Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Zoe Wells

Hello and welcome to Episode 6 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay not to have your life figured out in your twenties. In this episode, I am delighted to chat with the one and only Zoe Wells, a 23-year-old Marketing Executive from Ashford, Surrey! Zoe and I graduated with our degrees in English Language and Linguistics in 2018 and, though I was confident we would remain friends after graduating, we have even more reason to stay in touch as I introduced her to my brother over two years ago… and the rest is history! In her spare time, Zoe likes to fulfil her passion for interior design following tips from the likes of Mrs Hinch on Instagram. In a more formal conversation than we would usually engage in, hear what Zoe has to say about life as a student, graduate and twenty-something…

Image description: Photos of Zoe and me with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Zoe W.”

Hey, Zoe! Thank you so much for agreeing to chat with me! You were one of the very first friends I made at Roehampton through our degree and, not only are we still great friends, but you’re now living with my brother! Haha! So, why did you choose to study English Language and Linguistics? 

No problem, thank you for asking me!  

I hadn’t really decided what I wanted to study at uni to start with. I studied English Language and Literature, History and Business at A level and knew I wanted to continue with English as it was the only topic I still really enjoyed, to be honest! 

I knew I wanted to stay at home during my studies, so I looked at courses that were provided by relatively local unis. I attended the odd talks about courses in Law, History and Social Care, but always went to talks about English. Having been to a few open days, there still wasn’t one course that I felt was right for me. When I attended the open day at Roehampton, the teacher was so passionate, and I found the examples of work so interesting. I remember we had a group discussion about the sentence “Buffy discovered a mole”.  It was almost like a lightbulb moment where I thought this is the area of English I want to study. 

That’s great! So, what did you enjoy most about university? 

That’s a tricky one for meI think there is such an expectation that uni is the best time of your lifebut I didn’t find this. I didn’t leave with a large social circle and I definitely struggled with the stresses of studying, working and trying to have a life in general! 

I did make excellent friends that I speak to almost daily. For me, the content was the best part; I found all the areas I studied so fascinating. I enjoyed researching, reading and writing the essays so much so that I really didn’t find them a chore. Even two years on, I think about the topics I learnt. I also had great lecturers who were clearly passionate about their areas of study and were really approachable about anything.

It can be very stressful, but I’m pleased to hear you enjoyed your degree.
I know that after graduating, you went on to pursue marketing which we’ll talk more about in a moment. When you started university, did you have a career path in mind? If not, how were you hoping university would help you figure one?

I think I was just hoping that my degree would allow me to gain access to larger companies in a good role. I remember in an interview for my first role in admin, the interviewers said they either looked for a degree or a few years of relevant experience. After uni, I wanted a role that I didn’t have to worry too much about after all the stress from uni. I wanted to have solid experience on my CV and get a good reference. I think it’s really important to remember that your first job isn’t your last! 

That’s true! And now, you’re in marketing and even recently landed a new role! Tell us a bit about how you got into marketing and your journey so far. 

After about a year in my admin role, I decided I needed a role where I could get back to my English roots and be more creative. I really missed writing contentso I looked for that in new roles. I don’t really remember how I came across marketing, but now it feels like a natural link with my passions. 

In my first marketing associate role, I got back to writing content like blogs and interviewing people (like you, Soph!) for case studies. There was more creative freedom, rather than set processes, to think of new ways to engage the audience. 

I have also been fortunate enough to work freelance. I made some good contacts that reached out to me with marketing work. It was a good leap of faith for me to be confident to be given a brief and execute it. I got a lot of exposure to new systems, web processes and tasks. I learnt so much in a short space of time and it helped me land my new role. 

I now work as a Marketing Executive with more responsibility and the ability to plan and execute my own marketing campaigns. It’s so nice to be back in a full-time role and have likeminded team members to support me and encourage my career development. I would love to gain a further qualification in marketing at some point. 

Amazing! What would you say to a current student or graduate who wants to get into marketing? 

One of the best things about marketing is that there are so many different areas to explore. From content to social media to events, there are lots of opportunities. No marketing is the same; that’s why I decided I wanted a full-time role instead of freelancing so that I wasn’t limiting myself to certain tasks. It provides good opportunities to network, socialise and gain qualifications. It’s a great option for creatives who like teamwork and project management. 

