1. The Freshers Week Friend

You probably met during orientation at one of the many welcome events at your university or residence. It was great having a friendly face to help each other settle in the first few weeks since the move to London was a new experience for both of you. This friendship usually wanes off after some time as you realise you have different interests and make different friends. Or it might be forever at first meet, s/he could turn into the sibling you always wished for. Either way, everyone needs this friendship to get through the transition into a new residence, new university and new city. Even if you do grow apart, you are still able to exchange warm smiles and keep fond memories of those first weeks.

2. The Study Buddy

You’ll meet this friend in the department common room or the library more than once. A friendly chat during a study break and a few classes together, you find yourself engaging in mutually beneficial conversations over this theory or the other. The study buddy challenges you to stay on top of your reading lists and provides that healthy competition that motivates you to do well. This friendship thrives on helping each other succeed and can develop into a lifelong friendship as you explore other mutual interests out of the university walls.

3. The Classmate

You see this friend a couple of times a week, s/he even goes out their way to save you a seat when there’s a full class. There’s always some small talk about the pressure of writing that 5 000 – word paper or an upcoming exam. You enjoy this friend’s company in the university setting and even after several attempts of meeting up or hanging out in a different setting, it never really happens. This friendship one convenience and thrives on proximity — the minute you leave the lecture room each of you returns into your world only to meet at the next class. Social media heart emojis and thumbs up become the only way to keep up with each other’s lives after you graduate.

4. The Party Friend

Always up for a good time, the party friend knows where to get the cheapest drinks on a Tuesday night. After bumping into this friend a couple of times in the student bar, you exchanged numbers and now s/he is that familiar face that lights up and announces your arrival to the rest of the party group at every party. You’ve even grown to have one of those ‘So, where are we heading to after class?” type of friends. This friendship is coloured with a lot of cheering, toasting, bathroom runs, hugs and that one random blackout (that you still can’t remember). Even though you don’t have time to go out every Friday, having a party friend is good for those nights when you just need to blow off some steam.

5. The Friend for Life

This is your person. On meeting this friend it feels like the universe conspired for your atoms to meet at this point in your life. You feel like you’ve known each other all your lives and you find it so easy to talk about anything and everything. S/he just gets you — no judgement. You have so much in common and your differences seem to complement each other. This friendship tends to grow beyond university and lasts a lifetime. If you are lucky enough to find this friendship, treasure it.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental wellbeing is a dynamic state in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. It also entails an emotional resilience which enables us to navigate through and experience the ups and downs of life — the joy and pain, the excitement and disappointment. That ability to appreciate life despite its struggles also requires flexibility as one must continuously juggle and find a balance between conflicting needs, goals, duties and responsibilities. Together with the physical, social and emotional, mental well-being allows us to engage productively and effectively with family, peers and colleagues.

Efforts to strike a balance between the demands of academic life, societal expectations and reality have left many young people feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and deeply anxious. The expectation of ‘having it all together’ at all times plus the race towards unrealistic life goals has fostered a persecutory perfectionism among young adults and this often manifests as anxiety, self-harm, depression, eating disorders, and dissatisfaction with oneself and one’s personal achievements. This is compounded by the feeling of isolation despite various virtual connections and significantly impacts how students feel about themselves and how they engage with student life. Underlying causes vary from person to person, with some having nothing to do with the uni experience, although the demands of the academic journey can become potential stress triggers, ultimately impeding academic progress and personal development.

It’s taken for granted that good grades are achieved at the expense of disrupted sleep, anxiety, periods of stress and depression. While higher education can be overwhelming and challenging, the tendency to dismiss it as a norm, that university is just a period of stress and suffering that everyone has to go through creates a societal and personal stigma that makes the pursuit of mental well-being even more difficult. Students are then often reluctant to seek help, particularly for mental health illnesses, which studies reveal are alarmingly increasing as evidenced by the rise in cases of psychological distress and illness in universities. While mental health difficulties can develop at any stage in life, there has been growing concern in the student demographic as a highly vulnerable group.

