K-POP x Fandom Society’s Lockdown Activities – Society Showcase

By Jannah Campbell-Williams – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, both the K-POP and Fandom societies have been doing all that they can to keep their activities running smoothly…

By Jannah Campbell-Williams – K-POP & Fandom Society

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, both the K-POP and Fandom societies have been doing all that they can to keep their activities running smoothly. In times like these, we feel that it is more important than ever to stay engaged with the outside world, even if it has to be done through a screen due to our current circumstances. We also believe that it is important to give people something to do through an activity schedule – it helps cure the inevitable bouts of lockdown boredom, it keeps your brain active, and it helps you to remember what day it is.

Weekly Kahoot Quizzes

To that end, the society has been hosting our regular Kahoot quizzes online. The K-POP Society Kahoot takes place every Wednesday at 3 PM, with questions based on K-POP (obviously), and the winner receives a £20 Amazon Gift Voucher each week! Alternatively, the Fandom Society Kahoot takes place every Saturday at 5 PM with questions based on a variety of topics such as movies, TV series, books, comics, and even games!

Both events are hosted live on Instagram, though if you can’t make it, don’t worry, both societies have set-up a number of interactive games to play on their respective Instagram stories as well – be it a game of Guess Who, or Drop One, Save One!

Follow @arukpopcam and @fandomsociety_aru on Instagram to get involved! Everyone’s welcome to join in, so we hope to see you there!

Images: Jannah Campbell-Williams & Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Taking Student Mental Health Seriously

By Izzy Woodcock – With more students being diagnosed with mental health problems than ever before, it’s no surprise that the ongoing mental health crisis…

Taking Student Mental Health Seriously: Why the Students’ Union Needs a Mental Health Representative

By Izzy Woodcock

With more students being diagnosed with mental health problems than ever before, it’s no surprise that the ongoing mental health crisis has had a sizable impact on student life. About a third of students that drop out of university do so because of mental health, and according to YouGov, one in every four students suffer from mental health problems whilst they study. Between October 2016 and April 2018, 12 students attending the University of Bristol took their own lives as a result of their declining mental health. Since then, that number has risen to 13.

It’s time to stop closing our eyes, crossing our fingers, and hoping that this will all go away on its own. We have to ask ourselves how we got to this point, and we need to roll up our sleeves and start to change things.

Bristol University has since taken steps to improve their mental health support system, but why was there not an investigation into the higher education sector as a whole? Why did we not prioritise mental health as one of the top issues facing students today? We can’t do this on our own. Facing this crisis on a case-by-case basis is not enough. We need to work together; we need people who are on the case.

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Students’ Unions would usually have a set of full-time officers whose job it is to support and represent their students, manage campaigns, and liaise with their respective universities. And while the job descriptions vary from one to the other, some Students’ Unions have a dedicated “Health and Wellbeing” officer among their ranks. Now, our Students’ Union has a “faculty-based” officer system. This means that they do not have an officer dedicated to students’ wellbeing, instead, each officer’s role represents a specific university faculty. And while every one of our officers can address concerns regarding a students’ mental health – they’re doing so amongst other things. What’s going to happen to their existing campaigns, such as their “break the cycle” campaign, after they leave? Are we going to have a new mental health campaign every year?

Leicester University’s Students’ Union has a dedicated Wellbeing officer; the University of York has a dedicated “Community and Wellbeing” officer, the University of Newcastle has a “Welfare and Equality” officer, and the University of Nottingham has an “Equal Opportunities and Welfare” officer. The list goes on.

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How then, as a Union, would we address something that’s so far-reaching that it can affect every aspect of a student’s life? Two words: Campaign Representatives.

Sexism, racism, disabilities; there’s a campaign representative for each of them. Homophobia, biphobia, and other phobias relating to sexuality; there’s a campaign representative for each of them as well.

Discrimination against people because of their mental health is real and it affects all of us. Maybe you have social anxiety, but you have to give a presentation tomorrow; maybe you have depression, but you have essays due in next week. In my opinion, the system we have now wasn’t built with mental health in mind.

Mental health is still a taboo. We just have to “get on” with things. We’re told we’re “crazy”, “lazy”, and that “something’s wrong with us”. We’re told that if they were fine at our age, we should be too. No more.

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Campaign representatives are there to help alleviate these kinds of issues. They give us a voice when we’ve lost our own, or when we don’t know what to say or how to say it. In my opinion, mental health deserves this kind of dedication.

The University does do a lot to help combat its student’s mental health issues. They spend vast amounts of money on counselling as well as other tools to help their students manage their conditions. The University’s London-based campus recently introduced a “peer mental health programme” which pays students to run evening activities and offer a listening ear to their fellow peers.

So, what’s the problem with that?

It’s the communication gap. The missing link between the Students’ Union and the University regarding student mental health. We should be working together. We should let the Wellbeing Team have a visible presence in the Students’ Union, as well as on its website. The Wellbeing Team and the Activities Team should be working together to create activities to make students feel less isolated. As it stands, the Students’ Union and the University are working on parallel lines; we need to work on one line and have one goal between them. We need one individual to do this by bringing the lines together.

I have submitted a motion that would create a position within the Students’ Union for a dedicated “Wellbeing” officer. Voting shall open on Wednesday 22nd; readers can follow this event on Facebook to keep up-to-date with its progress.

Images: Eric Ward on Unsplash, Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash & Ana Flávia on Unsplash

The Ruskin Journal ft. Creative Writing Society Open Mic Night

By Ciéra Cree & Joshua Dowding – On Friday 21st February, both The Ruskin Journal and the Creative Writing Society co-hosted an open mic event as part of LGBTQ+ History Month…

By Ciéra Cree & Joshua Dowding

On Friday 21st February, both The Ruskin Journal and the Creative Writing Society co-hosted an open mic event as part of LGBTQ+ History Month. For those of you that couldn’t attend, the event took place between 7 o’clock and 10 o’clock in The Academy hall on Cambridge campus.

The theme for this year’s LGBTQ+ History Month was ‘poetry, prose and playwrights’ – something that both of our societies know something about and saw as an opportunity to work together to bring an event to life.

“The open mic was open to all, it felt really inclusive to the diverse students that were able to showcase their talent in a safe space with safe people.”

Gabs Bennington, The Ruskin Journal & Attendee

Creating a space where people could share their passions, and feel accepted for who they are, was very important to us. The Students’ Union had decorated The Academy with various flags and accoutrements baring the symbols of the movement we sought to represent. And all throughout the planning stages of the event, something about this night felt special to us.

Each table a copy of The Ruskin Journal’s latest annual, as well as an assortment of snacks, and a variety of sexual health packs put together by Amanda Campbell, AHSS Vice President, as part of her ‘Best Night Out’ campaign. We’re told at least a few of them went!

“It’s a safe space, a small nook in Cambridge which attracted vibrant diverse people and reminded them that they have a place in the world.”

Shania Perera, Performer

At 7 o’clock, people started to fill the room. While some mingled, others took their seats. It was exciting to watch the event slowly come to life as more and more people turned up at the doors, poking their heads in first before their bodies joined them shortly after. And before too long, The Academy was nearly full – incredible, we thought. If only we’d started on time!

It took until around quarter to 8 before the flow of people began to ease and the audience took their seats. But eventually, Merika and Ciera took to the stage to kick off the night in earnest with a short speech that went like this:

Thank you for coming along to our event, since planning for this started, we’ve all been very excited to see it unfold. We’re proud to be showing a unity not only between our two societies tonight but also one between us here together, supporting and accepting each other.

We hope that you leave this room feeling happy, comfortable and most importantly like you belong. No one should be made to feel that they aren’t accepted or allowed to be who they are.

