Starting University? Here are my thoughts and tips!

Hi everyone,

So it’s been four years since I started my history degree at Oxford Brookes University, and just over a year since I graduated with my 2:1 with honours. Looking back, there are so many things I enjoyed, so many things I wish I’d done, and so many tips I wish I had been given. If you’re about to start your course, I wish you the very best of luck, and I hope you have the most wonderful few years of your life!

Graduation Day, June 2017. A proud moment!

Five aspects I enjoyed:

1) Meeting some wonderful new friends. Megan, Rachel, Lucy and Lily really made my university experience, and I’m so thankful for these amazing girls💖

2) Learning about parts of history I’d never have learnt about if it were not for my professors. Fascinating facts and interesting viewpoints made the subject so enjoyable. The professors and lecturers have a fountain of knowledge and it’s just wonderful.

3) The feeling of getting a piece of coursework back with a good mark. After disastrous A-Levels and barely scraping through to even get to university in the first place, I was overwhelmed when my first ever piece of coursework came back marked as a First.

4) The fact that I can proudly say that I have a degree! It’s a huge accomplishment and such a wonderful reward after all the hard work in my education.

5) Just being a student! The perks of being a student are awesome. Need a new dress? Student discount girllll. Want to burst out crying? You’re studying for a degree it’s fine, it’s understandable! Not ready to adult? Don’t worry, you’re a student, you have your whole life ahead of you, enjoy being young. I wish I was a student again!

I look awful and exhausted, but here is me just about to finally hand in my dissertation! All that hard work, done!

Five aspects I wish I had done better:

1) I wish I’d been more sociable and gone out more. I’m not a clubbing person or heavy drinker, and I’m quite a socially awkward person, but I do wish I’d pushed myself to really enjoy or just try the so-called “student lifestyle” before I became an adult with a full-time job and a mortgage. I let my anxiety stop me doing a lot, and I wonder if pushing myself to socialise more would have helped me.

2) Not procrastinated. Every student is guilty of this I’m sure, but I wish I’d tried to get work completed earlier, studied harder and not left everything to the last minute and caused myself unnessary stress. Those all-nighters could have been avoided if I’d have just got on with it!

3) Spoken to my professors, lecturers and staff leads more. I felt awkward asking for help when I needed it, which is the worst thing I could have done. I should have communicated when I was struggling.

4) Taken the opportunity to use Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. In my third year I could have filled in my form and had unlimited access to the Bodleian Library, an opportunity that I let slip. Always take every single chance that you are given!

5) Worked less. I worked hard throughout university, often working at least 30 hours a week alongside my full-time degree. Needs must to have been able to afford to live, and to have been able to save, as I didn’t have any other financial support. I managed to get a mortgage with my fiancé within months of coming out of university which was amazing and meant we got the perfect house at the best time, but I do think it meant that my studying slipped a bit, especially with my dissertation.

An ordinary day in the life of me, studying for and writing up a paper in the library

My Five Top Tips:

1) Study! Sound obvious, but make it your top priority. You probably won’t get the opportunity again. Be organised, don’t leave everything to the last minute, and always try your best. The rewards outweigh everything.

2) Read! Read all of your course materials and then some. I didn’t, and I feel that with some areas I struggled because I didn’t always have a profound understanding of the topics. Anything to help!

3) Make the most of your student discount. I barely used mine because I always forgot about it, and I miss it now. I could have saved a fortune!

4) Don’t be afraid to ask questions! At the risk of repeating what I have written above, talk to your professors and lecturers and staff leaders! They are there to help you and better you, and they will always assist you in any way possible.

5) Embrace it. Make the most of your time and university, studying a subject you love, spending time with your amazing friends, laughing and loving life. Your degree, and those 3+ years, will go by in a heartbeat. Make the most of it! Whenever you think that you can’t do it, that you’re going to fail or that you’re wasting your time, please remember that you are doing great and it will all be worth it in the end!

Are you starting university? If so, what uni are you going to and what are you studying? Or have you been/are you still attending uni and are there any tips you would give to freshers? Let me know in the comments below!😘

Thanks for reading!

Michelle x

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Blenheim Palace

Hi everyone!

Today we visited the beautiful Blenheim Palace in West Oxfordshire. I’ve visited before; if you read my post about the Luna Cinema experience at Blenheim you’ll know, but it’s been a little while since I actually toured the palace. I now only live ten minutes away so yesterday we upgraded to an annual pass. You can do this by asking to donate your entry ticket to the Blenheim Palace Heritage Foundation Charity, which is excellent. I have a feeling Blenheim is going to become my second home now!

Blenheim Palace is situated in the outskirts of the historical market town of Woodstock, where there are many places to stay and a wonderful and vast choice of pubs, resturants and cafes to eat and drink in. Blenheim Palace is really easy to get to: it’s just off the A44 and has copious amounts of parking, with overflow parking available in adjacent fields during major events such as Countryfile Live.

I would throughly recommend starting with the palace tour. You will need to keep the receipt of your entry ticket, or your print-out if you booked tickets online, and show this to the lovely people working on the audio guide stall which is in the colonnade just outside the front steps. The audio guides are brilliant: they are really easy to operate, extremely informative and simple to carry. You learn so much about the family line of the Dukedom of Marlborough, the reason why Blenheim was built, who the land came from, why the palace was decorated in such a way and what each room was used for. I won’t tell you any of the details and information, because as exciting as it is, it’s much better to learn it all yourself when you visit!

After the palace tour, the best thing is to have lunch in the Water Terrace cafe, which has a great selection of food and drink. Once you’re full, why not walk it off with a leisurely stroll around the gorgeous landscaped grounds. The courtyards are beautiful, the Great Lake is breathtaking and the rose garden is lovely!

his isn’t all. You can ride the train from the outside of the palace grounds down to the pleasure gardens, which encompasses an exciting maze and a butterfly house, as well as a toy shop, childrens adventure playground and more places to eat and drink. If you do not wish to take the train, you can drive down to the pleasure gardens as there is parking available. There really is so much to do, and it is great fun for all the family.

A member of our party was in a wheelchair, and we found that the vast majority of Blenheim is wheelchair accessible which is great; we also had my one month old niece with us and her stroller!

Blenheim Palace is of course the birthplace of one of the most infamous Briton’s of all time – Sir Winston Churchill. You can learn all about his life in the Chuchill exhibition inside the palace, and the nearby village of Bladon is where he was laid to rest along with his family at St Martin’s Church.

Overall, I would throughly recommend visiting Blenheim Palace! It’s a must do, especially if you live in or around Oxfordshire! I have a history degree from Oxford Brookes University, and I remember in my first year one of my history professors, Professor Dillinger, comically bellowing “if you haven’t been to Blenheim Palace, what are you doing? Get on the bloody bus and go!” in a lecture. That certainly woke everyone up just after 9am on a rainy morning! So really, take my Professor’s advise, and go!

Thanks for reading!

Michelle x

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