All Change

All Change

In the past few weeks I’ve had to change my class timetable several times, so the post I previously wrote about classes is now pretty much null and void. One of the changes I had expected; Creative Writing Dissertation is for 4th years or 3rd years doing a general humanities degree. Since I am neither it means that I don’t need to take it this year. The good news is that I don’t need to resubmit a portfolio next year; I just need to email to say I’m still interested. While I was looking forward to it, I have to admit I am a little glad of the delay. The last year has been very difficult and while I’ve been planning my novel out in my head, I’ve not actually touched it for months. So a year of getting involved with it again will really help :)

The other change is that I am no longer taking comparative literature courses. I received a very unprofessional and condescending email from one of the senior lecturers. There was a specific bit where my disabilities were mentioned and that is all I am saying. I felt extremely uncomfortable after this and have therefore chosen not to take the courses. I’m disappointed because I was looking forward to them, but the bad outweighed the good. It has actually worked out in my favour because it meant I was taking an extra course due to the weird 20 credits for comparative literature modules, where as english literature ones are 30 credits. That means two courses per semester, where as with the comparative literature I was doing 3-4 – the comparative literature ones lasted 2 semesters. Each english lit course is just one semester. It likewise has given me a much nicer timetable; I’m off both wednesday and thursday, with one 10am lecture on fridays.

So what am I actually taking now? I’m still taking Victorian Literature. This term it is accompanied by Medieval English Literature:

On this course Honours students will have the opportunity to explore texts from the period of Chaucer’s lifetime, when English literature exploded into life. The texts selected will be contextualised within the fourteenth-century cultures and societies within which they were produced and received. Themes and theories covered will be based on topics such as authorship, patronage, sexuality, gender, piety, personal identity, historicism, legend, medievalism, audience, manuscript production. At the end of the course, assessment will give students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability (1) to translate and comment on select passages of late medieval literary texts; (2) to discuss and locate select texts within the culture, society and linguistic and literary milieux in which they were produced; (3) to discuss the approaches and techniques available to and used by critics and commentators in the interpretation of these texts.

 

For those of you who don’t know; I did my history of art dissertation on manuscripts. Apocalyptic manuscripts to be precise. I also really enjoyed a manuscript based course I did in third year, so this is essentially looking at manuscripts from the opposite side; literature rather than art. I also took a previous medieval studies course during the same degree, so I figured this would be building up on knowledge I already have.

In term 2 I still have Humanities in the classroom, and now also Modern Literature 1945 to Present.

This course offers an opportunity to study the key writers, genres and movements of the immediate post-WWII period through to the contemporary moment. Through an extremely varied programme of lectures and seminars, students are introduced to a range of literary texts (poetry, drama, novels and graphic novels), placed in relevant historical and cultural contexts and critical debates. Students will be encouraged to read widely in order to understand the diversity and innovation that characterizes contemporary writing. Lectures will address the impact of a range of important cultural and political concerns (e.g. war, racial and ethnic diversity, national identities, changing attitudes to sex and sexuality, ecological crisis) as well as changes (and continuities) in the forms and genres through which writers have engaged with these issues.

I like my literature the opposite way to my art; I prefer modern literature, especially this time period. Plus getting to study Angela Carter, Neil Gaimen and graphic novels is just awesome.

The class changes are not the only changes. For the past month and a bit I have been working at my university as a part of the enrolment and registration support team. And as of today, that job is officially over :( I really enjoyed the job and met some amazing people who I intend to stay in contact with. It just feels so weird now that it is over!

I also had my assessment with the private physio and wow, just wow. I don’t remember ever not feeling some sort of pain or discomfort, and she did some nerve work on my arm/shoulder/neck where there is pressure on the nerve. I felt pain free for a while and it was blissful. She was lovely, so understanding and not at all judgemental. So I’m just starting a new period in my life; she’s the first person in 8 years to actually help me battle against my hypermobility syndrome. I have my first proper appointment on monday, and I just hope I can go. All that time around freshers has inevitably given me Freshers Flu. I’m due a new flu vaccine and it only covers the most popular forms of flu, so this one has managed to slip in under the radar and I feel terrible.