Between writing long essays, studying for exams, pulling long hours into research for your dissertation and trying to maintain some sort of social life, it may seem like there’s just no time for anything else. It feels like there is an incredible pressure to excel in everything. It’s true that university is taxing and stressful but your mental well-being is crucial for you to get through that phase of life (and every other phase as well). Life only gets more complex and challenging as we transition and navigate through different stages ( just think back to how learning to write your name was such a big deal and the only worries you had were if you missed watching a certain cartoon after school). The pursuit of mental well-being, you will soon find, is a life-long exercise and it takes more than implementing “11 Steps to Boost Your Mental Health”. It involves taking care of your emotional, physical and mental needs constantly and consistently.

Now that you know this, it’s time to re-commit to taking better care of yourself ( it probably was one of those new year’s resolutions that never really made it beyond the list in your diary). Start today. On one of your study breaks, take a few minutes to jot down your achievements so far. Keep that note safe and every time you ever find yourself comparing yourself to your peers and apparently failing at life, look at that list of achievements. You did that! Now grab a bottle of water and place it within arm’s reach. Take a sip now and then, it’s amazing how keeping hydrated will keep you alert (plus all the trips to the bathroom will give you a bit of exercise). Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier tonight, and unplug — from your phone, from the internet, from social media especially. Instead, play your favourite song and just take those 30 minutes to relax and ease into a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow is another day and you’ll tackle its challenges in the morning.

On the occasion of International Students House’s 54th Birthday, a garden party in honour of our Patron Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was held. Ken Dytor, chair of the Board of Governors of International Students House, has welcomed Her Royal Highness in an event where diversity and inclusion were celebrated. Many students and guests wore their national dress for the occasion, and one of our scholars and resident advisor, Ibrahim Haidar, gave a moving speech. The following video was created for the occasion and was shown on the day.

Here is the photo album of the event:

‘Tis the season of exams!

For many, the experience of entering an examination hall, locating a desk by candidate number or name and taking a seat to tackle a blank booklet and unknown questions evokes daunting feelings of mild panic and sweaty palms. One would think the anxiety would lessen as you climb the academic ladder, but for some, it only gets worse. With exams often constituting a large part of overall academic assessment, the only way to conquer the fear of exams is to prepare yourself adequately for them. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Study Timetable

Planning when and what to revise takes a bit of effort and establishing a schedule of your revision material is a great place to start. Set yourself a realistic and achievable timeline to cover the necessary material, outlining daily goals. With a schedule in place, it will be easier to breakdown your revision topics and assess your progress. While working styles and commitments differ, a daily planner will help you establish a routine for your day and compel you to prioritise your revision, with little room for procrastination. Allow for flexibility though, plans can change but having one will keep you in line.

2. Unplug

How often do you turn to your phone for the latest tweet, to check a notification or just simply to look procrastinate? As you prepare for exams, every minute counts and you cannot afford to spend two hours on YouTube watching babies squirming as they bite into a lemon wedge for the first time. Eliminating distractions is hard! Most of us struggle with self-discipline when it comes to social media and will need to uninstall our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat apps during exam season. And, if you really cannot unplug completely for a few weeks, allocate yourself time to catch up with your friends’ stories on the revision schedule, so that you keep account of how much time you are spending on social media.

3. Take care of yourself

The temptation to live on fast food, energy drinks and coffee during exam season is understandable because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to make a wholesome meal. However, its equally important to consider what you are consuming as much as what you’re reading as eating well and drinking lots of water will keep you energetic and refreshed. Take a walk to the park during one of your study breaks and just clear your mind with a change of scenery. And while you may be inclined to pull a few all-nighters, get some sleep and allow your body to rest well.

4. Teamwork

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.’ You can cover a great deal by reading alone, but having a group of mates to study with will help you cover more topics and give you new insights into a topic that you may have overlooked or would have simply never considered. This is not to say you ought to substitute your own reading time for group sessions, rather strike a balance between the two and ensure that you’re reading enough to contribute to the study group. Use the group as a place to bounce off ideas and seek help when you’re stuck on alternative opinions on a topic.

