Things you should know before renting a shared house

16:04 Unknown 0 Comments

Hey I'm Sasha, a 2nd year Publishing & Japanese Lang student who recently had to deal with a lot of housing issues. I thought I would write some advice for students looking to rent shared housing.

Most new students will apply for halls in their first year at Brookes although this isnt always the case. In December around the end of your 1st semester you will probably be thinking about housing for 2nd year or at least people around you will be. When deciding where to live during your studies there are a few key things that you should consider. 

-What are your location priorities?
Do you prefer to be close to the university so you can roll out of bed into class? Or maybe being in the center of town close to shops and nightlife is higher on your list? Either way try to make daily life easier for yourself by checking local bus routes and whether the area is predominantly students or families.

-Who do you want to live with?
Probably the most crucial question you need to consider. Perhaps you got lucky and are living with a great group of people in halls that you want to continue living with next year. Most students that I know choose to live with friends they have met on their course. Consider carefully whether the people you enjoy hanging out with are going to also be the type of people you will enjoy living with and can rely on to help sort out any issues that arrise.

-Keep in mind:
Renting a house is very different from living in halls and comes with its own stresses such as paying bills that in halls would have been included within the rent. I would advise students to book viewings as early as possible and make sure to carefully inspect the contract terms to make sure you are getting a fair deal. Student central can also provide advice on housing contracts.

-In my 2nd year:
I chose to live with 4 friends from my course, unfortunately, one of my housemates decided to move out quite suddenly after only 1 semester meaning we had to look for a new person to move in at a very late stage. Im sure you can imagine how stressful this was and we ended up living with an exchange student that none of us knew. If you aren't seeing eye to eye with one of your housemates try calmly talking it out before anything else. Moving out should be the last measure you take. 

-Housing list:
Oxford Brookes releases a housing list in February that includes a selection of available properties. However, the properties on this list usally have offers made on them by the end of the day so if you see one you like you and all your housemates must to be ready to put down a deposit that day! Also you can find fellow students looking for roomates/housing on facebook by searching terms like 'Oxford housing groups'.

That's all the advice I have for continuing students good luck with the housing search!

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On failing like a Gilmore Girl

21:21 Unknown 1 Comments

Whenever I re-watch Gilmore Girls[1] (which I have many times) I feel the same impassioned rage at Rory when she goes into total life meltdown over Mitchum Huntzberger telling her ‘she hasn’t got it’ as a journalist. By this point, we’ve spent years watching Rory grow up and be told she’s pretty much America’s greatest kid, destined for success of untold proportions and yet this one, single comment is enough to derail her whole life. She quickly drops out of Yale, steals a yacht, moves in with her grandparents and gives over to the spoilt life of drinking and socialising with her trust-fund boyfriend.

I have watched this series of events play out on my screen through many different periods in my life; as a teenager, a first year university student, a jobless graduate and most recently as a full-time working adult (supposedly) and part-time mature student. Each time my reaction has been the same: FOR GOD SAKE RORY GET A GRIP AND PROVE HIM WRONG.

And yet, my most reactions to failure[2] have been similar to Rory’s. On receiving my first grade in my MA last week (a rather disappointing 58, pass) I was not filled with the hardy determination that I have always demanded from Rory, I could not convince myself that I was better, could be better but instead decided (almost instantly) that I did not ‘have it’ as a writer, I would never be a writer, and I should give up.

The very fact the first comparison I make to my failure is that of a fictional character forces me to realise why I can't give up. Rory is not real, Stars Hollow does not exist and yet I am drawn to her fictional life for comparisons of my own hope and disappointment more so than any real person. That’s the power of stories. That’s why I want to write, that’s why I will not steal a yacht and go to my wealthy grandparents (who do not exist) and my trust fund boyfriend (who is actually an impoverished teacher) to bankroll me into a downward spiral that involves quitting my job, leaving university and giving up. I will instead try and be the Rory Gilmore that I have willed for so many times whilst lazily watching from my sofa and GET A GRIP AND PROVE THEM WRONG.

So here we go, here’s to next term, here’s to not being Rory Gilmore and wallowing in self-pity, here’s to proving them wrong.