We, first before anything, would like to thank you for taking the time to be here in support of your fellow friends and students. Our university holds such a beautiful diversity of cultures, ideas and beliefs, some of which we’re here to celebrate right now.

The night saw a total of 19 performances take place ranging from beautiful spoken word to poetry, from music to rap, and even some acapella performances to boot. Pieces like Shania Perera’s ‘A Distracted Physicist’, to Freddy’s infamous bars that got everyone joining in, to a glorious rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ by Ronnie to cap off the evening in style.

For the record, we have included a complete list of the night’s performances below:

  1. Merika – 19:49 PM – Poem
  2. Pavlov & Antony – 19:53 PM – Music (‘Heart-Shaped Box’ – Nirvana)
  3. Pavlov & Antony – 19:58 PM – Music (‘Come As You Are’ – Nirvana)
  4. Bee – 20:06 PM – Poem (featured at Desperate Fleas)
  5. Ciera – 20:17 PM – Poem
  6. Ciera – 20:18 PM – Poem
  7. Gabs – 20:25 PM – Poem
  8. Shania – 20:29 PM – Poem
  9. Georgie & Greg – 20:38 PM – Music (‘Vienna’ – Billy Joel)
  10. Georgie & Greg – 20:42 PM – Music (‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher’)
  11. Greg (Solo) – 20:45 PM – Music (‘Bleeding Sky’ – upcoming album)
  12. Daryl – 20:55 PM – Poem (‘Gaps’)
  13. Daryl – 21:01 PM – Poem
  14. Daryl – 21:11 PM – Poem
  15. Freddy – 21:14 PM – Music (“hell yeah!”)
  16. Pavlov & Antony – 21:22 PM – Music (‘Creep’ – Radiohead)
  17. Shania – 21:33 PM – Poem
  18. (we’re sorry, we didn’t catch your name!) – 21:45 PM – Poem
  19. Ronnie – 21:54 PM – Music (‘Hallelujah’ – Jeff Buckley)

After all was said and done, Merika Tencati took to the stage once again to thank everyone for making the event a night to remember. Sentiment was expressed, events were plugged, and the night drew neatly to a close – and what an incredible night it was.

“It was a great collaboration between Creative Writing, Ruskin Journal and the Students Union. I had a lot of fun and was happy to see so many students and staff supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”

Merika Tencati, Creative Writing Society & Co-Host

We would like to thank everyone who came to this, our inaugural open mic event, and thank you to the people who helped us make it all possible. We’ll see you at the next one!

Cardiology & Cardiothoracics – Society Showcase

By George Liu & Ankesh Gandhi – Are you interested in Cardiology and Cardiothoracics? Are you a student at the university’s Chelmsford Campus? Then our aptly named society is the one for you!…

By George Liu & Ankesh Gandhi – Cardiology & Cardiothoracics Society (Chelmsford)

Are you interested in Cardiology and Cardiothoracics? Are you a student at the university’s Chelmsford Campus? Then maybe our aptly named society is the one for you!

We, the CCTS committee, are dedicated and determined to bring you the best opportunities and assistance to enhance your portfolio, network with relevant contacts, and broaden your knowledge of the subject and its surrounding areas.

Cardiology and Cardiothoracics are both highly competitive medical specialities. Cardiology is the study and treatment of disorders relating to the heart and blood vessels. Whereas Cardiothoracic surgery is the field of medicine involved in the surgical treatment of organs inside the thorax – the chest – as well as the treatment of conditions relating to the heart and lungs.

According to credible sources, the majority of patients in the UK suffer from a cardiovascular condition, and heart conditions are one of the world’s leading causes of death and long-term illness. We, as a society, feel it is both insightful and incredibly important to look further into these areas of study.

Both Cardiology and Cardiothoracics are highly dynamic and involving fields to become engaged with, and both are fascinating to discuss. So much has been explored, yet so much more has yet to be discovered. What better place is there to discuss these topics than a student society like ours?

As a society, we’ve outlined a number of goals we’d like to attain over the coming year:

  1. To widen people’s interests and understanding through talks and workshops.
  2. To host a ‘Journal Club’ every two weeks providing members with the opportunity to analyse and critique papers as an aspiring healthcare professional. We aim to open this up for guest speakers and attendees to present their own papers as part of the SSC (Student Selected Component) of the Medicine MBChB course.
  3. To network members with industry professionals working in the field.
  4. To assist with portfolio building since CT surgery is one of the most difficult specialities to get into out of most medical professions.

This year, our focus has been to host the bi-weekly Journal Club sessions and we hope, in the forthcoming weeks, to begin publicising papers in small groups. Having a safe space for serious discussions is crucial in cultivating the necessary skills for the sector, as well as allowing everyone present the comfort of being able to voice their thoughts and opinions.

Regardless of whether you are a medical student or not, you are more than welcome to visit us as a prospective member, or as a taster to learn something new. Visit our Students’ Union webpage for more information.

Image: Hush NaidooUnsplash

Media Exhibitions in London – Trip Report

By Ciéra Cree – On Wednesday 4th of December, first-year students taking the Media Studies course were invited on their first university field trip – a day that played out to be both exciting and memorable for many reasons…

By Ciéra Cree

On Wednesday 4th of December, first-year students taking the Media Studies course were invited on their first university field trip – a day that played out to be both exciting and memorable for many reasons.

During class when the trip was announced, we were told where to collect our train tickets and what the trip would entail. The plan was to visit two exhibitions in London – one by Nam June Paik held at the Tate Modern, and the other being a ‘multimedia show’ taking place at the Store in Temple. We agreed to meet-up by the train station’s Christmas Tree before setting off on our journey.

The fact that it was the festive season made this little adventure all the more enticing to me – who wouldn’t want to see the pretty lights adorning London streets? I was excited to see the exhibitions too! ‘Media’ covers such a wide spectrum of topics, so it’s difficult to gauge what to expect from an exhibition about a subject so broad. Because of this, I was very interested to see what was yet to unfold.

At 10:15 AM, our train started up and we were on our way to London. Our journey there was relatively quiet and the train itself wasn’t too busy, at least not around where I was sitting. There was a low hum of chatter, some people reading, others on their laptops working, and the occasional person addictively looking down at their phone. Coming from a small village without public transport meant I hadn’t actually been on that many trains before. This was something rather amusing to think about while looking out of the window. I don’t mind trains, not particularly, but the ones that go really fast can be a bit…disconcerting.

Our first stop was Kings Cross to meet with Neil, Deputy Head for Film and Media, so he could join us on the final leg of the ride. After that, we all boarded another train bound for central London. The journey from Cambridge wasn’t excessively long – it’s a doable trip that’s definitely worth taking for students who want to go exploring in the city.

Nam June Paik Exhibition

At 12:30 PM, we arrived in London and made our way over to the Tate together to have a look around. It was exciting to see the doorway into the exhibition without knowing what was next. We could see a bit through the entrance while we waited, but there was so much more to follow.

The walls of the exhibition space were both a pale cream and white partnered with wooden flooring. It really helped to enhance the space of the room – the minimalistic choice ensured that the pieces remained a viewer’s undistracted focus throughout their stay.

Something I quickly noticed and appreciated, was the range of exhibits on show – evident due to Media’s broad nature. There were metaphorical pieces, symbolic pieces and literal pieces. Pieces that worked on their own and others that worked collectively. Pieces which were physically there in front of us and others that were both digital and interactive. Some rooms had screens with the lights out, while others were standing out in the open. There was something here to cater to everyone’s tastes.

