The student blog

Find out what it's like living life in lockdown from a students point of view. Our student bloggers have been sharing what they've been up to and how they're adjusting to this temporary way of life.

How moving to a dairy farm has improved my lockdown life- Alisha Raggatt

How moving to a dairy farm has improved my lockdown life

As great as some walls may be one can only take so much staring at it before they begin to question their sanity. Add a dissertation and completing a degree without having lectures to that and you have an incredibly stressed student ready to burst. Like thousands of students across the world right now, I was a product of that equation. However, I have been lucky enough to abandon my confining walls covered in bird littered wallpaper and a questionable Marilyn Monroe quote which surfaced sometime around my sixteenth birthday for a whole new set of walls on a dairy farm. Do I know anything about farming? Not at all plus, I’m a vegan but that doesn’t mean the available unpasteurised milk isn’t a bonus for my new housemates. Whilst I may not get any edible perks out of this move there are still a bunch of things here that I have found have really improved my lockdown life and here they are.

The farm comes with a lot of land, I don’t know how many acres exactly but it’s enough so that I have multiple walking routes where I can pass the tractors and the crops and stumble upon a little bench of picnic table and easily rid my ears of any mooing. These walks really clear my mind and provide a decent substitute for the walk up Headington Hill. I have recently discovered a Winnie-the-Pooh style bridge I like to throw flimsy sticks over and watch race past the dragonflies and any stresses I have, you’re never too old for a good game of pooh sticks.

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A trip to the barn where the recently born calves are kept always brightens my day, baby animals are definitely something missing from the Brookes campus if you ask me. The therapy dogs are an amazing perk to Brookes life during exam season nearing the end of each semester and always something I look forward to hearing about but I for one would love more contact time with animals which is definitely something I have been getting since living on the farm.

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The adult cows, particularly the brown ones who I have come to conclude are significantly more friendly than your standard black and white cow (like comparing a student with a 9am lecture to one with a 1pm) they often use their tongues to lick my legs, especially around the knee area. I think it’s a sign of affection like when a dog wags its tail, but it could very well be some kind of cow language for ‘get back inside and finish your essay’. I’ll keep you posted.

More than cows, the farm also has a moat which always has families of ducks swimming around in, rabbits in the fields and dogs and cats around the house so its undeniably a great place to be if like myself you are an animal lover. As someone who has lived in halls for my entire degree and probably will continue with this during my masters at Brookes this coming academic year, a place where pets are not permitted, It has felt like a true luxury to be around so many little friends.

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As tranquil of a place as it may be to me the farm is first and foremost a business, one which is still up and running meaning there is an additional buzz in this new environment, most recently in the form of finishing up the new milking parlour which is a lot kinder to the cows, making my vegan heart very happy. It has been exciting to get to put on a face covering, wash my hands and visit an empty parlour once working hours are over and help sweep up and shift any rogue wood from the floor in preparation for the grand opening.

Overall, I am aware I am extremely privileged that I have managed to find such joy amidst the seemingly endless uncertainty although, Please be aware it did not come without a lot of my own struggles too- this pandemic affects everyone and everyone’s pain is valid. With all the chaos happening in the world having a haven like this to take refuge in has been a true blessing and the perfect place to escape to for finishing up a degree.

Written by Alisha Raggatt, third year English Literature student, for the Brookes Union student blog.

A Graduate’s Guide To Moving Home- Charlotte Maidment

A Graduate’s Guide To Moving Home

It’s a big change for everyone – moving “home”, wherever that may be. You might be moving home for summer, or as a temporary middle ground until you get a place of your own, or the move home might be permanent. Whichever category you’re in, here are my tips for adjusting to life beyond university.

Mourn the old, then celebrate the new.

We all love that post-club McDonalds, the 3am Dominos orders, and the messy house parties… and with the pandemic already robbing us of the end-of-term celebrations, moving home might be piling insult on top of an already sad situation. It’s okay to miss the freedom of university but don’t forget the perks that come with finally being home. Living rent-free is a big one for me: thanks Mum!

Time for a spring clean!

