New Year, Same Me (Again)

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetA female Doctor, a crazed President, pregnant Kardashians, engaged royals and a partridge in a pear tree- 2017 has been, I’m pleased to say, absolutely mad. 9 Greys Anatomy episodes, 5 solo One Direction albums, and one trip to a pig farm later I am pretty content with how this year has rounded off. This year I finished my first year of Uni, moved into a house with my best friends, performed in some of the shows I am most proud of, and had plenty of time to party. 2017 might have been a bit of a dodgy year for mankind in general, but on a personal level (back at it again with some classic millennial narcissism) it’s been pretty brilliant.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Moving into a new house hasn’t been without it’s quarrels.  I’ve learnt more about football than I ever wanted to (ask me what the offside rule is, we’ll have a chat), I’ve cleaned up more beard trimmings than would be ideal and oh. my. goodness. you would not believe the amount of wee that ends up on the floor. Mostly though, living off campus has been a dream. The 6:3 boy to girl ratio is sometimes a struggle (note the aforementioned wee on the floor), but I still cried at Christmas dinner when I tried to say how much I loved them all. 36 Second Av- you’ve absolutely made 2017 for me. My resolution house-wise is to nag less about the washing up (although I’m hoping my housemates might resolve to actually do their washing up) and to spend as much time as is humanly possible, as much time as they’ll let me, with the boys before we make the split into gals and guys houses next year.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

It’s also been another year of complete and utter airheadedness from me, and while I continue to endeavour to change, I think it’s a part of me that I’m just going to have to accept. 2017 might have begun with a shiny iPhone 7, but it wasn’t long (the first night out of Spring Term- pitiful, I know) before that ended up face down in the James College loos- not even 3 days in rice could bring salvation. iPhone #2 almost met it’s peril during a trip to the good old West Country, where it was stolen from a train station and allegedly sold for 100 quid over a pint before being reluctantly returned by a family (honestly, the whole family) of travellers. It was a pretty wild ride, as you can imagine. A final feat of idiocy came when I left my purse in the back of an Uber, complete with 200 pounds in cash, my debit card and all forms of ID to my name. True to form, an existential crisis ensued as I cancelled my card and reported it to the police. In an utterly miraculous turn of events, a girl visiting family in York got in contact with me on Facebook (the 102nd Megan Williams she’d contacted, or something) and returned the purse just as I left it- people have a funny way of surprising you in the most amazing ways!

IMG_3735.JPG2018 started last night on a beautiful white yacht (could I *be* any more of an expat brat), with some of my best IMG_3733friends. We watched fireworks through the rain, started the year with McNuggets and fell asleep watching New Years Eve. I hope the year that follows is exactly like that- a little bit of extra and a lot of comfort. I will not be giving up avocado’s to save for a house and I probably won’t manage to cut out Coke (a-Cola, thank you), but I do want to keep up the positive vibes, keep loving myself and my friends and GET. STUFF. DONE. When I check back next New Year, it’ll ideally be after a snazzy summer internship (pray for me), a suitable Second Year grade and loads more fun with my beautiful friends and beautiful family. IMG_3732I’m grateful for where I am and excited about where I’m going. Happy New Year everyone!

 

Finding a ‘thing’ at University

At university, most people you meet will have a ‘thing’- from juggling to hockey to rowing to Quidditch, everyone is doing something, and for good reasons.

IMG_1939
CHMS Committee at the UoY Freshers Fair

After spending most of first term back pedalling out of auditions and reinvesting in my netball career (unsuccessfully), I finally found a place in Central Hall Musical Society when I was cast in their Spring Show after my audition in December. Objectively, CHMS is probably the best society in York,  but that aside, finding a ‘thing’ that I loved outside of my course completely transformed my life at Uni.

18119033_1279400885514182_321075816880459176_n
The CHMS Committee!

Getting involved in things outside of your degree is absolutely integral to a fulfilling (and fun) university experience. For one thing, I would go absolutely bonkers if all I had to do outside of my contact hours was dive in and out of medieval literature and historical court dissents. Going out is obviously a big part of the culture at Uni, but I don’t think that it’s really enough to constitute  a ‘thing’. If your only extra-curricular activity is strawpedo-ing VK’s you probably aren’t getting everything you can out of being at university.

