super quickly and you’ll be on the system in time to get treated.

Find information on local medical centres here.

 

  1. Go to the RUSU Freshers’ Fayre

The annual Freshers’ Fayre takes place over 3 days and allows people to check out each sports, recreational and volunteering societies. You get to meet the committees, talk about the year events, discuss time dedication and gather flyers with all the relevant information needed for the year.

 

  1. Drop by these iconic food stops

Here is a list of must visit places for the best grub in town:

All of these are between the Whiteknights and London Road Campus so you won’t have to journey far for a snack.

 

  1. Go to the cinema

There are 4 different ways to watch films on the big screen in Reading.

  • Reading Film Theatre – On campus you can go to weekly screenings of the latest films shortly after their UK releases.
  • Reading University Film Society – Also on campus and offering weekly screenings, but offer films from the past and new releases which are sometimes voted for by you.
  • Vue Cinema – Located as a part of the Oracle in the centre of town, the Vue cinema offers low priced tickets to see the latest films.
  • Showcase Cinema de Lux – Though quite a walk or a bus ride out of Reading, Showcase offers a luxury cinema experience.

 

  1. Check out the RUSU schedule of events

Throughout term time RUSU run weekly events for students which are a great opportunity to meet new people or socialise with friends.

Monday – Free pool in Mojos bar.
Tuesday – Comedy Central stand-up fortnightly, which Comedy Society members get a discount for.
Wednesday – Students Union club night: Flux.
Thursday – Quiz and karaoke every week.
Friday – Dance events are booked each term, usually 3 events per term.

There are also special nights that are held sporadically such as cocktail night, sangria night and wine and cheese night.

 

  1. Explore the lesser known campus bars

Though not as popular as Mojos and Park Bar there are two other really nice bars on campus that are worth visiting.

Park House – Popular with postgraduates and professors, this bar offers more sophisticated food and drinks but for a reasonable price.

Ice House – The ground floor of Wessex Hall has a cocktail bar equipped with a cinema! Whether you want to cosy up and watch a film or share some drinks with friends this is my personal favourite bar on campus.

 

  1. Have a good ol’ wander around the town centre

You may have been to town on nights out or planned events, but make sure you go and explore Reading properly in your first few weeks. This will mean you’ll discover shops and places before you’re trying to find them and will also mean you can have some relaxed time whilst everything new is being thrown at you.

 

  1. Make sure you pay attention to your first few lectures

I know this seems like an obvious or preachy point to make but, especially in first year, you may want to change your modules if you think you’ve taken the wrong module for you. This can only be done early on, therefore making sure you go to the first lectures for each module will help you to know if you’re studying the right topics for you.

 

  1. Make time for yourself

Finally, ensure you have some ‘you’ time. You will have just moved away from home and had a lot of new experiences so your body and mind will need to chill out. Relaxing in your room for a short time each day with a book, film, Netflix or whatever you prefer will keep you sane during these fast-paced first 5 weeks.

 

Click here to see what University events are on to support you during Welcome Week.

Trying to settle in at university? Here are a few tips!

Student Liam’s top tips on settling in…

Hey guys, I hope all of you are excited about starting at university! Gosh, I can remember back when I was a Fresher (I feel so old now), and I understand that university can seem a little confusing at first. Not to worry, I have some tips to help out:

  1. Socialising!

There is nothing more reassuring than meeting people in the same boat as you at university. As a start, why not try talk to your flatmates or people from your course? Additionally, another great way to branch out is to attend some events at the University during term time.
Personally, I found that building a group of friends made delving into university much more exciting and comfortable.

(Making friends with the local wildlife on campus.)

  1. Societies!

Love a bit of K-pop? Do you fancy making some fruity cocktails (I need one now to be honest)? There is definitely a society out there for you to try! Not only are you able to meet like-minded people, but you can also partake in something you enjoy. Here is the full list of societies that you can join at the University of Reading.

I am really interested in screenwriting and so I am definitely joining the Film Society this year; I hope to see you there if you are interested.

  1. Exploring!

We have all been there: you are on campus; you are looking for one of your upcoming lectures; and it feels like you are stuck in a labyrinth. I really would recommend just turning on Google Maps and going for a stroll. You could check out bus routes, where the town centre is located, and even just walk around the Reading campuses.
Just another little suggestion, downloading this map of the UoR Whiteknights campus is a blessing during the first few weeks.

