Sophie's blog posts for 2015

Being a First Generation Scholar at Sussex

May

10

Being made aware of financial support opportunities really helped me to decide what university to attend. I knew that I was already going to be bogged down with £9000 a year tuition fees, knew that I'd be paying a high rental rate in Halls because I wanted an ensuite- something that I wasn't prepared to budge on- and had been filled with dread by the painstakingly tedious process that comes with applying for Student Finance.

Attending the Finance talk with my mum on the Sussex open day back in September when I was still just looking around universities to gain a sense of what kind of university I wanted to go to and where I wanted to live, really helped not only to calm my financial worries but also really provided an incentive of looking seriously into studying at Sussex. Financially, being a first generation scholar at Sussex meant that I could afford to live in ensuite accommodation, and not rely on my parents as much for subsidising my student loan. 

But, being a first generation scholar at Sussex isn't just about financial help. I have had so many opportunities made available to me through the first generation scholar network such as work experience, shadowing roles and paid internships. These opportunities have proved invaluable and makes me so proud of attending the University of Sussex.

Friendship at uni

May

06

Friendship plays such an integral part of university. It was one of my first worries about going to university; would I make any friends? Had I forgotten how to make friends? My circle of friends from school had basically been my friends from a very early secondary school age, I'd lost the confidence that comes with being a nerdy year 7, throwing caution to the wind by reading books out loud in an American accent (sorry Chloe and Claire) and not afraid to make jokes at any opportunity. I'd had the idea that if you didn't sign up to loads of societies or didn't leave your bedroom door open at all times, I'd struggle to make friends. Little did I know what friendship at university really means.

The first few weeks means meeting a blur of new people, some you'll become friends with immediately, some you'll only recognise on a night out in Pryzm in second year and some that you'll instantly hate. But struggling through the first few weeks of uni together is imperative. Facing your first house argument, your first horrific seminar where you have to share an "interesting" fact about yourselves and getting to grips with living away from home together.

There's a new level of closeness that comes with living with/ extremely close to friends. No topics of conversation are off limits, you see each other looking like a gremlin after a night out, find yourselves texting when you're in the same house and lose count of the number of private jokes you have about people on your course. You become each other's big sisters, borrowing countless pieces of clothing and accessories off of each other. You become each other's big brother, steering a friend away from a really bad drunken mistake. You become each other's parents, dealing with anything from homesickness to making a much needed cup of coffee before a morning lecture. Friendship becomes such an important thing at university, being away from home and all you've known. It's like the blind leading the blind in Freshers Week, everyone haphazardly trying to find common ground, but the sense of family at the end of it is worth it.

Things that you should have been taught before university

Mar

16

1. How to change a lightbulb- after a very testing week at university I was sat in my bedroom and the lightbulb went out, to which I had to call my mum to find out how to get the bulb out of the fitting.

2. How to use a washing machine- the amount of times I sat in the laundrette last year and heard groans of other first years who had started the washing machine without adding a washing tablet.

3. How to budget- getting your first installment of student loans and working it out against how many dresses from Asos it balances out to be and resisting the temptation to buy everyone a round of drinks in Freshers week is a real art.

4. How to think for yourself- university learning is so much different to sixth form and college, you don't get 'spoon fed' the answer and are expected to have your own opinions on things.

5. How to do chores- unless you can master the art of drying and strategically folding your clothes so as to avoid ironing or eating off of paper plates to avoid washing up, learning to do household chores is an essential.

6. How to manage vehicles at university- be it a broken down car or a punctured tyre, avoiding calling up responsible adults and handling it yourself without being charged stupid amounts at garages is something anyone with their own car or bike at university need to know.

7. How to judge your food- once you've mastered how to actually cook a meal, it takes a keen eye to judge if food is out of date or fully cooked or just completely unsafe to eat.

8. How to wake yourself up in the morning- having nobody lovingly waking you up/shaking your lifeless body shouting that you're going to be late means having to get used to waking up to a shrill alarm tone and resisting the urge of pressing the snooze button.

Things second years do and do not miss about first year

Mar

08

1. Rolling out of bed 10 minutes before a lecture/seminar starts and still making it looking moderately acceptable.

2. Being able to go back to your flat inbetween lectures to nap, watch Netflix or cook your own lunch without being sucked into the oh so delicious but pricey campus paninis.

3. Spending £3.50 on transport on a night out- rather than weighing up how many double vodka and cokes/cheesy chips you can consume whilst still having money for a cab home, keeping hold of a crisp 25 bus return in your clutch bag meant budgeting in the clubs went out the window.

4. Bills included in your accommodation- once the money had been taken out of your account, what was left of your student loan was your own precious money. Fancy the radiator on and your window open? Go for it, you're only adding to your Carbon Footprint after all not adding to your outgoings.

5. Seeing friends from other flats regularly- second year can get quite lonely, having to physically arrange meeting up with friends from other houses rather than just appearing on their doorstep with a Co-Op meal deal and your Netflix log-in.

6. Feeling like you're part of a community- walking round a sunny campus is just great, and campus feels like a little village with all the essential ammenities. So long as you don't mind bumping into people you may have thrown up on outside of East Slope on a Skint night, or someone whose ideas you shot down in a previous seminar, living on campus is bliss.

7. Porter life- rather than living your life cooped up in your bedroom constantly refreshing the follow my parcel page, you can live your life and the campus porters will sign for your deliveries. Go forth and devote your student loan to Asos!

 

1. Walking up the Brighthelm hill- this activity might have been good for your heart but it left victims catching their breath for 5 minutes after the steep incline with a dewy forehead.

2. Spending all your money in the Co-Op- picking up the odd bits of shopping on the rare hours second years are on campus isn't a sin, but walking past the shop everyday on campus and picking up some brilliantly reduced and strategically placed custard doughnuts whilst waiting innocently in the queue all adds up.

3. Being woken up in the middle of the night- whether it's a flat party next year playing awfully cheesy pop music or passively inhaling the fumes in your sleep from the smokers outside the blocks of halls of residence, getting a good night's sleep is one of the perks of moving off campus.

4. Being closer to town- Brighton town centre seems like miles away on campus, especially when thinking about how long you seem to wait outside the Amex stadium so being in a second year house makes it less of a chore to go into town for touristy things or just shopping.

​Things to avoid doing in first year

Mar

05

Avoid annoying your housemates and other students

  1.  Stealing food- a big no when you don't know your housemates that well. Watching a housemate having to Sharpie a line of where their milk was at the last use was an extreme but wholly necessary precaution in stopping the food bandits. I've also heard someone legitimising the criminal act of thieving by calling certain refrigerated items as belonging to the whole household.
  2. Setting the fire alarm off- this is a worse problem in the block of flats type residences such as Northfield as one flat's fire alarm annihilated the whole block. The worst culprits are those who come home from nights out thinking it's a good idea to use the toaster or empty the fridge of all their processed food into a smoking frying pan, drawing unsuspecting students out into the cold in the most inappropriate nightwear known to man. 
  3. Leaving the kitchen a mess- walking into a messy kitchen, with all of your utensils covered in sticky, crusty, unknown edible matter is the worst feeling in the world. Conflicting feelings of not wanting to give in and wash up other people's stuff but also listening to the distant rumbling of your tummy. You don't want to be woken up by the cleaners refusing to tidy the kitchen or a grumpy email warning of a fine.
  4. Leaving washing in the laundrette- there is nothing worse than heaving a load of washing across the treacherous terrain of the Sussex campus and getting your hopes up seeing the finished light on the washing machines to find that someone has left their damp washing in the machine and having to wait around politely for the owner to return, not daring to speak up other than a quite huff and puff.
  5. Don't make up elaborate lies in Freshers- it seems a really good idea to make yourself seem more interesting or agreeing with someone's gap year story to make it seem like you have something in common, but when you have to keep this lie going for the rest of your degree, it can go really badly.
Avoid annoying staff
  1. Annoying the porter- just because your Asos delivery swears that they delivered your parcel 5 hours ago, if the porter says it's not with them, you take that as law. If you don't have a delivery notice sitting patiently in your flat's post box, that parcel is being kidnapped until the porter is ready to hand it over, so don't pester.
  2. Eat in the library- as much as a hallowed spot on the Spotted Sussex: Student Library Facebook page may seem worth channeling your Prison Break-ness to smuggle food into the library, the repercussions when a security guard pounces on you in the Silent Area, making a real scene.

