3 tips to boost your productivity for a successful semester

Stressed out by tons of assignments coming constantly? Here are 3 tips to help you reorganise your schedule and study more effectively for a successful semester!

Prioritise based on importance and urgency

In his best-seller “7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, Dr. Stephen R Covey proposed a method of prioritisation that ranks tasks to be done each week based on their levels of importance and urgency. While people normally prioritise both important and urgent tasks first, this problem-minded approach is ineffective in the long term. Instead, we should become more opportunity-minded by focusing on important yet non-urgent tasks, so that our schedule will not be clogged up in the future.

Prioritisation Chart for Effective Time Management

Focus more with the Pomodoro technique

The main principle behind this technique is to break your work time into 25-minute intervals with short breaks of 3 to 10 minutes in between. This technique helps us fully concentrate on the task at hand, especially when we are so often distracted by many things nowadays.

Steps of the Pomodoro Technique

Save time with visual book summaries

Productivity Game is a great collection of short videos which perfectly summarise books with various topics. Whereas these books normally take you weeks to finish, Productivity Game lets you get hold of the books’ most important insights with only around 20 minutes. These videos are also presented in a visually attractive way, making it much easier to follow.

Have you tried any of these methods before? Were they effective? Don’t hesitate to comment your experience below! 

A homeless tour guide for your London visit: Why not?

Think there’s nothing you can learn from a homeless person? Think again! 

Now you can book a tour around some of London’s coolest areas with a homeless tour guide. Pioneered by Unseen Tours – a social enterprise aiming to tackle homelessness in London, this concept has proven to be a huge success with hundreds of positive reviews on TripAdvisor.

So how is a homeless tour actually like? 

I booked a homeless Brick Lane tour during my stay in London in December 2016 out of curiosity. My tour guide was Pete – a previous advertiser who lost his job, became homeless and has had to sleep rough around Brick Lane for over 10 years. Along with his easy-going nature, Pete also wowed me with his extensive knowledge about the cultural and social issues around Brick Lane as well as in England. During the tour, Pete told us mind-blowing stories about the famous criminal Jack the Ripper, the suffrage movement in the early 1900s and the multicultural development of Brick Lane following Jewish and Muslim people’s immigration.

I was also blown away by Brick Lane’s brilliant street arts. Having worked in the advertising industry before, Pete explained to us a great deal about how street artists here cleverly delivered subtle messages of social struggles through their creative artwork.

Brick Lane street arts
Amazing 3D piece of art on the streets of Brick Lane

In short, my experience with the Brick Lane homeless tour went far beyond my expectations. If touristy attractions in London are not what you’re after, Unseen Tours will be perfect for you!

Football vs. Football: Part 3

Football and football: Same name, totally different games. At my first Hull City match, I realised how the fan experience differed from that of American sports. First off, I was fascinated by the fact that security guards separated parts of the crowd because back home, no matter the sport, fans are mixed (for better or for worse).

Next, I realised how the direction of a football match can completely affect whether or not the stadium is full of rowdy fans who are chanting nonstop or spectators who would rather be home. This does not happen in American football because no matter if your team is winning or losing, chances are that you’re being egged on by signs reading “Get Loud!” or you’re caught up in singing along with the soundtrack of Bon Jovi or Queen.

South Park GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Finally, a staple of American football culture that is not present here in the UK is tailgating, which is when fans park in a giant lot and cook from grills that they have brought from home; most of the time, drinking, loud music, and trash talking is involved (all in the love of sport). While both sports have their highs and lows, I will always defend American football and will never regret staying up until 4:30 Berlin time to watch my team win another Super Bowl (GO PATRIOTS!).

I hope you’ve enjoyed the 3rd and final part of my “New England vs. England” series. Comment below with your favourite sporting experiences!

 

A Winter Without Ice: Part 2

Growing up in Massachusetts has taught me to deal with all sorts of weather, from days that are below freezing to others that are so hot you can feel the tar on the driveway melting under your feet. This variety has led New Englanders to take on some habits that seem odd to the rest of the US, let alone other countries, so being out of my element has forced me to adapt to my new environment. For example, the temperature back home is currently 22°F (-6°C), but that will not stop anyone from rolling out of bed to get an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Yes, you read that right: iced coffee.

