I'm Sam Watkins. I’m a 20-year-old 3rd year Marketing student. I recently started working with the Marketing Campaigns team at the University helping with admin work and gaining more hands-on experience. 

This is my first ever blog post so I thought I’d introduce myself and my university story so far before I dive in with Christmas ideas for Portsmouth, how I spent my lockdown and ideas for things to do with your flatmates. My future blog posts will be perfect for you if you want to read student tips about how to spend your time, cooking, best ways to revise and learn, and things to do in Portsmouth. I’m going to blog once a month, so keep an eye out for my next post in January.

How my journey started

I joined the University of Portsmouth in 2018 and felt the strange mix of being so nervous but also excited. I moved into Greetham Street student halls with 8 other friendly faces. The first few weeks were an indescribable experience. University can seem daunting when you’re faced with so many new experiences in such a short space of time. My first week felt like I was at a PGL school trip where you’re with friends having fun but feeling that you’d go home at the end of the weekend. But of course I wasn’t going home! 

It took me a few weeks to find my feet and convince myself I wasn’t as homesick as I felt. My biggest struggle was with food. I love cooking but felt cooking for myself was so much effort and I couldn’t be bothered. I made best friends with one of my flatmates in a heartbeat and we ended up doing our food shops together. I cooked for her and she did the washing up in exchange. It was a perfect pairing. Keep an eye out for my cooking blog post in the future where I’ll include some of my favourite recipes. 

Moving into second year 

At the end of my first term, we started house hunting for the following year. Most of us decided to live together in our second year and found a lovely house in Southsea which was very close to the University. I really loved the transition from halls to a house as it felt more homely and I felt a little more grown up. As cringe worthy as it sounds, you will learn so much about yourself during your university experience and gain independence and confidence. 

Living in our house in a new area meant I did lots of new things. In first year I went to a lot of clubs, whereas in second year we went to more pubs in our local area and stayed in a lot more – having flat movie marathons and consistently watching horror films together. 

I started working for the University as an ambassador in second year. I worked during Open Days, touring prospective students and their families around Greetham Street – it helped that I’d lived there, so I could offer a personal experience. I loved working the Open Days – I met lots of other students and made new friends, and felt like I was giving back to the University, which had already given me so much. 

Starting afresh after lockdown 

Sadly, our year was cut short when lockdown started in March 2020 and we all moved out of our house to live at home. Lockdown was a strange and unique experience –to say the least– but it made me all the more excited to move into a new flat with 5 others in third year. 

I couldn’t wait to have a face-to-face lecture and to get back into the swing of university. I’m so glad Portsmouth chose to use a blended learning method where seminars were face-to-face and lectures were pre-recorded online. 

I had great fun in the last 3 months living with 2 new housemates and starting a job with the Marketing Campaigns team at the University. I made the most of my first lockdown in Portsmouth playing lots of board games and having fancy dress-up nights. I just moved out of my flat to come back home for Christmas with my family and already miss the hustle and bustle of living with 5 others. 

Thank you for reading my first blog, I really appreciate it.