End of Year 2 Review

Just like that I’ve come to the end of my second year at Edge Hill University, something which I can’t quite believe yet, no idea where all the time has gone.

As i finished up the last of my work for the year it suddenly occurred to me that I only have one year left before I have to venture out into the real world, both a terrifying and exciting prospect, (mostly the former).  Anyway, since I have finished it’s probably the best time to do a review and to give a taster of what’s to come if you have just finished first year.

Second year for me brought about a new set of modules, three compulsory and three to choose from a selection. Looking back I am reasonably happy with my module choices opting for a balance of practical and theory work, my only advice would be to pick what you think you can do best in, read module handbooks etc. in order to make the best decision.

The biggest thing I had to look out for was the fact all my coursework was now actually counting towards my grade, 40% to be exact. I would have preferred a 50/50 split but oh well. First year at least allowed me to in a sense practice the different types of coursework I would need to do so when this year came around I knew what I was doing which was definitely helpful. Overall I am satisfied with the work I submitted and urge anyone looking forward to make sure you are as well because you will feel a lot better knowing you put the effort in no matter how it turns out.

Overall I found my second year to be a reasonably low-key affair as there wasn’t anything particularly crazy going on within it. I was mostly just focused on preparing for next year and graduation and getting my work done, I also secured a job within the SU Subway which is an extra bit of income and experience. I think there’s an expectation to do so much all the time as a student, when really as long as you achieved what you wanted to and feel you spent your time well during the year then does the rest really matter? I suppose it’s up to you. Till next time!thinking

Jordan

The Arts Centre Box Office and the Red Carpet Review!

Hello all! I hope you’ve had a good start to October and are enjoying this spooky season (I know I am!).

I am writing this after going to one of the many theatre shows that are performed within Edge Hill itself in the Arts Centre! As a Performing Arts student, I practically live within the Arts Centre, and I couldn’t love it any more. There are so many wonderful rehearsal spaces, teachers who are there whenever you need them, but most of all there’s the Box Office and the lovely staff there to greet you! Here you can book tickets to see theatrical performances of all genres, or screenings of films or shows by the National Theatre or the Royal Shakespeare Company. And as an Edge Hill Uni student, you even get 4 free tickets a semester!

I did two posts previously on what is offered here, which I will link just below:

The Arts Centre Box Office- Theatre Galore!

The Arts Centre (FREE!) Membership

The main reason I am writing this article is because, although these tell you the fabulous stuff that you can be a part of within the Arts Centre, I’ve never given a full example of the kind of show you can see at the Arts Centre. There are comedies, tragedies, contemporary performances and classics. The one I’ll be reviewing is Red Carpet by the Confiança Collaborative Theatre Co., which was an intriguing collective of humour, dark and sensitive subject matter and amazing visuals!

The Confiança Collaborative Theatre Co. base their work around mental health issues which are very much not talked about in society- although we’ve come a long way with mental health awareness, it is still very taboo in many ways in society, so I think their work is much needed within such an expressive and meaningful medium as theatre. This show in particular has been scheduled at Edge Hill to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, with the first performance occurring yesterday at 6pm, the second and third occurring today at 2:30pm and 7:30pm and the last performance occurring on Saturday at 7:30.

Red Carpet, as described by the company, is “a comedy, a drama… a tragedy, a life!”. If I was to describe the show myself in a short sentence like that, it’d definitely be “a creative, funny, yet heartbreaking way to show the effects of depression and mental illness”. But it was so much more than that! Once the doors were open, we were allowed to walk into the Rose Theatre, where it was being performed, and was greeted by an amazing set of cascading white fabric on either side of the stage, littered with cans of soup, shopping baskets and other common life debris, a wedding dress hanging from the ceiling paired with red flowers, and what appeared to be a cafe. At the back stood the character of Susan, the main role in this play, eating slices of toast.

Once everyone was in and the show was starting, the opening scene showed a cafe day unfolding, laced with silly and pun-based humour. It was a lovely, lighthearted opening which introduced several of the characters beautifully, and this humour paved the way for the darker subject matter within the play to be performed and not leave the audience feeling miserable upon leaving the theatre- something that is super important when it comes to creating material based around mental health!

The afore-mentioned ‘darker subject matter’ surrounds the character of Susan, and the fact she has been suffering from depression, and has attempted to take her own life. The thing I loved the most about this play is that you don’t get all the information about what happened and what is happening onstage from the start- you piece things together from different scenes and I even learnt knew things about all the characters right in the very last few seconds of the play. This lends itself perfectly to the less comical moments, as you hear her family and friends talking to her in the hospital, which both gives you more of an idea of what happened, and also eases the audience into topics that might otherwise be jolting to an audience upon surfacing.

Overall, I will not hesitate to say that this is one of the best, creative and well-handled pieces of contemporary theatre and performance I have ever seen. Being someone who loves anything that promotes such a good thing as mental health awareness and also loves performances that have a dark edge to them, maybe it played right into my hands, but this is definitely the type of play that has something for everyone.

So, if you are interested in seeing one of the many performances on offer at the Uni and are around or close to Edge Hill for the performance tomorrow at 7:30 I’d recommend you do! Of course, it’s not the only genre and type of performance you can see at the Uni, but it’ll give you your first insight into what kind of stuff there is! If you are wanting to bring someone under the age of 12 though, they are not permitted due to the nature of the performance- there is some strong language, and obviously some strong subject matter!

Below I’ve linked a follow up to this blog where I talked to the cast about Red Carpet and what Edge Hill offers its students and alumni!

Interview with the Red Carpet Cast: Employability and Edge Hill’s Future Opportunities

Semester One Biology Highlights

Since semester one has essentially finished (bar a few exams and reports being due), I thought I’d take this time to look back on my favourite parts of the modules I’ve experiences on the second year of my undergrad Biology degree.

Life On The Edge

Tech Hub

Life On The Edge (LOTE) is the new and improved version of the Environmental Physiology module from previous years, it deals primarily in microbe, plant, and animal extremophiles. The largest addition to the module was Life On The Edge Evening, a series of short presentations, by the students, on a chosen extremophile. This was hosted in the lecture theatre of the new Tech Hub. One of the purposes of the event is to test the students’ research and presentation skills – which counted towards our grade. Although public speaking isn’t my strong suit, it did give me the chance to bust out my PowerPoint skills – as lame as it sounds, I’m quite fond of designing the slides. However anxious it made me, I’m sure the experience improved my public speaking abilities and got me used to presenting in a professional environment.

Another point of interest for this module was the field-trip to Anderton Nature Park, where we sampled the salt springs for microbes and isolated them from the water back at the lab.

Molecular Biology

This module featured quite an insight into the techniques and points of interest in the field of molecular biology. My personal highlight was learning about epigenetics, as I already knew a little about it and was interested in it before knowing it was featured in the module. Google defines epigenetics as, “The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.” This module was quite technical but very rewarding, in that the subject matter is complex but also very cutting edge.

Laboratory Masterclass

The highlight of Lab Masterclass has got to be using the scanning electron microscope (SEM). It’s an expensive piece of kit, so it’s incredible that the department to trust all the second year undergraduates to use it for our practical coursework. The assignment in question had to contain two images from the SEM which both had to be scientifically relevant, as well as a short report on the subject matter of the images. This practical was weighted quite heavily for the module, so it was imperative we used our time wisely on the microscope to get some impressive images. We could’ve chosen any sample with biological relevance to look at under the SEM, and being a fan of plants, I chose leaves. I won’t go into the details, but here are some of the images I didn’t use, that I think are still pretty impressive:

The course page for biology has a tab that gives an overview of the modules.