Opportunities at Uni – Musical Theatre

Throughout the year, students on all years of the Musical Theatre BA at Edge Hill have been  given numerous opportunities to see shows, take part in workshops, and be involved in new projects, all of which give us an edge in our field and allow us to explore other areas of theatre and the arts that we might not have otherwise discovered. Below I will talk about a few of my favourites from the year.

Pippin – The Musical at Hope Mill Theatre

This trip was one of my favourites for many different reasons, and not just because the show was fantastic. The trip took place just four days into term, (the Thursday of Fresher’s Week) and was a great opportunity for out group to bond and get to know each other as we chatted on the bus, and shared opinions of the show. We also got to meet the cast after the show, and even had a workshop day with the lead actor a few weeks after.

The Em Project – October reading Week.

During the time that we were given off timetable as the first sort of ‘half term’ break, the Musical Theatre students were given the chance to be a part of a project- learning, recording and shooting a music video in Liverpool for a brand new musical, called Em- by the amazing Benjamin Till. This was an amazing experience that we could take part in as it meant we could meet and mingle with a professional in our line of work, and get to know people in the other years on our course.  We spent four days learning and perfecting the vocals and choreography for the song. We then recorded our vocals in parts in the Creative Edge building on campus, which was a wonderful experience, but the most fun was definitely the day we spent filming on location in Liverpool, in full 1960’s costume, hair, and makeup.  We started out the day in the infamous Cavern Club, filming the end of the music video, and then travelled around the city to get different shots in different places. All in all, although a very cold a long day, it was a lot of fun and that certainly shows in the video, which premiered last week.

Food Shop – Budgeting Your Money

For a lot of people, one of the biggest worries about coming to uni is money. Will I have enough of it? What happens if I spend too much in freshers week? How does paying for my accommodation work? All of these are things I worried about before arriving at Edge Hill, so I’m here to pass on some knowledge I’ve learnt in my time here.

Firstly, if you’re worried about spending too much of your loan before your accommodation payment comes out, you can arrange with the accommodation team to take the payment out as soon as it comes in, so you can’t be tempted to spend too much too soon!

Another way I learnt to keep track of my spending was to budget my weekly food shop. I was lucky enough to have parents that sent me £30 a week for this purpose, as my maintenance loan minus my accommodation fee wouldn’t allow for this.

£30 may not sound like a lot, but with some careful planning and shopping around, (as we’re lucky enough to have multiple supermarkets in Ormskirk)  I found out that it was plenty to keep me fed for a week, and I often even had a little left over for a treat or two.

Here is a basic break down of a generic weekly shop for me:

Aldi: I would usually use Aldi as a starting point, as it has lots of different food bits that I could pick up, such as sauces and salad kits, which I could then add to from Morrison’s.

Potatoes: £1. Sweet Potatoes: £1. Stir Fry Kit: £2.50. Instant Noodles (x3): £1.20. Cheese: £1.90. Apples: £1.30 Pasta Bake Sauce: 65p. Crisps: £1. Sweet and Sour Sauce: 85p. Spread: £1.90. Ham: £1.45.

Added together this cost me £14.75, about half of my weekly budget, and I now have the main elements of evening meals and lunch.

Morrison’s: I know would use Morrison’s to add to the dishes, and pick up any extra bargains I could see, as Morrison’s often have clearance areas, and these are great for finding meat, cheese and other treats.

Steak: £2.50. Chicken and Pork: 2 for £5 offer. Part baked baguettes (x2 packs): 90p. Pasta: £1. Pineapple: £1. Ice Cream: £1.50. Squash: £1. Milk: £1. Cereal Bars: £1.

Added together this comes to £14.90, giving an overall total of £29.65, keeping just under budget. Some weeks, this would be considerably less, as I wouldn’t need some items every week, such as the packs of meat, squash, and spread, leaving me some money left over for the occasional takeaway of fast food trip.

Hopefully this has helped some people, or at least given you an idea of what to expect when you come to do your very first food shop for yourself!

Places to Visit while at Uni

Although some people attending Edge Hill may be locals, and already know the way around Liverpool and the surrounding areas, there will be some people, who, like me, aren’t local at all and have never visited the area before. If that’s you, or you are local but are looking for inspiration on where to take a day out, then this list is for you.

1- Liverpool

At just a 30 minute train journey from Ormskirk, visiting Liverpool is a must. As someone whose only other big city experience before coming to uni was London, I didn’t really know what I was doing or where I was going when I first visited Liverpool, but I was presently surprised. Liverpool is essentially a smaller, friendlier London- complete with its own share of shops, theatres, and places to eat- not to mention its rich history in music.  And most importantly (for some!), lots of good places to enjoy a night out.

