Crossing the Atlantic

An insight into life at Surrey from current US students

Surrey Sports Park: Let me help break it down for you

Ok. So in a previous post I wrote about how to get motivated to do school work instead of continuously indulging in Netflix and mentioned how physically getting my body moving helps me get the wheels in my mind turning for assignments. As someone who likes some variety in activity (aka I have tried many of the classes offered in the Sports Park), I thought it might be helpful to debrief on what some of these classes are like to make them seem less mysterious and intimidating!

*Note: I have the full membership, which allows free access to all of the classes offered throughout the day (this costs 235 pounds per year, basically if you take at least four classes a month, then you’re getting your moneys worth). The Surrey Sports Park site explains their membership options so you can choose what makes most sense for your needs, it keeps you updated with events they are hosting, has their class schedule for each semester, and a place for you to see whether classes are full or not and can book a spot in the class you are interested in.

*Another Note: I live in Manor Park (aka a super duper convenient location to access the Sports Park at all hours of the day and night as it’s a minute bike ride and about a 5 minute walk).

*Final Note: Outside of the classes, I like to use the high tech machines they have (aka your basic elliptical, treadmill, stair-master etc.) in the main workout room that has over 120 different machines, and finish my workout with 10-15 minutes in the sauna or steam room (two awesome amenities that most people don’t know exist in the Sports Park). They also have an incredible 50m pool that you can even pay to use if you don’t have a membership, an incredible climbing wall that you can take lessons at, multiple squash courts, a Starbucks to chill at after your workout, and The Bench Sports Bar that not only offers hearty meals but also serves some cold alcoholic beverages if you fancy that. The Surrey Sports Park really has so much to offer, if you want to know even more, check out the main site.

OK, getting back to the point, here’s a break down of some of the classes they offer:

Basic Aerobics– Ok, so I was definitely the youngest person in this class by far, and though this class isn’t as intense as some other ones (see below), it still gives you a good full body workout with cardio, core work, and arm work with some nice stretching mixed in. Overall, I’d consider it a well rounded class and a good option if you have a mild injury (like shin splints that feel impossible to get rid of).

Body Attack– This is the kinda class where you jump around almost the whole time and break out a sweat, especially during the song that involves a lot of push up. You feel like you had a solid workout. But then the next day… you feel like your body HAS been attacked because OH MY GOSH it will leave you so sore in such a good way.

Body Balance– This is definitely an interesting class, it’s like a more dance-like yoga combined with a little tai chi and some long balancing poses. Definitely more of a stretching and strengthening class than a drenched in sweat type class (see below), and is followed by a nice meditation.

Body Combat– I wish this class was offered more often and fit better with my schedule because it’s an awesome class that makes you feel powerful and bada** with constant punching and kicking combos. A lot of sweating involved and a LOT of soreness the next day, but I love feeling sore after a hard workout.

Body Pump– This was TOUGH for someone who generally does not lift weights or do many arm related activities. I was super intimidated to do this class but felt much better once I found out you could choose and alter your weights. Not gonna lie here, my arms couldn’t straighten for about a week after the class because I worked my arms so hard! A great class that is worth the pain.

Legs, Bums and Tums– This class is pretty much exactly what you think it would be, a lot of focusing on one area at a time intensely. You will feel all of these parts the next day, for sure.

Pilates- A classic pilates class, slow and stretchy at first followed with tough core strengthening. If you don’t know how to really activate your core when doing ab exercises, I would recommend a pilates class to teach you the value of doing it right versus doing as many as you can.

Spinning– The Surrey Sports Park has its own Spinning room, pretty cool, and is high tech with showing your RPMs on a screen in the front of the room (something I find quite intimidating), but it does bring out my sweatiest self, so I would recommend bringing your own towel for this class (and any others which you think you would sweat a lot in).

Synergy Fast Class– Holy cow, this class is only 30 minutes but my gosh it is a doozy of a time. The class is made of three 6 minutes rounds with a small break in between rounds. There are at least 8 stations that you rotate between, involving arm and core exercises and some cardio. And you bet you’re arms will be feeling it the next day or two.

Yoga Flow– A nice basic yoga class, relaxing but still involves strong poses and some nice sun salutations. A good class if you need to feel restored.