 

Advice for new students to the University of Glasgow

Advice for new students to the University of Glasgow

The idea for this blog post came about after talking about safety with Jen. There are some aspects of student life I have no experience with (i.e. halls/student accommodation), but there’s also a lot I do have. Some of this post will be useful for all students and some will be tailored to those taking literature courses. If you have any questions feel free to comment or ask me a question on tumblr.

A few key terms

To start us off there are a few key terms that you will hear throughout your time at Glasgow University.

GU – Glasgow University.

GUU – Glasgow University Union, one of the two university unions (more later).

QMU – The Queen Margaret Union, the other university union and also known as ‘The QM’.

UG – Undergraduate; if this is your first degree/first time at university this is probably you.

PG – Postgraduate are students who have completed an undergraduate degree and have therefore graduated.

GUID – This is your student number, also referred to as a matriculation number. This number doubles as your username for logging into any of the university computers and services. If you forget it, don’t worry because it is printed on your student id as well :) To log into any computer or web services you need to put your student number and last initial – i.e. Sally Smith’s GUID would be 5566777S.

Seminar/Tutorial – Tutorials/seminars are classes you take alongside your lectures and follow the more standard ‘class’ setting you’ve had at school. Depending on your degree you may have labs instead of tutorials. Both the names are used by different staff and departments, but a tutorial and a seminar are usually the same thing.

 

Information & useful websites

At the University of Glasgow (also referred to as Glasgow Uni) there are a couple of key websites that will make your life a lot easier. First up is your student center which you can access through this website (it requires a working GUID). If you’re already registered and enrolled for classed you’ll probably already be familar with your student center. It is the place where you can enrol in classes, view your grades, pay fees, and also houses all of your personal details.

Next up is Moodle 2. Moodle 2 has a very funky long winded title and explanation, but the majority of the times you will just hear it called Moodle 2. New students are generally told about it in their induction sessions at the beginning of term. If you want to get a head of the crowd and want to hunt d0wn reading lists, you can access it at http://moodle2.gla.ac.uk/. Moodle 2 is the online center for course information, lecture hand outs/slides – anything to do with your classes.

Need to set internet up on your laptop or mobile phone? No problem. You can find this out and other technical information at the IT Helpdesk website. There are also print out setup details for using the wireless internet and printing available outside the IT Helpdesk on level 3 of the library. There are also student mobile apps available, including a timetable and room locator which is brand new this year. You can find these here: http://www.gla.ac.uk/apps/

The library website. Need I say more?

The Student Representative Council, fondly known as the SRC, is pretty much what it sounds like; a council of students. They are here to help every student and are your representatives if you have any problems. They are always fighting to help students and their website is armed to the teeth with useful information. Definetly check it out, especially the advice section as it covers a bunch of stuff that new students need to know such as council tax, academic appeals, accommodation and much more. Don’t be afraid to go see them or get in contact with them; they are friendly and extremely helpful :) More importantly they genuinely care about each individual student’s case.

Lastly, there is an online help center where you can log support calls for help. If you’re a new or returning student, this is a very handy website to remember. It is located here and it means you can sort out any problems without visiting the campus. So if you’re at home for the summer, or you’re an international student not coming to Glasgow until the start of term, you can get quick and efficient help from where you are. Just remember if you do log a support call give as much information as possible, including course names and course codes or screen shots of errors. This helps your problem get sorted quicker!