Ultimately, doing well in your exams is a careful balance of a number of skills: being intentional and productive with your time, staying focused and through taking care of yourself throughout this stressful period.

All the best!

The ability to manage one’s personal finances has become an increasingly important skill in today’s world. One key to financial success as an adult is living within your means, which begins with being aware of how you spend your money and saving where possible.  Making ends meet as a student has its challenges as we’re limited to student loans or bursaries to sustain our daily needs which is why financial literacy, making informed and effective decisions about your finances, is crucial in maintaining a healthy financial status. How do I start? With the basics. This is a short guide on making small adjustments to your daily spending habits that will help you keep track of your finances as a student.

  1. Needs over luxuries

Whether you’re receiving an allowance, or you’ve taken out a student loan, make the most of what you have. This starts with having a clear budget. Sit down and make a list of all your expenses for the month, making note of what’s necessary and what can be regarded as a luxury. Prioritize your basic needs and allocate a specific amount of money to category – toiletries, groceries, entertainment. It may seem like a tedious task if you’re not into numbers, which is why apps like Monzo etc come in handy. Budgeting will help you see where you are overspending, where you can cut costs and have that extra bit of money to save.

  1. I’ll grab a sandwich later

Eating out, even something as small as a sandwich every day accumulates into unnecessary expenses that can be curbed when you develop the habit of preparing your own meal. There’s always a valid excuse for grabbing a takeaway – ‘class ended late at night’, ‘there’s an assignment to do’, ‘the deadline is tomorrow’ and in no time the year has already whizzed by and you still haven’t saved a pound. If you’re a resident at International Students House, don’t miss the free breakfast! Plan your meals in advance when you are working on your budget so you can stay within your personal limits. And if you’re utterly helpless in the kitchen, make friends who can whip up a decent meal and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Maybe in the next article, we’ll look at cheap and easy meals for the busy student?

  1. Yes, I’ve got my Uni card

From transport, food to tech, flashing your student card can get you discounts across the UK. Before you make your next purchase, check if there’s a student discount being offered, and start saving your pounds. Sites like Unidays are free to use and give students a range of ongoing discounts. Some offers include 10% off at ASOS, 35% off at Dominos, 12% discount on 16-25 Railcard, £10 off Papa Johns, 15% off at National Express tickets and 35% off at HP.

  1. Buy second-hand books

Unless your professor is being a little nit-picky and insisting that you have to buy the latest version of a particular textbook, stick to second-hand books. If you’re really on a save drive, you will have to get over shiny new books – remember why you’re doing this! Amazon has an option for you to select ‘Used’ when buying products which almost always dramatically reduces the price. You could also try sifting your way through second-hand books shops or charity shops – ones near your university often receive a heap of uni textbooks at the end of the term. Also, ask previous students – a quick Facebook post or email to the department will get you in touch with those keen to offload their books for some easy cash. And when your turn comes, target the newbies and make an offer for your textbooks.

  1. Walk away from the SALE stickers

As Kenny Rogers sang, ‘Know when to walk away, and know when to run.’ This applies to sales. Don’t get trapped in the ‘but it’s a sale’ syndrome. If you can live without it, then walk away.

  1. Get stepping

Ditch the bus and the tube whenever you can and take a walk. Not only will this save you unnecessary transport costs, but it’ll help you get fit as well. We spend the most part of our days of hunched over laptops screens, consuming endless cups of coffee with little effort in exercising. Take new routes to university and clear your mind while you explore London on foot.

7. How do you take your coffee?

Disposable or reusable? You don’t have to be a tree hugger but either take ten minutes to enjoy your coffee in-situ or take a reusable cup with you when you want a hot drink. There is no shortage of stylish, practical alternatives to the paper cup. Our resident bar, The Thirsty Scholar has a variety of reusable cups available, and every time you bring it in, you get 30p off every coffee purchase!

