New Year, New You - What Support is Available to Help?
If you haven’t read How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss, you probably should (especially if we’re going to continue this friendship). You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to enjoy the story and you definitely don’t have to be a child to enjoy Dr Seuss. The story follows a grumpy individual, known as the Grinch, who tries to ruin Christmas for the town of Whoville by stealing all of the Christmas presents. In the end, though, he learns the hard way that Christmas is about more than just giving and receiving gifts. For me, and many others, this time of year is about reflection above all else: reflection on the year gone past. The tradition of setting a New Year’s Resolution is ingrained in our culture and we use it as a way to take stock on what we need to change in the coming year. Whether it is a New Year’s Resolution, or not, it’s important to be aware of the support services available to you if you have identified an area you want to make some changes in.
A good place to start is the Support Services landing page. It contains information about most of the services available: from the Chaplaincy and IT Services to the Library and Student Enterprise. Don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to do ALL of the work yourself – I’m going to highlight some of the important services right here in this post!
English for Academic Study (EAS)
One of the things that I love about the UofG is the multicultural environment I have the privilege of working in every day. I can’t imagine what it must be like to undertake research in a country that (mostly) doesn’t speak my first language.
The EAS was set up to support students whose first language is not English. It is run by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and offers courses in both learning and teaching English at different levels. Whether you want to increase your confidence with spoken English or share your fluency with students who have English as a second language the service is a fantastic way to get started.
If you are looking for something a little less formal to get you started then why not have a look at the Conversational English Group run by the Student Representative Council?
Postgraduate Writing Advisor
If you’re more worried about your academic writing skills than your ability to talk about Game of Thrones, then I’ve got the service for you! The postgraduate writing advisor, otherwise known as Dr Jennifer Boyle, can help you improve your academic writing through workshops, 1:1 appointments and even boot camps.
The workshops cover multiple topics - from How to Establish a Good Writing Practice to Writing for publication - while the boot camps offer a more personalised experience of setting defined goals, working against the clock and discussing your progress at the end of the day.
If you want to know more about any of the services offered by Jennifer, or to make a booking, then get in touch with her here. She’s really friendly and approachable!
If you’re lucky enough to have made it over the bulk of your project and are starting to think about employment, then the Careers Service is worth a visit. They can help you with writing your CV, preparing for interviews and a multitude of other things: you can use the service to search for employment opportunities or book appointments for careers advice. If you haven’t already spent some time on their website then it is definitely worth a look – even if you aren’t due to finish your research in the immediate future.
On February 8th 2017 the Careers Service is holding its annual Careers Fair with over 50 organisations looking to recruit. More information on this event can be found here.
Looking to apply for or extend your existing Visa? Lost your passport? Confused about UK banking or utility bills? The International Student Support Service provides dedicated support to international students on non-academic issues. It can help with immigration, employment, finance and any other matters that might concern you.
If, like me, you have a disability then you may be entitled to extra support throughout your research: from assistive technology to financial assistance, there are lots of ways in which the Disability Service can help you.
I want to highlight that disabilities come in a variety of different forms: while some may be physical, others are not. Some might be chronic conditions while others may last only a short time. The Disability service can help you with them all. If you have a disability then you should make an appointment with an advisor – especially if you feel like you are struggling.
Everyone struggles from time to time: sometimes that self-reflection I mentioned earlier can have a positive effect on your well-being, but it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate or becoming overwhelmed. The stress and anxiety that follows can be suffocating.
Counselling & Psychological Services:
If this sounds at all familiar to you then I want you to know that you are not alone. In 2014 an anonymous Guardian article unexpectedly received hundreds of thousands of shares because it highlighted some of the mental health issues that PhD students face: depression, eating disorders, sleep issues, self-harming, alcoholism and even suicide. There are lots of ways in which the Counselling & Psychological Services can help you. To find out more have a look at their website here.
As always, if there is anything you would like to discuss related to this post (or not) then let me know in the comments, or over on Twitter (@UofG_PGRblog). I have first-hand experience with both mental health issues and the disability service so, if there is anything you would like to know, ask away and I’ll do my best to help.
Feature Image: New Year's resolutions By Photos Public Domain.com (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons.