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!

 

Student Cookbook: Bacon Pasta

Today’s recipe post in my Student Cookbook series is courtesy of my lovely housemate Tara! This recipe can feed about four, so you can either make it with friends, or simply increase or decrease the ingredients as you need.

You will need:

  • 1-2 onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 carrots
  • bacon lardons
  • one tin of chopped tomatoes
  • tomato puree
  • pasta
  • herbs

Method:

  1. Chop the onion and garlic. Peel and grate the carrots.
  2. In a large pan (we used a casserole dish but a large saucepan with a lid would work fine) fry the bacon lardons in a bit of oil until cooked on the outsidebacon
  3. Stir in the onion, garlic and carrots. Cover the pan and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the veg softens.
  4. Put the pasta on to boil
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and a good squirt of tomato puree to the veg and bacon mix. Add seasoning and herbs – we used pepper, basil, thyme and oregano.
  6. Cover the pan and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  7. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and mix it in with the bacon and veg pasta
  8. Serve up! We used a sprinkling of cheese to finish it off.finished

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.

Blickling Hall

Reading week is always a great week (if your subject is lucky enough to get one). This year I decided to stay at uni for reading week because there was quite a lot of work I needed to get through, but having no contact hours means you have a lot more flexibility with your time. So as well as scheduling a good amount of library time through the week, my housemate Tara and I decided we would do a day trip to Blickling Hall, a National Trust stately home. As history students, National Trust enthusiasts and lovers of autumn it seemed like a pretty perfect day out for us and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

To get to Blickling, catch the 44, X44, 43 or 44A coach from Castle Meadow to Aylsham (£4.50 for a young person’s return ticket) and then from Aylsham you can either walk about 1.5 miles to Blickling or get a taxi. If you walk, you will have to go part way on quite a busy road that helpfully has no pavement, but there is a public bridleway track for the majority of the walk – just be prepared for mud if you go in winter.

On the day that we went, the Hall itself was closed but all the gardens were open as well as the cafe and gift shop (crucial parts of a National Trust trip). We managed to go on the one day it didn’t rain last week and the grounds were crazy beautiful in the autumn sun. The estate is absolutely massive, so there were so many parts to explore, including the main gardens, a walled garden, the lake, an orangery and a ‘secret garden’.

We sat by the lake for lunch with a view (side note: Blickling hall has the most benches I’ve ever seen on one estate, the National Trust seem to have gone a bit overboard). Later we popped into the cafe for a cream tea and then we explored the second hand bookshop.

All in all it was a really lovely day, and I would definitely recommend a trip to Blickling if you’ve got a day to spare. I’d love to go back when the Hall is open, and I know they’ve got some Christmas events coming up which sound great – check out their website for more details.

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

Student Cookbook: Roasted veg

Welcome to my first recipe post of my ‘Student Cookbook’ series! I’m gonna be posting recipes of my own, and some from my friends, to hopefully inspire you to cook something other than beans on toast while at uni. So put down that pot noodle and dig out the vegetable peeler your mum packed for you somewhere, because it’s time to make some real food.

First up is sausages and roasted vegetables – this recipe is super simple but makes a really delicious and filling meal.

You will need:

  • a selection of veg – I went for carrots, sweet potato, parsnips and onion
  • cooking oil
  • sausages
  • gravy mix
  • mixed herbs and seasoning
  • garlic

This recipe is very flexible so you can change the ingredients depending on how hungry you are or how many people you are cooking for. I always find you need more veg than you think because it will shrink down a bit in the oven so bear that in mind.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Add a generous splash of oil to a baking tray and put it in the oven to begin to heat up
  2. Peel and chop the veg into chunks chopped-veg
  3. Take out the baking tray from the oven and transfer the veg into it. Remember to also add the garlic.
  4. Give the tray a good shake to coat the veg in the oil, you might need to add a splash more here if you feel you haven’t got enough oil.
  5. Season the veg with mixed herbs, salt and pepper veg
  6. Put the tray into the oven. It will take approximately between 45 mins and an hour to cook. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on it, if some of the veg starts to burn around the edges just turn the oven down a bit. cooked-veg
  7. About 15-20 mins before the vegetables are done, start cooking the sausages. This can be done in a number of ways but I find it easiest to grill them
  8. Mix up some gravy – if you’re lazy like me, just get instant gravy granules where all you need to do is add hot water.
  9. When everything is cooked simply plate it up and enjoy!! meal

 

I hope you enjoy this meal if you make it! Keep an eye out for more recipes coming up on my blog soon.

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…

Making a house a home

This year I’ve moved out of uni accommodation and into a house in Norwich. Living in a house is quite different to being on campus – living with less people means a tidier kitchen, but it’s weird not living within 5 minutes of everyone and everything on campus. One of the nice things about having a house is there’s more opportunity to decorate and personalise it than there was living in halls on campus. However this doesn’t mean you can’t personalise your uni room – check out my post on accommodation to see what my room looked like last year.

This year, I went for some similar decorations to last year in my room- a noticeboard is a really great feature for your room because you can display a lot of things without worrying about damaging the walls by using blu tack. A photo wall is also a fab way to brighten up your room and display some of your favourite memories.

I’m also a firm believer that bunting and fairy lights can make any room look better so we’ve made good use of these throughout our house. Primark is a great shop for good value fairy lights, and they can make a room look really cosy in the evenings. In my room I’ve used fairy lights around my noticeboard and door, and we also have some strung around the staircase bannister and in the fireplace.

At the moment we even have some flowers around the house which make the living room feel very homely. I’d definitely suggest buying some plants for your room, a little cactus or succulent plant won’t take much looking after and you can buy them from the plant sale held during freshers week.

There are plenty of ways to decorate your room/house that won’t cost much, a lot of things can be made rather than bought, and it’s so nice to make your room feel a little bit more like home!

On the radio…again

This week I was invited onto BBC Radio Norfolk to talk about tips for freshers and my experience of university. It was a really cool opportunity – the only radio experience I have is from my short appearance on Livewire – so I was pretty excited but also quite nervous!

Here’s the link to my interview, so if you missed it (or want to listen again!) you can: