Monday, 15 December 2014

It's that time of year again

It’s that time of year again. You know, when you easily can separate the locals from the rest. And by locals I mean British people, in general. How come, you say? Well, when December comes and it gets colder, an easy way to spot the locals is to watch out for flip-flops, shorts and non-wool sweaters on a windy, cold morning in South Park. When I wake up it’s usually so cold outside that the inside of my flat is like a freezer. So it’s only natural then that I bring my huge, warm winter jacket to Brookes along with winter boots and gloves. My cheeks are so red when I arrive at the lecture that it looks like I’ve been out playing in the snow for hours. And I'm from Norway and probably have viking blood running through my veins. 

The locals, however, don’t seem bothered at all. I have spotted guys wearing flip-flops and shorts on their way to Brookes in the middle of December. I have seen girls walk by in ballerina shoes and v-neck sweaters when it’s raining outside. And I have seen people with huge jackets and  scarfs. And those people with jackets and scarfs are the international ones.

Another thing I’ve noticed since writing my last British vs. Norwegian culture entry on this blog, is that my non-local friends living with the locals freeze their behinds off when their at home. Their British flat mates simply don’t allow these cold poor human beings to turn their heaters on, because god forbid, the electricity bill could get high. Do you know how cheap the British electricity actually is? It’s ridiculously low compared to many other countries! I thought the Norwegians were the stingy ones, but it turns out to be the British. My whole “British people are so much better than Norwegians” thesis should be edited. You cannot be warm hearted people when you must be cold all the time, can you? I don’t know anymore. I do know that I like it nice and hot inside my flat though. And that I still like to be called darling and honey by strangers.

 Speaking of Norwegians. This is probably totally irrelevant to all non-Norwegians, but have you heard of ANSA – Association of Norwegian Students Abroad? They have recently started an Oxford branch! If you’re a Norwegian student studying abroad, being an ANSA member is something you should consider. They can help you with almost anything, from personal issues to discounted flight tickets and insurance. You can find their Facebook page here and their website here. The cost of a year’s membership is £39 and the advantages are too many for me to list them all. Have a look, sign up, and like their Facebook page. ANSA Oxford host regular events for Norwegian students, so keep your eyes open!

Now I'm returning to my revision of political thinkers from the stone age. Yes, it's as boring as it sounds. But when writing this it's exactly 2 days, 13 hours and 28 minutes left until Christmas. Yes, that's how excited I am for this semester to end. 

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Thank you for reading my last blog entry in 2014 - see you next year! 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Brookes 2.0

"If this is what uni is like this will be easy as pie", I remember thinking after my last exam in May. Little did I know what Brookes had in mind for me as a second year student. It's like we've gone from a stroll on a sunny, lazy Sunday to a high speed run on a rainy Monday. No fun, in other words.

My first year timetable was no more than two hours a day with every Friday off. Now it's  9am to 4pm several times a week. To finish on a Friday at 4pm with a heavy lecture on something you can't wrap your head around is challenging, and my brain feels like it's boiled. The modules I do this semester also happen to be exhausting. All of my module leaders are like "this is not an easy module, it will be hard. Be prepared".

I have 9 deadlines this semester and 1 exam, so it's "only" 3 more than last year, but the expectations are so much higher. And if that's not enough it's twice as much to read. I have so much reading to catch up on after writing my last essay where I was forced to just finish the damn thing and skip some of the readings due at the same day as my essay, where I completed the readings several weeks ahead of all my modules last year, I'm now way behind on two out of five modules. The day just doesn't have enough hours for me to finish it all. And with all this I'm really starting to lose motivation. The first semester at Brookes felt like a month or so, but this time it feels like a very, very long year. I have never looked more forward to Christmas.

With all this too-much-to-do-too-little-time thing, my boyfriend suggested online grocery shopping after speaking to a friend of his about it. At first I was skeptical but we gave it a try, and it's truly amazing. I feel ashamed admitting to it though. At least it saves us some money when we shop for the whole week and don't get tempted to buy unnecessary stuff. However, there are disadvantages. When I was doing the online grocery shopping last week my boyfriend wanted some crisps for the weekend. As it was a two for one offer on those particular wanted crisps I bought two. The thing I missed was that it was a 20 pack bag and not a 6 pack bag. So now we have 40 packs of crisps in our relatively small kitchen. I'm wondering what the delivery man thought when he saw that we've ordered 40 packs...

