Posted in Intern advice, Written by Maddie

How to make the most of Fresher’s week

Fresher’s week is one of the most exciting times at university for all students, regardless of their level of study!

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As a first year student, this week is particularly important because for most of us it is the first time our parents have left us on our own to discover the world and by that I mean live with 4 or 5 other strangers in the same flat, figure how to work out the stove and how to turn the washing machine on. So fun.

But more than that, Fresher’s week is the first chance for you as a first year student to get immersed into the university life, meet new people and decide what you will be doing with your free time. However, with everything going on, it is sometimes hard to decide on what you would like to do and which events you would like to attend so here I come to rescue!

Here are some of my pro(maybe) tips of how to make the most of fresher’s week that will make your life a lot easier throughout the year.

  • Attend as many events as possible!

I know the introvert in you already doesn’t like this blog post but believe me, it is for the best!

First year is the time when you have enough hours in the day to try out as many things as possible, so take advantage of that! Sign up for events, societies and give a go to things you haven not had the opportunity to try out, like archery or pottery or acting in a musical. The University of Sheffield has an incredible variety of things you could do. In order to make sure you don’t miss any great opportunities keep an eye of your university email and also come down to the Students’ Union to pick up a Give it a Go booklet and any other flyers that might include information about events happening that week. They will be scattered across the whole building, so just take one!

  • Go to the Activities’ fair!

You pass by the Students’ Union and you see a massive queue in front of Octagon. Yes this is where you should be too! That is the Activities’ fair also known as the event where all the societies and services offered by the university gather for a day to showcase what they can offer and also give you the opportunity to become one of their members or sign up for their events. There will be department specific societies, special interest, political you name it, the Students Union has them all! And the best part is that if you are interested, you can sign up on the spot, saving a lot of time!

  • Go shopping!

Pans, pots, pillows and all the boring stuff. Yes you will have to do it if you do not want to sleep on a bare mattress for the rest of the year. It is best to get this out of the way as soon as possible. But before that, do your research. There are plenty of shops in Sheffield for all budgets so make sure you choose the one in the price range you want. You don’t want to go into the first shop you see in sight and spend £50 on a pot, or that will become your most prized possession for all your university years…

  • Go discover the city

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This seems an obvious thing to do, but it is easy to get caught into the university bubble and forget that there is a whole new world beyond the concourse. Sheffield is known for the numerous coffee shops and parks where you can go and have a relaxed day out with your friends. So when you find yourself out of ideas on what to do, go out there and find your favourite places in Sheffield, places you will like to come back to later in the year and the ones you would like to show your friends and family when they come visit you.

There are so many more things you could do during freshers week and this is just a short list to get you started. And while you’re doing all these don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the experience. 3 or 4 years may seem like an eternity but they will pass buy quicker than expected!

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Maddie

How to prepare as an international student coming to Sheffield

Studying abroad can be one of the most challenging, yet formative periods of your life. It is not an easy process, but it is one that takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in situations that allows you to develop both personally and professionally

If you were fortunate enough to have chosen Sheffield as the university where you will be studying, than you will be happy to find out that they are doing excellent work in supporting international students adapt to the university life.

The first and most important thing to know is that the Students’ Union is led by sabbatical officers, out of which the International Student Officer is there to support all international students and advocate for their rights. They are elected out of the student body and work full time so they are available for you to knock on their door and tell them you problems. You can find the whole officer’s team, including the International Student Officer in the Student Union Building, on the 4th floor.

You can also get involved in several initiatives across the university that support a better integration of international students. One of them is the International Student Committee which advocates for cultural understanding and diversity, organising events such as International Cultural Evening or World Food Festival. You can volunteer with them and even run for a position on the committee, while getting to know loads of amazing people and advocate for cultural understanding both at university and in the wider Sheffield community.

Finally, you can get involved in your national society and share a bit of your culture with everyone else on campus.

This is only a glimpse of what opportunities the university can offer, so you can make the most of your experience, but I would also like to mention a few tips and tricks on what day to day things you could do to adjust better to this new chapter in your life.

