Monday, 10 October 2011

Hello from our VP Welfare & Representation, Steph Johnson


Welcome to the first of (hopefully) many blogs which will contain my musings on all things RUSU, some wonderful welfare-y tips and advice and updates on what I have been doing for students studying in Reading.

I’m writing this sat in my office after a very long day of Freshers’ Fayre Take Two: Attack of the Sporto’s. And my goodness I am fried! Over this past week the other four officers and I have been out and about meeting and greeting as many of the charming new students as we can get our hands on, while saying a cheery “Welcome back!” to all of our returning students. I cannot stress enough how glad I am to have you all back on campus (despite the fact that I feel like I am about to die – the dreaded Freshers’ Flu has struck)! It was mighty lonely when you were away!

I spent a good deal of my summer (when not having a great time playing at festivals on my weekends off) planning a lot of very exciting things for the coming year. Now when I say exciting things, normally I would mean exciting as in the type of thing that RUSU/welfare keenos like myself would find exciting, but genuinely I think there are some things coming up that will excite (or at least help) the masses.

Let’s kick off with my fave - the Student Safety Net smartphone application. Now hold on to your socks because what you are about to read is pretty special!

We at RUSU care about your safety, so we have signed up to trial a new smartphone app launched by the NUS which allows students to interact with each other, the Students’ Union and the NUS about all things safety (this includes personal safety when out and about and securing your home). If being able to sleep soundly in your bed at night, safe in the knowledge that you will be alerted to any nasty business going down in your area isn’t enough we have added a cheeky little incentive for Reading students to get them downloading and using this app. On the 30th November we will select one lucky person from those that have downloaded the app to win…

*drum roll*

A FREE WEEKEND IN PARIS including travel, accommodation and breakfast!!!!

Now that you have got off of the floor and returned to your seat, I’ll let you know how to get in on this. Simply search ‘Student Safety Net’ in your app store and click download, or click on this link to the iTunes store. It is free and simple. So go. Now. Do it!

While we are on an international theme, I think I’ll bring up another shiny new project that has been launched this term. Together with members of staff from both the University and the Union I have been working on a fabulous new three-pronged project which aims to aid the exchanging of cultures on our campus. 

Connect Project

From the University’s side of things comes the ‘Connect Project.’ One aspect of this project will be a number of social events at which UK and international students get together to learn about and experience different cultures and meet new friends from across the globe (for more information visit the Reading University website). 

The Buddy Project

From the Union comes ‘The Buddy Project’ which aims to partner up new international students with current home and international students in order to provide the ‘student experience’ side of advice – things like where to go for a budget shopping trip, the best places to go/eat out, things to do and places to visit in and around Reading. 

Day trips

Finally – day trips. We want to show off the area, what there is to do here and what Brits enjoy. So – Thorpe Park, Kew Gardens, Reading FC and London Irish rugby will play host to a huge group of visiting students. If you are interested in any of these – either taking part or volunteering – do get in touch!

Well, I think that is just about enough excitement for one blog. Make sure you check out my ‘Welfare Wednesdays’ blogs every Wednesday straight from my laptop to your screen for more news on what I have been kicking about doing! (Yes I realise this has not been released on a Wednesday, but hey – give me a break! We've just had Freshers’ Week for goodness’ sake!).

With oodles and oodles of Welfare love (the safest kind don’t you know!),

Steph x

Monday, 3 October 2011

Ben's guide for students

Morning all,

Skipping all the pleasantries because I’m sure you are all beautifully bronzed after holidays in sunny places, relaxed after too many mornings spent lying in bed with an episode or two of Homes Under The Hammer and all excited to get back to being students.

"Image by meophammanilow via FlickrRound about this sort of times, things just keep appearing everywhere saying things like “Remember this” or “oh, fill in this form.” Lots of this stuff is directed at freshers’ in particular. The most common of this literature being a 'Things to bring' list that first years would receive stretching perhaps 3-4 A4 sides going from the most blissfully dull such as “Bring pens to write with” to the slightly more practical “Bring a TV aerial if you’re planning on catching up with Jeremy Kyle on the days where getting out of bed seems like an awful lot of effort.”

However hopefully I’m going to provide a slightly fresh bit of advice that is more relevant to you all. Firstly by offering a few hi-coos, what-nots and pointers for 2nd and 3rd years (as well as freshers), and secondly by suggesting things that others may overlook!

First Years
Picture of Earthwise File FoldersImage via Wikipedia
If you are anything like I was, you’ll arrive with enough bags for a family of six, full of things you may never us. Quite why your mum thought you would need 200 dividers for your first term, or why she’s decided you will definitely need 30 pencils when you’re studying an English course or perhaps that its absolutely fundamental you take a few hundred spare staples just in case you need to staple A LOT, is beyond you!

Here are a few tips for getting by in your first year…
  • Technically, I can't tell you to keep your door open (fire hazards and that), but make the effort to get out there, meet people and interact! People won't make the effort if you sit behind a closed door.
  • Alcohol can lead to an array of amusing incidents however not only is it best to enjoy it responsibly, but also avoid drinking too much on your first night evenings. People just in general love to remind you of that time “You woz hammered.” Perhaps it’s a good idea to make sure it wasn’t on your first night that you woke up outside shirtless, with one shoe, covered in permanent marker…
  • If you have a place in halls have a wander around and introduce yourself to people - knock on doors and have a chat. Don’t be embarrassed, everyone is in the same boat as you.

Second Years
  • Make sure you enjoy yourself. Don’t take this to mean “yeah don’t do any studying or anything” Obviously make time for study and that, it’s important you get good grades, and aren’t completely lost in June when you’re sitting at a desk in sports park writing an exam answer you have completely made up.
  • Get involved with plenty of things that will be good for your CV! Employers take very little interest in that time you beat your housemate at Fifa, or the time you watched Gilmore girls for 5 hours straight. Sit on committees and join societies. Employers want sociable people who will represent a company well and be a good team member.
  • Finally on a very similar note, spread your wings a little bit, go out of your comfort zone and try things you haven’t yet tried. Once you move into a house with all your best pals from first year it can become increasingly easy to get isolated, go out and try new things like sports, societies or media!

Third Years
    Steacie Science and Engineering Library at Yor...                          via Wikipedia
  • Right you lot have got to take things more serious than you ‘ave done, you’re all getting on a bit and starting to settle down. If you need to let your hair down get it out of the way early. Have some fun at the beginning of the term then knuckle down, I bloomin’ love Christmas and would have been gutted to miss out on any clowning around that takes place in December because you haven’t been up to speed on your dissertation etc.
  • Surround yourself with people who are pro-active, fun but also hard-working. These sorta’ people are the key to being motivated.
  • Choose your nights that will be your chilled out/going out evenings. DON’T CHOOSE a night out where you’ve got a horribly early start to the next day where you’ll be getting up for a lecture in your finest baggy hoody, Ugg boots and those comfy old school Nike grey tracksuit bottoms that you’ve had since you were 15.
Your time at uni goes ever so quickly so make the most of it, a lot of this stuff seems basic but it can genuinely make a difference if you try it.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon, campus is all kinds of quiet at the mo.

Attempted Urban cool guy handshake