Bands, Beaches, and the Norwich Waterfront

I should probably preface this by saying that I’m not usually a gig kind of person. Generally, I share my mother’s view that music is best listened to via cd or vinyl, and not in a dark sweaty room with strangers who keep spilling their beer on you.

However, this might just be because I hadn’t been to the right gig yet.

The last few days have been splendid as all essays for the year have been handed in and nothing is really required of me for at least a week. I’ve been able to go to the LCR guilt free and marathon shows on Netflix; I also have a stack of books that I can now finally begin to work through – reading for pleasure, oh the luxury!

I have also had the great fortune that only two days after my deadlines, my favourite band came to play at the Norwich Waterfront. The venue is managed by the UEA Student Union and regularly gets exciting performers passing through (which was one of the selling points for me when I first visited UEA).

Like I said at the start, I’m not someone who regularly goes to gigs, but last night was fantastic. The band in question, Stornoway, were on good form and the venue was suitably filled though thankfully not packed to the rafters. The band are currently touring their new album, Bonxie, which features twenty different bird calls and lyrics such as “great, grey skies on the great, grey ocean”. This might not be a view shared by everyone, but for me (and I accept that I am more than a little biased) Stornoway’s music blends really well with the atmosphere of Norfolk. Although I have yet to visit the local beaches I am constantly aware of their proximity, and of the closeness of other natural beauties such as the Norfolk Broads – which are hard to forget when your kitchen looks out onto UEA’s own lake, a sight I am going to miss very much next year. Hopefully I’ll make it down to the sea soon and I’m sure a blog post shall follow.

tumblr_nnmqv7HX2i1qm67xwo1_540

I won’t wax lyrical at you about the epic grandeur of Stornoway’s music or the open heartedness of their lyrics, not when you can listen to it and experience it for yourself (x).

But what I will say is that their gig was a great example of the opportunities living in a university city can provide. There’s always something on and it’s usually going to be very exciting.

And I’m definitely going to keep a closer eye on the Waterfront’s calendar from now on; maybe gigs aren’t so unpleasant after all…

Advertisements

Looking to procrastinate? You can start by reading this…

If you’re at uni and you’re reading this, then it’s probably quite likely that you’re procrastinating; whether that be putting off an essay, revision, or maybe for the drama students, line learning.

I seem to be doing a lot of dawdling lately so I thought I’d round up my top 10 ways of putting off until tomorrow what could be done today.

  1. Read student blogs (as you’re already reading this one you’re off to a good start); reading about other people studying is inspirational right? Once you return to work you’ll be a lot more pumped as their work ethic will pass to you through some sort of… osmosis, maybe.
  1. Watching documentaries; it doesn’t count as lazing around because it’s educational! The BBC currently have a very interesting series about ancient Greek art which might not be directly related to English Literature, but I’m sure it’s enriching in the much broader sense.
  1. Tidy your room – a clutter free room means a clutter free mind (apparently). In all honesty this isn’t something I actually do, during essays my room goes to rack and ruin, but maybe it’ll work for you.
  1. Attend guest lectures, for example the history department recently had a talk about the sex life of Edward IV… a bit niche I know, but see point two about enrichment (plus, there are sometimes free drinks).
  1. Stare wistfully outside at the glorious weather.
  1. (This point requires you to live in a groundfloor flat, generally speaking, but you might be able to adapt it to your circumstances) Have friends who have fewer deadlines and/or are more organised and have finished and/or have faith that they can do an essay in a night; let them know where you live, then when the weather is gorgeous and they’re enjoying the sunshine, they can come and knock on your window and lure you away from your work.
  1. Watch the rabbits that live just outside your window. Contemplate how much easier life would be as a rabbit, they don’t have to do essays…
tumblr_nn5j2vWCs31qm67xwo1_540

This is baby bunny Stella; the picture doesn’t to a very good job of conveying just how small and cute she is.

  1. Make a cup of tea, because you’re supposed to get away from the computer screen every twenty-five minutes or so (note: make sure you have milk, an essay crisis can result in no grocery shopping being done)
  1. Write a blog post about procrastinating; you’ll waste at least an hour.
  1. Do literally anything other than face the crushing weight of essay deadlines. (I jest, sort of)

University is great but sometimes it can get a bit much, and like everything difficult in life, sometimes you need to take a break and treat yourself to something sweet, and sometimes you just have to knuckle down and accept that it’s not going to get done by itself.

Best of luck.

The escape plan if essay deadlines aren't met

The escape plan if essay deadlines aren’t met

Norwich the Kingmaker

Forgive the poor attempt at a history pun.

My post is deliberately delayed a little this week so I could cover the hustings held this evening at UEA.

In case you aren’t already aware, Norwich South (the constituency which covers UEA) is predicted to be a four way tie come polling day. The Conservatives, Greens, Lib Dems, and Labour all stand a chance of winning the seat and are therefore all very keen to woo the student vote.

UKIP didn’t attend, ostensibly due to having a prior engagement, but also probably because they are aware that they are very much lacking in support on campus. Why an educated, international body of students wouldn’t like them I can’t say, but they certainly weren’t missed.

The event was well attended with the lecture theatre packed out and people having to stand at the back. The candidates each began with a five minute opening statement, before questions were accepted from the floor with each candidate allowed two minutes to answer. Topics covered included tuition fees (obviously a hot topic in this constituency), the NHS, and employment – rehashing old territory really. Whilst the discussions were interesting I thought it a shame that the candidates rarely touched on specific local initiatives (the Lib Dem candidate and current MP, Simon Wright, did talk about local issues far more, but I imagine he probably had more to talk about having worked as an MP here for the last five years).

As someone who was still unsure of which way they were going to vote, the hustings this evening were a really important factor in my decision. Whilst I think it’s important to vote for a party you support on a national level, it’s also vital to take into consideration what they can do for you at a local level. Unfortunately for me one of the parties who in theory I thought I might vote for had a very uninspiring candidate, however this has made my decision at lot easier.

If similar events are happening in your constituency I would highly recommend you attend, make sure you actually like the MP you’re voting for, not just the party.

This would also seem a pertinent moment to remind everyone that if you want to vote in the General Election, and you should, then you need to be registered by the 20th of April. (https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote)

For those in the Norwich South constituency, here are links to the four major party candidate’s websites:

Simon Wright (Lib Dem) – http://simonwright.org.uk/en/

Clive Lewis (Labour) – http://www.clivelewis.org/

Lesley Grahame (Green) – http://www.lesleygrahame.org.uk/

Lisa Townsend (Conservative) – http://lisatownsend.co.uk/

Norwich South is going to be an important seat come polling day, hence the abominable pun earlier, so every vote counts – literally a handful of votes could swing the seat so make sure your voice is counted.

up simba

Decisions, Decisions….

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!

Although it’s only April we’re already contemplating the end of the academic year. My regularly scheduled lectures are over until September and by the 17th I have to have selected my module choices for next year – it’s not an exaggeration when I say I feel like I only started uni a few weeks ago.

Many of my friends from back home are second year students and it’s sobering to realise that they’re about to start their final year at uni – makes you realise how short your time as an undergraduate actually is.

But to focus on the present; choosing modules is both fun and a right pain in the neck. To begin with you shortlist all the modules from the catalogue which sound exciting, then you have to check that you fulfil all of the prerequisites (e.g. so many credits must be taken from pre-1789 modules), then you have to see which ones clash, and make sure that you are taking an equal number of credits in each semester, you also need to have reserves for each of your choices etc. etc. …Stressful, but it’ll be worth it once it’s sorted.

Module selection also calls for a good long think about what it is that you are hoping to get from an English degree. Fulfilling the pre-1789 requisite wasn’t a problem for me as all but one of my first choice modules are pre-18th century literature, the connection between history and literature being what I most want to explore. However, I have friends who want to pursue critical theory and poetry, and they can craft their degree to such an extent that it will be almost unrecognisable to mine. Which I personally think is pretty cool, and one of the beauties of the UEA English Lit degree. But for now, fingers crossed that I get my first choices and don’t end up taking critical theory…

My work space has rather taken over the dining room...