IMG_4936 Being in shows with CHMS has, I believe, massively reduced the potential for bad days. If I’m even feeling the whisper of a bad day, a 5 hour rehearsal immediately sets me straight. You’d be surprised how cathartic belting out soprano harmonies that aren’t quite comfortably in your range can be. Singing the feel-good, soul filled soundtrack of Sister Act, our upcoming production, at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning might be some people’s idea of a worst nightmare, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything better. There are very few things in this world that can get me out of bed before 11, and Alan Menken’s score is definitely one of them! Aside from the music itself, being surrounded by people who you love, and who love the same things as you, can lift even the moodiest of moods.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

On another level, finding a ‘thing’ means that, by default, you widen your friendship circle. I was lucky enough to find some of my best friends in my halls, but I know plenty of people who weren’t as fortunate. Your halls are a complete lottery- you don’t get to pick who you live with and if you do have anything in common it’s a nice surprise. The fact that I can’t participate in a conversation with my housemates about football transfers or pipe up about Wenger doesn’t make me love them any less- they can’t offer any input either when I want to chat about the amount of times Andrew Rannells licks his lips in his Tony performance of “I Believe”. The things we care about are just different. For me, joining CHMS meant that I was suddenly spending time with people who had similar interests- who understood when I wanted to talk about Cynthia Erivo for half an hour and who might not know the offside rule either. I’ve met some of my absolute favourite people at Uni through CHMS, and the level of talent I get to be around means that I’m constantly inspired and pushing myself to be better.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Singin’ In The Rain

At the end of the day, I love my course and I do want the best academic result I can possibly get. Right now, I’m confident in my ability to balance the two, but I know (rightly or wrongly) that if it came down to it I would sacrifice the top grades for a chance to be on the stage any day. Finding a ‘thing’ that you care about and that makes your life at Uni more than just a combination of the library and jagerbombs is as rewarding as it can be exhausting, and something that everyone starting University should endeavor to do. CHMS has been one of my favourite things to be a part of in my LIFE (I know, slow down) and I can’t imagine my experience at Uni without it, or the people I have met through it.

IMG_0091
The cast of Sister Act at our launch party

 

 

 

 

A Year at York

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
Summer Ball 2017

As our little flat starts to empty, becoming quieter and less messy one person at a time, it’s finally starting to feel like first year is coming to an end. You can’t possibly appreciate how fast it goes until you’re in the position yourself and it’s nearly time to graduate from the year that ‘doesn’t count’, and start actually doing some serious work. First year has been one of the weirdest and best years of my life so far, with everything from geese attacks to summer balls to singing and dancing to the occasional TC.

Living so far away from my family, nearly 7,000 miles as it happens, had it’s ups and downs. My organisation abilities tend to come and go, and being in a different hemisphere to those who usually pick up the slack was a bit of a test. Sometimes my room honestly feels like a black hole- things get sucked into the mess and literally never return and there’s no mum around to magically locate them, or to spoon feed me in trying to fix any trouble. And obviously there are times when you get homesick. Mix the super fun hormones that come with being a teenage girl with a nice bit of uni drama and those 7,000 miles between you and your family seem like a lot more. Having said that, I’ve definitely cried a lot more over Grey’s Anatomy this year than I have over anything else, and luckily my mums serial FaceTiming has left little room to feel properly far away.

England itself, York especially, has been the most amazing setting for uni life, even if the weather is slightly more hit and miss than it is at home. If I thought Autumn Term was cold, the first few weeks of January were something else. I wore tights underneath my jeans and gloves to play touch. I truly forgot what it was like to be able to use my phone outside, and made full use of my radiator to heat up all my clothes before I put anything on. And although I complained like the classic third culture kid who’d not experienced a January colder than 30 degrees in 11 years, I absolutely loved it. Yes, I forgot what my

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

own legs looked like, but the 8am walk around campus on ONE day that it ‘properly’ snowed pretty much made up for it. All the bundling up in layer upon layer was, of course, made worth it for the whisper of spring towards the end of last term. I can’t possibly talk about spring without slipping deep into cliche (sorry)- daffodils sprung up on hillsides apparently over night and shocks of white snowbells suddenly lined my walk to the lecture hall. You can only imagine the excitement.

