Freshers Week

Looking back on freshers week at the end of my first year, it feels like so long ago! I know there’s always a lot of anticipation around freshers week and this can make it seem more daunting than it is. You’re thrown into uni life: living without parents, cooking for yourself, meeting new people and plenty of socialising. For some people this is super exciting, while for others it’s super terrifying. For me, it was probably a bit of both!

I really enjoyed freshers week, and there was loads of great stuff to get involved in, but it’s important to realise that it’s inevitably going to be quite a hectic and crazy week. I’ve heard people say freshers week is the best week you’ll have at university, and this may be true for some people, but don’t feel bad if you come away from freshers feeling slightly underwhelmed – it’s a fantastic week, but you’ll also have other amazing weeks and experiences that might top it, especially once you’ve settled into firmer friendships and routines.

I arrived at UEA on the 19th September. When you arrive, you register in the Congregation Hall where you are given your flat key and all the important documents like housing contracts. I then headed to my block with my parents and unloaded a car full of suitcases with the help of some friendly student guides who are around to help freshers move their stuff into flats. My parents didn’t hang around for long, so I said goodbye and finished unpacking. Gradually as more people arrived through the afternoon I met more of my flatmates and some of us went across the hall to say hi to the flat next door. That evening there weren’t any official events organised because not all the first years had arrived yet due to staggered move in dates across campus. Instead, my first night at university involved sitting on my flatmate’s bed with a few other flatmates, chatting and helping her unpack. We then ventured out on an exploration of the uni in the dark, where we proceeded to get hopelessly lost in our search for the lake. Meeting flatmates and making friends can seem like a really scary prospect but actually everyone is experiencing uni for the first time, and I found it really easy to chat and laugh with people, so don’t worry about it!

For the rest of freshers week there were events on every night in the LCR, our on campus club. Before coming to uni you could buy individuals tickets for certain events or purchase a wristband which gives you entry to all, which is what I went for. It was nice to have the flexibility of choosing what events I wanted to go to, and it meant you could go out as little or as much as you wanted. I went to ‘The Network UEA’, a.k.a. the t-shirt party, where you write social media details on a t-shirt; the School Disco; UEA Fringe (comedy and entertainment night) and the Welcome Prom. They were all really good nights, but I think my favourite was the Welcome Prom at the end of the week which included face paint, a silent disco and bumper cars. There was also a photobooth in the LCR each evening which was so much fun.

As well as the evening events, there is loads to do during the day too. There’s a societies fair, which is definitely worth a visit to see the range of societies on offer and to start getting involved. If you’re into sports there’s a separate sports fair, and also a freshers fair, with loads of student discounts and freebies on offer from local businesses. If you do want to get involved with societies, many of them will run events throughout freshers week so keep an eye out for that. Many events involved free food as well which is great! I went to a pub quiz and a barbecue run by the Christian Union which were both lovely, and more relaxed than a lot of the events going on during freshers which was nice.

On top of all of this, there’s also academic events running through the week. These might seem boring in comparison to all the other stuff going on, but they’re definitely worth going to. It a great chance to start meeting your coursemates and get a better sense of what the course will be like. As a history student, I had a welcome from the head of school, welcome drinks in the history department, introductory lectures to each of the modules, study skills talks, an introduction to the library and a meeting with my advisor.

Freshers week was an incredibly busy week but it was also really fun and an exciting start to university life. It’s natural to feel a bit intimidated or overwhelmed by freshers but my best advice would be to throw yourself into it and enjoy the opportunities available during the week. Freshers week is a pretty unique week of university and you’ll only get to experience it once so make the most of it!

10 Things I’ve Learned in my First Year

On Monday I had my last exam and that means I have officially finished my first year at UEA! It’s gone so quickly and I’ve had such a great year – although I can’t believe I’m already a third of the way through my degree!! I’ve learned a lot this year so I thought I’d share some of my first year pearls of wisdom with you…

1.Join Societies

Joining a society is one of the best things you can do at uni. It’s a great way to meet like minded people and some of the best friends I’ve made are people I met through societies. There’s really no excuse not to join a society because there’s over 200 to choose from, meaning there’ll always be something you’re interested in! There’s also the option to start your own society if you feel something’s missing and you can get enough support for the idea.