These tips are meant to just get you started on your financial journey. Through practice, diligence and patience, you will develop a financial maturity that will equip you with skills that for life.

The John F Kennedy Memorial is back at International Students House in a new weather-friendly location.

Cast by the renowned sculptor, Jacques Lipchitz, and unveiled by the late president’s brother Robert F Kennedy, the memorial has stood on our site for more than 40 years. Unfortunately, due to vandalism in 2017, the bust has had to be removed for conservation work and for security and insurance purposes he has now been re-homed inside International Students House.

Why is JFK with ISH?
International Students House was being built and it was agreed it was the most suitable site in London for a memorial for a youthful president who had become identified with liberal ideas.

What is ISH?
International Students House (ISH) is a residential, social and cultural centre for international and British students in central London.

We believe every young person should have the opportunity to succeed whatever their background. Together with our university partners and supporters, we provide scholarship opportunities, a safe home and a social programme to enable students to succeed while giving them a place to belong.

Help to Build a better futureand join ISH today.

When it comes to views about Europe, it’s well known that Germany and the UK differ sharply. Research after the Brexit vote shows that 68% of Germans are in favor of the European Union and only 11% would support withdrawal. Compare this with 54% of UK respondents who are favorable to the EU.

Similarly, during the 2017 general election campaign in Germany, nearly one third of Germans backed politician Martin Schulz’s idea for a “United States of Europe” by 2025. The corresponding figure for Britain was just 10%. And it seems these differences might run as deep as the way children are taught about Europe in school—as the findings of our latest research indicate.

We analyzed the treatment of the European Union in a sample of social studies and politics textbooks from both Germany and England. And we found that the way Europe is depicted in some English and German textbooks for secondary schools differs considerably. In English books there is less coverage of Europe and a more critical approach compared with the German textbooks.

In the English textbooks, Europe was seen almost exclusively in political terms—with strong emphasis on the EU being a controversial issue. In one book for example, although there are references to the European Convention on Human Rights along with the European court and a brief mention of the European Economic Area, most of the limited space given to Europe is about the European Union—and about “different viewpoints on EU membership.”

In the German books there was a very different approach: Europe is seen more expansively and positively with an integrated approach to politics and identity. The German textbooks also had references to Europe being “our historical, cultural and intellectual home,” a “community of values,” and, a place where “enemies became friends.”

The research

We looked at four English textbooks and nine German textbooks and compared the way Europe was covered. Overall we found that the textbooks from Germany deal with Europe in much greater detail and with more of a positive angle than those published in England.

We found that Europe not only receives more prominence in German textbooks but is covered with more breadth. Both sets of textbooks place a major focus on the political system of the EU but German books also include economic and cultural dimensions. And a number of German textbooks had separate chapters or sections on the political system of the EU and Europe as a cultural entity. Unlike the English books, some German materials also presented clear anticipated loyalties to Europe.

The project was informed by previous research, particularly, work undertaken by one of the project team which involved interviewing 2,000 young people across 29 European countries. The project aimed to find out how young people in Europe construct their political identities—which we found often transcend traditional boundaries of state and nation.

But we found that although both the English textbooks and German textbooks largely reflect the prevailing political climate in each country, they don’t necessarily reflect the views of young people. Young people in Germany and England share rather similar views about Europe. They are committed to certain values (which are seen as both general and European) and although young people are not just accepting of European identity and European loyalty without questions, there is, among both groups—but particularly the Germans—a sense of being European. This is not reflected in English textbooks.

Young voices

The range of activities in the German books is also far wider than those provided in the English books. Whereas the German books build on a sense of European identity by providing opportunities for varied student interaction including more work than the English books on advocacy, representation, and informed and responsible action.

By contrast, English books use brief individual reading exercises to consider the pros and cons of European membership. One book, for example, provides a list of “benefits and costs of EU membership” and then asks students to “design slides or charts to summarize the benefits and costs of EU membership.” The English texts also encouraged students to visit the websites of UK political parties for news on their position on EU membership.

