JUSTGEORGEJ B.A.

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Greetings Readers!

After a little break, I am back and I am now a graduate! Yes, I have officially graduated from Bishop Grosseteste University with an Upper Second Class Degree in Drama in the Community. This chapter of my life is over! Let’s have a catch-up!

So, the past week has been fairly crazy, to say the least. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions; little sleep; alcohol; illness; memories and so much more. I have pretty much been busy from Wednesday through till Friday.

On Wednesday, I was in town getting a few extra bits for graduation and going to get my haircut at a Barber’s in town – which was exciting as I have never been to one before. I had my hair, eyebrows, and beard styled and cut. The guy who did it did an amazing job and I could not thank him enough, he made me look extremely smart for my graduation!

Wednesday was also the day that allowed me to see my friends graduate and have other friends come down to see me graduate. We ended up just chilling, listening to music and preparing for Thursday. It was a nerve-racking, yet, lovely day.

Anyway, then it was Thursday. Graduation day!

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So, the picture above is me walking out of Lincoln Cathedral after graduation! Yeah, that’s right. I graduated. With an Upper Second Class honours to say the least.

Thursday was a stressful day and there was an AWFUL lot of build up to it… as you will know from the previous posts that have been added to this site. Anyway, all of that built up till this day. I think the most spectacular part of this day is the fact I got to graduate in Lincoln Cathedral. Like, that’s amazing. One of the most historic places in Lincoln and I received my degree from within that building. Other universities graduate in auditoriums or theatres or lecture halls or places like that but this is how my university does it and it was simply incredible! INCREDIBLE.

As you can see from the pictures, myself and another of my fellow students were the first ones to walk out of the Cathedral following the graduation ceremony. It was crazy! Suddenly we were at the front and everyone was applauding us and that was it… BGU was over and we had graduated. It was a surreal feeling, to say the least.

Anyway, from here, the day carried on and it was full of celebrations and Prosecco and pictures and food and dancing and yeah, it was genuinely one of the best days of my entire life – however, I am extremely sad that it has come to an end and I’ve sort of fell into a rut now the entire thing is over. I’m fairly lost and I do not know how to feel about it.

Also, you may be questioned where ‘illness’ comes into the list at the beginning. Well, my anxiety, mixed with a general cold and more (e.g. alcohol and late nights) meant that throughout this last week and my graduation, I felt like absolute crap physically! However, I got through it and generally was EXTREMELY happy and ignored how crap I felt!

So, all in all, that is my graduation. There is probably an awful lot I could say, however, I am still in a bit of shell shock and I do not really know what more to say at this moment, I’m sure it’ll come up in later posts that’ll follow this one, so, for now, we can just celebrate in the fact I have graduated!

GS 2017 – 25/06/2017

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Happy Sunday Readers!

This article should have been posted on Friday, unfortunately, I have been a little busy and unable to find the time to actually post to my blog. Therefore, you have a Friday entry on Sunday! Today, I am working a 9 am to 5 pm shift over on Campus Society, therefore, I have a day of moderation and blogging ahead of me!

As I previously mentioned, I have been pretty busy the past couple of days getting caught up with various things going on in my life, therefore, I have not been able to keep to my schedule. However, I am back! This time, with probably only a small article in the form of a story time!

STORY TIME!

This story time takes place only a few hours ago from the start of this article.

Our story begins around 2 am. I had JUST fallen asleep when I hear my FaceTime ringing. I reach over and see that it is my friend who is sleeping in our front room for the night – convinced she wanted to update me on a game we were playing, I ignored him. Only to see a bombardment of Facebook Messages explaining how there was something in our kitchen. Convinced it was probably a robbery and/or murderer, I decided to stay in the comfort of my bed.

After more messages, I discovered that is was actually a mouse. A BLOODY MOUSE. Now, go back a few days when myself and my friends were sitting in our living room with our living room doors open. We are sitting there and we see a mouse just run across our garden, it keeps doing it. Obviously trying to get somewhere. Anyway, after a few hours of watching it attempt to go somewhere, we ignore it and that is that. Therefore, that has definitely been a mouse around. Until last night when we realise this mouse has made itself a little home… and is taking liberties by eating our food. I mean, do you pay rent or pay for shopping little mouse? No. No, you do not.