As you probably can tell I'm a bit unmotivated this semester. November has been a very long month. But to end this on a good note, there has been some pretty good things about this semester too! My friends have become even better friends, and the parties have definitely been taken to another level.

I've also attended a British Sign Language class which was really fun. It only lasted for 6 weeks but if I down the line meet a fellow signer I can at least spell the words!

And last, but definitely not least, the weather has been decent. Last year I remember November as an awful rainy month, but this time it has actually been pretty good. You know you live in the UK when three days in a row without rain is something to be happy about.

I guess I just have to pull my self together, find that long lost motivation and keep going - pedal to the metal I guess. At least Christmas is slowly but steadily approaching :)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I run on insulin

Ever since my first entry in January I've felt like there's a specific topic I should write about. I don't know why I haven't done it already or why I'm even writing this one now, but I feel like I should.

I have type 1 diabetes, and have been a diabetic since 2007. Type 1 diabetes is the kind you're born with but no one is entirely sure why for instance I got it but not my sister. Type 2 is the "famous" one often confused with type 1, which often is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genes. Being a type1 diabetic means that my body no longer produces insulin, a hormone helping my body to use the glucose in my blood to give me energy. If you're interested in the details you can read more about it here.

The older generation sometimes say that the youth is a bunch of lazy people whose brain is barely challenged. Well, fortunately for me, that's not the case. My brain is constantly busy with counting carbs for my meal, calculating possibilities of unforeseen events likely to affect my blood sugar and when my next meal will be. It's never a dull moment for my brain I suppose.

 Since 2008 I've used an insulin pump, which is a device which purpose is to copy the human pancreas. I wear it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except from when I'm showering. I also wear a device shaped like a large button monitoring my blood sugar levels every 10 minutes. You just got to love technology! This button and a juice box has saved my life so many times, as I've stopped waking up during sleep when my blood sugar gets too low. Basically, low blood sugar equals death. And high blood sugar (over time) also equals death. 

Having a diagnosis like diabetes has it's pros and cons, mostly cons. The only pros I can think of is that I'm a hell of a multi-tasker, organizer and mental calculation. The cons are an endless list. Like having a low blood sugar needed to be treated immediately during a seminar, or a high blood sugar during a two hour exam causing you to start day dreaming about going to the toilet. 

Wearing an insulin pump also has its pros and cons, and the pump has gotten me into strange situations. Like when people think I in 2014 am wearing a phone in those old fashioned belt purses attached to your pants, or when they think I'm wearing a phone in my bra even though I have clothes with pockets. I have also been forced to explain that no, I don't have three breasts, it's just my insulin pump. And of course the inevitable "no, I'm not touching my breast, I'm touching the buttons of my pump".

Being at uni with diabetes isn't easy, international student or not. It affects your level of performance during exam, your mental presence during seminars or lectures and a whole lot of insecurity. You don't really want to show off your pump or blood sugar device to your new friends right away, but you are at the same time forced to inject insulin if you don't want to run to the toilet 24/7. I have actually just told one of my friends from Brookes that I have diabetes, but I think many of them have figured it out already. When I have to measure my blood glucose level I "hide" the whole process in my purse, but I guess it's pretty obvious what I'm doing in there. And if they haven't figured it out they probably think my phone is attached to my body with a plastic tube and that I wear my phone in my bra.

Alcohol and diabetes isn't the best combination either, most things are in fact not good in combination with diabetes. Except for vegetables and exercise. But you can't stop living either. That's why diabetics do the same as non-diabetics. And yes, we eat candy. And drink soda. And eat cake. But the thing about alcohol is sometimes tricky. The police or your friends might perceive you as wasted, at the same time as you're actually having a low blood sugar. So if you don't want to tell all your friends that you have diabetes, at least tell one of them. Just in case. There are cases every year where diabetics die because of the misperception between being drunk and having a low blood sugar.

And also know that Brookes has an excellent medical team ready to help you if you're having any kind of trouble.

Now I really have to go to the bathroom. Again.