Yes, it’s June, and yes, it’s officially summer – but a “spring clean” needn’t be pushed back to next year. As the shops reopen (I’m looking at you, Primark), it might be tempting to invest in new things… but first, take the time to sort through all the weird-slash-cool items you brought back from university. Sure, the cowboy hat from your Halloween costume might be funny to wear, and your boyfriend might have let a giant cauldron in your halls kitchen, but do you really need all of these things? This is especially relevant to those of you eventually moving back to university. There’s only so many inflatable unicorns and cardboard cut outs you can own at one time before your bedroom turns into an assault course. Spare yourself a twisted ankle and throw away or donate unwanted items.

Find a new interest, or reawaken an old one.

The hard work of the year is over and that means gaining a significant amount of free time. Maybe you’re filling that time with volunteering, working in retail as the shops begin to reopen, or applying for internships. All these things are great but don’t forget to take time for the things you enjoy, too. This might be painting, recording music, following a new recipe, writing a book, or trying your hand at livestreaming.

Most importantly? Stay in contact with friends.

Thanks to the wonders of an internet connection, friends are never that far away – even during social distancing. It is a great idea to keep your social calendar busy with monthly, weekly or even daily catch-ups with your friends. Throw a virtual birthday party on zoom, create a discord server with your gaming friends, or download Netflix Party, a free google chrome extension, and convince (or coerce) your boyfriend into watching Vampire Diaries with you.

Written by Charlotte Maidment, BA English Literature with Creative Writing, 2017-2020 for the Brookes Union student blog.

A postgrad’s list of summer-ish activities, social-distancing edition- Caroline Guillet

A postgrad’s list of summer-ish activities, social-distancing edition

Undergrads, well done on completing your final exams and dissertations. Postgrads hang in there, and best of luck in your next few months of dissertation research and writing. For those of you still in the UK, the government has slowly started to ease lockdown measures, but please be careful and… stay alert! I am back today with a new blog post on how to make the most of the next few months whilst social distancing is still in place. From advice to travel the world in the comfort of your bed to recreating Ikea’s famous Swedish meatballs, keep on reading.


“Britain is in the thrall of a crafting revolution the likes of which has not been seen since the second world war” (Wood, 2020). And I bet some of you are part of this lot. I have seen so many students enjoying the calm and relief brought by manual activities. If you are not feeling that crafty but still want to be creative, these are my top 3 recommendations which do not involve a lot of artistic skills, budget or supplies.Scrapbooking: Calligraphy: Bullet journaling:

Binge watching

In Britain, the population has been enjoying a bit too much ‘couch potato’ time during lockdown with many hours spent binge-watching TV and films. The daily entertainment intake has increased by nearly 45 minutes a day (ONS, 2020), jumping from 4h37 to 5h21.This Netflix guide is great, it announces upcoming releases, but also which movies and TV shows are due to leave the platform (US, UK, Canada and Australia only). The following Prime Video guide compiles all the available titles whilst providing useful filters such as Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB scores, release dates or genre. A Disney+ UK guide provides a full list of all the available content on the platform. From Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, Disney Originals shows, short series and specials, there is a lot to choose from!


In the UK, 41% of UK adults have been reading more since lockdown started (Nielsen, 2020) with an average of nearly 6h a week compared to 3.5h before. While some are looking for a simple distraction, others use this medium to learn new skills. Basically, books aren’t going anywhere, and many formats are available to suit all readers. And I am not just saying that because I study publishing, I swear.Start a reading challenge on GoodReads: set yourself a goal for 2020, enjoy the community aspect on the platform as you receive book recommendations and gradually make your way towards your final goalJoin a virtual book club: you can either follow book recommendations from celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon (@reesesbookclub) or attend monthly meetings with people who have similar book tastes. This list compiles 10 of the most notable book clubs that you can join: If talking to strangers is not your thing, you can create your own with some friends or family members.Explore audiobooks: you might not be commuting anymore, but audiobooks are a great way to read more books, especially when you are struggling to concentrate and focus. Netgalley has put together a useful article about why you should try audiobooks, tips and tricks to make the most of them and the best platforms available (subscription based or free)

Using the outdoors

Whilst strictly following the government’s guidelines on meeting people and going outside, it is important to make the most of the outdoors, especially when we are gifted with great weather. Follow this link for a government Q&A on what you can and cannot do. Walking: alone or with friends and family (at a distance), we sometimes forget how such a simple activity can benefit our mental health. Taking the time to observe your surroundings is important, use your senses: have you noticed this beautiful cottage before? Or how this smell brings back childhood memories?Running: this article sums up 7 ways in which running is good for your mental health. If you are struggling with motivation, follow these 8 steps: Enjoy the little things: I recently bought a frisbee and a Pétanque set (a French boules game) to enjoy with my flatmates. In a garden, courtyard or your nearest park, make use of the green space to move your body and have some fun!


