My name’s Harriet, and after a failed attempt at a different university two years ago I am now very happy to be in my first second at Edge Hill University. I’m studying Creative Writing and Film Studies and commuting in from Liverpool. I really love music festivals, shopping, films with a twist, and a good night out. Oh, and I’m a bit of a crazy cat lady. Okay, a full blown crazy cat lady.
This week I was incredibly saddened to hear that Dinesh Allirajah had passed away. Dinesh was an associate staff member of the Edge Hill University Creative Writing department and taught me in my poetry and fiction modules in my first year. It was due to his dry wit and inspiring passion about what he taught that he was my favourite seminar tutor.
It is the role of the creative writing seminar tutors to assist with coursework, teach theory, inspire new ways of thinking and to assist their students in building up a portfolio of creative work. With Dinesh, I felt that he gave so much more. Not only did he help me greatly in my studies, but he always managed to help me regain confidence in my own creative work when I was letting the self-doubt creep in. I often find myself automatically adjusting segments of my work, keeping in mind what Dinesh taught me to look out for, when I edit my work.
Dinesh was always willing to help in any way he could and; he even took time out to write me a reference when I was putting together an application for a scholarship.
Whilst I only knew Dinesh through the few hours a week of seminars in my first year, I know that I will never stop using what he taught me.
Edge Hill has a lot to offer in the way of a support network, but I always find that when in doubt it’s best to start at the Student Information Centre. The Student Information Centre is on campus, right next to the library, and it is a great place to get advice. I’ve actually been having council-tax-related-trouble this morning, so I rang up the Student Information Centre and they advised me over the phone. Here are some of the things they can help you with:
They can help you if:
…you need to talk to a one-on-one counsellor- If you’re struggling and need somebody to talk to then a counselling session can be arranged. Read more HERE.
…you are struggling to find work- The Student Information Centre includes the Careers Centre. In the Careers Centre the advisors are on hand to assist students in getting jobs and to help students with their employability. They can look over your CV and arrange voluntary work. Read more HERE.
…you need financial advice- Today, after over an hour of calling various people at Liverpool council, googling things that I’d never understand and tearing my hair out I called the Student Information Centre. They advised me on how best to proceed and put my mind at rest. They can also help with budgeting and funding information. Read more HERE.
…you need childcare support- Edge Hill assist where they can in making it as easy as possible for parents to attend university. They can give information and advice on childcare and can also give information regarding financial support. Read more HERE.
Click HERE for more information on the support offered to students.
Well last week was one of the busiest weeks that I’ve had in a while. On top of university and work I was also busy most evenings.
On Monday evening I went to see Interstellar at the IMAX in Liverpool One. I often feel like I’m not a very good film student as I often don’t see a lot of new films, but with all the hype surrounding it I felt that Interstellar was one that I had to see. I’m also a big Christopher Nolan fan, so was excited to see what he had to offer. The film was incredible and visually stunning and I’d recommend it to anyone, although I must warn; there is a jumpy bit that made everybody in the cinema scream!
On Tuesday evening I went to see one of my favourite musicians live, Jamie T. I’ve been a massive fan of Jamie T for quite a few years, so I’ve been waiting to see him play live for a long time. We went to see him at the Liverpool Guild of Students, which I believe is the University of Liverpool’s student union. It was a really intimate venue and I came out of the gig incredibly happy, although wishing that he was playing more dates.
On Wednesday I was on campus, at the The Rose Theatre, watching a reading by the Irish short story writer, Kevin Barry. We are studying Kevin Barry’s book, ‘Dark Lies the Island’, as part of the Creative Writing course, so hearing his work read out loud and having an opportunity to ask questions was incredibly helpful. I really love Kevin Barry’s work and managed to get my book signed, although in true ‘Harriet style’ I turned into a shy, giggling mess.
On Friday I was at The Lantern Theatre in Liverpool watching ‘Still Ill’, a play written by one of the Edge Hill Creative Writing Lecturers, Billy Cowan, and based around the music of The Smiths. We are able to write our Script coursework on this play, so it was great seeing it acted out, and at the end there was a question and answer session. The play managed to be funny and heartbreaking and was a great way to end my week.
In spite of how busy I was I somehow managed to keep on top of all my work last week and it’s certainly means that I have no excuse on a normal week when I have much less on.
As it’s never too early to be finding accommodation fir next year it’s now worth thinking strategically about who you want to live with. While it may be tempting to move in with your best friends you may find that they’re not the best people to live with. Here are some things to look out for:
Do you have similar standards of cleanliness?
It may seem obvious but it might not be until you’re living together that you discover that your housemate’s definition of ‘clean’ varies drastically from your own. If you like a tidy house then it’s best to live with people who also want this. If you like to be a little more laid back when it comes to cleaning and tidying then you’re best to find somebody with a similar mind-set.
Will your schedules be conflicting?
It’s tough to know what hours people will be in uni next year, but if you have an inkling of what the timetables might be like it’s probably best not to live with four people who all need to be out and showered at the same time every morning. This can be difficult if you plan to live with people from your course, so if it comes down to it think very carefully about moving in with people who take hour-long showers.
Are they reliable?
Depending on how you pay your bills and rent there could be a chance that you’ll be responsible for getting everyone’s money together. There’s nothing more awful than having to chase somebody for money, so make sure you can rely on the people you plan to live with.
What do you want your year to be like?
If you’re planning a year of intense studying then it’s best to make sure that you’re not living with people who will be keeping you up all night. On the other hand, if you like your fair share of nights out then make sure you’re not living with somebody who you will disturb when you get in.
Finding a house can be a stressful experience but the people that you’re house-hunting with can dictate just how stressful the experience is going to be. However, as long as you choose your future housemates wisely the whole process might actually be fun, as well!
On Friday the 7th November I attended Aesthetica Short Film Festival as part of an organised university trip with the Film Studies department. Although Edge Hill arranged our travel, bought our tickets and booked us on masterclasses university trips differ greatly from school and college trips, in that we are a lot more independent and left to our own devices. We were told when to meet up to get the coach and when the coach would be leaving, but other than we were free to spend our time how we wished, and if we weren’t back in time the coach would leave without us.
ASSF takes place yearly in York and is held at many different venues. There are multiple screenings of short films over the few days, as well as opportunities to meet people within the film industry. Between screenings we explored York, looked around vintage shops and found a quaint little café that served vegetarian and vegan meals.
We were booked into a masterclass entitled ‘The Role of Film Criticism’ run by Anna Smith, a highly regarded film critic. Although I don’t wish to be a film critic I found her talk incredibly interesting and entertaining and the way that she analysed aspects of films will definitely be useful within my own work in Film Studies. Anna was really passionate and broke up her talk with anecdotes and her own opinions. At the end she answered quite a few questions and I made notes on advice that she had given.
After the masterclass we attended an hour long screening of six comedy short films. I loved a couple of the films, but wasn’t too fond of others, but as somebody who’s interested in film it was helpful to watch a variety of different examples from the comedy genre.
As we left the screening the heavens opened and we waited inside a café until it was time to leave. Overall, I’m really glad that I went on the trip; York was a great place to visit and I know that I will use the things that I learnt in my academic writing.
Now that my favourite night out of the year has been and gone I thought that it would be nice to write about it.
Like last year, my housemate and I decided to begin the festivities by baking Halloween cupcakes. I ate my own weight in cake mix and there are now sprinkles in crevices in the kitchen that I didn’t even know existed, but overall it was a lot of fun. We managed to get lots of Halloween themed cake decorations at Aldi, including slime-green frosting and zombie cake toppers.
We also picked up some cheap decorations from Aldi and the kitchen is now covered in ‘spooky’ paper chains. I predict that the decorations will still be up when it comes to moving out, along with the birthday decorations that have been up since August and the Christmas decorations that are soon to go up. Fortunately, three out of four of us are arts students, so we can probably get away with claiming that we’re simply expressing our creativity.
The night out was great- I always forget how busy it can be on Halloween and everyone’s costumes make it quite a surreal experience. The day afterwards I spoke to a taxi driver who said that it had been his busiest shift ever, and that he’d enjoyed driving zombies and witches about all night.
I’m sad that it will be another year until Halloween, but there’s plenty more to look forward to. On Wednesday I’ll be going to see the fireworks at uni and Christmas is just around the corner. My main focus is to stay on top of my work so that I’m able to socialise and attend as many events as I can, guilt free.