All pictures from 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Round 2

After what feels like the longest summer ever, I'm finally back in Oxford after traveling with too much baggage..again. Every year I tell myself that this time I won't bring too much. And every time I fail, resulting in pain, sweat and almost tears. Not a happy camper trying to make my way from the airport express train. A total of 50 kg baggage just is too much. Crossing my fingers that when I'm leaving for Christmas I'll finally learn how to properly back a bag.

I'm living with my boyfriend in the same flat as last year, with the same loud neighbours. I was praying for them to move out during the summer, but my prayers was absolutely not heard. I was also praying for the bathroom to be finished before I got back as it has been refurnished during the summer. But those prayers obviously got lost on the way too. So now I have tools spread all over the living room, dust all over the place, and a bathroom with a toilet that has not yet been secured. I'm hoping the toilet won't suddenly fall so I end up with a flat full of sewage. That would have been even more disgusting than the fact that bathroom tiles have been cut in the kitchen...IN THE KITCHEN... I even have dust from tile cutting inside every cupboard and the oven. It's crazy.

 I ended my Summer in the mountains on a hunting trip. The hunting was result less and the only thing we saw was some feathers, but it was fun anyway.

If you have followed this blog a while you probably know that I live next to Cowley Road, a road full of restaurants, shops and what nots. So as I sit her on the sofa looking at tools I don't even know the name of, I thought I could share my Cowley favorites. You can find food from every corner of the world on this very road, but some of them are better than others. 

South Park 
Well, this isn't exactly a part of Cowley Road, but it is a park nearby, and it also is one of my favorite parks. It's 5 mins from my flat, and I walk through it along with many others on my way to Brookes. It is a perfect place for a picnic, a walk or even a run. On the weekends the park is frequently used by runners, people attending bootcamp and those trying to recover from yesterday. It's like a miniature version of Central Park in New York. It's also the location of circuses, firework shows and concerts. And the view on a sunny day is unbelievable. You understand why Oxford is called the city of dreaming spires when you're looking towards the city centre from South Park. 

Atomic Pizza
247 Cowley Road 
My second day in Oxford my boyfriend and I went to Atomic Pizza to eat and we kind of ended up there by coincidence. Both the inside and outside is filled with well known comic figures, and they're also showing good old music videos inside. The food is really good, especially the burger with chili con carne, and the prices are reasonable. 

Kadai & Naan 
209 Cowley Road
A little further down Cowley Road is Kadai & Naan, the best Indian restaurant in Oxford in my opinion. What's also great about it is the student discount. Need I say more? 

City Arms
288 Cowley Road 
City Arms is a short walk from both restaurants mentioned above, and is a huge pub. They have multiple TV's for the sports interested, pool, and seating areas both inside and outside. It's definitely a place where you can watch football with the guys or order a huge fishbowl of drinks for a silly low price. 

George & Delila 
104 Cowley Road 
If you've never been to Oxford before you'll soon see a couple of George & Delila cafés, and one of them is located on Cowley Road. It's often used by people to read or work during daytime and in the evening they frequently serve as a live music concert venue. It's intimate but spacey, and a popular café for students.

I hope you've managed to settle in and that you're ready for your first semester at Brookes. I'm more ready than ever, even though I've realized that the two upcoming semesters are going to be hard with a lot of work. But I sure am ready for round 2! 

Monday, 4 August 2014

An end and a new beginning

In a few weeks you will have packed your bags, said your goodbyes to family and friends, and be on your way to your new life as a Brookes student. You will probably have a lot of questions but very few answers, a lot of dreams and expectations but maybe some worries too. I remember my last night in my Norwegian bed at my mum's house and the following morning, thinking "this is it, I'm leaving the country I grew up in, where I've spent 90% of my 21 year old life and moving to a country I've only been a few times before, but never outside of London".

So my question is: are you ready? Are you ready for a whole new life, in an unfamiliar city, and maybe in an unfamiliar country? Are you ready to start your new life as a Brookes student?

If so, be prepared to have a whole lot of fun, but also stressful times before deadlines. Be prepared for nights out with friends, and nights at the library. Be prepared to be part of something so many people want to do - what you have been given the opportunity to be a part of. Don't waste it - make the most of it.

Arriving at Oxford in general and Brookes in particular can be both a dream come true and a slightly chaotic day. Maybe you don't know who you will live with or where you will stay, but just remember that it will all be fine.

If you arrive during arrivals weekend and arrive at Heathrow airport, I recommend using the Meet and Greet Service Brookes is offering. If you arrive outside of the arrivals weekend, as I did last September, my tip is to take the bus to Oxford. If you prefer to take the train I'm not going to stop you, just be aware that you'll need to change at least one time. Coaches are running regularly from both Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, and stop at Gipsy Lane campus where you'll collect your keys, unless you're renting a private flat.

After you've arrived at Brookes there will be a number of events and meetings to help you settle into life as a Brookes student. You'll get valuable information, such as how to open a bank account, who to contact if you have questions and much more.

You will also take part of a day of enrollment, where you'll officially become a Brookes student. You'll meet your fellow students doing the same course as you, and be given even more information. Maybe more information than your brain can handle. Especially if you're a non-English speaking student. Don't let the English speaking part stress you out, you'll be fluent in English in no time! I remember the enrollment day being the day I was most nervous about. I didn't know anyone when I sat down, and even though I really wanted to speak to the girls around me, but they were all British and I didn't want to embarrass my self with my Norwegian accent. After the meeting a green dressed girl working as Brookes guide showed us around, and I was really pleased when she told me she was from Romania. She told me not to be afraid to speak English with a bad Norwegian accent, unless I wanted to stick to the accent for ever. That would be really awkward if I still sounded like a Norwegian after spending three years in Oxford!

If you get lost, don't understand what the teachers are talking about, and just feel complete and utterly confused - that's where your Academic Adviser comes in. Your AA is your very own adviser, who will be able to help you and give you advice. Make sure to use her/him, they're here to help you improve your stay at Brookes.

If you're an international student as I am, you'll find that opening a bank account really isn't that easy. But my advise is to do it as quickly as possible, because without it you won't be able to get an UK sim-card or set up an internet subscription. So make sure to bring your offer letter, passport and proof of your UK address, such as your flat contract.

After being through it all I can truly say that it's nothing to worry about. If someone told be a year ago that I would achieve better grades than ever before I would've just laughed at them. But I did, and I've been able to achieve nothing but A's and B's during my first year at Brookes. And I was a girl with mediocre English skills. I've learned that nothing is unachievable, you just have to believe. And study. But most importantly - you got to have fun. And with Brookes having so many competent members of staff, I can assure you that you'll have the time of your life.

See you in September!

All pictures from

Thursday, 3 July 2014

May the odds be ever in your favour

Have you seen The Hunger Games? If not, go see it. Apart from Harry Potter it's the only sci-fi movie I've actually truly enjoyed. Anyway, if you have seen it you probably remember the line "May the odds be ever in your favour". When all the people are lined up and the crazy lady who turns out to be less crazy than expected reads out the rules and procedures, and everyone's faces are twitching in nervousness. That's the feeling I get before an exam.
Oh yes indeed! 

Envisage a huge room filled with chairs and desks, where the tension is so present you can almost touch it. Now, vision that same room with students at the desks, hands on top, being quiet and concentrating on holding all the knowledge inside the brain for just a couple of more minutes before the exam starts. It's like you go into a state of mind so consuming that your mind can't process any new information. I've experienced several times not being able to remember what I wrote because I just emptied my brain. There's simply nothing left in my brain after an exam. 

When we're sitting like this waiting for the exam to begin and a recorded female voice is being played, I get the feeling of being in a communist state mixed with the scene from The Hunger Games. Don't ask me why, but it's probably because of all the pictures spread via media of vast numbers of people being lined up in North Korea. And when the head of the invigilators starts speaking saying we have 2 hours to complete the exam I imagine him finishing with " and may the odds be ever in your favour"

After completing a total of 4 exams during my first year at Brookes I've realised that exams in Norway and in the UK are absolutely not the same. In Norway you have a right to resit the exam if you failed it on your first attempt. Failed if the second time you say? Don't worry, you can resit the same exam 4 times before having to do the module all over again. At Brookes you're only allowed to resit if you get between 30-39%, and no matter how good a grade you get it will be capped at 40%. I don't know if every UK university does it, but many universities will write a number in the margin on your record of results, indicating the number of times you have completed or should I say attempted to complete a module. In Norway no one will ever know if you have done a resit, let alone how many. If you resit the same exam 4 times and get 4 different grades, the highest grade achieved is the one being shown on your record of results. Unfair? Pretty much, yeah! 

