MA103 Help Session - LSESU Actuarial Society

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Does Abstract Maths (MA103) feel, well, too abstract? Do you need a friendly push to help you prepare yourself for the upcoming examinations in Summer Term? Drop by next Tuesday (29 April) for the LSESU Actuarial Society’s second MA103 Help Session!

The help session will be coordinated by former president of the society, Run Xian Tan. In the session, he will be covering past-year papers (specifically Year 2013), while providing some problem-solving techniques that will definitely give you an edge in answering examination questions.

Do sign up for this help session by filling up your details at this Google Form here as soon as possible to avoid letdowns, as we have LIMITED spaces! It’s free-of-charge for LSESU Actuarial Society members, but there’ll be a small charge of £1 for non-members.

P/S: Run Xian scored a whopping 99 for his MA103 last year, so yeah, rest assured you’ll be in safe hands during this session :).

Links:
Facebook Event Page
Sign-up link (in case you missed the one above)

Healthy, Easy Snack Replacements

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It’s really hard to eat healthy, particularly when unhealthy foods are so cheap and frequently discounted. But I promise you, you’ll feel a lot better if you make some simple snack replacements in your diet. You’ll thank yourself later when you’ve gotten a bunch of work done, your stomach is satisfied, and your energy levels haven’t crashed. Here are a few of my personal favorite snack replacements ideas from a really great Buzzfeed article I recently came across.

1. Swap your sodium-filled Pret wrap with “Banana Dog Bites

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Don’t get me wrong, Pret isn’t as bad as a lot of other prepared foods, but it’s not all that healthy either. If you’re just looking for a snack, try putting some peanut butter on a whole wheat wrap and putting a banana in the middle. On top of being a cute, easy snack, it’s also bound to be delicious. And I’m not just saying that because I’m kind of obsessed with peanut butter. 

2. Instead of that tub of ice cream, make a delicious yogurt parfait with fruit and granola 

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Ice cream is pretty tempting, especially now that it’s getting warmer, but there are lots of other foods to enjoy that will keep you feeling refreshed. Try mixing some low-fat yogurt with fresh fruits and granola bits. The recipe recommends also adding agave nectar, but you can make the parfait without it to cut costs and keep it healthier. All of the ingredients should be available at your local grocery store, and you’ll probably end up with enough materials to make it several times. To cut costs even more, try buying frozen fruits to mix with your fresh yogurt. 

3. Switch any form of chocolate with “Nutella Energy Bites

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Chocolate is super hard to resist, but you don’t necessarily have to avoid it entirely when it’s featured in so many healthy(ish) snacks. The ingredient list for this delicious dish is a little complicated, and it requires a food processor (sorry!) but it could be a great thing to do on a study break! If this is a little too complicated, remember what I said about dark chocolate in my last post (it’s not really so horrible). 

4. Avoid that bag of ultra processed crisps and prepare some crisp vegetables with creamy hummus dip

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When I was first introduced to hummus, I was a little skeptical. I’ve since decided it’s not so bad, but I know a lot of people who really enjoy it, and it’s definitely a very creamy, rich dip. You can get it for fairly cheap at the supermarket, and a lot of times at least one of the brands is discounted. Next time you’re craving crisps, try and grab a bit of hummus and some vegetables instead. You’ll find that it’s really satisfying and it won’t make you feel awful about yourself. To cut costs, try buying a bunch of celery and/or some whole carrots. It takes very little time to prepare the vegetables for dipping instead of buying them precut, so you’ll save money with fairly little effort. 

Here’s my last blog post for more ideas:

Studying? Reach for Healthy Foods, Not Crisps (blog)

And check out the original article for this post here:

17 Power Snacks for Studying (Buzzfeed)

*All images in this post are from the above article

What’s On: Easter Weekend

Even if you don’t celebrate Easter, there’s quite a few fun activities going on this weekend that are open to everyone. Since it’s a national holiday from Friday 18 April to Monday 21 April (and since the weather is getting so nice!), there’s bound to be quite a few people out enjoying the weekend. Here’s a quick list of events: 

Feast of St George

On Monday 21 April, he Feast of St. George will be held from 12-6pm in Trafalgar Square. There will be an English farmers’ market with delicious food and lots of free events, so it’s definitely worth stopping by. 

