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February 2014

5 House Hunting Tips for First Year Students

Time flies! 6 months have already passed since the beginning of uni, and although there are several months before everybody goes home for the summer, now is the best time to start looking for a place to live next year; before it’s too late! It might seem early, but if you don’t motivate yourself to find a house now, it will become an issue for next year.

A lot of students are not allowed to stay in their halls beyond their first year and therefore need to move. One of the reasons a lot of freshers choose to stay in halls during their first year is that they’re often attending uni in a new place and therefore don’t know anybody. Halls of residence are a great way to meet and bond with a lot of people. Once you get used to your new campus and have made plenty of friends moving becomes easier.

Living in a house comes with it’s advantages such as it’s generally cheaper than halls and there are way less restrictions (eg anybody can stay over; guests don’t have to sign in whenever they want to pay you a visit).

When looking for houses many things must be taken into consideration. Here are some tips to help you in your hunt for your new home.

House-hunting-1) Housemates 

Firstly, make sure you know the people you are going to move in with well and also that you all have the same objectives. For example, it’s not going to be easy to cope with party animals if you’re the kind of person that is very calm and focused on your studies. Spending time with good friends is not the same as living with them. You’ll have to put up with  them all day long and being in someones presence all the time can actually lead to tension or even quarrels.

Cleaning can also be an issue because not everybody has the same perception of it, so make it clear from the very beginning how often chores should be carried out and who should be in charge of the rota (a cleaning schedule

2) Location 

When looking for a house you want to find somewhere close to local amenities and with easy transport links. Try to check if there’s a bus stop nearby, how far the rail station is from the house (it’s not the most important, but it’s not very convenient to walk endless miles when you want to take the train to go home). It’s also useful if there’s somewhere you can do your grocery shopping nearby. Many students can’t drive so it can be difficult getting home with numerous shopping bags.

If you’re thinking about subscribing to the gym then make sure there is one near to where you will be moving to. You may say at the beginning of the academic year that it’s fine and that you’ll make an effort to get there but after your first essays I doubt you’ll have the courage to really do it. The same for goes for the library. Make sure it’s close to where you’ll  be living because it’s widely acknowledged that a place full of flatmates, noise and other distractions is not the best place on earth for concentration. So sometimes it’s preferable to go to a peaceful place to work.

Also, make sure that the house is not located in a dodgy area. It’s not very nice to travel in an unsafe area after a party or when it gets dark early in winter especially for girls.

3)Utilities 

The number of bathrooms can be a problem when people from the same course are sharing a house so be careful towards that, the shower can get busy very quickly. If you are somewhere with one bathroom it’s also advisable that it has a second toilet also. There’s nothing arriving home desperate for the loo only to discover the bathroom is occupied.

A washing machine is essential. In winter you don’t want to be walking for miles to find a decent laundrette. A tumble dryer is always a bonus but it isn’t the end of the world if there isn’t one, you’ll just have to hang your clothes up to dry.

4) Landlords

Asking the landlord the following questions when viewing houses will help to avoid any bad surprises:

  • How much is the rent and is it inclusive (gas, broadband, bills etc)?
  • How long is the contract?
  • What are the terms of the deposit? Who will have to pay if there are any technical problems (a water leak can be costly)?

Also make sure you check that any appliances provided work properly before moving in as some landlords have been  known to provide faulty appliances only to blame the new tenants for the damage!

5) Where to Look

You can utilise the services of an agency to help you in finding your dream house (don’t dream too big though, don’t be a diva! You won’t find Beyonce’s villa with your student budget). Sometimes the agencies are just making money on the back of students although online property searches can allow you to deal directly with the landlords. Nevertheless, to avoid agency fees you can use some reliable websites such as:

To conclude, if you haven’t started yet it’s time to seriously take responsibility for your house hunt because if you don’t do so now, others will take the best houses and you won’t be left with a lot of choice.

 

 

Neknomination : the smart way

Smart nomination

In the past couple of days, no one has been spared from ‘Neknomination’ the drinking game phenomenon that began last January in Australia and spread like wildfire on social networks all around the world. The game consist in nominating 3 friends that has to ‘Neck their drink’ in front of a camera and theses friends have 24 hours to take up the challenge and to nominate 3 other friends. This game is extremely dangerous: 5 people already died because of it (a Welsh, two British and two Irish and boys succumbed to the game).