Well, there was not much that could be done at 2 am. THEN, there was this morning. I woke up and the little mousey-idiot had been eating the bananas – again. So, we chucked it away. I made breakfast and what not and went to carry on with work. I was out of the kitchen maybe an hour and a half, I came back, ANOTHER BANANA EATEN. In that time, like seriously? When, how? Therefore, I now have my iPad set up in the kitchen and I am FaceTiming my iPhone so I can see when he appears and where from. Unfortunately, the mouse has to die and it is only a matter of time before he does. This calls for mouse traps!

Unfortunately, all of this is a waiting game and failing all of this, it’s calling the landlord tomorrow and letting him know of the goings on!

Well, there you go, my graduate summer now features a mouse as well, apparently called ‘Gertie’. Until next time!

GS 2017 – 16/06/2017 (This, That & Everything)

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Hello Readers,

How are we all? I trust we are all. Today’s article is going to be a mixture of everything; as the title suggests, ‘This, That & Everything’. As university and college come to an end, the exam stress begins to disappear and summer begins to take shape, I thought I’d address a mixture of areas. Let’s get started!

  • A Well Deserved Break

As previously stated, university, college and more is coming to an end for a lot of students. That means all that hard work has now (hopefully) paid off and you can begin to enjoy your summer… again, hopefully.

This little area is to remind you that you should have a well-deserved break! You have been working hard for a VERY long time so now, do not feel guilty about taking some time off. This is what I did when I finished university, I felt SUPER guilty about not doing anything but I am telling you, if it is possible, take a week to yourself! Stay in bed, watch films, binge watch TV, have some relaxing days out, go out to eat, go out drinking – do whatever you need to do to unwind and relax. You owe it to yourself to let your body and mind have a break.

  • Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

Yes, it is a very cheesy line but it is very true. Now, I apply this quote to a variety of situations – therefore, it depends on what situation you are in. If you’re going from college to university, ensure you start preparing. Make sure your Student Finance is sorted out in plenty of time, as well as your accommodation! Ensure you have started to plan out weekly budgets and you have started to look for jobs if you need one. Make a list of everything that you need to buy and buy in plenty of time!

If you’re already at university, ensure you start preparing for your next academic year. Spend some time getting copies off books or spend some time in the library and start reading and trying to make a head start on the work you shall be doing. Also, if you’re already in university, make sure you have everything sorted for your student house (because if you have not already got one, you are cutting it fine, to be prepared – look around Christmas time). Ensure contracts and money are in order if there is anything you need to buy for the house or clarify with the landlord and so on. BE PREPARED.

  • Landlords and Communication

This leads on from the previous, and one I pride myself in especially. At this point, I have lived in two student houses and had a good line of communication with both of my landlords. Why is this important you ask? Well, if you are respectful of your landlord and willing to talk to them, this can even benefit both you and the landlord. For example, in the first student house, by being close with my landlord, he provided us with two new sofas and also allowed us to have rabbits, as well as fitting mirrors in the bathrooms for us. At the same time, in return, I offered my services of doing minor repairs and so on.

In this student house, I am again close with the landlord. He let us fit an outdoor light in the garden, as well as fitting a blind for us in a hallway and teaching me how to bleed radiators and fix the boiler. In return, I am offering my services over summer repainting the house free of charge. I take pride in my student house and I show this by caring for the garden and making sure it’s presentable. By showing the landlord you can about the house, keep it in good condition and are not afraid to help out and talk to them, they will respect you a lot more! This is something I can not repeat enough!

  • Money, Money, Money

Obviously, as a lot of students suffer, we know that Student Finance does not allow some students to afford rent, let alone live. Therefore, students suffer. In turn, students have to ask family for money (if this is viable) or work! All I say is, in the student cities, jobs are all around – but not easy to come by, ironically. Therefore, ensure you search for jobs in plenty of time! Apply, apply, apply!

However, I will say this. It is important you know your timetable for the year whilst at university. Find out when you will be in lectures and make sure you dedicate time to individual study, once you do this, you will know the kind of hours you can apply for. Do not get me wrong, some people manage a full-time job whilst at university, some people can only manage part-time, it depends on you! Just do not stretch yourself thin! Know what you can handle!

  • Enjoy Your Summer!

Finally, enjoy your summer! This sort of links with the first point about having that well-deserved break but this addresses all of summer. Summer, all in all, is about having a good break (even if you are working) therefore, make sure you enjoy it! Spend time with family and friends, if you can go on holiday – go! Go out, explore and just make some memories! Once university hits, as much fun as it can seem, it will be stressful and though you’ll make memories, you won’t have time to go on breaks away and such (some people do – but that is not the point). Just ENJOY YOUR SUMMER! As much as possible! Have a great time and just live a little and return to university (or start) refreshed!

