Sophie's blog posts for 24th November, 2014

7 things that become very important at university



1. Sleep- so what if you used to get up at 6AM for sixth form and didn't get home till gone 4PM, uni time goes at a completely different pace. Even if one 9AM lecture is all that is timetabled for the day, chances of overcoming the level of unfair cosiness of your bed so early in the morning are slim.

2. The mantra "I did it last"- be it changing and taking the bin bag out, cleaning communal areas of the flat, or washing up, this mantra will follow you through the 3 years of your uni course, it's surprising how bitter you can get if you dare to have to take the bin bag out twice in a row..

3. The friend with a car- this relates particularly to second and third years, but having a friend who has a car at university can help so much. Avoiding public transport, walking and cycling is what you look forward to living the high life with a friend who keeps their can at uni.

4. Netflix- because there really is nothing that hinders your studies more than a good TV series, and if you have friends who use Netflix too then you have an endless supply of show recommendations. Really though, TV episodes are such a convenient length just to watch as a little break in studying, or to watch when you're cooking and eating dinner.

5. Fancy dress costumes- having a few staple fancy dress costumes will become so important at university. At uni, fancy dress isn't strictly reserved for Halloween, so even if you don't want to fork out on extravagant costumes, there is a lot to be done with face paint, a hawaiian shirt or fairy wings.

6. Home comforts- you really don't appreciate all the things at home until you're faced with living at university. When you want to wear a top that's creased to go out without the ability to iron and have three options: wear it and call it Boho, attempt to use hair straighteners or take it into the bathroom, have an insanely hot shower and hope the steam makes the creases drop. A tumbledrier is what you dream about when you're stuck in a bedroom with a conveyer belt of damp, smelly washing moving from wash basket to the radiator to the wardrobe.

7. Reduced sections- when food shopping, not only are offers and roll backs completely essential, but in desperate times, a slightly worse for wear packet of lame cous cous looks like a three-course dinner when looking at the price.

Competition time, concerts, visitors



So I'm writing this whilst battling food poisoning from a dodgy chicken korma, but I've had such an eventful week. I can't believe that there is only 3 weeks left of Autumn term, the assessed essay deadlines are already looming over my head and my daunting to do list is getting progressively longer. I always love second term most, sitting in Stanmer Park having a picnic, visiting the pier and the beach, and not having to worry about paying for central heating..

On Wednesday we had our first round of the law client interviewing competition. It's safe to say that all the 10 hours of training that we had had went straight out the window. I was just as nervous as when I sat my A-Level exams, when they were deciding my future and this was supposed to be fun.. It wasn't the best experience sitting in a lecture wearing dodgy standard black flare trousers and a smart blouse but we did have to look the part, and considering we got super keen with our props (note the "business card" below) it was very fitting to play solicitors for the weekend. As soon as it was over all I could think of was when it was acceptable to have my first vodka and coke of the evening and now it's just a waiting game for a few days until we know if we're going through it all over again for round 2. Putting the stressfulness behind me, it has been really worthwhile and I have mentioned it on loads of application forms for vacation schemes and internships, and I felt slightly like I was in an episode of CSI.

I went to a gig in Brighton this week to see a band called Nimmo who are in fact Sussex Uni alumni. It was so nice to see another side of Brighton, not just going out out on my weekly trips to Pryzm but to a quirky bar that only stocks local beers (typical Brighton) and listening to some live music. It was much nicer than my last experience of live music, being squished into a mosh with sweaty crowds fumbling around for a friend's hand to drag me back to safety.

I had my boyfriend come to stay this weekend and I finally got what I've been after since I moved to univeristy.. A teddy bear. I really wanted a piece of home to keep at university with me so we took a trip to Build a Bear Factory, the shop filled with really enthusiastic workers and an explosion of neon colours. It was highly embarrassing wandering around having to kiss my bear's heart whilst making a wish, saying the bear promise, all whilst trying to scrape back some decorum as the sophisticated 19 year old that I am..

Budgeting has taken a slight turn for the worse this week, with taking into account replacing my broken laptop charger, a law ball ticket and a dress for said ball. I'm trying to cut corners in other places but it really doesn't help when I'm poorly and want to gauge on chocolate supplied from the lovely little off-licence a few doors from our house..

Open day, internship, competition time



I went to my first open day today at a legal firm after spending my first year at university being oblivious to how proactive law students and students that want a career in law have to be. Sussex has so many networking opportunities without being a London university, loads of the major firms go to the Careers Fair at the Amex and the law society also runs lots of networking events too. It's also great how close Brighton really is to London, my journey into central London today only took about an hour and a half door to door, so as long as you like trains, Sussex isn't too far away to isolate yourself from the top city law firms.

It was so useful going to at least one open day. It really calmed me down about the application process for not just a vacation scheme but also training contracts. Other talks that I have been to have put so much pressure on being amazing academically, volunteering across the world, having a gold Duke of Edingburgh award, being captain of various sports teams and also being super commercially aware about all aspects of the business world. In reality, law firms really aren't asking for the world from people, obviously they're looking for well rounded people but you can't portray yourself as something you're not. I'm hardly going to include my grade 3 clarinet exam in my application just to "stand out". It's also nice to visit a law firm's office just to see what you make of the surroundings, if you could cope with the intensity of a city firm's fast paced work ethic, if you can imagine sweating on the Underground in August in a business suit and if you can handle working until late at night securing an international deal.

I also applied for my first internship this week. It wasn't as long winded process as I expected considering the size of the firm that I have applied to work for for a year. It took quite a lot of thought to just apply, worrying about who I would live with when I came back for my fourth year, if I'd even get through to the interview stage as it's not a legal internhip and what if I didn't enjoy it and was stuck doing it for a whole year.

Finally, the first round of the client interviewing competition begins next week and I'm so nervous. I'm not one for improvising and thinking on my feet, so if we make it through to the second round I'll be so pleased. It's also something that can relate really well to skills that law firms are looking for, like communication and teamwork.

Pre-drink mishaps, workload, open day



We went to a pre-drinks on Wednesday not at our house which is always difficult for a girl. Getting ready on a time limit is always hard, me and my flatmates are normally rushing around spraying perfume one last time, straightening the fly away hairs or scrounging together cab money till the very last minute so having to get ready for 9 o'clock was tough. I filled a bottle of water with vodka to take to the party and rushed out the door. I was drinking quicker than everyone else and couldn't feel myself getting drunk at all. It wasn't until I came home later that I took a gulp of water from the bottle and realised that I'd been drinking water and lemonade all night..

We had to write our first essay this week. It was only an unassessed one and I'd 100% recommend doing these because it's like doing a mock, you can hopefully get some feedback before it really counts towards your grades. I'd completely forgotten how to reference law journal articles and quotes from cases. I'm so happy Sussex has now started phasing in online submissions, it'll be so much easier to hand work in when it's applicable to all years and all subjects.

In other news, I'm going to my first Law Open Day this Friday, which is hopefully a step in the right direction to add something to my CV. As a Law student it's important to attend open days to network with solicitors and barristers to further your own career and hopefully secure first a vacation scheme and then a training contract. I also went home this weekend for a party after first going out for Halloween at uni first.

Awkward situations of university life



I've decided to pinpoint some awkward situations you really can't avoid at uni, both in lectures, when socialising and in your flat.

The first situation is where seminar teachers force you to announce an "interesting" fact about yourself to a group of complete strangers. Now this is fine if you're an international/mature/moderately outgoing student, but for the likes of me who prefers to sit in my pyjamas and watch Netflix, whose only social interaction is on a Wednesday at Pryzm, this is an excruciating experience. My only advice would be to ignore the reading and the work for the first seminars of term and make a spider diagram of mildly amusing anecdotes about your life/ your rites of passage gap year/ which society you've joined this year.

Another awkward situation on the academic side of things is when people turn up to lectures late. The room falls silent, everyone stops tapping on their Macbooks, the lecturer shoots a death stare at the latecomer. The worst part is that latecomers usually spy out the most difficult spot to sit, right in the middle of a row and makes others stand up as they slide in, all caught on the lecture recording..