It’s worrying to see how such a game spread from a country to another. After the binge-drinking trend, drinking without any limits is becoming commonplace for the new generation. It’s more and more common to see young people at parties drinking in order to finish drunk than drinking for the pleasure of just sharing a drink with friends.

But fortunately, humankind has a lot to offer. Indeed Julien Voison, French student from Bordeaux decided to take the challenge upside down by creating the ‘Smartnomination’ that he describes like a smart and useful way to answer to the Neknomination phenomenon, he invites everybody that is nominated to ‘Think different’ (according to his catch line). The principle is simple; instead of drinking alcohol the nominated person must make an act of charity for example buying food for homeless people.

Here is an example of Smartnomination in South Africa:

The Facebook page  has already received more than 10 000 likes although it’s not a lot compared to the millions of like that received the Neknomination page. However it’s a good beginning to change things, help people in need by remembering Nelson Mandela’s statement: ‘Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It’s man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom’.

So now it’s your turn to act in a responsible way, do it not only for the late South-African president but also for your health.

 

Valentine’s Day Special

Valentine's Day Special : 'Genoise aux Fraises et aux Framboises avec un glacage au citron vert'

Valentine’s Day is almost here. Even though nowadays it’s more a commercial celebration, no one can deny it’s not a pleasure to have a little attention during this day. There’s no need to give diamonds or anything precious, as my grandmother was always saying :’ The way you give is more important that what you’re giving’. And this is so true.

For this Valentine’s Day I would like to share with you a short Chinese legend my Chinese friend told me.

It’s the legend of Tian Xian Pei.

While the seven daughters of the Jade Emperor ( Ruler of the Heaven) travel on Earth, Tian Xian Pei the youngest sister falls madly in love with Dong Yong a poor farmer. He was struggling to pay his late fathers debts and had 100 days to pay them. The humble seven fairies help him to find a solution to his problem and eventually everything get better for him. He is on a pedestal because everything is perfect for him, he is about to ask Tian Xian Pei to marry him. But the destiny decides something else, the parents of the seven sister called them back in the Heaven. When the youngest sister tells her parents that she wants to marry a mortal men, they immediatly fly into a terrible fury. Tian Xian Pei shelters in her room and cry all the tears of her body. Outside the birds touched by  the long sobs of the violins of autumn build a bridge for her. So  Once a year, on the 7th of July (07/07) the two lovers can meet in secret and live their passion.

I’m not very an emotive person but I was touched by this fairy tale and little girl in me was brought alive for a while.

I have a thought for the people that are not lucky to have their beloved ones with them this year. To all those people that went away too fast, may they rest in peace. We won’t forget you, you’ll be present in our hearts forever.

PS : You can find the recipe of the  : ‘Genoise aux Fraises et aux Framboises avec un glacage au citron vert here.

Evolve (OOV)

An OOV must be little package (less than one minute) which does not include any plan of the journalist, only still images and videos with voiceover commentating it.

When I have done it , I wasn’t very familiar with the specific requirements of this genre of news. Having looked at my work and step backed, I think that it’s a little bit long because an OOV should be between 30 and 40 seconds. Furthermore, an OOV must contain still images and I haven’t included that in mine. The purpose of TV is to bring a story to life with live reporting; though some elements are missing we can find some good ones.

I also have to say that it was one of my first go with the loan shop equipment, I had an EOS650 D camera and it was one of the first time I was using it, so I needed to get used to it, I think we can see it for example with the lights settings.

This first OOV was also very interesting on a practical point; it was the first time I got to edit, on my own. The first issue was the voiceover, at the beginning it was quite difficult to cope with my own voice. Then the practical part, I hadn’t really been trained before so I just discovered the software ‘Audobe Premiere Pro’ on a go, the aim is to grab the attention of the viewer, to whet his appetite. It’s storytelling, in an online article you would use narrative to articulate your message, here you would use images( symbols, icon) to convey a message. To make my OOV I have followed advice some advice I found in The Broadcast Journalism Handbook written by Hudson, G. & Rowlands, S. (2007:308-312)

  •  Edit first with your brain, then your ears, ten your eyes
  • Check your levels
  • Use mixes and wipes sparingly in news
  • Be wary of fading to black
  • Avoid jump cuts
  • Don’t cut on camera move
  • Cross fade sound between shots if necessary
  • Try using audio to introduce speakers before you see them
  • Feature natural sound always uses background sound.
  • Laying down the pictures before   voice over usually produces better films
  • Sometimes you need to record you VO   before you see the pictures
  • You need to know the pictures before scripting.