  1. Homesickness

 

Probably one of the most common issues international students are dealing with is homesickness, which may seem inoffensive, but if let to develop can interfere with your studies and your overall experience. Fortunately there are several ways to deal with such a situation, one of which, making sure you speak to someone about it. The Nightline at university is a great place to start, as you can talk with an individual and express your feelings while being completely anonymous.

(more details here: https://www.sheffieldnightline.co.uk/)

Another way is to come together with members of your national society (or set one up!) and have traditional celebrations. And the best advice of all, make sure you stay in touch with your family. With all the deadlines and stress at university, is easy to forget to give your parents a call, but that can help you more than you think in a hard moment.

  1. Get to know the city

3 or 4 years seems like a long time to spend in a city for your degree. However, as a final year student I can attest that it passess a lot faster than you think, and by the end of your degree you find yourself not knowing the city you have lived on for so long at all. My advice here is to get out there and befriend people in your area, your neighbours, try out the attractions in Sheffield, the coffee shops and the Peak District especially, and truly become part of the community. This will give you a different outlook on the city and make you feel more at home.

  1. Know what you don’t know and how to fix it

This one applies especially if you have a different education system in your home country. Know what is expected of you as a student, what studying techniques are the most efficient ones and what are your strengths and weaknesses as well as how to apply them best. If you already thought about this but are unsure of where to start, then 301 is here for you. As an international student in Sheffield in my first year I found it difficult to understand what is expected of me in seminars, what is the best way to take notes in a lecture so I can take in all the information presented and hardest of them all, how to go through all the readings I had to do and make sure I extract the right information. The 301 academic workshops have helped me tremendously in getting a hand of all these and perform better, so if you are still unsure why not give it a try by following this link: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301

 

And here you have it, a few quick tips on how you can improve some of the most common issues international students are struggling with to make your life a bit easier and the university experience an unforgettable one!

 

 

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Maddie

My experience with Django Girls

If there is one thing I am incapable of doing, that is understanding science of any kind. Ever since I was little I had an inclination for humanities and social sciences and despised anything that involved numbers. So it happened that in high school I focused mostly on languages and now at university I study politics and international relations. No numbers, no calculations so I am safe. Or so I thought….

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Being focused on one area is great, especially is it is something you really enjoy doing, but being a well rounded individual is also something we should aim for. Even if you think you don’t like something, how do you know for sure if you haven’t even tried it out?

That was exactly what went through my mind when I decided to sign up for a coding beginners class. For the record, I haven’t done anything related to coding in my entire life but here I was, deciding I should give it a go.

So I went! On a Saturday morning at 9 am I went down to the location where the Django Girls workshop was about to begin. We were told that by the end of the day we will build a website. On our own! Seemed a task impossible to achieve give my level of skills.

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The Django Girls project is an initiative going on all over the world with the aim to help women learn a coding language and enter a field mostly dominated by men. The workshops are ran by volunteers that support Django Girls’ mission and all the information and materials they need in order to organise a successful event are available on the Django Girls website. In order to participate you don’t have to have any knowledge of programming (ahem… that’s how I got in) but you must have a desire to learn a new skill and meet some amazing people.

The feature of the workshop I enjoyed the most was the fact that you are paired up with another participant and together are assigned a coach who walks you through the whole tutorial and is there to encourage you throughout the day. This was incredibly useful for me, as it helped me understand what exactly I was doing and give me the freedom to ask any questions that went through my mind.

You might have guessed by now that by the end of the workshop I did manage to build the website and was I proud of myself! Oh yes! Mostly because I never thought the phrase “build a website” and “me” would ever be put together.

So if you are like me and never thought that anything non-social science is for you, you might want to give this workshop a try and see how it goes. It is an amazing opportunity to discover a new community in Sheffield and be introduced to a new skill that might turn into a passion, who knows? The events happen multiple times per year and the best part is that if you enjoy being a participant, then you can go on and organise a workshop yourself in Sheffield or in your home city. Django Girls welcomes everyone who wants to spread the message and support the initiative. If you are curious to find out more have a look here: https://djangogirls.org/

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Maddie

How to have a rewarding summer without an internship or a job?

