Advice for new students to the University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow: Advice for new students

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ You can also follow me on twitter @jadedlioness

Memories are just a memory (Things are looking up)

Memories

There! You see I did get to use the title after all… sort of ๐Ÿ˜‰

I may be a little hyped up on coffee right about now. I had some after waking up from a nap feeling really yucky and while I do still feel sleepy, the coffee and food helped a lot. So instead of heading to bed here I am right now writing a pretty damn perky blog entry. The positive mood is not just down to the caffeine though; it’s a general feeling that hit me yesterday when I realised how much better I was feeling. Physically I’m not doing so good – ear/sinus infection & my dodgy knees playing up – but emotionally I’m good. It’s the first time since the start of this god forsaken year that I have felt happy and confident. I still feel guilty considering what happened to Az… how can I be happy when something so horrific has happened? I am still mourning him, I probably always will because the loss of a loved one – human or animal – never truly leaves us.

But you have to go on living, looking to the future rather than the past. That has been a very hard lesson for me to learn, especially as I have a photographic memory and can picture unhappy memories in a flash. It isn’t a flash back, it’s just a memory in great detail. I remember the first time I was bullied when a kid stuck pencils through the hole in the school chair when I was 5. I distinctly remember 5 years later when I stepped oddly on a stone while walking to Churchfields park and had my first hypermobility caused injury; a hairline fracture in my ankle. What I don’t remember is which ankle it was because that was the first of many ankle/foot related injuries that eventually stopped as my foot became strengthen through years of physiotherapy and wearing sports support bandages for years on end. My first day at St John Rigby and the years that followed, making crazy friends who are still with me to this day. The good memories and the bad memories. Then Hayes, Leeds and the last six years with my amazing fiance.

I’m tearing up as I think back over all this – but they aren’t tears of sadness. It isn’t my depression raising it’s ugly head. They are tears of joy, of understanding of being able to lay some demons to rest. Why has all this suddenly happened recently? It’s been a stepping stone of different stages, of long term and short term events that have built me back up from rock bottom. I’m far from perfect, far from healed and as I have always known, my depression will still be there. You can’t wash away all the bad things, you just have to learn to handle them with the help of others.

I’m probably feeling even more philosophical tonight because I just watched the first episode of the new Rizzoli & Isles series which starred the actor Lee Thompson Young. For those who don’t already know; the actor was found dead this week from apparent suicide. The details are still a mystery but it does seem that it was depression that led to his death. I know how it feels to feel that bad, that alone and that powerless. I am fortunate that people have been there to help me up, to support me and kiss away my tears. I will always be grateful to those people. When I hear that someone was unable to stop the pain and felt that their only option was death… it breaks my heart. It’s one of the reasons why I always offer people a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear and I speak openly about my problems. I’ve even heard someone crying before in a toliet at university and asked if they were ok. I know it sounds stupid but my hope was that the girl might register that even a stranger could care about her, that she wasn’t alone.

Since officially being accepted for honours I’ve had to sit and twiddle my thumbs, waiting for my academic profile to be progressed onto the next year. It has apparently been fixed, however, until mycampus (the system) has been updated after a major error happened, I won’t know for sure. It means I’m stuck waiting to find out what classes I actually have as no one has confirmed anything with me at all. I know I have creative writing both semesters and in semester 2 a course called “humanities in the classroom” which includes a work placement. I only know this because I had to apply separately for both of these. So I have no reading lists, which is a good and a bad thing. It means I get to read whatever I want to read – currently the Iron Druid Chronicles – but it also means less time to read stuff before the beginning of term. I’ve also heard that one course – the vampire literature one – may not even be happening this year *cries*. This means I may need to find another course from somewhere as well… but I will know nothing until mycampus is sorted. I am hoping – just like everyone else – that this will be the start of next week.

Wow.. this entry is going on for ages. I still have two more points to get through before I finish and head to bed. The first goes with the general feel of this entry; the future. Next wednesday I have my first physio appointment and I’m hoping praying that they can actually offer me something useful. This will be the third time having physio on my knees… having is actually the wrong term as the previous ones didn’t actually do much apart from show me how to do exercises and send me off to do them. The one in Leeds spent most of his time lecturing me on how I wasn’t standing/bending/moving correctly. Dude, you try having this condition and then tell me it’s easy to re-teach your entire body to stand/move/bend differently. Guilting someone into fixing their body when they cannot help it – my body thinks what it is doing is the natural normal behaviour of a body – doesn’t HELP. Anyway… rant over ๐Ÿ˜› I was supposed to be talking about how I noticed this week my sudden vocabulary changes from “if I do creative writing, my novel/protagonist will be…” to “my novel/protagonist is going to be…”. No honours went losing out on the chance to start down the official creative writing road and while it is scary, it is damn exciting too. I can’t wait to get started!

And the last point finally; work and how well it has been going, and then that rant stole the show. Everyone is really friendly, and the only down side is the lack of stuff to do sometimes. However, the next few weeks will see that changing and I’ll probably find myself wishing for the good ole quiet days.