 

The editing interesting, it made me question about ethics. Throughout all the evening the musicians were very kind with me, asking me drinks and food. But I didn’t accept. A journalist must be impartial and to biased. It might seems very early to question about this topic but the sooner is the best. The reason why I refused all their treatments was because I was afraid that it could compromise my judgement. I referred to Keeble Ethics for Journalists (2009), indeed according to him, journalist are the mirror of the society this is the reason why we must act with objectivity, neutrality, impartibility and balance. My story wasn’t deep enough to touch the ethics editing but it’s a major concern, because while editing you can make anybody saying something he didn’t meant. For example, the footage of the current Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, after analysing the sequences of him, we realise that during the editing some plans have been added to each other to give the impression that he as actually moving although he is not. It’s a technique to make his people believe that he’s not weak physically and that he can be in measure to have the power.

 

Journalism task

For Uni, we were asked to produce an OOV (stands for Out of Vision). Basically  it is like when you see on the TV on the news. You can hear the voice of the journalist commentating some images but you can’t actually see it. To do so you have to learn how to edit, it exists thousands of editing software. At the begining of the year we were given the Audobe Suite but it’s pretty complicated and we need time and practice to nail it perfectly. So far I can use Audobe audition quite correctly without breaking everything  as soon as I touch to a button. But I wouldn’t say the same regarding Audobe Premiere, it’s a nightmare to edit on it, believe me it takes ages. The same amount of time as if you wanted to retouch Madonna on photoshop. I would rather advice you to use Final Cut Pro or even iMovie if the work demanded is not complex.

Coventry University held a sale of  vintage items.  To manage a student budget each  item could be acquired for a moderate price. You will found  jackets, tee shirts, handbags or even scarves. Some fashion students of Coventry are involved in the project.The idea is to recycle ancient stuff from old houses to give them a brand new life. The event is held  once a year at Coventry University but several times during festival in the UK. The money that is raised goes to a charity that help woman refugees.

You can watch my OOV below :

<p><a

Vintage clothes are a good occasion to find original clothes to stand out for the crowd, that you won’t find anywhere else .

PS: I was only joking for Madonna, she lights up my darkest moments!

 

Reflection:

As I had already experienced this format I was more confident to produce one according to the specific conventions. This time I have included still images and it’s not over the time limit. It’s very clear from the very beginning we know what it’s about; we don’t waffle and go directly to the goal. The voice over is clear, I filmed the hub with my phone and it was very noisy so I had to remove the noise while editing. The lights are also better on this OOV. I have used effectively the legend so it makes it clear to the viewer; he knows where  the story takes place.

Also regarding the targeted audience I think I have done a good job because, the target audience is students. Fashion is quite a big deal for them, along money so I tried to combine these two topics: how to find both affordable and trendy clothes.

 

 

 

Gig: Evolve

The Town Crier was  welcoming the band ‘Evolve’ to play live. Matt (the drummer), David (the bassists ), Steve (guitar player) and Rich the main singer gathered  to give a life performance in one of their Coventry’s favourite pub, city where some of them are originally from.

Evolve

For 10 years, the band has been making covers of a vast array of songs in an indie rock’n’roll style.  They have an extraordinary wide repertoire going from  the 70’s  with Richard Ash, the Beatles or the Undertones covers but also more recent bands like Razorlight, Kings of Leon and even Franz Ferdinand.

They  pleased  a larger audience by adapting themselves to such a wide range of covers.

What is noticeable is that they don’t  do dry covers but they try to adapt it to their genre of music. Though they keep the soul of the original song, they also try to put a part of them in the music. If you want to know a little bit more about the band you can visit their website.

