My 2014 – (through ever so slightly rose-tinted glasses)

Bonne année!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas full of fun, food and suitable festivities. I have perhaps, just a little, overindulged but if not at Christmas when, and as a student who is used to subsisting on Tesco’s essentials I made the most of having such wonderful food provided for free.

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An English Literature student’s Christmas

But now we are in that strange lull between Christmas and the New Year, a time which is naturally a reflective one.

This time last year I was preparing to move from being a part time Londoner to a full time one, I was worried about finding somewhere to live, people to live with, all whilst not being sure that this acting malarkey was what I really wanted to be doing. It was in short a very anxious time for me, and not one I wish to repeat.

Whilst I have finally accepted that drama isn’t my calling in life, I did have an incredible year, two shows in London, two in Edinburgh. The Fringe Festival was perhaps one of the most exciting months of my life that pushed me to the limits of both my physical and mental abilities; I did a show every night, walked about five miles every day ( a conservative guess), and saw more theatre than I think I have ever before seen in my life. I’d recommend everyone go at least once even if as an audience member rather than a participant.

Other highlights of this year include the significant other, starting uni, meeting the bonkers group of people I am privileged enough to call my friends, and being paid for the first time for my writing. So it’s not been too shabby.

I realise that I am so lucky to be surrounded by such warm, supportive people, I have found not only what I am good at, but what I am passionate about, and I am fortunate to be doing it at one of the best universities in the country (*slightly biased opinion*).  2014 has been one of, if not the, most important years of my life, and I’m all revved up to see what opportunities and experiences 2015 will bring.

I wish the same for you all,

Happy New Year everybody!

Two of the best gifts ever - a genuine Roman coin and a signed book of Robert Graves poetry!

Two of the best gifts ever – a genuine Roman coin and a signed book of Robert Graves poetry!

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Home for Christmas

It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been a week since the end of term.

I’m back in the Shire and it feels like nothing has changed at all, UEA seems as distant and fantastical as Narnia when I walk past my old college, and when I see old friends it is as though nothing has changed. Maybe it’s always like this or maybe I’ll acclimatise eventually, I suspect the former.

I also now understand why during my gap year my friend’s at uni seemed to go off the radar for months at a time, you really feel as though you’re in a separate world and coming home is vaguely unsettling. I’ve got too much free time and not enough to do, clearly I’ve adjusted to the pace of uni life.

But, what does need doing is reading for next term; my tutor last semester said to enjoy reading for pleasure over the holiday, but I have a four hundred page novel to read for one module, and another in which we will be reading a novel a week so it makes sense to get a head start now. One day I shall be able to read what I like, one day…

I was a little wary of my reading list for next term as it included books such as W.G. Sebald’s ‘Austerlitz’, whose reviews include these gems:

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But so far I’m actually enjoying it, although I do have three hundred pages still to go. I’ll keep you posted.

A few days ago I was talking to a friend from college who also had a gap year, and we both agreed that taking a break from our studies had made us a lot more invested when we finally got to uni, even long days seem worth it when you are doing the subject you love. Just a thought for anyone out there considering a gap year.

Christmas is almost upon us and so the frantic last minute present buying continues, best of luck to all of you on student budgets.

I think that’s all for now as I have reading to do and relatives to visit,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

‘Who’d walk in this bleak place?…’

After three months of living at UEA, admiring almost daily the beauty of sunrise and sunset over the Broad, I finally went for a walk around our lovely lake. It was suitably cold, as you will notice from my heavy duty hat and scarf, but worth it to see the British winter up close and personal.

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20141214_135104On my wall I have pinned a poem by Sylvia Plath; like much of her work it is not of an overtly cheerful nature, but whenever I read it I think of autumnal mornings and of watching the orange mists over the water whilst I make tea. 

I thought you might enjoy it as well.

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During my walk around the lake ‘a single swan’ did me the poetic courtesy of floating past

Arbitrary Advice

IT’S CHRIIIIISTMAAAAAS!

We have officially broken up for Christmas and it is wonderful; I took a nap in the middle of the afternoon yesterday just because I could.

Term neatly wrapped itself up for me with an email from the Extenuating Circumstances Board saying they weren’t going to penalise me for my little submission hiccup, and I received my letter confirming my transfer. All good stuff.

My friends and I celebrated the end of term with a night at The Birdcage, where for a fiver you can buy a ticket which gets you a portion of fish and chips from the renowned Grosvenor’s Fish Bar across the street, and a glass of Prosecco. We went dressed up in our glad rags and it all felt suitably studenty (e.g. cheap and cheerful, but a good night seemed to be had by all).

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But now that I feel I am a veteran of uni life (the significant other, who is a second year, shakes their head sagely) I’ve been trying to think of tips I’d give someone just starting out, not the usual stuff that you find all over the internet (such as: Don’t blow your budget on fresher’s week – although it is a good point) but stuff I’ve learned first-hand.

