Easter round up

Woah, life has been super busy recently, so I thought it was worth doing a post briefly talking about some of the stuff I’ve been up to in the last few weeks…

Back in March I managed to fit in two friends from home coming to visit. It was really lovely to see them, and was a great excuse to wander around all the best bits of Norwich, and eat a lot of cake and drink a lot of tea in various tea shops. It’s not always easy to find time to see friends from home so it was great to spend time with both of them!

I became Vice-President of the Christian Union in February, and a lot of my time since then has been taken up by meetings and planning, but it’s really exciting to be involved with helping to run a student society. At the end of March we did our Easter outreach, handing out free hot cross buns and Easter eggs in the hive. This was so fun to be involved in, and hopefully you liked it if you were around campus on the last day of term!

I didn’t go home straight away for Easter, but I did pop home to surprise my Mum for Mother’s Day. I’m lucky to only live about an hour away from Norwich on the train, so I could visit for a day and then head back. Despite living quite close, this term I haven’t had time to make it home to visit at all, so it was great to finally go home, especially for Mother’s Day.

I then spent about a week back in Norwich, trying to get some work done before heading home for Easter. This meant a lot of library time, but it also meant breaks by the lake or Earlham Park with my housemate Tara, which was really nice, and the weather was beautiful.

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Isn’t she cute

That week we also returned to visit Blickling Hall, a National Trust stately home in Norfolk. Our friend Becky volunteers there and we got to spend a day with her, enjoying the beautiful gardens and exploring the house with Becky as our own private tour guide! Blickling Hall has to be one of my favourite places and I loved getting to visit again. We also fitted in a brief trip to Cromer to see the sea before heading home.

When I finally left Norwich, I brought my friend Sarah home with me to stay for a few days. Sarah is a study abroad student over for the year from Canada , and although my hometown isn’t quite as exciting as Canada, it was so much fun to have her to stay. We visited Southwold for the day and won our fortune on the penny machines (when I say fortune, I mean several keyrings and a weird toy mole). Southwold is my favourite seaside town, but it’s quite difficult to reach by public transport from Norwich, so being able to drive there (shoutout to my parents) was a great opportunity to go. We also went to Sutton Hoo, a local National Trust site where an Anglo-Saxon ship burial had been discovered. To be completely honest, as a historical site it’s pretty underwhelming (basically a field with some mounds) but the weather made it a nice place to spend the day and it’s always a strong site for a picnic.

The Easter holidays themselves have gone super quickly (possibly because I’m not actually at home for that long!). I’ve managed to fit in catching up with friends, and seeing some family who visited for Easter, which has been lovely. Summer term looks like it will be just as busy as last term, and we’re now on the countdown to exams which I’m managing to ignore fairly successfully so far. But for now I’m back in Norwich for just under a week before term begins next Monday…hopefully trying to fit in some work – wish me luck.

Halls vs House

Last year I was living in student halls on campus for my first year of university. If you want to find out more about what my accommodation was like, check out this post. This year, I’ve moved off campus and into a student house in Norwich, which has been a very different experience! Having lived off campus for a while now, I thought it would be good to do a little comparison of the different experiences you get living on and off campus.

Friends – One of the biggest differences I noticed when moving off campus was the change of having my friends so much more spread out. In first year, so many of my friends were also living on campus, meaning no one was further than 10 mins away from me. Now, my friends are spread across Norwich, making it a lot harder to pop round and see people. I’ve found you have to be a lot more intentional in organising to meet up with friends, but a lot of my friends live in groups together so it’s nice to hang out in a house and not worry about getting in the way of their other housemates.

Living environment – Living in student halls means you get a small room to yourself which can be a bit of an adjustment when most of us are used to having a whole house to roam around. I personally really enjoyed having a space that I could make my own but it’s also easy for your room to feel a bit claustrophobic if you’re spending too much time in your flat. There’s also limitations on how far you can personalise such a small space and I think overall for living environment I prefer living off campus in a house. This year we’ve been able to really make our student house feel like a home, and it’s so nice to come home to fairy lights and bunting rather than leftover takeaway boxes.

