Hosting A Twitter Chat!

Afternoon everyone! Hope you are well, and enjoying the spring like weather!

While this is a blog primarily aimed at students, I’m keen to make sure I connect with as wide a variety of readers as possible. I’ve been blogging for around three years now over on my original blog, and what I’ve learnt in that time is that when you really get into blogging, there is an amazing community out there, just waiting to be discovered! It’s one of the things that has made me so determined to keep my blog going, even during periods when I haven’t had much time to write.

Twitter chats are one of the best ways, I find, to get the ball rolling when it comes to connecting with other bloggers.  So much so, that I thought I would dedicate an entire post to it!

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Back in the early days of blogging, Twitter chats were few and far between. But, much like all aspects of the blogging world, they have grown exponentially, and now there is barely an hour of the week that there isn’t one chat or another for you to stumble into! From #lbloggers and #bbloggers on Wednesday and Sunday, to #bookbloggers and #fblbloggers on a Tuesday, #bdib and #JBTalks on a Monday, and #socialbloggers on a Saturday. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There are chats on virtually any topic for you to get involved in, and it’s not only a brilliant way of introducing your blog to new potential readers, but it can turn blogging from a solitary activity into something much more interactive, and rewarding.

In the past, I’ve hosted Twitter chats for work, but I had never hosted as a blogger until recently! Over the past month, I’ve hosted two chats – a lifestyle blogger chat on Sunday 29th March, and a career bloggers chat on Wednesday 8th April. It surprised me how nervous I got just before the chats began! “What if no-one joins in this week?” and “What if they don’t like my questions?” swirled around in my head.  In reality, I had nothing to worry about – both chats went well, particularly the Sunday night #lbloggers chat, and everyone was so friendly and encouraging.  I gained some new followers, got chatting some lovely new bloggers, and had a real confidence boost when the hour was up and people were responding so positively to the chat.

The point of this post, really, is that lately I’ve seen a few people tweeting that they’d like to host, but they’re too nervous, or they wouldn’t know where to start. I say, throw caution to the wind and go for it! Take your time coming up with your questions, and participate in a few chats beforehand to get used to the pace, and then jump right in! Find out who to contact to schedule a slot – I messaged the @LBloggersChat account to organise my lifestyle bloggers chat, and Louise from @TheWhatNowBlog for my @CareerBloggers chat!

Having a blog can be really beneficial for many reasons (check out my 5 Reasons To Start A Blog post!), but it’s made even more rewarding when you find yourself becoming part of the community.

Let me know if you’re thinking of hosting a Twitter chat at some point soon – it’s so much fun and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thanks for reading – have a great day!

Lynsey x

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So You Want To Study: English Literature!

Afternoon everyone! It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another post in the So You Want To Study series! This week’s post comes from the lovely Lilith, who is here to share her experience of studying English Literature at university. I hope any of you who are considering studying English Lit find this helpful!

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When I joined first year English Literature at the University of Glasgow in September 2010, my course had well over a hundred students. So many, lectures were given twice in succession to accommodate us all. There’s no doubt about it —English Literature is one of the most popular of the arts and humanities courses.

But, it’s not a subject choice to be taken lightly. It’s not an easy option and certainly not one to take if you “can’t think of what else I’d do.” What the study of English Literature is, however, is mentally challenging and rewarding. It’s a discipline that will make you see yourself, others and the world around you in a whole new way. No, seriously.

What made you want to study English Literature?

I’m one of those incredibly annoying people who always knew what they wanted to study. As soon as I learned what university was and what English Literature was I put the two together and I knew that was the path for me. By my sixth year, I had no other plan B in mind. I loved writing, reading, books, thinking critically, argumentation, research and analysis. Sound like you? Read on. Chances are you’ll make a fab English Literature student.

Expectations vs. Reality

I had many many fears before leaving home to go to university (they would be a whole other blog post). A key one was that I really wasn’t qualified to be there. I was terrified everyone would be streaks ahead of me and I’d never catch up. Everyone would have read Camus in the original French and be quoting from Ulysses. Why did I feel this way? It was totally irrational.