Turning to the university's Co-Op now, another awkward situation is where you think you're being really sneaky bounding up the alcohol aisle with your shopping thinking you're going to jump the queue, before realising the queue actually begins over with the ready made sandwiches and you have to skulk alongside everyone else in the queue admitting defeat. If this is the case, avoid the Co-Op on the hour of every hour of the day to avoid the pain of joining the back of the queue.

Don't ever try and pay with any note larger than a fiver on a 25 bus out of uni, or face the wrath of a bus driver. Swanning up to the driver flapping a crisp £20 note about like you're JP from FreshMeat ready to buy a day rider will end up with you searching the queue to find some mates who are prepared to give you their perfectly selected change in exchange for you buying multiple tickets with your note.

Alcohol provides plenty of awkward situations at uni. Uni campuses are big enough to walk around without bumping into anyone that you know. But the day after the night before where you got the most drunk you ever have (usually the night after your student loan has come through) you're bound to wander into people whom you have no clue as to their names and who witnessed the events of the night before. First comes the awkward split second decision of whether to hold your head high and smile or avoid eye contact, usually getting your phone out and meticulously studying your Twitter homepage. Then comes the statement that every hungover student dreads: "You were so funny last night!" This quite clearly translates to "You were so embarrassing last night, everyone was laughing at you not with you". There's not a good way to avoid this situation as a student, my advice would be to go for the dive rather than holding your head high every time.

Uni Life Hacks, Home Friends, Uni Weekends



So I'm going to start today by listing a few skills any prospective uni student needs to master before coming to uni, things that weren't on the entry requirements when applying for uni. Firstly, play a lot of Tetris before coming to uni, because when you open that bin lid and you know you should really empty the bin but you're just not feeling it, here comes the art of squeezing in your rubbish around the mound of rotting, mouldy waste. Ideally, do this when your housemates aren't around so you can join in with the disapproving tutting when someone finally empties the bin and the bag rips. Secondly, try and channel the peaceful protests, a la Gandhi. When there is a mountain of dirty washing waiting for you in the sink, resist the urge to write passive aggressive notes in the kitchen/ in your group chat, avoid leaving all the washing outside the culprit's bedroom, but don't give in and wash up everything or you'll morph into Monica from Friends. If you can, try and learn how to sleep even when it sounds like an airplane is landing in the next room, or if not, invest in a pair of ear plugs. Ear plugs were my best friends in Freshers year and have come in handy with noisy neighbours this year. Learn the art of napping, in the gaps between lectures skip merrily back to you room and squeeze a little nap into your day. If you're applying for Sussex uni, take up mountain climbing because you're going to need it, especially if you are applying for Brighthelm. That hill has definitely taken a few victims in it's time. And if you decide to do Law, good luck on the journey to the Freeman building, take pit stops, a bottle of water and possibly a sleeping bag. Finally, try and get into the mindset of only watching one episode at a time on Netflix. When the countdown begins to move onto the next episode, close the page and resist.


This weekend, we had visitors in our little household. Friends from home coming to visit is so fun, getting to have well overdue catch ups and taking them to places that have become the norm to you makes weekends at uni go so much quicker. Weekends at uni for me consist of spending all day in bed, showering then getting back into my pyjamas, movies with a cup of tea and a Yankee candle, and walks of shame to the corner shop for X Factor snack preparations. Weekends at uni should never be too strenuous, and especially in Brighton where going out on the weekend is so expensive, just stay in and be cosy!

Groceries, public speaking, first seminars



I've been being really good with saving money lately on food shops, and I'm putting that down to actually going to the shops. I know as a fresher it's really hard to do a weekly shop and carry all the bags back from the bus stop- I almost gave up once climbing the hill to Northfield and was planning what items I could abandon.. And the temptation to get into the mindset that the delivery charges are basically the bus fare to the shop (which I admit I had) is really high. But online shopping does have it's drawbacks. Most supermarkets that I've tried have minimum spends and add a charge on to take you up to the minimum spend. So if you're not going to be spending a lot, it's so much better to just go to the shop. Another tip is to make a list AND stick to it. When I'm speeding round the supermarket with my trolley I think I'm rolling in money and pick up the most stupidest things that I would never think to buy normally, but if it's there and on a Roll Back.. Mental note to stop picking up posh yoghurts, always an anti-climax after watching the adverts, thank you to Nicole Scherzinger for that.