The pressure of gaining experience in any possible field is increasing year after year. And every summer students from all degrees run around trying to be accepted for a  great internship scheme, get a job or a do any other activity that might increase your employability prospects after they graduate. This is all understandable, considering the competitive job market we all have to face after we have obtained our degrees.

But what do you do when you end up in a situation where you were unable to secure any internship or job over the summer period. How do you ensure you still make the most of your 3 months and develop not only professionally, but personally too?

Well, I got you covered. Below you will find a list of different activities that can be undertaken both when in Sheffield or while travelling, that will help you have a productive summer.

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  • Attend a summer school

 

This one requires a bit of preparation in advance but it can add up so much to your CV. If you have an area of study that you are interested in, but which you have not had the chance to engage that much with, then have a look at the summer schools that are running at the moment and choose that one that could be most helpful to you. You can start by looking at summer schools organised by different universities across UK and Europe (especially if you want to pursue a Master in another European country) or have a look at some think tanks and see if they organise any summer programmes. The options are endless, all that’s required from you is a quick Google search and you are ready to go!

  1. Learn a new language

This one might require a bit more self management, but everyone can agree that knowing more than one language is an incredibly useful skills to have. Maybe you studied one for A levels but haven’t practiced it in ages, or you are going on an Erasmus programme and would like to lay out the basics, or you know that in order to get your dream job you should speak more than one language. No matter what your motivations are, learning a new language is a very rewarding process. You can start with one hour per day and also mix in some more fun ways to understand the language such as watching movies, listening to songs or getting immersed in their culture. You can also build on your efforts once the summer ends and sign up for a Languages for All programme at the beginning of the year. (more details here:https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/languages/lfa )

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  1. Volunteer with one of the local charity shops

This is a great one if you like to get out of the house, meet new people, while also being passionate about social impact. Sheffield has some great charity shops that are constantly looking for volunteers such as Oxfam, Save the Children or Age UK. This experience would allow you to engage with some of the biggest charities out there and gain amazing volunteering experience, while also meeting great individuals and giving back to the community. Their opportunities are not always advertised on the usual university pages but you can easily go in and ask if they need a helping hand. I am sure they will be more than happy to take you on board.

  1. Volunteer with one of your preferred organisations

If you have a group of organisations you are interested in working with, but haven’t managed to get an internship with them, or they do not have an internship scheme at all, then this is a great way to get involved. Most of these organisations would love to have brand ambassadors in different campuses around the UK and you can facilitate that for them. Most of them are able to offer you training and provide you with more knowledge about how the organisation operates and what kind of people they are likely to recruit. If you are social sciences student looking to work with a charity, this is a great way to get involved in the sector. All you need to do is pick up the phone and offer your help!

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Overall, all these suggestions rely on your sense of initiative. There are so many other ways through which you can gain valuable experience in the field you are interested to have a career in. All you need to do is spend some time thinking of what the best course of action is for you and then start looking for opportunities. Google is always there to help you!

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Maddie

A guide to learning how to do public speaking

Makes you shiver just at the thought of it!

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Public speaking is a fear most people have, and it is perfectly normal! It take a lot to present your ideas and views in front of a crowd, especially when we are talking about assessed presentations in university or work related public speaking where your statements do matter!

At the same time, public speaking is also one of those basic transferable skills employers are looking for. Either for a job or if you are pursuing a Master or PhD, stages in your career progression will depend on you captivating the audience through your speech and delivering a good presentation.

How do you make sure you have this skill fully mastered right from the start? Through personal experience and through noticing other people develop, I can say that’s a bit of a challenging one, but I am almost certain that through practice and patience you can learn to get rid of those nerves and nail your speech every time, no matter how impossible that though might sound now.

