When the going gets tough… the tough occasionally need to take a break

You may have noticed that this blog has been a little quiet recently, and mostly this has been due to my heavy workload at the moment combined with all of the extracurricular stuff I’m doing (there’s a reason directing is meant to be a full time job).

However, life also has a habit of throwing you a curveball just when you think you’re managing to hold everything together. My mum found out recently that the cancer she had had previously has come back, and that she will need to undergo chemotherapy for the next few months.

I’m not putting this on my blog for attention or sympathy, but because I have promised her that we won’t dance around the issue or use vague words. I’m writing about it because this is a blog about student life, and these are exactly the kind of problems that can come out of nowhere and disrupt it.

No one tells you when you are applying or arriving at uni what to do in these sorts of situations, but they must happen to thousands of students every year. I’m lucky that UEA has a very supportive Student Union which runs a regular drop-in clinic where you can ask questions, and all of my seminar leaders have been very understanding. It’s far better to have a ten minute chat with them about it, than to try and hide at the back of seminar which you haven’t been able to do all the reading for and hope no one asks you a question.

I have also been blessed with kind and supportive housemates who I am eternally grateful for.

My advice to anyone going through a similar situation is that you shouldn’t be afraid of taking a break. I woke up one morning last week with only half an hour to go before my first seminar started. Normally I would have sprung into action and accepted that whilst I would have looked worse for wear, it would be worth it; however having been ill the previous few days on top of everything else, I knew I didn’t have anything I could particularly contribute. For the first time in my student life I skipped a seminar, and therefore I had the time to get up and prepare for the rest of my day, and the other two seminars I had. And to my surprise, the world didn’t come crashing down. I felt better because I wasn’t pushing myself when I was already down.

Now this certainly isn’t going to be a regular occurrence and I’ve made sure that nothing vital was missed, but it was an important learning curve for me. Sometimes you just can’t do it all, and as long as you’re honest with those around you it’s fine to take a break for your emotional and physical wellbeing.

Hopefully I’m going to be back on track from this week but if I need to take things a bit slower, I know it’s not the end of the world.

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Goats, Votes, and Dogs with Soft Coats

One of the things I love about UEA is their commitment to the welfare of their students, it’s probably the reason we usually do so well in satisfaction surveys, and this last week was UEA’s ‘Wellbeing Week’.

It saw a whole host of events, from the opening of the ‘Nap Nook’, to the visit of a fleet of dogs. We even had goats in the square – but more on that later.

UEA is now the first university in the country to have a Nap Room; students can book forty minute slots in this little retreat from the harsh realities of academia to relax and refresh themselves. Apparently there are even eye masks.

As I am currently living on campus I have no need for this facility at the moment, but come next year it may be a whole different story.

In even more exciting news, in my personal opinion that is, P.A.T. (Pets As Therapy) organised for some pet owners to bring their dogs into the LCR on Wednesday afternoon and during pre-booked slots students were able to pet a dog for ten minutes.

Look how cute she is

  Look how cute she is

The event was very relaxed and was a great opportunity for students to unwind. The owners sat with their dogs and chatted to the students, providing an informal and calm atmosphere in which students could talk about any problems they were facing at the moment, without the pressure of feeling as though they were talking to a counsellor. The event was by all accounts a great success and I hope that P.A.T. comes back again.

The other great excitement of the week was, ‘Goats for Votes’. To encourage students to register to vote (which you really should do by the way x ) a small herd of goats were brought into the Square, and once a student had registered they were allowed to pet them.

10551088_981636708530267_60805935853729111_nIt’s definitely the most unusual strategy I’ve come across to encourage students to vote, but it was a fun one and as UEA is in one of the constituencies that have been predicted to be important in May’s General Election (x), perhaps goats really will effect the government.

In older news, we have had a few sprinkles of snow, although not the Narnia style covering I was promised, and I thought I would share with you a few snaps of UEA in the snow:

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The Flatmates…

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