 

The Campus

We are blessed with a gorgeous campus with loads of facilities and even our own Howarts (yep, that’s right, the Main Building was J K Rowling’s inspiration for Hogwarts) – but it is very confusing. Don’t let this put you off Glasgow Uni; all campuses are the same and we’re fortunate enough to have one of the most beautiful ones. If you’re a new student you’re most likely going to be on campus for Freshers week (see here for more info) and I really advise taking the time to explore the campus. There will be loads of student helpers around (decked in brightly coloured shirts and high-vis vests) so if you get lost just ask. You’ll generally find that most students are friendly and have been in your position, so don’t be afraid to politely ask someone for directions. We’ve all been there ;)

I really recommend printing off a copy of the university campus map (the pdf is here) or taking the one you got with your information booklet. Even now in third year I still carry it with me, and have a pre-term date with my best friend to find out where our classes are. They change every year and I don’t think even the staff know every inch of the campus :P If you’re worried about getting between classes take the time to route your journey before classes start. Each class is supposed to finish at 55 minutes past the hour and start 5 minutes past; however, it isn’t uncommon for lecturers to run over time. If you have to make a mad dash between classes make sure you’re sitting close to the stairs and leave 5 minutes early. The lecturers are not going to be offended, if you’re worried that they may be, speak to them before they begin and just explain.

As mentioned in the key terms the University has two unions; the Queen Margaret (QM) and the Glasgow University Union (GU). In general terms you will find the geeks, nerds, gamers, roleplayers, punk/metal/rock fans at the QM. The GUU tends to appeal more to the opposite type of crowd. That’s not to say these guidelines are specific or requirements of either Union, that is just how it tends to work out. For example, the QM is where the GUGs (Glasgow University Gaming Society) have their weekly events/meetings.

 

We’re no longer in Kansas Toto

University is not high school – it seems obvious right? Wrong. The biggest bit of advice I can give to new students is that everything is now your responsibility. You need to locate your classes, you need to have your reading/tutorial work prepared and yes; you will be expected to do an oral presentation. Don’t expect your tutors or lecturers to spoon feed you. If you don’t understand something ASK. Your tutors are usually Post-Grad students so they’ve been in your position before.Don’t be afraid to email and ask questions!

This bit of advice is especially important to remember in year 2 when you start thinking about honours. Some courses may require submitting a separate application or portfolio. If you want to ensure you get a chance to apply then it is YOUR responsibility to ask someone about it. I know that some people missed out on applying for the Creative Writing Dissertation option because they waited for the university to tell them.

 

Facebook Groups

My biggest pet peeve is students relying on facebook groups for answers to questions related to courses (such as exam dates, timetable clashes, reading lists) – don’t. If you have a question email someone. It might be your tutor, the course convener, your advisor of studies, or even the department secretary. That being said; facebook groups are useful for asking your peers for help with work, notes from lectures you missed, or trying to track down that awesome quote that you can’t quite remember. You’ll also find older students offering copies of texts as well. You can find all the groups for Glasgow university here.

 

Contacting the University

I’ve already mentioned a few ways to contact the university (support calls, emailing) but I feel that I need to pass on an important lesson I’ve learned – go to the department office. If you’re waiting for the department to reply to your email or you’ve been trying to phone them without – just go straight to the department office. The same goes for tutors or lecturers; go see them during their office hours. Don’t sit waiting for someone to realise you’re waiting because it could be weeks.

 

Journals & Databases

This is more of a specific one for literature or theory based subjects. Online journals are collections of articles and databases of electronic data which you can use for secondary sources in your essays. The biggest one is JSTOR but you can view a list of them over here on the library website. Just select your institution (the university of Glasgow) and log in with your GUID. You can also sometimes find some hidden gems in Google Books.

 

Books

As a literature student you will find yourself spending a lot of money on books. However, there are a few legal ways to lessen the cost. Any books over 100 years old are no longer copyrighted and this means free e-book versions. You can find a lot of these on Project Gutenberg and also the Amazon Kindle store. You don’t need a kindle to use the Amazon Kindle store; just download their computer version.

There are also a few online sites where you can swap books for free. Bookmooch works on points; you earn points for swapping books and use these points to “buy” books. Readitswapit is similar, but you swap a book for a book – so you’re only paying for the cost of the postage.