When writing this, this is my view

I'm currently working at the Norwegian State Housing Bank but because of the nice weather I decided to spend the evening with my family at our cabin. I love being here. Just chilling and eating fruit and berries. And play (read: cuddle until he's flat as a pancake) with our new puppy. He's too adorable! 

In a couple of days I'm off to Greece and then to Sweden visiting my boyfriend's family. Pretty sure July is going to be a good one, and I hope yours will be too!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

There's no place like...


I'm finally back in Norway after what felt like the longest flight ever (2 hours) accompanied by too much luggage, combined with excitement, happiness and a growing concern of something I know I forgot to do before I left. I still haven't been able to work out what that might be. Although I truly love Oxford, Brookes, and the student life, I'm not going to lie; it feels wonderful to be back. Two days after I got back home it was the Norwegian National Day and it was also the Norwegian constitution's 200 years anniversary so it was extra special this year. It's actually the worlds second oldest constitution, only "beaten" by the American one. 


As a student you don't have an awful lot of money, and to be able to survive you have to make some decisions such as not buying the most expensive bread or settle for the second (or fourth) best meat. When I came home, opened the fridge and saw so many things I've been craving for many months my heart was filled with joy. Sounds silly but to me my mum's fridge looks like a luxurious fridge containing delicious cheese, the best orange juice, and yoghurt. And tasty bread not falling apart on the plate when trying to eat it.

Another awesome part of being home is the fact that my dirty dishes magically disappear into the dishwasher and back to the cupboards. And the same with my laundry. Wonderful! And it also feels good not to worry about the electricity prices and planning when to charge my phone as the price usually is much lower at night. I can charge my phone whenever I want to! Student life is pretty much about saving as much money as possible on stuff you don't want to use too much money on, such as utility bills, so you can spend as much money as you want on fun stuff. I think I can get used to my parents taking care of me for some months. Especially the dinner making and grocery shopping. I don't have to plan my weekly grocery shopping for four months! It's just all these little things that make it extra awesome to be home for the summer, and just makes you appreciate things much more. Such as charging you phone. In the middle of the day. 

It has been such an amazing year, and I'm truly thankful for all the experiences and people I've met. My English skills are beyond what I imagined them to be, and I'm now for the first time in my life reading a quite long English crime novel without having to look up every other word, totally missing the author's point.As life in general it has been ups and downs, but all in all it has been a good year. The workload has been almost the same as in Norway except for the fact that a semester in Norway usually is five months vs 3-4 at Brookes, making it more intense, but I kind of like it. And when the summer holiday is four months long I don't mind working my ass off. The last month of this semester was a long, exhausting month with two exams in one day, one of them happening to be the one I felt most nervous about. But I think I did fine, I'll just have to wait and see. 

As of now I'm working hard on my tan after living in a country where the sun rarely shines. I have never been this pale in May, so I have a job to do! I have a couple of weeks left before my summer job starts, and I'm enjoying every second of it. 

To those of you still preparing for exams: my deepest heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of you, but now I'm going to enjoy an ice cream in the sun, not worrying about anything in the world. Except for my exam results. And whatever I forgot to do before I left. 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Deal or no deal

Sometimes I really don't know what I should write about on this blog. The reason Brookes decided to let some of us be Brookes' bloggers was because many, including my self, wished someone from the inside could tell them what it's really like. To have someone with first-hand experience, being able to tell the truth. Someone that has been through the application process, arrivals weekend, first day, freshers week etc. Freshers' week is really fun by the way, even though it turned out to be the most exhausting week of the whole semester, and resulting in probably 60% of all first year students coughing for several weeks. I will have to tell you more about that another time, when we're getting closer to semester start. The whole truth thing can sometimes be a little tricky.  One the one hand I really like Brookes and appreciate what I've been able to experience so far. But on the other hand it's easy to make it sound like a cheesy advertisement, and that's something I try to avoid. It's always advantages and disadvantages about every university or college. Anyway, as long as someone keeps reading this and appreciate my posts, I'll just continue writing what I believe is useful stuff, and what I wish I knew beforehand.

