Not the post I was hoping to write:

I had hoped to be writing a post today about some of my favourite places in Norwich – it’s been awhile since I did anything like that – but unfortunately it’s been bucketing it down all day and I really don’t fancy standing in the rain taking pictures (especially as I’ve currently got the sniffles).

So, instead I thought I would just do a little update on where I am and what I’m doing.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the election of Donald Trump. I didn’t stay up all night in the student union bar as a lot of people did because I had an essay to write the next day, but UEA TV have done a lot of very good coverage of it.

It is of course a blow to all of us who thought that the US couldn’t possibly look past such racism and bigotry and I think it will make us think of our own politics rather differently. There was a generally muted feeling on campus the following day, everyone seemed to understand that something momentous yet terrible had happened. However, Trump’s election isn’t considered a reasonable excuse for turning in an essay late so life somehow ticks on.

On this greyest of Saturdays I am staying in, drinking tea and planning my MA application. It’s quite complicated and unlike undergrad applications there isn’t anyone holding your hand along the way. But, it’s also very exciting and it inspires me to work harder when I’m feeling that I’d rather stay in bed than go to the library. My modules are still going well and I am utterly in love with the Gothic. It’s really made me realise how lucky I am that I can spend all day reading something I love and call it work!

As for Drama Society, we currently have on a production of ‘King Lear’ in the UEA Drama Studio and as a committee we are busy organising this year’s Winter Ball. Today is the last day to buy tickets and we have already sold nearly 100! It’s very exciting to get to put on events like these but it’s also a massive amount of responsibility – perhaps it’s slightly machiavellian but I often find myself thinking how great this going to look on my CV…

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Hopefully I will soon have a ‘Best of Norwich’ post to share with you – so keep an eye out!

Best wishes to you all and be excellent to one another!

Why you should join a (Drama) Society

[Forgive a President a brief plug of her own society]

Drama Society – we’re one of UEA’s biggest (and best) societies, as well as being one of its most active.

We are an entirely student run group who put on up to six shows a year, including a musical, plus a short plays festival in the spring. On top of this regular programming we also run workshops with some of the industry’s top professionals as well as our own socials – e.g. pub crawls, BBQ’s, and a Winter Ball.

Sound good?

Over the next few days we’ll be running various taster sessions so you can come and see what we’re about. This includes our Big Meet on Friday where your’s truly will be giving a presentation about what we have planned this term, as well as our first Give It A Go session which will consist of drama games (to help break the ice) and a discussion about audition technique.

There will also be a BBQ on Saturday afternoon and a Recovery Breakfast (for those who go to the LCR on Saturday) on the Sunday morning. If any of this sounds interesting to you please go to our Facebook page to find out more.

Auditions are also open for our first show of the year, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.

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On a slightly more personal note, I can still hardly believe that I’m the Drama Society President 2016/17. Had you asked me a year ago I would have told you absolutely not, I was petrified enough being the Equality and Diversity Officer on the previous committee.

However, I do remember wondering what it would be like to be president, and whether I could do it. I think it’s but one example of how much you grow at uni – I didn’t see myself as a leader or as someone who was qualified enough to run such a big and active society.

I love my degree so much, UEA is an extraordinary place to study and I have learned so much from my tutors – however, my greatest personal development has come from my extracurricular stuff, namely Drama Society. It’s shaped my social life, how I see myself as a person, and even my career goals.

Obviously Drama Society won’t be for everyone, but I would encourage all students to go out and find their Drama Society equivalent. Who knows where it could take you.

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The Drama Society committee 2015-16

To any UEA LGBT+ freshers

I know that the events of the last few days have been heart-breaking and scary, I know that for young people wanting to come out it might seem more impossible than ever, but I want to tell you now that at UEA there is a community ready and waiting to welcome you with open arms.

Over the last year I have been too caught up with my work on the Drama Society committee to be involved in many of the Pride (our LGBT+ society) events, but as a fresher they were somewhere I knew I could go and make friends and feel safe. It is an incredibly open and supportive community and I would really recommend you coming along to at least the welcome social at the beginning of the year.

This week their commitment to solidarity and activism was sorely needed following the events in Orlando, and a vigil was held in the campus square to remember the victims.

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Photo: Eastern Daily Press

Things seem awful at the moment but I just want you to know that uni can be the time when you learn to express yourself, your identity and your truth in the most supportive and loving environment imaginable. So please don’t feel when you arrive in September that you need to hide anything about who you are or who you love.

Enough words have been said by more eloquent people than me, trying to describe a tragedy for which there are no words, and therefore I would like to leave this post with a poem which I came across recently and which has stuck with me:

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Pimp My Barrow – 2k16

Last weekend saw the tenth anniversary of the one true UEA tradition – ‘Pimp My Barrow’.

‘Pimp My Barrow’ is an event really unlike any other and until you have seen it with your own eyes it is hard to really convey just how ridiculous and beloved it is.

However, I shall try and give a rough guide to the day’s proceedings:

It all begins with thousands of students in fancy dress, sporting decorated wheelbarrows, descending on the UEA campus square. The students are usually in teams of around 6 people and each team will pick a theme for their costumes and their wheelbarrow. Recent great designs have included ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ teams.

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They even had smoke pellets to put in his funnel!

Somehow every year the weather is beautiful and this first part of the event is a chance to party in the sun with your friends and celebrate the end of another academic year.

The teams are then set off on their journeys in three separate waves to take part in a wheelbarrow race across Earlham Park and then on to a pub crawl through Norwich. What the locals make of the sight of all the students in their costumes I don’t know, but it is certainly a very interesting and ‘unique’ parade.

