”I’m So Tired”

…*Music playing* …

I haven’t slept a wink; I’m so tired, my mind is on the blink…

Can you relate to the tune? That’s how The Beatles would sing the deadline pain away.

With deadline day being just around the corner – and exams dangerously close as well – it’s easy to go bananas and reach your breaking point. So, here I am sharing with you the most idyllic, calming places on campus, capable of embracing your weary soul during these dreadful times – you are welcome:

  1. ACCA café. Has your eye ever spotted that iconic, multi-million-pound refurbishment opposite Falmer Bar? The Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA), formerly known as the Gardner Arts Centre, has now been polished; its new looks and old-fashioned jukebox, combined with its minimalist vibes offer views capable of helping you lower those high cortisol levels. Do help yourself to some independent magazines and artsy brochures…
  2. Arts patio. We couldn’t have asked for a better ‘bridge’ connecting Arts B to C. Aside from benches and silence this area also accommodates fish. Judging from its colours, it’s a fantastic place to hide. I mean…REVISE! Look at these smiley souls making the most of it…
  3. The Dhaba. While it’s evident that our campus has a lot to offer, including a great selection of cafés and restaurants, not everyone knows of The Dhaba – the restaurant located just a footstep away from Jubilee, that provides its guests with delicious vegetarian food and garden facilities. ‘Loved by herbivores and carnivores alike, Dhaba is the place to go for a wide array of delicious vegetarian and vegan options.’
  4. Café Room 76. Located at the back of the infamous Falmer Bar, Room 76 offers a fabulous selection of cakes, fair-trade coffees and bubble teas, all brought to you with a cosy atmosphere sought after by many book and indie-décor lovers far away from the heavy smell of the bar. Have I mentioned their loyalty card?!
  5. Hills. Catch your breath around the greenery of campus hills. Your Sussex experience would be incomplete if you didn’t grab the chance to roll down a hill with a mate or two, or three, or four, or…okay. They see you rolln’ they hatin’.
  6. Jubilee study-cubicles. While some students are deemed to freeze in dark, isolated study rooms BMEc students have the luxury to place their butts and MacBooks over the warmth of these diamond-shaped creations, which I’ve named ‘cubicles’. We don’t get anything quite similar in Psychology…khm, khm!
  7. Meeting House. Has anyone mentioned FREE COFFEE? While the vast majority of the student body have nothing timetabled here, the award-winning Meeting House always has its doors open to the weary, dozy learners. When life gives you free milk, coffee beans and hot water, make a coffee!

The list could be endless, including places such as the small Innovation Centre café and stress-free Language Centre PC clusters. Have any of these places ever caught your eye? Has anything slipped my mind?

Regardless of where you choose to unwind, remember to breathe, sleep and eat well; and when things get dark remind yourself you can make it – in a parallel universe, you’ve already done so.

Good luck.

*Music still playing*

Maria Andreou has recently graduated having completed a BSc in Psychology. She is from Cyprus.

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The perfect body myth

The rise of social media has seen some incredible developments and benefits. You can meet new people who you would never meet in your everyday movements, speak to people on the other side of the world and just generally keep up with all 900 of your Facebook friends. But wow does it have its downsides.

If you’re anything like me, you’re being bombarded everyday with pictures of people with perfect lives, bodies and diets that definitely don’t match up to your own. Fitness pages on Instagram are full of men and women with incredible bodies, rather than help and advice on how to stay fit and healthy. How does this way of posting help anyone apart from boost the egos of those in the pictures?! No thanks. Continue reading

Sussex student society engages young people in politics

With yet another apparently era-defining election on the horizon, it is easy to see why the British people might be getting bored with politics. The low voter turnout among young people is particularly worrying, as recent elections have seen significantly fewer people under the age of 30 going to the polls. This apathy is what sparked Beth Munro (International Development 3rd year) to start Politics in Education (PIE), a group aimed at engaging young people in politics through interactive workshops and discussions.

PIE is a society based at Sussex University which aims to engage young people in politics through workshops in local schools. Over the past six weeks I, along with other members of PIE, have been leading workshops with 13-15 year-olds at Ringmer Academy, as well as in Brighton Youth Centre, where the young people gave us loads of ideas and suggestions for interesting topics and fun activities to use. Our aim is to break down confusing political concepts and show how relevant they are to all of our lives.

Many members of PIE, myself included, are not Politics students, meaning that the process of developing the workshops has been an interesting one. In our first meeting, we brainstormed “what we wish we’d known” when we were at school (and also what we wish we knew now!) and decided on 6 topics that we wanted to address in our workshops:

1) What is politics and why is it important?

2) Voting and elections

3) Political parties

4) The media and finding reliable sources

5) Human Rights

6) Activism and getting involved.

We then spent our meetings devising workshop outlines. We spent the first half of the sessions trying out some activities to familiarise ourselves with the topic and see which ideas work best, and then we’d write up a lesson plan. The workshops are all student-focussed, encouraging them to form their own opinions through discussions and debates, and so avoiding any bias from us.

In our first workshop at Ringmer, students got into groups and designed their own island, using pictures and words to show how it would be run. They had to work together and we, the PIE team, gave prompts, such as: “Are there leaders or not? How do people make decisions? Are there hospitals, schools, prisons? If so, why? And how are they run? Is there a system of money, or something else?”

This was a fun activity which got students discussing issues together, thinking about how their “ideal” society compares to the one they live in, and demonstrating the wide range of decisions and issues that politics encompasses. Some students came up with surprising features – including a statue of Matthew McConaughey in the centre of one island, and an underwater prison filled with Piranhas on another!

In other weeks we have held debates, compared newspapers and played “vote with your feet” – where we read out statements such as “We should get rid of the royal family,” or “Social media should never be censored,” and students move to different sides of the room to show whether they agree or disagree, and then say why. By tackling core political concepts in a fun and welcoming environment, the project aims to counter the perception of politics as for fired-up activists or boring politicians.

Excitingly, there are plans afoot with a number of local schools to integrate the workshops into lesson time for pupils, addressing an absence of politics on the curriculum.

Positive feedback has been received from local MPs and councillors, while attempts are being made to foster links with similar projects at other UK universities. It is early days for the Politics in Education project, but with an abundance of ideas and enthusiasm, the future looks bright.

The project is always looking for new members, particularly those in first and second year. If you are interested in getting involved, send an e-mail to politicsineducation123@gmail.com, see our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/politicsineducation, or come along to our weekly meetings on Wednesdays, 2pm, Bramber House room BH-234.

Curing the apoliticism of a generation is a tall order, but it has to start somewhere.

Harry Reddick

The value of working for nothing

A lot of people struggle to find the time or motivation for volunteer work, simply because financial gain is something we require to survive in today’s societies. It is, however, in my opinion really important to gain some experience of volunteering your time and skills for no financial gain whenever you’re able, simply because of the different benefits it provides both for you and others. Personally, I have been involved in a couple of volunteering roles, both of which I have found massively rewarding – albeit challenging at times.volunteering-1

The role I’ve decided to write about is one that people may not instantly think of where volunteering is concerned. When thinking about a volunteering role, we often think of fundraising, DIY projects, conservation and the like; whereas some of the more unusual roles are often forgotten.

As part of work experience for my potential career in Clinical Psychology, last summer I underwent a volunteer placement in a local psychiatric hospital, which involved working with some really vulnerable and risky patient groups. Due to the risks involved in this role, it wasn’t something I took lightly and would probably not be considered your typical ‘fun’ volunteering project that we often see portrayed in the media. But I think it’s really important to look for the more unusual roles if you’re interested in volunteering and not just staying in your comfort zone.

Volunteering can provide you with some really amazing opportunities. There is a self-centered culture within jobs in our society of pushing yourself to the limit and working as hard as you possibly can, even under great levels of stress. Whereas in the volunteering sector, there’s less emphasis on slogging your guts out and more on personal learning and growth, as well as providing for those who are less fortunate than you.

From working with a variety of patients, to women with long criminal histories and complex mental health needs, to men with learning difficulties, I learnt a huge amount about myself and how I cope in stressful situations. In addition, I also helped some really poorly people, without the pressure of being paid.volunteering-2

I felt myself more willing to just sit and talk to these people – which is what they ultimately needed – simply because I didn’t have the constant financial pressure to perform. You’re also provided with a sense of pride that you’re giving your time for free to those who really need it, and there’s no greater feeling in my opinion.

Even though volunteering is a more altruistic path to take compared to paid work, there will always be certain aspects of personal gain. Through volunteering, I was able to improve my CV and gain some key clinical experience towards my career progression. But there’s just something about volunteering that people admire and appreciate, regardless of the role you’ve taken.

Whether it’s doing your next door neighbour’s gardening, volunteering for a charity or working in a psychiatric hospital, there will be so many personal lessons you will learn simply by being there. Sometimes we need to get away from the financial pressures of the rat race and realise that to help people, we don’t need to be paid in money, or any other currency for that matter!

I think it’s important that we experience human kindness – both giving and receiving – at some point in our lives so we can remember that we are not working machines. As much as being paid in today’s world is important, so is personal growth, kindness and providing – simply because we can.

Melissa Kirwan is a full-time postgraduate student currently studying for a MSc in Clinical Psychology and Mental Health.

A letter to my first year self

Hello,

Now I’m one term away from finishing uni, and there are a few things I think you should know, to help you along the way….

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Take every opportunity

Being so close to the end,  I’m more aware now that the real world is close and something I am going to have to join, whether I like it or not. University is such a unique time in your life, something so extra-ordinary and unusual. Cherish it. Take every opportunity you can get. There are so many. Sussex societies are varied and there is something for everyone, pick one and go learn a new skill and make new friends, (you’ll end up living with one of these friends in final year). There’s also plenty more events on campus than you realise, more than just those in East Slope Bar, check out Room 76. Look up Sussex Choice, consider a placement or year abroad. Find out more about the various trips the uni societies organize. Try and get tickets to a Brighton and Hove Albion FC game.

