My life as a student

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Students are the future of every country. They are young citizens of our society, full of infinite energy and progressive ideas, fantastic plans and noble ambitions, hopes and dreams. Student life is the brightest period of our life. It is a mixture of studies and great fun. I know that my parents (ex-students) miss those old good days of their student life.

A student has certain duties to perform. It goes without saying that the primary student duty is studying hard and acquiring proper knowledge for the future career. He must attend all the classes at college, do all the work at the right time, be punctual and disciplined. It can help the student achieve his goals and become diligent and perseverant. If he doesn’t neglect his studies he will receive rich dividends in his future work.

Examination time at the end of each semester is quite tough for students. They spend endless days and nights on studying and cramming. Although some of them use cheating, copying someone’s essays or course works. And you are lucky if you are not caught by the teacher because he can punish you by a poor mark or even by excluding from the college.

Most of the student’s time is devoted to reading and learning. It’s unbelievable but some students manage to deal with part-time jobs because they need a lot of money to study at college or university. Tuition fees and books are very costly nowadays, and if you rent an apartment it’s even more expensive. So students have busy schedules including studies, work and going out to socialize.

A good student never wastes his spare time uselessly. He should also go in for sports to stay in good health and mood. They say: “A sound mind lives in a sound body.” Students love participating in both academic and extra-curricular activities at college: different festivals, intellectual quizzes and summer camps. This social life broadens the mind, develops your talents and communication skills. And this is a wonderful time when you find real friends among your classmates at college.

I have always tried to get good grades in school. Over the years, school felt like everything gets harder, but when you think back at it, it feels like it was the easiest thing to do. As a kid I have always loved school and I would know every day that the next day, I would learn something new and exciting. I still love to learn new things but, when I was in middle school, I thought high school was going to be a walk in the park. But it wasn’t, it became more realistic and you have to put extra work and effort to get really good grades. Up until high school, I have grown to be a perfectionist, yet I feel like my life revolves around homework and I have no free time to relax and hang out with my friends, and I need to work on being involved with school and during class, When I was a little kid, I have always wanted everything to be perfect, from projects to homework. It has grown to be an everyday thing for me, even if it was just to fix a crooked line. When it comes to my room or my house, every little thing has always get to me when it is out of place. My older sister has always been pretty messy even when I fix it or organize her room, all her possessions still gets misplaced or really messy. I have always hated when I don’t turn in my work on time and it irritates me throughout the day. I always have to follow the directions, which I am very open and flexible with, for the projects or else everything just doesn’t seem right to me. I get loads of homework now that I am in high school

Northern School of Contemporary Dance; Central St Martins College of Art and Design

Performing arts; scenography

I'm from Hackney and my mum was adamant that I should leave London for a few years and learn to be independent, so I was really excited to get a place at the Northern School, especially because only 50 people were accepted out of 2,000 applicants, so we all felt really special.

It wasn't the normal student lifestyle. We attended classes all day, five days a week, and because it's all about your personal training, you can't have a day off. Then I worked as a dancer one night a week and in a pub three nights a week, so I spent most of my student life exhausted. As dancers we didn't have that booze thing – we'd be up at 7am to go on the cross-trainer before class. I don't think I could have partied as well; I would have had a nervous breakdown.

We all lived in shared flats. Like most people, I was also totally incapable of looking after myself in the first year. I remember waking up one day with conjunctivitis and just lying in my bed shouting "I'm blind! I'm blind!" Eventually my flatmates came in and took me to hospital, thankfully.

I wasn't too worried about making friends – I just made friends with the other weirdos. I'm quite sociable, but I've always been attracted to outsiders. Russella the drag queen was on my course and we are still friends.

But I didn't have an amazing time on my course, if I'm honest. Academically, it wasn't what I was expecting. I found it quite restrictive and narcissistic because you spent all day in rooms full of mirrors focusing on your imperfections – I was prodded and poked a lot, but I didn't have much time to cultivate my mind or my own creativity.

I wanted to stop and do something else, but I felt I needed to prove to everyone that I could do it. I'm stubborn as hell. Which seems ridiculous now, but actually it taught me what I was capable of.

When I graduated, I knew I had to have another chance at education. Doing an MA at St Martins was the best thing. It opened my mind to so many things. The course was full of people from different disciplines who were all interested in performance, so I worked with actors, architects, directors and designers from all over the world, which was massively inspiring. It opened a world of books, theatre and film, and I got to spend the whole year thinking about the human condition, and came out feeling I had something to say.

Looking back on it, I don't know if I should have switched from dance or not. If you are unhappy on your course there are so many other amazing things you could do. But on the other hand I don't believe in giving up, and I do feel my dance degree taught me things as a performer. I feel really confident on stage, and I know what shapes my body is making – and all that comes from dance training.

Top tip: You need to give things time. My mum used to say you need to go on five dates with someone because you can't tell if you like them after one, and that's true about university.

Paloma Faith's new album, "Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?" is out now. She tours the UK in October and November.

Dr Christian Jessen

Doctor and presenter of Embarrassing Bodies

UCL 1996 – 2001

Medicine, Pass

I was fairly terrified on my first day. We had an introductory lecture, which was about how we were going to have to work really hard – no pressure there – and then the older medical students played lots of tricks, including telling us we were going to have to drink urine.

I lived in halls right under BT tower (in London) in my first year, which meant I never got lost. I was in the same block as a group of guys who were in a band. We used to get really annoyed because they were always in the corridor playing their guitars. If only I had known they were going to go on to be Coldplay!

I really enjoyed my course, but I was very naughty – I didn't really go to lectures. In fact, I used to go days without going to lectures, partly because I got far more out of reading a book. I also did lots of non-medic things – I was in the UCL orchestra, and in lots of plays.

I think studying medicine is extra scary. It's such a big commitment, and you know deep down it'll be hard to leave if it's not what you want to do. And actually, what you are learning is often quite harrowing – as soon as you arrive, you are given your first body to cut up, and you start learning about how to tell patients they are dying.

Top tip: This is going to sound slightly nerdy – but then I am a doctor. There's an awful lot of pressure to drink loads and have lots of sex, but learning to say "no'" is a really important part of freshers' week.

Can I Just Ask? by Dr Christian Jessen (Hay House, £12.99) will be published on 1 November.

Jessica Ennis


Sheffield, 2004 – 2007

Psychology, 2.2

I went to university in my home town so that I could continue my education without jeopardising my training. Athletics was my main priority, but I think my coach was anxious, knowing what students can be like! But my parents were really happy I had found a way to combine both.

Although I was staying in Sheffield, I still wanted to leave home. I decided that living in halls would be too much of a distraction, so I lived in a house with two friends from athletics. I think I probably had a very different freshers' week from most people – I didn't spend the whole week going out and getting drunk because I still had to get up to go training. But I had enjoyed myself quite a lot during sixth form, so in a way I felt I had already done that. And even though I wasn't going out every night it was really easy to meet people on my course, which was great.

I was probably a lot more organised and disciplined about my timetable than the average student, but the worst bit for me was doing presentations. I get nervous when I compete, but standing in front of a room of people to deliver a speech was much more daunting.

I really enjoyed psychology and in an ideal world it would have been nice to have had more time to concentrate on my studies as I definitely had to make sacrifices, missing lectures and deadlines to compete. But it was really nice to do something different and not be focused on sport the whole time. And when I had exams, I could break it up by going training.
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