Summer Preparations

Now that we’re in to June hopefully for most of you your exams will be over, or at least coming to an end very soon – congratulations! Now all there is to do is to sit back and wait for your results, which I know is a lot easier said than done as I’m sure you’re probably very nervous. It’s best to just try and remember that you’ve done all you can for now and so you should enjoy your time off whilst you can!

Those of you starting university this September will probably be thinking about what you can do to prepare over summer. It’s still early on right now, but in the next few months universities might start publishing reading lists, so if you want to get a bit of a head start you can do. This is especially useful for those of you studying courses that involve a lot of reading, as it will mean you don’t have to bury yourself in a mountain of books as soon as you start in September if you’ve managed to get a few read over the summer. Although this is a good idea, I wouldn’t worry too much about it if you don’t have time or want to wait until you definitely get your place before you start buying books.

The same goes for buying things for your flat if you’re planning on living in halls. It can be tempting to start buying a few bits and bobs already, and if you really want to then go ahead. Personally, I waited until I knew I definitely had a place at university and until I knew which halls I was going to be staying in so that I would have a better idea of what things I needed to buy. There’s plenty of time after results day to buy everything you need.

Your last summer before you start university is a really special one. It’s a great time to spend time with friends before you  go off to different universities all over the country. It’s also a time of freedom before you gain a few more grown up responsibilities, so really make the most of it and have fun!

 

New Year, New…Reading List?

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a lovely festive period and are feeling relaxed and ready for the year ahead.

These first few weeks of term are the assessment period for my course, which means if you have any January exams this is the time you’ll be taking them. Luckily for me, I don’t have any exams this semester but I do have a lot of assignments due in at the end of this week and early next week. I’ve put off doing my essays over Christmas which means I now have to catch up on work quickly. Can you blame me for not doing it all though? I’ve been so busy catching up with people from my hometown and doing Christmassy things I really haven’t had time! In order to make myself concentrate, I’ve come back up to Ormskirk where I find there are less distractions because most of my housemates aren’t back yet. I will also use these few weeks to get a head start on the reading for this semester as I have a ton of books to get through!

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if you have a course that requires you to read a lot of books, like English Literature, it can get pretty expensive. But there are ways to keep your costs down. The library has a wide selection of books, however be wary that a lot of people have the same idea so if you plan on borrowing a book from there last minute it might not be available. I buy all of my books second-hand because it’s so much cheaper, and sites like Amazon are great for this.  Also, a lot of older books that are no longer in copyright can be read online or on an e-reader for free which saves a lot of money if you’re studying the classics.

Going Back

This is the last blog post that I’m going to write before I move back up to Ormskirk this weekend and I am beyond excited! I can’t wait to see all my friends again, and I just miss the town and campus so much.

I’ve been really busy recently with packing and generally getting ready to go back. The amount of stuff that I own is really unbelievable but I’m trying to cut it down. Whilst sorting through all my things, I stumbled across all my books from last year. I can’t quite believe I read all of these books in such a short space of time.

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The eagle-eyed among you may spot Twilight amongst those books – yes, it really was on my reading list! If you’re studying English Literature, there is an amazing range of texts that we get to study and it means that everyone finds at least one book (but often more) that they enjoy. And all of my class definitely enjoyed dissecting Twilight!

So on Sunday I will be doing the five or six hour drive with my parents from where I live in Kent to Ormskirk. I always worried before I moved how I would cope with travelling the long distance to get home when it came to the holidays, but once I’d figured the trains out it all became like second nature and it’s not daunting at all now. I also love the sense of independence that it gives me.

If you’re planning on doing a lot of train travel, I’d definitely recommend investing in a student railcard which gets you 1/3 off the price of your train fare. If you’re interested, you can read more about that here.

Graduation, Results and Preparing for Next Year

Although I still have a year left of my degree, graduation has been on my mind a lot lately. This week is graduation week at Edge Hill, and it’s wonderful seeing all the pictures of the graduates in their gowns. I can’t believe that in a year’s time it will (hopefully!) be my turn! It will be so lovely to have my family on campus to celebrate, but for those who can’t make it, the ceremonies are available to watch online which I think is a really awesome idea.

The graduation gown for a Bachelor degree
The graduation gown for a Bachelor degree

But rewinding back to the present, a few weeks ago I got my results for second year, and I am so proud to say that overall I achieved a 2:1. If I can finish my degree with the same classification, I will be extremely pleased. Despite what a few people said to me before I started my degree, university isn’t a walk in the park and you do have to work hard if you want to succeed (thinking about it, the people who made these claims had probably never actually been to university themselves).

I have also finally made a start on my reading for next year (better late than never I say!) I’ve probably been procrastinating a bit too much, but in a few weeks I am going on holiday so I will hopefully get a chance to catch up on my reading whilst I relax in France. It’s a really good idea to at least make a start on your reading list during the summer because, especially for those of you studying English, there will be a mountain of books that you’ll need to get through during the year, often three or more a week.

