To the Beach

One of my favourite things about studying at UEA is the location of the uni. Not only do I love the campus and Norwich, but it’s just a short journey away from the Norfolk coast which makes for a brilliant day trip to the beach. On Saturday I hopped on a train at Norwich station with a group of friends, and 45 minutes later we reached the seaside town of Cromer.

Apart from a couple of random and short-lived hail downpours, we managed to have a pretty dry and sunny day, although the sea breeze was bracing to say the least! After a quick paddle by some, and a full on swim from one brave/crazy member of the group, we sat on the beach for a while, before a game of rounders on the beach or exploring the pier.

Lunch was a classic seaside fish and chips eaten on the pier, and the afternoon included a trip to Digby’s sweet shop (a.k.a. what dreams are made of) and then off to the arcade to make our fortunes on the penny machines. Unfortunately I have to report that apart from a few tiny bags of jelly beans, we are none the richer.

Another quick train journey and we were back in Norwich, pretty windswept and tired but after a great day out. I would love to go back to the beach soon – although maybe when it’s a little warmer! The next seaside town on my uni bucket list is Great Yarmouth, which is also easy to get to from Norwich. I love the fact that it’s so easy to leave the student bubble for a day and explore Norfolk, which is a beautiful part of the country.

First Week Back

I’ve now been back at university for one week after the Easter break and it’s now getting scarily close to the end of my first year at UEA. We’re entering the last few weeks of lectures and deadlines and then after exams in May summer will be officially here! My first year here has gone ridiculously quickly, and although we’re getting close to the end of the semester I’m busier than ever! So here’s a taster of some of the stuff I got up to last week…

Back to uni means back to work, and last week brought 2 deadlines to meet. Luckily I’d used the last few days of my Easter break pretty wisely so these weren’t too much trouble, but there’s always more to read as a history student, whether it be for the next essay or for the seminars. I also started by job as a mentor for year 9 students at a local school as part of my role as a Student Ambassador at UEA, which was an exciting new challenge.

It hasn’t all been hard work this week though – Wednesday brought beautiful sunny weather, and I spent the afternoon at a social with members of my Christian Union action group, eating ice cream in the square, meeting the horses who live by campus and relaxing by the lake.

On Wednesday evening I had the opportunity to go and listen to Rowan Williams speaking on campus as part of the Spring Literary Festival. The Festival is an annual event, and brings together a number of well known writers or thinkers, and is one of the perks of living in England’s UNESCO City of Literature! Tickets to see Rowan Williams were £8, but were briefly offered at half price for students. It was a really amazing opportunity and it was a privilege to listen to Rowan Williams speak, even if some of his points were inevitably a little bit beyond me!

On Friday, I spent my evening at the History Society Spring Ball. It was held at the Top of the Terrace at Norwich City Football Club, which was a strange place for me to be as my family supports Ipswich and I had my Year 13 prom at Ipswich Town Football Club! Despite this, it was a brilliant evening with good friends and good food, and I really enjoyed it – even though my feet were a little worse for wear after dancing in heels all night!

It’s been a great week, and this week is shaping up to be just as busy. I’m definitely going to try to squeeze a bit more work in somewhere though, because those exams and deadlines are approaching far too fast for my liking…

Accommodation at UEA

One of the biggest changes starting university will bring is that many people choose to move out of home and live at university. It goes without saying then that where you’ll be living for your first year is a pretty big deal, so I thought I’d write about some of the accommodation that UEA offers, and my experience of university accommodation.

UEA has a pretty big range of accommodation (for a full list and price breakdown check out the accommodation page on the website), but the main two choices for living on campus are en-suite accommodation or shared showers and toilets in the Ziggurats. Both types of accommodation are great, so it’s really up to you based on what you feel most comfortable with. I’d recommend visiting UEA on an applicant day where you’ll get to see inside the accommodation and can decide which you’d prefer.

Both types of accommodation have their advantages. If you opt for a room in the iconic Ziggurats, you’ll get an amazing view across the lake – one of the best views on campus. Sharing a bathroom also means it’s cheaper than en-suite which is definitely something to consider.

Personally, I went for en-suite accommodation, mainly because of the convenience of having my own bathroom, although I have to say I am very jealous of the views my friends in the Ziggurats get! I’ve really loved my room at UEA, it’s very bright and a good size, and living on campus has been so practical and enjoyable.

My room comes with a desk area, wardrobe, shelves and chest of drawers. There’s also a big pin board, which I think is probably intended for academic stuff, but I’ve covered it with pictures, cards and the obligatory Dominos pizza voucher leaflet. On my walls I’ve got a Friends poster which I bought from the poster sale during freshers week, and I have lots of photos of friends from back home and memories from the summer. Printing pictures is a really great way to brighten up your uni room and make it feel a bit more homely. I also have a couple of small pot plants on my windowsill, which have done very well to survive for this long in the year because they haven’t had much water! I bought these from home, but in freshers week there was a big plant sale, so you can buy some greenery for your room then.

Living on campus has been great, there’s a really nice student-y atmosphere, and it’s been so good knowing the furthest I’ll have to walk to get anywhere on campus is 10 minutes! Next year I’ll be living in student housing in Norwich, which is really exciting, although I’ll definitely miss my lovely little uni room!

Berlin

One of the societies I’m part of at UEA is the History Society. They organise all kinds of socials and events, from film nights to nights out, and an annual Spring Ball which is coming up in April. Back in January I got the opportunity to go to Berlin with the History Society which was a brilliant start to the year!

The trip was only around £160, which covered flights and accommodation, as well as the cost of various activities that were planned for the week. I’d never been to Berlin before, so the opportunity to go at such a good price was one I couldn’t turn down!

We stayed in Berlin from Monday to Friday, giving us 3 full days there. On the first day we went on a walking tour of the city, which was a brilliant way to see all the sights and learn about some of the history (it was a history soc trip after all!). The only downside was the temperature, as walking around isn’t quite as fun when it’s minus 10 and you are beginning to worry that losing limbs to frostbite could be a serious issue. But at least the freezing temperature meant we got snow, so everything looked extra magical! In the evening we got to go on a guided tour of the Reichstag, home of German Parliament. There was also the chance to see Berlin at night from the glass dome on top of the Reichstag, which has to be one of the best views of the city.

For our second day a trip had been organised to go to Stasi Prison, but my friend Jessie and I decided to use the day to properly explore Berlin instead. The great thing about the trip was you could pick and choose what activities you wanted to do to get the most out of your time in Berlin. We revisited some of the places we’d seen briefly on the walking tour, and spent the afternoon in the DDR Museum, which was all about life in East Germany after the war, where we also made the most of the warm environment and free wifi!

For our third, and last full day in Berlin, we travelled to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which was just over an hours train ride from our Hostel. It was an extremely bleak place to visit, but it was moving and thought-provoking, both on a historical and personal level. Then on the last day, before leaving for the airport, we squeezed in a visit to the East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall just round the corner from where we were staying.

The chance to experience the culture and history of Berlin and meet new people through the history society was fantastic. If you’re heading off to uni in September definitely look into what societies you can join, they offer some of the best opportunities that’ll you’ll get from your time at university. I loved the trip to Berlin, and can’t wait to see where the History Society will organise for a trip next year.