I had my first lot of seminars this week which is always nerve-wracking. It didn't start off too well, when I was asked for an interesting fact about myself all I could think of was: "Hi I'm Sophie, I like watching Netflix", which pretty much sums up my life. You never know whose going to be in your group so you don't know if you'll have a chatty person and can get away with sinking into the background or an annoyingly opinionated person which means a lot of eye rolling and heavy sighs. Also, you don't normally know what to expect from your seminar tutor unless you've had them before for a different seminar. Each tutor has different styles, I always hold a tiny grudge against the ones that pick on people.. Luckily, I knew at least one person in each of my seminars, and if you don't turn up without any prep, seminars go quite quickly. I always hate when other people turn up without preparing or the people who turn up super late for lectures, I cringe for them like when I watch an argument on Made In Chelsea.

One thing I have noticed about second year is that I feel more distanced from friends. It's really hard to socialise with friends (not including housemates obviously) outside of going clubbing. When I was on campus I'd just walk to other people's flats to watch a film or just to have a debrief with them (usually in my pyjamas).

Law point now, I definitely recommend participating in a competition regardless of what year you're in after my experience this week. I'm not really an outgoing person and honestly when I had to present a 5 minute PowerPoint in a seminar I couldn't sleep the night before.. But client interviewing has been really good for me, partly because it's not just you on your own so having a good partner makes it so much easier and less scary. If public speaking isn't really for you I'd recommend this over the mooting competition because it's much more focussed on people skills and so much less intimidating.

One final point, I managed to parallel park for the first time in my life! I literally jumped out the car and started running around like footballers do when they score a goal..

Pryzm, wisdom tooth, house malfunctions



It won't be long till first years will have to decide who they want to live with next year and start trawling estate agent websites. After trying to run a household with my 3 other girl friends for the past month I'm going to try and give some useful hints as to what to look out for when viewing houses. Look at the appliances in the house; if the appliances are modern, our oven keeps cutting out and takes hours to cook anything. Check out transport close to your house, we're really lucky as we have London Road train station close by and a bus that goes to the university if necessary. Also, if like me you want to bring your car down in second year, look at parking availability because Brighton has a lot of permit parking areas and also it is primarily parallel parking, something I am horrific at.. I tried to fit into a parking space the other day (I only have a small Ford KA) and ended up being heckled by TWO separate van drivers before giving up and finding a spot miles from my house. If you can, find out who your neighbours are likely to be. Our neighbour last night kindly took a stereo out into their garden at 1AM.. Another essential is to check windows, ours are single glazed which means the house is colder and we can hear our not so nice neighbours louder. Finally, a lot of estate agents advertise rent on a weekly rate but obviously a month is usually 4 and a bit weeks, so work/find out how much monthly rent will actually be.

I'm feeling a bit worse for wear today after having a last minute wisdom tooth removal yesterday. This is my third wisdom tooth to be removed due to having a little dainty mouth and all I want is to be at home getting sympathy. Uni life isn't suited for being poorly, nobody is here to tend to me, I have to make my own hot drinks, prepare my own hot water bottle, and have to spoon myself. I currently look like a female version of the Elephant Man so I'm taking a leave of absence from the real world for the weekend. I'm looking forward to just vegitating in front of my laptop watching mind numbing comedies on Netflix. I'm the sort of person that hates the deep, complex films that critics rave about, preferring Disney classics or something involving Owen Wilson or Jennifer Aniston (hence why I still cry like a baby watching Marley And Me).

Lastly, we ended up at Pryzm again on Wednesday. Although it does make me feel so lazy when I see all the sports socials dressed up, it is such a good night out. Having all the different rooms means you don't get bored of the music, however it's like a maze, I always have to ask for directions to find the exit..