[1] If you have not watched Gilmore Girls (firstly, do) you may wish to google it for this blog post is based entirely on the much loved show, but DO NOT take into account the most recent series on Netflix as I, like many others, would like to pretend the depressing events of 2016 did not take place in Stars Hollow
[2] My reference of failure is not failing exactly but pompously not doing as spectacularly well as I wish I could (gross I know)

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The Lazy Student's Night Out

20:32 Unknown 0 Comments

You’ve made it off the U5, or walked into city centre with your best mates, and you’ve got cash out from the Lloyds on the corner. You walk down Cornmarket Street and make a mental note to beat the 3am rush for McDonalds later. Just before Lush you make a left turn and pass The Cellar, head down the stairs and you’re there; the magical, or truthfully just pretty standard Purple Turtle. As a seasoned third year, I can tell you that the best part of clubbing in first year is finding out you don’t have to go because you can just go to PT instead.



For those of you who haven’t been, PT is this amazing amalgamation of a bar and a club. They have great cocktails that are often on offer (try The Hulk if you like your watermelon), and even better bartenders. They have a shot for every Oxford College, every Hogwarts house, and for Oxford Brookes. I would however steer clear of the Brookes shot if you’re not big on Absinthe.

They also have a theme for every night of the week. Monday is AWOL for students, Tuesday is Wannabe with great 90s music, Wednesday is (my personal favourite) Crash! which is just a weird mix of Vampire Weekend and Taylor Swift. Thursday is another great night with Brooklyn Zoo for hip-hop and only black-and-white club photos, which is always a plus. Nocturnal on Friday is dance music, and Saturday is the amazing Propaganda – the only club night you’ll get to hear Arctic Monkeys and Mr. Brightside. Did I mention it’s free entry Monday through Thursday?



Purple Turtle isn’t normally the kind of place to wear heels or your finest brands, but mostly comfy trainers and jeans. It’s easily the most casual club in town, so it’s a great night out for second and third years on a budget, with the occasional free drink for early birds on the guest list. It’s the best kind of place because it requires no planning at all. If it’s Tuesday night and you feel like going out all of a sudden, put your shoes on and get to PT where most of the people you will meet ended up there accidentally anyway. Most cocktails in your second and third year end up at PT or another club, so just embrace it. Fall in love with the casual night out, and enjoy being a lazy student.


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Evaluating 7 Strategic Places to Sit in the JHB Buiding

11:14 Unknown 0 Comments

At peak library times (usually exam and deadline season) JHB becomes a little overcrowded and space can be limited #TheStruggle. Using my experience as a Second Year I have evaluated all the hot spots to sit and work in the library. So if you're yearning for a juicy seat in ye old JHBae, I have the right guide for you.

1. The Computer Room

Pros: 
  • Computers designed for students who need graphic software
  • Plenty of table room and many computers
  • Located just at the back of the forum - still central, but it's private.
Cons:
  • The room is hotter than the Sahara Desert (fun fact: Sahra is Sahara in Persian #PersianPriestessSinceDay - sorry, that was irrelevant)
  • It's a bit noisy.
Overall Rating: 3.4/5 John Henry's

2. The Forum

Pros: 
  • It's in the centre of JHB
  • The number one social spot
  • Next to the cafe for your coffee fix
Cons:
  • It is almost impossible to get any work done
  • There are more seshes organised in JHB than there is actual work done
  • Not a very productive environment
Overall Rating: 2/5 John Henry's

3. Quiet Area Study Section

Pros: 
  • It's quiet - good for concentration
Cons:
  • It's quiet - you will be judged if your stomach makes any weird noises
Overall Rating: 2/5 John Henry's

4. The Terrace

Pros:
  • Good view of Brookes
  • The atmosphere is #aesthetic 
  • There is a lot of table space
Cons: 
  • Not many plugs to give your Macbook a little juice
  • It gets super busy at lunch
  • You can't organise a decent sesh there
Overall Rating: 3/5 John Henry's

5. The Group Pods on the Second Floor

Pros:
  • Good for group work
  • Productive vibes
  • Walls around each pod so it makes it more secluded 
Cons:
  • You have to book one of these bad boys in advance
  • Many people hog one to themselves - don't be that person
Overall Rating: 3/5 John Henry's

6. The Library

Pros:
  • Classic working vibes
  • A social yet studious environment 
  • Productive
Cons:
  • Unless you're in the quiet section, you'll be distracted by all the juicy gossip going round from last night's Fishy Fingers.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 John Henry's

7. The Basement

Pros:
  • Silent
  • #WorkVibesOnly
  • Super productive
Cons:
  • No phone signal (also a pro as you won't be distracted)
  • Selfie lighting is relatively poor
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 John Henry's


Winner: The Library 
What a shocking result.