Restrictions are still in place, yes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore the world. Technology now allows you to visit the most amazing places from the comfort of your own homes.Visit museums and archives with Google Arts & Culture. Fancy a wander around New York, Paris, Seoul, Berlin, Amsterdam, LA, Florence, São Paulo or even Mexico City? The University of Reading is providing a 3D tour of Ancient Rome. Through a free course, you can explore the architecture and history of Rome. the world’s greatest landmarks! You can gaze around the incredible Machu Picchu, Christ the Redeemer, Pyramids of Giza, Eiffel Tower, Angkor Wat, Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, Petra, Colosseum or Chichén Itzá.


Scratch cooking has increased drastically in Britton’s households, and so did an ambition to cut food waste after some items were hard to find. Familiar ‘comfort’ foods are appearing to to be what people are enjoying the most, surely as a replacement to usual pub outings (The Grocer, 2020). Instead of attempting another banana bread, why not try one of those:The perfect cheese toastie recipe has been given by Jamie Oliver, and it looks amazing… Starbucks has revealed its secrets recipes to the perfect beverages and food, easily reproduced at home. Would a Cinnamon Coffee Cake take your fancy? Or would it be an iced sunrise cinnamon honey coffee?'s shared its recipe for the iconic sausage and egg McMuffin to cheer people up during lockdown. However, the chain is just starting to reopen some of its drive thrus.

McMuffin at home Ikea followed on the trend by releasing its internationally famous Swedish meatball recipe, and I just love how they did it as an instruction guide!A picture containing text  Description automatically generated I hope this new guide will keep you entertained for the next few weeks or months. Most importantly, take care of yourselves, talk to your friends and family or reach out to Brookes Union if you need it.

Written by Caroline Guillet, MA in Digital Publishing, for the Brookes Union student blog.

Student-Approved Quarantine Baking- Charlotte Maidment

Student-Approved Quarantine Baking

If you’re like me and thoroughly done with the whole national lockdown/scary pandemic type situation at the moment, chances are you’ve at least considered trying your hand at baking. I’m here to help. These are my favourite recipes, approved by yours truly for student-use during quarantine. They’re perfect for killing time, in between studying, and for getting you away (albeit temporarily) from endlessly scrolling through twitter.

Banana Bread

Everyone on Instagram is baking this for a reason! Banana bread is easy to make and doesn’t require a ridiculously long ingredients list. I use this recipe. The run-down on what you’ll need for this beauty:

  • 2 bananas (especially great when they’re starting to turn brown)
  • Plain flour (substitute for self-raising if you don’t have bicarbonate of soda)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Sugar
  • 2 eggs

Recipes for banana bread typically use a bread loaf tin but I’ve been using a deep baking tray and had great results – instead of slices, I cut it into square pieces, like a tray bake. If you’re super ambitious (and a little bit creative), check out a tutorial like this one for making your own baking tray out of aluminium foil.

Cinnamon Rolls

Be warned, this one can get a little messy. It’s the most time consuming recipe on the list, but with high effort comes high reward. If you like batch cooking then this recipe will be right up your street. Back at home I like to use a recipe with yeast for these (the dough rises better) but because I’ve been in Oxford during this lockdown, I’ve been using this no-yeast recipe. Spare dough can be frozen and then defrosted 24 hours before use, and spare cooked rolls can be kept in the fridge for a few days. The recipe suggests using a cream cheese mixture for the topping but I prefer to sprinkle them with icing sugar or dust them with leftover cinnamon sugar once they’re fresh out the oven.

No-Flour Oat Cookies

No flour? No worries –there’s still plenty of options! I used this recipe. Get a hold of some oats (read: porridge) and combine with chocolate chips, pecans, raisins or nuts to make these cookies. I chopped up a dairy milk bar from the vending machine in my halls to create the chocolate chips and used three packets of instant microwave porridge for the oats. When I tried this recipe out for this post, mine turned into more of a thin flapjack type snack, but I still enjoyed them.

Whatever you chose to cook this quarantine, make sure to stay safe and stay home! There’ll be plenty of time for drinking cider in pub gardens and celebrating the hard work we’ve done this year once the coronavirus situation is over.

Written by Charlotte Maidment, BA English Literature with Creative Writing, 2017-2020 for the Brookes Union student blog.

How I'm keeping entertained during isolation as a broke student- Alisha Raggatt

How I'm keeping entertained during isolation as a broke student

This lockdown has been proving a very trying time for us all but especially students; we were all mentally prepared to get into the bulk of exam revision, to push through those final few essays of the academic year and drag our grades up, to finish our dissertations but that final chance to prove ourselves has been snatched away. On social media I have been seeing so many people learn new skills and get on with daily runs, learning to bake new things and even pick up languages but a lot of students just can’t face those things right now. Productivity is very hard to achieve but boredom is harder to combat so here are a few more chilled ways I have been myself entertained during quarantine outside of uni work on the days where productivity is the mark of the devil.

One- gaming

Personally, I really struggle to get on with PC gaming so I use my Nintendo switch but as shocking as it is, not all of us can afford or want to buy animal crossing. It is like gold dust right now. The Nintendo E-store has sales pretty much all the time so if you have been lucky enough to be released from your student housing contracts early it might be worth browsing for games in the daily sales or equally, if you don’t game on a switch then you can buy games for whichever console you favour. When you play, especially RPGs you seem to enter some sort of multiverse where time just does not exist. You’ll play for like ten minutes, twenty tops and find two hours have passed and its now time for your next meal.

Gaming is a pretty good way to pass the time because you can get a range of different genres and difficulties to suit different moods and then go onto YouTube and watch playthroughs to kill even more time. If you’re not in a position to be able to buy new games right now, then perhaps your friends would be able to send one or two of theirs over to you if possible. I recommend lets go Pikachu/Eevee, Skyrim and Assassins creed. If you do want to fill the animal crossing void, then Stardew valley also has that whimsical feel as does coffee talk and both are much cheaper.

Two - reading

As a literature student reading has been a long-term hobby of mine but during term time, I find I really struggle to make time for my own reading and have also heard a lot of classmates talk about the same issue. But English lit student or not reading is for everyone and what better time to read dystopia than when it feels like you are living one yourself? Like gaming, reading offers the attractive product of escapism allowing you to vicariously live the lives of the characters who, like us, (pending on which books you are reading) probably can go outside. The more you read the more you may find yourself inspired in wanting to create your own characters and build a world of your own lending to creative writing which is another great way to kill time and keep your brain alive if you don't have many assignments left to finish.

I recommend reading Sally Rooney’s normal people as the characters for the bulk of the novel are sixth formers and then uni students so the same age as most of us and the tv show adaptation made up of twelve episodes is being released on BBC iPlayer on the 26th of April so you can compare your own imagined versions of the story to the tv show soon after finishing it.

Three- discovering new music

We have probably all heard that music boosts your mood so having so much extra free time we wouldn’t usually have has been a really good opportunity to discover new music I like and test out the theory of it boosting my mood. I’ve started reading all the lyrics as I listen to the songs and comparing which bands have the most ridiculous lyrics as a way to entertain myself. Music also really helps soothe low points for those with mental health issues which, being in isolation mental health can really suffer especially as attending counselling is currently not really an option so if you find yourself feeling less like yourself then music can be a really good way to help you understand what you’re going through and navigate your way back. I have also booked a couple of concert tickets for the end of the year so I have those to look forward to which has definitely helped lift my spirits so I’d suggest looking for events and concerts for around November and December time. Fingers crossed everything will be safe and ‘normal’ by then. The o2 academy and Bullingdon in Cowley have a fairly good range of concerts on offer and stops you having to spend money and time travelling up to London.