 

Disability & Long Term Illnesses

If you’ve had a hard time at school due to health problems, you’re probably feeling pretty jaded and fed up. I know how you feel; I had the same problem. High schools and colleges are just not equipped to understand or help students with disabilities or long term illnesses. Thankfully universities are better and I really suggest contacting the University Disability Team. They will offer you an appointment where you will meet with a disability advisor who will discuss the various ways that they can help make your studying easier. This could be listing you as flexible attendance so you don’t get in trouble for missing classes, getting the library to collect books for you to pick up, or giving you extra time in exams. These are just a few exams I am aware of personally and I really do recommend these guys. They are extremely supportive and understanding, and most of the time they have heard of your health condition/s before. So you don’t need to sit and explain every little detail to them. Also, each college and department have an assigned disability coordinator who liaise with the Disability Team and your tutors. They are easily reachable via email and are very helpful and understanding.

On a similar note the Counselling and Psychological Services is also brilliant. Mental illness gets a lot of bad press and stigma attached to it, but these guys are here for any students who need help. They have drop in sessions, one on one appointments and group sessions available.

I recommend both these teams with a lot of personal experience. If you have any questions or worries just ask :)

 

Safety

And finally we’re at the topic which started this whole advice idea. My friend Jen was asked on tumblr whether Glasgow was safe and here is her response. It got us talking about safety advice for students, so here’s a few key points on that subject:

  • Lock your doors and close windows. This may seem obvious but if you’re not from a city you might not be used to doing this. Get into the habit!
  • If you need to walk home alone then choose a direct route through public areas. Avoid parks, dark alleys and so forth.
  • Always keep your keys or an umbrella at hand; if you’re worried about being followed holding these in your hand can act as a deterrent and as possible weapons.
  • There are always self defence classes available and I highly recommend anyone taking them. You don’t need to be super fit or an awesome fighter to pick up a few defence moves that could save your life.
  • Always keep an eye on your drink when in a pub/bar; take it to the bathroom with you if you have to! Also, covering your glass with your hand stops someone from dropping something in it.
  • Don’t flash your electronics about in public or on public transport!
  • If you feel uncomfortable anywhere then leave. Preferably with other people, but if not then make sure you’ve got a safe way home. Real friends will look after you, not force you to stay somewhere/with people that make you uncomfortable.

 

Questions?

If I’ve missed something or you want to ask something I’ve not covered then just leave me a comment :) You can also follow me on twitter @jadedlioness

Officially a student

Officially a student

Thank you to everyone who tuned in for my last entry, I was surprised to hear so many people read it, so that was great to hear :)

Hopefully the majority of this entry will make sense as right now I’m quite tired, although in a good way. Today was my first day on campus as I chose to miss out on the inductions yesterday. I surmised that they would be rather boring and full of stuff I had heard before, and it seems I was accurate in that assumption. I had a moment of panic today when I heard that one useful thing told in the inductions was the times we had to pick up our student cards, however, the pick up point was really quiet when I went to see if I could get it. So panic was averted.

I unfortunately missed a meet up of freshers on Sunday, so today was my first time meeting people I had befriended on facebook. They were all lovely, and I made some new friends. I just hope that I wasn’t too annoying as my nervous chattering kicked in several times. Other than picking up my student card and having a wander around the campus  learning where everything was, today was the freshers’ fair. Which is basically a bunch of stalls handing out leaflets, information and free stuff! It was supposed to be outside, which would have been much more spacious. Instead because of the downgraded hurricane Katia hitting Scotland the fair was crammed into two tiny halls. Despite the cramped space I did thoroughly enjoy the fair and everything that was on offer. I was even a good girl and signed up for some job searchy type places.

