Posted in Intern advice, Written by Amber

Settling in at Uni

Congratulations on getting your place at Sheffield! The next few years will definitely be full of ups and downs! In particular, the first few weeks of your degree can be a pretty daunting and emotional time, so here are some tips to help you get settled in!

 

Facebook groups

Social media is a really great way to connect with your peers and find useful blogs and information about the university. Lots of groups start popping up around the time of A Level results, and it is worth being aware that they are not all the same. The ‘Official’ freshers/firmers groups run by the university are definitely worth joining to meet your course mates and keep up to date with information. It is worth bearing in mind that there are a number of unofficial groups, usually set up by local clubs who will try and convince you to splash out on tickets (and often week long wristbands) with mentions that they are ‘the biggest student night’ and that they will sell out. Do not rush into buying tickets, you will not be left with nowhere to go and your best bet is to wait until you can find a few flatmates and agree on going somewhere together as you will likely want to get to know them! You don’t want to turn up in freshers and have to worry about selling tickets because you all turned up having bought separate tickets! As mentioned, the Facebook groups are a really great place to get you in touch with your housemates so you can start getting to know each other and making plans! There are also always loads of people asking if anyone is on their course which can be the start of great friendships (this is how I met one of my best friends at uni!) but don’t worry if you can’t find anyone!

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Packing

It can be really hard to work out what to pack for university, but there are a few things which may help you with settling in. Don’t go overboard (you are likely to be tight on space!) but definitely bring a few things to make your room feel homely: posters, cushions, photos from home are all great to make your room feel a little more like your own. If you decide to bring posters it is worth remembering that you aren’t meant to use blue tack in halls in case it marks/damages the paintwork, but you could still stick them to your wardrobe and pin them to your noticeboard! It is also worth buying yourself a doorstop, as the doors are heavy fire doors which don’t stay open. This is handy for moving boxes into your room during moving in day, but may also help you get to know your friends. Prop your door open and put some music on while you unpack or after your parents have left and your future housemates are likely to come and chat to you… Knocking on the door of a stranger can be pretty daunting but coming to chat to someone with their door open is less so! Finally on the packing front – food and drink! If you drink alcohol, you may wish to bring some with youl as it saves you having to go out and buy some the night you move in. The same can be said for dinner for that night, if possible get your parents to do a shop with you once you arrive in Sheffield and pick something quick and easy for dinner that night to maximise the time you can spend getting to know your new flatmates. Lastly, it can be worth bringing biscuits or something you can offer around as an icebreaker – particularly if you enjoy baking, your housemates will love you!

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Moving in day

I would recommend that the first thing you do when you have started unpacking is to make your bed! You probably won’t want to do it after unpacking for a few hours or later on when you could be socialising with your flatmates, and you definitely won’t want to do it when you return from a night out!Use that doorstop!

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Homesickness

Moving to university is really exciting but you are bound to feel homesick at some point as it is such a big change! I found writing letters quite therapeutic and it was such a lovely feeling to receive one in return. Your family will also probably appreciate that you took the time to write them a letter, particularly older relatives such as grandparents! Skype is also a godsend, and if your laptop or computer doesn’t come with a webcam then it is worth buying one online so you can chat to friends and family and see them too!

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Good luck with the move and enjoy yourself but remember that it is okay to feel nervous too!

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Posted in Intern advice, student life, Uncategorized, Written by Britt

Getting into ‘study mode’

So it’s now the end of August and before you know it it’ll be time to lug all your stuff back up to Sheffield (if you’ve not already done so). Or, if you’re a first year student, you’ve got your first big moving in day – exciting times!

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Whilst this time of year is really fun, especially with the chaos of Freshers’ Week, it can also sometimes feel like you’re expected to snap straight back into the swing of studying after a long summer break. When lectures start you’re still getting over the dreaded Freshers’ Flu and suddenly you’ve got 6 pieces of reading and a report to write. However, do not fear! Here are my top tips for getting your body and brain into ‘study mode’:

  1. Invest in a diary/planner/calendar. I honestly could not live without my diary – I have no idea what I’m doing on a given day until I check it! I make it a habit to write down all my class times, shifts and social plans as soon as I can to ensure I have my week organised on paper. It really helps you to visualize the week ahead and figure out when you’re going to do that seminar reading (or when you can go to the pub!)
  2. Start any course reading early. This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and spend £200 on books that you may not necessarily even need. However, if your module conveners have stated specific textbooks ‘recommended for purchase’ then it may be a good idea to do so, even if it’s a cheaper edition from the local charity shop or a second-hand copy from a previous student. By making a start on your reading early, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed in the first week of term as you will have already got a good grasp of what your tutors are talking about.
  3. Set some easy-to-do small tasks. Things such as drawing out your teaching timetable, familiarising yourself with the course structure and ensuring you’ve got a handy pack of highlighters are all great little things you can do to get yourself off to a good start. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking those things off your list!
  4. Take care of yourself. Of course, Freshers Week is fun albeit a little crazy. However, at the risk of sounding like a concerned parent, it’s also really important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and are eating well. You’re unlikely to feel brilliant in the first few weeks of term if all you have been doing beforehand is going out, staying up until 5am and spending loads of money on takeaway food (though this is fine to do some of the time!). It is crucial to be well-rested and refreshed ready for uni!

I hope these tips have inspired you to feel ready for ‘study mode’ – have a great few weeks before the hard work (and great fun) begins!

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Sophie

Student mentoring: a rewarding experience!

If you’ve applied to be a student mentor (whether you’re in your second, third or fourth year) you will probably be emailing your mentees very shortly, and I hope you’re looking forward to it!  I found this to be an incredibly rewarding experience, as you’re able to give your own personal, honest account of your time at university so far, and really put your mentees at ease.  You may also want to put something back into the community that once helped you too!  It looks great on any type of CV and I found that student jobs/positions across the university value it highly.  I thought I would just talk to you about some of the things that worked for me while I was a mentor, and how you can signpost them to 301 if they’re struggling with any study skills!

  1. Use a template for your first email, but make it personal.

A template is an excellent way to write an introductory email to a mentee, but making it personal ensures that the new student feels welcomed to the university, and can rely on a friendly face when they move here.  Take the time to look at their profile and see what interests them – you may find that they share similar interests to you, or you can direct them to the societies we have on offer at Sheffield.  I always recommend the Activities Fair in Intro Week, as it’s a great way to get students started on an activity they may not have tried before!

  1. If you’re not sure, signpost.

A mentee may want really specific help during their time at university, and it is often best to signpost them to the appropriate service if you do not know the answer yourself.  For instance, if they’re having specific worries about any study skills, such as Academic Writing, recommend some of the tutorials and workshops we have on at 301!  Not many people know that MASH (Maths and Statistics Help) and all of the other services here are for people across all disciplines, so do let them know!  This goes for other services across the university too – always direct students if you’re not confident in giving the answer yourself.

  1. Arrange for your mentees to meet together.

When you offer to meet up with you mentees during Intro Week, it could be a good idea to get them to meet with you together!  That way, they may have a friendly face during lectures, and they could discuss their worries with each other if they would like.  If one of your mentees does not feel comfortable meeting with others, arrange a separate meeting.

  1. Always check in on them.

During the most stressful times at university, or if you haven’t heard from them in a while, remember to check on your mentees to see if everything is going ok.  They may not know where to turn to, and you may be able to offer the most appropriate support for them.  Sometimes people just need someone that looks out for them!

I hope this post has made you feel excited for being a mentor – I remember being very eager to get started and to help students within my department!  I hope you’re all having a lovely summer. 🙂

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Jenny

Coming to Uni: The essential packing

 

Coming to University is a daunting time for all involved, you’re overrun with advice on what to pack but it’s rarely uni specific. Having been at the Uni for 4 years now I feel pretty well placed to advise on this matter so here is a definitive practical guide on coming to Sheffield from an old-timer!

Top tips:

  • Don’t fall for buying single bedding, chances are your second or third year house will have a double bed. If you invest in double bedding and just get a single bottom sheet you save both money and hassle! (Plus you’ll be thankful in the cold winter).
  • Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are the main stores in Sheffield so it’s worth getting their reward cards! I know co-op and Sainsbury’s do a student-parent card that can be topped up which can be a lifesaver!
  • Get the 16-25 railcard, the £30 upfront cost for the year is easily made up and ⅓ off travel makes going home and exploring the local area much easier!
  • If you can’t drive then get a provisional licence, you really don’t want to take your passport out as ID.
  • Ease back on bringing stationary. I was too keen before the course started and got myself lots of colorful ring binders, project books etc. Most were barely used. Bring a A4 notepad, stapler, pens and pencils then sort the rest later!
  • Don’t forget about hangers, tea towels and bin bags these boring things are easily forgotten!
  • When you’re budgeting don’t forget to include the ‘easily forgotten items’- detergent, bin bags, money for topping up your laundry cards, bus/taxi money for nights out.
  • On the topic of laundry, a boring subject I know! If you are in halls you’ll have to use the shared washing machines which annoyingly don’t have draws for detergent. So make sure you get liquitabs or a gel for a proper wash.
  • Don’t leave packing until a few days before the big move, get organised and save your family the stress!
  • On move in day everyone will be raiding the shops to get essentials. So I would advise bringing as much cupboard storage stuff/ consumables as you can. Including toilet paper, toiletries, bathroom/toilet cleaner, bin bags, alcohol and cupboard food.
  • Check what is actually in your room– is there a bathroom bin? Is there a toilet brush?

Packing:

  • I would advise bringing two sets of bedding so you always have one washed- go for something that will cheer you up and brighten your room if possible. Primark and Wilkinson’s are overlooked gems!
  • Bring distinctive but non-expensive cutlery and crockery. Trust me after the first year alone you will have broken some or lost some, and a distinctive color can save on arguments on washing up plus it’s harder to use. I managed to set fire to a colander and burn a hole in a saucepan so I wouldn’t advice flashing the cash on fancy stuff.
  • Bring some storage boxes– depending on what you own this might vary but I would suggest at least bringing one. They’re ideal for student halls as you can just put them under the bed when you lift it open (that will make sense once you move in).
  • Bring shoes for uni that can withstand some serious hills and rain. You will be walking a lot in Sheffield so invest wisely.
  • Bring a winter coat. Sheffield can get very cold in winter so make sure you wrap up warm in a big cosy coat.
  • Don’t forget to bring some summery clothes as Sheffield in September can be surprisingly warm.
  • Bring a clothes horse, easy to use and set up but will save you a small fortune.
  • Bring an extension lead as the plugs are not always in the most sensible places.
  • Bring a laundry bag that you can actually carry clothes in. Depending on where you are living it can be a bit of a trek to get to the launderette.
  • A bag big enough for all the things you need to go back home for the weekend and a sleeping bag for when mates come to stay/ you visit a friends.

Hopefully you’re excited for the big move, you’re going to have a great time!

Useful shops:

  • Primark
  • Wilko
  • Argos
  • Supermarkets – especially for cutlery/crockery and housewares
  • Ikea
  • Charity shops
Posted in Uncategorized

Making the most out of your final year at Sheffield University!

You might not be thinking about being back at uni yet, but the summer’s flying by and it’s somehow already mid August. Whilst you might be slightly dreading returning for the amount of work required in final year, this blog should hopefully reassure you that final year is not all doom and gloom!

Whilst its important to make sure you do work hard in final year, there’s also lots of fun things in store this year!

1. Join a Society

It’s never too late to join a society! I know loads of people who joined one in final year and have loved it. It’s a great way to relax and find time to do other things than studying. You’ll meet new friends and have chance to do loads of social stuff too. If you still need convincing check out our Blog ‘A-Z of Societies at Sheffield’ for some inspiration!

2. Attend your end of year ball

Everyone loves a good ball and there’s something extra special about your last year one, probably because you appreciate the break from studying much more!

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3. Lots of “last evers”

Alongside some of the not-so-fun ‘last evers’ such as last ever exam and last ever all-nighter-last-minute-deadline-panic, you’ll have a full year of fun last-evers such as the last time you’ll go on your favourite night out with your uni friends, the last time you visit Peddler Market or your favourite restaurant, and your last ever Corp if you can stomach it!! If you try to balance out your hard work with lots of treats throughout the year you’ll find final year is really not as bad as its reputation!

4. Make the most out of the services available at 301!

I personally had never used the services at 301 until final year, but I’m so glad I did! I alsmost felt like it was too late in final year but when I went to my first Academic Skills workshop I realised there was still much to learn! With such amazing services available on your (SU) doorstep, make sure you take full advantage whilst you can! Book on to a Workshop, or book a 1:1 session with a tutor.

5. ENJOY IT!

You can feel like there’s a lot of pressure in final year, but the most important thing is that you give yourself time to rest and relax and enjoy your time as a student, whether it be doing lots of sports with your favourite club, or breaking up study sessions with friends going out for lunch or coffee dates and drinks.