Everything you need to know!

Welcome to my student blog for UEA! If you’re a prospective or current uni student hopefully you’ll find some helpful posts on here! There’s a mix of general posts as well as some UEA/Norwich-specific ones, so feel free to have a browse. To make it easier, I’ve compiled most of my posts into categories in this post so you can find what you want quickly.

Unfortunately, UEA are discontinuing their student blog scheme, so I probably won’t be publishing many new posts for the foreseeable future. However, there’s plenty of information already on this blog, and it will remain live, so hopefully it’s still helpful for you! Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any specific questions, and I can try to answer as best I can! Thanks for reading!

General uni advice

Getting the best from open days

Choosing a university

Results day

What to pack for uni

A day in the life

Managing stress

Living in halls vs living in a house

Making a house a home

What happens if I’m not enjoying uni?

UEA-specific uni advice

Accommodation at UEA

Where to shop for food in Norwich

10 reasons to choose UEA

10 things you need to know as a fresher

Freshers week

My first term at UEA

10 things I’ve learnt in my first year

The lake

My personal uni experiences and information about my course (history):

First year of history

Looking to second year

Second year reflections

Looking to third year

Things to do in Norwich

Cafes – part one and part two

A day in Norwich

Exploring Norwich

Uni experiences

Christmas carol service

Music – Foy Vance at Norwich Arts Centre

Trampolining and fireworks

Student radio

Trip to Berlin

Trip to Canada

Day Trips

Whitlingham Country Park

Blickling Hall

Great Yarmouth

Cromer

Recipes

Browniesvegetable curry,  bacon pastasausages and roasted vegpizza

 

 

 

 

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Looking to Third Year

It feels weird to be writing about my last year of uni but here I am, two years gone, and thinking about my final year.

Although I’m scared by third year and the prospect of finishing university, I am also really excited about it! Final year of history allows you to specialise a lot more than previous years, which means you can really focus on areas you enjoy. This year I’ll be doing a year long special subject on Henry VIII. The Tudor period is my favourite historical era, and yet I’ve never actually studied the entire reign of Henry VIII, so I’m really looking forward to this module. The module that I’ve chosen to do alongside this in the first term is the French Revolution. This is more of a risk because I’ve only ever studied the French Revolution as part of other topics and it’s SO COMPLICATED. Having said that, I find it really interesting and it was such an incredibly important event in history, so hopefully it will be a great topic to study.

This year I’ll also be doing a dissertation, which again is both scary and exciting in equal measures! Sticking with the Tudor theme, I’ll be writing about female monarchy in the Tudor period. This is a topic that I really love and I’ll be focussing on Mary I and Elizabeth I and the nature of early female monarchical power in a largely male-dominated culture. Although this is a subject I find really fascinating, the amount of research and work that goes into a dissertation is pretty daunting. It’s also very independent research so I need to be careful with my time this year to make sure I keep on top on this work.

Third year promises to be just as busy as second year has been which is also incredibly daunting! My contact hours during the week are down due to less modules, but there’ll be more independent work and I’m still involved with non-academic stuff like being on committee for the CU. As of now, I’m still unsure what I’ll go on to do after university, so I want to make the most of this year in Norwich in case I end up moving away. University has given me a lot of opportunities and I’ve had so much fun in Norwich, but there’s still areas I want to visit and places I want to go before I finish uni. Hopefully it will be a great year!

Food Shopping

Moving out and living at university means a lot of things, including cooking and providing for yourself. Working out where to shop is an extra thing to think about on top of all the busyness of fresher’s week, so I’ve made a few maps for you to show where the closest places are. Most of the nearby shops aren’t massive, but they have plenty for what you’ll need. Also, if you want more choice, supermarkets will deliver direct to your flat so you can always order online. I know that some places, like Tesco, do a £40 spend threshold for cheaper delivery, so I’d advise placing an order with your flatmates so that it’s worth it.

map of food shops

1. SU Shop

You can find the student shop in the middle of the campus on ‘the Street’. It doesn’t have a massive selection but does a reasonable variety of stuff, including veg, frozen stuff, a bakery section and toiletries. It’s quite expensive so I wouldn’t advise doing your main shop here, but it’s definitely useful for the occassional shop, grabbing lunch on campus or if you’ve forgotten dinner and don’t want to walk further than five minutes.

