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by admin Posted 15 March, 2022

Did you know that one sixth of the world’s population celebrates the Lunar New Year? It has become one of the world’s most celebrated festivals and is traditionally a time to honour deities and ancestors, as well as welcoming prosperity and luck for the new year. 

The UK is proud to celebrate diversity and difference, and as an international student in the UK you will be able to discover different cultures and meet fascinating people from all over the world. Wherever you are, especially across larger cities and on university campuses, you’ll realise that Lunar New Year is widely celebrated in the UK. In fact, did you know that the largest annual celebrations outside of Asia take place in London?

Read on for some Lunar New Year facts.


1. The date changes every year.

Most East Asian countries follow the lunar calendar which is based on the moon’s orbit around the sun. Lunar New Year therefore falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice, which can occur anytime between 21 January and 20 February.

2. It’s celebrated over a 15-day period.

Lunar New Year spans 15-days, closing with the Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival marks the first full moon of the new lunar year. Take a look  at the most important dates for the Lunar New Year this year.

3. It began with the legend of the ancient beast.

Lunar New Year began with the legend of an ancient, mythical beast named Nian 年獸 (the character for ‘year). Each New Year’s Eve Nian was said to descend upon villages, eating livestock, crops and sometimes even villagers themselves. To keep themselves safe, villagers would board themselves up into their homes or flee into the mountains.

Until one year, a sage appeared in the village just before Nian’s arrival. Rather than hiding, he drove away the rampaging beast. He then revealed himself to be a god and taught the villagers that Nian was afraid of the colour red, loud noises and fire. From then on, the villagers learned to display the colour red outside their homes, crackle burning bamboo and light candles. Since then, according to folklore, Nian was never seen again. 

4. 2022 is the Year of the Tiger (from 1 February).

People born in the Year of the Tiger are predicted to be brave, competitive, unpredictable, confident and to display great levels of willpower. The Year of the Tiger is said to be about making big changes. 

5. The ‘Great Race’ was the beginning of the Chinese zodiac.

The Chinese zodiac consists of twelve animals that first appeared in the Zhan Guo period (over 2000 years ago). Legend has it that the Jade Emperor challenged all of the animals in the Kingdom to a ‘Great Race’. The winner was whoever arrived at the palace first. 

6. The tradition of the lucky red envelope.

At Lunar New Year, it’s tradition to give the gift of red envelopes known as  紅包 (hóngbāo) containing money to children - these symbolise good wishes and luck for the new year ahead. Now red envelopes are also given to friends, family, colleagues and many other relatives. The importance of the hóngbāo is the envelope itself, rather than the money inside, as the red colour symbolises good luck and prosperity in East Asian cultures. 

7. Don’t wash or cut your hair.

It is tradition to leave your hair as it is on the first day of the New Year. The Chinese character for ‘hair’ is the same as the first character in the word for ‘prosper’. So, washing or cutting your hair is a taboo as it is seen as being symbolic of washing away your fortune and dramatically reducing your chances of prosperity in the year ahead. 

Cleaning of any kind is also not allowed. Generally, people celebrating will have cleaned their home and thrown away their rubbish before midnight.

8. The UK is home to the largest celebrations outside of Asia.

The majority of large cities — especially those with impressive Chinatowns — from London, to Liverpool, to Glasgow, hold dedicated festivities.

As a student in the UK, you’ll have plenty of options — from sampling some of the best dumpling restaurants near you, to watching fireworks and lights displays, and going to see dragon dances. Though London’s world-famous Lunar New Year parade, which usually includes Chinese acrobats and traditional dances, has been cancelled  this year you can still follow #CNYLondon on social media to enjoy an online programme of events and activities from 31 January.


by admin Posted 3 December, 2021

I hadn’t really considered the idea of a mentor before, or what having one would entail. To me, the idea of a mentor conjured up images of a stern, educational type – pointing fingers and telling me what I was doing wrong with my life (as someone who is terrified of authority, you can imagine how this immediately turned me off).

When I finished my undergrad degree, I was very lucky to land myself an internship at the same university, coordinating a student professional award as well as a mentoring scheme.

I got to see the process from beginning to end, match students with industry mentors in their field of interest, and seeing each professional relationship develop made me realise I’d been missing out on something huge.