The band celebrated their 10th anniversary  this year and for the occasion they took part in a momentous gig organised by the fundraising  Charity ‘Make a Wish’ .

As they have been playing together for 10 years, they have been used to play in weddings, clubs, pubs, birthdays and local gigs.When I asked them about their best memory in their career so far they all exchanged glances of complicity and laughed at the same time. Then they said: ‘ For sure it was for a live performance in a Pub in Coventry called the rainbow (doesn’t exist anymore , editors note). We were very excited about playing live and a live performance demands long shifts: it’s a lot of setting up, anyway we arrived at the venue with all our equipment and we were not prepared to what was going to happen. We discovered the place we were going to play we all looked surprised; in our head we just were all thinking where are we going to play? There was literally no place, we had a little and miserable square to fit all our instruments and lights and everything. It was terrible; I (Matt, the drummer) was almost sited on the floor to play. It’s a moment we are not going to forget.’ Laugh

The band seems to be like  a family that makes you  easily comfortable, there was no dull moments . We talked about music and its evolution. And they said: ‘ Music has radically changed thanks to all the thriving inventions that was made in the industry, with the arrival of the DJS music has gained something. Sometimes people wonder if DJS can be considered as musicians but they  worked with some of them, they really bring a touch to our music’.

Evolve, used to play original songs but  gradually they decided to cover a wide range of genre and age of music by mainly doing covers.

You can hear a rock’n’roll version of the song Price Tag originally performed by Jessie J :

MVI_2248

The interview ended with a piece of advice of from Evolve to aspiring artists:  ‘Just enjoy it! No matter how you learn music in a conservatory or you are self taught, you must enjoy it!’

Every Saturday the town Crier welcomes bands (usually local) to give a live performance. The pub attracts mainly middle aged people but also welcomes people of all ages. It’s a lovely traditional English pub where one can have fun.  It’s 3-5 minutes walk from Coventry City Centre.

The atmosphere at the Town Crier

The Town Crier, Corporation Street, Coventry, West Midlands, CV1 1PB
t: 02476 632317 | e: the_town_crier@hotmail.co.uk

Reflection: 

The reason why I have chosen to include this artefact in my portfolio is because it was one of the first artefacts I produced for an online content and I find that it shows perfectly the progresses I have made since the beginning of the scholar year.

Nowadays, each journalists must be a multi-platform journalist but witing for online content is different : ‘Online journalism provides the ability to go beyond the text of a story or outside it to give background and present supporting materials’ (Craig  2011:9).Due to the ubiquitous nature of news and information in today’s online environment ‘, the journalist has to become far more skilful story- teller, which includes guiding the reader through the ‘myriad of websites and other forms of online content… and establish which forms are reliable’. (Herbert, 2001:9)

Also a key of being a good journalist is to know which material to use and use it in an effective way. Each platform,  need a specific equipment. For this article I wrote a review about the gig but I also did an interview with the band. The only material I had this night was  a notepad and I think that it’s during this night that I bond with it, now wherever I go I have it with me. This is one component that a journalist should always have with him.

When  I wrote this article I wasn’t really aware of the professional conventions that were wanted for online purposes or the specific requirements asked for online media.I think my  story wasn’t brief enough, it was too much detailed.  In the present days people live very fast and don’t have time anymore. Information must go fast otherwise you loose your reader.

Silverside

 

Silverside

Silverside performed at the Town Crier, a local pub of Coventry located near Ikea. The band essentially performed covers. The pub was busy that night while they were performing energetic covers of the White Stripes and the Kings of Leon.
The Town Crier organises open music stage every Saturday where local bands can have the chance to perform in order to share their talent.

One of our uni task was to transpose the same story but  on two different type of text. I have transformed an interview into an OOV.

This is the basic interview, my friend and I wrote the questions together, but she chaired the interview and I was doing the camera work. we attributed the role on an equal footing because both of these jobs are important.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/87226121″&gt;

And this is the OOV made from the interview, OOV means Out Of Vision literally it means that we are talking about the story and we focus on this story without having any journalist interacting on the plan. To make a good OOV it’s primordial to have stills and it must not be over 35 seconds.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/85717416″&gt;

Fit as a Fiddle : The Asian Way

Image

Eating with chopsticks is characteristic of  Asian cultures. For the occidental world it is one of the first clichés that come to mind when they see Asians eating their bowls of rice with chopsticks. But it is more than a stereotype. Studies suggest that eating with chopsticks is healthier than eating with a fork.

