Smiles All Around! International Day Of Happiness 20th March 2018

GEOGRAPHY STUDENT, JACK, TELLS US WHAT MAKES HIM HAPPY WHEN AT UNIVERSITY…

With International Day of Happiness finally here, I thought I’d share 5 things that make me happy at University!

 

  • Campus – If there’s one thing I love to do when I’m dealing with a lot of stress and pressure from exam deadlines and a busy schedule, it’s taking half an hour to simply breathe, relax and enjoy our wonderful Green Flag campus. There’s nothing quite like strolling through the Harris gardens listening to birdsong and taking a moment to appreciate the vivid colour and beauty of nature.

 

  • Societies – Societies are a great way to find a group of likeminded people and pursue something you love, and for me that’s radio! As a presenter on Junction11 Radio I get to broadcast the songs I love to the world and interacting with listeners gives me a real buzz! No matter what point in the year it is there’s still time to try something new!

 

  • RUSU – Cheese room anyone? Aside from my favourite nights out of the week, RUSU has amazing facilities including the Stephen Lawrence Media Centre and some great places to get food and drink. Personally, I love making time to play a quick tournament of pool in Mojo’s with their sharing plate of Nachos. As well as pool and Nachos, RUSU is also home to something else that makes me happy – COFFEE!

 

  • Campus Jobs – Work isn’t often described as something that makes you happy but I really enjoy the work I’ve managed to find through Campus Jobs. As a Student Ambassador and Communications Ambassador, every day I work is different. I could be teaching year 6 how to programme robots one day and writing a blog another; the breadth is really invigorating.

 

  • Bagel Man – Now here’s something I’m sure we can all agree on! Bagel Man just does make me happy, no matter what mood I’m in, having a chat to the most sociable man on Earth never fails to put me in a good mood. Oh, and his amazing bagels and milkshakes probably have something to do with it too…

 

So, this International Day of Happiness, make sure you find time to do something that makes you happy!

Remember if you’re feeling low the University has some fantastic counselling and wellbeing services so don’t deal with it alone, reach out and the University will be there to support you.

 

Everything You Need To Know About UROP

3RD YEAR MSCI PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY AND PRACTICE STUDENT, KATE, EXPLAINS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UROP, APPLICATION TIPS AND HER EXPERIENCE DOING UROP…

UROP is the University’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme. The deadline is the 29th March, so get applying quick it will be worth it…

Things to know:

  • The project is 6 weeks long, starting from a date which is agreed by you and your supervisor.
  • The bursary is £1,320 (£220/week) – You get paid at the end of your 4th week or the end of July depending on what is sooner. Oh also this money is TAX FREE!
  • You do not need to apply for a vacancy that is in your department. This may be your opportunity to learn about a new field.
  • You need to be in your MIDDLE years of your UNDERGRADUATE study
  • You gain the opportunity to learn about real research which looks great on your CV and definitely gives you something to talk about at interviews.
  • This will be formally acknowledged in your diploma transcript.
  • You will be supported in creating your poster for the presentation in November where all your hard work is evaluated and a best in category is chosen.
  • Those who are selected will be invited to the British Conference in Undergraduate Research and the two overall winners can present a Poster in Parliament.

 

Application Tips:

  • All the placement choices are currently on the UROP website.
  • Read each of the requirements carefully; make sure you meet them and have a genuine interest in the research area. This is 6 weeks of your summer, make sure it is something you really want to do.
  • Go to a UROP Information Session – they will give you some valuable information and you get a free pen! The last session is 21st March 1pm-2pm so sign up at My Jobs online.
    Check out the Student Stories post by Graham which talks all about the Information session.
  • Take time working out what you want to apply for and how many as you will have to usually submit a CV, write a cover letter and if successful go for an interview. Make sure you still have time for your academic work and you’re not applying for tonnes of vacancies.
  • Each placement may have slightly different application processes, so make sure you read the vacancies carefully.
  • Use the support provided by the Careers Centre before and after you have completed the project.
  • Check out the Essentials page for everything you need: Student Essentials

 

My experience:

I have always wanted to get some more experience working within a research field, especially before starting my dissertation. I came across UROP and thought it was a great idea and so I went to the information session to find out more. I did this with friends so it was really enjoyable and also contributed 1 hour towards my RED award.

After deciding on four vacancies to apply for I worked out which ones were due first if they had different deadlines. The ones I didn’t get an interview for gave me feedback such as “your CV and cover letter doesn’t give me enough information about your academic experience on your course” and others were due to other people just having more relevant experience. So I would say make sure you really sell yourself and use the support given by the Careers team to ensure your CV and cover letter are up to scratch..