Let’s be honest, there will always be people who have read more than you, this is true. There are people who will have read less. And people who have read the same. And also, of course, there are people who will just have read, written, experienced different things. The study of English Literature isn’t really about quantity. Don’t think of others as your competition. Engage with each other, Learn from each other, teach each other. You will develop confidence in your own abilities and you’ll find your footing very quickly.

What is the workload/assessment process like?

English Literature at university is not like English at school. The main difference is quantity of work and the pace at which you’re expect to work. Remember at Higher when you spent six months studying Sunset Song and knew more about Chris Guthrie than you did your own best friend? Not so at university.

You study a text (novel, poet, a play) a week. You are expected to have read it (shock), understand its key themes and be able to talk about it in a tutorial. You may return to it later for an essay, a short verbal presentation or an exam or you may not.

In first and second year you’re given primary texts to read and won’t need to deviate much from this list. A lot of first year is learning the basic skills required for your degree: Close reading, understanding literary themes and contexts and having an overview of literary periods.

Later on, you’ll be encouraged to think more widely, engage with texts more critically and they’ll be much more of an emphasis on original essay ideas. Thinking outside the box and approaching things just that little bit differently (as long as you can evidence your claims) will always serve you well.

You’ll still probably have a core reading list but as long as a text falls within the general time period you’re studying, it’s probably okay to study. Just always check with your tutor.

On average I had one or two essays per semester per module. The first usually around 2000- 2500 words and then a final one of up to 4000 words. Although in the first couple of years the word count was a bit less. At the end of the semester (either December or May) I had a two-three hour exam where usually I had to write two essays in that time.

What’s my advice for handling the pressure?

The work load is fast paced and it can be tough. For that reason forward planning is essential. Get ahead, try and be at least a week ahead with your reading – a necessity particularly if you have a Monday tutorial. That said, there will be times where you might need to skip a week and you just don’t have time or the inclination to read the novel for that module’s weekly tutorial. This is okay. Just don’t let yourself fall behind massively. Also, go to the tutorial that covers that text anyway. You might pick up something useful for another text, essay or even module. Also, never underestimate the power of the to do list.

What was my favourite bit?

I absolutely loved my degree so it’s actually very hard for me to choose this. I would say it was research and writing essays. I loved finding original ways to look at texts, feeling ideas click into place to form my argument, saying the unsaid, finding new territory. This all came to a head in my fourth year when I did my dissertation. I felt I’d finally found my niche and it was so so good.

What was tough?

I faced a strong feeling of impostor syndrome. There were simply weeks where I would sit in tutorials and not feel clever enough to be at university. Everyone else’s ideas seemed more mature, more fully formed, more exciting, more original. Most of the time these feelings are completely in your head. Secure yourself with the feeling that almost everybody gets them.

What am I doing now?

I graduated from Glasgow University with a First Class Degree (proudest moment ever, not going to lie). I applied for a Masters in Modern Scottish Writing at the University of Stirling in July and deferred for the year.

I’ve spent the first part of this year out September-January working in an art gallery and theatre which had been my student job. In January, I was lucky enough to land myself a role as junior copywriter for a small content agency here in Glasgow which has turned out to be the perfect job for me in so many ways.

After my Masters I’d like to do a pHD and I’m passionate about pursuing academia as a career. It combines my two passions – teaching and writing. So here’s for the next chapter…

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Thank you so much to Lilith for a brilliant post! English Literature is a subject I know a lot of people are interested in, so I’m sure this post will be a great help to a lot of readers! If you have any other questions for Lilith about her experience, you can tweet her over at @lisforlilith

As for The Student Switchboard, I’ll be back again on Monday with another video, and there will be another “So you want to study…” post this time next week!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely weekend!

Lynsey x

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3 Differences Between Undergraduate and Masters Study!

