Hannah’s Norwich Highlights

Please, forgive the alliteration.

I’m very aware that this is the time of year when A-level students around the country begin to take stock of their university choices; you may have applied somewhere but it’s only once the offers start rolling in that it really sinks in that you’re going to have to choose, very shortly, where you want to live for the next three/four years. So for those considering UEA I am, hopefully, going to compile a couple of posts about Norwich itself – places I like to go, good places for a night out, maybe a little bit of Norwich’s history (used to be the second most important city in England don’t you know…).

My list will by no means be conclusive but hopefully it will give prospective students, and maybe even current UEA students, some info about our fair city.

Favourite Coffee shop/ Tea Rooms:

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Biddy’s Tea Room – 15/15a Lower Goat Lane, Norwich, NR2 1EL

Norwich is teeming with delightful cafés and I have barely begun to chip away at the plethora on offer, but so far the stand out from the crowd is Biddy’s.

The range of cakes is usually vast and sometimes baffling, and they don’t skimp on portions – when I went a few weeks ago with a friend we had to wrap our Rocky Road up in napkins to save for later. They also let you blend you own tea, my personal recommendation is Earl Grey with Lavender.

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Biddy’s is the graphic definition of hipster so if eccentric décor and people aren’t your cup of tea then steer clear, but if you like tea and cake, and enjoy consuming them in a very unique establishment, then Biddy’s is the place for you.

Favourite Bookshop:

The Book Hive - 53 London Street, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1HL

The Book Hive – 53 London Street, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1HL

You will soon learn that as a student you can seldom afford to buy your books from an actual bookshop, the lure of Amazon and Wordery are just too strong, but certain independent book stores should still be supported. The best that Norwich has to offer, in my humble opinion, is The Book Hive. In 2011 it won The Daily Telegraph’s Best Small Bookshop in Britain, a title it well deserves.

All of the books are personally chosen and fall into five main categories; Fiction, Poetry, Art & Design, Children’s Books and Cookery. Because of the personal touch you will often come across titles that you’ve never heard of or are unlikely to stumble across in a chain bookshop.

The shop itself is beautiful but a great deal of effort is put into celebrating and showing off the beauty of the texts themselves. Well worth a perusal.

Favourite (not really sure what to call this one…):

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St Gregory’s Antiques & Collectables – Pottergate, Norwich, NR2 1ER

St. Gregory’s is a 14th century church in the heart of Norwich which has been turned into the mother of all bric-a-brac shops, it’s partly what I imagine the room of requirement to look like in Harry Potter. Having a look around is an adventure in itself as you never know what you may find.

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I apologise for the poor quality photo

Next week I’ll be back with even more of the delights of Norwich, but in the mean time I’d love to hear what you think of these places, and if you have any recommendations.

TTFN.

How Not to look for Student Accommodation…

One of the many strange quirks of university life is the need to find somewhere to live almost nine months before you actually want to move in. Why? Who knows, it’s just the way it is.

I mean can you imagine a better system? What problems could having to choose flatmates from a group of people you’ve only known for three months cause?

UEA has its own fun methods of finding housing; they compile a list of all the accommodation available for students next year and release it at nine in the morning on a Friday, cue mad dashes around Norwich attempting to see as many houses as possible whilst still trying to get to class.

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My future flatmates and I met up at nine on release day and scrolled through the housing which suited our needs – Six bedrooms, not too far from uni. Not too tall an order you’d think.

But of the five people I am sharing a house with next year only two of us had enough free periods on a Friday to look at houses, and so it was with great apprehension that we began our hunt.

The first two properties we viewed were well priced but small, and a twenty five minute walk away from campus which isn’t ideal, especially at this time of year. The third was right in the centre of town, a five minute walk from Norwich high street and market, and with frequent buses to campus. It was spacious with large rooms and communal living space, the price was good and the lady showing us around very pleasant.

About half way through our tour I started side eyeing my friend to check whether he liked it as much as I did.

The short answer is yes. But we spent almost an hour looking around the place worrying that although we liked it, would the rest of our group? Everyone was in class so we couldn’t phone a friend, we knew other groups were booked in to look around it after us, and we were anxious that if we left it until tomorrow it would be gone…

So it was with great trepidation that we agreed to take the house. As of yet we are still the only two in our group to have seen it, although we are all going to look around again sometime this week, so fingers crossed we haven’t massively missed the mark. But I am still stunned at what a poor idea having the release on a weekday is, it is massively impractical for a lot of students and as there are a limited number of six bed student houses in Norwich, it really racked up the stress levels.