Donuts GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

So imagine my surprise when, in October, I went to order an iced tea and was told that this item, along with others, were not on the menu for the time being because it was getting colder outside. In that moment, all I could think about was all of the blizzards I have driven in to get an iced coffee, so cold weather could not deter me. While I have struggled without iced coffee this winter, something I have appreciated is the lack of snow and not having to shovel myself out of the house like the rest of my family (sorry, guys!).

Snowpocalypse 2015 aka Winter Storm Juno

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed Part 2 of my “New England vs. England” series. Comment below with any regional habits that may have been put into question while traveling!

Re-learning the English Language: Tales of a Fluent *American* English Speaker: Part 1

Have you ever spoken the same language as somebody else but still felt lost in translation? Before I studied abroad in 2014, I thought the only difference between the UK and US would be the accents, but how wrong I was! A few days into my semester, I had my first experience hanging out with my friend’s British flatmates and almost right away, I was berated for calling ‘crisps’, ‘chips’.

From this moment on, I tried to fall into a pattern of calling everything by its British name so that I wouldn’t get yelled at but while some things came easily, others never quite stuck. Here is a list of words and their UK-US translations (Note: Some US translations are strictly New England/Massachusetts-based and may not apply to all 50 states).

  • Fries= Chips
  • Bubbler=Water fountain
  • Rotary=Roundabout
  • Jimmies= Sprinkles
  • Cookout=Barbeque
  • Sidewalk=Pavement
  • Crosswalk=Zebra crossing
  • Sweater=Jumper
  • Shopping cart=Trolley
  • Cookie= Biscuit
  • Elevator=Lift
  • Soccer=Football
  • Football=American football
  • First floor=Ground floor
  • Pants=Trousers
    • Fun fact: I told a class full of Brits that I had just bought a new pair of pants and did not realise my error until somebody was intuitive enough to understand that I meant jeans, not underwear…

 BONUS: Words that look similar or the same but manage to get me in trouble every time.

  • Aluminum=Aluminium
  • Mocha (Moe-ka)=Mocha (Mawcka)

Confused? You’re not alone!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Part 1 of my “New England vs. England” series. Comment below with other pairings you may have heard of or any mishaps caused by same-language mistranslation!

4 FREE attractions in London that you don’t want to miss!

Planning to visit London with a tight student budget? I’m sure you’ll love these 4 amazing free attractions in London!

1. Horse Guards Parade

Whereas tourists often flock to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard ceremony, you will save much more effort to visit the equally impressive Horse Guards Parade on Whitehall Street. As this Horse Guard Parade is not so crowded, it’s much easier to watch it at a closer distance and take more photos with the guards. But be careful: The horses bite!

Tiny me standing next to a Horse Guard

2. Wallace Collection

My most favorite gem in London, the Wallace Collection features a remarkable collection of art, arms and armour, paintings and porcelain in a beautiful town house in Manchester Square. You can also try a medieval armour on and take a selfie with it here.

3. Camden Market

Open every day from 10am, Camden Market hosts over 1000 stalls selling everything you can imagine from exotic Asian food, vintage art, handmade accessories to organic cosmetics. Don’t forget to bargain before you buy though!

A street artist at Camden Market place
The scenic canal at Camden Market
You’ll get overwhelmed by the variety of products to buy here

4. Parliament Houses

Entrance to Parliament Houses is free, but be prepared to stand in the queue for up to an hour. If you are here at certain times, you can even watch live debates at the House of Commons or House of Lords.

The Lords Public Gallery

Have you visited any of these free attractions in London? Or do you know any other that should also make it to this list? Don’t hesitate to let me know by commenting below!

A Taste of Culture: Hull’s Top Eateries

There’s no doubt an abundance of restaurants trying to supply fine food in Hull but not many are doing it quite like these;

Da Gianni;

The brand is developing into other premises elsewhere but the  flagship restaurant on Princes Ave continues to serve authentic Italian food in a homely environment feeling as close to Italy as you can get near the Humber. It’s the perfect spot for a date if you want to impress and not spend too much doing so. Fresh pasta and real stone-baked pizza for reasonable prices, cant go wrong.