That is it for today, these are some of my little tips that I wanted to share with you!

Have a great summer readers, whatever you do!

University

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Good Afternoon Readers,

The title of this article is plain and simple: ‘University’. I am surprised, if I am being honest, that I have never written an article titled ‘university’. Sure, a lot of my articles have featured the word university but, I have never titled one ‘university’. Here we are!

University, what a journey it has been.

Before I started my university career, all I knew of this type of education was that it could be the next step in my educational career if I wanted it to be and if I worked hard enough for it. I did not really understand what it was, what it entailed or what it meant. I just knew it was something that I would be working towards. When I was finally in the sixth form, I had to make the choice. MORAL DILEMMA. Do I go onto an apprenticeship? Do I get a job? Do I go to university? Obviously, in the end, I went with university. However, I originally intended to do Computer Science as I had studied hard and come out with good grades during my ICT course but, Drama was my passion and calling and this is what I ended up doing – as we all know!

From there, we all know the story of my first, second and third year! I bet you are now wondering, “well, what are you going to write about tonight?”. That is a good question! To be honest with you, I have no bloody clue myself! I tell a lie, I do have a rough idea. Therefore, I’ll carry on and we shall see where we end up.

University for me has been an experience and a half. It has had it’s highs and lows. It’s positive and negatives. It’s happy times and sad times and so on and so fourth. It’s been a rollercoaster. It has been a juggling act! That is most definitely the most accurate term to use. University has definitely changed me in many ways, then again, other parts of me are stubborn and have not changed. Friends have come and gone, so have relationships – though, those that matter are still here at the end of the journey. My eyes have been opened to study I did not previously know and opportunities have been given to me to do some amazing things. University has not only gave me academic experience but also life experience. Sure, sometimes university was absolutely terrible but there were times when nothing could be better than it. I have had times where I drank all the time and then others were I was sober for weeks on end. I’ve had moments where I did all my work weeks before it was due and then other times when I handed it in the day before. I’ve had times when I’ve been completely in the dark about a subject and then others where I knew the most on a subject. I’ve had moments where I have been proud of my work and others were I’m disappointed in myself because I could have done better. I’ve made some memories for life that I will cherish forever and then there is times that I am trying to forget and would prefer never to think about again. There has been times when I’ve been completely motivated by university and eager to go to a lecture and then others where I’ve taken days off just to stay in bed. There has also been times when I’ve wanted to help everybody and anybody on my course with their work and then times when I just wanted to focus on my own. I’ve had moments where I thrived being independent and being away from home and being able to do what I want, where as there has also been times when I would have given anything to be back at home in comfort with my family. There has most certainly been occassions where I am financially stable (as much as you can be as student) and other times where I am having a complete breakdown about money. I’ve had jobs come and go when I’ve needed extra money and times when I haven’t had to work. I’ve gone through times when I’ve wanted to volunteer to go everything and taken too much on and times when I’ve turned away amazing opportunities. There has been the classic situations where I have worked myself to the bone in 24 hours and times when I’ve spread it out. I’ve experienced eating like a king for a good few weeks and moments when I’ve struggled to find a decent meal at all. I’ve had moments where I’ve been on top of the world and confident and then I’ve had the opposite where I am scared and terrified to do anything. I’ve had moments where all I’ve wanted to do is be at university and those when I’ve wanted to drop out altogether. I’ve experienced feelings of being utterly social and saying yes to everything and other times where I am a complete introvert and just wanted my own company. I’ve had times where I’ve chased my dreams and future and others where I’ve completely gave up on them. I have been happy and sad simultaneously. I’ve been angry and calm together. I’ve been positive and negative. I’ve been everything and anything all at once. I’d argue I’ve been at the highest point in student life and at the lowest – arguably at the same time sometimes. I’ve been inexperienced as a student and I’ve become a hardened (nearly veteran) of a student. I came into student life with misconceptions that I tried to live by only to discover I needed to discover it for myself.

I’ve come to realise ‘student life’ is a unique experience that you can not really experience anywhere else. It’s like a teenagers life smashed together with a working life. You are working 24/7 towards a degree but still manage to go out and achieve the mother of all hangovers. It’s having to take full responsibility for your life but at the same time, having no responsibility at all. It’s still enjoying life as a ‘teen’ but having to make pretty serious decisions as an adult. It’s everything you never imaged it could be whilst being nothing like you ever thought it would be.