Hello all! Today I thought I’d talk a bit about what I found to be the main differences between studying my undergraduate degree, and studying a Masters.  I’ve mentioned enough times before that I had an absolute ball on both of my courses, but jumping into my Masters was certainly a learning curve, and so I thought I’d share my experience of that with you! This post, then, contains the three biggest difference I found, and how they impacted on my experience.

As a quick side-note – don’t be put off by points one and two.  It sounds intense, and it is, but it is so, so worth it!!3-differences-between-undergraduate-and-masters

1. The Workload

This is an incredibly obvious one, but the workload at Masters level is definitely a step up from undergrad! This will differ from course to course, but generally the amount of work you have to do will increase during postgraduate study.  In my case, I had seven modules, all done over the course of nine months (September to May), each with an equally intense workload. That meant assessments and/or exams for each in December/January, and the same again in April/May.  The April/May period was the most intense, with over 25,000 words worth of assessments, several group projects and an exam within the space of three weeks! This was followed by a 12,000 word dissertation between June and September.

What this taught me:

Time management, organisation and self motivation.

2. The Amount of Class Time

This is obviously connected closely to the first point, but I noticed a massive increase in the number of hours I spent in class between undergraduate and Masters! I was in class five days a week, pretty much 9-5, with the odd hour here or there free, which was a shock to the system after the relaxed timetable I’d had before! Again, this will vary depending on the course, but expect to spend a bit more time in the classroom again!

What this taught me:

Prioritising – the time outside of class becomes precious, and it’s important to use it effectively, both for studying and unwinding.  It also taught me that balancing a part time job with a Masters can be tricky!

3. The Dedication

One really positive thing about postgraduate study, which I mentioned in a recent video, is the fact that at this point, pretty much everyone who is on the course really wants to be there! Something I have a post planned on for some point over the next few weeks is how difficult it is to figure out what you want to do with your life, at any time never mind when you’re just seventeen or eighteen! A lot of people end up going to uni because they think it’s what they should do, or they aren’t really sure what else to do, and that can land them on a course that isn’t right for them. That lack of passion comes across, and can affect things like group work and even class morale.  At Masters level, however, people have already been through their first degree, so actively making the choice to come back and study some more suggests that this is something they are genuinely interested in, and means people will really work hard.

What this taught me:

That collective positive energy is great for keeping you going at some of the more stressful times of the year! When the whole group is striving to do well, it pushes you to do your best, and focus on the end goal (even when you’ve been in the library for what feels like a year of your life!).

I hope you enjoyed that post – I felt inspired to write it after filming my “My Masters Experience” video a couple of weeks ago. If you’ve gone through the undergrad to post-grad transition, what were the biggest changes you experienced?

Thanks for reading!

Lynsey x

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So You Want To Study: Creative Writing!

Hello everyone! Hope you’ve had a great week.

This week’s “So you want to study?” post comes from the lovely Beth from Toasty Writes. She wrote about a subject which has a special place in my heart, and her post gave me one of those “I wish I could go back and do that too!” moments – she’s studying creative writing! So, if this is a subject you’re considering studying, this is the post for you!

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For me, the decision to go to university happened very quickly. I had abandoned any plans for a career in dance after realising that I just didn’t have the heart for it, and had no idea what to do next. ‘I know,’ I thought one day, ‘I’ll do a writing course!’ and set about applying for a Creative and Professional Writing degree.

Some people go to university with a set career path in mind. Others want to focus on a particular area and see where it takes them, and I definitely fall into the latter category. I have always enjoyed writing, ever since I could hold a pen, and I have always written, whether it was stories for school, an angst-filled teenage diary, or, eventually, my blog. Studying Creative Writing seemed like the next logical step.

What happens in a Creative Writing class?

Instead of the traditional lecture/seminar set up, classes take the form of workshops. People bring in their writing, read it aloud, and then everyone is invited to comment on it: What worked? What didn’t? What did you love? What could be improved? It’s as terrifying as it sounds, although it does get better (I still have to jiggle my foot under the table when I’m reading, to let out the nervous energy, but it scares me less than it used to!) You then go away and re-work your writing, taking constructive criticism on board.

As well as honing our own writing skills, we also spend a great deal of time reading. You cannot be a writer without being a reader, and we’re encouraged to read as widely and as often as possible. Breaking out of your comfort zone helps enormously — I try and choose books I might normally overlook — and we’re also given plenty of material to read together in class. Often, a piece of writing might be inspired by what you’ve read: it could be a technique a writer has used, or the way they’ve structured the narrative, or the setting, that grabs your attention.

Expectations versus reality

I should note: the contact hours are minimal. I’m just coming to the end of my second year, and in the first term I had eight contact hours a week. In the second term, I had six. It’ll vary from university to university, but at mine you take four modules a year, and these are taught in weekly two-hour classes. Some of them end in January/February (hence why I only had six hours a week this term).

The danger is thinking that this means a Creative Writing course is easy. It’s not. Sure, you have a lot of free time, and can work around your own schedule for most of it, but during that time you need to be writing (or reading) if you want to get anywhere. The best work comes about through trial and error, through trying something out, submitting it for workshop, and then smoothing out the bumps, and that doesn’t happen if you go to the classes and then spend the rest of your time relaxing. It is important to take a break every now and then (the best cure for writer’s block, I’ve found, is to step away from the notebook/laptop) but you need to allow yourself the time to experiment and get better. If you have the passion for it then it’s definitely worth putting the effort in.

Workload/assessments

Examples of modules I’ve studied so far include: Starting to Write, Writing Media, Writing Fiction, Writing Non-Fiction, and Writing For Children. My university also offers a Writing Poetry module. Creative Writing is coursework based, and we usually submit portfolios of our writing for assessment. The word counts vary according to how many credits each module has. The word count for the 20 credit module I took this year was 4000 words, whereas the word count for the 40 credit modules I’m taking is 10,000 for each portfolio.

This sounds intimidating, but we were eased into it in first year, with portfolios of 3000-4000 words. It’s still a big jump to 10,0000, but there’s no reason why it can’t be achieved if you keep working at it. And by the time the dreaded dissertation comes around, you’ll be used to it, which should relieve some of the stress (I’m hoping!).

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Thanks so much to Beth for taking the time to write this post – I hope it inspired some of you as much as it inspired me!

You can find Beth blogging over on Toasty Writes, and follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram at the highlighted links :) If you’d like to write a post for this series, drop me an email at thestudentswitchboard@gmail.com

Be sure to check back in next week for Wednesday’s post, and another edition of So You Want to Study next Friday! And, as always, there will be a new video over on my YouTube channel on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Lynsey x

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Exams: How To Prepare Like A Pro!

It’s mid April, which can mean only one thing – exams are just around the corner. Timetables vary from university to university, but generally exam season is late April to the end of May and it’s a period that results in a lot of stressed students camping out in the library, cramming for their final assessments.  Coupled with the fact that you probably still have coursework due in, April and May can quickly become the months we dread the most each year over the course of our degrees!

So this post is just a few tips on preparing for your exams like a pro! Taking all of these tips into consideration might make this stressful time a little bit easier.

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1. Get Enough Sleep

This isn’t just a study tip, but a general life tip, and it’s one that I’m still having to work on. And since it’s currently 1.30am when I’m writing this, I’d say I still need to improve! I’m a night owl, always have been, and there’s nothing wrong with that – if you’re at your most productive at 1am, that’s great! Just make sure that you don’t have to be up at 6am the next day. Your sleep pattern can be whatever works best for you, as long as you’re clocking up enough hours before and after a huge study session. Sleep does wondrous things for us – it is proven to improve memory (clearly a plus when revising for exams!), increase creativity and lower stress!

