Monthly Archives: February 2013

Alice’s Second Year Blog: Placement of Perfection


Yippeeeeee! I’ve done it, I’ve sorted out my placement. Next year I will be living in Greece, working for Archipelagos- institute of marine conservation, and working on a documentary film production placement. But it hasn’t always been an entirely smooth ride…

The first stage was writing my CV. Stupidly I had somehow deleted my CV from a few years ago which meant starting from scratch. Don’t delete your CV, ever!! I had to dig around and find all my certificates, which took a long while, but finally it was done. Next I began to worry because all of the placements that I seemed to get emails for were based in labs, and as a zoologist this wasn’t for me. I began to do some research and spoke to some current placement students. There seemed like an amazing opportunity in the Seychelles, but I knew I couldn’t apply until February so I decided to keep looking incase of some others. After speaking to my placement mentor, I applied to the same placement she had done, an amazing opportunity in science media. This placement seemed perfect for me because it would give me the start in science media that I need. It was based in the UK, something I had not considered, and it had a salary of around £17, 500, something I could not turn down! However, it was not meant to be and unfortunately I got rejected. Maybe it was a blessing, because if I had not lost that placement I may not have the amazing opportunity that is now laid out in front of me.

I found out about Archipelagos because a student is currently placed there. They have a range of different placements from marine conservation to fine art to law placements. You don’t even have to be a science student. The documentary film production placement jumped out at me and I had to apply. They approved my application and I had a very nice interview with one of their scientists. A week later I got that all-important confirmation email!

A lot of you may be looking at doing a placement year, so here are a few pointers. First of all, I didn’t apply for a placement year via UCAS. In my interview, I got offered the chance to be enrolled on the course without changing my grade offer. If this happens to you, TAKE IT! Secondly, in order to continue onto the course in 2nd year, you need an average of 60% or higher, so work hard. Thirdly, if in your first year you decide that you actually would like to be on the course, this is easily arranged, many of my friends chose this.  Or on the other hand, it is also easy to opt off. Finally, I strongly advise everyone to go for a placement. It looks amazing on your CV, and will definitely help you get jobs later in life. Furthermore, it will mature you and give you life experiences others wont have had. 

Over and out

A x

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Harry’s Final Year Blog: Discovering Gym Life

As of a few weeks ago, in light of my (relatively) happy financial state, I finally got around to joining a gym! I’ve not taken sports seriously since I was about 15 and was in several high school sports teams, so it’s a bit of a big step to spend £16 a month on sport! It’s “The Gym Group” gym in the city centre, a budget gym so it’s a bit ming in parts, but as I go ever day and shower there it’s not bad for  about 50p a day! Haven’t seen any noticeable “results” yet, but I do enjoy going, particularly when I’m with my housemates to motivate each other.

A lot of students do regularly go to the gym- you’ll be able to identify them in lectures as the hench ones carrying a holdall for all their stuff, probably also wearing UoM sports team hoodies to be really showy! You need to cut into your free time though- and not replace it for time spent studying, which is easy to do considering they’re both an effort!

Signing up for the gym has also motivated me to go on a general health drive- swapping mince beef for the Quorn (meat free low fat) equivalent, go for low fat versions of items, and no fast-food or chocolate etc. BUT as a student, it’s also important to do it all on the cheap:- there is almost always fat-free or low fat on offer in the supermarkets, although obviously not always the same brands; and fruit and veg can be bought cheaply from the grocers in Withington. I haven’t yet been able to get cheap meat yet unfortunately 😦

Tip of the Week

If you rent a house or flat during your time at university, you’ll no doubt have to put down a deposit. This is so that if there’s any damage to the house, or if it’s left in need of professional cleaning (which will be the case as landlords and management companies have better things to do), the landlord won’t have to chase you for the money and will just return your deposit with any fines already deducted. The cleaning fines are hard to avoid because of the high standards expected of the next tenants (and you when you moved in)- nobody wants to find last year’s tenants’ pubic hair in the bath plug still, or fat from a grilled bacon still caked onto the oven filament. My advice is don’t avoid regularly cleaning the dirtiest of things just because you don’t regularly see or mind them (especially the oven- filth gets baked on)- you will be charged!

Harry’s Final Year Blog: My Last Ever Semester

So it’s just turned February and another semester has started, except it’s going to be my last ever. I’m not planning on continuing my studies in any format (except perhaps training for a job), so in a couple of months time I’ll never sit an exam again, so strange to think of! Never again will I revise, academically procrastinate, stare gormlessly at powerpoint slides from lectures I missed after sleeping in, or sit and write by hand for two hours solid! My examination resumé consists of three sets of SATs,  two years of GCSEs (now O-levels redux I understand), two years of A-levels, and three years of university exams, all spanning a decade. In turn, that means that I have spent most of my waking hours preparing for exams since my pre-teen years, so returning to stress-free leisure time could be something to look forward to pending my retirement from studentship, but on the other hand I’ve never worked 64 hour weeks, with the maximum time I’ve spent at school in a week is 30 hours and that being 5 years ago now. However there is a promising outlook for work-life- I recently read an article about research that showed that the best years of people’s lives were actually when they started work and started to move up the career ladder! That rubbishes the traditional view belched out by many a headmaster in school assemblies that your school days are the best years of your life, and then again in 6th form assemblies that university will be the best years of your life!

