Posts about: Student Diaries

Year one (almost) completed! #StudentDiaries #SalfordSmart

24 May 2017

Anne share the ups and downs of her first year at Uni

So as I sit here this morning, working on one of my final first year assignments I cannot believe how quickly this year has passed. From the giddy excitement of last September where I skipped into uni with my new backpack and pencils, keen to make new friends to cold and wet December feeling frazzled and overwhelmed and then into Spring feeling inspired and reinvigorated following an amazing first placement.

I’ve been frustrated when the shop increased the price of a Freddo from 25p to 30p (I remember when they were 10p!)

I feel like I have gone through every gamut of emotion in the last few months. I’ve sometimes sat in lectures feeling clueless and frustrated but that’s made me go home to learn and understand what I’ve heard and then other times I’ve been in lectures that have been so powerful they’ve brought me to tears with a message that had resonated so strongly with me, it made it difficult to control my emotions.

I have at times found the uni life frustrating, I’ve been frustrated that we have to pay for parking (I’m sure I’m not alone here!), I’ve been frustrated when the shop increased the price of a Freddo from 25p to 30p (I remember when they were 10p!) and there have been other situations that have made me question myself as to why I made the decision to come to uni. A major wobble in the middle of the first semester caused me to speak to the student advocate who assured me my feelings of doubt were normal “first year issues” but it shook me nonetheless.  It was the first practise placement that cemented my decision to retrain as an occupational therapist, I’m still thinking about this placement 3 months after it finished as it had such an impact on me.

Frustrations aside I have had some great times in my first year, the practical sessions are definitely my favourite part of it, I’m a hands-on person so I get more out of these sessions and I’m really pleased to have gained new skills. I’ve also got to know some of the people on my course pretty well and have had a real laugh with them, which always helps.

I’m now looking forward to a break over the Summer to recharge my batteries as I already know that the second year is a gear up. I’m nervous about this as the first year hasn’t been a walk in the park so I know that I will need up my game even more if I’m going to do well.

What would I tell a newbie first year student?

That’s a difficult question….. if I was talking to an 18-year-old straight out of college who had no major responsibilities I’d say get yourself involved in everything you can, clubs, societies and social life – really go for it and enjoy the experience before it gets really hard but do turn up to lectures!!!

If I was talking to a mature student, who’s possibly already spent a significant chunk of their life working, they may have a mortgage and kids to juggle I’d say try to enjoy your experience but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t quite live up to the giddy heights you built it up to be. It might be a steep learning curve and you may feel your confidence take a beating in the first couple of months but hang on in there, take any bit of feedback and guidance offered to you, if you don’t understand something ask and make use of the resources the uni has to offer. Oh, and do visit the Student Union at least once in your first year, they make a mean pizza, the beer is cheap and you need abit of balance in your life!

That was an academic year? #studentdiaries

11 May 2017

Dominic Williams
English Literature and Creative Writing student

A sort of bombshell hit me this week, with the realisation that my first year as an undergraduate student is about to end.

It doesn’t seem like two years ago that I first made the decision to start the application process, and now here I am, modules for Year 2 selected, with the emphasis on the creative – my main inspiration and reason for this journey.  Even as I’m typing this, it still hasn’t quite sunk in as to what I have achieved, how far I have come in such a relatively short space of time, time which seems to be flying by at an incredibly fast rate.

This period of time has been educational in every possible sense of the word, and after a 30 year gap in education, it hasn’t been all straight forward, but a welcome challenge none the less.

If I take a moment to fully consider the events of the last year, then one thing I have noticed is my acceptance, albeit very slowly, of my abilities as a writer. I know I’m on the right track, and time and patience will be my friend (I hope!!).  With the benefit of wisdom and advice from not only my tutors, but fellow students whom I have come to know as friends, friends with whom I have come to learn that my age is not an impediment to achieving something for which I have dreamed for such a long time.  Not only that, but the acceptance of myself, flaws and all, no matter what the age gaps that exist, without this being a barrier, in such a diverse group of students, or should I once again emphasise, friends.

Indeed, I am eternally grateful for not only the opportunities that are already opening up to me, but for those yet to come – who knows what lies ahead during and after the next two years!