2. Tesco Express

This Tesco is pretty popular with students as it’s only a ten minute walk from campus straight up Bluebell Road, or along Earlham Road. The shop itself is pretty small, but they’ve crammed a lot of stuff in there! It gets very busy but it’s also open 24/7 which is super handy.

3. Co-op

There’s a sizeable co-op behind the Tesco Express. It’s bigger and quieter than the Tesco (it seems people get as far as Tesco and then don’t go further so miss the co-op), and also has a Subway in it if you’re a sandwich fan. However, it is more expensive than the Tesco and is not open 24/7.

4. Co-op

I didn’t know whether or not to include this co-op because I think most people just went to the Co-op by Fiveways roundabout, but there is another Co-op a short walk to the east of the university. This might be a choice if you live in accommodation at the edge of campus (but saying that, that’s where I lived and I usually just walked to the Tesco instead). Again, the co-op is more expensive and isn’t 24/7, but this shop is probably quieter than the shops on Earlham Road.

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5. Aldi

Aldi is one of the most popular student choices for food shopping because it’s so cheap. If you’re looking for value, this is definitely the place to go – they do a good selection of things so you can do your weekly shop here easily on the cheap. Having said that, it is a lot further from campus, probably around a 30 minute walk. If you have a bike, that can be really helpful for getting shopping back, and I know some people who went together and then paid for a taxi back to get all their shopping home without having to carry lots of bags.

And that’s it for the main food shops near campus! If you’re looking for a Waitrose or Sainsburys, you’ll have to go a bit further from campus or into town, but we’re lucky to have a good selection of shops near to campus.

Whitlingham Country Park

One of the things Norfolk is most well-known for is the Broads, a series of rivers and lakes across the county. If you’ve read my post on the UEA Lake, you’ll know I’m a big fan of any green open space, especially if it includes a river or lake. Recently, my housemates and I went to Whitlingham Country Park, an area to the East of Norwich, and spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the broad there. It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon away from uni or the city, particularly if it’s a nice day!

 

To get to the broad, we took the bus to the railway station and then walked for about 30-40 minutes. We’d packed a picnic, so once we got there we chose a spot to sit down and have some lunch overlooking the broad. The broad itself is pretty big, but you can walk all the way around it and end up back at the visitors centre for a well deserved cup of tea or cold drink.

It’s so nice to be close to open countryside in Norwich, as just 15 minutes walk from the station and we were in Norfolk countryside. I love having such beautiful areas on my doorstep at uni. If you’re looking for more day trip ideas, why not check out my posts on Blickling Hall or the beaches at Cromer and Great Yarmouth!

Cafes in Norwich (Part Two)

In May, I wrote about some of my favourite cafes and tea shops in Norwich – you can find that post here. But there’s plenty more to recommend, so welcome to part two!

1.The Tea House

The Tea House is one of my absolute favourites and was one of the first tea shops I visited in Norwich. It’s very small and quiet, but it does a great selection of tea and is run by a really lovely lady. My favourite thing to order here is tea and and a scone, because their scones are so good! The Tea House is hidden away on Elm Hill, one of the prettiest streets in Norwich, so it’s a great place to visit if you’re showing people around Norwich for the day. Pop over to the website to find out more.

2. Bicycle Shop

If you’re looking for something less quaint and more hipster, the Bicycle Shop is the place to be. The Bicycle Shop is very quirky and has a great selection of food and drink, from lunches to tea and cake. I’ve heard their breakfast/brunch dishes are some of the best in Norwich. Why not check out their website for more info!

3. Storm in a Tea Cup

Storm in a Tea Cup is another one of my favourites and, like the Tea House, is also on Elm Hill (I’m sensing a pattern). The service here is always so friendly, making it a lovely place to visit. It does breakfasts and lunches and an excellent variety of teas and freshly made cakes. They also usually do a soup of the day which is always great, but my go-to order is one of their homemade sausage rolls followed by a (very large) slice of cake. You can find opening times and more information on their website.