Those are the main three things I have been doing to keep myself occupied outside of essay work right now, a couple of small bonus things include taking my dog on walks as it allows me to stretch my legs and listen to music and also watching everything on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney plus but that kind of goes without saying. Online quizzes on sites like Playbuzz and Buzzfeed can really drag you down deep holes for a long time too. I hope everyone is staying safe and keeping entertained and that my suggestions offer some help.

Written by Alisha Raggatt, 3rd year English literature student for the Brookes Union student blog.

A postgrad’s tips and tricks whilst isolating in halls - Caroline Guillet

A postgrad’s tips and tricks whilst isolating in halls

After talking to a few university friends, I quickly realised that some of us were experiencing a considerable lack of motivation – to work or in general – during isolation. These days, keeping a sense of community is what will help us all, so I thought I would share my tips and tricks to help students through these uncertain times.

Please note that it is OKAY not to be productive, or as productive as you would like. After all, your sense of normal has been taken away from you, and quite suddenly. However, if you feel like being slightly more on top of things, keep on reading.

1. Routine. My TOP advice for you all will seem pretty basic, but it is all about having a routine. As days seem never ending, or you simple can’t distinct Wednesday from Sunday, it is very important to set yourself a very strict routine. I am not saying that you should act as a robot all day long, this will be actually very boring. Instead, I want you to think of the day ahead as a highway; signs will keep you safe and help you avoid obstacles whilst putting you in the right direction. When waking up (or the night before) set yourself some intentions for the day, by achieving them you will experience a nice feeling of accomplishment. Try and set realistic ones, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself straight away; keep the bigger objectives for days where you feel more on top of things. Routines have proven to help us build good habits; if one doesn’t feel right, take on a new one and you will soon snap back into a good routine. I strongly advise you to leave room for a little spontaneity here and then – a socially responsible walk, or even an unplanned video chat with old friends…

2. Contact. My second-best tip is pretty simple as well, but with the present circumstances, we tend to forget about it: human contact. Social distancing or self-isolating for your own and others’ safety shouldn’t cut you off all human interactions. Remember that following the government’s advice, you are not supposed to see people outside of your household: it’s the perfect excuse to spend quality time with your flatmates. Since September, you might only have shared a few chats in the kitchen, but today, they are just going through the same troubles as you, so bond over these! Invite them into your routine; cook together or go for a simple social distant walk for example.

Contact doesn’t have to be face-to-face only; technology brings so many possibilities to keep in touch with uni friends who have gone back home. The list is endless, you can find out more here (link to second blog post). If you feel like you would benefit from mental health support, please refer to Oxford Brookes’ wellbeing centre here (

3. Move. Find a balance between relaxing and moving your body. We have seen so many great things happening all over the internet recently. From live workouts, to free yoga programs, there is something to suit everyone, and every level. It is important to move regularly during the day, take breaks from your intense (ish) study sessions or change where you work from (room, shared space). Try and get away from your bed, keep it as the space where you sleep only. If you have a garden, or a courtyard, make use of it, have a little stroll, and a breath of fresh air. Remember that by staying within gated spaces, you are keeping yourself and others safe.

4. Enjoy and learn. We now have seen so many people trying to find a new hobby or make use of this downtime to do something incredible (and impressive on Instagram). You shouldn’t feel pressurised to do so, and you might find it enough to just take more time to do the things you usually do. However, if you are up for the challenge, or just curious to see what is available out there, have a look around here (link to second blog post).

Oxford Brookes University coronavirus page:

Government guidelines:

NHS guidelines:

Written by Caroline Guillet (Master’s Degree in Digital Publishing) for the Brookes Union student blog.

Being an international UK student during a pandemic- Judit Gonzalez

Being an international UK student during a pandemic

When we started in September 2019 nobody thought we will be locked at home because of a pandemic. So, after freshers’ week and the first semester of feeling alone, a little bit lost around the campus, knowing new people every day and experimenting the feeling of being free and an adult, a pandemic has come… so what now? Should I go back to my home country? What about my lectures? Am I going to be in my student accommodation room alone? Is everyone going back home and just some international students we will be here?

