Surrey student experience

Current students share their thoughts on planning for university, student life and what it’s like to study at the University of Surrey.

Exam Tips…That time again already?!

My fourth exam period…they don’t get any easier.

Maybe you’re a prospective student reading this wondering what Exam periods are like at The University of Surrey…or perhaps you’re a current student intrigued as to how other students navigate their way through the exam periods while studying for a degree. Truly: this post will probably only re-enforce typical stereotypes and suggest stress-beating methods that already exist. However: there’s one difference between my tips, and tips from LADBible or Buzzfeed. Mine actually work!

1. Plenty of Sleep

I’d be a huge hypocrite if I didn’t admit that being a student involves a LOT of binge watching Netflix series (I’m currently addicted to Suits – what a show!). However, one of the most underrated exam tips which nearly every student ignores, is that getting enough sleep is important. Sometimes I work better at night time, but I always make sure I sleep in and don’t get woken up. Not only does sleep refresh you and reset your mind: for me at least, it also gives me renewed enthusiasm for the day ahead. This makes studying a whole lot easier and ultimately helps me in my exam preparation.

2. Don’t feel guilty about chillin’

One hour work: three hours doing nothing/playing Xbox/watching tv. That seems to be my current ratio. While that doesn’t sound particularly productive or healthy: it serves only to illustrate a point I’m making. Too many students (everywhere not just at Surrey) criticize themselves for taking a few hours out to relax and rest. Of course it’s important to get study hours in but don’t work yourself to the bone without having some ‘you’ time. There’s definitely a limit to the amount of work hours I can complete in a row without a cup of tea and a quick YouTube video. Hint: It’s not procrastination if it’s planned. Right?

3.Getting Stressed? Watch some penguins on the most adorable live stream ever.

Click play on the video below.

Do I need to say any more?

4. Break up your work into manageable chunks.

I’ve never found reading page after page of textbook to be productive in terms of revision. For me, splitting my lectures and learning objectives for the day into manageable chunks (one lecture at a time, for example) – is something I’ve found really useful. It might sound a bit obvious – and perhaps everyone does it self consciously. However, writing it down and then crossing it off a list when its done is psychologically satisfying and always gives me a feeling of achievement – something I use to spur myself on.

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5. Remember Exams aren’t there to catch you out!

The penultimate thing I think it’s worth mentioning is that lecturers aren’t purposefully dropping you in it by not teaching you what you need to know. Exam boards aren’t hoping you’ll fail – and the University isn’t scheduling you for 9am exams because they want you to oversleep and achieve 40%. Everyone’s on your side and always will be! Exams are difficult for a reason: they’re designed to test your knowledge. However, they’re NOT the be-all and end-all. University is so much more than just exam period after exam period.

6. Finally, everyone is different.

We all learn in different ways just like we all have different natural abilities to absorb information. Each individual encounters University differently and possesses unique learning styles. Who’s to say what’s right and wrong?

Remember the above points and maybe they’ll be useful: maybe they won’t. Hopefully, however, they’ll have helped you think about your own learning style and encouraged a feeling of confidence within. You can do it!


Need support during Examination Time at The University of Surrey? The Centre for Welbeing, Student Life Mentoring Team and Personal Tutors are here to help.

Sociably Sporty in Surrey: It’s super!

A quick introduction…
“Hi everyone! My name’s Harry Bower, a second year undergraduate student studying International Events Management here at The University of Surrey. I’m here to share my experiences at University, both current, past and future. I’m originally from Devon, in the UK (a good four and a half hours away), so I know what it’s like to move a long way away from home for your degree. I’m currently the President of T.H.E Society (Tourism, Hospitality and Events) and a part of the UoS Student Social Media team.”

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(Above) The lake on campus: My favourite place to relax and unwind…

Eat, Sleep, Be Sociable, Work Hard, Repeat!
Exams, deadlines, group project work and assignments come quick and fast at Surrey and while it’s good fun
learning throughout the year, sometimes we all need a bit of a break! Fortunately, campus and the surrounding areas are full of activities and venues for social events, the Surrey Sports Park offers discount on membership for students and Guildford’s night life never fails to impress.

I’m a second year student and one of my favourite things to do when I’m busy studying for exams or assignments is to grab a group of friends and head down to the lake on campus. On a beautiful sunny day there’s nowhere better to relax, breath some fresh air and spend some time thinking about life. Follow that up with lunch from Lakeside Restaurant and a stroll along the river to Guildford Castle and instantly all of our worries are gone and our heads clear.

I’ve found that one of the best things about University is the diverse range of people from so many different backgrounds coming together to study, socialise and become friends. I’ve made so many friends from across the UK and abroad over the past two years and not only does this make us all more well-rounded and cultured individuals…it gives me loads of options for places to stay when I go on holiday! Before I enrolled at Surrey I could count the number of friends I had with International backgrounds on one hand, such is the impact University has had on my life.

 

Christmas Quiz and Flat Meal

(Above left) My flat Christmas Meal in Battersea Court last year. (Above right) Mentoring Campus Christmas Quiz

14 in a flat…Who knew how much fun that could be?
I think one of the highlights of my first year was living in University accommodation. I was plonked in the middle of a 14 person flat in Battersea Court and during my time there I learned so much about other people and their cultures, managing just about to maintain friendships with them all. A 14 person flat has its downsides, but parties are definitely one of the benefits. Nights out were rarely boring and I have lost count of the memories I have from that first year at University: most of that was down to the people I lived alongside.

Now, in my second year, I live in a house relatively near to Surrey Sports Park. Studies suggest that exercising increases blood flow to the brain and therefor increasing oxygen levels and giving more energy overall which can help people study. I reckon there’s some truth to that! The sports facilities on campus are second to none and there’s nothing more my friends and I enjoy than a quick game of tennis or squash, maybe a bike ride or some time in the gym. I’ve never been a huge advocate for exercise, but it’s definitely helped me grow closer to some friends and improve my productivity. Plus, Surrey Sports Park has great areas inside to sit and relax over a coffee after the game and catch up either on academia or general conversation.

Student Life Mentoring…yep – I’m ‘that guy who knocks on doors to check if you’re okay’..!
In September 2016 I became a University of Surrey Student Life Mentor. Our job is to look after new first years each new academic term, and we do this by visiting door-to-door and checking everyone’s settling in well. We’re trained in peer mediation and encouraging students to socialise together and become friends – it’s very rare that we’re forced to deal with negative issues like food theft. As part of our team initiatives we hold regular social activities on campus for our mentees. The majority of these are alcohol free to encourage everyone to participate and have taken the form of quizzes, trips off campus to attractions, pancake events, dodgeball competitions etc. Mentor Social events are such a fantastic way for students who may otherwise feel excluded to meet new people in a safe and comfortable environment. The next one my particular team will plan is an Easter-themed event. Huge, campus-wide Easter egg hunt, anyone?

I suppose this blog post has been more a self-reflection of the numerous ways I like to socialise with friends and unwind during stressful periods (exam weeks, deadlines etc). Ultimately, every student has their own way of making friends and their own preferences with regards to extra circular activities. The main takeaway from my two years here so far is that The University of Surrey caters for almost all of these, effortlessly.


If you’re planning on attending The University of Surrey or are already here but unsure of where to go to access a society or sports club: check out the Union Society website!

University: not just about studying!

University isn’t just a place to get a degree. I mean, that’s understandably the main reason that we’re all here, but there are a lot of enriching activities available at our fingertips to have a go at.

Sports and societies at Surrey are extensively varied; a full list of sports clubs can be found here and societies here. Joining a sports club and/or society is such a great way to meet people who aren’t necessarily in your flat or on your course, and also brings some recreation to what is often a study-focused week.

Throughout my time at University, I have been involved (on and off) with:

  • Squash
  • Badminton
  • Mountaineering
  • Surf
  • Ballroom and Latin
  • Water polo fitness

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  • Jazz Orchestra
  • Gospel Choir
  • (helping out with) Big Band
  • Art Soc
  • Christian Union

…and have been on the committee for Gospel Choir for two years. This is the wonderful thing about being involved with sports and societies; they are all student run. Through the Students’ Union, we go and do outreach performances at sheltered accommodation for the elderly in Guildford, we have done busking to raise money for Surrey Marrow and we have put on charity concerts throughout my time at Surrey. So joining a club or society isn’t just a good way of benefiting your University experience; it also benefits so many others, on and off campus.

At the end of the academic year, the Students’ Union hosts the Student Awards; an event to celebrate the success of students, staff and the general non-academic related achievements of everybody at the University. In my second year, Gospel Choir was titled the “Arts Society of the Year” and it was such an amazing celebration to be there with the rest of my committee.

 

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I can certainly testify that being heavily involved in several sports and societies in the last few years has really enriched my time at University; it’s always great to make friends, make a difference in the community and do what I love and not think about work for a while!

 

If you’re applying to University at the moment, be sure to check out the Students’ Union website and see what you could be getting involved with when you start.

 

Until next time,

 

Kirsten

#SurreyDecides. Democracy, Decisions and Dedication

Surrey Decides is a time of year which current University students, in their second year or above, will know extremely well. However, if you’re a first year student or a prospective student, you will have no idea what those two words mean, so I’m going to explain them to you, and show what massive opportunities they hold.

So. Surrey Decides. Two little words, very big meanings. Surrey Decides is an election process which happens every single year across February/March, where we elect the new Students Union Officers. Our Students Union involves a President, and four Vice Presidents. These people become elected every single year, and they work together to make life better for the Students at the University, and work hard to ensure student issues are taken notice of by the University, and that students have their voices heard. The Union is split into four ‘zones’, however, the President doesn’t have a zone, the President works as President of the Union as a whole entity, and so has responsibilities in all four areas of student life. Within each zone, there is a ‘VP’ (Vice President) which is a full time role, the same as President, and then a committee of five people which are all part time roles. So, obviously you cannot do a full time Job whilst at University, therefore people often run in the elections for a full time position in their final year, so they come into their role straight after graduation. However, you can do a full time position at any point, and take a year out of your degree to do it, similar to a placement. Part Time positions you can do alongside your studies however, so these are perfect for people wanting to get involved with active change alongside their degree. I am currently an elected part time Officer for the Voice Zone, and it is amazing. 

Therefore the Structure of the Union is as follows:

 

President (Full Time)

Union Chair (Part Time)

RAG Chair (Part Time)

Voice Zone

VP Voice (Full Time)

Voice Zone Committee (5 spaces, part time)

Community Zone

VP Community (Full Time)

Community Zone Committee (5 spaces, Part Time)

Activity Zone

VP Activity (Full Time)

Team Surrey Chair (Part Time)

Societies Exec Chair (Part Time)

Activity Zone (3 spaces, Part Time)

Support Zone

VP Support (Full Time)

Support Zone (5 spaces, Part Time)

 

If you want more information on any of the roles, simply check out the Union Website, as it would take nearly the entirety of this blog post to simply just explain each position. Here’s a quick link that explains each role-https://www.ussu.co.uk/yourunion/Pages/About-us.aspx.

So, that is everybody that needs to be elected every year! Looks like a lot doesn’t it? However, the more people who participate the more we can have fair elections and ensure the most brilliant and amazing people for the job are elected into each position, and that person…

COULD BE YOU

Running in the Surrey Decides is an amazing way to contribute to changing student life for the better, and helping to make positive change. It’s also amazing for you personally. I decided to run in Surrey Decides in my first year of University, and so now I am in my second year I am serving my time as an Elected Officer, and although making life better for students has been incredible, it’s also been amazing for how I’ve developed personally and how I’ve matured. You gain so many skills, and you get to work with an amazing team of people who will honestly become your family. It has been the best decision I have ever made, and I have had the MOST fun. It’s rewarding, it’s fun, it’s amazing for your personal development, and it’s so wonderful to see yourself actively making change for your student body.

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This was taken during our residential two day training where we had an amazing time bonding in our zones and as a Union in general

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Us all attempting to create the letter of our zone and failing massively

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During the Nerf War we had during our summer training week

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Cheeky selfie with some of the part time officers, featured here we have two community zone members, RAG chair and two voice zone members (Including myself)

Even if you don’t want to campaign for a position, you can still get involved by keeping up to date with the process, reading up on the candidate’s, watching Question Time, and of course, most importantly- voting. Democracy doesn’t work without participation. Question Time is a massive event every year, and hundreds and hundreds of students tune in online to watch the process, so even if you don’t want to leave the warmth of your bed, you can still get involved. The questions can be brutal, there can be drama, there can be tears. You don’t want to miss out. This is also a time where everybody takes to Twitter to discuss their opinions of the candidates and the answers they’re giving, some are kind, some are brutal, some are constructive, and some are downright just a bit out of order (Let’s keep it clean guys, we can all appreciate banter but candidates have feelings too), but trust me, you are not going to want to miss it.

