What’s in my bag: University Addition 

If you’ve come from my Instagram (@diaryofaphysicist) you may have seen my post of everything I carry in my bag to university, so I thought I would go into a bit more detail about the items. I also want to share with you my methods of reducing the amount you carry so have you a light and effective load in your bag.

The Bag 

Being a student, saving money is very important. So I got my uni bag second hand from depop for £15, it’s real leather so will last me throughout my time at university and it’s black which is not only practical but goes with most outfits as well. 

The Laptop 

My laptop of choice is the 13″ MacBook Air 2016 addition. I love it. The MacBook itself is extremely light so perfect to carry around all day, fits into my bag well and does not scratch easily. The MacBook functions with fluidity and simplicity, I have everything I need in one place and doubles well as a work and recreational laptop. It is expensive, however I have used mine everyday since I bought it so can definitely say it’s worth the initial price.

The Planner 

If you follow me on instagram, you will know that I love moleskine! My planner is the 17/18 weekly academic planner and I used it everyday. Moleskine is by far my favourite brand for notebooks and planners as the paper quality is amazing and their ability to show little wear and tear is perfect for someone like me who throws them into their bag as they rush out the door.

The Cases

To hold all my stationary I use a felt case from Amazon. It’s the perfect size for me and it’s slots in the gaps due to being rectangular. The thick felt is durable so last a very long time without showing signs of damage and can be easily dried if it gets wet. I purchased a set of 3 of these cases for only £6.99 on Amazon so if you are interested please contact me via my Instagram page! 

How to simplify your bag 

I used to carry all my notebooks, all my textbooks, all my tech and everything else with me everyday. I thought I was doing the right thing, until I started getting back pain because I was carrying so much stuff. As I’ve got older I’ve started to get more and more into minimalism and simplifying my life. So instead of brining my textsbooks, during the day I work off online lecture notes. In lectures I print of the PowerPoints and annotate them which saves me having to carry a large note book with me. I leave all my books at home for studying in the evening. I have a small pencil case with the basic stationary and another case for my laptop and phone chargers (this helps to keep them safe). All my other stationary I keep at home as well as I only use them when making my detailed notes. For my makeup I have a simple, thin makeup bag that only carries the basic items. For food I take a space efficient bento box and use a lightweight rubber bottle for my water. This is much lighter than a glass or metal container and is better for myself and the environment then using a plastic bottle. 

Other ways to reduce the amount you carry. 

Take everything out of your bag and place it all in order of importance. Once you’ve done that put everything near the bottom away and only pack the things you really need. You may need to do this a few times, but it has helped me cut down on the amount of things I carry in my bag! 

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have please leave a comment below or message me on my Instagram @diaryofaphysicist. Thank you for reading! 

Lottie x 

Time Management for students: Part 3 

Part 3: Work-Life Balance 

This phrase is thrown about all the time, online, in books, by fellow students and lecturers. “You have got to find the right work-life balance”. But what is a work-life balance? And why does everyone keep going on about it? 

According to google dictionary, work life balance is defined as the division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities.

But why is this so important? The truth is that it is beneficial to your mental and physical health. When you can balance the amount of stress in your life with the things that relax you, then it makes it easy on both your mind and body to cope with the hard times. 

So how do you go about finding a good work-life balance? The key is to plan around the times you are working/ studying. Using the planner method I suggested in part 1 of this series, start off by picking 1-3 hobbies and try and do an hour of each every week. Make sure you write the slot into your planner. This could be anything from recreational reading, yoga, baking, etc. Make these things a hobby and soon they’ll become part of your routine. 

Now you need to add in the social side. It is so important not to neglect social time, and I don’t mean time on social media! Go out for coffee with your friends, take a parent out for lunch, go on date night with your siginifiacnt other! What ever it is, do something regularly and it will definitely pay off! 

The point is to get yourself into a position where you can get the work you want done in time, without sacrificing time to relax! There are going to be days where you may have to work longer, so make sure you have days where you can have fun too. 