Berwick Street Record Store Day

If you’re into music, this is for you. There will be a free festival on "Record Store Day," Saturday 19 April, in Berwick Street Market, and area lined with indie music stores, unique shops, and farmers’ markets.

Urban Food Festival

On Saturday 19 April starting at 5pm, there will be a really great line up of different food trucks serving a variety of global cuisine options in the Euro Car Parks in Shoreditch. The Urban Food Fest will be on every Saturday until June, so if you can’t catch it this weekend, definitely check it out later on.

For some other weekend ideas, check out these links:

Visit some chocolate shops: Look at TimeOut’s list of the best chocolate shops across the city for a nice treat. 

Visit some of London’s beautiful parks: Check out a city farmgreen space, or royal park- it’s the best way to enjoy the weather, catch some sun, and spend as little as possible.

Attend a party: If you’re really into partying and parties, check out TimeOut’s list of Easter parties across the city

And check out TimeOut London’s list of other Things to Do this weekend for more options.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

A Few Budgeting Tips

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This is obviously not me.

Now that Summer term is approaching and some of our budgets are wearing thin, it’s probably a good time to start thinking a bit more closely about budgeting to get through the rest of the academic year. I’ve done a bit of searching for you with help from MoneySavingExpert and my own experience, so here’s a quick list of tips to consider if you’ll be trying to watch how much you spend within the next few months.

1. Get student discount cards

I’ve mentioned this a few times in past posts, but they are actually incredibly helpful to have, and you’ll find yourself saving quite a bit of money. Plus, you won’t be a student forever- so take advantage now. You can get everything from travel discounts (which are always wonderful) to discounts on stuff like Pizza Express and Apple products. These cards include the NUS extra card, the 16-25 railcard, and more. Check out my last post on the best benefits of the NUS extra card for more info.

2. Make a budget

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I’m a big list writer. If I have a ton of things to do, or something to remember, I always write it down. This can be a helpful thing to do if you’re not particularly good at budgeting. Setting aside certain amounts of money for different activities and necessities will help you get serious about using money wisely. You might be surprised at how much money you’re spending at pubs when you actually add it all up. I recommend making a reasonable budget that includes plenty of money for food, accommodation, and travel, and a bit on the side for social events. Everyone’s budget will differ, but always make sure the most important things come first. Here’s a budgeting calculator I came across to help you create a simple budget plan. 

3. Cook at home

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My hall is amazing, but it’s a bit hard to cook lots of fresh food when the fridge is always quite full and the kitchen is often in use. As much as I’d like to cook every day, I find that’s not really an option in my current living situation, and that’s probably the same for a lot of you. It’s hard to resist the temptation to go out to eat, but it’s much, much better for your wallet and your health if you limit your spending on take away. There is often a big selection of ready meals at local grocery stores, and grabbing a bag of lettuce, some salad dressing, and a few vegetables isn’t too pricey if you get the sale items. You’ll find yourself saving a lot of money.

4. Take the bus

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This is a really simple one, and it might not be the most convenient or feasible option for you, but it’s undeniably cheaper than the tube if you don’t need to transfer. I always take the bus, because even if it takes a little longer, it’s worth the minor inconvenience. Plus, the tube gets overcrowded and is honestly really boring, while the bus offers a great view of the city. Taking the bus has actually gotten me a lot more familiar with my area, and I have a much better idea of where everything is now. So there are benefits!

5. Consider part-time employment

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It might seem late in the year, but it’s definitely worth checking out what job opportunities are currently available, especially if you’ll be here throughout the summer. As an American, getting a job in the UK drastically reduced the pain of the exchange rate between the dollar and the pound, and if your home currency isn’t as strong, you’ll probably feel a lot better about it, too. Plus, it’s a great way to make sure you get out of your room once in a while- and there are not many things as awesome as getting a paycheck when you’re low on cash. 

For more information, here are a few additional resources for money saving advice:

Student checklist (MoneySavingExpert)

StudentCalculator.org

Budgeting (UCAS)

How Can I Manage My Money Better? (NUS)

Reasons To Keep Hydrated!

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When was the last time you drank? (Water, not vodka; calm down peeps) Little do most of us know, water plays an integral role in maintaining our daily body functions; and hydration is a crucial criteria for survival. Let’s look at some of the benefits you can get by keeping yourself hydrated.