This is YOUR Union.

This is YOUR Student Experience.

Get involved with shaping who is in charge of making life better for you and everyone around you.

Get involved with #SurreyDecides.

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Here are some useful links in case this post has sparked some interest- https://www.ussu.co.uk/voice/Pages/Surrey-Decides.aspx

https://www.ussu.co.uk/voice/Pages/Information-for-Candidates.aspx

Last years candidates manifestos, in case you fancy seeing what kind of things people wanted to change and develop, or get some inspiration on how to format yours- https://www.ussu.co.uk/voice/SiteAssets/Pages/Surrey-Decides/Election%20Manifestos%202016.pdf

My experience trying new sports at Surrey

 

When I first came to university, there was so much free time compared to what I was used to in Sixth Form. Having never lived away from home, uni was my opportunity to spend my time exactly how I wanted to. With all this free time and newfound independence, I was really excited to go to Freshers Fair and see what clubs and societies I could join.

Going to Freshers Fair was overwhelming, with hundreds of different clubs and societies all run by students asking you to join. I couldn’t believe how much choice there was! I felt so lucky and overwhelmed to have these opportunities available to me.

I’ve never considered myself a sporty person before. I always shied away from sport in school, choosing instead to chat with my friends and avoid joining in. I’d toyed with dance and badminton as a teenager, but nothing really stuck. Yet because there was so much choice (and most of it was walking distance away from me at Surrey Sports Park) I was determined to find a sport that suited me – one wasn’t a team sport, looked fun and could introduce me to new people.

 

Rock Climbing

 

I tried rock climbing with the Mountaineering club (USMC) during active freshers. It was really enjoyable (and scary!) climbing on the indoors walls in the sports park, and I knew I wanted to join. I remember walking to the first club session on my own, as I did’t know anyone else who wanted to join. (My flatmates ended up joining ultimate frisbee!) I was so nervous and has to will myself to go and introduce myself to new people, but looking back I am really glad I made that decision and opened myself up to the opportunity.

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Climbing outdoors for one of the first times in Swanage. I wouldn’t have had this experience without the help of the uni club – providing equipment, transport and knowledge.

The beauty of sports and societies at uni is that so many people are in the same boat. Lots of people were also new to the club and trying climbing for the first time, and everyone there was really supportive and helped us to learn. If I’d have tried to learn climbing outside of a university club, I know I’d have had to pay an expensive instructor to teach me and would never have been able to justify the cost.

Fast forward and by my second year at university, I was the club secretary for the Mountaineering club. I had been on lots of club trips, climbing outdoors for the first time, and even climbing in the sunny Alpes for a week!

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A view from the tents camping in the Alpes in Ailefroide with the Surrey climbing club.

 

Skiing

 

Trying new sports doesn’t have to stop in first year. In my second year I decided I wanted to learn how to ski. Similarly to rock climbing, joining the university club meant the lessons were much more affordable, and I was in lessons with other students who were all new to skiing.

I started at the beginner club sessions on a dry ski slope local to Surrey. The lessons were once a week and the club organised transport from campus. The other people there were equally as hopeless on skis and new to the sport as me, and we started off really slowly, eventually learning how to turn (whoo hoo!) and glide down the dry ski slope with parallel skis.

The university club trip was my first experience of skiing on real snow. I decided to take a few more lessons on the mountain with the friends I’d made from the beginner lessons back in Surrey, but soon we were up in the mountains and by the end of the week we were gliding down with a little more grace!

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SU Snow‘s trip to Les Deux Alpes 2015

 

Why join a sports club?

 

  • There are so many options to try, even for people like me who haven’t found a sport they like before university.
  • It’s a great way to meet new people and spend your free time. The clubs are run by students, for students, with the help of the Student’s Union.
  • You don’t have to be great at sport to join in. Lots of people are begginers as well, especially if you join something less common like fencing, karting or water polo. Most teams have social sessions for people just wanting to learn and meet new people.
  • The facilities and training you get are impressive, at a really reduced price for being a student. Especially if you want to learn something that has expensive gear like sailing or diving, a uni club is a perfect place to start because they have all the knowledge and equipment.
  • Joining a club can also help your employability and be a great addition to your CV.

 

A big part of university life are the experiences that happen outside of your uni timetable. Joining sports clubs at Surrey has made me a much more confident person, and introduced me to some great sports and people.