Sometimes, say you have a deadline the following week and you are behind, you are going to have to sacrifice some free time in order to get the job done. This is what I would call a necessary sacrifice because you would be more stressed in the long run if you didn’t finish in time for the deadline. However if the stress is a long term stress that is making you life unhappy, that’s when finding a work life balance is necessary. 

Finding a good balance won’t come over night, it takes hard work and effort to reach the right balance and even then you might fall of the rails for a while and have to find your way back. But that is part of life and as long as you keep striving to find a balance, your hard work will pay off. 

I hope this 3 part series has been helpful. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to message me on my Instagram blog @diaryofaphysicist. 

Lottie x 

Time Management for Students: Part 2

Part 2: Keeping up with your studies 
Before we start the academic year a lot of us have this perfect idea in our heads of all the work we are going to do and 
how we will be on top of everything all the time. Although this is a great aspiration, it rarely ever holds true throughout the whole year because most of the time life just gets in the way and there is nothing wrong with that!

But there are ways to limit the stress of studying, keep on track and cope with what life throws at you along the way. I’ve found the key is to start early. If I could give one bit of advice to other students it would be start making notes and/or revision material as early on in the year as possible. 

The method I use to get all my notes done starts with printing of the lecture notes the weekend before they happen. I have a read, do some extra reading around the subject  and then take the printed notes into class with me. As I already have the printed notes, if the lecturer adds something or says something of worth I then write it down underneath the relevant slide. This saves me time as the lecturers move so quickly! Then for each module I have a specific notebook (most likely a Muji…) which I write-up in neat all the necessary notes. I then go through these notes and pick out key information which I write onto a revision card. I then use the revision cards to refresh my memory of the topic and use the notes as an extra reference. This is quite a long-winded method, but for me it pays off. It’s all about finding something that works for you.

Another way to keep on top of your studies is to create a topic list for each module. Once you have completed a topic and written up the notes you can tick it off, then when it comes to revision you know you already have the correct notes. You can find free, excellent quality topic list printable online which saves you time, or you can make your own to fit your specific requirements.

Integrating your studies into daily life is another way to keep on top of them. What I mean by this is you find ways to mix studying with everyday activities. An example would be meeting course mates for a coffee whilst discussing topics from that days lecture or whilst travelling home get out your notes and read them (if possible). All these little things add up to help you achieve your goals. 

Even though keeping up with your studies is primarily down to you, being organised and being focused, do not do it all in solitude. Ask your lecturers for help, get them to explain things until you understand it! Ask older students, ask fellow classmates, ask anyone you think could help as you have nothing to lose. You can even dm me on instagram @diaryofaphysicist and I’ll see if I can help! If you do not ask, you will never know, so there is no harm in trying. 

More importantly, if there is something going on in your life that means you cannot study as much as you would like, go see the university advice and counselling department, they are there to help you and can give you suggestions in how to cope with an issue. It’s not your fault you cannot study, so don’t carry it on your shoulders like it is! The staff are there to help and will try there best to get you back on track with your studies when you can. 

I hope you have enjoyed part 2 of time management, it’s a bit more anecdotal but that’s because it is something I have battled with myself all through academia! The final part to this series will be on acheiveing a good work life balance, this will be posted in the coming days. 

Lottie x 

Time management for students 

Part 1: Planning 

Like many of us, one of the greatest dilemmas a student faces throughout their academic career is tackling the work-life balance. Getting all your work done, fitting in all your extra curricular’s and having time to relax and enjoy yourself.
There is a joke amongst university students that uni is like a triangle, at one end is socialising/ having fun, at another end is studying and at the other end is sleep, the downfall is you must sacrifice one as no one can achieve all three (most people sacrifice sleep, some its study…).
As amusing as it is, those who believe in the ‘triangle of sacrifice’ are wrong. You can achieve a social life, be on top of your studies and get enough sleep to make an early morning class. You just need good time management matched with some organisation.  