Housemates – First year is always a bit strange because you are thrown together with complete strangers to live with for a year. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s a pretty unique opportunity to make friends with people you might never have spent time with otherwise – but it is nice to be able to live with people of your choice in year two. I’m living in a small house this year, with just three of us. It’s been so lovely to live with two of my closest friends and I’m really enjoying having a smaller house (in comparison to the flat of 12 I was in last year!)

Location -I loved living on campus because everything you needed was just a short walk away, which was SO handy. This year I live a 30 min walk away from campus, which makes a big difference in terms of getting into uni each day. Living off campus means you have to plan ahead to make sure you take everything you need for the day, and you have to wake up earlier to get to morning lectures. I live on a bus route which is super helpful, but I do miss everything being so close. Having said that, it’s nice to live closer to town, and it means I’ve got to know Norwich better, rather than being stuck in the ‘student bubble’ of campus. But overall I would say make the most of being on campus, because you’ll miss the convenience when it’s gone!

Living off campus is very different to living in halls, but they’re both really enjoyable opportunities. Overall, I think I prefer living in a house, but I definitely enjoyed staying in my university room last year, and I do miss having everything so close. There’s also a huge range of student housing in Norwich, from houses next door to campus to houses close to the city centre. We’ve signed to stay on in our house next year because it’s worked so well for us, but be aware that there’s always the chance to move house again in your third year!

Story Norwich

Last semester was super busy for me, and one of the reasons it was so hectic was because I’m involved in planning a week of events in February 2017 called Story Norwich, which I’m really excited about! Being at uni brings so many amazing opportunities, and the project has been one of the most challenging but rewarding things I’ve been involved in so far. I hope Story Norwich will be something loads of students can get involved in and enjoy…

Story Norwich is a week of events hosted by UEA Christian Union, from the 5th – 10th February. There’ll be events every day on campus – free food and drink, live music, lunchtime and evening talks from guest speakers and a chance to hear from members of the Christian Union.

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We all have a story, and we’d love for you to join us as we explore how our stories are shaped and what they mean. Come along to our events to hear stories of lives that have been changed by God, investigate the gospel story and uncover your own story. All events are free, and you don’t need to sign up.

We’re kicking off the week with free live music in the LCR from the band Lion of Judah on Sunday 5th February at 7.30pm. Then at 1pm each day we’ll be serving a free lunch and covering some ‘big question’ topics such as ‘is the Bible reliable?’ and ‘why does God allow suffering?’. Our evening events start at 7.30pm, with homemade cakes and hot drinks and we’ll hear stories of identity, acceptance, and purpose. To find out more about all our events, you can check out the full week timetable here and our Facebook event here.

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In the lead up to Story Norwich, we’ve been releasing stories from members of the CU on social media. There are some really amazing stories of how CU members have encountered God in their lives, and it’s also a great way to get to know the CU a bit better! Head over to our Facebook page to read some of the stories so far, and more can be found on our website. You can stay up to date with Story Norwich and our events by liking our Facebook page or you can also find us on Instagram and Twitter!

It’s gonna be an incredible week. All the events are totally free of charge so we’d love for you to come along to any or all events! If you want to know more about Christianity or the CU it’s a great chance to hear about what we believe and ask any questions you have. Even if you’re not sure, drop in for a hot drink and a chat – all are welcome!

See you there!

2017

So I know the 12th January is a bit late to do a classic new year reflection post, but hey, let’s go with it…I thought I would do a little update on how the end of 2016 went and what I have coming up in 2017:

First term of second year went SO fast. I know in a couple of posts from my first year I talked about how quickly the year went, but nothing could have prepared me for quite how quickly year two is going. I think being involved in a lot more things and having more work means the weeks just disappear!