1) A Healthier Heart

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Heart attack / heart related complications remain the number one cause of death in the world (Source: WHO. I did my research! Hehe). One study in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that drinking more water is associated with a decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease, whereas drinking liquids other than water actually increased the chances of the disease. 

I personally think that drinking other liquids shouldn’t contribute too much towards heart disease, as long as it’s not too sweet (fruit juice or something), but oh well, who am I to refute the American Journal of Epidemiology.

2) Brain Boost!

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According to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, drinking water when you feel thirsty can help you think and act. The participants who drank water before performing a series of cognitive tasks reacted faster than those who did not.

"If the slower reaction times translated into real world performance, it could mean that people are generally a little slower at performing tasks," says Dr. Caroline Edmonds, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of East London, who was involved in the study.

Do drink up before facing your upcoming exams!

3) Pick-me-up

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Feeling irritable frequently? Drink more water. Lack of sleep isn’t the only reason you get headaches and surges of irritability - lack of water does that too. When your body is low on water, blood vessels will dilate, causing swelling and worsening the feeling of a headache.

If you’re experiencing dizziness, this is a sign of dehydration. You should drink small amounts of water slowly over time, and watch as your mood improve!

4) Appetite Control & Gut Health

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It’s late at night, and your stomach growls.

Before reaching for that big bag of Doritos lying temptingly on your foodshelf, try drinking some water first. In many cases, your body isn’t exactly hungry, but thirsty instead. 

Water may not magically help you lose weight overnight, but substituting higher calorie drinks for water will reduce a large amount of calorie intake. Also, in order to burn calories, an adequate amount of water is needed. Staying hydrated will also keep things in your intestinal tracts flowing, and also keep constipation at bay.

5) Maintaining Balance of Body Fluids

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Our body loses a lot of fluid through increased sweating on hot days or after exercising; the imminent lack of fluid leads to dehydration symptoms like headache, fatigue, confusion, and even heat stroke. A lack of water can even affect our organ functions, which, well.. isn’t really good.

Track your drinking history with several apps available on your phones/tablets! A quick google search will lead you to several apps like WaterLogged, or a cute app called Plant Nanny

Bottoms up, fellas!

Tips for Relaxing

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In a high-stress environment like LSE, you’ve probably had people tell you to relax on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, as we all know, it’s really not that easy to “just relax.” Here are a few tips (adapted from this article) to help you calm down now that it’s revision season:

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Take deep breaths. Take very deep breaths in through your nose, and then breath out through your mouth. The NHS suggests counting to five on each breath, and that’s probably a guideline to follow. Doing this three to five times a day is quite helpful- I’ve just started to try it, so we’ll see how it goes. 

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Get comfortable. If you’re at home, wear comfortable clothes and try and sit in a position that isn’t rigid or unpleasant. I know that I tend to get too comfortable to get work done when I’m in my room, but that’s exactly the kind of thing you need when you’re purposefully trying to relax. 

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Try some stretches. I’m just going to quote the NHS article I’m using for this post, because paraphrasing wouldn’t work too well in this case. The following is directly from Relaxation tips to relieve stress, the piece I am basing this entire post on:

Face: push the eyebrows together, as though frowning, then release. 
Neck: gently tilt the head forwards, pushing chin down towards chest, then slowly lift again. 
Shoulders: pull them up towards the ears (shrug), then relax them down towards the feet. 
Chest: breathe slowly and deeply into the diaphragm (below your bottom rib) so that you’re using the whole of the lungs. Then breathe slowly out, allowing the belly to deflate as all the air is exhaled. 
Arms: stretch the arms away from the body, reach, then relax. 
Legs: push the toes away from the body, then pull them towards body, then relax. 
Wrists and hands: stretch the wrist by pulling the hand up towards you, and stretch out the fingers and thumbs, then relax.

Happy relaxing!

#LSEWellbeing

A few time management techniques

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Since no one revision method works best for everyone, it’s important to try different things. I found a really great time management guide on the NHS website, and so I’ve included some of its tips and a few tips of my own. If you’re stuck, try to consider a few of these points.

Create a to-do list

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I am really addicted to to-do lists. I write them often, and even if I don’t manage to accomplish the tasks I write in a timely fashion, I always appreciate having them listed in one place. It’s a great method of organisation, and the best part is when you get to check things off your list. 