My project was on whether a special font helps children with dyslexia read more fluently.

I was invited to interview for the vacancy I went for. Make sure you research further into the vacancy brief, the supervisor and come up with some questions before hand. Basically be prepared! I found out later that afternoon that I had got the vacancy if I wanted it. Be aware that the supervisors tend to want to know if you want it straight away. This proves difficult if you have applied for other placements and haven’t had the interview yet, so just be aware of this!

Before I started this placement I was worried because I applied to an Education Department when I was a psychology student- so a completely different department that my own. I then remembered that many people are probably in the same position and I must have got the vacancy above others for a reason. So I needed to be confident in my ability! Through doing my research project I created the materials, I ran the experiment in two schools meeting some fantastic pupils and teachers, I learnt how to use an eye tracking machine and set one up from scratch. I learnt how to analyse the data and came up with some interesting results. Throughout the project my opinions and ideas were valued and I felt like I really contributed.

The realisation in September when I remembered I had to create and present a project to judges was slightly terrifying, however I received some great support from my supervisor, my co-researcher and the UROP team. The photo below is from the Undergraduate Research showcase in November. Each placement was put in a category out of 5. Mine was prosperity and resilience. I had to sell my project in about 5 minutes and I honestly didn’t think I did that well. Unknown to me I did better than I thought and overall, I came second. This meant I didn’t automatically go through to the conference, but I was still invited to attend it due the standard of my poster. So, in the Easter break I am going up to the University of Sheffield for the conference with 6 other UROP participants to present our posters!

Overall, I would recommend the UROP scheme to anyone. I had a fantastic 6 weeks where I learnt so much and I got a great feel of a real-life research project. I met some new people and made a great friend in my research partner. I now feel a lot more confidence with research procedures and this stands me in great stead for my dissertation year!

 

 

Check out UROPs Twitter pages and Instagram for regular updates:
https://twitter.com/search?q=UniRdg_urop&src=typd

If you need any further information look at the website:

http://student.reading.ac.uk/essentials/careers_and_professional_development/grow/urop.aspx or contact urop@reading.ac.uk

How To Save Money At Uni

ACCOUNTING AND BUSINESS STUDENT, REBECCA, SHARES HER TOP TIPS ON SAVING MONEY WHILST AT UNIVERSITY…

 

As an Accounting and Business student, its fair to say I think a lot about money – how much I have and how much (more) I want to have.  These are some of the ways I ensure I’m always in the black and I am financially stress free…

 

The Basics

Firstly at the beginning of the academic year, or term, sit down with a pen and paper and do some basic calculations. In simple terms it’s all about: Money in vs. Money out. ‘Money in’ is simple: loan + job + cash from parents. For me, I like to keep my ‘money out’ as strictly fixed costs: Rent + gym. Thus giving me a spending total for the term/year. I then divide this by the number of weeks I will be at university and create a weekly budget.  At this point, you can perform a quick sense check – does this amount seem too much/too little? If this weekly budget is greater than what you usually spend/want to spend (lucky you!) – shave a little off and put that aside as ‘savings’. If you are struggling to work out just how you can live on the weekly amount, re-evaluate your ‘money in’: Maybe look into getting a job, or asking your parents for a little support.
 

Budgeting can seem difficult, it takes some self control and discipline – but there’s one simple thing that has made is very easy for me.

 

Weekly Budget

I have two bank accounts – my ‘main account’ and my ‘weekly account’. All ‘Money in’ goes into the ‘main account’, and a direct debit set up between the two accounts transfers my weekly budget (calculated above) into my ‘weekly account’ for spending. Thus I never spend from my ‘main account’ and I am always limited to spending within my weekly budget by spending out of my ‘weekly account’. This ensures I never spend above my weekly budget, and enables me to keep tabs to my spending throughout the week and term.

 

Making Cuts

Living as a student can seem challenging as our ‘money in’ is limited (to a loan… which essentially is debt). However, we can manage our finances through controlling ‘money out’/spending. It is good to have an idea of how much money you spend, for example how much your weekly food shop costs, how much you spend on nights out, and travel, and shopping, and eating out… and everything else there is to spend money on! For many, food shopping and going out are the two most expensive outgoings. In terms of cutting the groceries bill: I have found the most efficient way to reduce food waste and impulse buys is through planning meals and writing a shopping list when off to the supermarket/online shop. This limits your spending to what you actually need, which may turn out to be a lot less than what you thought you needed!

 

UROP Information Session

2ND YEAR MATHEMATICS STUDENT, GRAHAM, TELLS US ABOUT A RECENTLY ATTENDED UROP INFORMATION SESSION…

I recently attended the first of this year’s UROP Information Sessions run by the Careers Service.

UROP stands for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme and is an opportunity to do a 6-week paid research internship here on campus this summer.

I knew a little about the UROP programme before I attended the session, from information available online and from talking to a friend who did a UROP internship last summer.  I am seriously considering doing either an MSc or a PhD after my Undergraduate degree and feel this is an ideal opportunity to gain valuable experience doing research and, basically, to see if it is the sort of thing I would enjoy.

The bulk of this year’s opportunities were made available on Monday 19th February from a wide range of schools and departments, with approximately 50 internships available in total.  Unfortunately, there are none from my department, Mathematics, this year so I felt that I probably wasn’t going to get much out of the session.

However, I came away with a number of positives:

  • First and foremost a free pen, quite a nice free pen to be honest.
  • Advice that you are not limited to applying for placements solely within your own department or school. You can apply for any for which you have the necessary skills and/or experience.
  • There is a lot of support available before and during the placement from the Careers team.
  • A 3rd year student gave a short presentation and answered questions about the UROP project that she did last summer.
  • You get one hour for your Red Award by attending.
  • And that if successful in getting a UROP internship, the hours that you work also count towards your Red Award

The session reaffirmed what I understood about the UROP Scheme beforehand.  It is an opportunity to work for 6 weeks on a research project alongside an academic, you will gain valuable research experience that will look great on your CV and the academic gets support for 6 weeks.   All internships pay a £1,320 tax-free bursary, and there are a range of opportunities available across most schools and departments; check out the links below.  The application closing date for the majority of the roles is 29th March.

If you think a summer research internship may be the right thing for you, then the Careers Service are running several more of the information sessions, which can be booked through MyJobsOnline.

Details about the programme can be found here on the UROP home page.

And details about this year’s opportunities can be found via the following link

http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/urop2018/placements/

 

 

 

 

Reflections on International Women’s Day

EVEN THOUGH INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY IS OVER, HISTORY STUDENT, GRACE, REFLECTS ON THE CONTINUING IMPORTANCE OF THIS DAY BY SHARING A COLLECTION OF QUOTES FROM FELLOW STUDENTS…

“In my eyes Women’s day shines a light on the success of women and the continued need for women to pursue their ambitions, it also helps us to encourage and promote each other’s voices.”

“I think International Women’s day is great because it creates a buzz online about equality and women’s rights. I love to read about what it means to other people on social media and news articles. It gets people talking, researching and writing making it a fantastic way to promote issues surrounding gender equality.”

“Women’s day represents the continuous strides made towards the equality of genders. I am proud to be alive at a time where so much has been done to achieve equal rights and, I am glad to be in a position from which I can continue to support this progression.”

“I think it’s important to celebrate how women’s rights have developed throughout history, and to continue to develop today, in order to strengthen women’s position in society! I think international women’s day is vital in raising awareness of the gender gap and discuss ways for creating greater gender parity.”

“Women’s Day is really important to me because it celebrates the work that people around the world have done to further women’s rights and make the world a better and more equal place.”

“Women are half of the human population, they are mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. They are assets in countless ways to all our lives. So having a day to celebrate women is simply brilliant, and a much needed way of showing appreciation to women!”

“I believe Women’s day is an acknowledgment of importance of gender equality and all the people that have campaigned and fought for women’s rights over the course of history. It is also a vital acknowledgement of the work that that still needs to be done globally to achieve equality.”

Why do you think International Women’s Day is important?

Mother’s Day 2018

MSC MANAGEMENT STUDENT, HOLLY, SHARES SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY THIS YEAR…

Mother’s Day in the UK this year is Sunday 11th March, which is fast approaching! Don’t worry if you haven’t thought of what to do or get yet as I have a few ideas here for you, no matter what your budget is.

The origin of Mother’s Day in the UK is from Christianity, where traditionally, Christians would visit their ‘mother church’ on this day. This inevitably became an event where families reunited when children who were working away from home returned to visit their mother church. This reunion of the family and the occasion of children spending time with their mothers has changed the concept of Mother’s Day in the UK over time, as it is now a universal celebration of Mothers across the country that everyone enjoys.

If you are stuck for ideas of how to celebrate Mother’s Day, whether you are together or apart, I have some great ideas for you below:

  1. Make a card – homemade items are a great way to show that you care, and all you need is some paper and few coloured pens to get creative 
  2. Flowers – you could pick up flowers at your local supermarket or order from a flower delivery store where you can have them delivered straight to her door. M&S flower delivery have some great options, as does Interflora
  3. Cooking – another homemade gift idea is to bake a cake or sweet treat that you know your Mum likes, or you could even offer to cook her dinner. This can be something you do for her, or you can enjoy doing together
  4. Card and a candle – this idea is a classic Mother’s Day gift that won’t break the bank. You can get large candles from Ikea for £1.75. If you want to spend a bit more, John Lewis have an excellent range of luxury candles
  5. Perfume – This again is one that you can work to your own budget and can be extra special as it is personal. Boots have a sale on some perfumes for Mother’s Day so see if your Mum’s favourite is one of the selected lines reduced.
  6. Take her out somewhere – Another favourite gift for many on Mother’s Day is taking their Mum out for coffee, brunch or lunch. Many restaurants have a special Mother’s Day Menu and deals, for example, Pizza Express restaurants are doing 3 courses and glass of prosecco for £17.95 per person. Remember to book a table if you choose to take your Mum out to a restaurant to avoid disappointment.

This year for Mother’s Day I am taking the train home to see my Mum and I am going to buy her favourite flowers. Happy Mother’s Day!

How To Stay Motivated For The Rest Of The Year

THIRD YEAR MSCI PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY AND PRACTICE STUDENT, KATE, SHARES SOME TOP TIPS ON STAYING MOTIVATED…

Well you’re just over half way through your academic year! Regardless of what year you’re in there will be deadlines looming and the realization of exam revision becoming more apparent.

Below are a few of my tips for helping to motivate you!

Set Small Goals:

Your overall goal might be to get to the end of the year in one piece or to graduate. That is all well and good, but that goal is too general to keep you motivated. You might need more of a short-term goal.

It’s great to create SMART goals- this is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. It can be useful to create small goals which are SMART to identify if they are manageable and to recognize when we have achieved. It is important to look back at the goal to check it is achievable in the time frame you have set it and how you are going to measure it.

An example is:

  • I want to write 2,000 words of my 3,000 word essay by March 6th, as the due day is March 23rd.

You could break this down further by stating:

  • You want to write approximately 500 words a week, and you would know you have achieved this by checking the word count.

Organise fun activities to look forward to:

Look at your diary, work out when your deadlines are and when would be best to plan in some fun activities that you actually do and not get set stressed doing. It could be a proper night out with your house or course mates or even planning a holiday. No fun activity is too small; it could be as simple as playing more Xbox or having a pamper sesh.

Get some sleep:

Quite simply if you are staying up until 2am and going out every night, watching tv at all hours of the morning or just procrastinating, this is not going to help your motivation. When you are tired you are less motivated, likewise when you lack motivation you often feel more leads to you lounging around, ultimately feeling tired. Vicious Cycle!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to get sleep when you have to balance work and a social life, but the more sleep you get the more motivated you will feel in every aspect of your life. Some tips are:

  • Take naps, 40 mins max.
  • Get into a routine, for example, wake up at 8:30am go to bed at 11:30am.
  • Don’t pull all nighters; they impact your body dreadfully.
  • Try and watch your caffeine intake, especially before bed.

Take a look at the University Life Tools Programme, they run sessions on some of these common problems and can provide you with some tools and techniques in order to make the most of your time.

Surround yourself with motivating people:

This could be anyone including your family, home friends, house, team and course mates.

All these people are there to support you and actually you will be in a good place if you are all supporting each other motivating each other to get to the end.

On the flipside, try and be aware of those people who stress you out and make you feel overwhelmed with everything you have to do.

Surrounding yourself with a study group would be my best tip because it means you can all keep each other motivated, combining socializing and seeing your mates.

Lastly Keep going, you totally have this. Keep moving forward, and remind yourself of the rewards at the end.

What are your RUSU officers up to?

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES STUDENT, CHUI-YAN CHEUNG, GIVES US AN UPDATE ON WHAT PROJECTS THE RUSU OFFICERS HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH RECENTLY…

In RUSU, there are five full-time officers, who work on their manifestos to support students at the university. Here are just a few of the things they’ve been working on:

Testing Tuesdays

This was introduced since last term offering free confidential sexual health testing within the RUSU building’s corridor. There will be a stand just outside Café Mondial and Mojo’s available on the first Tuesday of every month between 4-6pm providing this service. The last upcoming session is on the 6th March 2018. More information here.

Free Printing

From last term, two printers have been placed in The Study with free access and printing for students. You only need to download the Printt app and make an account then use it for all your printing needs by uploading your files on it to print via bluetooth.

Awards Ball

There are two celebratory evenings taking place in RUSU to give out awards for nominated societies, student media and volunteering on the 16th April and sports on the 17th April. Tickets are now available to purchase, which include dinner and some drinks for the event. More information here.

International Student Food Project

This involves enhancing the student food experience by getting views and help from students and societies to create a food induction toolkit with practical advice, recipes and resources to provide the best know-hows on various aspects to food practices such as shopping, cooking etc.

Puppy day

There was a scheduled puppy day that was unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances which by the provider who could not bring in all the puppies onto the university campus. But there are plans for another larger scale puppy day to happen around the end of term for students to participate in.

The Big White Wall

A 24/7 online mental health and wellbeing service to support students is being implemented at Reading University. The planned deadline is the 2nd March 2018, where it should be available for access to everyone by then. It is completely anonymous and allows you to connect with others. You can gain advice and resources with clinically trained staff at hand to help you.

Sexual Health Advice in Reading

FRENCH STUDIES STUDENT, KATHERINE, TELLS US WHERE TO SEEK SEXUAL HEALTH ADVICE IN THE LOCAL AREA…

Being at university and living away from home may mean you want to (or need to) visit a sexual health clinic – and why not! In Reading there are loads of easy, free and confidential ways to get advice, help and treatment if it’s ever needed on a huge range of things. It’s better to be safe than sorry and I speak from personal experience saying the below organisations are completely non-judgemental and offer great advice if nothing else.

For all types of sexual health

The Florey Sexual Health and Contraceptive Services is a department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital and is based in a building opposite the main hospital, on Craven Road. They offer a huge amount of services such as all types of contraception, the morning after pill (which can actually be taken up to five days after), sexual assault support, specialist LGBT services, HIV clinic and STD screening and treatment advice. This is all totally free and confidential, and you don’t need to be registered with a GP in Reading to be able to use the service. It’s a sit and wait system, where you fill in a form stating the reason for your visit (you can use a fake name, though if you return, remember that your previous records will be kept under that name!), and then wait about an hour and you will be seen. A bonus is that contraception such as condoms or the pill will be given to you right then and there! They’re open 7am-7pm every weekday and some Saturday mornings, check out their website for more info: http://www.royalberkshire.nhs.uk/florey-sexualhealth.htm

Regular STD testing

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but regular STD testing can be quite important, as untreated sexually transmitted diseases can cause your body a lot of damage. Luckily, Berkshire and RUSU have lots of different options of how you can get tested if you don’t have time or don’t want to visit the local sexual health clinic in person. All you need to do is provide a sample of urine, though females have the option to take their own vaginal swab, which gives more accurate results.

Online

You can order a free chlamydia test online at www.dontpassiton.co.uk which includes a postage paid return envelope that you just put your test in and post back in any normal post box – the one in RUSU works! All the instructions are online and come on paper with your test. The package you receive will be totally inconspicuous and the test is so easy to do; then you get your results discreetly sent to you about 7 working days later.

In RUSU

RUSU have teamed up with The Florey to offer ‘Testing Tuesdays’ inside the union, on each first Tuesday of the month. The next one coming is on the 6th March from 4-6pm and the friendly team will be stationed in the corridor outside Café Mondial in RUSU.

My volunteering experience as a STaR Mentor

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES STUDENT, CHUI-YAN CHEUNG, TELLS US MORE ABOUT BEING A STaR MENTOR…

I have been a STaR Mentor at the University of Reading, which is a voluntary role that involves mentoring up to 12 new first year students. In this role, I was there to help my mentees during their first term at university. I found it to be very rewarding because I could make them feel at ease and enjoyed being able to support them. It is a great position to be in as you can make a positive impact to another person’s life.

The main responsibilities of a STaR Mentor is to provide insightful information and advice to these students. Your mentees will likely go through similar situations that you’ve been through in your first year, so it’s nice to be able to inform them on various things that you wanted to know back then. There are different levels of engagement from mentees as some require more or less help than others. But you can help them with lots of different things, from making friends to finding the best places for nights out. It really depends on their needs and what they want from the mentorship.

STaR Mentors are there to share and relate to their mentees, and help them settle in to university life. We also signpost them to available services at the University if they need further help that’s outside our expertise. The main goal is to ensure mentees have the smoothest possible transition into university by being a point of contact to answer questions on things they are unsure about or should know about before and after starting university during their first term that might be useful. Your knowledge and experience as a student plays an important role to guiding new students, so they can make the most of their time at university.

In this volunteer role, you are committed to at least an hour every week to your mentees for the whole of Autumn Term. This can be through emails or other methods of contact such as in person, whatever works best for the needs of your mentees. You are also required to meet them in person at first to introduce yourself and just engage with them to answer any queries or concerns and inform them of things to get involved with at the start of the year. It’s a worthwhile volunteering opportunity that lets you make a difference to your fellow students. You can find out more here.