In my ‘Second Year‘ post, I talked about being a bit apprehensive about last terms modules. My expectations turned out to be pretty spot on – I found Anglo-Saxons and Modern Germany quite tricky but I loved Tudor and Stuart Britain. Anglo-Saxon England was the module I most struggled with – I’ve never studied it before, and it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t an area of history that I particularly liked. Although it was a nice contrast studying something so new to me, it definitely won’t be a period of history I chose to study again, and all I can do is cross my fingers and hope for decent essay marks! On the other hand, studying Tudor and Stuart Britain more than made up for this. The Tudor period is probably my favourite period of history and the teaching was really good. I genuinely looked forward to seminars which is pretty unusual for me! For my summative essay, instead of picking from the list of questions I made up my own essay question – ‘what were the limitations of female monarchy in the Tudor period?’. This was really nice because it meant I could write about a topic that really interested me and take it into quite specific detail. Getting to study stuff like this reminds me why I love history!

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Still managing a few lake walks in second year

So, looking forward to 2017, I’m excited about next term – but simultaneously kinda terrified by the amount of stuff that’s going to happen in one term! Last year the spring semester was really busy, and I don’t think this year will be any different. New term means new modules, and I’m a lot more hopeful about these modules than I was about last terms. I’m also more involved in society stuff than I was last year – in February the Christian Union has a big event, Story Norwich, coming up (more about this in a future post) and this will all take up a lot of my time. Spring semester also seems to bring a lot of peoples birthdays (including mine), and as the weather gets better, so does the opportunity for day trips. The end of this semester means exams, and that means lots of revision because second year marks count! As well as that, I would really like to try and get some kind of summer job/internship. A lot of applications for summer internships close in January/February time so I’m sure I’ll enjoy a month or so of frantically trying to find places to apply to.

Phew, that’s a lotta stuff.

2017 feels like quite an uncertain year for me but hopefully another year packed with oppurtunities. The end of my second year feels quite far away now, but I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m writing my next round up of the year!

 

A Day in the Life

University is full of exciting opportunities and experiences – in the last year I’ve been to Berlin, been on the radio, listened to Rowan Williams speak, experienced the joy of ‘Pets as Therapy’ , explored Norwich, visited Great Yarmouth and Cromer to name just a few things.

But unfortunately, day-to-day life as a student does involve more typical things like attending lectures and seminars and working in the library. To give you a flavour of what an average day of university work is like, myself and some of the other student bloggers from UEA have each written a short piece about our average days for The Student Room. You can check out what we’ve written here.

If you want to read more from the other student bloggers, you can find their blogs through the UEA website.

UEA Choir Christmas Carol Concert

My deadlines were officially over on Monday, and that meant it was time to start getting into the Christmas spirit – and what better way to do so than a carol concert? On Wednesday evening, my housemate Susanna and I attended the UEA Choir Christmas carol concert at the Roman Catholic Cathedral. I’d never been inside the Roman Catholic Cathedral before, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s such a beautiful building and makes for a stunning venue for a carol service.

The concert itself included performances by UEA Choir and UEA Chamber Choir and they were SO GOOD. As someone who isn’t blessed with the gift of tuneful singing, hearing choirs perform never ceases to amaze me. The choirs included students, staff and members of the local community – so it was nice to see a few of my university friends perform.

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The programme was a mix of choir performances and some classic Christmas carols for audience participation. The Director of UEA Choir, Tom Primrose, gave some interesting background on a few of the songs between pieces. My particular favourite was finding out that about the carol ‘Quelle est cetter odeur agreable?’, which roughly translates as ‘what’s that nice smell?’! How Christmassy.

It was a really lovely evening – it doesn’t get much better than singing Christmas Carols in a Cathedral with a choir. It’s an annual concert, so definitely keep an eye out for it next year! My tip would be arrive early because seats fill up quick and the cathedral was packed full. Also, if you want to avoid waiting for refreshments in the interval some people cleverly brought along a flask and mince pies of their own which saved them a queue.

Thanks to UEA Music Centre for inviting me, I had a great time! If you might be interested in being a part of a choir, or if you want to find out more about music opportunities at UEA, check out the Music Centre page on the website. Also a big shout out to my housemate Susanna for bringing along her camera to take some wonderful pictures for me!

