Get through the Winter Blues and a first sneak peak into the new Currikula
Well that went fast…2018 came and left before many of us even noticed. So much happened last year throughout the world, the UK and of course at Currikula. We have seen political meltdowns, trillion dollar companies, breakthroughs in space and innovation in almost all business sectors.
The cold weather has also surprised us rather quickly. In the past, UK winters have been typically milder than their North American and European counterparts. However, in recent years this has changed.
Now that 2018 is in the rearview mirror, we would like to bring you some very special news about Currikula’s plan for the next academic year (September), as well as some advice on how to get through this colder than usual Winter Term.
Getting through winter
Whilst it is no shocker that the UK winter is not a paradise, the cold weather always comes as a surprise. With this cold weather also comes the Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder which affects people of all ages. This will be likely amongst those of you who travelled somewhere sunny over the holidays and are now experiencing a significant drop in Vitamin D levels. Expect a change in mood over the first few days of being back to the grind.
It also happens that the first weeks of winter uni are the most important of the term for many students, with exams and first lectures taking place early-mid January. Combatting the Winter Blues can help you get through January without lagging behind or sacrificing exam grades.
Your holidays likely consisted of excessive eating and drinking (understandably — you were away or with family celebrating). It may seem difficult to realise that regular life has kicked back into first gear and to go directly from over-indulging in turkey breast and red wine to library sessions and water bottles — so take it gradually. Start with reducing your alcohol intake (a must before exams). Replace the pint or wine glass with water or soda. Then, if possible, you can swap the sandwich meal deal with soda for a salad.
If you find it difficult to have a healthy and balanced diet while on campus then taking a multivitamin supplement will help increase your nutrient intake. As a tip, we advise a separate Vitamin D supplement to help combat SAD effects as, while the UK generally experiences very little sun, it is particularly dark in winter which means almost no Vitamin D from sun exposure (maintaining a higher Vitamin D level is essential for preventing SAD and keeping a positive mood).
Embrace the Danish Coziness Concept
Denmark has some of the harshest winters in Europe and are yet one of the happiest countries in the world, so they must be doing something right. A concept they call ‘Hygge’ (which translates somewhat to coziness in English) embraces the lifestyle and mindset of winter. By adapting and embracing winter their lives become much happier and it’s not that difficult.
We already do or understand many things the Danish do in the wintertime (although theirs lasts for much longer) but there’s always more that can be done. If you ever find yourself feeling down look to the below tips which could help lift your mood.
- Cozy-type Warmth. We don’t mean turning up the radiator in your house. If your house has a fireplace then reading by a close lit fire under a blanket will bring a ‘cozy’ feeling that heaters and the library just don’t have. If your house doesn’t have a fireplace then that’s a great excuse to find a pub which does, where you can do some light reading after lectures before having a pint with mates.
- Warm Lighting. The fluorescent lights in your uni library are great for saving on the electricity bill and keeping you awake in the late hours of the night but put a hamper your mood. Try balancing this by using warmer light in your house or bedroom — candles and warm desk lamps are great for this. If you can avoid spending the whole night in the library and revise in your room (as long as your flatmates are not hosting loud pre-drinks downstairs) then you’re on your way to preventing the Blues that come with winter.
- Stay Social. The Danish believe that strong social connections are good for the soul and are not afraid to treck through snow storms to get to gatherings. In the UK, however, the whole country likes to shut down when a centimetre of snow hits the ground, making social gatherings more difficult among mates (especially if they live a good walk away). To help, try setting a location that is equidistant between you all, such as a pub or restaurant and meet there. If possible you can pre-book a table once a week, on a day that your mates are free and spend a few hours ‘gathering’ round the table and enjoying each others company.
Currikula’s big update
It is correct to say that 2018 has been Currikula’s most eventful year. We joined the Ignite Accelerator (completing our first raise), reached 5000 users and began working on our next update. To say this next update is a ‘major’ one would be a very big understatement. When Currikula first launched in late 2017 it was a simple referencing tool — helpful but only tackled one vertical of the essay. 8 months later, we launched InnerText, our Analytics and Feedback functions which worked alongside our plagiarism and referencing tools to add more ‘power’ to the platform and help with more parts of the essay writing process.
“While Currikula is powerful today, our number one feedback comment from students was ‘why can’t I write and edit my essay directly on Currikula?’ and we agree.”
However, we were lacking a very important part — the writing itself. When we first thought of Currikula we envisioned the best essay writing platform. Something that is for students, made by ex-students. While Currikula is powerful today, our number one feedback comment from students was “why can’t I write and edit my essay on Currikula?” and we agree.