FullSizeRender
Another well spent 3 quid in the Kuda photobooth

A LOT of alcohol happened this year. I’ve learnt that I should stay away from K Cider (thankfully not from personal experience but something I think is a general rule for human beings as a race), that I shouldn’t drink beer after vodka (unfortunately, vodka me apparently LOVES a Corona), that clubbing sober is not that fun but pretty do-able, and that I can’t balance Lowther trebles on my head (..yet). Obviously, going out doesn’t have to be a part of your uni experience but I mean, if you haven’t unclogged your flatmates sick from the kitchen sink or helped a friend button up her leotard after she’s had too many jaeger-bombs to find the clips, give it a go! In my experience, said jaeger-bombs also lead the way to usually pretty funny inter-flat gossip that provides the entertainment around any actual academia that takes place. (That’s right- we did come to Uni to study!)

Being in a flat with so many boys (apparently there are 14 of them but it usually feels like a lot more) has been an experience. I mean, they pee on the seat and use your tweezers to pick out their athletes foot but they really are the best. If nothing else, I feel like I literally could survive living with ANYONE now, after a year of coming back to a bedroom covered in cups of water (and grosser things), coffee blocked sinks and hidden cans of Innocent drinks in my pillows and clothes. Even if you don’t live with 60 billion boys, if you’re about to start uni I would definitely lower your expectations for cleanliness in general. Our kitchen is absolutely diabolical and I’ve not seen much higher standards elsewhere. I think N Block (my humble abode this year) sinks pretty far below average though, especially considering the two fat rats that made a home outside our block last term.

Somehow between the rats and the vodka I also managed to get a bit of a sing-song in, because it wouldn’t be my life otherwise. Joining Central Hall Musical Society has been one of the best things I’ve done at Uni, and the three shows I’ve done with them have been completely hilarious, challenging and amazing amazing amazing experiences. We open our summer show next week and the buzz is starting to come to a crescendo. With that in mind, come and see Singin’ In The Rain next week, Thursday to Saturday and see me get spun upside down a few times (something I never thought I’d be able to do when we started).

img_4655.jpg

AND WE ONLY WENT AND STARTED A TOUCH TEAM! While sports (playing them, at least) have never really been my thing, a fact mostly owed to my complete hand-eye coordination deficiency, I always loved playing touch rugby in Singapore. While my flatmates needed some pretty incessant convincing that it is, in fact, a real sport, I managed to entice (with the promise of chocolate) enough girls to make up the numbers for a team. A day after our formation, we entered into the qualifying tournament for the Varsity against Durham, with only myself having played before. 5 weeks later, after a lot of dropped balls and freezing cold rainy training sessions, we made it up to Durham to compete in the Varsity, where a 5-0 loss felt like the biggest and most impressive achievement we could have come away with. The girls were and are absolute heroes and I hope we get to watch the sport grow over the next few years. Big shoutouts to the equally heroic boys who gracefully fulfilled their roles as managers and waterboys.

All in all, this year has been completely beyond what I expected it to be. I got stupidly lucky with my flatmates and managed to find some amazing friends elsewhere as well. The saga continues next year with my house of 9 people- which promises even more fun and crazy stories that probably won’t get retold around the family dinner table. Lot’s of love York x

IMG_4465

A Term at York

So, just as everyone warned, my first term at university has gone by in a too-quick whirlwind of essays and tequila. Reflecting on the past few months puts me in the eye of the storm, looking back on deadlines and chilly toes and rainy Monday lectures, and I feel now is as good a time as any to write it all down. I definitely, arrogantly, feel far older, wiser and more independent than I was 10 weeks ago- not least because I pierced my cartilage- and have learnt a lot living away from home, as everyone in the same position is forced to do. Most importantly, perhaps, I have learned that England is cold. It wasn’t far into October before I realised I couldn’t text after being outside- my fingers frozen into redundancy. So, aside from the ridiculous Northern temperatures,  what follows is a round-up of my first term at York.

14610969_1590510657641596_1215990823250592150_n

Sleep vs. Sesh

Anyone who knew me in Singapore will know that I am weak in the face of micoplasma- a strain of pneumonia/glorified flu virus that tends to strike me down for weeks at a time, at multiple points in the year. With this general pathetic-ness in terms of health in mind, I know that getting enough sleep is, as I guess it is for everyone, essential.

