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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IT’S CHRISTMAS! But is everyone that excited?

It is approaching that time of year again when all you see in the shops in mince pies and tinsel. All anyone at university is talking about is Secret Santa and house Christmas dinners. Your bank accounts are slowly but surely emptying with all the present buying and Christmas meal attending. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, what could be better?

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3 tips to have a more enjoyable PhD experience


Doing a PhD has been one of the best experiences of my life, and not only because of my research (Design of Soft Robotic Implants for Tissue Regeneration. Amazing, huh?). It is because the whole experience involves meeting new people, going new places and learning many different things. It took me one year to finally decide to start this new endeavour. What helped me to take the final decision? The support of my family and friends. Now that you have taken the decision of starting this new life project, I want to be that friend for you and let you know my top three tips for when you come to study your PhD at The University of Sheffield.

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Welcome to burlesque

Since I was 10 years old, I have wanted to be a rock star. Specifically, I want to be Billie Joe Armstrong, the frontman of my all-time favourite band, Green Day. His stage presence is unrivalled, and he uses his platform for good; singing about corrupt politicians, the state of the world today, and good old-fashioned teenage angst. I even started wearing my eye-liner like him and honestly, I still think of him every morning when I coat my eyes in smoky black. I desperately wanted to perform on a stage like he did and get lost in the music that made me feel so much emotion, but for years I was hampered by my own anxiety and lack of any sort of musical talent.

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The Bolehills Roly-Poly

Besides being my favourite park in Sheffield, Bolehills was made for Roly-Polies. The increasing gradient of the slope that encases the children’s playground was designed for them. Laying on your side: your eyes gorging on the panorama of reservoirs, peaks and forests; your nose grazing on the post-rain smell of petrichor, it only takes a little push, and suddenly the sky and earth become a wheeling blur around you, your pulse quickens, until suddenly: gasps and chuckles competing in your throat, you find yourself spread-eagled on the ground, waiting for the spiralling earth and sky to disentangle themselves for long enough for you to stagger up the slope and repeat the entire dizzying process.

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Self-care tips

Self-care is incredibly important, especially at this time of year when exams and deadlines are looming.

But self-care is often used as a hackneyed buzzword for things like ‘taking a bath’ or ‘having a pamper evening.’

So here are a few practical tips and tricks on how to look after yourself properly when things get too much. Continue reading

Dealing with grief whilst at university

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be extremely hard, regardless of how old you are or your situation. But losing a loved one whilst at university can be particularly tricky; you are away from home and your family, you don’t necessarily have a strict routine to keep yourself busy, and you have numerous essays/exams/seminars to prepare for. Grieving isn’t a strict uniformed process, it is different for everyone and there is no correct way to grieve.

However, there are lots of resources out there to help you deal with your loss: Continue reading

Thriving, percentage-free

It is safe to say that over the Christmas period, my mental health was a state. I fixated all my energy on surviving from one exam to the next, which meant that I started forgetting crucial details. I turned up to my French speaking exam only having prepared half of the content, meaning I had to improvise the presentation. I lost my parents’ house keys. I lost my friend’s house keys. I dropped my phone down the library stairs. I left my laptop in the disabled toilets. I only discovered, after half an hour of frantic searching, that I had left my house keys in the lock of my brand-new bike, and they had been hanging there, untouched, for an entire day. I somehow canon-balled through all of my exams, essays and presentations, but in the recovery period that followed, one thing was certain: something had to change. Continue reading