Finally, as I ask every graduate: if you could give your first-year self any piece of advice, what would it be? 

I think I would recommend not to overcomplicate the experience. We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve and have the best time. My parents said “just try your best” and that’s something that’s stuck with me. It will be hard, but enjoy it because it will go by so quickly and then the real work begins!

I agree! Thank you so much, Zoe!

What a great story. Zoe reminds us that the university experience is not the same for everyone – some leave with lots of friends while others leave with a few, some find it more stressful than others and some might not enjoy their course of study as much as they hoped – and that’s okay. There is so much to look forward to after university; the freedom to discover more hobbies, interests and passions, the opportunity to build relationships and the possibility to gain more qualifications to name a few. As Zoe said, it goes by so quickly, so try to make the most of the experience and translate that into graduate life! 

Did you enjoy Zoe’s story? Stay tuned for more stories from fellow graduates and twenty-somethings on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Georgia Weekes

Hello and welcome to Episode 5 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay not to have your life figured out in your twenties. This episode sees me excitedly chatting with 24-year-old eDiscovery Analyst Manager (how cool does that sound?) from Bristol living in Kent, Georgia Weekes! Along with several other of my previous guests and me, Georgia graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Roehampton in 2018. She initially chose to study both English Language and Linguistics and English Literature at Roehampton but, after a few weeks, changed her mind and stuck with linguistics (I did the exact same thing when I applied for university!). Besides, as if English Language and Linguistics isn’t enough of a mouthful, Georgia rightly points out that English Language and Linguistics and Literature would’ve been too gross a mouthful! So, what does Georgia have to say about life as a student, graduate and twenty-something?

Image description: Photos of me and Georgia with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Georgia W.”

Hey, Georgia! Thank you so much for chatting with me. We also became great friends through our degree in English Language and Linguistics. As I’ve asked the others, what made you choose this course of study?

Hey Soph, thanks for having me – I’m really excited to play a part in your amazing blog!

It was on a whim, really! During my A levels, I did best in English Language, so I decided to run with it. I had no idea what career Linguistics could lead to, or even what it would entail when studied at degree level – I just wanted to do something I thought I was good at. Who could have known it would become such a great love of mine?!

That’s great! In our final year, you also founded the Roehampton Linguistics Society! What were your reasons for this and how did it enhance your university experience?

I threw myself into the studying side of university in my first two years. I was a real bookworm. Although that’s all well and good, I didn’t want to look back in years to come and realise I had missed out on the social side of university. For this reason, at the beginning of my third year, I made a conscious decision to get involved with as many societies as possible. Before long, I was talking to Mia who would become Vice President of the society – about whether she thought Roehampton would benefit from a Linguistics Society. She is the one who pushed me to start setting up the society and I’m so grateful for that. So, to answer your question, I suppose I set up the society purely for selfish reasons, to help me have the social university lifestyle I really wanted. But, in doing so, we brought together like-minded linguists, helped people to study, and created the most amazingly talented and supportive friendship group. To this day, it is my greatest achievement.

It really is a great achievement!
Then, during your degree, you became particularly interested in studying Law. I know you said you weren’t sure what career your degree could lead to, but did you consider any other career paths during?

I toyed with the idea of several different careers: journalism, speech and language therapy, accent and dialect coaching, teaching, and even doing a PhD. I’m a very indecisive person, but I’ve learnt to be okay with that. I think your twenties is exactly the time to be indecisive, explore an array of avenues, and work out what it right for you. It’s okay to not know what you want for your future.

I totally agree! What then influenced you to consider law? Are you still considering it?

In 2016, my Dad – who owns a home development business – ran into a pricing dispute with a customer which went to court. I am very supportive of my family (and I suppose a little competitive), so I got really stuck in helping my Dad put his case together. We poured hours into writing up the statement and collecting supporting documents – it was so rewarding to discover that we won. I wanted my career to be filled with that feeling over and over again.

After graduating from Roehampton, I was over the moon to receive a scholarship to study Law at the University of Law and I spent two lovely years working as a paralegal. However, law is such a demanding career, and I’m not certain that I want that level of stress in my day-to-day life. I have begun to question whether I actually want to be a lawyer, or whether I just want people to perceive me as successful. If I am to continue on my path to becoming a lawyer, I will need to do three more years of expensive studying and training before I can call myself a solicitor – it’s a very big commitment for something I am not certain about. At the moment, I guess I don’t have a definite answer for you other than “I don’t know”, “I am playing it by ear” and “I will probably blame my indecision on covid in years to come”.

Until I am ready to make that decision, I am working for a tech company reviewing documents for their compliance with the Data Protection Act, a job perfectly poised between linguistics and law. A happy medium.

What a great response! With that, what would you say to a current student or graduate who isn’t sure what career path they want to pursue?

2017 Georgia would have told you to research the hell out of prospective careers, see a careers advisor, and go to career workshops so that you can work out what’s right for you. But I did all that, and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. You are better off not forcing things and keeping an open mind. Use your time at university to enjoy yourself and build yourself as a person in every way you can. Say yes to every opportunity so that, when you do realise what career you’d like to pursue, you can shoehorn that experience into your CV with some semblance of relevance; for instance, taking part in the drama society could be used to show confidence when presenting in court.

Don’t. Panic. It’s okay to not have a plan. Some of the happiest people I know still don’t have a plan in their forties. Just be you and live in the moment. The rest will come.

I love that! Finally, if you could give your first-year self any piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t try to make everything perfect. I spent too much time in my early twenties trying to make things just right and wouldn’t want the same for anyone else. You got a grade you aren’t happy with on one assignment? You will learn from your mistakes and do better next time. You didn’t get the campus accommodation you hoped for? Don’t freak out, you will still build great relationships with your flatmates. Your dress tore on a big night out? So what, you were wearing a cute bra anyway. Learn to embrace the chaos. Trust me, it’s the secret to happiness.

And that’s how it’s done! Thank you so much, Georgia!

How great was that chat? Georgia’s story reminds us exactly of the purpose of these chats: that there are many avenues we can pursue later in life, but you don’t need to have everything figured out in your twenties. If you’re going to university, yes: choose a degree that interests you and work hard, but don’t forget to make the most of the experience by making friends, joining or creating societies and living for the moment. Whether or not you’re sure of what you want to do beyond your studies, everything will work out!

Did you enjoy Georgia’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring chats with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Georgia on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Mia Ustun

Hello and welcome to Episode 4 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay not to have your life figured out in your twenties. I am very excited to introduce my fourth guest, 23-year-old master’s student from Luton, Mia Ustun! Mia graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Roehampton in 2018 and is currently working towards her MSc in Speech and Language Therapy at City University of London. Alongside her studies, Mia works as a part-time Pharmacy Advisor, and is working towards “30 before 30”: visiting thirty different countries before turning thirty. On that note, let’s hear what Mia has to say about life as a student, graduate and twenty-something in 2020…

Image description: Photos of me and Mia with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Mia U.”

Hey, Mia! Firstly, thank you so much for chatting with me. As I’ve mentioned to you many times before, you were the first person I spoke to on our English Language and Linguistics course, and I’m so grateful we’re still friends! Why did you choose this course of study?

Hi Soph! So happy to be taking part in Little Pav’s Little Chats.

During my time in sixth form, I wanted to study Psychology further, but really didn’t want to let go of my first love: language. I racked my brain, spoke to tutors and careers advisors, searched the internet until eventually coming across Speech and Language Therapy. I knew eventually this is what I would end up doing but, at only 17, I did not feel ready to embark on this particular journey. That’s when English Language and Linguistics caught my attention. I absolutely fell in love with the course and its content and believe it prepared me perfectly for my future endeavours!

That’s lovely! And now, you’re pursuing Speech and Language Therapy through a master’s degree! How big would you say the leap is from undergraduate to postgraduate study?

I am! I started Year 2 in September ‘20. I personally think it’s completely different from my undergraduate degree. My master’s course, however, is not typical; it’s essentially a four-year undergraduate course squashed into two. I went from being at university 2-3 days a week to 3-4 days plus a placement depending on where we’re at in the term. The workload is much heavier, and the content is challenging. I think this is because we have to cover so many areas, from biomedical science to acoustic phonetics, to augmentative and alternative communication. The list goes on… and on… and on. Overall, it was – and still is – quite a leap from undergrad life.

I agree that it’s a very big leap! So, why did you choose to study for a master’s degree? Is it expected of someone interested in Speech and Language Therapy?

