Tuesday, 26 July 2016

My summer holiday so far

I’m not sure where the time goes, but after thinking I’ve been off university for one month, I just realised I’ve actually been off university for two months! So far it has been filled up with many new and fun memories that I thought I’d share.

For anyone who reads this blog regularly, you might remember that I started off by going home to Norway for a couple of days with the boyfriend.

However, with almost a month left of my tenancy I didn’t see the point in staying in Norway whilst still paying for my house in England.

So back to Southampton I went, where I got to experience the one and only Craig David at the Common People festival, which I’ve already written a post on.

I also went to Marwell Zoo for some exploring. Who said the zoo was only for children? It is most definitely not! If you fancy meeting some lions, cheetahs, zebras or monkeys this is where you should go. Marwell Zoo is not far from Southampton at all, and there are bus connections, but again it’s probably easiest to reach by car.

My boyfriend James and I decided to put our relationship to the real test and go bowling in Millbrook. I forget from time to time how fun bowling actually is and this is a great option instead of going out during the weekend. As far as I know you can go bowling in Millbrook and Eastleigh in Southampton. I lost, but I’ll be back to restore my honour!

We also went on two short day trips to Hythe and Muddiford – both very nice, although it’s a lot easier reaching Hythe with the ferry rather than driving. Unfortunately, I was sloppy and didn’t take any good pictures from either of the places. But I guess that just means I have to go back again soon, which I don’t mind at all!

After a great month of adventures it was time for me to go back home to Norway and although the places I’ve been to since then are a lot less reachable than the previously mentioned, I think they are worth mentioning.

I’ve recently been on a little road trip in Norway with my dad. If you’ve seen Norway on a map you’d know it’s quite a big country and there are still loads of places I haven’t seen. We drove the Atlantic Ocean Road and ticked off some small cities I haven’t seen before along with the beautiful fjords which I never get tired of seeing. If you’re interested, there are actually cruises going from Southampton to Norway. I haven’t been on them, but at least I know the destination is beautiful!

Right after I got back from the road trip I went to Romania where I’m currently blogging from. I can’t really say it has been proper summer weather in Norway or England, but at least here it is sunny and about 30 degrees every day. I’m not complaining about the heat just yet.

Happy summer!


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Summer in Southampton: Tudor houses and zebras on the loose

Today was the first time I had ever stepped foot in Old Town, a part of Southampton City with a treasure trove of history. My family are visiting me for a few days for my graduation so I did some research on activities they could enjoy whilst at the same time allow me to learn more about the city itself.

Despite having lived here for three years, I was surprised at the new historical knowledge I learned about my new home! Who knew there was more to know!

Tudor House and Garden

First up was the Tudor House, one of Southampton’s most significant historic buildings. It alone encompasses over 800 years of history in one site.

The Tudor House in the sunniest city in the UK. I felt like I was holidaying in the south of France with that cerulean blue sky. 

Uneven floors, steep steps and low ceilings were kept in their original state to preserve authenticity.

Much history has been uncovered about the Tudor house over the years. It was built in 1492 and has been home to a prominent Tudor lawyer, an artist, and a Victorian bonnet-maker. Interestingly, the house has been deemed by many as haunted because of alleged eerie noises and shapes that can be felt during the night. It is worth noting that the house is built on the site of earlier medieval properties.

Ready for a night out in town… in a classic Tudor dress

A Tudor kitchen

Looks like a boring old wall with scratches right? These marks actually date back to about 1570 and 1620 and show caricatures of people, ships, animals and more. The house was owned by ship-owners at some point so these are likely etched in by sailors.

A real air-raid shelter in the cellars of the house where a family took refuge in during WWII. This was a wine cellar during the Tudor times.

King John’s Palace. Built as part of King Edward III’s efforts to strengthen the town’s defences against the French in the 1300s. Over time, it has been formed as part of the Tudor House structure.