2- Blackpool

In the first flat I was in, I was lucky enough to be sharing with people who were locals, and had access to cars, which meant we got to take a lovely day trip to Blackpool one weekend. We did all the things you’re supposed to do when in a seaside town- we ate fish and chips, went in the biggest arcade we could find, and walked up and down the pier. As Blackpool is a big tourist destination, there are also other things on offer to do, and we decided to take the walk around Madame Tussaurd’s that afternoon, at only £10 each for us students! It was well worth the money and we all had a lot of fun.

3- Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre

Being on a Performing Arts course, I was naturally exposed to more theatre than most, but one of the venues that really stood out to me was Hope Mill. We visited twice in the year, once to see Pippin, and the other to see Little Women, both fantastic musicals. The theatre itself is always impeccably decorated and the bar is themed to the show that is taking place at that point in time. The bar area does amazing drinks and food, so even if you’re not into theatre, the you can still enjoy some time there.

Dealing with Homesickness

Although many people will try to tell you they don’t miss home, or that they were so busy with new things they didn’t even think about it, it’s very likely that it’s not true.

It’s completely normal to feel homesick at any stage of university life, whether you’ve moved across the country or just a few miles away. Here are a few tips to help overcome it.

1- Talk about it.

It’s very likely, especially in the first few weeks of a new term that you won’t be the only one missing home. Talking to your flatmates or coursemates about home can help you to remember the good things about home, but also help you remember why you’ve moved away and all the good things that will bring.

2- Home comforts.

No matter how old you are, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing things that remind you of home, even if that is a cuddly toy! Other items that work include blankets, posters, and fairy lights. Anything that makes your room feel like your space, rather than just an empty room.

3- Photos

On the subject of home comforts, I advise you to buy yourself a photo album or two and print out some of your favourite photos and memories from home. Although now a days we mostly store our photos on our phones, there’s something a little bit more special about a physical copy, and looking through them can really help if you’re having a hard time.

4- Call home.

Don’t be ashamed to excuse yourself from social areas in your flat to make a phone call to the family. It helps you to stay in touch with news from home, and to connect with the people who up until now, you’ve most likely been living with all your life. Using apps such as FaceTime and Skype can enhance this as you get to see faces and places, rather than just voices.

5. Make new friends.

Although you may at times feel like you’re betraying life long friendships by making new friends while you’re away, you’re not. Your home friends would want you to be making new friends and having new experiences, and although at times this may be hard to see, it’s important to remember you can always stay in touch with them in different ways, even if you’re not physically present. 

Performing Arts Auditions – My Experience

The weekend just gone was exactly one year since I first made the 200 mile journey from home to Edge Hill, and I haven’t looked back since. Musical Theatre (my course,) being an Arts course, requires you to complete a successful audition/interview as well as entry grades. The audition day consisted of three parts, a dance audition, a song audition, and the infamous written task.

Because I was travelling from so far away, and my audition started at 9 in the morning, I decided to stay in Ormskirk the night before. Of course, as I had never been before, I had no idea where I could stay, so I contacted Edge Hill by email to ask if they had any suggestions,and they provided me with a list of different  places that they recommend to anyone visiting the uni- so I booked in to one of those.  After finishing the 8 hour train journey, I navigated from the train station up through town and to my home for the night. It was there that I first started to feel really good about my choice. Everyone I came across was incredibly friendly and welcoming, if a little mocking of my very obvious ‘not a local’ accent! After checking in, I went for a little wonder around the town and decided that a stop at Domino’s was the best place for food, and luckily where I was staying was only a 3 minute walk from the shop.

The next morning, after not having the best nights sleep, due to nerves, I got myself ready, had a sing through of my audition song in the shower (it’s great for warming up!) and made the trek up to uni. If I had known then what I know now, I would have either just walked up to the bus stop and caught the EdgeLink bus up to uni, or have booked a taxi, as it only costs about £3 from town, which would have saved me some energy for the day, instead of hauling my bags with me.

When I arrived on campus, despite having no clue where I was, the area was so well sign posted that I was able to find where I needed to be in plenty of time to get signed in in the Arts Centre, where my audition, and several other courses where taking place. Before too long, the day had started and we were warming up to dance first- which was a great experience as it was a taste of what the dance module in first year would be like. After warming up, we were taught a short routine which was broken down into small easy to learn chunks, and were encouraged at all times to ask any questions if we were confused. We then performed the routine (which had a small amount of improvisation in) in small groups and then that was it- what to me was the most daunting part of the day was over, and I was feeling pretty good, even though I knew what I had done wasn’t perfect.