One thing I wish I knew before I started was what Brookes really can offer me. I remember receiving a lot of e-mails from the universities I received offers from about what they could offer me, why I should choose them, and a lot of that information just didn't make any sense. Of course they're not going to write about old campuses needing work done, or some slightly boring professors just doing they're thing. And the same goes for Brookes. On Brookes' website you can find several reasons why you should choose Brookes. And they are good reasons, but it's not what you want to hear is it? You probably already know that Oxford is a beautiful city, that Brookes is internationally recognised for high quality teaching and research, and that a Brookes degree is respected by employers. You want to hear what it's really like on the inside, don't you? 

So here it goes. 

You have probably understood that Brookes has different campuses spread all over Oxford. Gipsy Lane is the main campus, where I have all my lectures, and this is also where the new building is. I would say that this is the prettiest campus, especially with the new building (still love it), but according to a YouTube video I saw yesterday, the other campuses will receive some upgrading as well. If you have read David's post about Wheatley campus you'll understand that it's not a campus most Brookes students favour. It's old and grey, with a small library, but if you live nearby you benefit from the fact that you're able to study there because of the lack of students actually being in the library. The new library on Gipsy Lane is noisy sometimes, and the quiet zones are anything but now before exams. But it also is light and airy, and prior to the exam period it's usually quiet. 

As with anywhere else, Brookes' staff varies from young and newly educated to old and experienced. They all have different teaching styles, and I think it's quite subjective what you like. I prefere the over enthusiastic ones, who walk up and down the stairs in the lecture theatre, waving so much with their arms that bracelets and watches fly across the room. There's no way you're able to sleep during those lectures. I think it also depends on the module and whether you like it or not. This semester I've had my last sociology module. I'm not particularly fond of sociology, never have been and probably never will be. However, we had two really great teachers, both being enthusiastic about what they talked about, and it sure does help on the motivation for attending lectures and seminars.

As you can read on Brookes' website, there are students from 120 different countries, and 20% of all studentst are from outside the UK. That means that you have an incredible opportunity to build a network of people from all over the globe. Before I moved to Oxford I had only Norwegian friends. I now have friends from the UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Finland, China, and Germany, just to mention some of them. UK students proved to be the hardest to become friends with (no offence). Of course this isn't the case for everyone, but they can be tricky people. Once you get to know them they're really nice though, it just takes some time. You get to expand your horizon with all these different people, learn about new cultures and customs, and you're all united by being at the same place. This is what makes Brookes a great place to be, it doesn't matter where you're from. It's kind of like getting a new family. And it makes Brookes so much more vibrant.

At many universities in Norway there are certain subjects you don't speak about, criticise or mention in a critical manner. There is freedom of speech, don't get me wrong, but there is at the same time some controversial topics many believes is better untouched. That includes topics like China. We're so incredibly afraid of pisising them off, that you simply don't write anything bad about them, especially if you're hoping to get a visa some day. At Brookes I was surprised that these things actually were discussed and critically written about. I thought I was taking a huge risk when I wrote a quite critical essay about Thatcher during the Falklands War, but that turned out to be just fine. It's room for differences of opinion, but at the same time, if you're going to say something controversial during a lecture, you better have your arguments prepared. Not only will you be asked to elaborate by the lecturer, fellow students will probably have counter arguments. But it's done in a respective manner.

I could also mention all the student led Facebook pages containing pictures, embarrassing stories and confessions from students, but I think I will leave it up to you to find them yourselves. All I'm going to say is that they're pretty hilarious.

As of now, I'm in the middle of my exam period, with two exams on the same day and the last one a week after. The semesters are pretty intense as they last for 3-4 months, and the risk of getting behind is high if you don't do what you're supposed to do. So you better plan your days and make sure you have done all your reading before revision starts. Most of the modules are assessed by essays and exams, but my politics exam this semester is 100% examination, so you have to do good on the exam in order to get a good grade. I can only speak for my self, but revision is the worst aspect of studying. It becomes indifferent which day it is or what time of the day, and your hand aches from all the writing. All I dream about these days is the feeling I get when I hand in my exam answer at 3.30 pm on the 13th May, walking out of the examination room without a slightest worry in the world. At least until the next day when I start worrying about whether I remembered all the theories or not. And the results, not being published until late June.