Lots of these questions came to my mind, but step by step every answer is coming.

I am sure that if you have the chance to go back to your home country you will do it. But not everyone has the chance, even if it is because you don’t want to risk your family’s health, you work here or because you cannot afford a flight back home. There’s plenty of reasons, but don’t panic.

If you can go home, enjoy and look after your family. If you need to stay in the UK, send an email to your university to make them aware, try to be in touch as much as possible with your family and ask for who is around the campus or in your house. If at the end you are all day locked in your room alone, remember that everyone is in the same situation so facetime, put some music, make a cosy environment to not feel alone.

My university decided not to have any more lectures until after Easter and then, everything will be online. So yes, there are no more chances to go to the campus if you live outside there. The deadlines remain on the date but some of the materials will not be posted until after the handover, which is not really useful.

If you are in the same situation, there is no way to stress, but more work to do. We will need to read everything by ourselves and if we have any questions email to the teachers and pray for them to answer. Make sure you have access to some books online through your library university website and also be aware of some offers as Perlego, who are giving six weeks of free texts books.

Also, don’t let everything for the end, spend some time doing your deadlines plan, try to “follow” your timetable at home dedicating these 1 or 2 hours for the daily lecture of your own work, maintain yourselves active and think that this is not summer holidays, but as soon as we do the deadlines, it will be.

Try to make yourself a personal, fit and academic plan, and if you have worked include it on it too. Take every day some personal time to dress you, call your friends or text them, call your family and check social media (not too much to avoid overwhelming). Take some time to do sport or being active every day. We know that students accommodations are not too big but there’s enough room to do a yoga, HIIT or home workout and go for a run or walk 20-30 min. Sit yourself every day during 1 or 2 hours to work on some subject, even if it is to listen to online slides or to start your deadline, do not leave it until last moment!

Don’t forget everyone is in the same situation so call your friends, they will be bored too, or your family and try to do skypes and stay updated as much as possible for not feeling alone. And finally, remember we are not alone, we have people around to support and help so if you are struggling with mental health loneliness, not being motivated or feeling low, talk, ask for help but remember everything is going to be okay and we will see each other on September 2020 for a full academic year, sound exciting isn’t it?

Written by Judit Gonzalez for the Brookes Union student blog.

A postgrad’s list of things to fight boredom- Caroline Guillet

A postgrad’s list of things to fight boredom

I agree, there is simply too many things to do, learn, choose, see and read… so I’ve made an organised list for you. All of these I’ve tried and approved, but Brookes Union have an extensive list here (

What you can do with your friends

What you can do to learn

  • Duo Lingo: As a challenge or something you’ve always postponed doing; you can use some downtime to explore a new language.
  • Open Learn free courses: As an extension to your degree if you want to learn more, or as an opportunity to explore a new topic, the open university provides you with many free courses. After a few hours of work, you will even receive a statement of participation.

What you can read

  • J.K. Rowling has made the audiobook and e-book of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone free throughout April only (through Audible and OverDrive)
  • Join a book club: celebrities have their own ones, but brands are also jumping on the trend, so have a little browse yourself and try!
  • How can you actually read more when your thoughts are elsewhere? Penguin Random House employees have some valuable advice here:

What Brookes offers

Written by Caroline Guillet (Master’s Degree in Digital Publishing) for the Brookes Union student blog.

Fancy writing for us?

We’re looking for students to contribute to Brookes Union’s online blog and write some short pieces about life in lockdown. Maybe you’re volunteering, or finding new ways to keep in touch with friends. Perhaps you’ve found an app that’s keeping you entertained, you’re trying out a new hobby, or maybe you’re finding things really difficult.? How are you adjusting to this temporary way of life?

Whether you’ve been blogging for years, decided yesterday that you want to write something, or you simply enjoy reading the stories of fellow students,you’ve come to the 'write' place! You don't have to be the next Tolkien or Dickens to get involved, it’s just about sharing your stories with the Brookes community.

Email us on, if you fancy submitting a short piece. We’d love to hear from you.

We’d also love to hear from societies and sports teams. Whether you're trying out new ways to stay connected with your members or running virtual activities, training sessions or events, let us know!