‘Student Life’ and ‘University’ are unique to everyone, personally. Sure, there are the same generalised situations and feelings that we all experience but they are still unique to everybody. Every student experiences student life differently and they will all only ever be summed up as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘successful’ or ‘unsuccessful’. Society often views student life has a drugged up, alochol fuelled time of study but that’s the stereotype. Student life is in a bubble from the rest of society and unless you are living it, you will never understand the hardships of being a student. Volunterarily going into debt, volunterarily moving out and being independent, accepting that at this point you are not guaranteed a job no matter what you do but desperate to stay in education because it is the next logical step. For 18 years we are told to sit down, shut up and listen and learn and then expected to make one of the most important decisions of our life. Continue in school or go to work. Then, it’s all go from there. University and student life is a transitional period that anybody on the outside does not understand. It’s a struggle. It’s mentally and physically testing in every aspect of those meanings. Some soon find out that they aren’t ready for it or can’t handle it where as others just keep trudging through the challenges of this life, then there are those that seem to sail through it. No matter how it appears on the outside, everybody struggles with student life at some point.

As a student you will always face a judgement at some point. Whether that’s being judged for the course you study, the way you study that course, the way in which you live or act – whatever it is, you’ll face it because no matter what you did, someone isn’t going to approve of this life you have chosen. You’ll change mentally and physically – you’ll lose weight, you’ll gain weight. You’ll get into debt with various banks, friends or even family. You’ll experiene a ‘student breakdown’ of questioning everything. No matter what though, whatever you experience, you will keep fighting and living this ‘student life’.

From what I’ve learned, I could write a million and one articles providing hints and tips, advice and my own experiences but at the end of the day, they are just words on a screen. Nothing more. They are just words of one student. At the end of the day, student life needs to be lived to be learned. There is no other way and being honest, despite whatever I’ve written in the past, there is no way you can be prepared for it. As I’ve said, every experience is different and unique.

Though, one thing is for certain. No matter what happens during student life, what you study, who you make friends with (or don’t), whatever you decide to do… students always stick together and to be honest, we need too. It’s becoming more of a challenge to be a student. It’s becoming more expensive, more challenge and all at the same time, under appreciated. I truly believe when you pass your degree you should get your degree in the subject you’ve studied and one for surviving student life because, it’s an experience in itself and does train you to survive the world in ways you never thought you could.

So… here we are again, one students words on a screen.

This is university.

 

My Next Step

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Good Evening Readers,

What a lovely afternoon it is! My article today comes, yet again, after a suggestion over on ‘Campus Society’. Seriously, if you have not made a profile on there yet, you really should. Especially if you want to give blogging a go! I’m here today to talk about my next step, after Bishop Grosseteste and where my life is heading!

My three-year journey at Bishop Grosseteste University studying a BA (Hons) Drama in the Community Undergraduate degree is quickly coming to an end. It seems that only yesterday I was a prospective student for this university and had the whole three-year journey ahead of me, but here I am, a couple of months off finishing my degree and looking onwards and upwards! So, what’s next for me?

I’m happy to announce that I’ve applied and been accepted onto, the MA Drama course at the University of Lincoln specialising in the ‘Playwriting’ module starting September 2017. As you can see, I’m still staying in Lincoln! Therefore, currently, I am attempting to achieve the best grades I can in order to continue onto that next step. I am staying within the confines of the theatrical word but narrowing my skills down to what I do best, writing! Specifically, playwriting. When I start the next stage of my university career I will be staying in the same student house that I am currently living in and just move to studying downhill. It’s a rollercoaster of excitement and nerves at the prospect of going onto studying my Masters, but I know this is my next logical step and I am looking forward to it. Alongside this, during the year studying at the UoL, I will be attempting to find work experience within the industry and attempt to start getting my work out in the world as well as attempting to find a stable job to give me some financial stability as I study – this will allow me to live comfortably and be secure financially.

You may be looking at that and thinking; “fantastic”, “wonderful”, “great news!” and yes, it is. This is the next stage of my life and the foundations are already in the place. However, there is a fair amount of pros and cons – or to make it simpler, areas that I am and am not looking forward too. Let me share some of these with you…

What I’m Looking Forward To…

  • A whole new university campus to explore and use.
  • A whole new social group with the potential for new friendships to be made.
  • A new course to study that will expand and strengthen my knowledge as well as give me new skills.
  • The opportunities that come with this course and the ability to look further towards my future.
  • Another year in my student house with some fantastic friends – with that, all the new memories and ups and downs that come with it.
  • Another year in the most beautiful city I’ve ever lived in and be able to continue living in a place I now call home.