When I made the transition back to student to do my MA, I didn’t want to miss the chance again so signed up straight away for the Universities mentoring program.

It has to be said, it was a strange experience coming into it from the student perspective, when I’d only ever known the scheme as the master manipulator behind the scenes. But I was quickly matched with a mentor named Ashleigh, a marketing communications specialist with a background in marketing, journalism and PR – a perfect match!


Our First Meeting

Queue instant anxiety, which is absolutely ridiculous considering I’d spent the entirety of my internship telling students NOT to be anxious about their first mentoring meetings.

Let’s not forget (I mean, how could we) that this all happened during a global pandemic. Meeting anyone for the first time is a daunting experience. Add into that the uncomfortable nature of virtual meetings and it’s safe to say – I was nervous. I needn’t have been.

My mentor, Ashleigh (who’s praises I will sing evermore) is plainly and simply a bloody wonderful human being. Our first meeting was also her first experience as a mentor, and she went into it as if she had been doing it her whole life.

We chatted about ourselves, our interests both personal and professional, and set out exactly what it was I wanted to get from the partnership. So, without further ado, let me tell you…

5 reasons why I wanted an industry mentor, and 5 reasons why you should get one too!

1 – It helps you to figure out where you want to be within your area of interest

I’ve had a vague idea since beginning my undergrad in marketing management that I wanted to be on the digital side of things. But that world is so vast these days, it was difficult to map out exactly where I wanted to be within that world. Social media manager, digital marketer, digital PR, copywriter?

It’s tempting to think when we’re in digital comms that we should be masters in every aspect of it. But having a mentor has helped me to realise that sometimes, that just isn’t realistic. Talking through the different aspects of the industry with Ashleigh and her experience with each helped me to pull my focus & has given me a much clearer path as to where I want to be.

2- If you’re a student it gives you a professional, real life perspective on your career, rather than just theoretical

Degrees are great, they really are. I know these days they aren’t a necessity, but the process of undertaking a degree gives you so much more than just knowledge and a certificate. But a degree doesn’t necessarily give you a true indication of what your career is really going to be like on a day to day basis.

Cue, industry mentor. Finding out what a day in the life of your future career really looks like can be a huge factor in deciding your next steps, not to mention allows you to prepare for what to expect from your chosen role.

3 – It gives you to opportunity to talk through your ideas with someone who’s actually interested in what you have to say

Whether you’re a student or already in an industry, it never hurts to have an ear of someone who shares your interests. From a student perspective, having a mentor has helped me to flesh out ideas for assignments, get feedback on work, talk through campaigns that interest us, deconstruct them and pull out useful ideas or concepts that I can put back into my own work.

Same goes for if you’re already in your chosen career – running your ideas through a mentor can help to flesh them out, gain an alternative perspective, vent your frustrations about something that’s gone wrong and talk about why it might have happened.

If you’re a freelancer, you might not get the opportunity very often to put ideas to your colleagues, a mentor might be just what you need to get those ideas onto paper.

4- It’s a brilliant networking opportunity

I mean, this one is pretty self-explanatory, but I don’t think the importance of networking can be overlooked. I’m a firm believer in that old saying “it’s not what you know…”. Obviously, knowledge and experience are essential, but that doesn’t always help to get your foot in the door.  

Having a mentor can open up opportunities you’d never even considered. They might have inside knowledge of company vacancies you weren’t aware of, they may invite you to an industry networking event you may not have otherwise had access too.

Even if/when your mentoring partnership ends, you’re on their radar, and you can be sure that if an opportunity comes knocking, they’ll be spreading your name like wildfire.

5 – You can get as much or as little out of the experience as you like

A mentorship really is one of those situations where you get back as much as you put into it. Both parties are volunteering their own time, and both parties stand to gain a lot from a successful partnership.  

But it may be that you aren’t in it for an intense, life changing experience. You may only want the occasional nudge in the right direction, a little boost here and there when you’re in a creative slump, and that’s okay!

Setting out your expectations early can help you both understand the level of commitment you want to bring to the table. But go into it with an open mind and allow the partnership to develop organically. If that ends up being something more than you expected, all the better.

With all of that in mind…

I’m very lucky that my mentoring partnership with the ever-enthusiastic Ashleigh is still ongoing and showing no signs of coming to a close any time soon.