2. Don’t bring washing up liquid

This might seem like a bit of a weird one, but in my flat EVERYONE brought washing up liquid to uni so we had a never ending supply for the first few months. At one point, we had 7 bottles lined up by the sink! Think about what you need to bring to uni and what you might share as a flat to avoid all bringing the same thing.

3. Start essays on time

Now here’s a cliche for you: do your work earlier than the night before a deadline. I’ll admit this is much easier said than done because university is a really busy time, but it honestly makes such a difference. For the formative essay assignments I had in first term I was really behind on work and it was so stressful to try and get them done in time. So when it came to the summative assignments due before Christmas I decided to be more organised and start work earlier. It meant I finished them before the deadlines, and in the last week before Christmas I could relax and enjoy all the fun christmassy events going on around campus. Although it can be difficult to be organised, try and put in effort to keep up with work because it’ll help you in the long run.

4. Freshers flu is real

Before coming to uni, I kind of believed freshers flu was a myth, but I’m sad to confirm it is very real, and you’ll probably get it at least twice during your first term. In my first term, everyone got ill pretty quickly in the first few weeks but I didn’t, and I naively thought maybe I’d avoided the dreaded freshers flu. I was wrong. I just got it a week after most people had it! It’s pretty rubbish being ill at uni so make sure you bring some paracetamol and Lemsip with you in preparation for inevitable colds and illnesses.

5. Cooking isn’t as difficult as you think

Like a lot of people, I was pretty worried about having to cook for myself at uni with my limited culinary skills. Luckily, it’s not as difficult or as scary as you think. I was pretty concerned on the open day at UEA when we were shown a kitchen with two devices that looked like microwaves but no ovens. However, I can confirm that they are microwave-ovens which function as both microwaves AND ovens so there’s no excuse for only eating microwaveable ready meals!

baking

Even baking is possible

6. Beware the cleaner

In the accommodation at UEA your room is visited by a cleaner each day to empty your bin and if you’re in en-suite accommodation they clean your bathroom once a week. What everyone failed to mention about the cleaners is that they will lock your room after they empty your bin, regardless of whether it was locked or not when they arrived. This means you need to take your key with you if you’re off to the kitchen for breakfast in the morning in case the cleaner arrives while you’re out of your room. No one wants to be the idiot that gets locked out of your room by the cleaner. I know, because that idiot was me. On the first day. When I didn’t have shoes on. So unless you want to run around the block shoeless looking for the cleaner to let you back into your room, learn from my mistakes and keep your room key with you!

7. Wear suitable shoes for the LCR

The LCR is our on-campus club, holding club nights on Tuesdays and Saturdays and various gigs and events through the year. It’s infamous for having a permanently sticky floor so make sure you’re wearing suitable shoes when you go. I know someone who wore flip flops to the LCR for a toga themed night and they definitely regretted it…

8. Essex uni is bad

I’m not sure anyone really understands why, but as a UEA student you are expected to laugh at the University of Essex. What’s uni without a good old fashioned rivalry? Every year we have Derby Day, a day of sporting competitions between UEA and Essex. UEA have now won 4 years in a row so it’s a pretty easy rivalry to be a part of.

9. Campus is beautiful

UEA has a lot of concrete buildings and I know a lot of people that either love or hate the look of our uni. Having lived here for a year I firmly believe it is a beautiful campus. From the iconic look of the Ziggarats to the futuristic look of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (also known as Avengers HQ), there’s so much variation. It’s also a really green campus, which I love, and the lake is my absolute favourite part of campus.