Prioritise

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Take note of which tasks on your to-do list are the most important or time sensitive and arrange them accordingly. As an example, I’m much more interested in finishing up my dissertation right now, but I I need to finish my summative papers first. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to think about things in this way. Similarly, if you’re feeling really stressed out, try and prioritise de-stressing before continuing your work. Check out the "LSEWellbeing" tag for some inspiration.

Sit down and write

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This may also seem obvious, but what I mean to say is that you should find a quiet space (or a noisy space if that’s how you do your best work) and just write. Even if you’re not very motivated, just try and get some words on the page. You’ll have plenty of time to add citations, review, and build upon the ideas you’ve written- but at first, just getting something done is always good.

Avoid excessive distractions

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Some distractions are good, but if you’re checking your Facebook every few minutes, you’re not going to get anything done. There are actually quite a few apps that help you block distracting websites while you’re trying to get work done, and I’d definitely recommend trying at lest one of them out. One of those apps is SelfControl, but there’s a wide variety if you’d prefer to try another. I tried it my last year of undergrad and I kind of hated it, but I think that means it was working perfectly…

Take a relaxing break

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This is partly because I just really loved the gif, but also because getting your best work done really does require taking breaks. You might be able to get work done by staying up late and stressing out, but it probably won’t be your best work. Be sure to spend some time outside (visit a city farmgreen space, or royal park), take a coffee/tea break, go on a day trip, or do something else you enjoy. You won’t regret it!

Check out these helpful websites for more tips:

Easy time management tips (NHS)

SelfControl (app)

How to manage your time effectively (University of Kent)

Top 10 Tips for Time Management (UCLA)

Where to watch the London Marathon 2014

(View from the Shard by ncs1984)

This Sunday (13th April) sees the annual London Marathon take place across the capital. 

The 26-mile race is renowned as one of the biggest athletic tests in the British sporting calendar with more than 30,000 people lining up to take part every year.

(Photo from dweller88)

Starting in Greenwich, the London Marathon passes some of the city’s most famous landmarks including the London Eye, the Tower of London, and Big Ben before finishing on The Mall near Buckingham Palace. You can see the full route on this interactive map created by Virgin Money who sponsor the event.

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Where to watch

Want to offer this year’s runners some moral support? Time Out have put together a great guide on the best spectator spots including a list of pubs and bars along the route – perfect for soaking up the atmosphere when cheering from the sidelines becomes thirsty work. 

The marathon begins from 8.55am onwards (there are multiple starts for elite runners and mass runners), but we’d recommend avoiding the starting point in Greenwich as it’s likely to be heaving. It’s also worth checking out the Virgin Money Spectator’s Guide for more details on where the busiest points along the route will be. 

Transport

Tube services are expected to run on Sunday but stations close to the marathon will be much busier than usual so allow extra time for your journey. Buses affected by the marathon will either be diverted or will not run the full length of the route until the race is finished. Check out the TFL website for full details.

If you live near to the route, Virgin Money have also put together a leaflet on which roads will be closed on the day.

Taking part?

Are you an LSE student taking part in this year’s London Marathon? Let us know on our social networks.

Day Trips Outside of London

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I recently came across a great article with suggestions for day trips outside of the city. My first trip outside of London since I arrived in late September was to Cumberland Lodge with the Social Policy department, and I remember how much of an amazing relief it was to be outside of the city, even if just for a few days. I love it here, but there’s nothing quite like a change of scenery.

Day trips are particularly nice because they’re quick enough that you can enjoy some quality time away without having to take too much time away from revising. Since they’re so amazing, I’ve made a quick list of destinations for you with help from this article.

Oxford

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First off, if you haven’t already seen my blog post about visiting Oxford, here’s the link. It’s just an hour away, and it’s a really beautiful old city that you won’t want to miss. You can conveniently access it by train or bus, and the fares are pretty reasonable. Check out Visit Oxfordshire and Lonely Planet’s Oxford page for more information.

Brighton

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Brighton is a lovely coastal city, just about an hour away. Check out VisitBrighton and Lonely Planet’s Brighton & Hove page for more details. 

Whitstable

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Whitstable is about an hour and a half away, and is another lovely coastal town. Check out its website and Lonely Planet’s Whitstable page for more information.

Stratford-upon-Avon

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Statford-upon-Avon, home of Shakespeare, is about 2 1/2 hours by train, so it’s not particularly close. It’s a very popular spot though, and if you’re a big fan of Shakespeare, you can visit his place of birth and even catch a few plays. Check out Visit Stratford-upon-Avon and Lonely Planet’s Stratford-upon-Avon page to learn more.