And finally, I can’t believe it’s almost August already! At the end of next month I plan on going back to Ormskirk and moving in to my new house. I’m so excited and can’t wait to get there but I still have a few bits and pieces I need to buy before I’m ready to go.

Books, Books, Books!

I think pretty much any university course will require you to use books, but this is especially true for English Literature. We are required to use not only textbooks, but also anthologies, novels and scripts. The book shop on campus, Blackwell’s, sells all of the books you will need, but buying everything  brand new can be ridiculously expensive. Luckily, there are a few other options.

If you want to have your own copies of the texts then second hand books are normally a lot cheaper than buying books new, but I often find that I am required to buy certain editions, which makes buying from charity shops really difficult. Instead, I’ve found sites like Amazon that sell books second hand to be perfect (as long as you don’t mind occasionally stumbling across other people’s highlighting and notes).

The university library is also really handy to use. They stock all of the books on the reading list, the only problem is that even with numerous copies available, I’ve found it can be difficult to get my hands on a text because everyone else has the same idea!

Those of you who have a Kindle probably already know that you can download a lot of books for free. In English Literature we study a lot of classics, and these are the books that are normally available for free, which is great if you already have a Kindle and you’re looking for a way to save money. These older texts are free because they are out of copyright, so even if you don’t have an e-reader you might be able to find them online.

If, for whatever reason, you’re struggling to get hold of a book (for example if you’ve ordered a copy but it hasn’t arrived in time, or you can’t find the right edition) it’s always best to talk to your tutor and let them know. That way they can give you advice on getting hold of the text, or if you’re really lucky some tutors might lend you a copy if they have any spare.

Reading Lists

Yesterday, as I was working out how much money I would have to spend next year, I remembered last minute to factor in money for books. Majority of universities send students reading lists in advance and it is the students responsibility to purchase the books. Edge Hill also has quite a big library so most of the books can be borrowed from there.

Whilst the Film Studies side of my course requires me to buy all non-fiction books the Creative Writing reading lists include non-fiction and fiction. I really like having a list of fiction to buy because it encourages me to read (and often enjoy!) books that I’d never usually notice. I’ve already received the list of plays that I need to buy for my Scriptwriting module next year and I’m excited to read them.

The list includes:

Jez Butterworth – Jerusalem (2012)

 Jim Cartwright – Road (1990)

 Shelagh Delaney – A Taste of Honey (1959)

 Brian Friel – Translations (1980)

Sarah Kane – Blasted (1996)

 David Mamet – Oleanna (1993)

 Laura Wade – Posh (2010)

 Timberlake Wertenbaker – Our Country’s Good (1995)

I’ve never heard of any of those plays, but I know that even if I don’t enjoy reading them I can always learn by expanding my horizons.

In my last Fiction seminar the lecturer had us all name a book that we thought that everyone else should read and then he compiled a list and sent it to all of us. I chose Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. Palahniuk is my favourite writer and I’d recommend his books to everyone. He also wrote the book that became my favourite film, Fight Club.

I’d advise anyone starting university to get their books as early as possible so as to have time to familiarise themselves with them. Some books can be quite expensive but can also be found second hand on Amazon and eBay.

My Top 3 Books from Semester One

I’ve compiled a list of my favourite three books from the English Literature reading list from the first semester of my second year. Enjoy!

3. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Robert Neville is the sole survivor of a disease that has infected the entire human race, leaving them with symptoms resembling vampirism.

With very scientific terminology, this definitely wasn’t my usual kind of book but I was actually enthralled by it, so much so that I read it within a day. The graphic depictions of the disease made me feel physically ill, so I can’t deny that the novel had an effect. If you’ve seen the Will Smith film, I definitely recommend reading this book  because it is vastly different but, as you so often find with books, immensely better than the film.

2.  Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

The story of a female vampire, Carmilla, and her relationship with an unsuspecting and innocent young girl, Laura.

Carmilla was everything a Victorian woman shouldn’t be – and I loved it! It was so delightfully refreshing to finally read about a female vampire. The very obvious sexual tension between Carmilla and Laura was both seductive and repulsive, which is something very characteristic of the figure of the vampire, and there was definitely a lot of Freudian content. Laura particularly fascinated me though; I wasn’t entirely convinced of her innocence. Please let me know what you think if you read it.

And finally, my absolute favourite…

1. Affinity by Sarah Waters

A Neo-Victorian novel centred around the Millbank Prison and its frequent visitor,  Margaret Prior, an upper-class, depressed young woman, struggling with life at home. The main focus of the story is one particular inmate of the prison, Selina Dawes; a spirit medium who captures Margaret’s imagination.

When I was first started reading this novel, I was bored. Victorian fiction is definitely not my favourite and I found the characters of both Margaret and Selina annoying. But it grew on me. It grew on me so much that I became completely entangled in the words on each page. The novel’s worst crime was completely obliterating my heart. When I finished the last sentence at 3am one morning, I threw the book to the floor in complete fury. The ending made me so angry that I couldn’t bear it. But the ability to evoke that kind of passionate reaction only confirms how truly wonderful this novel is. Read it.