The one thing I like about Freshers’ fairs is the chance to chat to all the societies, and some were really great. I had a nice chat with the guys at Io, the Sci-Fi and Fantasy society which I am most definitely planning to join. It was the society that I feel I’d be the most at home at and fits with my personality and interests. I was curious about the two gaming societies as well, one for Video Games and one for RPGs/card/dice games. I was disappointed to find that the first of these two seemed to look down at me, whether it was because I said I was a World of Warcraft addict or because I was female, I don’t know. I just got the feeling that they didn’t think I had a clue about games, and was just a silly little girl dabbling in WoW because her boyfriend made her play it. End of that rant for now anyway :P

I had an awesome chat with the other gaming society though, the guy I spoke to was very friendly and so welcoming that I am seriously considering giving it ago. I keep getting told by friends that as I already love online RPGs, especially creating them, that this would be a good and enjoyable activity for me. They have a few ‘newbies’ nights so might go check them out. The other society that really stuck out as being super nice was the photography society, one that interests me but something I’m going to leave for this year. I don’t want to take on too much as I already have responsibilities online, need to find a part time job, and have studying.  Plus socially I don’t want to overwelm myself entirely.

Tomorrow I am staying at home again simply because there is nothing I want to go to at Freshers week. I feel a little bad that I won’t be on campus socialising as much, however, I know my own personal limits. I have a very busy day Thursday with inductions for my 3 classes, and Freshers’ events I’m interested in, so tomorrow I will rest and relax.

Here we go!

Here we go!

After many days the blog is now complete, one day before I am due to see my advisor at the University. I’ve enrolled in classes, and hopefully, she won’t disapprove of them. I think that English Lit, Scottish Lit and Celtic Civilisations is a nice mixture that compliments one another – and fitting for someone who wishes to teach English Literature in Scotland. I am also hoping to finally find out where my classes will be located, at present my timetable simply says ‘TBA’, which is not particularly helpful. My fiance, Chris, has been to Glasgow University prior to now studying Computer Game Design at Glasgow Caledonian, so he is my tour guide. Unfortunatly he can’t ‘guide’ me to my classes when I have no idea where they will be held.

Chris isn’t my only advantage to this second visit to University, the first visit concluding in a 2.1 degree in History of Art from the University of Leeds. That was a terrifying experience, my first time away from home and my first time doing many things. This time, however, things are very much different. My circumstances for one are entirely different; I am already established in Glasgow and have been for almost 3 years now. I know the city itself fairly well, and at least this time I don’t need to worry about what bus or train I need to get to campus; I already know and have previously used the travel system on my own.  I have friends and family here for support. I am therefore able to avoid the ‘big move’ to a new home, or the scary possibility of living in halls. It does mean that I am going to miss out on some of the fun and quick friendships made by those in halls, something I’ve already tried to counteract by making friends via facebook with new students studying the same courses as myself.

There are smaller things that are different as well; for example, I have a smartphone, an Iphone 3gs to be specific for those who wish to know. I have already found so many uses for it for University and I haven’t even started yet! Namely I have my google calendar synced with my phone, so I can easily find the times, dates and locations for Freshers’ week events and my classes. UCAS were also offering an app for free called ‘iStudiez Pro’, which I decided to give a go and it seems quite helpful. To top it all off, even my University has it’s own iPhone app. It isn’t the best app ever and the maps aren’t easy to use, however, it’s still pretty damn handy having a portable map of the campus which points out useful things such as places to eat, compared with the usual flappy bit of paper that usually gets lost after a few days. Plus of course, the majority, if not all, Universities offer free wifi so I have easy internet access instead of needing to queue in a computer lab to just check something quickly in my email.

I probably sound extremely confident, and being a second time student I guess I am in some ways. I know I can complete another degree, I had more issues personally and health wise the first time around, so I am ready to work my ass off and get this one completed. However, I won’t lie; I am also terrified. I want to be more involved with people this year and much less of a recluse, although the old worry of ‘will they like me’ is still lingering. I have a lot more classes and work than my previous degree, so naturally I worry about being able to handle the work load. I’m not stressing too much about these worries, they are perfectly natural and my advice to first time students; everyone is in the same boat and feels the same way. Don’t worry and don’t be afraid to ask for help.