Time is flying by and I have learned some study key lessons!! #studentdiaries

23 March 2017

Anne shares her key study lessons and her experience of going out on placement.

I cannot believe that it is nearly the end of March and my time as a first year undergraduate student is coming to an end. The time from January onwards has gone so fast that I’m not sure where to start…

I have carefully read the feedback given to me so that I can learn from it

I received my assignment and exam results which was quite a stressful time. It was quite disheartening when I didn’t get the marks I wanted on certain submissions, especially when I felt that I had worked so hard on them. This of course is just how it goes and I have carefully read the feedback given to me so that I can learn from it and ensure that I don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

The key lessons I have learned are to make sure you proof read your work, ask someone else to read it to make sure that your work is making sense and then proof read it again.  I lost marks by making careless mistakes which was so frustrating.

My other lesson is to not put so much pressure on myself, no one comes to uni as an A grade student (unless you’re a genius!) and its all about the learning curve. Hopefully I can look back on my first and second years’ at the end of my degree and see improvement as I went through my university journey.

Placement month

February was placement month and what an amazing experience it was. Obviously for reasons of patient confidentiality I cannot give specifics of the placement, all I can say is that I was placed in an acute mental health ward in a general hospital. It’s no secret that I was not initially looking forward to it as I felt under prepared and yes I’ll admit it, I was pretty scared of what I was going to encounter but I actually had the most fantastic time.

It was stressful, sometimes upsetting and a bit scary but there were also times that were truly magical, funny and awe inspiring. I was given some brilliant opportunities by my educator to put all of the theory that I’d learned in the previous 12 weeks into practise and it really compounded my original decision to uproot my life and leave my successful job to become an Occupational Therapist. I came away from the placement feeling inspired and motivated and grateful for such an experience.

I’ll be honest, its been a bit of a bind acclimatising myself back into university since placement, I felt so useful in the team I worked in and I genuinely felt like I made a difference to some of my patients daily life in the time I spent with them so getting used to sitting in lectures again has taken some getting used to. Trying to stay focused is really difficult so I keep reminding myself why I’m here.

Its not long now until the Easter break so a quick rest is in order. After that its only 6 short weeks to the end of the year. If the rest of the course passes as quickly as this year, I’ll be qualified and out there working in no time!!!

The first semester was a steep learning curve on so many levels #studentdiaries

13 February 2017

Dominic Williams
English Literature and Creative Writing student

Rather astoundingly, time has progressed rapidly and we find ourselves well into Semester Two.

Upon reflection, the first semester was a steep learning curve on so many levels.  The level of study involved in obtaining an undergraduate degree has never been more apparent, as the initial shock of reality biting has settled.  For me personally, the weeks since Christmas have been up and down in a variety of ways, mostly relating to the health of family members or myself.  What seems like such a little thing can have such a big effect on your studies.

On a more positive note, having received the results of my January exam I, like so many, can breathe a sigh of relief at having passed my Semester one modules.  It’s a scary thought that the first academic year is already halfway through. I consider myself to a significant degree lucky, as I know that there are plenty of students who haven’t passed, some by only a fraction.  It certainly stresses the importance of not only keeping up with the weekly requirements of each module, but with the constant revision required to maintain the level of information learnt.

Let’s hope I can keep it up as the semester progresses !!


The Skills for Learning team says…

Dominic has made some really important points in his post. Firstly, we all have things going on outside of University which can impact on our ability to be at our best for studying. If you are ever feeling like you are struggling you should speak to your personal tutor about your concerns. We also have a great Wellbeing Service which offers a range of support. Have a look at their Resource Hub to learn more about how they can help you be at your best.

Dominic also stresses the importance of keeping up with your studies. Skills for Learning can help. We have guides, eLearning, videos and workshops to help you learn how to study smart!

And don’t forget, there are lots of ways you can get help and support from within your school – this short video will tell you about them.