One of the more popular exhibits in the Nam June Paik exhibition was the silhouette screen which projected coloured images of the subject in front of it onto the adjacent wall. It was fun to move around, experiment with the projection, layer colours on top of one another, and to see how the projections changed depending on the proximity of the screen to the subject.

In the same room, there were some other thought-provoking exhibits: the first of which being two life-sized humanoid figures made out of old radios and TVs. Visually they were appealing regardless of further inferences, they were well-produced and very innovative, but it’s always interesting to delve into the thoughts of what something could symbolise beyond the surface. Could they be representative of how television or the media, in general, infiltrate people’s minds and become an inescapable part of them? Could they be a way of showing how people’s thoughts and lives, similarly to that of a TV or radio show, are something that others can “tune into” at their leisure? Or perhaps it may be a metaphorical way of showing how we broadcast certain aspects of ourselves – only the aspects that we want others to see.

When I looked closer at the expressions of the two characters, on the female figure I noticed some marks that looked like tears under their eye, and that the mouth is notably sadder than that of it’s smug, male looking counterpart. Perhaps this signifies something deeper about gender disparity within the media industry?

A few paces away from the figures was a rather peculiar table. On the table was an egg sat under a lamp and by this egg were two projections of the egg. What could this be saying to us about life? How could this be applied to Media? My initial interpretation of it was that it could be displaying the simplicity of life in its beginning. The world is stagnant when nothing has occurred. We aren’t aware of others or our surroundings, and for all that we know, we could be alone. That feeling, in relation to the projected eggs, is illusionary.

As for my thoughts on this in regards to Media, the lamp was the key to deciphering my meaning. Media so often puts people under the spotlight, presenting them to us as being “real” and “perfect” (what Richard Dyer would deem as “stars”). We idolise them and put them under our own spotlights, causing ourselves to feel faded and unable to shine as bright, like the projections, in comparison. We forget that these people aren’t real, they themselves may forget that the persona they show isn’t who they are, so the projected illusionary eggs around them could also be interpreted as versions of their former selves, to whom they have grown detached.

My favourite piece from Nam June Paik, however, had to be the Television Garden which, as the title suggests, was a garden filled with TVs. The television screens were synchronised, sat in a dark room, showing the same images simultaneously in a loop among the leaves. It was one of the first things I approached when walking into the exhibition as it immediately intrigued me and appealed to my love of metaphors.

‘The Nam June Paik exhibition was an interesting walk through another person’s view on TV, audio and Media. His artwork maybe didn’t make sense at times, but it was more about our interpretation of his thoughts, work and presentation. My favourite was the TV garden.’ – Elizabete Sipko

What could a garden filled with televisions mean? Well, it can mean a number of things, whatever your heart desires in fact. Off the bat it serves as a great juxtaposition between nature and technology – it could be showing how the natural world today has become less appealing to people, and how instead of being surrounded by greenery that people would rather be immersed in a TV show. Or perhaps it could be illustrating how media sources demand our attention regardless of where we are, making it difficult to disconnect and be present in the real world. Or maybe there’s a more ecological message being pushed, and it’s a cry out for the environment. Some food for thought – does the garden have to mean a literal garden, or could it be representative of something else?

Nam June Paik, as I’ve mentioned, was presented to us in a minimal style. Artefacts were well spaced out under their natural lighting for us to see or from within their darkroom. The second exhibition we attended however carried an entirely different, more modernised vibe.

‘I thought the trip was really fun and I liked that we were shown different exhibitions. I was able to learn about different artists that I’ll definitely look more into. The Nam June Paik exhibition especially made me think about the ways you can mix different mediums as an artist, and I think this is something that could inspire my work in the future.’ – Sara Roberto

Store in Temple Exhibition

After a lunch break on the South Bank, we made our way to the multimedia show at the Store in Temple. This exhibition was divided by corridors and curtains which not only helped to build up a sort of anticipation for each exhibit, but to also give our minds a moment to clear before heading on to see what was next.

Each room seemed to have a predominant colour theme that starkly contrasted with the ones immediately before it. There were lots of coloured lights and screens flickering through montages of images. My favourite place inside this exhibition was in a room where the walls were made up entirely of mirrors and screens playing videos. These videos varied: some were just patterns whereas others had narrators speaking profound messages. One of these profound messages was spoken while a man was shown on a beach looking out to the sea, which, to me, really stood out among the rest of the exhibition.

The multimedia show was a colourful and fun experience, but to me, it wasn’t as impactful or thought-provoking as Nam June Paik. The artwork was appealing and trendy, which I appreciated, but as someone who likes to think, the first exhibition was preferred. However, I would still definitely go back to this exhibition again given the chance – it was visually spectacular.

‘I really enjoyed the trip and thought that the artwork was really interesting and unique. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting! I liked the second exhibition especially as it seemed the most experimental and abstract.’ – Lorenzo Barba

Marian Goodwin Gallery

To our surprise, we ended up going to a third exhibition – Nan Goldin at the Marian Goodwin Gallery – which was free and not too far away. This third one seemed to be very ‘people focused’ and often over-sexualising, though I feel it was trying to communicate something about femininity or the concept of beauty itself. Wall displays showed photos of people in drag attire, people attending pageants, and others that were entirely naked. There were also some rooms showing videos, one of which I remember was rather vivacious, and another where a woman was shown celebrating her birthday and reflecting on her younger years. The link between age and beauty can be made here, as well as the fact that women are often sexualised within the media.

Among all this upstairs was a room made up of pastel landscape paintings which I thought were beautiful despite seeming out of place. The room was so calm and spacious, and the paintings held an enormity of depth to them. They were by far my favourite part of the exhibition.

As we made our way out of the building, down Oxford Street and back to the packed train station where we struggled back on board our train, I sat and thought about the day gone by. It had been lovely, not just as an experience, but as an opportunity to spend time with people from the course without being in a classroom environment.

‘The trip to London was not only great fun but also a great insight into different types of art that is shown within multiple galleries. Also, who could forget about the guy on the tannoy in the underground during rush hour – that man deserves his own sold-out show.’ – Johnny Knoll

Overall it was fun, interesting, and a day that I am grateful for.

Take Little Steps Towards Your Bright Future! – Society Showcase

By Ekaterina Zenina – Law has always been the most important part of a functioning society. It is also known as being the most mysterious and complicated area that people are not ready to venture in to understand…

By Ekaterina Zenina – Law Society (Cambridge)

This is the first post in a new series covering some of the different societies at Anglia Ruskin University. Would you like to showcase your society? Get in touch with The Ruskin Journal!

“Expand your knowledge and understanding of law, develop professionally and enhance your skills! – with the Anglia Law Society, Cambridge”

Law has always been the most important part of a functioning society. It is also known as being one of the most mysterious and complicated areas that ordinary people still struggle to understand – that is why lawyers are known for making money from people’s problems!

However, the law is far from witchcraft. It involves the same essential skills that are applicable and appreciated in other professions. Lawyers need to be focused, punctual, capable of networking and negotiating professionally and arguing their position (which is also known as “mooting”). Of course, they also need to know their law.

If you are looking to develop any of these skills – and to learn a bit more about the law – Law Society’s events will be a perfect place to go.

We are building our annual to help and support you in developing your skills and expanding your knowledge of the different areas of law. We also aim to help you build your CV and network with professionals from the legal industry, which can be helpful regardless of whether you are studying HR, Marketing, Business, Medicine or, of course, Law and Criminology. All areas of our lives are regulated by the law and it wouldn’t hurt to know a bit more about how it applies to your area of study.