It may sound cliché to say, but I really have learnt so much about myself from our little hour long chats every Friday, more so that I ever expected going into the partnership. We have so much more planned & seeing our partnership develop week by week is so exciting.

The personal and professional development that’s up for grabs with a mentorship is something that I feel is taken for granted, when there is so much to gain. The CIPR have recently introduced their own member mentoring scheme, you can check it out here.

Keep an eye out for another instalment of ‘A Conversation With…’ coming soon which may or may not (it absolutely does) focus on Ashleigh.

If you’re a student at the University of Sunderland, I can’t shout about the Professional Mentoring Scheme enough. Find out more and get signed up here.

Are you a professional & think you’d like to mentor a student? You can sign up to be a professional mentor through the University of Sunderland here. You don’t even have to be local to the area (the joys of the new Zoom way of life).

by admin Posted 3 December, 2021

Hi! My name is Ana Castillo Botto and whilst writing this I am currently undertaking a year-long web development placement at Barbour as part of my Computer Science degree. With the pandemic, I started off working in the office for a few days a week but now I’ve been working from home since January.

At 7 am I wake up; well, I try to. One of the perks of working from home is that I can get up later than I would usually have to. After getting ready, I have my breakfast. I usually like to make a cappuccino to wake myself up. I also have a playlist I listen to in the morning to hype me up for the rest of the day.

At 8:45 am, I begin to work. I open Teams and read my emails to see if I have any messages. I then start writing my notes for the stand-up meeting. In my notes, I write what I did the day before, and what my plan is for the day. I like doing this as it allows me to organise my thoughts and set my priorities for the day ahead.

During the stand-up meeting, I listen to what my team members are going to do for the day. This helps me keep informed and it allows me to know if anything they are doing will affect my work plans.

After the meeting, I start my tasks for the day. I play my working playlist as this allows me to focus. At Barbour, we use the Laravel framework for the web apps that we are working on. This is a framework that uses the language PHP.

Usually, I work on business applications that other employees at Barbour use. The one I am working on now is the Repair and Reproof app, which is used to process repairs of jackets. The customer service team, the factory team, and the finance team all use this application, so they frequently send requests for new features and improvements.

Sometimes when there is a request for a change in the application, we need to do it quickly, so we do this as a hot-fix. My manager sometimes assigns these to me. So, as a start, I create a new feature branch using Git. This is to separate the work I was doing before from the new work I have to start. An example of a hot-fix I did was adding a new filter to the jobs, which allows the users of the application to filter through US jobs and UK jobs. This was a request from someone on the US Customer Service team.

So, after coding for a bit I join the “Development Open Room”. This is a Teams meeting that is open during the morning, and anyone from the Development team can join whenever they want. There is no pressure to join but it is just there in case anyone wants to have a chat as we are unable to do this as we usually would in the office. Whilst being in the Development Open Room I continue to do my work and if someone joins, I have a conversation with them. I usually leave the open room before lunch.

When it is time for lunch, I go downstairs to eat. Usually, I have something quick to eat, like a sandwich. If the weather is okay, I go for a walk. I am lucky enough to live near a park, so I just walk down the street and go walk in the park. I think this is important as it allows me to add more structure to my day and gives me a chance to clear my mind. In the park, there is a small coffee shop so I get another cappuccino from there. I like to go there at lunch time as there are usually other people who are on their lunch breaks or elderly people, who always smile at you or greet you, visiting.

After lunch, I get back to work. If I am working on a hot-fix I continue to research the problem and code the solution. When I believe it is at a great standard and I have tested it out on my local, I commit the change to the branch then I push my branch into the Azure repository. After this, I make a pull request to the Development branch and then approve it so it can merge into the Development branch.

I then must test this on the staging server. So, I log into the staging server and pull the change using Git. Then I test the change again on this server.

After I see that it is working fine, I have to put it on the production server. To do this, I make a pull request to the Lead branch. Then I approve and complete the pull request, merging the change into the Lead branch. I then log into the production server (this is the live version that the users are using) and I pull the change onto the server using Git. I then test this change to make sure it is okay to use.

When I am done doing this, I tell my manager and he tells me to send an email to the stakeholders who requested this. So, I spend some time composing an email to send to them. I feel happy when I complete a task like this as it shows that I am making a difference in the company that I am doing my placement in and they appreciate the work that I do.

