Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Witch hunting in Burley

With the end of October approaching fast and deadlines starting to line up, especially the dreaded deadline to hand in my dissertation abstract (!!). I have more than enough to fill my days up with. That’s why it’s nice when I get an excuse to do something else and go on a small adventure!

This weekend I went on a small adventure to the New Forest and a little village called Burley. I hadn’t heard about Burley before and that it is supposedly quite famous due to witchcraft in the 1950’s.

And if you, like me, haven’t heard about it then I will explain what it is all about.

In the 50’s a woman named Sybil Leek lived in the village. She was a so-called 'white witch', which means that she was a witch using her powers for good and not evil. However, the locals did not appreciate this and it eventually forced Sybil Leek to relocate to America, where she continued to pursue studying astrology and the occult.

The locals might not have liked it back then, but today it actually makes them great business – especially now that Halloween is coming up!

The story of Sybil Leek found in a shop in Burley

Burley is in the middle of New Forest and not far from Lymington, which I’ve been to before. By car it took us around 30 minutes driving there and despite the village being very small there are a few things you can do.

We visited all the local shops where they among other things sell Burley homemade caramel, which is so nice it's worth the trip out there alone! There are also a couple of places to eat and it is a perfect spot for a Sunday lunch.

The locals went to not wanting to be associated with witchcraft to now having shops based on it!

I did not see any witches, but we did meet some New Forest ponies and even drove past some wild pigs. On the way home we stopped by beautiful Lymington for a coffee and some antique shopping.

Some of the villages in New Forest have amazing antique shops where you can find so many nice and unique things like jewelry and home decorations.

The best part of all of this is that we left home around 11am and got back right after 4pm. In other words, you don’t have to set off a whole day for this. This goes for most of the villages in the New Forest; they are all so easy to get to.

Now I have some more inspiration to what I can dress up as for Halloween and I hope you might be inspired to explore the New Forest!


Monday, 24 October 2016

Holiday or hard work? Why you should choose a field trip module

“Field trips are just holidays”

I am fairly certain that anyone who has ever been on a school field trip has heard this phrase at some point or another, despite the fact that trips can be highly educational.

Field trips often result in mixed experiences - yes, admittedly certain school field trips end up being a (potentially free) holiday with your classmates but, equally, field trips can also provide an occasion where students are constantly engaged and working due to the close contact with staff!

This September I went abroad on the Berlin field trip for one week for one of my third-year Geography modules. Unlike previous years, this year’s trip consisted of only eight students (six of which were male!)

East Side Gallery, Mühlenstraße– An International Memorial for Freedom

Due to the small group size, this meant that there was nowhere to hide in terms of each individual pulling their weight in terms of workload and contributing to our intimate seminars.

The field trip was very intense - given that it was the equivalent of a term’s worth of lecture content squeezed into five full days!

A typical day on the field trip

7:30am: Wake up calls and breakfast
9am: Lecture
10:30am: Out in the city
4-6pm: Return to the hostel to prepare presentations
6pm: Evening presentations/seminar

Each day was themed (political ideologies, memory and memorials, architecture, etc.) and the lecture at the beginning of the day provided an overview into what kind of concepts we were expected to research during our day. We were split into two groups of four (which varied each day) and had to prepare a research proposal and presentation for our evening seminar.

Amongst the stelae at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

As you can see, we were studying and researching from 9am to 8pm at night. Part of our assessment for the module was ‘participation in the course’ therefore there was an extra incentive (and pressure!) to perform well during the course, and not just treat the week as a holiday abroad with lovely company!

So why bother going?

I realise that so far I have portrayed my field trip as rather busy but, in fact, it was the best trip I have ever been on! Yes, the workload was intense and the days were exhausting, but you go to bed knowing that you’ve had a majorly productive day and learnt much more about a city than any Lonely Planet Guide could tell you.

The week in Berlin also put me in a great position in terms of coming back to Southampton and not having any lectures for the course but just coursework to write!