Zumba– I’ve had mixed experiences with the Zumba classes, personally I like a more energetic class with a lot of jumping around or with a lot of salsa moves, and though one of the classes involved more salsa moves, they weren’t as much of a workout as I thought it would be, but nevertheless it was a fun time : )

Hopefully this helps you understand what some of the classes at the Sports Park are like. Don’t let the intense names scare you off from trying them, if you end up getting the full membership, these classes are free so they’re definitely worth trying out, and who knows you may surprise yourself! If classes and machines aren’t your thing, there are 44 different sports clubs on campus ranging from American football to Archery to the Cycling club to Salsa club to Ultimate Frisbee! University of Surrey offers many ways to get your body moving, so feel free to choose whatever activity is calling your name : )

Accommodation at Surrey: A Comprehensive Guide

Happy Friday! As the second semester begins, I am sure you are closer to deciding whether or not Surrey is the right fit for you (I think it is, but hey – I might be biased 😉 ). My fellow student ambassadors and I have been receiving a lot of questions regarding on-campus accommodation lately so I figured I’d write a post about living at Surrey that will hopefully answer all of your questions.

An Overview

England is very different to the United States for many, many reasons. One of the biggest differences is that England is a smaller country on an island whereas the United States is one of the largest countries in the world. There are a lot of perks associated with being a small island – greater transport connectivity, quicker travel times, etc. –  the list goes on.  However, size also brings about some difficulties such as housing and living space. The rental housing market in the UK is extremely competitive and can be quite costly.

Because of this, I personally advise international students to take advantage of Surrey’s on-campus accommodation for the first year. As an international/non-EU student, you are guaranteed on-campus housing for at least your first year (so long as you apply by the application deadline). This is an amazing benefit that a lot of other UK universities do not guarantee their international students.

The Application Process

If you already hold an offer from Surrey, regardless of whether it is conditional or unconditional, you can apply for accommodation as early as February 20th. Applications for undergraduate and postgraduate students close on different dates, the undergraduate deadline being July 25th and the postgraduate deadline being August 1st. I recommend submitting your application as soon as possible. It is relatively quick to do. In my opinion, the most difficult part of the application is ranking your choices for housing. For more information about the application, visit: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/accommodation/applicants/students/.

After applying, you should expect to receive your allocation in the first few weeks of August.

Campuses and Bands: Explained

As you may already know, there are three different locations in Guildford where students may live in Surrey accommodation: Stag Hill, Manor Park, and Hazel Farm. There are advantages and disadvantages to each location. For example, Stag Hill campus accommodation benefits from being closest to classes and on-campus food outlets, etc. Manor Park benefits from newer accommodation and the nearby Tesco grocery store and sports park. Hazel Farm is a bit more remote than the other living spaces but the remoteness is compensated by a free annual bus pass.

Within these campuses, there are a number of different room arrangements. Each type of room arrangement is classified in a band. Within each band, all rooms have the same type of amenities, etc. For example, all band C rooms have a sink in them. It is best to familiarize yourself with the bands prior to applying for accommodation as you need to rank your priority choices on the application. A full breakdown of what each band entails can be found at: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/accommodation/about/

Living with Flatmates

Now that the application and accommodation process has been explained, let’s talk about flatmates. For some, their experience at Surrey may be their first time living with others that are not family. Prior to moving into my accommodation, I was quite anxious about who I’d be living with. Would we get along? Would we manage to keep our shared living spaces clean and livable? I was very fortunate to have six fantastic flatmates. We immediately created a Facebook page where we could communicate with one another and hold our flat accountable for keeping our kitchen tidy and organized. The Facebook page worked for us but I have heard of other methods of communication working for other students, like a shared whiteboard in the kitchen to write notes on, etc.

Regardless of who else lives with you in your flat, the university has a number of support services for students in on-campus accommodation. Each court has a warden that lives full time on campus. The warden’s job is to maintain order and to serve as a resource for students dealing with a wide range of issues. There are also Student Life Mentors who visit flats once a week to ensure all students are getting on ok in their living spaces. Once in a while, these mentors will also organize events for people within the courts to mingle and get to know one another.

I hope that this was a nice introduction to housing here in Surrey. As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to email us at: northamerica@surrey.ac.uk

Until next time –

Briana

Cinema and Theatre

London is an epicentre of culture and arts. With the West End, the equivalent of Broadway, thriving in central London, attending a theatre show is a must. There is an incredible variety of shows that are available with varying prices. The West End can be expensive, but buying tickets at the right time can help. Several months ago, I signed up for SEE Ticket’s email list. I receive updates about events to attend and various discounts. One of the best emails I received was before Christmas and offered half-off West End tickets for the months of January and February. The deal included all major shows including The Lion King, Book of Mormon, Wicked, and Phantom of the Opera. I bought two tickets to Wicked for my sister and I for only £40 total instead of £80! We had amazing seats with an incredible view of the stage. The deal goes on every year, so sign up and experience the West End in all its glory for student prices!

