‘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.

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