4. Eaton Park Cafe

Eaton Park Cafe can be found in, you guessed it, Eaton Park. Eaton Park is a lovely area so the cafe makes for a nice spot for a snack or some lunch if you’re spending an afternoon in the park. The cafe itself is run by the same people as the Bicycle Shop, so the menu and decor is reasonably similar, but the cafe is more family friendly and feels brighter and more open than the Bicycle Shop. Find the cafe by the bandstand in the park and visit this website for more information.

Open Days

Choosing a university is a big decision and something that can be pretty daunting! One of the best ways to get a feel for a university is to attend an open day. You can spend a day on campus: chatting to students and lecturers, exploring the facilities, going on campus and accommodation tours and getting to know more about student life.

As part of UEA’s partnership with the Student Room, I’ve contributed to an article about open days, which you can read here. Check it out for some top tips about how to make sure you’ll pick a uni you love!

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If you are considering UEA as a possible university for you, I’d really recommend coming along to an open day. I think it’s really important to get to know a university a bit better before you commit to living and studying there for 3 years! There will be lots to do and experience and I really enjoyed the open day at UEA, so make sure you book on! The next open days are the 9th September and 21st October – find out more here.

Second Year Reflections

Second year is all done and now I’m left desperately trying not to think about the fact that I only have one more year of uni left. The whole of second year has gone so quickly, which is pretty terrifying, and I think third year will go past just as quickly. Last year I did a post summing up how I felt about my first year studying history (have a read here) and back in January I wrote about how I felt the first term of second year had gone (you can find that here). I thought it was only right to finish the year with a look back on my last term and second year as a whole, so here we go…

Second year was intense. Me oh my. A lot of people warned that second year would be a lot tougher than first year and looking back now I can say that they were right. The issue for me was not the content of the work itself – I actually really enjoyed my modules this year – but rather the amount of work and the increasingly limited time I had to complete it. Being more settled with uni life this year meant I ended up with a lot more to fill my time with. I was wanting to spend more time with my housemates, and seeing friends took up more time because we are all scattered across the city in different houses. I was always involved in the Christian Union, especially in preparations for Story Norwich, and then becoming Vice-President just before Easter. Being on committee in an active society takes up a lot of time, and it was a real struggle to balance my time. My weeks would always be full of stuff to do, and for a while I think I was just committed to too much! Every single essay I had this year was cutting it very fine to the deadline. I also managed to get ill just before exams this year, which meant the last couple of weeks of term were a mad rush to cram in as much revision as possible. By the time the end of term came around, I was very happy to be finishing with uni.

But being so busy was not always a bad thing! It’s so great to be involved with so many different things, and I don’t regret any of the stuff I spent my time on. Being busy has taught me a lot about my time management and priorities and I’m going into third year knowing I need to be careful about balancing my time. At the end of the day, university has brought me so many incredible opportunities that I can’t find elsewhere, and I’m happy to be busy if it means I’m making the most of my time here.

In regards to my course, I have really loved my modules this term. I did Propaganda, Wars of the Roses, and Conspiracy and Crisis in the Early Modern World. All of these were so interesting and I felt like I was constantly learning new things, which was really satisfying. Doing essays and exams is never fun, but it is a lot easier if you really enjoy the stuff you’re learning about, so I found this term a lot nicer than some of my previous terms. My marks have also been consistently better than they were in first year, which is encouraging because it means I must be doing something right! It was also a relief to be achieving good marks despite often feeling a bit behind on work this year, and made me feel happier about the amount of non-academic stuff I was getting involved in.

This year I also really enjoyed living off campus in a house. Being able to live with two of my best friends has been incredible and it’s been so much fun. I love being in a house because it feels so much more homely than living in halls and it’s easier to personalise. I’m staying on in the same house with the same people next year and I’m excited for another year of living with them!

Overall, second year has been great. Mad, intense, often stressful, but great. It’s gone so quickly that before I know it I’ll be back writing about the end of third year which is a VERY SCARY THOUGHT. But I’m excited for what third year will bring so I’ll just try not to think about the end of uni right now.

 

Canada

In September I had my first seminar for my Anglo-Saxon module. I didn’t know anyone in my seminar group so I sat on the first free chair next to a girl who looked friendly. I found out her name was Sarah and she was from Canada on a study abroad year – ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Canada!’ I exclaimed. Fast forward nine months and I was boarding a plane to Canada to go and stay with her for nine days. Crazy times.