A – Z Book survey

A-Z of Books

Found this thanks to Li, the original survey creator is Jamie @ the Perpetual Page-Turner ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Author youโ€™ve read the most books from:

I’m going to guess that it is Laurell K Hamilton as there are currently 23 books in her Anita Blake series, 8 Merry Gentry novels and various other books of hers that I have read and then there are the marvel comics as well. So all in all we’re looking at over 30 books ๐Ÿ™‚

Best Sequel Ever:

Oh wow this is a hard question. I read a lot of series’ and trilogies – basically after the first book I tend to get hooked and devour everything else. I can’t actually pick just one, and so narrowing it down I have four. Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet – books 2, 3 & 4 were all amazing and I have re-read them so many times. Next up is Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Legacy series, namely book 2 and 3 about Phedre (Kushiel’s Dart and Kushiel’s Chosen). They literally rocked my world.Those two are probably the top 2 for different reasons, so neither is first or second, both equal ๐Ÿ™‚

The next one is relatively new to my book shelf – Michael Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. Chris and I are just devouring all of these books right now. Each book is amazing, each following book manages to get even better. Then finally there is Gail Z Martin’s Chronicle of the Necromancer series. I was blown away by the first book and the sequels again were just amazing, brilliant writing.

Generally any series you see me reading on my good reads account must have a decent sequel because otherwise I’d have given up after the first or second book.

Currently Reading:

  • Dates from Hell (Anthology)
  • Tricked (Michael Hearne)
  • Goddess of the Sea ( P C Cast)

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Anything actually, I don’t have a particular drink associated to reading.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Sadly physical problems with my hands mean that holding books is quite painful and carrying them even more so. So e-reader wins for me right now.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Ha.. where do I start?! Probably Jonathan of Comte or George Cooper from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

This could apply to any book I’ve ever picked up really. So many incredible authors started with just trying one book and now I have/want to read everything by them.

Hidden Gem Book:

Anything by Marianne Curley or Catherine Fisher. Curley is an australian author and Fisher is British and so both tend to kinda get lost in amongst all the really well known authors. I always find their work to be unique and fascinating. They’re both fantasy/sci-fi/magic genre, but they do tend to mix and match a lot.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

I didn’t recognise this one until applying for my English literature degree at the University of Glasgow, and I had to think about WHY I wanted to study that course. I realised then that the most important moment of my reading life was due to my dad. When I was a kid he read Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine with me and from that moment the world of fantasy opened for me. It was my first introduction to the world of literature where anything could happen, anything was possible and it has influenced me as a reader and a writer.

Just Finished:

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare.

Kinds of Books You Wonโ€™t Read:

I have to have some elements of fantasy or supernatural in my books. So anything just historical, or just romantic don’t interest me. Crime I love in TV shows but as a reader it doesn’t interest me. The only exception are some classics; I love Alexandre Dumas and the Bronte sisters.

Longest Book Youโ€™ve Read:

I honestly have no idea! Probably something non-fiction for one of my degrees, or Lord of the Rings. Maybe Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift or   As I was writing this I realised what specific book claims this title, well books as there are two and I can’t be bothered to check their length ๐Ÿ˜›  Both were for comparative literature. One is the Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (which also wins the weirdest book I’ve ever read award as well) and the second is one hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcรญยญa Mรกrquez.

Major book hangover because of:

Probably one of my current books; Goddess of the Sea by P C Cast. I’m kinda enjoying it and want to know what happens, however, I’m having some major issues getting into it as well.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Two (only one is for books, other is dvds) and I think there’s at least 2 big crates full of books under the bed ๐Ÿ˜› That isn’t including my digital shelf aka my kindle ๐Ÿ˜‰

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Alanna, the first adventure by Tamora Pierce.

Preferred Place To Read:

I can read anywhere; bed, sitting at my desk, while travelling. Give me a book that I enjoy and I’m lost in it for hours.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book youโ€™ve read:

A couple from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series which really helped me grow as a person in many ways:

“Love as thou Wilt.”

“All knowledge is worth having.”

“That which yields is not always weak.”

โ€œWhen Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity upon me.โ€

Reading Regret:

Possibly not reading some books sooner? Although I’ve promptly caught up to date ๐Ÿ˜‰ As is the case with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Gods of Olympus novels. And definitely not having enough time to read all the books I want to read!

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

Most of them are all ongoing, so I’m either working my way through or waiting for the next book. I did just start the Mortal Instruments series though and so I’ve got the rest of that. I think I’m also one or two books behind on Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel legacy series (it’s comprised of three trilogies, I’m on the third trilogy but not completed it).

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

  • Old Magic by Marianne Curley
  • Hounded by Michael Hearne
  • Survivor’s Quest (Star Wars) by Timothy Zahn

Just three is evil by the way ๐Ÿ˜›

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Laurell K Hamilton’s novels, Jacuqline Carey’s Kushiel Legacy, Anything by Marianne Curley and LJSmith, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series, Kelley Armstrong’s women of the otherworld… hell I could keep going for ages!

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Probably the next Heroes of Olympus book, House of Hades by Rick Riordan. It’s out a day before my birthday so guess what list that’s going on! The way the last book ended… to say it was a cliffhanger is the understatement of the century. GIVE ME IT NOW!

Worst Bookish Habit:

Probably ignoring everyone and everything while reading. My mum banned me from reading books in the kitchen before dinner/while dinner was being prepared because she’d ask me stuff and I’d just totally ignore her. Chris would probably say I have no ability not to squeee or talk about books I’m excited about.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Kushiel’s Scion by Jacqueline Carey, the first book on the second shelf. The top shelf is dedicated to all my Laurell K Hamilton books, so yeah she’s definitely my most read author!

Your latest book purchase:

City of Bones and City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments book 1 & 2) by Cassandra Clare. We knew the movie was coming out so we got them to read before seeing it.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Oh wow… most likely one of the Anita Blake books by Laurell K Hamilton. I was ill at the time and was reading three books a day, I was totally hooked. Now a days it tends to be MOST books I’m reading for pleasure ๐Ÿ˜‰