One of the brightest examples of a society event, which gave us all an opportunity to network and build our CVs, was the Law Panel and Networking event which took place in October 2019. Our panellists included a recruitment professional from a well-known recruitment firm, Nelson Chambers (Andrew Fragnito-Day), a Head of Fenners Chambers (Meryl Hughes), a solicitor and recruitment specialist from Tees (Helen Midgley) and a barrister and recruitment professional from Fenners Chambers (Joshua Walters). They talked about their career journeys, shared some tips and then spent time networking with our attendees over some wine, cheese and grapes. It was a wonderful evening which received fabulous feedback from both our guests and guest speakers.

Our guest speakers shared some invaluable advice on how to write the best CV and a covering letter, and how to let your personality shine through during your interview. Here is a sample of things we learnt:

  • You are all unique: there is something special about every one of you, whether it is a hobby, extracurricular activity or something you do for the community. Tell us about this in your CV, explain how it makes you a better person in an interview, and you will stand out! Go to your interview smiling, saying “Look at me!” – and we will (Meryl Hughes).
  • Find time to do something beyond your lectures: coming to the events, getting involved with the Law Clinic, immersing yourself in the world of a profession you want to have in the future by reading. These all count towards your future career and make you stand out (Andrew Fragnito-Day).
  • Ask questions, network, show interest and learn more about what you do and about other disciplines: develop yourself constantly. No recruiter is working FOR you – instead, YOU are trying to showcase yourself, and all the extra things you do will give you bonus marks when compared with others (Helen Midgley).
  • Be honest: in interviews, during internships and vacation schemes, in your CV. Don’t make up your “unique selling point” – be genuine with yourself and find out what it actually is. If in doubt – look at point One, made by Meryl. Lies will always be uncovered (Joshua Walters).
GUEST SPEAKERS + LAW SOC
Guest speakers visiting the society

Last semester, we concentrated on our negotiation skills and building professional relationships, and held a Professional Negotiation Skills workshop in collaboration with the HR and Management Society. We worked hard to ensure that our members, mostly Law students, had a chance to network with those who may become their closest friends in future – HR, Business, Management students and also Entrepreneurs and peer Law students. That is why we closely collaborated (and will continue to do so!) with Entrepreneurship, HRM and Business Societies, Faculty of Business and Law and Anglia Law Clinic. We also introduced a Commercial Awareness Bulletin and Weekly Newsletter, which are sent to our members-only, to boost their commercial awareness and inform them about some amazing events happening on and off-campus.

As a recognition of our hard work, we were awarded the SU “Society of the Month” award in October due to the “huge difference [we made] to students by running events to support and encourage them in their career journeys”. In December, our president was commended as the SU “Committee member of the Month”, and in January 2020, for all the amazing things we have done, we received the SU Gold Accreditation from the SU.

SOTM
‘Society of the Month’ award photo

But this was only the beginning. At the start of next semester, we are announcing our new agenda, full of exciting and useful events. Some of these are listed below:

  • Mooting Workshop and Demonstration – 20th January. Do you want to argue your point in court, workplace or personal life? Learn from lawyers! The Head of Law, Richard Mallett, will give you the best tips, and the ARU mooting team will demonstrate these in practice – all in Anglia School’s very own courtroom!
  • Refreshers with the Societies with HR and Entrepreneurship Societies – 22nd January. The evening of networking, games and refreshments, meeting new people from your faculty and beyond!
  • Surgery on trial: Legal Pitfalls of being a surgeon with a consultant surgeon and a Chair of Norfolk Law Society, Alexander Hardy – 11th February. This will be a talk about how medicine and law work together, and how well do they do so. Medical, Law and Criminology students should be the first in line, with everyone who has ever had any medical treatment to follow – this is definitely an area of law you need to know about!
  • Using LinkedIn for professional purposes with Emma Jennings – 25th February. Have you heard about LinkedIn and a massive boost it gave to e-hireability? The tips shared by Emma will be equally great for all students, and all online recruitment platforms!
  • Employment law talk and case study with Claire Sleep – 10th March. This talk, given by a highly commended employment lawyer and a partner in a large firm, Ashtons Legal, will provide a lot of information about how employment conflicts are solved, and about some aspects of employment law that can be affected by Brexit.

There are even more events planned, and more information about those already described, on the SU events calendar, the Law Society webpage and our social media. Follow us and stay tuned!

Instagram: @arulawcamb
Twitter: @AngliaLawSoc
Facebook: Anglia Ruskin Law Society Cambridge Campus
SU Website: angliastudent.com/societies/lawsociety

Students, Alumni & Staff Pen Open Letter to University Governors

By Joshua Dowding – Since August, 155 students, staff members, and university alumni have signed an open letter addressed to the Governors of the university, citing concern with the Chair of Governors decision to become a Trustee to…

By Joshua Dowding

Since August, 155 students, staff members, and university alumni have signed an open letter addressed to the Governors of the university, citing concern with the Chair of Governors decision to become a Trustee to The Global Warming Policy Foundation, known as the GWPF. Dr Jerome Booth’s decision to associate himself with the Foundation in this manner has sparked condemnation from research fellows, PhD researchers and lecturers, a significant number of whom have signed the open letter.

In July, the climate science publication DeSmog UK published an article regarding the recent appearance of Dr Booth’s name on the list of trustees, on the GWPF website. DeSmog reported that Dr Booth’s decision was taken because ‘he was interested in energy policy and believes [that] greater scrutiny of climate policies is needed’. He goes on to say that ‘the GWPF has no collective position on climate science, but encourages open and balanced discussion’. DeSmog also reported that Dr Booth had made an undisclosed number of donations to the GWPF, though no details of these gifts were chronicled.

However, as DeSmog also pointed out, Dr Booth’s asset management company – New Sparta, of which he is currently Chairman – does invest in ‘renewable energy strategies’. Highlighting it as one of the company’s current investment themes.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation describes itself as an ‘all-party and non-party think tank and registered educational charity’, and that while they’re ‘open-minded on the contested science of global warming’, the Foundation is ‘deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of the policies currently being advocated’. The Foundation’s website stresses that they are ‘in no sense anti-environmental’, and that their aim is to ‘provide the most robust and reliable economic analysis and advice’.

While the foundation is not a lobby group, it’s ‘wholly-owned subsidiary’ – The Global Warming Policy Forum – states on its website that it has a growing ‘influence’ among ‘both UK and international policy makers’. The Forum describes itself as a ‘think tank which conducts campaigns and activities which do not fall squarely within the [foundation’s] remit as an educational charity’.

The Ruskin Journal is keen to stress that Dr Booth has no documented affiliation with this wholly-owned subsidiary, though the fact that it is ‘wholly-owned’ is public knowledge and is therefore noteworthy in it’s own right.

The open letter, set to be published in December, suggests that Dr Booth should resign as Trustee of the foundation, believing his involvement with the GWPF to be a ‘direct contradiction’ to the university’s commitment to sustainability. The letter also asks the remaining Governors to be ‘active advocates for sustainability’, stating that the university is ‘recognized for it’s world-leading contributing to sustainability through numerous awards’. The letter also recognizes the ‘many valuable ways’ in which Dr Booth – as Chair of Governors – has contributed to the university throughout his tenure.

Sarah Royston – the letter’s author and inaugural signatory – provided this statement to The Ruskin Journal: ‘As a sustainability researcher, I’m proud of ARU’s strong reputation as a green University, and our pioneering research and teaching on environmental issues. So I was really shocked when a colleague at another university told me that ARU’s chairman was publicly supporting this anti-science lobby group. I hope that Jerome Booth will listen to the staff and students, and stop all involvement with the GWPF’ – Sarah is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the university.

