In this blog Jackelyn shares her experience moving from the South East (Ipswich) to study at Lancaster University. Studying her undergraduate degree in English Language and Linguistics from 2014 – 2017 Jackelyn decided to continue at Lancaster for a Master’s Degree in Language and Linguistics from 2017 – 2018.
Moving away from home…
I decided to move really far away from home. From Lancaster, it took around 5 – 6 hours to get home, sometimes longer if there were delays on the train (there were many!). I was open to moving far away – I think I saw it as part of having a completely fresh start – and it just so happened that I absolutely loved Lancaster too. I didn’t struggle too much with home sickness at first, I think I was too excited about my ‘new life’. Having said that, it wasn’t like I could just pop home for an evening or two. I always wanted to make the most of the long journey home, which would cost me £70 – £100 with a railcard, so I only went to Ipswich for long periods of time during the holidays. Fortunately, my student finance could cover the cost of travel, but I did have to budget effectively! Travelling long-distance could be physically challenging, consisting of a 2.5 hour train to London, two tube changes and another 1.5 hour train to Ipswich. Despite this though, I quite enjoyed travelling on the whole – I always had something to keep me busy!
Lancaster was a huge campus university, where everything could be found in its own self-contained place and slightly out of the way from the main city. It was like its own town in a city; lectures were easily accessible, and everything I could possibly need was nearby whether it was shops, takeaways, a Post Office, the Student Union or even the travel agents. As it was encompassed by a large woodland area, and lots of nature, it was the perfect blend of busy and quiet for me, even if it could feel like a bit of an isolated bubble sometimes. When I moved to the city in my 2nd and 3rd years of study, it took me around 20 – 40 minutes to get to campus, which I had to account for in my morning routine, but as my course got busier, I appreciated the separation of “work” and “home”.
I spent a lot of time in the library whilst at university, mainly on Floor C – the silent floor! It had all the resources I needed alongside support staff, and if I fancied it, I could find myself a sofa-pod to chill on while I worked. You had to get to the library at a good time though – it got full very quickly, and people seemed to enjoy hogging spaces by leaving their books and disappearing for a few hours! If this was the case, I could study (and socialise) at Costa, or one of the 9 college bars on campus – I also spent quite a lot of time there when wanting to have lunch with friends.
My typical week…
Doing an English degree, my assessment was largely coursework-based, with exams at the end of my third year – hence why I spent so much time in the library! I had a lot of time for independent research and reading to complete my assignments, which was something I enjoyed about my degree, and our tutors were always accessible by email or during their ‘office hour’ if we needed help. One thing that worried me about going to higher education was not “being clever enough”, particularly being at a Top 10 university. Whilst it took some time to adapt to a different way of studying, we were given the time and space to learn at our own pace and I learnt it was okay to not get everything right the first time.
In a typical week, I would have around 9 – 10 hours of lectures and seminars (maybe 1 – 3 hours in a day, but not every day). Outside these hours, I would spend a lot of time doing research and completing assignments and I hate to say it, but this did include weekends and some late nights! I had dance rehearsals four evenings a week (around 1 – 3 hours each night) and I also made sure I squeezed in an hour or two for voluntary work too. Don’t be mistaken though, I still found plenty of time to go out and have fun! I absolutely loved it all, but it took me some time to get the work-life balance right. University really taught me how to look after myself better.
Joining the Dance Society!
A big part of my university experience was my involvement in societies: student-led extra-curricular clubs. I attended a Fresher’s Fair at the beginning of each year of study, which was where all the university societies had stalls to recruit new members. I’d have to say joining the Dance Society was one of my university highlights – sometimes I think I spent more time dancing than studying! I took on the role with the Executive Committee and became a choreographer for our competition squad and annual shows. This could sometimes be exhausting, but it was always worth it, and it improved my confidence two-fold.
Before going to university, I always had a feeling that I didn’t “fit in” anywhere, and that I struggled to make friends. Through the dance society, I was able to meet others with a similar energy to me – with the same interests – who are now some of my closest friends along with a few of my housemates – who I spent most of my time with! However, I also met lots of like-minded people through mutual friends, and simply by attending social events.
Ultimately, university taught me a lot of things about myself, and I matured in a way that helped me understand what I was capable of. I could only do this by making the most of every opportunity, meeting new people and knowing when to ask for help. This doesn’t always mean it was a walk-in-the-park, but it was all worthwhile for the experiences I had and the friendships I made – I suppose that’s why I decided to stay at university to study my Master’s Degree!
Have any questions? You can chat to Jackelyn directly through our Chat with Us page!