I realise that field trips are not always optional or part of every degree on offer at the University of Southampton, but I would encourage any of you with the opportunity to take a field trip module! Aside from visiting a very trendy city filled to the brim with historical and cultural significance, I had the opportunity to meet and bond with people on my course whom I may not have ever ended up meeting if it weren’t for the trip!

Learning outside the four walls of a lecture theatre was a real refresher as to why I chose to study Geography and reminded me of its real-world relevance.

Berlin was a brilliant experience and I’ll never forget the excellent week I had away!


Friday, 21 October 2016

Part 1: Before the Year Abroad

So, we’re a few weeks into the whirlwind life of university and already the workload is noticeably getting ever so slightly heavier! But then, no one ever said that final year was a doss!

Our first few weeks of language classes have focused heavily on our year abroad and this has certainly brought back a bit of nostalgia of when we were applying for study or work placements two years ago.

The process, at least for Modern Languages students, starts pretty much from the start of the second year where we get lectures outlining all the possible options for the year ahead. In our case, we had the choice of going to a partner university as an Erasmus or exchange student (as I did by going to Grenoble in France), working as a teaching assistant for British Council or finding our own work experience for the year.

The whole enormity of the process is, at first, very daunting for a lot of students, myself included, but rather than something to be feared, the Year Abroad should be something to be relished. That’s all the more so because this opportunity doesn’t come around all that often, especially when we eventually graduate.

I also know just how daunting it was – I only decided to change to doing an Erasmus year in France one week before the November deadline! Although there may admittedly be plenty of paperwork to fill out beforehand, it’s likely that you’ll find that good preparation for a year abroad, especially if you’re going to be living in a country where the bureaucracy is very frustrating - believe me!

Around Université Stendhal in Grenoble, where I did my study placement

However, if you thought that only language students get the chance to work or study abroad, you’d be very much mistaken.

Nowadays, there seems to be a very evident focus on gaining experience working or studying in a foreign country as part of your degree. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I hadn’t heard about all of these opportunities until my second year came about but even since getting back to Southampton just a month ago, I’ve met people who have traveled to all sorts of locations – from Canada, to Norway and even to Australia! Furthermore, these students all study degree courses that aren’t Modern Languages.

Résidence Ouest, where I stayed 

Whether you’re a student who’s thinking of applying to study at the University of Southampton or you’re currently in your first or second year here, I’d advise you to really consider the possibility of participating in a Year Abroad with the University.

Me on my first day in France

Not only is it a great way of expanding your horizons and exploring new places - it allows you to meet and interact with people of all nationalities and it challenges you to discover what you are capable of in many aspects, be it linguistically, socially, intellectually etc.

You’ll learn things about yourself that can’t be taught in any lecture theatre or classroom, and that is what should spur you on to apply.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

A week in my life at university

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to the blog! Today I’m going to be taking you through a week in my life as a second-year Biology student.


The day started with a 7am alarm for a 9am lecture in Quantitative Methods on Avenue Campus. It was simple statistics and experimental design, so I had all my notes written up by the end of it!

Straight after, however,  was an 11am Animal Behaviour Lecture on Highfield Campus. Luckily, it’s in the closest building to Avenue Campus so I had time to get a cup of tea to keep me warm whilst learning about learning.After the lecture, I went up to Building 85 (the Life Sciences building) to print off some papers so I could annotate them during my hour break, with vegetable sushi!

My Monday ended with a 2pm Human Origins Lecture about natural selection and genetics. I didn’t have much work to do in the evening as I wrote up quite a lot on Sunday.


Today I had a 12pm Population Ecology Lecture on Life Histories, which was fairly simple but had quite a bit of maths to cover, so I wrote up my notes from the lecture as soon as I got home, and attempted to make an excel spreadsheet, but failed miserably.

At 8pm my fellow tutor group 'parent' and I went to the Stags to meet our fresher 'children', and then at 10pm we all went down to Jesters (I didn’t stay too long as I ‘had a 9am tomorrow’… I didn’t!)

Feeling very proud of my layering techniques so I didn't freeze!