This semester’s looking to be okay though, my lecture modules are Conservation Biology- concerning the biology behind conservation projects, e.g. population dynamics of endangered species; Madness & Society in the Modern Age- a look at the history and opinions regarding the treatment of the “mad”, however I might drop this as it’s too history-course-esque for my liking (I.e. loads of reading for seminars), and also the Manchester Leadership Programme, where I have to undertake (up to) 60 hours of volunteering, participate in discussion boards and hear from well-regarded ‘leaders’, one year they even had Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United manager) in, so I’m thoroughly looking forward to that (even as a City fan)!

This really is the last kick of the academic marathon though, so slacking in any format is strictly forbidden!

Harry x

Tip of the Week

Don’t turn your nose up at getting into university through clearing! Yes they’re technically the “leftovers” from the hotly competed places, but you can get some real gems. One of my friends is at Swansea University studying theoretical physics, obtained through clearing, which most importantly he’s happy with, and my brother is studying History and Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, a place he obtained through clearing and nearly rashly turned his nose up at (he wanted to do just history)! He’s even got the possibility of switching onto full history next year if he does well enough. Although clearing shouldn’t be relied upon, it’s definitely worth considering!

Tom’s Foundation Year Blog: Exams Are Over

Exams are over!! Finally after two weeks of hard work, no socialising and extremely early mornings, I can relax and not have to worry about the stress of exams. I had five exams in total: 2 Chemistry, 2 Biology and a Maths exam, and overall I think they went well. Some questions were obviously challenging, but in a week or so I will gain the results and see if all the hard work payed off. I mentioned in my previous blog post that the library and the learning commons were the busiest I have ever seen them through out the exam period, some days I thought WW3 was about to kick of with people rushing and fighting for spaces. One morning I arrived for a day of study at the learning commons at around 8:45am, thinking no one will be around and I will blissfully walk into the commons and have a wide variety of seating options to choose from. I was sorely mistaken! It was rammed, not one computer/chair available. A top tip I found during exam period is that there are a wide variety of libraries through out the university, so you should check out your academic building, they most likely will have some sort of study area to take advantage off!

So if I’m honest nothing truly exciting occurred through out exams and the week after. They was a lot of celebrating with numerous parties, and night outs. I was unfortunately one of the people who missed out on tickets for Pangaea, but from what friends said and seeing numerous of pictures, it looked amazing. Something I’m defiantly going to next year. It was also pleasant not to study/work for a couple of days after exams. I did find my brain programmed to revise even after exams, so a massive smile appeared when I remembered that is behind me now!

We’ve started a new section in the course now. This semester we focus on more organic chemistry as well as physiology and body processes in biology which I really enjoy, so looking forward to the next couple of weeks and months!

That’s all for now, but the next couple of weeks are going to contain a lot more cycling, climbing and just having a good time!


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Alice’s Second Year Blog: Christmas, Exams and Dressing Up!

So it’s been a long time since my last post but I’m back!

Going home for Christmas was lovely; a warm house, cupboards stocked full of food and getting my car back to drive! The best part has to be the birth of my second niece a week before Christmas and dressing her up as a reindeer. But soon all the Christmas cheer was over and the food eaten and it was time to think about exams. They came thick and fast, with three in the first three days of the exam period and another a week later. Coming back to Manchester a week before my first exam to prepare was a good idea however I still did not feel prepared enough! I now truly understand how much use it is to keep on top of work, revision and reading throughout the semester. I am now only two days into my new semester and I am already writing lectures up and doing the extra reading. I have already taken out all of my recommended books from the library and can hope that it will encourage me to keep on top of work. One bonus of all the work and revision was the Alan Gilberts Learning Commons. This amazing building was where I did most of my revision. It is such a versatile building, which allows everyone to work in the environment they would like to. From private study rooms to sofas with widescreen computers even to a simple desk and computer, you will find your perfect space. I loved pulling up an armchair and getting cosy whilst being in a studious environment. One morning I got there especially early and saw the sun rise through the huge glass windows, a lovely experience.Image

Since exams it has still been as busy as ever with Pangaea festival on Saturday night. This renowned student festival is held in our very on student union and academy and this year had a theme of ‘Wonderland’. Sticking true to my name I dressed up as Alice in Wonderland, and performers included Ms Dynamite and Grandmaster Flash. Tomorrow is my first shift back as an ambassador and I am very much looking forward to it.


That’s all for now,

Over and Out


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