Commercial awareness, going home, central heating



We've finally managed to switch on the central heating in our uni house! My housemates and I automatically assume everything is broken if we can't work out how to use it, for example the oven, the boiler, and then the central heating.. For a group of 19 year olds we literally need a manual of how to run a house! We were so worried about racking up gas costs by turning it on but when you are still shivering underneath a quilt, blanket and then a hoodie it turns into being a necessity. I was even using my laptop charger as a source of warmth for a while.. Also this week, we have spring cleaned the house from top to toe ready for a gigantic pre-drinks at the house for one of my housemate's 20th birthdays. I discovered the joys of shot roulette- I just kept repeating the mantra of it's free alcohol it's free alcohol as I downed a measurement of toilet eroding vodka and then frothy beer. I also discovered how close we are to town and how (once a substantial amount of alcohol is inside me) funny walking to a club is, saves money on cabs. Whilst slightly on the subject of money, I worked out the other day that I have spent almost £200 on textbooks this year so a word of advice to prospective students: try and buy books second hand off Amazon or at the university's book sale. Unless lecturers stipulate the latest version of a book, this is a great way to save money.

I went home last weekend for a friend's party. It's so lovely to go home, to sleep in my own bed, not have to cook or wash up after myself, and to just spend time with everyone is bliss, but then I always hate going back to uni. I remember the first time I came home from uni in my first year, I spent the whole journey from London Victoria to Brighton sobbing and staring out the window at a dark Sunday evening like they do in films. I only stopped crying when I managed to hop on a quicker train. We've got a lot of visitors to the house over the next few weeks which will be nice if the weather holds out, Brighton is so much better in glorious sunshine.

Now I'm a worried second year, I have wasted no time attending plenty of talks put on by the Law Society and the new society that I have joined all about Commercial Awareness. This is a term that I didn't know existed until 2 weeks ago when applying for internships. We had a really insightful talk led by an employee of Clifford Chance, which has been useful when looking for vacation schemes for the summer holiday.

The next few weeks are going to be spent brain storming halloween costume ideas. Very fed up with the amount of people who wear normal costumes and just put the term "Zombie" in front, which translates to a pair of dodgy red contact lenses and a tube of fake blood splattered over the outfit. Brighton really does do Halloween amazingly, last year we ended up in Oceana with people from Susex and Brighton uni. A warning to first year students though: the buses on Halloween are manic, Brighthelm bus stop should be avoided if you don't want to be pushed to the floor when a 25 bus arrives.


First Week of Second Year Done



So I have now been back at university for 7 days, I've finally unpacked everything into my cosy room and I have to say that second year is made for me. Not as much pressure to go out every night, never having to wait for the night bus after clubbing, cooking meals and just watching TV with my friends, and we're in walking distance to town and yet driving to university for lectures takes exactly 6 minutes. I feel so much more comfortable as a second year, I know my way around campus finally and I'm not afraid to just commandeer in the living room when I want to.

This week I've been out to Pryzm Wednesday's and been to a house party, where I became the biggest light weight after not drinking frequently throughout summer. I currently have the beginnings of a cold from cheap vodka, it's safe to say that I haven't missed supermarket value alcohol that's for sure.. Going out clubbing for the first time proved insightful, a lot of girls on the floor of the Disco room and a lot of really weird dancing. What I love most about clubbing is the amount of friends you make in the queue for the girls toilets, the depth of the chats that goes on in the girls toilets will forever baffle boys. As I said in one of my previous posts, Freshers week for me was a bit of an anticlimax. This year, we're going to try and attend a few University of Brighton events, I'm sooo looking forward to the silent disco.

Weekends at university are usually my least favourite part of the week. It's too expensive to go out as a student in Brighton and there's not a lot to do in the day time with no lectures or seminars. Today we've been into town to get some stationery, it's always exciting for me going into Brighton centre because of being from quite a small town back at home. In saying that, I'm going home next weekend which I'm looking forward to so much.

On the University side of things, I've bagged myself a couple of second hand textbooks which I would definitely recommend to other students if a newer edition of the book hasn't been issued. Somebody else's highlighting is also helpful to pick out key points for you and saves you doing some work.. Being a second year isn't great when there's such long gaps between lectures, bringing a phone charger is essential!

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