Bugle Street: the view from the window in the 1800s


Bugle Street: the view from the window today

Zany Zebras

Next stop was the Zany Zebra trail. Brought to the city by local Marwell Zoo, this interactive and free art trail aims to raise the profile of Grevy’s zebras and the conservation that the zoo carries out. Marwell Zoo’s hope is to inspire the generations to come to take an active interest in wildlife conservation. Overall, there are 150 sculptures scattered throughout the city, some are big and some small. The University of Southampton even has a zebra in the city! Here are those that we came across on our day out…

A Zany Zebra outside the Tudor House

A little one inside the house called ‘Zippy’

Outside the Holyrood Church ruins. It was originally destroyed by the 1940s blitz which heavily damaged the city. Its shell was subsequently dedicated to the Merchant Navy sailors who sacrificed their lives during the war

Outside the O2 Guildhall where many bands such as the Foo Fighters have played in recent times

My mum posing with this artistic nod to one of the biggest names in music 

After traversing through the city, it was high time for some lunch! It took us no longer than a lovely five-minute stroll to get to Old Town to the modern areas of West Quay and the Marlands. Two shopping centres at the centre of Southampton which when combined together has around 200 shops!

Lunch with a view of the docks. The Harmony of the Seas, the world’s biggest cruise ship, set sail from here on her maiden voyage.

Our day was simply amazing. Until now, I never really had a fuller grasp of the rich and vast history Southampton really has. The stories displayed in the Tudor house has given me a glimpse of the city, its people and the wider world throughout the years. On the other hand, the Zany Zebra trail was a brilliant interactive activity for the whole family which my five-year-old brother certainly enjoyed. It didn’t hurt to have the shops and restaurants close by either.

If you’re about to join the University of Southampton in the next academic year or plan to stay in the city during the summer, don’t hesitate to do a little research on what else you can get up to.

Southampton certainly has plenty of shops for you to choose from but there is more to it than meets the eye.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Books to read over the summer

July is not only high season for university Open Days, like I mentioned in my last blog post. July is also high season for a proper Summer Holiday.

Most undergraduates finish exams at the latest in June and none of us are back at university until September. This means that July and August are months for appreciating the freedom of not having any assignments due or required reading.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t use the Summer Holiday to be productive. There’s definitely more than one way of being productive over the summer, but one thing I will do is read – a lot.

The thing about being a university student is that we read a lot – all the time, and at some point I stopped reading books I chose and read course books nonstop. Through university and my course I read a lot of deeply interesting pieces, but I can’t remember the last time I picked a book myself (during term time) started reading it and actually finished it. Therefore, there is no better time than right now to read some good books, which I’m sure will be very relevant for my course as well.

I’m going to share my top picks that I have read or I’m planning to read before my third year begins in September. It’s a little mix between academic and fiction!

Inequality and the 1% by Danny Dorling

This is a book I have already read and enjoyed so much I think I spent three days reading it. Danny Dorling asks whether we “can afford the superrich?”. I’ve always been aware of inequality, but it is through this book I have really understood just how much it affects us. I’ll admit that I read this book last summer, but it is still as relevant as ever. When Danny Dorling actually came to the University of Southampton earlier this year to hold a lecture on inequality, I was quick to book my place. This book has been relevant to not only the economics and statistics courses I have done, but also my politics ones.

Intelligent Governance For the 21st Century – A Middle Way Between West and East by Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardles

This is the book I’m currently reading, and so far it is very interesting. Don’t let the very academic title fool you; it is a very interesting read if you are interested in China and Chinese governance. Personally, my excitement for China and Chinese politics came after I did a module on Chinese Politics last semester. If you are doing a Politics or Humanities-related course and have the chance to chose Chinese Politics in your second or third year with Dr. Monique Chu – DO IT! It’s one of the modules I have enjoyed the most so far at the University.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Phillip Sendker

When I finish the book I’m reading now, I’m planning on moving on from academic books to this one - a little break in between all the academic English I read doesn’t hurt. I have the Norwegian translation of the book and I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a book in Norwegian, so this will be a nice change. The book is much as the title implies; a romantic novel. It has sold over one million copies, so I’m counting on this being a good read as well.

The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

Okay, I admit it (again); I read this one last summer, but it is worth to mention because it is a beautiful book and, although it is fiction, the setting is very realistic because it’s based on a real-time event; Cyprus during the war with Turkey. Victoria Hislop does not only write a beautiful story, she writes diplomatically about the actual conflict and does not try to shift the blame on either side, which makes you only focus on the actual story she tells. She ends the book by saying; “I wanted to tell a story that showed how the events in Cyprus were a disaster for both communities – and to suggest that the issue of “good” and “evil” is not a matter of ethnicity”, which I think she did brilliantly.

My entertainment for the next weeks.

If you’re still in need for some inspiration on books to read over the summer, you should check out our blog post for the world book day.


