5 Highlights of my time at UEA

Whilst having coffee with a friend recently I was asked what the highlights of my time at UEA were. I can’t entirely remember what I replied in the moment, but I thought it might make for an interesting post here.

Having been given a bit more time to think it over, here are my 5 highlights of my time at UEA in chronological order*:

(*Given another week to ponder on it the list may change again but this is a snapshot of my current thinking)

  1. The Medieval Graffiti Field Trip

This trip was organised by a couple of LDC and History school tutors in collaboration with the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey (a project by local archaeologist and UEA alumnus, Matthew Champion).

The survey aims to document as many instances as it can of medieval graffiti in the Norfolk area.

Aside from appealing to the history nerd in me, what I loved about the day was that it presented the kind of opportunities that are casually offered at universities. I was only in my first semester but I got to spend the day roaming around Norfolk learning fascinating stuff, having my perceptions of the Middle Ages thoroughly challenged, all whilst being taken seriously and listened to by lecturers I would perhaps on other occasions have been intimidated by.

 

  1. Sunrise over Colman Hill

After the Drama department’s end of year party, which I ended up attending three years running even though I technically left the department at the end of my first semester (which is quite another story) my friends and I formed a tradition of staying up to see the sunrise from Colman Hill – a spot on campus that overlooks both the lake and the more modern accommodation blocks.

Those early dawns all have a surreal misty glow to them and in my memory they are each pink and hazy, but they were very happy times for me. I don’t know if there are such opportunities to tipsily lie on hillsides with your friends, knowing you have nothing to worry about the next day but your hangover, in the world beyond graduation.

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A blurred photo, however I think it captures the vibe of those mornings very well

 

  1. First Year Conference Party

Although the event is designed for first years this memory is from my second year at UEA.

At the end of their first year English Literature students at UEA run a conference called ‘Reading Matters’. Myself and two friends in second year were asked to run the social media campaign for it that year and afterwards were invited to the department’s post conference drinks and nibbles.

It was frightfully warm and the wine perhaps went to our heads a little too easily, but as we chatted happily with PhD students and lecturers alike I realised just how far we had come since first year, and how much more confident we were in our intellectual pursuits.

 

  1. Being Accepted onto all the MA’s I applied for

Although leaving UEA is certainly not a highlight, being accepted onto all of the MA’s was final proof of just how much my teachers had brought me on. I couldn’t have been accepted into either of my dream schools without the unwavering support of my supervisors in the LDC department and their belief in me even when I doubted.

 

  1. The 2017 General Election

A month ago I certainly wouldn’t have expected to be counting the most recent GE as a highlight. But after the last two votes which occurred during my time at uni (the 2015 GE and the Brexit referendum) and having spent 8 hours on polling day knocking doors for our local MP, Clive Lewis, it was a happy miracle to be in the SU bar when the exit poll came out and we realised that it wasn’t going to be a tory landslide.

I had intended to go to bed early but instead stayed in the bar until about 5 in the morning watching the results come in. In comparison to the end of my first year I can now leave UEA with a sense of hope about this country’s political future.

I haven’t written much about my interactions with the UEA Labour society, but over the last year they have been a great bunch of people to get to know.

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Watching the results come in…

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Obviously, this list is very personal but I think it demonstrates the range of opportunity and experience that I have gained at UEA. All that’s left now is to graduate!

Cambridge Revisited

The joy of being free from coursework and deadlines lasted for about 3 days and now I’m ready to be studying again. I just have too much free time so I’m trying to find all of things in Norwich and East Anglia that I’ve wanted to do over the past 3 years but never gotten around to.

This week that included going to Cambridge.

Since living in Norwich I have often had cause to pass through Cambridge and have even stayed there with a friend but I’ve just never had the time to explore it. So, I made a spur of the moment decision on Monday night and booked myself a morning train.

I will admit now that I went with full intentions of being the most stereotypical of tourists and chose the places I wishes to see from the top ratings on Trip Advisor. The day therefore included a trip to Fitzbillies, a famous Cambridge restaurant and bakery, where I sampled their renowned Chelsea buns, a leisurely exploration of the Fitzwilliam Museum, a stroll through the college quarter, a quick crash course in Cambridge history at the Norman Round Church, and then a brief read of my book in the park.

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I hadn’t realised just how many museums there were in Cambridge so I would love to go back at some point and see more of them. It was also a great experience in travelling by myself, something I have done before but it’s been a while. I’d forgotten how nice it is to explore somewhere entirely based on your whims.

I don’t think I need to convince anybody of what a wonderful place Cambridge is to visit, but I would like to encourage UEA students to consider getting out of the Norwich bubble and exploring our corner of England a little better. A last minute train from Norwich to Cambridge (incl. the return) cost me only £11.60, so it’s quite doable to a student budget.

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It’s not long now until I move home so the race is on to see everything I want to see in Norwich before it’s too late.

Degree = Done!

Hello!