I didn’t have any classes today but I went in to work early to pick up some warmer uniform. I always have the excuse that I can wear it as uniform so I don’t feel so bad!

Luckily I didn’t start until 12pm but my shift ended at 6pm, so I decided that tonight would be a chilled night in re-watching Walking Dead, purely for the Glenn scenes.


Today I didn’t have any classes but I got up at 9am (because I’m an adult) and started on an assignment for Quantitative Methods. I did some reading for my Human Origins seminar next week and decided it would probably be good if I picked up some food.

I went down to the corner shop and got some crisps, instant noodles, raspberries and juice.
I spent the rest of the day doing lecture write-ups and then I had work from 4:30pm to 8:30pm, just in time for The Apprentice and a takeaway!


Today I had a 10:30am R workshop, in which I managed to break the programme itself, and then at 2pm we went down to the cemetery and collected some life-history data for a write up at 4pm, which went super-fast as I had already made the spreadsheet a few days go (keen).

We had finally ordered a food delivery at this point as we decided it had gone far enough!


I had a long day at work today from 10am to 7pm with a migraine (woohoo!) and in the evening I did some editing, and organised some bits for BugSoc and HerpSoc, before falling asleep at 9:30pm.


I spent a rainy day in the Oxford at their Natural History Museum, which is amazing, by the way, and you should definitely go if you find yourself in Oxford. There are direct trains up there from Southampton!

Then we went down to 'Crocodiles of the World' in Brize Norton, which is not only the largest and most complete collection of crocodilians in the world, but also an amateur one!

A jewel longhorn beetle at a microscopy exhibition in the museum

A green iguana sketch I did at Brize Norton.


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

How to cope with boredom

It is good to be back to England’s version of October and not Norway’s version. Norway’s version is a bit like this….

Layers on layers and wrapped in my big coat. 

I’ve had a quick weekend trip home to Oslo last weekend and as always I have enjoyed myself. Now, it is back to university and the workload starts catching up.

If you have found it boring only reading my blog posts for a while now, I’m happy to say there is no need to worry! The blog team is complete now and I’m not the only blogger anymore!

Talking about boring and boredom, how do you cope with being bored? Besides eating unhealthily and watching a season of Netflix? Despite having more than enough to do at University I still have my moments where I’m just bored and fancy doing something other than work. I’m a firm believer of good breaks and not only devoting all my time 24/7 to my studies.

I would like to share some tips on what to do if you are feeling bored. These are all student-friendly tips and some of them I dare to say are good for your mind and body.

Go for a walk! 

Walking is the best way to experience Southampton and it is good for your body and mind. Put some headphones in and find somewhere nice to go. Mayflower Park, Oxford Street, Ocean Village are nice destinations.

This is what you can expect down in Mayflower Park

Experience the British Art Show 8 on campus or in town.

You absolutely have to visit the John Hansard Gallery whilst a student at the University of Southampton, so here is a great opportunity to see an art show and visit the gallery. Besides, the British Art Show is presented at several different locations in town, so you can see more of Southampton!

Go to the gym or join a society. 

It is always a winner and going to the gym is probably my favourite way of having breaks during a hectic week.

Go out for a drink and a game of pool. 

Given that a year ago I couldn’t play pool I must admit the English love for pool has grown on me. Maybe visit some of the pubs I recommended to watch Euro 2016 a couple of months ago; they all have pool tables and I find it amusing that I can play pool for ages now without getting bored.

If you find that any of these tips require too much effort to leave the house I have also attached some less “active” activities you can do.

Less active tips:

1. Text someone backwards
2. Create a bucket list
3. Organise your sock drawer
4. Play a prank on one of your housemates/flatmates


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

An introduction to my life at Southampton

Hi readers!

My name is Aditi and I’m one of the new bloggers this year!

Seeing as this is my first time blogging it seems appropriate that my first post is a bit of an introduction to my life here at Southampton, so that you get to know a bit about me and hopefully a bit of context about my interests and what my posts are likely to be about.

I have always enjoyed writing and being creative so when I saw this opportunity advertised on Facebook, I couldn’t help but apply. I’m so excited at the prospect of sharing my writing and interests regularly through the Life at Southampton blog!