 

The last few weeks of 2016 were full on to say the least!! #studentdiaries

6 February 2017

“At times as the pressure was immense”

So its been a while since I wrote a blog… The last few weeks of 2016 were full on to say the least!! I had an exam to do (stress!!!) a case study, academic poster, ICPP assignment and Viva to complete. I didn’t know what to do with myself at times as the pressure was immense. Thank goodness that I had planned my work out and was on top of it, but even that being said I haven’t been as stressed as I was in December for a long time.

“I learnt a valuable lesson for coping with exams”

The exam in particular was a struggle for me. I do not perform well under exam conditions, retaining information under stress is really difficult and I felt like the stuff I’d learnt literally fell out of my head as I opened the exam paper. I learnt a valuable lesson for coping with exams – I need to prepare further out in future and not leave it until a week before to start the revision.

“I was starting to feel like I was living a parallel life to my family”

I allowed myself Christmas off to spend time with my lovely family because I had become acutely aware that I was spending less and less time with my kids as my deadlines were looming. It is absolutely my choice to do this degree and when the degree is over and I have secured my dream job it will all be worth it but I was starting to feel like I was living a parallel life to my family. They were times when it would get me down that I wasn’t being as present in my life as I wanted to, I was desperate to be able to sit down and watch My Little Pony with them but I just wanted to get my work complete so that I could have 2 weeks off. It was a push but I’m proud that I managed it and we had a fantastic Christmas together.

I feel so well supported by my tutors and friends

Semester 2 starts for me with my first placement. I won’t lie I am extremely nervous about it as I have been placed in an acute mental health ward, its something that I have no experience of and the thought of the unknown is scary and worrying to me. However, I feel so well supported by my tutors and friends and we had an amazing lecture this week where 2 service users with Schizophrenia came in to talk to us, they were really inspiring and I’m now feeling really up for the challenge. I’ve been doing some reading on various mental health disorders in preparation for the placement so bring it on!

I already have a feeling that there will be lots to learn over the next 4 weeks, some good and some bad experiences but its a really important part of the course.

Exam meltdown #studentdiaries

31 January 2017

Plenty of time to revise

3 weeks off for Xmas and revision. That’s plenty of time to revise I thought. Having put in the effort previously on my essay I just had 2 exams to revise for. The first one was professional studies; a written exam. I hate written exams. I always have. The last written exam I did was my GCSE English 2 years ago. I passed my GCSE English, finally, on my third attempt having failed in school, then walking out of the exam on my second attempt with a feeling of hopelessness and failure. This time it would be different. I am older (I prefer more mature!), more determined, and more prepared.

The night before the exam I ironically felt unprepared, was forgetting knowledge I had been putting in my head over and over but could not for the life of me recall when trying to write it up. I threw my imaginary toys out of my imaginary cot and had the same feeling of hopelessness that I used to get. Thankfully my girlfriend, Amy, was very helpful in reassuring me and we worked through it together.

“I am looking forward to getting feedback to see where I went wrong”

The next day I went into the first exam feeling ok. Not booming with confidence, but not a nervous wreck either. I felt like it went ok. Nothing fantastic, but ok. I got the mark back this week – 49%. For me at the minute, a pass is a pass. I am looking forward to getting feedback to see where I went wrong.

If I am being honest with myself, I know my problem; I struggle to retain information. I feel like I put in hours and hours of effort but retain very little. I am going to look at revision techniques in more depth and book onto a course through Skills for Learning. I am using this first year as a learning curve.
Onwards and upwards!

New to Salford? You are not alone! #studentdiaries

30 January 2017

Our team of fab student bloggers have been writing about their experience of studying at Uni and sharing some really good reflections about being a new student.

Anne – studying Occupational Therapy

Meet Anne. She has become an ‘expert juggler’ since starting her Occupational Therapy course in September. She has been blogging about setting up her ‘occupation station’, having 3rd week wobbles, building professional relationships by car sharing and a few referencing lessons have been learnt! All of Anne’s posts can be read here.

 

 

 

Dave – studying Podiatry

Dave StuartSince starting in September, Dave has been busy getting ready for professional practice and has also completed Wordscope, our academic writing course –  he says his writing style has really improved as a result. He also got support from the Skills for Learning team when writing his first essay. Read more about Dave’s first semester here.