Knowing that myself was there at one point and that I managed to challenge my fears and be comfortable with public speaking, here is a guide on how to get you started working on this skill:

  1. Let’s start with an easy one- ask yourself why you don’t like to speak in public

More often than not you will realise that those reasons are not as logical as you might have though. When I first thought about improving my public speaking skills, I know I was afraid of starting because I thought people would judge me. On what? I had no clue but I knew people judge and I was terrified of that. When I delivered my first speech I realised things are not quite like I thought they were. On the contrary, most of the time people do listen to what you have to say, and even give you constructive feedback. Worst comes to worst they would just look at their phone and not even pay attention at what you’re saying, so no worries! Just go out there and give it a try!

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  1. Now that you have that sorted, try to put yourself in situations where you know you will have to speak in front of a crowd.

Start small by joining a society and taking the lead on a project, do a presentation in class, sign up for some short time courses. Anything works, as long as it gives you the chance to go out of your comfort zone, while you are still in a safe space where you can make mistakes and learn from them. And never be afraid to ask for help! Either from a friend or family member, or from people that you know are really good a public speaking, ask them for tips, advice, ideas on how you can do better, ask them how do they get over their fears. You will find that you can translate their practices to your own experience and just learn through trial and error.

  1. And finally make it a habit!

This is the challenging part. Now that you’ve tried public speaking once or twice and you are a bit more comfortable with being on the spotlight, try to do it as often as possible. Join a society that has public speaking as one of their main activities. Debating Society and Model United Nations are amazing opportunities for you to enhance your skills while also discussing fun topics and keeping up with what’s happening in the world. Take on an opportunity where you teach a subject or train a group of individuals. The PASS programme here at 301 is a particularly good scheme in this sense and you can check everything about it here:https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/peerlearning/pass

These are just some suggestions but with an SU as active as ours I am sure there are plenty more opportunities for you to discover.

And here you have it! A guide on how to start working on being an incredible public speaker. As a closing thought, I can attest it’s not something that happens overnight, but it is definitely worth the effort so good luck and don’t forget that 301 has a workshop on ‘Presentation skills’ that can give you a good starting point! You can check it out here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/services/workshops

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Posted in All things 301, Written by Maddie

Why sign up for the Academic Skills Certificate?

The Academic Skills Certificate is a way to enhance your skills, to show you are productive and to do something beyond your degree!

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The initiative started by 301 gives you the chance to use and reflect on all the knowledge  you have gathered from the workshops offered by us, that you’ve attended and gain recognition for it!

All you need to do is go at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/asc and fill in the registration form. Once you have done that, you can either attend 4 Academic, Information or Maths and Statistics workshops or use some of the ones you have already attended during the 16/17 academic year, write a reflective piece that will be assessed by the 301 staff members and you are done! Easy peasy!

But if this is not enough to convince you to register, here are some of the reasons why I think the Academic Skills Certificate is one of the most useful things I’ve done while at university:

  1. It gives you an incentive to attend workshops that will probably help you improve your study skills.

If you are an international student  or are just unsure of what is expected of you while at university, the Academic Skills workshops are a fantastic source of information. But, if you are a bit like me and find it hard to get out of bed sometimes because those 5 more minutes of sleep are so precious, then you will find it hard to actually attend all the things you have signed up for. Having registered for the Academic Skills Certificate will give you that extra push to attend the events, as you know that now you are striving to achieve something tangible!

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  1. It gives you a chance to fully engage with the content.

We have all been in a situation where we‘ve attended an event and took loads of notes because it was incredibly useful and then never looked at the notes again…. Ever… maybe even lost the notepad.That doesn’t seem very productive…

Because you will have to write a reflective piece on every of the workshops you’ve attended, you will have to turn your room upside down and find that notepad you took notes on and actually reflect on what you think were the most useful parts and even try to put them in practice. You’re welcome!

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  1. It shows you are proactive!

We are quite fortunate to have a university and a students union that has an activity for everything and anything. This can also be a bit overwhelming as you don’t really know where to go and what to choose. The Academic Skills Certificate is a particularly good activity to start with, as it helps you with your studies and because it can also go on your HEAR and Sheffield Graduate Award, which will ensure that your proactivity is showcases to employers too!

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And here you have it! Some of the things that I think make this initiative particularly useful to students that decide to sign up for it.