Friday, 8 July 2016

Preparing for your graduation day

It’s here! I am finally graduating after three years of studying on the 20th of July 2016!

Graduation is a great time to reflect on how far you’ve come along as a person during your time here at the University of Southampton. I can imagine the day to be exciting – we even had a marriage proposal during one ceremony last year!

Even though graduation symbolises tradition and, some may say, is all about pomp and ceremony, the whole day is not just about the gown nor is it about the hat, and it certainly is not just about the speeches. The day is to signal to your friends, family and yourself that you are in fact moving onto the next stage of your life. Your days as an undergraduate student have ended. Your life as an adult is approaching.

I’m writing this post today as I am in the middle of preparing for the event. The whole preparation experience needn’t be stressful. However, it would make your day go smoothly if you do a few things in plenty of time before the ceremony. You can think of this post as your checklist!

Preparing for the day

Outfit. First thing’s first, you need to get your style on! Luckily, the University has partnered up with a gown hire company, Wippells. Just go to the Graduation website to rent your gown and hat. Measuring yourself is so easy that you can do it yourself. When you’re done, simply enter your measurements and pay. You can pick up your robe and hat before the ceremony from the Union CafĂ© in Building 42.

I’d imagine there to be a lot of standing involved. There will be a reception marquee on the grass outside so the day will involve standing on grass too. So in terms of footwear, I plan on wearing small but smart heels. For me, stilettos are a no go. I’d like to spend my day outside and running around on the grass with my little brother!

Accommodation and Travel. 

I am staying in the city over the summer so I have a place where my family can stay with me for a few days. If you need accommodation for a few days, plenty of students are offering spare rooms over the summer; perhaps ask if any friends can let you stay. However, the city has plenty of hotels and B&Bs if you need to find one.

If you plan to commute down to campus for the day, the University has a Park & Ride service. An all-day ticket of £8 for one vehicle gives you a permit to park Wessex Lane Halls. You also get a Uni-link Bus voucher to enable all occupants of one car to transfer to the Graduation Ceremonies. A bus return journey is included in the price too. You can pay online now or pay the parking attendant on the gate. Alternatively, Southampton has excellent railway links! It’s just over an hour away from London and Southampton Airport Parkway station is only a 10 minute bus ride away from campus.


Now for some information about tickets. The actual ceremony and two complementary tickets to the ceremony are free. In some instances, there may be a few spare tickets on the day which are an extra £10 each on entry to the hall. To find out more on the day, look for your Deputy Halls Manager in a purple robe in the venue about 45 minutes before the ceremony. You’ll have to listen out for your name if a seat becomes available.

However, you are welcome to invite as many friends and family you wish to share in your special day, even if there are no spaces in the ceremony. There are plenty of viewing areas with live ceremony streaming which do not require an entrance ticket. There is even a family marquee outside for little ones. I will have my five-year-old brother coming with my mum and my sister so it helps to have facilities that can accommodate him. I’m sure the little ones would appreciate not having to sit through such a lengthy and formal event.

Your faculty will hold a reception for you after the ceremony. You should have received an email invitation for this so if you haven’t registered, check your emails. The reception is typically free for you and two other guests. Light refreshments, sparkling wine and soft drinks will be provided for all.

On the day.

For a stress-free day, I plan to arrive in plenty of time. Luckily, my ceremony isn’t until 3.30pm which means I even have time to sleep in! The University recommends arriving at least two hours before entry into the hall which starts 45 minutes before the actual ceremony. This should give me enough time to collect my gown and hat from the Union building and leave some time for photographs to be taken.

In addition, you can treat your friends and family for a bite to eat at the numerous food establishments in and around campus. I don’t know about you, but I anticipate the day to be long. The last thing I’d want is for my stomach making noise whilst speeches are going on! Anyway, giving myself some time means I could even show my little brother the ducks on campus.

Don't forget to share your experience on social media too!


After graduation.

Congratulations! The ceremony is over and the tassels have been moved to the left side of the cap! Time for more celebrations with friends and family. The city has plenty of shops, clubs and restaurants for you to enjoy.

However, the perks of being a Southampton student don’t stop after graduation. As a University of Southampton graduate - and therefore a member of the Alumni community! - you are eligible for a 10 per cent discount on tuition fees for postgraduate study at Southampton.