Sources

  1. https://www.desmog.co.uk/2019/07/05/anglia-ruskin-university-chairman-and-tory-donor-jerome-booth-becomes-trustee-climate-science-denial-group
  2. https://newspartaam.com/investment-themes/renewable-energy-strategies/
  3. https://www.thegwpf.org/who-we-are/
  4. https://www.thegwpf.com/who-we-are/

Do You Listen to Music Whilst Studying?

By Demi Marshall – Many University students listen to music whilst studying. The choice in music among students reaches various genres and styles. I wanted to investigate this further, and see what ways students find music whilst studying to be beneficial…

By Demi Marshall

Many University students listen to music whilst studying. The choice in music among students reaches various genres and styles.

I wanted to investigate this further, and see what ways students find music whilst studying to be beneficial. I was also curious as to what genres students prefer while studying. To collect some of my own data, I created Instagram polls and conducted a few interviews with University students.

A 2013 study analysed pros and cons of studying with music. After having students take a variety of tests both with and without music, the study concludes:

“The use of music as a companion to studying was shown to be quite individualised.”

After analysing my Instagram poll results and interview responses, my data also reflects this conclusion. Results show a majority of students find music while studying to be beneficial for their concentration, but not all.

When conducting a poll on Instagram, followers first answered whether or not they listen to music while studying. For this question, 75% answer yes, while 25% answer no.

The majority of students who said they do listen to music answered another question, asking whether the type of music changes based on what homework they are doing. Responses to this question show 61% answer yes, and 39% answer no.

The participating students prefer listening to music while studying. However, this is not exclusively genres they typically listen to.

The final question on this poll asks whether students find they concentrate better listening to their favourite music, or a different genre. 47% say their favourite genre, while 53% say a different genre.

Music not only motivates these students, but as they tailor the style to what homework they are doing, find improvement in their concentration.

When interviewing some University students about music and their studying habits, both students prefer listening to music whilst studying. Ellie, age 21 studying Music Education, describes how the style of music changes depending what homework she’s doing, “It depends more on how long I’ve been working- once I get bored or tired, I have to turn on pump up music”.

Ellie notes that music is distracting for her while studying if it has lyrics, “I find that music with words makes it more difficult to study, so I mostly use instrumental music”. When asked the benefits of studying with music, Ellie finds music helps improve her focus, “It provides good background noise so that the back of my mind can focus on something and I don’t get as distracted by random thoughts”.

A student named Emily, age 21 studying Creative Writing, also provides some insight into her use of music while studying. Emily discusses how she concentrates listening to her favourite music, “My favourite music changes quite frequently depending on my mood…but when I’m doing email stuff and writing…then sometimes I’ll listen to my current favourite genre.”

Emily links the benefits of studying with music to the way she takes in information:

“I know that I am a very auditory learner and processor, so I need to have music playing to block out any other noises, voices, or music. I think putting in my headphones and playing my music has also become a part of my homework and studying routine.”

The students interviewed, as well as those who participated in the Instagram polls, give an idea of some benefits that studying with music provides.

Not only do a majority of students find it helps them concentrate, but many also agree that it is an important part of their study routine.

What artists do you listen to while studying? Leave a comment in box below! 

(Image from https://www.themodernman.com/dating/how-to-talk-to-a-woman-who-is-wearing-headphones.html )

We Need to Talk About ARU’s Sexual Violence Policies

By Hannah Cox – Last year, students questioned the effectiveness in using the Code of Conduct and Human Resources Policy to tackle issues of sexual violence. Alumni have even taken to social media to report their dissatisfaction with ARU policies…

By Hannah Cox

Last year, students questioned the effectiveness in using the Code of Conduct and Human Resources Policy to tackle issues of sexual violence. Alumni have even taken to social media to report their dissatisfaction with ARU policies.

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That is not to say that Anglia Ruskin does not support its students in reporting and managing issues of sexual misconduct. One victim has stated how grateful she is for the support Anglia Ruskin has given her and the effective handling of her situation.

David Walmsley, who chairs the sexual respect meetings as the deputy director of student services, says it is important to understand the role of the university when reporting:

“It’s not always about solving and closure. It’s also about pro-active management and support with frustrating outcomes.”

There are issues with conviction across the system in regards to sexual misconduct. It is important that students know what will and won’t happen as well as the pros and cons. Anglia Ruskin has eight Sexual Violence Liason Officers (SVLOs). Anybody can contact the SVLOs at svlo@anglia.ac.uk. They are able to provide emotional and practical support. The counselling and wellbeing service are also on hand to provide support. Reports are made via the complaints procedure and as of January, ARU has installed Alice Evans as complaints manager, a new post which demonstrates Anglia Ruskin’s commitment to improving the effectiveness of current policies and procedures.

Colleen Moore, one of Anglia Ruskin’s SVLOs, highlighted the issues of current policies. There are no set outcomes, and therefore the actions to be taken are individualistic and not determined by policy. The complaints procedure is also not tailored to the reporting of sexual violence. The UK universities have been tasked with addressing hate crime, harassment and sexual misconduct and the complaints procedure has yet to take account of how different traumas need to be dealt with in different ways.

Another issue ARU is tackling, is the lack of specialist training within the complaints process. The formal complaints procedure has different stages and involves referral to a Deputy Dean or Deputy Director within the university to investigate. They receive training and guidance, but not on specialist circumstances such as sexual violence. David Walmsley assures that ARU aims to fill these gaps and that alternatives are available for the present, such as Intersol Global, who can act as external investigators. So far, they have not been required by ARU.

As of March 2019, a new tool should become available through the ARU website in order to make the complaints procedure more accessible to students as well as providing anonymous reporting. Improvements are constantly being made behind the scenes, especially in terms of support for victims. The challenge of the process can keep trauma on the surface; timeframes can be difficult, and the student can dip in and out of engagement with the process. ARU commits to ongoing support and the safety of its students.

Anglia Ruskin is also taking steps to educate students about sexual misconduct. As of September, ARU plans to work with the Consent Collective, who will provide brief guest lectures for welcome week and engage with students.

Student perception is important, and without being familiar to the process beforehand, it can be a daunting process to face. SVLOs are on hand to support students, as well as the counselling service. Anglia Ruskin does not want to put empty gestures in place, they are looking for effective ways of improving issues, especially in regards to sexual violence.

The Ruskin Journal will host updates to procedures, issues and improvements to the handling of sexual violence at ARU. Please contact hlc145@student.anglia.ac.uk if you would like to contribute to a future piece.

Sexual Violence at ARU: https://web.anglia.ac.uk/anet/student_services/sexual_violence/support_in_reporting.phtml

Out of Hours Support: https://web.anglia.ac.uk/anet/student_services/outofhours.phtml

Ruskin Bicentenary: Letters to Ruskin

By Hannah Cox – The ninth of February 2019 marked the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birthday. Since 2005, our University has been known as Anglia Ruskin University, in honour of John Ruskin’s work in multiple fields which led him to be regarded as…

By Hannah Cox

The ninth of February 2019 marked the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birthday. Since 2005, our University has been known as Anglia Ruskin University, in honour of John Ruskin’s work in multiple fields which led him to be regarded as one of the leading art and social critics of the Victorian Period. Ruskin opened the Cambridge School of Art in 1858, the school which has transformed into the ARU we know today.

Anglia Ruskin’s Elizabeth Ludlow and Nigel Cooper hosted Letters to John Ruskin on February fourteenth, joining institutions all around the country honouring the Ruskin bicentenary. The letters, written by university members, reflected Ruskin’s own engagement with others’ works, leaving rhetorical questions for the author in his annotations. The letters related to a wide range of topics, as did Ruskin’s interests which included but were by no means limited to architecture, religion, botany, geology, ornithology, literature, education and art.