So why didn’t we incorporate the ability to write and edit an uploaded essay in Currikula from the beginning (besides the fact that it’s a gigantic task regardless of quality)?
Well, first we wanted to listen to what our users had to say and you did speak (so we’ve listened). Second, we are a small team and are very careful with how we spend our time with improvements. Thirdly, we did a lot of research around not only what our users were saying but what would make essay writing a better experience for all students and simply incorporating the ability to write was not enough (we’ve found). What about essay formats, notes, plans, and incorporating feedback and referencing tools across the system? This all has to be taken into account if we are truly going to build the best essay writing platform out there.
Other sites or products that have editing functionality don’t usually incorporate the correct style and students end up having to re-format their essay in Microsoft Word a second time or end up just cutting and pasting snippets one by one to get the grammar feedback they want. Well, we don’t want any of that. We want our users to be able to start their essay on Currikula and finish on Currikula. That means the ability to plan (different format than the essay), take notes and easily drag and drop snippets into your essay and maintain essay structure throughout — whether that be MLA, APA, or Harvard (we have those pre-installed). That’s the type of writing platform we are talking about bringing to Currikula (and we’ve already made great progress). We don’t like to call it a one-stop-shop for essay writing, but it really is.
An important but often overlooked aspect of essay writing notes come in all shapes and sizes and play an integral part in writing a good essay. Nevertheless, most writing platforms do not take into account note-taking or distinguish the differences between the notes and the essay (in other words they just give you a generic text editor that you are supposed to use for everything). Currikula believes that in order to make the best essay-writing experience for the student, more than just ‘essay-writing’ has to be taken into account. This is why we are putting as much effort into every essay-writing vertical.
Tip — The Ultimate Essay Guide is filled with tips and tricks on how to easily take the best notes that you can actually read and understand later
Notes are intended to be taken during lectures and independent research and can contain a plethora of information exploring the topic of your essay. In many instances, you will only need to use a fraction of the notes taken in your essay, which could contain facts or supporting points (with references attached) for your argument. For this reason, having well-organised notes and references makes writing that much easier and we’ve done exactly that with Currikula. In our next update, our beautifully designed note-taking function is clutter-free — filled with features needed for note-taking (but not overloaded like other word processors) and allows students to easily insert note snippets into their main essay with a simple drag and drop feature. The clean and basic writing platform make it easy to capture and organise notes quickly, without having to pay attention to styling, formatting, and setup. Just create a new standalone note or within a project and start ‘‘note-taking’’!
When planning Currikula’s draft-writing functionality we thought about what would make the best writing platform for essay-writing, rather than just writing. What do students need, in order to write a first-class essay and what current fallbacks do the existing tools have? Are extensive formatting and styling options necessary or do they just add complications? How can notes, bibliography, and Currikula’s other improvement tools be linked in a non-intrusive way?
The problem with most word processors or other products is that they either contain too many features — which gets distracting or focus on fewer aspects and do them well — but require students to find another product for the rest of their essay. For example, many students write their essay in a Word processor and then cut and paste snippets into a grammar checker. They then check for plagiarism and if needed, change their essay and repeat the process. This worsens the writing experience and frustrates many students (especially at 1 AM in the fluorescent filled uni-library).
So our approach was to include writing functions required for essay writing, incorporated with our powerful plagiarism and improvement tools but without the bulk of fancy formatting and options that traditional word processors have. By stripping out all of the unnecessary features we were able to focus more on the flow and experience while adding our powerful improvement, plagiarism, and referencing tools when needed. The result is an enhanced suite of tools that improve the essay embedded around our clean and robust writing platform, helping students write a first-class essay and improving the overall experience doing so. With our new update, Curriklua will help students across more essay-writing stages than before, from taking research notes and planning all the way to plagiarism checking and submission.
So when can you expect this update?
Currikula 2.0 is no small task, and we are undergoing more intense development work than ever before. While we are past our infant stages, we are not planning on releasing it before the next academic year (September 2019). We will be compiling a list of interested students wishing to test the new update and releasing a series of closed test versions in the coming few months.
If you are interested in becoming a beta tester you can email us email@example.com or, if you are just interested in receiving updates you can sign up to our marketing list at www.currikula.com after creating an account.
Currikula has extended its initial first term offer into the winter. Get your first paper upgraded for just £2.99 and a full years subscription for just £39.99 (which will also continue through the next update). Visit Currikula to take advantage of this offer now.
This post was brought to you by the Currikula team. For more information about Currikula, please see our previous posts or visit www.currikula.com. You can create an account and use Currikula for free.
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