University Advice

Hope on Results Day

Results.

A horrible time of the year I know, where you open it up and see the letter that will determine how the rest of you life goes, or does it?

You see, that’s all it is, at the end of the day. A simple bit of paper that just tells the government that on a certain day in complete silence you can write down an answer to a question you will probably never have to face ever again in your life.

For some however, like me, I failed time and time again. My teachers got to the stage where they started to say to me whether college was the best option for me and whether I should go straight into work instead (this was of course before the UK government declared that you needed schooling until you were 18) but you can’t give up hope. If you want to do something, you do it. I wanted to go to College and do a BTEC in Computing, because it was the best option for me. My college never did the A-Level computing and even so, I wouldn’t have taken it. I preferred my BTEC because I learnt a lot more practically than I did mentally.

I look at where I am today and I believe that I made the best option for me. Yes, I failed English 4 times and Maths 5 times (with the certificates to prove it) and I’m at University now. Studying one of the most intense courses in the world. I’ve met people who I never thought I would get to meet, my two best friends in the world, the love of my life and I still have yet to finish my course.

So my message is this. Don’t give up hope. When you get that piece of paper, don’t look at it as a restriction, look at it as an open door. To try as hard as you can do show the world you can do what you want to do because that’s just it. You can do whatever you want to do and no one can tell you otherwise, and I hope my experience with failing my GCSE’s and other exams can help keep your spirites up regardless of whatever you get.

Until next time!
Conor ^-^

Work Advice

Getting Used To Work

When you start work, it’s a shock to the system. Especially when you’ve been so used to working in your own environment. However, there are some tips that you can use for your own benefit that will hopefully make that transition a little easier.

1. If You Can, Bring A Comfort Belonging
For the first month at work, every day I brought a photograph of me and my girlfriend with me, tucked neatly away inside my backpack, just when I got nervous about something, I just opened my notebook, saw the photo and felt a little better about not knowing what I’m doing.

2. Don’t Expect To Know Everything
It’s something that everyone goes through when they start working, but you are only there to learn more, to increase your knowledge. It’s only normal to feel like you’re behind everyone else and that’s okay! It’s only a temporary feeling. Once a month or so passes you’ll feel a lot more comfortable.

3. Treat Yourself
I know it’s been said before, but at the end of your first week or month, go and buy yourself something. A coffee, a new magazine or a book. You deserve it after working so hard to get used to your new environment.

4. Don’t Get Big Headed
Don’t believe that you are better than that place. Even if you’re working in a fast food place and you have more qualifications than everyone else (I’ve seen an old friend do this and got fired in a week). Everyone there is in the same boat as you, all trying to make money so that they can feed themselves and their families and pay their rent.

5. Try Not To Worry About Getting Everything Right
You’re going to make mistakes. That’s a part of life, and a bigger part of life is accepting you made those mistakes and moving on from them. Once you’ve done that, you can do anything. I made a pretty big error in my second month of work that cost us 4 hours. It’s only natural to make mistakes and as long as afterwards you can deal with it cleanly and professionally, then that’s wonderful.

And lastly. Be yourself. No one there is out to get you. Sure, you might meet people you really don’t get on with, but that’s okay. You’re not there to make friends, you’re simply there to go in at the start of the day, do what is asked of you, and go home at the end of the day. If they hired you, they would have done it because you were the best for the job. So don’t worry at first, because humans can do amazing things, and it’s all about dipping your toes in the water.

Until next time!
Conor ^-^
 

University Advice

Working Whilst Resitting

Working at University can be tricky. Especially during resits and you are working 9 to 5 each day. Most of the time you just get home and you don’t want to do any revision for the exam that’s coming around the corner to frighten you.

 

However, you can’t lose faith. A little bit of reading here and there will always make up for it, regardless of time and means. For example, I have to resit an AI examination at the end of this month but I’m also doing my Industrial Year at the same time. The way I’ve gotten around this is to make a day by day schedule over what I’m doing and when. So the moment that I get home, I have dinner, make a coffee and read my textbook whilst I watch an episode of Futurama or Family Guy. Then after a phone call with my girlfriend, I continue my revision by reading more of my book and making notes before I go to bed at roughly 11PM. Whilst I’m at work I keep a smaller textbook on my desk and whenever I have a free moment such as a coffee break, I open it up and read that for a little bit before I continue working. Usually whilst making notes at the same time.

 

Yes, you will have to sacrifice a lot of what you would want to do in order to pass that resit, and that’s okay. After all. Your resit is only for a month. Then you have the rest of the time for yourself. I already have plans for example to learn Welsh in my spare time after I finish my resit, and it’s still okay to treat yourself with a coffee or a new book. You’re trying your hardest after all and that’s all anyone would ever want from you.

 

So don’t give up hope, just because you might not be able to put your mind to paper, because you can do it. It just takes a little bit at first.

 

See you soon!

Conor ^-^

 

Getting a Job Advice

Try, Try, Try Again

Hi there! Today I’ll be talking about the importance of not giving up. When things do get tough, such as trying to apply to Universities or Jobs whilst you’re at University, it can get tough. Especially when you may get rejections from places you thought would be good. However, it’s not the end of the world, or the end of the path of trying.

 
Before I got my IY placement I sent out a total of 17 CV’s, 15 covering letters and failed 10 employment tests. However, I did eventually find somewhere that was willing to take me on for a year just so I have the experience that regular University just wouldn’t give me.

 
It’s upsetting when you open your e-mails up and see the words “sorry, but on this occassion you have not gone through to the next stage” and yes, it ruins your morale for trying to get more applications sent off, but you will always eventually find somewhere that is willing to take you on for a go, just to see if you will be good enough for that company. All you have to do is keep trying and eventually you will get somewhere, and one day, a company will hire you and see just how good you actually are.

 
This can be said for everything however, just like J.K Rowling didn’t get her book published for ages, you may, like loads of people, not get a job instantly, but you can always try. Since, if you don’t try, then you never know.

 
Goodbye for now!
Conor ^-^

Friendship

Be Yourself When You Get To University

Going off to University will provide you with a chance to make new friends. These friends will be the people that you will end up staying friends with for a long long time after you leave University.

 
The reason for this is you’re all in the same boat. You’re all going into University to study the course you chose and you are all there to get a degree at the very end of your course. So you don’t need to worry. Yes, they will be people that are possibly not familiar with the place you are going to University at and so you don’t need to worry. The first few weeks before your courses begin is just to make those friends and to get used to being with those people and so the University will provide time and possibly occasions like movie nights and walks to meet those people.

 
Don’t be afraid of being who you are, and don’t change yourself just to suit the people you are going to meet, you don’t need to go and get drunk each night if it’s not who you are to begin with. Don’t lie to yourself and just be yourself and you’re more than likely to make friends that you will never want to trade in the slightest.

 
My experience was bad, I went out drinking each night and made my friends that way. It’s not me to be honest, and I stopped, I just couldn’t continue lying to myself that I was this kind of person that I wasn’t and eventually I started to make the close friends I know and hold dearly to myself today and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, we’ve done so much together and I even found someone who means more to me than just friendship.

 
The point is, you won’t ever be yourself when you start University, but just don’t forget who you are when you get there, because it’s one thing to make friends, but it’s another to keep the friends you won’t ever want to be apart from.
Goodbye for now!
Conor ^-^

General Advice

Keeping A Close Backup

Making backups of your information is important, and you will always be told by IT tutors, technical support, your parents and yes, it does seem like a bit of a hassle, getting an external hard-drive or a usb stick to hold a single set of documents but it can come in handy.

First however, let me tell you a short story. In my first year of University, I had a complete meltdown, I lost all my data on my hard-drive and I suffered depression during this time due to a painful experience with a past relationship. I started however to wear a USB stick around my neck, this contained photographs of my pet dog, Toby. Whenever I felt like I couldn’t do anything, I immediately plugged my drive into my laptop to go through 500+ photos of my dog until I felt like I could continue working. This held me together because I felt like I had something to keep me going when I held it close to my chest.

A USB stick for instance, these are cheap and plentiful. I have about six all used for different things, one is my University documentation, all the work I’ve completed in the past two years, in case I need to pull up an assignment and hand it back in, in case of a server failure with the University (it does happen). The others are photos that I am too terrified of losing, photos of my family and my pets that mean the most to me when I feel like I can’t continue working on projects, it’s always nice to go through old photographs and feel a little less homesick.

An external hard-drive is a little more expensive, starting at around £30 and going all the way up to £150 based on hard-drive size and transfer speeds and extra functions like “cloud access”. However, if you are wanting to protect all of your data, music, videos, photos, documents like I do, then it’s worth investing in one, and every so often, format the drive and backup all the data once more. I prefer to do it every term so that I have the freshest backup if my computer dies whilst I’m at University, I have a backup in case things go pear shaped.

However, another backup option is cloud storage. Places like Google Drive and Dropbox are especially useful when you have little amounts of data but you want to access them everywhere.  I know it’s a drag to do and takes time, but in the end, having all your data backed up in case of an emergency is a wonderful thing we can do and achieve.

Speak to you all soon!