A guide to the Internet for students

Feb

12

Netflix

As a student, Netflix is 'bae'. It's the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think about at night (slight exaggeration/true analysis of my obsession). But, choosing things for your viewing pleasure is of the upmost importance. Commit to a film, you'll be doing seminar prep in the early hours of the morning, watch a TV programme with 30 minutes episodes, you'll be left unsatisfied and wanting your next Netflix fix. Watching something everybody else has seen ages before you is either a great conversation starter or a recipe for disaster with spoilers flying at you from here, there, and everywhere at pre-drinks. Choosing the right moment to turn onto the page is crucial as well: watching The Walking Dead whilst home alone as the rest of your house is off sinking 5 Jager Bombs for £5 in The Haunt will leave you barricading the front door and raiding the kitchen in case of a zombie apocalypse. Discovering the Nicholas Sparks films on Netflix late at night will result in your housemates thinking you're as emotionally stable as the girl in 'Mean Girls' ("I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles"). My only suggestion is not to watch Netflix in the library as people will want your computer and they will be wanting you to die.

Instagram and Snapchat

As a student, be sure to only post either the most exotic meal you and your housemates have cooked- I'm talking at least two different vegetables, served on a palm tree leaf- or some low quality videos of yourself having the absolute best time in the club, N.B. screeching lyrics to a song will earn extra likes. Exam period is the prime time to get in really academic looking selfies: glasses on, hair up and as many of your textbooks and stationery items as you can fit in the background. Pre-drinks photos are an absolute must- show off how wild you are with a variety of Tesco Value spirits and some naughty Diet Lemonade. 

Facebook

As a first year, it's completely acceptable to add people you glanced at from 10 rows behind them in a lecture and found the back of their heads on the student directory, or adding the person you bonded with at a flat party over living in the same home county. However, in second year stalking is only successful if somebody has lacklustre Facebook security and you accomplish looking at their prom photos from 2011. One honest piece of advice is to avoid club promoters unless you want incessant invites on a par with the level of notifications from the Farmville epidemic.

Three bouts of bad luck and a party to celebrate

Jan

31

So this week, I had my fair share of bad luck. First, I smashed my long serving phone's screen getting out of my car whilst parking on campus this week and had to fork out £100 to replace it. Then, I realised that in my stressed out, mind racing state I had drawn all over my coat that was on my lap in black biro. Finally, we was given notice this week that we would be forced to leave our house at the end of the lease because of a new landlord, which has really stressed all of us out as it's getting a bit late in the day to be finding houses, having to pay agency fees AND a deposit AND first month's rent, and the fact that we are 4 of the most picky and indecisive students ever. They do say bad luck comes in 3..

It's my birthday next week, so to celebrate turning 20 and my love of Disney, we held a Disney themed birthday party. Having house parties makes a nice change from going out to drink, being in the comfort of your own home, choosing your own music and not having to queue for a ridiculous amount of time waving a tenner in the barman's face and having to interpretive dance your drinks order. We gave out a bottle of highly coveted alcohol (Aldi's own Buck's Fizz) for the best dressed- and I have to admit that I gave a very gracious acceptance speech and chanelled the Spring Fling scene from Mean Girls, handing out little morsels of Buck's Fizz to other worthy winners.

Hoping for a better week next week, perhaps with birthday money to foot some of the house costs, although having to drag myself along to house viewings of mouldy, dingy houses might bring my mood down even further.

Second term of second year

Jan

28

Where did Christmas go? The Christmas holiday was blissful, not having any exams to revise for, thank god for assessed essays.. It took a while to get back into living at home, feeling bad for waking up late, feeling bad for fancying a different take-away each day and missing uni friends and Pryzm.. But it was all over too quick, now I'm back to cupboards full of carbs and hot drinks, waking up when it's still dark for 9am seminars (which should be banned, it's very hard to form a coherent point of view so early in the morning) and wearing multiple layers to bed to avoid a heavy heating bill. The first week of second term flashes by in a blur of showing off your Christmas presents, welcome back nights and lectures that definitely do not ease you back in to university even after 6 weeks of living life like I imagine a cat does (napping constantly and mooching about the house for food).

This week I've been on a 'Sh** Shirt' social with the Sociology Society and properly lost my 'The Haunt' virginity. I didn't realise how much of a good nightclub it was considering I've now been living in Brighton for over a year. If you want to go to a club that doesn't play current club mixes then I would definitely recommend. Any club that can go from 50 Cent to Nirvana is great in my eyes. Although, the pre-prepared Jager bombs were a bit ambiguous..

Also this week, I've been madly rushing to finish vacation schemes applications for law firms. Although I haven't really left it to the last minute, I've realised that a lot of my early application forms weren't the best. I can't stress enough the importance of proof reading after discovering a complete mis-type in one of my already submitted applications.

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