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What They Don’t Tell You About Uni…

Having just finished uni myself, there is a LOT I’d wish I’d known before. If you’re about to go to uni, or even if you’ve been, I’m sure you’ll relate to some of these…

  1. You don’t need to spend hundreds on the books that they recommend.

I remember in my first year of uni feeling so overwhelmed with the amount and the price of the books that my lecturers were recommending everyone to buy. The average price of an academic textbook can be between £30-60, and when you’re doing 3-4 modules over the course of the year, it all adds up! Oh and another thing, I also wouldn’t recommend doing the TONS of reading that they set. throughout my degree I didn’t buy a single book, take a single book out of the library – it’s too time consuming, and to be honest, lecturers are wanting current knowledge not something from a library book that has been sat on the shelf for 50 years. Academic articles and the WWW is your new best friend – use it and abuse it!

2. If you’re not a big drinker, you’re going to feel it.

What came first? the alcohol or the fresher?! :’) Freshers week is a fun time to be at uni, everyone is up for socialising, it’s exciting and you’re guaranteed to have a laugh. BUT, a lot of these social events involve alcohol, which is fine if you’re up for it, but if you’re not don’t feel peer pressured into drinking. I remember my first week at uni as a fresher I went out every night of the week, and went to all my lectures – it was exhausting but worth it! Then you’ve got the ‘returners’ – freshers doesn’t end after surviving your first week at uni, it begins again every year no matter what year you’re in. I’m not a big drinker myself, and would often go on night’s out sober and get questioned as to why on earth I wasn’t drinking. The truth is, I always have been a very health conscious person, and there is nothing that will change this – not even the binge drinking culture at uni. Alcohol is the most relied upon thing in freshers, it’s like everyone is dependent on it and can’t socialise without it – it’s a coping mechanism more than anything.

3) You won’t get as much freedom as you think will with your 3rd year dissertation.

I’m speaking on behalf of my own uni and my own experience when I say this, but it’s one thing that surprised me the most about my final year. I had spent most of the summer research an idea and planning how I was going to carry it out (like they recommend you to). However upon meeting my supervisor, it was obvious this idea wasn’t going to happen :’). In the end it was probably for the best, as my supervisor was very helpful due to it being a topic he was familiar with, but I can’t help but wonder If I would have enjoyed it more if it had been a topic that I originally wanted to do?

4) Homesickness hits hard.

Even the most unlikeliest of people will experience this at some point. It’s only to be expected when you’re used to the easy life at home and then you’re fending for yourself. I was homesick for a good while at uni because I felt so out of my depth. I eventually got over it, but It took me a while and many trips back home on the weekends to get accustomed to it! But the point is it takes time, and before you know it you’ll feel settled and content again. Also, homesickness is something people experience at different times. It can be within the first week, month or even 6 months! It’s not a sign of weakness or that you haven’t yet cut ‘the apron strings’ I actually think it’s pretty normal and it means that you’re out of your comfort zone. I have done a post more in depth about this, and how I overcame it which I will link here.

5) House hunting is stressful.

I’d recommend starting this before you break up for Christmas, and ideally secure one so you can avoid the rush when everyone comes back. Oh, and be prepared to lower your standards. I went to many a dodgy house viewing, one of them we got trapped inside a bedroom, as the door handle fell off from the inside…I’ve never seen an estate agent look so concerned :’) All part of the fun! Try and visualise what the house will look like without all the student mess everywhere, as difficult as that may be…

BUT…other than that I do think the experience of going to uni sets you up for a lot of things in life. I also think its not the be all and end all – think wisely before you go and thoroughly research all your options. I don’t regret going, as I know I have developed so much as a person, but I am thankful that it’s helped me realise that academia is not for me. Through uni I have found the path I need to take, and that is what I value most from my experience.

Thank you for reading,

Jazzy B ❤

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How to Stay Organised at Uni

Uni is 50% organisation and 50% hard work. If you manage to stay organised, and on top of essays, presentations, and exams…I can assure you, you will be fine!

What with exams only a few weeks away for most uni’s, I thought this post would be very relevant. It is crucial to stay organised, as there is so much you have to think about at uni, that it can get really overwhelming if you don’t. Although organisation can take some time to do, and feel like a chore at first, it soon becomes part of your routine. Also, the organisation helps you to work effectively which is definitely key when you’re trying to manage your time.

Here are a few of the ways that I stay organised at uni…

1.Plan your week

I do this using a desktop sticky-note app. I write down when my lectures are, what time I plan to go to the gym, and any other events or activities I have planned for the upcoming week. This really helps me to visualise what my week will be like so that I can allow extra time for things such as revision and coursework. As my lecture times are constant, I hardly have to update this so its a low maintenance way of staying organised!