Usually, by this time, it is 5 pm, which is the end of my working day. So, to celebrate I take a nap.

I sometimes see what events the Student Union is running. Occasionally they do quiz nights or game nights, so I always like to get involved in these as it is a good way to reconnect with people from university or meet new people. Also, they always give away great prizes at these events!

Also, I like to catch up with my friends, this can be through calling them or just by messaging them.

Typically, I eat quite late, usually whilst watching TV. I do not have a specific show I watch at this time but whatever is on I’m happy to watch.

Then after this, I get ready to sleep. I usually scroll through social media in my bed for a bit before sleeping. By the time I put my phone away it is probably around 11 pm or 12 am. I always try to go to sleep early (usually I fail though).

So, this is a day in my life. Although every day may be a bit different this is the usual structure.

One thing that I think is great is that the University of Sunderland allows you to do the BSc Hons Computer Science course with a placement year. This has helped me develop as a professional as I have learnt a lot of new skills and I also have the chance to apply what I have learnt in my degree so far.

by admin Posted 30 November, 2021

Currently I have just finished my second year and will be entering my third year at the University of Suffolk studying IT & Business Management in the autumn of 2021. During my first two years at University I have met loads of new people and certainly learnt a lot, although to say that there have been many ups and downs in my time so far would be an understatement.

To start my journey off and immerse myself in university life I attended the well-known Freshers week. This is a week ran by the University, full of events and activities for new students to allow them to meet other freshers and some of the staff at the University of Suffolk. To begin withon the Monday we had the Induction talk. This was a talk simply welcoming us to the university and giving us the much-needed information, as well as the history of the University and Ipswich itself for students who are perhaps not as familiar with the area. Next on the Tuesday I attended the Freshers Fair which was held in the waterfront building, at this there were various stalls about clubs and societies at the university as well as local partners of the University giving any vouchers and telling people what exactly they do.

The location for me is a real positive for the University of Suffolk, with it being only a 15 minute walk from the train station - making it ideal for people who commute like myself. It’s also only a 10 minute walk from the town centre. The waterfront where the University is based is also a stunning and modern looking area of Ipswich, providing a fantastic view of the docks. In my opinion the University buildings also give off positive vibes and I have friends who are very happy with the student accommodation being so close to where our lectures are held.

One of the main challenges that I encountered, and am still currently adapting to, is the pandemic. The government announced a lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2021. This ended up affecting my studies massively, it originally meant that no face to face lectures or seminars would be able to take place and instead they were shifted online, making everyone thankful that we are able to do this with the technology available nowadays. I found there were both positives and negatives to this, firstly this meant that I didn’t actually have to physically go the University and instead giving me that bit of extra time in the morning, which usually allowed me to have a slightly longer lay in. Like myself many students were a fan of this. Since I also got the train to Uni this meant I was able to save that extra bit of money just staying at home. 

There are many aspects of my course which I have enjoyed, however one of the highlights was in my Introduction to Marketing module. A talk was arranged with an entrepreneur called Scott Russell who is the CEO of Paddy and Scott’s which is a coffee producer in the UK. Scott talked about how the adventure starting and growing the business had taken him on and also went over the different aspects of the branding of Paddy and Scott. From this I not only learnt how Paddy and Scott’s became what it is today but also the mindset of an innovative entrepreneur like Scott and about how he goes about his daily life.

From the 26th-30th April 2021 I also attended the some of the various webinars at the Careers Week sessions. Usually these would be held in the lecture rooms around the University but were held online instead. In the week I attended three different ones; Coderus, UOS Enterprise Skills Programme and Fourier. Overall I found these beneficial as I got to learn about both of the companies. Coderus is a leading software and app development company in the UK based in Ipswich, and is one of the partners of the University. Fourier provides contract and permanent personnel to clients including investment banks, hedge funds, fintechs and so on. Both of these companies are also in sectors which I’m looking to go into so definitely worthwhile!            

Another memorable day for me was in my Business Economics module I also went on a trip to the Business Show 2019, in the ExCeL building in London. This again was a fantastic day out arranged by the University. This was full of new and thriving businesses, speakers, entrepreneurs and so on. Aside from getting loads of free stuff I overall found it a great experience and definitely got to meet and network with ambitious people like myself.