Windsor Castle

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Windsor Castle is less than an hour outside of the city, and while I’ve never visited the castle, it’s apparently very beautiful. Having visited the area near Cumberland Lodge, I can definitely attest to the beauty of the surroundings, and I’d absolutely recommend it for a day trip. It felt very removed from the city, which is a really great element to have when you’re trying to get away. Check out the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead official webpage or Lonely Planet’s Windsor Castle page for more information.

Bath

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Bath is a beautiful city known for it’s old Roman baths. It’s not the largest city, so I’ve heard it’s perfect for a day trip. For the best information, check out Ryo’s post from a few months ago. I haven’t visited myself, but you can also see the Visit Bath website and Lonely Planet’s Bath page for more details. 

(All of the photos I used for this post, with the exception of the first two photos, were found through creative commons)

#LSEWellbeing

Postgrads, Start Thinking About Your Dissertation

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At this point, you’ve most certainly thought about your dissertation, but really getting started on it will put you way ahead of the game. As postgrads, we have quite a bit of time until we need to hand it in (depending on your programme), but that doesn’t mean you should put it off. Here are a few things you should be keeping in mind now that Lent term is over and Summer term is fast approaching:

Read more

New Hive Visits with the LSESU Beekeeping Society

Did you know that the LSESU Beekeeping Society works with hives at the top of Connaught House and Passfield Hall? Their visits will be starting up again now that spring has arrived, and they’ve just announced the times on their blog, LSE Bees.

The visits will be on Wednesdays at 1:30pm at Passfield Hall, and Wednesdays at 2:30pm at Connaught House, starting tomorrow.

To join the LSESU Beekeeping Society, click here or head to the Activities Resource Centre (ARC) on the first floor of the Students’ Union Building. 

For more information, check out these links:

LSE Bees (blog)

The LSESU Beekeeping Society (LSESU Society Profile)

LSE Beekeeping (LSE)

LSE Bees (Facebook page)

London’s Free City Farms

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You’ve probably already seen my posts about green spaces and Royal Parks, but I promise this one will be a little bit different. I recently visited one of London’s city farms (literally a farm in the middle of the city), and it was probably the most relaxing study break I’ve taken. Below, I’ve compiled a short list of other city farms you can visit, with a few pictures. 

Mudchute Park & Farm

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Mudchute Park & Farm is right across the street from the Mudchute DLR station, and about a 20 minute walk from Canary Wharf. It’s also accessible by Crossharbour and Island Gardens DLR stations. It is conveniently open 7 days a week, 9am-5pm, so I visited on a Sunday afternoon. I noticed that it tends to get a bit busy past 12pm, so if you’re looking for a quieter trip, I’d recommend arriving early. Entry is free, and you can get a bag of food to feed the animals for just £1. You can also conveniently buy a bite to eat at the Mudchute Kitchen during your visit, open Tues-Fri, 9:30am-3pm and Sat & Sun, 9:30am-4:30pm.

Unfortunately this was the only farm I got the chance to visit, but I highly recommend it. This farm in particular had sheep, alpacas, chickens, goats, pigs, and small animals like rabbits and chipmunks. If you like adorable animals, lovely green walks and the idea of getting a break from city life, this is definitely for you.

Spitalfields City Farm

Spitalfields City Farm is located a short walk from the Whitechapel and Shoreditch High Street tube stations. It’s open from Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm, and it covers over an acre of space with exotic birds, ponies, and other cute animals.

Kentish Town City Farm

Kentish Town City Farm is located near the Gospel Oak and Kentish Town tube stations, and it is open 7 days a week, 9am-5pm. 

Surrey Docks Farm 

Surrey Docks Farm is close to the Canada Water tube station, and it is open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm. It’s free, but they do request a £3 donation. There’s also a cafe at the farm, Piccalilli Caff, so it’s a great place to spend a full afternoon.

There are a handful of other city farms, too, so I encourage you to do some additional google searching if you’ve already visited these or are looking for something a bit different. Also, if you follow the links above, you’ll find a bunch of volunteering opportunities at the farms. If you’ve got a lot of free time and you like animals and fresh air, it’s certainly something worth looking into.

#LSEWellbeing