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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March 2005, 11:52 GMT
Freshers - another term over
The second term of the university year is coming to an end.

The BBC News website's first-year students keep us updated on their progress.

Money, exams, pregnancy: life is anything but boring. But will it get to be too much?

Compiled by Justin Parkinson.

Edward Guerra, teaching, Glasgow University

Edward Guerra

This term has flown by for me. Due to the structure of the course - lectures followed by a block placement - it can at times seem quite lonely (perhaps it's just seasonal affective disorder).

I'm in my second placement at a school in south Lanarkshire. The contrasts with my first placement struck me quite hard for the first couple of weeks. There appeared to be quite a different mind-set among both the staff and students which required me to behave differently.

Finance issues still dominate my life (it's still quite funny to see the pupils' faces when they realise that we're not paid during teaching practice), but I just think that I've only got a few months to go.

In fact, the other day at my local supermarket the Big Issue seller gave me a copy for free and refused any payment as he'd worked out that he was more than 8,000 a year better off than me.

I couldn't even take my dog to the Blue Cross as I don't claim benefits.

Surely there must be a better way of supporting the future of this country during their training?

Anyway, Easter is almost upon us so it's back to truck driving, marking tests and writing essays that should've been done months ago.

Ceri Herbert, electronic engineering, Imperial College London

Ceri Herbert

Things have been really hectic this term at Imperial. Towards the end of term there've been hundreds of deadlines to meet, apparently towards the greater good of the degree. But it's been such a burden on the old social life.

I've had another whale of a time this term. I've not been on as many big nights out to clubs as last term, but have somehow spent lots more money and had to be bailed out more than once by my parents. So I'm guessing I had lots of fun.

It's been really nice spending lots of bonding time with my friends this term. I know everyone better now and it feels like they've been my friends for a lot longer than a couple of months.

Thankfully, there's much less 'fresher's conversation' going on (name, location, course, hobbies etc - yawn, yawn) because everyone more or less knows everyone now, which is really nice.

The big consideration this term has been housing for next year (while my academic situation does not even permit me the definite reassurance of a 'next year', it's still fun to make plans about where I'm going to live and with whom).

I'm moving in with three really fantastic girls, some of my best friends here. We haven't found anywhere yet because London's notoriously difficult to find private accommodation, but next term we'll definitely start looking for our 'Lambrini Castle', somewhere preferably with a garden for barbecue parties, although I'm pretty sure the rent will be huge.

The starting rent for anywhere decent near here is 120 a week.

Most British students have gone home for the holidays but I've decided to stay in halls to get some work done for the exams. My situation is pretty undesirable: a whole year's work to catch up on in six weeks.

But I guess the only thing I can do now is just try. Wish me luck.

The 24-hour library is open and I've found a lovely desk in the corner, just waiting to be my base for the next month or so.

Tim Jarvis, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Cambridge University

Tim Jarvis
Where have the last eight weeks gone? This term has flown by and all I seem to have to show for it is an assortment of good memories and six bulging folders full of lecture notes.

It has been markedly different from last term.

Whereas in the former it was essential to get to know the people, the college, and the degree course, this term has been more muted owing to the necessity - brought about by imminent exams - to do serious amounts of hard work.

For my own part, I traded in rowing (6am wet outings five times a week and a multitude of races that eat up entire Saturdays) for the gym and have much more actively made progress on my gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, completing a first aid course and expedition training.

With the Cambridge Union attracting great names such as Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (the Secretary General of Nato), Tam Dalyell MP, Elaine Paige and Quentin Blake (on top of speeches given weekly by individuals as distinguished as Archbishop Rowan Williams and Anne Widdecombe MP) and my regular chess and table tennis league matches taking up whole evenings, it is hardly surprising that my family worry that I sleep too little.

Sleep deprivation, I fear, will only get worse next term, when exams dominate not just my psyche but everyone's.

On that note it is easy to see why three-quarters of my vacation will be spent working. That is both on academic work in advance of prelim exams and paid employment to cover my 200 May Ball tickets - the greatest extravagance I shall probably ever afford.

But, as the holidays begin, with a bit of luck, I'll manage more than six hours' sleep.

Gawain Williams, history and politics, Essex University

Gawain Williams
One thing about Essex: it rocks, but man it's emotional.

This term has been a little daunting, finding a home for next year just isn't cool. Deciding on what friends you like best so you know who to live with is never right.

Combined with how much I can afford in rent and how will I pay bills, it's just not good. I don't wanna get old an have to pay more to live.

But finding a flat does mean that I will soon be completely independent. Yeah, independent to pay large deposits and bills.

Even the great social life is beginning to show a black lash. Meeting so many people means that I know hardly anyone's name. Nearly everyone I talk with I call 'dude' or 'mate', and it's too late to ask people what their names are. Damn my socialising.

Despite these woes, there is much good from this term of fear. I looked back at my notes and I realised that most of my work doesn't actually tell me anything, except that I take really bad notes.

This, combined with exams looming at the end of the year, can put the fear in me and now I work like a proper student.

But in the face of this need to labour hard, I found time to simply ROCK, because, without the 'right rock 'n' roll' of university life, I might as well be do some home Open University course, and that just ain't cool. So my message is a simple one: party hard, pray harder, then do a bit of work and all will hopefully be fine.

Arabella Penwarden, nursing, Plymouth University

Arabella Penwarden

Well, the baby is due some time this week and I have finished my first clinical placement and two modules (and feel exhausted).

We are back in lectures now and have been comparing notes on our respective placements. I had a wonderful time on a surgical ward, where everyone was very welcoming and really made me feel part of the team.

Placement definitely seems to be the best part of our training so far. The course in general feels really inadequate for preparing us to qualify and is crammed full of quasi-academic lectures that don't give enough time or attention to proper subjects like biology, which is actually extremely well taught at our campus.

This concentration on tangential subjects is extremely frustrating, as students tend to get a lot of flack for the inadequacies of the course, when in fact we have no control over it.

Lots of us would like to see a return to the old style of training when you were actually employed and counted within the numbers.

At the moment I just don't think the training is stringent or good enough.

I'm hurriedly trying to finish essays and required study for my next two modules before the baby comes - I have just been informed by the university that they will withdraw my bursary if I take several weeks off after the birth, as was originally planned, despite assurances to the contrary four months ago.

Oh well, whatever I'm lacking in support, life is definitely making up for in general interest.

Pete Broadhurst, history, Newman College

Pete Broadhurst

It seems weird sitting to reflect over the last few months just how much has happened. I've been back to my old job, I got a new car, my mate had a son (welcome to the world, Reece) and then there's uni.

I went back to my old job part-time at the start of the year for a few weeks. While the money was nice, I'm so glad I'm not back full-time. It made me appreciate how lucky I am to have left and how much happier I am.

So a message to all those who want to change and are willing to put the effort in: go do it.

I've learnt so much in the last few months it's unbelievable and Newman have us giving loads of presentations so we get to share our thoughts and what we've learnt with the rest of our class.

They've all been great fun but hard work. The essays all got done with lots of blood, sweat, tears and reading and I passed. Just have to read a little more and get the marks up next year.

The sun's shining and I want to start Easter with some relaxation.

Lauren Cragg, sports science, Leeds University

Lauren Cragg

I had to drop out of university, as I wanted to change my course.

I'm going back to Leeds in September to do chemistry.

Freshers - the year begins
05 Oct 04 |  Education


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