2. Get Organised

When you have several exams to study for, it can become overwhelming. You might have three exams in a week, so sitting with all of your notes for each subject scattered around your desk will not help you feel any better about it! I’ve mentioned enough times by now my love for To-Do Lists and planners, and these can be your best friends at a time like this! Write down all of your exams dates and prioritise. That way you know exactly how much you have to do and rather than worrying about it, you can just start working on it!

3. Figure out what works for you

Group study sessions do not work for everyone. When it comes to prepping for exams, some people like nothing more than to congregate with their classmates to study, and there are lots of benefits in this. Bouncing ideas off one another might spark something in you, and can be a great way of covering more ground quickly. However, for others, group study sessions are a nightmare – you begin to panic that everyone knows more than you (which they don’t!) and you’re lagging behind (you’re not!), and that can have a massive impact on your ability to concentrate. So just figure out what works for you and go from there. As long as it isn’t during a group project, there’s nothing wrong with deciding you study much better holed up alone in your room!

4. Take regular breaks

Your brain can only take in so much information at a time, so don’t try to force yourself to keep going when you’ve reached that point. If you’ve been in the library for five hours and realise than in the past twenty minutes you’ve read the same sentence ten times, while absent mindedly checking your phone, it’s time for a break. Going for a walk, stopping to have lunch with a friend, or even just giving yourself a half hour “social media” break to check your twitter/instagram/Facebook can work wonders. You’ll feel much better taking a deliberate break than you will if you accidentally waste an hour just sitting blankly staring at the computer screen!

5. Take the pressure off

This sounds like an absolutely ridiculous thing to say considering these marks affect your degree, but try to take the pressure off, and remind yourself that you can only do your best.  If you’ve put the work in, you’ll more than likely be absolutely fine. And if it doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, it’s not the end of the world! It’s all part of the big old uni learning curve. This is something I was terrible for – I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself round about assessment time, and it’s never conducive to a calm mind set!  Keeping things in perspective is always helpful – each exam is just one piece of the university puzzle, and while striving to do well is great, it’s never worth making yourself ill with worry! Put in the work, do your best, and that’s all anyone can ask of you!

If you have exams coming up soon, good luck!! I hope you’re managing not to stress too much, and just think about what a great month June will be!

What are your top tips for exam study?

Lynsey x

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So You Want To Study: Public Relations!

Happy Friday all – hope you’re having a lovely to start to the Easter weekend!

Today I’m delighted to bring you the second in the “So you want to study” series! This post comes from the lovely Sophie from Books and Beauty, who is here to give us a bit of insight into what it’s like to study PR!

Take it away Sophie!

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If you have always dreamed of working in the media, like myself, then a degree in Public Relations could be for you.

Since before I picked my GCSE’s subjects, I always knew I wanted to work in the media. When I say media, I mean magazines, newspapers and anything remotely related to that sector. Many people view ‘the media’ as the monthly glossy women’s magazines or daily national and regional newspapers. However the media is much more than that.

I always thought I wanted to study Journalism. I had the hazy view and false representation that journalism was interviewing celebrities and attending star studded events, possibly even becoming a news presenter. I even lined up work experience at my local newspaper to give me experience before I started university because I was so determined to become a journalist. When I went to university to study it, I decided it wasn’t for me and researched other areas of the media where I could still express my creativity through writing and discovered Public Relations.

Choosing to study Public Relations was the best decision I ever made. I had no clue what it was about or what was required to become the best PR practitioner. University helped me with that and my time there and studying PR is something I consider as the best time of my life.

In a nutshell, Public Relations is engaging with the public through the many aspects of media; social, print, online, broadcast. You are the person responsible for getting a company or organisations voice and message across to hundreds and thousands of people, and when you do it right and see your work in publications, there is no better feeling.

Expectation vs Reality:

When first studying PR, many of my course mates, myself included, thought PR was like Absolutely Fabulous and everything related to Max Clifford. If you have that image of what PR is like, get rid of it! Not to dampen spirits, but Public Relations is much more than that. It’s about communication, engagement, listening, speaking.