I’ve gotta be honest, I didn’t go into second year expecting to make many new friends. After first year, I felt like I had met a lot of people and my friendship groups were pretty well established. How wrong I was! Sarah and I became friends really quickly and we ended up being on a few different modules together this year. Surviving the Anglo-Saxon module would have been a lot harder without her. I introduced her to the Great British Bake off, John Lewis, and took her on a tour around Suffolk in the Easter break. She introduced me to pumpkin pie, Tim Hortons, and took me back to Canada with her. WHAT A GREAT GAL.

Anyway, enough about how great Sarah is…let’s talk about how great Canada is.

Sarah lives on Vancouver Island, which is basically as far west as you can go in Canada. So two trains, one tube, two flights, one ferry ride and one car journey later, we arrived at her house! She lives in a bay, and her house has a stunning view over the water. I love the landscape in Canada, it’s so green and there’s lots of water and mountains – much more interesting than the flat fields of Suffolk.

One of our first day trips was to Victoria, a city on the island where Sarah goes to university. It’s a really lovely city with lots to do and see and it was cool to see where Sarah studies in Canada. We visited the narrowest street in Canada (v. narrow), I tried sushi properly for the first time (wasn’t a fan), visited a lot of touristy shops (so much maple syrup) and popped by a harbour to spot some seals (only saw one).

The day after, we had a less busy day because we were still fighting the jet lag but we headed to Bright Angel Park, a foresty area near where Sarah lives. We didn’t explore too far because of signs warning of a bear sighted in the area (classic Canada), but we sat by the river and crossed a suspiciously wobbly suspension bridge.

Our biggest day trip was to a city called Tofino, which was about four hours from where Sarah lives. It’s a really beautiful area, and is pretty touristy. It’s well known for Long Beach, which is stunning, and has been used as a location spot for films like Twilight.

To pass the long drive to Tofino, we also made stops at Coombs and Cathedral Grove. Coombs is famous for ‘goats on the roof’, a market which has, you guessed it, goats on the roof. (Yeah, I know, it’s weird).

Cathedral Grove is a forest with some very very big trees, some over 800 years old. It also has some amazing views over a lake through the trees. It’s crazy beautiful.

The trip to Tofino was also significant because WE SAW A BEAR. I was pretty excited about this. My mum had been a bit worried about the possibility of me being attacked by a bear while in Canada (fun fact: Vancouver Island is home to one of the world’s densest black bear populations) and it became a running joke through the week that we needed to try and find a bear. Sorry mum.

A BEAR

On my last day, I had to take the ferry back across to Vancouver so I could get to the airport in the afternoon. We did have some free time though, so we had lunch on the waterfront and wandered around the city for a while. We also had one last trip to Tim Hortons, a coffee shop that is literally on every corner in Canada. Sarah had been talking about Tim Hortons for nine months straight and while in Canada I decided to fully embrace the culture by visiting Tim Hortons every day (except one day when we forgot). I have no regrets.

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And that was it for my trip to Canada! What a place. Canada is incredibly beautiful and I will definitely be returning at some point! It was also so lovely to spend a week with Sarah, meet her family and visit places I’d heard about throughout the year. At university you’ll have the chance to meet people from all over the world so make the most of it!

 

Cafes in Norwich (Part One)

I love Norwich for many reasons, but one of my favourite things about it is the amount of cafes and tea rooms to explore. I thought I’d list a few of my top recommendations (or at least, part one of my recommendations)…

  1. No 33 Cafe

No 33 Cafe does it all – excellent coffee and cake selection, but also a really good breakfast and lunch menu. I went for breakfast on my birthday and it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had – the American Style pancakes were so good (and massive). The only problem is it’s quite small and very popular, so it fills up quick. When we went for breakfast, we turned up not long after they opened so managed to get a table easily, but it soon filled up and there were people waiting to be seated when we left. It’s a really lovely little cafe though and I’d definitely recommend it – check out their website for more info.