Yesterday I had my first and thankfully last (yay!) exam of the year. The exam was in a film module called ‘Film Genre- Case Study’ and involved applying critical approaches to a fifteen minute clip from a Western film.
The exams on my course are nothing like the exams from school or college which involved sitting in a massive, echoey room on tiny desks, far apart from everybody else. We have the exams in our small seminar groups in the usual seminar room and I definitely find that it makes the whole experience less nerve-wracking. We are given a sheet of paper with the exam question on, as well as information that may be useful, like character and actor names. We are also given an exam booklet which is full of blank paper to write on. It’s okay to make notes in the exam booklet as long as they’re crossed out at the end. When filling out our information on the front of the booklet there is a section that can be folded over and stuck down to cover our names. This ensures that the person whose exam is being marked is kept anonymous throughout the marking process.
The Creative Writing side of my course is exam-free and completely based on coursework as it’s hard to evaluate creative skills in an exam format. The coursework is split between creative pieces and analyses of other people’s creative work. This year I’ll be producing a stage play, a collection of poetry and a piece of short fiction. Although these pieces aren’t due in until May I find with creative work it is best to start as early as possible as the drafting process can be quite intense and often the final piece is nothing like the first draft. We also workshop these pieces in seminars in order to get feedback as well as giving feedback to others, which can help with our own work.
I now have to wait around four weeks to find out how I did in the exam and, although I’m nervous to get my results, I’m glad that it’s out the way.
In my most recent poetry seminar Lindsey, the seminar tutor, was discussing with us the concept of everything that has happened before in a space continuing to exist within that space as part of its history. She talked about how the building that we were currently in never used to exist and that, as we were on the second floor, some time ago the only things to inhabit that space will have been birds. We then considered the importance of a landscape’s history and how we could use this for our poetry. Lindsey then showed us old maps of the university using a website called www.old-maps.co.uk and I found it all very interesting so thought that I’d share some pictures of how the campus has changed.
Having just grudgingly trudged through a page of academic writing I thought that I’d write this blog on ‘Required Reading’ and why it’s necessary.
As well as lectures and seminars many courses also require the student to take it upon themselves to do related reading in their own time. Often the module leaders and tutors will direct the student on what to read and that reading will help reinforce the content of the lecture or seminar. Although it’s unlikely that anybody will know if you’ve not done the reading it can have an effect on how well you grasp the concepts and ideologies that you are studying.
My biggest tip would be to never underestimate how time consuming the reading can be and never leave it till last minute (although I’ve been guilty of this more than once!) Often the set chapters/articles will be academic writing which can be fiddly and sometimes I have to read the same sentence a few times before I fully understand it. I find that making notes whilst I read helps; identifying the most important points from the text and summing them up in a few concise words usually means that when I go back and read my notes those words prompt me to remember the information surrounding that point.
Lectures can be daunting and a lot to take in, but if you’re familiar with what’s being taught, even if only vaguely from reading about it the night before, it can make a world of difference.
Reading academic writing regularly is also a good practice to get into for when it comes to gathering information and quotes for essays. When you are looking for a source to back up a point that you are making its handy if you have a starting point, having already been referred to writing on that subject by your tutor.
As tempting as it can be to give the required reading a miss (trust me, I know!) I’d definitely recommend to put in the effort if you want to get the most out of your course. And, if it’s any comfort, I strongly believe that the more you read the easier it becomes.
Halloween is my favourite night out of the year so I like to start getting ready for it pretty early. I love fancy dress at the best of times but something about so many people going all out to look amazing gets me pretty excited. Currently I’m planning to dress as Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time but from past experience I’ll probably change my mind a million times between now and the actual event. Last year I dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange and definitely felt in my element.
Halloween falls on a Friday this year, which is great for students and means that the clubs should be packed. Many of the clubs have themed nights and we’ve bought tickets to Waxxx at Camp and Furnace. I’m sure that the Student Union will be getting into the full swing of things as well.
Halloween isn’t just about nights out and can be celebrated in many different ways. I have big plans to decorate the house and last year my housemate and I made Halloween cupcakes. Another great way to celebrate Halloween is to stay in and watch scary films. I love a good slasher flick, so that may have to be on the agenda for this year.
Whether you’re a fan of going out or staying in I think that Halloween is a holiday that everybody can enjoy and I hope that there’s others out there as excited about the festivities as I am!