So, in order to be a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK, you have to obtain an SLT qualification from a recognised course. Here are the routes you can take:

a) Four-year undergraduate degree

b) Two-year postgraduate degree

I’ve heard some people speculate the possibility of an apprenticeship in the future, but this is just hearsay. The master’s degree fits nicely with my educational development and gives me another bunch of letters after my name, so why not?

That’s true! You also took a gap year between your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Was this intentional? How did you spend your gap year?

Originally, I wanted to go straight into my master’s; I even started the application processes. Unfortunately, I had a number of bereavements within my family which meant I wasn’t in the correct headspace to embark on a master’s. Every cloud has its silver lining though, and, during my year off, I was able to volunteer and get some really solid experience for my future career. I trained as a conversation partner and even managed to qualify as a Pharmacy Assistant; it’s impossible for me to stay away from education, even during a gap year.

As well as volunteering and saving up, I tried to travel as much as I possibly could. I love exploring different cities and learning about different cultures. I fell in love with Venice and cannot wait till it’s safe to travel again.

Every cloud has a silver lining indeed!
You’re currently completing your master’s degree in the midst of a pandemic. What’s the biggest challenge this has raised for you as a student in 2020?

Oh my goodness, it has been a challenge. I think the biggest challenge has to be going from travelling into City and being in lectures or placement every day, to sitting at my desk, in my house, on Zoom calls every day. Since all my family members are at work or school, it’s just me in the house. It was nice to have the quiet at first, but now I’m a bit lonely. It’s a big adjustment, but I am so grateful to be where I am today. I’ve always tried to highlight to my little sisters just how privileged we are to have such a fantastic education and just how many opportunities life will give us because of it! I guess the take home message here is: remember, in times of struggle or when faced with adversity, how blessed you are.

That’s such a sweet message to your little sisters!
To finish off, if you could give your first-year self any piece of advice, what would it be?

Live in the moment more and stop worrying about ‘what’s next’. This is something I’m still working on – but I really do try to practise it.

Soph, thank you so much for this interview!

No, thank you, Mia! Best of luck with the rest of your master’s!

How lovely! From Mia’s story, we can learn that there are so many ways you can find the right university course for you – be it through tutors, careers advisors and research – and how that course can prepare you for your desired career path. What’s more, Mia highlights that taking a gap year – intentionally or unintentionally – can offer many opportunities, from gaining work experience to travelling. So, if you are unsure what you want to do at university or how to spend your gap year, consider Mia’s footsteps!

Did you enjoy Mia’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring stories from fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Mia on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Natasha Hill

Hello and welcome to Episode 3 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay not to have your life figured out in your twenties. In this episode of Little Chats, I am very excited to chat with 23-year-old Surveyor Natasha Hill from Woking, Surrey! Natasha graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Roehampton in 2018 and an MSc in Real Estate Development from the University of Westminster in 2020 and is particularly interested in interior design. Her postgraduate degree is quite different from that of her undergraduate, so I’m most excited to hear how she pursued this route! When Natasha’s not nosing around people’s houses (as part of her profession, that is), you can find her re-watching her favourite EastEnders episodes which she has loved since it aired… well, since she was born because it aired before then! With that, let’s hear Natasha’s story…

Image description: Photos of me and Natasha with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Natasha H.”

Hey, Natasha! Thank you so much for chatting with me. Like Hannah, you and I became great friends through the completion of our English Language and Linguistics degrees. As I asked her, what made you choose this course of study?

Hey beautiful! No problem at all, I love reading your blogs, the pleasure is all mine!

I chose to study English Language and Linguistics because I thoroughly enjoyed English at school, at GCSE and at A level. I realised I loved analysing things, from literature to speech and, well, everything really! The course at Roehampton gave me the most freedom to analyse different topics in different ways, whereas most of the other courses where English is involved only really focus on creative writing, so Roey was the one for me!

That’s what I loved about Roehampton, too! When you started your degree, did you have a career path in mind?

