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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!