To make it easier for you to start on your journey to great efficiency, i have created a little step by step to help you along the way. 
Firstly you need to learn to plan. I am not saying you have to religiously plan out every second of your day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, but you need to record key events happening each week so you don’t have to keep them in your mind all the time. This ensures you are less likely to forget it happening, leaving more room in your mind for other things. A good idea would be to get a weekly planner so that you can see everything happening on one page. I would personally recommend the Moleskine weekly planner (£18.00), its durable, easy to use, light to carry and beautifully simple. Alternatively, another favourite of mine is the Muji weekly planner, effortlessly chic yet very practical. A planner is also a great place to jot down thoughts, idea, reminders, anything that you are likely to forget! 

Once you have got the hang of using a weekly planner to take down all your weekly events, such a sport times, lectures, meeting friends. You can start to add in study topics. For me, I find it less stressful to assign myself to a specific time e.g. I would never write “Integration practice at 10am”. Some people may find this helpful and if so then by all means continue! But I found that put myself under too much pressure, so I resolved to say “study integration for an hour”. This means that you are not restrained, for example if something pops up in the morning when you had planned to study, you can just move your time of study later in the day and not feel guilty that you did not achieve your task at the set time. 

Now you have a solid weekly planner, you have everything you need written in. You just have to keep this up. A trick is to make it a habit. Before you go to bed spend some time planning the next day. Then once a week (I do this on a Sunday evening), plan the coming week and how you are going to tackle the study you have been assigned, the extra curricular and the fun things you want to do. 

As well as using a weekly planner, another way to help plan your day is to regulate basic activities such as eating and sleeping. What I mean by this is you create a routine that your body can work to. For example, you go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day. This helps our body get into a sleeping pattern and makes it easier for you to start the day and end the day well. Also planning when you are going to eat your meals gives you markers throughout the day to aim for and plan around. For me, I wake up at 7:00am and make sure I have eaten breakfast by 7:30am. This gives me half an hour to get ready, so that I can leave or university by 8:00am. I have dinner around 7:00pm everyday as this gives me time to go to the gym once I’m home from university. Using meal time and wake up/ bed time as markers always you to break up your day into sections, making it easier to manage time as its cut into smaller chunks. 

I hope you have enjoyed the first part of my series on time management for students.
In the next article I shall be addressing how to keep on top of your revision from the beginning of the year through to exam season. 

Lottie x 

Revision: my top revision methods 

In today’s article I’m going to address the issue of revision. We all have to do it at some point throughout are academic education, so we might as well ace it! 

I’ve complied the article into a kind of cheat sheet (more on cheat sheets below) on the top revision methods and how to make them most effective! 

Firstly I’d like to discuss my favourite method, revision cards. To me revision cards are the most productive revision method. They do not take a long time to make and are a great way of condensing you notes into the most important points.  They can be used anywhere due to their size, so if you have to take a bus journey you can pop a few in your bag. I find a great way to revise from them, is to try and learn them off by heart, read them over and over again until the information is stuck in your head. I think of the revision cards as pockets of knowledge and once I feel I know them well enough I get someone else to test me! 

This is great for learning facts and methods, however you cannot cover every piece of information you might possibly need on revision cards, this is where practice papers come in. Once you feel you have a topic down the best thing to do is test yourself on some practice questions. These can be from a past paper, your text book, or even a question your friend has made up! Not only is this a great way to prepare for the real exam and reaffirm your knowledge, but it shows you where the gaps are and what topics you need to re revise. 

For your weaker topics that need extra revision, I find mind maps a great way to get all the information I need onto one page. This means that any topics I don’t understand I can cover efficiently by jotting everything down at once. If like me, you have a photographic memory, this method is particularly good as you can memorise the whole page! 

Close to the exam, get a group of your course mates together and try and teach each other different topics. If someone doesn’t understand your first explanation, no worries! This enables you to learn how to explain the information in different ways, which benefits the both of you!  

These four methods have been tried and tested by me for the past 15 years! They don’t always work for everyone, so it’s about finding what works best for you! But they are a good place to start. 

Happy revising! 

Lottie x 

Summer study tips 

For some students out there the summer is the perfect time to learn a skill or start a new hobbie you don’t have time to do in the academic year. So here are an accumulation of tips for helping you achieve a productive summer. 