We were then given a few minutes to break, get changed if we wanted to, and grab something to eat before the next part of the day- singing. We were all gathered back into the dance studio (which also had a piano in) and warmed up vocally as a group, and taking into consideration what style we would be singing in. After that, we waited in a room with current student, who we could ask any questions we had about the course, for our turn to sing. When it got to me, I sang through my song twice. Once as I had prepared it, and a second time with some direction from the lecturer conducting my audition. I was also asked a few questions about why I’d chosen the song, and about the character I was portraying.

After this was done, it was on to the written task. We were given two questions to answer, both appropriate to the subject we would be studying. This task is one of the many reasons I knew I wanted to come to Edge Hill, as it gave me an insight into the content of the course- I liked that it wasn’t 100% practical, that there would be an element of academic work included too.

After that, we were done! We were offered campus tours while we were there too, so we could see more of were we might be studying in September, and given the opportunity to ask any other questions we might have.

Overall, my audition experience at Edge Hill was incredibly positive, and made me feel very welcomed and that I was already a part of the department- which was a huge deciding factor when I chose to come to Edge Hill.

 

Surviving Cold and Flu Season at Uni – Part 2

Now, despite following all the advice from my previous post about how to best avoid getting ill throughout flu season, somehow it still managed to get through- I blame that one guy in the lecture who didn’t stop coughing the whole time.

Here’s a few tips to make being ill and away from home comforts that little bit easier.

1- Stock up on Pain Killers.

Trust me on this one- there is nothing worse than being ill and having to get out of bed to go and buy painkillers and other supplements because you don’t have any in your room. It’s a good idea to keep a ready supply of both paracetamol and ibuprofen stocked up in case of any kind of illness or injury, but remember, most shops will only let you buy either two or three packs at a time, so don’t try to bulk buy all at once. There’s also no need to spend loads of money of them- I find that although the named brands may look prettier- they are not worth the £3-£5 you can spend on about 8 tablets. I prefer the non-branded store own pills that are so much cheaper and do exactly the same job, but also leave money left over for some other treats!

Lastly on pain killers, make sure you don’t just buy the variety that contain caffeine. There is nothing worse than not being able to sleep when you’re ill because your pain killers also contain caffeine.

2- Know your Dosages.

Always read the instructions on the back of any medicine containing supplement, including lozenges and drinks, as the last thing you want to do is to take too much or too little. But as a general rule- yes, you should be able to take paracetamol and ibuprofen together, and this will help fight off any illness quicker- but always check the packaging first

3- Drink Plenty

… of water and other healthy fluids to help flush the illness out of your system- effervescent vitamins are great in this situation. Warm drinks (such as honey and lemon or hot squash) will also help to unblock sinuses and soothe sore throats.

4- Fresh Air

Although leaving the confines of you cozy bed might be the last thing you want to do, getting out in the fresh air will help you to feel better sooner, and it gives you the opportunity to stock up on any essentials you might have run out of, such as ice cream. Make sure you wrap up warm!

That’s all for now, I hope if you’re I’ll you feel better soon, and if you’re not, then lucky you! Disclaimer- I am not a doctor! If you feel really unwell or have any questions regarding health, speak to a professional.

Surviving Cold and Flu Season at Uni – Part 1

Through the winter months, wherever you decide to go to uni (unless it’s somewhere sunny like Australia) you will inevitably come across someone with a cold, who- with just one ill times sneeze- can pass all of their germs onto you. This merry-go-round of bugs is especially heightened at uni, because you will be interacting with new people all of the time from all  around the country and some further afield that will all bring different kinds of winter flu and cold that your body hasn’t encountered before. It may well also be your first time being ill away from home, so things might seem a bit daunting without mum around to check up on you every few hours and feed you dry toast.

But don’t fear, as I have complied a list of a few little tricks to help to avoid being caught by the bugs in the first place, and part 2 will be about how to cope when you do have them!

1- Flu Jab.

Along with the highly recommended and pretty much essential meningitis vaccination you will be offered prior to starting uni, you can also request to have the flu jab. Some people will be even able to get it for free, depending on conditions such as asthma. Even if you’re not legible for the free jab, it’s well worth the few pennies you’ll pay and can help you avoid the flu during the colder months.