In short, this is exactly how not to go about looking for student housing. Six is a tricky number (four being the most common), having only a third of the group doing the viewings seems like a potential disaster (fingers crossed), and a weekday release makes for stressed and busy students.

But hopefully, we may have just pulled it off…

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Literature Life

New Term’s Resolutions

It seems hard to believe but Christmas is over and once again I am at uni, but this time it feels a bit different. Last time as I was dropped off and hugged goodbye, my first term lay before me – a completely blank slate. Now as I reassemble my room and restock the fridge it is without that initial wide-eyed wonder, which isn’t to say that I’m not excited to see what this term brings but it is sinking in now that this isn’t just a jolly but actually my life, and for someone considering trying to pursue an academic profession, also the beginning of my career…

But that’s all a bit heavy for my first day back.

Only just starting my second term and I've already filled 90% of my board...

Only just starting my second term and I’ve already filled 90% of my board…

I’m not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions, the majority of the time they only serve to make us feel bad about ourselves and are mostly doomed to failure – which isn’t helped by the general glumness of January, if you want to have a make-over of yourself the summer is surely a much more pleasant time for such pursuits. But nevertheless I have decided that starting this term I will have ‘New Term’s Resolutions’, which I shall share here for your pleasure or derision.

  1. I solemnly swear to do ALL my reading this term, even the texts I find boring.
  2. I will get involved with more societies and socialise outside of my friendship group.
  3. I will go for more walks and enjoy UEA’s beautiful setting.
  4. I will try to eat my meals in the kitchen rather than my room, because if I eat in the kitchen then I wash my plates immediately rather than leaving them to collect on my desk.
  5. I will water Klytemnestra at least semi-regularly (she’s my desk plant).
  6. I won’t wait until I am out of clothes to do the laundry.
  7. And finally, I will read at least one book for pleasure rather than for class.

That’s all I can think of for now, although I may have to add to this list later.

Let me know if you have any resolutions for this coming term.

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Looking a little worse for wear; she never seems to be happy, but that’s what you get for naming a plant Klytemnestra I suppose.

On Homecomings

eric roth

“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed, is you.”

I came across this quote on tumblr a few days ago and my first thought was, ‘I better save this, I can definitely use it in a blog post’. My second thought was that it probably wasn’t Fitzgerald who wrote it, like many “quotes” from ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’, it is not in fact our friend Scott who penned it but Eric Roth, the writer who adapted it for the screen. These misquotations, highly prevalent around this film in particular, are one of my pet hates (don’t even get me started on quotes from Troy masquerading as excerpts of ‘The Iliad’).

But I digress.

I think this quote captures really well how I felt about coming home for Christmas. Seeing my old town didn’t feel as strange as I thought it would, which conversely made it feel strange…but something did seem different, and it wasn’t until I read this quote that I realised what had changed, was me.

Hometown Glory aka Salisbury Cathedral (eat that Norwich)

Hometown Glory aka Salisbury Cathedral (eat that Norwich)

I can’t say I feel particularly wiser or more independent than I did before uni because I had already taken a year out and done all the ‘new adult things’ like doing the laundry and making dinner, so what has changed?

Well I’m doing the thing I love, studying literature, full time now, and that brings with it a sort of reassuring certainty. When relatives ask what I want to do in the future, whilst I’m not willing to write it in stone yet, I now have a pretty good answer and a plan of how to achieve it. I know what I want and how I’m going to have to work to get it – and that feels good.

Secondly, I’ve met loads of new people which never fails to broaden your horizons, even if that sometimes means learning strange things like badger culling practices in Devon (you know who you are).

And thirdly, university isn’t just about teaching you things, facts that can be accumulated in notebooks, university is about teaching you new ways to think altogether. It should make you challenge every assumption and seriously critique your own thought processes. Sometimes my lecturers say something and I think I can almost feel my brain working overtime to create new neuro-pathways to deal with this information, it’s not filling gaps in your knowledge but adding a whole new library wing of things you didn’t know you didn’t know. Walking around your home town feels like temporarily stepping into the past and trying to walk in a pair of shoes you’ve now outgrown, or at least that’s how it seems to me.

I don’t know if other students would agree, and I am interested to hear other people’s experiences of going home after their first term at uni. But right now, I really need to get some more reading done before I begin the great trek to Norwich next week.

Until then xxx

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Books I meant to read this holiday….

Books I actually read (and the top one doesn't count because there was only one short story I had to read from it)

Books I actually read (and the top one doesn’t count because there was only one short story I had to read from it)