So here we go, this is my totally arbitrary number of tips for surviving your first term at uni:

  1. Bring a kettle when you move in, the stress of moving into halls can only be assuaged with a strong cup of tea and the chances are your kitchen won’t have one when you arrive.
  2. Speaking of tea; when you are in the midst of an essay and you need another shot of caffeine, you don’t want to be breaking your concentration by going to the kitchen – I would therefore recommend you purchase, or sweet talk a relative into buying, a teapot and cup set (beautifully modelled below). Mine has served me well.
  3. At U20141214_155743EA we are each given a toilet roll a week by our cleaner, however I cannot stress enough the importance of buying additional supplies. You don’t want to live in a flat that has run out. Enough said.
  4. Lock your door at night, or a drunk person from the next block might stumble in at 3 in the morning thinking it’s their room. So glad I was awake for that, waking up to a strange man in my room would not have been pleasant.
  5. Use the library, it is so much cheaper than buying all the books on your reading list. One module next term alone would set me back £50 if I tried to buy them all.
  6. Bring enough clothes so that you can put off doing a wash as long as possible. The trek to and from the laundry room is miserable.
  7. Bring a clothes hanger for said clothes or you will have to hang under wear off the draws of your desk.
  8. Most importantly; START YOUR ESSAYS EARLY. I have a policy of giving myself at least a week to do an essay, although usually I try and get started a fortnight before the deadline. I have seen the faces of those poor souls who have had to lock themselves in the library until the early hours of the morning to meet a deadline. You do not want to be one of them.

That’s all for now folks and if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and pack.

‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year…’

‘I really like Christmas,
It’s sentimental I know,
But I just really like it.’

And so begins my favourite secular Christmas song (written by the genius that is Tim Minchin). I don’t know about you, but it really does feel like the most wonderful time of the year to me.

This last week UEA has been getting their festive funk on; we’ve had Christmas markets, carols in the cathedral, and cartloads of festive spirit (really stretching to keep the alliteration going there).

In the Hive (part of the Student Union) we had a Christmas market full of stalls belonging to UEA students and graduates, [Mum, stop reading here or it might spoil your Christmas present] there were all sorts of stalls- from handmade steampunk jewellery, to luscious soaps, to vintage tea sets, quite literally something to everyone’s tastes.

Photo used with kind permission from Deli Soaps (I bought a couple and they smell divine)

Photo used with kind permission from Deli Soaps
(I bought a couple and they smell divine)

Photo used with kind permission of Deli Soaps

Photo used with kind permission from Deli Soaps (In fact they smell so good that, although I bought them as presents, I might be keeping one…shh)

We also had this wonderful gentlemen and his stall making the campus square smell amazing (I may have had a tip off that he will be back in the summer selling ice creams which I’m quite excited about. Life is about the small pleasures).

click for a larger image

click for a larger image

That evening there was the Christian Union’s annual ‘Carols in the Cathedral’ service, which was a fantastic opportunity to see Norwich Cathedral for free, and to tumblr_ng68mlqKom1qm67xwo7_1280indulge in a spot of rusty singing (Fun game: Play spot the ex-choir singers, we’re the ones who automatically go into the descant and subsequently look mortified when no one else does).

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I mean it’s nice, but it’s no Salisbury Cathedral…

Finally, Dragon Hall (a medieval merchant’s hall on Kings Street) played host to a delightful little market, full of all the kinds of things you don’t need but want anyway. All the ‘merchants’ were dressed in full medieval costume, albeit some looked less enthusiastic about it than others, and I learned all about medieval alternatives to modern skin care products. There has been an unfortunate inclination in recent years to view medieval Europeans as somehow stupid, unclean people who never washed in their lives – well this simply isn’t true. If you had no running taps and had to heat all your washing water over the fire, would you bother with filling a whole bath? I think not. But they had their own versions of deodorant and toothbrushes, I even tried the clay moisturiser – and you know what, I think I prefer it to the oily creams we use today.

(for more information have a read of the lady below’s website)

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The gentlemen who gave the sermon during the carol service this week described Christmas as belonging to dark places, I’m sure he was thinking more along the lines of ‘the shadow of the valley of death’, Jesus Light of the World etc, but it did get me thinking. Christmas, for those of us living in the northern hemisphere, is quite literally the darkest time of the year, for students it’s when our bank balances are running low and a deluge of deadlines await us. It’s also around the time that we start getting our first marked essays back and, whilst I’ve been lucky/done well so far, I’ve seen a fair few despondent faces. I think that it’s important to remember that Christmas is not only a light in the darkness, but a promise of better days to come. After the equinox on the 21st, the days will start getting longer and soon spring shall be sprung upon us. So my plan, and my recommendation, is to recuperate over the Christmas holiday, have a Lucozade, and prepare for a Robert Downey Jr. style comeback.

Merry Christmas, Everyone x

Jarrolds, Norwich

Jarrolds, Norwich