More recently near the end of my second year I began the Micro Placement Scheme ran by the University. So far I have starting doing a placement on the Waterfront Reception / Student Life centre which has including myself helping out on the social media channels and the rebranding of the Student Life Centre, as well as shadowing others in this department to see what they do and how they do it. This has also allowed myself to meet lots of new people around the University and most definitely increased my network. It is also incredibly flexible to fit around studies. For example when most of my time was taken up by various assignments near the end of my second year I was given less work, and was instead allowed to focus on them. When I had finished them and had a lot of free time I was given many more hours.

As for now I’m applying to become a Student Ambassador and hoping to welcome new students onto the Campus from September 2021 - Covid restrictions permitting. Also I’m looking forward to starting my final year of studies after the summer break.

by admin Posted 30 November, 2021

A Week in the life of Harini Nagesh 

Hello, I am Harini Nagesh – a Link to Leeds ambassador from India. I would like to take you through my weekly routine as a University of Leeds student. Before I take you through my routine, let me share a little bit about myself. I am a master’s student in Economics who has been recently working on her dissertation. I currently live in a private accommodation near the university (10 minutes) in a residential student area known as Hyde Park

My day starts with me trying to snooze my alarm and stay in bed for that five more minutes and then proceeding with my day. My lazy day breakfast is usually smoothies, I love making smoothies with fruits, flax seeds and chia seeds. I take an ample amount of time having my breakfast while chatting with my flat mates and catching up on my day-to-day tasks. I have the practice of always planning ahead of week my day-to-day schedule of work. I mark it down with its timings so I can plan my day the previous night accurately. This is one such practice I meticulously followed all through my year, and has greatly helped me plan my study times and stick to the planned routine. It is an exhilarating feeling once you tick off all the activities in your to do list for the day. 

I proceed my day by working on my dissertation in a University study space. There are 4 different libraries on campus where you can sit individually / group and work in silence. Apart from the libraries there are spots in the University union, Café Nero on campus and Business school building for working. I really like to work in the union and often go to common ground to satisfy my coffee cravings while working. As an ambassador, once I am done working with my study, I take my time to finish my ambassador duties. As mentioned earlier my day-to-day planning has immensely helped me manage my time between study and part time work. It is always necessary to strike a balance and take enough rest after a tiring day. 

I am someone who cooks most of her meals. One tip that has really helped me manage to cook despite a busy day is planning ahead of the day what to cook. I either make my rice before I leave for studying so when I come back all I left with is cooking some curry. It is always good to prepare prior to your meals to avoid wasting time just thinking about what to eat. I also cook both my lunch and dinner together as a batch. It saves so much time at the same time you have good home cooked food at the end of a tiring day. When it comes to buying groceries, I usually wait till my empty list reaches a certain number to go shopping. This avoids unnecessary buying and makes sure you complete and finish your groceries before buying. This idea was inspired by my fellow roommate.

It is necessary to engage with your passion and interests from time to time. I take my time dancing and revisiting dance pieces that make me happy. One other thing is attending the classes provided by our 300+ clubs and societies. I am part of the Bollywood dancing society (VIBES) , attending their classes really helped me meet new people who share the same passion of dancing. These clubs are a great way to progress and take your passion forwards through competitions and auditions. Allocating at least one hour for your passion can go a long way. Scheduling my day really helps me in identifying the free time I have and use it to spend in something productive like dancing 

If there was one thing, I learnt during my study in this university is valuing your mental health. It is really necessary to give yourself frequent breaks to avoid burning out due to work. I make sure I take my weekends to relax and do things that I enjoy. One thing I love doing is travelling. This time I took a trip to Glasgow, Scotland. One great tip if you are planning to travel frequently is to buy a railcard. The rail card is a great way to save money on train tickets. If you are planning to travel within Scotland, the coaches are the cheapest and efficient options. When travelling, always look out to eat and drink in the local cafes and bars. I was fortunate enough to visit a pub with 700 plus whiskies and tried a locally produced drink. Overall, my travelling experience was a wholesome with amazing memories. 

Some days in my week are pretty hectic while others are just me lying on my bed enjoying my ‘me time’. In conclusion, always try to take some time for yourself without feeling guilty, do things that make you happy – be it shopping or partying or just lying on your bed watching shows. As a student it is necessary to make time for yourself and manage to strike a balance between work and fun .