Dissertation hand-in … I did it!

I did it! I’ve finished my dissertation!

dissertation - university of winchester jenna lloyd BA undergraduate modern liberal arts

 

Anyone who knows me particularly well will know that my time at university hasn’t been an easy one. From picking the wrong course to personal difficulties, I ended up on a degree program that thinks about the bigger questions. I made some great friends along the way, despite being a commuter and sometimes missing out on events. I have grown as a person and learnt important lessons about self care, tolerance and hard work.

 

Most importantly, I have learnt to believe in myself and that I can do something if I set my mind to it.

I wrote a dissertation examining the self/other relationship of modern feminism, exploring intersectional and queer theories and suggesting a situation not dissimilar to the dialectic of enlightenment in Adorno and Horkheimer. Through reading Hegel (and critiques by my professor as well as his no. 1 fan, Gillian Rose) I began to wonder if equality and the freedom that it promises can hold any truth. I’m still not sure what I concluded, only now I think that a key component of mutuality is difficulty. In other words, we struggle to see the other as their own entity, even when they present themselves as a subject. Also, feminism shouldn’t revert to mastery and barbarism, it should be reflective and aware of contradictions as and when they present themselves (white, bourgeois feminism etc)…

The deadline day

Yesterday I had a meal and drinks with my course mates and my tutors. It was emotional as we played games, told stories and laughed a lot. Now comes the time to close the chapter of my life that was BA Modern Liberal Arts. I’ll be pretty emotional about leaving it all behind but I know that the way I’ve been encouraged to think won’t ever leave me, and that’s okay… Although I’ll still roll my eyes when anyone asks me to explain what ‘liberal arts’ actually means or what we did.

What’s next you ask?

Well I’ll graduate in October and I’ll post all about that, don’t you worry. As for now, I’m on the lookout for a job where I can help a brand that I believe in to blossom through creating engaging and interesting content. Ideally I want to write like I do here, but I’d just be happy to do something social or events based. The blogging will continue regardless and I will of course keep you guys posted as to what the future holds.

 

More photos of the hand-in day with the delightful Cami will be up at some point.

Cross your fingers for me guys…

Jenna
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If you liked this post, you should check out:
Where have I been?! – I talk about why I took a blog hiatus
where will we go on holiday in 2016? – my wishlist of holiday destinations for this year
Mental Health and University – some important advice about looking after your mental health while at uni

 

Mental Health and University

I’m in my final year of my Modern Liberal Arts Undergraduate degree at the University of Winchester and there’s something really bittersweet about this point in my life.

In the one sense, there’s an overwhelming feeling of fear and dread, not only about the final assignments and my dissertation but there’s the added pressure to find and hold down a job once I leave. Another part of me is incredibly excited about moving on in my life, taking that first step into a career that I’ve been working so hard towards and having something great to show for the past few years of dedication. There is however also a small part of me that doesn’t want to leave uni, not just because I’m so used to being there or doing the work but because it has been a really great experience that I don’t want to end.

 

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Me after completing my third first year… Beating it for good.

 

Despite having a tough start, I’ve met some great friends, heard from inspirational people and expanded my learning beyond where I ever thought I could. I’ve been encouraged and criticised… I’ve felt enthusiastic and completely uninterested… I’ve felt empowered and lost.
It’s been quite a journey.

But this post isn’t about my mental health in particular, this is where I’m going to share some of the things I’ve picked up on throughout my time at uni and useful advice about wellbeing I’ve picked up along the way.

 

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Noone knows what they want to do

Back in 2011, I did a first year of a course that just wasn’t me. It was a course that I was steered towards in sixth form when I didn’t get the grades to study medicine and I realised once I was on a placement that I wasn’t able to do that kind of work. I’m okay with admitting that now but I don’t regret that year because I wouldn’t have known had I not given it a go.

If you find yourself in a course or even a line of work where you feel its best to leave, listen to your heart and don’t let anyone else coerce you into staying. Don’t beat yourself up or think that you ‘wasted your time’ because it was an experience even if its over now. See it as an opportunity to start something new!

I read a fantastic piece by Holly Palmer over on Zusterschap the other day about this very thing, which I encourage you to go and read next.

 

It’s okay to ‘fail’

Before I got to uni, I was a complete nerd and spent a lot of time doing extra work and revising and things. I wasn’t a straight-A student but I got pretty good grades and even in college, I never really felt like I’d failed. That might seem like a good thing but it wasn’t. I wasn’t at all prepared when I got my first ‘fail’ or when a result was a lot lower than I had been previously accustomed to. Failing once prepares you for when it inevitably happens again and usually then you won’t be quite so hard on yourself the second time around.