You can also become as lifetime member of the Students' Union, Union Southampton, for a one-off payment of £15. This gives you great student rates such as discounted entry to Union films. You can even get involved in your choice of 300 student-run clubs and societies or volunteer during RAG (Raise and Give). This is perfect for someone like me who wishes to work in Southampton for a while before moving on. Southampton has become my new home and I’m not quite ready to leave it so soon yet!

Good luck and enjoy your graduation!


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Why you should come to a Southampton Open Day

July is the season for university open days and this, of course, includes the University of Southampton.

This year the Open Days are on the 9th and 10th of July – this weekend! - and later on the 3rd and 4th of September.

Open Days are a great opportunity to experience campus life, meet what might be your future lecturers, see the halls and in general, hopefully, get a good taste of what it’s like to be a student at Southampton.

I wrote a blog post about Open Days last year, sharing what I still think are some good tips to keep in mind. To summarise it quickly;

  • There’s no such thing as a dumb question, so prepare some questions and remember to ask them to the appropriate people. Keep hold of your bus ticket and program of the day.
  • You will most likely only be shown one of the halls of residence on the Open Day, so remember if you’re not sure, there are loads of other halls to choose from. I dare to say Southampton has halls to fit everyone and every budget.

Before any of this, though, you need to book your place for the Open Days. It doesn’t take long and is essential in order to attend. When this is done, the University provides you with an online step-by-step guide to prepare you and make sure you have everything you need for your day. They help you with everything from planning your journey to campus including parking, viewing the program and planning where on campus you can stop for a coffee. It’s always good to be prepared.

The difference between the Open Day and just visiting the University independently is that on the Open Day you get to actually meet other students who are doing the course you are interested in and the staff who teach them. This is why the Open Days are the best option you have to get a proper taste of the student life and opportunities Southampton can offer.

However, as mentioned there is the possibility of visiting the University independently and getting a Campus Tour around the Highfield campus. If you want a guided tour outside of the Open Days, you will still need to register and these tours are not subject specific. Tours for your potential specific department need to be arranged separately. Although these options are there, if you have the chance, do go to the Open Day.

The great thing about a university like Southampton is that they like to be one step ahead – meaning that if you are unable to attend the Open Days in person, you can use their Vitrual Open Day. This is especially a good idea if you are a prospective international student and don’t have the chance to travel to England. It’s also good if you can’t get to Southampton very easily too! The Virtual Open Day takes you to see the different campuses and halls Southampton have to offer. Furthermore, it takes you through all the main topics such as fees and funding, your career after graduation, student life and the city of Southampton.

Universities are so much more than just international and domestic rankings. Choosing the right university is essential because it’s your new home for the next three or four years, so putting some extra time and effort into it will pay off.

There are also Open Days for the Winchester School of Art campus. If your chosen subject is located in Winchester, you can visit the campus on 3rd September this year! Again, booking is essential.

It is genuinely hard to find a picture which does justice to how beautiful our campuses are. Since Avenue Campus is being revamped, I thought I’d post a picture of what Avenue looks like in the spring without all the scaffolding!

If you’re coming to the Open Days this weekend, I hope you have a fantastic time!


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

How I improved my budgeting skills at university

A huge part of university life is budgeting your own money. I remember getting my first lump sum of my student loan and thinking “Jackpot!” And then I realised that I had to make it last for the next 3 – 4 months and then thinking “… well never mind…

I’ve decided to write about my student budgeting experiences over my last three years in Southampton in the hopes that it might help Life at Southampton readers, prospective undergraduate students and those continuing their courses. I have my proud moments, such as getting a part-time job to help with costs of living and saving some cash. I also have things I wish I did differently, like ordering fewer takeaways! But nonetheless, budgeting is a learning experience.

I am happy to say that I am leaving university much better at managing my money than before.

First Year 

Rent and Bills 

Rent was my biggest expenditure of the whole year. It was taken out in instalments that cover each university term through a recurring card payment. Of course, it wasn’t great seeing my bank balance effectively dwindle when payments were due but there were perks to this. I always knew exactly when the money would be coming out of my account. This was my first test of responsibility. If you take note of payment dates and make the most of the chance of foresight you are given, you will do just well budgeting for rent in first year.

On the other hand, bills such as water, gas, electricity and internet were all included when living in halls. As a student, I didn’t have to pay for Council Tax. This applies to most full-time students – just remember to allow the University to share your details with Southampton Council so they know not to charge you for tax. Don’t worry if you forget to tick the box that says 'share my information' on your student records page. You are able to amend this, however it is always better to let the council know about your status as soon as possible to prevent any charges from incurring.