BUT, when Wednesday night is social night and you have a 9am seminar the next day, some sacrifices have got to be made. And I have chosen, probably too often, to sacrifice a fully awake mind in my Thursday morning “Making Histories” class. Luckily, my embarrassingly tame drinking habits have saved me from horrific hangovers, and I can’t say I regret the nights I’ve spent at Flares dancing to One Direction (probably the only place I’ve ever been that willingly accepts my 1D requests) instead of lying in bed wishing I was doing just that.

The elusive concept of ‘The Budget’

My parents have tried, apparently to no avail, to instil within me the concept of having a budget. It seemed a pretty simple notion and I was quite sure, when I set off for uni, that I would be swimming in the money I would save every month. I’m not a massive drinker (although will never say no to a glass of Red Menace- our flat’s disgusting speciality concoction of New Amsterdam Vodka and fruit twist Fanta), and I have most of my meals catered for on campus. My mum funded my yearly bus pass AND bought me the winter neccessities my life in Singapore had not required. Probably, any half competent human would be able to budget their money in a situation like mine. I’ve quickly come to realise, however, that spending  £12.75 on eyebrow threading every 3 weeks, throwing another £60 at Trainline after sleeping through your departure time and booking a return ticket for a trip to Scotland going in the wrong direction does not allow much to be saved. I also bought my visiting mum a bottle of champagne with gold flakes in it. Too much? This term, I’m content to put it down to the general chaos that aligns itself with settling into a new place, and hopefully next term I can rise above the mess (a happy mess, at that) this chaos has made me.

15170961_1624806570878671_4081213201918280901_nThe actual work

Though my dad will tell you I am partying too much (he likes to check when I was last online on Whatsapp- classic), the actual work side of uni has been surprisingly great. One of the luxuries of my degree- English and History- is that there are relatively few contact hours, meaning a lot of my time is spent in with a book (a new text for English every week) or historical journal on my lap, or typing up my own ideas rather than in a lecture hall, which suits me perfectly. My academic week culminates in a high with my English seminar, a two hour discussion between our group of 12 and our tutor. As cringe as it sounds (I do cringe quite well) it has completely revived my love for English to be in an environment when everyone around me is just as excited by literature, and all have so many interesting and unique things to say about it. The grade on my first essay was underwhelming, but (especially since first year doesn’t count, thank god) I was not overly disappointed, as I can already feel my level of analysis and the things I see in the texts becoming more perceptive and more original, thanks to the things I am learning at York.

History hasn’t provided me with the same excitement- the only module this term being ‘Making Histories’, a class about how History is written and received rather than actual past events and periods. It’s been a slug of journals and critical reviews and a lot of things I did not expect my degree to entail, but has hopefully served it’s purpose of leaving me more prepared to write my own History in the following months and years of my course. With English, though, I find myself the keenest of keen beans in lectures and seminars, and to not feel this level of interest in the other half of my degree is somewhat disheartening. Thankfully, the real history starts next term.

14732178_1582957011730294_6238936958539306794_n

Prison Block

Two lovely and well meaning 2nd years came to help me move my luggage from car to college when I arrived on my first day, lightyears ago. They nearly  dropped the bags they were kindly lugging across the carpark when I naively told them I was going to be living in N Block. They tried to suppress their slightly smug looks of sympathy, but it wasn’t long before I was greeted with the tin cupboards, dingy corridors and un-plastered breeze block that characterises my home, affectionately known amongst students ‘Prison Block’.

But it didn’t take long to  realise that by being branded ‘prisoners’ of N Block, we have banded closer together. It was a conversation starter during fresher’s week- everyone wants to know what it is like to live in such squalor- and it has become a label associated with some really fun and friendly people. Over in the sparkling accommodation blocks on the Hes East campus, I cannot imagine any group gelling to the level that sharing 3 toilets and about minus 10 square metres forces you to reach. We’ve cried over Grey’s Anatomy together, we’ve seen each other participate in some aggressive drunk face licking,  we’ve unclogged each other’s vomit from the kitchen sink (I did the unclogging, which I will never let go, it’s quality material), and I think I speak for all of us when I say we have had some of the most fun 10 weeks ever. And although I doubt  my flatmates will have made it to the bottom of this post (I can’t help myself with the verbal diarrhea), I genuinely am grateful for their friendship and fun and continued bad influence when vodka is involved.

