18 tips from a #WarwickGrad
I’m officially a #WarwickGrad.
Earlier this week, I received the news that I would walk away from the University of Warwick with a First Class degree in Politics and International Studies. It’s a strange feeling.
After three years of work, thousands of words written, and too many hours spent worrying about being an abject failure, I’m over the finishing line. I’m thrilled, not only because I got through the pandemic and secured the grade that I hoped for, but also because I feel as though I did it my way.
As has been well-documented, the last fifteen months have been hard. Really hard. But the Class of 2021 did it, we got over the finishing line. And I’m proud of that.
Today’s blog? Well, I want to share some thoughts that I’ve had about my time at Warwick. Some things I would do the same; some I would do differently. Consider this the 18-point list of things I’ve learned at Warwick.
1) Use Advice and Feedback Hours: Shamefully, I used A/F Hours exceptionally irregularly. They’re really helpful, don’t let anything hold you back from getting the help you need. (I found A/F Hours really daunting… only to get over that fear in my last six months here!)
2) Research Modules Thoroughly: Each year, you will be invited to pick modules. Read up on them, lots. I regret taking one of the modules I chose this year because it didn’t quite match my expectations… and it didn’t match my expectations because I didn’t look into it in enough detail. (Many of my classmates loved the module; it just wasn’t my cup of tea.)
3) Try Societies Early: I regret not trying more new things in Freshers’ Week. Why? Because once the opening week was over, I found the idea of being the new guy horrid and so didn’t bother. Don’t be like me.
4) Be Yourself: As noted, there are things I regret because I said ‘no’. At the same time, though, I’ve enjoyed university because I’ve always been myself. I don’t like loud music or drink, so why on earth would I go clubbing? (I’ve spent twenty minutes in a club since 2018, zero regrets.)
5) Don’t Buy New Textbooks: I’ve never purchased a new PAIS textbook (I have one pre-owned one). Why? Because you can (a) get it from the library most of the time (b) or buy cheap pre-owned copies. Save your money for takeaways and hockey shirts.
6) Hunt Free Food: In pre-Covid times, there were often university events where free food was on the menu (yes, PAIS film club, I’m talking about you). I recommend.
7) Sign Up for WWS: I work as an ambassador for the university, doing campus tours and school events and the like. There are many good things about this. However, the bottom line is this: the money is good and you only work the hours you want to.
8) Try New Food/Drink: My favourite thing about Coventry (a city I’ve grown to adore) is the cuisine. I have developed a bubble tea habit, one that my hometown will not be able to satisfy.
9) Be a Day Tripper: Coventry Station is such a vibe. It’s an hour from London, twenty minutes from Birmingham International Airport, and about two hours from Liverpool/Manchester. Go explore. (Birmingham is a good day out, long live Brum.)
10) Make Friends on Your Course: Having people you can talk to about your course is such a help, especially if they take the same modules! Don’t just focus on being friends with your flatmates, PAIS people are cool too*. (To be honest, I’m not that cool.)
11) Speak First in Seminars: I would try to speak early in a seminar for two reasons. First, it made me less reluctant to speak up again. Second, it means you can say your points before anyone else has the chance. (Point two is handy if you’ve taken a minimalist approach to the reading.)
12) Use the Library’s Welcome Talks: Throughout your degree, the library will run help sessions that aim to boost your research skills. Trust me, they’re a lifesaver when you’re looking for dissertation material. (I speak as someone who tried to find the first-ever use of the word ‘Euroscepticism’ in a UK newspaper.)
13) Read The Boar: I’m utterly biased. This point is propaganda from a former Sport Editor. But read Warwick’s student paper. So much work goes into it. It’s won awards (including best Sports Coverage 2020/21 😊). And it holds the University to account. Student Journalism is great.
14) Listen to RAW: See above. But this time for radio. Student Journalism is great.
15) Build Relationships with Staff: I was in a horrible position this year. My personal tutor got promoted (meaning he was no longer my personal tutor). Then, my new personal tutor had to take a period of leave. Which meant getting a reference was a bit tricky (until I realised I could just contact my old tutor). With that in mind, talk to your tutors.
16) Rock Up and Play: Later today, I’m going to be playing football at the Sport and Wellness Hub. It’s for free. You play with people who just want to kick a ball around and don’t care for winning. It’s great fun. Rock Up and Play is a service run by Warwick to keep students active; make use of it.
17) Help is There: The University and SU offer lots of wellbeing advice/help/guidance. Check out their websites for more details.
18) Have Fun: I’m a very serious individual. Too up-tight for my own good. Don’t worry about making mistakes at university. You can afford a bad module mark. You can afford to miss the odd seminar (I’m not encouraging you to, but I think the pandemic has shown that sometimes it’s okay to have other priorities).
Try to enjoy your time at Warwick, it’ll be over before you can say “I’m a Politics and International Studies student at the University of Warwick.”
Bye for now!