10. Get involved

One of the main things I’ve learnt this year is that university is what you make of it. There are so many amazing opportunities available at uni so be proactive and get involved with as much as possible. Be prepared to go out of your comfort zone and say yes to getting involved, whether it’s with a society, academic events, sports, gigs or trips. Opportunities mean more than just what’s available on campus too – Norfolk is a beautiful part of the country to live in, so get out there and explore it. Discover the quaint and old lanes of Norwich, visit beaches, spend a day on the broads. You only get a short time at uni, so make the most of it.

ziggarats

The Lake

Last weekend brought beautiful weather here at UEA. With such amazing weather and revision to avoid, I’ve spent a lot of time down by the lake on campus. The UEA lake is hands down my favourite part of campus, and yet before I arrived here I didn’t really realise it existed! I’d heard the lake mentioned a few times at open days/applicant days and I knew it was out there somewhere, but I had no idea how big the lake was or how beautiful and peaceful it is. I thought I’d gather together some of my favourite pictures I’ve taken of the lake over my time at uni so far to give you a little taste of how nice it is if you don’t know much about it…

lake

The lake is behind the main campus buildings, across the open grassy area in front of the Ziggurats. It’s pretty massive and you can walk all the way around it for the best views of the university. If you’re into running it’s a great route for your morning jog, but for the rest of us there are benches dotted around the edges of the lake so you can take a minute to sit down and enjoy the view.

As well as walking around the lake itself, you can also cross the bridge to ‘butterfly meadow’ (although I have to say I didn’t see any butterflies when I visited!), or at the other end there’s a boardwalk which takes you along the River Yare. There’s also a wildlife trail you can follow around the lake and the Yare Valley if you have some spare time to kill.

To the side of the lake there’s even a small horse and donkey sanctuary where you can meet some friendly ponies. Unfortunately I’ve heard the sanctuary is closing so it might be too late to see the horses…you’ll have to make do with the swans on the lake instead! If swans aren’t enough for you, there are always plenty of dogs being walked around the lake (part of the reason for my love of lake walks)…

It’s always so peaceful by the lake, and it’s nice to be able to get away from the busyness of campus for a while. I love the fact that while there’s always so much going on in the centre of campus, you can slip away easily and sit by the lake where it’s quiet and relaxing. Lake walks are the perfect revision break or lazy afternoon activity. If you’re coming to visit UEA and you have some spare time, take a trip around the lake – you won’t regret it!

sunset

On the Radio

At university there’s loads of really amazing opportunities on offer to you. One of these many opportunities is getting involved with UEA radio, Livewire 1350. Being on the radio is pretty exciting, and we also boast past presenters like Radio 1’s Greg James, who was part of Livewire during his time here at UEA.

Two of my friends, Sam and Adam, have a radio show at 9-10.30am on Friday mornings, and last week I was lucky enough to be a guest on their show for one of their new segments, ‘library run’. Competing against two other friends, Ruth and Jecinta, I had to run to the library and try and find the funniest book I could about farmyard animals. I managed to win with a book called ‘Interstellar Pig’, a proud moment indeed! Being on the radio, even briefly, was super exciting, so if you’re interested in media or radio, make sure you check out Livewire if you come to UEA.

I thought I’d do a quick Q&A with Sam and Adam so they can give a bit more of an insight into what it’s like to be part of UEA radio…

How did you get involved with Livewire?

Adam: I saw Livewire at the freshers societies fair and thought it would be something different so signed up and gave a demo show and I was given the breakfast show slot.

Sam: I never actually planned to get involved with Livewire. A flatmate asked me to demo with her and I begrudgingly accepted. One thing lead to another, and now I have been on two different breakfast shows and I am the host of the sports show!

What’s the best part about being on the radio?

Adam: You get to do lots of exciting things and can get involved with a wide range of events. Some people last year helped Greg James broadcast live from Unio (one of our campus cafes) on Radio 1!

Sam: Adam Young. Also the opportunity to create really interesting and fun content.

What’s the worst part about being on the radio?

Adam: Although I love my show, having to get up super early to start at 9am on a Friday is rather tricky!

Sam: Adam Young. Livewire is great but can be nerve-racking at first. However, once you overcome this it can really improve your confidence.

production 2

If you think Livewire is something you might want to get involved in at UEA, make sure you check out their website and twitter. Find out more about Sam and Adam’s show on their Facebook page.