What Scares Me…

  • Though mentioned as something that I’m looking forward to, a new campus and a social group equally scare me!
  • The fact that I might not be intellectually on the same level as the rest of my course mates.
  • The fact I could fail my Masters and it would have been a waste of money.
  • Getting into more debt and the entire worry of financial stability.
  • The fact I have no idea what my next step is after this year doing my Masters.
  • What if I cannot support myself financially throughout the next year?

There you go – those are the little things running through my mind when it comes to the next step in my educational journey!

Also, you may be interested to know, I’m currently constructing and refining my own personal business plan to start up a company specialising in Theatre in Higher Education delievered to university students / college students to help them with the transition into ‘student life’.

I’ll keep you updated!

Lee Carnihan – A Few Good Tips for Students Buying a Motorbike

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Scooters-pedro-pereira.jpeg

As a uni student, you’re probably on a budget (definitely on a budget) and if you can’t afford a car but still want the freedom and independence from owning some form of transportation, a motorbike might be your best option.

The benefits

Firstly, motorbikes are usually cheaper to buy and run than cars. Take for example, the Suzuki GS500. Known as a fantastic bike for beginners, the Suzuki GS500 is small but powerful and “gets great gas mileage”.

If you’re interested in buying one, you’ll be looking at anything between £1000-£2000 depending on whether you’re buying used or new. Not only are these reliable rides fairly cheap, they’re also good looking and nippy, so they’ll get you where you need to go in style.

By law, you have to wear a helmet. A basic helmet should cost you around £30-£40 and will give you the protection you need. Even though a full set of riding leathers isn’t a legal requirement, it will protect you from injury, especially if it includes body armour. Falling off a motorbike at 30mph “will rip through normal clothing” and you could end up seriously injuring yourself or worse, which is why it’s best to invest in some kind of protective clothing.

A set of leathers offers excellent protection, but this would to set you back £700+. Instead, you could invest in textile protective clothing – made from Kevlar and ballistic nylon for example – because it’ll be a lot cheaper and still provide a very good level of protection. You can also upgrade textile protective clothing and wear body armour, so you’ll receive even more protection.

Motorbikes are usually cheaper to insure than a car, and they’re also extremely fuel efficient, whereas filling up a car costs a lot more.

Other than being one of the most affordable vehicles to buy and run, motorbikes are nothing if they are not fun. Nothing can beat the freedom and exhilaration you gain from riding through the open air.

Motorbikes are great if you’re on a budget and you want the freedom that comes with owning your own transport. But there are also times, where you’ll wish you had a car…

The drawbacks

Two words – helmet hair. It’s unavoidable. Just make sure you carry a comb with you at all times!

Storage is also a major problem with motorbikes. Unlike a car, which has a boot, a motorbike is very limited. But there are ways around this. You can attach objects onto your motorbike with “straps, bungees or other retention methods”. As long as the object doesn’t “impinge on your ability to comfortably control a motorcycle” you should be able to carry almost anything.

Safety first

Fashion faux pas and storage issues aside, whether it’s rain, snow, or sweltering heat, you can’t avoid the elements on a bike.

There are some very real dangers to be aware of when riding in extreme weather, especially the heat. Even if there’s cloud cover, you should always take regular breaks on long rides and carry a bottle of water with you to rehydrate yourself.

Dehydration can creep up on you and seriously affect your awareness and ability to control the bike safely. And of course, riding in the cold brings the risk of black ice.

The best advice is to always check the weather and check your bike before you head out.

Persuading your parents

One of the major problems you’ll have to tackle before even thinking about buying a motorbike is persuading your parents. They’ll undoubtedly share their concern that the ‘roads aren’t as safe as they used to be’.

However, there’s a lot more awareness around motorbike safety than there ever was. For instance, the number of motorcyclists killed and seriously injured in the UK has fallen since 2008, “when 493 motorcyclists were killed and 5,556 were seriously injured on Britain’s roads”.

This statistic has lowered immensely due to increased awareness, but the number is still high which is why there are further precautions that you can take to ensure your safety (and to keep your parents’ minds at rest): further skills training, wearing the right gear, and choosing the right helmet.

