Wednesday, 11 July 2018

My Thoughts on Second Year of University

Oh, hey, blogosphere. It's been a while, hasn't it? It feels like forever since I've just taken the time to chill out and write a blogpost. Maybe some of that is to do with everything that I've had going on in my final semester of second year which — and I can't believe this as I'm writing it — is over. 

So, second year. I feel like I did a complete 180 turnover this year and I don't know how I did it. Now, I'm not usually one for believing in fate/destiny, so maybe it was more my own determination and will to put myself out there and change things for the better. Even if didn't consciously think about these things at the time.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, it's partly the best decision that I made during uni: to start the theatre society. Partly this decision, partly the people that I met as a result of this. I just became a happier, smilier and generally better person because of the experience that I had assistant directing a couple of shows and making so many friends from doing this. It's a total difference compared to the lack of community that I felt at the start of second year with having left halls to now: I have made genuine good friends, bettered myself and made many more memories than I would have if I hadn't joined the theatre. All of which I am so grateful for.

Academically, things improved as well, but I shan't go into too much detail about that as it's summer now and I'm going to enjoy it. I enjoyed my modules and am proud of my overall grade, but I know that things need to improve for next year even still. It's crazy to think I'll be applying for my masters in September but I'm excited (and anxious) for a new start when I graduate next year (omg). 

So, that's a brief summary of what I've been up to. I hope to be a bit more regular with the blogposts now that I have the time (including some foodie reviews from around Notts), so please stay with me for that!




Monday, 16 April 2018

Film Review: Mary Shelley Trailer

Something exciting dropped on the 12th of April, 2018 — a movie trailer of a film that I having been greatly anticipating since becoming aware of the production and its immense cast of American/British talent: Elle Fanning, Maisie Williams, Douglas Booth and Bel Powley. With the exception of Powley, I have been an avid fan and follower of the aforementioned actor's and their careers to date. Thinking about it now, maybe that makes me more biased to the film as a whole. Really though, I just like to think that the cast itself makes me all the more excited for it.

Yet, when scrolling through Youtube comments and online articles, it becomes clear that there are people who seem dubious over the clear feminist agenda made apparent throughout the trailer. Lines such as 'The woman is not intelligent enough to form ideas of her own' have heavy connotations of feminist criticism. When I learned that this is truly what Lord Byron felt at the time, however, I couldn't help but be glad that the film wasn't sugarcoating the feminist issues at the time. Shelley's mother was, of course, an avid member of the feminist movement. Besides, if a movie such as I Love You, Daddy can be cut from airing due to its poor taste and obvious anti-feminism, then why can't a film celebrating the achievements of women just be celebrated as they should be? As the old saying goes, it seems that to some people you just can't win either way.

One of the beginning lines of the trailer comes from Maisie Williams. When Fanning, as Mary Shelley, asks her "Who is that?", she replies with "Shelley — beautiful, isn't he?" Instead of continuing the love story between the two as many archetypal period dramas would (we already know from Mary Shelley's namesake that the two inevitably get married), the story shifts into a feminist lens that is highly palpable throughout the rest of the trailer. These feminist overtones are, of course, what the haters are hating, but if done with more subtly throughout the film itself then I don't see it as a blinding problem at all. 

What are your thoughts? The mixture of feminism and great casting simply makes me all the more excited to go out and see this film. Of course, as with anything including feminism, the reactions are polarising. Let me know what side you're on.

Mary Shelley is due for release from May 2018.


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Fresher's Week

Fresher's week. What a terrifying concept — literally a whole week of awkwardly attempting to socialise with people that you've only just met. An even more terrifying thought when you consider that I had the social ability of a teaspoon before university started. Luckily, I like to think I've come a long way since then, and so I'd like to offer what limited tips I can share...

1. Please do yourself a favour and damn sOCIALISE.

I know it's hard, especially if you're awkward like I was at the start. Know that it's easier to put the effort in early on than it is later down the line. Don't let that scare you though — be an open book and actively want to get to know everyone, even if it's just casual conversation that feels a bit dead. We all have to start somewhere. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find your true friends (it's just, like, statistics or something, right?)

2. Don't feel or be pressured

Don't be pressured to do ANYTHING that you don't want to do. I didn't drink or go to any parties before uni, so I stuck to that routine during fresher's week. The closest I came to was joining some of my new-found friend group's pre-drinks before they all went out until whatever hour and guess what, I didn't drink there either! Awkward was definitely my name and game, oops. But it was perfectly fine, because I was still accepted to this new environment and by these new people, so I felt relatively at ease and non-pressured. When you do decide to follow the crowd, ensure that it's 100% your decision and your decision only. Saying that, fresher's week is where you're expected to most exceed your comfort zone, so remind yourself of this and know that it's the easiest time to get involved with things even if you feel like a total new-comer. (Heads up: everyone is!)