My other expenses also included my monthly phone bill and my cherished music and movies subscription. I had a wall calendar which marked when payments were outgoing for these just so I could keep track of when money was leaving my account. I opted for the cheapest phone plan with my service provider. The University of Southampton provides free wi-fi on campus and in halls. This meant I really didn’t need a large quota of minutes as I was able to use WhatsApp to call and text friends.

Moving into my room at Connaught Halls 



Living in Connaught Halls in Wessex Lane had many perks. Connaught is part catered,Two meals per day were included in my rent so it was super easy to budget for this expenditure. Meals included breakfast and we had the option of lunch or dinner. There was a good array of meals to choose from in catered halls – we were able to have the option of cereals, fruits, pastries or a fry up! A good money saving tip if you’re about to enter catered halls is to take what you can’t finish back to your kitchen so you have some extra fruit or pastries lying around if you wanted a snack. Another good thing about catered halls is that I was able to have my second meal as lunch on campus or dinner at the Connaught Dining Hall. This was especially useful if I knew I wasn’t going to be back in time for dinner service.

Connaught Christmas dinner with hall mates. I later moved in with this lot! 


Living in halls meant a free Academic Year bus pass with Unilink. The bus routes go around the city and everyone can use the service – students, staff and locals! I absolutely love the Unilink service – buses typically come every 10 minutes or less and are well connected to other routes provided by other transport companies. What’s more, the Unilink office is located on Highfield campus, so if ever there is an issue with your bus pass or if you want to top it up, you may visit their office above the Union Shop and you’re good to go! The transport system back home in Surrey does not even compare to the one here in Southampton. The frequency and the reliability of services here really do make travelling around the city incredibly easy.

In addition, my undergraduate bank account came with a complimentary 16-25 Railcard, so I saved 1/3 off train tickets whenever I travelled back home.

Course materials

When I looked at the reading list for my course I was initially shocked. Was I to buy every single book from this list?!

Nope. Absolutely 100% not.

In my course, BSc Politics and International Relations, the reading list is there as a guide to which books or authors are relevant to your module topics. We were not expected to buy and read every single book on there. Core readings are important, but most of them are made accessible by course convenors online via WebCat or Delphis for free! As a tip, I would say don’t buy the all of the books on the reading list before the start of uni. Wait until the first week is over and then decide which you need to buy and which you can borrow from the library.

I did purchase some books because I found it helpful to write annotations on pages. However, I saved a LOT of money by buying second hand or previous editions online as opposed to buying new at the shop. I was always able to borrow the newest editions from the library or from my course mates if I needed access to the added content. Most of the money I spent on course materials went to stationary. ‘Cuz you know, you gotta have those colourful highlighters…

Just some of my course textbooks. Many of these were borrowed from the library.

Clothes and toiletries

I don’t really spend much on clothes and toiletries but I do treat myself to a shop once every three months. Even then I only typically buy one garment. I spend more money on makeup than I do on toiletries but, again, this is only on rare occasions when I am running out. One of the best things about being a student, though? Student discounts of course! Take advantage of student discount shops online or get some of your money back by going through cashback websites.

If you’re someone who likes to shop, be wary of giant shopping trips when student loans come through. If you do go out shopping, go out with a budget in mind and pay with cash so you can actually see the money leave your hands, thereby preventing you from overspending.

Fun, entertainment and miscellaneous

Now this what I spent a lot on in first year. Like many other students, going out was an integral part of my life as a Fresher. I allotted a £150 for going out during Freshers' Week which was more than enough. Throughout the year, a lot of my money went on taxis home. To some, this may have been a waste of money but investing on getting home safely was something I was prepared to put cash towards. Southampton has a ‘student night’ for every night of the week which gives drinks deals and cheaper entry so I saved money by making the most of this.

As a money saving tip, I found it a good idea to take cash on nights out and leave my card at home. This prevented overspending and lost property! Although I didn’t always do this, I definitely found myself spending a lot less without my debit card! If you do find yourself with no cash for the ride home, Union Southampton has a Student Taxi Scheme with Radio Taxis which allow you to pay your fare later at the Box Office. Just hand the Taxi driver your Student ID card.

Second and Third Year

I’m going to be comparing Second and Third year together as my living circumstances were essentially similar. I’d like to think I got better with money after my stint as a Fresher and that I had mastered it in the last year of Uni. Looking back on it now, I have some incredibly proud moments and some that I could have done differently.