Zoe Bennett and Christopher Rowland, authors of In a Glass Darkly, The Bible, Reflection and Everyday Life attended and Rowland himself contributed a letter to Ruskin. Bennett began by discussing amongst other things, Ruskin’s annotations to his Bible and how it had influenced their work. Rowland’s letter drew on Ruskin and William Blake’s handling of criticism, their madness and their inner worlds. Elizabeth Ludlow followed with a letter recalling her first experiences of Ruskin as an undergraduate, and the importance of reading his works in context, as he continuously changed his mind.  Ruskin changed his opinions concerning women, becoming an advocate for women’s education. Ludlow’s letter reflected on the value she found within Ruskin’s work, despite her disagreements with some of his values.

“Mostly, matters of any consequence are three-sided, or four-sided, or polygonal; and trotting round a polygon is severe work for people in any way stiff in their opinions.” – John Ruskin

Nigel Cooper wrote a letter that highlighted a personal resonance with Ruskin and his work. Others wrote letters empathizing with Ruskin’s ecological values and his issues with industry taking away from the human experience with life and nature. Chris Owen wrote a letter showing how Ruskin’s influence continues to impact the Art School’s teachings today, something anyone in Cambridge can see come October when art students set about Cambridge to do their observation drawings.

The event ended after a discussion lead by Nigel Cooper. Questions were raised concerning the appropriateness of associating the University with John Ruskin, which yielded mixed responses. Ruskin has arguably been unfairly portrayed in films and literature, and his personal life was one of scandal. However, his works defined him as one of history’s finest critics. An admirer of nature and beauty, his views on life and art continue to influence students over a century later.

Ruskin’s influence within Anglia Ruskin continues to live on and inspire students! 2019 has many events lined up to celebrate the life and work of Ruskin, which you can see at http://www.ruskin200.com/.

Vegan Student Options

By Emily Christmas – Veganism is often perceived as a largely expensive lifestyle, meaning it appears particularly inaccessible to students. Since the growing popularity of veganism, there has been a wave of new products being released including ready meals…

By Emily Christmas

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Veganism is often perceived as a largely expensive lifestyle, meaning it appears particularly inaccessible to students. Since the growing popularity of veganism, there has been a wave of new products being released including ready meals and mock meats. Whilst many of these can be expensive, there are still so many ways to follow a vegan lifestyle, or decrease meat, egg and dairy consumption, without having to spend extortionate amounts on meals. Not only can vegan meals be cheap and tasty, but also very accessible to students through big UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Iceland and more, releasing so many plant based alternatives. Through this article I hope to show that the majority of the foods people eat everyday can be made to be vegan, and that this doesn’t have to be an expensive transition. Whilst there is no fixed definition to which foods classify as vegan, I will be mentioning foods that don’t contain dairy, eggs, meat or honey, however acknowledge that there are further steps many choose to take including a reduction of palm oil.

Firstly, there are so many breakfast foods that are already vegan, such as cereals and toast. The main products that can be replaced for breakfast foods to make them vegan are cows milk to plant milk and dairy butter to vegetable spreads. Alpro milks including oat, soya, coconut and almond (oat is the best in my opinion!) are often on offer for £1 and can be brought long-life, meaning when they’re on sale I tend to get multiple, as they’ll last. Traditional cereals that are fairly cheap such as Weetabix, Shreddies, Cheerios and more are vegan. As well as, the supermarket own brands such as Aldi’s cereals tend to be cheaper and also dairy free. Porridge can also be a healthy and cheap option. For toast or bagels, vegetable spreads such as the Pure and Vitalite sunflower spreads also tend to be on offer for £1 in the big supermarkets too, and can be accompanied by jams, marmite etc. also mostly being vegan! For days/weekends where you fancy something a bit more, cheap options are beans on toast with Linda McCartney sausages (often on sale in the frozen section of supermarkets for £1 for 6!), yoghurt with fresh/frozen fruit and/or fruit compote, smoothies and even pancakes!

vegan image.pngFor lunch, burritos and wraps are tasty and cheap options. Tinned mix beans are great for burritos and only cost around 45p, as well as falafel wraps with hummus and salad being quick to make. Big UK supermarkets also sell Quorn chicken pieces that are great for wraps too, especially if you want something more meat like. Quorn have also recently brought out ham and chicken slices, which are perfect for sandwiches. There are also multiple vegan mayonnaises sold in Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Holland and Barrett and more. Couscous is a very cheap lunch option that can be bought in packets so are super easy to make. For less of a healthy option, most packet noodles including Super Noodles are accidentally vegan, even the chicken one! Whilst pesto normally contains parmesan, Tesco sell a vegan basil pesto in their free from section which is great and perfect for a quick pesto pasta lunch. Most shops selling meal deals now have vegan options, with Boots and Tesco having amazing options, and both being close to uni!

Finally, there are so many vegan options to have for evening meals and it’s a great way to experiment with veganism. Using vegetables to replace meat can be a healthy and cheap way of ‘veganising’ meals. Some good examples of this are using baby sweetcorn, peppers and mushrooms for a thai green curry, lentils, peppers and tomatoes for a Bolognese, and mangetout, broccoli and carrots for a stir fry. Meat alternatives can also be fairly cheap and are regularly on offer in supermarkets, with some supermarkets even having their own range of mock meats. One of the most popular meat alternatives, Linda McCartney sausages, are regularly on sale for £1 for 6 so are great to have with dinners such as roasts. Quorn also have vegan meat alternatives such as fajita strips and chicken pieces that can be used in all sorts of dishes, from curries to pasta.

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I hope this gave some insight into how accessible veganism can be, through the introduction of so many options in UK supermarkets, but also through replacing animal by-products with plant based alternatives at a low cost. For further help in transitioning to veganism, The Vegan Society have a free guide on their website: https://www.vegansociety.com. I also have an Instagram account, @veganxmas, where I post daily vegan meals to give some food inspiration! As well as, Anglia Ruskin have their own vegan society with members who are more than happy to help with anyone considering reducing their meat, dairy and egg consumption!

Join the ARU Vegan Society: https://www.angliastudent.com/socs/vegansociety/

ARU Vegan Society Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/aruVegSoc/

Vegan Instagram Account: https://www.instagram.com/veganxmas/

The Pressures of Post-Grad Plans

By Tyla Brine – “What are you going to do after uni?” Is a question asked by my colleagues, friends, family – and even my doctor, who suggests I should do a Masters and travel to Thailand. And it’s a question I don’t think I will ever have a definite…

By Tyla Brine

“What are you going to do after uni?” Is a question asked by my colleagues, friends, family – and even my doctor, who suggests I should do a Masters and travel to Thailand. And it’s a question I don’t think I will ever have a definite answer too. 

Like most other students, and still to this day, are choosing their GCSE options as young as 12 years old. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do and I picked my options based on what my friends were doing, and what I would find easy. Teachers frantically attempted to prepare us for the big working world, meanwhile all I was focusing on at that age was not my future, but getting home in time to watch Prank Patrol and nudge my friends on MSN. 

My careless attitude of picking my options was evident in my GCSE results 4 years later. I didn’t feel like I could pursue a career in acting, because I was terrible at Drama, and i certainly didn’t learn anything in French apart from, “je’ m’appelle Tyla, je voudrais pizza” – But in the end, they always say it’s good for your CV, right?