2. Plan your mealsdiners

I discussed more on this in my post about how to stay healthy at uni, but I swear by it! I think there is nothing more important than a good diet when you’re wanting to perform well, and often round exams it can be a chore to spend time thinking about what to eat. To overcome this, I will plan my meals so that I know my body is getting the nutrition that it needs. Also, it’s cheaper to do this, as you’re not wasting food and you’re guaranteed to eat something healthy.

3. Write down all your goals before the week has begun

To me, this is the most important one, as it gives my week a sense of direction in terms of what I want to achieve. I also find this keeps me motivated, as I have a target that I can work towards. I will simply list all the things that I want to get achieved in the upcoming week. I list them all on sticky notes on my computer, so whenever I use my computer I’m reminded of what I need to do.

4. Make a revision timetable near exams

Call me the timetable queen :’) I’ve created so many of these, that I think I have an obsession.  Sometimes I’ll create a timetable of the content that I need to cover day by day, and other times I will create a more detailed timetable of everything I need to do in a particular time frame. The timetable below is the one I am currently going by to revise for my second-year uni exams.

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5. Utilise your uni breaks

Admittedly, the least appealing one here but, it will help you in the long-run! I’m not saying that you should do a 9-5 and study like crazy on your easter/Christmas break, however, you will feel more relaxed about things knowing that you have started to write an assignment due in, or started revision for an upcoming exam. It’s all about getting the balance between feeling refreshed on return to uni, but also having accomplished something to give you a head start for when things inevitably become more stressful.

Wishing you all the luck if you have exams or dissertations due,

Jazzy B ❤

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The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

Yes, food really does affect your mood.

When you think about what effects your mental health, the typical answers are stress, self-esteem, and relationship issues, to name but a few, however, we often underestimate the impact that food has on our mental health. When you consider the science behind it and the growing evidence that food has a greater effect on our mental health than we give credit for, I think we could all check what we are fuelling our bodies with.

There is no doubt that what we eat has an impact on our mental health, this link has been proven repeatedly. A review of studies looking into the issue of diet and mental health found that regular consumption of a Western diet (a diet consisting of highly processed and sugary foods) increased the risk of depression (O’Neil et al., 2014). Moreover, a poor diet is proven to impact biological mechanisms that are commonly associated with depression such as impacting the immune system and altering the levels of certain brain proteins potentially leading to depressive symptoms (O’Neil et al., 2014). This further strengthens the link between diet and mental health.

Moreover, some of the factors that contribute to poor mental health, such as stress, have been proven to influence food preferences. For example, a study by Kandiah, Yake, and Meyer (2006) found that when participants were not exposed to stress they made healthy dietary choices 80% of the time compared to when participants were exposed to stress, which they made healthy food choices only 33% of the time. This highlights an issue, the fact that something like stress can lead to poor mental health, yet when we experience stress we tend to eat unhealthier options, also negatively impacting our mental health. Therefore, healthier dietary choices could break this cycle as evidenced by Ansari, Adetunji, and Oskrochi (2014) who found that when fruit and vegetables weren’t consumed on a regular basis, there was a greater association with experiencing more depressive symptoms for both males and females.

Although there is little research on a diet that has been proven to reduce the likelihood of depressive symptoms and promote better mental health, there have been studies conducted on specific foods. For example, the following foods have all been linked to better mental health when in their raw form; carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens like spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit (Brookie, Best & Conner, 2018).

I hope you found this an interesting read,

Jazzy B ❤

References:

Kandiah, J., Yake, M., & Meyer, M. (2006). Stress influences appetite and comfort food preferences in college women.  Nutrition Research, 28(1), 118-123. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2005.11.010 

Ansari, W.E, Adetunji, H., Oskrochi, R. (2014). Food and mental health: Relationship between food and perceived stress and depressive symptoms among university students in the United Kingdom. Central European Journal of Public Health, 22(2), 90-97.

O’Neil, A., Quirk, S.E., Houseden, S., Brennan, S.L., Williams, L.J., Pasco, J.A., Berk, M., & Jacka, F.N.(2014). Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: A Systematic Review. The American Journal of Public Health, 104(10).

Brookie, K.L., Best, G.I., Conner, T.S. (2018). Intake of raw fruits and vegetables is associated with better mental health than intake of processed fruits and vegetables. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(1). doi: https://doaj.org/article/956172bb66c747b1a3efbf9a4a4d9023