It’s important to remember that uni is a much higher level of study than where you were before. It’s supposed to be challenging! If you get a result that you’re not happy with, stop and think why you aren’t and book a meeting with the lecturer or your personal tutor to discuss where you went wrong if possible.
You can turn ‘failing’ into a positive thing.

 

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Some people are arseholes

It sounds like a stupid thing to put in a mental health post but I’ve received a lot of stick at uni in the form of sex-shaming, ableism and even threatening behaviour. Not everyone will experience these things and I sincerely hope that you don’t but if you do, I want to tell you that it’s not your fault.

Because there are so many people from different backgrounds with different personalities and beliefs in a university environment, some people will inevitably clash. This can result in some pretty hefty debates and eyerolling a plenty – you can’t get on with everyone! This however isn’t an excuse for anyone to treat you unfairly or put you in any kind of danger and there are people responsible for helping if that does happen. You will have pastoral care (including counselling) available through your Student Services and you should have a representative for student welfare too.

 

Take care of yourself above all

Self care is always a worthwhile practice and you shouldn’t let anyone make you feel bad for it. Self care is anything that makes you feel good and I wrote more about that in detail here. Whilst your workload is piling up and you’ve probably got more responsibilities than before, you need to take some time for yourself and pay attention to your thoughts and your body.

Physically, plenty of sleep and good food are good and putting crap into your body (including booze or drugs of any kind) is of course bad. Mentally, you need to make your task lists manageable and you need time away from your work. If you need help or support, you should be able to find it even if its just a chat over a cuppa with a kind housemate!

 

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How cute was my uni room? (It never stayed this tidy)

Living with other people is tough

I was really lucky in that I got on with my housemates in halls however I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about others who didn’t. Sharing your living environment is always going to be difficult if the other person doesn’t quite do things the way that you do. Some common sources of conflict in shared accommodation are: the washing up, ‘borrowing’ bits of food, bathroom hygiene and unwanted noise.

My main advice when these situations do arise is to keep your cool. If you’ve got an early lecture and your housemates are being going out that night, have a word beforehand and kindly ask that they try and keep the noise down when they stumble in. If someone’s left their dirty pans in the way and you want to prepare food, send them a quick text and see when they’re back and if they wouldn’t mind clearing up. Obviously this is all easier said than done and if its the umpteenth time you’ve had to mention it, you’re probably close to screaming and stamping your feet just to get your message across but you don’t want that kind of tension when you’ve got to live with this person.

I will reiterate that if someone is making your living space dangerous or is acting in an improper manner towards you, you have every right to get the housing services and/or student representatives involved.
Those things require more than a quick chat.

 

Asking for help is vital

University might be challenging but that doesn’t mean that you have to go it alone. While your family and friends might have spouted on about you being ‘grown up’ and ‘independent’ now, they should still very much be there if you need to say that you’re having a tough time. Skype/Facetime/Facebook Calls are great ways to schedule much needed chats with loved ones or to ping a quick message and get some advice.

As I’ve said there are also people on campus and in halls who can be a listening ear or offer some guidance for problems you might be having. You might think that you’ve got to be stoic and suffer alone but there’s people out there so that you don’t have to!

 

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University above all should be a fun and enriching experience that sets you on the road to something new in your life.

You will meet and hear from so many different people and thinkers that you’re never quite the same once you leave, regardless of if you stay in a course or go on to do something else.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is that when things are difficult, you’re not alone.

Did you go to university/college?
Do you have any mental health advice for those thinking about going?

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below.
Jenna
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If you liked this post, you should check out:
you just keep doing other people – guest post by Camilla Hennessy Jackson – sex and feminist silliness
why selfies are inherently feminist – Self love in the form of selfies?
guest post by Ashleigh of Not A Typical Teenager – Ashleigh shared her tips for being good to yourself at school
self care (and why no one should make you feel bad about it) – I talk about the importance of self care

how to: commute to uni

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I have been commuting to uni in Winchester for three years now and I can tell you now, it isn’t the easiest option. Whether it’s the packed train carriages, buses running late, difficult weather or simply having to carry so much stuff, commutes are most definitely not glamorous.

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I chose to commute for a few reasons. Firstly, I had already had the halls experience living away from home at a different university. I’m not knocking it because I met some great people, it was good fun and I learnt a lot about living independently. What I will say is that as someone a couple of years older, I didn’t fancy going full ‘Fresher’ again and when I considered living with strangers and high accommodation costs vs the familiarity of my hometown with everyone I know and love, Bournemouth won out. These are the kind of choices that only you can make though, so don’t take mine or any other people’s stories to mean that’s what’s best or will work for you.

Before you leave…

1) If you have time, prepare food & drink to take with you.

I cannot stress this enough. Unless you work in a job where your food and drink can be claimed back on expenses, it makes so much sense to bring your own food and drink on your commute. Not only do you save money but you know exactly what went into the food you’re eating and it’s been freshly prepared! A flask is a great idea to bring a hot drink in the morning or maybe soup or noodles or something hot to eat? I always have a bottle of water on me too – I strongly object to paying for water when I’m out and about!

2) Make sure you know where your stops are.

This one’s easy for me because I’ve been commuting to the same place for three years but always make sure that you know where your stops are in relation to where you’re going. It’s also a good idea to know what time you should arrive at each stop.

3) Charge any electronic devices.

To save panic in the morning and to avoid having to take lots of chargers en route with me, I put my phone and my iPod on charge when I go to bed that night. You can’t guarantee that your train will have an available charging point and you don’t want to get caught out. 

4) Pre-pack what you can!

Because I have the same timetable every week, I know what texts, books and supplies I need in my bag and I put them in ready the night before. I also throw in essentials like my diary, pencilcase, lip balm, purse and my keys because I won’t be using them before I go!

Optional: minimal make-up kit
I separate my make-up into two bags the night before. One with all my stuff that I might want on before I leave the house (brows, mascara, liner) and the other with the stuff that I can do on the train or later in the day if necessary (foundation, concealer, eye shadows, lip products). Then in the morning I throw my minimals into the bag with my optionals and take the bag with me to uni.

When you travel…

I think if it works out as cost effective to drive there and you prefer your own company/singing out loud embarrassingly then driving could be right for your commute. However, I’ve never passed my driving test -I can’t actually remember the last time I had a lesson! I have to take public transport to uni and because of this, I’ve learnt a few things about travelling round here.

1) Always be at a bus stop early.
Buses are unreliable. Bus drivers are also unreliable. I have known buses to drive past people for ‘not signalling clearly enough’ or because they can’t fit them on but at least if you’re there, it’s not your fault that you didn’t get that bus. I have also known drivers to go past smaller stops before they’re scheduled to be there because no one’s there so it pays to be early.

2) Try and have less than a £10 note for your fare.
Drivers are not keen on taking notes for a couple quid fare, especially early in the morning when they haven’t got notes to give you back. Some can be quite pleasant about the situation but generally, you’ll get a shitty look for trying to pay with a tenner or more.

3) Check if you’re eligible for a Railcard/Coachcard/bus pass.
There are plenty of groups of people eligible for travel concessions, some of the passes are free, others you pay for but you make money back from your fares very quickly! I have a 16-25 Railcard but partners, mature students, families, seniors and persons living with disability are all eligible for their own ones too! National Express offer similar deals with their Coachcards and your local buses will run their own concessionary schemes. It’s worth looking in to.

4) Don’t buy your train/coach tickets at the station!
This one is a serious no-no. I have got Advance tickets before that have saved me up to 75% off the price at the station on the day. Advance booking is relatively simple to do with websites like National Express, The Train Line, Red Spotted Hanky etc and you’ll be sent a number with which you can collect your tickets on the day (or before if you want to be prepared!)

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Once you’re there…


1) Find the cheapest/easiest way to get to your destination.
Unless it will be difficult for you to get there otherwise, I would advise you don’t get a taxi to your destination. Especially not in an unfamiliar area where someone could divert the journey to extort you. I realised very quickly that the walk to uni from the train station wasn’t too difficult for me to do and only took fifteen minutes. If the cheapest route isn’t the easiest for you, then that’s okay. If you just fancy being lazy occasionally too, that’s also okay. Just be aware of unnecessary transport costs and check your distances!

2) Don’t rush.
Even if you’ve had countless delays, cancellations and you’re stuck in a queue that feels eternal, there’s no use rushing or stressing yourself out about travelling because it’s not something you can control. As long as you apologise if you’re running late and you don’t disrupt the activity too much, people will understand that the gods were against your journey today.

3) Do something to get you settled before you begin your activity.
If you have been lucky enough for everything to go according to schedule and you arrive on time, do something nice and relaxing before you have to begin the day’s work. Maybe catch up with a friend or colleague? Read something interesting? Get a nice drink? You’ve done the hardest bit which was getting up and getting here so have some down time before your activities for the day commence.

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What are your top travelling tips?
Do you commute?

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below!

Jenna
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