I’ve been gone for a while because there’s been some pretty important stuff happening lately. Most importantly, I HAVE FINISHED MY DEGREE!

Yesterday I handed in my final essay and just like that my time as a UEA student is done. The night before I was in bed and I suddenly had a flashback to my first night at uni – lying in bed thinking about how this new important step of my life was just beginning. I can’t really quite believe that it’s over already!

To celebrate, my friends and I congregated in the square outside the SU and sunbathed, drank pimms, and generally enjoyed not having any deadlines to worry about.

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Because I’ve been working pretty hard over the past few weeks I’ve had to miss out on things like this year’s ‘Pimp My Barrow’ (see here for more info if you hadn’t heard of PMB before) but I was still able to swing by and see it for 10 minutes or so on my way to the library.

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This was from ‘early’ in the day!

The next few weeks are going to be a race to do everything in Norwich that I’ve wanted to see/try but never gotten around to, such as the Plantation Gardens. It also alarms me how many of my Norwich Bucket List items involve trying different food establishments.

My tenancy ends in mid-June so I’ll be moving back home before graduation and then coming back for Grad Week; hopefully staying on the floor of a friend’s place as quite a few of them are staying in Norwich.

I’m a strange mixture of devastated to be leaving Norwich but also ready to go – and I’m still trying to understand how I can be both simultaneously. But this fine city has been very good to me so I am glad that with my friends staying here I will have good cause to return.

5 Reasons to Choose UEA

 

Today I booked my Graduation ceremony which feels like a pretty large milestone on the way to finishing my time at UEA. To mis-quote Jane Eyre, ‘I love this university, I grieve to leave it’, but before I move on to pastures new I want to make a brief list of the 5 things that have made UEA so brilliant for me.

  1. Its Academic Excellence

A degree is an investment of time, money and love, so you want to make sure you’re putting it somewhere worth it. Lots of universities boast about their research excellence (which is very important) but it doesn’t mean much for a potential undergraduate if they never get to see or have time with the experts in their field. UEA balances this need for high research standards with a commitment to fantastic teaching. My tutors have been so supportive, especially this last year when I was applying for Masters degrees, and I couldn’t have achieved the grades and MA offers I have without them.

(Also worth noting: UEA is currently ranked 14th in the UK by the Complete University guide!)

  1. Its location in a UNESCO City of Literature

Perhaps more of interest to those pursuing literature related degrees, but the rich culture of Norwich is available to all students. I’ve met some of my childhood heroes (Stephen Fry, Mary Beard, Simon Armitage) and had the opportunity to be in an environment where the production of award winning literature is considered the norm. The city is constantly buzzing with arts and heritage events, and you can’t walk through UEA without tripping over an up-and-coming poet. All of this makes UEA and Norwich an exciting place to be.

  1. The beauty of Norwich and the campus

Norwich is a beautiful medieval city where you can see wall paintings from the middle ages next to modern installations such as The Tunnel of Light.

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We have a colourful market and cobbled streets full of independent shops and boutiques. But if city life isn’t your thing then we have the stunning UEA grounds including our award-winning architecture (although admittedly it’s architecture of the marmite variety – you’ll love it or you’ll hate it). What I may miss more than anything is looking out across the lake, which is captivating in every season, when I should be studying.

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  1. The Student Union + opportunities

What you do outside of your classes at uni is almost as important as your degree, and at UEA there is just so much to do. We have over 200 societies and clubs, so whether you’re into football or theatre you’ll find the people for you.

  1. UEA’s ‘Do Different’ attitude

But most of all it’s the fact that we take pride in doing things a bit differently which makes UEA so special. Our motto is ‘Do Different’ and that’s what we’re encouraged to do. We’re a university of innovation rather than tradition so you’re never held back by attitudes of ‘well, this is how we’ve always done it’.

I once saw a piece of footage in which Denys Lasdun, the architect who designed the original campus, said that he had built UEA with students’ happiness in mind. What he said stuck with me and, all these years later, I think his vision is still being honoured today.

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If you’d like to hear more about why UEA is so loved by its students please also have a read of Anne-Sophie’s fab piece ‘Why UEA?’.

Quick Life Update

There’s been an awful lot going on lately so I thought it was probably time for a brief update on what I’m doing and what my plans are post-graduation.

Without wishing to blow my own trumpet I am delighted to say that I got a high first (which is the highest grade band for university work) for my dissertation. Obviously, this is a massive relief anyway but I am particularly delighted that I did well because I had been worrying that perhaps I hadn’t worked hard enough on it.

Now, before you think I slacked off for a semester and got lucky I should just clarify – one of the most important lessons I’ve had to learn at uni is when to stop pushing myself. I used to feel that if I wasn’t panicking and working all hours on an essay then I wasn’t working hard enough; if I didn’t feel like crying after finishing it had I really given it my all?

This kind of attitude can wrongly be celebrated at uni sometimes. People compete to complain about how many hours they spent in the library, how many coffees they had to drink to make it through. Of course, I don’t wish to suggest that you shouldn’t give an essay your best, but we need to be careful that we don’t regard burning yourself out as a sign of success.