And of course, in the middle of my revision, my MacBook decided to stop working, so now I'm depending on my iPad. It makes it a little bit harder, but it's not many days left until I'm done, so I'll manage. Please excuse the lack of pictures, it proved hard to upload them, but I'll be back stronger next time. And hopefully with a new, functioning MacBook! 

Good luck with revision to those of you preparing for exams, and for those who don't: enjoy your silence before the storm. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Time to get down to business

It’s time to switch from holiday mode and back to study mode. Can’t say I’m particularly happy about it when looking at the pile of books and lecture notes I have to go through in less than a month, but when writing this it's exactly 22 days until my four month long holiday. This Easter has been what I’d like to call a cultural Easter. I’ve been to Blenheim Palace where Churchill was born (30 mins by bus from Oxford), to Stratford upon Avon where Shakespeare grew up (just over 1 hour by train from Oxford), and to London (1 hour 40 mins by coach from Oxford) visiting all sorts of museums and watched Billy Elliot with my mum and sister (and of course did my fair share of shopping). That's a great thing about Oxford, it's close to so many different things. 

If I’m not entirely mistaken it was exactly a year ago that I had received all my offers from the universities I applied to, and I had to make up my mind about which to accept. UCAS is a completely different system than what is being used in Norway, where you have to rank the universities you apply to due to the fact that you only get one offer. If you're from USA, Canada, Norway or Latin America I strongly recommend contacting Across the Pond, these guys know what they're talking about, it's free and they do all the tricky UCAS things for you. And they also have "letters" from international student in the UK on their website where you can read about both advantages and disadvantages, so have a look! 

Anyway, if you get offers from all the universities on your list, you have a job to do, if you haven’t already made up your mind of course. So I thought I should help you a little bit, in case you’re new in this game and perhaps also an international student. I don't know about you, but I was craving information when I was in that situation, so without further ado, here is some advice:

#1 Open tabs for all the universities websites in your internet browser
All the universities offer you different kinds of things, and if you're not sure which university can offer you the best education for you, then you should go through them all. Look at different modules of the course you have applied to, the content of them if they're available, and information about the overall course such as graduated students' current jobs and experiences, work placement options etc. It's also smart to look at the tuition fee and if they will increase during your studies, and if there are any "hidden" course fees such as field trips. You can find information about fees at Brookes here

#2 Use Facebook 
 After spending hours trying to wrap my head around different terms and academic information I realized that I had completely forgotten about Facebook! So after having a look on the websites, search for the different universities on Facebook (Brookes here). At least on Brookes’ Facebook page you’re able to find out about different events going on at campus, information about services being provided and the most important thing – pictures. Of course the page is not going to tell you the advantages and disadvantages, but you'll be able to see pictures, videos and maybe some reviews from former students. You should also try to search for any Facebook groups/pages for your specific course, as you may be able to find information relating specific to you. 

#3 Attend Open Days
If I had the opportunity I would definitely have attended the open days, but unfortunately they were all on the same days as my exams in Norway. It’s just something about walking around on campus, seeing with your own eyes what it’s like, and maybe explore the neighbourhood and the city. You won't get to explore and feel the actual vibe through Facebook or the university’s website. And in case you’re wondering, Brookes has two different vibes on the same campus. Inside the John Henry Brookes Building it’s vibrant, colourful and somewhat crowded, especially now before the exams. In the other buildings it’s more quiet and calm, and you’re able to actually hear your own thoughts. It’s something for everyone. Information about Brookes open days here.

#4 Look at different types of accommodation 
The last thing I’m going to mention this time is accommodation, which was what I was most worried about. I bet I’m not the only one worrying about it, but having been through it all I can say – don’t worry too much about it. I mean, you should offer it some thought and explore your options, but you don’t have to lay awake at night. They will always have room for you somewhere. You have a variety of options at Brookes, such as halls varying both in size and location and shared housing. I wasn't aware of shared housing and it took me quite some time to find the shared housing list, so I recommend spending some time at the accommodation pages as well. The great thing about being an international student at Brookes is that they guarantee you a place to live in your first year. You might end up in halls far away from your campus or with flatmates you can't stand, but at least you have roof over your head. And if you can’t stand your flatmates or whatever, it’s possible to switch, the staff at the accommodation office always try to help you, but you have to give it a go. Brookes' accommodation website here. If you're considering renting private, Brookes Union has some useful tips, and you can also contact them if you have any questions. Brookes Union website here. If you want to read about different halls and campuses, David has written about all about it here

I hope you found this at least somewhat helpful, and should you have any questions or something you want to read more about, then please comment below! :) 

Now I'm going to do some more studying and try to fight off the cold I've managed to get during this lovely, rainy, cold spring weather!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Shut your pie hole, pretty please

This time I want to start the blog post with an encouragement regarding something that has annoyed me for a while now... When you’re in a lecture, or a seminar, or at an event, is it really that hard to just shut your mouth and be quiet? I mean, play Candy Crush on your phone, check Facebook, Instagram or whatever, but do you really have to whisper about the guy you met last night during the lecture? I love gossip, don’t get me wrong, but I’m paying £11,400 a year for this education, and I really want to make the most of these three years. And I bet most of you want the same! We’re spending so much money on getting a proper education, and you’re just going to waste it on talking rubbish during all the lectures? Unfortunately I don’t have the balls to say something, but the lecturer should have. I don’t know why the staff at Brookes just accept that students are being rude during their lectures. It has actually only happened twice at my time here at Brookes that a lecturer has told someone to either be quiet or leave. It really shouldn’t have to be like that. It’s just silly. I can't help myself comparing experiences in Oxford with Norway, but during my two years at university in Norway, if someone had the nerve to giggle and whisper more than "hey, can I borrow a pen?" during a lecture, the lecturer would stop the entire session and ask the student(s) to leave. So with all my humbleness, shut you pie hole. Please :)

Anyway, the last couple of weeks have been quite stressful. I live in a block (off campus), with a really quarrelsome couple living next door, causing me to oversleep on the one lecture I really was looking forward to, due to them having a huge fight. At some point I actually thought she was going to start the Third World War, when she started throwing stuff around the room, smashing things into the wall, where I was trying to sleep on the other side of the paper-thin walls. I’ve never heard a British girl swear that much before. At least something good came out of it, I learned a few new British swear words and got to know all about him cheating. Did I mention that I love gossip? Even when it’s 2 am and my lecture starts at 9 am? At least I managed to drag myself to the gym before lunchtime. If you become a student at Brookes you’ll discover that lunchtime at Brookes Sport is a place you don’t want to be. It's people everywhere you turn. 

Apart from essay writing in sociology and international relations, Brookes has hosted some really interesting debates as well. One of the debates was about how the Cold War was won, lead by Lord Powell, the foreign affairs private secretary during the 1980s. As a student studying International Relations and Politics, I know that the Cold War is going to be a constantly returning topic during my time here at Brookes, so it was a great opportunity to hear Lord Powell’s own experiences and gain some extra knowledge. I didn’t dare to take a picture of him though, he is after all a Lord. No one else was taking pictures of him, and I didn’t want to be the international girl with no manners. The whole Lord thing is also quite intimidating. We don’t have that in Norway, not even a Sir. Am I even allowed to take pictures of a Lord while he‘s telling stories about Margaret Thatcher? And in case you wondered, some students managed to eat crisps and giggle while Lord Powell was speaking. Rudeness! 

The other event was hosted by BROOKESfocus, the newly established Social Sciences Student Association. They hosted their first debate on the topic of whether institutional racism exist in the British criminal justice system or not. The panel consisted of an ex-offender, a barrister, the Associate Dean for Social Sciences and Law at Brookes, and a music writer and activist. It was interesting to hear about their own experiences and opinions, and I’m sure I’ll be able to use it in my exams. Oh, and we got free wine and food, and that’s always good. Hi-fives to BROOKESfocus for hosting such a good and interesting first debate! I'm looking forward to the next one. 

And whilst talking about racism, if you already haven't seen it, the I, too, am Oxford campaign is really something to think about. We should have come further than this in the 21st century. 

Today my Easter break started. I'm really looking forward to two and a half weeks of just doing nothing after having turned in two essays, held a presentation in French as well as a French in-class test. The part about doing nothing is not true though, I have so much exam revision to do with two exams on 7th May and another one the 14th.

If you're as lucky as I am and having an Easter break, enjoy it! Make sure you eat lots of those easter eggs, and just kick back and relax!