3. Join societies and stick to them

Societies are so much fun but unfortunately as a first year, things got on top of me and I decided to drop out of them (whilst missing them terribly). Luckily I recognised my mistake, and here I am telling you not to make the same one (unless you really hate everything about it I guess). Now in second year, I have quite important roles in a couple of societies and I feel so much more fulfilled that  I'm able to maintain a society/workload/social life/uni balance. It's given me incredible opportunities and experiences, some of which are the definitive part of overall university experience and ones that I will never forget.

4. Be realistic

If you're still feeling uneasy in your new environment, I urge you to understand that this is totally normal. For the first month I felt like a total fish out of water, but I kept telling myself that this was only the beginning, that it could only get better from here. And that's so true; this is one week out of your entire university experience. Don't drop out at the sound of a warning bell, be steadfast! You can totally do this. And if you really feel that you can't...

5. Find support

Confide in a new friend, a member of staff you trust, a friend from your home or even your family. Let them know how you're feeling emotionally, academically, and in every other way.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

university update 001: second year, so far

Second year, so far. It has baffled me (as it does time and time again) that this academic year has flown by so quickly. I can't believe that, in relation to my overall degree, I am more than halfway through with it. Disbelief and excitement overwhelm me everyday: disbelief, because it feels as though I only started uni yesterday; excitement because the prospect of finishing my degree and starting a new chapter is more than a dream to me.

Upon reflection, last semester wasn't exactly smooth, though I did average at a borderline 2:1 in the end. I chose modules in Shakespeare and Chaucer for English and in ethics for philosophy. Though I enjoyed them in part, there were specific elements in each of them that I didn't quite get along with. I struggled in my first Chaucer assessment that amounted to 25% of the module, which was equally damaging to my self-esteem as it was to my sense of purpose. However, I managed to pull it up with the second assessment, receiving a comparatively lovely 2:1 for it. The other modules I struggled more in the enjoyment of them than the academic side, although I didn't perform as well in my ethics exam as I would have liked. I can only hope to exceed that this semester, and overall I am proud that my (approx.) 10,000 words of coursework generally received good praise.

Onto this semester, of which I am thoroughly enjoying so far. The three modules I am taking are more specific than ever, including yet more Shakespeare and even more philosophy. I repeat, I cannot believe how fast this semester and year has already flown by, but I am excited by the fast-paste nature of it all. My attendance this semester has been better than ever, although my hours are so minimal. This does mean, however, that I am able to dedicate my free time to more independent study and interests outside of my degree.

Speaking of extracurricular things, this semester has been wonderful as I have finally fallen back into the routine of the theatre. I am helping out in directing one of the productions this year and it has proven to be very rewarding already. I am definitely looking to apply for another producing role this semester and continue with theatre even more so next year. It's wonderful to have something physically moving back in my life; although writing is my passion, you aren't exactly required to leave the house for it. The theatre is a luxury indeed.

If you're at university, what aspect are you currently enjoying? If not, what do you miss?




Wednesday, 14 February 2018

weekends are for brunching

I recently went for brunch with a group of friends at The Pudding Pantry in my university town, Nottingham. Oh my goodness, it was divine. I’m usually quite sceptical about eating out, but I actually can’t rave about it enough. I know that Nottingham has somewhat of a reputation for its eateries and it’s hard to distinguish the hype from the truth, but if my experience is anything to go by then The Pudding Pantry is definitely one to go to.

Oh my goodness, this hot chocolate was sooo damn good (although the picture is slightly out of focus, oops). You can tell that Pudding Pantry just make sure that everything is done with that bit of extra care and attention. If you’re a fan of homemade hot coco (who isn’t???), then you NEED to try out their Classic Hot Chocolate, which I paid £2.95 for. I figured the pricing was very decent for the hot beverage and that the quality actually exceeded the cost. It was so smooth and just the right amount of rich chocolate to sweetness ratio.

For £9.95 (one of the most expensive on the brunch menu, which isn’t actually too bad price-wise) you can get what they call The Full Pantry, a delicious couple of pancakes stacked with bacon and served with homemade baked beans, your choice of scrambled or fried eggs, a garlic mushroom and maple syrup. And boy, is it dreamy. It’s also definitely VERY full, so I would recommend only purchasing when you’re reeeaaally hungry. Looking back I should have just ordered a stack of pancakes and bacon as that would definitely have sufficed my hunger, and I wouldn’t have had left so much food over!
Saying that, I did actually really enjoy the food that I could manage, and was glad that I could get The Full Pantry to try all of their star products out. The homemade baked beans were sooo good; definitely different to your traditional (I hadn’t actually tried homemade ones before) but all the more indulgent! The pancakes were just divine as well, really fluffy and sweet, yet this didn’t detract from the savoury nature of the rest of the dish. In fact, the sweetness went perfectly with the saltiness of the bacon, and the pancakes were definitely the star of the show.
If you’re in Nottingham and looking for a good spot of brunch, I definitely recommend looking at The Pudding Pantry. I can’t believe I hadn’t been before, and will definitely be back in order to try out all of their cakes and sweet treats!

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