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Guildford has its own theatre called GLive that hosts various plays, comedy shows, and live music. I have been to several comedy shows that have all been hilarious. By signing up to their mailing list you can stay up to date with the latest performances. Another Guildford location is The Boileroom. It is a smaller venue, but also has an eclectic mix of entertainment. It is very popular amongst students for comedy shows and music acts.

During the holidays, a type of theatre is available: A pantomime. A pantomime or more casually called a panto, is a British classic. As they are typically less money , they are a great alternative to a West End show. I saw my first one when I was about 8 years old and haven’t forgotten the experience since. A panto has a few key features. First, the characters are very dramatic and outlandish. There is always a main character that is a man dressed in drag whose outfits change throughout the performance. Another defining feature of a panto is audience participation. There will be phrases that characters will make you repeat and specific panto phrases that are common across all pantos. Finally, much of the humor is based on pop-culture or political references, so be sure to stay informed and up to date with the latest drama before walking through the doors of the theatre. It is a show like nothing else. All ages engage and love the silliness of the panto. You haven’t experienced a British holiday season until you have seen a panto.

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Visiting the cinema, or the movie theatre, is an easy way to get out for some innocent fun. Buying tickets in England is slightly different to the USA. During the purchasing process, you select your seats. I thought this was strange at first, but has loads of advantages. No longer do you need to show up early to a movie to get good seats or worry if your group will be separated. The downside to the cinema is that it can be rather expensive. Generally, outside the M25 (the motorway that runs around the perimeter of London) is cheaper than within the M25. This is great for visiting Guildford’s Odeon Cinema in town. If you are within the M25, I have recently found a cinema/gallery called RichMix in Shorditch, London that offers £5 tickets to three of the top movies that are showing. Currently they have Jackie, Manchester by the Sea, and La La Land.

Rich Mix cinema and arts venue

For a more immersive experience, London has the largest IMAX theatre in Britain in the BFI IMAX theatre a short walk from Waterloo Station. There is another IMAX theatre in the Science Museum in South Kensington. Both are incredible experience, especially for movies in 3D. They are fairly costly, but worth an experience. In both RichMix and BFI IMAX you can buy a variety of snacks, drinks, and alcohol to add to the event.

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Free Fun!

Have you ever had a single tear roll down your cheek because you saw how much money it cost to supposedly “have fun”? Those moments when you look around and realize that literally everything costs money can be daunting and scary when you know that you have to buy things you need but also things you want. Well, as a student in Guildford, there are more affordable ways to have free/cheap fun with friends around campus, Guildford, London and beyond.

On Campus: The University of Surrey is well aware that students like cheap and like fun, so they do a pretty good job at providing options for you to have both. The Student Union on campus has a whole host of events and activities that are offered at reasonable prices if not for free, that you can find here. For example, you can take a day trip to Brighton for 8 pounds 50 and explore the area, where it would cost more than double to travel there with a 16-25 rail card and over 30 pounds without a rail card. They have trips to other areas in the UK such as Salisbury, Portsmouth and Canterbury all for a much more reasonable price than getting a ticket yourself. The campus also Hari’s bar, a cheaper bar and great hangout spot that has free open mike nights on Thursdays and Hari’s Challenge (aka pub quiz night) on some Tuesdays for only 1 pound. You can get tickets to the bigger events here, which also includes cheaper tickets to activities like musicals and like Playzone which is basically a giant indoor adventure area that has nights for adults to bring out their inner child. The Student Union also offers more chill nights, like free movie nights on campus and free zumba classes (which I’m just discovering as we speak, by the way) in Rubix, the on campus club. This might sound weird, but the Rubix is a great open space that also hosts the on campus farmer’s market on Thursdays (that has much cheaper produce options) and transforms into a nightclub that also has cheap drinks and pretty baller music.

In Guildford: Though Guildford can be a little pricy and it may feel like all you can do in the town center is spend money, there are ways to make Guildford more affordable. For example, as mentioned in a previous post, UNiDAYS is an app you can download on your phone that offers discounts for students, some of them are long standing, like 20% discount on meals at Bill’s Restaurant during week days, and some are for a limited time. There are also stores like MUJI and Topshop that offer 10% discount for students if you show them your ID. Guildford also has some pretty decent charity shops around town (thrift stores that donate the proceeds to charity). There are also some beautiful hikes around Guildford! Though it was snowing and freezing cold yesterday, I went on an amazing hike to St. Martha’s Church which was easily accessible from the town center but felt miles away from any city. There are more incredible trails to check out around the Surrey hills, you can check out some of the routes here.