Conor ^-^

University Advice

Experiences

When you go to University, it can seem a little daunting at first, with all the different societies around and the first people you meet in your first year. It can be slightly terrifying and you will want to do everything you see.
However, you need to make sure you remember that not everything needs to be done. You don’t need to go out there and do everything. Remember that at the end of the day, you’re still only young. You have your whole life to make new experiences and you shouldn’t rush straight into them all, as you will only regret it later on in life when you get to be in your late 20’s and regretting doing something that you did at University, simply because your flatmates did it. Those flatmates won’t be your friends forever, sometimes, you can make one or two really good friends, but then you realize later on in your year that these people are doomed.
On the otherhand, you can always stick your neck out to try something you haven’t tried before, only you can decide what is best for you or not. Somethings, you do need to try, going on a date with someone that you met, going on a long walk over the hills surrounding your University, exploring all the woodlands and going to the beach. Go on holidays, get drunk and have a party with your friends. Movie nights and game nights.
Just remember to take everything in moderation. Like food and drink, you need to take things as they come, but know to say no to those things that you know you just don’t want to do.
Speak to you all soon!
Conor ^-^

Moving House

Budgeting Your Student Loan

So, now you have money coming through on a regular basis, it might be one of those things where you immediately want to go and spend the money ASAP. However! It might be wise to budget your year first. Just in case.

Budgeting can be daunting at first, but once it’s done, it’s just a case of habitually updating the spreadsheet! You can then work out how much you can limit your personal spending by each month, vs how much you have to spend on rent, electricity, food, water etc.

You can go and pick up a random spreadsheet online that has already been filled out for you and all the functions have been set up for you. Or you can go and create your own. Plenty of places on the Internet have these available for you, even Microsoft and Libre/Open Office will have their templates all set up for you to download.

Or you can follow a guide if you’ve never made spreadsheets before and follow along, once you feel comfortable knowing all the different functions and how they work, then you can start working on them yourself. Adding your own data and functioning it so that it works out your spending habits.

These will also come in handy when you are working out finances when you’re outside of University as well. When money isn’t coming in regularly and you need that little extra assistance making sure that you aren’t going to spend anything that you can’t spend on needless things.

Once you’ve done this, you’re also able to plan extras that you might want to go on, say holidays and buying videogames or alcohol. This is useful for those moments where you really want to stop yourself spending but can’t without having a visual aid tell you ‘No’.
Goodbye for now!
Conor ^-^

University Advice

Batch Cooking

Batch cooking is seen as one of those things that you only get told to do when you’re sat with your gran. However, it does have its uses. Especially when you are going into exam month and you don’t feel like spending £30 on a single pizza again and would rather have something a bit more substantial to eat.

A method of doing this involves plastic containers. Similar to those you would get from a Chinese or Indian take-away, and making sure the containers are suitable for the microwave. They may not be suitable for dishwashers, which may come as one of the only downsides to this method, but as long as they are suitable for microwaving, you’re in business.

Picking the food you want is the next step. You can cook pretty much anything for batch cooking, as long as you make sure you take your time. Two methods involve cooking the entire meal (such as spaghetti bolognese) and putting it all in the fridge/freezer for the month, other ways include separating a regular meal for the week. So you would separate uncooked sausages, chips and vegetables in a tub and pop it in the freezer for later on in the week when you fancy sausage and chips and don’t mind doing a bit of cooking. The last way would be to only cook the meat in one day, then seperate it into containers, marking the containers with a marker and then cooking the rice or the pasta separately when you go to have dinner. That way you can enjoy whatever you fancy one night, rather than cooking the same meal each night.

You do have to be careful if you do what I do and place the entire meal (pasta and sauce) in one tub, some of the foods you freeze after you cook can still contain pesticides that (although perfectly fine to eat cooked) can poison you once you reheat it. You must make sure you take care when re-heating things like rice and chicken, as it might be slightly uncooked in the centre, due to the way microwaves work.
Once it’s cooked, make sure you let it cool down before you distribute it into containers. Then simply pick it out of the fridge/freezer, defrost it if necessary and microwave, then tuck in!

This method is much cheaper and honestly how I’ve survived the past couple of years living on my own. Especially when your food budget for the month goes down to £20. It’s one of those things that people overlook at first, but it comes in handy when you really need to save money for essentials.

Goodbye for now!
Conor ^-^

Introductions

Hiya!

So I am the third member of this trio, the name’s Conor, (the best spelling) and I hope you all enjoy the pearls of wisdom that I might be able to offer you in the coming months and years. I will be uploading every Tuesday and Friday as much information as I can in the best way that I can. So welcome one and all to the marvelous time that will be me!