 

Foy Vance

Coming to university in Norwich means there’s loads of really cool opportunities to go to gigs and live music events. On campus, the LCR hosts all kinds of musicians and bands, including Coldplay, the Fratellis, Bears Den, Jack Garratt, Sigma, the Kooks, Scouting for Girls and Busted, as well as so many more! There’s also lots going on in the city, such as the Waterfront (run by UEA Student Union) and loads of smaller places dotted around Norwich which are always hosting some awesome artists. The key is to keep an eye out for up coming gigs – joining mailing lists and following venues on social media is a good way to find out who’s coming up in the next few months.

Last Tuesday, my housemate and I went to see Foy Vance at the Norwich Arts Centre. Foy Vance is one of my favourite artists, so when I found out he was coming to Norwich, I had to buy a ticket – only £15! The Norwich Arts Centre runs a mixture of events, like live music, dance, theatre and spoken word. It’s pretty small, with a standing capacity of 260, but that makes it great for more intimate gigs, and in 2014 it was named ‘Britain’s Best Small Venue’ by NME.

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It was such a good night, Foy Vance was incredible live, and it was a really great atmosphere. It was the first time I’d been to Norwich Arts Centre but I definitely will keep an eye out for upcoming events there, because it’s a brilliant venue.

If you’re interested in finding out more about live music in Norwich, check out upcoming events in SU managed venues here or visit the Norwich Arts Centre website.

Trampolining and Fireworks

On Friday evening I went to Gravity, a trampolining park in Norwich, with some friends from the Christian Union society at uni. Gravity is basically a massive room filled with lots of trampolines, as well as a dodgeball area, basketball hoops and a giant air mat you can jump onto. We paid for an ‘open jump’ which gives you access to all the areas for an hour. You have to buy special socks with your ticket to wear on the trampolines, off peak prices are £10.95 for an hour and socks, but then you keep the socks so if you go back you’d only pay £8.95 for an hour. If you have an NUS card you can also get 2 hours for the price of one Monday-Friday. It was a really fun hour, despite my initial skepticism after signing a waiver which talked of ‘unknown risks that could result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis or death’. I’m pleased to report none of us died, although my muscles are still sore! Gravity is in Riverside (near the train station) so it’s also really easy to get to by bus. Check out their website for more info if you’re interested!

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Gravity Riverside (taken from their facebook page)

After Gravity, we headed into the centre of Norwich to watch the castle fireworks. There were loads of people gathered to watch them and it was a really lovely atmosphere, even if it meant the buses were absolutely crammed to get back home. Norwich does an annual fireworks display around bonfire night and I’d definitely recommend going to watch it while you’re at university, you can make it into a really fun night.

What happens if I’m not enjoying uni?

University years are so often described as the best years of your life, and with so many expectations, it can be confusing and upsetting if you find yourself struggling at university. I think it’s important to recognise that university isn’t all plain sailing, there’s going to be some difficult experiences. So I thought I’d give some advice on a few common worries people have about university life. These are just my take on issues based on my own experiences, if you’re really struggling please don’t be afraid to ask for help – I’ve listed some links to helpful services at the bottom of this post that will be a good place to start.

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I’m struggling to make friends

Before I came to university, I had the expectation that I’d soon find some amazing friends and immediately fall into a brilliant friendship group. Now I can look back and say yes, I have made some absolutely great friends, but it didn’t happen instantly and my friendship groups have evolved over time – and that’s okay! People make friends at different speeds and in different ways. Some people are super confident approaching new people or some people may find their best friend in their flat, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately find people you click with. The easiest way to make new friends is to put yourself out there and get involved with stuff (even if this is scary for you!). Societies in particular are a great way to meet like-minded people, and it’s never too late to join one. Your course is also an opportunity to meet lots of people. It can be as simple as smiling, introducing yourself to the person sitting next to you in a seminar and asking them how their day is going. Even if you find it awkward to strike up conversation with someone, chances are it’ll be less awkward that sitting there in silence. In first year everyone you is trying to make new friends so just be friendly and talk to people and you’ll soon meet some really good friends.