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In London: The best way to explore the different hubs of London is by walking around. Though I’m a big advocate for walking, London is a surprisingly easy city to navigate by foot and you get more exposure to the different things the city has to offer. If you didn’t know already, the majority of the museums like the Tate Modern, the Serpentine gallery, the Natural History museum, etc. are not only totally awesome but are also free entry!! They have many attractions around the city as well, like the weekly Flea on Flat Iron Square in the Southwark that sells antiques and there are often free gigs around town, this is a great resource for finding free activities.

Free fun and cheap fun do exist, I promise! They just take a little bit of research and digging around to find 🙂

Professional Development at Surrey

If you are anything like myself, you understand the feeling of dread and terror associated with holiday time and seeing extended family that is all too keen to ask you “so, what are you doing after you graduate?” This question plagued my senior year of undergrad. The uncertainty of employment after graduation is undeniably scary and preparing for the application process, creating a resume or CV, and researching companies can seem like daunting tasks. Lucky for us, Surrey has a fantastic track record when it comes to graduate employability and numerous tools to help students combat the fear and uncertainty associated with the job hunt.

In 2013, Surrey was ranked number one in the UK for graduate employability with 97% of their graduating class securing jobs or positions in academic programs within 6 months of graduating. In the past five years, they have maintained employment rates of over 95%. This is due to numerous factors, however, a few of the most notable are Surrey’s Professional Training Year and Employability and Careers Centre.

  1. Professional Training Year (PTY)
    So, what is a professional training year? As I am sure you have gathered by now, undergraduate studies in the UK are typically three years long. However, Surrey offers its undergraduate students the unique opportunity to take a year from their studies to work full time in a job placement within an industry, commerce, the public sector, or a research institute. By opting to take advantage of this opportunity, Surrey students spend four years on their undergraduate degree rather than three but the general consensus is that this additional year of work enables students to feel more confident and competitive when it comes to the post-graduation job applicant pool. There is some flexibility with the professional training year but typically it is completed in the third year of study. Nervous about finding a company on your own? Thankfully, Surrey’s Employability and Careers Centre has over 2,300 partner organisations that are willing and wanting to take on Surrey students for the duration of their PTY.

    Interested in hearing more about PTY? Check out blog posts written by Holly Boothroyd, a fellow American Surrey student that is completing her professional training year right now. I suggest these:

    Into Placement

    Microsoft Placement

    To hear more about Professional Training Placement from University of Surrey, check out: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/careers/documents/Leaflets/PTY%20and%20Careers%202016%20brochure,%207907-0616%20Oct%202016.pdf 

    For Postgraduates: 

    Professional Training Year is a fantastic opportunity and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit jealous when I realized that the equivalent did not exist for postgraduates. Still, there are numerous opportunities to develop professionally and gain work experience while undertaking your studies. Faculties are fantastic at arranging speakers from the industry to speak about employability and there are comprehensive “career fairs” multiple times a year. Furthermore, some postgraduate programs – “Euromaster programs” – are two-year programs and allow enough time to complete a placement in the summer between studies. Personally, I am on a Euromasters program and I begin my placement tomorrow! I love the structure of this program because it allows me to graduate with over a year of experience on my CV.

  2. Employability and Careers Centre

    Although there are individual schools within the university, Surrey’s Employability and Careers Centre collaborates with all of them and creates programmes and offerings relevant to students’ needs. The Centre offers a variety of talks, workshops, and frequently bring in graduate recruiters to provide Surrey students with a first-hand glimpse into the recruitment process.

    What I like best about Surrey’s Employability and Careers Centre is that they have an entire page online dedicated to international students. Within this page, resources are divided into resources for international students looking for jobs in their home country and students looking for jobs in the UK. Personally, I hope to stay in the UK after graduation and I found this feature on Surrey’s website helpful and reassuring while researching potential universities. To access this page, click the following link: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/careers/current/international/.

    Working in the UK aside, I also find the Employability and Careers Centre’s tips for preparing for post-application assessments helpful. Many major companies nowadays employ personality tests, numeracy exams, and verbal reasoning assessments prior to job candidates even receiving an interview. Surrey has an entire page dedicated to explaining the rationale and providing tips for how to best navigate these obstacles. Additionally, they offer links to help you practice. Check out: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/careers/current/work/psychometrictests/.

I hope you found this post helpful and feel confident that Surrey can assist you in all your employability pursuits. For more information about Surrey’s Employability and Careers Centre, go to: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/careers/.