2. Biddy’s Tea Room

Biddy’s is becoming one of the best known tea rooms in Norwich, and can be found tucked away in the lanes. If you’re a tea lover, this is the place to be because the tea selection is almost overwhelming! Biddy’s also has some of the friendliest service of all the cafes I’ve been to. It’s also got very quirky interior design, and is possibly one of the most instragrammable places to have tea and cake. Here’s their website if you want to know more.

3. Britannia Cafe

This one is a bit different, because it’s not in the city centre but rather a bit further out on the opposite side of Norwich to the university. Although it’s not as easy to get to, it’s a great place to go with your family if they’re coming up to visit because it’s really quick to get to by car. Britannia Cafe does cake and tea but also does really good full meals – they have a menu over on their website. The Cafe itself is staffed by low risk prisoners, and all the profits go towards rehabilitating prisoners and charitable causes, which is really cool. Britannia Cafe also has one of the best views over Norwich so it’s a brilliant place to go on a nice day!

4. Sanctuary Coffee Stop

The Sanctuary Coffee Stop is a really lovely family friendly cafe, run as part of a Norwich church, St Thomas. It does cakes and drinks, as well as sandwiches and paninis for lunch. The cafe is largely run by volunteers, and it’s a really friendly atmosphere. It’s a great place to go for coffee and a chat, or there are tables to the side where it’s perfect to work, especially if you enjoy a background buzz of activity. They also have jazz mornings once or twice a month on a Saturday – head to their facebook page for more details.

That’s it for part one of my recommendations…there’s plenty more to come, so keep your eyes peeled!

Managing Stress

At UEA we get 4 weeks off for Easter. While that should be pretty nice, it’s always a weird time of year because you know when you get back to uni, you probably have lots of deadlines to meet and then you’re straight into exam season. It goes without saying this can be a pretty stressful time of year, so here’s a few tips to try and manage stress levels…

  1. Know how you work best.

If you don’t work efficiently, everything is 100 times more stressful, so it’s good to know how you work best. Some people work well with background noise, whereas others need silence and no distractions. Sometimes I find if I work from home I’ll get easily distracted by wanting to talk to my housemates or getting a snack, but if I’m in the library I have no choice but to work solidly. It’s all about personal preference, so have a think about what works for you and then do it – no one’s a fan of a day spent in the library working, but if I know I’ll get a lot done then it’s definitely worth it!

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2. Plan your working hours

Planning is key. Personally, to get stuff done, I need to plan what I’m going to work on and for how long and then stick to it. I used to think things like revision timetables were such a waste of time, but when I actually tried organising my time more carefully I realised how helpful it is and I’d really recommend it. If you’re really busy, it helps to make the most of the limited time you have, and if you have loads of time on your hands it gives your day more structure and direction. Win win.

3. Revise with friends

How you revise depends quite a lot on what subject you’re doing, but if you can it’s always good to revise with others sometimes. For the majority of your revision, I would say you need to work independently, but working in groups can be a nice way to make revision a bit more manageable. Also, teaching others is a great way to learn things yourself.

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4. Know your deadlines

Make sure you know the deadlines for all your coursework and know when your exams are. This will help you to plan when work needs to get done and makes sure you don’t get any nasty shocks if you’ve got the deadline wrong in your mind. Writing them out can be a good way to make sure you’ve got all the dates right, and then as you complete them you can cross them out which is always therapeutic.

5. Your life shouldn’t be 100% work

No matter how behind you feel with work, or how stressed you’re getting about exams, don’t let it completely take over your life. Make sure you are making time to relax and see your friends otherwise you’ll just feel miserable! Sometimes if you’re feeling really overwhelmed with work the best thing to do is to have a day off to clear your head, even if it feels like you can’t afford to be taking time off.

6. Ask for help

Don’t be scared to ask for some help! Feedback from seminar leaders can be especially helpful for essays. Take your essay plan or ideas to your tutor and ask for their opinion, they know a lot more than you do and they will often have some really helpful feedback. If you’re genuinely struggling with stress, please tell someone. Deadlines and exams are important, but they shouldn’t be taking over your life with stress and anxiety. Talk to your advisor or make use of the Student Support Service if you’re struggling. The Student Support Service also offers help with study skills and academic work – find out more here.