Until next time,
SK

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Getting back into the swing of things

17:30 Unknown 0 Comments

As the end of the Christmas holiday looms and term is a mere few days away, you may be wondering how on earth you're going to get back into the routine of 9am lectures and ongoing coursework after five cosy weeks of lie-in's and having your mum cook dinner for you- at least, this is what I'm feeling.

My Christmas vacation has been a great one- I spent Christmas Day with all of my family, went on a week-long holiday to Budapest, Hungary with the Brookes Talks Public Speaking Society (a separate post to follow!) and I found out I passed all of my modules with grades that I wanted. I'm excited to get back to university and start Semester two, but -I'm sure like many others- there's a daunting feeling about going back. To combat this, I've made a list of 'university resolutions' to try and get me back on track:

1. Wake up at 7:00am each day 

I know what you're thinking- why would I put myself through this kind of torture? You see, I was blessed by the timetabling Gods last semester by having no 9am lectures. It seems as if this has come back to bite me though, as this semester I've been subjective to not one, but two 9am lectures at Harcourt Hill (cue the sound of tiny violins).

So this resolution is mainly down to being a necessity, but lots of research has shown that getting up early and getting into a good sleeping routine improves mood, concentration and performance. So why not give it a go?

2. Plan well

Note the use of 'well' instead of 'more'. Last semester, it was well known among my friends that I made endless lists and plans to try and organise my life- from shopping lists to revision plans to planning my entire week. In the end, I probably spent more time making plans than I did actually sticking to them. It ended up making my life even more disorganised by having hundreds of little lists stuck up in my room.

Instead, I'm going to make shorter, more concise and more importantly, fewer lists. Planning you entire week at uni hour-by-hour doesn't work; plans change and the university experience is about being spontaneous. But, certain plans can make life a touch easier at uni, which leads me to my next resolution...

3. Make meal plans

To avoid sounding like a hypocrite after my last point, meal plans are money saving and encourage you to eat so much healthier and better at uni. In the first few weeks (after Fresher's, of course) I was whipping up white wine risotto's and steak salads like a resident Clive-Booth Jamie Oliver. By the end of the semester, I was sat in the JHB library at 2am ordering a deliveroo, I want to get healther this semester, and that starts with actually taking the time to cook food that isn't pizza every other night.

4. Join more societies 

Last Semester, I joined one society: Brookes Talks. I've loved the experience of being involved in this society and it's been a big help to my confidence. I've challenged myself to join a few more societies, such as OxFit and The Mixology Society. A list of all of the Oxford Brookes societies can be found at http://www.brookesunion.org.uk/societies.

So there we go. My 'resolutions' or whatever they could be called. I'm hoping that by doing it, I'll have a summer term that is just as amazing as my first term at university was. It might be difficult to stick to these aims at first, but I know that it'll be worth it in the long run!


"Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end" -Robin Sharma 

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New Year’s Resolutions (and other such nonsense)

21:01 Unknown 0 Comments

So you’ve made it through your first term, Christmas is over and it’s time to come back to the real world. What better way to start the new year than making some resolutions, right? Well, not exactly. I’ll be honest, I hate New Year’s resolutions. They always seem to focus on all the things we don’t like about ourselves and we tend to use them as punishments. A quick flick through Facebook shows our favourite things to bravely promise to ourselves and the world:

‘This year I will – go to the gym/ give up sugar/eat less carbs/take up running/drink less alcohol.’

Boo. Now, I’m not advocating avoidance of the gym in totality (though I can tell you I’ve managed it for years and it’s wonderful) or a diet of pure sugar, alcohol and carbs (though again, I could convince you of the benefits) but really, isn’t there something better we could focus on than limiting our food and upping our exercise?

I know I want more than that. Last year, I did write some resolutions, the only one* I remember is this:

In 2017, I will write more.

Nice and simple, I did not vow to write every day, to write a book, to quit my job and become a writer. Just write more. And I have. This time last year I could not imagine that I would be sat here having finished the first term of an MA in Creative Writing, or that I would be still writing my book (which at this point last year was a few thousand words and an idea I was too embarrassed to talk about) but I’m so glad I did.

So, if you must, make resolutions, but make them about the things you want, not the things you don’t.


*This isn’t entirely true, I also resolved to register myself with a dentist and I have failed at this for another year running, but it hardly seems poetic to mention that


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