Leaving school, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and I chose my sixth form options based on what I enjoyed and thought I could actually excel in. But the pressures of picking subjects just to occupy my years left in full time education, forever clouded my judgment. By the age of 15 I had a part time job, and my attitude towards the whole ‘plan your life out, get good grades to get a job” baffled me, as I had a pretty sturdy job for a 15-year-old whose employers weren’t actually fazed about the grades on my CV or whether I mastered Pythagoras theorem, but whether I was a good communicator and just a nice person. 

Fast forward to final my year of university, and I’ve narrowed down my many lessons learnt to one subject I really enjoy and that I’m actually interested in. But does that mean I know what I want to do for the rest of my life? Not entirely. I like to think I’m not the only one who is quite indecisive about their future plans. Needless to say, I do have some idea of the different jobs I could see myself in and will aim high for. But I am aware that people change and circumstances change, and what I enjoy now may not necessarily be the same things I enjoy in 5 years time.

I feel like I am amongst many other University students who feel pressured with this question and as if it is expectant of us to graduate and go straight into a job at 21, married with kids by our 30’s, and then to stay in that industry for the rest of our lives. Some may argue that we have paid this amount to be here so really that means we aren’t allowed to do anything else. 

I have learnt many lessons whilst at university, whether that’d been in relation to my degree, but I think more importantly what I will take from my experience is the general obstacles of life that I have had to stumble over along the way, the people I’ve met, and the problems I’ve faced. University is a great platform for individuals to learn about themselves and grow, but as the years go by the question hovers over and we start to panic slightly about what’s next on the agenda for us. I don’t think any of us are really set on our future plans and I think it’s safe to say we’re all just wingin’ it, with some of us being better at hiding it then others.

To be successful and have a dream career doesn’t have to be something that’s evident on your Instagram feed boasting #livingmybestlife

But I think it’s something that pays your bills, fills your fridge, and more importantly motivates you creatively, socially or intellectually.

How to Travel on a Student Budget

By Brontë Taylor – Wanderlust can be a very expensive addiction. Especially if you’re a student! But if you’re anything like me, travelling is a must. I have a few tips and tricks to keep the price down on your next adventure. As a frequent traveler…

By Brontë Taylor

Wanderlust can be a very expensive addiction. Especially if you’re a student! But if you’re anything like me, traveling is a must. I have a few tips and tricks to keep the price down on your next adventure. As a frequent traveler, I have learnt the best ways to pick up cheap deals and enable you to keep checking off your Travel Bucket List.

The first and most important tip to put into practice before you even begin searching for your next destination: put your browser on Private browsing or Incognito. Sites save cookies on your computer, this allows them to know what you have searched previously, meaning that you might not get the best deal if you go back to the site. Private browsing stops websites from doing this.

Okay next, save yourself time and go straight to websites that compare flight prices and show you everything you need to know to book a flight. My go to websites are:

skyscanner.com

kayak.com

These sites are great; not only do they compare prices of flights for you but you can sign up for email alerts. So, if you have somewhere you want to travel to, but the flights tend to be pretty pricey, you can get weekly alerts so that you know when the prices are increasing and decreasing. Not only that, but you can also get weekly emails that show you the cheapest destinations for the week; which means if you are ever feeling particularly spontaneous, you just need to check your weekly email and BOOM you have the cheapest flights of the week in your hand. Obviously, if you want to fly for cheap then companies such as RyanAir, EasyJet and PrimeraAir are probably the best providers, although there’s no guarantee you’ll get the best service.

Unless you’re doing a day trip, you’re going to need accommodation! The best way to save money is to stay in a hostel. Hostels aren’t as scary as you may think, personally, I’ve stayed in quite a few and they’ve quite honestly been better quality than if you get a cheap hotel. Hostels are a great way to meet other avid travellers and to socialise. The website I always use for hostels is hostelworld.com, here you will be able to search for hostels in any city. I always check the reviews for these hostels because they may have high ratings but if those that have stayed there had issues, then I like to know. These reviews really help me make my decision and find the best accommodation for my trip.

Alternatively, AirBnb is also a great option if you want to keep accommodation cheap or you can always get great deals on websites like lastminute.com, where you can get flights and hotel for one cheap price. In March this year, I managed to travel to Paris for three days, (in a 4-star hotel may I add) with train included for about £150!  So, it is still possible to get some luxury on a student budget if hostels aren’t your thing.

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Paris, France. Photo by Brontë Taylor

Another great way to save money while you are travelling is to plan out where you want to go and what you want to see. Most entry prices are listed online, therefore you can prioritise what you want to see and work around those prices. It’ll make it a lot easier to budget your days and control your spending while you are away, if you have a general idea where you want go and how much it will cost. A lot of tourist spots, like museums, usually have student discounts, as long as you can prove that you are a student, some places may even let you in for free.

So those are a few of my tips and tricks to travel on a student’s budget, I hope these help you reach your travel goals.

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Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Megan Hageman

Hireath

35 years ago, I became a student at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (CCAT). I studied for a degree in English Literature and European philosophy and literature. I remember how nervous I was when I started…

Hireath

Timeless challenge, but I’m only 54 ½.

“Hiraeth” is described by Reddit as “a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for lost places of your past.”

35 years ago, I became a student at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (CCAT). I studied for a degree in English Literature and European philosophy and literature. I remember how nervous I was when I started, not knowing anyone. The person I found myself standing next to for the start of the year group photo I am still in touch with and she became my son’s godmother.

Yesterday I went back to register to be a student again, this time on a Master’s degree course. CCAT has become Anglia Ruskin University. The site in Cambridge has changed. Shabby buildings and a covered walkway have been replaced with smart new buildings. The Mumford Theatre still exists in the middle of the site, this is where I used to go to lectures, volunteer and where my graduation ceremony was held.

Yesterday I saw vending machines and recycling bins and several cafes. 35 years ago, there was a choice of 2 places to eat: a canteen, or a smoky café called The Batman. I walked around unfamiliar buildings, then suddenly spotted a familiar view, the back or side of a building I remember from when I was 19.

“Today’s fashions are for hair that isn’t so big and curly. Some clothes have come back into fashion today, blue and white horizontally striped tops, yellow waterproof jackets, and light blue jeans.”   

I still have my old student cards from the 1980s, when I was slim but thought I was fat, when my hair was still bright ginger. I permed it in the 80’s, I had a spiral perm to give myself big hair. Today’s fashions are for hair that isn’t so big and curly. Some clothes have come back into fashion today, blue and white horizontally striped tops, yellow waterproof jackets, and light blue jeans.   

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Technology simplifies life if you can use it, but I was struck by how much has changed. I wasn’t given a paper copy of a timetable, or a library card, everything was done electronically. I didn’t notice an obvious presence of librarians. I remembered the librarians from my student days, one was always very helpful, others liked to shush people. The library has moved location and is spread over several floors. The ground floor of the library had signs up reading “Where are all the books?” where you can talk, whilst other floors contain books and are silent. It was an odd feeling. Being somewhere that used to be so familiar and being somewhere different at the same time.

“We all talked about the past and laughed as the wine flowed and the sun shone in a cloudless sky, and for a moment we were all teenagers again.”

I met up with my friends from my student days in several reunions.  The last was on my 50th birthday.  I hired part of a café overlooking a lake, and we all sat out on a balcony on a hot sunny day in May. One of my friends from my student days didn’t know if she’d be able to go to the party. She was very ill. Then a few days before, she said she was going to come. Her husband drove her hundreds of miles. She was still very beautiful, slim, kind, and laughed a lot. We all talked about the past and laughed as the wine flowed and the sun shone in a cloudless sky, and for a moment we were all teenagers again. That was the last time I saw her.  Why do the best, kindest, most beautiful people die young? A few weeks later I was at her funeral, with other friends from my early student days, numb and shocked but I will never forget my kind, beautiful friend and her laughter. I won’t forget out student holidays cycling to Amsterdam one year and interrailing around Europe for a month the following year.