Choosing a bike

Mopeds are not very powerful, but they are ideal for travelling short distances. With an engine capacity of 50cc, a moped’s “top speed will be restricted to 30mph so it’s no good for faster A-roads”. But if you’re wanting to travel long distances, then you’re going to need a more powerful engine.

In this case, a motorbike would be perfect for the job. But there is another option: the scooter. Scooters are so named due to their vintage design, and can have an engine capacity up to 700cc.

Dealer or no dealer – used or new

Buying from new can be expensive if you buy the bike outright, but there are ways around this. For example, leasing a motorbike is more affordable because the monthly payments can be low and usually, no down-payments are required. Plus, major repairs are often covered by a warranty, however, maintenance costs are not covered. Besides, if you buy or lease from new, you’ll get the peace of mind knowing that this shiny, beautiful, brand new bike has had no previous faults and no previous owner.

Buying from new outright can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, it’s usually better to lease a motorbike or buy used. Buying used will be a lot cheaper and you could end up with a great deal. As long as you know what you’re looking for, you won’t end up with a piece of worthless junk.

Key things to look out for

You’ll be needing a bike with low mileage, preferably below 20,000m (this may seem like nothing for a car, but for a motorbike that’s quite a lot). You’ll also need to check for signs of an accident or a drop by looking “at the condition of the brake and clutch levers, bar-end weights, straightness of the bars and instrument cluster”. Make sure you check the fuel tank for corrosion or rust. And don’t forget to check the visible frame: there should be no visible damage including any dents or kinks.

Getting qualified

If you’ve got a full driving license, then you’re legally allowed to ride a moped (50cc) without needing to take the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) test. The CBT is a mandatory test that you’ll need to pass if you want to ride a motorbike up to 125cc on the road.

If you don’t have a full licence, you’ll need at least a provisional to take the CBT test. All riders have to pass the theory test before taking the motorcycle test. Once you’ve passed the theory test, the practical test, and gained the CBT certificate, you’re good to go.

 

Lee Carnihan | Secret Santa for Cash-Strapped Students

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Christmas presents.jpg

By the time Christmas comes around you will have spent months away from home and settled into the strange dynamic of sharing your living space with several similarly hungover and poor house mates. There are so many great things about being a student but Christmas is right at the top. It’s a great excuse to let go, relax and throw a series of spontaneous parties with your house mates.

Sure, this group aren’t perfect but they are your new family. Working with them to decorate the house on a shoestring budget is sure to be a great laugh. Well, until you come home with a box of faulty fairy lights from the pound shop.

Once the decorations are up and lectures are coming to an end there is the difficult situation of deciding who will get presents begins. It’s too expensive to buy for everyone but it could make things difficult if you just buy for your closest friends and leave someone out, so why not instigate a house Secret Santa? This way there is a set budget, everyone gets a present and you only need to buy one! Perfect!

Of course, in any group there will be some people you like more than others. At this time of year, you can get away with practical jokes in the name of Christmas spirit, so why not take this chance to get your own back on anyone who has wronged you with a joke gift? Just don’t forget to record it so you and the rest of your house mates can laugh at their shocked expression over and over again!

Secret Santa may sound like a cheap way to buy gifts for everyone but it can add up very quickly. By keeping these simple pointers in mind, you will be able to dazzle your house mates with amazing gifts and still have some cash left for New Year’s Eve.

Try not to go crazy

Set a price limit that everyone can afford. A fiver? A tenner? Whatever it is, make sure you’re all ok with that. Yes, it might be the season of goodwill, but you don’t have Bill Gate’s fortune to plunder.

Always re-gift if you get the opportunity

At some point in your life, you’ve probably received a present that you’ve never liked or used, which is why the art of re-wrapping is so handy. As long as the present is in a really good condition (preferably unused) you’re good to go.

So the only thing you’ll have to buy is the wrapping paper, and a card if you’re feeling generous. Just make sure you don’t give the re-wrapped present to the same person who gave it to you originally! That would be awkward, especially if you gave it to the awkward person you don’t get on with.

Give everyone a chance

Get everyone in the house involved, even if it is that one housemate who never seems to leave their room. Knock on their door, introduce yourself (just in case they’ve forgotten who you are even though you’ve been living together for three months) and say; “Hi, I know we haven’t officially met – I think we may have bumped into each other at one point going to the bathroom – but did you want to play Secret Santa?”