(Just walking around the beautiful lake on campus.)

  1. Wellbeing!

Your health and wellbeing at university is the top priority. As such, it is really important that you register with your local GP. If things get a bit too overwhelming—which is totally understandable—then it is worth getting in touch with the UoR’s counselling and wellbeing service.

  1. Organisation!

I know, I know, this is the boring stuff. However, this is also really important stuff to know. The first few weeks of university have a lot going on—from Welcome Week events to your lectures.

A helpful way to organise all this without frying your brain (the University does not want that!) is to make a personal calendar or diary of events. I prefer using Google Calendar to keep everything in one place; I also frequent the UoR’s personalised timetable to know exactly what events I have coming up.

Thanks for your time, guys. Have a great time at university!

 

My experience of UoR Welcome Week

Art and Film student, Erin, shares her experiences of Welcome Week as a new student arriving at Reading…

Welcome Week started for me when I arrived at my new halls. I was in Wessex Halls which I chose due to it being located near to the art building and not far from central campus so I could relish those lie-ins before early lectures. As I was on the top floor of Wessex, and the small lift was out of order, the JCR and freshers’ angels helped me and my parents carry all my stuff up 3 flights of stairs. As my move in day was the Friday I had an extended weekend to meet my flat mates, wander around campus and settle into my room. Our JCR organised an event a day for us to get involved with if we wanted to, classic ice breakers and a local pub crawl helped me to get to know more people from my halls as well as discover the social aspects of campus and its surrounding area.

Though most of the people I knew in halls had freshers’ fortnight wristbands, I decided not to get one. I had been working all summer to earn money for University and spending £50 for clubs nights for two weeks and having to spend more when out was not ideal for me. This meant I could choose which club nights I went to during freshers, however I did miss out on a lot of the activities my flat got to enjoy.

In the first week before term starts there are three Freshers’ Fayres for society, sports and volunteering opportunities for students to join. I went to the societies fair, having already looked through the different societies on the RUSU website, I approached the Film Society table immediately. Here the committee told me about their plans for the year and taster events to come to where they will explain more about the year’s proceedings. I then went to their taster events throughout the year, later joining after the Christmas Holiday which allowed me to attend their weekly events.

I then went on to run for Film Society committee meaning that the year after I ran the Film Society stall for the Freshers’ Fayre. Being on the other side of Welcome Week was a great experience, I got to use my own knowledge of the year before to make sure that Film Society was going to be as accessible as possible to those interested. After running stalls at Freshers’ Fayre for two years now I would recommend running for a committee position to anyone who is really passionate about a society they are a part of.

Welcome Week is full of opportunities and events run by the University and RUSU for students of all interests to get involved with. The best advice I can give you is to not be shy and to put yourself out there. University is a chance to gain experiences and do things you haven’t had the chance to before; not to sit in your room waiting for your lectures to start.

 

Find out more about what’s happening this Welcome Week here.

Farewell Reading!

Finalist Geography student, Jack, shares his highs and lows of his time studying at the University of Reading…

After 3 years of hard work, turning up to every 9AM lecture (mostly), working on essays and reports in all hours and spending the occasional night dressed as something weird and wacky on a questionably sticky RUSU floor… my time at University is drawing to a close. Its been an emotional journey and somewhat of a rollercoaster but I wouldn’t change it for the World. As part of my reflections I’ve been looking back over some of my highs and lows of my time at University:

 

Highs

 

  • Field Trips – Some of my best memories at University come from the unbelievable field trips I was lucky enough to be able to go on. From climbing Mount Vesuvius to nearly sliding down a crevasse in Iceland trying to save an iPad… I’ve travelled the World with my friends and some truly amazing academic minds, advancing not only my knowledge but my character and personality, making me a much more well-rounded person.

 

  • Junction11 Radio – Those who know me personally know I literally cannot go anywhere without music, wherever I go, music follows. Junction11 Radio has given me a platform to share my love of music with a whole host of likeminded individuals as well as broadcast a show with one of my best friends out to the World across the internet (some people even enjoyed it! So much so, we won 2 awards for our work!). After university I’m planning to keep presenting on the radio back in London on hospital radio before hopefully progressing to a mainstream station.