I had bitter-sweet memories yesterday, of the happy times from my student days and of the loss of a friend. I have confidence that I didn’t have at 19, but my body is ageing. I have a house, but when I was young, I enjoyed living in a house with friends.  We learned how to cook, how to manage our money, but we didn’t have to borrow to be students.  It was easy to live cheaply. I had a black and white TV to reduce my license fee and used coins in the phone box nearby if I wanted to ring someone. I wasn’t tied into an expensive mobile phone contract; people didn’t have mobile phones.  You had to pre-arrange to meet someone at a pre-arranged place, like under the big lion in Lion Yard and waited for them if they were late. I hand wrote my essays in my first year and bought an electric type writer in my second year, with a red and black ribbon so I could type in two colours. To look up information I had to go to the library, I couldn’t quickly look things up on a mobile phone or laptop.  There is a smart bookshop on campus. 35 years ago, there wasn’t. There used to be an excellent bookshop, Browns, on Mill Road nearby but that has gone. The shop used to stock my course books. Mill Road is smart and trendy, a very popular street in Cambridge now with a collection of individual shops, cafes and restaurants. In the 80’s it was a little shabby and you could buy a terraced house for under £20,000. Today’s prices would be worth at least 40 times more.

After I got my student card yesterday I went to look at charity shops nearby.  This is something I first started doing when I was a student, looking for clothes or objects that I could buy cheaply. I suddenly realised that I have been doing this for 35 years and it goes back to student days. So does my love of gardening and enjoying browsing bookshops. I still stay in Youth Hostels sometimes when I go away, and this goes back to my student days and interrailing. I went to Tai Chi classes as a 19-year-old student. I have been to several different Tai Chi classes over the years since, and hope to be able to join the classes at ARU.  I only discovered Tai Chi when I was a 10-year-old student because a friend wanted to go. The classes were in an old art studio.  I giggled during the first class, finding it funny.  Then I started to love it, and found it very relaxing.  Life is still an exciting adventure, but I have become invisible. It’s a long time since I’ve been a slim young woman with long permed ginger hair and a flat tummy. I’m middle aged, overweight and my hair is going white on the outside, but still feel the same inside. I still like adventure. I sailed across the channel in my early 50s in an old wooden fishing boat, with a crew of competent sailors and I’ve sailed to the Shaint Isles in the Hebrides on another former fishing boat.

My heart goes out to two young women I spoke to yesterday, Freshers, in the same queue as me.  I remember 35 years ago being nervous, not knowing anyone, not knowing how to cook or look after money.  They seemed much more self-assured than I used to be.  My advice to them would be to work hard but enjoy yourself. Join clubs and societies, make friends. An adventure is waiting for you, the start of your adult life.  If you are as fortunate as I was you’ll make some good friends who will be your friends for a long time and you’re about to have three excellent years.

Today I went to Fresher’s Fair, a middle-aged woman. I have started to become invisible as I am ageing.  I spotted my niece, a student, with her beautiful ginger hair.  She reminded me a little of how I used to look.  When I was young I was always noticed, although I didn’t want to be. My long ginger hair caught people’s attention. I was pleased when the sun bleached it in the summer and it faded a little. Then the white hairs came, and people who met me for the first time mistook the white hairs for blonde. I have put on weight, shrunk and my fatness makes me look shorter. People spoke to me, I talked to people from the philosophy society about their favourite philosophers, and I felt young again.  They liked Hume, Camus, Satre and a Hungarian philosopher I didn’t know but who sounded interesting.  I looked at all the new things I could join as a mature student, it seemed exciting, but I felt alone.  I didn’t have my young, excited friends from 35 years ago. I wasn’t about to explore my life and see how it turned out.  I felt a sadness for my youth, lost years, lost friendships and a lost beautiful friend with happy smile, a kindness and gentleness, and who always liked a good party.  We danced at her 50th birthday party, 80’s style, in a row, lifting up our legs to Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s “Come on Eileen”, like a half-hearted can-can. A few days earlier I was remembering my student days and went to a café for a cup of tea.  There was an exhibition of children’s book illustrations on the wall, and I sat at a table in front of two pictures.  Two women asked if I minded if they looked closely at the paintings on the wall.  One of them called out my name and I realised she seemed familiar but different. It was a former art student I used to share a house with, with the same soft voice, but short hair, no longer long and her face looked different.  She was still slim and looked an athlete. As a housemate, she was forever jogging on the spot in her room or going on a 40-mile bike ride. I’d preferred a more relaxed approach to live.  She had kept her fitness but I had lost mine and was slowly becoming a hippo.  She was familiar but different.  We kept in touch until our mid 20’s and have not been in contact for 30 years. Our conversation was of the young women we’d shared a large house with posters by Matisse and Picasso on the walls.  I can still remember what they looked like as 19-year-old girls.  They are becoming old like I am but in my mind, they belong to a past, distant and perfect. Perhaps it wasn’t how I imagined it to have been.

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Written by Heather Macbeth-Hornett

Illustration by Maisy Ruffles

Bibliography

“Hiraeth” https://www.reddit.com/r/logophilia/comments/1q8s4i/hiraeth_a_homesickness_for_a_home_to_which_you/

Go On – Try Something New

By Natalie Brown – This article is about trying new things, overcoming fears doubts and insecurities. As a law student, my inspiration comes from the film, Legally…

By Natalie Brown

This article is about trying new things, overcoming fears doubts and insecurities. As a law student, my inspiration comes from the film, Legally Blonde. I honestly find the film so inspiring and motivating as it centres around a young lady who completely steps out of her comfort zone, shows courage and shines as gold in the end.

Although Elle from Legally Blonde is a fictional character, she is one of my inspirations. Elle changed careers (rather brave thing to do) from fashion to law and ended up gaining entry into Harvard Law School. Yes I know, the main purpose of applying to Harvard Law School was to get her man back (she meets someone better than the ex). On her way to qualifying as a lawyer, she was mocked and told many times that she would not make it, she worked hard, ignored the haters and made it with a first class honours! Elle proves that it is all possible with style! Three things her journey has taught me 1) keep positive vibes only around you 2) no matter how long it takes to get to where you would like to get, remain persistent 3) buy yourself pom poms and cheer yourself on.

Alex Lickerman M.D. said in this article that:

  • Trying something new often requires courage
  • Trying something new opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new
  • Trying something new keeps you from being bored
  • Trying something new forces you to grow

But how does this apply to women in the real world? Rebekah Brown, who is a graduate and young mother shares her journey of discovery. This is my interview with her:

Congratulations on graduating last year with your sociology and criminology degree! What are you currently doing?

“Working part time as a teaching assistant, volunteering with the metropolitan police part time, and being a full time parent to a two-year-old.”

How was it finishing your degree whilst having a baby to look after?

“Very intense, but kept telling myself that there is a time for everything and so when I felt like giving up I remembered that.”

You started a blog, using your creative writing skills. What made you start your blog?

“I wanted to write to encourage other ladies that are facing similar circumstances as me. I got pregnant at 19 and my heart got broken by my baby’s father, my self-worth decreased and I lost myself for a while. I blog about how to deal with rejection, broken expectations, self-esteem and confidence.”

Why creative writing?

“I’ve always loved creative writing since being in secondary school and really missed writing. I thought I’d give it a go again and I’ve loved it ever since.”

What would you say to students who are in a similar position, are facing hardships or have doubts about their future?  

“Everything in life takes hard work. Put in everything you have into your studies.”

Image: Adobe Stock License