When I started, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Different pathways became clearer later on, but in the beginning, I was so stuck on where I wanted to go. All I knew is that I wanted to do something which I enjoyed, and as far as work goes… that’s not a lot (lol)! Originally, I thought English is a good base subject that would benefit many careers. As I love organising and analysing things, I thought anything managerial would be great. As I got deeper into first year, Speech Therapy stood out the most as I really enjoyed the module Phonetics and Phonology (the study of sounds). The following year, I studied a module called Forensic Linguistics and decided I wanted to go into analysing people’s speech in law, but it turned out I wasn’t that good at that module, so I went against that… but how cool would that be?! In the last year, I took a work placement module where I took an internship at a Chartered Surveyors, mainly focusing on the social media aspects as well as writing up some of the reports from a colleague’s dictation. I was asked to stay on because it turns out I know a thing or two about buildings having been brought up with a family in construction and, bam, I have a job!

That’s amazing! So, after your undergraduate degree, you went on to do a postgraduate degree in Real Estate Development and now you’re a Surveyor, right?

Yes, so I undertook a master’s degree in Real Estate Development because, to be able to progress to a Chartered Surveyor (rather than *just* a Surveyor), I needed a degree relevant to property as well as the fact that it fast-tracks me for the professional qualification. I’m focusing on the pathway to become a Valuation Surveyor, but I also cover the work for many other things such as building surveys, planning applications and advice, party wall and building control!

Wow! So, are you enjoying your current role?

Yes, I love my job now because I am constantly analysing things. Plus, I get to nose around people’s houses which is super fun!

That does sound fun!
Do you think your undergraduate degree in English Language and Linguistics has been useful in this profession?

Yes, though it’s building related, I am still using my skillset of English Language and Linguistics because I write big reports and analyse many things including the property market, laws, documentations and how properties are made. My job is also very social which is another thing I love about it!

Yes, Linguistics really does offer so many transferrable skills!
Finally, if you could give a first-year student any piece of advice, what would it be?

Ooh… my advice for a first-year student is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, chat and meet people, go out, and don’t be afraid. I know it’s easier said than done, but everyone is in the same boat: it’s all new and a bit scary. Getting chatting to as many people as you can helps you to make friends quicker (some of which may be friends for life, eh, Soph 😉) and may provide a base of contacts which you may rely on later in life. This will help bring you some confidence, which will be really beneficial for things such as presentations in lectures and perhaps your future career!

That’s so true! Thank you, Natasha, and best of luck in your endeavours!

What a great chat! Not only does Natasha’s story illustrate that you don’t need to have a career path set in stone when you begin your studies, but also that your degree can be useful in any profession! As graduates, we’re often made to feel that we must secure a position directly related to our degrees however, the reality is that any subject can offer an array of transferrable skills – skills that might differentiate us from other candidates!

Did you enjoy Natasha’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring chats with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Natasha on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Hannah Shirley

Hello and welcome to my very first episode of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue post-graduation and, equally, that it’s okay to not have your life figured out in your twenties. I am very excited to introduce my first guest, 25-year-old graduate from a little village in Cambridgeshire, Hannah Shirley! Hannah graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Roehampton London in 2018 and is currently not only helping her dad’s company with some “super fun” running of day-to-day necessities, which she can luckily complete from home, but also working on writing her own book! One day, Hannah also hopes to visit all the Seven Wonders of the World. With that, let’s hear what Hannah has to say about her life as a student, graduate and twenty-something…

Image description: Photos of me and Hannah with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Hannah S.”

Hey, Hannah! Firstly, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me! So, you and I became great friends through the completion of our English Language and Linguistics degrees. What made you choose this course of study?

I always knew I enjoyed the history of language and I wanted to further my knowledge of how our language has changed throughout time and why.

I decided at a young age that I wanted to be a Speech and Language Therapist after seeing the amazing journey my cousin took who, being born 12 weeks premature, has severe autism and learning difficulties. Hearing him talk to me and say my name for the first time solidified my decision to bring that joy to other families.

Amazing! The history of English is really fascinating to me, too. That’s such a lovely story about your cousin; I’ll ask more about your career plans in a moment. Before that, though, what did you enjoy most about university?

Oh, god… it was so long ago… 🤔

Probably the vast topics we could choose from. I’m glad that no two modules were the same. Of course, there was overlap, but you could always expect something new which kept it exciting. I would have lost my mind if it were repetitive, every class being the same!

It does seem like a lifetime ago now!
You mentioned that you decided you wanted to become a Speech and Language Therapist from a young age after watching your cousin’s inspiring journey. Is this the career path you still have in mind after completing your degree? If so, what are your plans for pursuing this?

It’s certainly something I’m still interested in. I’ve looked into placements with speech therapy centres and the possibilities of shadowing language doctors in outpatient hospitals. Unfortunately, because of the current predicament we’re in, a lot of hospitals are reluctant to hire people, wanting to keep their places of work as safe and uncontaminated as possible. I’ve realised, though, that I don’t have to rush anything – there’s no right time to do anything – and taking a walk after uni before jumping into work isn’t a bad thing. It’s quite refreshing.

I completely agree! As you said, we’re currently living in an uncertain time. How has this impacted you as a graduate, and what would you say to those completing their degrees during a pandemic?

I think it’s impacted upon what my idea of how a graduate would be living, if that makes sense? I always assumed that, once I’d graduated, I’d be able to move into my own place, have a job in my chosen field and effectively be a ‘grown up’. But this year hasn’t been like that at all – I’m 25 and still living with my parents.

I’d tell current students that this is going to be hard. It was difficult for me and I wasn’t studying in the middle of a pandemic. It will be draining, and you’ll spend days reading and writing the same essays until all you want to do is burn them. But the outcome is amazing! The accomplishment you feel when each essay is submitted, when every piece of work or exam or presentation is over, makes it all worthwhile. Don’t push yourself to breaking point, you’re only human. Do your best and don’t turn yourself into a zombie!

There’s much more to university than just the grades. Use this opportunity to turn yourself into the best version of yourself.

That’s such great advice! Every submission really is an accomplishment.
Finally, if you could give your first-year self any piece of advice, what would it be?

GET MORE SLEEP!

Find yourself a HEALTHY routine that works well for you and remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. DO NOT compare yourself to others, you’re perfect just the way you are.

Preach! Thank you so much, Hannah, and all the best!

Wow! Hannah has certainly shared many words of wisdom there. Many students and graduates often feel burdened with the pressure to rush into work immediately after graduating, though Hannah reminds us of why that’s not necessary — especially in the current climate. We’re still young, so let’s enjoy our twenties while we can, right?

Did you enjoy Hannah’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring chats with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Hannah on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

Living at home for university? Here are some tips from a previous off-campus student

University. When you think about it, what comes to mind? Living away from home, gaining a wealth of independence and having the time of your life as that independent young adult? While that is the traditional notion, living away for university is not for everybody, even when you think it might be (I lived away during my first year and, after encountering an unfortunate experience, moved back home and continued my studies from there). That’s not to say that living away for university is a brilliant experience for many; most of my friends did and loved it. This blog is predominantly intended for prospective students who will be living at home during their university studies and are worried about “missing out” on the true university experience. From somebody who lived at home for three years (second year, third year and master’s) and enjoyed every bit of their experience as an off-campus student, here are 5 tips on how to make the most of university life whilst living at home.

1.    Make a day of your days on campus

What I mean by this is: if, for example, you have only one lecture or seminar on a Tuesday, be it in the morning, afternoon or early evening, try to make a day of it. If the lecture or seminar is in the morning, stay for some time afterwards to study in the library, explore the campus or socialise with friends; if they’re in the afternoon or evening, head to university a little earlier to grab yourself a coffee or a bite, complete some pre-lecture work or meet up with friends beforehand. Likewise, if you have several lectures and seminars in one day, like one in the morning and one in the afternoon, be sure to make the most of the time in between (without forgetting to take a break, of course). While the idea of enjoying a lie-in or leaving early from uni seems bliss (and is acceptable at times as a hard-working student), it’s important to get yourself both in the right frame of mind before entering a lecture or seminar where you’ll be listening to and absorbing a vast amount of information, and used to studying in the library where you’ll be spending a lot of your time when approaching deadlines and working on larger projects.

2.    Join or create a society

Towards the end of our second year, my friends and I collaboratively decided to create our university’s Linguistics Society. Joining or creating a society has so many benefits: if you’re simply joining one as a member, it provides a great pastime and distraction from your studies when you need it; if you’re establishing or joining one as a committee member, it provides an excellent experience to add to your CV. These were the premises to founding this society with my friends: we would all have a reason to meet up at least once a week outside of lectures and seminars as well as another role to further develop our portfolios (I held the positions of Treasurer in my third year and Social Media Manager during my master’s when my undergraduate friends were no longer with me *cries*). If you’re worried that it might take up too much time, know that you really don’t have to commit to much: my friends and I hosted a “study session” once a week where both second and third year linguistics students would gather to help each other with assignments, arranged a “film night” once a month playing a linguistic-related movie, and had the pleasure of occupying our own stall at our university’s Fresher’s Fair. I’m sure we’d all agree that these regular meetups were vital for our mental health during the completion of our degrees.