 

www.junction11radio.co.uk

 

  • Campus – A definite high of university has been the opportunity to study in such a great location. I’ve really enjoyed being able to walk through the Harris Gardens and amazing wooded spaces this campus has to offer. Also, and most importantly, who doesn’t love seeing some goslings and cygnets in the lake?!?!

 

  • Meeting People – Finally, I’ve met some of the most remarkable people during my time at university who I know I’ll keep in contact with for the rest of my life. These people have inspired, pushed and stood by through thick and thin and I just want to say a massive thank you!

 

Lows

 

  • Pressure – The pressure at University can be intense. I think this is a low for me as I didn’t always deal with it in the best way and should definitely have made more use of the information and support RUSU has to offer and would urge everyone to have a look at the sessions on dealing with stress if finding it difficult to manage a heavy workload/pressures of university life.

 

https://student.reading.ac.uk/essentials/_support-and-wellbeing/counselling-and-wellbeing.aspx

 

  • Tonsillitis – Everyone’s body deals with stress differently, some people get shorter tempers, some withdraw, some don’t show it at all, me? I get Tonsillitis. Seriously, I had this at least once a term (which, because I couldn’t speak for a few days, some people looked forward to…). On a serious note, it’s really important to listen to your body not only at university but in life in general. Make sure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising and finding some time for you – it’s not easy but strike the right balance and you’ll be performing well, feeling great and acing life!

 

Plan for the future

 

After graduating I’m planning on having a week away with the family before starting work on the 16th July at Generation Change, a London Based charity striving to improve youth social action across the sector and ensuring charities are committed to continual learning and improvement.

But for now, all that’s left for me to say, is thank you and farewell Reading, its been a blast and an absolute honour!

 

Jack x

 

Reflecting on my time at uni

Finalist student, Alexander, shares his thoughts on his time at university…

“I’m now in my final week of being a student, so I thought I would share some of my reflections on my three years as a student here…
• The three years has gone by scarily quickly! I have always aimed to make the most of my time here, through attending careers events and Life Tools Talks, nearly all of which I have found helpful in one way or another. I can still remember helpful ‘nuggets’ from events I attended a long time ago! In my 1st year I completed the RED Award, which felt like a good achievement and I have put it on my C.V. It was a useful experience, as it motivated me to get stuck in and gain more knowledge, understanding and skills. The good thing about RED award is that you can tailor it you and do it at your own pace.

• My career plans have changed slightly since coming to university. I was unsure about what I wanted to do, but after a lot of thought, completing two careers modules, a placement, some networking, I have a much better idea. Uni is a good opportunity to think about and plan what you want to do next.

• It has been fantastic to meet a wide variety of people, from different backgrounds and walks of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, you will be accepted, as students at University are much more open-minded than they are at school! If you are finding it hard to settle in, or will be joining Reading Uni in September, check out the vast range of opportunities available here (including how to become a Student Communications Ambassador – which is the paid role myself and the other writers of this blog have).

• Hard work does pay off, but getting the work/life balance is important too. At uni my work ethic, determination and stamina have improved. At times it did feel like I was working almost non-stop (I’m sure you can all relate to that!), but on top of working hard I did have times when I played hard. I would sometimes get frustrated when my work/life balance wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I worked harder during my time at uni than I did at college and it has definitely reaped more rewards. I learnt to appreciate that getting the work/life balance is a challenge for everyone and will probably continue to be a challenge.

• Confidence in my abilities has grown. I came to uni unsure how far I would get, but willing and determined to give it a go.

• I’ve really enjoyed the independence and getting to know a new area. I have enjoyed Reading so much that I’m hoping to stay. The transport links and being close to London are what I love about Reading.

• I’ve loved studying on both campuses at Whiteknights and London Road. I think our campuses are a lot greener and more spacious than others… certainly compared to the ones I’ve visited. The Green Flag award has been well earned!

• Support from the Disability Advisory Service, RUSU and the Careers Service have been very useful and helped me to relax and be more confident.

Are you in your final year? What have you enjoyed, learnt or discovered at uni? Leave a comment below. If you are leaving uni, good luck for the future and if you’re staying at uni good luck for the rest of your course!”