So here are six interesting facts about myself! (Six because that’s my lucky number)

1) I study Human Geography with French here at the University of Southampton

2) I have just started my third and final undergraduate year

3) I just spent a semester abroad studying Geography in French at the University of Rouen near Paris!

4) I am president of Geogsoc

5) I have learnt five languages (English, French, Spanish, Hindi and Latin)

6) I once rode an ostrich in South Africa!

The ostrich we rode!!

I am very passionate about animal welfare (I’m vegetarian) and fitness, therefore you are likely to see some health posts at some point during the year! I also want to use this blog as an opportunity to let students know about amazing events taking place in and around Southampton.

Why I chose Southampton

High up in the rankings for Geography, with beautiful campuses and great city life, I could not imagine myself anywhere else! Only two hours from home, Southampton was also an ideal choice for a university that meant I could move away from home in London but could still easily pop back if fancied!

What am I involved in right now?

Throughout my time in Southampton, I have been renowned amongst my friends for being the busy bee! Forever keen to try out new societies and jobs, I am always out of the house!

I won’t lie, the prospect of third year did worry me somewhat with the intense workload that friends in older years had warned me about, but I was super excited to be back in Southampton and with my friends again.

I knew I could never just be one of those people who spend all their time studying or partying at university, so I decided to opt for extra-curricular activities that did not require strict timings!

This year I am president of GeogSoc, working as a student blogger (obviously!), course representative for BA Geography and a Student Ambassador! I am also participating in Jailbreak, so I’ll be fundraising for that.

Post University plans… (I never want to leave!)

I would love to work for a large non-governmental organisation in development, therefore I am currently in the process of applying for a Masters course in International Development and Globalisation at various universities. It is EXTREMELY time-consuming but hopefully it will be worth it in the end!

Thanks for reading my first post and look out for regular updates.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Introducing myself

So here it finally is – my first ever blog for Life at Southampton! I suppose I’d better get introducing myself…

My name is Paul, I’m 21 years old and I’m from South East England, in East Sussex or Eastbourne to be precise, which is around two hours from Southampton.

Now in the fourth and final year of my BA French and Spanish degree, I was in the fortunate position of being able to spend a year abroad as part of my course in the last academic year. Firstly, I was in Grenoble in France for 9 months and then in Malaga in Spain for 6 weeks doing an internship, both of which were fantastic opportunities and will be the perfect preparation for this role.

I feel both delighted and humbled to be blogging this year for Life at Southampton and equally, I’m proud to be representing my subject area of Modern Languages on such a prestigious platform. I know it will be a challenge to live up to the high standards that previous bloggers have set but I’ll do my utmost best to maintain them!

Like many other fourth-year languages students, returning to the University of Southampton has been a truly surreal feeling, especially when I see how different Avenue Campus looks all of a sudden! That said, after a whole year away, I can’t wait to get back up and running again with university life in England.

 Back at Avenue Campus!

My three years have already whizzed by at a lightning pace and it’s safe to say that it has been an up-and-down journey so far to get where I am today. If I had just one piece of advice for the newest intake of Freshers, I would just say to you that everyone is in the same boat now but if you put in the effort, you can really get the most out of your university experience!

Since setting foot on campus for the very first time many years ago on an open day, I’ve always appreciated the relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that the University provides, especially when I get to meet other students from all over the world as part of my role as one of the Buddy Scheme Coordinators for the Erasmus Society, which pairs up home and international students. It is this environment that makes Southampton such a unique place to study in my honest opinion.

 A snap from my year abroad

Moving into my final year is admittedly a daunting prospect right now with all the work it will bring (!) but all I can say is…bring it on!

Through my blogs, I’d like to provide a personal insight into life at the University of Southampton as well as some pertinent advice that many of you can find useful, no matter whether you’re a first-year student or higher, alumnus or local resident.

It’s my intention to make this a blog for everyone and I’ve got some fantastic ideas for posts lined up for this year that I can’t wait to share with you!