2- Vitamins

Now, I’m going to sound like my mum here, but hear me out. Taking a daily vitamin supplement can be great in the fight against germs as it will give your body the best possible defences for keeping you healthy. You may also find that taking vitamins daily will help improve your energy levels and general all round health and well-being.  Vitamins come in all shapes and forms, and you do not have to spend a fortune if you don’t want to. You can get vitamins to swallow with water, to chew, or to dissolve in a drink, depending on your preference- there’s even a pretty good range in poundland!

Vitamins and minerals can also be obtained naturally by eating more fruit and veg, rather than just instant noodles and microwavable meals!

3- Staying Warm

Although an alcohol blanket may feel like enough to keep you warm on a night out, it actually doesn’t do much good for your immune system. On nights out, try taking a small jacket or scarf with you that can fold up into a bag for once you’re out. If even that doesn’t sound like you- avoid walking long distances in the cold without an outer layer, especially if it’s raining.

Secondly in staying warm, if you live off campus, it might be worth investing a little more money in keeping your place warmer over winter, or making use of lots of woolly jumpers and hot water bottles, as there’s nothing worse than coming in from a long day at uni to a cold home.

That’s all for now, but if this post has come a little too late for some and you’re already suffering, look out for my next as it will be based around surviving a cold at uni.

 

The Accommodation Team

Here at Edge Hill, everyone understands that some times things just don’t go quite as planned the first time around – especially when it comes to living space.

As written about last week, Palatine was my first choice accommodation and I was lucky enough to get it when I first arrived at Edge Hill. Despite absolutely loving my room and all the facilities it provided, being central on campus and close to my subject building and making some very good friends in the flat, I also had some disagreements with others in the building and decided over the Christmas break that I would be happier somewhere else.

The procedure was incredibly easy and simple. I emailed the Accommodation Team and they sent me a Request to Transfer form to fill out and send back. When I arrived back at Uni after the Christmas break, because I had filled out the form, I could go straight to the Student Information Centre (SIC – where many student services are housed, including Accommodation) to arrange a move.

I was offered the choice of which cluster on campus I would like to move to, if I wanted single sex or combined flat, if I wanted self-catered, and if I wanted an en suite. As my previous flat had had most of these things, I decided to stick with a similar cluster at the same price as the previous.

I managed to move the majority of my stuff over that day, with the help from some friends. I’m now in Chancellors South, which is an incredibly pretty area of the campus as it overlooks one of the lakes, the beach and several fountains- which all mean we get to see plenty of famous Edge Hill ducks! The new flatmates I live with have been incredibly welcoming and friendly, but have also managed to stay connected with friends I had made in the first few months in my old flat.

 

 

 

 

The moral of this story is that although moving in with new people as a fresher can be scary, there will always be people ready and willing to help you out with any concerns, no matter how big all small.

Ormskirk – Home of Edge Hill

Edge Hill University is situated in the small but wonderful town of Ormskirk. As someone who has travelled quite the distance from home to be at uni, from a village just outside two small towns, I knew as soon as I stepped off the train in Ormskirk that I could feel at home here. Originally a market town, founded in 1286 with a charter granted by Edward I, Ormskirk has a way about it that makes you feel like you’ve lived there your entire life, even if you’re only visiting for the day, and despite being small, it has a constant buzz of life going through it (especially at night if you’re anywhere near Alpine!)

Education has been part of the town since 1614, and has played a big part in the education of women – being the first establishment of the kind to educate solely women (outside of the church) all the way back in 1885 when it was known as Edge Hill College. It wasn’t until 1959 that Edge Hill had any male students or staff on campus, and even then they were very much the minority.  Today, Edge Hill’s feminist history is something that is very much noted at the university, and the women still have the majority, with men being outnumbered 2:1.

Ormskirk is also famous for gingerbread, although nobody really seems to know where it originally came from, but the do know that it was being sold by the gingerbread women of Ormskirk as early as 1732, and is still sold and celebrated today by the  summer Gingerbread Festival and is used as an educational and commercial platform for the town.

Public transport routes around the uni are also wonderful for travelling around- without having to fork out for a taxi each time. The EdgeLink bus is an absolute saviour if you’ve done your weekly shop in town and can barely  carry it out of the trolly, as you can hop on it (for free!) at the bus station and it can take you up to the uni and back into town again every 20 minutes. Ormskirk also has a train station which has direct routes to both Liverpool and Preston, which are perfect for days out in the city or as links to further afield, such as going home for weekends.

That’s all for now, but if you would like to know more about the history of Ormskirk and the university, you can visit Ormskirk Bygone Times and the Edge Hill University website.