An International Student of Literature in England.
I haven’t really done a proper life update since I came back to university in September so I think it is time to do so…
There are still three weeks to go before the end of the semester and before the Christmas break but I know time goes by so fast. This semester will be over before I know it and when I’ll come back to Norwich in January, I will be halfway through the year, halfway through my final year of university. Despite being completely over-worked and being a bit sick of university sometimes due to stress and pressure, I can’t say how I will miss studying English Literature and how much I will miss UEA.
But I need to accept that it is a chapter of my life that can’t go on forever.
This semester has been absolutely crazy and I haven’t had much time to myself (or perhaps I haven’t given myself much time?). The main reason for this is university work and job applications.
My two modules, Cultures of Suburbia and Nervous Narratives have been absolutely amazing. I am now working on my projects – one 3000 words essay on The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and a 5000 words project on Bullet Park and other short stories by John Cheever (still don’t know which ones *crying internally*). There’s been a lot of work I felt like all this reading was so enriching and even more interesting than all the things studied before. I learnt so much about so many different things and it’s reminded me why I love studying literatures so much. To be fair though, the workload wasn’t as heavy as the Spring semester in second year. I guess it depends a bit on modules too, but focusing on only two modules instead of three definitely helps.
The real reason why I’ve been so incredibly busy was because I’ve spent a significant amount of time looking for graduate programmes and applying for them. Although I haven’t applied for as many as I wanted to, it’s taken me AGES to do all this. A lot of time that could have been spent reading/working with less pressure or relaxing was spent on applications. I didn’t know applications opened and closed so early and until mid-September I was a bit lost and didn’t know how to get started or where to apply. I wish I’d known earlier, and wish I’d done even more research during the summer… but I’d done a lot and started going to career-related events in first year. Sometimes you just need to let the ideas come to you and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Most of the programmes I applied to are related to social work/charities and HR. I realised none of them ask for a CV. Instead they ask several questions that you need to answer in about 250/300 words. It is incredibly hard. You need to make sure you answer with the best examples you can think of, examples that must come from personal, work or voluntary experiences. Which means that you’d better have some kind of work experience otherwise I don’t see how you could possibly answer most of these questions. I’ve been doing things through university and started doing a lot more this year and still struggled a lot. Answers need to be concise and clear, but at the same time detailed and demonstrate all the competencies they’re looking for.
It’s taken me a number of hours I don’t even want to count. I’ve already had to face rejections and further struggles: once you send your application form that’s taken you ages to fill in, they often ask you to do online tests (verbal, situational…). It also takes time and it can be hard, stressful… I try to stay positive because there’s a lot more I need to apply for over the next weeks and next months (until I find a job basically) and also need motivation for university. Without a degree I won’t get a job. So I try not to think about the rejections, try not to worry about having nothing when university ends, try not to worry about having no idea where I’ll live…
Besides this, I really wanted to do more with my life this semester! Last year, I did barely anything apart from university work and I’d sometimes spend days without going out or seeing anyone apart from my housemates.
This year, I wanted to get more involved in societies! I joined the awesome Literature Society again and make sure to go almost every week. It’s always interesting, fun, and to be honest it’s nice to see people and be a bit social. When studying literature, there are very few contact hours (6 for me this semester!) and it’s easy to become isolated in your books if you don’t make the effort to go out and do stuff. I also joined Headucate! It’s an amazing society that does amazing things. They go to local schools for workshops to raise awareness of mental illnesses and break the stigma attached to them. I did all the training (only two shortish sessions) and am now waiting for an opportunity to go to school. And finally, people finally made a French Society! I haven’t actually joined it and only went a couple of times but I’ll make more efforts during the rest of the year. I was always reluctant to meet French people at UEA before because I wanted to be completely immersed but I have to admit sometimes it feels good to speak in your first language and watch French films I love but I couldn’t share with my English friends.
Apart from that, I am still a Student Blogger and Vlogger! Aaaannnnd *drums roll*… Well it’s not really a surprise because I talked about it on my blog recently but I’ve become a Student Ambassador and volunteer at the Wellbeing Service (a partner of Norwich Mind)! I’m so so so so happy about it. Training took time, I went to interviews, did preparation and all but it is and will be so rewarding. I am beyond excited to get cool work opportunities as an Ambassador. I am so in love with UEA and feel so proud to be able to represent it even more now.
Aaaaaand with all this, there’s my boyfriend! I’ve been visiting him a few times in Southampton, London and he’s come to Norwich too 🙂 There’s always so much work for me to do but seeing him always feels so good. That makes me stressed sometimes but I’m glad I have this – otherwise I would never allow myself a break (unhealthy work habits – I know…).
I quickly gave up my “new year resolutions” which consisted in playing a bit of guitar every or every other day unfortunately but I’ll try to be better at it over the remaining weeks or next semester to avoid losing my sanity. Thankfully, I have my housemates with whom I make too many strange puns and watch Disney films and loooots of Louis Theroux documentaries.
Our house now has a new motto: “Louis helps me get theroux”. You got it? Louis Theroux helps me get through the semester…? I know, I’m hilarious.
I’m going to try to finish the semester without too much mental damage. My first essay is due in the day after I get back home so it needs to be done before then. The deadline for my other longer project is on the 9th of January or something but I refuse to spend my holidays working and stressing. I need this time off, with my little brother and at home! So my aim is to have a full draft before I go back home too (*cries even more internally*)
To summarise all this, things are a bit chaotic, I’m super super busy, I’ve been living off cheap pizza, but I’m very happy to do much more this year. It’s really hit me that university is almost over and I want every single remaining day of it to be fulfilling. I want to be able to look back and think “Yeah, it was really an amazing time of my life” with a huge smile on my face!
Wish me luck!
¡Hasta la vista people!