Coventry hosts a large number of international students many of whom are from Asia. May, a Chinese student of Coventry, gives an insight into this tradition: ‘ I think that asian people have a healthier lifestyle than English people, there is not as much obesity problem in my country than here in England’

She argues that  eating with  chopsticks helps in moderating the pace at which we eat and the quantity we consume. This, she explains, is the reason why Asians eat small quantity of food in little bowls. But eating less does not make them  hungry. The logic is the slower the body swallows  food and the faster  it controls its appetite. More so, it enhances the rate at which the nutrients are assimilated.

But to make this work some rules must be observed when eating with Asians. For example, piercing your food with a chopstick is considered a funeral rite in Japan and discouraged.

Image

Obesity is a major health issue. Although eating with chopsticks does not solve the problem, it could be a step to tackle it.

Now that you know the benefits, take your time and your chopstick and enjoy your meal!

 

Reflection:Since the very beginning the reader know what the story is going to be about, and to be sure that the reader understands it I have used the appropriate style to make sense for the story. I have tried not to use passive tense; instead I have privileged the use of active forms. I also made my article shorter than the first one with the use of short sentences because according to Farhad Manjoo Readers can’t stay focused.’ The more I type, the more you tune out’ (2013 : online). I would add that for an online article, 800 words must be the maximum to keep it lively and tightly.

Online writing also includes knowing how to structure the news, this is why I have effectively made the use of the headlines and the subhead in order to give simplicity, precision, relevance, orderliness to the reader. I also broke the different paragraph so it’s clear to clear. I have referred to the inverted pyramid theory that states that a story should always go to the most general and then along with the development become more and more specific. The reader must be able to understand very quickly, you don’t want to write a scientific report with a lot of scientific notions, the use of a specific jargon. The work of a journalist is to vulgarise his knowledge in order to make it accessible to the people that would like to know more about a specific topic even though they don’t have any knowledge in it.

The information also must be accessible to any platform; nowadays thanks to all the thriving technologies people don’t only consult online news on computers, they have tablets or smartphones. I also learnt how to take advantage of the online platform for example with the SEO ( Search Engine Optimisation) I couldn’t apply them for iCov but I have tried to use them for my own blog, by using the key words. The first rule for SEO is concision; it’s a way for user to find easily your story while typing key words on Google for example.

I also used the tags in order to make it easy for readers to look a story related to their centre of interest. This article is on the lifestyle category with students and health eating because it’s a major concern for a lot student. In Aim for the Heart, Al Tomkins gives us few tips to tell a story online for example taping into local passion groups : ‘Whatever people are wild about in your area, give them virtual watering holes where they gather to talk about and share whatever they are passionate about.’ (2013 :182)

The advantage with the online platform is that we can create a link with the reader thing that you can’t do in print or in radio : on the online platform, people are able to interact with you, share your article, comment it to have more information. This is why at the end of the article I have included a YouTube video to help the reader to go further.

 

Britain’s Got Talent heads in Birmingham

britain-s-got-talent-logo-688284990-102215

 

Last week the four judges of the Talent competition stopped by the Birmingham, the second biggest city in England.

Throughout the year I have experienced what it was to be a real journalist. Being a journalist demands to be spontaneous and to seize an opportunity when it comes and this day it’s exactly what I have done.

My friend came from Belgium to visit me so I brought him to Birmingham to show him the city, we had a great day we visited the canal, the aquarium etc.. At the moment we were about to leave for the station, I told him I was going to show him the library and when we arrived on the place I was astonished : hundreds of people were queuing, and I was assuming they must have been standing there for ages as they all seem very excited to entre in the ICC Birmingham. So didn’t hesitate one second and I asked those people what they were going to see. I discovered they were here for one reason, they were  about to attend the audition for Britain’s Got Talent. It was a golden opportunity for me, it was definitely going to be a story for my blog.

So here’s a little OOV I made with the footage I got that day.

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/86273115″>OOV Britain’s got talent</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user24615457″>Nour Abida</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

 

 

 

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