The agony of choice: how to choose an essay (or dissertation) topic

Another semester has begun and with a new set of (hopefully interesting) classes returns a form of assessment that is loved by some and hated by others – essays. Personally, I appreciate the occasional essay as a welcome change and a more creative form of assessment. However, especially in postgraduate study, there are times when you suddenly find yourself buried under essay deadlines and faced with reading lists long enough to last you for at least a couple of years. But before you can even start to think about how to squeeze extra readings for essays and dissertations in your already packed timetable, there can be another hurdle that needs to be overcome: The agony of choice. Continue reading

How to fight your inner Grinch: spending the Christmas season away from home

It’s that time of the year again. Chocolate Santas and gingerbread men have taken over the supermarkets and a never-ending playlist of Christmas songs encourages you to buy some more mince pies than you really need. Christmas has always been my favourite holiday, I’m one of those annoying people who starts singing Christmas songs in mid-summer, but being a university student can affect your Christmas spirit quite a bit. Between essay deadlines and exam revision, Christmas can actually come as a real surprise. Suddenly, the holidays are there, you find yourself sitting beneath a marvellously decorated tree, thinking about your upcoming exams, and being more of a Grinch than one of Santa’s joyful elfs. I’m in my fifth year of university and have spent Christmas time in three different countries during that period. Over the years, I’ve developed my own strategy to make Christmas season away from home a cheerful experience and I thought I’d share some of it with you guys.

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My history of settling into new places all around the world

Settling in a new place can be a daunting experience indeed, especially when you’re facing this prospect for the first time. Trust me – I know what I’m talking about. Raised in an average German city as the only child of loving parents, the event of my graduation from secondary school and my thus forthcoming departure from the life I knew so far gave me more than just one restless night. Not only did I have no idea what to expect from the coming months, but I also enrolled at a university that happened to be situated at the opposite side of the country. I was leaving my family, friends and even my beloved guitar behind, which had accompanied me for the best part of my life. I was frightened of pretty much everything from bureaucratic duties to how I would perform in class.

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