Thanks to the amazing advice and support of my supervisor, Dr. Rebecca Pinner, writing my dissertation was a far less stressful and more enjoyable experience than I imagined it could be. (I could probably write a whole post on the importance of finding the right supervisor for you, but don’t worry I won’t) And at the end of the day, although uni is meant to be hard work it’s also supposed to be working hard at something you love and are interested in.

Lastly, I have applied to two Master’s degree programmes; one at York University and one at Oxford University. I’m still waiting to hear back from York but I was delighted (and very shocked) to receive an offer from Oxford for a place on their Mst. English Literature (650-1550) degree.

I’m still not a hundred percent certain which uni I will go to yet, and I’m still waiting to hear back from York, but it’s good to know that I will still be studying next year.

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Photos I took on my Applicant Day at Oxford

With Easter coming up hopefully I will have time to do a few more posts about Norwich before I graduate and leave this fine city.

Do Something Different Week: ‘The Art and Science of Murder’

If you are a UEA student then you will be very aware that we are currently in the midst of ‘Do Something Different Week’ – a campus wide off timetable week in which students are encouraged to, as the name suggests, do something different.

A variety of different taster sessions have been on offer from cookery classes to Introduction to Arabic, but perhaps the most well-known event is the week long interactive murder mystery: ‘The Art and Science of Murder’.

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The event was planned and written by crime fiction author Ian Rankin along with a cohort of UEA Creative Writing students. It runs across the week and follows the investigation into the (fictional) murder of UEA academic, Dr. Bland.

The first event of the week was an intro into crime scene investigation. Students who had booked onto the course were invited to come and examine the site where Dr. Bland’s ‘body’ was found, to look for DNA samples and to speak to an ‘eye witness’. It was also a good opportunity to talk to professionals who actually do these kinds of investigations for a living and they were very keen to dispel some of the fictions created by tv crime dramas (apparently detectives rarely get to see the body as it was found which ruins most detective shows I know!). I also learned that to examine a mobile the police have to isolate it in a Faraday Cage (aka, a metal bag) until the battery runs dead so that they can be sure that it remains exactly as they found it. A solution to a problem I didn’t even know existed.

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The following day included a trip to the Pathology lab where we were shown what kinds of evidence the pathologists looked for on a murder victim and were shown x-rays which helped us to identify the cause of death. The key question of the investigation is; did Dr. Bland fall from the walkway or was he pushed? Blood which had run down his face suggested that he had been upright when a blow was struck proving that he had been attacked before falling… in short, it was almost certainly homicide!

The most recent event was a dramatization of the police interviews with the one eye witness and then two suspects who were known to have seen the victim on the night of his death. This was where the event began to combine narrative along with actual science – and it was also very odd for me as I happen to know the ‘suspects’  through Drama Society. But I still very much enjoyed it and look forward to the Police Press Conference tomorrow.

The event will eventually culminate in a full trial on Friday which will be hosted by UEA Law School.

Whilst it is a bit of fun it has also been amazing to see the kind of work that people from other schools are involved in at UEA. It can be easy to get blinkered to anything beyond your own school (in my case Literature, Drama and Creative Writing) but it’s a great reminder that so much else does go on here.

I will let you know more about the investigation as it unfurls, but if you would like more immediate updates be sure to check the #somethingdifferent tag on twitter (Concrete and UEA TV will also be covering it extensively.)

Working With Words

It’s taken three years but finally I made it to UEA’s ‘Working With Words’!

Every year Careers Central (UEA’s careers advice service) organises a day of workshops and panels run by (mostly) recent UEA graduates. All of them work in the Arts sector in different guises, some as producers, some as journalists or Arts administrators etc, and the aim of the day is to give current students an insight into those fields.

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The event has been running for four years now but for various reasons this has been the first year that I’ve been able to attend.

The panels I went to included one on working in Media Production, another on how to ‘make ideas happen’, and a third on working in Arts Administration.

All of the speakers were interesting and the event gave me the opportunity to talk to people in professions that are relevant to me. However, I did feel that a lot of the stuff discussed were things I had picked up doing work experience over the last few years so as an event I think that it might work best for first or second year students. Although it was reassuring to hear that I was doing the right sorts of things for a person interested in Arts and Heritage Administration.

The event took place all in one large building on campus (the Julian Study Centre) and so was also a good opportunity to run into every person I have ever met through literature at UEA – which when talking to third years mostly consisted of panicking about graduation. I’m still waiting to hear back about MA’s, but if I am thrust into the cold world of work next year I feel a lot happier about knowing where to start looking than I did this time last year.

‘Working With Words’ was organised by UEA’s career service who are a wonderful team of people. If you’re at UEA and worrying about what comes next I can’t recommend contacting them enough.

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A bit of light reading for the gaps between panels (plus the amazing coffee they sell in the JSC)