My work space has rather taken over the dining room…

Easter break has a week left but mine seems to have been overtaken by my essays, which are taking longer than they usually do when I’m at uni. Something about being at home isn’t conducive to study, at least not for me.

Third semester is a distant dream at the moment. A time of freedom from essays and morning lectures. I keep agreeing to do things in third term, such as a day trip to the beach or visiting friends at other uni’s, but we’ll see how many of them actually come to fruition.

For now it’s noses to the grindstone to get everything handed in on time, then it’s full steam on to summer!

Ich bin ein Berliner!

Apologies for the lateness of this post, but as I have been out of the country I think I have a fairly good excuse.

Last week, to avoid my pile of essays which are currently tucked away where I can’t see them, I ran away to Berlin for a few days. This post is largely an explanation of why this was definitely relevant to my coursework and not just a jolly to the continent.

Berliner Dom

The Berliner Dom

Over the last term I have been studying Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald, a fantastic novel by a German writer who taught at UEA before his death in 2001. The book is about one man’s journey to find out about his past after discovering that as a child he was evacuated out of Prague to escape the Nazis. It was originally written in german and is obviously about a very dark time in Germany’s history, something that would have been personal for Sebald, so I have worried that something might have been lost in translation, that some of the power is reduced when read in a different context. Rereading it in Berlin felt special because like the novel, the city walks a fine line between remembering and respecting its past whilst trying to break away towards a new future.

tumblr_nm11lcgRk91qm67xwo1_540

Sebald was also known for his use of photos throughout his novels, blending reality with fiction. So, whilst in Berlin I went to an exhibition of Vivian Maier’s photographs; she was a street photographer in Chicago and New York during the 50’s and 60’s, who without any training managed to take beautiful, professional quality photographs of everyday life.

tumblr_nm5gi0GiTf1qm67xwo1_1280

None of the subjects of Maier’s photographs would have had the chance to see these pictures, many of them didn’t even know they were being photographed. The uncanny thing about these images is that they all have what Roland Barthes termed, ‘a certificate of presence’, each photo inspires a story in your head, and yet these are all real moments… long story short, it got the little grey cells in the brain thinking over ideas for my essay.

Besides capturing professional quality photos of the streets of US cities, Maier was also an early supporter of the selfie – something that was much harder to do without the aid of a front facing camera.

If you’d like to know more about her there is a documentary which can probably be found online called, ‘Finding Vivian Maier’. Whilst I haven’t yet seen it myself it has won quite a few awards so I imagine that it’s pretty good.

Wrathful Achilles? More like a burrito of sadness

Wrathful Achilles? More like a burrito of sadness

Besides pretending that this was a totally justified research trip, I also spent a day on Museum Island (only 9 euros for a student!), and attended a meet-up called ‘Hacks and Hackers’, which is designed to bring together journalists and those who work in the tech industry. (Not the usual thing I do when on holiday, but I was staying with my friend Lucy who was one of the organisers.) Data journalism wasn’t something I was even aware of before so it was very enlightening, even if some of the technical language went over my head.

'Hacks and Hackers' was hosted at the ambitiously named, 'House of Democracy and Human Rights'

‘Hacks and Hackers’ was hosted at the ambitiously named, ‘House of Democracy and Human Rights’

Berlin is a great city for students, there are lots of student discounts, endless places to explore, and, if you’re into that kind of thing, some of the best clubs in the world (apparently).

tumblr_nm5gxbIAmO1qm67xwo1_540

Just some of the incredible food available in Berlin

tumblr_nm5gx8mYaj1qm67xwo1_540

A street food market…. very easy to spend a lot of money there

Lastly, I’d like to thank Lucy and Nick again for being the best hosts imaginable, thank you for sharing your home and your city with me.

Until next time, auf widersehen!