This echoes the political context in England, where the Brexit debate is not one concerned with dynamic engagement but one associated with an equally balanced weighing up of pros and cons of membership. And in this way, we found that the nature of the educational activities that are available to teachers and students in our sample of textbooks tends to reflect national narratives.

Education in both countries is principally a matter of socialising young people into an established national narrative. This may seem to be easier to justify in Germany where there is a stronger alignment between the views of young people and (according to our textbook analysis) the content of learning resources. But in both countries, there are issues about the extent to which schools are the mirror of society and essentially engaged with promoting established views.

It seems then that in both countries, the most contentious issue of the 21st-century—the European Union—is simply being presented as a reflection of the existing national narrative for future generations.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

ISH want every young Londoner to be safe.
London is one of the safest cities in the world. Yet knife crime is ruining far too many lives, devastating communities and leaving families bereaved. We want the young people of London to realise how incredible they are and the potential they have.

As part of our new Volunteering Society, we are planning to get involved with local community projects and work with young people to help them shine and inspire them. We need inspirational young adults such as yourselves to be involved. Would you be interested in helping transform lives? Get in touch now.

If you are worried about knife or gun crime you can contact fearless.org anonymously online at www.fearless.org/en for more information about gun and knife crime and the law. Or, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 if you want to report a crime that has already happened.

If you don’t feel safe in any situation you should leave/run and then tell someone why you have left. Go to a nearby home of somebody you trust, a friend, ISH, police station or local government building i.e. town hall, where you will be safe. Also, speak to your Universities International Student Adviser / Security Officer who can help you find a safe route to and from University.

Don’t be afraid to be strong and do the right thing.

With universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, qualifications from UK institutions of higher education have a reputation for world-class quality and excellence. Not only are students attracted to opportunities that the UK provides, but the country is also admired for its multicultural and tolerant society. With Scotland, Wales and North Ireland in its boundaries, the UK has also been regarded as a gateway to Europe as the English Channel Tunnel gives access to mainland Europe. However, the UK’s change in foreign policy by voting to exit the European Union threatens the future of the UK as a top destination for study.

Impact of Brexit on EU students

According to the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA), European students account for more than 80 000 of the 1.6 million first-time graduates and nearly 50 000 of postgraduates. The UK has always attracted more international students than other European countries, capitalising on the growing demand for English-language instruction. However, research has shown since June 2016, there has been a slight drop in the number of first-year students from EU member states and while the economic and political consequences of Brexit have dominated media coverage, the concerns of the students have been drowned in the discourse. It has also been suggested that the perception of the UK since the referendum has changed, with current and potential students regarding the change in foreign policy as hostile to foreign students as well.

While the referendum to leave the European Union did not have any immediate implication for the status of EU students in the UK, developments over the last three years have revealed that Brexit will diminish many of the advantages they enjoyed. One of the significant consequences of exiting the regional body is the limitations to the current form of free movement. As it stands, EU students are treated as home students, which means they can enrol into UK universities without restriction and pay the same amount in tuition as UK students, which is significantly less than what other international students pay. Students from the EU have also been exempt from English language proficiency tests, proving sufficient maintenance fees and academic ability checks, all of which currently apply to other international students and may be extended to include EU citizens after Brexit.

While it is necessary to establish genuine interest and ability to study in the UK, such restrictions may have the adverse effect of turning away potential students away who form an important part of the economic landscape of the UK. Migration benefits the UK – economically, culturally and socially – as students not only pay tuition but add to labour, skills and ideas. As the deadline for Brexit inches closer, the challenge now is to ensure that the UK government commits to providing international students with a compelling reason to continue pursuing their education in the UK. While the greater responsibility of ensuring that the post-Brexit policies continue to attract students from the EU, it is also crucial that universities and organisations that work with students send a loud and clear message – international students are welcome and matter!

