Welcome Week

As Welcome Week draws to a close it feels quite natural to reflect on what has been an exhausting few days for both body and spirit.

It all kicked off on the Sunday night with a performance by the Bavarian Stompers who are not even German, let alone from Bavaria – they are in truth a group of middle aged men from what sounded like Yorkshire… Anyway, we all eagerly collected our beer steins and attempted to sing along with the German Toast song, although a fair few freshers seemed to forget that the beer belonged in their steins and in their mouths, not on the SU audience and floor.

The rest of the week followed with various themed LCR nights and intro lectures from our Heads of Schools; whilst enormous fun it is exhausting both physically and emotionally. Spending day to day sleep deprived in a place you don’t know, surrounded by people you don’t know, can leave you feeling… well I wouldn’t go so far as to say upset or completely overwhelmed, but rather adrift. I kept expecting it all to end and for it to be time to go home; and to be frank I still don’t think it’s really sunk in yet that I’m going to be here for three years.

But still, I’ve tried to throw myself into all. I’ve applied for a job on campus, an internship in Norwich which I have subsequently been shortlisted for, and agreed to act as Production Manager on one of the plays in the Minotaur’s Shorts Season, I just hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.

In the flat the first grumbles have begun as washing begins to mount on the draining board; living with people is both rewarding and challenging and I fully expect there to be some hiccups along the way, but hopefully there won’t be any major fall outs. For now I am resisting leaving notes to remind people to clear away their debris – It’s not so much that I mind the mess, but that if the cleaner has to move lots of stuff so she can do her job then we can be fined and my student loan just won’t stretch that far!

My favourite thing so far about uni is how great it is for meeting a whole range of people, I’ve been invited around for dinner by postgrad Chinese students, and been cooked an “English Breakfast” by two Americans. There are people on my course from as far away as Belgium and Norway, the breadth of culture is truly astonishing, although I can’t help agreeing with the card given to me by a friend which said that 50% of uni is spent comparing regional accents – the North/South divide proving particularly divisive.

Welcome Week ended this year with the Welcome Prom, a night of music from bands such as PEACE (who were bloody fantastic if you want my opinion) and a free Funfair (well, the price was included in the ticket – when is anything truly free?). It was a great night to stop and take stock of the friend’s you’d made and how much we’d already achieved, and also a very good opportunity for selfies.

In conclusion, Welcome Week is something to be both enjoyed and got through; sometimes you might feel like you’re on cloud nine and other times you just have to grit your teeth and plough on, despite the near constant urge to just lie down.

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The Minotaur Weekend

Now this post concerns something that 98% (ok I admit I made a random guess with this statistic) of UEA students will never have to do; the Minotaur Weekend. For those of you not in the know this is the weekend long project that all new drama students must participate in during their first week at UEA. What occurs during this weekend is a closely guarded secret that older students are forbidden from imparting to prospective undergraduates, and can therefore become the focus of a great deal of anxiety in the run up to starting uni.

When speaking to second years we were advised to keep it “light-hearted” and “just have fun”, whilst the lecturers asked us to look for sincerity and artistic truth…. Not a good start.

And so it was with a great deal of trepidation that I embarked on this project, unsure what was expected of us and aware that it culminated in front of a crowd of second and third years in what could be abject humiliation…. Now I can’t really say any more except that it felt like we really went back to the Greek roots of theatre, there was wine, there was merriment, and there was a whole load of anatomy related jokes…

Anyway.

What this weekend really did was submerse us in the drama department and all of its new students, you got to know the other drama students at a much faster rate than freshers from most other subjects. The downside of this is that you kind of end up feeling a little kidnapped by drama – when the rest of my flatmates turned up on the Saturday I was out all that day and the following Sunday which really limited the opportunities for introductions. It also meant that whilst most people go to fresher’s events with their flatmates, the drama undergrads head out as an unintentional clique which can feel difficult to break away from. I hope that once my literature seminars start I will have the opportunity to be friends with people beyond my crazy circle of thespians, fingers crossed.

Sadly, shortly after the Minotaur weekend, one of the guys I had gotten to know made the difficult decision to drop out. Now I don’t know the ins and outs of it, and I really hope that he’s happier doing whatever he’s doing instead, but it makes you pause for thought. I’m enjoying uni, but it does feel like an unending whirlwind at the moment and there are times when you wish you could stop for a breather – however the plan for now is just to hold on for dear life and hope that I muddle my way through.
Minotaur
Theseus fighting the Minotaur; or a student grappling with their first freshers hangover

The Shock of Capture

“The shock of capture”, is an army expression which is used to describe the experience of hostages or prisoners of war during a conflict – it is the mixture of emotions gone through as a person moves from the usual to the unusual, as they realise the reality of the situation they have gotten themselves into.

It is was in this glassy-eyed state that my mother found me when she got home from work the day before I arrived at UEA. I had meant to spend the day packing but instead found myself staring into space for minutes at a time, completely unable to be decisive in anyway, dithering about which bag I should put toiletries in.

After a year of day dreaming what uni life was going to be like I was suddenly confronted with the reality of having to live it. A thousand thoughts rushed through my head; everything from worrying if I would get on with my flatmates to wondering whether I would need to bring coat hangers (which I did), and to be quite frank it was almost completely overwhelming.

For the past few months I had been bombarded with emails and facebook notifications, each reminding me to join a page, sign up for something, or buy some sort of fresher’s ticket, and my constant fear was that somehow I was going to miss the really important stuff – that maybe the day they explained how to be a student was going to be the day I had a doctor’s appointment. So I caved and bought fresher’s wristbands and only time will tell of they were worth it.

Thankfully, upon arrival I discovered that everyone is equally adrift. As a student on a drama undergraduate course I was asked to arrive at the same time as the international students (moving into a nearly empty flat was a strange experience) and soon found that everyone was asking if anyone else had the answers; where were we meant to be? Which events were worth going to? And did anyone know where the Student Union bar was?

So whilst I still don’t think I can speak with any authority on the matter, it’s good to know that university is a foreign land to everyone, and we’re all equally lost.
rabbits
The new flatmates seem friendly enough