Wagwan chicken;

Seriously succulent Jerk Chicken with style courtesy of Hull brand ‘Dope Food Inc’ well known for the sister takeaway/cafe ‘Dope Burger’. The small shop on Spring Bank will bring you “grandma recipe” standard chicken, rice & slaw like you’ve never tasted before. You might think it’s just their cool marketing but the hype is real, It’s not the cheapest option but for £8 you can expect a generously sized meal with a genuine taste of Jamaica…. in Hull.

Hull Pie;

With several locations across Hull this growing brand is a forced to be reckoned with, and not just because of its perfectly thought out locations. Pies arent something that would often excite people under the age of 40 but this is a real exception. £5 gets you a seriously good pie with any side, they’ve even jumped on the bandwagon and got sweet potato fries. There’s a shop at the top of Newland so no excuses, go try it.

 

 

 

Sonic Study Tools; Music To Help You Concentrate.

Whether you’re at your desk struggling to get into the zone or in the library in need of something to drown out the sound of those dudes talking loudly about Game of Thrones; music is the answer.

Heres some artists and albums to help you switch off the world around you and get motivated;

Nightmares on Wax – Smokers Delight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ8CGOXrhks 

The 1995 album by Leeds mastermind Nightmares on Wax is a percussive funky journey to which I arguably owe my success in GCSE & A level. The tracks carry the right amount of minimalism to avoid distraction yet the perfect amount of switch ups to avoid you getting bored.

Kruder & Dorfmeister – K & D Sessions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCU36y5utlw&list=PL0B83276B1AC5C9C5

Produced in 1998 by Austrian DJ/Producers Kruder & Dorfmeister the trip-hop album is a mix of their originals and remixes that will have you locked for the duration. Rumour has it Dorfmeister will be playing in Hull this year…

J Dilla – Vintage Instrumentals vol 2  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff9eDId1GtM 

Little needs to be said about this Detroit hip-hop legend. The late J Dilla often produced tracks for MC’s or his own lyrics however this album is a compilation of dreamy instrumentals which apparently never found vocals to fit. Let the snare take you.

Steve Reich’s Marimba & Piano Compositions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG_1sjActCE

Minimal pioneer Steve Reich delivers compositions that simply take you away. Simple overlapping melodies and arpeggios with no drums keep you thinking without distraction.

Please post your own favourite study music below.

Like the music – Support the artists;

http://www.juno.co.uk/products/nightmares-on-wax-smokers-delight/550317-01/

http://www.juno.co.uk/products/kruder-dorfmeister-the-k-d-sessions-remastered/562873-01/

http://www.juno.co.uk/search/?q%5Ball%5D%5B%5D=j+dilla&hide_forthcoming=0

http://www.juno.co.uk/search/?q%5Ball%5D%5B%5D=steve+reich&solrorder=relevancy&hide_forthcoming=0

 

 

Study Skills: Strategic approaches that can help you with exams

While exams are commonly acknowledged as painful and troublesome among many students, the ways to counter these problems are becoming increasingly paramount.

With this in mind, here I would like to share a step-by-step personal tactic to deal with all kinds of exam, and hopefully these might aid you with your future study!

1. Know your scope:

It is crucial to know the scope of your exam and the core areas. This is the starting point for effective and efficient revising as the time is limited and consequently you must utilise all your strength on the right direction.

2. Make a revision plan:

Once you have identified your scope and core areas, the next thing is to dissect them into sections and label them with a time frame and priority. Normally, the higher the priority the more the time you need to allocate. And the allocation of time is based on the estimation of your personal strength.

3. Be calm and follow the plan:

When the plan is created, the next step is to follow it! Make sure nothing comes in your way and stop you from reaching the daily objective.

4. Reflect and retain:

The last gap between you and the aim is reflection and retention. It would be frustrating that if you cannot remember anything when it comes to the real deal. So, try to be proactive and reflect on the previous learning at the end of each day, and the science behind this is supported by Hermann Ebbinghaus.

Start to make plans now! Please leave some comments and follow me on twitter for more information! @Chuanqi_Xu

This blog is reproduced from 2016 by Chanqi Xu