Study Abroad – Erasmus+ Programme

Not only will European students feel the pinch that Brexit will bring with it, but UK students also stand to lose the opportunity to study abroad. Erasmus+, a programme designed for education and training across Europe, has allowed students from EU member states to study, volunteer and gain work experience abroad. However, the future of the UK’s continued participation in the programme looks bleak. In February, the government issued a notice addressing the position of the Erasmus+ programme in the case of a no-deal Brexit. This resulted in the Universities UK International launching a social media campaign #SupportStudyAbroad to highlight and amplify public support for the study abroad program and to encourage government commitment to funding study abroad programmes. While the government maintains that securing a deal is its top priority, the reality is that this is the last cycle of the Erasmus+ programme, which ends in 2020. Although assurances have been made for the continuity of funding for current participants and projects that extend beyond 2020,  in the event of a no-deal Brexit, alternative agreements and arrangements need to be consolidated. The interests of students looking to study abroad need to be protected and with possible new bureaucratic hurdles such as immigration rules, changes in policies and legal statuses, there is a greater need for a serious discussion on the future of current opportunities and partnerships.

 

 

Have you ever considered gaining work experience or supplementing your student budget through a part-time job, vacation placement or internship? Don’t worry you’re one of many! Studies have established that more than 50% of students are enrolled in full-time degree programmes have part-time jobs. Reasons vary from the financial pressure of student loans or in order to maintain the standard of living before committing to full-time studies to some students who are actively seeking to develop themselves and gaining work experience. Employers today are increasingly interested in specific attributes and behaviours from university graduates; skills that are developed by through a combination of academic accomplishments and work experience. While universities have adapted their curricula to provide opportunities for practical learning, through placements or internships, some students proactively engage in part-time employment to develop soft and transferable skills such as time management and teamwork. Most international students enrolled in full-time programmes are allowed to work part-time during term time for up to 20 hours a week and full-time during the holidays. This article unpacks the realities of taking up a part-time job which will require you to step up your time management skills to find a balance between the books and the job.

What do I need to know? 

Before you start combing through job sites, you need to be aware of the restrictions of your visa. If you’re on a Tier 4 Visa, you have limited working rights in the UK and the visa states the number of hours you are permitted to work per week. These hours include any paid or unpaid work, voluntary services or internship. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but the recommended 20 hours ensure that your studies are not affected by your side hustle – if you manage your time well that is. Keep in mind that your priority is your degree! The second thing to note is that even if you’re not a UK citizen you will at some point need to pay tax and make National Insurance contributions, so most employers will require that you have a National Insurance number before you start working, although you can start with a temporary one as you wait on your application for one.

 

Keep a calendar – on your wall, on your phone, on your desk

How do I find the balance? 

Taking up a part-time job will require effective time management – every minute counts. While there is no perfect formula for balancing your studies and a part-time job, there are a few adjustments you can make to ensure that you are able to deliver the best at both.

  • Don’t procrastinate. If you pile up your readings and assignments to the last minute, you will find yourself pulling unnecessary all-nighters and compromising the quality of your work. The key to optimizing your time is making a schedule and sticking to it. Whether its an app on your phone or a calendar on your wall, keep a schedule of all the important dates and deadlines.
  • Be honest. Your employer knows you are a student and that your studies are the main priority, so be sure to communicate your availability and ask for time off when you need to put more hours in your books. Be honest with yourself about how much work you can take and take stock of how you are managing your time.
  • Avoid multi-tasking. When you’re in the library, focus on your reading or writing and when you’re at work, concentrate on the job. Multi-tasking will only affect the quality of your work and leave you feeling burnt-out and stressed because you constantly feel busy.
  • Don’t over commit. The 20-hour provision is the maximum, but if you need to dedicate more time to your studies, it’s okay to take on less work. Take on a workload that you can manage.

Finding the balance between your studies and a part-time job is challenging, but not impossible. It requires dedication, sacrifice and strategic use of every minute and if you put in the work, you can succeed.

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