Even if they don’t want to play, at least you’ve finally met the ‘other’ house mate. Congrats! Your housemates will be proud of your bravery. Getting everyone involved makes the game much more interesting, and you’ll avoid feeling bad if anyone were accidentally (or on purpose) left out.

Keep it simple

Some people are against buying generic gifts like a pack of scented shower gels or a mix and match makeup kit, but for a student it’s perfectly acceptable. You can never go wrong with buying gifts like these, and not only are they an easy purchase, they’re also worth the money and you can find some cracking bargains.

If you want to get something just a little bit different but still practical, grab a bar of luxury hand-made organic soap. They smell delicious and can even make a subtle point to the person in the house who doesn’t always like to wash as frequently as everyone else!

Never leave it late

Try not to forget about actually buying a gift, otherwise you’ll find yourself in a moment of panic, frantically trying to find something last minute to give them. Giving them a packet of crisps or a pack of jam donuts might seem like a great and useful “gift” but frankly, it’s a bit rubbish and thoughtless. You might be skint and this might be Secret Santa, but there are limits to how low you can go! So don’t leave it until the last minute (you’ve probably heard that from your lecturer plenty of times).

The more the merrier

You may have had a great time with your house mates but don’t forget to include your actual family. They may have been in the background recently but they are just as important to buy for, especially if you aren’t seeing very much of them, so make sure to save some space in your budget to get them something nice. It can also work in your favour; it softens the blow if you have a gift in one hand when you return home with bag of dirty washing in the other. If you have enough money spare, buying one final Secret Santa gift for dad is a great idea. It can be silly and funny or useful from somewhere like Hawkin’s Bazaar and it doesn’t have to be especially expensive. Meanwhile, a simple box of chocolates, some flowers or a bottle of wine will keep mum very happy.

Top Tips Every Student Should Know When Buying A Car – Lee Carnihan (Guest Writer)

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Getting to uni is one thing, getting around is another entirely. Wherever uni is for you, you’ll need to get from home to uni, to the supermarket, to the pub, to the gym and all manner of other places during term time.

You might want to dart back home for a weekend of “mum’s cooking” too, or head off to the beach with your house mates on Bank Holiday Monday. Yes, you can get around by foot, bike, unicycle, pogo-stick, skateboard, tube, tram and bus – but they won’t give you the flexibility a car will.

Having a car basically makes everything much easier. Chief among the benefits is not having to ‘borrow’ trolleys to get the shopping back on a cold, wet, dark and windy night after a long day in the lecture hall. So unless you’re extremely lucky because you live right next to a supermarket, you’re going to need a car.

But money will be tight and you might have no idea about what kind of car to buy for your budget. You’ll want something affordable, but not so cheap it breaks down frequently and costs you even more to fix or leaves you stranded in the car park with six heavy bags of shopping with chilled or frozen food rapidly defrosting.

MG classic car.jpg

So here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when you’re looking to buy a car:

1 Stick with “old reliable”

The newer the car, the more expensive both the car and insurance is likely to be, so you’re better off looking at slightly older cars like an early 2000s Vauxhall Corsa, or a 2008 Fiat 500. Both cars are reliable, great for long distance driving, and fairly cheap.

If you’re a fan of the classics but you’re worried about the general up-keep of the car and insurance, you should go for a relatively newer classic like an Austin Mini. Depending on your definition of a ‘classic car’, classic Minis can range from early 60s to late 90s, so you’ve got a lot of choice.

Surprisingly, these quaint old cars are great for long distance travel, which makes things so much easier when you’re wanting to travel home from Uni for the weekend.

Minis are extremely reliable, and owning a classic car such as this, might mean that you’re eligible for classic car insurance instead of standard car insurance. The way the value of a classic is determined is different, so you might get better value.

2 Inspect the car and ask to drive it 

When you’re viewing a car, always ask if the car has had any major damage or other significant repairs, which should all be detailed in the log book. Look over the general condition of the car for rust, oil leaks, scratches, bumps, dents and differences in paintwork on different parts of the car. Anything like this will put the price down if you ever want to sell the car on.

And if you have absolutely no clue about what you’re looking for, take someone who does! Another perspective is always helpful.

Ask to take a test drive, even if they want to accompany you and your friend: listen out for splutters and chokes and feel the biting point: where the clutch engages and disengages when you change gear. Get out and look at the exhaust too. If it’s black, blue or grey, it could be a sign the engine is burning oil, too much fuel or has some other problem.