Image description: The Roehampton Linguistics Society founders after winning “Best Academic Society of The Year”!

3.    Manage a healthy study-work balance

Undoubtedly, this can take some time to figure out, and what works for somebody else might not work for you as we are all different and have our own ways of managing our time. If you have or a looking for a part-time job alongside your studies but are struggling to decipher a good study-work balance, my suggestion is this: work as little hours as possible for your employer in the beginning, then discuss the possibility of increasing your hours once you feel more comfortable and have discovered your limits. During my first and second year, I worked on a 0-hour contract as a Crew Trainer at McDonald’s where I agreed with my manager that I would work only in the holidays (Christmas, Easter and summer); during my third year, I worked on an 8-hour Saturday contract as a Sales Advisor at Dune London; and, alongside my postgraduate studies, I started on a 4-hour contract as a Sales Assistant at FatFace, which increased to 8 hours a couple of months in, then 16 hours as I was promoted to part-time Operations Supervisor once my lectures had finished and I had only my 16,000-word thesis to work on. Further, make sure your employer is fully aware of your situation; I’m not saying you need to provide a copy of your study timetable to them, but kindly remind them of important upcoming deadlines and politely decline overtime when you feel unable to handle it. If you have to book time off around deadlines as holiday, do; at the end of the day, your studies at this point in your life come first and, if your employer can’t understand that, then maybe they’re not the right employer to work for.

4.    Create a suitable workspace at home

A lot of the time, you will find yourself completing assignments from home; whether it’s the night before a deadline and you’re frantically typing away to complete it in time if you haven’t already, or it’s just a day off and you’re not required to attend university, your home will inevitably become a study place. In which case, it’s important to create a suitable workspace to complete your work. If you have a desk in your bedroom or another room in the house that is ideal for working on, be sure to make ample room on it for your laptop or desktop, books or excerpts from readings and your lecture notes (and, of course, the all-important glass of water!). If you don’t have such space accessible, or you’re like me and cannot completely concentrate or accomplish your best work from home (except for those said late nights when you’re on your laptop in bed and you absolutely have to by the following day’s deadline), why not journey to your local coffee shop with your study necessities and complete some work from there? I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent in my nearby Costas, Caffè Neros and Starbucks’ (the Wimbledon branch being my absolute fave; the atmosphere on the second floor, involving an ambient combination of grey walls, subtle lighting and individual tables accompanied by a delicious soya latte was perfect whilst completing my larger projects), as well as in my lesser-known locals.

5.    Make the most of your university’s facilities

There is so much to do on a university campus, and you certainly don’t have to live on campus to make the most of such. Spare some time to enjoy your Student’s Union; mine in particular had a food hall, its own Starbucks café and a bar, where you can enjoy both time alone for lunch or to give yourself a breather, or time with your friends to grab a bite together or enjoy regular pub quizzes. Use your university’s library; it is there for the benefit of your learning. It will have plenty of study spaces to study alone or with your friends, a plethora of books related to your course of study which your professors will more than likely recommend and direct you to, and – like mine – it will probably have a little café where you can comfortably take a quick coffee break (I realise I’ve mentioned coffee a lot in this blog; I am a tea- and hot-chocolate-lover too, I just can’t function without my coffee during the day!). Arrange meetings with your professors during their office hours; they are there to help you! And, if their office hours don’t work for you, you can always arrange another time or a phone call with them via email. Finally, embrace your campus’ surroundings. I attended Roehampton, London’s campus university, which possesses the most beautiful scenery and wildlife; it was perfect for exploring during a hard-earned break. Every now and then, take a walk around your campus and embrace the university that you chose. If it’s not a campus university, there are bound to be local parks and towns you can visit during your breaks. Especially if you’re spending an entire day at university like I said you could in the beginning, this time to embrace your university is crucial to your success and happiness there overall.

If you’re a prospective stay-at-home student and have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask below or contact me on social media or via email (you can find my contact details here). I hope these tips were helpful and I wish you the best of luck in your studies!

Love,

Little Pav ♡