There is a full list of the sports clubs currently running at Surrey on the Student’s Unions website.  There are more posts like this about student life at Surrey on the Surrey Student Experience blog .

Anticipating University

Now that you’ve finished the stressful process of applying to university, and dragging your parents around numerous open days, it’s time to think ahead with a positive mind set and anticipate preparing for what you will need in your new university life.

Moving away from home for the first time and being thrown into a completely new social group is a big step and it’s a great idea to have a few things in mind in the run up to the BIG move, so here are some small tips that might go a long way….

 

  1. SAVING MONEY FOR FRESHERS WEEK

Freshers week is a fantastic way to get settled into university life. You’ll be be meeting new friends, your new home, and your beautiful new campus, but it’s a smart idea to have some money saved as we all know socialising can be a bit of a money grabber.

freshers

At Surrey the Freshers Rubix! wrist bands have been around £50 over the last few years, but with acts like Example, Krept and Konan, Lawson, Tinie Tempah, and many more it’s well worth it! To go along with that you’ll want some extra cash to spend on drinks and new outfits you may need to accompany these nights out.

Alongside the freshers week night life there is freshers fair which will include signing up to societies, which I highly recommend as it’s the best way to get fully integrated into university life. However, a lot of societies, particularly sports, will have club entry fees so that training kits and facilities can be provided.

So with that in mind, getting a part time Summer job would be a great idea so that money doesn’t need to hinder how much you embrace university life!

A little tip – if you’ve applied for a student maintenance loan it doesn’t always arrive in your bank account by freshers week.

2. APPLY FOR A TESCO’S CLUB CARD & UNIDAYS

On the same note of money getting a Tesco club card and a Unidays account is another great idea to apply for ahead of university so you can start working on a student budget as soon as you move in!

Tesco’s is the most regularly used supermarket for students as it’s situated right inbetween the Stag Hill and Manor Park campuses.  Club cards can take up to a couple of week to be delivered so it’s a good idea to order one now and you’ll be ready to collect those points on your first uni food shop experience.

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Along with this the Unidays website is a great way to save money through their student discount scheme on loads of top brands.  It’s easy to sign up, and anyway – who wouldn’t want 15% off their favourite party dress from Topshop?!

And for more ideas on saving money at uni check out one of our other student blogs.

3. THINK ABOUT WHICH BANK IS BEST FOR YOU

It’s important to have a secure student bank account whilst you’re at uni as it’s likely that you’ll be using it for your student loans as well as your living.  If you’re thinking about changing accounts it’s best to do this well in advance as most major banks will ask you to book an appointment to do this, and the waiting lists can be several weeks long.

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When I started as Surrey student I decided to change my bank to Santander as they offered a good student package, a free 16-25 railcard, and they were the only bank situated on campus.  It’s completely up to your individual preferences but it’s very important that you go to uni knowing that your accounts will be safe and well managed. If you’re still unsure check out Santander’s student current account.

4. HAVE SOME HELPFUL TARGETS

Moving to university can be such a hectic time that it’s easy to forget to appreciate where you are and what you want to achieve with your time.
University is a place of so many opportunities it would be a great idea to set yourself some goals that you would like to achieve in your time there, such as; trying a new society, learning a new language with Surrey’s Global Graduate Scheme, or even learning how to iron properly (mum won’t be there to do it for you unfortunately). Whatever it is targets can be extremely helpful in keeping a focused mind.

5. STOCK UP ON STATIONARY

Remember all those odd pens and endless felt tips you have lying around the house? Well now would be a perfect time to collect them all together.

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As I’m sure you’re already aware university, with all its glory, is subject to our most feared activity…

EXAMS!

Having a load of coloured stationary has been scientifically proven to help people remember notes and facts better, and even if not at least all your lecture notes will look pretty.  Grab those sparkly sharpies!

6. TAKE SOME COOKING CLASSES

And finally, it’s a good idea to grab a few tips from mum and dad about good healthy cooking. Whilst it’s good to stick to cheaper brands at university you should also think about a balanced diet as this will help you study better and keep you away from the university doctors.  The BBC website has a great section on student cooking and it would be a wise decision to go by the trial and error procedure whilst you’re still at home and mum can quickly hand you the fire extinguisher….

 

So I hope that helps, and remember whilst university will be the best time of your life it’s a good decision to prepare in advance for what will most likely the biggest step you’ve taken so far.

Good luck!

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