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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The thing nobody told me about moving to University

I’d read a million blog posts about moving to University, packed all of my things, and bought the recommended door-stop which would help you make friends (although living in the end room made my open door pointless). I thought that I had prepared myself as fully as a person could, which is was I was surprised when the homesickness hit me. Spoiler alert: I may or may have not cried into a cocktail. I love my family, and I was prepared for the tears I had to blink back when they left for the long drive home. I wasn’t expecting the feeling to return the next day.

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Adulting: the balancing act

University is a whole new ballgame which requires any new player to learn the rules. However, there are no written rules and it’s all trial and error. I mean, what’s the fun in rules anyway? Well, let me tell you what isn’t very fun for most people – adulting. Obviously, not everyone will have the same experience and will have different living situations, but people living whether a two-hour train ride or a 12-hour plane ride away from home will know what I mean. From my experience so far, living alone is the never-ending balancing act between adulting and university work.

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Top 5 tips for international postgraduate students: make the most out of your time at university

I came to Sheffield from Malaysia in 2012 as an international student, studying LLB Law. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2015. I then decided after three years of employment (also here in Sheffield), that Sheffield is the city I would like to do my Masters too (that proves to you how much I love Sheffield!) In comparison to most international postgraduate students who only just started their first year in Sheffield, I’m in a better position as I have already known the city inside-out as well as university life.

A lot of international postgraduate students found it difficult to make the most out of their time at university as postgraduate course could be really intense, and usually by the time they start to get a grip on everything, it’s time for them to say goodbye. So as someone who has been here long enough, here are my top 5 tips to make the most out of your time at university:

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A week of Residence Life

Residence Life. It’s a concept every University of Sheffield student is familiar with. And if you’re not? Then shame on you for neglecting the brochure you were given the day you moved into halls. Residence Life allows university students to attend sport sessions and activities for free. This privilege, however, is only valid for your first year of uni of which I realised until it was almost too late.

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3 tips to have a more enjoyable PhD experience

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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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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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