Fresh Faced to Fresher’s Flu: The first few weeks of Uni

With a car full of Amazon-ordered kitchen essentials, warm clothes and various bits of cleaning equipment I was yet to fully understand, I left home. People talk about ‘leaving home’ all the time, be it in a passing anecdote about their own experience or in a lecture about newfound responsibilities, but when you’re sat in the front seat of your mums hired Volvo with all of your possessions behind you, it starts to sink in. Luckily for me, I had a 4 hour, traffic infused journey in that seat for the idea of leaving to play on my mind. The static brain noises of anxiety and excitement are not ones that can be dulled by a One Direction song.

If you have a mum like mine, you are not only very lucky, but also probably very used to trying to calm her down.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
Myself, the girls, and the many, many boys of flat N2

She’s a fusser. With a heart as big as she thinks her waist is (and incidentally, is not), and the very best of intentions, she will worry about absolutely anything and everything that could go wrong for you. Are you going to be warm enough? Will your bed be comfy enough? Will the people in your hall be nice to you? Will you be safe? The trip up to Uni was broken up by these interjectional qualms that definitely took my focus away from my own nerves. My dad on the other hand, is not a worrier. At least, he emits this external calmness that only falters when you question his “because I said so”. Classic Dad behaviour, he only had one piece of advice for me, “beware of boys”. Needless to say, he was less than excited when I told him that 80% of my flatmates were, in fact, of the male gender.

I think I’ve been pretty lucky with my life up to today- and Uni so far has mercifully followed the same trend. I think for most people that is how it goes. You show up to your room on the first day knowing nothing and no one and OF COURSE you’re scared out of your mind. But by the end of the first evening- for us, what was advertised as ‘an awkward school disco, but with booze’ in the College canteen- I had completely forgotten what I had ever been worried about. The fact that my flatmates saw me in my 1D pyjamas on the second night (I quickly broke the promise to myself that I wouldn’t mention boybands until at LEAST Term 2) and didn’t kick me out on the spot definitely gave me fast reassurance that I had landed myself with some great people. A few quick rounds of ‘Never Have I Ever’ swiftly brought the room on familiar terms (perhaps even too familiar) and we were sorted.

And before I could even tell it was happening, Fresher’s Week was in full swing. You’ve all heard the rumours, a week of drunken sex and vomit and the best nights you will never remember. For some, I’m sure this is what Fresher’s Week actually consists of. For most (myself included), it is a happy middle ground that might not leave you with alcohol poisoning or an STD, but certainly with memories (if a little blurry) that will never leave you. It involved a lot of Ring Of Fire around our tiny kitchen table, a lot of more than questionable dance moves, a lot of gross cheap vodka (as if vodka can be anything but gross) and SUCH. A LOT. OF. FUN. I think you can truly call someone your friend when you’ve heard them chunder through the (very) thin walls of Uni accommodation. Even if you are one of the people who ends up with zero coherent memories of the week, you’ll definitely be left with at least one lasting Fresher’s reminder- Fresher’s Flu. I’m a month into Uni now, and still I have to strain to hear the lecturer over coughing (often my own). If you make it to Thursday without a sniffle and start getting cocky, don’t. You can rest assured that it’ll get you eventually, no one escapes the Flu. Thankfully, I was armed with plenty of cough mixture and DayNurse, which fast became a necessary crutch to my uni survival.

img_2914
Pre Viking Raid pub crawl

BUT OF COURSE (hello parents) it has not just been about drinking and partying and staying up all night. It is amazing how quickly work starts coming through, thick and fast, and it waits for no one. Some are lucky enough to have their lectures recorded, which allows for some leniency when you are tired or hungover or simply can’t be bothered to rock up to the lecture hall and endure what is likely to be (but not always!!) another boring, possibly wasted, hour of your life. Others end up fighting the fatigue, whether through choice or necessity, and try to keep their eyes open listening to a professor who almost never deviates from a soporific monotone.

It has genuinely been, however, despite the spluttering cough and constant tiredness, some of the best few weeks of my life, and I can already feel like the term will end before I’m ready.