 

 

 

Dominic – studying English and Creative Writing

Dominic says that at 48 (almost 49), he is the very definition of a mature student… or as his daughter said “You’re not mature Dad, just old!”. He has been surprised by the pace and has had to battle with some time out due to illness. He has found comfort in knowing that others on his course are all in the same boat and ready to pick each other up when they ‘trip and fall’. All of Dominic’s posts can be read here.

 

 

 

Would you like to share your experience of studying at University?

Contact library-skillsforlearning@salford.ac.uk to let us know you are interested.

One Semester Already…? #studentdiaries

15 December 2016

I’m finding myself a little overwhelmed as I start to write this post.  Firstly, I am a little behind due to sickness.  Secondly, given that there are only five days left before we adjourn for the seasonal festivities, there is a general consensus amongst myself and my fellow students, that these last four months seem to have flown by at an alarming rate!  Or, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams “Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so…”

I am in exactly the same position

It is rather perversely amusing to see the varying degrees of panic on students’ faces, as they rush to complete assignments by the various deadlines.  Of course, the amusement quickly fades away as I realise that I am in exactly the same position.  However, I have to recognise that from a certain perspective, the hardest part of my undergraduate journey has already been completed.  In the same sense that the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem in the first place, then actually attending and completing the first semester, having chosen to go down this higher educational path, is very much that step.

There will be times when I trip and fall

I guess as I continue to learn to walk at this undergraduate pace, there will be times when I trip and fall, but it is nice to know, should that happen again (as it already has at least once), then there are plenty of outstretched arms ready to lift me back up again and hold me steady as we all walk the same path…

Hanging in there! #studentdiaries

9 December 2016

Reading, planning, more reading, writing and a bit of uncertainty

I have recently felt a little drained so decided to stop writing the blogs and recuperate. I think I was trying to do too much at once and needed to slow down a little. We (podiatry) have been given our first assignment and because I was not working I decided to ploughed into it to try and get it out of the way – loads of reading, planning, then more reading (and more reading!) then writing. However, after writing a large portion, of the essay, I was left with a feeling of uncertainty about my ability to write an essay, having not written a proper essay in a long time.

The Skills for Learning team reassured me

I asked my girlfriend to read through my essay and she thought that it was a good essay. However, being the perfectionist that I am I wanted a second opinion. I booked myself in for a 1-to-1 with the Skills for Learning team: studyskills@salford.ac.uk.  Although they could not comment on my subject area, they were able to comment on the general essay structure, and whether the content linked back to the essay question I had been given. I was relieved to be told that there were a few minor points that should be changed: a few sentences went either off point or did not cement the point I was trying to make; the removal of bullet points; and slight amendments to my referencing. It felt reassuring to know I am more on track than I initially thought.

I cannot recommend Wordscope enough

Today was the last day of the 10 week Wordscope course. I cannot recommend Wordscope enough. I struggled for the first three or four weeks. My writing style then started to change and improve. The amount of red pen on my homework pieces (one piece of homework per week taking up to 45 minutes) has decreased, although, I still tend to make errors here and there. I think I might redo this course again either next semester or at a later date to remedy this. Each of the lectures has a handy guide for each lesson which could be useful for many years to come.

Now to prep for our exams in January! I wish you all a fantastic Christmas and hope you manage to fit in some fun away from the exams and coursework!

Referencing Lessons #studentdiaries

29 November 2016

This week friends I have learned a painful but valuable lesson

When working on an essay or assignment and you find a piece of research, a useful book or anything that you might want to talk about in your assignment, for the love of all that is great and good write down the source and reference details as soon as you find it.

I’ve been going through my (almost) completed assignment putting the references in order but I can’t actually find the citations for my references, or in fact any proof that they exist. To say that my head is exploding right now is an understatement.  I spoke to a couple of friends about my plight at uni and they suggested that I use Ref Me which I understand is a handy little app that keeps all of your references together and then magically produces a full list of references that you can add into your work – what kind of magic is this?  And how am I only just finding out about it?

Heed my advice, don’t be a dope like me

I need to have a tinker with this and see how it works for me but the critical thing is to heed my advice, don’t be a dope like me and waste inordinate amounts of time when it would have been so much simpler to just write them down when doing your assignment planning.