If you’re unsure, walk away. There is no shortage of second hand cars out there.

3 Where to buy and how

Choosing where to buy a car can be a bit of a challenge, so here are some pros and cons to help you:

Auctions

Pros: Cheaper than buying from a garage and you may end up with an absolute bargain.

Cons: Cars are sold as seen which means no test drives allowed. You’re not guaranteed a warranty so if you end up purchasing a classic, like a Triumph Herald for example, but it doesn’t start or there is something seriously wrong with it, then too bad. If the car has serious issues and you’re not willing to pay more money to get it fixed, then you’re only option will be to put it back into the auction and hope wholeheartedly that it’ll sell again.

Garages

Pros: One of the safest ways to go about buying a car. This is because any registered noted dealer is required by law to supply the car with a warranty, and the car must be fully road legal. When buying from a garage there is always room for negotiation.

Cons: Usually more expensive than buying from a private seller or buying from an auction.

Private

Pros: Cheaper than buying from a garage. Again, there is always room for negotiation, especially if the seller is eager to sell the car quickly.

Cons: You’re not guaranteed a warranty when dealing with a private seller. So if there is something wrong with the car, you have very little comeback.

Online

Pros: Official online dealers are covered by trading standards, so you’ll be guaranteed a warranty.

Cons: Private online sellers are not covered by trading standards, so you’re not guaranteed a warranty. With all online dealers or sellers, make sure you do some research and ask about warranties.

At the end of the day…

Choose a car with a relatively small engine because they’re cheaper to buy and insure and the running costs are usually lower. If you “do your homework” – sorry if you thought you’d heard the last of that phrase – you’re more likely to get a good car for a fair price.

Analyze – Academic Help / Review

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In the latter part of last year I was approached by someone called Brain from a website called ‘Analyze – AcademicHelp’. At the time, I had no idea what this website was and to begin with, I didn’t reply as I was so busy with university however, now, I had some free time so approached Brain a couple of weeks back in order to begin a partnership with him. After a long time, I finally have a review ready of the website – continue reading for more information. 

Let’s begin. I can imagine you’re questioning, “What is Analyze – AcademicHelp and why are you writing about it for us to read?” – well, I can answer that.

Analyze is, as they state, a ‘professional essay editing’ tool. It’s a place where you can upload an assignment (essay) and have a real life professional read through your assignment and provide feedback for improvements.

Upon setting up an account on the Analyze website, you then put ‘credit’ onto your account, e.g. money. However, the account is American so everything is in dollars unfortunately – I’m hoping a UK of the website is announced soon as I believe it’d be a big help for a specific demographic of students in the UK. Once you’ve added money to your account you can upload your assignment that you want marked and go through some steps in order to get it marked. You are paying for your assignment to be analysed and feedback provided – you only pay for the parts of the assignment that are completed. Once uploaded – you are put into the process of finding someone to mark your essay. This took around 24 hours for myself – once found, I was sent an email notification explaining that someone had been found. Something important to note is that I was continually receiving email notifications about the process of my assignment being marked – which is something I found positive. Once someone had been found I could view my uploaded assignment and chat to the person marking it through a live chat which I found extremely useful. You can ask them questions, explain areas of your assignment, express worries for certain areas and so on and so fourth. A really helpful tool. Once completed, you will receive a notification that allows you to know you can now view the marked version – you will be taken to a page where you can view all feedback and so on and once you are happy – you can release the payment to the person that’s marked your assignment and then you are sorted! You have an assignment back – with a mark scheme they’ve marked by as well as feedback so you can track your progress and see where they believe you are heading and what kind of level you are at.

I personally believe all in all that this website is an extremely useful tool. If you are really struggling and questioning with the level you are working at – submitting your assignment to this website and having them analyze it is helpful and efficient. They work to get the assignment back to you as soon as possible and overall – they are reasonably priced for student. I’d argue that the price for having someone mark your assignment is equal to the price of one nights takeaway. If you’re that worried, it’s worth it. The support that you receive from this website is fantastic. Everybody is lovely that talks to you and are all there to provide support with your essays – again, you only pay for what is completed on your assignment. Also, this is a service that you can use over and over.

Therefore, all in all, I believe it’s a website and service that will be extremely useful for students – from freshers to third years.

If you have any questions about the website, head over to my Facebook and message me.

I’d urge heading over to the website and checking it out: Analyze

 

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