Learning a language 

1. Apps 

A great way to start learning the basics of a language is to use apps such a Duolingo or Memrise. Set yourself a reminder and work on them for a short period each day, eventually it will become a habit and you’ll have cracked the basics in no time! 

2. Go visit the country 

If you have the time and money, I’ve found the best way to tackle a language is to visit a native speaking country. A great way is to live with a family, you can find out how to do this through companies such as workaway.info or woofing. 

Learning an instrument 

1. Buy second hand instruments on sites such as eBay or gumtree. This will reduce the over head cost. Then use YouTube videos to find free tutorials, go into charity shops to find second hand music books or find a friend who plays the same instrument to give you a few pointers. 

2. Set a reminder on your phone and practice for at least half an hour as many days as you can in the week. Not only will it become a habit, but you’ll get the hang of your playing the instrument more quickly this way. 

3. Pick a piece of music and give yourself a time limit. Select a piece you would like to play and give yourself a set amount of weeks to be able to learn it. This way you will keep focused as have you a short hand goal in mind. 

Further reading

1. If like me you like to be ahead on your studies, look up what modules will be coming up in the next semester. If there isn’t a suggested reading list already posted, email your lecturer and get their opinion on which books to read. Get yourself a nice notebook and start writing up some notes for next semester. It may seem boring, however it will make a huge difference when you go back in September! 

2. If reading and taking notes during summer is not for you, try watching YouTube videos and documentaries and making notes via this format. This way enables you to save videos and perhaps watch them when you are travelling or have no internet. 

3. You could also create a group chat of friends on your course and compare notes and ideas over the summer. This is a more interactive method and also means you get to see your friends! 

I hope this helps give you some ideas for summer study! 

Lottie x 

Applying to uni: Writing your personal statement 

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing some articles all about applying to university. 

So today I’m going to start with something that I feel is one of the most important steps in getting into university: your personal statement. 

What is a personal statement? 

Your personal statement is a bit like a CV, it’s a way for the universities to get an idea of who you are, not just on an a academic level but on a personal one too. 

What do you write about in a personal statement? 

In your personal statement you should write about why you are applying for that specific course, your ambitions for university and beyond, what excites you about the subject and the course, why you want to go to higher education. 

You should also have sections on what makes you a good caditatde for an offer, the  relevant skills, experience or achievements gained from education, work or other activities such as extra curricular. 

It is important to talk about the main extra curricular activities in your life because it enable the university to see what else you have to offer. For example, I spoke about my skill in equestrianism and how this helped me in other parts of my life. 

How do you structure a personal statement? 

Start of by preparing a list of key achievements in both academic and everyday life that you would like to talk about and then extend this by stating how this will benefit you as a student. 

Then when you start writing, relate everything back to how it will influence your studies on a specific course. An example from my own personal statement was my ability to read and write music helped me when it came to logical mathematics questions because I found that the patterns in maths and music showed similarities. 

Your introduction should be short but sweet, starting with a welcoming opening sentence. 

Then progress into talking about academic achievements, these should make up the majority of your statement. The general rule is about 70% academic and 30% extra carricular, but this is not exact and varies depending on the person. 

Follow this up by a section on your extra carricular hobbies and achievements. These don’t have to be as long but still relate to the course. 

Finally conclude with a hope for the future and how studying that specific course will help you achieve that. Relay your enthusiasm and passion for this subject, that’s what admissions want to see! Someone who is in love with the course they have chosen, who they know will work hard and enjoy themselsves. 

Once you’ve made the first draft check through for grammar and spelling mistakes, then hand out copies to your family and friends to get their advice. Once you have done that take it to your tutor or advisor and get them to read it before sending it off to ucas. 

The personal statement is alaways 47 lines, 4000 characters long. So you may have to cut things back and drop some things all together but that’s ok, because as long as you feel you have conveyed yourself in the way you want the university will get the idea. 

I hope this has helped! If anyone had any questions or wants advice on writing a personal statement please message me on Instagram @lottietrewick or email me at ce.trewick@gmail.com. For an example of my personal statement that got me into my dream university please don’t hesitate to email me! 

Lottie x