If you want to find more about it why not go for it yourself? The deadline for submission is coming up on the 26th of May for undergrads and 30th of June for postgrads so hurry up! There is still plenty of time for you to attend some of our workshops in preparation for your exams! Here is the link again: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/asc

Posted in Intern advice, Uncategorized, Written by Maddie

How you can learn a new language while at university

How many times have you thought about picking up a new language but have never actually done anything about it?

Knowing another language is an amazing skill to have and the more time you invest in it, the more opportunities will come your way to travel, meet new people and just know more about a culture different than your own.

Among the many many… many opportunities offered by our University, there is one that makes learning a language as simple and straightforward as it can get.

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The programme is called “Languages for All” and it offers you the possibility to either set the base for a new language as a beginner or to just pick up from where you left. There are a lot of options you could choose from and the best thing about it, is that you could also do it for free!

Here are a few things to keep in mind about the programme:

  1. The programme is very well structured and flexible as it offers you the possibility to attend classes both in the afternoon and evening so it doesn’t clash with any of your modules.
  2. On top of the actual lecture you will also have a 1 hour Lab that gives you the chance to practice any new information with other people on the same level as you.
  3. If you are taking the module on a non-for-credit basis the exam at the end is optional, so you don’t have to worry about not having time to prepare for it on top of your actual courses.
  4. It can either be done for an entire academic year or if you are really busy, going on a year abroad or would like to focus on something else, you can choose to just try it out for a semester.
  5. If you are taking part in an Erasmus programme, this is an amazing opportunity for you to get the basis of the language before you head off!
  6. It goes on your HEAR, so there is actual proof to demonstrate your effort!

All in all the programme is a great opportunity to just try something new while you are still figuring everything else at uni! If this post sparked your interest even a little bit here is a link where you can check when the next registration period is going to open: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/languages/lfa

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Posted in Written by Maddie

How to do life: Time Management

Hi everyone! My name is Maddie and I am one of the 301 interns for this term. If you have any queries or are just coming in to 301 for one of our workshops, you will find me at reception!

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Apart from working for 301, I like to think that I am pretty involved with the University and the Students Union. Coming to university as an international student, I got involved in numerous societies and activities around campus which I really enjoyed, but which added up to a point where my poor time management skills became pretty obvious to the people I was working with.

With everything going on, first year taught me some really important lessons about how to make the most of my time and here are some of the ones I stick by even today:

  • It is ok to get involved in as many things as you want at the beginning BUT make up your mind!

 

University is the time when you try things out and with our Students Union hosting more than 300 student societies and countless other activities and opportunities, it’s pretty hard to decide on just one thing. However, once you have tried a couple societies, a few Give it a Gos and attended a handful of events, have a think about which one you tend to prioritise over the others and that’s it! That’s the activity you should stick with for the time being. Trying to do everything and be everywhere will just not let you enjoy the full experience anywhere. So stick with one and give it your best!

  • Make people aware of your time commitments:

 

Even though you would like to get involved in as many things as possible, there will always be things you prioritise and that is ok. These are the things that will be great for your personal development and those that make your time at uni enjoyable. While you do this, make sure other are aware of it too. Most of the student societies and events rely on volunteers and people that commit to attend and it is key for their well functioning to know who they can count on at all times. I am 100% sure they would really appreciate your honesty when mentioning your availability!

  • Make planning fun, easy and accessible

 

This is an old trick that gets mentioned everywhere. Yet, I cannot stress how important it is to have some sort of way in which you can organise yourself at the end of the day. Download an agenda app, set up reminders on your phone, get a cute planner (personal recommendation- “Passion Planner”), use Google Calendar (you can do that with your uni email to make your life easier) or just experiment with any other method and see what works for you. In a busy day you are bound to forget a time or a location for a meeting or just double book something by mistake. Having something to refer to during hectic times will spare you loads of headaches and make you more efficient in the end!

And this is how I survive uni and I hope some of the things mentioned here will prove to be useful for you too! If you would like some more extensive help with time management 301 has some excellent workshops coming up so be quick and head over to our website to book one!     https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301