I thought my course would be filled with girls who dreamed of working with celebrities and high profile clients. Not to say this won’t happen, because it could! But you won’t start off doing that straight away. Despite my course being 90% girls, there were also plenty of males who knew what sector of PR they wanted to work in and were ready to face the challenges and assignments thrown at us.

Assessment:

Public Relations assessment at university is 95% writing based. Assignments are the main type of assessment but you are also required to do presentations on topics related to PR. In your final year you are also required to complete a Dissertation on a topic of your choice, or an Applied Project where you undertake work experience at a company.

Modules:

This is the fun part! Each semester you study three modules based around PR. These may include:

– The History of PR – PR Practices – Events Management – Professional Writing – Corporate PR

– Community PR – Celebrity PR – Issues and Crisis Management – PR Theory – Contemporary Issues in PR

Those are just a selection of some of the modules you can expect to study when doing a Public Relations degree. Don’t let the titles of some of them put you off, though! Public Relations is an age old industry dating back to the 1900’s and despite only being recognised as an academic course around 30 years ago, the industry is continually developing and fast becoming a preferred course for those wanting to work in the media.

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I hope this gave you some insight into what it is like to study PR! I now work at a PR agency as a Junior Account Executive and absolutely love my job. If you would like to know any other information on Public Relations or university experiences, please contact me! I would be more than happy to help!


Thanks so much to Sophie for a great post! You can find her blogging at www.booksandbeauty.co.uk , follow her on Twitter at @SBookBeautyBlog or Instagram at sopheleanor, or drop her an email at sbooksandbeauty@hotmail.com :)

Have a lovely holiday weekend everyone, and I’ll see you on Monday for a new video!

Lynsey x

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Study Playlist #2

Music is a massive part of my life, and played a large part in my studies.  In my first study playlist, I talked about the huge impact finding the right music to listen to while studying can have on how successful a study session is! Pick the wrong album (in my case, anything with words!) and you might find yourself distracted, singing along and getting nowhere.

Find the right music, however, and you can be well on your way to getting that essay or report out of your hair forever!

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Today, I’d like to introduce you to another three albums which I listened to repeatedly during that crazy assessment period last year! I can hardly believe it’s April again already. This time last year, I was just a couple of weeks off finishing up my classes, and preparing to lock myself in the library for what were three of the most hectic weeks of my life.  These were some of the songs that kept me company during that time – and probably kept me sane! – and I hope they can do the same for you.

Departure Songs by Hammock

Hammock weren’t a band I had ever heard of until last year, and I discovered them around the same time I discovered God is an Astronaut and Tycho. Described as having a “unique sound that effortlessly melds elements of ambient, electronic, neoclassical and post-rock, this is another instrumental band, perfect for studying without the distraction of vocals!

Go by Jonsi

Jonsi is the lead vocalist from Sigur Ros, who are one of my favourite bands in terms of this sort of music! However, I know Sigur Ros just a bit too well, and while I can’t exactly sing along to Icelandic vocals, it was reaching the point of being a little distracting. Enter Jonsi’s solo album, Go! If you’re looking for something super cheerful and uplifting, this album is it. You might recognise track one “Go Do” from a Philadelphia advert last year!

This Will Destroy You by This Will Destroy You

And finally, another post-rock band, This Will Destroy You’s music is along similar lines to God is an Astronaut and Hammock, and I love it. It’s unobtrusive in as much as it’s instrumental, but it has enough of a kick that it keeps you awake rather than lulling you to sleep like some instrumental music can start to do! I’m not sure why this album motivates me so much, but I’d definitely give it a listen if you’re struggling to find music to suit your studying!

So there you have it – three more of the albums that made studying for my Masters just that little bit easier! Even if you aren’t studying, I would recommend checking out these albums because they are all fantastic!

What albums have you been listening to lately? Let me know in the comments! And remember – there’s still time to enter my book giveaway, it closes on the 6th April!!

Lynsey x

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