An International Student of Literature in England.
This time of year marks my first blog anniversary, and also my first England anniversary! In other words, I’ve officially started my second year of university – I can’t believe how quickly time goes by. I remember saying bye to my parents at the airport, discovering and decorating my room in halls and freshers week. I’ve grown a lot since then, both intellectually and personally, and it’s strange to think about the impact coming to study in England has had on my life. I just hope it was a good decision that will help me in the future for my career.
To celebrate the past twelve months, I wanted to review my memorable and most important times at UEA !
You never forget the day you left home and your parents, that’s for sure. It’s such a big deal after all ! It’s also a time of your life when you need to prove to yourself and your family that yes, you can make it on your own. Like my friends, I got used to it very quickly although I have to admit that at the start, cooking wasn’t my forte. It’s also a time of your life when you need to forget about shyness and go to people, talk to everybody and socialise a lot. It can be scary but it’s worth it when you meet tons of fun people who make you comfortable an are going through exactly the same things. (Goodbye Mum and Dad, Settling In)
Essays aren’t always fun to write, but it’s a necessary part of university life (unless you’re unfortunate enough to have exams). I wrote an article called « Still alive : I survived essays » in week 7 after having finally submitted three essays : one on Chaucer, one on French poet Baudelaire, and the last one about the status of the readers in the poem Ozymandias. I was extremely relieved, as I was after each essay deadline I’ve ever had. In fact, I wrote blog articles after finished each essay to let the world know I was still alive 😛 . Working on summative assessments takes up all your time for days (sometimes weeks) and is very stressful so my main advice is : do NOT wait until the last minute to start doing research and writing them! (More about my essays here, here and here)
It’s no surprise for my readers if I say I adore the Sainsbury Centre. I’ve written a lot about it and all their exhibitions because I genuinely love this place and always find it so refreshing. Whenever I feel like taking a break from work and everything else, I like going there. They have an impressive and very varied collection ! I particularly like the John Davies’ sculptures, such as the Bucket Man. Their Francis Bacon, which I’ve fully reviewed here, was also very impressive and I feel very lucky to have a place like that on campus. (More reviews here and here for the Reality Exhibition)
I went back to France from the first time since I’d moved in during the Christmas holidays. It was very strange to be back home and honestly, I missed university life and my flatmates ! But I believe it is a very good thing, since it shows I adapted very well to university. It was very nice to be back home to relax though after all the essays that were due the days before and I’d missed my little brother a lot. He waited for me at the airport with my parents on the night I came back, which was a lovely surprise. They’d also prepared some sort of late birthday celebration for me since I’d been away for my birthday for the first time in my life. It was nice ! The one thing I’ll always remember is how peculiar it felt to be back for the first time. And also, when the police officer ask for my passport at Nice airport, I was a bit surprised to hear him speak French, haha.
Finding a house for the 2015/2016 academic year was a big concern for everyone. Homerun is a free letting agency run by the university for its students which guarantees decent houses around the campus or closer to the city centre. The only problem is, all the offers went live very soon after our return from the Christmas holidays and most houses were taken within a couple of days! I’d already decided I was going to live with two of my flatmates and we’d talked about it, but the day the houses went live was really stressful. We only visited two houses, and the second one is the one from which I am now writing this article! I was extremely surprised when we visited it because it’s quite big and felt very homely. I remember being surprised that nobody had taken – or even visited – it before us! I’ve only been living in that house two weeks but already feel at home and like I belong in this place. Of course, I miss living with my other friends but I have to admit it’s nice to have a lounge, our own washing machine, a garden and even a conservatory! It’s also my first “real house” so it’s seems very special.
It feels good to get away from Norwich sometimes and to visit England a bit. I finally went to Sheringham to see the sea at the end of last year. It’s just a small sea-side town and may seem really boring to most people but I still feel like a tourist in the UK. It also reminded me of home in France since I live quite close to the beach. Visiting London and Cambridge is very easy from Norwich since both cities are relatively close and there are many different ways to get there. The cheapest way is definitely Megabus, and it’s very convenient since they have a bus stop in the city centre but also at UEA. They’re not always reliable and can sometimes be very late but you have to decide what’s more important to you: saving your money or your time? You can also get there by train and it’s not too expensive depending what time you book and how far in advance you do it. I’d already been on holiday to London with my family in 2012 so I only went back to London for a day since last year, with my boyfriend and a friend of mine. We went the Science Museum, which I’d already visited and loved! As for Cambridge, I went twice with my boyfriend and we mostly visited museums too. The first time, we discovered an incredible place: The Centre for Computing History. If you’re interested in computers (veeeery old ones) and video games, you MUST check it out because you can actually touch and use most of the computers! (There’s more about Cambridge here and here) Which leads me to my next point…
I’ve loved music and rock bands for a long time now and, although I’ve been to quite a few concerts over the last years, it can be hard to see the bands I love play live in the South of France. Last year, I was very lucky since my absolute favourite artist, Steven Wilson, came to play in Cambridge. The show was amazing! I’ll see him again in a few days in London! 😀 I also nearly had a heart attack when, one morning, I went on Facebook and saw that Placebo was coming to play on campus, at the LCR. I honestly couldn’t believe it and was very happy because I really hoped to see them live one day. And my dream came true. The only downside is ears kept ringing for a few days after the gig.
Talking about concerts, the Radio 1 Big Weekend took place in Norwich last year! Can you believe it, a festival, on our campus?! The idea seemed crazy to me but I knew I wanted tickets. Luckily, me and my boyfriend got a pair of tickets for the first day, without really knowing which bands were going to come or if we were going to like them. I thought it’d be fun anyway and a shame to miss such an event. One morning, I went online as soon as I woke up and literally jumped out of my bed: Muse, the band I’ve loved since I was 13, was headlining the first night! 😀 That was unbelievable to me. I discovered some other pretty cool bands and most important, I had so much fun with my boyfriend! It was an incredible and very unexpected way to finish off the year. Click here for my full review of the Big Weekend.
For those who have exams, results day will be some time in July or August. For me, it was much earlier than that since all my essays were due at the end of April. I got my final grades a month later and passed the year with a 2:1! What a relief! It was the (temporary) end to a lot of work and a lot of stress. It all paid off in the end. Now let’s hope I do as well in my second year.
It couldn’t be a proper article if I didn’t mention (once more) Pine House and how much I miss it. I promise it’s the last time I do it. But gosh, it was amazing there. I left my room and my English “home” on the 10th of June, very early in the morning after writing my very emotional Farewell Pine House article. Leaving was incredibly hard and the previous days had been very strange since most of my flatmates had left one after the others. I was left on that last morning with two of them, Shadi and Olivia. It was the end of lots of things: my room reminded me of so many good times, so many films we’d watched with my friends, so many days of hard work. The kitchen was the place where we laughed so much, where we had many deep and silly conversations, where I burnt so much food. The missing paint on the corridor wall was the place where we did races on my desk chair, the doors were the ones we’d decorated with awful Photoshops and sticky notes… After lots of tears, I finally managed to close my door one last time and leave.