It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

00:32 Unknown 0 Comments

Most of you will go home to celebrate Christmas with your family. However, many of us, international students cannot afford an expensive flight ticket home and do not have relatives in the UK. This is the time when homesickness is on high alert. But, don't fret! There are endless things to do to feel Christmassy.

If you are spending your first Christmas in UK, be sure to check out as many Christmas markets as possible. Warm yourself up with mulled wine, a bratwurst and some delicious churros at the Oxford Christmas market. It runs till 18th December. My favourite Christmas market is in Bath and London Southbank.

Get yourself a snow globe to immortalize Christmas

Get a chocolate bar for only £1
Unique presents hunting time at affordable prices 

Delicious churros and chocolate for £4. It's worth the wait! 

Take a thrill ride at Winter Wonderland or skate at Somerset House. Be amazed at the lights at Blenheim Palace. Attend music concerts and carols. Cook a roast dinner on Christmas eve, light up the Christmas tree and skype with your loved ones.

Meteor lovers, do not miss the Geminid Shower  which peaks on 13-14 December. The high streets turn into a shoppers' paradise on boxing day (26th December).

Spend New Years Eve counting down and watching the fireworks in London from the London Eye (jam-packed), Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill or a skybar. 

Be at Big Ben or London Eye at least 5-6 hours before midnight to get a good spot
Last but not least, reflect on 2016 and the lessons learnt from the ups and downs. I am so grateful for 2016 for I have laughed, cried and embraced peace. For all the challenges, opportunities and bittersweet moments. 

For now, lets sit back and enjoy the sound of jingle bells.


GUEST BLOG: Brookes Union International Officer

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A little about myself...
Hello everyone! I am Kelvin Lee Zi Heng and I am your Brookes Union's International Students' Officer this year, how exciting...! I am Malaysian born Chinese, I did the first year of my law degree back in Malaysia and came to UK last summer for my second and third year. Most of my course mates back home only come to the UK in their 3rd year but I chose a different path as I wanted to gain a full exposure of what it is like to be an international students - living on your own in a whole new country, surrounded by different people from all over the world, experiencing an unfamiliar culture, & finding yourself feeling at home away from home - so that I could provide assistance to the rest of the international students studying in Brookes to improve their student experience.

My plan for the year...
Simple! My plans for the year are mainly career oriented, as I would love to get a Tier 2 sponsor and remain in the UK after my studies.

By having the first hand experience of the difficulty in getting a Tier 2 sponsor, I will try my best to work on the support for international students to improve their employability while studying at Brookes! I strongly believe that it is hard, but not impossible!

Feel free to contact me at, if you have any concerns or ideas which we can improve on your student's experience!

Together, we make the sky bluer, and the grass greener, and your student's experience at Brookes better! ;)


On being right...

20:12 Unknown 0 Comments

I’m going to hold my hands up straight off the bat and admit I hate saying sorry. “Doesn’t everyone though?” I asked some friends recently. Their response was a surprising and resounding “No”! Apparently I’m in a minority of people who do not feel the need to compulsively apologise for my being on a daily basis. My husband would most likely attest to this. If he’s to be believed¹ he often follows me around Sainsbury’s, apologising to people whose shopping he thinks I’ve disturbed. Am I really deemed socially inept if I don’t say sorry, as I reach in front of a chap perusing the jams and preserves, for a family size jar of Nutella? Surely “excuse me” works just fine? 
Perhaps the question I should really have asked is “don’t you just hate being wrong”, because this is what I actually meant. I hate saying sorry because it usually means I’m admitting I’m wrong. You see I descend from a long line of people who were born right. My granddad was always right. My Nan was always right. My dad is always right. My mum is always right. My aunties and uncles are always right. Furthermore, over the course of my life I’ve observed my immediate role models precipitating each other’s rightness. I have one particular early childhood memory of my Mum telling me “Emma-Jane, Nanny is clearly wrong but for crying out loud, in future keep your mouth shut!”²
So when we’re wrong, we’re still right? To be honest this has never really sat well with my innate sense of justice; unless that is… I’m the one that’s wrong, in which case I am ‘SO’ right, obvs! On this basis alone the aunties that I sustain any kind of relationship with are now in a minority. Hold on, before you all decide I’m a truly deplorable human being, I’d like to offer some evidence to the contrary, presented here by Kathryn Schulz ³:



There we have it, the case for being wrong, presented so powerfully I’m left wondering how come I didn’t already know it. In recent weeks though I’ve realised I’m not the only person that missed the memo on this important life lesson. In fact our human drive for that sweet state of ‘getting it right’ plays out daily. Here are some of my observations:
  • Five year old does face down starfish whilst whaling that he cannot draw a Ninjago right. “If at first you don’t succeed” goes down like a cup of cold sick.
  • Teenage step daughter stands accused of glaring petulantly at Dad, she asserts it was quite obviously just her resting b**** face (on this matter I can sympathise, but that’s a whole other blog!). The conflict results in a ‘stand-off’ until daughter relents. Dad is always right #fact!
  • Grown-up me, makes an assumption and cuts-off another auntie.4 Basically she’s wrong, I’m right. #stillagrownup
  • HRM MA class interrogates a new and seemingly sensitive lecturer, within an inch of his precious young life, on the ‘precise’ requirements of the current workforce planning assignment. For the audience the subtext is: if we get it wrong, we’ll be coming at you teach!5

The last point is especially relevant. As fully fledged and functioning adults we expect life’s harshest lessons to be behind us. To be fair we get things wrong a whole lot less than our younger selves did, but this really only makes our adult failings that much harder to bear. For those of us in adult learning, did we think we’d come through the university doors, do a little hard work, formalise what we already know, and walk away with a degree… without, that is, getting anything wrong along the way? Of course not I hear you shout! Except, well, we probably thought we’d get most of it right!
In celebration of being beautifully imperfect human beings, exactly as nature intended us to be, why not take this opportunity to confess some of the things you’ve been wrong about recently.  Almost anything goes:
  • PG rated confessions only
  • No swearing (Brookes rules)
  • No actual crimes6

¹ Outright lies!
² There might have been an expletive in the original dialogue. Feel free to add your own.
³ Shulz, K (2011). On being wrong. TED ideas worth spreading. Available at: (Accessed on: 20 November 2016).
4 No aunties were harmed in the writing of this blog. My recent fall-out was simply ironic and fortuitous timing.
5 This is clearly a joke and not a written threat.
6 You can find out exactly how to report any number of crimes here:


30 thoughts of a university student

00:30 Unknown 1 Comments

Hey, I’m Jasmine, I’m in my final year and yes, I’m freaking out about it. Soon I’m literally going to be an adult doing adult things and having adult conversations and hanging out with other adults who might have little adults, or children, whatever they’re called, and…and… well, let’s just relax, and acknowledge how far I have come and how far I can go! I advise everyone do this when they have their daily/weekly/monthly existential crisis.
I’ve decided to put together some little realisations I’ve had throughout my time at university.
1)      Never underestimate the power of a roast dinner.
2)      Paracetamol is your best friend.
3)      It’s ok to have a teddy bear.
4)      Naps aren’t just for kids.
5)      Hangovers get worse.
6)      Everyone misses a 9am lecture.
7)      There is not a cool way to end an email.
8)      Lecturers have mastered passive aggression.
9)      Cliques are still a thing but less intimidating.
10)  Mental health is something to nourish.
11)  Everyone gets homesick.
12)  It’s ok to feel clueless about the future.
13)  Dwindling friendships become less painful.
14)  Everyone can be a friend.
15)  It is ok to need support. It is not weak to admit anxiety.
16)  Nobody wants you to fail.
17)  Your work matters.
18)  Your worth is not measured by your grades, but by your resilience, creativity and passion.
19)  Doing chores becomes therapeutic.
20)  Time is precious.
21)  Mum was right – eat your greens.
22)  Coffee is sacred.
23)  1am is an early night.
24)  Family will be there for you.
25)  You will redecorate your bathroom with vomit at least once.
26)  Don’t blame yourself for the things you eat on a drunken night out. The heart wants what it wants…
27)  Accept petty household arguments.
28)  Cereal is overpriced.
29)  You should frequently indulge in a pyjama day.
30)  If someone has done all the reading, they’re either lying, or you need to sit with them in class.

Some of these will stick with us after we graduate, some may not, but it’s safe to say that going to university is about a lot more than just getting a degree.