I’m finding my course really difficult

Ah yes, the reason you’re paying £9000 a year to be here. University courses are hard work and there’s no way around that. Expect a few pre-deadline meltdowns and lectures that seem like they’ll never end. But there’s a difference between the usual course related worries and really struggling. If you feel overwhelmed and over-stressed by your course, please stop and ask for help. My experience is that members of staff at uni are always happy to help and give advice. Talk to your personal advisor about how you’re feeling. Most department members have office hours where you can come in and speak to them, so pick the friendliest lecturer and go and ask for their help. If you feel the course really isn’t for you, there’s always the option of switching course. If you think you would like to switch, talk it over with your family and members of staff at uni – it might also be helpful to chat to second and third years who will have a broader experience of the course.

I’m so homesick

At uni many people are living away from home for the first time, and this can be pretty difficult. Even if you’re not the kind of person who gets homesick, just wait until something goes wrong or you get ill, and then you’ll suddenly really wish your parents were around.  For a lot of people, the first few months at uni can be especially hard, but try and stick it out. A good tip is to get involved in some of the activities on offer at uni, because it gives you lots to do to take your mind off things – try to keep busy and get out of your room as much as possible. It’s natural to feel a bit unsettled and homesick at first, but once you get used to uni life and find some firm friendships things will suddenly feel a lot better. If you are still struggling with homesickness, UEA has the Student Support Service which can be really helpful.

I don’t like my flat

Living in university accommodation with other students can be a really fun experience. However, bear in mind you are essentially living with a group of people you’ve never met before and therefore don’t be surprised if you don’t become best friends with everyone in your flat. Things like messy kitchens and noisy neighbours are unfortunately to be expected in most uni halls. If you don’t feel like you get on with the people you’re living with, don’t panic. Once you’ve settled into friendships outside your flat it’ll seem less important that you’re not necessarily living with people who are going to be life long friends. If you think your flat is really awful, there is possibly the option of switching accommodation if there are spaces in other flats, so go and talk to the accommodation office about your options.

Uni life definitely has its ups and downs, and I hope this has been helpful for anyone who’s struggling a bit. The most important thing to understand is that if you’re finding uni life really difficult, there’s loads of support available so don’t be afraid to ask help!

Useful links

Student Support Service information

Counselling and mental health services

Learning Enhancement services

Union Advice Centre

Second Year

Last week was my first week of proper lectures/seminars of second year history, and it’s made me think about my expectations and hopes for this year. Second year is a pretty daunting prospect. From now on, my marks actually count towards my degree (which they didn’t during first year) and there’s the general feeling that things are more serious. I’ve heard lots of things about second year – with loads of people telling me it’s going to be really stressful and difficult, but with many people telling me it’s not as bad as everyone says. I guess I’ll just have to wait and find out!

This year I have a similar amount of contact hours as I did last year, but for my first term my timetable is quite unusual, with most of my hours on one day and then Mondays and Fridays off. Although it’s nice to essentially have a four day weekend, it’s quite a shock to the system to have a 10-6 day, when I’m used to only having a few hours a day!

This year I was able to choose my modules and I’ve gone for quite a range. My first term modules are Tudors and Stuarts, Modern Germany and Anglo Saxon Britain, so I’m covering a really large time period! Both Modern Germany and Anglo Saxon Britain were actually not my first choice, but the modules I wanted to do would have clashed on my timetable so I settled for these. If I’m being honest, I’m quite worried about these modules, because I don’t know much about either subject so at the moment I’m feeling very out of my depth. That being said, it’s quite exciting to be doing new subjects because there’s a lot of fascinating stuff to learn, but the amount to learn does seem quite overwhelming at the moment. Next term I’m doing Britain during the Wars of the Roses, Propaganda and Conspiracy and Crisis which I’m really looking forward to – my logic is if I can get through this term’s modules, next term will be much better!

This year I’ve also moved into a house rather than being in campus accommodation which has also brought a lot of change. It took a bit of getting used to but I’m really loving it. My housemates are lovely, and it’s been great to hang out in the evenings and cook together, which I didn’t get a chance to experience with my flatmates last year.

It looks like second year is going to be just as busy as first year, possibly even more busy (which slightly terrifies me!). I’ve only been back for two weeks but I feel like I’ve already done so much and have so much more to do! It’s great to be back and have lots of exciting stuff to be involved in. I’m also remembering how draining busy university life can be, so I’ve vowed to be more organised this year, although I don’t know how long that will last…