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Explore Brighton and surrounding areas

You think there is just  Brighton town. But make the most of your spare time in first year to explore further afield. Check out Lewes, Hove, Kemptown. All of these places are gems, and not to be missed when you live down here.  Walk out of campus onto the Downs, make the most of the beautiful countryside quite literally being on your doorstep! Do not forget about Stanmer Park and Stanmer House. Cross over the A27 and visit the farm shop, you’ll realise there is a walk that way over the Downs to Kingston Near Lewes. Take it, you’ll come across a great pub called The Juggs for a roast and then you can get the train back from Lewes.

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Don’t stress about work

You’ve earnt your place at Sussex, so enjoy it. Try to attend all your lecturers and seminars, but don’t avoid a night out if you’ve got a 9am the next day, (after all it’s your first year!) Don’t be scared about the tutors, if you’re stuck about an essay, go to their office hour and ask for help, they’re only human! Remember, first year does not count towards your end grade but it’s a chance for you to learn  and develop your skills ready for second year.

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You’ve got so many great moments to come, so enjoy it all. Take photos, cherish the times because it goes quick – trust me!

Oh, and eat fruit and vegetables,

Love,

Joanna

Joanna Clark is a History and Sociology student with a Professional Placement Year

Top tips for student house hunting

So it’s that time of year, as a student, picking your house for next year can be a cause for great stress. But it doesn’t need to be – here are a few handy tips to help you find a great house minus the stress:img_0660

1. Choosing housemates – this is always a cause of concern for many. Just be honest to those that you are talking to, and if sharing a house isn’t your thing, you can apply to be a residential advisor on campus.
2. Sort out a budget – once you have a group, have a chat and work out what you can afford, be considerate, some of your friends might not have as high a budget as you.
3. Don’t forget bills! Bills are normally not included in the house, so make sure you take this into account in your budgeting.
4. Work out what you want – before searching for houses think about what you all want, is it to be close to uni or town? Do you all want double bedrooms? Do you want a lounge for hosting? This makes it easier when searching for properties.
5. House viewings – It’s best if all of you go to the house viewings, if you can’t, then make sure there are at least two of you, and take pictures and videos so the rest of your housemates can see it before you make a decision
6.  Questions! When viewing houses, make sure you go with a list of questions to ask the letting agent. e.g. when was the boiler last serviced?
7. Speak to the current tenants! If they are in when you view the property, have a chat with them. How have they found the house? Have they had any problems? What’s the landlord/ letting agent like?
8. Keep calm. Houses can go quickly, don’t let this stress you out. If your ‘perfect house’ gets snapped up, don’t worry, there are hundreds of options out there and another ‘perfect house’ will come along!
9. Don’t rush into anything! The agents often have a habit of pressurising you, don’t  let them rush you into picking a house, go away and sit in a cafe and discuss with your housemates over a coffee, then give them a call.
10. Get your tenancy agreements checked – just visit the University’s Housing Office or Sussex Student Lettings

There you have it, 10 tips to help you get through the housing process!

Joanna Clark is a History and Sociology student with a Professional Placement Year 

Exam Attack – When The Drugs Don’t Work

“A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances” – that’s how stress is actually defined.

Whereas for some, exam periods are just stressful times that will pass, some others struggle more to cope with them and can’t help panicking. Although some level of stress can help performance, acute stress can drive your brain cells crazy, making it harder for you to take in information.yhg6llfljs0-lacie-slezak Continue reading

We need to talk about suicide.

Suicide isn’t something that regularly makes it into everyday conversation. It’s that big taboo subject that everyone tends to shy away from, even the word is loaded with all sorts of meanings and negative images. But the fact is that it’s something that needs to be spoken about. And it needs to be spoken about now. Suicide is the leading cause of death of men and women aged 20 to 34, overcoming heart disease, road accidents and cancer (Office for National Statistics, 2014). This statistic in itself should convince you that suicide awareness needs to be a public priority, up there with dangerous driving awareness and cancer research. In the run up to Christmas, there is a lot of happiness being shared, but there’s also a lot of sadness and despair that goes on behind closed doors, especially at a time of year when happiness is so prominent. This post is about being aware of this and knowing what to do when things take a turn for the worse. Continue reading

How to have a student Christmas before you head home for the holidays…

Ah December is here! Finally we can legitimately play Christmas songs and not get weird looks. There are lots of fun and cheap ways to make yourselves feel festive at uni before heading home for Christmas. Here are a few suggestions ranging from arts and crafts, present ideas to organising a fake Christmas:

1) Get a tree!

-Now if money is no object you could flash the cash and get a 6 foot real tree, but there are a few other options for you. Sainsbury’s Lewes Road are selling small real Christmas Trees for £10, and split between a few of your mates that’s not much. Alternatively, go into the woods and pick a very large branch that’s fallen to the ground (don’t snap one off – that’s unfair on the tree and not environmentally friendly).christmas-tree Continue reading