As always, if you have any questions, email us at northamerica@surrey.ac.uk!

Until next time –

Briana

 

Tips on how to be productive instead of Netflix

As an MSc student, you have far more “self study” time than Undergrad. The amount of hours of class you have per week is far less (about 10 hours for me though it depends on the program) and of course you’re expected to push out much higher quality work. With all of this free time on your hands, it can be hard not to fall into the deep pits of Netflix and procrastinate. I have definitely fallen into the trap of How I Met Your Mother automatically playing the next episode right after a 22 min. episode ends. You think to yourself, “Oh, another 20 minutes of my time isn’t that much to lose to the world of sit coms” and then find yourself being tired and lazy hours later not having done what you set out to do for the day. This is not just about Netflix, but about any guilty pleasure vice, using involving social media or . If you’ve managed to avoid falling into the black hole of your computer screen, then I’m impressed. However I’m not that kinda gal, I need to keep myself busy in order to be productive. I like to think of myself in terms of the little bit of physics that I remember from high school: an object in motion stays in motion. Though I usually oppose to objectification, in this case I am the object. If I’m on the move, I stay on the move and am much more productive and efficient with my time. It’s much more challenging for me to get stuff done if I’m a stopped object, meaning I’m in my bed watching Netflix, aka a lump of potato.

SO! I thought I would share a few tips on how I become my most productive self. Everyone has their own tricks and whatnot to make them more productive, but figuring out what works for you is a BIG step. So here’s a little elaborated list of what works for me as a reminder for myself of what I can do to stay motivated and is hopefully a source of advice for anyone reading this.

Make a to-do list: I like keeping post-it note with a little list of errands and assignments to do on my computer. Whether I’m on my computer for work or fun, having a reminder of the things I need to do is 1. a good reminder for my forgetful self and 2. makes me feel a little guilty when I know I should be crossing off items on my list but am watching Sherlock instead. Keeping track of what you need to accomplish in a place you have easy access to can help keep you on track. It is important to be realistic with your list but more on the optimistic side, because if your list is too idealistic, you end up constantly disappointing yourself and that can easily cycle back into Netflix binging

Morning mood: On those off days where you don’t have class, it could be nice to use it as an excuse to sleep in, but if you know you work best in the morning (like me) then be prepared for your future self to be mad at you. Getting into a regular wake up/morning routine can help you stay in the productive mode. I find that even though I can get cranky if I wake up early to an alarm on my day off, I’m in a much better mood in the long term with a sense of accomplishment at having actually woken up early and doing what I’d planned. Part of my morning routine is to work out because it sets a positive pace for my day. If I don’t have time to work out, I will do about 10 minutes of yoga to calm my mind and “move some energy around” as my mom would say. Feeling productive in other areas of my life, like doing things to benefit my physical and mental health, encourage me to be productive in my academics, though it can work the other way around too. Obviously, this may not apply if your most lucrative hours are in the midst of night, but it is worth figuring out a routine that works for you, even if that means changing up your routine to learn how to enhance it.

Location location location: It is important to figure out what kind of environment is beneficial for your studying/working habits. As a studying Environmental Psychologist, of course I would want to focus on this, right? But it does have value. For me, I like to change locations once I’ve spent around 2-4 hours max working there because changing my scenery helps change my mindset and allows for a break with the transit time. I like to have a combination of library studying and cafe studying. If you plan to go to the library, get a study buddy so you’re held accountable to actually go to the library instead of thinking you can work in room when you know you can’t (aka me 75% of the time). The library at University of Surrey provides a great variety of seating options for those who like more talkative locations and those who need absolute silence. If working in a room with your friends is more preferable for you, the library offers the option to book a study room for two hours at a time up to one month in advance on the main Surrey library website under “book a group study room”. The University also has a few cafes and study rooms around campus with plenty of seating for work, like the Starbucks on campus, the couchey area in the back of Hillside (the equivalent to the campus cafeteria), and Lakeside which has cheap and delicious soup and warm drinks. There are also cute cafes off campus if you feel you need to get away from students for a few hours, like Harris and Hoole, one of the many Cafe Neros, and my favorite cozy spot k.alm kitchen. It also helps to make study break plans with friends ahead of time to give you a designated time for work and designated time for fun, which can help push you to work harder.

There are plenty of other tips I could give, like always have healthy snack options and give yourself enjoyable projects to work on as reward for being productive, but figuring out your own study system and what motivates you are the most crucial parts. Happy studying for those of you in classes right now!

-A guide from a Master’s student still on holiday and doesn’t know much of what she’s talking about

 

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