Rent and Bills

Naturally, second and third year lent me more responsibilities. This time, rent was taken out monthly and I did have to pay bills separately, as I had moved out of halls. I had a recurring payment to my landlord so the money was taken out automatically at the start of the month. On the other hand, bills included water, gas and electricity. I paid £30 per month to a house account with the rest of my housemates and our bills were paid through it. I opted for the money to be automatically taken out too. This gave my housemate, whose name holds the account, some relief knowing that my share would always be there when payment is due.

I kept my phone bill and my music and films subscriptions.

My Third Year house



My part-time job which I had since first year was what I used to pay for my weekly food shopping. Part-time work whilst studying was a necessity for me. You might be concerned about the effect this will have on your studies and this is something that you need to monitor carefully, however I found that part-time work helped me get through my degree. I worked from 6 to sometimes 10 hours per week at the average rate for a 21-year-old.

Your student loan is not affected by any part-time employment, and working for just 10 hours a week at £5.50 will provide nearly a third of the income from a full student loan. There are plenty of part-time work options in the city and even on campus.


Moving out of halls meant I had to say goodbye to a complimentary bus pass. I was able to save up some money whilst working more hours during the summers before second and third years so I bought Academic Year passes. I travel around the city often – sometimes twice a day – so I thought it was worth investing in.

Course materials

Once again, it wasn’t necessary for me to splurge on books. I saved some money by buying second hand again. Still, by the end of third year I had a LOT of books. I made some of my money back by selling my books on Facebook. I also sold some to John Smith’s bookstore on campus as they buy back the latest editions of core books.

Fun, entertainment and miscellaneous

During second year, I found myself opting for entertainment offered by the University. Prices at Union Films (our on-campus cinema), for example, are at least a third cheaper than regular tickets. Union Southampton also offers other means of fun such as lunch deals at The Bridge and drinks deals at The Stags. I still enjoyed the occasional night out but I found myself going out less and opting to spend my money on food and a pint!

I also had some money to buy a gym membership. Finally buying a gym membership turned out to be the best decisionSport and Wellbeing membership allows you access to all of the University’s many sports complexes as well as fitness classes, outdoor courts, swimming pools and many more all for £155 per year for students. Super cheap – plus, who doesn’t benefit from a gym break during revision? It’s great for your brain as well as your body.

So there we go: my university budgeting experience. The last three years have been challenging with money but with some advice from friends, family and a little bit of research and a ton of sensible judgements, living as a student is really not all toast and bake beans. I realised that with less self-indulgence, I was able to live comfortably.

If you have any tips on student budgeting, why not leave them below? If you need someone to talk to about budgeting here at Southampton there is plenty of ways to get some financial advice. You can always speak to a financial advisor from Student Services or from the Union's Advice Centre.

Happy budgeting!


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Some final thoughts

So, this is my last blog post, which I'm writing sat on the UniLink bus on my way to the train station. Today is the ONS conference 'Transforming the census: 2021 and beyond', held at the Winchester business school.

I've been looking forward to this conference for ages because it's being organised by the department that I will be joining in October, so I'm hoping that it will give me an insight into the work that they do and ideas for what I might be doing for them!

Four years ago I would never have had the confidence to sign up for a conference on my own, and I still wouldn't be going if not for the University of Southampton. My four years here has seen my personality grow in leaps and bounds.

Whilst I'm still not convinced that I know 'how to adult', I'm really excited for the future. Having spent the past 20 years in education, I'm a little afraid because it's really the only thing I've ever known, but then I remember everything else I've done that I never could have seen myself doing before I came to uni, and I know I'm more prepared than I believe.

However I am very glad that I'm not leaving Southampton - and not even the University really, since the ONS is only up the road in Titchfield and works closely with the University and my department, so I hope to still see many of the lecturers and undergraduate students that I know.

Since this is my last chance to do this publicly, I would like to thank all of the wonderful staff at the University who have helped me, taught me how to think and how to question and made my time here absolutely wonderful. Without their hard work, I would not be in the position that I am today and I am extremely grateful to them for that.

Finally thank you to the team at Life at Southampton for adding something extra to enjoy in my final year!

And because I can't resist, some photos from my last few days in Rome....

The Duomo and Basilica in Florence looking beautiful in the setting sun

The Colosseum, ever impressive

Ruins, but what ruins!