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Whilst it is all lots of fun the main purpose of the event is to raise money for the local cancer charity, the Big C. This year ‘Pimp My Barrow’ raised over £9000 (or the cost of one year of university tuition) which I’m sure we can all agree is a fantastic achievement.

I had a great time again this year but it was strange to be doing it all again. Last year this was of course all new and exciting, now it feels like a strange count down to the inevitable day when I have to wave UEA goodbye. I suppose it just means we’ll have to put a special effort into ‘PMB 2K17’ and see it out in style.

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Side note: We bumped into campus celebrity, ‘Cloud Dog’ aka Beau

More thoughts on the end of second year to follow, until then enjoy the good weather whilst it lasts!

‘Looking Beyond: Conversations between John Berger and John Christie’

It’s been a busy few weeks indeed!

Second year is officially over, all essays are handed in and formal teaching has stopped until the autumn… and yet there is no rest for the wicked.

As the new President of the Drama Society, there is an awful lot to organise – the final show of the year, our end of year party, and the selection of the first show of next year! But with persistence it is all slowly coming together.

Even with all this going on there is still time, now that essays are over, to enjoy the UEA campus. It’s never more wonderful to be a UEA student than when the sun is out and you can sit with your friends down by the lake.

I’ve also taken the opportunity to get to know the Sainsbury’s Art Centre a little better as well.

Currently, there is an exhibition curated by the MA Museum Studies students called, ‘Looking Beyond: Conversations between John Berger and John Christie’. A friend and I stopped by one sunny afternoon, knowing nothing about either of the aforementioned Johns, and spent a wonderful hour reading and poking around.

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It is a curious exhibition because it is so site specific. John Berger, the novelist, painter, poet and Booker Prize winner, and his friend, the artist John Christie, both visited the Sainsbury Art Centre together and it is mentioned in the beginning of the book they penned together, ‘Lapwing and Fox’.

It was this book which sparked the idea for the exhibition, encouraging as it does visitors to try and look at the galleries in new ways.

The whole exhibition is built from this ethos and as a visitor you are made to feel that your interpretation of the art is just as important as what the artist or the gallery curator wanted you to take from it. Some of the gallery is taken up by the works of Berger and Christie, but interspersed with them are works from the museum’s permanent collection – often pieces that Berger or Christie mention in their correspondence.

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The exhibition is fairly small but I would highly encourage people to give it a visit, especially if they are someone who has been to the centre before as this collection offers so many interesting thoughts and ideas on what else is there. Because of this, although the display is small in comparison to the permanent collection, its influence can be felt throughout the building, no matter which piece of art you may be looking at.

‘Looking Beyond: Conversations between John Berger and John Christie’, is on until the 27th November, so you have plenty of time, but I would encourage you to go when it is sunny so you can truly appreciate both the UEA campus and the Sainsbury Centre’s fantastic setting and views of the broads.

More info may be found here (x)

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Derby Day 2016

Just a quick post on the biggest sporting event of the year.

Yesterday (20/04/16) was Derby Day, the day of the year in which the greatest varsity rivalry in the country is fought out.

UEA vs Essex Uni.

Never before has there been such a fierce rivalry as this.

Last year UEA hosted and it seemed the whole campus got involved. Even someone such as myself who has barely even looked at a sports pitch since leaving school found myself surprisingly caught up in the team spirit. And of course, the day was made all the sweeter by UEA’s victory for the third year in a row.

Well I am pleased to say that for yet another year UEA have been able to hold onto their crown!

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Despite it being hosted down in Colchester this year there was still a great buzz around campus, and by all accounts celebrations continued well into the night.

As I said, I’m not a particularly sporty person myself, but it’s fantastic to see just how many sports teams we support here at UEA. The teams which made the journey from Norwich to Colchester included everything from archery to pole dancing, and from rugby to ultimate Frisbee (although I’ve never been sure what the ultimate bit meant…).

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I look forward to seeing Derby Day come home again next year, and just maybe I’ll be able to get through my whole degree at UEA without us having to hand the cup to Essex…

Beyond the Seminar: Shakespeare Week

A belated Happy Easter to you all!

The Easter break is slipping past us at a shockingly fast pace, but with so much to look forward to over the next few months that isn’t an entirely bad thing.

Although we have the final mountain of essays to surmount in the next few weeks, English Literature students can look forward to an exam free third semester. This means that we have plenty of time for end of year shenanigans such as the annual ‘Pimp My Barrow’ Day (more on that closer to the time) – although sadly, unlike last year, we don’t have Radio 1’s Big Weekend on our doorstep.

Before we reach the promised land of third semester however, there are a few exciting things on the calendar…

As some of you may know, next month will be the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (and his 452nd birthday). To celebrate this the Drama Society (whose committee I am on) are organising a whole week of activities – including lectures, film screenings, a monologue slam, and a very special production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.

I’m very much looking forward to the week (18th-24th April), but I have also surprised myself with how much I have enjoyed helping to organise the different events. All of the week’s activities have been dreamed up and organised by students for students. There have been meetings upon meetings and numerous emails, phone calls and brain storming sessions, all of which culminates in something tangible that is enjoyed by hundreds of students. Watching something that was once just an inkling of an idea in your head become a campus wide campaign is so rewarding – it shows how with work and effort you can have a real effect on the world around you.

A shorter way of putting it is simply that it’s amazing to be standing on this bridge between being somebody who things just happen to, and being a ‘proper adult’ who can make things happen. I’m beginning to realise that the things you learn at university aren’t just things you pick up in your seminars and lecture halls, but all of the extra opportunities it provides. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true.

Anyway, for now I shall leave you with our exciting festival line-up. As always feel free to email me with any questions you may have.

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